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The Future that never was

In Memoriam: Peter Roberts

I heard this morning via email that my dear friend Peter Roberts died last night at 7pm.

I had only recently learned - late yesterday afternoon that he was sick. Very very sick with stage 3 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (NHL).

Who was Peter Roberts?

I met him in my first year of college. 1988 to be exact. I was doing my BA at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg South Africa, and Peter was finishing off his engineering degree. We met through the WITS Ballroom Dancing Society. I joined that year. That was the year that the movie Dirty Dancing was still fresh in everyone's mind. Membership really increased due to that movie.

I met so many incredible people through WITS Ballroom Dancing Society. We would go to dances together, dance cheese and wines, and once a year we would have an annual ball.
I remember Peter - so bright, full of life and laughter. We had so much fun. In Dec 1989 a whole group of us hired a beach cottage aka the Hovel in Plettenberg Bay. There were 10 of us. That's where I met Jeanne (Cooksister). We had 2 weeks of fun and laughter.

Peter touched so many lives - he knew so many people. Somehow with him gone, it feels a lot less friendly. Peter was the one that always could be counted on. He is the one that you want on your side.

I am going to miss him.

W H Auden said it best in this poem..

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Rest in peace Peter Roberts.

My love and deepest sympathies to Mr and Mrs Roberts, Alison, Linda and Ken.

Update: Jeanne has posted a wonderful tribute to a wonderful friend.



Oh Sally, that's the exact poem that first sprang to mind. It's wonderful but impossible to read without crying.

I realised the other night I would not even know you had it not been for Peter. I remember how he introduced us and then promptly regretted it as we just went off at a tangent that he never quite followed. Remember how we made him suffer from XJS - xenophobia due to Jeanne and Sally?? That holiday at the Hovel was truly one of the best of my life, and I'm glad I was able to share it with both you and Peter.

Michael Counsell


I am very sorry of your loss. During my time in SA during 1989, he referred to you as his best friend.
I have been trying to trace Peter for quite some years, since his last visit to the UK, without success.
Thanks to your blog I was able to learn of what happened to Peter, whom I regarded as having a profoundly positive effect on me when I came to SA. I cannot express his huge generosity towards me and, later, my wife Helen. His speech at our wedding was so gracious, a measure of the great man Peter was.
I regard myself as very fortunate to have known Peter and feel a great sense of loss that he has gone.
I hope you can find some comfort in the memories of a great friend.
Yours, Mike Counsell

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