Memorial for Peter Cochran
A Massive thank you those who attended and the dozens who took part!
People came from all over. Tributes sent New Delhi and New York. Friends traveled all the way from Kyoto and Gdansk…
Our heartfelt thanks goes out to everyone who came to Peter Cochran’s memorial celebration back in October.
We are biased of course, but we felt the event was wonderful. It was better than we could have imagined. Peter left us, his daughters, so much great material to work with in the form of autobiographical notes and a long list of talented people eager to be involved and honor his life.
Old friends from college days read extracts of his writings covering his early life, student days and time as an actor. Neil Salmon one of Peter’s influential High School teachers was there to talk of his high school student days.
In 1967 Peter was the secretary of the Footlights, we tracked down the minutes book for that year. Pete Atkin and Richard Harris skillfully created a sketch using choice extracts of Peter’s notes. Pete Atkin described Peter’s minute taking of the Footlights meetings as an “opportunity to display his gift for certain ironic detachment”. Characters such as Germaine Greer and Clive James were the subject of some amusing entries. It was brilliant glimpse into Peter’s college life.
Before Peter’s life became fully immersed in Byron studies, he had been, for 25 years a teacher of English and Drama. The skills he learnt as an actor to work an audience made him an unforgettable teacher. We were overwhelmed by the tributes paid to him by former students. Messages came from (amongst others) writers, actors, teachers, a producer and a director they all told us that Peter’s inspirational teaching and encouragement led to them following their creative career paths. A vivid account of Dr Cochran’s riveting English lessons, with him slipping in and out of various characters, was given in a short story by former star student Dee Larkin.
Amongst the moving tributes and Byron recitals, there was Shakespeare, Yeats, Beniowski and Cole Porter all delivered beautifully – Peter would have loved it. The tributes paid by the Byronists were all compelling – the talent he had for conveying his knowledge in his own unusual, engaging often provocative way was expressed with warmth and affection. Mirosława (Mirka) Modrzewska described her surprise at discovering his talent for writing in Ottava Rima. Itsuyo Higashinaka spoke of how generous Peter was with his time and his kindness in their email correspondence. Jack Wasserman sent a video tribute from New York describing their friendship, telling of their mutually strong likes and dislikes.
The Vision of Judgement was the poem that got Peter hooked on Byron, Jim Tanfield a former student read Peter’s account of the epiphinal moment that Byron took hold by way of a visitation by a Byron shaped fairy! As a tribute to Peter, Bernard Beatty produced a dramatic, abridged production of that poem with a cast of sixteen. It was great fun to watch, Leila, Peter’s (then 7 year old granddaughter), said it was her favourite bit of the day!
We feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to celebrate his life and character so fully. To show a more complete picture of Peter to the many who knew him just as an academic or as a teacher. To learn so much about him ourselves was fascinating.
The whole experience of organising the event, although exhausting, was hugely rewarding and a real source of comfort, it helped us enormously in coming to terms with Peter’s death.
www.petercochran.wordpress.com – Peter’s website will be maintained (and hopefully the navigation will be improved).
We’d like to thank the Byron community for all the support they shown us this year. It has meant a huge amount to us to learn that Peter was regarded with such fondness and respect.
Emily and Abi Cochran
‘There should not be a shadow of gloom, in aught that reminds us of thee’
– Lord Byron
Written for the Newstead Review Winter 2015
We’re collecting for Amnesty International UK the human rights organisation that Peter supported. If you feel like donating in memory of Peter you can
donation via the just giving page here.
You can contact Abi and Emily Cochran by using the form below