One of the privileges of running this blog is that from time to time I get to meet some of Paddy’s friends and relations. At the relaunch of Billy Moss’ War of Shadows in May, I was introduced to Dolores Payás who was Paddy’s official translator into Spanish. She and her publisher told me that she had a book coming out in the summer called Drink Time!: In the Company of Patrick Leigh Fermor: a Memoir which was an account of her time staying with Paddy at Kardamyli over the last two years of his life.
Before I went away on holiday to France a copy of the book arrived in the post and I took it with me and it turned out to be a great choice for holiday reading. It is a short book at 111 pages but always entertaining.
Dolores stayed with Paddy for extended periods on a number of occasions in the two years before his death. She was given Joans’s room which appeared to remain a highway for the numerous cats that continued to live in and around the house. They were often alone with only Elpida for company as she prepared meals and looked after the house. At other times Paddy still hosted dinner parties which were always lively and went on into the early hours. He was as ever the kind host:
He was grateful for whatever gifts life brought to his door, whether in the way of quality conversation, a tasty meal, books, the sun that rose every morning, and the sea roaring at his feet. Life was generous to him and he responded in kind, offering the world his own universe by way of exchange.
Whatever they were doing there were two times of the day when Paddy would interrupt proceedings and announce it was drink time, and promptly move into the living room and help himself to a large drink be it vodka or gin. These times gave some pattern to the day and we are told that Paddy looked forward to them enormously. His capacity for drink appears to have remained undiminished even to the end.
Dolores and Paddy became close friends and she delights in offering us a very intimate portrait of the man. For true Paddy fans this book will be a very welcome addition to our bookshelves. Unlike the biography which lacked the personal touch, this book is quite intimate, and about two people, both of them deaf, enjoying time together even on the occasion of a strict telling off by Paddy’s Greek doctor. We get quite close to Paddy and Dolores is able to reveal something of his character and some of his more personal thoughts as he came towards the end of his life. If you want to understand more about Paddy the man, not the writer or bon viveur, you will enjoy Drink Time!
Drink Time!: In the Company of Patrick Leigh Fermor: a Memoir by Dolores Payás (translated by Amanda Hopkinson)