THE EASTGATE LODGE CORONAVIRUS NEWS
Newsletter # 23 - Update # 5 - 8th October
Roy’s eagerly anticipated stag party in Turkey has been scuppered by the pandemic; no sooner had he returned home after last week’s Lodge, than a message arrived from the travel agent cancelling the trip. Many might feel that Bro’ Roy is a bit long in the tooth for ribald revelry, cruising the bars and lurching drunkenly between the stripjoints, but Roy reckons that these trips (of which there have apparently been several in the past) are suitable for a man of his years and primarily celebrate everything that Anatolian culture can offer; makes you think, eh?
This month’s W.P Bill Smith has been a member of the Order for over half a century and to mark the occasion he’s being presented with his 50 year emblem tonight. Sadly, it seems we’re unlikely to be joined by the P.G.P. who finds it difficult to leave the Covid ravaged black fen, so Bill has asked me to make the presentation. As the 50 year presentation can be made in open session there’ll be no issues over privacy,so welcome one & all.
Baz was fortunate enough to bump into Bro’ Steve Bersey last week; you remember Steve – train driver, Londoner, visited every Lodge this side of Timbuktu. Steve it seems has a gippy hip, which is bad enough for him but bad news for Baz’s faithful companion Dylan. Now - by total coincidence - Dylan’s hips are playing him up, and Guide Dogs for the Blind are concerned. What with his age, his recent mysterious injury, and now his hips, poor old Dylan’s fate looks sealed. Watch this space!
It’s been a very orthopaedic kind of week or so, as Tony had his knee replacement surgery last Friday. No sooner it seemed after my wife & I had dropped him off, that he was on the ‘phone telling me that the deed had been done. Apparently, they did the op’ with an epidural injection and Tony was awake throughout the banging hammering & sawing (and additional smell of burning flesh!). I fetched Tony on Monday and took him home, and at the time of writing he is recuperating; hopefully we’ll see him again in a week or two.
The Province is down to operating at 50% with three of the six Minor Lodges out of action due to the effects of the pandemic. The Willoughby, Fenman and Eastgate have successfully reopened and PGL, Chapter and Assembly have all returned to some semblance of normality. Our ability to meet remains dependent upon restrictions placed by Government so we can only watch and wait.
Grand Lodge has advised PGLs (and by association Knights’ Chapters and ROH Assemblies) to consider re-electing 2020 officers en bloc for 2021. Bro’ Colin has kindly agreed to take on the mantle of PGP for another year and so he and his stalwart crew will steady the ship in 2021 – and hopefully see us out of the global crisis. If only Donald Trump could reach a similarly civilised accommodation across the pond, eh?
Great news for the Willoughby Lodge; they’ve just won £80 in the monthly Grand Lodge Lottery. Now far be it for me to pour cold water on plans for a celebration, but I reckon they’d do well to wait a while – certainly until the cheque’s been received and banked. We apparently won £500 over a month ago, and so-far we’re heard nothing from Wetherby; my confidence remains high, despite signs to the contrary.
A bit of a 'Do'
It’s pretty clear that we’re not going to be able to hold our annual Lodge Dinner this year. Our usual venue has remained open throughout the various stages of the pandemic as a commercial hotel, but we’d be unable to use the dining room for a formal evening event as in years past.
That doesn’t mean to say that we do nothing however, and Steve & I want to test the water to see if enough people would be interested in an alternative which would be possible to arrange.
We could book socially distanced tables of no more than six people at a curry house in the City Centre, and if enough of us participated we’d just about have the place to ourselves. We’d be able to share an evening out with a meal (English food for those who want it) and an opportunity to hold our annual Christmas draw etc.Please have a think about it, and let me know if you’re up for it.
Newsletter # 22 - Update # 4 - 24th September
Oh Dear – things are confused, aren’t they? Boris has told us that he won’t stand for gatherings of more than six people – and interestingly he’s going to have Marshalls out marshalling the masses to enforce his new regulation. Plod appears to be aghast at the likelihood of being able to police this new instruction, and all the newspapers are up in arms at the idea of jobsworths being paid to snitch on fellow citizens (warden Hodges from Dad’s Army was featured in one daily ‘paper to illustrate the sort of character who’d relish a bit of misplaced authority).
This week further restrictions have been announced to address the new spike in reported cases – as Boris put it on the telly this Tuesday ….. a tougher package of national measures. Quite how it’ll affect our daily lives remains to be seen.
As far as we’re currently concerned, our local friendly Club Steward assured me two weeks ago that he’s of the view that the Buffs socially distance in the Parkway and don’t mix in groups of six in the first place – so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t continue to meet as usual. The Lodge met last Thursday, and nothing has happened so far to affect us or the club in which we meet.
It's Watch This Space, but if you don’t hear from me to the contrary, the Eastgate meets at 8.00pm every Thursday.
Can you believe it (?) – we’ve won (or appear to have won) £500 in the September draw of the Grand Lodge monthly lottery. This astonishing windfall comes as a pleasant surprise, and just goes to show that all’s well with the Order after all. Mind you I haven’t had the cheque yet, so the way things are up at Grand Lodge, you’d better keep your fingers crossed and hope they pay out before the debt collectors come knocking on the door (again).
Coronavirus prevents City Secretary from visiting Lodge!
I have just returned from a trip to the Isle of Wight and having never been there before, I must say it was a great week. Like most people, Maria & I haven’t been away this year and last week was a great success; the weather was super, the scenery was outstanding and the place itself was just lovely – though the swim in the channel proved a bit of a challenge.
I was fortunate to be able to meet up with half a dozen members of the Lion Lodge 4612 which meets every Tuesday at the Binstead Community Centre in Ryde. Sadly though, I was unable to visit their Lodge because the Community Centre will not admit mainlanders …. in case they be carriers of the dreaded lurgy. It goes without saying, Mrs Sharp found this highly amusing.
Tony is there this week and had planned to meet Steve Kettel ROH and his colleagues on Monday at the Yelf Hotel in Ryde before he lost his glasses on the first day which buggered things up. If anyone is interested in visiting the I.O.W. please contact me for phone numbers and email addresses. The Lion Lodge is part of the Gosport Province but for obvious reasons – particularly at this point in time – is very cut-off.
Round up of news
I spoke with Richard on Sunday and the news is good. His laser surgery was a complete success and the cataract procedure on his other eye has cleared completely. Richard goes to the opticians during the week and expects to be back in the swing of things, and driving by the end of the month.
Poor old Dylan moves a step closer to the knacker’s yard as a mysterious injury appears to have affected his ability to guide. You can imagine the hard-headed administrators at Guide Dogs for the Blind as Baz reports the latest news over the ‘phone, looking up Dylan’s age and reaching for the hypodermic; Poor old Dylan, and no mistake.
Steve’s off in the new mobile home at the weekend – it’s Ashby De La Zouch this time, which sounds like somewhere on the continent but is actually in Derbyshire (or Leicestershire or possibly Staffordshire). The web site for Conkers, Steve’s destination, encourages visitors to … enter a world of adventure & discovery; is it Steve Jones or Indiana Jones?
I saw the I.P.P.G.P. at Chapter on Monday and with no Queen Elizabeth Lodge to attend tonight (it’s closed for the second time), Sam reckons he’ll come & see us this week or next.
Newsletter # 21 - Update # 3 - 3rd September
I’ve been in touch with Richard again – seems he had a senior moment and mixed up the dates for his laser eye surgery. He missed the appointment on 25th August and now has to wait until 10th September. The good news is that his other eye has cleared following a worrying wait after the cataract surgery, so he’s feeling more confident than he did when we visited him. Hopefully we’ll see Richard in Lodge later in the month.
Something strange has occurred – all of a sudden, the Isle of Wight has become the destination of choice. Tony and I spent a fruitful couple of hours last week accessing info’ on the internet via his tablet. He’s booked up and ready to spend a week on the I.O.W at the end of September. Inspired by this activity (which she found highly amusing), my wife made contact with an ex-colleague who has just been to the I.O.W for a short break, and what do you know – we’re now booked up for a week. If the Lion Lodge in Ryde is open and I can getto it, I’ll pay a visit.
Blimey – what a surprise; Marc turned up last week (he’d booked the time off work months ago to attend the beer festival on the embankment, but Covid 19 thought otherwise). Oddly enough when the W.P. asked him if he had anything to report, dear old Marc said ‘no’. After all these months you’d have thought he’d have had plenty to tell but it was disappointment allround. Never mind – by the time we see him again in 2021 the world will have moved on and Marc will doubtless be full of it (he was after all, usually full of it)
Steve has been pioneering in Lincolnshire and Norfolk in his recent acquisition. Unfortunately, Steve’s new purchase appeared to coincide withthe end of the summer and I have to say as he was preparing for the second of the two trips to Sunny Hunny, Mrs Sharp was busy switching on the central heating back in Peterborough. I’ve always thought of caravanners as a stoic breed and Steve will doubtless have packed plenty of thermals. Let’s hope he brings back a stick of rock for the raffle.
Geoff has written to us confirming that he doesn’t feel safe enough to venture out just yet, and I’m sure we all respect his views. Geoff has forwarded another very generous donation to funds and looks forward to seeing us again soon. One of the most annoying aspects of the current pandemic isn’t Covid 19 itself but the level of fear that has been generated and perpetuated by the media. Geoff and others are justified in feeling vulnerable and we ought to do all we can to help and support them - not worsen things by causing them to be fearful. We all look forward to seeing you again too, Geoff.
By the time this gets distributed Tony will have headed south west on another jaunt to Wiltshire. Henry decided to stay in Peterborough this time, so hopefully we’ll see him tonight.You can see how Henry has led such a long and successful life, can’t you? Can I say how nice it is to see you in the Chair’, Worthy Primo he said last week with a flourish, and Bill smiled benignly; pass the sick bag, City Chamberlain !
Both Baz and Steve celebrated birthdays last week; Steve was in Skeggy and Baz was making further plans for the replacement of Dylan, whose initiation ceremony notes he produced to mark the occasion. I’ve said it before (and you can bet I’ll say it again); Poor Old Dylan!
The Lodge may well recall that at the final meeting before lockdown, we considered the extensive career of Bill Smith, and agreed (almost 100% - if only Ian had been listening) that it deserved to be honoured by the award of a 50-year certificate. None other than the P.G.Secretary himself attended our Lodge in person that night, and disappeared with the Form 10 in his pocket. You’ll be pleased to hear that the matter will finally be put to PGL for ratification next week, and very soon we’ll be able to celebrate Bill’s achievement in Lodge – albeit a little late.
Bob Mac once again excelled this year at the Bannister Cup competition, and is currently breathless with expectation in the run up to September PGL (the first for six months). You’ll recall how devastated all participants were at the failure of the P.G.P. to grace the event withhis presence, but Bob will take consolation next Monday when Colin awards him with the coveted accolade of Best Dressed Man on the Bank. As Bob is the only 2020 success story we’ve got to look back on, we can only hope that he’ll let us share in his sense of pride……..
(Tequila was better looking)
Suprisingly, a number of queries have arisen concerning the accuracy of the recent piece on Bro’s Flintstone and Rubble. Well, I can report that our ancient and honourable Order can not only trace its origins back to the stone age (don’t forget - Antediluvian), it has also reached across the void of time and space.In that classic film Masters of the Universe, the dastardly Skeletor has the audacity to disclose the third-degree passwords to his girlfriend Evil Lynn (Evelyn – get it?), proving that he’s not only a Buff but also one with scant regard for his obligation vow. Someone needs to tell Grand Lodge so that the necessary action can be taken.
Newsletter # 20 - Update # 2 - 20th August
The Current State of Play
The Lodge met formally for the third time last week, since we were forced to shut up shop in March. We had eight attending the first meeting, ten at the second and nine last Thursday. Aaron the steward at the Parkway has been very accommodating and is doing all he can to encourage business. We do not currently use any lodge furniture and we don’t link, use signs or sing AB. Apart from that we function as we would normally, and it’s good to have started up again.
Elsewhere in the Province it’s a mixed story, with Lodges in Market Deeping and Stamford still closed. Assembly and Chapter have both re-opened and PGL is due to meet on the first Monday of September. Grand Lodge it seems, is recommending that we all abandon 2020 as though it never happened (as long as we keep paying Grand Lodge registration fees).
Round up of news
I’ve been over to see Richard in Ramsey. He has experienced some difficulties with the cataract operation on one eye but expects to have that checked over again next week. His other eye is down for laser treatment out in Wisbech on 26th August. Currently it’s all a bit of a blur and at the moment of course, Richard can’t drive. I’ll keep in touch over the next fortnight and see if there’s some way of getting him out to Lodge after he’s been lasered.
Bill reports that Dave has contracted shingles, which is bloody bad news. I’ve never suffered from shingles and from what I’ve heard I never want to. Best wishes to Dave from us all and hope to see you soon. Keep in contact and let us know if there’s anything we can do.
Geoff continues to languish over in Scotney Street – his COPD makes him a pretty vulnerable case and he naturally needs to do all he can to avoid catching the dreaded lurgy. I know he’d appreciate a call for a chat.
Keith Mitchell of the Willoughby Lodge has come up with a great wheeze – Coronavirus Face Masks. He’s turning them out in degree colours with the RAOB Logo and name of your Lodge @ £3.00 each. We’ve placed an initial order from last week’s Lodge but if anyone wants me to add to it, just let me know.
Steve’s plans for a semi-nomadic retirement move on apace with acquisition of the new touring caravan only days away. It seems that good old Skegness is the first destination on the wish-list, though whether or not Steve has told Mrs Jones in advance about the on-site fishery remains a mystery. Let’s hope that the weather is fine and hot – ‘cause Skeggy in the rain, in a caravan, with an irate wife could be more of a challenge than Steve deserves. For those with enquiring minds, get Steve to tell you all about his motor mover.
Whatever happened to Ian last week? One minute he’s over at Float Fish Farm boring his grand kids to death (they thought that granddad was taking them somewhere interesting for the day), and telling us all how much he was looking forward to Lodge – next thing you know, there’s no sign of him. Maybe he got a better offer……..
We competed for the two Lodge trophies yesterday at Float Fish Farm, and It rained incessantly for five of the six hours we fished. I’m pleased to advise that Roy got the top weight and is 2020 winner of the Maywood Cup;
Steve was runner-up and is holder of the Alf Cook Shield.
Bob Mac and I got wet !
* * * * * * * * * * *
RIP Alan Whitelaw ROH
Another Past Grand Primo known in the Peterborough Province has died; Bro Alan Whitelaw from Lincoln was Grand Primo in 1994. Sadly, the reason those of us who were around at the time will remember him, is not a very positive one. Alan attended a 2nd Degree Raising at the old PSL without speaking to our PGP at the time, and made a number of unflattering comments about the Province in a very open speech. It didn’t take much to needle my old friend Dennis Felstead, but it has to be said that on that occasion he was justifiably annoyed.
A quarter of a century ago & a lot of water under the bridge.
Yabba Dabba Doo !
Readers of the latest Buffal Quarterly Journal will be shocked and saddened to see that Grand Lodge appears be determined to foster the myth that our Order originated in the early 19th Century - with the propesterous story that it was started by a bunch of theatrical luvvies with time on their hands between shows in the West End.
Clearly this is nonsense and does nothing for the credibility of our ancient and honourable Order. In actual fact Fred Flintstone and his friend Barney Rubble were members of the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes (Lodge No. 26) in prehistoric times – hence the use of the word Antediluvian in our current title.
Come on Grand Lodge – stop trying to re-write history !
Newsletter # 19 - Update # 1 - 6th August
Ah – we thought it was all over, but how wrong we were !
At its first full meeting following the protracted lockdown, the Lodge decided that with restrictions continuing there remains a void to be filled. The Worthy Primo himself proposed that our Going Viral publication should be continued – albeit on a reduced basis – and everyone agreed. It was subsequently confirmed that we’ll have a newsletter every other week for the foreseeable future and the Lodge will review the situation again in three months’ time.
Latest News Round up:
Geoff has been getting over a bad bout of COPD which has led to him recovering at his daughter’s. Geoff is understandably isolating himself to avoid any chance of contracting the dreaded lurgy, and I have sent him the best wishes of the Lodge. I’m sure Geoff would appreciate a ‘phone call or two.
Pete went into hospital last Friday, and he tells me that following tests there is no longer any sign of cancer. Pete sounded confident and hopes to see us in Lodge this week.
Richard is due to have his cataracts seen-to around now and he’s had to isolate in preparation for going into hospital. I’ll see if I can pop over to Ramsey to see him when he’s recovered from the ordeal.
Steve has finally left the world of work and is apparently looking to investigate the attractions of caravanning. Should he decide to invest in a mobile holiday home he would of course join a happy band of fellow Buffs, including none other than Baz Scotney - who along with Romayne and the faithful Bonnie travels the length & breadth of the country in search of rural peace and tranquillity. This of course means that we are left with only two of our number who remain gainfully employed; Darren who sweats behind a welding mask to earn a crust and Marc who fills an essential role in the retail supply chain. Good luck to them all!
Disappointment all round at the 2020 Bannister Cup. Although the event went very well with all contestants enjoying a grand day out, we were saddened by the absence of the Provincial Grand Primo. Never mind; due to current restrictions there was no ceremonial presentation at the end of the match, so Bro’ Colin will be able to handle the trophies and say a few words at PGL in the near future. Once again, well done Bro’ Steve for organising the annual competition – rumour is, he’s thinking of doing something similar on a scaled-down basis for the Lodge. Watch this space
Roy and his wife may have fallen foul of the global pandemic. Their No.1 son could have brought it back with him from a trip to the Emerald Isle, and at the time of writing Roy awaits news from the Track ‘n Trace procedure down at the showground.
Baz appeared to display a degree of over-enthusiasm in the Lodge last week, when he outlined plans to replace Bro’ Dylan when that faithful hound is considered past-it. Poor old Dylan - it’s a hard world and no mistake!
Steve gave a general report to the Lodge last week on progress throughout the Province. It seems that the Fenman & Willoughby have re-opened, but the Valiant, Locomotive and Queen Elizabeth are still reviewing their respective positions. It’s very difficult for all Minor Lodges, meeting in different venues and balancing the various needs of Brothers.
It now looks as though we may well be affected by new aspects of the Government’s response to the Coronavirus. To begin-with it seems that all over 50s could be told to isolate so that we protect the R number. More difficult to understand is the idea that by shutting all the pub’s we can open all the schools (I have no idea how that works). Either way, it’ll affect us – so be prepared, eh?
Don’t Forget !!!!!
ROH Assembly meets on 10th August
Knights’ Chapter meets on 17th August
Weekly Newsletter # 18 - 17th July
The Last one (I think)
As the late Vera Lynn once sang – "We’ll Meet Again"
As it happens, we do know where and we do know when! In fact, the steward of the Parkway Club has been very accommodating and has agreed to make arrangements for us to meet again starting next Thursday, 23rd July.Seven of us met last Thursday at the Parkway and started the ball rolling. Naturally itmeans observing the various measures put in place to address the Coronavirus and we must be seen to co-operate. The main things to take into account are :
When arriving at the club, you should text your name and mobile number to 07762 497683. This information will be kept by the club for 21 days and become part of the track and trace arrangements.
All drinks are ordered by texting the order through to the above number and payment will be made by contactless card only. The drinks will then be brought through by a member of bar staff (I haven’t established how that bit will work, but I’ll get it sorted on the night).
If you do not have a contactless debit card I’m sure someone will act as money-man for you and take cash for placing your order.
Enter the club by the usual door but leave by an alternative which I’ll sort out with Aaron the steward on the night.
There will obviously be some changes. We’ll have the dispensation but we won’t be able to access our Lodge furniture for the time being. We shall however meet in private and we will be able to conduct our business.I hope to see as many of you as possible next Thursday.
Weekly Newsletter # 17 - 12th July
(possibly the very last one!)
When is a meeting not a meeting?
Tony, Maria and I dropped in on the Parkway Club on Saturday as planned and I’m pleased to say it was open. Not only was it open, Aaron the Steward confirmed that it will be open Thursday evening. Now I don’t want anyone to run away with the idea that it’s business as usual. Only the main function room will be open, track & trace will be in operation, you will have your temperature tested at the door, drinks are ordered by texting the bar staff and payment is by contactless card. The club is not able to host any form of meeting or actvity other than pool and darts and members are required to remain at their tables and not walk around. A copy of the Parkway Covid 19 Guidelines was attached to the Newsletter posted / emailed out.
All that said, there is no reason at all why members of the Parkway Club shouldn’t turn up at the same time and use the facilities as long as they make sure that they are seen to follow the guidelines. It is difficult to see how we will be able to meet properly as a Lodge anytime in the near future, and this must apply to the vast majority of Minor Lodges and other organisations in the Order. I suggest we take the opportunity afforded by the reopening of our host establishment and get together this Thursday at the Parkway Club for around 8.00pm. I shall bring the Registration Book and we can have a drink together – and a cash account for the first time in over 3 months. We can also consider alternative suggestions for a short term solution – Steve has something new for us to think about. If we are not flexible and open to face the challenges presented by the current easing of restrictions, we will continue to suffer the consequences. I know that the Coronavirus continues to present very real issues and fears but if you are able to come out for a drink, I look forward to seeing you on Thursday.
Weekly Newsletter # 16 - 9th July
Perhaps this is the Penultimate Newsletter?
Boris would be proud.
Yes – it’s just what the Prime Minister wants; a cautious measured response to a lifting of the lockdown. And it seems that’s just what’s happening at the Parkway Club.I popped along last Saturday afternoon and spoke to a very helpful lady on the bowlsgreen. She explained that the establishment is to open its doors for the first time since easing of the lockdown at 6.00pm on Friday 10th, Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th July – and will review weekday opening following that.I plan to visit this Saturday at 6.00pm, have a drink and see what’s what. If anyone would like to meet me there, you’ll be most welcome.Back at the end of April six weeks into the pause in our activities, I said that we mightneed to be flexible when planning our short to medium term future. That is certainly the case as we approach the re-opening of venues, with all the challenges that brings to clubs and pubs. Ideally our host establishment will open 7 days a week andmake our accommodation available. However, we must be prepared to make alternative arrangements in the short term if that becomes necessary.I’ll have a chat with Richard and the Trustees as soon as I know what’s what, and update you all next week.
Latest Roundup of News
There’s little point being indignant, but in truth there really is no pleasing some people. I was about to watch a documentary on ITV last Thursday about cruise ships being largely responsible for spreading the global pandemic, and I thought that Baz would like to know it was on. I sent him a text, and do you know - within minutes he sent a terse reply confirming that he was watching it, and ended his message by calling me a rude name. Of course, you’ve got to make allowances; after all Baz did go to Walton Secondary Modern, and he now lives in Stanground so we shouldn’t judge too harshly.
Mrs Sharp & I paid a visit to Gerry and Marion last week, out on the periphery of the black fen in Yaxley. Since my last call (see Going Viral No.14) Gerry has erected warning signs above his gate and fitted what looks like an inflatable head guard for the benefit of unwary guests. I’m pleased I made an impression!
Great news for Norrie over there in the Principality – he can now go & see his next-door neighbours and travel upto five miles from home. As Norrie lives in Colwyn Bay, half his options are closed off straight away by the Irish Sea. Never mind, it’s the thought that counts, and the Welsh Assembly is busy thinking it through.
Latest from the planners (or in this case planner, as Steve has it all in-hand), is that there willbe five teams in this year’s Bannister Cup on 19th July; one each from the Locomotive, Valiant and Fenman Lodges and two from the Eastgate. We’ll be fishing 10.00am to 3.00pm and everyone not directly involved is welcome to come along and lend support – maintainingthe appropriate social distancing guidelines, as the wind whistles across the flatlands and blows any germs you might have on you in towards Whittlesey and beyond.
Geoff has been in touch and reports that he has been through a pretty rough patch. He has been issued with something called an emergency pack and is in self isolation for at least the next 14 days. It’s difficult to know how to support Geoff – he’s only in Scotney Street but he may as well be on the other side of the planet (though to be fair, he’s probably better off in Scotney Street than he would be in Australia). I know that several Bro’s have been in touch and I’m sure that Geoff welcomes the contacts.
Of course, we should have enjoyed the annual hog roast on Saturday; another victim of the coronavirus. I marked the occasion appropriately by enjoying a very nice gammon steak at the Jolly Sailors in Ramsey, which had just that day opened after weeks of lockdown. Oddly enough there weren’t as anticipated, hordes of people queueing up to get a drink (anywhere that we could see), and 4th July seemed to pass pretty unremarkably.
Tony took Maria & I for a very pleasant lunch at the Bombay Brasserie on Sunday. The Brasserie opened for trade on Saturday and things appeared to be a bit slow Sunday afternoon; I expect trade will pick up over the coming week. Tony tells us that he’s settling well into life at Cathedral Green Court and looks forward to a trip to the south west in the next couple of weeks, when he will return with Henry in the passenger seat. Henry it seems is currently living with one of his daughters in some sort of family bubble.
Send ‘em some more – you know they deserve it!
Fantastic news from Grand Lodge distributed by P.G. Secretary as this week's Going Viral goes to print. They've got to the bottom of the strange case of the missing investments and there's dozens of pages of stuff from various firms of solicitors to read through.
I haven't had time to peruse it all yet, but like you I'm confident that they've cracked the nut and all's now well throughout the order.
Weekly Newsletter # 15 - 2nd July
Is this the Penultimate Newsletter?
I am sorry but there is no update as such. Various attempts have been made to establish the situation at the Parkway Club, but at the time of distributing this week’s newsletter we don’t know what their plans are. It is clear from the media that many restaurants/pubs/clubs are planning to re-open in some form or another on or shortly after 4th July. As we are all members of the Parkway Club, I suggest we keep our fingers crossed and aim to go along there for a sociable drink on Thursday evening 9th July - & take it from there.
I shall check the situation again at the weekend, and call round with news early next week.
The latest news round-up
Yes, it’s finally happened; Tony moved into his new City Centre pad last Friday. Pete and I helped with the proceedings (joined at the last minute by Ian), and all went well after a bit of tooing and froing between solicitors in the morning. The event almost coincided with Tony’s 80th Birthday on Thursday 25th, so best wishes all round.
I got to chat briefly with Ian’s old Mum later in the day last Friday, when he called about a missing email (that was never missing, if you know what I mean). Mrs Gunn sounded pretty chipper, though I had to shout to make myself heard; I suspect that the problem was down to Ian’s 70s mobile ‘phone rather than his Mum’s hearing – she’s as sharp as a tack.
Baz will be delighted with the latest plans to create travel corridors, enabling foreign holidays to resume. Of course Baz and other anxious cruisers will have to find a corridor between home and Southampton and then hope that the navigation officer on his ship can find a corridor out in the vast trackless wastes of the North Atlantic (or wherever else he thinks of cruising) so that they’ll all be safe from catching Covid 19 – off a passing cod or haddock, I suppose. It’s certainly a brave new world.
More piscatorial fun ‘n frolics on Tuesday down at Floatfish Farm with Steve getting ready for the big day later in the month. We were joined by several spectators including Pete, Baz and Bob Mac but the fishing was a bit slow. I blame the cloud of Old Spice that enveloped the fishery when Bob arrived – he’d been to MOT the car and was dressed like Stanground’s answer to Cary Grant. The fish didn’t think much and Baz went a dull shade of puce – poor old Pete practically had to carry him back to the car. Is this a portent of Fenman sharp-practice planned for 19th?
You’ll all be flabbergasted to hear that the Provincial Grand Primo himself has been in touch, with a bit of a nudge I suspect, from last year’s incumbent - who is a regular reader of our weekly newsletter. Colin it appears, is actually connected to the ‘phone system out in South Holland which must be a blessing; he assures me of his devotion to duty and I have told him how delighted we’ll all be if he turns up to support the Province at the annual Bannister Cup competition next month. Watch this space for news (or perhaps not if we meet and the newsletters die a natural – we’ll see).
Paul has been on, bemoaning his poor performance on the golf course now that they’re permitted to play around (play a round – get it?). Fortunately it’s not all negative though, as Paul & his Missus have been able to get back together with the grand kids. Either way Paul, the heat is on - so don’t forget to wear a hat.
I got the Dispensation back from the framer now that he’s resumed business, and what a job he’s made of it. Not only has the document been reframed, he has repaired several damaged areas and cleaned it up as well. I am in the process of ordering an A1 size artists portfolio case off ebay in which the dispensation can be stored and carried.
End of Quarter
I have sorted out the quarter-end books and the red cash book is ready for audit as soon as we get together again. You’ll recall that Grand Lodge suspended the audit requirement while Minor Lodges were unable to meet, and as a consequence there will be two quarters to audit. Of course, as there was only one transaction in the second quarter (the payment of quarterly dues to PGL) the audit will be pretty simple.
You’ll be delighted to learn that PGL dues are again due and I have done as requested by Grand Lodge and paid up the 13 weeks for all 7 compliant Brothers who are not either HMs or 12-month Advanced Members. A cheque together with the remittance form will be sent to the P.G.Secretary tomorrow.
As we are likely to be able to meet in some form or another in the near future, I have decided not to prepare a written financial report for circulation; I shall provide a full verbal report at our first meeting following lock-down.
If anyone has any questions in advance, please call me or send an email.
Weekly Newsletter # 14 - 25th June
The latest news round-up
Tony expects to move into his luxury apartment in the City Centre this Friday and by the time you read this he may already be lounging in his smoking jacket and paisley cravat, whiskey & soda in hand as he gazes across Stanley Rec’ towards the Cathedral (one of my wife’s more imaginative fancies).
By all accounts Tony and Henry enjoyed their trip to the south west, and Tony now has a better appreciation of cricket in general and West Indies cricket in particular, than he had earlier in the month. I understand that Henry has remained in Lyneham, but hopefully we’ll all see him again soon.
Baz has sent out a detailed report on Bro’ Dylan and I have expressed concern – more at the passage of time than anything else. Next year Dylan will be around 70 in human years and for all his adult life he has acted as Baz’s companion and guide. It must be very difficult for Baz and I’m sure we’ll do all that we can to support him.
Good once more to hear from Marc (let’s face it, one of our key workers in the supply network) - and again, I am reminded of the passing years. It was more than 2 decades ago but only seems like yesterday that we first bumped into each other on Aldermans Drive. Maria & I were out for a sociable drink and Marc was making his way home much the worse for wear after a bit of a session at the Hospital Club, swaying to an alarming degree and singing the Ballad of Eskimo Nell. Ah – those were the days!
I visited Gerry last Thursday and was pleased to be given a guided tour of his small holding (there’s a joke there somewhere, but let’s move on). Gerry has some misleading signs up throughout the establishment, but not a single one saying Mind your Head – and I didn’t get further than the threshold before I walked into the cross beam over his gate. Marion and Gerry were very welcoming. There’s a lot to see, various things growing – and I suspect creatures living. I heard noises which Gerry attributed to chickens, but they sounded like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park to me. Think-on, next time you take half a dozen eggs from the raffle.
Richard called last week and reports that all is well in Ramsey, and with Colin in Whittlesey. I was sitting there in the company of Pete, with Roy and Bob Mac close on-hand when Richard called; another welcomed break by the waterside & enough present to make up a Lodge.
I popped over to see Tony at the weekend to take him some stuff to help with the move later this week, and on the way dropped by to see Baz Scotney. Baz it seems had a brush with the grim reaper and spent a couple of nights in hospital earlier in the month. I took Baz some comforts from the Lodge and had a few minutes talking to Romayne and Bonnie the Labrador. All’s now well with the Godfather of the Orton/Stanground Mafia and he looks forward to seeing all his pals at the Village Club when it re-opens.
You may remember Bro’ Marc’s 4th Degree Raising at the PSL last August – though we’ve seen so many changes since, it seems like an age has passed. We were fortunate enough to have several visitors from Kings Lynn including our own Dennis Clarke, who used to work for the ambulance service in Peterborough before moving out into the black fen. Dennis has had a rough time of it in the last few years and is still fighting it out. He hopes to be able to visit us next month at the Bannister Cup, and I hope he can make it. Along with Ian, Dennis was present at my initiation and I count him as one of my oldest friends.
Readers of the Peterborough Telegraph can’t have failed to spot Roy in last week’s edition on page 42. Although the photo’ appeared to be in the nostalgia section, Roy has that Captain Mainwaring look about him which he only acquired when his waistline expanded – so it can’t have been taken that long ago. As he was dressed up like a pox doctor’s clerk, I imagine it was when he embraced the management role in the hospital boiler room. A timely reminder to us all, eh?
Where, Oh Where is the PGP?
Well the simple answer is probably Gosberton – as that’s where he lives. But does he realise that there’s a growing anxiety back in the more civilised world of the Peterborough Province, as we go week by week without word of his welfare?
There will of course be no formal presentation at this year’s Bannister Cup, and many may feel that the effects of the Coronavirus provide adequate excuse for the absence of our Principal Officer at this year’s event. On the other hand, imagine how the spirits of all those involved would soar if Bro’ Colin suddenly appeared three weeks on Sunday down at Floatfish Farm!
If anyone has heard from the far flung reaches of South Holland or knows how to reach Colin (I don’t know if they even have telephones out in Gosberton let alone Broadband), please tell him that we’d all love to see him out on the bank.
2 or 1?
Much depends on Boris’s decision this week on the 2m rule, and by the time you read this it may have already been decided to reduce social distancing from 2m to 1m sometime early in July - which will be really significant for all walks of life, not least the Order.
I hope to have positive news to report in the very near future.
Weekly Newsletter # 13 - 18th June
Bro. John Charles Herbert, ROH, Past Grand Primo
I am sorry to advise the Lodge of the death of John Charles Herbert ROH, HM, GP 2005. John’s funeral was on Monday in Kings Lynn.
Bro’ John was involved with the Order in Western Germany in the 80s, and after returning to the UK he settled in the Kings Lynn Province. He became Grand Primo of the GLE in 2005.
Meeting John later in Minor Lodges and Chapters between Kings Lynn and Peterborough, I have to say he was a gentleman and without doubt one of the nicest blokes to hold the title of Grand Primo.
This week’s round-up of news.
Good to hear from Tony, who was threatening to visit Floatfish Farm this Tuesday until his plans changed – we’ll have a rod in his hands yet. Apparently, Bob Mac has told Tony that he’s suffering from arthritis; what he really means is that he’s suffering from a lack of anaesthetic while the pubs are shut. Never mind, Bob – Independence Day will soon be here and word has-it that moves are afoot to mark the occasion with grand re-openings. More news to follow.
Tony has sought advice on travelling to Wiltshire (if only he worked for Boris – he’d just get up and go), and Henry is apparently champing at the bit to head south west. They are going to create their own social bubble so that they can sit less than 2 metres apart, and will be enjoying the trip together this week. Good luck, both.
Baz has sent me a long email with lots of info’ about this that and the other, but absolutely nothing about poor old Dylan. Are we to believe that Baz is taking his faithful companion for granted after weeks of lock-down? Baz reckons that the sooner I stop sending out weekly newsletters the better, which just goes to show that you can’t please everyone.
I received a text from Marc, confirming that despite the contents of Going Viral No.12 all’s well at Tesco in terms of bog roll – but I was right about the shortages of flour (he blames Bake-Off on the telly). Marc makes what I believe to be unnecessarily cheeky remarks about Ian’s love of Zoom lollies, but then what can you expect?
Mixed fortunes for Robert & Terry over in Northamptonshire. Sadly, we haven’t seen them since we moved and changed our meetings from a Wednesday to a Thursday, but I understand they’re still mad-for-it an up-for-it in Northants. Of course, Ian and I were born in Northamptonshire, before the Soke of Peterborough was re-aligned and put into Huntingdonshire (before it became part of Cambridgeshire and before it became a Unitary Authority). Happily, we’ve avoided the recent mis-management of the county and the loss to the council-tax payer of millions of £s, but that’s another story for another day.
I hear that Baz Scotney has been ill in hospital and is a bit miffed that no-one visited him. As the mysteries of the Order don’t generally include psychic powers, I plead not guilty to the offence. I’ll contact Baz & Romayne and see what’s what.
Did you know, Her Majesty the Queen had her first experience of Zoom last week? That’s the on-line virtual meeting set-up, not the ice lolly, Ian.
Her Maj’ conducted a meeting of the Privy Council on-line, which must have been a bit of a challenge for all the other participants because meetings of the Privy Council are always held standing in the Monarch’s presence.
As it happens, I too experienced a virtual meeting for the first-time last week, and to be fair it went quite well. True, my colleagues appeared and disappeared randomly on the screen for no apparent reason but after a bit we sorted out the protocols for holding a virtual meeting and it went as well as you might expect under the circumstances.
The problem for the Lodge if we decided to embark on this marvellous new scheme, would be discipline. You can’t have people all talking at once and interrupting each other – not at all like the Lodge meetings we all know and love.
Of course, it’s easy for Her Maj’ with the brown-nosers she has to deal with; they all do as they’re told on pain of being sent to the Tower. I find it hard to see how it would work for us.
Don’t worry, Grand Lodge will sort it all out in time for the next pandemic.
Weekly Newsletter # 12 - 11th June
Oh Dear, What can the matter be?
Extraordinary news from Grand Lodge this week. To … ensure the survival of the Grand Lodge of England … Lodges are being told to fork out registration remittances as usual during the lockdown. This follows Grand Lodge’s decision to instruct C.Secretaries to register apologies for Brothers for the duration of Lodge closures. In simple terms, that means that Grand Lodge continues to enjoy its income (in fact is set to increase its income, as registrations will hold level at an unnaturally high 100% while Minor Lodges can’t open) whereas the Lodges themselves will end up paying-out with no registrations coming-in.
Of course, we could all have virtual Lodge meetings – another wizard idea from Grand Lodge – though quite how the money side of things would work is something else entirely.
The Grand Secretary maintains in his latest Circular Letter that …. We are at a critical stage in our history … He’s right, though I suspect things are a good deal more critical for Grand Lodge than they are for those of us in the Minor Lodges who actually meet and keep the ship afloat.
On behalf of the Lodge I shall of course act in strict conformity with the Rules of the Order as from time to time ordained, and pay-up as instructed. Following the submission of our quarterly remittance at the end of the month, I shall square up the books ready for audit when we next meet, and circulate a balance to all Bro’s in compliance.
News from around the Lodge:
Geoff was pretty quick off the mark following receipt of last week’s newsletter – seems he wouldn’t be seen dead in the queue outside Aldi. In fact, it appears that as soon as he was able to don his new face mask (sorry, I don’t have a photo’), he was off over the new pedestrian crossings at Rhubarb Bridge to his favourite Morrisons to stock up on bog roll. I’m sure that Geoff didn’t look in the least bit suspicious or furtive – certainly not compared with some of the characters north of the Brotherhoods Retail Park (not you, Bill).
Bad news for Norrie over in the Principality. In their determination to do things differently from the long-despised English, the Welsh Assembly is dragging its heels over further lifting of the lockdown. It now seems we’re looking at 4th July or sooner for some restaurants & pubs in England, but Norrie is going to have to wait longer than that if he wants to go out for a pint. Norrie will understand - after all he’s a Jock, and his Nicola’s busy sticking two fingers up at the hated Sassenach, so in theory at least everybody should be happy.
While Tesco is hard at it helping the vulnerable and supporting our customers, it seems that Marc and co out there in Werrington (and all the other Tescos to be fair) are struggling to keep up with the on-line orders. Rumour has it, they can’t even keep the shelves stocked with the essentials. You have to think outside the box at times like this. My advice if you can’t lay your hands on the basics is to visit The Triangle Supermarket. My wife couldn’t get any flour anywhere, until we went to the Triangle – more flour and more types of flour than you can shake a ……… I admit the labels are a bit confusing, and some of the things on offer – particularly on the cooked meat counter – are a bit challenging. However, it’s the place to go; no queues, no shortages, no jobs-worths in high-vis jackets telling you what to do and a friendly Do svidaniya as you leave, wondering if what you’ve got in your bag is really what you went in for. Give it a try.
After all that bellyaching about barbers being closed during the current restrictions, I was brought back to earth by Ian who WhatsApped me to say how much he likes Zoom lollies (see Going Viral No.11). On searching for evidence of this, I came across this remarkable photo from the late 70s. You have to bear in mind that there was no lockdown then – Ian chose to look like the fourth Bee Gee.
What could he have been thinking?
Major event at Floatfish Farm last Friday, with Steve, Roy and Mick Clay (who we haven’t seen for years – so well done, Steve) fishing and being joined by the likes of Darren with his sons, plus Pete and Tony. I played the part of fair-weather fisherman by turning tail at the first sign of bad weather as we queued up to get in at 7.30am. Apparently the session turned into an impromptu birthday celebration when Pete broke open the beer to mark his **** year. Bob Mac, Roy and I had a session at Floatfish this Tuesday, and though the fish weren’t too keen to play along it was an enjoyable day out.
So – that’s it : Going Viral No.12 means we’ve had 12 weeks without a Lodge meeting and in a week it’ll be a whole quarter of the year gone. My wife reckons that she’s read that some pubs are going to re-open on 22nd June (since lockdown was introduced, she’s taken to reading the Daily Telegraph – and watching Downton Abbey, but that’s another story), however we’ve heard nothing as yet from the Parkway Club. As soon as we are able to meet on any basis at all, I’ll liaise with Steve, Richard, Ian, Pete & Tony and we’ll sort something out. In the meantime, keep in touch and STB.
Weekly Newsletter # 11 - 4th June
Light at the end of the Tunnel ?
Yes – the Prime Minister reckons that the resolve and courage of the British public has won through and non-essential shops are to re-open in the middle of the month – provided of course that we keep to the requirements of the five-point plan.
In reality the pressure on the Government to keep up the momentum (especially as Boris is determined to defend his chief advisor, who apparently doesn’t need to adhere to any restrictions) inevitably means that restaurants, pubs and clubs are likely to be the next areas to be looked-at some-time in the summer. We must be ready to respond. Some weeks ago, I said that we should be prepared to be flexible and I hope you’ll all agree that we shouldn’t wait until things go back to how they were pre-Coronavirus (if they ever do).
I’ll liaise with the W.P, Treasurer and Trustees as things pan out in the coming weeks.
This week’s round-up:
Blimey, what a turn-out last Tuesday down at Floatfish Farm! Steve, Roy and I fished - but this time were accompanied by Bob Mac. We were not only joined by Pete observing the proceedings – Ian turned-up thanks to Darren who had pointed him in the right direction after using Facebook. Even Mrs Sharp joined-in the fun, albeit from the comfort of the car. On Friday Steve, Bob & I cast a line and were visited by Pete with Baz in tow (but no Dylan). See our web-site under News & Photos for the pictures. You’ll all be surprised and delighted to learn that Bob Mac is actually benefitting from the lockdown; he’s stopped drinking, lost weight and looks good.
Good to hear from Geoff who has apparently been in touch with several Bros by ‘phone. Geoff is one of our most vulnerable Bros and it’s good to hear that despite his underlying health condition, he has avoided contracting Covid 19. Now it seems that after weeks of isolation, Boris has said that Geoff can go out into the big wide world so expect to see him in the queue outside Aldi's anytime soon.
I saw Mick Reeve last week – we haven’t seen Mick for some time in the Lodge, though he and his son Daryl fished for us in last year’s Bannister Cup. You’ll recall that Mick used to work as an electrician at the old Hospital, and you’d have thought that he’d have hung up his AMP tester years ago. Well, it seems that Mick remains employed by the NHS as a contractor, working what sounds like skeleton resourcing at the City Hospital. Good luck to Mick, though the Health Trust’s reliance on chaps like him doesn’t say much for their decision some years ago to put basic maintenance work out to contract.
Gerry has been keen to brush up on his local history by getting me to investigate whether Richard is or was any relation to the Charles Baldock who, as a member of the Ramsey Home Guard in 1941, captured Josef Jakobs – the last German spy to be executed at the Tower of London. Well it raises a couple of mysteries. Firstly, you’d have thought that Richard would know of all the Baldocks in Ramsey, and he’s never heard of Charles. Most significantly though, is why would a German spy parachute into Ramsey of all places? Perhaps it’s all just coincidence and accident (after all, Jakobs did break his ankle on landing). Sorry Gerry, no luck with the possible link – but at least we’re assured that JJ got his just desserts by firing squad, strapped to a chair in the grounds of the Tower!
Not content with studying local connections with mid-twentieth century Axis espionage, Gerry has been Zooming across the world to establish contact with kith & kin. Personally, I think Marion probably had more to do with the use of Zoom than Gerry, who let’s face it is a bit more old-tech’ – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Last week we looked at Grand Lodge’s advice on the holding of virtual lodges; perhaps Zoom is the way forward (and not just a 70s iced lolly, Ian).Archie & Millie celebrated their 3rd birthday at the weekend which makes them around 25 in human years. Happy Birthday from the Lodge – there’s a Postman’s leg apiece in it for you when the lockdown is over.
Archie & Millie celebrated their 3rd birthday at the weekend which makes them around 25 in human years. Happy Birthday from the Lodge – there’s a Postman’s leg apiece in it for you when the lockdown is over.
David has been through to confirm that all’s well and he’s constructing fences. As he’s been at it now for weeks, you can only imagine the nature of the superstructures he’s created round the Hildred household.
Tony has made contact with startling news – he’s set to move into his new exclusive luxury City-centre executive condominium in a matter of weeks. Luckily, it’s only a short walk to such attractions as the Con’ Club, the New Theatre, the Shah Jehan (Indian Cuisine) and Angels Lap Dancing nite-spot – so there’s plenty to look forward to.
Paul is bemoaning lost opportunities to celebrate significant dates in May due to the need to isolate and self-distance. Thing is, we’ve all got to get used to the new normal. I expect that Paul would have taken Mrs Crane to a swish establishment last month to mark their wedding anniversary, but even in Covid 19 days they could still have hit the town. Mrs Sharp’s current favourite eatery at the moment is the Frying Scotsman at Fengate, but I personally recommend the Burger Queen in the B&Q car park as the place to dine.
Weeks of lockdown have resulted in my new hairstyle and I thought you’d like to see a photo – taken as I was preparing to go and undertake my civic responsibilities. It’s the New Normal and if anyone comments on it, I blame the Prime Minister for shutting the barbers!
Weekly Newsletter # 10 - 28th May
This Weeks News
Yes the piscatorial meeting took place as planned last Tuesday with Steve, Roy and me casting a line at Floatfish Farm, joined mid-morning by Pete (see Newsletter # 9 for photographic evidence and News & Photos for records of further the outings). Since then we’ve all been back and you’ll be pleased to know that Pete’s really getting into the role of ghillie.
Tony’s assured me that Bob Mac and Henry are surviving under lock-down; no plans as I understand it to address Henry’s nomadic tendencies but knowing him it can only be a matter of time.
I got an email from Bob Taylor who appears to be OK. He was good enough to thank me for forwarding the newsletters but disappointingly didn’t include any juicy tit-bits I could use. Good Heavens, doesn’t Bob know that discretion is my middle name?
The Provincial Grand Secretary optimistically sent me half a dozen cheques to bank the other week – including one of ours (it’s a crazy set-up and no mistake). If nothing else, it gave the girls at the Yorkshire the chance to have a laugh when I took my hat off.
I hope you’re all mad-for-it and up-for-it, because Grand Lodge has decreed that we can now hold virtual meetings. What, I can hear you all asking, is a virtual meeting? I shall try to explain.
We could all set a time and date (say 8.00pm on a Thursday), at which we could all meet each other via the marvels of the internet – by Skype or some other method. For those of you who are still with me, we could then hold a virtual Lodge.
Now I can hear the objections (well, virtually if you know what I mean) and I don’t want to get into a Grand Lodge knocking session – because there are plenty of them on social media without me joining-in. What I would say, is that it seems patently obvious that you can’t hold a Lodge without being there, because being there is the whole point.
You can conduct Lodge financial business on a virtual basis if that becomes necessary. However, if you are all content to let me see to the books, pay the quarterly remittance to Grand Lodge as appropriate and call the W.P, Treasurer and Trustees over any other issues that might crop up before we’re able to meet again, we can run the Lodge effectively until the lock-down is over. We have the re-framing of the Dispensation to cover when we meet again (something that has needed to be done for some time), and the only ongoing cost to the Lodge at the moment is postage of newsletters. I shall claim-back all money paid against appropriate receipts.
You’ll have seen that Steve has confirmed that this year’s Bannister Cup will go ahead on Sunday 19th July as planned. We shall of course adhere to restrictions and any social distancing still in-force, but this is a great opportunity to support the Lodge and the Province by visiting Floatfish Farm - not virtually but in person - and mixing from a safe distance with other Bros.
More news will follow in coming weeks.
2020 HOG ROAST
It is with a heavy heart that Steve has decided that this year’s hog roast will have to be another casualty of the Coronavirus. At the moment we don’t even know if the Parkway Club (or anywhere else for that matter) will be open in July, and it makes sense to act now.
On a positive note however, the hog roast man has assured Steve that Gloria our designated porker will be able to enjoy a summer frolicking in the sun, now that she no longer faces an ignominious end, skewered on a spit and slowly roasted to our satisfaction.
Will there be a 2021 hog roast (I can hear you all asking)? Well, it depends how many of you become vegans and insist on a vegetarian alternative.
If you can, get hold of the 1984 British film A Private Function, staring Maggie Smith and Michael Palin. It’s a film about an illegal black-market pig called Betty and plans for a roast pork dinner to celebrate the 1947 wedding of Princess Elizabeth to the newly appointed Duke of Edinburgh. Michael Palin plays the local chiropodist and the scene with him practising on Alison Steadman’s feet was reminiscent of our own Jonathan Chapman with clippers in hand - and in full PPE - as my old Dad’s toe nails ricocheted round the room.
It is a gloriously funny film and if you can’t enjoy a hog roast of your own this year, watch it and have a laugh.
Weekly Newsletter # 9 - 21st May
The New Normal
This week’s news in brief :
Ian has been confused by the idea of the new normal – not really surprising as Ian was never that normal in the first place. At least the Conservative Bowls mob will be out on the green now, so that’ll give him an excuse to polish his woods.
Within minutes of release from the confines of the lockdown, Henry was raring to go. Apparently, he can’t wait to wander freely – certainly as far as Wiltshire – and is tempting Tony to get behind the wheel and head south west. As the most widely travelled nonagenarian in the Order, Henry deserves to have a road at least named after him; I’ll make enquiries with the Council.
Contrary to rumour, Baz hasn’t found some illicit cruise operator to take him away from it all. It seems that he remains ensconced with Dylan south of the river eagerly anticipating a return to the high seas.
Bill and family were temporarily cut-off over in Walton as over-enthusiastic cable engineers - returning to work after weeks of isolation - severed their links with the wider world. Fortunately, they’re all re-connected now which is good news for Archie & Millie.
Richard has called, it seems that Colin has been in hospital for a short period (not Coronavirus related) but is back home now. I’m sure we all wish him well and look forward to seeing them both in the near future.
Pete appeared to be OK when I contacted him last week. The general idea I understand, is that he’s going to visit Steve, Roy and me at Floatfish Farm on Tuesday so by the time you read this some sort of socially-distanced contact should have been re-established. Who knows, we might even bump into Bob Mac if he’s there casting a line.
Lodge Fishing Trip - 19/May/2020
Wagtail Pool - Float Fish Farm
The Annual Trip to Grove House
I have been going through lots of old bits and pieces lately in the run-up to moving house, and many of the photos from the old albums of the 70s, 80s and early 90s never got digitalised – what would have been the point? Interesting enough though, are the snaps from our annual trip up north.
I have to say in retrospect, Grove House was a pretty odd place to visit more than once. Certainly, on the several occasions I went there it appeared to be run like a private members club and was never very welcoming to those who weren’t part of the in-crowd. Still, if nothing else the annual garden party provided a good excuse to bugger off for the weekend.
We used to hire a minibus and set off Saturday morning, up the A1 to arrive in Harrogate for early afternoon. The garden party was OK as garden parties go, a Lodge was open for the duration and the bar always did good trade. Late afternoon we’d set off for Barnsley or Hull where we’d arranged to visit a Lodge and stay over in some flea-pit hotel. As I recall the excursion was done on the cheap but we always had a good time with plenty of booze and laughs. Sunday morning home across the Humber Bridge down the A15, and a call in on the Park Lodge in Market Deeping to round off the weekend.
Regulars on the trip were the likes of John McLeester, Alf Cook, John Barker, Phil Baring - plus others who went once and obviously thought that our Headquarters wasn’t up to much.
Personally, I thought that Grove House was (if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphor) a sacred cow that became a white elephant. I never thought much to the place or the widely held but mistaken view that it was the heart & soul of our Order. Despite all that, our annual Lodge trips up north were great fun.
Mental Health Awareness Week
You’ll all be relieved to hear that it’s Mental Health Awareness Week and we’ve been lucky enough to have the great and the good helping us to understand the risks.
We had the Archbishop of Canterbury droning on about feeling anxious last weekend, and Prince William appears on the telly tonight, apparently talking to stressed out footballers (can you imagine?).
What we really need is uplifting advice from our own Grand Lodge Management Committee, after all they must be a pretty anxious bunch with the tax man and assorted creditors breathing down their necks.
Where oh where is Grand Lodge when you need it?
Weekly Newsletter # 8 - 14th May
I am under some pressure to alter the name of our weekly communication to reflect the Government’s new message to the people of England (not the rest of the UK – they’re doing their own thing). However, I’m sure you’ll agree that the Lodge needs clarity and in the belief that we’re all more likely to go viral than stay alert, I think we’ll keep to the original title.
Like me you’ll all be struggling with the developing situation and wondering what Boris’s Sunday message actually means. It is perhaps better to look at what it doesn’t mean, and for us it’s really quite simple. It doesn’t mean that we’ll be able to meet formally any time soon, and we’re looking at July earliest before there’s likely to be any change – as long as the R doesn’t go up.
In practical terms, I shall check with the P.G.Secretary that we have the same understanding over the submission of the quarterly remittance (and recording of apologies), and keep the books in good order. I hope that we’ll be able to keep in touch with our host establishment, though contact has proved to be difficult and I currently have no idea how the Parkway is doing under its enforced closure. Naturally we need to do all we can to safeguard our property, but you’ll be pleased to know that the dispensation at least is secure (I took it with me after our last meeting in March and it is being re-framed).
On a personal note I am making plans to go fishing later this week now that Boris has said we can all go out and play after Wednesday. I suspect that the continuing restrictions may have some effect on fisheries and match fishing however, and Steve will no doubt review the Bannister Cup arrangements with that in mind.
This week’s round-up
I have spoken with Ian who is experiencing ongoing issues with the internet. I suspect that the issues are down to Ian’s cack-handed approach rather than a problem with the technology. Ian’s Mum remains in fine fettle and by all accounts had an enjoyable birthday. Darren is working 7 days a week in down-town Whittlesey, successfully keeping out of the way of Fiona who is working from home.
Tony has assured me that Bob Mac is OK out in the wilds of Stanground. When you think of all the dreadful things that Bob must have inhaled in his years on London Underground, there can’t be a lot his system hasn’t coped with at one time or another. We can all look forward to Bob’s robust analysis of the pandemic when the restrictions are finally lifted.
Thanks to our friend Gerry – the Yaxley connection – for sending what has become a daily dose of humour over the internet. My wife generally forwards them to her brother in Cumbria and that’s about as far as you can get, in this country at least.
I had a call from Bob Taylor over in Northamptonshire last week. Bob is OK as indeed is Terry – both are bored by the current lock-down but philosophical (or as philosophical as you can be in Northamptonshire). Bob didn’t mention Grand Lodge, which was a bit disappointing as we always relied on him to put us straight on the national picture.
On a personal note, stocks had run so low I actually had to buy some Fray Bentos pies from the £ shop last week – oh how I miss those weekly raffles.
I’m told that Pete and Steve both enjoyed street parties to commemorate the anniversary of V.E. Day last Friday. Ah - two airmen on the town, dancing in the fountains, bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover, the Royal Princesses mingling with the crowds, the Prime Minister addressing the Nation …………….
You may have noticed reports in the Peterborough Telegraph, outlining plans to re-develop The Solstice Bar. The Solstice - noted in more recent years as the place to go if you’re looking for a punch-up - used to be the Peterborough Ex-Servicemen’s Club and home to the Lodge.
Recall if you can, those far-off days of the 1970s and 80s when we had proper opening hours and the Club hosted its famous Gentlemen’s Evenings (a night of harmless fun with three strippers and a blue comedian). Now it seems the tone is to be lowered by converting the site into student accommodation.
Never mind, eh?
Weekly Newsletter # 7 - 7th May
This week’s round-up …..
Bill’s been on to assure me that Archie and Millie continue to enjoy their daily exercise – albeit of a localised nature. It must be difficult for man’s best friend to understand the conditions of the lock-down. The two cats who live with us (ownership is not a concept that Marble or Poppy would either recognise or endorse) have successfully ignored the pandemic and do not feel themselves at all constrained by its restrictions.
Roy has sent a confusing series of messages which appear to indicate that while Mrs G is out at work in the educational sector, he has developed some strange interests. To begin with, it appeared that Roy had entered the field of fortune telling (you can just imagine him in a tent at the Thorpe Hall summer fete polishing his crystal ball), but after some questioning he quickly changed his tune and now reckons that he has taken-up photographing the stars. To infinity and beyond, eh?
Geoff has emailed me. He is being careful because his COPD obviously makes him a priority case with the health service. The surgery is monitoring him on a weekly basis and is happy enough with his progress. I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing Geoff all the best – and hope to see you soon.
I’ve heard nothing from Bob Mac’ for a few weeks, but Bob’s not the sort to communicate via the interweb so no surprise there. If you’re listening Bob, give me a call or send a text and let us know what’s what in Stanground.
Since last week’s disclosures, Marc has texted making less than positive remarks about the Secretary of State for Transport (who to be honest had nothing but praise for retail employees in his contribution from the podium the week before last). On a serious note, Mrs Snowden is nursing away in the NHS but is being kept away from Covid 19 patients because she is classed as High Risk; I have asked Marc to pass on our best wishes – let’s hope he remembers.
Richard maintains contact with Colin and tells me that everything’s OK – he’s using his spare time to paint his fences and you can’t say fairer than that.
Tony is OK out at the Ortons and looking forward to moving to the City Centre where he’ll be able to enjoy all that the metropolis has to offer. He has spoken with Gwen who confirms that all’s well with her and Henry; it must be quiet over there by the POSH ground with no matches being played.
The annual Province Bannister Cup fishing match is scheduled to take place on 19th July which is now just over two months away. All indications are that restrictions on angling are likely to be relaxed well in advance of the opening of restaurants, pubs, clubs and the like. Representations are being made to Government this week by the Angling Trust and we’re hoping that it will form part of the announcement expected this coming Sunday.
The Province fishing match may be the first opportunity for us to get the ball rolling again and I hope that everyone who can, will support it by taking part on the day or visiting the venue and encouraging the participants (from a suitable distance of course).
Steve will circulate more news over the coming weeks.
Our Province Knights’ Chapter and Roll of Honour Assembly meet regularly and I hope that when we’re all back socialising (perhaps 2m apart – who knows?) everyone who is eligible will take the opportunity to join-in.
Chapter and Assembly provide an opportunity to mix with Bro’s from other Lodges in the Province; Chapter President this year is the illustrious Sam Fishburn from the Q.E - Assembly President is none other than Bruce Duncombe of the Fenman. If you’re not a member of Chapter or Assembly, contact me for details.
No one has objected to my proposal to distribute Lodge contact details so I include them with this newsletter. I have circulated contact details (home address, email address and telephone number) for all Bro’s in compliance, to all Bro’s in compliance. They have been sent as a print-off accompanying the hard-copies or as a separate attachment to emailed newsletters. I hope that this information is helpful.
Weekly Newsletter # 6 - 30th April
Bill has been in touch this week. Seems that Ange is working from home, and Archie & Millie are happy enough despite Bill’s attempts to confuse them by altering the structure of the Smith gardens. Bill has asked me to give him a copy of my contact details for the Lodge – please see later in this newsletter.
Baz made contact in his usually supportive way – thanks, Baz. Bro’ Dylan is making the most of his extended family and is no doubt doing all he can to console his human companion - let’s face it, it’s almost May and Baz hasn’t been away on a cruise yet this year.
Steve has been good enough to post these weekly newsletters on our Lodge website and our thanks to him for that. I see that with reference to me, Steve has posted a photo’ of a hairy Scandinavian actor who I am told features in Game of Thrones; well to be frank if I had that chap’s money, I wouldn’t care how unkempt my hair was!
I don’t want to bang-on about it, but like me you’ll be glued to the daily lecture from 10 Downing Street and I’d like you to consider how well turned-out these Cabinet Ministers appear to be – where are they all getting their bloody hair cut?
I have heard nothing new from Marc, but it was nice to hear Grant Shapps (he’s the Transport Secretary who appeared at the rostrum last Friday) applauding the role of retail employees. I expect that Marc is busy enforcing the 2m rule as the anxious folk of Werrington queue up to buy their bog roll at Tesco.
The only Bro’ I’ve actually seen in recent weeks is Tony, who was good enough to lend me his temperamental lawn mower last week. I have to say that my foray into the Ortons was pleasant enough – south of the river is improved no-end with its inhabitants safely behind doors.
One Bro’ who’ll be rubbing his hands together at the moment has to be Norrie Tawse over there in North Wales. Both the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament have stuck two fingers up at Westminster and are busy planning their own exit strategy. Norrie could well end up celebrating with the crowds as the fireworks light up Llandudno pier, while the rest of us remain skulking in the shadows.
You’ll all be pleased to learn that the Grand Secretary is up there in North Yorkshire, steering our ship through the choppy Coronavirus waters – he’s just dished out a short-list of Bros who have passed to the Grand Link Above since the pandemic struck. The problem with the information from Grand Lodge is that whilst it implies that the list is Coronavirus related, it doesn’t (in fact it can’t) state if the deceased Bros died of Covid 19, with Covid 19, or of other causes – and that’s the issue with much of the information that’s being casually circulated at the moment; you have to take care and not be misled by statistics . Well, done Grand Lodge.
Congratulations to the P.G.Secretary, who this week celebrates 50 years in the Order. If only he were here to buy us all a drink – couldn’t have planned it better !
Bill Smith has raised a good point. Communication is very important at this time; we don’t know how long we’ll be without a properly functioning Lodge, and without our weekly meetings we need to be able to talk to each other. We’ve got this weekly newsletter and Steve is updating our website, but it would be good if we were all able to contact each other. I intend to share our contact details (name, address, email address and telephone numbers), but if you object to this and do not wish to be involved, please let me know. If I haven’t heard from you by this time next week you will be included, and I shall add the contact list to Going Viral No.7.
Where do we go from here?
Imagine how relieved the First Secretary and his pals were earlier this week to see Boris back for the daily get-togethers at No.10 (you can just picture Dominic’s face when the Chief of the General Staff turned up four weeks ago to hand over the launch codes).
Their problem is, that despite all the advice from the health experts and praise for the NHS, they have to make a balanced political decision over lifting the lock-down. Apparently, there are many options available to government, but whatever happens it won’t be all done & dusted overnight and a phased return to normality (!) is likely to see the re-opening of restaurants, pubs, clubs and the like towards the end of the process.
I believe that as a Lodge we have to be prepared to be flexible in order to face our future, certainly in the short-medium term. I would welcome your views on this; please email me or give me a call.
Tormund Giantsbane (Martyn)
Weekly Newsletter # 5 - 23rd April
Not a bad weekly round-up this time.
Richard ‘phoned at the weekend. He has been in touch with Shirley Bronfield, and spoke recently with Colin. All is well in Ramsey, though Richard reckons that signs of rebellion are becoming evident. Well, I have warned my wife that Ramsey is a bit mad-for-it and up-for-it; after all it boasted the last naturist cinema in the country until it closed, and of course has the distinction of being the UKIP capital of the fens!
Pete is bearing up out at Stanground, and has been able to record third-hand contact with none other than the Provincial Grand Primo. Bro’ Colin reckons to be something of a tree surgeon and has apparently contracted to undertake work for one of Pete’s neighbours when the pandemic is over. Frankly the thought of Colin in full PPE with a pulsating chain saw in his hands is not one on which I’d personally wish to dwell.
Henry has been in touch with Tony to assure him that he and Gwen are well. No doubt Henry will be concerned to ensure that his compliance is being maintained during this absence from the Lodge so - . HENRY – YOU ARE IN COMPLIANCE
Henry was 96 on the 22nd - Happy Birthday from us all.
Dave has emailed me to confirm that Mrs Kennedy, Mrs Merry and Mrs Kerr are OK. It must be very difficult for those of us who are on our own at this time, and I am
sending all our widows a card from the Lodge this week, just to say that our thoughts are with them.
I popped over to see Tony earlier in the week; he kindly agreed to lend me his mower so that I could cut my back lawn (another victim of the delayed house move). It’s not the grass we need to worry about, it’s our ever-lengthening thatch. I appreciate that Pete is happy to walk around like some country & western star of old, but for me at least the sooner the barbers are open the better; I’m looking more and more like Harpo Marx!
I am exchanging non-politically correct WhatsApp messages with Steve and Roy, and Gerry’s email attachments have been sent the length & breadth of the country thanks to my wife, who has forwarded many of them to her brother - he has been cheered up by the 70s humour. My son (nominally at least, a Brother of the Order), does not find that kind of thing funny at all and refuses to react to my attempts to provoke him.
Ian called-in to report that boredom is his only problem. His old Mum is 91 on Saturday and she is doing well out at Orton Brimbles. I have sent a Birthday Card from the Lodge.
The P.G.Secretary has been on to advise that George White and his wife Val are perking up after their brush with the Coronavirus. Well done, George – see you soon.
Fines and Gifts
One of the side effects of the current lockdown is the effect that all this is having on our use of cash. Anyone who is responsible for banking cash will tell you that over the past five years the banks have made it more and more difficult to handle money. In places like Market Deeping for example every high street bank has closed; there are no facilities at all. In Peterborough, although the banks remain open, the banking facilities inside have become ever more limited over time. This has been brought into sharper focus by the pandemic and the way we have been encouraged to shop during the lockdown.
Along with PGL, we bank with the Yorkshire Bank which has just acquired Virgin Money. As a result, the Yorkshire Bank on the corner of Church Street is about to close and all business will be done four doors away down Cowgate at the Virgin Money Branch (they are amalgamating under the Virgin Money name because, I have been told, it is an international brand). I have been advised that all staff will remain the same and we shall enjoy the same banking facilities that we had at the Yorkshire.
There is a big push to do away with cash; it is expensive to administer and is seen by bankers and business people (i.e. those who personally have little use for it) as old fashioned and unnecessary in the 21st Century. Sweden has already moved to a cashless economy and others are planning to follow. The Coronavirus has indirectly played into the hands of those pressing for change. The flow of cash has slowed down and the use of plastic has increased.
Please consider the effect that this is likely to have on us and other similar organisations. The use of cash is at the heart of the way we work and how we operate. The consequences of the Coronavirus may remain with us for a long time – perhaps forever.
I have heard from the Valiant Lodge via Bro’ Dave Spencer that the late Clive Palmer’s funeral will be held today at 4.00pm. Due to restrictions at the crematorium it cannot be a Buff Funeral as Bro’ Clive would have wanted. Hopefully PGL will sort out an alternative when we’re back to normal. In the mean-time, please observe a minute’s silence this afternoon in respect of Bro’ Clive.
Weekly Newsletter # 4 - 15th April
You’ll be pleased to hear that Tony took Pete to the Fitzwilliam late last week and was able to fetch him home in time for Easter. Aside from a disturbing experience during his visit, Pete was characteristically up-beat when I spoke with him, he was positive and optimistic.
Tony it appears continues to struggle with modern communications. He’s got himself a supa-dupa mobile phone that does everything short of making the tea, but I’m not at all sure that the email and whatsApping side of things is working as it should. Perhaps Tony just likes his visit from the postman every day.
I have heard from Paul who extends congrat’s to Henry and best wishes to Pete, and who reckons the best way to talk to kith & kin from afar is via something called Zoom. We’ll get Tony to download it ASAP.
Geoff has been on to advise that Chick Elding contracted the virus and was hospitalised, but has now been declared cured; we all wish Chick well.
The P.G.Secretary has reported that Bro’ Colin our PGP is well, isolated out at Gosberton (and you can’t get much more isolated than that). Baz Scotney is setting an example to the rest of the Orton/Stanground mafia by adhering to the current restrictions, although it seems as though Romayne may well be stretching things by spending time in their caravan dreaming of days on the Lincolnshire coast (and isolating herself from Baz).
We received the sad news that Clive Palmer of the old Avondale Lodge died late last week. It’s impossible to uphold Absent Brethren at the moment, but each of us will remember Bro’ Clive in our own way.
The current pandemic is a great leveller with both Prime Minister and Prince of Wales succumbing to the virus. Fortunately, Boris has recovered after getting it very bad (which on the bright side, has done wonders for the future of the NHS) and Prince Charles got over it after a week of self-isolation. On hearing the news from Kensington Palace, I couldn’t help but think how relieved my old friend the late Dennis Felstead would have been……………
It would be a good idea to get in touch with our widows but before making contact I thought I’d see if anyone knows the latest news from – Mrs Bronfield, Mrs Broughton, Mrs Fixter, Mrs Gunn, Mrs Haines, Mrs Hamman, Mrs Kennedy, Mrs Kerr and Mrs Merry.
Please let me know in the next few days so that I can come up with something appropriate.
This is the fourth weekly newsletter, and after issuing the third I was asked how I am faring under the current restrictions.
Well it’s a bit of a bind isn’t it? In another walk of life, I am involved in trying to help keep the criminal justice system working – and hoping that it will return to normal (whatever that is) when all this is over. Of course, it’s largely from the comfort of my living room using the marvels of broadband, but that itself may well turn out to be a problem for the future; we’ll see.
It didn’t help matters when we put our house up for sale and stuck most of my belongings in storage just as Boris was about to put us in lockdown and freeze the housing market. It’s irritating but let’s be frank, with people dying in large numbers it’s no more than that.
One thing I can be thankful for is the daily opportunity to improve myself, as Mrs Sharp never misses a chance to point out my shortcomings so that I can become a better person.
Weekly Newsletter # 3 - 8th April