‘There was no way back, I was a middle-aged man with a backpack and an invisible line to hold on to.’
The Hidden Order is a fascinating account of Alfred van Cleef’s travels along the Prime Meridian (zero degrees longitude), the invisible line connecting the North Pole with the South Pole which billions of people use every day to determine time or location. Alfred van Cleef wanted to follow the Prime Meridian over land. On a cloudy summer’s day he sets off on his own from Tunstall, England, and using a GPS device to guide him, eventually reaches the port of Tema in Ghana.
Using all types of vehicles, van Cleef encounters a rich variety of terrain: mountains, rivers and deserts, as well as cemeteries and industrial areas. Along the way he meets bandits and Al-Qaeda cells, mushroom hunters, entrepreneurs, nomads, mayors, rainmakers, kings and fetish priests. Exploring cultures and places, he weaves together different worlds – worlds that are linked to the hidden order that always provides man with a location in time and space.
Van Cleef’s intrepid journey is intertwined with the history of the Greenwich Meridian and its geographical and philosophical meaning, which is also the story of how we calculate time and date. Above all, The Hidden Order is a penetrating, thrilling and funny account of an extraordinary voyage through 21st century Europe and Africa: an open world along an invisible line.