|the new book by Artemis Cooper|
Yet amongst all this movement and excitement and adventure, there was also an inner yearning for some kind of peace. He was frequently drawn to the life of monasteries where he would sojourn for a brief while to enjoy a spell of calm. At first he resisted the quiet and orderliness of such places with the restlessness of an impetuous young man who must be always on the go, always proving himself to himself (and perhaps his father who was always a judgemental shadowy distant figure for him) but after a while Patrick came to realise that there was some point to the life of prayer, quiet and slow orderly ritual. But it was impossible for a temperament such as his to sustain this for long and he would hitch his rucksack on his back and be off again.
While at school, Patrick was hopeless at sports, schoolwork and study in general. He was however a great and voracious reader and had a tremendous flair for languages. He was sent from one school to another in an effort to 'make something of him' but all failed and his fondness for the eternal feminine led him to expulsion from one school for canoodling with the local grocer's daughter. Paddy was always a magnet for the ladies. His looks were almost godlike, a real Apollo, fair, handsome, well built, tall and full of charm and sweetness of nature that won him many friends and the entry to houses, chateaux, castles, mansions, monasteries, gypsy tents or mud huts. His nature was never British...at least not the under emphatic Britishness of the era in which he was born. He had far more of the dash of the continental, the flair, charm, colour and drama that appealed to the European mentality.
|Patrick in Greece|
|Princess Balasha Cantacuzene|
As always, Paddy was not easily able to fit into the conventional role of a soldier during the war. His talents were used instead by appointing him to the SOE and he ended up in Crete working with the Cretan Resistance. His greatest exploit during the war was the kidnapping of the German General Kreipe on Crete. This exploit was later made into a film starring Dirk Bogarde as Paddy called Ill met by Moonlight
The Greeks took Paddy to their heart and he and his wife, Joan, made a home at Kardamyli in Mani in the Southern Peloponnese. A friend visited him there when he was in his nineties, still amazingly fit despite smoking 80-100 cigarettes a day!
'Young man' said Patrick, 'go and fetch that bottle of ouzo and we'll have a little drink.' My friend expected a glass or two but they finished the bottle between them and Patrick none the worse for wear. However, in the end he suffered from throat cancer and returned to his Worcestershire home to die, dining with friends the last evening, then dying peacefully the next day. An extraordinary round journey yet, like all travellers one that ended back home for...'it's oh, so nice to come home' as the song says.
Artemis Cooper's new book on his life is a beautifully written and inclusive biography and well worth reading. I was left full of admiration for this amazing man who lived his life to the full and like all extraordinary people, fitted everywhere and nowhere and was deep down rather a lonely and depressed man. It's the fate of the great. The price paid by the driven Faustian man who can find no real peace in his heart..