‘Uys Krige strode up and down on the stage and he spoke about the Spanish poet Frederico Garcia Lorca, and he spoke in English, and a bit of Spanish and a bit of Afrikaans, and it was so passionate and so excited, and it was about Lorca and Lorca’s death and the Spanish civil war and the drama, the fight against fascism and the significance of his poetry and the poems about his death… So, I didn’t discover culture while I was in politics, it was culture that actually took me into politics.’ Soon after that, he told me, he had joined the Modern Youth Society, a left-wing youth organisation set up in the aftermath of the banning of the Communist Party of South Africa.One night he went to a musical evening that they held. I was just getting into music then and I think it was a Brahms symphony or something, and the next thing I went to the Modern Youth Society and the next thing, wow! You know, it’s never stopped – the energy and the excitement and the feeling that there is another world.
During that conference, at one of the most electrifying poetry readings I have ever attended, I had read the poem.I still remember when I was taken into solitary confinement, my second detention, driving along and saying that only in South Africa do you have a beautiful view on the road to Caledon Square.So, the Clifton ambience is an integral part of this history. and it’s changed quite a lot now.’ Albie related how, as a youth who had not yet found direction, he had been to a lecture in Electricity House in Strand Street, opposite the old Alhambra Bioscope. What Uys did, he connected the intimacy and soulfulness and inwardness of the poetry, which was a very intense internal dialogue with yourself and your emotional vocabulary and your literary vocabulary, with the grand public events of the world…It was a very strong image in my mind.’ He talked about Clifton, the scene of the events: ‘It was part of the free life and it was marvellous for kids growing up, and the most beautiful spot, the gem of the whole area was Jack and Lesley’s cottage.It somehow snuggled in and connected to this idyllic, romantic kind of place better than any structure.