“Testing you sorely” or is it “Sorely testing you”?

Splitting the infinitive is almost as controversial as splitting the atom, but clearly a lot easier to do. What I hope is not easy dear readers is to upset you by the variety of posts on this blog, and in particular some of the more recent ones.

Yesterday Francis Fermor added a most unkind comment saying that the blog is no longer interesting as it is no longer all about Paddy and that “too many people are joining the band waggon and taking advantage for their own personal ends.” This was in relation to the post about Owen Martell’s walk across the USA.

For one thing I don’t think Owen has made any money out of his adventures. At least he has not written any books on the subject that I can find. I post such things as I personally find them interesting and they fit with my editorial policy of being “Paddy related”. Owen contacted me after his first walk as he was interested in Paddy and had been inspired by him. I am sure the man himself would have been most interested in Owen’s journeys: a lot of you are. Paddy would have encouraged him and wanted to hear his story.

Paddy may be dead, and not much new will emerge, but his work and his life remain as an inspiration to many, including those who read this blog. A lot of people are inspired to set out on journeys of their own. Nick Hunt’s attempt to follow Paddy’s route was not for any great “personal end” but because he wanted to do it and thought that others might like to read about the great changes that Paddy himself wrote about via his Polymath. Ed and Charlotte walk parts of his route each year for no other end than they enjoy it and find one of those Songlines to follow; a Songline chanted by Paddy and now in our memory.

How long can I continue with material on here? As long as there is an audience, and my stats tell me that there is one with over 20,000 regular visits each month. We are now within a few thousand visits of one million since opening in 2010. That I find pretty phenomenal. People visit here for a variety of reasons and the material that I post attempts to address those varied interests.

So how long can I continue? There is plenty more directly related material and my self-appointed “task” here is to create a unique on-line archive of Paddy related material. So I will continue to do that. And I will do it until I test you so sorely that you leave me alone with just a few die-hards.

Finally, to continue the theme of “personal ends” I would like to remind you that I will start my 70 mile walk to Bath tomorrow on behalf of the charity Shelter in aid of the homeless and there is still plenty of time to donate via my Just Giving page.

Between 10-13 Dec you can join with me to increase awareness of the scourge of homelessness and to help raise funds for the UK’s leading charity for the homeless, Shelter. I will walk 70 miles from Winchester to Bath over one of the most sparsely populated areas in England, sleeping rough under a simple shelter, enduring the December cold, and the long, cold, lonely nights: just like THEM. All you have to do to join me from your warm home is to please give some money to Shelter at my Just Giving page. These are your fellow human beings and they deserve some help and comfort. You can join me walking to Bath Abbey on 13 Dec. Just email me or comment on this post. PLEASE SHARE THE FACEBOOK EVENT I CREATED (click here) on your Facebook timelines: it is a public event. Give your money: £, Euros, US $, Yen, Lei, or whatever here.



21 thoughts on ““Testing you sorely” or is it “Sorely testing you”?

  1. Edward Ricketts

    Likewise for me, Tom, I wholeheartedly agree with what you’ve written and continue to find enjoyment and stimulation in the vast majority of pieces posted – it’s a tribute to your own wide interests and editorial skill to be able to consistently shine a light on so many interesting people and stories which are related to Paddy in some way, however tangentially, and of course the blog is far richer for this.

    And finally, surely this approach is entirely appropriate – given that the blog is dedicated to one of the greatest masters of the interesting digression in prose!

  2. Henrik Svedang

    Please, keep on with your writing, Tom! I follow your posts with great interest, I have learned a lot about PLF from this blog. Don’t give in.

  3. Marc Cannizzo

    I would like to add my voice to the others here: I think the thing which attracts people to Paddy — apart from his wonderful way with words– is the idiosyncrasy of his seminal endeavor (some may call it being “British”!), i.e. walking across Europe. This action has triggered very personal reactions on the part of many others; if it inspires someone to launch into a soliloquy on the monastic life, for instance, so be it, for I believe that is in keeping with spirit represented by Paddy. Endeavor and tolerance! That’s what he means to me!

  4. Paul Kelly

    Tom , a magnificent site , keep it going. I love the spin-offs connected to Paddy , no matter how remote. Don’t listen to detraction. Best wishes. Paul

  5. Mark

    Just to add another few words of encouragement. Anybody can ignore an article they don’t want to read. It seems to me obvious that most people interested in Paddy will also be interested in the related subjects you post.

  6. Margaret

    Hi Tom,
    Another word of support. Of course there are entries that interest me less than others, but I just skim over them. I’d rather read about Paddy’s writings, Romania, Hungary and Greece than the SOE operations, but each to his own. There’s something here for all of us who take an interest in PLF, who himself was fascinated by so many aspects of life.
    All the best with your walk.

  7. Christos Paganakis

    Yes , dont get downhearted Tom , from another Die-hard follower .

    I just got back ten days ago from a little 12 week Odyssey of my own through Naxos and the little Cyclades isles , Schinoussa , Koufounisi and Donoussa , and then on the way home had a long swing around the Saronic Gulf including a week in Poros , where I fossicked about looking for Paddy’s pre-war Old Watermill Lovenest , in between consuming far too much Ouzo and red wine .
    THIS trip was a sort of retirement present-cum-convalescence treat to myself after some persistent minor health issues over the last 18 months , and so I could stay in hotels and rent-rooms and not have to count the pennies , but there have been plenty of previous trips where I really didn’t have enough money to go , but went anyway , with my stuff in a little backpack and sleeping as dusk fell in Olive Groves , or bivouacking out of sight along the road somewhere .
    For jaunts like that PLF is a great comfort , because no matter how grim or uncomfortable it gets , you can always console yourself with the thought that HE and his comrades had it a bloody sight worse . ( Actually , it doesn’t get grim very often , and you have the joy of waking in the small hours by a breath of wind , peeping out of your bag on some Cretan hillside , and seeing a blaze of stars overhead , and thinking ” I’m the only one awake and looking at this ” ) .

    I didn’t have wine poured in my ear this trip , but DID have a fairly raucous evening singing Rebetiko songs in a Cretan family-run taverna in Aegina , with the owner of the hotel I was staying in , and his Parea , where things got fairly merry ,
    and another marathon session till 4.30 am in a bar there , swigging my way through 3 Karafakis of Raki , where I’d heard a Cretan Lyra playing ” Oso Varoun ta Sidera ” ( search it on You-tube , adding ” Xylouris” to the search-term ) and had gone in to investigate , at 10.30pm on my way back to the hotel ( with three-quarters of a litre of red wine on board ) after dining at the little taverna at the back of the fish market . 6 hours of brilliant lyra playing ( you can hear the wind off Psiloritis in the intros ) and lots of the traditional Cretan songs , feet stamping the base beat and hands drumming the complicated line-beats on table-tops .
    And on both occasions I thought ” I bet Paddy would have thoroughly enjoyed this ! ”

    PLF’s writings were one of the reasons I got interested in all things Greek , and took up learning some of the language at evening classes – which enables me to get off the tourist trail and up into the hills to meet and chat with ( and sit and drink and sing and laugh with ) the REAL people .

    I was astonished to see the amount of new material you’d put on here in the 3 months I was gone , excellent work Tom ; – please , please keep it going .
    Sure some things are a bit tangential to the main line of the blog , but what the hell , hey ?
    I cant remember reading anything yet in here and thinking ” Well , that was rather dull and boring ” .

    Personally I think we should also have blog sections devoted to Greek Cookery , Music , to Greek Books translated into English ,
    as well as Readers Recommendations and reviews of Greek watering holes , ( of the type Paddy would have enjoyed )
    and an annual competition for the best reader’s anecdote involving Goats .

    ( My missus says I get more like Zorba every day . . . . . . . . )

  8. peninda

    Please do not allow anyone to lure you into polemics, and please continue to do the splendid work you have been doing on this outstanding blog.

  9. Peter Barker

    Your blog is often a wonderful source of Paddy facts, histories, personal comments, and commentaries. It is great that is wide diverse. and essentially a living thing.
    Paddy for me was an inspiration, thinking the unthinkable and just doing it, walk to Constantinople? Just do it, Kidnap a German General? Why on earth wouldn’t you?

    On the other level, his literary gifts surely show that distractions and side adventures along the main story they feed and colour the story and they invariably observe traits of universal humanity.
    Thanks to your site, and to having a common interest in a man who provoked inspiration, I have had afternoons in Kostgerako with Adonis Paterakis, even being invited to join the funeral party for Coustos (One shot saved a village) whilst war stories and awful secrets were revealed. Similarly at Skaleni where Paddy’s party laid up, production of a very old Ill Met meant we were unable to leave a Sunday Festa in the village without first being fed and obliterated by greek hospitality culminating in the mayor pouring wine into my ear. Sorry, I wandered off the point, but it was all Paddy’s fault, I met his comrades in arms, he was loved and was the real deal what and who he inspired is also his legacy.

  10. lfreundlich

    Tom, your blog continues to ornament my cultural life, as PLF’s writing still does. What I would welcome is more cultural reflection on what Paddy’s great trek means in comparison with contemporary times. For example, the graces of aristocratic life in Hungary and Romania were achieved by age-old oppression and the maintenance of feudalism. Is aristocracy inevitably tied into rigid caste distinctions? I have pointed out in a previous post that what Nick Hunt sees on his great trek was so different from what PLF memorialized: a world devolving into ugliness and parochial ignorance.

    Where in our society can beauty, cultural sophistication, and national heroism bloom as they did in certain treasured but fragile places in PLF’s time? If any readers of your blog chose to share his/her reflections on such issues, I would find it perfectly in keeping with PLF’s spirit.

  11. John W. Gittins

    I think that Francis Fermor has something of value to contribute in what he has written. There certainly needs to be more focus on the raison d’etre of the site, which is Paddy Leigh Fermor and direct links to this outstanding man. Written 81 years to the day on which Paddy left for his splendid journey.

  12. Elisabeth Whittaker

    Tom, Thank you very much indeed for continuing the ‘Paddy’ blog. I think I have read all the entries with great interest and I certainly hope that you will continue with it.

    This summer I was lucky enough to go with Greek friends to Kardamyli and nosed around the outside of Paddy’s house which was a moving experience. The wooden gate was opened by a charming Englishman and I had a glimpse of the garden and though I was not allowed inside but I did have the opportunity to meet Lela in her restaurant. What a dignified and perceptive lady with the most searching eyes I have ever seen. Unfortunately I can’t speak much Greek but we managed to express our admiration for Paddy in our different ways and it was an unforgettable experience. I was so lucky to renew my long acquaintance with Greece and spend a few days enjoying the sun, sea, mountains, Greek hospitality and friendship that I remember from so many decades ago. Kardamyli is a surprisingly un-touristy town with a certain sophistication. For me, Paddy’s presence was everywhere and I have re-read most of his books. Just off to Heywood Hill to stock up with reading for Chistmas!

    Thank you again for the blog. Courage, mon brave.


  13. Sébastien

    That is true all posts are not related to Paddy but much of them are. You know what? When I do not found any interest in the post I simply not read it and I wait for the next post. I love post made on people take a part of their life on a walking journey crossing a continent as Patrick Leigh Fermor did (recently on Owen Martel and Jasper Winn). Thank you for all these.

  14. Tim

    In 1990 I set myself the task of finding out whether Billy Moss had landed for the abduction on a beach that I and friends had been using in Southern Crete. It wasn’t but is more than likely the next beach west.
    I found it both impossible and pointless restricting my interest to that one goal. On the journey I soon realized I wanted to know more about the abduction, then more about the S.O.E members on it, then more about the Cretans and other S.O.E. officers in Crete, and so on.
    Yes there are posts here that I skim over, but I’d rather have the opportunity to read and forget than miss something that might be relevant.
    I think I was one of your first readers Tom, and as long as I am around I’ll keep visiting.

  15. Rose

    Hi Tom,

    Every time I open this blog it affords me some escape – especially whilst sitting in the corner of a Dickensian office. I may as well be covered in cobwebs.

    So the point I am making is that it’s so enjoyable & interesting as it is – we all visit for the same reason. To hear about people & their adventures, who are inspired in any way by PLF, is of equal interest to me.

    Thanks for all the hard work you put in – it really is greatly appreciated


  16. JulianA

    I should much rather have a variety of interesting posts on this blog than just ones purely about Paddy. Great to hear that there is much more directly related material – we shall look forward to it!

    Most of us, whilst interested in Paddy’s life, work and exploits of course, are interested in many more things as well, and this blog has certainly opened a few new avenues for me whilst still providing interesting Paddy-related reading.

    Please keep it coming Tom.

    And very best wishes for your walk!


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