My thanks to Stephen who added a comment a while back about Paddy’s experience amongst the Greeks, and offered an entertaining link to a rousing You Tube video which you might enjoy.
Hello, to PLF readers. To gain an insight into the nights in the Psiloriti mountains that PLF partook, he was inspired by its people. The Cretan musicians here play, “Do not do battle with Greeks,” played in the mountains among its people.
Ever wary that material on You Tube etc may be taken down (there are too many broken links in the Video category), I’m posting this as a separate post just in case the You Tube version I published on 9 June 2019 (was it really almost one year ago?!!!!) is removed.
South Bank Show 15 minute excerpt from the 1989 show. Thank you to Freddie Gage for this.
Leigh Fermor, Southbank Show. from Freddie Gage on Vimeo.
I first discovered Paddy through my interest in Roman and Byzantine history. In fact through the excellent three volume work, Byzantium, of Paddy’s great friend John Julius Norwich. Some of you know that I run a parallel blog about Byzantium, and I thought that on this occasion I would share a recent post; I wondered how both Paddy and John Julius might have enjoyed it, and so, I hope, do you. If nothing else the music is sublime
In time for this (Orthodox) holy week period, the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens is offering a digital tour of some of its best works.
This gold-embroidered Epitaphios (liturgical vestment) dated to 1751 from the famous workshop of Mariora in Constantinople stands out among other exquisite works of art in this digital exhibition which draws on the collections of the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens. Hidden in its linings, conservators found the original signatures of the embroiderer and of the person that donated it – Mariora and Timothea. The masterpiece of Byzantine art is a long-term loan from the Exarchate of Jerusalem in Athens.
The digital exhibition, which visitors to the museum’s website can view this week, is a 33-minute video featuring 95 works from the museum’s collections on the Passion, Burial and Resurrection of Christ, and is accompanied by some wonderful music.
This unique digital presentation of museum objects of different places, eras, styles and materials aspires to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the centuries-old illustration of the leading events of the Divine Economy, as described in the Scriptures. The works, mostly portable icons, are thematically distributed according to the chronological sequence of historical events and their theological symbolism, beginning with Lazarus’ Sabbath and ending with Easter Sunday.
A Time of Gifts, 1977
Hello dear readers. I hope that you and your families are well, but I am guessing that some may have been hit by this dreadful virus and I wish you a speedy recovery. I am hunkered down in Winchester with my youngest daughter and my five month old grandson. It is a rare opportunity to for a grandpa to spend so much quality time with a grandchild; there are some blessings in all of this.
For us in the UK, this is the end of the first week of our soft “lockdown”. Perhaps further measures may come depending on the figures. Some of you will have been in a harder lockdown for longer in places like Italy and Spain. These measures will continue for some time and we all have a lot more time on our hands, so how about listening to A Time of Gifts as an audiobook? It is available on Audible if you have an account, but also it is freely available on You Tube but who knows for how long? You get two free downloads using a product like Airy https://mac.eltima.com/youtube-downloader-mac.html .
I hope that you enjoy listening. If Solvitur Ambulando, the Latin phrase which means “it is solved by walking”, is true, then perhaps some virtual walking may help us all at this time.
Posting the Stanford awards notice the other day, made me think again about Benedict Allen’s profile of Paddy on the Travellers’ Century series which is available on You Tube.
Whilst relaxing with your loved ones over the festive period, or at any other time, why not take an hour out to watch this lovely little documentary? Perhaps it’s an opportunity to introduce the family to this mysterious Patrick Leigh Fermor. A good entry point for the uninitiated.
On the evening of 26th April 1944, SOE officers, Patrick Leigh Fermor, and William “Billy” Stanley Moss, supported by the small but determined gang of Cretan Andartes, kidnapped German commander in Crete,Heinrich Kreipe, in an action that was on the one hand heroic and dashing, and on the other controversial for its impact and consequences.
The kidnap gang pose before the action (Courtesy of Estate of William Stanley Moss)
Paddy Leigh Fermor and ‘Billy’ Moss (Courtesy of estate of William Stanley Moss)
As we remember this small event in that catastrophic global war, you may like to take the opportunity to watch the movie, 11th Day, which documents the key events in the struggle of the Cretan people and their allies against the German occupiers, from the invasion to the German retreat, including interviews with Paddy, and many of the characters made famous by the kidnap of General Kreipe.
Watch the full movie here before it is pulled from You Tube!
It’s Christmastime, and yesterday evening I was out at the lovely Tichborne Arms in the (in)famous village of Tichborne in Hampshire for a drink by the fire, when I bumped into old friend Charlie Ottley. Some of you may remember that Charlie is a filmmaker, and is the leading light behind the wonderful series of films supported by The European Nature Trust, called Wild Carpathia. Charlie is planning a further film about Romania called White Carpathia. He is trying to raise funds for the movie, and has produced a film called Flavours of Romania, to help raise funds, which is a travelogue across nine great regions of this wonderful country that Paddy loved so much.
It must have been the beer, but I was persuaded to buy a copy, and have spent some of this dreadfully wet and cold English day watching the film. It is a joy, full of beautiful images of a land that I adore. It features the wild Carpathian forests, the idyllic Danube Delta, bears and wolves, traditional dance and music, and some great food.
If you would like a stocking filler for Christmas, and wish to support Charlie in his fundraising for the final “Carpathia” film, you might like to purchase a copy.
You can watch the trailer here.
If you would like to make a purchase please send Charlie a message and he will make all arrangements – message on the Facebook page here.
There are more videos from the making of the film here.
To get a further insight into Charlie’s films, and watch the very first Wild Carpathia, click below!
An Easter treat for you. Siân Phillips reads from page 277 of A Time of Gifts (paperback) as Paddy arrives at the Danube, spots Esztergom, has his passport stamped by the Czechoslovakian border guards, and lingers ‘in the middle of the bridge, meditatively poised in no man’s air.’
‘The air was full of hints and signs. There was a flicker and a swishing along the river like the breezy snip-snap of barbers’ scissors before they swoop and slice. It was the skimming and twirling of newly arrived swifts. A curve in the stream was re-arranging the landscape as I advanced, revealing some of the roofs of Esztergom and turning the Basilica to a new angle as though it were on a pivot. The rolling wooded range of the Bakony Forest had advanced north from the heart of Transdanubia, and the corresponding promontory on the northern shore – the last low foothills of the Marra mountains, whose other extremity subsides in the north eastern tip of Hungary – jutted into the water under the little town of Parkan. Reaching for each other, the two headlands coerced the rambling flood yet once more into a narrower and swifter flow and then spanned the ruffie with an iron bridge. Spidery at first, the structure grew more solid as the distance dwindled. (Twenty miles east of this bridge, the Danube reaches a most important point in its career: wheeling round the ultimate headland of the Balcony Forest and heading due south for the first time on its journey, it strings itself through Budapest like a thread through a bead and drops across the map of Europe plumb for a hundred and eighty miles, cutting Hungary clean in half. Then, reinforced by the Drava, it turns east again, invades Yugoslavia, swallows up the Sava under the battlements of Belgrade, and sweeps on imperturbably to storm the Iron Gates.)
In an hour, I had climbed the cliff-path into the main street of Parkan. A little later my passport was stamped at the frontier post at the Czechoslovakian end of the bridge. The red, white and green barrier of the frontier post at the far end marked the beginning of Hungary. I lingered in the middle of the bridge, meditatively poised in no man’s air.’
(Extract from A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor, with thanks to John Murray Publishers.)
We here at the Paddy blog would like to wish you and your family a happy and peaceful Easter. This year I would like to share with you the beautiful voice of Nektaria Karantzi, a Greek singer of traditional Byzantine and Orthodox chant. Paddy was an admirer of Byzantium and I am sure also loved the music
Fine out more about Nektaria, her concerts and more video on her Facebook page.
Don’t forget to switch on the volume!
The Sabotage Diaries
from Katherine Barnes
I first wrote about this excellent book in March. Author Katherine Barnes has now produced a video which is worth a watch, even if only to view some of the extraordinary photographs showing SOE operations in mainland Greece.
The Sabotage Diaries is the thrilling story of Allied engineer Tom Barnes, who was parachuted behind enemy lines in Greece In 1942 with eleven others to sabotage the railway line taking supplies to Rommel in North Africa. The target chosen was the Gorgopotamos bridge. Tom led the demolition party to lay the explosives while fighting raged between the Italian garrison and a combined force of Greek resistance fighters and Tom’s fellow-soldiers. A great story of courage and endurance.
Buy The Sabotage Diaries
A small tribute to remember those on both sides who fought and died in Gallipoli, a bloody campaign that started 100 years ago today.
The words of the great Mustafa Kemal Atatürk resound clearly today:
Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives … You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours … You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.
The video below includes an extremely moving song by Eric Bogle and is mixed with pictures from Gallipoli with past and present Canadian troops.
A broadcast on France Culture radio featuring Paddy speaking his best French, supported by Artemis Cooper and her father John Julius Norwich. Lovely to hear Paddy speaking and also to brush up some of the old French given that we all know the context. With contributions from others. Click the picture above to visit the site and then press the play icon. The player will open in a new window and can be a little slow to load so just be patient but the quality is fine and worth the wait.
Interesting that with this and the TV interview alongside the brilliant Nicolas Bouvier, the French are running neck and neck with the BBC for airtime about Paddy. Watch Paddy here (he appears around 29 minutes.)
My thanks to Nick Galousis who highlighted this You Tube video in which Elais Athanassakis, who passed away in 2002, tells the story of the build up to the kidnap and his part in it.
Paddy describes Elias in Abducting a General as “a very bright and enterprising young student working in our town organisation” and it was he who had to commit to memory all the details of the General’s car, even down to the size of the headlight slits, so as to ensure that the correct car was chosen on the busy road. He reconnoitered the route with Paddy and had the task of observing the road to signal back when the General was approaching and whether or not he was accompanied.
The video is in Greek which is great for those of us who speak Greek 🙂
You may remember in 2012 I posted a video of Owen Martell walking “the wrong way” across Europe from Istanbul to Edinburgh. It was quite an epic journey.
This last year or so Owen walked across the United States from Seattle to New Orleans pushing and sometimes dragging his load in a trolley contraption through snow and desert, encountering some very strange Americans, and just good normal people on his way. There were times when he had some close shaves, suffering from noxious gases in oil production fields, and getting caught up in “security situations” in an America that can sometimes be hostile to the wandering traveller as it fights the war against its unseen, and perhaps imagined, enemies.
I hope that you enjoy watching Owen’s journey in his wonderful You Tube video accompanied as ever by the delightful music of the very talented folk group Darlingside.
Watch Owen’s walk across Europe here.
Artemis Cooper presenting the 2014 Stavros Niarchos Foundation lecture
Artemis Cooper giving the 2014 Stavros Niarchos Foundation Lecture at Yale University.
A video is available on YouTube here or via the embed below. The blurb introduces things as follows:
Patrick Leigh Fermor’s first travels in Greece took place before the outbreak of the Second World War, and he already spoke fluent Greek by the time he was parachuted into occupied Crete in 1942 to help the Cretan Resistance, which in May 1944 resulted in the abduction of a German general. Leigh Fermor settled in Greece in the 1960s, and lived there until his death in 2011. His books Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece and Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese are two of the best travel books in the English language. The talk is about his life and friends in Greece, and how much the country meant to him.
Mark Granelli brought this video to my attention and had this to say:
It is quite fascinating, and includes a beautiful extract from ‘Mani’ where Paddy is accompanied by dolphins on a ferry trip.
It focuses a lot on Paddy’s time in Crete.
The Q&A at the end turns up some personal information about Paddy and also references Olivia Manning and Fitzroy Maclean.
Another video from the delightful series of interviews with Debo. She recalls times with Jack Kennedy and his funeral. She was at the White House during the Cuban missile crisis and could not understand all the talk of “missuls”; she thought they were some kind of thrush.
Click on the picture to play and briefly endure the annoying advertisement before the main event (sound again low gain).
Immortalised by Paddy who stayed here in the winter of 1934, the Red Ox Inn is celebrating 175 years managed by six generations of the same family. They say they are looking forward to the 200th anniversary. It is always worth a visit if you travel to beautiful Heidelberg.
In German, and I should warn you there are scenes of hearty German food and large glasses of beer, but fortunately no flash photography.
This does not appear to play in Firefox. It works in Internet Explorer. Click on the image to play.
Debo was always confident in front of the camera and here she talks about some of the extraordinary events in her life. She was the girl who within a few short months danced with the young JFK and then had tea with Hitler. They don’t make ’em like this anymore.
The video has a low level of sound. Perhaps best to listen with headphones after the irritating advert.
Click on the picture to play.
Many will be aware of Benedict Allen’s 2008 BBC documentary where he follows Paddy’s journey and eventually gets to meet with Paddy at Kardamyli. It is rarely shown and unavailable on iPlayer. However, there will be a chance for some to watch the programme at Waterstones Piccadilly on Thursday 9th October at 6.30pm.
As part of their “Traveller’s Film Club” series of events, Benedict will introduce the programme after which there will be a screening. Further details of how to book are on this web page.
The Traveller’s Film Club are also showing films on Norman Lewis (September 16) and Wilfred Thesiger (November 13). See the same list.
Thank you to Mark Granelli for pointing this out to me. See some of you there!
Last week as I drove back from my work in Sussex I stopped to buy some petrol. In the shop my attention was drawn to the picture in the local newspaper showing the funeral of a young local soldier who had recently died in an IED explosion in Afghanistan. Being away for so long I may have missed the news of his death, but I thought perhaps maybe I have just stopped noticing.
At 11.00 am GMT this morning we will observe a silence and remember all British and Commonwealth soldiers who have died in wars since 1914, but also those of our allies and those whom we fought against, particularly in the Great War. It is too easy to forget. Remembrance not only honours the fallen but it may, just may, make us think a little longer about “starting all over again.”
This song is by Scottish folk singer Eric Bogle and is about the struggles and fears of Australian soldiers who fought against Turkish troops and were wounded and killed in the Battle of Gallipoli in World War I. Mixed with pictures from Gallipoli are pictures of past and present Canadian troops because this song and powerful slideshow was played during a Remembrance Day assembly at a Canadian public school to remind those young people that whilst the scale of the slaughter is now thankfully much less, war is always with us, and those in our military risk their lives every day serving us. It is an extremely moving song.
This is the time of year when we particularly remember those who gave their lives in wars past and present. Our understanding of the first and second world wars in particular has been enhanced by the contributions of the well-known war poets. More recent wars have really failed to produce the same work, but recently I have discovered the songs of Fred Smith an Australian folk singer and diplomat (yes, slightly contradictory) who as a civilian appears to really ‘get’ what it means to be a soldier fighting the modern insurgent war, this forsaken war, in Afghanistan.
His work is powerful, witty, ironic, gritty and realistic, whilst being entertaining. This is a man who understands this war from his time serving as a civilian adviser in the Afghan province of Uruzgan in 2009-2010. He has produced an album called Dust of Uruzgan which covers the whole gambit of the soldier’s life: fighting; reflection; boredom; missing beer, home and loved ones; being a brother in arms; loving the action; death; and “swaffelen“.
The title song to his album is about the death of Aussie Private Benjamin Ranaudo as told from the perspective of his mate who set off the IED. Sounds morbid but it ain’t and you can almost feel that Afghan dust in your hair, your eyes and your boots.
Fred’s album, the Dust of Uruzgan can be found on Amazon. It is great. If you are an ex-serviceman you will want to own this.
His website is here.
This version of Fred’s performance includes a full explanation of all the TLA’s that is the daily vocabulary of the modern day soldier.
I often receive questions about Paddy’s appearance on the South Bank Show in 1989. There is a lot of material freely available these days, but this one remains elusive.
Today I put the question or challenge out to you all: how can we find a copy of this show so that we can all enjoy it (and legally!)?
It is Season 12, Episode 14, aired on the UK’s ITV network in 1989, and Melvyn Bragg was the host.
All suggestions very welcome.
Last week I attended the premiere of Wild Carpathia 2 at BAFTA in Piccadilly in aid of the European Nature Trust. There was a good crowd and we rubbed shoulders with Crown Princess Margarita of Romania, Mrs Maria Grapini, Romanian Minister for Tourism, four times Olympic Gold medal-winning canoeist, Ivan Patzaichin, and Romanian folksinger, Grigore Lese. The drinks sponsors appeared to be the Corcova winery from the south-west corner of Romania, and I am delighted to say that they took their duties very seriously, for the enjoyment of all!
But the highlight for me was Grigore Lese playing and singing, very emotionally and powerfully, to a backdrop of some great images of Romania by the Scottish photographer Max Milligan who is working on his next book about Romania in 2014. See Romania a Portrait on Facebook.
There are some really wonderful videos on Milligan’s website showing him at work in Romania, probably one of the last places on earth where you can experience such unique landscape and wildlife, plus see amazing architecture and meet remarkably friendly people, and do this more or less on your own without crowds of tourists. The Romanian tourist ministry has a lot of work to do, but of course at the moment it is good for those of us who want a quieter and more authentic experience .
You can enjoy more of Milligans’s videos here.
The first Wild Carpathia movie is found here.
Please visit the European Nature Trust website to find out more about their work preserving the wild spaces of Scotland and Romania and maybe get involved.
If you never get the chance to visit Paddy and Joan’s house in Karadmyli, it looks like you can have an extended viewing if you go to see the movie Before Midnight.
Before Sunset sequel, Before Midnight movie shooting in Greece at Paddy’s House
Intimate portraits from Kardamyli by Miles Fenton
Today after due British ceremonial scepticism, cynicism, and complaints about special Olympic traffic lanes, we in the United Kingdom are starting to feel the excitement of the imminent official start of the London Olympics.
Your favourite blog is caught up in the excitement and will be cheering on Team GB and all those who show true sportsmanship.
For those of you who may be coming to watch we have been able to gain special access to the Mayor of London, the renowned classics scholar and consumer of all things Patrick Leigh Fermor, Boris Johnson, to bring you this exclusive welcome.
Let the Games begin!
A few months ago I mentioned that Owen Martel had walked from Istanbul to Edinburgh using a different route to Paddy via the Alps. Now, six months after finishing the walk his collaboration with the Boston band Darlingside (http://www.darlingside.com/) has produced an offshoot short video combining footage from the walk with a song from their upcoming album Pilot Machines. Given that the distance was something in the order of three thousand miles, the compression to three minutes of screen time makes for quite the whirlwind tour.
The video has joined Owen’s other walk-related media at his Walk Across Europe blog site.
Given how absolutely miserable the weather is here in England, I post this as a means of escape, even if only for three minutes. I hope you can feel the sun and the wind when you watch it, just ignore the occasional buckets of rain; he was in training for his time across the Channel.
We have all seen the famous 1972 video of Nico Mastorakis’ TV show “This is Your Life” which brought Kreipe and his old enemies together before the cameras. If you have not seen it you can find it here.
In this newly discovered video Nico Mastorakis presents a documentary about the whole kidnap event, and includes full length and exclusive interviews with Paddy and General Kreipe. The General even says that “next year I will spend my holiday in Crete.” I wonder if he ever did?
There is much more about the kidnap in the Video and Audio section. Take a visit now.
On May 24 2012, Artemis Cooper spoke at the Gennadius Library, Athens, on the subject of “Patrick Leigh Fermor in Greece.” Her lively and inspiring lecture stirred the interest of the audience that filled Cotsen Hall. She traced his life, experiences, and legacy in Greece from his early travels to the end of his life, on 10 June 2011. She talked about the things that drew Patrick Leigh Fermor to Greece in the first place; his ‘participation’ in the Venizelist rebellion of 1935; his early travels in Thrace and Macedonia, and first encounters with the Sarakatsani; his experiences in the war on the Albanian front and Crete, as well as the post-war explorations of Greece that produced Mani and Roumeli. She also touched on the Cyprus years; his friendship with George Seferis, George Katsimbalis, and Nicos Hadjikyriacos Ghika; how he and his wife came to settle in Kardamyli, and built their house with the architect Nicos Hadjimichalis; how the Greek translation of Mani was undertaken by Tzannis Tzannetakis, while he was in exile in Kythera under the Junta of the Colonels. Finally, she reflected on his position in the village of Kardamyli and how he is seen in Greece today.
Artemis Cooper studied English Literature at Oxford, and worked in Egypt and New Mexico before beginning her career as a writer. Her previous books include Cairo in the War: 1939-1945; Watching in the Dark, A Child’s Fight for Life; and Writing at the Kitchen Table, The Authorized biography of Elizabeth David. She has also edited two volumes of letters, and co-authored Paris After the Liberation: 1945-1949 with her husband, the historian Antony Beevor. Her biography of Patrick Leigh Fermor is based on unrestricted access to his private papers, and interviews with him in England and Greece over several years.
To watch the video visit the Gennadius Library website.
Continuing the current theme of SOE and the Balkans, many of you may find this interview with Sir Fitzroy McLean as fascinating as I did.
He talks about this life and his writing, starting with the excellent, Eastern Approaches which covers his time in Moscow, and then his wartime experiences culminating with his evaluation of Tito, and the march on Belgrade.
Sir Fitzroy Maclean Bt: Obituary
Sir William Deakin, historian and founding Warden of St Antony’s College, Oxford