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John Bone takes an irreverent look at Newmarket's week

Just like the Premier League and ITV, the Jockey Club is in the entertainment business. It may seek to surround itself with a certain horsey hauteur but it is an immense branch of an even greater tree that has the Punch & Judy show as a twig. It is there for fun. And making money, too, of course.

I mention this because some people find it a bit odd that the Jockey Club is seriously suggesting letting the town use its splendid subscription rooms as the cinema for which we have so long sought a site and the costs.

But why not? They already and successfully host pop concerts at the July Course. Newmarket still has a somewhat reduced reputation as a nightlife centre. I’d be glad to see the back of the seedy stuff but since we want a proper cinema and are at a loss to get it off the ground, why not let the Jockey Club oblige?

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

Let’s not ask awkward practical questions like “Would it work?” It takes such ages to get anything done in Newmarket that I say grab the chance while it’s going.


All this concern about the national census figures for our region leaves me unmoved. I am not worried about massive population growth. What I’m worried about is massive population growth. Let me explain.

A mere head count of who lives here is only half the story. The growth in the number of people is only one aspect of the situation. The growth of the people is another.

They just get bigger and bigger. Huge and hulking (and that includes you girls) they tower over earlier generations, loom over their parents and simply bulldoze little old ladies out of their way.These Brobdingnagians are not brutes despite their height and width and weight. Most teenagers are courteous and considerate. But they just don’t know how big they are. They don’t mean to intimidate pensioners in supermarkets as they reach the highest shelves without effort over the heads of timid old-timers who may feel, if not frightened, somewhat intimidated. And at the checkout they can send a queue flinching when they turn round suddenly to hail another giantess buying junk food at the next checkout.

And that’s another thing, junk food. If a diet of crisps and energy drinks is so bad for them, how did they get so big? What’s worse, how are we going to house them? Modern rooms get smaller and the ceilings lower.

These are the serious aspects of population growth.


I say again, it is truly heartening to see this summer how after a painful period of pandemic our towns and villages are restoring the round of fetes, carnivals and galas almost as if nothing had happened.

The fantastic success of Burwell’s long-established carnival is a triumphant example of the sheer strength of our community life.

Let politics and pestilence do their worst, we insist on being silly for a day.

So you think the media are treating Matt Hancock as some sort of laughing stock by constantly finding new ways to rake up his lapse?

It’s so easy to blame me and my mates for leading a cruel campaign against any erring MP. But I suspect you, dear readers, may be just as guilty.

A respectable middle-aged lady friend of mine had never met Matt until she spotted him at a social event in Chippenham. Laughing mischievously, she went up to him and said: “You’ve been a naughty boy!”

How do I know this happened? She told me. Proudly.


Stand by for some sensational straw skirts at Ladies’ Day at the July Course. There is a move to make women wear something sustainable to save the planet.

I wholeheartedly support this very green idea but have one hesitation. Suppose it is warm and rainy and the ladies’ glamorous gowns are bio-degradable ….


Dozens of colourful umbrellas are being suspended above our shopping streets by Newmarket Business Improvement District.

Why is it that when I see them I am reminded of that old Chinese saying that when under threat from an enemy the best policy is to ‘put out more flags’?

If at times you feel gloomy and fear our land and its people are making little progress towards a better future, then I suggest you study closely the words of Queenie Griffin, aged 100, of Stetchworth.

I say this not because this wise lady has been buying the Journal for 70 years but because of something she said almost in passing at her centenary party. She said she was proud of her grandson who teaches English in Korea.

Coming from a woman who once scratched a living picking potatoes in the mud with her bare hands that is a measure of how things have changed.

If someone had told her 80 or 90 years ago that such a thing was possible in her family she might well have laughed in their face.


For those of you wondering what the heck is going on between Frankie Dettori and John Gosden who are, they tell us, ‘enjoying an amicable sabbatical’, I have gone to the trouble in your service of looking at what a sabbatical is.

According to the mighty Oxford English Dictionary, a sabbatical is ‘a period of paid leave granted to a university teacher for study or travel, traditionally one year for every seven years worked’. I trust that helps and does not leave you as intrigued as I am.