Peter Silverton obituary

My friend Peter Silverton, who has died aged 70 of brain cancer, was a journalist and author. An early admirer and supporter of the punk scene while a writer on Sounds magazine in the 1970s, Peter graduated from the music press to national newspapers, including the Guardian. Later he became an author and an early years education strategist, helping to develop his family’s nursery school business, Ready Steady Go.

Peter was born in Leatherhead, Surrey, and was adopted as a baby by Alf Silverton, a Fleet Street layout artist turned pub landlord, and his wife, Mary, a school dinner lady. He and his adopted sister, Debbie, spent the first part of their childhood in Hemel Hempstead, before moving to live above the pub in Wadhurst, East Sussex. In the sixth form at Skinners’ school, Tunbridge Wells, Peter made friends with John Mellor, and later wrote about his friend’s band, the 101-ers, for the American magazine Trouser Press, just as John – by then known as Joe Strummer – split to form the Clash.

Peter became a freelance writer for Sounds after finishing his psychology degree at Goldsmith’s, University of London, in 1974, and two years later he was appointed features editor at the paper. He travelled on the Pistols’ Anarchy Tour bus in 1976. The Clash were also on the tour, and despite Joe wanting Peter ejected (“probably because I’d known him as a public schoolboy, long before he’d become a ‘punk rocker’”), he was kept on board by the Pistols’ bassist Glen Matlock, with whom he had struck up a friendship.

In 1978 Peter turned freelance, writing for national daily papers, and wrote on a range of subjects, including white paint, un-seated MPs and music. At a gig at Dingwalls in Camden, north London, in 1979, he met his future wife, Jennifer Frankel, bass player in the band Driving School. They were married in 1985.

Peter became deputy editor of Time Out’s monthly magazine 20/20 in 1988, ghosted Matlock’s autobiography I Was a Teenage Sex Pistol (1990), and worked as an editorial consultant at Punch and the Guardian. He became associate editor at the Mail on Sunday Review in the early 90s, helping to launch its Night and Day magazine, before joining the Sunday Express magazine for three years from 1996.

Peter was also strategist for Ready Steady Go, a small group of north London preschools, founded by Jennifer in the basement of their Primrose Hill home. A highly accomplished cook, he delightedly and regularly fed 20 or so guests at a moment’s notice.

In 2009 Portobello Books published his Filthy English: The How, Why, When and What of Everyday Swearing, which remains in print.

In October 2020 Peter was diagnosed with inoperable and incurable stage 4 glioblastoma, a type of cancer which has a median survival of 15 months. Over the ensuing 30 months, Peter worked on two different books, while in the care of his loving and supportive family.

He is survived by Jennifer, their children, Daniel, Lily and Spike, and three grandchildren.