John Bone: Touched by tale of scruffy lost cat

Last week’s Journal was the usual fascinating mix of triumph and tragedy. Harrowing court cases shared pages with happy stories of flowers and fun. But I confess that in all this strange collection of stories drawn from the life of our community one touched my heart more acutely than any other.

I speak of the lost cat reported by Sue Steiner of Burwell. Poor Minnie had been dumped in a rubbish bin by her previous owners so that “when she get stressed … she starts pulling her fur out. She’s a really mangy looking cat” said poor Mrs Steiner. “She doesn’t like people.” Strange how my heart goes out to this wretched creature much more than some sleek, strokable and pampered pet or, indeed, some people.

According to an item in our Community News, the author Alison Bruce “began writing after coming up with a way to kill someone that no-one had ever thought of before on her way to work for the NHS.”

If this alarming disclosure is a clue, small wonder the Health Service is in such a pickle.

While welcoming Superintendent Andrew Mason as our area’s new top cop, I would just like to offer him a word of advice. It is this: Don’t take advice from people like me. Everyone in your area, Mr Mason, fancies they know better than you how to make it safe and rid us of crooks. Ignore us. Do it your way. In return, I trust you not to tell the rest of us how to do our jobs. There is far too much consulting and far too little individual decision-making in today’s world. What’s falsely called democracy can be drift to dither.

It seems only yesterday that primary school fund-raising events were modest affairs involving a sale of dishcloths knitted by the girls of IIIb and a display of appalling papier mache artwork by fumble-fingered boys of IIa. The finale was a performance of the National Anthem by the entire school’s massed tambourines.How things have changed! Kettlefields Primary at Dullingham, for example, had a stand-up comedy routine at their summer fair. There was a talent show, too. Children played the guitar and danced. There were pony rides and a band. Our exhaustive detailed report left out only one detail: were the “sponges thrown at head teacher Angela Finn” wet or dry? It matters. It really matters.

I would welcome a botanist’s opinion on how a fairly rare bee orchid suddenly bloomed in Sheila Preston’s lawn at Swaffham Prior. Had it been slumbering beneath the turf for decades? Did a bird carry seed there? Are such apparent miracles commonplace?

I am so impressed by the courage of the Vicar of Soham in taking on the part of the extremely stupid vicar in a local production of Pride and Prejudice that I have decided to institute a new drama award.

The John Bone Drama Prize will go to the first local amdram group to stage a play in which all the parts are played by local people who play those roles in real life. Teachers must play teachers, police officers must be the cops, shopkeepers shopkeepers and so on. And if there is a part for a slightly stupid reporter … you need only ask.

It is interesting to note how far the fiery property pendulum has swung. A few years ago, invisible under-floor heating was all the rage and housebuilders began to eliminate proper chimneys.The focal point of our sitting rooms became the TV. Now, estate agents’ ads in the Journal go out of their way to mention any wood-burning stoves in a property.

I find this an entirely welcome development. But there is a snag. True, looking at a real fire is vastly more entertaining than most TV, but at this time of year when TV is at its worst, just a dreary parade of rotten repeats, it is too warm to light the wood-burning stove …