Australian Biography

Albert Tucker - full interview transcript

Tape of 11

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Did you ever see Joy again?

Ah, yes I did but rather dramatic ... shall I say, dramatic finale. I spent a lot of time trying to track her down. I simply couldn't find her. A great deal of it. And while ... while all this confusion was going on there were two other girls, a Belgian girl and a German girl, who we knew quite well, had been friendly with for quite a long time, and their husbands were in internment camp, because of their nationality. But they lived in different areas and one of them rang me up and said that Joy had rung them and had arranged to meet them at the apartment of the other girl, and at a certain time on a particular day. Because as European girls, when this happened there, they were shocked out of their wits, as were most people. Not so much at the ... the conflict between two people. That seemed to be there, but the thing that was not possible in those days, simply not possible, is that a mother would desert her child. That was not possible. Particularly, more so even with the European minds. This was one of those things that simply was not tolerable, did not happen and could not happen, should not happen, and [should] be totally condemned under all circumstances. And so they ... of course, this immediately meant, not only Joy's mother, but also all the friends there, they were all immediately on my side because they knew what had happened. And not so much in say taking sides between Joy and myself, but the fact of her deserting her child, that was enough for them. And so she rang me up and told me about the meeting. That if I wanted to - they knew I was hunting for Joy, [and] couldn't find her. They said, 'Okay if you want to see her there, come along at such and such a time and she'll be there'. So I went along and this is our dramatic finale shall I say. I went along and there was a stairway that went above this apartment where I could be on the top. I could look down the stairs leading up the building, and then going in and then coming up the stairs to this apartment which was just below, so I was able to observe the whole thing. Sure enough, just before the time there, there was Joy coming up the stairs. So I'm looking quite confident, sort of quite self possessed, everything in order, and ... which was everything I wasn't at the time, because I knew that a showdown of some kind was coming up. And so I waited up there. I heard her come up the stairs. I heard her go to the door. I heard her knock at the door. I heard the door open and I heard the voices of these ... this girl who let her in. And I waited a minute or so and then I came down and I remember I was smoking then. I had ... one of the brief phases of my life when I smoked. And I lit a cigarette there to steady myself. And I went down, knocked at the door. It was opened by this girl. And she was ... with her eyes bugging out of her head, because she could see we were in an explosive situation. And I came in, and down the short hallway and then there was a sitting room there and there was a round table there, and there was Joy sitting on the other side of it. So I came into the room there and Joy immediately ... she you know ... her eyes bugged out of her head. Her face went snow white there and she said, 'What the hell are you doing here?' and so on. And I realised that by the way she spoke, full of terrific, you know, terrific rage, almost rage and hatred there, 'What the hell are you doing here?' And so I remember I ... Sometimes in acute crisis, as long as it comes one at a time, a certain curious calm will descend on you, sometimes, and this descended on me then. And I remember I just didn't say a word, I just took the cigarette out of my mouth and put it in the ashtray on the table because I could see there that there was no way of talking to Joy, with the way she was ready to fly and that was it, in a ... in a rage, because she realised she'd been tricked by these two that she'd taken as friends. By this sort of ambush. So I just put the cigarette out there, and this is the only time in my life this has ever happened and I've ever done it. I've never struck a woman in my life. This was the one exception. I put the cigarette out calmly, and pulled my arm back like that, gave a God awful roundhouse swing and it caught Joy right on the side of the head there and knocked her clean ... It was with much more force than I could even be aware of myself. And knocked her clean out of her chair, and she crumpled up against the wall. Instant change there, sobbing and crying. Straight away. She scrambled to her feet, and she said, 'I know you'll never let me go. You'll never let me go" and I said to her, 'Do what you like but I've got to talk about Sweeney'. And she took no notice of that. She just scrambled up there and she started to get out ... she had to get out behind my chair in order to get to the door and so on. And she just scrambled behind there. Then she did a most peculiar thing. She suddenly stopped short beside me, and put her hand round my head there and pressed my head into her side, [GESTURES TO HIS WAIST] like that. Just for a moment. Then she let go and turned around and then fled out the door and that's the last I ever saw of her. So there we are. In this life. [Laughs]

What did you do next?

Well I just sat there, you know, and recovered because I realised there she was saying something about, 'You'll follow me, you'll follow me', and I said, 'No, I won't', and I just sat there. That was the end of the story.

So what did you do with Sweeney?

Well I did what they'd obviously ... with this diabolical ... which I would call diabolical cunning. It happened exactly as they anticipated. I didn't even think of the role that Sunday could have played in the whole there. The whole thing was too sudden. I hadn't been able to sort out the parts and try and add things up and so work out what happened. And so the first thing I did there with that there ... is that I rang Sunday and asked her if she'd look after Sweeney for a while, which was exactly what they knew I'd do, [laughs] only I didn't know it of course.

Did it occur to you that you might look after him yourself?

That I might have what?

Did it occur to you that you might look after him yourself?

Well that was simply not ... not ... In those days that was simply not possible. I was trying to earn a living. I had to go out every day. I mean there was no way of ... of doing this. And this is an immediate, short range - as I thought - short range solution until I sorted myself out and worked out something to do with Sweeney. And you can never come up with these fast answers to these complex life situations. And so that was left, and so Sweeney stayed there. There was no objection from the Reeds at all. And so finally there, then I left the apartment I was in and oddly enough I then went slept on the back verandah of Joy's mother's place. She asked me to come and stay over with her, which I did. And I got along with the old lady there. You see, all was well. And so there were a lot more wheels within wheels of course, as you can imagine. But eventually it got that way and the Reeds seemed very happy to continue looking after Sweeney. I hadn't really fully realised the situation there. And I thought, Well this will be good, if they look after him until I you know sort myself out or rearrange my entire life, which I had to do. Then I would ... this, in a curious way, freed me from all obligations. I got rid of the apartment and I thought, well, you know, I was able to gather together a bit of money which I got while I was in Japan and I'd earned. I'd painted some portraits of Americans there and so on, and I managed to get a bit of money together. And I thought, well this is it. I've got to get out of this place. This is hell. You know, this'll destroy ... it's destroying me. And I'd always had this European dream because we always ... it's quite different to now by the way. We never quite really believed that Europe existed. I mean we were ... at the time I called it culturally schizophrenic. And we thought where is reality? One moment it was in Europe, the next it was here, and then Europe was the fantasy, then Europe was the reality and we were the fantasy. See, this is curious, curious double thing going on in our mind. And I thought, well at least now, I'm ... and John and Sunday to look after Sweeney, I'll get over to Europe and I'll be able to ...'. I borrowed some money from Joy's mother and borrowed some money from another friend there and then the money I already had from Japan, I was able to buy a passage on the Largs Bay, the sixty pound one by the way, that put me right in the bottom of the boat, which was sheer hell I might add. But I'd never been on a boat before. I'd flown to Japan of course, so I had a taste for the outside world. And ...

What was your destination in Europe?

Beg your pardon?

Where were you going in Europe?

Well I headed straight for London. This ... this was the Mecca, in a sense, at the point there, and then Paris. All of which I fulfilled. So I got to London and this of course displaced a lot of the woe and trouble. I was in totally a different environment. All this curiosity and I remember the marvellous thing of arriving and being in a hotel in Grosvenor Square. But we drove to it in a typical London pea soup fog. [Laughs] You see, we arrived at Waterloo. And I remember getting the cab in the fog and you couldn't see ten feet ahead of the car.

Was it only the situation with Joy that made you leave Australia or were there other considerations?

Well, no, no. This was a general aim that I had for the three of us, with both Joy and Sweeney. And the odd thing is there that at the point, with the money I'd brought back from Japan, and with money I was able to borrow - this is the only borrowing I've ever done in my life by the way is that little session of it - with all that I figured there that now we had this ... she went ... see when this happened there I immediately ... John kept back half the stipend that we were getting. See? Because they were paying both of us and I was still working a lot with Angry Penguins and so on, and so I realised with the work I was doing, the money I was able to make here, which I was making - some but not much, but enough - and by putting it all together I realised ... and if John and Sunday ... I had never approached them, the question never came up, but if they were prepared to keep it going for another year or two, then we could ... the three of us could have gone to Europe, but which, of course, would have been completely against Sunday's interests. So they probably would have refused if I had made the proposition. But this I had in mind, and looking back on it there, I don't doubt that I would have got out because the desire was so strong with me. And at least I was near enough to having the money to pay for fares, and as I say, if I could, at that time, I thought I could make the arrangement with John, then okay I would have been able to do it.

You've been quoted ... you've been quoted as saying at that time that you were 'a refugee from Australian culture'.

Oh yes, that's when I got ... [laughs] when I was getting on the boat. At least, now let's see - no, no, what am I talking about? I forget. I was getting on the train. I had to take the train to Sydney to get the boat there. And a touching little thing I found which ... because Joy and this bloke were in Sydney then. A touching little thing that I only found out fairly recently, some months ago, was that Joy had heard from the Reeds that I was going on the boat and she watched the boat sail out from Sydney, through Sydney Heads, which might have had quite an effect on me if I'd known at the time that she was there watching it. Perhaps she was just making sure I went, I don't know. [Laughs] But ... but I was quite touched by that, because I felt she was antagonistic then because after they got installed in Sydney and I didn't know where they were, she wrote me a couple of letters but I never answered them because there was nothing I could say. You know, you read the letter, you want to say something and there's nothing you can say, and the last one there was telling us how poor they both were and more or less indicating could I help them out. Extraordinary sort of expectation, you know. A working of the mind that I can't comprehend, but really she wanted ... wanted a helping hand at that point. Again I ignored that but I found that she could use the Sydney Railway Station as a place, because I was in touch with the Reeds over this one there, and so I packed up all her things in a big suitcase and sent the lot and paid for it to go.

Is it true that you said as you were leaving that you were a refugee from Australian culture?

Oh yes well I was getting going down to the train here I was interviewed by The Sun newspaper and they were asking me about leaving and I said, 'Well ...', because [coughs] they were all about at the time. One of the nasty words in use at the time was 'refujews' and you know the refugees were getting into ... already getting signs of objections to the number of refugees who were pouring in, in that immediate pre-war [sic] period. And so I was very ... I was very concerned with that and so this is the first phrase that came to mind when they asked me what I was going through and I said, 'Well I'm a refugee from Australian culture'. There it was.

And did you feel that?

Oh yes indeed. I was in flight. I mean I'd really ... it was a place I'd gone through a very difficult childhood in. I'd battled like a maniac there to try and work done against all obstacles and resistances. The only shining light in it were in fact the Reeds who really helped out when I needed it. And so ... so my general feeling there was one of total rejection and my answer to that was total antagonism.

How had your work been seen by others than the Reeds?

Had my work been seen?

Yes.

Oh yes I had you could say a small following but not the financial one. I did sell an occasional painting but you could count them on the fingers of one hand. And, also the prices were very low. And so that couldn't really be counted as a source of income. It was a help but not enough, [not] nearly enough.

What stands out for you about your period in Paris? How long were you there for?

Well I embarked on a course of total ... a tremendous growth period you could say then. Because in a curious way you sometimes feel you are manipulated by unseen powers. That's why I often refer to the people upstairs, because I feel the presence of their finger coming down and directing this or directing that. But in a curious way I realised that also that this had ... this had fulfilled something that I needed. That it deprived me of responsibility in that I no longer ... because Sweeney, of course, was a terrific responsibility, which I readily accepted. Never occurred to me not to because I was one of those there that ''til death do us part' types. And we were ... most of us were that, 'til death do us part. My mother and father were like that. They fought and quarrelled all their life and so on but the last thing they would have thought of was divorcing or separating because the family always came first. Always. Not like now, where women have gone to pieces, where they're trying to invade the male ... male power areas in their endeavour to take over there. Not that I'm against women doing things, but they've got a different order of life with a different order of social functions and capacities and many of those are ... of course can be quite creative. Such as Joy was. And I don't believe in blocking them. They should be helped. But you know where one is able to help in this way. But in general, in the general stories there, that the ... just as the male has got to be the protector and provider, the female's got to be the creator and nurturer. This is true equality in the division of biological functions between the sexes which translates obviously into social roles, which you cannot avoid, and which you hear these idiots talking about being cast into a role. What the hell else? We're all cast in a role. You've only got two legs if you want to walk. So what is it, a roll? I mean we hear such idiocy these days about all these things there that I, that again it's something I have to keep out of because I'll, you know, do my lolly and say what I think and often this gets me into heavy trouble. And I'm more interested in having that time and energy go into my work, not spill it out of me.

But with John and Sunday minding Sweeney, and still sending you a small stipend, you were in Paris and feeling free of those responsibilities.

Well, my money started to run out in London and of course the money they had wasn't enough to support me, see, so I had a real problem of ... very simply, of eating and you could say roughly their stipend paid for my ... paid for shelter, but it didn't pay for food. And so ... so I had to really keep ... keep moving. In fact, when I look back, I wonder myself now how on earth I succeeded in surviving. But I did succeed in it anyhow. But this is a scrambled, sort of disordered, sort of life there, of acute anxiety. The old anxiety continued in another form, in another environment. I lived as cheaply as possible, which I was able to do, by using in Paris, I went to the student forays, for example, and there you could get potato done in six different ways, [laughs] which I did. And so there that was. So, anyhow, it started a whole round and cycle of life there. I stayed a bit in London about six months and then very simply after the excitement wore off, I got a little tired of it, because the weather. It was one of those atrocious winters in late 1947 that, which was pretty deadly and which didn't suit me at all. It was very painful. In fact the thing that saved me was a llama wool overcoat that I bought at Sam Bear's in Russell Street, at the second hand shop. And I remember I paid ten pounds on that, because I was terrified of being trapped in a European winter and freezing to death, [laughs] and not knowing what to expect. So this in fact, this did save me. I've got a photograph of myself when I arrived in London, [laughs] wearing this coat there in Trafalgar Square.

So you took off for Paris?

Well after, after a while, after the, again I can't remember dates, but very early in 1948, I decided there, come hell or high water, my money's running out, which it was, and while I've got enough money to do it there, I'll have to ... I'll see Paris and die if necessary. You know I had that total desperation. And total risk. And so ...

So what did you get out of your period in Paris?

Oh I got an enormous amount. I spent in all about four years in Paris. A broken period because I went also into Germany and back ... back to England a couple of times, a few times - I can't remember how many - but ... because you're at such a point there where you could do these things. And in Paris you could get a six month's residence thing, but then you had to renew it and you could only renew it by going out of the country and coming back in again. So one had to do it, you see, in order to stay there. And like so many there, I just fell totally in love with the Paris then, and this happily was the Paris of the ... the old Paris, the silver and purple and grey and green Paris. It was a ... a ... to me with all the old buildings, it was absolutely superb. I stayed in it for a long time, in the Hotel de Verneuil, which is a Fourteenth Century building or hotel, whatever it was, you know, with a Turkish john on the floor below there which everyone had to use and all this kind of thing. With all the enormous discomfort and the heating not heating it. It wasn't even hot enough to even heat the heater. [Laughs] So it was ... and so there were a lot of the physical ... You were on the bone physically in that sense.

Did your work change during that time?

Oh I managed to keep working in spurts and fits and starts and so on, depending on the financial situations. If I had a little bit of luck and so on then I'd bury myself in work for a week and then you'd start fighting for the next meal again, that sort of thing. And so anyhow this ... this all, finally as I say, it worked out. It was an anxiety ridden period, but at the same time in memory it's curious the colour and atmosphere and tactile quality of the whole thing. It was one of the richest periods of my life, which I wouldn't give away for anything. And the curious thing about it is that I wasn't registering it so much while I was experiencing it, but it was after it was all over I picked it all up through osmosis you see, soaking it up while I was there. Or a great deal of it. And then looking back on it there, it was a marvellous experience and it still is, to do that. And this is one reason I don't want to go to Paris now because of the post war tourism. To see this happening, there was enough tourism even when I was there, but what has happened now, and also now Malraux has cleaned up Paris, and it's no longer ... I don't know what it's like now, but it was no longer the grey limestone, the old limestone, but he had to clean it up and he did a lot of good in the sense that there's a lot of ... a lot of the stone was decomposing, you know, and had to be replaced and redone, which they did with the original limestone. But the original stone was a yellow, a buttery colour, and so Paris turned into a yellow city, which, of course, is something I wasn't interested in at all.

What did you see in the art world there that affected you?

Oh quite a lot. I saw all my ... all the painters in the flesh as it were, which sent me crazy. You see, I was round from one museum, one gallery to another and saw all the Picasso's I wanted to see, because he was holding exhibitions then in galleries. And saw all the Matisse's I wanted. And then later on I ... while I was in Paris, I met an American girl, a girl, I'll call her Mary, which was her first name. And she was a very lovely little girl. And there was another one earlier. It's interesting to trace the way these things happen. A girl ... a girl ... a little French girl named Claire. She was, again, a very sweet little thing. And for some reason or other, which I could never quite understand, she was dotty about me [laughs] and this I was ... unfortunately, I was unwittingly in a way, very brutal, because I didn't realise the depth of her feeling and I'm afraid I just simply didn't respond to her. I just treated her pleasantly but I never did any more than put my arm around her shoulder. I never even kissed her on the cheek and so forth. The ... curiously I had guiltful lust ... I feel very ... because later I realised when I picked up all the secondary signs and so on, I realised that ... that the girl was really, really set on me, which I couldn't believe because I've always probably had a inferiority thing in that area. I never felt I was attractive to women.

You'd just experienced a fairly major rejection, hadn't you?

Yes, and I had this major rejection. I was still bleeding. The wound was still open. And I was quite incapable of getting an emotional involvement with any ... with another woman then and this lasted for quite a while. And it was only when this American - Californian - girl, Mary, came along, who was much more aggressive in these areas and she just simply took a bead on me and I was ... at this point, I had a small apartment on the right bank behind the Opera in the Rue Chaussée d'Antin, as it turned out, in Edvard Münch's old studio, which is extraordinary. I've got a painting of his inside that he did from the balcony, looking down on the Gallerie Lafayette. And this is ... when I saw that painting, it was instant. It was a view I'd had from my window for all the time I was there. And so I made a few inquiries and sure enough, it was: Münch had been in that studio in about the 1890's I think. Somewhere around that time. So ... so that was rather a peculiar one. These curious synchronicities, you know, they happen all the time. And ...

What was Mary like, and what was your relationship with her?

Oh Mary. She was a very, very, very sweet little girl, but she had this kind of, with a sweet, soft exterior. She was ... because I finished up being with her. Well a little other thing of synchronicity I'll tell you about in a moment, which came with her. But the thing with Mary is that she wasn't as timid as the French girl was and of course this is a bit later in the piece anyhow and probably the wounds had healed a bit more. But anyhow I was making no gestures myself. I still wasn't up to it. And one day I came back. She'd arrived with her bags and had just installed herself in the ... in this ... this room I had in, Chaussée Dan Tien and that was it. And so, taking the line of least resistance there, I thought well, all right, she's here. See I'm a pragmatist in that way. At least she'll cook for me and she was very good cook, [laughs] and so at least she'll look after me hopefully with a bit ... hoped this would happen. And anyhow, we finished up ... we got along very well. She had a marvellous temperament and this was something that I'd never experienced before. She ... she never lost her temper. She was a marvellously equitable temperament and I didn't realise the ... the gold that I had. Again innocence and stupidity. Because I realise that this was a most rare kind of female, without any of this sort of emotional upheavals or crankiness or disturbances or, you know, trying to balance them out, all this kind of thing. She was ... she more balanced me out. [Laughs]

Perhaps an equitable temperament was essential for anybody who was trying to live with you?

Beg your pardon?

Perhaps an equitable temperament was necessary for anybody who trying to live with you?

Possibly, possibly, because I was much more explosive and cranky with the world then and very possibly we can't see ourselves, because I've always had a reasonably fair control over all these things in my normal relationships. I'm not, you know, I hope I'm not too cranky in them. Or difficult, which I don't think I am because I'm always open to rational discussion about problems. And I'm always ready to negotiate at least. And ... but anyhow, it finished up there, Mary stayed with me for nine years. And then the most peculiar thing happened. Most peculiar. As you know I'd left Joy to go to Japan for the three months, which was a fatal error. See, that's a thing there that I've learnt that one simply can't do with a woman because I was going on the abstract duty thing which I thought she conformed to too. But no, not at all. She was following the ... whatever direction the wind blew. That would be ... she would be affected more by that. And so my three months there, of course, that was, in that sense, it was my fault. A fault of stupidity, in leaving her for that time.

So what happened with Mary?

Well with Mary she wanted to see her mother in the States and she hadn't seen her for some years at this point. We'd been together for years and she had this ... was nostalgic about the States too, and we got all our pennies. I worked hard to help her do it. Got all our pennies together and some money together and was able to get her fare together. And so she went off to the States to spend two or three months over there with her mother. Well, similar story. That was the end of the relationship with Mary.

She met somebody else?

Yep. The old story, yeah. The old thing. I will make a point though on my own behalf in this kind of pattern. You see, the synchronicity. Going away. The period of nine years, which was exactly the same time as Joy. These are more than coincidence. And then at the moment there that I allowed a separation to take place then the whole thing collapsed. And I realised what I was dealing with was not the ... not the peculiarities of one woman, but I decided then I was dealing with the female temperament, which is another thing ... and so ... which would cause you to draw different conclusions. But anyhow, idiot that I was, I then packed up everything, when I realised that she was over there and I was getting evasive letters back from her. She was very good though. She took some paintings with her, which turned out to be very, very good, because she was marvellous ... marvellous like many Americans, a good little wheeler dealer in these things. And she took my paintings around and she planted them at the gallery, named the Poindexter Gallery in New York, and left them, and ... and left them there. She wrote over and told me about this. But I could see by the way she was staying, she was almost trying to ... I felt, I had that feeling - trying to get rid of me, you know. Trying to gently ease me out into another situation. And that again, it awakened all the old desperation and the old anxieties and fears full bore. And I put everything I had together and I got a passage to the States. Well I didn't have enough money to get a visa because I didn't have a fare back or any way to support myself when I was there because when I left I had forty dollars in my pocket, that's all. So I got the boat to Montreal and figured out I'll work it out stage by stage: once there in an English speaking country then I'd find some way of making some money, of getting a living and then I could take the train down to get a visa, take the train to New York, which ... which I ... which eventually is what happened. But this happened though in a peculiar way gain. Again, my friends upstairs, I'm quite sure, were involved in this one. Earlier, about a year or so earlier in one of many efforts to get rich quick, which is an urge we've all got when we're young, the Australian Women's Weekly had a yearly art prize and I sent in a painting into that. You see? And then nothing happened for a long time and I forgot all about it. So I was on the ... got on this boat there to go to Montreal and I was on it, went right across the Atlantic, came to the St. Lawrence Seaway. We were sailing down that and there were the ... there were the fields of Newfoundland there: lovely little white farm houses, thatched cottages and all these things. Looked more like England actually. And so on. And I was leaning there. It was sunset and we were going to arrive in Montreal the following morning and I was leaning on the ship rail there looking out there and with rather melancholy thoughts. Beautiful landscape, a lovely sunset. But here I am, arriving in Montreal, with forty bucks in my pocket, Now I was over forty at the time remember too. I was getting on in years. And I thought: forty bucks in my pocket. I felt a total failure in every way. And I thought, well there's ... at least ... at least I speak the language and the forty bucks, well I'll be able to spin that out to survive for a couple of weeks on that, and then I'll just simply ... I will [be] in the lap of the gods ... And while these thoughts were actually going through my mind there, I was tapped on the shoulder, 'Sir, a telegram sir'. Looked round, and there was a steward with a tray and a telegram on it. I opened the telegram and it said, 'You have just won 1,000 guineas in the Australian Women's Weekly Art Prize'. [Laughs] So I just stood there in a state of total paralysis and when I looked round it wasn't a sunset any more, it was a dawn I was looking at, in the sky. And to such an extent I was so completely overwhelmed there that I totally forgot about the poor steward who went on, I didn't even think of him. I turned round and I ... he'd dropped out of sight. I didn't tip him or anything. Talk about shoot the messenger. Or be rude to the messenger of good fortune. [laughingly] And so I just sailed on into Montreal on a ... in a pink cloud, arrived at Montreal, floated off the boat. I went up to the YMCA, booked in for one night, and I decided there, in the morning, when I sorted myself out, straight up to the American Embassy, or Consulate, I don't even recall which it was. And I floated up to the Consulate and this is where, again, I had my love affair with the Americans continued. You know they'e ... they're a remarkable people. Harry Roskolenko was a marvellous help to me. Mary was a lovely, lovely girl, a Californian. I'd lived with the Americans for three months in the press room at number one, Shim Bum Alley in Tokyo with the American journalists and so on and got on so marvellously well with them. And you know, there was just simply a rapport that worked. It also worked in a very practical way. And now, let me see. Oh yes, I went, I sailed up to the ... I didn't sail, [laughs] I trotted up to the American Consulate, or whatever, and presented my passport and put in a request for a six month visa to go into the States. So then I went and sat in all these long dormitory-like chairs and it was full of all sorts of other people, just about all Europeans. Then I could hear ... In all the little cubicles, I could hear the interrogations going on, where, you know, Austrians and Italians and Poles and Balks and what have you are all trying to get into the States. And they were all having one hell of a time and I just sat there in a state of acute apprehension. Finally there my name was called out, 'Mr Tucker'. So I went in there, into this little cubicle office. There was a very pleasant looking fellow just sitting there. He just sat there and he looked at me and smiled. 'How do you do, Mr Tucker. Sit down'. And so I was very pleasant and genial. So I sat down. He said, 'Well I see Mr Tucker that you wish to enter the United States'. He had my passport on the desk. And he said ... he said, 'What is the purpose of your visit?' And I said, 'Well ...', and I'd learnt a few tricks in part of going through customs [laughs] in the number of times I'd been through it. And this was one I learnt there ... was this one, which happened to be true. So I said, 'Well the art centre ... I'm an artist by profession, as you see on the passport. [TAPE ENDS]

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