ISSUE 16, January 2006
Editorial
Historic: Sherlock Holmes incarnate
Travel: In the Footsteps of the Incas
Sport: Batting for England
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's speech and Quarterly Communication
Supreme Grand Chapter: First Grand Principal's speech and Committee of General Purposes
Royal Masonic Girls' School: Stories in windows
Specialist Lodges: Brotherhood of the Angle
    Napoleonic Wars: A Mason's Word
International: Macedonia: New Grand Lodge consecrated and Enthusiasm unbound
Grand Lodge: Development of Freemasons' Hall
Masonic Rebels: Rise and fall
Bristol Museum: A Phoenix from the Ashes
Freemasonry and Religion: United in diversity
Library and Museum: Most glorious of them all
First Aid: Masons learn to shock
Education: The Third Degree and Forthcoming events
Masonic Charities, Letters, Book Reviews, Gardening

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Whicker’s War by Alan Whicker, Harper Collins, £18.99. ISBN: 0007205074
    This beautifully written book, poignant with humour and pathos, uses the recent two-part television series as the starting point to telling the story of Alan Whicker’s war. Throughout Whicker’s 40 years in television, he remained steadfast in his belief that his books should not be about himself but about those he encountered. However, as part of the 60th anniversary of the invasion of Italy, he was at last persuaded to recount his experiences during the Italian campaign of 1943-1944.
    Alan Whicker joined the Army Film and Photo Unit as an 18-year-old army officer. He had first heard about the new film unit whilst having lunch with his uncle, a city banker, and another guest, a senior officer in Whitehall, the latter of whom had wondered whether young Whicker might be interested in directing sergeant cameramen in battle.
    ‘It sounded like adventurous suicide – but it was stylish.’ His initial thoughts concerning the danger of the role proved correct – by the end of the war, of 40 officers and sergeant-cameramen, eight were killed and 13 were badly wounded. In total, the unit earned two Military Crosses, three Military Medals, 11 Mentions in Despatches and an MBE.
    His Italian campaign began in Sicily at the beginning of July 1943 and “666 days of fear and exhilaration” followed, during which time, mainly in the company of the British Eighth Army, he witnessed the often painfully slow Allied advance through Italy against a professional and determined Wehrmacht, ably led by Field Marshal Kesselring.
    The book is full of fascinating anecdotes and recollections, from the filming of the battered body of Mussolini after his execution to the meeting of military luminaries, such as Montgomery. The highlight must surely be when he reached Milan, before the arrival of the British army, to be greeted by some Italian partisans who eagerly informed him that the Germans would only surrender to an Allied officer.
    As the only officer in town, he had little choice but to negotiate the surrender of the garrison of heavily armed SS troops. This insightful, articulate and moving account of his fascinating war comes thoroughly recommended.



Being Freddie: My Story So Far by Andrew Flintoff, Hodder, £18.99. ISBN: 0340896280
    Andrew Flintoff’s post-Ashes memoir provides a fascinating insight into the mentality required to become a successful modern day sportsman. It tells the story of a cricketer whose England career began disastrously with a lack of runs which, compounded by weight and injury problems, dented his fragile confidence.
    However, through a stubborn singlemindedness and a natural talent, his efforts to come back from the cricketing wilderness were to be memorably rewarded in the summer’s triumph over England’s greatest cricketing foe, Australia.
    His all-round ability, charisma and sportsmanship lit up an extraordinary series.
    This book, however, fails to reach the high standards he set over summer. In his attempt to closely guard his privacy, he leaves the reader with little insight into his life beyond bat and ball.
    The influences of his parents, wife, child and friends are touched on with the somewhat predictable line that they give him the support he needs. That, and the fact that he plays chess and has nine GCSEs, is about all the reader will learn about Flintoff’s life away from the pavilion.
    Flintoff is thankfully more illuminating when on the subject of the characters within the game, from the coaches and players to the sports psychiatrists and fans.
    The influence of his ‘mental coach’ Jamie Edwards after the disastrous first Test loss is emphasised, and his recollections of each game make interesting reading as do his disparaging remarks towards former England captains Mike Gatting and Graham Gooch.
    The cricketer he has least time for is the Indian captain Sourav Ganguly, who played for Lancashire with him in 2000. Ganguly’s aloofness clearly aggravated Flintoff, who writes: “He turned up as if he was royalty – it was like having Prince Charles on your side.”
    Given that England are playing India in this winter’s series, the body language between both players could be interesting. No doubt this book will still interest avid cricket enthusiasts, but it feels premature.
    Flintoff fans will be hoping that his performance in the Ashes series is end of the beginning of his career, not the beginning of the end.


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