OrnaVerum
v 6.20.00
20 Mar 2021
updated 8 Jul 2021

(His half-niece Sofka Zinovieff's recollections)

I began calling Patrick my "Wicked Uncle" when I was a teenager visiting Paris and he was showing me something of its glamour. Far from being insulted, he took on this epithet with pride. After that, and until his very last emails to me, he signed himself W.U.

Patrick's life was full, rich and complicated. I've been thinking about his early years as a way of understanding the later ones. As Wordsworth said, "The Child is the father of the Man."

Patrick was a love child, born of a grand passion - the son of two rebels, who scandalised people and followed their risky, beautiful dreams. This was always a part of what made Patrick the person he was.

His life was characterised by intense contrasts. With a Russian princess as a mother and the heir to an English baronetcy as a father, he might have been something very different. But from the start, his good fortune was combined with enormous challenges. All the way through his life there were adventures, love and joie de vivre, but also separations, setbacks and sadness.

At only a few days old, Patrick's first playmates were a troupe of performing Cossacks, who showed up like a visitation of fairytale godfathers. The newborn was passed between the wild horsemen as they chewed raw onions and swigged vodka in the garden at Cookham Dean.

Sofka, his mother, quipped that she had temporarily left baby Patrick with "the milkman's mother-in-law" and then didn't see him for almost 5 years. Her wartime internment in France meant that much of Patrick's early childhood was spent with the Butler family. It was incredibly fortunate that they cared for him so well (and they kept in touch over the years). He was too young to understand what had happened to his mother or the terrible news when Grey, his father, was killed in action.

Reunited with his mother in 1944, Patrick's playgrounds were Chelsea's bombsites. Home was a leaky basement flat where weekends were focused on Sofka's Saturday Soups - parties attended by intellectuals, artists and the stars of the British Communist Party. There was also Hollywood style glamour: Sofka had been fortunate to start working for Laurence Olivier again. And given Patrick's rare beauty and soulful Russian eyes, he was a natural choice to play Anna Karenina's son Sergei, in the film starring Vivien Leigh.

As a teenager, Patrick was part orphan, part privileged public schoolboy in a Harrow straw boater. Outsider and insider, he travelled alone to France and back for ramshackle holidays with his mother who had moved there. It can't have been easy, despite his quantities of charm, intelligence and good looks.

He happily reconnected with his two older half-brothers, Peter and Ian, and eventually followed Peter into studying geology.

And so the pieces that would shape his adult life were falling into place: the pursuit of love; a facility for travel and moving on; fluent French; and a fascination with geology.

Beloved father, husband, brother, grandfather, uncle, friend and lover, Patrick has been a bright part of so many lives.

As they say in Greece, "May we remember him."