So, where were we? Ah, yes... in the weeks immediately after I solved the dodgy internet quest by decoding the clues in the paintings in the style of Leonardo da Vinci, everyone completely ignored me. But, out in the real world, I carried on snooping with my new personal assistant, Sophia.
By this time MemoryMap's Paris office had grown substantially and we were looking for a bigger premises. As an interim measure we had installed a manager in our tiny bohemian garret on the Left Bank, which meant that I now had to stay in a hotel when I came to Paris. So, we did a deal with a trendy organization that a lot of music biz and media types belonged to called the Saint James's Club, which conveniently had bases in London, Paris, and Los Angeles at the time.
Consequently, the two-bedroom Gatehouse of the Hotel Saint James in the sophisticated 19th arrondisement became my new Paris home. But, we still used the landmark church of Saint Sulpice just behind the Boulevard Saint-Germain as our meeting point, due to its proximity to the garret.
Sophia thought that the use of Saint Sulpice to meet and greet our pop star clients was an utterly bizarre arrangement. Having read Holy Blood, Holy Grail, she was convinced that Saint Sulpice was the arcane headquarters of a secret society called the Priory of Sion and half expected undercover operatives to pop out of the confessionals whenever we went there.
In an effort to convince me of our inherent peril, Soph concertedly went off to the Biblioteque Nationale to obtain a copy of a secret Priory document called Le Serpent Rouge which, according to Holy Blood, Holy Grail, included a coded ground plan of Saint Sulpice along with a cunningly cryptic thirteen stanza encoded poem relating the so-called secrets of the church.
Having successfully tracked down a copy of the encrypted Priory poem and all its attendant diagrams, Soph triumphantly presented a file of the Priory of Sion’s secret dossiers to me one evening over our routine after-work bottle of champagne in the living room of the Gatehouse.
I only had to study the relevant document for a few minutes before I burst into laughter. For those who were familiar with Saint Sulpice, as I was by that time, this didn't read like a cryptic, mystically encoded text at all. In fact, it appeared to be nothing more than a rather theatrical tour-guide of the church of Saint Sulpice itself.
I could easily recognize the references to Delacroix's Chapel of the Angels, Olier's memorial, and even Emile Signol's paintings in the transept that housed the solar Gnomon that I had become so fond of. Even the name of the editor of the mishmash of documents entitled the Dossiers Secrets - Henri Lobineau - was named after a street right next to the church, called Rue Lobineau.
As far as I could see, this mystically encoded “poem” was nothing more than a hilarious in-joke written by someone who obviously knew the layout of Saint Sulpice extremely well!
To demonstrate my point, I told Soph that I would walk her through the stanzas of the Serpent Rouge during our next visit to Saint Sulpice. In fact, we would do better than that. By one of those "convenient" coincidences, the Vernal Equinox was to occur later that very week, meaning that the focused sunbeam of Sulpice's solar gnomon was due to fall on the plaque directly in front of the altar, signaling the correct pre-Easter coordinate to the priests who has been initiated into the sacred art of timekeeping.
And, so, this is how Sophia and I came to walk the Serpent Rouge in the church of Saint Sulpice in Paris on the Vernal Equinox.
But, little did we know what we were letting ourselves in for…
Newton Coordinate:- In memory of Jean-Luc Robin, whose ashes will be interred in Rennes-le-Chateau on the Feast Day of Saint Patrick, March 17th. Paix à toi, Jean-Luc.