John Bone: Downton effect on home entertaining

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The census may suggest shrinking family size, but a remarkable number of homes in our property pages boast four, five or even more bedrooms. Can it be that we do more entertaining these days? Could it be the influence of all those house parties in Downton Abbey and other period television dramas? If so, I suppose it is better than taking our cue from Corrie or EastEnders.

n It is a pity the Monopoly people have decided not to create a Newmarket version of the board game. I rather looked forward to a street plan incorporating horse walks and little plastic horse droppings for authenticity.

n I have nothing against the plan to build an M&S food store at a

new filling station at The Shade roundabout on the edge of Soham. But please, please, planners, do not permit a hideous flashy eyesore visible for miles across the fen. A £2 million investment in Soham sounds welcome but too many hideous filling stations are allowed in rural spots where they stick out like sore thumbs.

n Some supporters of the Clean for the Queen tidy-up campaign risk coming close to making a political point by blaming the present litter epidemic on closure of Newmarket’s Depot Road tip. Rubbish! Who seriously imagines litter louts would behave differently if the tip was open? That might be true of fly tipping in car boot loads, but the sort of drinks -can and fag -packet litter that creates rural Suffolk eyesores is dumped by selfish ignoramuses who do not give a damn whether or not there are proper places.

n What richer legacy could anyone leave than the ability to defy death and give your mourners a laugh? That’s what Freckenham farm tractor buff Ronald Cornell achieved. Ronald once declared the only flowers worth growing were cauliflowers.

No surprise, then, that he requested no floral tributes at his own funeral. But a resourceful niece gave him the last laugh by designing a wreath of vegetables and several friends sent ceremonial cauliflowers. We can only hope Ronald has found a flower-free corner in the gardens of heaven.

n The ultimate futility of bravery awards was starkly illustrated by a dramatic car crash near the Mildenhall air base. Don’t get me wrong. That gong for American staff sergeant Vicente Gomez for running to the rescue of the driver of a blazing car was entirely deserved. Especially as the man he saved was then able to help him rescue an injured woman from the second burning car.

But this story of cool heroism is marred by the disclosure that the sergeant’s appeal for help from bystanders was met with “blank stares.” He and the rescued man were left to tackle it themselves. Clearly the chance to win an award for valour did not occur to those frozen bystanders, whoever they were. And if the thought of an honour for courage did cross their minds, it was not enough to spur them into action.

Equally clearly, Staff Sgt Gomez is the sort of man whose humanity is so much part of his splendid character that, pleased as he may be to receive the medal, the notion of reward for innate nobility is irrelevant to his reaction. He did it because it was the right thing.

So we must ask ourselves, what purpose is served by bravery awards apart from giving us, the bystanders at award

ceremonies, a warm glow? What would we do when confronted by two people trapped in blazing cars? Go for a gong?

n As the innocent Simon Dobbin settles back at home in Mildenhall a year after the appalling street attack when he went to Southend as a Cambridge United supporter, we can reflect on one of the lesser losses poor Dobbo has sustained. He must have been largely unable to follow what history may well record as the most astonishing, turbulent and utterly enthralling national football seasons ever. The injustice is monumental.

n I see a Six Mile Bottom sporting business is offering private clay pigeon shooting events for hen or stag parties. Perfect for a shotgun wedding?