In 1991 we moved to a house in Brixton, south London. Of all our welcomes, that of our neighbour, the actor Peter Bourke, was the warmest. Rather unimaginatively we called him Peter the Actor.
Peter is and was one of the most consistently cheery people I have met. He alone in our street seemed to know and have time time for everybody −from refugee families who spoke to no one, to elderly widowers, to the squatters whom the rest of us avoided− hailing them by name with his beautifully modulated voice often from hundreds of yards away. Yet I never heard him raise his voice.
‘You won’t have heard of me,’ he told us. ‘And anyway, that’s not important.’
He giggled, a gurgling, self-interrupting and delighting spiral that drew you in and made refusal impossible. He giggled a lot.
Between acting jobs (he actually used the term ‘resting’) he kept…
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