Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

BBC business editor Robert Peston tells of his grief after losing his wife Sian Busby to cancer

BBC business editor Robert Peston who has told how he dealt with his grief by transcribing his late wife's final novel Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Robert Peston, the BBC business editor, has revealed how he dealt with the grief of losing his wife by transcribing her final novel.

Speaking of his devastating loss to the Radio Times, he paid tribute to the woman he had known for more than 30 years, describing 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".

Writer and film-maker Sian Busby lost her five-year battle with cancer in September, a little over a month after specialists said there was nothing more they could do for her.

Her final book, A Commonplace Killing, is to be broadcast as Radio 4's Book At Bedtime next month.

Peston admitted he was initially not brave enough to read the unpublished novel, but did so 11 days after his wife passed. He recounted how he threw himself into the task of typing it out and was able to "marvel at her victory over devastating circumstance".

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 mine.

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.

Peston said he slept on the floor of Busby's hospice room during her final days.

"She was never once hysterical; she was dignified and calm throughout the worsening nightmare," he said.

The pair met as teenagers, and rekindled their friendship to begin a relationship in their mid-30s. Peston referred to his wife as "the woman I loved for most of my conscious life".

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.