The journalist Pete Cashmore, who wrote for the Guardian and Observer among a range of British newspapers and magazines, has died at the age of 45.
Cashmore, who also worked at the NME and men’s magazines Loaded and Nuts, was remembered as a talented and funny writer who possessed a quick wit, a sharp tongue and a troubled soul.
Cashmore was also a champion of the quiz show, Countdown, in 1997 and finished runner-up in its champion of champions contest early the following year.
“Pete Cashmore was not one to be mealy-mouthed. He would rejoice in the vanquishing of an enemy or an opponent. He would not mince words just because someone happened to have died. Nor will I,” said his friend and former colleague, the writer Andrew Emery.
“Pete was a troubled soul, one with whom I’d crammed a lifetime of experiences into 20 years of friendship. We’ve shared tiny offices, hotel beds on New York press trips, and a fistfight.”
Emery noted Cashmore’s darker side but also his more endearing characteristics, saying: “I’ve seen him write beautifully about loneliness, heartache and depression. Let us remember him how he was – mercurial, a mind in turmoil, imperfect, contradictory.”
The Guardian journalist Stuart Heritage said that, in Cashmore, he found a man whose “warmth shone through in the way he’d take younger journalists under his wing”.
He said: “In person, he was exactly as funny and sharp and human as he was in print and I ended up quietly idolising him; something I wish I’d been more clear about. This is despite the fact that he was in possession of the single most ill-advised tattoo ever put to human skin. Honestly, it was terrible.”
That tattoo was the logo of Nuts magazine, emblazoned on his back in large red letters.
Dubious tattoos were a theme. The Guardian’s arts editor, Alex Needham, said Cashmore also had one of the logo of Loaded magazine, “alongside that of the other magazine who had given him full-time employment: the porn title Club”.
Another common subject was the quality of his work. Needham remembered him as a “hilarious writer” who “brought a levity as well as encyclopaedic hip-hop knowledge to NME”.
He said that Cashmore, who was from Wolverhampton, had written “very funny pieces about such subjects as the greatness of a West Midlands accent, having the same name as the founder of Mashable, the putdowns Ed Miliband should have used against Myleene Klass, and Brit geezer movies”.
Needham added: “His quick-wittedness was employed below the line as well as above, and even more spectacular when he frequently performed live on the UK’s rap battle scene, a tight-knit community that has expressed great sadness at his death.”
Others remembered his generosity even when suffering himself. The journalist James McMahon said on Twitter that when dealing with his own mental health issues “EVERY SINGLE TIME … Pete reached out to me”.
Cashmore worked at Paul Raymond Publications as a subeditor, before joining IPC, the publisher of Nuts and at that time, Loaded. In 2006, he began writing for the Guardian. He struggled with bipolar disorder and, among other subjects, he wrote in support of better mental health provision on the NHS.
Emery said: “I wish Pete had found happiness. He was the best of writers, the most bounteous fountain of ideas I’ve ever met, the man at the fruit machine with a glass of red and a pun at the ready.
“Let’s remember Pete as he actually was. One day your most passionate friend, the next your most vicious enemy. A beautiful, talented mess. A man who never did boring.”
• In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.