Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Mr Bradley by Cerys Matthews

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Mr Bradley by Cerys Matthews

Article excerpt

The forthright young musician didn't immediately warm to her A-level French teacher, but over time the depth of his knowledge and character became clear

I arrived at Fishguard Comprehensive in Pembrokeshire at the beginning of the upper sixth. I came from a school that I don't want to name as I don't want to give it any promotion.

Martin Bradley taught A-level French. I had already studied a year of sciences, but I'd decided to switch to languages so I asked if I could join his class. He was hesitant. Even though I had French O-level and was singing songs in French, he was doubtful that I could complete a two-year course in half the time. Nevertheless he accepted me, and I respected him for that.

The first lesson he taught me was not to judge someone as soon as you meet them. He was quite cold to begin with and, as I was strident and a little contrary, I wasn't sure we'd get on. But then I started going to his lessons and realised that we got on great guns. Now, if I don't automatically click with someone, I can be sure that somewhere down the line they might become one of my favourite people.

I loved Mr Bradley's classes. He didn't patronise his pupils in the way he spoke to us or in terms of content. He had a dry sense of humour, which he never compromised to be popular or to entertain us. He introduced me to French literature such as Thérèse Desqueyroux by François Mauriac. That book had such an impact on me; there's a nod to it in one of the first songs I wrote for Catatonia. It was called Difrycheulyd, which means immaculate.

Mr Bradley taught me to have a 360-degree view of the world. I grew up in Welsh-language education and watched Welsh-language television, so I was interested in the protection of minority languages. He had arrived from somewhere in England and he asked me why there should be Welsh-language TV if it alienated non-Welsh speakers.

I hadn't thought of it in that way and a light bulb went on in terms of being able to look at an argument from someone else's point of view. …

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