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John Bone takes an irreverent look at Newmarket's week



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I know it sounds soppy but I feel a bit like a newly-hatched chick this Easter. And if you’re honest, I bet you do, too.

We are all cautiously crawling out into the wide world after spending an age cooped up and confined. I say cautiously because the epidemic’s far from over and, indeed, may never be over.

Still, I’m quite intolerably cheerful this Easter, which seems to alarm my friends who miss my habitual frowns. What, they wonder, am I up to? The answer is simple and a little selfish.

John Bone, the columnist who gets Newmarket talking.
John Bone, the columnist who gets Newmarket talking.

I am humbly grateful that none of my close friends or family died when the virus was at its worst. One dear friend of 50 years was in intensive care for 10 days but has got her smile back now.

The loss of school days for so many is a lingering worry.

Many mates who run their own businesses have their backs to the wall. Rising costs could kill their struggling enterprises but thus far they are thankful merely to have survived.

We all worry about the near future when some of us may soon face the choice between buying fuel or food. But on top of all these worries and woes, we who survive have good reason to rejoice this Easter. We may even look on the bright side and see something good about the whole horrible experience.

For me, it has been the discovery of just what a nice street I live in. Working from home for a couple of years, I have been walking the dog twice a day and have met and got to know neighbours I scarcely knew existed. I know about Helen’s sciatica, Monica’s grandfather’s 91st birthday, the strange arrangement of the drains under Roy’s house, why Sue is writing her autobiography, why Barbara knits pink teddy bears and, among the teenagers, who’s in love with whom (very complicated).

I won’t go on, but being stuck at home has been a revelation and a blessing. I hope your Easter is as happy as mine. And if it isn’t, at least you don’t live in Ukraine.

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Forgive me for being so ignorant and out of touch but who, what or when is Randox.

Throughout TV coverage of the Aintree Grand National meeting, every square inch of fence, track, stand and stirrup bore the word Randox.

Clearly it is the name of something the owners of the word wish me to buy and I’d happily try to oblige if I had the least idea of who, what or when it is.

There used to be a sort of medicinal bath salts with a name a bit like that. But would anyone spend millions advertising bath salts at Aintree? My missus reckons it’s a new political party but my best guess is that it’s an energy drink.

But if the advertisers believe we are all already so familiar with Randox why are they bothering to advertise it?

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How very Newmarket. A demand to repair dangerous potholes in New Cheveley Road stresses that unless something is done a passing horsebox might hit the holes and hurt the horses. Never mind the driver . . .

I don’t want to worry you, as that gloomy old comic Bill Kerr used to say before something deeply depressing, but even if our local opponents of solar farms and wind power turbines win all their battles, won’t we still live down-wind of Sizewell? Now there’s a reason to get the wind up

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My heart does not exult with joy when I look at Spencer Mill, in Soham. It still looks like what it was, a rather grim old mill.

But step inside and you immediately see why the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors have included it among contenders for inspiring building projects.

The theatre and public spaces within the plain brick building are good reason to exult and justify a community benefit award.

Results are out for the mill and Mildenhall’s new Hub later in the year but Soham and Mildenhall already know they have winners.

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When the full story of the Covid lockdown is told, I suspect it will be a tale of triumphs among the tragedies.

Consider the case of Ben Cockhill, who lost his job as a chef but picked himself up, saw opportunity where others saw obstructions, launched Stellar Catering and has now proudly opened his new Waffle Hut in Fred Archer Way.

Now he dreams of a waffle empire all thanks to a horrible disease.

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They may be only a parish council really but Ely City Council act with the dignity of a mightier body.

Unlike the vast majority of such tiddler councils, they have set their face against co-opting some unelected local when a vacancy occurs. True, elections cost time and money but, as any Ukrainian will tell you, democracy is pure and precious.

As a result, when one absentee member forfeited his seat, a proper poll was held in Ely East Ward and Peter Harris (aka Father Christmas at the community lunch) was elected with 67 per cent of the votes.

As an independent with no party machine to tell him what to do, we can only hope he turns up at meetings to reward the city’s stubborn faith in the power of the poll.

-- Do you agree with John Bone? Send your opinions to news@newmarketjournal.co.uk