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Columnist John Bone's take on Newmarket's week




Readers may have shared the indignation expressed in a letter to the Journal last week from a reader dismayed to find none of the town council candidates in last week’s election had a Newmarket address.

The only indignation I feel is towards able townspeople who lament the lack of a certain sort of councillor but do nothing about it despite having the commitment and ability. I do not address our correspondent, but that host of capable voters who never even think of standing.

If the council isn’t what’s wanted then the solution is in the hands of the public some of whom complain about those who give their time and brains in public service. Stand up or shut up.

Cricket has returned to Newmarket's Severals.
Cricket has returned to Newmarket's Severals.

If the council isn’t what’s wanted then the solution is in the hands of the public some of whom complain about those who give their time and brains in public service. Stand up or shut up.

It is a joy that the re-born Newmarket Cricket Club have made such a brilliant start to the season.

No self-respecting town should be without its cricket club and to score 361 in the first game at the new ground and the first for four years is a triumph for the town whether you like cricket or find it a tedious ceremony to cause rainfall.

The town is so dominated by racing that it can seem to lack ordinary balance. So institutions like Newmarket CC and the Nomads at the Kings Theatre are lynchpins. To both we can truly say; "Well played!"

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What a shame that the organisers have reluctantly decided to end the Fenland Country Fair.

It has been a brilliant and important event for decades but must have been a huge burden for the scores of good people who kept it going.

Perhaps it will rise again. It is needed. I always saw it as the authentic successor to the great county and regional agricultural shows which have grown too big, too fancy and too commercial to bind rural communities.

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Our welfare state is a wonderful British achievement and sets a pattern for the world but it is not perfect. It still needs the odd nudge and shove from individuals or charities.

Newmarket has been exceptionally fortunate in its wealthy benefactors but Simon Gibson was almost unique in the way he operated a little like a benign aristocrat in earlier centuries.

Some may dismiss this sort of social hero as an echo of feudalism but, to be honest, I’d rather fall under the protective wing of such a man than the cold hand of some efficient , box-ticking social worker.

Communities who have such a benefactor are fortunate but this old system is too hit-and-miss. Pity the poor people who live in the shadow of the big house and never get a penny.

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It is a long time since I read a more touching and dramatic report in the Journal than Alison Hayes’ account of the baby born very prematurely to a Newmarket couple.

As a nurse, the mother, Kerrie Warner, had a good grasp of the risks to baby Finley when the birth began after only 23 weeks and five days.

The stark simplicity of the decision she and her partner reached seems so brave but also so pragmatic. Perhaps her professional knowledge of long-drawn-out attempts to save a faltering life led her to declare: “All I could say was that if he came out and was not looking good we should let him go.”

It is truly marvellous the way when faced with a terrible situation ordinary people show a wisdom that escapes the experts.

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I’ve always resisted referring to a policeman as 'Pc.Plod' or calling an entire force 'plods'. It seems so rude, so derogatory, so lacking in respect.

So I am a little surprised and even shocked to see Cambridgeshire Constabulary is calling a sign language scheme Police Liaison Officers for Deaf People or PLOD for short. Most sectors of society are so sensitive about what you call them that the official use of PLOD is curious.

So the next time a police officer calls me a hack I’ll just have to swallow my pride and not sweep off in a huff.

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Once again we get a glimpse of the reality of the roads that pass through and past our lives.

Three police forces were involved in taking into protective custody a supposedly abducted victim of alleged people trafficking found in a car on the A14.

I find myself increasingly haunted by what happens almost unheeded on the edges of my safe, secure, settled existence.

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I know someone who has an entire column drum and massive Ionic capital from the huge stone colonade of the long-demolished Newmarket Goods Station now serving as a monumental bird table in his garden.

We may be able to glimpse the station in a photo in the new book about Newmarket’s railway history mentioned in the Journal last week. It’s a bit of a come-down for a grandiose Victorian flight of classical fancy but at least a fragment of our railway story survives despite Dr Beeching and his axe-wielding traitors. A trace of a town that once boasted three railway stations is now highly rated by birds if they can get to the food before the squirrels!

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Fashionable foodies are always looking for new menu gimmicks so when the Newmarket Food and Drink Festival is held at the Jockey Club in September wouldn’t it be appropriate for the equestrian setting to serve the food in nosebags?