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John Bone takes a sideways look at Newmarket's week




The truly astonishing outcome of a police traffic check in Newmarket was both admirable and profoundly worrying.

Let me remind you of the statistics for that one-day exercise: Of 70 vehicles pulled in at the check-point, only 18 got a clear bill of health.

One driver was arrested for immigration offences. Another was held for failing to attend a court. Two vehicles were seized and an amazing 63 drivers were reported for a whole range of offences including nine that endangered public safety.

Police officers checking a vehicle during a day of action in Newmarket.
Police officers checking a vehicle during a day of action in Newmarket.

This was simply a random sample of what passes on our roads every day. Small wonder some forces like Cambridgeshire are closing police stations to the public. Small wonder Suffolk police are struggling to protect a sprawling county with an under-staffed and under-equipped force.

Don’t blame the cops if most offenders get away with it. Remember that figure: Only 18 out of 70 road users were innocent of any offence.

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Honouring a horse has been mocked by many. Does Frankel know his fame? What’s the point of electing a dumb beast to a hall of fame?

Those who seek the point miss the point. Such ceremonial antics have little to do with the object of admiration and everything to do with us, the public. If exalting a racehorse is futile and slightly silly then why has Her Majesty occasionally in her reign awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross? Does the dead hero murmur “Thank you, ma’am” and rest in even deeper peace?

And, by the same token, do all those dogs, pigeons an pussies awarded the Dicken Medal for brave pets try even harder to please us?

Of course not. So, we ask again, what is the point of honouring Frankel along with Lester Piggott, whose own record is less seamlessly splendid?

Let me explain my theory to justify treating animals as we treat ourselves. It’s purpose is to encourage our better behaviour. Giving a gong to some bloke who dives into turbulent water to save a stranger has the twin effect of expressing universal gratitude for such selfless courage and reminding us of the fragility of the human frame. We are all vulnerable and all depend on each other to survive. By applauding valorous humans we acknowledge how precious life is. As a consequence we may treat each other a little more kindly, with a little more respect and even love.

Surely the same goes for animals. By making a fuss about a pigeon that flew messages through an artillery barrage we may be less likely to treat birds as disposable and worth our respect.

Lord knows, even in this enlightened land where we worship dogs, some pets are tortured by neglect. We all need to be reminded that it is not only Frankel, who made money for many, and who merits respect but all animals we take for granted and fail to honour. By honouring a horse we are reminded we, too, are animals.

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I am a disgrace to civilization, a wicked sinner. I laugh at funerals.

There is something about such shared sorrow that makes me want to shake my fist at death and crack jokes about life.

So I had a good laugh at a cremation last week. Arriving early, I passed time looking at other funeral flowers including those intended for a late and much-loved old man. In one wilting bunch of thirsty tulips rested a card. A birthday card. It was the dear departed’s birthday. The card said “Happy Birthday, Grandad.” I peeped to see what it said inside. Four words: “Have a great day!”

Truly, love and hope are indomitable.

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Some cynics may have cast a doubting eye over page 37 of the Journal last week where we encouraged readers to build offices in their gardens as the popularity of working from home increases even though lockdown must surely soon end.

Those who have never tried it think that working from home is a ploy to take life easy away from the office.

They are wrong.

I seldom work in the office these days and I am convinced I get more work done in less time than I ever did in the office. In the office, one is often interrupted by kind colleagues and others just popping in for a chat. Nothing to do with the job in hand. Just friendly gossip about kids and cars and TV.

But don’t home workers slack when the boss can’t see them? The opposite is true. I am the worst boss I have ever worked for. I drive myself the way no-one else ever dared. What’s more, I never waste a moment.

If I’m stuck in my work for some reason, I don’t sit twiddling my thumbs. I peel the potatoes, groom the moulting dog, weed the front path, call poor old Auntie Flo. There’s never an idle moment when working at home,

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Scorpion snacks and tasty testicles were on the supposedly horrifying menu for the Burrough Green brothers raising cash to ease lockdown victims’ plight.

Horrifying? I find their scary fare quite appealing compared with the stomach-churning fast food shown in TV commercials every night. TV channels should be compelled to issue health warnings as they do for flashing lights and sickening or sexy scenes.“This ad includes pictures of oozing burgers.”