Category Archives: Video

Wild Carpathia

Sorry I just can’t help myself. Romania is so magical and beautiful; Paddy is reported to have said that after Greece he loved Romania the most. I have to share this video with you. It was funded by The European Nature Trust (TENT) which is based in Marlow, Berkshire. It’s mission is ” the protection and restoration of threatened wilderness, wild habitats and the wildlife living within them.” and it is focused upon Romania and Scotland.

This is a high quality version in English. Watch it and maybe support the work of TENT.

The all star cast includes lots of bears, even more mountains, and huge (but endangered) forests. Presented by Charlie Ottley, with Count Kálnoky, and HRH Prince Charles who thinks because he has some ancestral links to Vlad Dracul he has a ‘stake’ in the country.

Related article:

Lost in Transylvania

The Feast of SS. Michael and Gabriel – Paddy’s name day

November 8th is the Name Day for Saint Michael in the Greek Orthodox church, and as the Greeks have a paucity of saints called Patrick, the tradition is that Paddy celebrated his name day using his second name Michael. The name day is considered to be more important than the birthday, and is marked by parties and gifts. 

Some of you may recall that the New Zealand writer Maggie Rainey-Smith happened to be in Kardamili in 2007 and somehow ended up at Paddy’s house and was able to join in the party.

“By 10.30am the service in his private chapel was over and we were seated in his lounge – books lining the walls from floor to ceiling: Nancy Mitford, Henry James, James Joyce – eating olives, meatballs, feta and drinking local wine.

On a person’s Name Day you are required to take a gift, and all I had with me was a copy of my first novel About Turns, which I gave to Paddy. He signed my copy of his own book with a personal inscription and a small drawing. We talked about Crete and my dad and his book on the Mani. I gushed, he charmed.

Then the singing began and Paddy was surrounded by adoring local women who toasted him with traditional Name Day songs.

At the end of the singing, Paddy stood and pretended to fire a pistol into the air (an old tradition where real pistols were once used). He is of English and Irish descent. Although his name is Patrick, his Greek Name Day is the day of Michali. Michael is the name he assumed while fighting for the Greek resistance.”

Maggie also took some video footage of local women singing to Paddy who does look pleased! (click image to play)




My sincere thanks to Maggie for letting us see this again.

Please visit Maggie’s blog where you will be able to read more about her visit and here you can discover her work as a writer.

You can read Maggie’s complete original article about her visit reproduced on the blog  here.

A reconstruction of the Kreipe abduction in Crete

I believe this is something of a regular event in Crete. The story of the Kreipe abduction and then a ‘reenactment’ of the abduction on the actual spot it took place. The action starts at 2 minutes 20 seconds!

Don’t forget we have a whole section on these events and video as well:

Paddy talks about the abduction

General Kreipe, Paddy and the abduction gang on Greek TV 1972

more stories related to Ill Met by Moonlight 

Related article:

The Kreipe pennants 

Journalist Maya Tsokli interviews Paddy

As part of the show “TRAVEL IN GREECE” the journalist Maya Tsokli discovers the area of ​​Kardamyli, and walks down a lane to a light blue door ….

A very good quality TV interview with Paddy brought to my attention by Thos Henley.

George Katsimbalis documentary Part 2 – Paddy sings about Greek debt!

The second clip of Paddy in a Greek TV documentary about his friend George Katsimbalis. Towards the end of this excerpt Paddy is chanting a 1935 Greek song about the 1932 Greek debt crisis; how appropriate.

My thanks again to Nicolas Paissios for sending me this and the two previous clips.

Click the image to play.

George Katsimbalis documentary Part 1 – by the Acropolis and at the bar

Paddy in a Greek TV documentary about his friend George Katsimbalis. Paddy visits a bar and sings a French song.

My thanks again to Nicolas Paissios for sending me this – and there is one more to come 🙂

Click the image to play.

Repeat of Paddy’s interview on “Private Passions” Sunday 31 July

The quality of our own link to BBC Radio Three’s Private Passions with Paddy is not the best, but still quite acceptable. However, there is now a chance to hear a repeat of the programme this coming Sunday 31 July at midday BST on BBC Radio 3.

You can find details of the programme here. You should be able to hear on FM and digital radio; possibly satellite TV and of course over the internet if the BBC permits from your location. Thanks to Phyllis Willis for spotting this one. The programme blurb goes as follows:

Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, travel writer and war hero, died in June at the age of 96. In 2005 he recorded an edition of Private Passions, in which he talked about the music he loved. This is another chance to hear that conversation with Michael Berkeley.

Patrick Leigh Fermor was born in London in 1915, the son of a distinguished geologist. He was brought up in England after his parents left for India, and attended The Kings School, Canterbury, from which he was expelled for holding hands with a local greengrocer’s daughter. At the age of 18 he set off to walk across Europe to Constantinople (now Istanbul), a journey which later inspired his two finest travel books, ‘A Time of Gifts’ (1977) and ‘Between the Woods and the Water’ (1986). After further travels in the Balkans, he fought in Crete and mainland Greece during World War II. His exploits with the Greek Resistance in Crete inspired his fellow-officer Captain Bill Stanley Moss’s book ‘Ill Met by Moonlight’, later adapted as a film, with Dirk Bogarde playing Leigh Fermor. He published his first travel book in 1950, and became widely regarded as Britain’s greatest living travel writer. He divided his time between his beloved Greece and Worcestershire, and was knighted in 2004.

Patrick Leigh Fermor loved music of all kinds, from Greek folksongs to Irving Berlin. His eclectic selection for Private Passions includes an extract from Mozart’s Don Giovanni and the finale of the Sinfonia concertante K364 for violin and viola; part of Schubert’s ‘Trout’ Quintet; part of the Tenebrae Responsories by Victoria; Debussy’s Gigues (from Images); Britten’s arrangement of The Salley Gardens, and Michael Berkeley’s own Variations on Greek Folk Songs for solo viola, inspired by Leigh Fermor’s own celebrated vocal renditions.

Related article:

Paddy interviewed on “Private Passions” for his 90th birthday in 2005

Paddy talks about his home in Kardamyli and the Mani

I doubt this has ever been seen outside of Greece. This video of Paddy is taken from a Greek TV documentary from 1999. We see scenes of Paddy working over his manuscripts, views of the library, dining room and the garden. He talks of his home and the Mani.

I am truly indebted to Nicolas Paissios for sending me this – and there is more to come 🙂

 

 Click the image to play. Let it run for a while and you will be taken on a journey to Paddy’s house.

Patrick Leigh Fermor … This is Your (Ill Met by Moonlight) Greek Life

The abduction gang - PLF centre Moss to his left

This is a wonderful find brought to us by Blog reader Erik Bruns.

Many will remember the TV show This is Your Life. Greek television had their own version, and in 1972 it was Paddy’s turn to be embarrassed and surprised by meeting again people that he had come across in his life. His surprise and clear delight at meeting with the ‘Abduction Gang’ of Cretan Andartes is clear. The ‘senior’ partisans, Manoli and George (see picture left) are the first two guests, and they seem barely changed.

The highlight must be when the presenter introduces a slightly frail General Heinrich Kreipe. Paddy is delighted to see him again, and immediately starts to talk to the General in German saying how good it is to see him after all these years.

I am amused as one of the Cretans takes the General’s arm to help him sit down; maybe he did the same before on that road to the Villa Ariadne, but was perhaps a little less gentle on that occasion!

There follows what is one of television’s most wonderful scenes as Paddy acts as translator answering the presenter in Greek and then switching back to German to speak to the General.

Take fifteen minutes of your life to watch Paddy, and all these great men, as they share their experiences of an event which took place thirty years before, with great animation and clear joy.

I have a feeling that there was a pretty good party afterwards with plenty of Ouzo and Retsina!

Battle of Crete: Sinking of HMS Gloucester remembered 70 years on

Emotional memories of the loss of HMS Gloucester 70 years ago, with the loss of 700 hands. Taking part in the Battle for Crete, she was sunk on the 22nd May 1941 by Ju.87s and Ju.88s.

Watch here on the BBC website.

Six-inch gunned "Town" class cruiser HMS Gloucester

Crete, Greece: Ghostly soldiers on the Battle of Crete anniversary

The Commonwealth War Cemetery at Souda Bay in Crete where the main anniversary commemorations will take place

It was sunny but cold, last month in Crete – what the locals call “ilios me dontia”, sun with teeth. I sat on the beach at Sfakia on the south coast of the island. Around me a toddler played among the stones while taverna owners were applying final licks of paint in preparation for the new tourist season.

My late father sat on the same beach in May 1941. Around him there was chaos and despair. Evelyn Waugh, who was there too, later captured the scene in the novel Officers and Gentlemen: “The ghosts of an army teemed everywhere. Some were quite apathetic, too weary to eat; others were smashing their rifles on the stones, taking a fierce relish in this symbolic farewell to their arms.”

This tiny harbour is the finish to the story of the Battle of Crete, which started 70 years ago on Friday, May 20 — a significant anniversary that will be commemorated across the island. There are few veterans left now, but strands of the narrative may still be picked up among the rocks and wild flowers of the beautiful western end of Crete.

I had long meant to do this journey, to discover what my father – and thousands of others – went through. He himself hadn’t been the best source as he wouldn’t say much about it. And then he died, with the story largely untold.
Related Articles

To help me uncover it, I enlisted the services of a Briton who has been a resident of Crete for 25 years and offers guided tours of the key sites. For Tim Powell, tourist guide, musician and lover of all things Cretan, the Battle of Crete was characterised by the heroic resistance of the civilian population. “This ‘insurgency’ led to a declaration that for every German soldier killed, 10 Cretans would be executed — which of course did nothing to stop them,” he said.

He started the story at the end, the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Souda Bay where the main anniversary commemorations will take place. The 1,500 headstones memorialise some colourful characters, none more vivid than John Pendlebury, an archaeologist with a glass eye who was operating in Crete as a secret agent when he was killed on May 22 1941.

The battle and its aftermath of guerrilla resistance threw up a cast of such chaps — suave British secret agents, brave Cretan warriors, even a monocle-wearing German aristocrat — whose deeds are recorded in some compelling accounts. Ill Met by Moonlight, for example, recounts the kidnap of the German General Heinrich Kreipe in 1944, masterminded by the secret agent (and future travel writer) Patrick Leigh Fermor.

But the Crete campaign also included many ordinary soldiers and civilians whose names and actions remain unrecorded and for whom the experience was far from glamorous. One of them was my father, a lance sergeant in the Northumberland Hussars, who was evacuated to Crete from Athens towards the end of April 1941 after mainland Greece fell to the Nazis.

He dug in with a force of about 21,000 combat-ready British, Australian, New Zealand and Cretan soldiers to defend the island. The Germans launched their attack on May 20 in wave after wave of paratroop drops by parachute and glider. What followed was a series of military blunders on both sides in which the Allies managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The key fighting took place around the airfield at Maleme, and Hill 107 above it, to the west of Chania. Since 1974 Hill 107 has been the site of the German War Cemetery on Crete, the last resting place of 4,465 soldiers of whom nearly 2,000 were killed on that first day.

Many fell not to soldiers but to civilians. “The Germans had never seen something like this in Europe,” explained George Bikoyiannakis, the owner of the Café Plateia in the village of Galatas near Chania, the site of fierce fighting. “These people were fighting with farming tools. Even broomsticks. They would tie kitchen knives to them and use them as spears.”

George runs a little museum next to the church that commemorates the heroic efforts of locals and New Zealanders to defend the village. The Kiwis are remembered in the name of a street, Neozilandon Polemiston, which means “Road of the New Zealand Warriors”. Down a narrow alley, a garden gate has been fashioned from an old piece of British Matilda tank.

The civilian resistance — by women and priests and as well as men young and old — offended the Nazis’ sense of how war should be waged and their commander, General Kurt Student, ordered reprisals to be carried out “with exemplary terror”. The sites of these massacres are marked by monuments across the island, some of them displaying the skulls and bones of victims behind glass.

At Alikianos a marble column and canopy bear witness to one of the bravest feats of the Battle of Crete, in which 850 lads of the locally recruited 8th Greek Regiment held out for a week against German onslaught. More than 200 villagers, ranging in age from 14 to 80, were subsequently shot in reprisal.

“The Germans were surprised because the women didn’t turn away,” said Powell. “They watched their husbands and sons being executed.” The significance of the action at Alikianos is that it bought the Allies time to organise the evacuation of Crete. On May 27, realising the island was lost, the Allied commander, Major General Bernard Freyberg, ordered his forces to retreat south across the Levka Ori, the mountains that form the snowy spine of Crete, to an embarkation point on the southern coast.

My father and his fellow Geordies abandoned the ground they held around Chania and joined the exodus. The route they took, with little or no food, in rotting boots, under frequent attack from Stuka dive bombers, was nicknamed the Via Dolorosa. Today you can drive it in your little Nissan or Peugeot hire car.

In 1941 it was a dirt track that ended in the five-mile-long Imbros Gorge. A Stuka was shot down as it came in for the attack here. Its propeller is one of the prize exhibits in the war museum at Askifou, which lies on the Via Dolorosa. Walking the gorge myself, I tried to imagine the Stuka screech my father once remarked on, but all I could hear was goat bells.

His reward for reaching Sfakia, where Royal Navy ships evacuated 16,000 men over four nights, was to be told there was no room for him. He would have to stay behind and wait to be captured. All told, 5,000 Allied troops didn’t make it off Crete. None of those left behind was above the rank of lieutenant colonel.

One eyewitness talked of the “damnable and disgraceful scramble for priority, a claim to the privilege of escape based on rank and seniority”. Evelyn Waugh thought it a shameful episode. My father didn’t mention it.

After sitting on the beach at Sfakia I sat down for lunch at one of those spruced-up tavernas and ordered a plate of gigantes, butterbeans in tomato sauce. Then I remembered that butterbeans were my father’s favourite thing to eat. He would have appreciated a plateful as he sat twiddling his thumbs just a few feet away, waiting to be captured.

He spent the next four years, from the ages of 20 to 24, in various POW camps in Germany, but he took it all on the chin. The only bit I can remember him grumbling about was having to march the 50 miles back over the mountains, along the Via Dolorosa, after being taken prisoner. He said he could have done without that.

By Nigel Richardson – First published in The Telegraph

Related articles:

A Meeting between Paddy and George Psychoundakis the “Cretan Runner”

Ride of the Valkyries: The Vichy perspective on the German invasion of Crete

Patrick Leigh Fermor recounts the kidnap of General Kreipe on video

Crete: 11th Day Movie with Paddy

Mount Athos: A visit to the Holy Mountain

In February 1936 the young Patrick Leigh Fermor walked along the peninsula that we know as Mount Athos. It was there he celebrated his twenty-first birthday with Russian Orthodox monks. In 2011 the CBS ’60 Minutes’ programme gained access to the Holy Mountain, the first television since 1981. Here is a unique opportunity to take a wider look at the community and beauty of Mount Athos which made such an impression on the young Paddy.

Bob Simon steps back in time when he gets rare access to monks in ancient monasteries on a remote Greek peninsula who have lived a Spartan life of prayer in a tradition virtually unchanged for a thousand years.

The programme is in two parts and if you are dedicated and clever, there are many other ‘extras’ – I have provided some links below. Enjoy!

Part One:

Part One

Part Two:

Part Two

Transcript of Parts One and Two

Extras:

Behind-the-scenes travelogue to holy Mt. Athos

Mt. Athos’ autonomy

Bastions of the Orthodox faith

Extra: Don’t call it art!

Life on Mt. Athos


The Duchess of Devonshire talks about Patrick Leigh Fermor

The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, the youngest of the legendary Mitford sisters reminisces about her life and her correspondence with the charismatic Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, considered to be the finest English travel writer of his generation. An evening filled with wit, eccentric characters, and a celebration of courage and friendship. Charlotte Mosley, her niece and editor, joins the Dowager Duchess in conversation.

This was filmed on November 10 2010 at the Frick Collection in New York to mark the US publication of In Tearing Haste and her new memoire, Wait for Me

Paddy is mentioned at the start and she discusses her friendship with him from minute 35

One year on … the Patrick Leigh Fermor Blog

I am back. Sorry that I have been so quiet for the last few weeks. I don’t have any real explanation. Excuses may range from work commitments through some form of ‘writer’s block’ (where has my muse gone?) to the genuine excuse of being totally absorbed by Miklos Banffy’s first volume of his trilogy – They Were Counted.

This is an exceptionally good book. I will write about it at greater length at some future date, but I do recommend it. He can sometimes get a little bogged down by Hungarian politics, but when he gets going, describing balls, duels, gambling and love, he really does have a very fine style. Paddy wrote the forward to the English translation whilst staying at Chatsworth during Christmas 1998. Much of the story is set in Kolozvar (Cluj) and our old friend the Hotel New York, where Paddy and Angéla went for a cocktail, is frequently mentioned.

We have just had a blog anniversary. The Patrick Leigh Fermor blog started in late March 2010. In that time it has reached almost the very top in any Paddy search you care to mention. There have been over 64,000 visits, 156 postings, 206 comments, and there are now well over 100 subscribers (you can sign up in the top right of the home page so that you receive future posts by email – no spam).

When I started I wondered if there would be any interest in our heroic and talented subject. There were just a few dozen visits in the first month. But visits grew rapidly to a peak of 9,400 in January 2011. We now track at nearly 7,000 visits a month on average so you are not alone in your interest in The Greatest Living Englishman.

I am extremely grateful to all of you who have got in touch with me with messages of support; offers of information; and especially to those who have sent me material to publish. I can assure you that there is much more material (I have over 60 items in various stages of draft) and it will come in a steady stream. To one of you, please be assured I remain your #1.

Finally, let’s not forget why we are here. Paddy is now 96 years of age and, as far as I can tell, in reasonably good health. I am sure we wish him all good health and pray that he is working as fast as he can on that third volume. It is without doubt one of the most eagerly anticipated books of the decade.

Why not visit some of our top posts?

Patrick Leigh Fermor recounts the kidnap of General Kreipe on video

A Meeting between Paddy and George Psychoundakis the “Cretan Runner”

Patrick Leigh Fermor – star of the silver screen?

On the Pontic shores where the snowflakes fall

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

Paddy visits the wonder that is Ohrid

I suppose it is a good thing to aim to be objective in life. It shows wisdom and maturity, and an ability to balance all the arguments. For me however, all objectivity vanishes when I think of Ohrid! The setting of this beautiful city on the edge of the vast and wondrous eponymous lake is simply stunning.

Although he does not state it specifically, I believe Paddy visited Ohrid and its environs when on a motor tour from France to Greece with Joan in her Sunbeam Rapier in 1960. He tells the story to Debo in a letter dated 23/24 October 1960 (see page 67 of In Tearing Haste). Paddy describes visiting “Serbian Macedonia and wonderful lakes with frescoed Byzantine monasteries on the shores … (which) held us up for days.” There is little doubt in my mind that he is referring to Ohrid, and having been there myself I can understand why; it is a wonder that he ever left!

It is said that Ohrid, Macedonia, once had 365 churches although there are now only around twenty-five which remain open. Its name means City of Light and it has over 220 days of sunshine each year. The town creeps up the hillside surrounding a central esplanade and harbour dominated by the statue of St Clement, who was the student of Saint Cyril and his brother Methodius. They were the authors of the Cyrillic alphabet (approx 864 AD) which was created by the Byzantines to bring the Slavic nations into the Orthodox Church rather than let them fall under the influence of Rome during the early days of the schism between the two churches.

Ohrid is full of Byzantine history. The influence of the Empire can be seen everywhere from the statues to the fortress but principally in the churches and the ancient Basilica. The original church of St Clement was destroyed by the Ottomans who built a mosque on the site which has a clear view of the Lake. Clement’s relics were secretly moved by the Christian citizens of Ohrid to the smaller and less important Church of St Mary Psychosostria. Over time this church became known as the Church of St Clement, but the confusion is now ended as in 2000 the Macedonian authorities rebuilt the Church of St Clement on the original site. His relics have been moved back there to rest in peace. The site includes the remains of original Baptistry, and there are many mosaics all in very good condition.

The Church of St Mary is a wonder. Built in 1295 by the deputy Progon Zgur who was a relative of the Emperor Andronicus II Paleologus, it has twenty-nine scenes from the life of the Virgin around the walls. These frescoes are in generally excellent condition with little of the wear or defacement one often finds elsewhere. The reason for this is that most of the frescoes were obliterated by soot from candles. They were cleaned and restored only since 1960. The have to be seen to be understood. The ‘keeper’ of the frescoes is an amazing Macedonian lady with long black hair, with braided pigtails; the church and the frescoes are her passion, probably the centre of her life. She has produced a long book and the frescoes were the subject of her PhD. She says that the fresco of the Virgin that dominates the Apse is painted from lapis lazuli originating in Afghanistan. That one fresco would have cost something in the order of one kilogramme of gold (at today’s prices that is roughly $56,000).

Opposite the Church is the national Icon museum of Macedonia with over forty masterpieces. All this within just a few yards of each other!

If you ever get the chance to visit you will find all this and more. You will also meet friendly people, find good quality low-cost accommodation, and a wealth of Byzantine architecture and art. This CNN video shows many of the places I have written about and I know you will like it. If you do ever visit Ohrid, please contact my friend Katerina Vasileska who runs a tourist business in Ohrid called Lost in Ohrid. She will be happy to arrange good accommodation, local tours, and generally be of assistance during your visit.

Finally, don’t forget that for the intrepid there is an opportunity to walk through Albania to Ohrid in May of 2011 with the Via Egnatia Foundation. See my recent post Walking back to Byzantium along the Via Egnatia where you can find out more and how to register your interest.

Click to play … there is a 30 second ad before the Ohrid movie starts.

Images of Cluj by Alin Niculescu

There is one respect in which I have a definite advantage over Paddy in terms of the places he visited. I have been lucky enough to get to know well the city of Cluj-Napoca due to my regular visits. Paddy had but one night there with Angéla, but it was one of one of love and passion!

Last week I visited Bucharest for the first time. If this had been my first introduction to Romania I doubt that I would have been keen to return. To be fair it was literally a flying visit, and I did not make it right into the centre, however, it cannot compare with the genuine attractions of Cluj: its compact size; the Baroque architecture; the lively bars and restaurants in the old centre; the intimate cultural life; and its position in a valley surrounded by gently rolling hills. I have also made some good friends in this capital of Transylvania.

I have often written about Cluj, but to many of you the city probably remains a mystery. To help you get more of a feel for a place that I have come to feel strongly about, I wanted to showcase the work of  Alin Niculescu, a professional cameraman from Cluj. He has made a number of short films about the city, highlighting it over the seasons. They are just a few minutes long and if you are curious to know more about the city, they will give you a feel for its size, architecture, and position. In some scenes he also captures the relaxed and friendly mood of its citizens.

This first film is entitled Snowy Night at Cluj. This is broadly how the city looks at the moment.

Snowy Night at Cluj Full HD from Alin Niculescu on Vimeo.

This second movie shows a panorama over the city in the summer.

Cluj-Napoca from Alin Niculescu on Vimeo.

You can see more of Alin’s work on his website here

Related category:

Articles about Cluj and Transylvania

The Dark Memories of Cluj from 1989

The Hotel Continental in Cluj (or as we know it The New York) was not only the location for a great cocktail, but outside its doors in December 1989 a massacre occurred during the Romanian Revolution.

For those of you who have followed my stories about Cluj it was a pleasant city in Paddy’s time and remains so to this day. However, like so many towns and cities in Romania, it experienced its fair share of discontent during the last days of Ceauşescu. I can’t be sure of the figures but around a dozen people were killed, mostly by the Army, and these events took place virtually on the steps of the Continental. The video below shows some of the traumatic scenes that took place twenty-one years ago this week.

On the main road out of Cluj to the south is a very interesting cemetery. Its inhabitants include not only the citizens of Cluj, but generations of soldiers from Europe’s great wars and revolutions of the twentieth century. There are Austro-Hungarian soldiers with names that seem to indicate that they came from all over that once great Empire. Romanian soldiers from the Second World War and around three hundred Russians from the struggles of the dying days of that conflict. But in a quiet corner stand some graves of those that died in the revolution of 1989, amongst them one or two young women.

As we prepare to celebrate the great gift of Christmas, let us take a moment to reflect on these momentous events, and those that continue to this day. Maybe we can give thanks for those that were prepared to lay down their lives for their friends, and for those that do so today.

This video appears to have a full Roll of Honour for those who came from Cluj and its environs who died not only in Cluj but elsewhere. It is very moving.

Wolfgang Büscher discussing A Time of Gifts

The Germans remain keen fans of Paddy’s work. I don’t know if that is because he travelled through their land, or because of his fame from the Kreipe kidnap, or perhaps because they just appreciate good writing.

For those who speak German here is the German writer Wolfgang Büscher talking about Paddy and his work.

“He mentions the decision of PLF to change his life by taking the tour of Europe at barely 19 after having quitted (“flo”wn” out of) school, the fact that he wrote the two volumes forty years later from memory (having lost all notes from that time). One of the most wonderful books he knows. First volume “A time of gifts” is reporting Germany and Austria, second volume Hungary and Romania.”

A further profile of Büscher in French! 

Patrick Leigh Fermor scriptwriter for The Roots of Heaven

Some may not be aware that Paddy was pressed hard by Darryl F. Zanuck to be the scriptwriter for the 1958 film The Roots of Heaven, an adventure film made by 20th Century Fox, directed by John Huston and produced by Darryl F. Zanuck. The screenplay was by Romain Gary and Patrick Leigh Fermor and is based on Romain Gary’s 1956 Prix Goncourt winning novel The Roots of Heaven (Les racines du ciel).

The film had a fine cast and starred Errol Flynn, Juliette Gréco, Trevor Howard, Eddie Albert, Orson Welles, Paul Lukas, Herbert Lom and Gregoire Aslan. Paddy describes the negotiations and some of his time on set in Chad in letters to Debo Devonshire published in the book In Tearing Haste. I think Trevor Howard was drunk most of the time and Paddy appeared to be quite struck by the beautiful French actress Juliette Gréco. It was Errol Flynn’s last film

Set in French Equatorial Africa, the film tells the story of Morel (Trevor Howard), a crusading environmentalist who sets out to preserve the elephants from extinction as a lasting symbol of freedom for all humanity. He is helped by Minna (Juliette Gréco), a nightclub hostess, and Forsythe (Errol Flynn), a disgraced British military officer hoping to redeem himself.

I have a Spanish produced copy on DVD (English with Spanish subtitles available on eBay or Amazon) but the whole film (bar one scene) is available on You Tube. The quality is very good and you may like to watch it. It is scene eight that is missing.

One

Two

Three

Continue reading

Crete: Island of Heroes

“The courage of the Cretan facing the firing squad is legendary … When executions were to take place I would leave my desk and walk out onto the balcony to watch their moment of death. Nowhere else have I witnessed such love of freedom and defiance for death as I did on Crete.” So said General Alexander Andre, the German Commander of the Occupation Forces on Crete.

This video features pictures from the film 11th Day and includes some pictures of Paddy, including a new one to me at least of himself and Moss with the kidnap gang.

It is said that the Germans had never encountered the extent of civilian resistance that they encountered on Crete.

Retribution was swift. The German High Command wanted to break the spirit of the populace and do it quickly. In this they failed and failed miserably. In retaliation for the losses they incurred, the Nazis spread punishment, terror and death on the innocent civilians of the island. More than two thousand Cretans were executed during the first month alone and twenty five thousand more later.

Even in the face of certain death while standing in line to be executed, Cretans did not beg for their lives. This shocked the German troops. Kurt Student, the German Paratrooper Commander who planned the invasion, said of the Cretans, I have never seen such a defiance of death. General Alexander Andre, the German Commander of the Occupation Forces was amazed and said: “The courage of the Cretan facing the firing squad is legendary. Cretans turn into mythical figures. They are so proud of their moment of death that one can hardly fail to admire their courage. When executions were to take place I would leave my desk and walk out onto the balcony to watch their moment of death. Nowhere else have I witnessed such love of freedom and defiance for death as I did on Crete.”

Related article:

Patrick Leigh Fermor recounts the kidnap of General Kreipe on video

Crete: 11th Day Movie with Paddy

General’s long trip home

Related category:

Ill Met by Moonlight

Ride of the Valkyries: The Vichy perspective on the German invasion of Crete

This is a very interesting perspective of the Nazi invasion of Crete sent to me by Marion Worsley. It is a German propaganda movie made by French Vichy government on what is called “The liberation of Crete from the occupying British Forces.” It is narrated by a Vichy collaborator. He seems to think they all did very well. However, the casualty rate amongst the German paratroops was around 50 per cent; many killed by Cretan peasants as they descended or landed. It was enough to persuade Hitler that such airborne operations should not be repeated.

For Churchill the initial surprise achieved was sufficient to persuade him that the British should create airborne forces which led eventually to the creation of the Parachute Regiment – the Red Devils.

The film starts with the musical accompaniment of  The Ride of the Valkyries. Was this what inspired Francis Ford Coppola for his Kilgore, Air Cavalry scene in Apocalypse Now?

Click the picture to play.

Patrick Leigh Fermor recounts the kidnap of General Kreipe on video

Patrick Leigh Fermor recounts the kidnap of General Kreipe

Finally we have Paddy on video! A kind soul has posted the movie 11th Day on You Tube. Part seven deals with the kidnap of General Kreipe and includes a detailed explanation of the famous Mount Ida Horace moment: “Ach so, Herr Major”.

I have found all parts of the film from You Tube and have embedded them on a special new page Video.

Why not put your feet up and enjoy the whole movie which covers the brave Cretan resistance and the part that Paddy, Moss and others played in it?

But to start you off here is Patrick Leigh Fermor recounting for you the events of what we now know as Ill Met by Moonlight.

Visit the movie 11th Day site.

Related article:

Ill Met by Moonlight movie trailer

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Il Met by Moonlight

Erotokritos as discussed in Roumeli

There is a very interesting discussion thread about this poem that I stumbled across recently.

Click here to have a look. It includes discussion about translation and some You Tube links. Here is what Paddy has to say about it in Roumeli:

Unknown outside Greece because of the deep vernacular that enshrouds it and its daunting length for a translator-though many, including me, have longingly toyed with the idea-it is one of the great epic poems of Europe. In Crete, this tremendous metrical saga plays the part of the Homeric cycle in Dorian times. Everyone knows it, all can quote vast tracts, and, astonishingly, some of the old men in the mountains, though unable to read and write, could, and still can, recite the whole poem by heart; when one remembers that it is nearly a thousand lines longer than the Odyssey, this feat makes one scratch one’s head with wonder or disbelief. They intone rather than recite it; the voice rises at the caesura and at the end of the first line of a couplet, and drops at the end of the second; now and then to break the monotony, the key shifts. During our winter vigils, it continued for hours; every so often another old man would take over; listening, I occasionally dropped off for an hour or two, and woke to find Erotokritos in the thick of yet another encounter with the Black Knight of Karamania. (He symbolized, at the time the poem first saw the light, the threat of the Ottomans; Turkey had already conquered the rest of Greece, and was soon to submerge Crete itself.) The rhythmic intoning might sway on till daybreak, with some of the listeners rapt, others nodding off or snoring.”

Musically it gets quite passionate as evidenced by these two samples:


Apparently the Erotokritos was written in about 1587. Here are some translated verses:

Of all the gracious things upon this earth
It is fair words that have the greatest worth,
And he who uses them with charm and guile
Can cozen human eyes to weep or smile.

— V. Kornaros, Erotokritos I 887-90 (Stephanides)

Begin your lesson now. It is a rule
That he who starts in time soon leaves the school.

— V. Kornaros, Erotokritos II 1871-2 (Stephanides)

There are full many, sweet, whose tongues are bland,
Who hide a poison phial in the hand.

— V. Kornaros, Erotokritos III 141-2 (Stephanides)

You straighten easily a fresh-cut stake,
Yet when it dries it will but split and break.

— V. Kornaros, Erotokritos III 279-80 (Stephanides)

True is that adage: “He who yields to rule
by woodenheads, becomes himself a fool.”

— V. Kornaros, Erotokritos III 967-8 (Stephanides)

Well said by the prudent who discover:
The heaviest pain lighter ones cover.

— V. Kornaros, Erotokritos III 1287-8 (Ragovin 1, p. 14)

Man shapes his plans as he intends and deems,
And not because of visions and of dreams;
The future is not yet, dreams cannot sway,
Man’s destiny this, that, or any way;
As each one makes his bed, so does he sleep;
The foolish only trysts with shadows keep.

— V. Kornaros, Erotokritos IV 139-144 (Stephanides)

Anyone who wants the great things of this life
Yet does not know he is only travelling the road,
And prides himself on his nobility and boasts of his wealth
-I dismiss him as a nobody, to be thought of as mad,
For these things are flowers which come and go,
They are changed by time, and time often takes them away.

— V. Kornaros, Erotokritos IV 601-6 (Bryans, p. 89)

The Long Walk – song about Patrick Leigh Fermor

A personal tribute to PLF from a fan. A song about Paddy’s long walk to Constantinople in “A Time of Gifts” and “Between the Woods and the Water”.