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John Bone takes an irreverent look at Newmarket's week




I have some sympathy for Newmarket apprentice jockey Benoit de la Sayette who is in trouble over a cocaine test.

Whatever the outcome, what bothers me is that he was confronted with a video, supposedly two years old, which showed him at a party 'in the presence of' the Class A drug.

This sort of evidence strikes me as a way to hurt the innocent by a sort of 'guilt by association'.

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

I make no comment about the particular merits of this particular case but if any of us can be implicated in wrong-doing because of the company we keep then I could be in a bit of a fix. As a journalist I am regularly in the company of all sorts of rascals. It would be easy to paint me with a few pictures as a decadent desperado whereas I am in fact rather dull and boringly law-abiding.

I am reminded of that old rhyme about the drunk found in the gutter with a pig. A judgemental passer-by says:
“You can tell a man who boozes
By the company he chooses
Then the pig got up and walked away.”

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Streets Chartered Accountants are building their bloodstock-based business for the racing industry in Newmarket. They are lovely people but please, please, never refer to them as turf accountants. That’s something altogether different and they wouldn’t like it.

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We live in an age of circumlocution and obfuscation. For example why do we never hear the words 'mental illness' now? It’s always 'mental health', no matter how inaccurate a picture that conveys.

I have even heard a patient described as 'suffering from mental health'. By the same token we hear entirely laudable charity workers declaring that they are 'raising money for cancer' when they are in fact raising money against cancer.

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The surprising addictive power of the humble scratchcard is illustrated by the Ely man who used stolen bank cards to pay for his scratching habit.

This boring branch of gambling ensnares all sorts. A distinguished Cambridge University professor once confessed to me that having bought his fix of cards he could never wait until he got back to his car but scratched them in the street.

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The fact that Lisa Carter has called her new Mildenhall shop Rusty Trunk Antiques implies that her stock is unlikely to include much Faberge, Wedgewood, Ming or Chippendale.

I wish her every success but what I really want is a really good, old-fashioned junk shop. Every town used to have one once. Where have they all gone?

Rummaging round a real junk shop is like panning for gold in a muddy pond. Come on, Lisa, don’t be too posh and trendy. Let’s see a bit of tat to delve in.

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The Journal last week urged readers 'Please recycle this newspaper'. Fine. I’m happy with that. But please respect the sensitivities of old scribblers like me. Don’t let me see how you recycle me. I was once mortified when I visited a nice old lady in Newmarket and found this column lining the floor of her budgerigar cage.

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Despite the harm they are doing the nation’s high streets, I reluctantly admire the sheer speed and accuracy of the online retailers whose vans swarm round our Suffolk lanes.

But they don’t always get it right. A friend who ordered some toothpicks from a firm in the North has just received a metal device for changing the tone of a ukulele. She has emailed them very politely explaining that she does not play the ukulele and has no wish to learn to play the ukulele let alone actually purchase a ukulele upon which to screw their gadget. But she does still want some toothpicks.

That was a fortnight ago. So far no luck. But what interests me is that somewhere there is someone who plays the ukulele, wants a ukulele gadget and cannot play a ukelele with toothpicks. I bet George Formby never had these problems.

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When we consider the vast range of things we expect the police to do in their everyday duties it is both astonishing and heartening that the Cambridgeshire force dealt with more than 1,000 reports of hare coursing it has received in the past year.

We know the Suffolk police have also been active on this front too with trained officers.

Life must be tougher for the brutes who set their dogs to kill hares in our region. Most offenders come from far away and use our fields for their fun.

I sometimes wonder if those political activists who persuaded Parliament to outlaw blood sports realised it is not toffs in red jackets who are the real problem but thugs from the city suburbs.

The good news is that the Cambs force are so successful they can claim a big reduction in cases.

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