Article by Bro Mark Ravenwood
The EKLBB launched on the 29th February this year with a fantastic event held at the Curious Brewery in Ashford. With David Graeme taking on the role of President of the fledgling organisation and offering Provincial support to the Committee. David’s cheery demeanour and positive attitude set the tone immediately for a talented team of new and young masons.
With lock down underway, the EKLBB’s programme of events for this year had to be postponed and the committee hastily arranged a series of alternative events to keep members entertained and maintain interest in the group.
David Graeme, as we will soon realise has great difficulty in saying “No”, was keen to bare his soul and reveal his many dark secrets to the world through the medium of a ‘Zoom meeting’, which has itself risen to legendary status during the lock down period.
Perhaps it is best to explain, for the benefit of New and Young Members that Desert Island Discs was (and is?) a radio show that has been recorded for more than 30 years, with over 3,000 episodes. The format is such that the interviewee imagines that they are about to be marooned on a desert island, and must choose 8 songs, a book and a luxury item to bring with them. Far be it from me to question the logic of such a holiday, but participants seem very excited by the prospect of a few weeks marooned, and David was no exception.
Interviewing and ultimately marooning David on the island, was EKLBB Chairman, Howard Griffin and between the two of them we were kept well entertained for over an hour. The evening was well attended and on this occasion we allowed non-light blues to attend, including by members of David’s family. All those involved had an excellent time and the recording has proved popular since its upload on Youtube. To watch the video for yourself, please go to: https://tinyurl.com/y7nbg6kd
David Graeme held the role of PAPGM from 2015 to April 2020, in which role he has been recognised for his fantastic sense of fun, his quirky bow ties and the constant beaming smile on his face. His primary oversight has been Membership and he was instrumental in the relaunch of the EKLBB. It was a real honour to hear more about his life, work and masonic career and it certainly made an impression on the audience also. To him, “It was a huge privilege and one that I wanted to enjoy to the full”.
David’s song choices were heavily influenced by his school life and as you will hear, he did not pass the 11+ exam that would have allowed him to go to Grammar school, and as a result he was given the ‘option’ to attend a boarding school. Despite any reluctance David might have had, being away from home and family (even with his brother attending the same school for his first year), David thrived. He spoke particularly of the impact of listening to 650 male voices performing in the chapel every day and twice on Sunday, which led to his appreciation of classical music playing as loudly as possible. However his highlight was having reached the heights of 5th Form, he was permitted to sit in the study with a group of 5 friends, wearing long trousers and listening to Cream.
Having worked his way up from the very bottom set, to one slightly less embarrassing, David had a promising future ahead of him and chose to attend Horsted College (Now Midkent College, Chatham), studying A-Levels in Maths, Physics and Chemistry as well as Geometrical Drawing and O-Level Statistics. However, having been locked up with 650 boys for several years, his greatest desires were girls, cars and alcohol. Thus his studies did not go as well as might have been predicted.
David is still unsure of how he ended up in an interview to join HM Customs and Excise, he assumes that his father applied for him, but having been invited to interview, he attended and performed sufficiently well that he was offered a job in the Valuation Branch. Unfortunately he found this so tedious that every Monday morning he would place an application for transfer on the desk of his superior until finally, 7 months later, they realised it wasn’t a joke and allowed him to move to the Gravesend Uniform Branch. This suited David perfectly and he spent several happy years there. From there he joined HM Revenue Cutters, where he was accepted immediately into a permanent post by a sheer stroke of luck that he happened to have a similar name to another applicant who had recently retired. Doubtless after David had thrown up daily for the first 5 weeks of the voyage, the captain was cursing the administrative error. However, like Nelson, David did not allow his sickness to prevent him from being an excellent sailor and when the fleet was expanded on EU instructions, David was raised from the ranks to captain his own boat. Since leaving public service, David went to work for his Father’s business, setting up and arranging limited companies to enable small business to get started, until finally retiring in May last year.
David’s Father and Grandfather were both Freemasons, and both his brothers have also been on the Square, though it is David who has embraced it most fervently of the three. He Joined the De Wydemere Lodge (6282) in 1984 having been proposed by two friends, Johnny Reid and Freddie Saunders. However he nearly left Freemasonry after his initiation, where poor preparation by the WM and his officers led to a ceremony of endless prompting from the back rows. It was Johnny who persuaded him to keep going and he did not regret his decision when he was raised by WB Frank Holding at a past masters night and the ritual finally clicked into place and he understood. He later joined his Father’s lodge in 1989, where he was made Worshipful Master the following year – this led to in 1991 him holding WM in one lodge, IPM in a second, as well as becoming a Father and spending 6 months at sea. David struggles to say, “No” as we mentioned earlier and he has always been willing to step into a role to support a lodge, comparing his ritual to a refrigerator – you open the door and the light comes on. Though he admits that when things go wrong, they do so in spades, he says that the best thing to do it just keep going rather than stumbling over the mistake.
David has a history of not collecting his honours, missing the presentation evenings for PAGDM in 1999, and later his Grand Lodge honours – though he did eventually collect them when he was promoted to an active rank. He was due to collect Grand Chapter honours in May, but did not receive these due to lock down. David regrets not having collected his honours in 1999 and feels that he missed out as a result, urging others to not make the same mistake. However, he states that he never chased an apron or badge and simply loves Freemasonry, particularly Rose Croix. He has no further aspirations and is happy with what he has achieved and where he is now. Most of all he believes that the best thing in Freemasonry is to bring jollity and good humour with you at all times and insists that new members should get out there and have as much fun as possible.
David’s father said to him that it is important that one should “Enjoy, not Endure” Freemasonry, and David has truly taken this to heart, bringing enjoyment both to himself and those around him.
In some ways the EKLBB will be part of David’s legacy and he spoke about the inception of the original group and the relaunch in February, describing it as the ‘Lifeline for the Future’. David is very positive about the future, both for the country and for Freemasonry and looks forward to enjoying his free time once he is allowed to leave his isolation in Hertfordshire. Though he has not ruled out further masonic duties, and as we have noted already – he struggles to say “no”.
David concluded by choosing his book and luxury item – so as we leave him sunning himself on his desert island, sipping on a Gin and Tonic and finally getting around to reading Treasure Island, he ended with a toast – “Here’s to the Light Blues, God Bless you all.”
David’s song choices, taking him through from childhood to retirement were:
“Crossroads” – Cream
“Village Green Preservation Society” – Kinks
“Never Going Back Again” – Fleetwood Mac
“Peggy Sue” – Buddy Holly
“Romeo and Juliet” – Dire Straits
“Toccata” – Widor
“Zadok the Priest” – Handel
“Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” – Handel
“Naval Hymn (particularly the final verse)” – Whiting
“Anvil Chorus” – Verdi
The music, recording and video editing was organised by Howard Griffin.