John Bone: Why small is beautiful across the UK

I never expected to be proved so right so soon. When the long and repeated campaigns to save the best bits of Newmarket Hospital finally failed, I offered the consoling thought that the NHS would eventually rediscover the vast virtues of small community hospitals and our beloved one would be raised from the dead. Well, that has not happened yet. However, the NHS has now officially declared a complete reversal of the stupid policy it has been following for years and suddenly sees small outfits like Newmarket Hospital as a precious part of the health service. As I always knew it would be but not yet. Whether this shameless volte face will ever reach us is in the lap of the gods and the raised voices of Newmarket demanding the return of what it valued and of which it was robbed. In the light of this dramatic development, we must wonder what next? Will they bring back the local magistrates’ courts sitting locally, the small schools for local children, the benefit offices accessible to local people, the local police stations and many other parts if the complex social infrastructure Whitehall and Westminster blithely junked at the cost of alienating citizens from their own communities? That I really do doubt but I hope to be surprised.

Open letter to Prince Harry: Sir, I never really noticed the noise you made over Suffolk and if I had noticed and had known it was you kicking up such as rude racket I would have regarded myself as having been blessed by an unscheduled royal visit. Please feel free to fly an Apache out of RAF Wattisham whenever you like. I am sure I speak for your supposed victims when I greet Your Royal Highness’s words spoken at Ipswich, in which you said: “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the welcome and kindness from my time as a Suffolk soldier. It is one thing to have experienced such generosity of spirit, it is quite another to have experienced it from people who have had me buzzing over them and their animals at all hours of the day and night.” Prince Harry went on to wax lyrical about the whole “durable, powerful and magnificent” county. Thanks again, sir, and if you ever think of actually landing in Newmarket, we have quite a lively night club scene you might fancy … but do, please, try not to wake us up in the small hours.

I am as daft about my dogs as any owner but I know not everyone shares my daftness so I curb my curs. Sadly, not all dog owners are so keen to comply with simple courtesy and sensible safety let alone obey the law. This is a particular problem in Newmarket and the police seem to have developed an alarming tendency to wash their hands of it. Incidents involving aggressive dogs can be an “unfortunate accident.” I am well aware of the terrible pressures on police time and strength but we will never get a bigger force if we fail to make sufficient fuss when their response to real problems is to shuffle them aside. If frightening and poorly controlled animals are not their business then there is either something wrong with the law or with their reading of it.

Estate agents 
weave words to tempt house-hunters but in 
this part of the world the job is half done for them by the names of the places where the properties are to be found. Scanning through our pages I pondered how much easier it must be to sell a cottage in Tuddenham St Mary than, say, Black Notley or Scratby. Wickhambrook and Waldingfield, Stradishall and Worlington, Chippenham and Cheveley – they’re all so poetic compared with our neighbours’ starker names. Sorry, Wratting, I tried to work you into this piece but it just didn’t fit ….

Readers may be forgiven if they sighed scornfully over the Journal report of how robbers got into a Newmarket home through a conveniently unlocked window, stole cash and cards then grabbed the car keys helpfully left available and drove off in the Ford parked outside. But let us stop sighing at the stupidity of people who leave things lying about and examine our own conduct. I for one have often been much more foolish and negligent of my own security and it take reports like this to bring me to my senses. So let us not mock others’ sins before we have admitted our own.

You have to see the funny side of local residents eager to improve their home security being warned of suspect home security products being offered by door-to-door salesmen.