Provincial Priory of Kent The United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta in England and Wales and Provinces Overseas

Province of Kent


One Eminent Preceptor's view

This short article is full of firsts.  Herein, you'll read about the good, the not so good and the ugly.  I've included a brief history, of me, so you, dear Readers, will understand from whence my comments come.

I'm 72, married for 52 years (without offspring) and have rescued, and kept, 50+ cats plus several dogs.  We've lived in the same bungalow for half a century.  We 'reek' of stability.

I left school at 17 and became a 'banker'.  Lacking in sufficient qualifications for main-stream banking, I was invited to go into a new venture - computing.  My first 1st.  An all too short, 27 years career took me to the heights of 'techno-freak' in mainframe, 24 hours, systems operations, up to management level and down to redundancy - my second 1st.  I was, "a price worth paying".  Travelling through time, job searches, insurance sales and back into banking, I decided, at 53, to retire.  The financial figures just worked.  Surviving on a severely reduced pension, we managed.  The realm of the third 1st.

Fast forward two decades.  Numerous 1sts followed.  We were all hit by C-19.  My 'masonics', initiated in 1973, floundered.  No centres were open.  The air was permeated with a collective fear of the unknown, of lockdown and of 'scurry-buying' bread and toilet rolls.  By now, I was Chaplain of Lodge 20.  To keep our 'flock' plus family and friends together, I started an email newsletter.  It worked.  We're up to Issue 69.  Then, 'Zoom' became the catch-word.  Having group chats, with video and without contamination, started to catch on.

This is where my perspective starts.  No longer technically skilled in computing, we only succumbed to smart phones in August, 2019.  Having consigned our brick-shaped, steam-driven, aerial-wagging mobiles to a museum we joined, albeit late, the 21st century.  Not so with my desktop.  It remained with neither camera nor microphone.  This is where my Zoom involvement begins.  There is absolutely nothing scary about the methods or mechanics of such a magnificent system.  If I can do it - ALL CAN.

Becoming 'au fait' with Zoom has great advantages.  By registering, as a user, you can download the software (apps) and join in meetings, regardless of where they are in the world, without costs.

I started by joining a regular, non-masonic, Wednesday evening virtual get-together with friends across the UK.  From the comfort of one's own home, all one needs is a smart phone or a PC with microphone and camera or, in my case, a combination of both.  To use, go to your smart phone's App store and download Zoom or search for Zoom on your PC and download, likewise.  That's it, in a nutshell.  As they say in adverts, "Simples".

I know that Skype is available but that is really one-to-one.  Zoom has far greater breadth.  To give an example, we've used Zoom to chat with friends in central Italy where, incidentally, their lockdown was far more dramatic and regimented than ours.  They needed signed slips of paper, with reasons, to even get out of town!

Moving back to the masonic front, my initial Zoom encounter was with another Order, the Province of East Kent being addressed by our Head of Order, in a Zoom meeting with 100+ virtual attendees.  A fantastic event and more firsts, both for me and for the Order itself.  This is where my combi-connection proved its worth.  Our desktop PC delivered a view of both speaker and full audience, over 4 screens with 25 inserts per screen, while my smart phone handled vision (just the speaker of the moment plus my picture as a miniature insert) and two-way sound.  I did not connect my PC sound as that could have caused distortion.  The meeting was excellent, enjoyable, informative and casual.

My next masonic Zoom was 17 days later.  As far as our Galloway Preceptory, 596 was concerned, we were due to have a meeting on the 9th October.  The Franklin Rooms remained closed so, without any specific 'work' to carry out, we resolved to hold a simple, short, Business Meeting to dispose of outstanding 'lodge-keeping' items.

Our Registrar, Alan, made all the arrangements and I suggested that it should be a casual affair, relating my experience of 17 days earlier.   

All was put in place and the Agenda was circulated.  As Galloway was  the first preceptory in the province to hold a Virtual Business Meeting, our Provincial Sub Prior, Pieter Jan Swinge kindly attended as the representative of the Provincial Executive.

I, as the Eminent Preceptor, thanked all for 'tuning in' and thanked Alan for his efforts in arranging everything.  I then introduce our Provincial Sub Prior and thanked Pieter for his support.  The meeting went well.  Although our numbers were small, our companionship was large.  The business was completed without contention and closed with harmony.  The Zoom technology failed us not. 

Finally - An Apology
This occasion cannot be finalised without a word of warning to prospective 'zoomers'.  If, Brother Knights, a Business Meeting is to be held, virtually, the correct mode of attire is Black Jacket, Black Tie and White Shirt.  In my ignorance, I suggested that Galloway should adopt a casual dress code.  I was wrong.  I apologise.

Em. Kt. Trevor Willis.


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