Thursday, December 8, 2011

Obit du jour: Peter Lunn

A classic. Let's start with this fabulous opener, shall we?
Peter Northcote Lunn was born on November 15 1914 into British skiing aristocracy. His grandfather, Sir Henry Lunn, was a one-time missionary who, having failed to convert the Indians to Methodism, moved to Switzerland, where he embarked on encouraging the British to ski.
Then let's move on to the part where he becomes a "gentleman spy" after WWII, using the tunnels under Vienna (a la The Third Man)"to tap into the underground cables which the Soviets used to communicate."
He even bought a villa on the route of the cable that linked the Soviet headquarters in Vienna with the city’s airport and its overall command station for Austria at St Pölten. From the villa, his team could excavate undisturbed.
If I am ever a spy, I would like to spy from my Austrian villa, though he did say, "You think it’s going to be all wine, women and song. Well, let me tell you, old boy, it’s all beer, bitches and broadcasting.”
He went on to serve as head of station in Bonn, and during the 1960s in Beirut, where he enjoyed skiing at The Cedars, a resort where, as he recalled, discipline in the lift queues improved dramatically after an attendant shot dead the two worst queue jumpers. Even so, it was “not so stimulating as Mürren”, and throughout his years in the service he always brought his family to Mürren for a month at Christmas.
Oh, and let us not forget the books he wrote: "The author of several technical books about skiing, in 1947 Lunn published a novel, Evil in High Places, about a psychotic mountaineer."

Oh my yes. Simply marvelous. Enjoy.


L.S.Schilcher said...

If you gave him a book for a present he would read it and write you a long letter commenting on it. He called most people by nicknames, not all of them flattering, but always revealing and, of course, witty. Yes, Skiing was important, but so was Family. He did the washing up for his family of 8 since, once back in England where diplomatic posh didn't exist, "who else was to do it", and he either despised or distrusted central heating as much as the Commies (or Yanks for that matter), though it was only the former he wouldn't have in the house.

LKT said...

Thank you for your personal reflection. He sounds like a wonderful person. I wish I could have met him.