Discovering The Freemasons

To say the least, my mother was an alcoholic and sadistic with it, so when visiting my grandparents who were born and raised in London my siblings and I spent much of our time watching TV and drinking copious amounts of Tea, as you do with your grandparents, unless we accompanied our mum to the pub, while she entertained herself with the company of her male friends.

My brother and I were playing a game of pool in the back end of the Red Lion pub in Surrey Quays, southeast London, which has since been converted into an estate agency.

I was lining myself up to take my shot when my mum approached me midway through our game, I stopped and turned to her, but she wasn’t alone, standing next to her was a sophisticated gentleman, he was well-groomed in appearance and soft in manners, definitely not someone I had ever met, nor was he the type of person from my mum’s regular group of friends, and because of this, he made a lasting impression of me.

The Red Lion Pub – Surrey Quays

My mum looked awkward falsifying her good behaviour, she usually appeared this way when being questioned formally by our school teachers, social services, and the police, or when appearances mattered to her, I referred to this as her “Miss Bucket” behaviour from the TV series, Keeping up appearances.

The gentleman wanted to ask me some questions but failed to tell me his name, I was later told he was a friend-of-friends, two male twins who were known to me as “Ready “and “Sorted” but of course, this was just their nicknames, “Ready” because he had a habit of using the word ready, “Are you ready?” or “Ready? Let’s go?”, his identical brother would frequently use expressions like “Right that’s sorted” or simply “Sorted’ for many reasons of accomplishments, and being identical twins, they were given the nicknames “Ready” and “Sorted” which I remembered as “Ready and Salted” crisps, probably because we ate a lot of crisps at the pub. They were nice guys, that’s what I remember of them, they were protective of me and my brother, and gave good advice.

As I looked up at the immaculate gentleman standing beside me, I thought to myself, why does he want to ask me questions, I don’t even know him. I’m just a kid? Why not both of us, me and my brother?

He had a professional and calming persona which calmed me too, as I stood in silence for a moment I began to analyse his appearance, he had brushed black hair, was wearing a long dark cotton wool overcoat, upon a dark two-piece suit with a white shirt, burgundy tie, adorned with gold cuff links, leading my eyes towards his gold signet ring which he wore on the little finger of his right hand, I pointed and asked, “what’s that? ” He responded, “That’s my ring” but it wasn’t the ring I was referring to, I was pointing to the emblem I had noticed on it, so I asked, “What does the symbol mean?” He seemed hesitant before responding, “I’m a Freemason, and one day you will be too” I doubted this very much, he wasn’t like me or my family.

I was aware of our disadvantages, I only saw a modest future ahead of me and not one of a Freemason, whatever that was!? but based on his appearance, I could only assume he had a position of wealth and power. I was then asked to join him at the bar so he could ask me some questions.

Prince Charles Pinky Ring

I remember the stool I sat on, it had Red leather with metal studs surrounding the edge, this was my favourite stool in the pub, as I climbed onto the stool I noticed the packets of peanuts hanging behind the bar, and thanks to the fatherly advice from those in the pubs, I remembered something I was told, if someone wants something from you, be sure to get something in return, unless its a gesture of goodwill.

Pub life taught me to hustle, I was even known as the hustler on the pool table, the guys in the pub were always giving free advice and sharing their wisdom with my brother, and me, so I asked the gentleman for a packet of dry roasted peanuts in return for answering his questions, I soon regretted it, my mother launched into a full-on verbal attack, her nose snarled with anger like a vicious dog, a complete overreaction, she was sat to the left as the guy stood between us, leaning in she continued to snarl and shout at me, “Never ask for anything, ever!! “The gentleman, gently raised his left hand and silenced her, which was impressive, and as I wiped the tears from my face I would never forget the look she had on her face, after this, I dubbed her angry face, the dog face! The older I got, the more sadistic and vicious that dog became.

I refused my peanuts, and I also refused to answer his questions, but he continued anyway, he asked me some questions regarding my general outlook on life and what I thought of certain matters, he even asked how I would respond to certain situations in the general public, but I never considered his philosophical questions important, I responded truthfully as I could at the age of 8 or 9, I then asked to leave the bar so I could continue my game of pool with my brother, as I left the bar, I felt positively energised and empowered, as I pass my mother he says to her “He has all the answers”

To be honest, I found the whole incident unnecessary, it only caused a conflict between me and my mum, and I gained nothing from it, I had never met him before then, nor did I ever see him again afterwards, he never remained at the bar, it was unusual, my family and I never spoke of it, until adult life, when I tried to discuss it with my brother whilst playing a game of pool in The Bell pub, Sydenham, but he refused to discuss the subject and played it down to dismiss it.

By the age of Seventeen, I had a job as the head of the water cooler refurbishment department for Nature Springs, now known as Eden Springs, this enabled my friend and me to be regulars at the Edinburgh Castle pub in Nunhead.

We would listen to music, play the fruit machines, pool and of course, drink beer to pass the time, this was our local haunt, his sister was the barmaid, and for me, pubs felt like home, very little happened there other than the occasional punchup, eventually, the landlady hired a karaoke service.

The Edinburgh Castle – Nunhead

I was sat facing the bar with my back to the entrance doors, coincidently, I was sitting on a stool identical to the day I met the Freemason at the Red Lion Pub, but this time I was contemplating family life and my need for a stable career, but my thoughts were interrupted as one of the double doors loudly opened behind me, I turn on my stool to see who it was, and this is how we locked eyes, It was the Karaoke Jockey hired by the pub, he stood still as we both analysed each other, for what seemed like five minutes before feeling a mystifying sensation above the top of my head.

The unusual feeling could have been related to alcohol, and as unlikely as that felt to me, I dismissed it, this never occurred again, not until my trip to Miami.

It was a natural friendship and in time, I was persuaded to join him at another pub which he deemed to be more friendly, this is how my friends and I discovered The Spotted Cow pub.

The Spotted Cow Pub – Lewisham

As the friendship evolved, I became aware of him being a Freemason when he wore his ring to one of his karaoke gigs for the first time, but it wasn’t me who had noticed it, my girlfriend did, she too worked at the pub as a barmaid, she was reluctant to ask him, and I had little interest too, but to move on from the conversation I approached him and asked, which he confirmed, he then shared some insight into his grip by embracing my right hand as he pushed down very hard with his thumb on the knuckle of my middle finger, I felt nothing special other than the pressure of his thumb, but still, I was none the wiser, I relayed his response to my girlfriend and spoke no more of it.

Our friendship continued to grow and we all became a close circle of friends, the Harpers accepted him into their family circle too, his association with Freemasonry was never an issue, we spoke little of it, and he never dressed appropriately in my opinion either, he was low-key, wore shoddy clothes, holey jeans, and slip-on plimsolls, his hair long and curly with a goatee beard, I saw no significance to his presence, smartphones didn’t exist either, so there was no impulse to ask my big brother “Google” about Freemasonry? it took many years before my curiosity became aroused.

Having changed my career, I was now working in IT and specialising in private banking, it was at this time my best friend’s eldest brother encouraged me to watch the film Zeitgeist, this really spiked my interest, and this is when I decided to ask more questions about Freemasonry, unfortunately, this is when his bitterness and hostility began to grow towards me.

At first, I found it hard to understand why he was volatile to my curiosity, but this just made me more curious, perhaps it was due to his elite background, after googling him, I discovered his resentment, he showed a dislike to people knowing about his elite background and being educated at Oxford university, he was also the co-founder of one of the first financial websites, but his anger didn’t come to show until the day of my wedding, I had asked him to be my best man, I had hired The Clarendon Hotel in Blackheath, and paid for the rooms for family and friends to stay overnight, as we stood at the reception desk checking him into his room, he turned to me and without reason, spitefully said, “Don’t ever ask me to do anything for you again” I was stunned, I just stood there with no plausible reason for his vicious comment, it was unjustified, poorly timed and unexpected, especially being my best man, this placed a dampner on our day, his intention to lower the vibration, but now I had now met his shadow side, this was just the beginning…

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