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John Bone takes an irreverent look at Newmarket's week



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Open letter to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Your Majesty,

The widespread delight aroused by your gracious bestowal of city status on several towns is echoed here in Newmarket where we humbly accept our small size denies us any hope of earning such high honour (although we note that Ely is not much bigger yet has been a city for centuries, still things were done differently in the olden days).

John Bone is asking Her Majesty to give Newmarket a royal moniker
John Bone is asking Her Majesty to give Newmarket a royal moniker

Setting aside this impediment, may it please Your Majesty to emulate your great grandfather who granted his favourite resort the title Bognor Regis, even though he was, like Your Majesty, a racing type, by letting the Headquarters of the sport which has brought you a lifetime’s joy, be known as Newmarket Regis. If this does not find your favour, never mind, we will not love you any the less.

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My rival Journal columnist, Martin Seeley, whose other job is Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, has confessed in the Westminster politicos’ mag, The House, that his first love was woodwork.

That was a cherished subject as a boy but then he saw the light. He told his father he wanted to drop carpentry and switch to religious knowledge.

Pity his poor dad who could only say: “Woodwork would be more useful.” Perhaps so, considering the pitiful state of the roofs in many churches in his diocese.

Now Bishop Martin has the best of both disciplines since he still turns out treen treasures on his episcopal lathe at home, no doubt comforting himself that Christ’s father was a carpenter.

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Writing rude words in the dirt on the back of cars, vans and trucks, is one of the glories of England’s creative culture. But I am not sure it will flourish with such vulgar vigour now that East Cambridgeshire is inviting sweet little schoolgirls to paint pretty pictures on its dustcarts.

I know it was all in aid of the Jubilee but where is the thrill of running away after scrawling something naughty in mud?

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Parishes cherishing ancient rights and ancient traditions have been beating their bounds to signify their territories. Could Newmarket not with similar solemnity beat the bounds of the St Felix site to leave planners and builders in no doubt that it is ours to do with as we wish?

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Let us hope the new owners of Beechwood House do something to cheer it up.

The long-abandoned isolation hospital casts a gloom over passers-by and would be an ideal setting for a Charles Adams horror film.

A few strands of that plastic wisteria television set designers use would help. Alas, plastic blossoms would emit no scent to mask the sewage works.

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Amid growing alarm that the East Anglian Ambulance Service is getting worse rather than better despite massive efforts to cure the chaos, it is time to repeat my modest suggestion to solve what is little short of a crisis – carve it up.

This bit of the NHS is simply too big, the region too huge and scattered with serious weaknesses in its travel infrastructure (note the ambulance stuck in a minor smash near roadworks at the A14 near Fordham some days ago) has serious weaknesses.

Let us go back to a county system where crews had deep knowledge of the area they served. Big is not always beautiful. Why else is Newmarket Hospital slowly being restored to us?

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How quaint that the ancient fossilised trunk from which a mighty Platinum Jubilee table has been fashioned is always now referred to as a black oak.

I bet the blokes who dug it up called it what I call it – a bog oak. I do not think Princess Anne, who visited the table in Ely Cathedral, would have been upset by the word bog. She is known for her command of Anglo Saxon.

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So, the then Health Secretary Matt Hancock is to be played by an actor I have never heard of in a film about the Covid pandemic.

The Newmarket MP might wish he could shrug off notoriety and be again unknown.

Still, looking on the bright side, the film could be the ideal first feature for Newmarket’s new cinema – if we ever get one.

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I saw no mention of manure in our report of how Godolphin had helped Newmarket primary children get to grips with gardening. Yet muck is the best help racing can offer we who dig and delve.

I had a gardening-mad cousin who’d follow the milkman’s horse with a bucket and shovel. His spuds won prizes.