My friend Pete Silverton remembered

My dear friend the writer and editor Pete Silverton died in May 2023, having had a brain tumour for some time, during which we saw a lot of each other, went for walks while he still could, railed against dangling participles and ate some great meals round his huge wooden table. I miss him so much especially when – as so often, particularly on the walls in art galleries – I see a dangling participle.



This is what I said at his funeral:-

Pete and I enjoyed saying we were each other’s oldest friend. It was like a badge of honour! We met at a primary school in Hertfordshire when we were eight – part of the ‘London overspill’. In fact Pete must have been 7 – he somehow managed always to be a year younger than me. He must have been so bright that he’d been ‘moved up’. I can see him now – small boy, big ears, mischievous, self confident. He knew so much – already – & loved talking about it.

We weren’t meant to play together in breaks – there were separate boys’ and girls‘ playgrounds. We never went to each others‘ houses so I knew nothing of his family or class background (mine was a bit posher). But we didn’t  talk or ask about such things. We at once became best friends and competitors in class, vying to be ‘top’. There was another boy contender – David Lowde, the maths teacher’s son. But he was BORING! We were cool!

We went on to the same grammar school but lost touch when Pete moved away from the area. It was decades later that Pete spotted my name on the end of a BBC music documentary and got in touch to ask if I was the same Jill.

So I missed seeing him when he  weighed 8 stone – unimaginable! – when he was editing Sounds or sorting out the Guardian. By the time I knew him again he was sorting out the nursery chain his wife Jen had launched – called Ready Steady Go! We’d walk and talk – recalling that school and its appalling first head master, a sex abuser called, unbelievably, Mr Swell.

I learned more then about Pete’s very complicated family background, though I would hate to be tested on it! I even met some of you at those lovely long lunches at Pete and Jen’s house.

When he was diagnosed 2 1/2 years ago, we started to  meet more regularly. In our last conversation just a short while ago, when he was finding talking increasingly difficult, he managed to tell me that the English think spicy food means hot when it really means fragrant. He was a great cook.

He was also the most insightful, eloquent and funny person I’ve ever known.

I’ll miss him so much. I wish I’d asked more questions – & taken notes!

And here is the obituary from the Guardian –