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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Robert Peacock (c.1926-2009)

An inquest was held on Tuesday, 14 April, at St Pancras Coroner’s Court concerning the death of cartoonist Robert Peacock, who died on Friday, 23 January 2009, aged 82 or 83. Peacock, a former Punch cartoonist described as a well-known member of the bohemian Soho art scene, committed suicide by walking into the path of a southbound Metropolitan Line train at Finchley Road tube station, shortly after 1 pm. Transport Police responded to the incident at around 1.30 pm.

Peacock, of Goldhurst Terrace, Swiss Cottage, had become increasingly concerned about his faltering memory. His wife, Jacqueline Peacock, a charity manager, said, “He was incredibly funny and always making people laugh. But as he got older he couldn’t have that life. He found it very frustrating. He wouldn’t have made a sad old character.” On the morning of his death, Peacock had complained that he had not slept the night before.

A passionate artist, Peacock worked in fine art publishing as well as freelancing cartoons. His love of jazz meant that Soho became a regular haunt and he was friends with many of the jazz greats in the 1950s and '60s. Drinking companions included Brendan Behan, the Irish novelist, and abstract painter Aubrey Williams. In later years he was a regular at The Blenheim, Loudoun Road, and The Clifton. 69-year-old former political speech writer Rex Warrick described Peacock to the Camden New Journal (16 April) as “very quick-witted and one of the most vitally alive people I have ever met. When you heard the chimes of midnight in Bob’s company you could count yourself fortunate.” His other passion was cricket and he regularly attended matches at Lords.

Coroner Dr Andrew Reid said: “Mr Peacock had started to suffer from short-term memory problems that was causing him some degree of anxiety. He timed his actions to maximise the chances that he would be struck by the train. Sadly, my only conclusion is that Robert Peacock took his own life.”

He is survived by his second wife, Jacqueline, and a son from his first marriage.

Sources: Hampstead & Highgate Express (30 January); Camden New Journal (16 April).

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