The death of Mike Pentelow is very sad — I still can’t believe he’s gone. I have lost a friend and colleague on Fitzrovia News, and the Fitzrovia community has lost its chronicler, historian, archivist and activist.
The extent of his knowledge of Fitzrovia and its history was encyclopaedic. Mike was a lovely man, always very friendly and open with everyone he met, and he loved to socialise He had so much stored in his head, but was always ready to add more, eagerly showing interest in any new information, whipping out his little notebook and jotting it down, like the old school journalist he was.
He loved nothing more than a pint with friends in a local pub, and the talk would often be about Fitzrovia past and present — particularly poignant at the moment as I walk around the neighbourhood, and see all his favourite watering holes shuttered up.
He was enormously supportive to me when I first started writing for Fitzrovia News and continued to be so. He always thanked me profusely for my copy and was so good-natured when I filed it late, which was nearly always. I remember when I first realised that he was the co-author of Characters of Fitzrovia, which I had originally borrowed from the library. Typically self-effacing, he explained that I could get a cut-price copy from the discount bookshop on Tottenham Court Road.
Mike had assiduously applied himself to the life and times of Fitzrovia, be it a scandal from the 1850s or dodgy building practice in the twenty first century. His forensic and detailed research combined with a fluent inclusive style of writing resulted in many fascinating articles in Fitzrovia News, and he was no slouch when it came to ‘sticking it to the Man’ in his campaigning journalism.
He was a stalwart of The Sohemian Society: the combination of a Club devoted to great stories about Soho and Fitzrovia, books and beer, that actually met in a pub, was just made for him. He met my two younger sons there.
His generosity, and generosity of spirit, always came through. Two examples spring to mind: chipping in to finance having the Fitzrovia News delivered by post and making a large contribution to the cost of Fiona Green’s leaving Fitzrovia party.
I shall miss him very much indeed, and so shall Fitzrovia.