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   Martin May


Martin May

Nickname: 'Siff' or 'Siffy' (owing to my initials, M.V.D May)
House: Grigg
Years: 1962-1963

  • My first 'cuts' ('Five for suspicion') administered by the formidable Roger Taylor in the boot-room and 'witnessed' by a smirking Paul Cahill.(affectionately known as 'Cack'). Those who have forgotten the meaning of 'Five for Suspicion' will be enlightened upon request. ('Jock' Shearer collected 'Fives for Suspicion' as others collect stamps)
  • 'Ma J', our caterer, who could never understand why we preferred the fruit that accompanied her curry to the curry itself. Being a polite generation, certainly as far as women were concerned, nobody had the heart to tell her.
  • Two exceptional teachers:
    1) M.T. Saville ('the Toff') our HSC teacher of English and a master of his subject. For him Wordsworth was 'brown bread dripping with honey', while Keats was 'a basket of fruit'. During the more dramatic passages of Shakespeare, he would shout 'My God, that's powerful stuff!' and practically collapse weeping at the emotion of it all. Despite this, 'the Toff' was never an object of fun or ridicule.
    2) Alan Potter ('Pansy Potter') an excellent teacher of languages who took Paul Cahill and me up to HSC German from scratch in two years, and this with just a blackboard and chalk and none of the gimmickry which today seems indispensable to modern language teaching. He worked for us and we worked for him. When our lessons were followed by a study period (known as a 'slack') or a double study period ('double slack') we used to go up the Rift Valley in his car while he pointed out the sights to us in German. He would refer to the 'bibis' we saw along the road, often loaded down with 'makuti', as 'Enten', 'ducks' in German and a term of endearment. They don't make teachers like 'Pansy Potter' any more, but in our ignorance and immaturity few of us realised at the time how fortunate we were.

    Left the PoW in 1963 and after an abortive attempt to settle in South Africa, returned to the UK in late 1965 and enrolled at London University to do a degree in French and German. Emigrated to France in 1969 with French wife, (met while at University), and apart from a couple of stints in Saudi Arabia with British Aerospace teaching English to Saudi Air Force cadets and with ARAMCO the oil producer, I have lived here ever since. I now teach English at the University of Clermont-Ferrand but I hope to retire in two years.

    (Registered - 25th October 2007)

  • If anyone wishes to contact Martin, please e-mail webmaster@oldcambrians.com to obtain his contact details