In all the excitement (or is it boredom) of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, I failed to complete a post I was drafting in mid-March to mark ten years since starting this blog. So here it is!
By March 2010 I had been “blogging” for a year on my other site MyByzantine. It was a new world for me and I had enjoyed seeing that site grow from four visits in February 2009 to 1,600 a month one year later (and remaining over 2,000). That site has clocked up over 460,000 visits since its launch.
During that time I had also read all three volumes of John Julius Norwich’s Byzantium history series, losing one volume into the Shkumbin river in Albania when a laden donkey fell into the thrashing river losing my baggage during my journey to find the Via Egnatia in Albania and Macedonia (you can read an account here). The insurance claim process was amusing, but I digress.
Through John Julius Norwich I had discovered Paddy and started to read and enjoy his books. Doing a little bit of Googling I found out that Paddy had no website like most other authors, and from what I read was very unlikely to start one at his age. I had also found a lot of interesting material about him, and by him, scattered across numerous sites on the web. I decided to use my “skills” from the Byzantine blog to bring all this material together into one place. The idea of the Patrick Leigh Fermor blog was born.
The first post was not about Paddy at all, but an obituary of his SOE colleague Ralph Stockbridge. This was published on 21 March 2010, and has had over 800 views since then. This was followed by a couple of obits about Sophie Moss. Many other obituaries followed of George Lane, Paddy’s wife Joan, and John Craxton. It was a “soft launch”, but visits had risen from a massive 23 in March 2010 (I recall wondering if there was any interest in this aging writer), to over 2,200 by May. Since then there have been over 1,850,000 views!
It was very sad that Paddy died in the following year. By then the blog had a strong following with over 14,000 visits on the day that his death was announced. There are now 970 posts on the blog and I do have a great backlog of genuine Paddy related material, as well as the more prosaic that I now post that is, mostly, well received by you my dear readers. You continue to send me new material, and I can’t really keep up, especially now that I have to wash my hands every five minutes 🙂 .
Thank you for your continued support. I have to say that having this “audience” during the lockdown has in some way helped me through this difficult time of being apart from many of those I love, and I do hope that the posts have in some way helped you to get through the first part of this difficult time.
I would like to finish by reposting the first article of new Paddy written material that I found and posted on 2 April 2010. It is from the Spectator and called Sex O’Clock High. Some of you may have been following from the start, others stumbling across this crazy site more recently. However long you have been reading I do hope that you all enjoy reading Sex O’Clock High. For some of you this might be the very first time you have read this amusing, and so typically Paddy piece.
Hello Tom, and congratulations on an achievement which has given so much fascination and pleasure to so many people all over the world…
I must tell you!! – I told Magouche Fielding (widow of Xan, and perhaps the closest friend of Paddy’s old age) about the wonderful blog entitled “The greatest living Englishman”, and she had never heard about it, and she said “You have to tell him!” and the reason she was so adamant was that he suffered so much from self doubt… So I did – bellowing down the telephone line to Greece – he was utterly bemused, simply couldn’t believe it!
I had no idea then that your blog was pretty new – Hugh and I assumed it had been going for a good while (it’s rather touching for me to discover that obituaries of my mother were among your first posts!)
Your very thankful fan
I found Paddy Leigh Fermor’s early ’60s piece for ‘The Spectator’ quite challenging to declaim to my literary friend on Zoom this morning. So different from the Dr. Seuss books that I read to my grandchildren with their entire vocabulary of 50 monosyllabic words.
A shame that Paddy pre-dated YouTube. It would’ve been nice to see him reciting this in some village taverna, surrounded by Anthony Quinn-like faces, ouzo and retsina in their fists, worry beads silent, appreciative smiles in their eyes.
Congrats on the first 10 years… always a pleasure to read your blog… keep it going: there are always new things cropping up on PLF.