He would have been 109 today but, despite the vast quantities of ouzo and nicotine he imbibed, Paddy only made it to 96. He is an important part of this family’s life. My father and he were friends and one family holiday the whole family visited his house in Kardamili for lunch. I was not on that holiday but my sister who had just left King’s Canterbury was.
Paddy was chucked out of Kings for having an inappropriate relationship with the grocer’s daughter and so of learning of my sister’s schooling piped up with “had there been people like you at School in my day, my whole life would have been different.” He would not have walked across Europe between 1933 and 1937 writing up his adventures so helping to make him the literary hero, war hero, ladies man and generous host he became. My sister, unused to such flattery from such a charmer, is said to have blushed.
Back in 2016 my wife was heavily pregnant with our son Joshua. I had wanted to call him Patrick but the Mrs said she associated that name with drunken Irishman. As someone of Irish heritage I was mortified by this and at time of marital disagreement have thought of reporting to the fuzz for this obviously racist remark. But, in honour of Paddy Leigh Fermor, the Mrs partially relented and Joshua’s second name is Patrick.
This was the last holiday that Dad and his wife Helen had together in Greece or indeed anywhere. She really was notably deteriorating on that holiday and succumbed to cancer later that year. But on this one gorgeous and sunny day Helen, Dad and my wife wandered around Paddy’s house as the following four photo articles recount. The photo of my father, Helen and I in the last article is one that is displayed prominently in our Greek house in the Mani, about a dozen miles from Paddy’s place where, in terms of design, I pinched an idea or two from him as I rebuilt it over the course of nine years. That house also celebrates its anniversary this year: it will be 100 years old.