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John Bone takes an irreverent look at Newmarket's week

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Move over, Bishop, I’m going to preach on your patch.

I’m a nosey parker and proud of it. I hope readers, too, poke their noses into other people’s lives, take sneaky peeps and pry. It’s the civilized thing to do. “I keep myself to myself” has long been the refuge of the English but it can be little more than an excuse for neglect.

Not keeping an eye on the neighbours may seem a laudable way to protect privacy but the real motive may be to avoid the awful responsibility that comes with knowledge. In the sort of extreme cases that have shocked the nation recently a nastier nosey neighbour might have saved children’s lives. But I’m thinking more about the everyday preservation of ignorance that leaves the lonely alone.

Keep an eye on your neighbours - they may need your help. Picture: iStock
Keep an eye on your neighbours - they may need your help. Picture: iStock

Poking your nose in, having to engage with someone you know but do not know about can be perilous.

You may get a flea in your ear if you intrude ever so tactfully on someone’s isolation. But even a shrug is a start. And Christmas gives us an excuse to step over the social fences and hold out a hand.

Sadly this confounded pandemic has made any sort of social overture ten times harder but it is worth a try. I know that in my case and long ago I failed to pry, failed to intrude, failed to hold out a hand and have had good reason to regret it ever since.

So I say this Christmas and throughout the new year we should be nosey about our neighbours. The worst that can happen is you get a black eye, but you won’t lie awake wishing you had not made the first move.

Sorry, Bishop, if I’ve intruded in your privacy but we should all pull down fences at Christmas, don’t you think?


The dreadful destruction at a much-loved Burwell nature reserve was, it now appears, a dreadful misunderstanding.

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

But what happened at Pauline’s Swamp just shows the need for vigilance. Bonfires and bulldozers can wreck in minutes what nature took decades or even centuries to build up.

With building developments ceaselessly nibbling at our open countryside we must all be alert to protect what public treasures we have.

My sympathy grows daily for those politicians and other deep thinkers who are horrified by the notion of making Covid jabs compulsory.

The way the state bullies me and my human rights as a free citizen of etc etc etc is exemplified by the way I am forced when in this totalitarian country to drive my car on the left of the road, thus robbing me of my basic right to go where I like, left, right, or sometimes down the middle where some idiot may get in my way.


If you think the folk who resist Covid jabs are the most deluded opponents of public health and safety then you would be wide of the mark. Much worse, but fortunately also much rarer, are the homicidal numbskulls who have been firing lasers at a Magpas air ambulance endangering crew and medics. This is a true cause of despair.


Matt Hancock MP is dead right to continue his campaign to tackle dyslexia, the disorder that limits literacy.

He has a concern for criminals. I have done a little amateur welfare work in prison myself and have often come away with the impression that many prisoners are the victims of their own innate physical or mental make-up.

This may not excuse their excesses but it probably goes some way to explaining them. Early action is the answer.

Here I go again. A whole page of last week’s Journal was devoted to progress on Mildenhall’s new skatepark.

They’re still springing up everywhere, these confounded skateparks just to humiliate me because I wrote in this very newspaper about 300 years ago that skateparks were a passing fad of dizzy kids and a waste of public money. Take this as a reminder of how much weight to place on my opinons.

On the other hand I did get one thing right. Way back when they stole Newmarket Hospital from us I said the hospital was so necessary that the NHS would see sense and replace it. Last week, plans for two operating theatres and 32 in-patient beds were approved.

You never know, we may yet get back our magistrates’ court back too.