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John Bone takes an irreverent look at Newmarket's week



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Among the many Londoners who settled in Newmarket after World War Two is an elderly friend of mine who said something surprising this week when we talked about events in Ukraine.

“When I’m watching television reports of the bombing and shelling I feel the hair rise on the back of my neck” he said. “I get this sudden sort of shake go through me.”

I asked why.

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

“It’s the air aid sirens,” he said. “I’ve only got to hear them going off in Kviv or anywhere in Ukraine and I’m five years old again and huddled with my mum in the cupboard under the stairs hoping one of Hitler’s bombs didn’t hit our house.”

Post-traumatic shock can last a lifetime.

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At the time of writing and with the exception of Mildenhall, so many of our local football clubs are having a disappointing season.

Yet I am full of admiration for the Jockeys, languishing eighth in their league, Ely City at 12th and Soham Town Rangers 10 games without a win.

Call me a condescending, patronising Herbert if you like, but the sheer unputdownable spirit of our clubs is sportsmanship at its finest.

Of course, I’d be much happier if they won a few more but, as my footie-mad grandfather used to say: “I don’t care who wins so long as it’s a good game.”

What would he make of the present dodgy doings in Quatrar leading up, I do not doubt, to a vexatious, venal and vituperative World Cup? I know where I’d rather be and it isn’t far from where I live.

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Carbon jargon baffles almost half of small businesses in our region, according to a survey commissioned by the British Business Bank.

Really? I would have thought a combination of Government gobbledegook and the self-righteous rantings of eco-zealots would have confused almost all of them.

Why is it that when a really important ‘save the planet’ message needs to be expressed, the outcome is a wordy blur? Take recycling of domestic waste. Every authority has a different formula, a different set of instructions. Journal readers, for example, live under at least three council administrations, each with its own approach to bins, what to put in them and when. Result: widespread confusion and a loss of enthusiasm for doing the right thing. Yet most of us are well disposed to cooperate. The people in power lack the power to harvest goodwill.

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The phrase ‘once in a lifetime’ or ‘chance of a lifetime’ are too freely used.

Take the Cambridgeshire County Day event at the July Course on July 23. It is being officially heralded as ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity to celebrate the very best Cambridgeshire has to offer’. Really? Will children and teenagers truly in the coming 70 years or so never hope to see such a show? What a sad thought.

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As burglars go, the young Ely man and woman were a bit sloppy. They drove around in a stolen car still carrying the loot from their raid some time earlier.

But it didn’t take brilliant detective work to catch them. That was done by a local person who was alarmed by the dangerous way the car was being driven round an Ely housing area and called the cops.

True, the police were also helped by the two burglars kindly leaving fingerprints at the scene of their crime, but it was an astute member of the public who really did the trick.

Too often when we complain about supposed police failure, we fail to include ourselves as at least partly to blame.

The county lines drugs scandal which threatens our young people could be tackled more effectively if we did what the Ely citizen did and called the cops.

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As I said the other day, I see no harm in the Jockey Club putting an oar in local government as they are presently planning.

But, fair’s fair, they should let our three elected tiers of councils tell the Jockey Club how to run racing and race-courses. Only trouble would be a question of speed. A race run by our councils would take days, even weeks or years, to reach the finish line.

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I pity those poor parish councillors in Snailwell who have horrified villagers by slapping a big rise in the local Council Tax precept.

It may have been logical and necessary but did it have to be now when the nation is tightening its belt? Opponents complain there was no warning or consultation but parish council meetings are public. Apart from elected members, who bothered to attend when the deed was done?

And Snailwell grumblers might consider standing for election at the next opportunity to show they can do better.

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It would be impudent of me to try to tell you what to say if you respond to West Suffolk’s consultation on proposed changes to rules on taxis.

That said, if you do say something then please stress the growing importance of taxis in our lives. They are vital in many ways but the operators are increasingly crippled by well-meaning regulations.

Those regulations could end up robbing us all of an important public service faced with higher fuel costs on top of yet more costly regulations.

If you feel like I do about our crucially important taxi drivers then the address is www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/Council/Consultation.