Publisher's Blog Spring 2017
A month later, 26th April. My word, things have been happening at Rennes-le-Château!
News on the 26th - Ben Hammott is coming to see me tomorrow! I've always liked Ben since I went to RleC way back in April 2010 to promote my book "Mary, Jesus and the Charismatic Priest." He helped me a great deal with salesman charm! Since then he has been writing adventure stories and they are selling famously. PS at 10pm; his Nissan wrote down in Spain and no one could repair it for a week so Ben had to return home. I was SO disappointed!
Ben, on the right, with his caving team
Sunday 23 April
Just started work on tidying my "bookshop" and summer courtyard on the ground floor - thinking of summer visitors! when the bell rang and Nicholas was there. Did I want to go up to Rennes-le-Château, take some books or something? Yes of course. We arrived at the new Atelier Empreinte bookshop to find serious faces and consternation. That morning a muslim woman had entered the church and attacked the statue of the "Devil" with an axe! She had chopped his head and arms off.
This is not the first time, in 1996 the perpetrator was never found, and that was when they made a new devil with staring blue eyes . . . the muslim lady then continued up the church to cut a hole in the image of Mary Magdalene in front of the altar. The maire came and asked her why she did it - she was making no effort to attack people nor to escape. She told him she did it as a protest for election day for a new president, because the French were bombing Syria where her relatives were.
Nicolas and I arrived about 2-30pm and of course everyone was talking about it. The newspapers the next day said the village had been "cordoned off" but except for the church door being closed there was no evidence, we parked normally and when we took a drink in Le Jardin all was peaceful. The next day the church was open again as always. When you think of the millions of visitors the village and the church has, they have done the right thing, for does it not say over the entrance to the Presbytère (now the Tourist Office) that the house of the pastor is open to all?
So I took the dog for a walk under the trees behind the château.
I heard the next day that the muslim lady is receiving psychiatric care.
A few days later I went to RleC again and was able to take some photos of the damage.
I was impressed that the church was open, certainly the village and its church were not going to be intimidated. There are rumours of course, of increased and expensive security precautions. The was a similar attack on the Devil eleven years ago. For a place that gets thousands of visitors, in fact, the record of peaceful tourism is amazingly good. Then I went to Le Jardin for a drink and the owner Morgan told me the "commerçants" were concerned about "over-the-top" reporting and emphasis of the incident. "That sort of publicity doesn't do the village any good at all," he told me. Later I read that the young lady had been in a psychiatric hospital for two weeks, they decided she was perfectly sane, and she will be judged in September.
Went up to Rennes for a birthday lunch in Le Jardin with a friend. It was wonderful to see the new Atelier Empreinte! There is a whole wall devoted to books in English! (It is quite unlike Porte de Rennes - it's a real and serious bookshop. Some of the books were "mainstream.")
As always, I was delighted to see mine among them . . .
then we had lunch under the spreading chestnut tree of Le Jardin de Marie.
The famous Fanny Bastien from Paris came to see me! She is quite stunning . . .
And Geoffroy Thiebaut would be a heart-throb if he was American!
This year's film festival, on the 9th and 10th August, will take place at the invitation of RleC municipality especially to promote the memory of Bérenger Saunière. A selection of short films about his life will be shown. Fanny likes my new book (she speaks and understands English) and invited me to a conference on the afternoon of the 9th August when everybody will talk about Bérenger Saunière and his life; and I can promote my book if I wish! It is after all, the only biography in English done for this special memorial year. Here's the details of the festival;
Up to Rennes-le-Château to deliver books to the bookshop(s)!
I say this because Porte de Rennes is now two, as the owners, Hélène and Serge have recently purchased Atelier Empreinte, the building. (The old business there had no value, it went bankrupt you may remember.) And so they will be completely independent and a complete success.
Porte de Rennes near the church has always been a bit of an Alladin's cave
On Sunday Claley, Hélène's Mum, greeted my new book enthusiastically. I explained that I wrote it because there was no book about the real Bérenger Saunière and his life for English-speaking readers. "But not for the French either!" she said. "That's fantastic! You must get it translated!"
I felt like Hercules - give me somewhere to stand and I will change the world.
Then it was off to see what was happening to Atelier Empreinte.
Poor Serge was hard at work tiling the floor! The tiles were in a classic antique style, to give the right "look" to the place. (The French like "le look" as they say.) I was surprised at how large the space was, and how lovely now the clutter has gone. It is a classic stone building of the mid 19th century (Bérenger Saunière's time) and they are reflecting that in a beautiful way. Atelier Empreinte will be a serious bookshop (while Porte de Rennes shop remains the mystic treasure trove of RleC) but, says Claley, they hope to get double the sales of my Bérenger Saunière book because they will sell it in both shops. (Plug, plug.) Meanwhile, opening day is 14th April - Good Friday - and I will be there to congratulate them.
I had a strange experience, some would say psychic, I woke up feeling really powerful, that is the only word for it! I decided I might sell my house and buy another one with a garden, just for my little dog Prisca! She seemed to think this was a great idea. Be good to be out in the country for a bit!
The next day the Bérenger Saunière books were delivered. Such excitement!
I had ordered a longer print run than usual, because I know in my heart that every English-speaking lover of Rennes-le-Château will want a copy. It's all true history, he was a most unusual man. The story includes two murders and Bérenger's secret love affair and that's just for starters! Click here.
Went up to Rennes-le-Château and met some interesting people! First Lucie, who is buying the Dragon de Rhedae restaurant, and then Thierry the model-maker.
My favourite picture of Thierry, he knows how to flatter a girl!
If you don't already know, I have a group on Facebook called the Rennes Times Two Group, so if you are on FB, join it and get all the news as it happens (well, within 24 hours.) Meanwhile, there's my site of the same name - click here for more about Thierry!
Got our first advance order!
2nd March - Proofs!
Just when I was thinking "Nothing much happens" the first proofs arrived for the latest book, "Bérenger Saunière the man, the priest, the secrets." I was tremendously excited, something that was just an idea, suggested to me by Luigi Oliviero, only eight weeks ago, has developed and grown into a unique concept. As far as I know, there is no straightforward biography of Bérenger Saunière available for English readers. However, I couldn't resist throwing in a few personal adventures . . .
For this is no ordinary, "see this, see that" guide book, I can assure you. Click here for more.
And then my "stars" started their tricks again! For the 7th March they said; Sun conjunct Mercury in Pisces today, that heightens your intuition and sensitivity. Excellent time to delve into yourself, the spiritual side of you, you will have extreme psychic power, you could connect with spirit, loved ones that you were thought were gone, but they are not forgotten, and they are certainly connected to you. Well, I've ordered more copies of this book than usual, so we will see what we will see!
25th February - a visitor
She came from Colorado and was called Michele. She was staying in Carcassonne for a few days which were all she could spare from her academic work in the UK, so we had just an afternoon together going to Rennes-le-Château and Rennes-les-Bains. The weather was absolutely marvellous and sunny! The almond blossom by the Tour Magdala was coming out; some three weeks later than it had on the coast, which had been considerably warmer . . .
In fact, there are many varieties of almonds, some sweet, some bitter, coming out at different times with flowers from the palest pink to the deepest pink. Then we saw that the door was open on the regional shop, the lady was there preparing for her pottery opening at Easter, and Morgan and co were doing work on Le Jardin, so we could pop in just to show Michelle what it was like. It was such a pity the church was not open as Michelle is particularly interested in Mary Magdalene but let's hope it does so for the 11th March, which is when "the domain" - that is, Tourist Office - will be open for the season.
Then it was that wonderful drive across the Plateau de Lauzet, down the hill to Rennes-les-Bains, Michelle was so impressed by the wild nature of the country side, the bare trees and the jagged peaks, well, I was a bit impressed too, every time I go on that road I think how dramatic and pagan our Corbières countryside is. We did all the usual things at Rennes-les-Bains, which was more open even than Rennes-le-Château and we bumped into many people that I knew, the film people were holding a mini-festival for which the Pizzaria opened up to feed them, and the café was open, which is the main thing! As always though, it was the Sacred River that we walked by.
I like Michele because she is so unselfconscious but mainly because she has done her research as she has been studying Mary Magdalene for some fifteen years, she is a "real academic." She teaches shamanism, among other things, but I liked her theatre, film and acting experience. So I'm looking for a place in the country, with some land around, within the triangle of Couiza and the Two Rennes, for Michelle who wants to come here to live and work - to Mary Magdalene country.
16th February Off to the coast
More explorations of the Mary Magdalene route have began!
Anaiya and Pete picked me up and we set off for Fitou on the coast, it was a lovely day and my dog came too, as we were planning to be out all day. The tiny cove above is the harbour where I concluded that Mary Magdalene and Jesus landed when they came to Languedoc, following the advice of Claudia Procula, this little port being the nearest part of the coast to Rennes-les-Bains. You have to know where this harbour is to find it. Anaiya was quite moved, "It's such a lovely place," she said.
She had been trying to persuade me that I was psychic too but I wasn't convinced! Then we continued to the Mas de la Madeleine, a hill between the coast and Fitou village, a couple of kilometres inland. I had been there previously with friends when I was researching the book, "The Sacred Journey."
But I was intrigued by an entry I found in a French book about the roads of Languedoc throughout history by Pierre-Albert Clément, saying there had been an early medieval "hospice" on the Mas de la Madeleine. I had never found it but sometimes when you are travelling with other people you cannot stay as long as you want to, and so I had never explored the seaward side of the Mas de la Madeleine hill.
Both Anaiya and Pete were enjoying the hill, the spring sunshine was soothing, and Pete thought that their future customers could camp on the hill where there are a few dry-stone shelters still in existence; the whole place is very stony and it was sometimes hard to tell which were just stones and which were the remains of buildings! They were walking ahead of me when I glanced to the left, towards the sea . . .
What better place for healing sick people? "I think I've found it!" I shouted!
But I had forgotten my camera, hence many thanks to the adorable Anaiya for these photos.
So if you go, look for the opening in the dry-stones walls on the far left of this picture . . .
And my dog became an intrepid researcher too!
When we got home, I looked at my Stars for the day (It's becoming a habit!) They said; For the next four weeks concentrate on spiritual matters and all things psychic. It could even mean you have some sort of intuitive flash, or you have clairvoyant ability, listen to your guardian angels! Well there you are, maybe I am psychic after all.
And for details of The Sacred Journey book, click here.
31st January - Insecurity
I predicted a while ago that Brexit would never take place but oh dear! it's looking as though it might! It would break my heart to have to return to England . . . so I thought I would look at my stars to see what they've got to say about my future.
The long-term stars around now bring massive changes to your life, you may not be aware yet.
Over the next few weeks you’re in a prime position to get rid of everything in your life that isn’t working. You may made have choices, at the time seemed so good, but now you realise you don’t want them and if that is the case, Chuck all your plans into the dustbin of history!
Serves me right for asking I suppose!
So I put a little "Bhuddist Temple" in my kitchen to calm me down.
24th January - roll on Summer
In Rennes-le-Château on Blue Apples Day I had bumped into Anaiya Sophia and her fiancé Pete and they asked for a meeting . . . it was certainly too cold to talk there!
They are such a glamorous couple and greeted me with ecstatic hugs when I got off the bus at Quillan, with the announcement that they are getting married on 22nd July 2017 - Mary Magdalene's day! - in the château at Rennes-le-Château. Would I come? Indeed I would!
Pete knew a restaurant, that was excellent, and we started talking about doing some tours together in the summer, following the route of Mary Magdalene as described in my book "The Sacred Journey." (Click here to see it.)
"I've always been a walker," Pete explained, "And it seems to me that some parts of the Sacred Journey are across country, am I right?"
"Well yes," I explained. "They were travelling in Roman days and on Roman roads, and there was a route between the coast and Rennes-les-Bains. Parts of the route don't exist any more, as they are under modern tarmac, but other parts do, and are delightful, away from it all and literally, the road that Mary and Jesus travelled on."
"Would it be feasible to do a walking tour, maybe even camping overnight? You see, not everyone is wealthy, and we would like to do something about Mary Magdalene for them."
"Wonderful!" I said.
So we will soon be meeting up to walk the appropriate sections in the open countryside, work out timings and stopping places and so on. For example, Mary and Jesus might have stayed at friends' houses - hotels did not exist in Roman times - or they might have camped themselves, perhaps beside a natural spring, there are many alongside the route. I feel quite moved at the thought of drinking from a natural spring where Mary and Jesus drank . . .
17th January - Blue Apples day
The weather was freezing, it must have been two degrees below, I was surprised to see so many people there, some of them in front of the Tour Magdala giving out tots of white rum to everyone - it was Bérenger's favourite drink apparently and I was told it either warmed you up or killed you . . . he'd been drinking it on the day he had his fatal attack, the 17th January 2017, after he had suffered years of harrassment from his new bishop, Beausejour. Anyway, click here for the short video that I made in the church. Everybody that was anybody was there - here's my friend Mickael Montepin.
It's time to make plans . . . started drafting a book about Bérenger Saunière. Then three days later, a minor domestic thing - I was walking the dog between Couiza and Montazels, and we were crossing the railway line, just a single track used about twice a day, when a hurrying young woman came along with what we used to call a ghetto-blaster full on. The dog was scared and slipped her lead and ran off up the railway line and wouldn't come back. I had to follow her because it was approaching 6pm and a train was due. There was a cliff up on the left and a cliff down on the right, I was terrified thinking the worse and I suddenly realised, having travelled on that train many times, why the driver always hooted when entering a tunnel, that turned my stomach to ice. But I had to appear calm otherwise the dog would be frightened of me and never come back . . . after about a hundred yards, she stopped and came to have her lead on. Now to rush back, the train must be late . . the track was very uneven and surrounded by thistles and I was scared I would trip up. It seemed to take a million years to get back to the crossing.
When we got home I burst into tears. Prisca was most sympathetic and licked my face. We were both covered in burrs, it took me about an hour to get them out of her fur and off my trousers.
She looks as though she is sorry but she was just worried in case she never got her dinner!