Over the course of his 54 years of letters Cooke was such an effortless storyteller that you can dip into any week from the Kennedy assassination to the invasion of Iraq and time travel to a perfectly nuanced first draft of history’s ironies.
Listening to the news on Wednesday, it struck me that no observer would have been better equipped to convey the image of a gutter-politics president emerging from his bunker last weekend, with his nation’s cities on fire, to witness the first commercial launch of a space rocket. Cooke was, I later discovered, much closer to those events than I realised. As well as being flight director of the Nasa/Space X mission, the fabulously named Zebulon Scoville is Cooke’s grandson.
It is the first manned commercial space rocket, not the first commercial, not by a long shot.
Although even that’s subject to dispute. That bloke from the Flat Earth Society launched a few months back. And again there’s no qualifier of successful in that description, is there?