Peter Cordiner

After changing course in his career several times, the poet found his vocation in teaching

Andra Noble

Brought up in Boddam, near Peterhead, of fisher stock, Peter Cordiner served his time as an electrician, first in the woollen mill in Peterhead, and later in the Euclid engineering factory in the town. Then the sea called, and he spent just over a year as an electrical officer in the Bank Line on the Corabank.

Again, he changed course in his career and entered Aberdeen University, where he read medicine for a year before switching to child psychology. On graduation, he went to Queen's University in Belfast for a further qualification.

Peter had found his true vocation and a teaching career followed; first at Summerhill Academy in Aberdeen and then for many years in Moray as a support for learning teacher.

A hallmark of his whole life was his care and concern for the disadvantaged, in school or in the wider world. At university, part of his summer holidays were spent with the London Embankment Mission, seeking to help the "down and outs" who lived and slept rough there.

His uncle, Peter "Don" senior, was a fisherman and poet of local note; each year he composed a memorable poem on the past year's events in Boddam, and recited it at the village "Boatie Social" in January.

Peter himself won a national prize for a poem some years ago and, not long before his death at the age of 68, published Peter's Poems, a bestselling booklet of Doric poetry, the proceeds of which went to MacMillan Cancer Support.

Peter, like his mother and brother, was an accomplished organist, and although they lived in Lossiemouth, for many years he played the organ at Elgin Baptist church. His knowledge of the music of the Sankey hymns and Redemption Songs so beloved by the fisherfolk of the east coast of Scotland was legendary.

The late Cuthbert Graham, of The Press and Journal, once said in a collection of north east poetry he edited that Doric poetry was not strong in love poems. I believe that one of Peter's poems in his recent publication is an exception to that rule. Tired is a remarkable, yet simple, love poem to his wife Rena.

Tired o' aa the needles, tired o' aa the peels,

Tired o' padded footsteps, `n clunk o' trolley wheels

Tired o' aa the sufferin', tired o' aa the pain,

Tired o' chasin' prospects, o' gettin' weel again.

Tired o' a' watchin' sunsets, tired o' mornin' lecht,

Tired o' ayeways meevin', bit nivver feelin' recht,

Tired o' lapsin' consciousness, tired o' fadin' pooers,

Bit nivver tired o' waaknen up, ti find meh haan in youers.

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Andra Noble

Latest stories


Coronavirus and schools: LIVE 23/9

A one-stop shop for teachers who want to know what impact the ongoing pandemic will have on their working lives
Tes Reporter 23 Sep 2020