If you want more ‘previously in my life’, lob your email address into the box on the right.
Those who watched Spooks will believe the building pictured on the right is home to many sinster goings-on. But in real life, it’s not the headquarters to MI5 but is home to the entirely un-sinister United Grand Lodge of England, the central body of Freemasons in the country.
Unusually for a secret institution, it had an open day last Saturday (courtesy of the wonderful Open House London scheme) so its strange innards were laid bare to public scrutiny.
My first impression was that the Freemasons are really, really not helping to dispel Jewish conspiracy theories:
A small gallery contained various historical artefacts and exhibition displays, one of which was a model of a Masonic ‘chapter room’. A card nearby helpfully explained: “This miniature chapter room is set up as it would be for a full-size chapter.” Really? I thought that full-size Freemasons would still use chairs the size of safety-pins.
A more serious note clarified that the model only related to “the Aldersgate ritual”. Rituals originating from other districts of London – the Ponders End ritual, perhaps, or the Tolworth ritual – are altogether different.
As I strolled through the Grand Temple (left), I overheard a passing American opining, “I honestly think it’s just like hanging out in the pub, except they do it in a beautiful temple.” Yes, and they do it in ludicrous clothes, with ludicrous titles (‘Enlightened Knight Commander’ indeed!) and basically demonstrate exactly what the world would be like if every schoolchild’s secret club had loads of money and adult immaturity thrown at it.
But it seems that the world of masonry is not without petty theft and the compensation culture of the modern world:
Yeah, I hate it when I leave my Masonic Regalia somewhere and find it’s gone when I return.
The way out took visitors through the building’s small shop, offering said regalia at rates which surely cannot have been competitive – “30th Degree Eagle Insignia, £32”, absolute bloody bargain – as well as the books Scouting and Masonry: Two Parallel Movements? and The Templar Code for Dummies (yes really).
As I passed, a man stopped me and muttered in a foreign accent, “Where did you get your shirt?” I happened to be wearing an LJY-Netzer movement shirt (available at a substantially lower cost than a 30th degree eagle, I might add) and explained to this odd gentleman, who was covered in Masonic badges, that it was from my employer.
“Ah,” he said, “You see, I am in Masorti movement. There are many Yehudim in the Brotherhood you know!”
Bloody typical. Only I could be standing in Freemasons’ Hall, exchanging secret symbols… of non-Orthodox Judaism.
School of hard knocks
A couple of weeks ago, Ofsted inspected JFS (a Jewish school) and found that its standards had slipped so severely that it should be downgraded two categories. Then on Friday, all my dreams came true and there was a letter in the Jewish Chronicle actually arguning that Ofsted is an anti-Semitic organisation – see also Oxfam, the Lib Dems, the AA, Wagamama, Clinton’s cards etc.
This isn’t that letter but it might as well have been:
Of course, ‘requiring improvement’ is no shame. But it’s no great honour either! So would it spoil some great eternal plan if the JFS had been outstanding? Click the circley thing below to find out.
We are the 55.3%
Well, David Cameron got off Scot-free when the good people north of the border voted to remain part of the same country as him. But now it turns out, rather to his surprise, that he’s now expected to make good on his promises of enhanced powers for Holyrood, and not just pretend they never happened and sing a song about it to get off the hook.
However, he’s planning a constitutional shake-up and a devolution smoothie that extends beyond Scotland. He’s planning a solution to the West Lothian Question (whereby Scottish MPs get to vote on legislation that only affects England). He calls his grand reform package Conservative Votes on English Laws.
Alex Salmond, meanwhile, is a different story. Despite his initially gracious acceptance of defeat, he’s become increasingly restless. This is a headline from the BBC last week:
On Her Majesty’s secret Bat Mitzvah service
All are welcome, regardless of religion, nationality or occupation, to contact our organization – Mossad – to work for us or to be involved in activities which could bring great personal benefit.
Regardless of ‘occupation’: that’s Mossad all over. The website continues:
Rest assured that all approaches will be treated with the utmost discretion and confidentiality
It’s almost as if they realise that they’re running a secret organisation!
The news from Sussex
Fear not, I’ve not forgotten my roots and am happy to provide an update from my former homeland; we remember thee, Falmer.
New students have been posting photos of their new IDs to Instagram. However, if the barcode and reference numbers are sufficiently clear, the pictures could easily be used by hackers to gain access to University services.
I know, why don’t IT security experts all over the world post public announcements of security flaws and advice to would-be hackers. Just run that past your internal psychiatrist.
John Duffy, meanwhile, is no doubt regretting his decision to get a job at a British university. An investigation by the US Chronicle of Higher Education has revealed that American colleges are allowing their security teams to stockpile high-velocity assault rifles, bayonets, armoured tanks and – in the University of Central Florida – a grenade launcher.
Oh John, oh John; if only you’d read that article before March 2013.
Picking up the PCCs
Last week though, she rose from her taxpayer-funded stupour to write a furious response to “misguided proposals to scrap PCCs”. This was especially interesting because of her argument:
Under the Police Authority the target for solved burglary was just 17%. As PCC I have represented public opinion and challenged Sussex Police to improve on this. As a result, solved rates for burglary this year have increased across the county by 26%.
I can’t help wondering: for what proportion of this increase does she personally take credit? How many burglaries did she go out and solve by herself? Or in fact, was her sole contribution – and her main argument for why she shouldn’t be scrapped by Parliament – ‘representing the public’s opinion’ that they want the police to solve more crimes? You decide; the election’s in 2016.
Five of the best IS BACK!
- BBC News: ‘Eleven Jinping’: Indian TV fires anchor over blooper – seems a little excessive when compared to the Jeremy *unt incident…
- Ha’aretz: London council removes Charedi sign segregating women from men – it’s political correctness gone mad.
- +972mag: How to talk occupation at a Rosh Hashanah dinner and make it out alive – hence the expression ‘do not try this at home’.
- The Independent: There is literally not a single woman in this iPhone 6 queue – clearly the Stamford Hill Charedim got there first.
- Buzzfeed: 27 times it all kicked off in Chorley – the “lollipop crisis” in #5 sounds particularly distressing.