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Columnist John Bone takes an irreverent look at Newmarket's week



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The problem with Newmarket’s faltering attempt to set up a town museum is that most people think it already has one.

But the brilliant National Horseracing Museum is an industrial museum. It takes a very partial look at history.

What the admirable Newmarket History Society has in mind is something like the excellent Ely Museum – only even better.

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

Newmarket has a fascinating tale to inspire pride in young and old alike. The town has lost so much of its social structure in recent years. It needs a place to take stock of the past and to plan for the future. It should avoid being swamped by sport in the way the otherwise enviable Mildenhall Museum risks being swamped by the splendour of its own archaeology.

Councillors show some signs of dithering in the search for a site. They should succeed before the year is out.

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We can only hope that if Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore gets his extra money to speed handling of 101 calls the force has the strength to respond with equal alacrity – a knack which still escapes the ambulance service.

Half of the people convicted of various offences in our Court Lists last week were in their twenties or younger. Two were teenagers. None was over 50. Only four were women.

On this evidence King Herod would, for the sake of a quiet life, lock up all males aged under 30.

While the government casts around for spectacular new policies, I draw these local figures to the attention of Pritti Patel. If nothing else it would distract attention from other matters.

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It’s early days, but wise towns and villages are well into planning for Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in June.

So may I offer a word of advice? Soham’s plans are already well advanced and include a fancy dress event. I have nothing against fancy dress for kids or grown-ups (my Archangel Gabriel is widely admired) but I implore jubilee fancy dress contestants not to let this essentially British and Commonwealth shindig be contaminated by Disney. Let us have Robin Hoods and Jolly Swagmen not Mickey and Dopey. Dress up, respectfully (and thriftfully) as the Mahatma Gandhi, but not as Popeye, Pluto, Pinocchio or any other of the pestilential plasticated pantheon of spurious synthetic sentimentality peddled by Walt’s evil empire and its cute cartoons.

Look to Harry Potter, Worzel Gummidge, the Mad Hatter, King Alfred, Florence Nightingale, Mr Bean, Marcus Rashford, Winston Churchill, Elton John or anyone else whose work does honour to our Queen and her Commonwealth.

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Highpoint Prison wants to recruit teachers. It will need quite a few if its plan to expand to 2,000 cell spaces goes ahead.

In order to encourage applicants for would-be prisoner teachers, let me share my very modest personal experience in this field by saying that it taught me a great deal more than I taught my surprising students. They were not at all what I expected or even feared. Find out for yourself.

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If you think grumpy Lakenheath footballers’ squabble over sin bin substitutions are symptomatic of modern quarrelsomeness then think again.

I’ve read a little about the early days of the FA when the present fantastic structure of rules was founded and it was the same then. VAR may be fairer but it has scarcely silenced the complaints.

One of my favourites from the 19th century was when someone bought boots for a player whose own had been stolen by the opposition who then successfully accused him of accepting payment for playing. He was punished for breaching the rules on professionalism.

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Burwell, which is on its way to becoming a small town, thinks big and that is good for the people who live there.

Take, for example, the parish council, which is launching an ambitious and comprehensive safety programme embracing everything from speed limits to spiked drinks. Let us pray this well- worked-out scheme does not become mere lip-service to safety like successive governments’ token efforts to enforce safety in building construction.

Its success is measured in lives lost. The worst thing a safety campaign can do is to make people feel protected when they are not.

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I know I don’t deserve it but I’m going to take a fortnight off anyway.

This means I will miss the Weatherby Crossing inquiry. All I can do to encourage the town’s resistance to an assault on liberty and justice is to quote the case of David McCune, aged 80, who has just won a battle to re-open a footpath near his home in Dorset.

He battled barbed wire and bureaucracy for 12 years but he won. So will we.