ISSUE 17, April 2006
Historic: The Brother who designed the Spitfire
Travel: The charm of Kerala
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's speech and Quarterly Communication
Public Relations: Hottest spot in town
International: Emulation in Bulgaria and Mauritius takes a leap forward and Hungary's Royal Arch library
Library & Museum: Recent acquisitions
Masonic Bibles: Lodges and their Bibles
    Royal Masonic Girls' School: My thanks to the Freemasons
Holocaust: The Count of Auschwitz
Education: International conference on the history of Freemasonry and Events
Specialist Lodges: Masonry universal - via radio
Masonic Charities: Grand Charity continues to help those in need and New Masonic Samaritan Fund and Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
Grand Charity: The Tsunami - one year on and Important Gift Aid information
Letters, Book Reviews, and Gardening

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Concerns are still being raised about falling membership, but still not much seems to be done to change the situation. Senior Freemasons are telling us that, although we should take our Freemasonry seriously, it should also be fun.
    This fun should begin at the Festive Board, but I have visited Lodges where toasts are going on after 10pm, and what started out as an enjoyable evening becomes intensely boring, even for a Mason such as I after more than 30 years in the Craft. It must be even more so to younger brethren.
    When I first entered my Lodge, the Master rose to take wine up to 16 times, often with the same people over and over again, when the same brethren fitted into many categories such as Wardens, officers, those who helped in the ceremony, Provincial Officers, proposers, members of Lodge of Instruction etc.
    We have now whittled this down to three or four, so that we may enjoy the meal with fewer interruptions. I think that we should now start on the lengthy toast list.
    These could be left to individual Lodges to decide what the toasts should be. If it is to remain a compulsory list, then it should be curtailed.
    As a starting point, how about:
    The Queen
    The Grand Master
    The Provincial Grand Master
    The Master (at Installations only)
    The Guests and Visitors.

    The names of those Grand and Provincial Grand Officers which are read out don’t convey much to younger members, they don’t stick in the mind. As a Provincial Officer, I would not be in the least offended if there was no toast proposed to me and my fellow Provincials.
    In fact, I always feel a little embarrassed when this toast takes place as I consider we are all supposed to be equal, and I know that many of those who stand are better Masons than I.
    I am sure that many Masons would agree with me, and that a large number will not. An official survey might clarify the matter.
    Jim Pryor
    Maidstone, Kent

Impress the candidate
In response to Companion Salisbury’s letter on Reading Royal Arch Obligations (MQ, Issue No. 15), having experienced in both Craft and Chapter where the ritual has been performed from memory or been deliberately read, the former is, for the candidate, far more impressive.
    It is for the benefit of the candidate that we carry out ritual working. Attempting to memorise the words and actions has many beneficial effects for the person concerned.
    Reading the words denies us great benefits and seriously damages the effect on the candidate.
    Some of us are not very good at remembering long sections. The answer is simple – delegate! To the younger Mason whose family responsibilities and daily avocations may appear to him to deny opportunities for learning and concentration, time spent in solitude and contemplation will repay itself many times during the aforementioned periods.
    Let us hear no more of this reading in Lodge or Chapter – it is dull for everybody.
    Hugh S O’Neill Chichester, West Sussex

King George VI funeral
I was interested in the story of King George VI and Freemasonry (MQ, Issue No. 14) as, during my service with the King’s Company, Grenadier Guards, I, along with seven other guardsmen, were chosen to form the Bearer Party for the King’s coffin at his funeral in 1952.
    This has always been the privilege of the Company on the death of the sovereign, and for myself – and indeed all of my fellow guardsmen involved – the experience to proved to be one which would remain with us for the rest of our lives.
    I became a Mason in 1968 through Radcliffe Lodge No. 2701, and a good friend and fellow bearer, Victor Wright, was initiated into New Venture Lodge No. 7516 following release from service, and who now lives in Connecticut, USA.
    The copy of the cortege in St George’s Chapel, Windsor, was kindly presented to each of us by the Queen Mother following the funeral. I carried at the rear, while next but one forward is Victor Wright.
    More important, the young man at the right of line of four following the coffin is HRH the Duke of Kent, later to become Grand Master.
    John Schofield Bolton, Lancashire

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