I knew Patrick Leigh Fermor through his words, and he will know me by mine

I think I am quite privileged to receive so many positive comments about the blog from people I have never met. One thing many agree upon is that Paddy has had a significant impact upon their lives. In some cases reading A Time of Gifts has been life changing, with some literally getting out there on the road and creating their own journey.

One message that really struck a chord was from Thos Henley – after the old abbreviation of Thomas I am told – who was originally from my neck of the woods in Hampshire, England, but who set off on the road two years ago and is now living what I imagine to be a bohemian life somewhere on the left bank of the Seine in Paris. He has even written and recorded some of his own songs, one which includes a reference to Paddy; it is good music and worth listening to. [Edit – I have listened to it a few times now and it really is quite good; have a listen]

Thos’ story is very moving and I asked if he would like to share it with other blog readers. He agreed so over to Thos …

Thos Henley at Paddy's door

“I am a 22 year old musician and a writer from Netley Abbey, Hampshire. Around two years ago I set off the travel France. One of the reasons I did so, was because I had recently discovered Paddy’s work. After this eventful trip all around the country, I settled in Paris, which now acts as my home and I have not been back to England since. In this time I have walked around the largest lakes of Sweden, travelled the expanse of Europe, and released a record in Paris named GOLDEN EUROPE. One of the songs on the record is about my travelling companion on the trip through France. He was my Xan Fielding and in the song I reference Patrick Leigh Fermor. It is called ANOTHER BROTHER and you can find it by clicking here.

Recently, I took a trip with my girlfriend to Greece. We went to Patras and walked to the edge of the Peloponnese. Slowly moving down south we made our way to Kalamata and then Kardamyli. I became good friends with certain locals and on the third day I had a map drawn out for me, with the whereabouts to Paddy’s home.

When I got there, the soles of my shoes had withered away (an overdue happening as I had worn them out for years). I met his house-keeper who spoke a very gentle Greek-English. I was nervous and I could hear Paddy eating his lunch next door and after a few minutes of introducing myself to his assistant I learnt that he was just too old to see anyone. She explained that the emotional toll was too much for the man who had been through it all. Passion carried my persistence but in the end I started to feel like some kind of a stalker and I gave up. Leaving his incredible garden, I heard through an open window, the mumbled low tone of Sir Patrick himself, obviously inquiring about the energetic English boy who had just been at his ocean blue door.

Sitting on the wall that he had made some 20 years or so before my own birth, I began to write him a letter. I explained my story and the fact that in his words I had come to find some sense of freedom in this ever enclosing world in which we all reside. Tears and sweat dripped onto the scribbled words that, no matter how much I tried, would never portray truly what this man meant to me. I wrapped the piece of paper over and around my old Swedish compass. In the letter I had told him I left it for him, as I had no need for it now; it had guided me to his house, where I sat boiling in the Greek sun, and its job, in my eyes, was done.

I swam for hours that day, washing away the heat and the sadness of not meeting ‘my’ Byron. However after reaching my hotel, after the sun had died and the raging fire of the crickets sang in their clicking chorus, I began to see the up side of what I had done. Yes I may not have met the man, but the fact remained that I had been to his home which I wished to visit over my childhood home in England. It was his seas that I wished to swim in over any other ocean in the world and it was his door step where I wrote, what I still hold as the best piece of writing I have done to this day.

This is not an ego talking but personal victory. I can live my life here, in this rainy, grey city of lights, Paris, knowing in myself that Paddy read my words and opened the same compass that I had used for years, its red point quivering on the W. And he would go to sleep that night knowing once more that his life had indeed been the greatest life ever lived and was still just as appreciated as it had always been.

In the end I knew Patrick Leigh Fermor through his words, and he will know me by mine.”

Visit Thos’ MySpace page where there are more photographs, you can find some of his music and videos.

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7 thoughts on “I knew Patrick Leigh Fermor through his words, and he will know me by mine

  1. Pingback: Thos Henley’s personal tribute to Paddy « Patrick Leigh Fermor

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  4. Pingback: Lawrence Durrell and Patrick Leigh Fermor by Thos Henley « Patrick Leigh Fermor

  5. Pingback: Thos Henley | Les Boutiques Sonores

  6. Andy

    What a beautiful story – particularly the bit about not needing the compass anymore. PLF has had a tremendous influence on so many writers. I first picked up his book in Germany where I was working on building site – many years ago. I knew I would never speak German as fluently as he wrote English and determined to master my own language. Now a clumsy but published writer I still return to his works trying to follow in his footsteps. A lonely pilgrimage, for there he is in Mani while I still trudge the lonely dykes and polders of Holland.

    Reply

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