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John Bone takes an irreverent look at Newmarket's week




Speedway has taken a terrible toll on life and limb so it is surprising to find Mildenhall Fen Tigers raising doubts about the referee’s decision last week to halt racing because he judged rain had made the track unsafe.

Apologising to disappointed fans, the club threw doubt on the referee’s decision, adding: “As a club we felt conditions were improving at the time racing was curtailed and some riders felt the same.”

Easy words when the final responsibility lies elsewhere. In such cases the referee’s judgement should be respected and not publicly questioned however painful the consequences.

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

There is more to life than fun. Respect the ref.

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There are times when reading reports of crooks’ idiotic capers a sense of sheer weariness sweeps over me.

I suppose I should feel shock, outrage, fury and all the rest of it, but I do not; I just feel a sort of despair. Consider the local exploits of James Connors, aged 21, now snug in a cell at our expense.

This fathomlessly stupid young man and his mates stole a car from outside an occupied Soham house and spent the next three or four days blithely driving around in it, popping in here and there to burgle in Mildenhall, Thetford and elsewhere, always in the same stolen car of which the police were already aware.

It seems to me their capture and conviction were absolutely inevitable but only after our law agencies had spent much more money catching them than the crazy gang ever gained on their sad spree.

Why am I so depressed by this pathetic story? Am I demanding a better class of more intelligent criminal activity? That would be absurd. But when there is so much woe in our world what is it that allows such sheer inanity to exist? There have always been thieves. Jesus was crucified beside one. Is there nothing we can do to get into their thick heads that it all ends in tears? Unless, of course, you are in very big business. In that case you’ll probably get away with it.

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Deprived areas of the country have 10 times more betting shops than better-off areas according to a Bristol University study.

Newmarket certainly has more bookies than most towns around here but I expect those who use them would explain that by saying the town is, after all, the Headquarters of racing. But may I just point out to those who reckon a bet could redeem their fortunes that a Birmingham University study shows that bets laid in betting shops bring in about 40 per cent of the £5 billion bookies are left with after any winnings are deducted. Think about it.

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For the first time I feel on the same side as the people in those parishes where Sunnica plan an immense solar farm.

They are vocally opposed to the scheme whereas a few, like myself, have a hunch such sites are preferable to other sources of energy and merely fulfil the same essential role as farming.

But, now we know the ominous dangers in the building of enormous lithium ion batteries, their tendency to explode and emit toxic gases, it is time to think again. Some sort of batteries are essential but I would not like to live down-wind of the sort Sunnica have in mind.

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Our taxi industry should stick to its guns on opposing a law to make all of their vehicles wheelchair accessible. But there must be enough of such taxis to cater for the level of demand. After all, we have different sorts of ambulances and police cars for different tasks. Why insist all taxis should be the same? Especially when the cost of such a rule could end up weakening the vital public services taxis perform.

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To rob a man of his brainpower, his mobility and almost everything he loves in life is tantamount to murder. So to my mind Simon Dobbin was, despite everything his matchless wife could do for him, effectively murdered that night he was attacked on a football fan trip to Southend in 2015.

Upon his sad death after years in limbo, we can now hope the slow and complex wheels of justice will grind out proper punishment to his killers.

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Even when our rulers delivered blow after blow at Newmarket’s much-loved little hospital, many of us never despaired. We knew the hospital made sense. We knew it would be restored to us.

It has taken 30 wasted and costly years but our confidence is close to being rewarded. There is talk of operating theatres, in-patient beds.

Meanwhile, the alternative at Bury is falling down through error and neglect. It is hard to refrain from muttering “Told you so.”

Dare we now look forward to the restoration of a proper police station, a proper magistrates’ court even a proper rubbish dump, oops, sorry, civic amenity facility?

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There was a time not that long ago when ordinary people going about their ordinary days lived in a world full of faith and magic.

They went to church but trusted magpies to tell the truth, relied on cows to foretell the weather and knew witches lived in elder trees. Science swept all that away but the magic is missed so we turn to filmic fantasy. Harry Potter and Gandalf are our stand-in sorcerers now.

How wonderful then to discover a renewed interest in Exning’s sacred spring. This trickle among the trees was where St Etheldreda, her father, King Ana and his queen were baptised a thousand years ago.

St Wendred’s Well can cure people and horses alike of assorted ills. But first you must believe. Surely, if many of us can half believe in Potter and Gandalf, a few of us can restore faith in a holy lady who lived long ago but is unforgotten.

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