ISSUE 21, April 2007
Editorial
Historic: Philanthropist and scientist: Sir Henry Wellcome
Travel: In Darwin's footsteps
Grand Secretary: Interview with Nigel Brown
Quarterly Communication: Speech by the Pro Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Faith and Freemasonry: A Salvationist and the Craft
Young Mason: Keep up the tradition
Freemasons' Hall: Refurbishment
Ladies Groups: Cheshire Ladies Circle
   Library and Museum: Masonry and music - the role of the organ
Specialist Lodge: A new Lodge for showmen is consecrated
Serving the community: Two Masons win major rescue awards
Spain: How a Cleveland Mason found his Spanish roots
Wales: Welsh Mason lands national sporting award
Hospices: The Craft's historic links with hospices
Ancient Craft: Herefordshire's ancient boat builder
Education: Forthcoming events and Andrew Prescott and Own free will and accord and First Universities Scheme Initiate
Masonic Charities: Latest from the four main Masonic charities
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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Wavell – Soldier and Statesman by Victoria Schofield, John Murray, 2007. £14.99. ISBN 978-0-7195-6610-3
   
This timely biography makes enthralling reading as its subject is not only a fascinatingly complex character but his appointments in the Mediterranean, Middle East, India and the Far East during the Second World War were at the heart of Britain’s war effort.
    It was Wavell who masterminded our first successes (against the Italians), who manfully carried the burden of the loss of Crete in 1941 and the humiliations in Malaya, Singapore, Indonesia and Burma in 1942. He then secured India and went on to become the architect of victory against the Japanese, both as Commander-in-Chief and later as the penultimate Viceroy.
    Churchill and Wavell never warmed to each other. Given the former’s notorious intolerance, credit for Wavell not being sacked probably falls more to the long suffering Alanbrooke rather than the latter’s undoubted competence.
    As this superbly researched work confirms, Wavell, while being a solidly safe pair of hands, was also a contradictory character. At times monosyllabic and dour, he still inspired deep respect and affection. A family man of simple tastes, he possessed a deep love of literature and poetry. His anthology Other Men’s Flowers remains a classic.
    Immense power never went to his head. Within days of his final dismissal by Attlee from the Viceroyalty he was humbly selfcatering in a small borrowed London flat.
    A Winchester scholar, Archie Wavell’s intelligence and practicality outweighed the career hindrances of the loss of one eye and not commanding his regiment – The Black Watch – either of which would today deny him advancement.
    It is not just the way the author traces this enigmatic figure’s momentous career, but her interpretation of his qualities and relationships that makes Wavell – Soldier and Statesman a scholarly and compelling read.
   


Restless by William Boyd, Bloomsbury, £7.99. ISBN 978-0-7475-8620-3
   
For his ninth novel, William Boyd has chosen an ambitious plot which features a mother and daughter as the principal characters. Both women are fiercely independent, but as the story unfolds they come to need and respect each other as never before. Daughter Ruth, a single mother teaching English to foreign students, is asked by her mother, Sal Fairchild, to read her account of her wartime experiences.
    It transpires that Sal, then Eva Delectorskaya, a Russian emigrée living in Paris, was recruited as a secret agent by a spymaster called Lucas Romer. The delectable Eva proved to be an extremely competent agent.
    As part of Romer’s small organisation she operates first in Europe and then in the United States on the periphery of William Stephenson’s British Security Coordination.
    Initially Romer’s group is ostensibly engaged spreading anti-Nazi propaganda to encourage US involvement.
    Eva (or Sal), by now Romer’s mistress, undertakes a mission that goes disastrously wrong. The subsequent events and their implications are revealed in Eva’s document.
    The plot unfolds through Ruth’s firsthand account of the present day and the mother’s wartime experiences, in alternating chapters. The two eras gradually knit together as the daughter is drawn into helping her mother confront treachery and exact revenge in a classic denouement.
    Boyd convincingly develops his two female characters and paints a credible picture of both wartime subterfuge and modern day life and relationships. The result is a gripping and highly readable work of fiction that enhances the author’s well-deserved reputation.
   


Suite Francaise by Irène Némirovsky, Chatto and Windus, £16.99. ISBN 0-701-17896-5
   
While strictly a novel, Suite Francaise is more faction than fiction. The authoress was a Russian emigrée living in Paris in 1940 – just as was Eva Delectorskaya in Restless. But that is where any similarity ends. Irène was Jewish, married with two children and a respected writer.
    Unable or unwilling to escape the Nazis, she tried to hide in a small village in the occupied zone and for nearly two years the plan worked. During this time she wrote the first two pieces (Storm in June and Dolce) of what she intended to be a four or five-part work describing life for the French under the yoke of occupation.
    These describe the humiliation, fear, pain and shame suffered by ordinary people caught up in the trauma of the period, observed through the eyes of one who was not only part of it, but under increasing danger. In July 1942 she was arrested and some five weeks later she died at Birkenau extermination camp. Her husband was killed. The survival of her work is in itself truly remarkable. The manuscript, in tiny handwriting, stayed with the girls, who were sheltered by brave friends, but it was not until 2004 that it was first published in French.
    Now translated into English, the passage of time has done nothing to numb its poignancy. This is a book that reads as a personal testimony rather than as a novel.
    The inclusion of Iréne’s notes and correspondence with publishers and friends, transports the reader back to those terrible times and conveys both the senses of brave optimism and underlying foreboding that pervaded the author’s life.
    This poignant work, rather than being a depressing experience, is richly rewarding and thought-provoking.
   


The City of London: A Masonic Guide, by Yasha Beresiner. Lewis Masonic. £9.99. ISBN: 0-85318-254-X.
   
One would have thought that by now books on the City of London – the ‘Square Mile’ – would have run out of subject matter, but this fascinating publication is a true tour de force.
    Freemasonry and the City have had longestablished links, not least the historic meeting of four Lodges at the Goose and Gridiron inn in the shadow of St Paul’s where the world’s first Grand Lodge was formed in 1717.
    Yasha Beresiner’s book takes us down alleyways little changed from Victorian times revealing both their traditional historical connections and their Masonic interest. The Knights Templar play a strong part in the book, particularly in the Temple area, the traditional home of the legal profession.
    The book covers 26 locations between Freemasons’ Hall – which is not within the City boundaries – and the Royal Exchange at the Bank. The author says that by following the book, the walker will take two hours to complete the journey and travel through 2,000 years of history.
    Even Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code is mentioned as part of the film was shot within the City boundaries. The various hostelries – the original home for Masonic Lodge meetings – are widely mentioned (and good stopping-off places), and this book will interest Mason and non-Mason alike.
    Yasha is a qualified guide to the City and a Liveryman, as well as being a Past Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, the Premier Lodge of Masonic Research. As such, he has brought a fine blend of Masonic and local knowledge to this excellent publication.
    John Jackson
   


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