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John Bone with his own take on the week in Newmarket

I suspect the general bleating and breast-beating over the effect the pandemic has had on our lives may irk our older people.

The general drift of current conversation is that Christmas has never been so sad and our lives never so confined. Even our MP and Health Secretary in his Journal column declared: “This holiday season is unlike any other to cap off a year unlike any other.”

Strictly speaking, he is right, but I hear elderly voices shouting back: “What about 1943?”
“What about 1944?”

Christmas in a pandemic
Christmas in a pandemic

Christmas puds made of carrots. One scrawny chicken to serve eight. Old, broken second-hand toys for the kids. And all of that against a background of acute anxiety while most of the men fought abroad. Along with the Christmas cards there might come that dreaded telegram from the Army, Air Force or Navy…“We regret to inform you …”

Certainly it was different but is our Christmas today really comparable? When you wish an elderly person a happy Christmas this year, try to imagine the Christmases they knew in the 1940s.


The pandemic is beginning to drive us dotty. I have a friend who is half serious when he says he is thinking about moving into his garden shed. A county border runs right through his garden. His house is in three-tier Hertfordshire but the shed is in two-tier Cambridgeshire. He says that when he moves into the shed he will look back at his house 'with tiers in my eyes'.


In a festive, holly-bedecked fashion newspaper advertisement an Ely firm is offering face masks at £20 for 50. How quickly we are becoming habituated to lockdown life. By Easter we’ll be able to buy chocolate-flavoured surgical gloves and butterscotch hand sanitizer.


As my unkind friends have often told me, I have no sense of style in what I wear and no grasp of fashion. But how can I hope to mend my ways when the world of men’s fashion is getting more and more complicated?

One fashion editor has gone so far this week as to suggest what a well-dressed male worshipper should wear at Midnight Mass.I guess that although the Almighty might not notice the check coat, cream jersey and black trousers, lady worshippers might.


Personalised car number plates are an innocent vanity, a bit of numerical nonsense, but there could be a drawback. As his lawyer pointed out in court the other day, a Newmarket restaurateur, whose first name is Monza, could hardly get away with being unnoticed if he drove around the town in his car with its MON7A plates. But this has not put me off my ambition to have plates reading simply B1. Geddit?


Most dog owners see their beloved pets as part of their security arrangements. Even the most timid pooch will kick up a useful barking when thieves menace a property.

Trouble is, as a side effect of the pandemic, dog prices have soared and more and more of them are being stolen by crooks.

So keep Fido safe so he can keep you safe. But how? We need a new class of dogs – guard dogs who guard dogs.


While I wish all readers, even those I have upset, a good Christmas, I have a particular section specially in mind. Exiled readers from Newmarket, Ely, Mildenhall, Soham and all the dozens of villages we serve get their fix of home news either online or when their Journal arrives, slightly crumpled, in every corner of the earth.

While the world is united by the microscopic enemy we call Covid 19, our far-flung readers must be anxious about what’s happening back home. Some are sundered from their families. They cannot come home for a cuddle and the kids. They are doing the nation’s business in offices and military bases, buying, selling, serving. They wonder not only how Covid will affect their families but how Brexit will affect their businesses. I can only hope the friendly local voice they get with their Journal is a comfort as they wait for the day they can come home.

A special Happy Christmas to them.

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