John Bone: Children have right to roam, too

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As the school summer holidays get under way I feel some sympathy for those many parents who see the world as such a perilous place that they protect their children from every risk, real or imaginary. But how can I convince some of these doting mums and dads that they may be a little too cherishing? How dare I suggest they are robbing their darlings of precious experience of the real physical world? The best I can offer is that from the ages of seven to 17 I spent every summer roaming free, alone or with my mates, over square miles of rough open countryside full of ponds and pitfalls, barbed wire, thorny thickets and ruined buildings, without getting more than a scratch. My only serious injuries throughout that joyous period were sustained at home, usually under the very eyes of my watchful mother.

n Ely Cathedral, or Elywood as I like to call it, was closed again one day last week as the umpteenth big screen epic was filmed there. They make more films at the cathedral than they do at Pinewood but I reckon Bollywood is still just ahead in the star stakes. All this may be hard luck on tourists or the devout but the vast building costs a fortune to run. Beggars can’t be choosers, as Our Lord didn’t quite say. In the spirit of helpfulness, may I suggest a few fundraising activities that would still admit the faithful and sightseers? The nave is ideal for indoor archery or roller skating. Maybe both. And think what scope there is for rock climbing up to the triforium. My idea of using the lantern space for competitive drone flying might prove too controversial but the Dean and Chapter are pacesetters and might agree. How jealous they must be at Peterborough Cathedral whose shaky finances are now presided over by the Rev Tim Alban Jones, late of Soham, and where they can’t even pay the staff. And the most imaginative event I’ve ever seen at Bury St Edmund’s Cathedral was a rather challenging art exhibition by Anthony Green. Come on you cowardly clerics. Which will be the first impoverished cathedral to stoop to paint-ball fighting in the Lady Chapel or a zip wire from the tower?

n Residents of the Cricket Field Road and Park Lane area of Newmarket are rightly furious about the way careless car parkers hem them into their homes. But yellow lines are not a complete solution. Even the pestilential parkers have some right of access to public places like a football ground or leisure centre. We won’t drive away the problem by simply driving them away,

n The good people behind the brilliant Leading Lives organisation for people with autism, learning difficulties and physical needs are showing the right spirit in their struggle to keep their centre going at Newmarket Community Hub. As the county council gives notice of closure, Leading Lives are not throwing up their hands in despair or blaming blind bureaucracy. They are casting round realistically for new premises, perhaps shared, and looking to the town for help and suggestions. Dozens of similarly worthy organisations face every sort of problem as budget cuts bite. The best of them will find ways round – so long as the whole community pitches in and does not sit waiting for “someone” to do “something” about it.

n The corn harvest is in full swing, when the weather permits, so it is time for me to issue my annual reminder to impatient drivers stuck behind slow trailers loaded with wheat or barley and even slower combine harvesters on narrow Suffolk roads. The farmers were here first. Let us show some respect for road users who made the roads by using them, seedtime and harvest, 2,000 years ago.

n Since the racing industry has been fuelled by gin for several centuries, it is surprising the distillers have only just got round to naming a tipple after the town. Newmarket sausages are all very well but this Newmarket Gin (distilled in Dullingham, actually) reaches parts no mere banger can manage.

n I beg Flagship Housing to think again about their ban on dogs in social housing in Newmarket. Scientists tell us human beings and dogs have lived together for at least 200,000 years. They were by far the first animals to be domesticated. To ban dogs is like banning friends and family.

A newly-vigilant Newmarket Town Council are right to ask

questions about the way a £5,000 grant to Newmarket in Bloom is or

isn’t being spent. But refurbishment of the War Memorial is an

important project and should not be hampered. A public quarrel would

be no way to honour those who died for us. Let the work go ahead and

sort out the money later. Few bothered to balance the books on the

battlefield.