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John Bone's irreverent take on Newmarket's week

I do seem to have hit a nerve with my passing reference to the doubtful status of Independents in local politics.

I questioned how many 'Independents' were truly independent.

Now, with the elections looming, I have no wish to stir things up or even return to my basic contention that national party politics are inevitable at grass roots level.

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

So I will just mention that while one councillor of whom I have high opinion has been offended by what he sees as a slur on Independents, another held in equal regard has sent me documentary evidence that one current candidate in two simultaneous local polls has the word 'Independent' in one but flies a national party flag in the other.

This may be a valiant attempt to drop party politics at the lowest local level but it also strikes an outsider as odd. Party affiliations indicate a particular cast of mind which will show itself in parish pump as well as in great national issues. Can you change your head by changing your hat? I think voters understand this and just want to be told straight.

Meanwhile, I take off my hat to anyone who lays true claim to independence. And while I’m raising my hat I’ll doff it to everyone who takes on the boring burden of public duty.


Watching the dazzling coverage of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, I kept wondering how this martial spectacle and architectural splendour was going down just down the road among our American friends at Mildenhall and Lakenheath.

The Americans can do a good ceremony in their way but I would love one day to sit with an American family while we watch together a British royal event (and the Windsor do was quite modest by some standards) and hear what they have to say.

For all its dubious defensive value, such soldiering holds a nation together. I have seen crack US troops in ceremonial glory but I still think we can steal a march on them. Both nations need it now.


Glad as I am that Cambridgeshire County Council have bought goal posts for Soham’s young footballers, I am left wondering what happened to the old days when kids didn’t just ask for help but did it themselves.

In the early days of the present Premier League clubs, the players literally did the carpentry. I know this would be ambitious today, but it should be the spirit in which young people approach problems.

Don’t they have carpentry workshops at schools any more? And couldn’t the girls knit the nets? (That should win me a prize for the most sexist remark of the year.)


It is a good idea to get West Suffolk councillors to take a walk along Newmarket High Street with town councillors. The result might be a realistic and achievable plan for improving the shopping area.

It would also disprove what some observers feel is a failure to understand individual communities when a large council covers several towns. This is always a danger in combined councils and makes the local voice of town or parish council so important.


The Corrie McKeague mystery may never be solved. How and why did the young airman vanish that summer night five years ago on his way back to Honington after a night out in Bury?

Unless someone breaks silence, we cannot expect the inquest into his supposed death to offer convincing explanations.

Was he kidnapped and murdered? Is he still alive? I doubt we will ever know. Which leaves an uneasy sense of insecurity for us all.

It is a reminder that despite all the customs and complexities of our carefully conducted society, we may not be as safe and sure as we suppose.

For four weeks in September the coroner will sift every scrap of evidence and, I suspect, he will do so in vain.


Plague precautions produce a new approach to good manners. I was amused to see a lady touchline spectator at a local youth football match being gently mocked by a man who asked why she had her umbrella up when it wasn’t raining. “To keep you from getting too close,” was her acid reply. Will she carry a Covid parasol in the summer?


It is easy to mock unwary ministers who walk along Downing Street clutching a wodge of secret papers easily snapped by press photographers. But we’re all capable to failing to grasp the calamitous clarity of today’s cameras. Owners seeking to sell their homes are submitting to the age of clever cameras that take potential purchasers on a virtual tour. Fine, but don’t do what one couple did and leave a load of confidential papers lying around. It makes crime too easy for crooks who raid bank accounts and steal identities.


Our lives lately have been so ground down by dread of disease that what we need is a little light-hearted daftness to cheer us up. So I rejoice that Newmarket Soap Box Derby will be back in August and Newmarket Jigsaw Puzzle Festival will be held in June.

I am sure there will be much more sheer summer silliness to keep us smiling.


In an effort to reassure and explain how Cambridgeshire police deal with domestic abuse, it has been revealed that a man was jailed for repeatedly beating his partner because a hospital staff member called in police after treating her injuries.

The injured woman said she was glad the hospital broke the rule that medical matters are secret and sacrosanct.

I am glad the appalling man was jailed but will the knowledge that hospitals may defy a woman’s wishes and call in the cops mean some suffering women will avoid treatment and suffer in silence and alone?

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