Recorded: 14 Jun 2005
Sydney’s great hero, one of his great friends. Very, very dear and very close and I always knew it, but I knew it particularly when Francis died. Well, I’m a woman and so Francis reacts rather differently to women. He was very, very kind when we first arrived, extremely kind and helpful. He couldn’t have been nicer. But I was always much more at ease being with Odile than I was with Francis. Maybe I was even a little scared of him in a way until he helped me one time with some research. He helped me to work out the best way of doing research. He was never unkind, never. But I kept my distance, I think. Politically we had different opinions and we could easily get into arguments with each other because we both find it difficult to shut up.
Well, Francis is a very conservative gentleman in that way politically and leant to the right in all political issues. I’m an old leftie, born and will die an old leftie. However many disillusionments, I’ll always find myself leaning to the left. You know, you can get a subject, any subject, a war that’s going on or a disagreement and we’d always be on different sides.
He’s very, very anti-religion.
But he’s still conservative. I am on the left always and I am not anti-religion. I just don’t have religion of my own, but I have no objection to other people. If it helps them and if they believe it and if it helps hold a community together. I don’t like the religion when it’s really bigoted and sewing prejudices and sometimes on certain issues it makes me very cross. But I went to a convent school. Well, I learned to respect religion, other people’s religions as long as they don’t ask me to join in, its okay. But at the last few weeks that I knew him, we got very friendly. We found a subject matter of scientific interest to both of us that we were both very interested in. He was teaching me and I was a very, very keen pupil. It was only a few days because he died soon, a short time afterwards, I’m so happy to have had those few days. We were always just a little looking out the corner of our eyes, is this alright? Not quite at ease.
….But he also softened a lot as people do when you get older. You get more tender-hearted. You get more, I don’t know, more patient, more grateful for good little things. I know there are lots of crabby, bitter old people, but I don’t think that its old age itself that makes you that way.
May Brenner was married to Sydney Brenner from December 1952 until her death in January 2010. She was engaged in doing a Ph.D. in Psychology in London.