My name is Tom Sawford and I live in Winchester, Hampshire, England.
I first became aware of Paddy quite late in life; I guess he is an acquired taste. Maybe you need to have some awareness of the broad range of subject matter that he can, often without warning, cover in his books. Perhaps it is only after formal education, reading widely, developing a broad appreciation for history, and just plain living that you have the ability to grasp some of what he is getting at. A strongly developed vocabulary is also a boon; or at least a dictionary and of course now with access to Google it is possible to quickly research some of the more obscure topics that Paddy assumes mere mortals will be aware of. I remember the first time I read A Time of Gifts and being amused that Paddy clearly expected his readers to have at least a schoolboy/girl grasp of Latin as phrases pour out with no explanation or translation.
But surely that is the attraction of his work. It aims for the highest pinnacles of linguistic and intellectual endeavour and if you like what you read it drags you along with it, drinking from the cup of knowledge that Paddy offers.
He is of course so much more than a writer. It has been said that he is the ‘greatest English travel writer’. I don’t agree with that. I believe he travels to write, having so much more to say than to merely discuss the merits of one hotel over another or the quality of food in Greek fishing villages. In my view he was the “Greatest Living Englishman”. Not that we don’t have other great Englishman (but perhaps less than we once had), but more than that he is that unique person who personifies what was once the mark of an Englishman; educated; heroic, handsome, generous; and modest (to a degree).
Sir Patrick Michael Leigh Fermor DSO OBE lived a full life, and had experiences that few others will likely ever have again. He had lived a pretty full life before the second world war, even living with a Romanian princess who was older than he, and during that conflict he applied his skills to fighting behind German lines, and was unique in achieving the capture, with “Billy” Moss, of the German Garrison Commander of Crete, Major General Kriepe. After the war he travelled, wrote, married, developed long-lasting friendships, and built a house in Greece. My epithet stands because few can match what he has done and also the manner in which he did it.
The purpose of this blog is to bring the life and work of Paddy, and his many colleagues, to the attention of a wider audience, and to create an archive of on-line material. He, and they, deserve to be recognised and remembered in a world that has changed much during their lives, but would be the poorer without them.
If you would like to help with the blog, make a contribution or anything else, please contact me tsawford[at]btinternet.com.