Thank You for introducing me to so many amusing characters
Thank You for adopting me into the Deli family
Thank You for serving the Christmas turkey at one and its carcass at
Thank You for driving me home from the Senior Common Room without ever running into a police control
Thank You for letting Michel sing 'Les copains d'abord' and not singing
Thank You in the name of all Armagnac producers and retailers
Thank You for including me on the boattrips and training me how to swim with an overloaded belly
Thank You for pioneering a new dancing style - free of charge - on a huge screen in a Guangzhou disco
Thank You for communicating so effectively with Guangdong fishermen
Thank You for not minding coming over to the Kowloon side to see me
Thank You for being Australian and paying so much for a visa to Poland
Thank You for buying the right salami for breakfast
Thank You for not giving up saying 'Danke schon' in Germany even though the replies were sometimes disappointing
Thank You for waiting to say good-bye
Thank You for everything
Your brother Manfred
Our friendship was physically distant.
Your departure abolished this distance.
We never felt so close.
Good night sweet prince.
"Peter was a lovely man and an incurable
optimist. When he settled in Hong Kong he told me how handy it was to
be halfway between his parents in Australia and the Europe he loved."
Any commentary on Peter Deli must acknowledge
the years he spent as a
Peter was not, however, just the product of one short era, for like the
Yet Peter also had Stoic attributes. These were to be seen in his brave
Peter took great delight in treasuring and nurturing his group of close
Life will not be the same without Peter, but I feel that he was not happy
Peter first entered my range of vision and
life when I was in primary
Peter and his family arrived from New Zealand; it took a long while for others, and also for Peter himself, to work out who he really was. His parents had turned their backs on the Europe of the 1930s, its anguish and politics, its prolific and gratuitous suffering. That these were to become Peter's lifelong preoccupation and even obsession was perhaps no irony but simply the massive, and as he always wished it triumphant, return of the repressed.
We went through primary school, high school and university together: often less than good friends, at times rivals, but as time went on ever more closely bound together by our common trajectory: out of Europe, through Double Bay and Sydney Boys' High School and the University of Sydney, and beyond.
In various ways the Faculty of Arts at Sydney University of the early to mid-1960s was a remarkable place, and the making of many unusual lives and careers: Clive James, Germaine Greer, Robert Hughes, the poet Les Murray among the famous; and more modestly people such as Peter and myself, who found there, amongst our peers as much as from the academic staff, some of the intellectual resources and personal support to put together our own less meteoric careers than those of the great international media celebrities.
Peter collected there a personal network, almost a menagerie or private gallery, of intellectual eccentrics and social misfits among whom he could develop, and find appreciation for, his talent for the outrageous and his sympathy with the unfashionable, the uncompromising underdogs of history.
His sympathies caught up with him, narrowed his chances and shaped his direction. While, after Sydney, I went to England and happened to land in London in an academic environment which, however strange its demands may have been, still provided me with the acceptance and recognition upon which a career might be unoriginally built, Peter had the misfortune of going to Oxford, which happily concluded that he was not their sort of chap and punished him for it. It is only the conventionally unconventional who thrive in that place.
From this reversal, Peter ended up fashioning his own remarkable odyssey: his interest in and travels through Europe (with his own:I Am A Camera and Mr Norris Changes Trains experiences), his academic and teaching career and personal life in Hong Kong.
For many years when I was in the USA we lost contact. In recent times we would again meet whenever Peter came to Sydney, usually at one of the post-1957 Hungarian coffee shops in now ever-so-fashionable Knox Street in Double Bay.
The last time we met was there. We were talking. As we did Peter became ever louder and more animated in his denunciation of various socially conventional and politically conformist types whom he detested. After some minutes of this escalation, the elegant woman at the table next to me tapped my arm and pleaded, Can you please ask your friend not to get so excited?
We left soon after, Peter fuming at the woman's pretentious ordinariness yet finding in it triumphant vindication of his own disapproval of bourgeois conformity; and me thinking to myself that, still well accommodated in the mould of his undergraduate persona, Peter was unchanging and indestructible.
Yet he was not indestructible, and it was foolish to imagine otherwise.(As
students his friends were always worried he would be beaten up and killed,
not in a genteel coffee shop but around some rough pub or railway station
...) The persona endured, but, far from indestructible, the person behind
it was one of enormous vulnerabilities. How else to explain his inexhaustible,
even consuming, historical sympathies with the outcasts and losers?
Prof. Clive S. Kessler
I am shocked to hear this sad news. Although
it is 34 years since I have
I also remember that we who were not in the Push used to talk about them and visit the Royal George to observe them in situ. Peter knew that Hungarian member of the Push called George [MOLNAR, who died last year, a famous Sydney character: CK] - I can't remember his other name. He and Myron regarded themselves as socialists but were horrified by the Soviets and would not have a bar of the CP.
He was a special friend of Myron Kofman who also met an early and even more sudden death from a cerebral catastrophe some four years ago. I have fond memories of both of them, but Peter I remember for his enthusiasm and his great sense of fun. In May 1964, Peter, Bob Connell, Maureen Tighe and myself drove from Sydney to Melbourne for a History Conference with Melbourne University's history students. Bob Connell drove us in his father's car, very sedately (maddeningly slowly in fact, but as the road toll was much higher then and there were no seat belts, or other protective aids, very safely). Bob was a Melbourne student but his family lived in Sydney and he was there for the University vacation. This meant that when we arrived at the conference and proceedings began, Bob took the 'Melbourne' side in what became a bitter intellectual dispute over approaches to History. The divide, to oversimplify, was an empiricist versus theoretical approach to the study of History. Myron and Peter led the Sydney contingent advocating the sovereignty of theory. Bob Connell and Bob Dare championed the 'Facts'(odd when you consider Bob's later career). Both sides felt they had won the day. Intellectual differences translated into a snow fight in the grounds of the Warburton Chalet. Peter was the most inveterate snowball maker and thrower on the Sydney side.
The return trip to Sydney was very interesting. We made very slow progress
and had to put up at a very rough bush pub in Young. (Notorious as the
place of the massacre at Lambing Flat, 1861). Maureen and I were sharing
a room. The publican had other ideas about the sleeping arrangements and
met our (that is Maureen's and my) request for extra blankets: with a
salacious snigger, remarking: 'You're pretty hot girls you don't need
Peter was with us and he broke into helpless laughter. This became his special story and he dined out on it for years! Maureen and I found it funny, but we could not match Peter's delight or mirth in re telling the tale.
I remember in 1965 Peter joined the first freedom ride for indigenous Australians. He was committed to the left and to ideas of social justice and I will always respect this aspect of the complex personality we knew as Peter.
I also remember how passionately both he and Myron fought against the
dullness of Australian History as it was then taught at both Sydney and
UNSW. After he got a job at UNSW Peter ran foul of Frank Crowley in the
staff room there on this very issue and had several bruising encounters
It's a week since Peter died, finally we are
accepting it. Peter's death
Teresa and Jim Bradley: we had heard so many different plans for Peter's
retirement and were looking forward to seeing more of him, (wherever he
Finola (Bradley). We had a very entertaining night in Dublin when we went to the pub first, then to see Shaws "The Ideal Husband" and the some pubs off Grafton Street. Finola and Donald were made very welcome by Peter and Jenny in Hong Kong
Siobhan Bradley: Peter and Jenny on holiday here when she got her exam results and University place. Three years later we had a wonderful day at her conferring, amid chaos about tickets etc. We had a wonderful few days in Guanzhou, 1996, Siobhan and myself with Peter and Jenny when Peter showed off by eating water cockroaches and rice grubs and Siobhan lost her appetite, totally.
Cormac and Aoibheann Bradley, enjoyed Peter's visits here and Jenny and Louis in 1993, trips to Galway especially
Ger and Gerdi Mc Glynn (neighbours). Peter always felt so good and that his behavior (as the ideal husband!) was quite acceptable compared to that of Ger and Jim. Gerdi is writing to Jenny, as Ger died very tragically last November. He was only 48
Brid Power (neighbour), and Geraldine, always enquired after Peter especially since his illness. We had some good nights out, in the Sallyport pub listening to music, eating in Worrells Inn in Castle Connell, then going for a long walk by the Shannon to walk off the overeating We had planned to visit Geraldines fiancee in West Cork last August, but, it wasn't to be.
My Brother, Peter mc Guinness and sister in law, Margo who came with us to the Abbey theatre in Dublin and had planned to go again last August
My Mother (Lily Mc Guinness) had never met Peter, but prayed for him and his family and felt it was best to go and visit him in Hong Kong last August
Gerry (Prof. Diarmuid) Bradley, Galway. He put us up in Galway, had some great meals out and big debates! In 1998 we stayed in his apartment in Quay Street, a very noisy street, but listened to some wonderful street music, especially a classical trio one lovely sunny morning.
Anne Lucey, from Ballyvourney - She had just bought a new computer, but Peter told her he hated computers! Again, she was looking forward to his visit in August
John Gallaghue, publican, lecturer, politician (councilor) and many other things. When we were in his pub it was "raided" for late opening, Jenny took a photo of the policeman.
I haven't told our friends, Jacques and Francoise La Fabrier from Montpellier
in France, of Peter's death yet. As Peter said "He dined out on Jacques'
ridiculous joke" They were here on holiday in 1993 with us and met
Peter, Jenny and Louis.
We also send out sympathy to Peter's Mother, Lily.
Friendships are strange things. Some can have
Mine with Peter had to withstand a gap of some 30 years. I think we often thought of each other over that time. But we had each gone our own way in life after five close years shared as undergraduates of the History Department of the University of Sydney during the early 1960's. We rediscovered our relationship only in the last couple of years, at Peter's initiative. A close mutual friend had already passed from the scene but we were able on a number of occasions, despite he and Jenny residing in Hong Kong and me in Canberra, to celebrate our relationships with many of those who had formed our 1960's group. I had no idea of the imminence, in this time scale, of his own departure.
Peter to me in the early 1960's was a breath of radical fresh air. He more than anyone shone new light on most of the issues - personal and intellectual - with which I had to cope. I had never met anyone with such brimming enthusiasm for anarchism and freedom of thought. He had the most effective capacity of anyone to take the mickey out of anyone engaging in posturing or mere pedantry. I did not go down that pathway, becoming a staid and solid public servant, but the sharp quality of Peter's discourse illuminated for me the route I had to follow. I think he had that impact on many others around him at the time. How fortunate for the undergraduates and colleague scholars of the University of Hong Kong that he could be part of that community for so long and contribute so much of what I know he could, to that institution.
One of the lasting memories of Peter was an evening in May 1968, when he and a close mutual friend came to visit me and my wife then living in Bloomsbury. He was literally just off the train from Paris, from which he had just escaped being arrested as a participant in the infamous student street revolt there. He was flushed with excitement, which lasted right through the time he spent with us. He knew he had been living through a historical turning point in French history; and that he had participated actively in it, as part of the dissenting tradition that seemed to be in his bones. It seemed to me to summarise all that our earlier period together in Sydney had shown about him. A man, as he was by then, brimming with intellectual energy and creativeness, able to relate all of the present to the past, in a way that properly mixed intellect and heart. His future seemed absolutely clear on that luminous evening.
Peter's passing has opened a big gap for me, for the future as well as for memories of the past.
Even though many of Peter's adult loyalties were attached to places and institutions, not to mention people, outside of Australia, I entertained the hope that one day he might return, at least periodically, to Australia. Once more in Sydney, I hoped he could again reinvigorate me by some rigorous debate, adjusted as over the last few occasions by some sentimentality and nostalgia about our shared past and our shared friends. But it is not to be. I will have to just imagine the things we would have talked about. It is hard. His light is not there and I will have to replace it by something altogether dimmer.
Rosemary Cornish has just broken the tragic news to us of Peter's death.
Peter was always so interesting to listen to as had such a wide range of knowledge.
It is very hard for us to accept his death as he was so young and should have had so many more years in front of him.
Of course we shall pray for him to rest in peace.
Our thoughts go out to you and Louis and know you must both be devastated at your sad and tragic loss.
We cannot be with you at Peter's memorial service Jenny, but we shall be there in spirit, trying to support you in your grief.
Please accept our sincerest condolences Jenny
Peter: may the sun shine warm upon your face
How may we celebrate Peter? Peter provided the vivid images himself. Peter the historian, travelling to England to study as a young man, and living in France at that amazing time, May 1968. Peter, an accidental revolutionary, yet so true in spirit. With anarchists, artists, students, trade unionists, marching in Paris in that time of irony, he was our connection also with that time of promise. Peter the traveler, visiting his friends around the world and regaling us with his adventures and impressions. Peter, the intellectual, questioning Mickey Mouse as an object worthy of comparative literature discourse alongside Camus - affirmation of existentialism. Peter and Jenny, hosts - the elegance of Christmas with this wonderful family. And Peter, the friend - enriching, entertaining and loyal.
The preamble to the Irish Blessing conveys our thoughts - may the sun
shine warm upon your face, dear friend.
Frederik Pretorius and Adrienne La Grange
It had been ten years ago that I met you at my friend's house in Paris. We don't know each other very well, but I am sad that you left us. It must be very hard for you to endure all those pain caused by your illness.
At St. Mary's Hospital, the last time that I saw you, you said, "
Anna, tell me something interesting."
I started talking about your country Australia, where I had an unforgetable memory. Your eyes shone like a child.
One day when I'll visit Sydney again, looking at the Blue Mountain, I shall think of you. Dear Peter, let's say good-bye now, we shall meet again at our heavenly home.
Peter Deli, Jenny & Louis were our neighbours
for many years. They were
Rosemary & Len Cornish
Though I knew Peter only a short time since
1993 I mourn his passing
Les trois rires de Peter
Pour avoir passe une petite fraction de ma vie a boire avec Peter dans des pubs ou dans des bars, je me sens tenu de dire quelques mots sur cette dimension sans doute inessentielle. D'autres que moi sauront evoquer d'autres aspects plus importants de sa personnalite, en tant que parent, ami ou collegue. Je ne parle ici qu'en tant que buveur.
Peter portait a la France un amour un peu etrange, nourri de sa participation a la revolte etudiante de Mai 1968. Une photo qu'il affectionnait le montre le poing leve devant une Bourse de Paris que lon devine etre la proie des flammes. Mais peut-etre est-ce moins la photo dont je me souviens aujourd'hui que de la description que men faisait Peter.
Au cours de cette experience, il avait confirme un certain gout pour l'impertinence et la provocation. Il y avait aussi trouve une des sources de son humour particulier. Peter etait fascine par l'existence de types sociaux, de caracteres bien types ou il aimait reconnaitre le reflet d'une histoire europeenne, d'une histoire populaire qu'il connaissait bien. Ses figures favorites, evoquees dans le Hong-Kong des annees 1980, pouvaient paraitre etrangement anachroniques et se rapporter a un peuple ou un lumpen-proletariat aujourd'hui fort differents. Mais dans la ville qu'avait aimee Peter, existait encore ce quartier des Halles, que Zola avait decrit comme le "Ventre de Paris" et qui n'avait pas ete detruit par le faux modernisme de l'ere Pompidou. On pouvait la nuit aller manger une soupe a l'oignon dans des restaurants frequentes par les travailleurs des Halles et par les prostituees des rues voisines. C'est sans difficulte que ses souvenirs se melangeaient a des images empruntees a Toulouse-Lautrec ou a Aristide Bruant... J'avais du mal a faire coincider mes propres souvenirs avec ceux de mon ami.
Dans les pubs de Hong Kong, son regard se portait sur ces types imaginaires: le bureaucrate, le flic, le maquereau, le soldat anglais... Ces rencontres suscitaient ce qu'on pourrait appeler son premier rire. Que des personnages de rencontre puissent ainsi illustrer sa mythologie personnelle suscitait sa jubilation. Il disait: "il a le visage interessant...". Mais un deuxieme rire devait succeder au premier. En effet, le stereotype ne procurait qu'un amusement modere. Ce qui etait fascinant, c'etait la categorie reconnue mais transgressee. Il fallait que les frontieres de classe ou de culture soient mises en deroute, que la convention sociale s'effondre dans le pathetique ou le ridicule. Bien des fois, la simple observation d'un couple improbable (un civil servant perdant tout controle en compagnie d'une entraineuse) permettait des discussions sociologiques ou historiques qui s'achevaient en bouffonnerie. "Ils sont assez incroyables, a la fin", disait Peter.
Parfois, le jeu se retournait contre leurs auteurs. La distance etait trop grande entre l'originalite presumee de ces personnages et leur reelle banalite. Un marin francais descendu a l'escale et genereusement invite revelait, loin de tout pittoresque, un caractere trivial et conservateur. Peter faisait semblant de s'en attrister, avant de diriger sa moquerie contre lui-meme. Il riait de sa propre naivete et de mes objections pedantes, et je riais avec lui.
C'etait son meilleur rire.
Peter's three laughters
Having spent a small fraction of my life drinking with Peter in pubs and bars, I feel compelled to say a few words about this particular dimension, albeit inessential. Other people, parents, friends or colleagues, will know how to sketch more important aspects of Peter's personality. My contribution limits itself to the drinking side.
Peter's love for France was somehow strange, undoubtedly sparked off by his involvement in the student revolt of May 68. On one photograph he was particularly fond of, he was pictured with a defiant fist, in front of what appears to be the Paris stock exchange bursting into flames. But it is perhaps more Peter's enthusiastic description of this photograph that I recall today rather than the picture itself.
In the course of his experiences of Paris, Peter developed a certain taste for provocative and impertinent observation. He also found there the very source of his peculiar sense of humour. Peter was fascinated by social types, characters with strong profiles in which he would recognize the construct of European history, a people's history which he knew well. His favourite figures, as we evoked them in the Hong Kong of the eighties, may have seemed oddly antiquated, referring to peoples or lumpen-proletariat who have long gone. But in the heart of this city which Peter loved so much, still existed les Halles, a district which Zola had called "le ventre de Paris". This district had not yet been destroyed by the fake modernism of the Pompidou era and one could still have an onion soup late at night in one of those restaurants patronized by rough Halles workers and prostitutes from the neighbourhood. Quite naturally, these souvenirs mixed with the evocation of characters painted by Toulouse-Lautrec or celebrated in Aristide Bruand's songs. At times, I had some difficulties in matching my own images with those of my friend.
In the Hong Kong bars, his gaze was arrested by these imagined types such as the bureaucrat, the cop, the pimp or the English soldier. These encounters provoked what one might call his first laughter. The very possibility that such accidental characters may fit into his personal mythology triggered his jubilation. He would say : "This fellow has got an interesting face." However, a second laughter could follow the first one. Indeed, the initial stereotype would only result in a moderate amusement. What was fascinating was that the identified category be subjected to a transgression. And what really mattered was that class and cultural borders be shattered, and that all social conventions collapse into a pathetic and ridiculous reality. The simple observation of an unlikely couple (e.g., a civil servant losing all control in the company of a bar hostess) would allow sociological or historical reflections that would end up in various antics. "Ils sont assez incroyables, a la fin" would declare Peter, with his inimitable accent.
Sometimes, the game backfired on its authors; indeed, the distance between the presumed originality of the characters and their actual banality was too wide. A passing French sailor generously invited over would eventually reveal himself as an unpittoresque, trivial and conservative chap. Peter would pretend to be saddened by this revelation, but quickly redirected the mockery against himself. He would laugh both at his own naivety and my pedantic objections, and I would laugh with him.
This was Peter's best laughter.
Peter Deli had a profound effect on me when
I was a young student at
He and another mutual friend, Jack "the Anarchist" Grancharoff,
Peter provided a quality of intellectual discussion which was completely
Peter was particularly proud of the fact that he had been reported to
His romanticism for the anti-authoritarian Left tradition also made him
His knowledge of the Old Left prevented him from being a naive follower
This did not stop him from giving the clenched fist salute on many
His untimely death robbed him of the opportunity to catch up with his
If there is an anarchist heaven, Peter will be one of its greatest Saints.
Eulogy for Peter Deli
I first met Peter Deli at the Youth Hostel in Paris in 1968. The atmosphere
Dear dear Peter,
Dominique, Renato, Marco Ferraro
"Is that all you have to offer?"
......whenever I think of Peter I always
Peter was a man of deep knowledge and yet he had a unique ability to smile and to enjoy life to the fullest. It is thanks to him and his wife Jenny if I could take part in some wonderful junk trips and parties during the first years I spent in Hong Kong. I remember very clearly that Peter's joy of living added a lot of "verve" to his already lively circle of friends, many of whom were working (like me at the time) for the HKU Language Centre.
I have to bid farewell to Peter now, but his sweet and benevolent smile
will always be alive in my heart.
UN MESSAGE A MON AMI PETER LE GRAND
Whenever I listen to the songs of Bees Gees,
I will think about you -
Hi Peter. It's funny, I often talked to you about God , or at least, I replied when you raised this subjet with me. You told me in what you believed, and I did the same thing. Our conclusions coincided and differed at the same time. You was a man of conviction and I, I try still and always to be a man of faith. Is it so far one from the other ? I don't think so, this was certainly the reason which made us accept mutualy our differences, with generous minds which I have rarely shared with anyone else than you.
Now that you precede us to the place where we'll all go, already, you
know..... And you know better than me now. Surely.
Perhaps you know all about Truth, all about Man, all about the infinitif
Being, all about creation, all about Eternity in which you are. And I, I can
add nothing. I remain a man of faith and you have crossed into an Eternity
which, I hope, will never disappoint your pure and generous convictions .
You were the elder brother to whom I listened and who listened to me.
As I am writing to you on St. Valentin's Day, I can assure you Peter,
Every year, we loved to gather around a good table.You who have left too soon, search for us a good address, so that one day we can meet again for a great feast.
Your friends of Paris 19th District
Felix and Veronique
Compagnon de Voyage.......
Chosen by Josiane Dougados from Pierre's archives.
Brief remembrances of friends who had met
at the Laumiere Youth Hostel
We didn't meet by chance, you who roved from country to country would
never have missed this youth hostel that we ran while trying to apply
certain ideals which were so close to our hearts :
There, all subjects could be discussed, people talked to one another,
exchanged ideas with those who happened to pass by, who came from elsewhere,
and with us who were always on the spot.. We got to know you more
At May 68, you were at the hostel and we had strode together the length and breadth of the roads at the Latin Quarter which had become the heart of all madness, mad with desire to construct other things which seemed to us so necessary for realising our dream. It was for you another way of living in Paris, you who were sometimes under a very "British" style, with , if needed, umbrella and camera.
A bit later, you left Paris for Toulouse to prepare your thesis. Jose and Michelle were there, you met regularly and develpopped a deep complicity.
Then came your great departure for Hong Kong, a new life for you. You were going to teach at the University.
A letter, a card, a word , it was nice that we always kept in touch. One day, you told us that you had met Jenny, you lived your love story and we were happy for you.
Then, some of us had the opportunity to go to Hong Kong and got to know Jenny and Louis, your son as well as many of your acquaintances, very enriching moments.
And then , very often you came all three of you to France. Let's have
a little wink at Marlioz where you felt at home, and where the friends
of the Savoyard region enjoyed creating a warm atmosphere, also at Coaraza,
And then, one day in February 2001, our tracks branched off. We are overwhelmed
by sadness but we know that we can always come back on our memory which
is so lively.
The friends of St. Julien lament his disappearance.
We keep him in our