- Hits: 2908
Obituary from the Morning Star:
“Peter Duffy, who has died in France aged 64, was, for the last several years of his life, the Paris correspondent of the Morning Star. He was also, of course, the witty writer and devout lover of French food behind the Star’s nom-de-plume Commie Chef.
Very brave during his painful illness, he found it difficult to eat in his last few weeks, but could still take oysters and glasses of adored French wine after other comestibles had proved impossible. Peter made precise arrangements for his death and afterwards, donating his body to medical science in France, a generous gift in return for the wonderful care provided for him by the French health service.
Peter joined our class at school in Barnet 49 years ago when his parents moved south from Tyneside. His jazz enthusiasm and his left-wing politics led to immediate friendships in our class which lasted a lifetime and several of those classmates attended his recent memorial meeting. At school in Barnet, he was shocked to discover real Tories for the first time and he never lost his boyhood loyalty to the North-East and to Newcastle United.
He played jazz trombone in our band and worked in local industry before spending some time in France, starting his life-long love affair with that country. He also read Marx and, after a brief flirtation with the Labour Party, joined the Communist Party, which proved to be his natural political home.
In his early twenties, Peter returned to study and qualified as a teacher, but left college to join the Labour Research Department for eight productive years. Moving to become research officer of the Tobacco Workers Union, this became a golden age in Peter’s life working with his great friend and comrade, general secretary Dougie Grieve.
Eventual union mergers brought this chapter to a close and Peter took a retirement package, moving to live in Paris where he taught English conversation, initially to workers at Orly Airport. Peter’s move to Paris gave him the opportunity to indulge to the full his passion for French cooking. He also cycled thousands of miles through France, his hiking curtailed only in recent years by knee trouble.
But, as well as his passions, Peter had great loyalties to family and friends alike. He was devoted to his children Shaun and Katy and to his several grandchildren and, of course, to Jenny, his long-term partner of his later years.
Peter Duffy’s commitment to the working class was unstinting. He was not given to compromise and soft options and the clarity of his insight into French politics was evident in every word he wrote for the Morning Star.
Peter was loyal, humorous and argumentative, yet sensitive and reflective, too, and wonderful company. I have dozens of vivid memories of my old friend, but one in particular which says a little of what he was like. Some 45 years ago, our band was booked to play in what turned out to be a Conservative club. We managed to persuade Peter to play the gig, but he sat throughout the interval in the centre of the stage reading the Morning Star’s predecessor the Daily Worker spread wide.
He was a lovable and memorable person to all who knew him. We have lost a great friend.
Morning Star 6th Feb 2006