My Sec’s Life

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W Bro Dr Gerald Chevin is a member of Earlham Lodge No. 7266 and an experienced Lodge Secretary. In Craft he is a Past Grand Standard Bearer (PGStB).  In Royal Arch he is the Scribe E (secretary) of Earlham Chapter, a Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah (PPGSN) and also holds Senior London Grand Chapter Rank (SLGCR). His amusing story gives us an insight into his Sec’s life.

So, as the last of our members troop out of the Masonic Centre all that remains for me to do is to check to see who has left their mobile phones/cases/coats or indeed all three (there will be frantic calls on the morrow). As the old computer adage says ‘first in, last out’ yes that’s my Sec’s Life.

Day after the meeting…wake up very early get ready for work, (or Masonic Business) type up the minutes of the meeting held yesterday from my copies details almost “illegible” scrawl. . .  Can that be right yes of course Bro x said this and Bro y Proposed that . . . . . . .

Print out the first of many updates and amendments somehow it looks different on paper than the screen the mistakes seem to have multiplied exponentially on the print-out!!!  Oh well back to the Word Processor at last just one or two more amendments there goes the phone “Yes it was a great meeting I agree shame about the . . . . .”

The telephone does not stop ringing off the hook regarding last night’s meeting and some members/guests asking about their lost property “Yes, I have it in my case don’t worry”

“Yes, I’ll make sure that you sit next to Bro z next meeting and not with Bro q”

“Yes, I will ensure that your fish is grilled not fried next meeting”

“Yes, I will try to arrange . . . . . . . . . . .”

This goes on for some time and I am still trying to “clean up” the minutes for circulating.

At last a hiatus in the telephone situation I might just get some actual work done now but wait . . . . .

I must just check with our Worshipful Master (WM) about the next meetings schedule, and give him my suggestions for the meal. That “brief” call took nearly forty minutes.

Still I can now e-mail the members with my draft minutes for their approbation.

I can also upload them onto our Lodge WEB SITE.

Back to some real work, but first I must just produce the layout for the next summons…. wow that’s eaten away another hour.

Time for lunch as soon as I take this telephone call from one of our members. To inform me he is on a special diet so could I ensure he gets what he needs at the next meeting not what I order.

I sometimes wonder if we refused to supply “special meals” and offer the only choice as take it or leave it would we have so many people actually leaving it?!!!!

Just a quick bite of my sarnie as I really must talk to the Director of Ceremonies (DC) to ensure that Bro’s a b c & d are up to the work they have volunteered to do at the next meeting.

After a long chat covering almost everything but the main reason for my call, he refers me to the Preceptor who is apparently intimately involved with the various members capabilities. Now where is the rest of my lunch, oh under this pile of photocopies of the minutes of last night’s meeting.

Ok just a quick munch on my apple, the phone rings again it’s the Preceptor…. well it saves me a call, we chat about last night’s meeting and what we could do to improve at the next meeting.

We finally get to the various Brethren’s Masonic grasp of the ritual and finalise who is doing what but I should call them in turn to ascertain their level of happiness and availability for the next meeting.

Oh, the apple has turned a horrible shade of brown; I best “bin it”, and have a coffee just to keep my throat lubricated all this talking (I really must try to do some work as well)!

I try to contact all the nominated Brethren but run up against a brick wall as some are actually doing a paid job and are unavailable at this particular moment in time, but I do get many promises (usually unfulfilled) that a return call is on the cards.

I must just produce the dining slip and wait, Bro h has moved, and Bro j has a new telephone number. Oh, how I wish that they would change their details in alphabetical order, it would make my life so much easier!!!

Ok, just about ready to finalise the dinning slips when one of the more senior members calls me and relates many apocryphal stories about the “old” days culminating in the standard line of how things were so much tougher/better/cheaper (perm any one out of three) in his time!!!!

I really must get on and do some work... but wait a moment all three lines are ringing off the hook, it’s some of the returned calls I was promised (oh ye of little faith).

At last, I crossed the T’s & dotted the I’s I am ready to create the Summons.

Last minute checks are carried out it’s on the way.

Skip forward FORTY days . . . . I did manage to do some real work in between.

Fantastic just before the standard call to the caterers to order the meal type and quantity and at least five members have replied but based on the replies so far, the WM, Wardens, Deacons, ADC, DC and IG will not be coming…. this is par for the course but the Candidate has confirmed his intention to be there, well I guess we could just give him the ritual book and he can Initiate himself!!!!

I must spend some time contacting the various members (almost all of them it seems) who have not responded, some have changed their mobile numbers, and/or e-mail addresses without informing me so even more time wasting is called for.

Skip forward SIX hours. So from five members confirmed the numbers (with guests) has dramatically increased (along with my phone bill) to eighty three!!!!!!!

I also know (from bitter experience) that on the day of the meeting some people will “cry off” others will turn up unannounced with guests wanting to sit with them and have their specific choice of meal!!!! You get used to it but what a way to behave!!!

Skip forward to the day of the meeting the morning is full of calls from members who for various reasons, “crying off” wanting more guests, a different selection of food or just enquiring when the meeting is being held !!!!!!!!!

I usually leave in early enough to get to the venue in plenty of time, with fully loaded briefcases extra supply of summonses etc etc.

Finally, the meeting gets underway.

My head is spinning it seems to me that as a general rule of thumb that when the meeting goes well the WM is held in high esteem by all. But if hiccups occur then what an inept Secretary we have, c’est la vie . . .  

So as the last of our members troop out of the Masonic Centre all that remains for me to do is to check to see who has left their mobile phones/cases/coats or indeed all three (there will be frantic calls on the morrow). As the old computer adage says ‘first in last out’ yes that’s my Sec’s Life.

Please let me be very clear that contrary to the above observations, it may seem traumatic, and you may wonder why anybody would undertake the onerous task of Secretary. It is, let me assure you, very rewarding, and I enjoy it immensely.

Dr Gerald Chevin