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Columnist John Bone's take on Newmarket's week




We are used to princes and plutocrats, politicians and pop stars passing through our corner of Suffolk. They seldom seem relevant to our everyday lives.

But when President Biden landed at Mildenhall on his way to the G7 summit his brief presence here was acutely interesting.

One of the topics many of us wanted Boris Johnson to raise with the most powerful man on earth, was the Harry Dunn affair.

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

Harry was the teenage biker hit outside a USAF base by a car driven on the wrong side of the road by Anne Sacoolas, American wife of a CIA operative at the Northamptonshire base. A charge of causing death by dangerous driving awaits her here but she fled to America claiming diplomatic immunity.

That case has been a running sore in Anglo-American relations for two years. It would be wrong to say it has soured our historic good relations with our USAF friends both at Mildenhall and Lakenheath but it nags at the back of our minds. To what extent do our laws extend to American service people using our roads?

Fortunately, American offenders do not feature disproportionately in the Journal’s court reports but we sought reassurance if Joe Biden, whose writ is limited in US law, could sort this one out and bring justice to Harry’s grieving family. He of all people knows how they feel, having lost wife and children in a car crash.

Now we can be hopeful that there are signs of a serious shift. President Biden realises how much good will rests on this. We await further reassurances.

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As the pandemic continues to confine young lives, it is wonderful that 10-year-old Richard Levell, from Fordham, has become one of the very few Cub Scouts nationally to secure all Beaver and Cubs activity badges.

Such good solid, sensible and practical subjects, too. Scuba and snorkelling are all very well but cooking and gardening are my idea of serious stuff.

Presumably Richard, who is a member of 1st Red Lodge Scouts, will later qualify in tweeting, texting and similar essential social skills.

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On his death bed Barney Curley, the legendary punter and trainer, spoke with regret that he could no longer re-visit the wonderful charitable work he had paid for over many years in Zambia.

What a wonderful example he set for those who believe not only that charity begins at home but that it should stay at home.

We live and survive in a web of nations, as those firms suffering staff problems since Brexit are learning. Steve Elsom, of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, made this clear in his Journal column last week and as the racing industry now knows, if you really want to go bust, build barriers.

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There are lines on maps and there are lines in our hearts. Lines on maps decide where we vote and for whom we can vote. Lines in our hearts have more to do with such abstractions as love, pride and loyalty rather than political convenience.

History has long left Newmarket with political perplexity as it balances on borders like a high wire acrobat between Cambridgeshire, where much of its economic interest lies, and Suffolk where, as far as I am concerned, its heart lies.

These latest proposed constituency changes are yet another episode in a long story. If it brings greater equality in the constituency head count and leaves fewer voters feeling powerless then it will be worth the work. But whatever happens, Newmarket will still be a bit of an oddity stranded between two huge counties neither of which has a great sense of unity nor cares deeply about this curiosity teetering on the edge.

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I haven’t made a tour of inspection of the George Lambton Playing Fields lately so I’m prepared to believe those who think the hedges and boundary weeds are ‘disgraceful’. That said, I hope they are not falling into the trap of tidy-minded zealots who fail to appreciate that nature, on which our lives depend, is never neat.

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In one edition last week we reported the retirement of a racehorse called The Tin Man and the Jockey Club backing improvements to the Yellow Brick Road. Next week: Newmarket renamed The Emerald City. But right now I’m off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz.

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