ISSUE 12, January 2005

Kitchener of Khartoum: Mason extraordinary
Travel: Where east meets west
Veteran Honoured: Old soldier remembered
Royal Masonic Family: The Six Masonic Sons of George III, Part 1
Supreme Grand Chapter: Speech of the Pro First Grand Principal and, Report of the Committee of General Purposes
  Quarterly Communication: Address of the Pro Grand Master and, Report of the Board of General Purposes
Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London: London's first consecration
Soccer: Man in the Middle
Wales: Joseph Parry - flawed genius?
Library & Museum: Donations gather pace
Education: Dates for your diary and, Planning a 'white table' and, Looking to the future and, Time marches on
Grand Charity: General meeting and non-Masonic grant list
Masonic Charities: Reports from the four main charities
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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    Himalaya by Michael Palin (Weidenfeld
Nicolson, 20. ISBN 0297843710)
If you have watched Michael Palin's recent television series, you will not be disappointed with his book `Himalaya', which enjoyably recounts one of his most exciting foreign travel adventures.
     Since the late 1980s, when he made a television programme about circumnavigating the globe in 80 days, Michael Palin has become an acclaimed travel explorer.
     His travels have led him to embrace the North and South Poles, as well as the Sahara desert. It was only a matter of time before the highest mountains in the world became his next challenge.
     In a six-month odyssey, Palin tackled the Himalayas, the greatest mountain range on earth, stretching 1,800 miles from the borders of Afghanistan to south-west China, and reaching altitudes as high as 17,000ft.
     He reveals the hidden valleys of the Hindu Kush, the magnificent peaks of K2, and the infamous Khyber Pass. We follow his gruelling treks on Annapurna and to Everest base camp.
     Palin also treads on the unstable soil of Pakistan's north-west frontier, and terrorist-torn Kashmir, only recently open to visitors both of which have been centres of political flashpoints over the years.
     Another area that has influenced the history and politics of Asia, and massive religious turmoil, is Tibet. His meeting with the Dalai Lama, which occurred before visiting this barren yet beautiful plateau, makes interesting reading.
     Palin is a natural storyteller, and this provocative and inspiring diary provides an excellent insight into the people and geography of the Himalayas. He embraces the strangers and foreigners he meets as he would friends, revealing fascinating glimpses of the lives behind these faces.
     His zest for life and obvious interest in their different cultures is revealed by his willingness to try anything thrown in his path, from milking a yak to washing an elephant.
     Basil Pao, who has accompanied Palin on all of his most important adventures across the globe, successfully captures the unrivalled beauty of some of the finest mountain scenery in the world with wonderful photography.

    Nelson's Purse by Martyn Downer
(Bantam Press, 20, ISBN 0593 051807)
Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson has had many books written about him, but this latest version is based on a collection of papers and relics that remained unknown to the world for almost 200 years.
     They were originally in the possession of Alexander Davison, a Freemason and a close friend of Nelson, who is the central figure in the book. The Masonic connection is intriguing and includes the medal struck under Davison's guidance following the successful Battle of the Nile in 1798. There was also a magnificent pair of wine coolers ordered by Davison with what appear to be Masonic emblems with a figure almost certainly a Mason with the date "1798" on his apron to commemorate the Nile victory.
     A number of prominent Freemasons appear in the book, including Earl Moira, acting Grand Master 1790-1813 when the Prince of Wales, later George IV, was Grand Master.
     Martyn Downey made this hugely important discovery when a specialist at Sotheby's, the auctioneers, and includes some 700 papers and artefacts. The collection raised more than 2.1 million when sold at auction on Trafalgar Day (21 October) 2002.
     The Sotheby's sale included the bloodstained purse hence the book's title which Nelson carried with him when mortally wounded on HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, including the 21 gold coins carried inside.
     This book that shows an intimate and absorbing insight into a figure who is still venerated as one of Britain's greatest national heroes.

John Jackson


What prompted your interest in the plight of the Brazilian Indians?
In 1961, I was on an expedition to survey a then unexplored area of central Brazil. After five months of cutting into forests and mapping, we were ambushed by an unknown tribe who killed my Oxford friend Richard Mason. In the 1970s I spent almost two years visiting over 40 tribes all over Brazil. It was some of their first contact with the outside world.

Many in the mid-20th century predicted the extinction of Brazilian Indians by now. How do you account for their remarkable recovery?
This is the main theme of my new book Die If You Must. Indigenous peoples are extremely fit and healthy, but they are fatally vulnerable to many of our diseases, against which they have no inherited immunity. However, in the past half-century there have been improved preventive medicine and inoculation campaigns. Since the 1950s the combined population of tribes in Brazil has quadrupled to almost 500,000 and is rising fast.
     The land also supplies all their needs, from hunting, fishing and gathering, and it is the cement that keeps a tribe together the home of their ancestors, myths and beliefs and their buffer against the colonisation frontier.
     At first non-Indian sympathisers anthropologists, missionaries, lawyers, media and campaigners (including the British charity Survival International) fought for these indigenous land and legal rights. The Indians themselves now conduct their own campaigns helped by well-wishers. They generally get good media coverage and enjoy public approval. As a result, Indians were guaranteed the territories on which they live or hunt in the Constitution of 1988.

What is your next project, following the publication of `Die If You Must'?
I am writing a history of the Amazon.

When writing a book, have you got a preferred place of work and a favoured writing routine?
I have a big study full of books and files, overlooking our garden in a house in Gloucestershire. I do all my writing there, preferably in the mornings, with revision and research later in the day.

How do you relax between projects?
I like to be with my family, in London or Gloucestershire or on holidays together. But they know that I spend mornings writing. I occasionally go on tougher treks or rides with friends (as my wife doesn't like such activities), in Peru or Brazil.

Who is your favourite author?
As well as the great novelists like Proust, I love Henry Walter Bates's A Naturalist on the River Amazon. He was the first< paid head of the Royal Geographical Society. I was the fifth to have that lovely job.

Which book are you reading at present?
Adam Zamoyski's brilliant 1812 about Napoleon's disastrous Russian campaign.

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