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John Bone with an irreverent look at Newmarket's week

Mixing motors with horses on our roads has a difficult history. Who or which has first rights on an English public highway?

It is not just the relationship between horses, lorries, cars, cyclists and pedestrians. I have long advocated precedence for farmers. I contend that they have been herding cattle and trundling horse-drawn ploughs around the lanes of Suffolk before anyone even imagined the internal combustion engine. Therefore they have right of way.

The law differs. Newmarket is super-sensitive on the priority issue. Upset or hurt, the horses and you are endangering an industry. But horses are a miniscule element on the total traffic.

We all need training in driving around horses, says John Bone
We all need training in driving around horses, says John Bone

So can a way be found to keep everyone happy? You’d think not judging by the present ill-feeling in Newmarket. But direct your attention just a few miles to the north up the A14 and you come to a right spaghetti junction at Swavesey whose designer has just been given an award by the British Horse Society. His intricate intersection offers safety to all road users except, possibly, drunken unicyclists.

In an engineering sense, this sort of sensible solution can be achieved. But in Newmarket clever design alone can never bring peace. The two sides in this historical saga on our roads and lanes need to understand each other better.

Above all, the motorised side who know nothing of how horses behave, need to be told. This will not be done by shouting and accusing. They need to be enlightened. Few, very few, are heedless of the safety of riders and horse. They just don’t understand. Newmarket needs to get its act together and find ways to explain.


It won’t last. It will never work. But, that said, the new Labour mayor of Cambs & Peterborough replacing the Conservative James Palmer has appointed a Tory deputy. This is like Boris Johnson naming Keir Starmer as his stand-by prime minister. I repeat. It won’t last. It will never work. And yet, and yet…


I see a huge queue of cars and lorries was held up on the A14 after thousands of gallons of tomato puree smothered the highway in a lorry crash. Luckily, the delayed traffic was able to ketchup later. Sorry.


Imagine you are answering the phone in a local RSPCA office when someone comes on the line from Newmarket saying: “Please could you find a home for 156 zebra finches, I just can’t manage them any more?”

Dealing with the odd budgie must pose a few problems but 156 zebra finches? All at once?

I am here to tell you that the dear old RSPCA, about whom I have hitherto had doubts, rose to the challenge magnificently. Catching the little darlings was the least of their problems. Finding loving homes was harder. Especially as no bird must ever live alone.

Suppose they mated with a canary or a song thrush; would the outcome be a zebra crossing?


Well done all those splendid souls who spend Saturday picking up all the junk and litter dumped beside the road between Burwell and Quy.

I heartily applaud your good work. But I feel bound to tell you that my distinguished archaeologist friend hates tidy fuss-budgets who go around destroying all the evidence about us before future experts get a chance to dig it up.


Having said a final farewell to too many members of my family and my friends at the West Suffolk Crematorium, I am glad to have a chance to say a living farewell to a woman who has made that potentially grim place so surprisingly pleasant.

During Royna Hill’s 32 years managing the crematorium she has overseen many fundamental changes including the really good restaurant.

Thank you, Royna.

I guess I will have to die some day and I can think of no nicer place for my family to meet for a cake and cuppa and remember what a tiresome old bloke I was.


As I have made clear in the past, I am not a mortal opponent of the Sunnica solar farm scheme but that does not mean I like the way they go about things.

To hold a so-called public consultation in the middle of a pandemic lockdown is on the edge of sharp practice.

It is patently unfair and unreasonable not to allow opponents time to react in such a crisis.

If Sunnica seek public approval, this is not the way to go about it.


Amid all the million-pound mansions in our property pages it is a pleasant surprise to find a perfectly presentable Isleham modern cottage on the market for under £200,000.

I know that is still a lot for a young couple looking for a starter home but is achievable to many on the threshold of ownership. What looks like an impenetrable wall of wealth does in fact have its chinks

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