John Bone: Shame to miss the staycation rush
It is a thousand pities that Newmarket’s new National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art has had to be closed for completion, before opening properly in the autumn. So many economic factors suggest this will be a prime summer for holidays at home. Everything, apart perhaps from the weather, points to a promising season for East Anglia’s tourist trade. Yet our big new draw will be shut. What a shame the work could not be delayed or advanced to catch the favourable wind. But I suppose a century is a short space of time in Newmarket’s history and we must be patient.
n I may be wrong, but I reckon it must be a fortnight since some expert said something spiteful about Suffolk schools. Let us grab this chance to get on with the job our teachers, governors and students so deeply desire to do without being cast down by carping critics and puffed-up time-servers.
n While congratulating pretty 14-year- old Fordham girl Charley Game on doing well by coming third in the “Junior Miss British Isles” contest, I harbour hesitations The redundant geographical term “British Isles” has long been politically irksome to our Irish friends who prefer “United Kingdom and The Republic of Ireland” to do the job. Sadly, even “United Kingdom” is becoming an almost equally tricky term thanks to those irritable Scots and, thanks to football, Wales shows signs of detaching itself. However, as things stand we can be reasonably confident Fordham will remain in the Soham catchment area so at the very worst Charley can claim to be Miss Soham, unless, of course, some carnival queen disputes the claim. You can’t be sure of anything these days.
n We must resist saying too soon what we think of the latest shabby chapter in the inglorious annals of Newmarket Town Council. It may well be the auditors’ baleful look at the books is no more than an embarrassing hiccup. But the Lord knows we might have hoped to be spared yet another nasty episode of uncertainty. So at this point I stay silent except to reiterate that, despite all setbacks and Toy Town tomfoolery, the town should stay wedded to the notion that we need a town council. Other towns all around show they can be quite useful or even actually vital.
n Lunatic fantasy becomes more precious as our world grows darker and more turbulent. So let’s hear it for the students and staff at Burwell Village College who on this day last week, when a dismayed nation contemplated the pathetic antics of our leaders in London, spent most of the day hurling Wellington boots in perfect unison. Needless to say, the Guinness Book of Records had imposed the most stringent criteria, but I remain quietly confident our wellie chuckers beat their antipodean academic rivals at Lincoln University in New Zealand’s paltry record of 348 boot bungers. As I write, the jury is out. We serious sports reporters wait with bated breath. Meanwhile, in Westminster, the national back-stabbing record was well under way.
n OMG, tickets for Anglesey Abbey’s Winter Lights event next November and December went on sale last Monday. It’ll soon be time to put those Christmas sprouts on the boil.
n Having enjoyed a few risky times in my own life, I entirely understand the feelings of Kelly Harrison. She is the Newmarket former jockey who will mount Daredevil Boy in a racehorse retraining event at the Barbury International Horse Trials. Kelly speaks of the “void of not race-riding” and I know what she means, even though I know as much about her business as I know about space travel or brain surgery. Thrills are addictive not only for humans but also, it seems, for horses. By bringing the two together in this event the organisers have identified a shared cure for a shared need. Fine for racing, but who will cater for the cooks who must retire from catering, the speedway stars who must quit their bikes, the pub pianists with arthritic fingers, the cops with no-one to arrest, the tree surgeons with vertigo, the teachers with no students and the shopkeepers with no stock to shift? Who’ll “retrain” them?
n Reducing the speed limit from 60 to 40 on the crash-plagued road between the USAF bases at Mildenhall and Lakenheath is all very well if it is enforced. But are our overworked police free to do the job and would we want a visiting force, however well received, to share the load? Long-term, the real answer lies not in prosecution but education. But that is even more time-consuming than old-fashioned patrols.