ISSUE 19, October 2006
Editorial
Historic: Rabbi and Mason
Travel: Morocco's exotic charm
Quarterly Communication: Address by the Pro Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Working with Youngsters: The Grand Master goes fishing
Community Relations: Saying it with flowers
International: Spanish Freemasonry under the microscope
   Events: Grand Lodge Award; Royal Masonic Variety Show
Specialist Lodges: Masonry on the canal
Freemasonry and Society: A Churchman's view of Masonry
Education: Toast of the town and Events
Young Masons: The Universities Scheme
Library & Museum: The Freemasons's Tontine
Masonic Charities: The Grand Charity and NMSF and RMTGB and RMBI
Letters
Book reviews
Gardening

 Previous Page 
PLEASE USE THE LINKS ABOVE - OR ON THIS LINE - TO MOVE BETWEEN PAGES
 Next Page 







   The Duff Cooper Diaries, edited by John Julius Norwich, Orion, £20. ISBN 0297848437.
Duff Cooper’s diaries did not get passed to his wife or to his son. Instead, he instructed that they go to his nephew who, on reading the contents, was so shocked he nearly destroyed them. If he had done so it would have been a tragedy as they are a highly entertaining and remarkably frank expose of Cooper’s extraordinary life.
    Statesman, soldier, MP, wit, poet, diplomat, clubman and scholar – Duff Cooper was well placed to provide an insight into the social, literary and political life of the time. He was married to Lady Diana Manners, a famous and beautiful actress, who shared his penchant for parties and good company.
    Indeed, through profession and social class, they mixed in high society and his diary reads like a Who’s Who of the first half of the twentieth century. Winston Churchill, Edward VII and Mrs Simpson, Lloyd George and Lawrence Olivier are but a few of the names that frequent these pages.
    The diary opens as the First World War begins and Duff Cooper is working in the Foreign Office. Here we learn the devastating effects of the First World War, as all but a few of his school and university friends survived. Duff himself was eventually allowed to join up and saw action in France during the final summer of the war.
    His recollections of his engagements, one of which was to win him the DSO, make excellent reading. Even after the war, Duff Cooper was never far way from the action and his accounts as an MP during the General Strike, the abdication of Edward VII and the Munich Conference provide the reader with an excellent insight. His coverage of the Peace Conference and his years at the Paris Embassy after the liberation of the city in 1944 is equally fascinating.
    While Duff Cooper was not alone in being a witness to remarkable events, his ‘joi de vivre’ mark these diaries out. He was a connoisseur of fine wine and food, but most of all he unashamedly loved women and it was these passages that so shocked his nephew. His son and the editor of these excellent diaries, John Julius Norwich, question whether the reader will like his father. I found it impossible not to. He was a player but a thoroughly romantic, witty and charming one who lived life to the full.


   Awards of the George Cross 1940–2005 by John Frayn Turner, Pen & Sword £19.99. ISBN 1844153517.
The history of the Victoria Cross, and the deeds of those men and women awarded this medal, have been well publicised. Remarkably little, however, has been written about the George Cross, which ranks alongside it.
    This well-written book sets about redressing this by describing each of the 156 acts of selfless courage that have earned this most coveted accolade – of which roughly one-third have been awarded to civilians.
    Early in the Second World War, King George VI was deeply impressed by heroic deeds of servicemen out of the front line and civilian non-combatants in acts connected with the war, such as bomb disposal and rescues after air raids.
    The result was that in September 1940, he instituted the George Cross ‘For Gallantry’ to be awarded to civilians and servicemen and women away from the heat of actual battle. Every account is both inspiring and enthralling.
    As the war progressed, the range of deeds increased. In April 1942 the unprecedented award of the George Cross was made to the entire population of the Island of Malta ‘to honour her brave people’. Awards were also made for supreme gallantry to members of the Special Operations Executive, including Violette Szabo.
    Here one sees how blurred are the lines between the Victoria Cross and the George Cross, in that it could be argued that members of the SOE were very much combatants in battle and thus deserving of the Victoria Cross.
    The book goes on to describe awards in the post-war years from the Korean War right up the present day. The two most recent were to the Royal Ulster Constabulary as a whole in 1999, and to 18- year old Trooper Christopher Finney who, when serving in Iraq during 2003, showed remarkable heroism rescuing comrades under ‘friendly fire’ from American a10 aircraft, even after he was wounded.
    Finney survived, but many GCs have been awarded posthumously. All, however, warranted those two words inscribed on the silver cross – ‘For Gallantry’.


   White Slave – The Autobiography by Marco Pierre White, Orion, 320pp. £20. ISBN 0752874632.
Celebrity chefs are everywhere but in the kitchen these days: in television studios endlessly, on the bookstands regularly, not to mention the gossip columns. One wonders how they ever have time to boil an egg.
    Marco Pierre White claims in the strap line of this intriguing, but often distasteful book, to be ‘The Godfather of Modern Cooking’ but, to be sure, there will be a rattle of Sabatier knives at that. He must be using the term in the mafia sense, because Mr White would not be an automatic choice as a role model.
    He appears to revel in being as unpleasant a spoilt brat as he can manage. He boasts of his maltreatment of unfortunate staff and his disdain for those who chose to pay through the nose to feed through the mouth at his numerous eateries. He seems proud of the fact that he once found time to seduce a guest’s wife between courses.
    Being a close friend of Marco Pierre seems to be a short cut to a close encounter with the legal system. Fallings-out with business partners appear as certain as desserts following main courses. One wishes Frankie Dettori, his current partner, every good luck.
    As autobiographies go, this is a pretty competent attempt at character selfassassination. Yet there is undoubtedly another side to Mr White. His Christian names are real in case you wonder and thereby hangs a sad and, I suspect, significant story.
    His mother, who was Italian, died of a brain haemorrhage when he was six. His father was a chef and undoubtedly was a huge influence (they fell out later, naturally), but the lack of maternal influence may well have taken its toll.
    This book is worth reading for White’s account of his climb to the top. You do not earn three Michelin stars without incredibly hard work, drive and talent. Is it fame, money or some deep psychological flaw that makes him so seemingly impossible to live with? To judge, brace yourself and read one of the more revealing autobiographies to be published recently – if you can be bothered, that is.


 Previous Page 
PLEASE USE THE LINKS ABOVE - OR ON THIS LINE - TO MOVE BETWEEN PAGES
 Next Page