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Columnist John Bone's irreverent look at Newmarket's week

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What is it that makes running a graveyard such a fretful business? No matter if it is holy ground or municipal space, it’s always the same: arcane and usually totally unnecessary rules governing the size and appearance of grave spaces.

“Do this.”

“Don’t do that.”

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

“You can have this but you can’t have that.”

Exning Parish Council has locked itself into just such a clash with a widow. Her husband’s headstone is supposedly four inches too wide. Ye gods! Who cares?

Graveyards in many other European countries are deliriously different. Families are allowed to express their love and loss in what may seem to English eyes tasteless, grandiose, bizarre.

I once walked past a grave in Italy and inadvertently triggered a motion detector which switched on a recording of the buried bloke’s voice. Spooky but joyous.

Funereal fun.

Do we have to be so regimented and authoritarian? We’re so bossed about all our lives. Must we be bossed about when we’re buried?


Every time I read the sports pages I feel thankful I am not a sports editor. It would be such an easy job if there was only football, cricket and horse racing to cover. But there is an infinite variety, dozens of sports and games to suit any taste or ability. Great, but hard to report.

Our Journal sports pages are among the best of their type, covering a huge range. But I have bad news for them. I suspect I have stumbled on a sport which, although it has been around for 100 years, even experts have hardly heard of it. And it has an important Newmarket player. I speak of rink hockey, a roller-skate version of ice hockey and I see that Scarlett Courtney-Barrow, of Newmarket, has been playing for Ely & Chesterton United in the under-15s Eurockey Fem15 Cup in Spain.

I shall be furious if our sports people find out about this and have included it in this week’s Journal, thus ruining my scoop. But being experts, they may even be a step ahead of me and know what Scarlett did. My Spanish Eurockey contacts are not that good.

Next week: Tricycle Darts.


We are in trying times for anyone involved in local government. Massive pressures from planning and new developments plus all the other areas councillors must strive to command can only grow.

Things move fast. Councils must be nimble.

Would reducing the frequency of Newmarket Town Council meetings be helpful if more work was done by specialist committees? Councillors need to study this proposal closely. Their personal convenience should not figure largely in their decision.

Their work can be onerous, to say nothing of tedious. But the town needs the job to be done well, particularly in preventing us from being trampled underfoot by bigger bodies. There is room for improving the structure of the town council’s systems but is this really the time to cut main meetings?


I find it hard to think of noisy, risky, smelly speedway in sentimental terms yet in a strange and almost magical way the Mildenhall speedway has given rise to a beauty salon.

Before his death, speedway star, Danny Ayres, promised to buy his partner, and mother of their two children, just such a business. His death would have ended Jodie Pledge’s dream had not loyal fans backed a fund to make it possible. Pledge means a solemn vow. Somehow, and in the most unexpected way, Danny has kept his pledge.


Parts of Soham have long been perilous to pedestrians. I’ve often dodged death just trying to cross the road.

So the detailed new safety schemes involving contraflows, cycle lanes, speed bumps, and chicanes will be welcome. Soham is getting bigger and busier. It must get safer, too


Town council planning policy may sometimes seem to lack coherence and continuity but there is a clear and very welcome sense of purpose in the opposition to building homes on the heaven-sent leisure opportunity at the old middle school.

Other voices, other authorities will not share this vision of a green breathing space for families often living in small homes with small gardens. These are 11 acres worth fighting for.


To have one’s own wheels was once reserved for the rich. Now it is a basic need of the many.

Environmentalists may well purse their lips, but to deny people easy access to their own means of getting about for work, leisure, trips to school, trips to the doctor, is hard to justify.

It is easy to grasp the fury and frustration of those living around All Saints’ Square, in Newmarket, who may have to walk a long way in all weathers to reach their car or their home. The parking zone now envisaged is no answer. Few will fail to see the justice in that. It’s easy. But then we come to the hard bit. Making such a zone work, enforcing the rules requires money, manpower and vigilance. Will the money subscribed by residents for their preserved parking places meet the bill?

Knowing the bloody-minded ferocity of parking disputes, I doubt it. And, anyway, should people be compelled to pay for what is, in many minds, already their right?

All Saints’ Square is quite a pretty place. It could be even more attractive but not as a civil war zone.

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