CABLETOW ISSUE NO.2 2010
1. Modern Masonic Recruitment
I was reading the latest copy of Freemason Today and picked up a column by the Provincial Grand Secretary for Leicestershire & Rutland, W Bro Don Peacock, a communications specialist and who alluded to the “new opportunities” implied by the Past Pro Grand Master, the Marquess of Northampton in one of his addresses.
W Bro Peacock talked about the many email inquiries from “gentlemen interested in Freemasonry” and more “have been forwarded on to me from the Grand Lodge website”. He adds: “Our society is changing and we are a more mobile population. Our wonderful organisation needs to become more accessible to good candidates. As it happens, even as I am writing this article, I received a number of names of potential candidates from Grand Lodge all of whom had enquired through the Grand Lodge website and another through our own website”.
[Fortunately Lodge of Fiji has already opened this door of “new opportunities” by recognising our evolving society and particularly the modes of communication in use in our islands today. We have one potential candidate, who inquired via email about membership and is now being considered. There are two others in the wings who also came to us through our website for possible membership. And we certainly hope that more inquiries will come through this electronic gateway in the future]
W Bro Peacock emphasised: “I must stress that it is down to the Lodge to make up its own mind about the potential candidate. They need to get to know him in a social environment for some months and make suitable inquiries as to his character.
“One thing is sure; all of these candidates will require ongoing help in their first months and years in Freemasonry. They will need to develop lasting friendships in the Lodge and it is in this respect that the LodgeMENTOR will play a very significant role”.
2. Website Activity
Here’s an update of what’s been happening in our website.
To date a total of 391 “visitors” viewed our website, and 226 of them were recorded in February. Most of the visitors were from the US, Fiji and others from China, Russia, Africa and the United Kingdom.
The largest number of these visitors sought information from our homepage, including the History of the Lodge, our new Newsletter page and generally on our sister lodges.
All of this information is now available with the help of Avonsys, the company which helped in the reconstruction of our new website. A more detailed analysis of activity in our site will be given in the months ahead.
2. A Blast From The Past:
In 1962, W Bro L. Sherwood, PM Rewa Lodge of Viti prepared and presented on behalf of the United Masters Lodge, No. 167 (NZC) to our Lodge, a report titled “An Account of Freemasonry in Fiji”.
The report (covering the years 1874 to 1965) included details of membership of lodges in Fiji, average attendance, initiations and installations. He paid particular attention to the activities of Lodge of Fiji and in its first three years of operation, from 1882 to 1885, conducted 48 meetings “45 of which degree ceremonies were worked and 39 initiations, 38 passings and 36 raisings “were put through. At another there were two separate initiation ceremonies and a passing. At a third meeting, four were passed and five were raised. This pressure of “work” was repeated once again in 1911 – 12 when there were 21 meetings to perform eight initiations, 11 passings and 11 raisings!” Lodge work was definitely humming in those days!
Although the report was well researched, W Bro Sherwood did not take into account the existence of another lodge in Fiji, the Navua Lodge which operated for some years but closed in 1922 when the Canadian Sugar Company in the town ceased operations. This information was given by W Bro A. H. Marlow who said that had the report been circulated for comment, W Bro C. Israel, a former member of Lodge Navua would have contributed to it.
There was another bit of information that W Bro Marlow shared, that prior to finding our first permanent home at Butt Street, we used to meet at the Templars Hall, “opposite Gladstone road and at the end of Carnarvon St”. This places its location either on the current site of the FBCL building or part of the NLTB complex. So over the 120 years of our existence we have moved to three different locations all within half a mile or so from our former locations!”
3. Curriculum Vitae – W Bro Robert Bruce Smith, Director of Ceremonies
Robert is the Senior Advisor Marine Geophysicist with the South Pacific Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) Ocean and Islands Programme and has held this position since 1988.
He is happily married to Veronica. They have 4children, twin boys who are both in the Australian Navy, Edward and Lyle, a daughter Courtney who is joining in April 2010 leaving young Robert jnr still at school in Fiji.
Robert came to Fiji with his parents in the late 50s when he was 2 years old and began his education at the Suva Grammar School in 1960 until 1970 when he relocated to continue his studies at Geralton Senior High School in Western Australia. In 1977 he gained a BSc in Geophysics at the Western Australia Institute of Technology, now called (Curtin University) where he served as a geophysics lab technician.
Late in 1977, he became a Laboratory Technician at the University of the South Pacific. Early in 1978 he was appointed Geophysical Engineer working for Geophysical Services International in Saudi Arabia where he was responsible amongst other things, seismic data acquisition, well velocity surveys and interpretation and the supervision of drilling program and instrument engineer for digital seismic field system surveying.
Two years later he moved to Denver, Colorado as Geophysical Engineer for Edcon where he was responsible for the operation and maintenance of geophysical borehole logging in Denver and gravity survey using helicopters with inertial navigation system control for the company in Sudan, North Africa.
Never being able to get the Pacific out of his system, he returned to Fiji early in 1982 and took on the position of Scientific Officer marine Geology/Geophysics for the Fiji Government’s Mineral Resources Department. For six years until 1988 he was responsible for marine and geological surveys analysis, in-house assessment of commercial petroleum data and was in charge of the department’s two vessels. During this time in 1982, 1983 he represented Fiji at the CCOP/SOPAC Annual meetings in New Zealand and Tonga respectively and has attended various workshops for assessment of minerals and hydrocarbon exploration and in 1985 the use of ROV’s (remotely operated vehicles) in the South Pacific.
His principal focus in the Commission is being engaged in a full range of mineral sector activities which need technical assistance, policy and technical advice, project development and planning and the management and supervision of professional and support staffs who are implementing the Ocean and Islands programme.
His work to date has encompassed ten island countries in the South West and North Pacific and includes Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, Republic of Vanuatu and Samoa.
During his current stint with SOPAC Robert has travelled to all of the island nations under his watch and has authored a total of 55 reports and collaborated in the compilation of 69 others.
So the logical question to ask is how does he find time for Freemasonry with the kind of hectic professional programme he has?
“Freemasonry is a place of refuge for me to get away from the pressure of work and find my centre I suppose”, he said.
“My father was a mason, a Past Master of Rewa Lodge of Viti and was Grand Inspector of the Pacific Group of Lodges before he retired from work. So my joining the craft was only a matter of time. I was initiated in February 1999 passed in April and raised in June 1999 My family and especially Veronica provides the support I need in the craft and I would not have gone this far without this”.
His other interests are sailing, fishing and diving, the odd beer and had the privilege of being the Commodore of the Royal Suva Yacht Club for six years from 2004 to 2010.
“I was dragooned into the position when the Club was in some financial strife and have managed with the support of my committee, friends and last but not least the Wife”.
4. Brother Lightfoot’s Journal
Those of you who regularly read Freemasonry Today may have stumbled on the “Recollections of an Eighteenth-Century Gentleman of the Craft”, a Bro Lightfoote who lived in England in the late 18th Century and wrote his experiences in and outside the Craft in London. This particular one, penned on November 13th, 1795 on the Feast of St. Homobonus speaks of the weather as “unreasonably mild” and that “Mrs Lightfoote has been disagreeable of late”. He goes on:
Homobonus is the patron saint of tailors. Sadly, my tailor passed away earlier this year. Like Homobonus, he was a good man, and he is sorely missed by all who knew him. Homobonus is also, by the by, the patron saint of the city of Cremona , where the violins come from, but no-one was ever fiddled by Bilgorri; let light perpetual shine upon him.
Mrs. Lightfoote has been most disagreeable of late, I know not why, I find myself easy enough to agree with. She, on the other hand, finds nought but fault in me: if I stand, I should go, if I go I should stand. On Wednesday evening last I could stand no more of it and went – to an extraordinary meeting of the Stonic Lodge. When I say that this was an extraordinary meeting, I don’t mean that in the ordinary sense, for all our meetings are extraordinary: extraordinarily agreeable, unlike my spouse aforementioned. What I mean to say is that this was an extra meeting, summoned for a date upon which we do not, ordinarily, meet, which is once a month, on the ides, except when we don’t, as in March. Under ordinary circumstances I would be happy to attend a meeting weekly; with my wife disposed towards me as she is currently, nightly! I was, therefore, the first one down to the Yorick Tavern and had downed a quart before the Tyler arrived to prepare the upper room.
The official visit
Anyway, the reason for us meeting again, happily, a mere fortnight after parting, equally so, previously, was an Official Visit from an Officer of the Grand Lodge: a new experience for all of us, and one that I looked forward to with interest. The taproom gradually filled up with brethren and me, relishing release from the petticoated persecutor, the trumpet-tongued tormentor, to wit, the wife, gradually filled up with beer. I confess that, by the time we were called to order I was as full as a bull’s bundle and in the first stage of inebriation: Jocose.
All went well to begin with, according to due form: we sang our opening air:
Gathered again are we, brethren of Stonic;
Firm and upstanding like columns Ionic;
Tuscan, Corinthian, Composite, Doric;
Strongly established on tenets historic.
The lodge was opened in due form and with antient ceremony at about ten past six precisely. The minutes of our last meeting were read, confirmed and approved and then there was a report and we were informed that our honoured (though uninvited) guest was without and demanded (!) admission. Lightfoote’s suspicion was aroused.
Proud as a peacock
In he marches, proud as a peacock and done up like a dandy, followed by a waddling retinue of jingling johnnies, straight up to the Master’s pedestal where he’s offered the gavel, which, happily, he declines. They all take their seats, he on the Master’s right hand, and we’re invited to salute him, repeatedly. He greets us well, as well he might, and we proceed to pass Brother Catchpole to the Second Degree, in the course of which I give my celebrated rendering of the explanation of the tracing board.
We proceed, seamlessly, to the risings, the closing and the festive board: a magnificent haunch of beef accompanied by good ale and some excellent Burgundy, both of which Lightfoote partakes of liberally, wishing to prolong the pleasure of the present and blot out the dismal prospect of futurity, viz, return to Mrs. Lightfoote. The mixture of the grape and the grain advanced me, like Catchpole, to the second degree: Bellicose.
We keep our speeches brief at Stonic: `talk short, drink deep’ is the motto, and so it was until our honoured guest got up on his hind legs. He proceeded to lecture us on our several failings, claiming that our demeanour was, in general, irreverent and our ritual, in particular, irregular. He made special mention of my contribution, claiming that my witty paraphrase of the tale of Jephtha and Ephraimites constituted an innovation in the ritual and suggested that I, and everyone else, might care to attend a Lodge of Instruction. At this point, Lightfoote, already feeling clamorous and turbulent, broke out into full-blown fury. I rose to respond, noting that the Worshipful Master looked a little pale. I reminded the Grand One that he was a guest and it wasn’t a guest’s place to tell his host how to behave; if he didn’t like us, he would have to lump us. Further, I reminded him of the address made to the brethren on installation night, which points out, quite unequivocally, that our end and aim is primarily to please ourselves, not the Grand Lodge, the Emperor of China, my wife, the landlord’s dog or anyone else!
Like a cup of last night’s claret, it didn’t go down well. The Master’s face was by now white as a sheet and our Honoured Guest’s black with fury, symbolising, it occurred to me, the joys and sorrows of our chequered existence; I was moving, inexorably, from the bellicose to the morose: drunkenness in the third degree.
Off went the Grand Officer, with his flashy flunkies in tow, leaving the world to darkness and to me. I begged the Master’s forgiveness, realising that I had severely damaged his chances of promotion. He, to my surprise and delight, refused to accept my apologies and called for a flagon of Rhenish. To general applause he reminded us that we were not all operative masons but rather free and accepted and that that surely meant that we were free to accept who and what we wanted. My sorrows were drowned! I passed, softly and silently, to the supreme degree: Comatose.
I awoke in my own bed with the rays of that glorious luminary pouring in on me as the golden wine had poured the night before.
Remarkably, I felt supremely well, fortune, apparently favouring the brave, but the best was yet to come: enter Mrs. Lightfoote. I fear the very worst, but all wifely concern she is, bearing bacon and eggs and a flagon of ale, stroking my hair, mopping my brow…
It seems that the brethren who bore me home had informed her, in hushed tones of wonder and admiration, of how I had, single-handedly, fought off a band of brigands who were molesting a dear old lady. Was it so, she asked, was Lightfoote truly a hero? It was true, I confessed, simply, for women have no understanding of allegory. End.
Bro Lightfoote’s account over 200 years ago had a similar ring to what happened in a meeting of the Lodge of Fiji in the late 50s. It was attended by the Grand Secretary (VW Bro Stubbs I recall) whose extremely unflattering comments about the quality and composition of the degree work also drew some “Lightfoote-like” comments from a number of senior brethren who were at the meeting!
Note: There are more than 20 other “reflections” by Bro Lightfoote available.
5.Lodge of Discovery Installation
The Lodge of Discovery will hold its Installation meeting on Saturday, March 13th.
The Secretary, Bro Bob Jackson, in an email to me said that the Lodge would Tyle promptly at 10 am and Call On is at 3.30pm. The banquet is scheduled at Le Rendezvous for 7 pm.
Their list of officers, 18 in all, include the usual appointees as well as an Asst. Treasurer, a Charity Steward, a Senior Steward and three stewards under his care.
The officers for 2010/2011 are: WM – W Bro Chris Kernot, SW –
Bro B. Cain, JD – Bro D. Bailey, Chaplain – Bro R. Burns, Treasurer/Almoner – W Bro J.L. Bador, Secretary – W Bro A. Churchill, DC – W Bro G. Clelland, SD – W Bro R. Neilson, JD – Bro W. Sands, Charity Steward – Bro M. Stafford, IG/Asst. Treasurer – Bro J. Warmington, Asst Sec – Bro R. Jackson, Senior Steward – Bro B. Death, Steward – Bro M. Raffles, Tyler – Bro K. Green.
6. Charity Collection
The charity collection made at the February meeting totalled $112.00 which was thankfully received and would be faithfully applied.
W Bro Sitiveni Yaqona