When Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, the swashbuckling adventurer, travel writer and war hero, died just over a year ago he bequeathed his magnificent residence at Kardamyli on the coast of the Peloponnese to the Greek people. (See previous online despatch “Where Paddy meets Bruce”, 6.7.12, plus photos on Facebook).
In his last will and testament he requested that the self-designed home located in the Greek Communist Party electoral stronghold become a permanent venue for writers-in-residence.
Regrettably, the Athens Government has run out of euros and drachmas and is now stony broke. It can’t afford the renovations that are urgently needed, let alone the ongoing cost of maintaining the building while writers come and go.
As a result, the once-princely residence is slipping steadily into disrepair and dilapidation. Surely there is a charitable trust or an eccentric squillionaire willing to rescue PLF’s ambitious dream?
A local family would be willing to act as live-in curators/caretakers while visiting writers (or their publishers) could make a contribution to overheads. Any takers?
Leigh Fermor achieved legendary status for his wartime exploits on the Greek island of Crete as a member of Britain’s top secret SOE, Special Operations Executive.
He lived on the Nazi-occupied island in the guise of a shepherd before leading the daring kidnap of the German commander, General Heinrich Kreipe, who was whisked to Egypt.
The operation became the subject of a book, Ill Met by Moonlight, and a 1950 feature film of the same name in which Leigh Fermor was played by Dirk Bogarde.
“Paddy” wasn’t impressed by the movie. One reviewer thought that director Michael Powell had shot scenes in such darkness using poor lighting that, according to my friend Jim Bruce, he dubbed it Ill-lit by Moonlight.
THE DONKEY DIET
One of the rising MPs of the right-wing ruling party, New Democracy, is Simos Kedikoglou, a former journalist who was the first non-communist student to study at a Soviet university in the 1980s.
He was asked the other day about the violent austerity measures which the Euro-banks have inflicted on the Greek people. “First and foremost, the prescription of ‘austerity, austerity and only austerity’ does not produce results,” Kedikoglou explained. “It is reminiscent of the tale about Nassredin Hodja’s donkey. Every day he fed it half the amount of food that he had the previous day. After a week it died.”
There’s an idea: why not put bankers, bourgeois economists and media business commentators – all of those who are cheering for tough austerity to save the capitalist banking system – on Hodja’s donkey diet and see how it works out.
Email is a wondrous thing: messages flash around the globe from London to Sydney and onto Greece. Thus I can report that the House of Commons Parliamentary Rugby League Group is to honour five former players with statues at Wembley Stadium. They are Billy Boston, Alex Murphy, Martin Offiah, Eric Ashton and Gus Risman who all toured Australia as British Lions. Former Australian High Commissioner to the Court of St James, Doug McClelland, a former president of the Senate and minister in the Whitlam Government, has written to the UK MPs to commend their decision.
“Dashing Doug” is delighted that Offiah has been honoured. “He played with the famous St George Club out here in the 1980s. Indeed, Mr Laurie Doust OAM, father of the present CEO of St George Illawarra, Peter Doust, played a prominent role in bringing Mr Offiah to Australia.” And he recalled that Offiah’s nickname was “Chariots” and that “people flocked to Kogarah” to see him play.
“I must say I personally would have been extremely happy had the late Arthur Clues also been chosen,” wrote McClelland, a life member of St George. “He was a great ambassador for the game.”
There’s a lesson here: rugby league has managed to survive the depredations of Murdoch and his worthless lieutenants (I exclude the thoroughly decent David Gallop) which gives hope for the future of his shoddy media interests.
PS: Doug, please accept my sympathies over the State of Origin. NSW has a fine team but has yet to find a coach. As a banana-bender, I hope you retain the angry ant as your coach for next year’s series.
BANKS: AN UPDATE
Sebastian Mallaby, contributing editor to Britain’s Financial Times and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, has been writing about banks, business and economics for years.
Writing in the “Pink ‘un” the other day, Mallaby said:
“Facing the loose equivalent of today’s banking behemoths, Theodore Roosevelt resolved to forge a ‘newer and more wholesome doctrine’ to deal with ‘monopolistic combinations and conspiracies’. Woodrow Wilson proclaimed: ‘I am for big business, and I am against the trusts’.
“Today’s leaders, who also govern in a time of technological progress and social inequality, must learn from Roosevelt and Wilson. Modern banks are worse than the rail and oil conglomerates of yesteryear. They must be broken up.” (FT, July 6, 2012)
If the conservative spokesmen for banks are making such judgements, what do you think the out-of-work, homeless and marginalised are thinking?