Tag Archives: Masonic Humour

“Are you one of us?” By Mike Lawrence Part two of a two part article.

Letting somebody else know that you are a Freemason can be a tricky business. It can be even more difficult seeking fellow brethren when we find ourselves in new environments.

But it is those occasional or casual remarks that we make, often in unfamiliar surroundings, that sometimes bring about the most amazing replies. Here are a few anecdotes from Brethren who wrote to me after reading “Are you one of us?” Part One.

While recovering in hospital, Bro. Morris Saxby-Taylor was quickly up and about helping with little jobs around the ward. The duty male nurse asked him to lay the tables for lunch, Morris agreed adding the retort, “I’m happy to be your Steward.” He gave it no more thought until a short while after the male nurse whispered to Morris, “Thanks for helping with the working tools.”

Bro. Morris also recalls the time he was at a Police conference discussing the case of a Dentist who practised anaesthetics on his wife. Unfortunately, she died through one of his experiments. To his amazement one of his colleagues threw in the comment, “That’s the hidden mysteries of nature and science.”

This is similar to an incident that happened to another brother, whose name was not supplied. Several years ago when attending a business seminar, the main speaker was emphasising the difficulties he had experienced while approaching a certain problem. “You see,” he explained, “I was taught to be cautious!” A small ripple went through the audience. Afterwards, he was amazed at how many brethren had noted the remark. They all met together during lunch and what could have been a boring day turned into a really enjoyable event.


Several years back on television, that well known comedian and Freemason who regularly graced our screens with his Saturday night game show made a very interesting remark. While interviewing a contestant who was wearing check trousers he remarked, “My club has a carpet that colour!”

Bro. Ron Prothero tells me he has often used the phrase, “How old is your Mother?” Referring to the number of one’s Mother Lodge.

When holidaying in Spain, Bro. Nicholas Hopes was standing at the hotel bar when he noticed three gentlemen who took a drink simultaneously using their right arm. Nothing strange about that you might think. However, upon closer examination, Bro. Hopes discovered that they were all Masons and up until that point they had all been strangers.

One of the most amusing replies I received was from Bro. Michael Clough. He was initiated into a Lodge where his father and uncle were members. His other brother became very curious as to how Masons distinguished themselves to each other.

Quite by chance, all four of them were sitting together one day when the three Masons crossed their legs, right over left, at the same time. His brother was convinced that he had discovered the secret. Some years later when he was initiated, he was most disappointed to discover that “knee-crossing” was not part of the ceremony.



The final offering comes from Bro. Neil Watkins who recalls the story of a work colleague who was diving in the Gulf. He had already completed four, three-month tours, all with the same diving supervisor. The supervisor noticed that on one particular day during each month and at a specific time, 21.00 Hrs British time, the diver would walk to the fo’c’sle raise his non-alcoholic drink, and toast someone’s health.

The supervisor had suspected his colleague was a Mason but had never had an opportunity to discuss personal issues with him. However, one day the diver was on a platform 130ft underwater and the conversation went something like this.

“Number One Diver.” Called the Supervisor from his control position on board. “Are you ready?”

“Ready Skip.” Replied the diver.

“Now step off with your left!” Called the supervisor. Needless to say their working relationship became richer with their mutual love of the craft.


          Of course, more often than not, a simple handshake can suffice guaranteeing that any business at hand, be it work, rest or play, can progress in an honourable and enjoyable manner. This of course, is the jealously guarded and unshakeable bond that Freemasons throughout the world enjoy.

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“Are you one of us?” By Mike Lawrence Part one of a two part article.

A light-hearted view of how our 18th century brethren coped with identifying each other in the early days of the Craft


“Are you one of us?”

I have always been fascinated by the manner in which Freemasons identify themselves when meeting for the first time.  This fascination started several years ago after reading an article in a Sunday paper where the author suggested that the first question a true Freemason would ask was:

“Can you tie a bow?”  The response, if the person was a Freemason, would be: “As good as you can!”

A BBC 2 television programme once claimed that when dining, a Freemason will refer to his cutlery as “working tools” and await any appropriate response.  While a daily newspaper suggested  that a Freemason will gently caress your knuckle with his thumb before slowly releasing his grip.



“Where are my working tools”

Surprisingly, as early as 1725, the general public were given an insight into this fascinating subject. In two articles that were published, readers were advised that this information was:

“found in the custody of a Freemason who died suddenly.”

and published

“that the public may have something genuine concerning the grand mysteries of the Freemasons


I suppose the former part of the introduction gave the revelations some credence, while the latter part produced intrigue.

Published by A. Moore, near St Paul’s and entitled, “The Grand Mystery of the Free Masons Discovered”, they were priced at one shilling and contained the following:

The Freemasons Signs

Examination upon entrance into the Lodge

The Freemasons Oath

A Freemasons Health.

So just for a few moments, come journey with me to a distant past and partake of instruction into the finer points of how to pass on a discreet signal or identify another Freemason.

You might, for example, indicate your membership by taking off your hat with two fingers and a thumb. Or, you may choose to strike, with the right hand, the inside of your little finger, three times as if hewing.

Of course, you could always stroke two of your fore-fingers over your eye-lids three times or turn a glass upside down after you have taken a drink.

However, those whose transport is of an equine nature may choose to prove their association by leaving the stirrup over the horses neck after alighting.

Other times you may even be inclined to throw down a piece of round slate and say, “Can you change this coin?”


“Sorry mate! I’m a member of the Ancient Order of Woodcutters!”

Now, imagine yourself in non-masonic company and you suspect the man opposite was a Freemason and you wanted to meet him outside. Firstly, you would need to cough three times and leave the room. Now assuming he followed you out and once alone, here is the procedure to follow:

1) You must place you right heel to his right instep.

2) Put your right arm over his left and your left under his right.

3) In that position, you then take your middle finger and starting from his left shoulder you draw a square from his shoulder to the middle of his back and down to his breeches.

If this gains no response, you could try this:

1) You must take the first step with your right foot and the second with your left and the third bringing your right heel into your brothers’ right instep.

2) You then lay your right hand to his left wrist.

3) You then draw the other hand from your right ear to left under your chin.

4) He will then put his right hand to his left side under his heart.


“I’m telling you! It said left Arm over right shoulder!”

Finally, if having gone through these trials you were still unsure and of course, hoping you had not been arrested for accosting strangers, we are advised to use this final testing question?

“What lodge were you made a Freemason at?”


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The Deacons Lament – Author Unknown


I first heard this some fourteen years ago, and I just could not resist sharing it. I have no idea who wrote it and I apologise if I have infringed any copyright.

I would be pleased to hear any similar poems.

I wished I’d looked after my ritual

I wish I had studied that book

I just might have got through a whole meeting

Without having to take a sly look

At the words printed so neatly and tidy

With capital letters and dots

Inverted commas and rows of small hammers

To remind me about them there knocks


If I had been to a Lodge of Instruction

And followed the Preceptors plan

My signs might be more like a Mason

And less like a tic-tac man

A Past-Master once said with sarcasm

As his doffed his apron of dark blue

You lay “five-to-one” when the Lodge is begun

And “evens” the field when it’s through


Time was, when I was a Deacon

I was proud of my wand and my dove

Initiation was due; I was in a real stew

So I wrote the words out on my glove

Now some Candidates are cool and collected

Mine was all nervous and hot

I must not boast, but his hands were like toast

Leaving my glove as an illegible blot


As I thumped the Wardens shoulder

The ink stained his coat a bright blue

He said “who have you there?” I just stood in despair

He could see I did not have a clue.

I looked at my glove for the answer

At those five fickle fingers of fate

The blots faded away, left the words plain as day

St Michael – All Cotton – Size Eight


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