Thursday, 9 August 2007
Phew! Christianity Saved — Da Vinci decoded!
A Buckinghamshire moon fitfully illuminated the night of 18 May. Two thousands miles away in New York, a large black man called Burkino Fasso burped and grunted. Nobody knew who he was.
The Bishop of Buckingham was early at his desk. He had only hours to save Christianity. Before lunchtime tomorrow, in video shops all over England, the truth would be out. He mopped cold sweat from his brow and checked his emergency supplies — communion wine in its special lightproof bottle, a big flask of shredder oil. Why, he wondered? And how? A po-faced learned article pointing out the baselessness of it all? The Pope had his divisions hard at work on such things. But in his heart the bishop knew it was probably too late.
A fat book fell open on his desk, from among his personal collection of Penitential Devices, the ones he used to keep himself awake all night on Thursdays — the so-called “Oxford” Dictionary of Quotations, standard issue, of course, for Oxford bishops of the Church of England. A message, in italics, glared up from the page with nagging urgency. It was in Latin, the ancient secret language of Nero and the Holy Roman Emperors. Eagerly the bishop deciphered the first two words of what looked like an ancient epigram: “Parturient montes” it said. Parturiunt… That was childbirth, wasn’t it? Aha! The Eternal Feminine! Crepitatiously, his sinuous brain purred into overdrive. Montes. Mountains. Hills. Breasts. Mary Magdalen? No, that was just too awful to contemplate. She was the tart who started it all, but nobody knew about that, not even the Bishop.
And there was a name in the book quivering in his trembling hands. Horace. Who was Horace? Jesus? Perhaps Horace was Jesus? Of course! Horace. A secret missing link between Ancient Imperial Rome, Lord Nelson and Rumpole of the Bailey. Early church fathers had known only too well who Horace was, and so did the British Establishment! No wonder they had suppressed it. His eyes narrowed as he urgently scanned the ancient Latin text. “Nascetur” — it may be born. Aha. An ancient prophecy. Birth, Breastfeeding, Circular breathing. Hoo Hoo Har. Phew! The Bishop knew more about childbirth than some other bishops he could mention, although it had been suppressed from his theological training. “Women’s troubles,” he realised, concealed the most dangerous secret in the universe.
Ridiculus. “That’s Harry Potter, isn’t it?” he thought. The spell that turned the big dementor on the Hogwarts train into a tiddler. Harry Potter. At last the Bishop was on solid ground. The last word, though. “Mus.” Was that Music? Or Muscles? Or Muslims? The ancient puzzle teased the bishop’s supple mind, as his sinuous fingers urgently drummed his leather topped desk.
Finally there it lay in the wan moonlight, the whole dreadful subversive truth. Suddenly the bishop saw it. Of course! Horace really was a Latin lyric poet, not Jesus! Before the Birth of Jesus, incredibly, Horace had deciphered the DaVinci secret— Parturiunt Montes et nascetur ridiculus mus! “Mountains heave in labour, and the birth will be an absurd little mouse.”
Two thousand miles away, Burkino Fasso grunted, rolled over and returned to dreamland.