Peter’s wit will be heard no more | Sunday Observer

Peter’s wit will be heard no more

The journalistic fraternity will long remember their recently departed friend and colleague Peter Christie (though he preferred to be called Casie Chetty later on) as a man who wrote fearlessly and entertained his colleagues with his unique style of humour which often embarrassed the younger journos. He lived with an infectious enthusiasm and led a life filled with humour. A straightforward man who demanded little from those around him and life itself, Peter brought joy and fulfillment to many of his colleagues.

The world was his oyster - Peter was equally at home in Sri Lanka, France and England, where he breathed his last in Liverpool. He was equally fluent in the Queen’s language and Voltaire’s language, but it was his pithy Sinhalese that had all the scribes in the Daily News in fits of laughter. All staffers remained in office till late night just to hear the funniest of stories narrated by Peter in a mixture of Sinhala and English that only he could conjure. To put it mildly, his expressions were rather colourful and not for the fainthearted.

As a journalist Peter was always willing to undertake any kind of assignment given to him, not only by his bosses, but also by his colleagues. Even if he was told to travel to Jaffna or to Kataragama in the middle of the night or at dawn to cover an important incident, he would happily take the challenge even at very short notice. He was least bothered about accommodation and transport facilities.

His priority always was his duty and he did not have the heart to miss an opportunity. By the way, Peter did have heart trouble on and off and stayed in hospital a couple of times when he was working for the Daily News. His hospital room was like an extension of the Daily News news room for him – once when we went in, the house doctor and all the nurses were having a hearty laugh upon hearing his many anecdotes.

An excellent photographer himself, Peter always travelled with his camera. When he was assigned a job, editors never bothered about giving him instructions on photography. When Peter was around, editors had no work pressure, as he had the capability to get exclusive stories at any given time. Sometimes he did not see eye to eye with the editor on certain issues, but at the end of the day there was no trace of anger in him and he could be seen chatting with the editor amiably, of course using choice words from his colourful vocabulary.

He was equally good in all kinds of reporting from news and features to investigative journalism. Later on, he took to Facebook to express his political and other views and had a prolific output of updates and posts. Many of his Facebook friends looked forward to seeing his posts every day.

Peter was inspirational to us with his passion for music. Whenever he got the chance, he enjoyed playing his guitar. He could sing well in Sinhala, English and French, with an occasional Tamil song thrown in for good measure. His Sinhalese songs were rather colourful to say the least. One of his favourite Sinhala songs was about the exploits and escapades of a woman acquaintance of his. He has even performed his Sinhala repertoire in Paris, while bemused French men and women looked on. Of course, Sri Lankans who saw his performances in Paris could not help laughing uncontrollably. He was, of course, a livewire in the Sri Lankan community in France, where he was sometimes seen driving a right-hand drive car registered in England.

Peter’s other passion in life was cricket. Having played cricket for Wesley College, his alma mater, where he held a bowling record for some time, he followed cricket with an enthusiasm bordering on fanaticism. He could rattle off world cricket statistics from memory.

He occasionally wrote sports articles for the Daily News. Peter’s appearances at Wesley, the SSC and other clubs whenever he came down to Sri Lanka were rapturous affairs, with old-timers jumping in joy at seeing him.

Those of us who loved him and ache with his passing last week, knew him as a colleague, a mentor and above all, as a friend – we also knew him by the other titles he held, husband, son, brother, grand uncle as Peter was a great family man, who loved his mother and wife dearly. Those who knew Peter well know how fond he was of his mother and not a single day was passed without a mention of his mother.

An ardent lover of animals, Peter often talked about his pet dog. In fact, once when Peter obtained a cheque for an article he had written to an ANCL publication after his retirement, he mentioned that he would use it to buy food for his dog. Peter loved humanity, but perhaps he loved animals even more.

May God bless Peter and may he rest in eternal peace. 

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