I have to admit to leading a double life over the last few weeks. In early March I started a new blog dedicated to the life, work, friends and associations with the man whom I consider to be the greatest living Englishman – Patrick Leigh Fermor. Writer, traveller, soldier, linguist, Philhellene, brilliant conversationalist, and loyal friend. He also has a passionate interest in all things Byzantine as evidenced in his many wonderful books.
I would be thrilled if you were to come over and take a peep at the new blog which has a rapidly growing content. My goal is to make it the best online resource for Paddy related material.
Max Hastings writes about Paddy as follows:
“Paddy Leigh Fermor has lived one of the great picaresque lives of the 20th century. He left a minor public school under heavy clouds with no money and a penchant for wandering. From 1934, for five years, he sustained a lotus existence in eastern Europe and the Balkans, by charm, genteel begging and Byronic good looks. His parents must have despaired of him during this longest gap year in history …
… One of Evelyn Waugh’s characters observed in 1939: “It’s going to be a long war. The great thing is to spend it with friends.” Leigh Fermor pursued this policy with notable success. His 18 months as a British agent in Crete made him a legend, not least for the kidnapping of the German General Kreipe, theme of the later film Ill Met By Moonlight.
… Here is what seems to me the best of all Paddy anecdotes. In April 1944, he and Billy Moss and their gang of Cretan desperadoes are fleeing across the mountains with their hi-jacked general, half the German army in pursuit. They pause for a cigarette. The general contemplates the far horizon for a few moments, then mutters to himself: “Vides ut alta stet nive candidum/ Socrate …” Paddy unhesitatingly picks up the refrain: “… Nec iam sustineant onus/ Silvae laborantes, geluque/ Flumina constiterint acuto.”
And so on to the end. Paddy observes modestly that this is one of the few odes of Horace he chanced to know by heart. “The general’s blue eyes swiveled away from the mountain top to mine – and when I’d finished, after a long silence, he said: ‘Ach so, Herr Major!’.”
… What is charm? In Leigh Fermor’s case it is an infinite curiosity about other people. He treats Bulgarian peasants and English dukes exactly alike. John Betjeman once spoke of Paddy “sitting there listening to you, his eyes sparkling with excitement as he waited to hear what you might say next”. Generosity of spirit is among his notable qualities.”
The new blog includes photographs, interviews, book reviews and given his long life, obituaries of his friends and colleagues including the only online obituary of his long time friend Xan Fielding (some for the wartime Special Operations Executive – SOE – of which Paddy was a notable member). I do hope that you will enjoy it. Click on the banner below to go to the blog.