Aprons at the Alamo: Everyone has the right to wear a mini-pinny

Share
Related Topics
Davy Crockett was a mason. So was Jim Bowie. So was Colonel Travis. In fact most of those who defended the Alamo were part of the same Texas Lodge,' confided Lesley, a volunteer who was running the gift shop that day at the Freemasons' Hall in Covent Garden, which houses the Grand Lodge and is the epicentre of English Freemasonry worldwide. The Duke of Kent, the present Grand Master, pouted down from a photograph, looking not unlike Widow Twanky in that pretty little apron the craft is wont to wear. I was trying to come to terms with D Crockett et al holding lodge meetings in bejewelled mini-pinnies as they fought General Santa Anna. John Wayne, who played Crockett in the film, was a keen Mason too.

Personally, I have thought for a long time that Masons get a raw deal for enacting their rites based around the building of Solomon's Temple. I am not a Mason, but went to the Masonic School in Bushey (motto: Aude, Vide, Tace; Hear, See, Be Silent). My father had been a Mason for three months and had died, so I received their education.

The institution, a vast neogothic pile built to rival Eton College, did not teach us anything about the Craft. Ironically, the masters took a very dim view when we innocently decided to start a secret order of ditch diggers, the Poggies. Ancient Poggie lore was written down in an illuminated book while we all dug little channels from a sacred spring. We wore cricket sweaters round our waists as aprons. Discovered, we all were beaten for 'cheek', not yet knowing what satire meant.

Our book of lore was torn up and further 'blasphemous' meetings forbidden. But since the massacre of the Poggies I have passionately believed everyone has a right to their secrets. And Masons are everywhere. The revolutionary government of the Seychelles swears allegiance to God and our Queen and Widow Twanky every month in a lodge guarded by North Korean assault troops.

Witchhunts against Masons have the same smell as anti-semitism. The French Revolution was started by Masons like Danton, only for it to be used against them at their trials. Hitler hated Freemasons and sent many to the gas chambers. 'Freemason became a hate label along with Jew, Communist, homosexual. Membership of the Craft, it is said, was one of the things the Gestapo had against Rommel. Hitler would have hated the Poggies too.

Charges of self-seeking corruption have always been levelled. But for every T Dan Smith there has been a Garibaldi, for every thousand bent detective sergeants, a Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Masons ran the Underground Railroad to help to free slaves; on the other hand, masonic influence possibly helped FBI head J Edgar Hoover to do very naughty things.

Masons maintain that the silliest assertion is that the average accountant or Duke of Edinburgh who attends a lodge worships a seven-headed, neon-blue spider which is a representation of the old Cannanite god Baal. Somehow, I cannot imagine Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett being very big on spider worship.

The door of Freemasons Hall states 'push with care' and inside the visitor is shown up to the library. 'Where are you from, brother?' inquired the man who showed me, two masons and a masonic wife, round. They've not yet had a feminist revolution. 'Not a member? You should join. It's a cold world out there. . .'

Inside, it is all marble and art deco bronze. The building is truly vast. The antechamber is wonderfully impressive with an exquisite First World War memorial by Sir Walter Gilbert. The actual temple, through two and a half ton brass doors, resembles a pre-war Gaumont or Odeon in Halifax or Bradford, but it could be the vandalised leather seats.

'That's on account of the brothers fidgeting in their sharp regalia during Grand Lodge,' explained our guide, a man bearing a close likeness to Corporal Jones the butcher in Dad's Army. Those 'on the square', ie masons, nodded. So did the token wife. No one joined for what they could get out of it, one was saying. I didn't like to point out my father did because he wanted to become a Labour MP and the Craft offered a fast track. Which makes one wonder about Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. Do they wriggle upwards, too? I made a quick visit to the loo in the Grand Master's robing room, decorated in masonic colours. I've now shared a lavatory with George V, a former Grand Master.

Back in the shop, Les was still going through a book of great Masons. Peter Sellers. Peter Sellers? So, Inspector Clouseau was a trouser leg roller. Winston Churchill, Simon Bolivar, Oscar Wilde, Oliver Hardy, Louis Armstong? Al Jolson? On the square everyone is equal. And any society that makes the great and the good dress up in bejewelled mini-pinnies cannot be all bad or lack a sense of the absurd. Remember the Alamo]

(Photograph omitted)

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of IT (Not-for-Profit sector) - East Sussex

£45000 - £50000 per annum + 5 weeks holiday & benefits: Ashdown Group: Head of...

Nursery Nurse

£25 per day: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery nurse needed in th...

Supply Teaching jobs in Thetford

£21588 - £31566 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

KS1 teachers needed in Peterborough

£110 - £125 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education are ur...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Texas Gov. Rick Perry might try to run for president again in 2016  

Rick Perry could end up in jail for the rest of his life — so why does he look so smug?

David Usborne
 

August catch-up: architecture, suitcases and ‘pathetic figures’

John Rentoul
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape