|Interviewer: Robin Hughes
Recorded: February 16, 1994
This is a transcript of the complete original interview conducted for the Australian Biography project. Each transcript page covers one videotape (approximately 35 minutes). There is also QuickTime video of the full interview available. To play the video, click on the icon in the right hand column. In addition, each question in the transcript is linked to the video. Clicking on a question will play the video from that point. (Help with this feature.) Optionally, you can download the video file for offline viewing (approx. 10MB).
The interview has been left it in its original state so that you can get a sense of how the conversation developed. The repetition of some questions, or a question followed by another question, is often due to the end of a particular tape or some other interruption, and has been indicated at the appropriate place in the text. There has been minimal tidying up of the text so that the flavour of the encounter has been kept.
The pictures of people that you knew, that you painted in one very celebrated series of paintings, did they get you into any trouble?
No, I would say that they added up to a bonus really. I did get into trouble with one particular one but that's a bit too private and involves certain people. Well, shall I say, well placed at the moment. There's a little story there that will be a funny one later on, but I couldn't even put it out at this stage, so I won't arouse your curiosity so cut that bit out. [Laughs] But in the main, it was a bonus and I expected a lot of trouble with it actually, because I'd had this terrific struggle with myself to maintain that curious thing of a total involvement but a total detachment at the same time, which is one of those terrific balancing acts that one has to perform if you want to get anything done. And when I was particularly ... when I was painting a lot of the people who weren't being, shall I say, old enemies all my life, for example Noel Counihan, Vic Connor ... Vic O'Connor, people like Bernard Smith. I won't ... it's not fair to say enemies because I could still talk to Bernard and I was talking to Noel towards the last phase of his life. Noel talked to Vic O'Connor when I see him, and so on. All this happened but at that stage, they appeared in that role. We'd been in direct conflict, pretty well all our lives and I was the biggest scoundrel unhung because I stopped the Communist Party getting hold of the Contemporary Arts Society and I've been one of their ... one of their ... In the cultural areas at least I'd been one of their worst enemies and in fact there's a little ... little aside there which I know, I won't say who, how or what, but right in those early days, when the conflicts were on, I was given the tip off by one in the know there, that when the war was over and they had their revolution and set up their communist paradise that I'd be one of the first to go, which does not warm you to people ... does not warm you to people. I remember I got very hostile to that. [laughs] I had my old violent reaction to it.
Your technique of working meant that you didn't have to ask any of these people to sit for you.
Well, with some of them I did. I got John Sinclair to sit for me for example and the wretch didn't turn up. Here I was all ready, with all my stuff all ready, and he didn't and I thought my God, you know, and I ... I really wanted to get as much done as I could and I'll be encountering this all the time and also the people will sit there and they go into a coma and into a trance and this all comes through in the painting. I said, 'It won't work', so I altered myself completely because already I'd had to start off with a couple of little black and white things I had there, a couple of Joy, and I found there that a curious phenomenon took place with that, when I used them as a starting point ...
What did you use?
I used ... a portrait ... a small of photograph of Joy.
That first one I did of Joy. No, one of the first one's. There are a couple in the gallery that I painted directly from Joy there which ... which are ... which are quite reasonably good ones too but they are rather fast ones and they work quite well. But I realise that the whole thing would be so cumbersome that it would never get done and ... but I had this little experience. I found ... The curious thing I found was that in working with this photograph, that afterwards, when I came back and looked at it, I found it was totally different than the photograph, that it was another version of Joy all together. That unwittingly this subconscious ... this subliminal thing I was ... talk ... talking about earlier, this sort of by osmosis, it had filtered it's way through into the way I was working. And I was actually, in a sense, painting, not only ... only the image that was revived or the ... a memory cue from the photograph of her, but I was painting her my entire life. that I knew her ... as I knew her all along. That this somehow or other was working it's way in, so I thought I'd develop on this and see if I could do more and I had a good camera then and I also knew Noel Counihan, for example, and I wanted to paint him very much and, you know, I still had this distant occasional encounter with him. And I knew his work had changed. I could see his attitude had changed and so I just took the bull by the horns, rang up and asked if I could come out and see him as I had this plan in mind to paint his portrait. So I went out and saw him. I brought my camera and I took a lot of photographs of him at the same time and I had a good talk with him and had a good look at him and ... which you do when you photograph. You are looking for certain things and changes and variations and so forth. You find there that you are looking at a person with a far greater intensity than you realise yourself [and] in a different way to the way you think you are. And, anyhow, so I got photographs that way and then I worked over them and let them settle down in my mind and then I'd use that as a basis for the portrait. This happened not in all cases, but in many cases, and I found it's quite a business keeping the ... if you lapse back into the old thing of 'look and put' in a painting, which one would be tempted to do because it was a cop out, the easy way out, and so on, it could finish up with dead mutton and so I knew enough then to keep the thing stimulated and going and I kept switching it around and seeing the people and I'd take a large number of photographs from different angles, different positions and so, finally compositing would ... would emerge from it, but hooked up with my knowledge and memory of them. And so on and so I'd get going and away it would go. That was generally the method that I used and this enabled me to paint about, oh, heavens above I must have painted about eighty or ninety portraits in the one year. See, I knew that I was doing the right thing as I had in the Images of Modern Evil because I felt this terrific flow of energy behind me that pushed me along. I was being told to do it. This is ... I did, so I did what I was told. And when the paintings were done and I had the exhibition and I did something there which I haven't mentioned to date, which I should have, because he was one of the big formative figures in my life, that is, T. S. Eliot. I encountered his poetry in the middle thirties and he was a dominant ... he's been a dominant figure in many ways, intermittently, right through my life because ...
You named your son after one of his characters.
Yes, Sweeney Agonistes, yeah. And so he was ... Eliot and also many passages on Eliot there I could say are, simply resolved many life problems for me and gave me information that I'd never have got otherwise and so to me he was a ... one of those great original sensibilities and I put him in the Einstein class, or Jung class - all these people. And I was devoted to Eliot and a lot of early paintings came out of Eliot in the late thirties. I'd say probably my first, what I call mature or mature paintings emerged in the very late thirties and early forties and they were based very largely on Eliot - very largely on the kind of charge he gave me when I read passages. Often the painting would have nothing to do with any particular passage in Eliot but I did do one called The Wasteland and The Futile City and things like that, images that came out of ... out of Eliot. And so when I had all these portraits together, one of the things that came ... came to mind straight away there was, 'there is time, there is time to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet, there is time to murder and create'. So bingo I had ... I called the exhibition Faces I Have Met, [laughs] a paraphrase of this passage from Eliot. And so this ... this ... this worked and when the exhibition opened, all these people came along, you know, shall I say, the Lefty clan that I'd ... who generally regarded me as a drop out, a scoundrel, a traitor, everything else and so forth and I was totally rejected by them. They all emerged full force. They were all coming to look at what horrific revenge I'd taken them all, [laughs] you see, in the exhibition and they got the shock of their lives. They came along and I remember looking at Bernard looking at a painting and I went up there and, you know, indicated there, trying to get some response about ... about the painting and he was, you know ... quite ... quite ... He took it in a way ... I could see there what he ... what he should have had and what Noel should have had, because Noel, too, he had the same thing there. They looked. I saw them looking at my paintings and then they just walked away and made no complaints at all. [Laughs]
But some people have commented that you were kinder to your so-called enemies then you were to your friends.
Well, not kinder, kinder wouldn't be the word. But I'd say that because of the the mental conflict these people plunged me into, to be looking at someone who'd been on the other side of the fence all my life and that we were in both the position - that they rejected me and I rejected them, that set up a peculiar kind of tension and it was the effort to resolve that, I think [that] sparked off a ... that acted ... acted as kind of foil to me and I went into it, quite possibly in many ways, on a deeper level, because I found curiously, that even though there were certain people I didn't care for in a personal sense, that I'd paint them better because I was hunting for what it was I didn't care for. [Laughs] You see, and people I liked or got on with, or I'd find I'd pick out elements. Now, I did this quite unwittingly with Nolan because I was quite prepared to be quite benevolent, even though I had problems with Nolan in my relationship with him, which had gone on for some time. But I had the highest ... still the highest [respect for him], as I still do, the highest regard for him as a painter, his extraordinary perceptual capacity, for his very surgical and very sharp and erudite mind that he had and he was someone there that I could ... we talked ad infinitum for a period of forty years. We'd meet frequently, and talk talk talk - in London, Paris, New York, here, all over the place and we'd even pick up sentences where that we left off say a year before, and we'd be able to complete the sentence. And so we had a very, very good relationship in that sense, but unfortunately that went by the board. And happily when they exhibited both Nolan and myself at the Gallery, Nolan's Kelly's on one side and my Images of Modern Evil on the other and this gave Nolan a tremendous shock and that was it.
Why did it give him a shock?
Because I think ... I think he was led up the garden path himself. I think he came along expecting to be the whole thing to be based on him.
What exhibition was this?
Oh, this was the opening of the National Gallery in Canberra and the Queen came along too and he had to share a meeting with the Queen with me. [Laughs] But I knew nothing about it until only a matter of ... I think it was only a week or two before. I knew nothing about it, about them using the Images of Modern Evil that way.
So he didn't think you should have had equal billing with him?
Well, it's ... it's a delicate area to go into because I don't want to speak against Nolan, but there is a side to him that I became very aware of there, which I had no rapport with at all, and this was one of them there. He ... he ... As a social engineer he was brilliant and this meant that you had to have a certain ruthlessness in all your relationships, so this unhappily happened, and that ... that was it.
So what did he say to you?
What did he say to you?
He didn't say anything, just went red and that was it. Didn't speak.
And did you contact him afterwards?
No, maybe, we had accidentally ... We had, after that, over a ten or twelve year period, we had, you could say, accidental encounters really.
But Albert, as a great confrontationist, did you ask him what was bothering him?
No, no, no. I never ... in a sense, I never had an opportunity because that was given, you see. This is how ... Nolan would have assumed that I would know that, but which I hadn't up to that time.
So he just didn't make any contact with you after?
You see I am rather uncomfortable with dealing with this one, as you can imagine, because as I say ...
But this was another betrayal?
I know but the point is, as I said, that you ... when you get to know someone too well, you get to also know all their weaknesses and bad points as well as their good ones and it's a balancing act how it balances out and so you learn tolerance of the bad points and appreciation of the good points. This is the art of the human relationship, but surely?
But you had had this very close friend for forty years and suddenly you didn't have that friend any more.
Oh yes. That put me in a state of shock for quite awhile.
And you didn't try to get him back?
No, what could I do? It was flat, and of course, he was gone, he wasn't in the same town. He went straight off back to England or he'd be somewhere else, on another part of the globe. See, I'd go ... even when I knew him well, I'd only see him, sometimes, at long periods. Often a year or two would go by between encounters and then you'd have a period where you'd see a lot of one another, and so on and so on.
But you didn't try to get it back together again?
I tried in the sense that I was polite and pleasant to him and neutral with him when I ... on the occasions I did meet him and I'd be waiting in a sense to see his response. And in fact, I got it, but in a round about way. For example, he once told ... I understand he told Mollison - I think I can use his name there - when I had my retrospective on there that he came over and he told Mollison he wanted to see it and that came back to me, third removed, not directly, and apparently he did come in on the last day of the exhibition and he told Mollison that ... he asked how I was and said he'd get in touch with me but he never did. So this is very personal and uncomfortable stuff but nevertheless this is the way life ... life grinds it's way through. And so let me state again, I have the highest regard for Nolan's accomplishment, what he did, and for whole aspects of his personality. Other aspects of it, I don't, very simply because I was ... in time I was able to winnow out the elements that I could not accommodate or get on with and so on, but I put them in abeyance as it were and didn't allow them to activate in the course of the relationship. So in a sense, the last ... the last long stage of the relationship was one in which I was holding back on things that I knew and disagreed with him in, but I didn't bring out because they were too personal and too ... too tricksy, shall I say.
Did you miss him a lot?
Only in the sense of a ... of a friend and a conversational companion because we all talked. We'd stimulate one another and we could both talk our heads off to each other. That I do miss enormously as I'm a talkative person, [laughs] as you've no doubt noticed. [Laughs]
Were you conscious of the fact that this was the third big relationship in your life, where someone had just walked away from you?
Well it's a hard one to accommodate that one there, as it would say, if your mother or your brother or your sister or someone like that, someone that's very close to you. It's hard in that sense, I think, that's all.
The other portrait out of that period that's very interesting is ... I mean, among the many that were interesting - one that is very interesting is your portrait of Sunday.
Oh, yes, she gave me more trouble than anyone, trying to deal with her, because I knew ... again I knew this other side which had been harmful to my whole life and did me a tremendous amount of damage and I could track it right back to ... back to her and this one did ... I found very disturbing and one that I had great difficulty in confronting. But I think I've got a couple of reasonable portraits of Sunday out of it there, that don't show this hopefully, I don't know. Because as I was going to say earlier, in that portrait I did of Nolan, I thought I was keeping a balance and keeping everything out of it but then everyone who saw it there, said, 'Well, that's a job you did on Nolan'. That was the last thing on my mind, [laughs] but as I came later to see the ... via the distance [that] gave me a separation from it, but I had in fact unwittingly made a very critical comment on him.
In what way?
Well, I had him first in a business suit in a desert, which already set up a peculiar sort of conflict. That's using the surrealist element coming into play, making use of it. And the angle I had his head and the position I used and the way I handled his eyes looking, looking, looking at the viewer there, made it look a very, say ... [laughs] gave him the dodgy customer look, which I had not intended at all.
Do you think that you struggle with your portrait of Sunday, was because you were struggling to deal with the feelings that you had about women in general, that she embodied?
No, because I didn't have those feelings. The kind of opinions or feelings I've been giving you now in talking to you, are very different to the ones I had then. As I said, I was still in the phase of women are the most gorgeous creatures of God's creations, you see, and that lasted with me for a long long time and it still does. I still have that, but as I have with some people there, I realise there's the good side and there's the bad side [laughs] and I've had ... had to make up on understanding the other side. I was giving too much on the good side, I think.
And then Albert, there was the portrait of yourself.
Well I tried to be merciless with myself. I don't know if I was. Oh, I've been told that I was. Somebody told me, 'Why do you make yourself such an unpleasant character', so then I knew I'd succeeded, you see. [Laughs]
So what characteristics were you wanting to portray there?
Oh, naughty naughty, naughty, naughty. What characteristics? You want an explanation? You want a poem about it?
I think I'm trying to ask you to say what you see ...
I think you can only experience that as the image, that's the only way. I'll not allow people to look at my paintings and ask for explanations. You've got to look at it and experience [it] as an image and it only points to a weakness and a fault in yourself, as it does with just about the bulk of our over self-conscious, over arrogant Western Civilisation. It's trying to play God and do God out of a job.
Well, we are looking at this image of you that you painted ...
Which one? I did several.
Yes, so we're looking at all the images that you've painted of yourself and we're not asking you for an explanation of them because that will only make you angry, but we're asking you ...
[Laughs] Don't do it for that reason ...
But we're asking you ...
Don't do it because it's the wrong thing ...
We're asking you ...
... you ask someone else to translate something into words for you to save you the trouble of really looking yourself and really looking at the image hard and getting it out of the image. That's what I'm trying to persuade people to do.
But in the same way, as you had choices with Nolan about how you would depict him, you also had choices with yourself about how you would depict yourself?
Well at times I've painted I've thought, that that's worked rather well and I'll look a reasonable presentable sort of character, and other times I'd do it and the thing would look back at me and say, 'I'm a louse, or ...', [laughs] and that feeling would come out of it. But I never make those ... so much those kinds of judgements even about people for that matter. I don't say, 'I hate so and so or like so and so'. It's never like this - it's always a mixture of both. And you've got all these things have to be balanced out and each circumstance and each person, each painting, it's quite a different experience and it's our duty to confront it as an experience, as an event in your life there, which you are trying to get to ... to comprehend and see what's happening. See, people they ... they stop on these things and take the ... it's what I call copping out when people ask for explanations. Paintings cannot be explained. There cannot be such a ridiculous institution as an art school. You cannot teach art. You can teach people certain things about it, you can teach them a history of art, if people are so inclined and interested. You can ... you can teach people how to ... the chemistry of colours and you can teach them how to stretch a canvas and all these things and certain laws of ... from physics of how colours operate and so on. These are all ... these are all factual things. They've got nothing to do with producing art. They've only got it to do with it in, as I say, where ... as I say we've got to have that thing going. We've got to have a complete awareness in one part of our mind and a complete ... complete unawareness in the other part of our mind. Just follow that line of potency, there we are. But any how, getting back to the portraits, the general effect was quite good and a lot of these people who'd ... in fact, I think I created some reconciliations with a lot of these people, these marginal fringe people on the Left, who'd assume that I was worst scoundrel unhung and after they saw the exhibition, they ... they ... they became more open and more, you know, they'd think, oh perhaps he's, you know ... perhaps, you know, perhaps he's ... there's something nice about him after all. [Laughs]
So what are the next things you are thinking of painting? Where are you going?
Oh, no. This ... this ... this same thing. I'd never have a discussion like myself like that, never.
What would you think would happen?
I feel ... I'm searching the unknown and I feel for these lines of potency which are significant to me. And then Herbert Read titled a book of his, The Form of Things Unknown, then I try to get that sense of potency and try and find a form there which will work with it or fit it or express it in some way and keep blundering around and floundering around with it, until it comes clearer and clearer and that usually takes a long period of time, and finally there you'll get a hook you know. You'll hook into something and then bingo, then you'll ... the thing will go on and then it starts doing itself when you do that. Once you build up that bright energy flow, that pushes you along. You don't have to talk to yourself or have an argument with yourself or understand what you are doing or explain anything to yourself or to anyone else. This doesn't happen. At least not with me.
Do you have any sense that as you've got older, that you've got more mellow in your outlook on life?
In certain ways. In certain ways I've gotten harder and nastier. In other ways, I think I got a lot more mellow and softer.
Which ways have you got harder and nastier?
For example, in dealing with people who ask me what I'm going to do with my next painting. [Laughs]
Well, I ... I ... I do recall that you've talked a lot about the fact that you have to hold the idea in and you can't let it out.
I'm not going to spill any of that image out anywhere to start with ...
And I think that's an important ...
... in a false form.
That's the important idea to get across.
Well, I hopefully got that across. [Laughs]
In relation to the future and the way you are going to arrange your life from now on ...
I don't know anything about that. Go on.
You haven't thought about it?
I do in a sense. I mean, I'm not telling quite the truth there because I realise time is limited on this earth and there are certain chores and things that I have to ... to tidy up my life as much as I can while I'm here and essentially that's what I'm basically engaged on, but keeping alert to tripping over nuggets of gold on the way and seizing them.
When you were a young man, Communism was a major issue for everybody around. Did that affect you at all?
Affect me? Oh, it affected me very much at the time because I was, I had these bad experiences in earning a living through the thirties and also another thing that most of the current people wouldn't ... generations wouldn't comprehend, is that we knew absolutely nothing about what happened in Russia and what ... and the effects Communism was having. All we knew was that some great idealistic utopian programme was being put into operation and where all the information told us that it was working. In other words, there was such a rigorous censorship with the Russians that none of the nasty stuff got out, or very little of it.
So you were drawn to it? You were drawn to the idea of Communism?
Oh yes, well, one warms for utopian solutions to anything I guess and I was young and silly enough to ... to respond, which ... which I did, but also it seemed to be some kind of solution to the sense of outrage and injustice I felt in my struggles to survive and get a living. And so anything that's utopian solutions were marvellous to play with, at the time.
So how did you get involved with them?
Well, at first there was a ... early when I was working at Gill's there, I had to work through weekends and not get any pay for it. I was told I was lucky to have a job. Also there was the sign writer on this staff. He was a Communist and he was pushing the Communist line all the way and so I was surrounded by this sort of thing. Not only that - in the world at large. All the young ... young people were all looking out and assessing and going along with the whole notion of Communism because it captured the idealism of that younger generation.
Did you join the party?
Now that's one of those questions now. That is a tricky question to answer in this sense, that I did not join it for quite a long time and I can't even remember the date I did. I think it was about somewhere around 1937, '38, when the Communists formed what they called an artist's branch for the Party. What had really happened as I realised subsequently is that they decided that culture was something that they could use and could become a political weapon and could be used for political purposes and so they were to try and get to see if they could white ant their way into existing cultural institutions and take them over. This is what they were really at but, of course, I was rather oblivious to the mechanics of the thing at the time. So when I was asked there that they wanted to deal with artists and would I join the artist's branch because they would then deal with all these questions of art and I thought: that's a good idea because a lot of things they said had already infuriated me and put me off. I thought they'd need a lot of education in this area so it might be a good idea to get into it and argue the whole thing out. In other words, to negotiate it and see how the artist was dealt with in this. So I cheerfully joined up on that basis, which I did - no cards, no party cards or anything. I just ... they just ... just trying to get money, they asked me to pay dues and so I paid - I forget - what was about one or two shillings a week or whatever it was, some very small amount and ...
In joining the artist's branch, had you joined the Communist Party?
No, well, this ... I thought at the time that I had, that this is what it was, in my rather naive state of mind. It was only later I found out that this was a new venture for other purposes for them and they were using the branch as, shall I say, a mediating point there, to get into the cultural world and convert people to Communism and get them into the Communist Party. This was the thing. And so we would have been in that position. We were the targets number one, shall I say. We were, you could say, on the outskirts of the Party, but not officially in it. I never had a party card for example. So whatever they call it, whatever it is or whatever they called it. And so ... but I paid the dues and for that reason, I thought, well, that makes me a Communist. So I said this. I said this publicly in Angry Penguins, that I was a member for three years when in actual fact, I was in what was simply a raw training ground area and I only lasted in it for half that time because I couldn't last for the time, but I paid up the three years because I wanted to get them off my back because they wouldn't let me go. You see, they were very persistent, you know. Heard of that one there: get them young, and, you know, you can't get out. They had ... there was no way of resigning or getting out of the thing.
What made you want to get out?
I found that I couldn't stand the situation in it. I didn't mind the going around and talking to certain people and developing an argument about Marx and historical materialism, or what Marx had to say about art and so, which I did, and at the time I developed a fair amount of erudition in the Communist writings about art and this is where I realised that I had nothing in common with them. But in the meetings themselves I'd also have disputes and discussions and arguments, within the so called branch of the party and this is what I thought it was about, but then the main Party started to lean on us. You see, they weren't getting enough results so we had to be schooled as Communists so they then wanted us ... we had to go around and distribute leaflets. In other words, go around knocking on doors and all this kind of thing. So in other words, start taking ... trying to feed ... feed us into direct political action which I resisted strenuously. I wasn't going around knocking on doors and doing things. I remember I did one thing once, which I ... which I did more probably out of the excitement of the thing. We used to go down to the Yarra Bank and often Jack Blake, Ralph Gibson and the Communist leaders would speak down there and a lot of the crowd there would throw rocks at them and tomatoes and all sorts of rubbish at them, and so they had to form a phalanx of Communists around the platform as it were, to protect them. So I joined that at one stage there, not that I could do much protecting anyone in that situation, but I was indignant that there was ... what the thing that really I think got on my nerves was that the crowd wouldn't allow them to speak. See, this offended me deeply, that whether you agree or you don't agree, they should be allowed to speak. And so that got me in on their ... on the bodyguard side of it. What I was really doing was protecting free speech in my simple-minded way, but it also happened to be protecting Communists at the same time. When this ... one of the things, the crowd would surge in different ways and actually I was very lucky. There were a lot of police down there controlling it and I remember at one stage, someone threw a rock at Ralph Gibson I think it was and the police suddenly dived in on him to try and get him, and all of a sudden there was a swirl in the crowd and I found myself standing on my own, with a couple of policemen in front of me waving batons and one of them glared at me there and started advancing on me, swish, swish, swish, with his baton full bore so I beat a very hasty retreat. But there was no mistaking that if I had ... if I had stood my ground I would have really got clobbered because then they just whopped everything in sight, that was in their way. And so this in a way blooded me for it, as it were, but it also helped convince me there that this was not the sort of world I was interested in. I was interested in protecting free speech but not in Communists and there it was. So this went on for a time, in a sort of no-man's land thing and I never went to the meetings, any ... I refused to go to the meetings. And then they ... the Communists themselves, via Counihan, got on me and demanded that I come along, that I'd been ... I hadn't been doing my duty as it were and they wanted to clear this matter up there and I had to go along to be, for a meeting to discuss the whole matter. I went to the meeting and found that it was nothing more than an interro ..., a political interrogation led by Counihan. So I, very simply, very quickly lost my temper, abused the lot of them and told them to go to hell and went. And that was the end of it.
Were you grateful later when you were trying to get into America that you'd never been an official member?
No, I was never asked the question. I was never asked. I got on so well with this chap in Canada that [laughs] ... that there ... that ... that it didn't come up.
Would you describe ...
Perhaps he was remiss in his job, I don't know, because he did check dossiers to see if I was known in any way and he always figured there that if I wasn't on the dossier, that I was in the clear, which of course, effectively, I was because that was years and years behind me at that point.
Did you see a certain irony ... do you see a certain irony in the fact that the great individualist, that you've always been, was involved in the Communist Party? Do you see yourself as ...
No, I didn't no what the Communist Party was. I thought it was some utopian body of like thinking people who were going to create heaven on earth. We were simple minded people then. Very simple. You see, people will keep dealing with history by projecting information they got long after the event, projecting it back into the event. And this is what so many people do and that is what that sort of ... sort of position does. I really, you know ... we were very simple people, we were very ... we were almost hillbillies you could say in a real sense. We were nice people, I think, in the main, but we were colonials. We simply had no sophistication whatsoever. The sophistication that we've got now is virtually a post-war thing, which has ... which has been imported and plagiarised really.
[end of tape]