Robert Peston, BBC Business Editor, Tells Of Dealing With Wife's Death

Robert Peston has spoken to the Radio Times
Robert Peston has spoken to the Radio Times
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BBC business editor Robert Peston has told how he dealt with his grief by transcribing his late wife's final novel, as he opened up about his devastating loss.

Film-maker and writer Sian Busby died in September after battling cancer for five years, little over a month after specialists said there was nothing more they could do for her.

Peston described how in the days after her death he sat with tears in his eyes typing out her words in an effort to "keep talking to her".

Writing in the new edition of the Radio Times, Peston pays tribute to the woman he had known for more than 30 years, having first met as students, and her ability to cope with her illness with dignity.

Busby's final book, A Commonplace Killing, is to be broadcast as Radio 4's Book At Bedtime next month. Unflappable Peston said he first looked at the hand-written manuscript 11 days after her death and decided to throw himself into typing it out.

"My motive was selfish: I wanted to keep talking to her. I still do. The tears could not be staunched as I read, deciphered and typed. Foggy-brained, the transcription was spoilt by spelling mistakes and typographical errors. All


"Sian's prose was as pellucid and accurate as ever. And brave. Here she was, all hope lost of reprieve from the lethal cancer, reflecting on what it is like to know that death awaits on the morrow."

During her final days in a Marie Curie Hospital, Peston said he slept in her room on a mattress on the floor: "She was never once hysterical; she was dignified and calm throughout the worsening nightmare."

He called her "the woman I loved for most of my conscious life", having met as teens and rekindled their friendship to begin a relationship in their mid-30s.

Peston admitted he was initially not brave enough to read the book but was eventually able to "marvel at her victory over devastating circumstance".

Peston explained: "Because her final reflections, written without sentimentality, and not mawkish or maudlin in any way, are about the imminence of death and how so many of us waste our talents and our time on earth. And although there is the melancholy and shadows of the flickering flame, there is also a faith in a better life that has been tested but not broken."

The journalist, who has a son Max and stepson Simon from his relationship with Busby, concluded: "She was the most

brilliant, caring, humane and loving person I have met. And funny. I miss her all the time."

:: Robert Peston writes about his wife in the new edition of Radio Times, which is on sale today.