Retained firefighters proud to celebrate their achievements at this Ryde passing out parade.
THIS ISLAND LIFE ONE of the many pleasures of editing local newspapers for 24 years was tweaking the tail of the legal profession.
Some of its representatives can be little bully-boys (or girls) when the mood takes them and they like to try their luck with local rags in the hope they will be brow-beaten or even intimidated by fancy letter-heads, long words, jargon and veiled threats.
This rarely happens, because young reporters are given a basic grounding in law as it is likely to affect newspapers and editors make it their business to keep up with developments in their particular sphere.
You can see now why my little contretemps with Michael J. Wilks, solicitor of this parish, about the motives and methods of the Freemasons has an added frisson of personal pleasure.
He’s Grand Poobah of the Sacred Brotherhood of Pure Altruists in Hampshire and the IW and has chosen to dismiss our little disagreement as 'schoolboy stuff’, above which he now intends to elevate himself. Indeed, so convinced is he of the 'schoolboy’ quality of our exchange, he uses the analogy three times in what he promises is his last letter on the subject. But I suspect he has chosen to remove himself from the fray, and is adopting this dismissive attitude, because he is accustomed to others accepting everything he says as law (in every sense of the word) and is not accustomed to a mere jackanapes answering back.
Unfortunately for Michael J., his latest propaganda extolling the virtues and unimpeachable motives of the brotherhood was followed by a letter from Phil Rogers, of Seaview, which provided a perfect example of the way some businesses tend to prosper when those who run them are accepted 'on the square’.
Michael J. keeps asking what I want to know — and then ignores my replies. So I’ll try again.
I still want to know, despite his assurances that 'freemasons will happily acknowledge their membership, regardless of their position in public life’ why none has so far chosen to do so?
Shouldn’t they be rushing out of police stations and council offices all over the Island, proudly waving their pinnies in the air in the interests of openness and transparency?
I still want to know why an organisation, which insists it has no secrets, is so worried about its public image it has to ameliorate the perception by holding open days to let in a few strictly-monitored shafts of light.
I still want to attend an initiation ceremony with a CP photographer — but the reason MJ gives for our being prevented from doing so is fascinating.
Apparently, it’s because "the ceremonies are special, particularly for the candidate, who is sincere in his wish to improve himself as a man and to join an organisation of like-minded men".
He could be describing a passing-out parade — except they are open to public scrutiny and military personnel are sufficiently proud of their achievements to be publicly identified with them.
And what else has happened since hostilities broke out?
Well, two cricketing acquaintances have suddenly stopped shaking hands and have become a little sniffy. It’s an awful slight to bear but I’ll try to get over it …
On a more serious note, I have had a number of telephone calls and e-mails from people responding not so much to my columns as to MJ’s responses.
I shall be talking further with two people in particular, both of whom seem to have an interesting tale to tell.
Meanwhile, did you see the editor’s footnote to MJ’s letter last week, which referred to 'Mrs Newbery’?
They’re not allowing gremlins to join the masons now, are they?
Dig out the dictionaries and let’s discover some onomablevas
MY thanks to everyone who took the trouble to reply to the spelling test two weeks ago.The word deliberately misspelled to keep the cock-up conga going was, indeed, 'abberation’ (sic).
Among those who got in touch to point out the error of my ways were Janet Gallop, Jenny Dallimore, Mary Shaw and Gwyneth Dawson, of Shanklin.
She wrote: "I fell hook, line and sinker for your spelling of aberration. Must dash, as I’m off to buy a souvenier (sic) from Jungle Jims (sic) on Shanklin Esplanade." As if to prove you’re never too old to learn more about the wonderful English language, Colin Hales pointed out my spelling of 'abberation’ was an onomableva — as he was sure I knew.
I certainly did not Colin, and those, like me, who thought onomableva was a hit by The Monkees, will be delighted to discover it means 'words which look like their meaning’.
Others include 'awkward,’ which is an awkward-looking word, and 'bed’ because it has posts at each end and a nice, soft 'e’ in the middle.
The search is now on for more onomablevas, if you feel so inclined.