The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

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Location: Kilcullen (Phone 087 7790766), County Kildare, Ireland

Saturday, June 15, 2013

heelers conquers the masons

It was the dulcet Summer of 1997.
The noble Heelers had moved to the Irish country town of Mullingar.
The people of the town were slightly in awe of me.

To them, I was the quintessential city slicker arriving to take up a deejay's job at Midlands Radio Three.
That old gag.
Michael J Fox played me in the film version.
The show I presented was a mix of current events and music.
It went out every evening at six o'clock.
One afternoon, Noel O'Farrell the station chief stuck his head around the door of my studio.
"Have you room for another guest on your show tonight?" quoth he.
I said yes.
In fact there was room for any number of guests because as usual with four hours to air time, I had no one lined up.
"It's Doctor Fortescue," said Noel. "He's promoting a Freemasons choir from Wales. They'll be performing in the town at Christmas."
"Oh," said I.
My face was a study.
The boss left.
I sat there quietly.
A Freemason coming on my show.
And he thinks he's going to be talking about music.
Ha, ha, ha.
That evening Doctor Fortescue arrived in the studio, grey haired, dapper, professional, confident and urbane.
A typical Anglo Irish gentleman.
I showed him around and led him to the studio chair where he'd be sitting for the programme.
I told him something of what I'd planned.
"We'll talk," sez I, "and in between times I'll play songs by the choir you're promoting."
"Excellent," proclaimed Doctor Fortescue warmly.
He had a pleasant smile which didn't quite reach his eyes.
His voice was measured and avuncular.
I wondered to myself what he'd make of the interview.
Would he think I was mad?
My show was a half hour current events programme.
It began with a blast of diddly diddly traditional Irish music.
As the introductory music ended, I launched into a list of news items.
Then it was straight to the special guest.
I introduced Doctor Fortescue and told the listeners that he was promoting a forthcoming visit by a Welsh male voice Freemasonic choir.
Doctor Fortescue talked a little bit about the tradition of singing in Wales.
I let him talk.
I said.
"There has been a whiff of scandal around the Freemasons at times."
Doctor Fortescue looked up.
There was mild surprise writ large on his face.
Like his smile, it didn't quite reach his eyes.
I hastened to elaborate on my opening gambit.
"Some people believe Freemasons are part of a secret society."
Doctor Fortescue chuckled.
"Oh come now," he murmured gently. "We're not that secret. We welcome people to be a part of our organisation. We play a leading role in our communities and are very active in charitable and cultural activities. I hardly think a secret organisation would be promoting choir singing at Christmas."
I nodded.
"So no truth in the suggestion that Freemasons in the police and the judiciary act corruptly to protect Freemasons who have broken the law?" wondered I.
Doctor Fortescue didn't hesitate.
"None at all," he replied.
"So no truth in the suggestion by certain senior police officers in Britain that it's impossible to advance in the police force without being a Freemason?" pressed I.
I heard his intake of breath.
Now he had begun to suspect he was in an ambush.
"These sort of allegations have been around for a long time," he answered cautiously. "There are many thousands of Freemasons. We are an open organisation. Any organisation with thousands of members may occasionally attract a few bad apples."
"So you can confirm for me that Freemasonry itself is not a conspiracy against democracy, or against Christianity, or simply against everyone who isn't a Freemason."
"Yes James, I can confirm that."
It was time to play some music.
I introduced the choir and its song.
The music played.
While the song was playing we could have talked. The mikes were no longer broadcasting.
Normally people do talk in these circumstances.
We sat in the studio in silence.
No enmity.
Measured silence.
Assessing each other.
Some part of him was still hoping I was just a country boy with no real knowledge of the dark forces I faced.
The music finished.
"My guest today is Doctor Reginald Fortescue," I reminded the listeners brightly. "He's promoting the visit of the Abervale Male Voice Welsh Freemasonic Choir who will be in town over the Christmas period. Doctor Fortescue we've been talking a little about the Freemasons. Can you tell what happened with the P2 scandal in Italy?"
Doctor Fortescue didn't turn a hair.
He allowed himself the ghost of a sigh.
One wary look and then he focussed on his microphone.
His voice was perfectly modulated when he spoke.
"Ah yes," he said. "That was a scandal."
"Mmmm. The Freemasons in Italy were working for Soviet Russia weren't they? Or were they up to something worse? All those upper class fellows, and bankers and politicians and policemen and Mafiosi, turning the rest of Italian society into their farm animals?"
"I have to tell you James. As soon the international body of Freemasons found out about the P2 we took immediate action to disbar them."
"But it's true that the P2 Free Masonic Lodge in Italy was attempting to subvert Italian democracy," I pressed.
"We expelled the P2 Lodge as soon as we became aware of its activities," shot back Doctor Fortescue.
"Were they trying to subvert Italian democracy for the Russians or for Freemasonry itself?" I challenged.
The interviewee sat back in his chair.
"The P2 was corrupt," he said. "They were caught and brought to account."
"Not too many of them went to jail though."
"They were disbarred from Freemasonry."
"Do you think that bothered them over much?"
"I'm sure I don't know."
We broke for another song.
Silence in the studio when the mikes were off.
But the very air crackled with energy.
His earlier suspicions had crystallised.
He knew full well he was in a ball game.
The song ended.
I didn't pause.
No cutesy reminders for the audience either.
Just straight in.
"Were Freemasons involved in the murder of the banker Roberto Calvi under Grey Friars bridge in London?"
"An investigation found that he hanged himself."
"Do you believe that's the truth?"
"There seems to be no real reason to disbelieve it."
"Some police officers and investigators have claimed that it is extremely unlikely Roberto Calvi could have hanged himself."
"Oh there are always conspiracy theorists James. They provide newspaper headlines, that's all. Mostly they are not to be taken seriously. An official enquiry found that Roberto Calvi committed suicide. Why would we disbelieve that and respect the opinions of people trying to sell a story to the newspapers?"
"Did the Freemasons kill him?"
"Oh come now. That's preposterous."
Time to play some more choir music.
Again we didn't speak to each other during the period our microphones were no longer connected to the broadcast system.
As before we sat in silence waiting for the song to end.
Not a rancorous silence either.
But I could hear the gears turning in his mind.
His intellect was wholly engaged.
He was in a battle he had never dreamed or expected.
And I think in a way he was revelling in it.
The song ended.
"And we're back," I announced lightly.
I glanced at the clock.
In a few minutes the computer would kick in and automatically switch the broadcast system over to the main network for the evening news programme.
I'd be off air, like it or not.
Just two minutes left.
"My guest tonight has been Doctor Reginald Fortescue," I said. "We've been talking about Freemasonry. Doctor Fortescue some people consider Freemasonry to be a secret society intent on undermining our culture, faith and freedoms. Is there any truth in this perception?"
"None at all James. It's a myth."
"So you don't believe any of the allegations in Stephen Knight's book?"
A sharp intake of breath.
The first breath that was clearly audible to the listeners.
"Virtually everything in Stephen Knight's book has been refuted," said Doctor Fortescue evenly. "The thing was a mass of sensationalism from beginning to end. A tissue of lies. Thought quite entertaining in places, I'll admit."
I glanced at the clock again.
Thirty seconds.
Too late for my coup de grace.
Gotta try.
"And Jahbulon?" I enquired.
Doctor Fortescue looked shocked.
His jaw dropped.
Something very like fear came into his eyes.
The first emotion I'd seen there.
He had turned white as a sheet.
"I'm sorry, I don't understand," he croaked.
I nodded grimly.
"Jahbulon," I said again. "The secret name which Freemasons use as part of their rituals. Some say Jahbulon is a name for Satan."
"I don't want to talk about the name," rasped Doctor Fortescue.
Five seconds on the clock.
"Thank you to my guest Doctor Reginald Fortescue," I enunciated. "Thanks for listening folks. Now the news."
The computer blinked a few lights to tell me we were off air.
My guest stood up.
We shook hands.
It was amazing.
He had regained control.
No sign of the haunted phantom figure he had briefly become a moment before.
"That was fascinating," he said pumping my hand like an avuncular uncle. "Really fascinating. I'm sorry I didn't want to talk about the name. It's just quite complicated really."
I told him there was no problem at all.
He left the studio.


Postscript: A few days later as I walked through the shopping centre in Mullingar, I felt my spider senses tingling.
I turned.
A man with a large camera and telephoto lens had lined up for a picture of me.
I looked at him plainly.
He took his picture.
Then he turned and walked briskly away through the crowd.
I followed his progress.
He walked down the long corridor and out the back door of the shopping centre.
Who was he?
Four possibilities.
(1). The police in Mullingar might have been watching me. They're a small town unit. The new fancy pants deejay might have been put under surveillance in case he'd steal their women or something. It's not impossible.
(2) I'd made some rather droll remarks on air about Tony O'Reilly's Independent Newspapers group. Tony might have decided he'd like to get a good look at this countrified Don Quixote who had dared to tilt at his liberal atheistic wind mill.
(3). It was just a random photographer taking a random photograph and nothing to do with me.
(4). Everything I'd said about the Free Masons was true.


Blogger Genevieve said...

I'm proud of you, James, for not letting that opportunity escape. Did you have any discernible reaction from the listeners?

8:04 AM  
Anonymous MissJean said...

I didn't know about that, James. I'd heard quotes from Albert Pike (to which the FMs say, "He never spoke for all of freemasonry!"). It doesn't surprise me, though. For all their talk of charity, the FMs wouldn't help my uncles find jobs unless they joined. (They declined and eventually found employment on their own.)

My last boyfriend was a Mason, as was his father - and a member of the Knights of Columbus, to boot. Neither would accept that no pope ever lifted the excommunication for joining. When I showed his stepmother Pope Benedict's clarification of the matter, she told me frankly that her husband wouldn't leave FM because that where he got his clients.

My then-bf tried equating the FM with the KofC, but fell silent when I asked if I could attend an FM initiation. When he brought up charity work, I asked if he couldn't join a Catholic charity of some sort. Silence again. In hindsight, I can see that he had bought into the anti-clericism of the FM. At the time I'd thought his ranting about the "manmade rules" of the Church referred solely to chastity.

About a month before we broke up, I attended a barbecue with his folks. His father made a point of mentioning an upcoming lodge meeting and said, "But the Masons are evil, you know."

"Yes, I've heard" was all I said. I don't think he even knew what to say. He'd meant to embarrass me. Instead, it reminded me a lot of third-generation Americans who aren't members of the mafia but who don't disown their relatives who are. (I don't know if that makes sense to you, but there it is.)

4:29 AM  
Blogger heelers said...

Hey Gen.
The only discernible reaction was a few years later when for the first time in their history the Free Masons published a series of books in which the name Jahbulon was discussed. They'd spent the intervening years putting together a cover story for their use of that name. I am fully convinced that the deciding factor in their going public on it at all, was the ambush of one of their brethren by a country boy deejay on a small town Irish radio station.
MJ, that's a compelling and enlightening piece of testimony.

3:24 AM  

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