Sylvester Roman Stein was born Christmas Day 1920 in Cape Town.
"A momentous nativity. I can boast along with proud Glendower that at my birth the very heavens shook, for 1920 was the year the world's first airline was launched and the year the BBC gained its charter, between them shattering and shaking the peace of the skies for ever." I Danced with Mrs Gandhi
Sylvester is always proud to state that he had 44 first cousins.
His father was a Mathematics Professor who went to Cambridge to complete a doctorate in 1926 and took his family with him.
Back in South Africa, aged fourteen, he shook hands with George Bernard Shaw who later became one of his great heroes. When Indira Nehru (later Gandhi) was recalled from England by her father in 1941 she passed through Durban and was royally entertained by the local left book club, including Sylvester. Sylvester only realised who the lady with whom he had swirled madly around that year was when he read her obituary in 1984.