John Bone: This special case needs resolution
I am truly sympathetic to the plight of the Curry family of Exning whose 18-year-old daughter, Zoe, is left wondering how she can get home from college in Bury St Edmunds now her regular bus has been cancelled to save money. It is always people with a particular problem, like Zoe with a condition that limits her ability to walk, who suffer most when the axe falls on public services. But running an entire bus with a driver on overtime for a tiny number of people is hard to justify, heartless though that sounds. Is there not another approach? Cannot the money that has been spent on this otherwise little-used service give better value if directed accurately to a special case and solve the problem in another way? Cases like this need detailed attention rather than a broad-brush bus.
Try though they are made to seem sensational, soap scriptwriters’ tales are tamed by the truth. Consider how hard Radio 4’s Archers strove to amaze and wrack us with their harrowing story of domestic horror. They did their best but along comes a local inquest to make their drama seem quite dull. I speak of the tragic events at a millionaire dentist’s home in Great Wilbraham. Somehow my heart goes out to her, her husband and her whole suffering family much more readily than it does to the contrived events in Ambridge. What a stark reminder for all of us that true horror is as likely to be next door as it is in the soaps.
Small wonder Goldie Sayers is being slow to rejoice that the rival who stole her Olympic javelin bronze has been shamed and the girl raised in Newmarket has been given justice. Will there now be some sort of ceremony where our heroine finally gets the gong? Would podium theatricals put things right? I think not.
Set the shaming of a chest against all those hours, days and years of training; all those thousands of pounds of expense; all those sacrifices of liberty and of plain, old-fashioned fun in pursuit of an honour for the nation as much as herself. Only then do we doubt if anything can ever correct such injustice.
All we can realistically hope for is that Goldie shows the same resolution she displayed in sport as she now faces the much greater challenge of refusing to spend the rest of her days bearing a grudge haunted by how she was swindled. Goldie is only 34. She must not let Maria Abakumova dominate now.
Umpire Ron Raisey made such an important point when he pulled stumps on the last of this season’s cricket columns for the Journal. Publicising a training course for would-be umpires he said, almost as an aside, that knowing the rules of a game enhances anyone’s enjoyment whether or not they want to be the bloke in the middle. What’s true for cricket is certainly so for soccer where referees have to endure outrageous jeers from spectators who have no notion of the intricacies of the rules it has taken the best part of two centuries to develop and which are still developing. Never mind instant action replays and all the fancy technology. Fans should swot up the rule books before they abuse the man with the whistle.
What Newmarket wants is a proper cinema, not a screening in the Memorial Hall, Cllr Rachel Hood told Newmarket Town Council, proving that the penny has dropped. At last our local councillors are behind the campaign. We do not want a film show. We want the full works, Pearl & Dean, popcorn, new releases, the lot. It has been done elsewhere. It can be done here. I’ve nagged away for years but it has taken a stubborn visionary like David Rippington to force our leaders to listen. They have the message. They have understood. They have even set up a special committee.
I dare to believe that this town which gives so much of its attention to entertaining outsiders may one day get round to giving local people a nice night out. And all this at a time when the world cinema scene could scarcely be stronger.
What are we to read into the way Matthew Hancock’s official visit to the USAF’s Lakenheath Base seemed to concentrate on its fire station rather than its role in global peacekeeping? Reading between the lines it seems to suggest our allies may extend their involvement in providing emergency services for the civilian population far beyond the base gates.
Quite how this works we can only guess. Does it extend to services beyond fire fighting? Such developments would be most welcome when our own fire, rescue and ambulance services are beset with budget cuts.