I have a friend who is a Mason. In fact, if I think about it for a moment, I probably have a great many friends who are Masons. Or indeed perhaps I should say that I have a great many friends of friends who are Masons, because after all aren’t the Masons just one large group of friends, albeit with a rather more advanced sense of ritual?
I also have a number of friends who are not Masons, although when I say that they are not Masons, of course I could be completely mistaken. They could in fact merely be pretending not to be Masons. How would I tell? I have conversations with these ‘possibly-not-Masons’ in which we ponder the kind of person that would join them, what possible consequences membership would entail, whether it is a moral decision. One of my friends thinks that if you are a Mason you should certainly declare it. But then he might be a Mason and just be saying that to distract me. They could all be laughing about it behind my back, giggling about Enoch’s Royal Arch, Jah-Bul-On, and points of the compass pressed firmly into breasts.
I myself am not a Mason. A friend mentioned that I might like to be one once. I can’t remember what I said. Maybe I said ‘yes’, although that seems unlikely somehow.
Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | PR to improve the freemason’s image
So what is the essence of freemasonry? Material self-advancement and sinister secrecy, say its critics. Fun, fellowship and a moral code, masons counter. Dewar, who hopes to reverse the decline that has seen membership in England and Wales fall to 320,000, intends to present them as “good, solid citizens with the right moral values who support all that is good in society”. But there are two other factors which must surely be considered – food and stamp collecting.