The installation of every new Provincial Grand Master or Grand Superintendent relies on an experienced team from UGLE to carry it out with all necessary pomp and ceremony – and they rely on someone to make sure all the equipment they need is to hand.
The job of making sure it is falls to the Grand Lodge Tyler, who for the past 12 years has been W Bro Malcolm Brooks.
During that time, he’s attended more than 120 meetings all over England and Wales. The equipment he has to take is in two large bags, each weighing about 30kg (“Though I’m sure they’re heavier now than when I started,” he says.)
In a first for Lincolnshire, Malcolm visited the Bicentenary Lodge of Installed Masters, where more than 80 brethren representing more than 30 Lodges in the Province heard stories of some of the things that have happened to him because of those ceremonies.
And afterwards Provincial Grand Master Dave Wheeler said he had thoroughly enjoyed listening to the stories behind the ceremonies. “He certainly helped me to relax when I was installed as PGM and Grand Superintendent,” he said.
Malcolm, who points out that his isn’t a speaking role as far as ceremonies are concerned, says that even after 12 years of ceremonies in the Grand Temple, he still has a rehearsal of his own. “Eight steps from my seat behind the Grand Master to the top to the stairs, and then down them without looking down, and 27 more steps to behind the ADC – and no-one can speak until I get there,” he said. “Mind you, I always have a rehearsal to reassure myself about those first eight steps. I’d hate someone to have moved the chair, so that I do eight steps when I only need seven, and fall down the stairs.”
He recalled the time he had to take a sword, as a gift from the Grand Master, on a flight to Monaco for the Consecration of their Grand Lodge. “We photographed it from every angle, and then we packed it up very carefully. Then we got to the airport, and saw that the maximum blade length allowed was four centimetres. This was a bit longer than that, and the man at the check-in desk wanted to unwrap it to have a look. When we showed him the pictures, he decided that allowing it on the flight was a bit above his pay grade, so he called a supervisor, and eventually we were allowed to have it in the hold. When we got to the other end, it was the very first thing to come out on the luggage carousel.”
Flying to Guernsey & Alderney for the Installation of a new Provincial Grand Master, the bags were deemed too heavy. “I was travelling with the Grand Secretary David Staples,” said Malcolm. “I said to him ‘Sir, you have a problem’. You see, I was carrying the bags, but he had the credit card. He bought another suitcase. £140 it cost, and it had wheels but no motor. We spread things out between the three, and were allowed on the flight – but we had to pay an excess baggage charge.”
And then, at a Chapter installation, Malcolm was helping the Principals into their robes. “One of them was very tall, and I wasn’t sure I could reach,” he said. “I stretched as far as I could, but still couldn’t reach high enough – and then I realised I was standing on the hem…”
Assistant Provincial Grand Master Peter Brooks had arranged for Malcolm to visit the Bicentenary Lodge, and said: “Malcolm’s presentation was hugely entertaining. We were pleased and very grateful that he was able to find the time to visit us.
“We try to arrange interesting visitors with things to say that we may not have heard. It’s a wonderfully enjoyable way to make a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge, and I’d urge more past masters to join us and share something of Freemasonry they wouldn’t otherwise be able to enjoy.”