Archive for April, 2011

Though this topic is not exactly British, I know, yet again. But Freemasonry is something I love and enjoy. I think people should understand exactly what being a Freemason entails, and exactly why it was so good for me to begin with.

I began life as a Freemason late last year. After an email to Grand Lodge I soon recieved a reply. Here is what I was explained about Freemasonry, and yes all of this is open to public dissemination on any Masonic Lodge’s website.

Freemasonry is:

– One of the world’s oldest, and largest fraternal organisations. It consists only of men.
– This organisation consists of men who adopt the following principles: integrity, goodwill and charity. These form the foundations for a better life.
– Freemasonry is not for profit. Fundraising is often done in support of the community or other masonic bodies. A good example is the provision of GPS units to all St John ambulances in New Zealand.
– Freemsonry is comprised of men, of good character. Though we are not perfect, we share ideals of love, relief and truth. In addition, to become a mason, a man must have faith in a higher power.

Freemasonry isn’t how it’s portrayed on the big screen. With fabulous orgies, endless supplies of alcohol and limitless amounts of power. Freemasonry embodies ideas of virtue, not promiscuity (though drunkeness has been known to occur.)

Going to lodge, or being a practising mason is not like Eyes Bored Shut (thanks Ryan) rather it’s an exciting mix of tradition and discovery.

Freemasonry isn’t, therefore:

– A religion. Freemasonry doesn’t promise a man salvation. “Masonry leaves it up to the individual Mason to choose his pathway to God, and that policy naturally includes no rules, advice, or admonitions as to the means of salvation. The Mason is expected, quite properly, to get that spiritual guidance from his own denomination, which he is encouraged to support with both his energy and his personal finances.” – Cheers John Robinson
– A secret society. Freemasonry encourages confidentiality. This is an idea all men should seek to uphold. When given or told something in confidence, try not to reveal it. Its a tenant we should all possess. The only ‘secrets,’ traditionally spoken of in freemasonry are certain signs or passwords. These stem from tradition, where many craftsmen of the medieval period were illiterate. These signs and passwords were used to recognise another artisan, so as to not reveal the secrets of your trade.
– It is not a benefit society and to join for personal gain will only lead to disappointment. Networking is done, naturally – but you’ll build a network of friends, first and foremost. The best part about being a freemason is life time friendships with men of various ages, beliefs, ethnicities and education levels.

Why did I choose to become a mason?
I don’t know. But i’m glad I did. To this day, i’ve never met a mason I don’t like. I have met over 100 men I am proud to call brothers.

How do I become a mason in New Zealand?
Seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.


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For all of those, who are about to read this and work in retail, I apologize. ESPECIALLY – if you know what you’re talking about, even if it’s only half the time.

I went into Nicholas Jermyn today on High Street in the Auckland CDB, and proceeded to enquire about the purchase of four dinner shirts. 100 percent Egyptian cotton, 4 for 320 dollars seemed like an amazing deal. I proceeded to look around, when this over made-up precocious 20-something spotted me and began to hover like a hawk ready to take a shit or dive for a carcass before the next truck passes and drags the poor dead animal away. “Do you have any formal shirts with a winged collar that is not pleated or a textured cotton, like the one shown here?” *shows photo from store’s website* “That’s not a dinner shirt, that’s a plain white shirt.”


A black tie, dinner, formal, white tie shirt or otherwise does not have to be pleated. Nor, unless it’s strictly white tie, does it have to possess a a winged collar. I like winged collars, but I don’t like a pleated front, nor do I like a heavy textured cotton like she had sitting on the shelf, which obviously hadn’t sold because no one else liked it either. I hate to moan and groan, but i’d love for the tart to see this blog post. Here’s what is required of a gentleman, when a black (or white) tie event or function arises.

Black tie.

The jacket

The typical black-tie jacket is single-breasted, ventless, and black or midnight-blue; usually of polyester, wool or a wool–mohair blend. Double breasted models are less common, but are equally acceptable. The Duke of Windsor had all his formal jackets made in a midnight-blue (which is more correct) because the blue becomes more black in low-light, or under moonlight.

Here is a typical, black, single=breasted dinner or tuxedo jacket by Gieves and Hawkes tailors of Savile Row
(Traditionally there are two lapel options, the shawl collar, derived from the smoking jacket, and the peak lapel, from the tailcoat. The former is older, while the latter is considered more formal.) – I prefer the shawl collar, as shown.

The shirt – this is important so pay attention!

The shirt is conventionally white or off-white (cotton or linen) with a turn down collar. Its front is usually traditional marcella but can be pleated, plain, or more rarely a stiff front (as with white tie). I like plain front shirts. I’ve been wearing a tuxedo for about seven years, and never have I come across such sartorial ignorance and sheer incompetence like I encountered today at the worst store i’ve ever stepped foot in.

Another lovely example by the genius that is Gieves and Hawkes.

Those are the things that mean a lot to me. Black tie – Jackets and shirts. Shoes? Patent leather cap toe oxfords – PLAIN for GOD’s SAKE! THE MORE DECORATION, THE LESS FORMAL. Or Formal slippers like this lovely pair by Ralph Lauren Black Label:

The Black Tie ten:

– Shawl Collared, single (or double) breasted, black (or midnight blue) jacket. Silk or grosgrain lapels and single button, with matching silk or grosgrain on jacket cuff buttons.

– Plain or pleated white shirt, with gold and onyx, or mother of pearl dress studs and cufflinks.

– Plain black silk cummerbund and self-tie (learn how to do it, lazy!) bow-tie.

– White moire’e braces – buy Albert Thurston – do not by clip on either, you’re not a clown. If they are not required, then don’t wear them.

– Matching black, midnight blue trousers, with a single silk or grosgrain running vertically up each trouser leg on both sides.

– Silk dress socks, in black or midnight blue.

– Patent leather oxfords. Or velvet slippers.

– No jewelry. Definitely no watch, it’s considered bad manners – as you should be having such a time, there will be no need to check when the driver is coming to whisk you home. Wear a plain wedding band.

– Iron, press, steam everything to perfection – you will be strutting your stuff, look your best.

Wear everything with confidence. People respect this attire, it’s hardly seen and it really is candy for the eye.


– Don’t go into a shop assuming the people inside know anything –

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James Thomas Byford McCudden (1895-1918) was a long-serving, high-scoring British fighter pilotduring World War One.

Having enlisted with the Royal Flying Corps as a mechanic the year before war began, in 1913, McCudden was promoted in time to Sergeant.  He determined to train as a pilot.  The sudden switch worked, as it so often did during the First World War.  McCudden proved a natural in aerial warfare.

Having amassed a collection of ‘kills’ McCudden was awarded the Military Medal in September 1916.  This was followed by a formal commission into the Royal Flying Corps.  The following February he won the Military Cross, to which he added a bar six months later.

The recipient of a further award in March 1918 – this time the highest, the Victoria Cross – McCudden, with 54 victories to his credit was en route to France when he was killed in a flying accident on 8 July 1918, failing to take rudimentary steps following the stalling of his engine.

His spell of five years in the British air service placed him among the longest-servers in a profession notorious for its abbreviated service (and life) expectancy.

Shortly before his death McCudden published a renowned memoir of his air war, Five Years in the RFC.

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What to wear this with:

Add electric style to an off-beat look, with a Derek Rose T-shirt, Jil Sander cardigan, Acne jeans and b Store shoes.


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The Angel


I dreamt a dream! What can it mean?
And that I was a maiden Queen
Guarded by an Angel mild:
Witless woe was ne’er beguiled!

And I wept both night and day,
And he wiped my tears away;
And I wept both day and night,
And hid from him my heart’s delight.

So he took his wings, and fled;
Then the morn blushed rosy red.
I dried my tears, and armed my fears
With ten-thousand shields and spears.

Soon my Angel came again;
I was armed, he came in vain;
For the time of youth was fled,
And grey hairs were on my head.

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If he had been Antichrist Creeping Jesus,
He’d have done anything to please us:
Gone sneaking into Synagogues
And not us’d the Elders & Priests like Dogs,
But humble as a Lamb or Ass,
Obey’d himself to Caiaphas.
God wants not Man to Humble himself


– Excerpt from The Everlasting Gospel by William Blake.

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