East Kent Provincial 2013 News

Music Matters - Desert Island Discs with the PGM

The Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro Geoffrey Dearing, visited the Sir Edward Elgar Lodge No 9837 on Tuesday 19th November at the Maidstone Masonic Centre. He was accompanied by Assistant Provincial Grand Master, WBro Roger Waltham; the Provincial Grand DC, WBro Lyndon Jones, and 8 other Active Provincial Officers. During his visit the PGM took part in a lodge version of Desert Island Discs, his interviewer being the Worshipful Master, WBro Ian ‘Plomley’ Blowers. RW Bro Geoffrey set out his eight choices of music, and gave the assembled company some insights into his personal, professional and Masonic life.

RW Bro Geoffrey Dearing being interviewed by WBro Ian ‘Plomley’ Blowers

With the Lodge Called Off, and to the sound of “By the Sleepy Lagoon” by Eric Coates, Geoffrey and Ian settled in to two comfortable armchairs in readiness for the interview.

After confirming that, being born in Maidstone to the West of the River Medway, he was a Kentish Man, Geoffrey began with youthful nostalgia as he reflected on his support of his school’s rock band and his visits with the band to the legendary Marquee Club in the 60’s where he saw Brian Poole & the Tremeloes. He also saw The Animals and their first hit record, House of the Rising Sun, was Geoffrey’s first choice. Before moving on, the PGM challenged the Cymbolick Penalties, all of whom were present, to play this number at the next Winter Warmer Dinner Dance.

PGM with WBroTony EldridgeWBro Tony Eldridge presenting the PGM with the memento

Ian then steered Geoffrey into his passion for motorsport and rallying, for classic Jaguar Cars and to inspirational memories of Silverstone, of Graham Hill and the TT Races. He spoke of the 1960 E-Type Jaguar soft-top which he owned for 17 years. It leaked like a sieve but was a joy to drive. Having just taken 2½ years to restore a 1968 Jaguar 340 3.8 Mk II, his passion for classic cars clearly continues.

Asked how he met his wife Elizabeth, affectionately known as Liz, Geoffrey explained that it began with him driving her home from the office. Liz had a preference for Country and Western music but they both enjoyed Simon and Garfunkel, leading to Geoffrey’s second choice; Sounds of Silence.

Geoffrey’s third choice, also from the 1960’s, was You Really Got Me by the Kinks, with a request by Ian for no playing of air guitars by the Brethren present.

The fourth choice of music was a piece that has been around for 270 years: Handel’s Messiah and the Hallelujah Chorus. Geoffrey heard it with Liz in Chartres Cathedral, where their daughter was taking part in a school choir tour. He also had the pleasure of hearing it in the Chapel Royal where his Godson was a chorister. All stood while this piece was played, as did King George II when he first heard it, moved by the majesty of the music.

Next, Verdi’s Opera Nabucco (Nebuchadnezzar) provided his 5th choice with the Hebrew Slaves Chorus. It brought back to him memories of Glyndebourne and a rain-soaked open-air performance in the grounds of Rochester Castle.

After another question from Ian, Geoffrey explained that his father’s job as Sheriff’s Officer for Kent, and the opportunity to watch trials at ‘the assizes’, inspired him to become a lawyer. On realising his ambition, his first task was to ‘draft his own Articles’. Describing himself as ‘a traditionalist at heart’, his 6th choice Jerusalem was triggered by his love of country and passion for history with the inspiring words of William Blake, set to the sublime music of Sir Hubert Parry.

In 1986, Geoffrey had a memorable trip to East Germany with a group of lawyers which gave him his seventh choice. He said: “Prior to the Wall coming down, I witnessed a parade of gigantic missile launchers and Russian tanks which dug up the tarmac as they passed by. Later, wandering into a church at twilight, all was dark apart from a small light shining on the music high up in the organ loft. This was the church where JS Bach was buried and the organist was playing Bach’s masterpiece: Toccata & Fugue in D Minor. It made the hairs on one’s neck stand on end – awesome!”

Before announcing his final choice, Ian asked if the PGM was pleased with the progress being made towards the 2014 Festival. Geoffrey responded by warmly thanking everyone in the Province for their tremendous support; he fully expected to achieve the target for the Grand Charity, of which we can all be justifiably proud. This upbeat statement produced a finale of Holst’s Planets Suite and Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity. This was an orchestral version but with the words of ‘I Vow to Thee my Country’ in mind, the PGM said he associated this music with some of the good values to be found in the Craft.

As the interview came to a close, and on being reminded that he would be given a copy of the Bible, Geoffrey chose the Complete Works of Charles Dickens to remind him of his native Kent. He admitted to some difficulty in choosing the one disc he could take, but opted for Jerusalem to accompany him to the desert island. His luxury item was a golfing umbrella for sun and rain! As “an optimist and a sociable man” he hoped “he would be missed and rescued ‘ere too long!”

With a Vote of Thanks to WBro Mike Lawrence, who provided the sound system and played the discs, the meeting was Called On.

Before closing, the WM presented the PGM with a cheque for £1,000 towards the 2014 Festival, which was gratefully received with thanks to all members of the Lodge.

 Cymbolicks CD Cash WSThe Cymbolicks presenting the PGM with cash from their CD sales

Afterwards the Festive Board arranged by the WM’s brother, David, was perfect in every particular. The six members of the Cymbolick Penalties presented the PGM with a guitar case filled with over £1,300 in cash, raised so far by the sale of their CDs for the 2014 Festival. The Secretary, WBro Tony Eldridge, on behalf of the lodge, presented the PGM with a copy of the newly published biography “Just Colin” celebrating the life of World Rally Champion, Colin McRae.

WBro Ian Blowers’ idea for this event was accepted enthusiastically by the PGM some eight months previously when the planning for the evening commenced. The PGM’s choices were known but to three in the world: the PGM, the WM and the Lodge Secretary, WBro Tony Eldridge, and not revealed until the evening despite pressure from many quarters! The 70 Brethren present thoroughly enjoyed the occasion, another success for this, the flagship music lodge in the Province of East Kent.