24 June 2011

Patrick Leigh Fermor

I hear people referring to the late great Patrick Leigh Fermor as 'Paddy'. "Oh," I brighten, "did you know him, too?"

They have not. My family did - from many years ago. I remember at a party chez nous on The Peak, Paddy was coming and then he was coming and then he was coming and every taxi that pulled up in the monsoon rain was peered at. Who was this boring old fart, I wondered, that had everyone in thrall?

Finally, his cab arrived and he burst in, flinging his drenched cape to our cookboy and embracing mama and every other woman in the room - Greek, French, a smattering of Cantonese, more fluent Shanghainese ...

A game of Chinese billiards was in progress, he seized a cue and burst into some ancient folk song that had various obscure consuls running in to see what was going on. Energy energy!

Charles Moore's 'Spectator's Notes' for 18 June. Paddy's poem, Message to Skopje.

Your claim to the name "Macedonia"
Could scarcely be flimsier or phonier
If you want an old name
For your state, what a shame
Not to bring back the real one, Paeonia.

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