Freemasonry... when everybody knows your game
Openness and transparency is all very well, in its place, but I regret that it has reached Freemasonry. An acquaintance I am running into recently, for example, is wearing these pretty blue enamel cufflinks with a set of dividers and an arcane symbol of some sort on them.
"Am I correct in thinking," I ask him, "that those cufflinks are intended to represent an artefact from the Pencil Case of the Great Architect?"
"Yes," he says. "For I am a Freemason."
"Aren't you," I wonder, "supposed to keep that sort of thing under wraps?"
He raises his shoulders and tells a most doleful tale. "As secret societies go," he says, "we are getting a bit crap. I am calling a cab after a lodge meeting in Oxford the other day, and '333 Banbury Road' is what I am saying to the controller. 'That's the Masonic Centre, innit?' he replies. Bloody taxi driver is knowing the address off by heart. We are supposed to be a bloody secret society. It is all most regrettable."
The Freemasons are an organisation whose historic areas of responsibility include bare male nipples, the Whitechapel Murders, running the Grail Conspiracy and Jim Davidson. Now you can tell them by their cufflinks, everyone laughs at their handshakes, and their lodges are in the Yellow Pages. The more like the Rotarians they become, the less fun it all seems.