THE EASTGATE LODGE CORONAVIRUS NEWS
Newsletter # 53 - 3rd June
We’ve checked with the Parkway Club, and I’m delighted to report that the Lodge can reopen next Thursday 10th June. I’ve contacted the W.P. and he’s raring to go.
There are a couple of things to take into account:
1. When I visited with Marc & Tony the club was not taking cash – it was card only. The Assistant Steward didn’t know how long this restriction would be in place, so be warned it may be card only next week.
2. The Parkway is taking membership renewals. We are all members – that was secured last year, though I understand that not everyone picked up his card from behind the bar (Marc for example). Memberships are being renewed free of charge in 2021 but they still need to be done. Please see to yours when you arrive at the Club.
We have some catching up to do. I do not anticipate seeing to bookwork at our first meeting following such a protracted closure, but we will need to agree arrangements for a backlog of quarterly and annual audits and I want everyone to understand how much the pandemic has cost the Lodge over the past year.
Let’s look on the bright side now that we’re able to reopen. I’ll have some ideas to float and I’d ask you to think about how we can kick-start our Lodge, so come prepared for a good exchange of views.
Diary Dates: PGL - Monday 5th July
ROH Assembly Monday 14th June
Knights Chapter - Monday 21st June
NEWS ROUND UP
I spent an enjoyable evening with Tony & Marc last Friday at the Parkway. To be honest, it had been a drawn-out day in not-so-sunny Cambridge full of self-satisfied lawyers and uncooperative people, so a visit to Maskew Avenue when I got off the train was most welcome. Oh, how I’ve missed the well-rounded debate and incisive commentary that can only be found in the company of liberal thinkers such as Tony & Marc. Blimey!
Tony is exploring the country in his new red limousine. He’s off to Oxfordshire next week to celebrate his birthday with the family – some members of which are visiting him at Cathedral Green this weekend. Henry has apparently declined the offer of a lift to Wiltshire as his partner Gwen is not too good and he is loath to leave her. Poor Gwen, eh!
The Lodge has gone cataract bananas. Gerry’s just had his done, Bob Mac is waiting for his op’ after a recent let-down and various other Bro’s have had what’s glibly referred to as a routine procedure in the past few years. I am myself gong under the knife next weekend. I’m going to Nottingham to have mine seen to – in fact Maria & I are staying overnight in a hotel near the station just round the corner from a pub called the Fellowes Morton & Clayton, which is one of the best boozers in Nottingham (and there are plenty to go at). It seems that following local anaesthetic however I shouldn’t drink for 48 hours, so that’s knocked that on the head!
Pete, Steve, Baz & Bob Mac all attended the Fenman last week as it emerged from the lockdown, unscathed and ready to embrace the new normal. Of course, many will be asking,was Farcet ever normal? – but that’s a debate for another time & place. You’ll see above, that the opening of the Village Club means that PGL Chapter and Assembly can now all reopen, so the Province will shortly be up & running again.
Eating out has generally returned to normal, though it has to be said we’ve not detected a mad rush to the restaurants & pubs. It’s been good to get away from the burger vans that have become the venues of first choice for the last few months (though we shan’t be deserting them entirely), and I can certainly recommend Smiles Café in QDs at Orton Centrefor one of the best breakfasts in the City. If you want a well-priced week day lunch that feels like a bit of an occasion, you won’t do better than the Bombay Brasserie on Broadway; the set menu is excellent.
Bill called on Sunday – would you believe it; he and Ange are set to be Grandparents later inthe year? Naturally I expressed the congratulations of the Lodge and asked Bill to pass themon to Ben, Cheyanne & Ange. It’s nice to hear that one of our number has come out of lockdown with something so important to celebrate on the horizon. Well done Bill – we’ll all look forward to wetting the baby’s head.
Officers from 20th November
Worthy Primo - Bro. Roy Grundy KOM
City Marshall - Bro. Baz Burrell ROH
City Chamberlain - Bro. Ian Gunn ROH
City Registrar - Bro. Pete Pierce ROH
City Tyler - Bro. Bob Macnamara ROH
City Constable - Bro. Gerry Whatford
Alderman of Benevolence - Bro. Steve Jones ROH
City Secretary - Bro. Martyn Sharp ROH
Treasurer - Bro. Richard Baldock ROH
Bro. Marc Snowden KOM, Bro Pete Pierce ROH & Bro. Ian Gunn ROH
Newsletter # 52 - 20th May
ANOTHER WEEK - STILL NEVER MIND
The Parkway Club’s Facebook Page is currently being kept up to date with news of the Grand Re-opening on Friday night. Here is the latest notice and a message from Aaron the steward.
"This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and we are big supporters of having a healthy mind at the Parkway. Although we are excited to open our door please be aware it will be a struggle socially for us. Smiles, laughter and having a good time will be encouraged, but any unsavoury remarks to our staff will not be tolerated. Should there be any negativity, you will not be able to return to the club until it has been discussed at a Committee Meeting. It has been a tough year. Enjoy yourselves, but please be kind."
I sent out the message Ack Ack A-Dack on Monday – obviously we won’tbe able to meet this week as hoped. However, all should be OK for Thursday 27th. I shall pop in at the weekend to check.We need to get things in perspective. To us, not being able to meet has been another irritating part of the Covid Pandemic. However, it has been a tough year for Aaron and the staff at the Parkway - their livelihoods have been at stake.
See you all next week.
NEWS FROM THE LODGE
Gerry has been on, and he’s in good form following his cataract surgery. It seems hewandered down the garden (and Gerry has quite a garden down which to wander), and saw things he’d never seen before. There’ll be no driving for six weeks, so I’ve said that we’ll sort something out to get him to Lodge.
Fun & games in not-so-sunny Stanground as the Sharp drains became blocked for the second time since we moved here. I have in fact become intimately acquainted with the sewage system here over the past two months – a fascinating area that never occupied any of my time at all during 30 years in West Town and 30 years before that in Dogsthorpe. Ah, the smell of Jeyes Fluid …………
With an easing of restrictions, I have made arrangements to go and see my old mate Dennis Clarke in Kings Lynn next Tuesday for a bit of breakfast. Dennis is being treated for cancer and it’ll be good to see him again after all this time. There’s only Ian, Dennis & me left now from the days at the old Ex-Servicemen’s Club on the corner of City Road and New Road. If I can, I’ll get Dennis over to a Lodge meeting.
Maria & I joined Tony and his new best mate from Cathedral Green at the Bombay Brasserie on Monday lunchtime for a bit of nose-bag. Bearing in mind the last time we were able to meet for a curry was over six months ago, it’s no surprise that the meal tasted marvellous. I’m still up for organising a Lodge meal out at the Brasserie or Shah Jehan one night in the summer if anyone’s interested.
Marc’s been on to chew the fat; seems he’s been on domestic duties of late, seeing to his old Mum’s shopping in Orton. You’d have thought that someone with influence in the retail sector would be able to press a few buttons and make it happen. Sadly, Mrs Snowden senior apparently has to rely on her better looking son (so he says), pushing a trolley round the aisles like a normal happy shopper. Makes you think, eh?
Great news – Mick Brewster ROH, GLE Grand Primo & Convention President 2019 is trying to sort out a TEAMS meeting so that the Order’s 200th Anniversary in 2022 can be widely discussed. The Grand Secretary is keen, so that’s OK.
Now I don’t know if Mick or Gazza have any experience of TEAMS, but I use it regularly in another walk of life and it’s totally bonkers. Perhaps though we should be pleased that Grand Lodge is displaying some consistency – what else can you expect but totally bonkers?
Let’s hope that they can come up with something for next year, but make our own arrangements in case they can’t!
Newsletter # 51 - 13th May
ONE WEEK TO GO, FINGERS CROSSED
Roundup of News
The Lodge will be delighted to learn that none other than our very own Chas Fenner secured a landslide victory in last week’s local elections and now enjoys thesingular honour of being returned as Councillor for Bretton. I have of course taken advice on behalf of the Lodge to ensure that the proper form of address is usedwhen Councillor Fenner next visits the Eastgate. I am reliably informed that he is to be styled Knight Sir Conservative Councillor Fenner, or Bro’ Councillor Chas Fenner KOM.
Blimey, what a mouthful
I popped over to share a breakfast bap with Steve at Float Fish Farm last week. He had just returned from a few days away with the family in darkest Norfolk, following the recent domestic disaster at the Jones residence. I understand that everything is under control and that the trip east - the first of its kind this year - was a great success.
Gerry looks set to finally get his cataracts fixed this week, but it’s been a devilishly difficult business. Apparently, they’re taking no chances and Gerry will be put under general anesthetic for the op’. Good luck from us all.
Tony is facing up to the challenges posed by modern technology. His shiny new red status symbol sits in the car park, leather seats oozing opulence and more gadgets than you can shake a proverbially shitty stick at. I visited last week to see what couldbe done with Tony’s TV set, but short of taking it outside and shooting it I was at a loss. While I was there, an engineer turned up to see if he could make the 20 year old boiler work (good luck there), and Tony’s new 92 year old pal & fellow inmate seemed confused over his own TV remote control. It’s all go at Cathedral Green Court.
Baz was quick to respond to last week’s newsletter, with a somewhat loutish huzzah in favour of the local football team and its successful bid for Championship status, plus an optimistic view of the future following a lifting of restrictions. Not a mention of his erstwhile canine companion; Poor Old Dylan……………
Richard called on Sunday. All’s well out in Ramsey – I spoke to both Richard & Barbara and they sounded well; naturally they look forward to next Monday. Richard spoke with Colin at the weekend and he too is chipper and looks forward to getting out and about later in the month.
As far as we are aware, the Parkway Club expects to re-open to Members next Monday 17th May. Guidelines will of course be followed, certainly until the middle of next month when we all hope that restrictionswill be generally lifted, marking an end to the lockdowns.
At the end of the first lockdown last year, the Parkway opened its main room in the evenings and it was possible to sit at tables of no more than six. If similar arrangements are made next week, we will be able to get together after a fashion on Thursday evening 20th May.
I shall make a recce’ on Monday night to see what’s what. If it’s possible to attend the Club as Members (all Eastgate Lodge Members are members of the Parkway), I shall email and text the historic message Yabba, Dabba, Doo.
If there is a problem, I shall send out the alternative Ack, Ack, A-Dack.
If it’s Yabba, Dabba, Doo – we’ll see each other next week.
Newsletter # 50 - 6th May
ONLY A COUPLE OF WEEKS TO GO
Roundup of News
Disaster has befallen Steve and family. He returned from another successful outing to Float Fish Farm last Wednesday to scenes of Biblical proportions in the Jones household. Water from an undetected source was pouring through the building and Steve & Tina had to spend the night in a hotel. As it happens the Jones’s had a trip away to darkest Norfolk planned for the Bank Holiday weekend, so it seems they packed up and left the chaos behind. It’s one way of getting a new bathroom, but you wouldn’t wish it on anyone would you? No doubt a few pints of Woodfordes Wherry has helped!
Gerry was unable to get his cataracts seen-to last week as he’d hoped, and is now booked in for the middle of next week. This delay followed a protracted hike round the City Hospital as Gerry tried to find his way to the desired destination. He’s stoic is Gerry – very stoic!
Geoff has emailed in. All’s well in New England. Geoff complains about feeling hot one day and cold the next, which sounds like his thermostat is playing up. Come on Geoff, forget the doctor - get the electrician out. Fraternal Greetings to one & all, and looking forward to getting together as a Lodge in the near future.
Bob Mac’ wasn’t in evidence last week at Float Fish Farm, as he’d been told to self-isolate in the run up to his cataract surgery. I did however bump into Bob at the Cardea centre last Thursday as he drew up to fetch his partner Chris from work, and he was able to give me the low-down on the local fish and chip establishments. Zapping of the cataracts was planned for 4th May in Bedford, so let’s hope that by the time you read this Bob’ll be sorted.
Tony is as happy as a pig in **** following collection of his new automotive acquisition. Quite why an 80 year old widower living in an apartment block alongside any number of game old birds would want to equip himself with a leather upholsteredred shooting brake is anyone’s guess. The mind boggles – but best just to let it!
I was engaged in a tedious meeting on zoom the other day – that’s when you sit in your own home looking at a computer screen for hours hoping that the connections all hold up till the end of the call. Who should wander down the road as I gazed out of the front window, but our old friend Al Brown with Baz gripping his elbow like his life depended on it (which well it might)? Seems to me that Al is a good deal more dependable than the Broadband here in sunny Stanground.
TEN THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO
PGL gets its money back from Grand Lodge
Championship Football at London Road
Pete has haircut
Colin Dean visits the Eastgate
Ryan Giggs found not guilty
Tony enters Le Mans 24
The PM has a Vasectomy
Norrie first Scotsman to join Plaid Cymru
Baz presented with experimental guide cat
& Thursday is Lodge Night
Newsletter # 49 - 29th April
3 WEEKS TO GO
ROUNDUP OF NEWS
Tony Hallam of the Valiant Lodge died last week. Brothers may recall that Tony was Provincial Grand Secretary for some years prior to Dangerous Dave, and was P.G.P.in 2016. I shall personally remember Tony’s friendship over 30 years ago when I accompanied him and the late Rick Chesmond to Grand Lodges in Sheffield and Llandudno. They were different times then, before GLE went to the dogs and we lost our property and assets along with much of our credibility. I hope that Tony finds peace.
Bill called me the other day. Apparently, he’s been losing weight and wonders if we’ll recognise him when next we meet. I assured Bill that an unmissable character such as him will always stand out from the crowd – at which point he responded with something quite rude. Ah, the scouser charm’s still there all right.
Marc is struggling with the roadmap to recovery. Of course, they did Latin & Greek on chalkboards at Marc’s old school – Geography was something the Sports teachertalked about when it was raining. Luckily Mrs S has it taped and understands what’s what. Thank goodness Boris didn’t come up with a sat nav to recovery or Marc would have really been up the creek without a paddle.
Barry Scotney’s wife Romayne called last week and had a chat with Maria. No news from the Fenman Lodge of which Baz is City Secretary. Romayne did however reportthat she and Baz had recently made their first trip to the coast this year in the company of Bob & partner (I think it must have been Bob Mac). Funnily enough you can imagine Bob & Barry strolling along the prom’ at Sunny Hunny, each clutching a bag of whelks and a bottle of Vimto.
The delights of post pandemic fun in the sun! Steve advises that the P.G.P. for North Wales was 79 last Friday, and was undiplomatic enough to point out that the occasion coincides annually with St George’s Day. Norrie of course will by now be basking in the luxury of the Welsh sunshine as restrictions begin to loosen. It will be good to see him later in the year.
Al Brown has told Baz Burrell that he’s spoken with a man who knows a man who has heard that Colin Dean expects the Willoughby Lodge to re-open on 18th May. Apparently, there was a bit of a clandestine get together after Don Hope’s funeral in South Lincolnshire last week, and our very own P.G.P. was there flying the flag as you’d expect him to. I hope that Colin does the rounds of his Minor Lodges next month : we’ll make him welcome, eh?
Gerry hasn’t told me that his Covid check on Monday proved positive, so I’m assuming that his cataract operation went ahead today as planned. I know that side effects can vary; when my old Dad had his first one done he was right as rain within two hours, but the second one gave him gip for weeks. Best of luck, Gerry and see you soon.
Tony popped over on Saturday afternoon to marvel in wonder at our new acquisition;after much agonising Maria and I have finally changed our car for – another Astra Estate. Tony vacillates over changing his motor and has drooled over Audi TTs and argued with young men in suits at Motorpoint. Latest news is, he’s picking his new limousine up this Saturday. Oddly enough, we bought ours from a garage in Oswestry, all over the ‘phone and the internet – delivered by a character called Zack;what a peculiar thing to do.
My plan is to join Steve and Bob Mac out at Float Fish Farm on Wednesday, after being successfully reunited with my possessions from the storage unit at Fengate. Hopefully I will be reporting on another sensational day’s fishing later in the week & I look forward to capturing Bob & Steve’s latest catch on film (or the modern equivalent) and getting our webmaster to post it for all to see. Have a look at the Lodge web-site.
Newsletter # 48 - 22nd April
Happy Birthday Your Majesty
FOUR WEEKS TO GO
It seems that as expected the Parkway Club will open on 17th May with distancing rules (presumably as it did, following the first lock down). Initial opening hours have yet to be advised. Unrestricted opening is anticipated for 21st June. I suggest that we meet up informally from Thursday 20th May as members of the club, and play it from there. With any luck we ought to be able to hold full Lodge meetings from 24th June. Monday evening 17th May looks good to me for an exploratory visit and a drink. If anyone’s up for it, let me know.
NEWS IN BRIEF
Baz can be spotted walking the mean streets of Stanground – no guide dog now, but a regular 21st Century alternative in Mr Fenman himself, Al Brown. When I responded to their greeting outside the Sharp residence last week, Baz was ungracious enough to compare Al to his predecessor and find him lacking – to the tune of two legs. There truly is no pleasing some people.
Just to show what inclusive types they are, Dave & his wife travelled over to Whittlesey last week for their second jabs – apparently supplies in central Peterborough were exhausted. All’s well with Dave & Mrs H, though he bemoans the demise of the old RAFA club which changed hands earlier in the month. No news on the model railway front.
Good to see Steve and Bob Mac over at Float Fish Farm last Thursday. It was a bit nippy but what a beautiful morning! Bob tells me that he’s down for his second jab (should have had it by the time you read this) and his cataracts will be sorted out sometime soon. Steve and Family are off to Norfolk in the caravan for the first time this year on bank holiday weekend, so normality is on the horizon.
Gerry has been in touch. He’s made the very sensible decision to stop driving until he has his cataracts sorted out. Gerry doesn’t feel safe enough to drive so he’s acted responsibly. I have said that we’ll support him on Lodge nights. While we were talking Marian was out mowing the lawn.
Geoff has asked me to forward his fraternal greetings to one & all – so consider it done. Apart from ongoing issues with his cataracts, all seems well enough. Geoff reckons that his ticker is still ticking, and you can’t say fairer than that. It’s odd that cataract problems appear to have become a common denominator in the Lodge. The bloke at Specsavers told me last year that I must now have six monthly checks, but my own cataracts are not yet bad enough for a referral. It’s pretty good business isn’t it - when I get issued with a new prescription twice a year!
Great news from Bretton – according to the local press our very own Chas Fenner is once more seeking public office in the 2021 council elections. Sadly, I don’t suppose that any of us will see family Fenner on the stump; most of us live the wrong side of the river these days. I do still occasionally catch a glimpse of the younger brother in the morning on his motorised chariot, as he negotiates the Rivergate centre. Good luck to you all……..
Marc called at the weekend – he sounded his usual old self. His son & heir is seemingly of a thespian bent and appeared on stage recently to great critical acclaim. Although grandma Snowden was proud as punch with the performance, Marc has characteristically forgotten the name of the play; let’s hope he didn’t fall asleep half way through the second act and embarrass Mrs S with his snoring.
I had a visit from the P.G.Secretary on Sunday, which when you think about it was quite an event. Dangerous Dave had to cross two river valleys to get to me here in sunny Stanground from his retreat in South Lincs; what stoicism! The man himself looked good and expressed a wish to visit us as soon as we’re open. Only a month or so to go, eh?
Henry has just returned from a three week trip to his Home in Swindon. Today he reaches the ripe old age of 97 - Many Happy Returns Henry & welcome back.
The lifting of restrictions – even limited – has been heaven-sent. Maria & I have enjoyed lunch at Frankie & Bennys New York style eatery, breakfast at Wetherspoon and Sunday dinner at the Woolpack in Stanground (never to be repeated). Plans are afoot as I write this to drag Tony along for a bit of nose-bag sometime in the next week or so and before you know it, we’ll really be back to normal. A Lodge meal out with partners wouldn’t be a bad idea – let me know what you think.
Newsletter # 47 - 15th April
If we were able to meet, we would inevitably be standing in silence to mark the death of HRH Prince Phillip the Duke of Edinburgh. The Grand Secretary for once issued an appropriately brief notice on behalf the Order, and I’m sure that all Minor Lodges, PGLs, Chapters and Assemblies echo the sentiments expressed.
Talking of Grand Lodge, Gazza & co. are smarting at being advised that the legal responsibilities of Charity Trustees trump the often peculiar decisions from Grand Lodge of England. Perhaps Grand Lodge Management Committee might like to consider the loss of Grove House, the loss of The York, the years of mis-management and the ongoing disputes over what we might and might not owe the tax man and HM revenue & customs before thinking that there isn’t a role for independent trustees.
I received an email at the weekend from a chap in Hertfordshire who joined the Order many years ago but who hasn’t been to a Lodge for a quarter of a century. It seems that our website was the first contact he made when he Googled the RAOB. I was able to sort out some telephone numbers for the West Herts Province but in contrast to our own facilities the website down there is pretty out of date. Well done Steve for keeping us updated on a weekly basis – it might even help lead to a lost Brother returning to the Order.
I popped round to see Bro’ Dylan last week as he planned to leave Stanground forever. Well, I say he planned but in truth plans had all been made for him. You’ll be pleased to hear that I took our canine friend a treat from the Lodge, half of which he made short work as I stood there talking to his human companion. Dylan is now living out his days in the countryside oblivious to the gap he’s left in Baz’s life. Well done, that Buff!
Baz has helpfully been poking his nose into the business of the Parkway Club, and has discovered that there are no plans to open outdoor facilities in advance of Boris’s anticipated big lifting of the restrictions next month. This news apparently comes from a reliable source but Baz is always a bit nudge-nudge wink-wink about his contacts so goodness knows who he’s been needling for a bit of info’. One way or the other we’ll keep the middle of May in mind, and ………………………..
FINGERS CROSSED - 5 WEEKS LEFT
I got a call at the weekend from Ramsey. All’s good, with both Richard & Barbara receiving their second inoculation and looking forward to an easing of restrictions on Monday. Quite what that means in downtown Huntingdonshire is anyone’s guess, but you can bet it’ll be tables & chairs on the Great Whyte outside the local boozers.
We’re told that the Buffs was created in the early 19th Century by disgruntled theatre workers in London’s Drury Lane, after they were kicked out of an actors’ organisationcalled The City of Lushington.
The first meeting took place at the Harp Tavern in 1822 – so next year is our 200th anniversary.
It was a different world then – Napoleon had only faced his Waterloo seven years earlier. Meetings were apparently quite wild with much ribaldry and singing. The anthem adopted by the Buffs, and it seems may still have been sung in Lodges well into the 20th Century, was We’ll Chase the Buffalo.
Here’s the first verse:
Come all you wild Indians who chance to appear,
We will defend our dwellings, boys, with gun and with fear,
We will all unite together and we’ll strike the fatal blow,
And we’ll settle on the banks of the lovely Ohio.
We’ll settle on the banks where the pleasant rivers flow,
Through the wild woods we’ll wander and we’ll chase the buffalo, and we’ll chase the buffalo,
Through the wild woods we’ll wander and we’ll chase the buffalo.
Newsletter # 46 - 8th April
Tony has been for his second jab over at the Fleet centre in Fletton. It’s not at all clear how he got in with the Italian community and leapfrogged all the other inmates at Cathedral Green, but good luck to him anyway. Ian has seemingly been over on his electric bike and both are looking forward to a haircut next week. It’s all-go in central Peterborough, eh?
The Provincial Grand Primo for North Wales has been kind enough to think of us benighted English over here in Cambridgeshire; Norrie’s sent us a generous donation for Lodge funds. It seems that whilst he is able to travel the length & breadth of Wales (should he be so inclined), Norrie is prevented from leaving the Principality. Has that peculiar chap Drakeford set up road blocks on the M53 and armed guards on the Severn Bridge? Fancy being a prisoner in a foreign country!
Would you believe it – the Covid centre of the East Midlands is no longer Millfield, it’s now Dogsthorpe. It seems that BBC Cambridgeshire is keen that we don’t put this down to Dogsthorpe’s multi-cultural nature. Strewth – when I lived in Dogsthorpe there was nothing cultural about the place, let alone multi-cultural. As far as I know, no Bro’s live in my old birthplace now, and so the world moves on.
I was sitting on a box in the cold outside the new Sharp residence last Saturday, when who should pop by but Fenman Lodge afficionado and Stanground native Al Brown. Al and I had a very pleasant chat, and it appears that like the rest of us he is counting the days until Boris’s new normal kicks-in.
Ian marked 50 years membership of the order on Tuesday. Ian was initiated in the Eastgate House, see the photo below, into the Eastgate Lodge back when everything was in black & white. Blimey - what a different place Peterborough was then and what a different World we live in now.
SIX WEEKS LEFT???
Maria & I visited Uncle Jeffs on the Maskew Avenue Retail Park last week – Uncle Jeffs is one of many al fresco dining venues we frequent, though personally I recommend the Frying Scotsman out at Fengate for the authentic taste of the pandemic. While we were enjoying our repast, we could see activity at the Parkway Club, and though the place appeared to be in darkness we saw a character being admitted and there were a dozen cars in the car park.
I have looked at the Parkway’s Facebook page (unfortunately they don’t update their website), and on 12th March it was confirmed that staff remain furloughed but plans are afoot to … prep for bookings … presumably in advance of the lifting of the current restrictions. Of course, establishments with outside facilities will be able to open a little in advance of other restaurants pubs & clubs. If anyone hears anything from the Parkway, please let me know.
HAPPY RETIREMENT DYLAN
Today marks the end of an era; Bro’ Dylan who joined the Lodge some years ago back at the Newark Hotel, left Baz his human companion to spend the rest of his days in retirement.
In practical terms it’s bad enough for Baz as Guide Dogs for the Blind hasn’t yet sorted out a replacement. However, Dylan was more than a Guide Dog to Baz – he was his compass, protector and friend for many years.
Of course, you never know how dogs see things, and Dylan might miss his state of employment. On the other hand, like many of us he may revel in his new found freedom and bask in the glow of retirement.
Well done that Buff!
Newsletter # 45 - 1st April
7 WEEKS TO GO
NEWS IN BRIEF
Tony’s been in touch. They’re a keen bunch at Cathedral Green Court – apparently all the inmates have recently been tested for COVID. Now it stands to reason that they’ve all been given the jab, so what’s to be gained by testing them is anyone’s guess. There’s been a change of management in the last couple of weeks, so maybe that explains it. Tony’s free from the virus which is good news for anyone he might meet who hasn’t been inoculated, which at the moment is no-one as he isn’t going anywhere. Funny old world, isn’t it?
Ian popped round at the weekend; well, I say popped round but to be honest now we’ve moved it’s a bit of a trek. He came over on his power assisted electric cycle, and cut quite a dash in his Perspex face cover and combat trousers. Pleased to report that Ian’s old Mum is well out at Orton Brimbles – in fact it must be very concerning to him that his relatives and everyone he knows apart from Tony appear to have abandoned him in his enclave north of the river. That’s progress I suppose.
The local news has been full of the disaster to hit Peterborough’s flag ship John Lewis store. But on the day of the announcement, who should the BBC’s roving reporter stop on Cathedral Square for some in-depth retail analysis – none other than that well-travelled wit and raconteur Steve Bersey ROH. Now I know that most of you will be thinking that in terms of high street profile, Steve’s more at the Poundstretcher end of the shopping scale, but to be fair he put his points across pretty well and for all the reporter knew, Steve’s your typical Peterborian . Well done, that Buff.
I called Gerry on Saturday only to discover that he & Marian were enjoying their 56th Wedding Anniversary. With no-where yet open to celebrate the occasion the plan was to order a Chinese Takeaway and crack open the bottle of Champagne so thoughtfully sent by their daughter in Australia. Gerry came over a bit horticultural which I find confusing, but I didunderstand that his early potatoes are a great success so that’s nice. Like the rest of us Gerry looks forward to getting out & about soon.
Keen viewers of Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway on ITV at the weekend will have seen that the jolly japers currently perform their show before a virtual audience. Did you know though, that members of the Snowden household were in that audience last week? Yes, Claire and Rachel enjoyed the experience of virtual reality which let’s face it ought to bepretty easy for them after all these years in Werrington with Marc. All’s well in the north of the City as lockdown nears its end.
Maria & I visited Pete & Ann on Sunday. They very kindly showed us their garden and conservatory, which was just the job and provided Maria with much food for thought. Pete expects to be car-booting again in a couple of weeks, following a resumption of activity after the Easter break. It’ll do him good – apparently, he was so bored recently he painted his garden gnomes (which when you think about it is pretty odd in any number of ways).
Made a call to Richard in Ramsey. It’s all quiet on the Huntingdonshire front with both Richard and Barbara waiting a call for their second inoculations. Like the rest of us, Richard is looking forward to freedom as we face Boris’s new normal. Just think – less than two weeks now and we can all get a haircut (even Pete).
Newsletter # 44 - 25th March
8 WEEKS TO GO
I bumped into Al Brown again last week, this time right outside the new Sharp abode – he’s obviously a bit of a feature of the Stanground scene. I had earlier visited Float Fish Farm along with Pete, to gaze in awe as Steve nonchalantly netted specimen after specimen. You certainly see some characters south of the river; as Al pointed out, we’re quorate now all on our own. I think I’ve been accepted…………….
You’ll all be pleased to hear that the Province’s Sick Visitor is in fine fettle. Romayne, Barry’s long suffering spouse, called Maria last week to see how the move went and confirmed that all’s well in the Scotney household. Apparently, Baz is looking forward to hitting the high road and visiting caravan sites galore in the spring. Of course, the man himself didn’t actually make contact; Baz doesn’t do new-fangled modern technology and avoids things like computers, wi-fi and telephones like the plague. It was nice to hear from Romayne and good to think that we’ll all be able to share a curry at the Shah Jehan again soon.
Of course, Baz Scotney isn’t the only buff with the travelling bug – our very own Steve will be champing at the bit by now to get the dust covers off his touring caravan and head for all points of the compass. Interestingly enough, Channel 5 is currently showing a new fly-on-the-wall documentary series on Sunday night; 'Happy Campers; The Caravan Park' which lifts the lid on events at two West Country caravan sites. Frankly you can see the attraction from episode 1, where we were introduced to the likes of Chunkie Russell, camp entertainer extraordinaire. To be honest I can’t see Baz Scotney being bothered beyond worrying over the cost of a pint of John Smiths in the bar, but time will tell. Steve will no doubt keep us informed as the summer wears on.
Oh Dear! The latest from Grand Lodge is not at all encouraging, dealing with what to do with the dispensations from closed minor lodges. Frankly you’d think that Gazza & co. would have better things to do, such as keeping in touch with ordinary Brothers and planning for starting up business as usual in a few weeks’ time (that’s the business of Minor Lodges, PGLs, Chapters and Assemblies – not an increasingly remote Grand Lodge of England). Well, we’re not meeting at the moment and haven’t met for months, but we’re still sending GL our money every quarter so it’s San Fairy Ann all the way.
Bob Taylor’s been in touch with an optimistic message for 2021. If anyone is Skegness bound this summer he’d like to meet up for a chat. Look out for Bob If you’re out on the front at Ingoldmells in a few months’ time. I’m told that he’s the one on the beach wearing nothing but a flesh coloured chamois leather thong and kiss-me-quick hat – you can’t miss him.
I called Bill for a chat on Friday but was torpedoed by modern technology when the battery on my phone went flat half way through the conversation. I managed to ascertain that Bill & Ange are OK. Bill’s been having problems with his blood and the medication is making him feel weak. Ange is apparently engaged in the process of producing Fair Isle Jumpers on an industrial scale, so at least Bill won’t get cold in the last few weeks of winter.
GEOFF DEFIES THE DATA
I heard from Geoff at the weekend and it sounds as though he’s been on the receiving end of some unpleasant medical procedures of late which we’ll all hope are over. As if that wasn’t bad enough, poor old Geoff really does live dangerously. He lives in New England right next to Millfield, and Millfield has been on the news in the past week for all the wrong reasons.
Boris of course keeps telling us it’s data not dates and the data at the moment demonstrates that there are several really bad Covid hotspots inthe UK – and one of ‘em is Milfield Peterborough (the data’s that specific).
Apparently the Covid Marshalls have been out trying to get the locals on Lincoln Road to stick to the guidelines but there is widespread dissent.
We can only encourage Geoff to do the business and not go out causing trouble round the Triangle!
SUNDAY 28th MARCH at 2 am
Don’t forget – the clocks go forward at the weekend. We lose an hour but winter is over, and with spring we come out of lockdown and face up to the 'new normal'.
Only a few weeks now.
Newsletter # 43 - 18th March
9 WEEKS TO GO
It’s a year since Going Viral No.1 was distributed following the start of the first lockdown. Since then, we were able to re-open in July last year, but all closed down again in November. With the vaccine roll-out a success and infections falling, it’s difficult to see how a re-opening of restaurants / pubs could be delayed beyond May or June. Fingers crossed everyone.
I have received a very nice letter from Colin’s daughter Jackie; happily, it’s all looking good. Colin has acquired a new top of the range scooter with a wrap around canopy, on which he scoots around Whittlesey. He’s looking forward to his Granddaughter’s wedding in the summer, and getting back to the Lodge as soon as we’re able to meet. Colin celebrates 50 years membership of the Order a year in September.
Maria & I bumped into the Fenman Lodge’s very own Al Brown last week. We were wandering the mean streets of Stanground looking for our Tom Cat, Mr Marble. Al was out for his daily constitutional and Mr Marble had gone AWOL following the crisis of moving house. Luckily, we found the luckless feline trapped in a hedge three doors away and with the wind whistling and the hail chucking it down around us, Maria managed to drag him out & home by the scruff. The jungle drums were active - within minutes I got a text from Baz asking if we’d found the cat. Seems that Al was quick to communicate Mr Marble’s misfortune to the neighbourhood.
Yes – it’s all change over in the Principality. Norrie can go & get his haircut as long as he stays local. Well, he’s got one up on the rest of us; Pete may enjoy the wild man of Borneo look but everybody else would relish the thought of placing themselves in the hands of the Lady Barber (heavily tattooed Polish girl in Rivergate with a Yorkshire Terrier called Gucci). I am assured that we’ll get our own back in the next few weeks though - when we’re all back in the pub, while that peculiar Drakeford chap drags his feet over opening the boozers west of Offas Dyke.
Let us go forward together – says the Grand Secretary in his latest stirring missive to the Order. It certainly appears as though the pandemic has had little effect on the running of Grand Lodge, with people being elected to fill offices and Gazza doing his best to keep the administration going. Although it seems that some sort of plan is afoot to mark the passing of so many Brothers during the last 12 months, the work of Grand Lodge appears to go on as though nothing out of the ordinary is happening in the world . Quite how any of this means very much, when no Minor Lodges, PGLs, Chapters or Assemblies have been able to meet for months, is anyone’s guess. Still, keep up the good work, eh?
Sam Fishburn has been on to report that our Provincial Grand Primo has emerged after months of isolation in darkest Lincolnshire – and all is well. Many of us feared the worse as the weeks went on, but we needn’t have worried. Colin is fit and raring to go as the Lodges in his Province look forward to an end to the Lockdown.
Tony has been round to sort out his census return. You’ll all have had yours and no doubt struggled with the on-line returns. The first nationwide census of course was the Doomsday Book, in which Peterborough didn’t get a mention but Crowland (Croyland) was described bythe very perceptive monks of the day as an …Evyl Place… Tony has provided his details and added his bit to history.
Henry appears to be well enough – he’s keen to head south west and wants to know when Tony will be Wiltshire bound again. You can’t accuse Henry of not being stoical; he told Tony that if he drops him off in Swindon, he’ll catch a bus to his sister’s house in Lyneham. Knowing Tony, I think that’s one little adventure on which Henry will never embark.
LODGE BOOKS & FINANCES
It will soon be the end of March, and the close of the first quarter in 2021. Along with Minor Lodges, Chapters & Assemblies everywhere, we are accumulating a growing pile of unaudited books, and after we’ve celebrated the re-opening of the Lodge in a few weeks, we’ll have to address the back-log. In the meantime, if any Lodge Member in compliance (which as things stand is everyone) wants updating on the state of play at the end of the quarter, please let me know.
Newsletter # 42 - 4th March
11 WEEKS & COUNTING
NEWS IN BRIEF
I visited Steve, Roy & Bob Mac down at Float Fish Farm last Friday; Pete was already there sunning himself by the side of Captain Tom’s Pool. There appeared to be plenty of action despite the challenging ambient temperature. Roy’s new seating system is quite extraordinary & there’s no doubt that he’s currently the occupant of the Royal Chair’. Steve returned to FFF on Saturday with a rise in the mercury and a coincidental unattractive scum on the water. It’ll be a regular thing in the coming weeks before we’re able to meet in May, so plan to visit so we can have some socially distanced and responsible get togethers.
Tony’s been in touch; he’s still hankering after a small German sports car. As it happens, I was with an old friend of mine in another walk of life last week; a retired teacher who is a bit of a self-confessed petrol-head. My contact told me that a few years ago he was seduced by the lure of an Audi TT and swapped his beloved Saab for one. Apparently driving the Audi was akin to driving a sewing machine and when he unexpectedly got the chance to buy his Saab back, he jumped at the chance. Tony, beware!
Ian popped over on Saturday to complete the same letter that Pete had signed the day before; the bank was disinclined to take my word for it that I was moving house and wanted a letter from three signatories. Ian looked well in his Covid welding mask, and the weather was ideal for a cycle ride. Interesting that Ian’s got something else in common with the Prime Minister – Boris has a bike too.
The Grand Secretary has issued the latest obituary list – luckily none of us is on it so we must all be OK. Gazza clearly isn’t a Daily Mail reader (though to be fair you can’t knock him for that), or he’d know that the misleading recording of death by Covid is little short of a national disgrace. Well done the Daily Mail, I say!
Geoff will be pleased with developments across the solar system as the Perseverance Project comes ever closer to discovering if there are any little green men on Mars. It’s taken so long for the space craft to get there the Perseverance Lodge was still on the go at the Westwood Hotel when the mission to the red planet was conceived. There’s plenty of interesting data being beamed back across the void, but It’ll be another 20 years before the samples being collected by the Perseverance Rover return to Earth, so none of us need worry about it. Nice to know that the old Lodge name lives on.
A SHORT BREAK IN PROCEEDINGS
I shall be moving house tomorrow – at least that’s the plan. The place we’re moving to currently has no telephone or internet connection, but the man from Openreach is visiting early next week so fingers crossed.
One way or another I shall have a lot to do, so there’ll be no newsletter next week; If all goes according to plan Going Viral No.43 will be issued on 18th March – only 9 weeks from 20th May when we’re hoping to meet again.
After Ian’s visit at the weekend, Maria asked me why our visitor sounded alarmed to hear that we’re moving to Stanground, and I had to explain that like me Ian was bornin the Soke of Peterborough, part of Northamptonshire that ended at the river – Fletton & Stanground were never part of the City. This led to a wider discussion and my wife’s discovery that we shall shortly be in a different Parliamentary Constituencywith a different MP.
It’s too late now to start bemoaning the cultural and historical issues associated with the change, but Maria was understandably miffed.
No change to telephone numbers - my new address is :
48 Hemingford Crescent, Stanground, Peterborough, PE2 8LL
Newsletter # 41 - 25th February
ROUNDUP OF NEWS
The Immediate Past Provincial Grand Primo has been in touch. Sam’s had his first inoculation and is in rude health. Sadly, it seems that contact between Lincolnshire folk has broken down; the Provincial Grand Primo has disappeared off the grid. We’ve got to make allowances of course – there’s no guarantee that Broadband has reached the outermost reaches of South Holland and the floods have probably interrupted the post.
Paul is making plans for the family as soon as they can get together. His nine year old Grandson can enjoy the prospect of building his own Crystal Set under the guidance of his doting Granddad. A good idea; by the time they’ve finished it and gotit tuned in, they’ll be able to listen to POSH on the BBC winning promotion to the Championship (that’s the end of this season, before anyone starts up with the inevitable jokes).
In what can only be seen as a bizarre twist of fate, my wife and I are finally moving house at the end of next week. This comes after a year of trying – a year coincidentally linked to the global pandemic, with our house going on the market onlydays before the first lockdown. I use the word ‘bizarre’ because after looking for a potential home at all points of the compass, and losing properties in Ramsey, Werrington and the middle of Peterborough we’re actually going to move to Stanground. Now I was always led to believe that if the light at the pedestrian crossing on the Whittlesey Road near the Whittle Way is on red, you should lock your doors before stopping the car. However, I am assured that moving south of the river will not signal the end of civilisation as we know it – and what’s more, just look at the Bro’s already living there ………………
One of the Bro’s of course is Bro’ Dylan along with his human companion Baz. When I made contact on Sunday, Dylan was out for the day with his future adopters; soon he’ll be leaving Stanground for good. I meanwhile look forward to the prospect of having the Godfather of the Stanground Mafia living at the bottom of the garden. Poor Old Dylan, eh?
Breaking news – both Mrs Sharp & I have been inoculated against the dreaded lurgy. In a shock development at the weekend Maria received her letter from the quack, and after a cool bit of negotiating over the ‘phone on Monday morning we were both booked-in. The deed was done yesterday and now we’re go-anywhere types!
IT'S MAY ALL THE WAY!
Boris presented his Roadmap to the nation on Monday and by all accounts it’ll be a Spring to remember. It’s all Data not Dates and we’ve got to take care, but:
You can meet someone else outside (in Stanley Rec’, Ian) from 29th March;
You can have a haircut, go to the pictures & have a drink in the pub’ carpark (or beer garden) from 12th April;
And from Monday 17th May the restaurants & boozers will be fully open for business;
By the end of June, we’ll be back to normal – whatever that’ll look like.
As I see it, we can optimistically plan for our next Lodge meeting on Thursday 20th May in the expectation that the Parkway Club will open as soon as it can.
I’d welcome any responses to this news (serious please).
THE DUKES OF HAZARD
ALL DONATIONS GREATFULLY RECEIVED
Spare a thought for those poor Royals who haverecently been kicked out of the Grenadier Guards, the Royal Marines, the Admiralty and RAF somewhere in East Anglia.Many haven’t got a sash or a set of gongs left to their name.If you’ve got any unwanted regalia that might be recycled to help seduce a hapless teenager, impress any number of gullible Americans or seal a multi-million pound deal with NETFLIX, please forward it to …………
Newsletter # 40 - 18th February
NEWS FROM ROUND THE LODGE
Baz has reported local news from south of the river. Apparently, Ian & Pete have both been in touch and his local boozer has been demolished. This sad news is only exacerbated by rumours that Baz currently stands more chance of being awarded an OBE in the Queens Birthdays Honours than he does being awarded a new guide dog when Dylan retires. As it stands, Dylan’s working life is being extended by the lockdown – but there are hundreds of people waiting for a guide dog and the number increases week on week. Good news for Dylan but bad news for Baz.
Bill responded to last week’s newsletter – and here’s his message in full:
Well, Hello everybody,
just a quick line to let you all know I am still in the land of the living.........Bloody freezing but still alive.
I have had a call from Gerry and fromGeo!. Both appear to be getting on OK. I feel a bit remiss about not getting on line sooner but hope to improve somewhat in the near future. I am hoping to master this computer one day.
Anyway all, please keep well, obey the rules and we will be able to meet soon I am sure.
Tony sent me a WhatsApp from Cathedral Green. The residents there must have thought it abit odd to see a strange man in a mac appearing periodically on his bike across the road in the rec’, but now they have real cause to wonder with Pete turning up unannounced to deliver a plain cardboard box full of DVDs. It can’t have done Tony’s reputation amongst his new neighbours any harm – I expect they all see him as a man of mystery, as he wanders nonchalantly around in his blazer & RAF cravat.
It’s Roy’s birthday tomorrow which ought to get him a quick inoculation if nothing else does. Steve has forwarded this image of Roy as WP addressing the Lodge, which ought to bring back happy memories.
Things are hotting up over in The Principality as plans are laid for post pandemic fun and frolics this summer. Colwyn Bay’s Zip World Stadiwm (Welsh for Stadium, would you believe?) plays host to a range of top line acts, and our own exiled Scot will doubtless be booking his tickets in advance. Norrie can look forward to the likes of popular crooner & celebrity charity footballer Olly Murs and the nation’s favourite girl band, Little Mix. No wonder Norrie moved to North Wales, eh?
ROADMAP TO RECOVERY
By my reckoning, two thirds of the Lodge has been inoculated against Covid 19, and it’s only a matter of weeks now until we’ve all had the 'rst jab. Obviously, this says as much for our age pro'le as it does for the Government’s management of the pandemic, but facts as they say, is facts. In a few days’ time Boris is set to present us all with his road map to recovery and the ‘papers are all predicting that pubs and restaurants are likely to get the green light for some kind of opening – but not right away. Let’s hope that this is good news for the Lodge, because if we’re a closed group of people who have all been inoculated (so even if we’re carriers, we can’t pass it on to anyone else by opening a Lodge), then what’s to prevent us from meeting? I’m sure we’ll all be glued to the telly next Monday……….
Newsletter # 39 - 11th February
NEWS ROUND UP
Dreadful news from Gunthorpe; Paul’s roof has taken on a leak and his drains have collapsed. He’s got to have new gutters installed and redecorate the bungalow – and later in the year he’s got to have his car-port dug up. To make matters worse, I get the impression from his email (and from personal experience I can well imagine it to be the case) that Mrs C holds him largely responsible for the multiple disasters. Luckily Paul’s had his first inoculation so he’s raring to go in all other respects. I have extended the moral support of the Lodge and told him that we’re all behind him!
Tony has been on to report sightings of Ian, who continues to hang around Stanley Rec’ opposite Cathedral Green Court. Now we all know that Ian’s intentions are entirely innocent, but he won’t avoid the CCTV forever and if he’s not down as a potential purveyor of illicit products on the files at Thorpe Wood, he soon will be. I see they’re advertising for a new residential manager at the Court, so there’s an opportunity, eh?
Steve and Roy braved the elements last week atFloat Fish Farm – in fact Steve went again on Friday on his own and did well in the early February sunshine. Roy it seems has let nature take its course and is currently sporting an impressive set of whiskers. When Mrs G told Roy that she liked rugged, she was actually thinking of Pierce Brosnan – she didn’t expect to end up with Father Jack!
It’s not been a good week for Tesco – forget the Coronavirus, some poor old bugger collapsed with a heart attack outside the store in Gillingham and popped his clogs after storestaff wouldn’t let passers-by have a go with the on-site defibrillator. It wouldn’t happen here of course. You can imagine Marc being first on the scene in Werrington; a paddle in each hand and 1500 volts at his disposal. Anyone in doubt should refer to the Dennis Felstead Memorial Defibrillator outside the club in Farcet (read and digest 38 page instruction book before use).
I called Richard for a chat on Sunday. Things are ticking over in Ramsey; both Richard and Mrs B have had their initial inoculations out at Doddington and now await dates for the follow-up. Richard hasn’t heard from Colin for a while and aims to call him this week – Whittlesey it seems is well ahead of the game when it comes to offering the jab, and Colin’s most probably well dosed-up by now.
Exciting news from Grand Lodge as the Grand Secretary grapples with the complexities of organising the March meeting. Apparently, it’s going to be a virtual meeting which means that it won’t actually take place – delegates can join-in via the world wide web. The coronavirus has a lot to answer for, but you can’t say that it hasn’t inspired Gazza & co. to embrace a new normal. Of course, many things will remain with us long after Boris has implemented his road map to recovery; will this be the end of the quarterly beano that so many look forward to?
WOO WOO WUHAN
Relief all round this week, as the World Health Organisation (WHO) reveals that all the lockdowns, the ruin of the West’s economy, deteriorating mental health throughout society and seeing Boris on the telly every day getting up everyone’s nose, has nothing to do with the Chinese biochemical research facility in the city of Wuhan.
It seems that we (humans) may well have caught the coronavirus from Pangolins – those pesky armour plated ant-eating creatures that are so useful in the production of traditional oriental medicine.
Of course, we’ve got to respect other people’s traditions and cultures, so that’s all right. To mark this reassuring and entirely believable news, I suggest we all order a Chinese takeaway and watch a Fu Manchu DVD.
A RIGHT ROYAL ORDER
Who remembers the good old days when we used to turn out commemorative memorabilia whenever any member of the Royal Family broke wind? There was the famous Charles & Diana Royal Wedding Jewel – followed five years later by the Prince Andrew Marriage Medal (I've got a couple for sale if anyone’s interested). Innocent pre-Covid days, eh?
Newsletter # 38 - 4th February
2022 sees the bicenteniary of the RAOB. The earliest recorded history of our Order is dated 1822, when Buffaloes first met as a distict group at the Harp Tavern in central London.
Of course G.L.E. would have us observe the history of the Order from the creation of Grand Lodge in 1866, and Henry & Tony may recall the Centenary in 1966 (may even still have the jewel). However as none of us is likely to be here in 2066 and some less than charitable types have observed that Grand Lodge will have disappeared well before then, perhaps we should return to our roots next year.
When the inoculations out-weigh the virus and we’re all back together, we’ll see what support exists elsewhere in the Province and sort something out. Any ideas, please let me know.
I saw Ian at the weekend; he should have visited me last week but on the day his old Mum had a bit of trouble with her eyes at the hospital and Ian had to guide her home. He’s a careful type is Ian - answering the door in a full Perspex face mask, he looked like the mad scientist of Garton End. Still, I didn’t take it personally; years ago, I went to Garton End School and it’s a funny place I can tell you. Ian’s been there over 30 years so he’s practically a native. Nice to see him again.
Geoff’s been in touch to report that he’s had his first inoculation and awaits news of the follow-up. Geoff reckons that he’s still in the land of the living which is just as well; we’re almost a year into Going Viral and to my knowledge we haven’t had a message from the Great Beyond yet. It’ll soon be Spring, Geoff – you’ll be out & about in no time.
Talking of the Great Beyond I’ve had a call from Bob Mac’ out the other side of Stanground, which let’s face it is beyond anywhere most of us would normally venture. Bob’s been given the green light for his first jab and by the time you read this he’ll be dosed-up and fighting fit. I have to say, Bob sounded pretty chipper over the 'phone and you can imagine him being one of the jollier clients down at the local Surgery.
I received a WhatsApp from Tony, with the alarming news that years of discipline as one of the Brylcreem Boys had been abandoned last week in favour of facial adornment. Thankfully Tony came to his senses after a few days and had a shave, but it is odd how these ex-RAF types seem unaccountably drawn towards a more Naval tradition. Steve periodically takes on the mantle of Captain Birdseye, and despite his Service experiences seconded to such illustrious organisations as SHAPE, the PGP looks more like Worzel Gummidge as time goes by. Pete – well, Pete’s growth needs no further exploration (other than jungle exploration perhaps).
Marvellous news from the Grand Secretary; we might be under lockdown at the moment but Grand Lodge has confirmed that we can all travel back in time at some point in the future. If you vote on it and agree that a Bro’ can be raised (though how you do that when you can’t meet hasn’t been explained), you can set a date but postpone the actual ceremony until we’re back to normal. Grand Lodge will then pretend that there never was a pandemic, and send emblem and jewel through, emblazoned with the original date. The idea of virtual raisings has been knocked on the head for the moment – but watch this space.
Gerry has provided an update; Mrs W had her first jab on Saturday and already has an April appointment for No.2. Gerry ties these inoculations in with his hearing which I don’t quite follow – unless he’s planning to tell Marion that the vaccine has lowered the pitch of her voice, and as a result he can’t hear her.
Fun at Float Fish Farm. Steve fished in the teeth of a howling gale last Friday, and caught a number of prize specimens. I expect the Covid induced break in proceedings helped, with the resident carp wondering where all the free food had gone – until Steve started chucking it in. I popped over Sunday morning to see how things were hanging, and Steve looked cold but happy. It seems that it’s half a century since Steve joined the RAF as a sixteen year old and he’s recently been busy contacting old friends on Facebook. Frankly it’s nice to hear of Social Media being used positively – in another walk of life I only hear about the problems it causes!
Steve was quick to advise that doyen of the Fenman Lodge Alan Brown is not only fitand well, he is apparently active on Social Media. I have passed this extraordinary news to my old mate Dennis Clarke along with Al’s telephone number. Sadly, I’m no-one’s Facebook Friend, which says a lot don’t you think?
Steve has been in touch with Henry & Gwen; it was Gwen’s 90th birthday last week so many happy returns to you. Henry apparently asked Steve if we’ve lost anyone, which I presume is a Covid related enquiry. As far as I know we haven’t lost anyone to the dreaded lurgy or anything else, and in next to no time we’ll all be vaccinated. With any luck, we’ll all be able to meet to celebrate Henry’s 97th birthday later in the year.
RIP CAPTAIN SIR TOM MOORE
Newsletter # 37 - 28th January
HERE, THERE & EVERYWHERE
I called Bill last week, and do you know he’s spent a few days in hospital due to iron deficiency? It seems he’s had the first of his jabs and he’s feeling better now, but he sounded tired when I called. I have no idea how you get iron deficiency but I’m told it’s got something to do with your liver. Anyway, Ange was busy knitting when I called, so Bill’s in line for a new tank top which ought to cheer him up no end.
Bob Taylor has emailed from sunny Ingoldmells to report that he’d been called to Mablethorpe for his Covid inoculation. Apparently, Bob claimed to have never heard of Maplethorpe and in next to no time he’d been given an alternative in Skeggy. Meanwhile our own P.G. Secretary was offered a jab in Stevenage (would you believe?) after they’d just booked Mrs S in at Springfields down the road - and Dave told ‘em where to stick it.
It’s not very helpful or co-operative is it? You’d think that given an opportunity, these chaps would relish a day out – as the old Monty Python sketch put it; there’s no pleasing some people.
Gerry got in touch to advise that he had his second jab – not his first – on 8th of the month. Inspired by this very positive development, Gerry started drinking again after a break of seven weeks (not entirely clear why he stopped in the first place), and went outside to set his first batch of early potatoes. I have attempted to find out how Mrs W is doing but Gerry’s use of the internet is at best spasmodic, and so-far he hasn’t let-on. If anyone else has come over all horticultural as a result of inoculation please let me know; it’s a side effect that appears to have gone unobserved by the scientists.
Have you seen this man?
I had the good fortune to talk at length last week with my old friend Dennis Clarke; Dennis was present at my initiation and last visited the Lodge on the occasion of Marc’s 4th Degree Raising. Dennis has lived in Kings Lynn for over 30 years and for the past 4 or so has battled with cancer. Dennis was pleased to hear that Ian is still on the go, but asked me if I’d heard from his old Stanground mucker, the Fenman Lodge’s own Alan Brown. Now I have to confess, I haven’t heard from Al for almost a year so Dennis’s query got nowhere fast. I said that I’d ask round, and as Al still lives the wrong side of the river and we’ve got representatives of the Stanground Mafia in the Eastgate, I reckon it’s a fair bet that one of you has spotted him recently. Please let me know.
As it happens, I’ve been in contact with the Godfather of said organisation in the past few days, and I’m pleased to report that all appears to be well with him and his canine compatriot. Baz reckons that as one of the ‘younger’ Bro’s, he’s waiting for news of his first Covid jab. Well, all I can say is the laugh will be on him when the rest of you are all swanningaround doing as you please this summer, and he’s still congratulating himself on how youthful he is - while waiting indoors for a text from his GP.
An unexpected windfall for one of Henry’s old pals in the Dawn of Victory Lodge down in Wiltshire – Bro’ Pollard has won £500 in the January Grand Lodge Draw. Quick Henry – give him a call and remind him of the fifty quid you lent him on New Year’s Eve 1999; if he’s got a bad memory & believes you, you’ll be quids-in.
Henry has been in touch with Tony (or the other way round) and has expressed concern over the state of his voting compliance. The funny thing is that voting compliance is the one thing that no-one has to worry about. When we went into the first lockdown all those months ago Grand Lodge generously decided that everyone’s compliance would be automatically covered – and that the Minor Lodges would pick up the bill every quarter. It’s another winner from Wetherby. Tony has experienced motoring problems in the past week, but he’s back behind the wheel now – another expensive Covid experience.
YEAR END BOOKS
Our year end books were submitted to the P.G.Secretary last week pending audit, and I have sent copies of all quarterly red cash book pages for 2020 and the annual balance to our Lodge Treasurer and Trustees. I hope to have the books audited ASAP when we are next able to meet. If anyone in voting compliance in the Lodge would like a copy of the unaudited 2020 year end books, I’d be happy to post them out. Please send me an email or give me a ring.
Newsletter # 36 - 21st January
As ever, the Prime Minister can’t do right for doing wrong, and the continual criticism is generally about consistency – or lack of it. Quite how Boris can be held personally responsible for every anomaly that’s developed as part of the government’s response to the global pandemic, is a bit of a mystery. Nevertheless, the national vaccination roll-out clearly poses a number of challenges.
As far as we’re concerned, I believe that Gerry and Henry have both had their 1st Covid inoculations via their GPs and Tony has been to the Fleet Community Centre for his. Richard reports that no deliveries of any vaccine have been made to Ramsey, and no updates have been received from any other over 80s.
The next group to be vaccinated will be the 70s to 80s so we’ll see how things develop. One of Gerry’s many saucy email attachments gave a whole new meaning to inoculations through the car window – though come to think of it, Norrie never said precisely how his Flu jab was administered in Colwyn Bay so perhaps it's just my lack of imagination.
ASDA has stolen the march on the other supermarkets, with its announcement that Covid inoculations will shortly be made available in-store. Great news for Marc of course; currently his job seems to be policing the social distancing guidelines & checking face masks, but as soon as TESCO jumps on the band-wagon he’ll be able to fulfil a long-held ambition of getting his hands on a hypodermic. The Werrington Centre will be the place to be – watch this space.
Paul contacted me last week to report that he and Mrs C are hunkered-down in Gunthorpe, braving out the final few months of the pandemic. It seems that Paul’s had some problems with his roof (let’s hope that some local lads haven’t been up there after the lead), and he’s got the idea from somewhere that swollen toes are a sure sign of Covid 19. Keep taking the medicine, Paul – the 12 year old stuff you used to think was for special occasions.
Tony popped round last Saturday to witness some signatures (well, Mrs Sharp said that it was essential and neither Tony nor I argued the point), and I’m pleased to say that he’s taking the restrictions very seriously. In fact, Tony appeared at my front door looking like an extra from Quatermass & The Pit – face mask, head shield, coat buttoned-up and surgical gloves. They’re obviously a keen bunch at Cathedral Green, though you’d think that the age profile would indicate that if they haven’t all had the jab yet, they soon will have. Will that make it a Covid-free establishment and if so, will it be Mardi Gras time for the inhabitants? Only time will tell.
Disappointment for the Float Fish Farm brigade (we have our own WhatsApp Group now, you know). No sooner had Michael Gove agreed with the Angling Trust that fishing is a bonafide Covid-free activity, some joker out at FFF tested positive for the virus and the place was shut down for a fortnight. Of course, piscatorial activities can still take place elsewhere and the fens are a stone’s throw away; let’s see how 2021 develops.
Sadly, no news of Bro’ Dylan in 2021, and fears for his wellbeing continue to grow. While therest of us eagerly anticipate our forthcoming inoculations, Dylan would do well to beware anyone approaching him with a full syringe in one hand and a shovel in the other. You’ve heard it before – Poor Old Dylan!
Wonderful news from Wetherby; plans are afoot to arrange Grand Lodge meetings in 2024 and with optimism like that, who can fear for the future. Now the technicality of the matter is geographic because you’ve got to imagine a figurative line drawn between Liverpool and Kingston upon Hull; if you’re above the line you’re in the north, and if you’re below it you’re inthe south. In 2024 it seems; we want to hold Grand Lodge in the north. Gary Selby the Grand Secretary has had to offer lessons in geography, presumably for the benefit of all those Buffs in Sheffield and Doncaster who are suddenly going to realise that they’re now southerners. Good luck, Gazza.
BURNS NIGHT THE NOO
Next Monday is the great day – for our own tame Scotsman at any rate. It must be difficult for a Scottish Provincial Grand Primo under the Grand Lodge of England to celebrate Burns Night in Wales, but Norrie generally makes a stab at it. This year he’s got that peculiar Drakeford chap telling him that he can’t go & get his usual Haggis & chips down at The Picture House, so it’s not looking good. Never mind – we’ll support you Norrie Slàinte mhath from us all.
Newsletter # 35 - 14th January
News Round Up
Lovely to see Mrs Gunn last week; Ian popped round to sign a cheque for the quarterly PGL dues, and he’d just taken his old Mum shopping before the big lockdown. I have also received a letter from Shirley Bonfield, the late Tom Hailstone’s partner. Shirley sends her regards, thanks us for her Christmas box and hopes that we’ll be able to meet again soon.
The Grand Secretary continues to fly the flag up in Wetherby. Grand Lodge offices are closed but Gary (Selby) is obviously working from home as the pandemic rages round north Yorkshire. Gazza wants to know if anyone would like to parade at the Cenotaph this November which displays an admirable level of optimism on his part. Well done, G.S. See you in the new normal.
Finally, some news from the Parkway Club, courtesy of the Peterborough Telegraph. The local constabulary sprang into action a few days ago andnicked a local recidivist as he was busy stripping lead off the roof. In many ways it restores your faith in traditional values. Bearing in mind the location of the place, it could have been drugs or vice – but no,it was an old fashioned case of nicking lead…….
Good news for Steve, Roy, Bob Mac & the rest, as the Angling Trust secures access to fishing during the new lockdown. It’s a recognised recreational activity, so that’s OK. Boris and his cronies may be able to dictate the implementation of restrictions but they can’t affect the weather, and the bad news at the weekend was that local still-waters froze over. I know that Roy had already said that he’d rather be roasting his chestnuts on an open fire than braving the elements, but Steve’s feeling stir-crazy. Watch this space!
Great to hear from the Provincial Grand Primo for all North Wales at the weekend. I thought it was a bit odd that we’d heard nothing so I sent him a text and he called meright back. I have to say that I’d had a couple of bottles of beer by the time Norrie called and by the sound of it, so had he. Still, it was good to hear him sound so jolly – he made lockdown in Colwyn Bay sound quite attractive. Apparently, it was snowing when he called me, so that’ll give ‘em something to do while they wait for their Covid jabs.
Talking of jabs, Maria & I went for our flu’ inoculations on Monday. It wasn’t as thrilling as the north Wales experience – Norrie & partner had theirs done through the window as they sat in the car. As long as you get in towards the front of the queue; retired nurse Bill reckons that after a couple of dozen customers the needle gets a bit blunt - and you want to avoid that at all costs.
Things are on the up for our Provincial Grand Primo, as the Springfields centre becomes one of Lincolnshire’s inoculation super hubs. The good folk of Gosberton - who don’t get out much - will be able to visit the big city (that’s Spalding) and marvel at the wonders to behold. Colin actually lives on a bank at the end of a drove, so the trip to Gosberton in the first place will be a novelty. More to look forward-to in 2021.
No news from Baz or Pete since Stanground became the murder capital of north Cambridgeshire. I say north Cambridgeshire, but to be fair events last week on Southfields Avenue eclipsed any recent happenings at the posh end of the county. I was always brought up to believe that Stanground’s the kind of place you drive through – and keep driving. No wonder Pete’s pad is surrounded by surveillance cameras and motion sensors.
In a not unrelated disclosure on Saturday, Bob Mac warned me that I am currently the subject of scurrilous rumours surrounding my future whereabouts. It was good to hear from Bob and I’m pleased to report that he sounded his usual old self. I was able to reassure him that I am committed to no changes in my personal situation – but as you’d expect Bob laughed in a very unhelpful way, and I’m not at all sure that he was convinced.
I enjoyed a peculiar exchange of texts with Marc at the weekend; either he doesn’t know how to use the app’ on his ‘phone or he was pissed. It sounds as though the Snowden clan is doing as well as can be expected, with Marc interfering (sorry, helping) with his old Mum’s inoculation schedule and Claire his wife nursing all hours. Marc made what I thought was an unnecessarily pointed and entirely inaccurate comment about me being an OAP, which for the time being at least, I’ll overlook.
Prepare to feel a bit of a prick!
By this time next week, the roll out of the vaccine will be well under way. If you have a problem with this please contact the Lodge and someone will try to help. The sooner we all get sorted the better.
Newsletter # 34 - 7th January
Lockdown Special (no it's not)
News Round Up
David’s been in touch – his gyppy shoulder has improved though it gave him bother over Christmas. Sadly, David has reported that the RAFA club in which he’s invested so much time and effort over the years has finally been sold. It’s another victim of the coronavirus but perhaps also a sign of the times. It’s no consolation, but well done David – you’ve been a stalwart for the RAFA and you’re a good friend to us all.
Nothing new on the Parkway Club’s web-site, but there was a new year message to members on their Facebook page. I sent a WhatsApp to Aaron the steward but didn’t get a response. If anyone hears anything further, I’d appreciate an update.
Bob Taylor has been on to point out that he is not from the soft south west as stated in Going Viral 33, but is in fact a proud Cornishman. It explains a lot, doesn’t it? They all think that they’re descended from King Arthur & that lot, and if you use your imagination you can see Bob as Merlin casting spells and waving his wand around. I don’t know how Bob’s going to manage in Skegness – the only magician he’ll find there is Sooty when his show visits the Embassy Centre. Never mind Bob, Izzy Wizzy Let’s get Busy.
Speaking of the Embassy Centre, Maria & I went there a couple of years ago to see somebody or other off Strictly Come Dancing – can’t recall what time of year it was but Skeggy wasn’t in-season. When we left the hottest venue on the Lincolnshire coast, the town was shut and we were lucky to catch a fish bar as it was closing for a bag of stale chips each.
News from the Stanground Mafia; Baz has bestowed new year greetings on the Province viathe Provincial Grand Secretary’s round-robin email. Baz’s occasional edicts always come across like a message from the Pope – you expect them to end …my son. Still, it’s always nice to hear from the wrong side of the river and it’ll be good to see Baz again later in the year.
I’ve had ‘phone calls in the last week from both Ian and Pete, who share an aversion to modern technology – I email them and they ‘phone me back. In many ways it’s an ideal form of communication; let’s get ‘em on Facebook & TikTok in 2021.
Tony finally responded to my Yuletide communications with some story or other about the new Wi Fi not working at Cathedral Court. It didn’t stop the fireworks at 12 o’clock last Thursday though, and I’ll bet the view over Stanley Rec’ from Tony’s Juliet Balcony was pretty good. The East Europeans round our way certainly saw the old year out with a bang; I wonder if they’ll still be here at the end of 2021, now we’ve left Europe.
Apparently, the Chinese City of Wuhan celebrated the New Year last week with crowds in the streets and young people filling the night clubs. The fish market in Wuhan will go down inhistory as the place that sent us the Coronavirus. Now the western world cowers in isolation, we’re all in lockdown and our economy faces ruin; no wonder the Chinese were celebrating!
Secretary's Year End Report
It is the first Thursday of the new quarter, and I have made arrangements in advance of the meeting we should have held tonight. I have sorted out the quarterly remittance for the last quarter of 2020 and arranged for the cheque to be counter-signed by Richard and Ian as Treasurer and Trustee. These have now been forwarded to the P.G.Secretary.
I have just received the current bank statement and am now in a position to finalise the books for the end of the last quarter in 2020, and complete the year end balance. As soon as I have done these they will be forwarded to the P.G.Secretary along with the records of attendance for the year. None of these will have been audited, so the documents will be submitted pending audit; we can address outstanding applications of rule when we are next able to meet.
There are two basic effects of the Coronavirus and our inability to meet which should be borne in mind. Both have been addressed by Grand Lodge directions. Firstly, compliance has been maintained for everyone; for us we have a clear split between Honorary Members, those who pay advanced membership and the rest who register every meeting and/or submit apologies. This last category represents seven in our Lodge and I have recorded their membership as though they have attended every meeting (that we haven’t had, if you see what I mean). Secondly, we have paid full whack for all seven Bro’s in Grand Lodge and PGL dues. I wouldn’t worry too much about that because the effect on Lodge finances is minimal when compared with the overall effect of not meeting.
The only other matter which needs to be addressed now is our annual charity contribution. You’ll recall from all those months ago that we agreed with Pete’s proposal to support the Salvation Army Peterborough Citadel Charity. Whilst we have been able to collect a significant amount for this cause and I know that Pete has more put aside from his car booting activities, the final amount is predictably enough well down on previous years. I have liaised with Steve and Pete and we have agreed to leave the money where it is in Column 10 of our Red Cash Book, with the recommendation to the Lodge at its next meeting, that we let it roll-over into 2021.
I’m not going to speculate on the future here, or go into the cost of the global pandemic to our General and Benevolent Funds. I expect that there will be a lot of business to sort out when we are next able to meet again but I’ll try to spread it all out over several meetings.
Newsletter # 33 - New Years Eve
The News in brief
Geoff’s made contact via his revitalised laptop, and thanks everyone for Christmas greetings, his various festive emoluments and his £100 winnings from the annual draw. Geoff’s a great granddad again – so I’m guessing he didn’t end up seeing much of the cash. The second of Geoff’s Covid inoculations is due on 11th January, so we should see him up & about in no time. Once you’ve had the second jab and are immune, can you just ignore all the restrictions? Makes you wonder.
All’s well in the Snowden household; I understand that over Christmas Marc & Mrs S have been introduced to online gaming by son Joshua. I bet that was an eye-opener for Marc – he’s used to something a bit more traditional. Marc has asked me to extend a hearty new year to you all; he’s looking forward to seeing us soon.
I’ve heard from Steve – he’s had his veins investigated this week, which brings to mind images of Rachel Welch in a miniature submarine being injected into his arm. In fact the reality is a little less imaginative; apparently a nurse waves a kind of electronic pen around your limbs and if you’re lucky you don’t get another dozen tablets to take every day. I understand that Steve braved it out for the last time this year at Float Fish Farm yesterday. With the days getting longer now, we can all look forward to the spring and new fishy adventures.
Bob Taylor’s been in touch to wish a happy yuletide but when I asked how things are in sunny Skegness, he responded by complaining that it’s wet windy & cold. Quite what Bob expected when he moved there is anyone’s guess. Of course, he’s from Bristol or Gloucester or somewhere in the south west and never enjoyed trips to Skeggy in the summer holidays as a kid – when it was invariably wet windy and cold. Bracing is what they call it, and it’s all part & parcel of the charm of the place. He’ll get used to it.
No sooner had the Prime Minister made his historic announcement on the telly, than we were presented with the latest disaster to befall us, with storm Bella approaching the UK and floodwater inundating parts of Bedfs, Northats and Camb’s. Ramsey was named on the news so I contacted Richard to see what was what, but it seems that he and Barbara were unaffected.
I don’t know how Boris could be held to blame for the weather, but rest assured he has been.......
The New Normal
Yes, the Prime Minister has come up trumps and assured his place in history. We have left Europe with a Trade Deal and all’s well with the world.
Unfortunately, it’s all been overtaken by events. Only a year ago, leaving Europe was the be-all and end-all - but in truth as far as the Lodge was concerned little of it really mattered. Then Covid 19 came to us from a fish market in a Chinese City that no-one in the civilised world had heard of, and the chaos we imaged with Brexit paled into insignificance.
Since last March the Eastgate has only been able to meet a few times, we currently have no idea what the future holds for the Parkway Club, many of our own Bro’s have been confined to their homes, Buffs everywhere have been badly affected and it seems almost certain that many aspects of our Order will never recover.
2021 will inevitably see improvements to our lives. Already several of us have had the first of two inoculations that will be rolled out throughout the UK in the coming weeks, and as the Prime Minister has pointed out in one of his many mixed historical references, it will signal the beginning of the end. The ongoing effect on the Lodge of course is economic and practical, and only time will tell.
Best wishes for the New Year everyone, & see you all soon.
Newsletter # 32 - Christmas Eve
A TIER 4 MERRY CHRISTMAS
Seasonal Round Up of News
I have delivered prizes to the lucky winners of the 2020 annual draw who were not present atthe Shah Jehan last week. Roy obviously lives in a risky neighbourhood as the whole street was illuminated as soon as I approached the house – I half expected Roy or Mrs G to come to the door with shotgun in hand. Baz was out with Dylan so I left the £100 with his Auntie (Baz’s not Dylan’s); it’s their last Christmas together before Dylan disappears in the back of a van. Geoff didn’t answer the door, but judging from some of the characters wandering around New England last Friday, I didn’t blame him.
Congratulations one & all – you lucky lot!
Tony was off to Oxfordshire for Christmas to spend time with his niece , but the Prime Minister had other ideas on Saturday and buggered his plans up. We’ve been plunged into Tier 4 – which didn’t even exist last Friday – and now we’ve got to address a new virulent variant. It means that people won’t be able to spend time with their extended families this year, so no wonder Boris looked relieved!
Tony and his fellow Cathedral Court residents are apparently locked-in for the duration – perhaps the Kommandant will lead them in a rousing chorus of Silent Night on Christmas morning……..
Paul has made contact – apparently, he’s gagging to get his hands on the vaccine and return to normality. Of course, it begs the question, what is normal? As you cast your eyes round the Lodge (use your imagination), ask yourself if any of us could be called normal ! Paul has asked me to extend best wishes to everyone.
I’ve been round to see Henry & Gwen and deliver winnings from the raffle on 15th plus Christmas card etc. Henry looked quite frail and it may well be the effects of his Covid jab that have made him feel rough. I suppose if I feel like Henry does when I’m 96 I won’t reckonto be doing so badly. Henry was anxious to extend his best wishes to everyone and say that he looks forward to seeing us all in 2021.
We've had seasonal emails too numerous to list here, along with Christmas cards from Richard & Barbara, Mrs Haines and Mrs Merry + our friends at the Wood Green Fundraising Team (Hint Hint).
No Yuletide message from The Grand Secretary and all the VIPs up in Wetherby, so let’s spare a thought at this time for our leaders who are themselves struggling to keep the ship on an even keel; well done everyone !
When looked at in the round, you might consider that there’s a certain exclusivity to Tier 4 status. Not for us the uncertainty of Tier 3 with the likes of the Provincial Grand Primo and his side-kick Dangerous Dave facing the dilemma of wondering what they can do and where they can go. No – here in Peterborough we know we can’t go anywhere, do anything, see anyone or pick our own noses in the street without having some bloody Covid Marshall tooling up and waving a book of fixed penalty notices at us.
Mrs Sharp has informed me that she & I will be embracing the new normal tomorrow with a Christmas dinner of Brains Faggots, Jacket Potatoes and Mushy Peas (which sounds good enough to me).
What a Result
91 year old Margaret Keenan made history last week by being the first person anywhere to get inoculated against Covid and immediately became the subject of conspiracy theories galore from the anti-vaccination nu!ers. Of course, it didn’t help when Margaret appeared in the national press demonstrating what looked like a Masonic symbol as she was pushed towards the waiting needle. I'm not a Mason I'm not so I wouldn't know, but I can see from the photo' in my wife's Daily Mail that Margaret may have once had an indiscreet boyfriend in the Buffs - Henry, you've been about a bit, any ideas?
I have just received an email from Christine Patterson, advising that her Mother Rose Fixter died last Saturday. Christine’s Dad Ray was a member of both the Welland Lodge and Knights’ Chapter until his death 29 years ago.
Rose has suffered from dementia for some time, and only recently moved to live with her daughter on Paston Lane.
I have extended the condolences of Lodge and Chapter and expressed our support at this very difficult time of year.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Martyn
Newsletter # 31 - 17th December
Doing the rounds
I dropped in on Geoff at the weekend to deliver his Christmas card. Geoff is a bit wheezy but sounds in good spirits; he asked me to pass on the season’s greetings to one and all, so here they are.
No word of late from Marc, but then things are probably pretty busy up in Tescos as they get ready for the last minute rush. Let’s hope there are no festive mishaps this year. Mind you, it’s some time since Marc ended up in A&E after his girlfriend at the time – short sighted, but very accommodating – popped out to the bathroom cabinet for the KY Jelly but picked up a tube of Deep Heat by mistake. Poor old Marc spent Christmas with his wedding tackle in an ice pack. Ah, those were the days!
Maria & I had a drive out on Saturday to deliver Christmas cards to Richard who volunteeredto pass them on to Colin and Shirley Bronfield. My wife reckons that the fens have a beauty all their own, but I have to say it was lost on me as we drove out to Ramsey in the Decemberrain. No wonder the monks in the middle ages were a miserable lot, but at least Ramsey Abbey was never sacked by the Norsemen. I read in the newspaper that the latest version ofthe computer game Assassins Creed sub-titled Valhalla, features the Viking raid on Peterborough Abbey – now the Cathedral. Richard wasn’t in when I visited – he and Mrs B were probably out raiding Aldi.
I appreciate that Pete may have only just stirred himself from the pit when I popped round at the weekend, but the word dishevelled doesn’t adequately describe the scene; Pete looked like Captain Birdseye after a sail through the roaring Forties. I know that things have gone a bit slack in recent weeks, but can I recommend The Lady Barber in Rivergate? She’s a heavily tattooed young woman with a robust east European attitude and a happy little Yorkshire Terrier. Seven quid, and Robert’s your Mother’s Brother!
Ian will be pleased to hear that he’s famous throughout West Town – or infamous perhaps. He ventured over here sometime on Saturday to deliver a Christmas card to one of his old Mum’s old friends, and my nosey neighbour had him scoped straight away. Now there’s a grainy photo’ of him on the West Town Neighbourhood App’, with a warning to senior citizens to look out for a furtive looking character on an electric bike wearing a false moustache and a grubby mac’; seems a bit extreme to me! Ian’s Mum has called to pass on her thanks for the card and contents and ask me to forward her best wishes to the Lodge.
Gerry hasn’t been feeling too well and wasn’t up to attending the Lodge annual night out, but has issued a stop-press report that he is the first fully Covid compliant member of our Lodge; he got the first of his two jabs on Monday. You tend to feel that Gerry ought to receive a commemorative jewel to mark the occasion – one for Grand Lodge there.
Pete and I shared our birthday celebrations on Monday – another year, though 2020 has been a bit of a challenge for us all. To think, in a few short years I’ll be 60 – who’d believe it?
Gwen called on Tuesday afternoon to report that Henry’s had his Flu and Covid jabs and is laid low in bed. Henry called an hour later to confirm the bad news. It was a shame they weren’t up to attending the meal on Tuesday evening, but I’ve been round and delivered Henry’s Christmas card & raffle prizes and extend season’s greetings to them both.
Lodge Christmas Dinner
On Tuesday this week Members of the Lodge with their partners, plus Dangerous Dave Spencer and Bazza Scotney and their wives, enjoyed a very pleasant evening out at the Shah Jehan.
The food was top notch, there was plenty to drink and the company was good. Naturally Covid restrictions were adhered-to throughout with couples sitting at least 2 metres apart and sanitising dishes & eating implements every 90 seconds. Steve ensured that all coronavirus guidelines were followed and the Provincial Grand Secretary was present to establish Grand Lodge protocols (which was just as well – he’s in Tier 3!).
We certainly finished the night on a high – you wouldn’t have been able to find a more self-satisfied bunch in the whole of Peterborough.
The Lodge will be pleased to hear that as well as enjoying the customary raffle the top prize of which was presented by Mrs Smith (and won by Mrs Hildred), the annual prize draw was held, and the following lucky Bro’s each won £100.00
Angie Smith, creator of the Star Prize,
a wonderful cake won by Monika Hildred
Newsletter # 30 - 10th December
Geoff called me last week to advise that Bro’ Chic Eldin just died at the age of 97. Chic had been in care for some time but was active in the Province when I joined the Order and was aregular at the Q.E., PGL and Knights’ Chapter. He was a great Buff’.
I rang Geoff back last Friday and we had a bit of a chat; he’s feeling a good bit better than oflate, and sounded pretty chipper. Geoff asked me to wish everyone in the Lodge a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.
As soon as the national lockdown ended, Maria, Tony & I made a visit to the Shah Jehan for a meal. Arrangements have been confirmed for 15th December and I’ll be popping in with the menu choices sometime this week. We’re in Tier 2 now of course, which appears to mean different things to different people. If only everyone would pay attention to the Prime Minister, there wouldn’t be any confusion – I have every confidence in him!
Ian seemed a little distracted when I called him at the weekend; all I wanted was a signature on a cheque. He told me that although he was at home, he expected to be involved in a lengthy intensive telephone call that would probably last for more than an hour. It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
Norrie has emailed – he was under the impression that I had moved, so I had to put him righton that one. As I wasn’t at all sure how things in the Principality are at the moment, I didn’t touch on the current restrictions. Turns out that peculiar chap Drakeford who runs the show over in Wales is still sticking two fingers up at Boris and is making his own plans for Christmas (which includes shutting all the pubs – that’s Chapel for you). Dymuniadau gorau, Norrie – That’s Best Wishes in Taff speak (try saying that when you’ve had a few).
Gerry called on Sunday; he’s still waiting for the results of his blood tests but he sounds a lot better than he did the last time I spoke with him. Gerry’s real problem of course are his troublesome hearing aids which must be a constant irritant. Fortunately, Mrs W is well versed in the art of prompting, so a telephone call is a bit of a three way affair. Let’s hope that Gerry’s well enough to attend the event on 15th.
Hats off to Steve, who scraped the ice off his 4X4 on Sunday and set off while it was still dark, to fish in a match out at Float Fish Farm. It seems that despite the brilliant sunshine the temperature didn’t rise above freezing, and Steve’s net froze solid when he pegged it out on the bank to dry. Perhaps we should re-arrange the Bannister Cup next year to hold it at a more challenging time of the year.
The 'sunshine' at Float Fish Farm, midday 06/Dec/2020
I have now sorted out Christmas Gift payments for ten Bro’s over 70 and nine widows/ex-partners. I aim to have them all distributed in the next week or so.Several envelopes will be posted out as there is no alternative, and we have the Christmas meal next Tuesday where the bulk of them will be distributed. If anyone is able to assist as in previous years, please let me know.
Newsletter # 29 - 3rd December
Are we downhearted? - Are we ****!
Well, it would have been nice to have met tonight but Boris had other ideas - so herewe are stuck in Tier 2.Of course, tier 2 is bad enough – the boozers can’t open unless they serve a substantial meal and you’ve got to stick to your bubbles – but spare a thought for thelikes of the Provincial Grand Primo and the poor buggers in the Willoughby, the Valiant and the Queen Elizabeth who are in Tier 3. Of course, they’re all so close to the county border that it makes little difference to them; Bourne Stamford and Deeping might be closed for business but the bright lights of Cambridgeshire beckonlike never beforeWell, it would have been nice to have met tonight but Boris had other ideas - so herewe are stuck in Tier 2.Of course, tier 2 is bad enough – the boozers can’t open unless they serve a substantial meal and you’ve got to stick to your bubbles – but spare a thought for thelikes of the Provincial Grand Primo and the poor buggers in the Willoughby, the Valiant and the Queen Elizabeth who are in Tier 3. Of course, they’re all so close to the county border that it makes little difference to them; Bourne Stamford and Deeping might be closed for business but the bright lights of Cambridgeshire beckonlike never beforeWell, it would have been nice to have met tonight but Boris had other ideas - so here
we are stuck in Tier 2.
Of course, tier 2 is bad enough – the boozers can’t open unless they serve a
substantial meal and you’ve got to stick to your bubbles – but spare a thought for the
likes of the Provincial Grand Primo and the poor buggers in the Willoughby, the
Valiant and the Queen Elizabeth who are in Tier 3. Of course, they’re all so close to
the county border that it makes little difference to them; Bourne Stamford and
Deeping might be closed for business but the bright lights of Cambridgeshire beckon
like never before
Well, it would have been nice to have met tonight but Boris had other ideas - so herewe are stuck in Tier 2.
Of course, tier 2 is bad enough – the boozers can’t open unless they serve a substantial meal and you’ve got to stick to your bubbles – but spare a thought for thelikes of the Provincial Grand Primo and the poor buggers in the Willoughby, the Valiant and the Queen Elizabeth who are in Tier 3. Of course, they’re all so close to the county border that it makes little difference to them; Bourne Stamford and Deeping might be closed for business but the bright lights of Cambridgeshire beckon like never before.
Frankly it’s difficult to see how we could now meet again this side of 2021. Boris and his advisors (whoever they are this week) are apparently going to review things on 16th of the month, but even if they made it possible for venues to re-open and even if the Parkway did open straight away, there would only be Thursdays 17th, 24th & 31st left and I’m guessing we’ll all be tied up by then entertaining other bubbles in our bubble for the yuletide festivities.
I’ll keep distributing weekly newsletters and let you know how things develop later in the month.
Roundup of the news
Tony had his consultation with the surgical team last week, and all looks good; he’s back behind the wheel and walking like a good-un. Unfortunately, Tony’s use of modern communication devices has let him down of late. Not only has he had to seek the assistanceof my wife with his smart ‘phone (which appeared to sort things out), he’s sent me a peculiar message thanking me for the lovely parcel of goodies I just sent him (?). I have warned him to be careful – who knows what misunderstandings might arise with a misplaced WhatsApp!
Ian is getting about on his electric scooter which is all well and good, but he needs to take care when making plans. Ian has apparently suggested that he and Tony meet up in Stanleyrec’ opposite Cathedral Green Court. I don’t know how good an idea that is. You can just imagine the fun they’ll have over at the CCTV control as they monitor the many cameras scanning the rec’ - Who’s the dealer and who’s the client?
Bob Mac’s in a bit of a quandary; he’s hoping to be towards thefront of the queue when they start dishing out the Coronavirus vaccine, but that joker from the Fenman Baz Scotney has told him that if he’s not careful he’ll get fobbed-off with the cut price stuff from Oxford made out of Chimpanzee shit. Even so, perhaps we should all be vigilant in the New Year on Bob’s behalf and look out for tell-tail cautionary signs - in case he starts swinging from the light fittings or sticking unpeeled bananas up his arse
Gerry has been on and reports that he hasn’t been at all well for the past ten days or so. He’s off for more blood tests this week and will let us know how things develop. Best wishes to Gerry and Marian and let’s hope his health improves in time for Christmas.
Things don’t improve up at Grand Lodge. If only the Grand Lodge Management Committee could get its hands on the cash that’s sitting there in various accounts. Trouble is, they’re all entangled with the charity commission because the funds in question have been donated by people like us with philanthropy in mind. That involves the activities of Trustees who have different responsibilities (many of them legal responsibilities) from the GLMC. No wonder the Peterborough Province can’t get its invested money back – Dear old Dennis.
Arrangements are in-hand to sort out the PGL / Lodge Benevolence to the widows and over-70s. As soon as I can, I shall have the various Christmas Cards & cash made out, and then I’ll be asking for assistance with the distribution.
Thanks to Ian, Marc, Pete and Richard for their support in this, which was necessary as we’ve not been able to make the usual decisions in Lodge.
Just as well the recent £500 cheque from the Grand Lodge monthly lottery cleared OK!
ny had his consultation with the surgical team last week, and all looks good; he’s back
behind the wheel and walking like a good-un. Unfortunately, Tony’s use of modern
communication devices has let him down of late. Not only has he had to seek the assistance
of my wife with his smart ‘phone (which appeared to sort things out), he’s sent me a peculiar
message thanking me for the lovely parcel of goodies I just sent him (?). I have warned him
to be careful – who knows what misunderstandings might arise with a misplaced WhatsAp
Newsletter # 28 - 26th November
News Round Up
Geoff’s been in touch; he’s been a bit rough lately and if he’s up to going out, he’s expecting to be back at the COPD clinic this week. It must be lonely for Geoff and I’m sure he’d like to hear from everyone – please give him a call.
At the time of writing, Tony expected to be back at the Hospital today to see his surgeon. It might be my imagination, but I have detected that his patience has been running a bit thin of late. He’s anxious to get back behind the wheel and is already planning to drive to the Lodge next week.
Good to hear from Henry on Monday. He’s a man of few words unless it’s to do with cricket or the West Indies (or West Indies Cricket, come to that), and all I got from him was his menu choices for 15th December. It’ll be good to see Henry & Gwen next month after weeks of lockdown and isolation.
Time and tide wait for no man – or in this case, dog. Poor old Dylan faces an uncertain future as plans progress to pension him off before his 10th birthday next April. Don’t worry, Baz is going to keep us informed - so that ought to cheer Dylan up.
The Annual Draw is set to take place on 15th December and although our efforts have obviously been handicapped by two lockdowns and not being able to meet for weeks on-end, we still have enough for six prizes of £100.00.
Pete is going to start flogging tickets for the actual raffle when we meet next Thursday, so start buying them and thinking of prizes (though bearing in mind that we’ll be meeting at the Shah Jehan, we don’t want to overdo it). Of course, the event next month won’t be the same as our usual Christmas Dinner. Nevertheless, the restaurant is usually very welcoming and it’s sure to be a success. If you haven’t given me your menu choices yet, please forward them ASAP.
I know that every little helps, but it seems to me to be a bit much that of all the Brothers you can think of at this time, Marc is likely to be at the head of the queue when it comes to the Coronavirus vaccine. He reckons that as a key worker in the vital Tesco supply chain, he’s bound to get his double shot sometime next month. A Merry Christmas to you, too!
So, what happens next?
The National Lockdown is scheduled to end on Wednesday 2nd December and the Prime Minister Gawd bless ‘im, has confirmed that it will. The country (that’s England because the Taffs and the Jocks are still doing their own thing) will revert to the 3 Tier System. The situation will be clarified sometime today.
What will that mean for us?
There are basically two questions that will affect our immediate future.
If we are able to meet as usual at 8.00pm next Thursday, I will send the message:
- Which stage will Peterborough find itself in next week?
- If it’s Stage 1, will the Parkway Club re-open on 3rd December?
Currently I can’t answer either of these questions, so here’s what I plan to do. The statistics presented by the media are open to interpretation, so at this stage we can’t second-guess what will be announced today. However, if Peterborough is placed in Stage 1 (enabling pubs, restaurants, clubs etc to re-open) I shall do what I can to establish the state of play at the Parkway as soon as possible. To save time, I shall forward a single phrase Email, Text, WhatsApp or Voicemail to everyone confirming the situation, and in a nod to the origins of our Order I’ll use passwords that would have been familiar to Fred and Barney.
Yabba, Dabba, Doo
If we have to stand-down again, I will send the message:
Ack, Ack, A-Dack
Fingers crossed – hope to see you all shortly
Newsletter # 27 - 19th November
News from the Lodge
Richard’s plans to take part at the remembrance-day event in Whittlesey were scuppered by Boris; after the last announcement from Downing Street the reduced Sunday arrangements were cancelled.
Fortunately, Richard was given the opportunity to lay our wreath at the memorial on Wednesday 11th so the Eastgate Lodge was able to pay respects on armistice day itself.
He started out referring to the beginning of the end at El Alamein, moved quickly on to the bugles blowing at Waterloo, and ended by shaking his quiver full of arrows at Agincourt – yes, the Prime Minister rallied the nation from the rostrum last week, as the Government ordered enough Coronavirus vaccine for 20 million people. Of course, we don’t yet know whether it works or who’s going to get it first, but luckily Pete is already onto an alternative. He’s ordered half a dozen boxes of Covid gargle-wash at thirty bob a bottle (reliable import from somewhere in the Balkans), guaranteed to work or your money back – if you can find Pete at the next boot sale.
Baz has obviously been taking lessons from the Vladimir Putin school of misinformation; we texted each other last week and whist he was keen to talk about his forthcoming 2021 cruising expectations, when I asked how Bro’ Dylan is he avoided the question.
Poor old Dylan !
I‘ve been in touch with Geoff who like the rest of us is missing the Lodge – Geoff’s barely been out of the house for months! Geoff’s going into hospital on 27th for the day to have an annoying lump removed from his hand (there’s a joke there somewhere). Good luck, Geoff and hope to see you at Lodge, PGL, Chapter and Assembly in 2021.
Disappointing news for Tony. Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of his admission to our ancient and honourable Order, but attempts to celebrate this remarkable occasion have stalled. I tried to get hold of a 60 year emblem, but the P.G. Secretary reckons that as Tony’sright knee has only been in the Order since September, not all of him joined in 1960 so he’s ineligible. Makes you think, eh?
Just to show that the Eastgate has gone totally global, Gerry called his daughter in Australia last week, to discuss the menu for the Lodge Christmas meal. Apparently, Gerry’s offspring saw nothing odd in her father’s request for guidance and advised him what to order. Like her old Dad, I expect that she’s a bit of a joker, but personally, I think that a super strength Chicken Vindaloo might be a bit much for Gerry & Marian - but then, who am I to interfere?
Steve & I fished at Float Fish Farm last week along with one of Steve’s pals from the RAF who lives in Bourne. Pete turned up to support the effort, and Steve caught a whopper. Sadly, my attempts to lure a specimen failed completely.
Bob Taylor has been in touch – he is now ensconced in his sea-side retreat and is enjoying the challenge of renovating his new abode. On a good day at the height of summer the golden sands at Skegness can be compared with anything you’ll see on the Mediterranean coast. Bob of course is moving there as autumn nudges winter, when the Skeggy expression …It’s bracing by the sea… comes into its own. Get your thermals out, Bob. Good Luck!
We're all Doomed
The Grand Secretary recently issued the latest list of Bro’s who have passed to the Grand Link Above, and in an attempt to blame all the ills of the Order on Covid, melodramatically declared that Grand Lodge can’t meet, the Order is on its knees and the effects of the pandemic are worse than those created by two World Wars.
Now to begin-with, the list issued is inclusive of all Bro’s who have died, not a list of specifically Covid related deaths. The Grand Secretary of course is not alone in publishing misleading statistics of this kind – the BBC do it every night. However, the BBC knows what it’s doing and always adds a clause in small print, stating that its figures are based on all deaths of any cause occurring within 28 days of a positive test.
Secondly, Grand Lodge may well feel that under current circumstances it is unable to meet in strict session, however leaping to the conclusion that the Order is on its knees as a result is preposterous. I know Bro’s who feel vulnerable and at risk in my Lodge and my Province, but I know no-one who is on his knees.
Finally, Grand Secretary, please don’t compare the Coronavirus to the sacrifices of the two biggest conflicts in history – and particularly at a time of the year when we’ve just marked remembrance-day. If you want to compare the current pandemic with anything, you should compare like for like. The 1918/19 Spanish Flu pandemic, coming as it did immediately after the cessation of hostilities in Europe, wiped out between 40 and 50 million people world-wide. Of course, 100 years ago there was no internet and no widespread media coverage, and the whole thing went largely unreported. You simply cannot compare the scale of loss between the 1918/19 pandemic and the current one.
The Grand Secretary is concerned at the inability of over half the Order to operate – at every level – and he’s right to be concerned. He knows that the longer this pandemic lasts the more likely it becomes that those Lodges, PGLs, Chapters and Assemblies that remain closed, will never re-open.
However, it does no-one any good to be a doom-monger.
Come on, G.S. – get a grip!
However, it does no-one any good to be a doom-monger.
Newsletter # 26 - 12th November
I have made contact with the steward of the Parkway Club and assured him of our continued support; Aaron has thanked me and said that he’ll see us on the other side. The Parkway Club is host to a lot of different activities, but I’m not aware of involvement in any spiritualist meetings, so I think he means the other side of the lockdown (at least I hope he does).
Tony continues to recover from his knee replacement op’. I’ve taken him to a couple of physiotherapy sessions at the hospital and he was due back there earlier today to see the saw-bones who did the deed. Maria & I met up with Tony along with Bill & his wife for a pre-lockdown curry last week – very nice it was too, and conveniently just round the corner from Cathedral Green Court.
After a break in darkest Norfolk earlier in the summer, Paul is self-isolating on doctor’s advice to protect his dicky ticker. Here’s hoping we see Paul again before the Christmas break.
Calamitous news from the Village Club in Farcet, as one of the locals (not a Buff, we’re assured) tested positive for Covid after frequenting the place on the weekend before lockdown. If Bob Mac’s bowels needed loosening, then here surely was a frightener to have him scurrying for the khasi.
Marc has been in touch again to advise that his wife has followed his son and proved positive for the dreaded lurgy, whereas Marc is negative. It'll be a great comfort to Mrs Snowden, knowing that Marc is fit and well as he ministers to her every need in the family bubble.
Sale of numbers for the annual Lodge draw has now closed and we plan to do the deed at the event planned for 15th December – see details below:
Roy has apparently tweeted that he has already won the election for W.P at the end of the month but if he hasn’t, he will demand several recounts – and in any case, he’ll refuse to leave the Royal Chair ………
Usual arrangements for the annual distribution of benevolence are all in-hand. We discussed this before the latest lockdown, and the grants from PGL have been banked. We shall confirm our contribution when next we meet, but in anticipation of that – and to ensure that we have things in place in the time left to us – I shall have the individual Christmas grants to our widows and over 70s available for distribution on 3rd December.
Eastgate Lodge Christmas Dinner
7:30 pm on Tuesday 15th December
The Shah Jehan
18 Park Road, Peterborough, PE1 2TD
Final arrangements for the event will be discussed at the first Lodge meeting in December, but for convenience and to speed up the the process, I have attached menus to this newsletter, sent by email and post. Please let me know if you and your wife / partner is able to attend. Please let me have your choices of starter and main meal ASAP, thank you.
The Cash Draw will take place on the night as will the Christmas Raffle, Pete will be selling tickets when the Lodge next meets and on the night.