EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – SEPTEMBER 1962

Anderson T is in a less jovial mood today. Anne plays beautifully and my studies and songs are perfect, but my exercises! He can’t give me two marks for them. My nerves go to pieces and my voice trembles. My sight-singing isn’t too startling either but the ear tests and viva voce are fine. He says goodbye affably enough and I come out a nervous wreck.

Ruth sings very well but she cannot answer her questions so perhaps the results might balance. Anne and I talk to the woman in charge. Anne tells me that I sang beautifully but my exercises were a pity. She tells the woman in charge that it is a soul-destroying job, teaching, apart from a few pupils. I say, “I expect it must be most soul destroying to teach me.” She says, “Oh, darling, of course not. You’re one of my best pupils!”

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1 September – Beat all my other unearthly hours by going to SS studio at 7.30! Elaine (in a great state of nerves) is there already practising like mad. I work with Svea Ward for a bit. Eventually I go in for my exam with the reputedly terrifying Anderson Tyrer but he is rather sweet and says, “Jean McIntyre Campbell – that’s a fine Scots name.” I play quite well – only make a mistake in one study. Scales aren’t so hot and sight reading rather ghastly but ear tests and viva voce excellent. I think I pass – I hope so. He thanks me most effusively for coming.

Margaret gives me coffee and a bun after my ordeal and then I come home. We see A Pair of Briefs which is excellent – Mary Peach, Michael Craig and James Robertson Justice. We have supper in the Galaxy afterwards.

Sylvia Sullivan

2 September – Go to Sunday school and play the piano. In the afternoon I sing and listen to Leslie G. I phone Ruth to find out about her school exams – they’ve been fine so far apart from science and Afrikaans. She didn’t enjoy the Commerce Ball terribly and had a beer shandy when she was there. On Saturday she couldn’t sing at all and kept giggling at Webster. He said, “If I make you laugh I shan’t look at you next week!”

Her parents left yesterday for three weeks in Scotland with her grandparents in Glasgow. She succeeded in “getting rid of” Trevor, the unfortunate drippy youth!

We decide to have lunch and see a show after our singing exam to celebrate – or mourn! She says, “I hope you won’t mind going around town with me in my school uniform!” We rave about each other’s voices. She isn’t going for a lesson on Tuesday because of exams so I probably shan’t see her till the day of our singing exam.

I do get on well with her and I am so glad Anne told us about each other. I understand her quite perfectly and she’s a real honey.

3 September – Settlers Day. Spend a quiet day at home. Gill V phones to make arrangements for me to go to the Indian eisteddfod. I sing my ‘exam to my parents at night and they like it.

4 September – Go to studio in the afternoon. Anne is there by herself and tells me that Webster has had to do his two extra programmes before he goes today. She told him to go home and have a rest after them if he’s tired so I might not see him. She asks if I’d like to listen to Tea with Mr Green because her girlfriend, Babs is going to be on today.

We do scales and exercises. The chemist phones and she arranges to have a silver Wellaton (hair rinse) sent up! She says her hair is a dull mousy grey and she has to do something to liven it up and stop her from looking old!

We listen to Leslie G and she tells me that Babs Wilson-Hill is her very best friend in Britain. She and Babs were in panto together in 1934 and she is very fond of her. They write to one another every week and tell each other all their worries and troubles. She is very well off – she’s been married three times and her husbands left her a fortune every time so she has a lovely home and garden in Godalming. She shows me a picture of her on the wall. She says she misses her more than anyone else in Britain.

Leslie G introduces the programme and says that it was due to Anne Ziegler that he is there because she had told him about Babs. He talks about the lovely garden – laburnum, willows, larkspurs, snapdragons… Babs sounds very like Anne, only more so – same laugh, same intonation of words, very pleasant and slightly “county”. Anne says that Babs wrote to her and said she made a terrible botch of the whole thing but she sounds terribly self-possessed to me. After it is over, Anne says that one can only have a friend like that once in a lifetime and she thinks everyone needs someone like that to confide in and tell all one’s troubles to.

We go on with singing and it all goes fairly well. I’ll damn well do this exam properly. She advises me to hum before I sing the exercises. “You should see what some people do backstage before they sing. “Richard Tauber – God rest his soul – used to spit before he went on stage. Filthy old pig! Harold Lake, who could have been a grand singer if he hadn’t taken to the bottle, used to moo all over the place before he went on. I just sit back and have a laugh.”

She says she feels as though she’s getting old – always losing her glasses and getting absent-minded.

“But I’ll never admit to middle age!” says she. The chemist sends the hair rinse and the order reads, “Mrs Ziegler”! “The girl in the chemist is one of our biggest fans but she will never call me Miss Ziegler. I don’t think she thinks it’s decent to have two different names in one home and still be properly married!”

She says she thinks I’ll do well in these exams – I mustn’t worry. “We’ll have to take you and Ruth for a tranquilliser!” I say goodbye – I was there for an hour today. What fun!

5 September – Have lunch in Ansteys with Mum and then go up to SS studio for Gill. We go out to Benoni following the two organisers of the eisteddfod – Mr Abdul and Mr Scott. We arrive at the school where there are literally hundreds of children waiting to sing for us. We sit at a table in a large classroom with teachers sitting behind us, and listen to numerous choirs ranging from Grade 1 to Standard 6. The singing is rather lovely. Some of the older girls, who do part-singing, sing very well indeed. I advise Gill on suitable marks and add them up. She gives a very good adjudication. Evidently Johan vd M adjudicated last year and was very cutting about the choirs.

We come home via Bedfordview and, on the journey home, Gill runs Webster down saying she has evidence that he is an alcoholic. I say that he may drink but I don’t think he is an alcoholic and he is a very nice and kind man. She says, “I wonder!” She is horrible about him. Poor Webster.

6 September – Go to Indian eisteddfod again. We have Mr Scott’s wife to help us and she is very sweet. Choral work isn’t too bad although the singers tend to be a bit breathy. The soloist section is not very good with only about two children with very good voices. Gill wades into them no end!

I hear Lucille singing on the radio with her Piet Retief neighbour’s Boere Orkes (Hendrik Susann).

Listen to Webster and he goes on with Iolanthe. I enjoy the music although he is certainly spinning it out. He sounds a bit muddled and breathy and makes a lot of false starts. He must have made this recording on Tuesday when I didn’t see him. I expect he was still feeling the effects of the opening night of the Civic Theatre!

7 September – Go for the last session of the Eisteddfod. Singing is of a much higher standard today and at the end of the event there are duets by some of the teachers and they are really very good.

8 September – Go for singing lesson. Anne arrives with Lemon and informs me that she and Webster have very heavy colds. We start on scales and Webster arrives with his cold very much in evidence. He asks about my music exam and I tell him about it and he says that seeing I liked it so much and Anderson T obviously liked me, I must make sure that he recognises me. “Wear the same dress,” says he.

I sing fairly well – we go through everything and he says that I mustn’t worry about anything. I shall do very well.

When I sing My Mother I pull a face and he says, “Don’t pull faces, Jean.” He makes me smile when he says this. Lemon sniffs around my legs and he says, “Lemon, leave Jean’s legs alone!” About his range he says, “I’ve got about two notes in my range today!” I say that I was out late last night and he says, “I’d like to have gone out late last night too but I wasn’t in a fit state to go!”

He wishes me all the best of luck for Tuesday. “I won’t be seeing you on Tuesday because I’ll be at the SABC recording my programme.” I thank him and wish him a happy holiday and we part on very good terms.

He looks awful today – red face, cold in the nose and throat – shame!

I meet Tufty in John Orrs waiting to go for her singing lesson with Bruce Anderson so we both go to the café in Rand Central and have a cold drink and discuss the horrors and otherwise of singing.

I go up to Mrs S’s and copy out words for her (The Skye Boat Song) The choir arrives with Margaret Masterton and we practise all the pieces.

Afterwards Margaret and I are talking when I hear Ruth’s name mentioned. I ask what they’re saying about her and they tell me that she was singing last night.

I say, “How nice. Where?”

“In Stars of Tomorrow.”

I am horrified to hear this – not the fact that she sang in the programme but the fact that she never breathed a word to me about it.

After lunch we see Counterfeit Traitor with William Holden and Lilli Palmer.

9 September – Go to Sunday school. David Dury draws beautifully. Doreen, who takes S School, wishes Peter Spargo all the best for his trip abroad. I’m quite sorry to see him go.

Ruth phones about 6.20 and tells me the Booths knew nothing of the recording which she had made six months ago. She didn’t tell a soul about it because it was really awful. They were quite angry about the whole matter. They just heard Howard Sacks announcing her name at the end. She had an awful lesson on Saturday and sang dreadfully and is terribly worried about sight-reading and ear tests. Because I feel quite relieved at her version of Stars of Tomorrow I give her a few tips about sight-singing. I tell her that Webster won’t be there on Tuesday but he wished me luck. She says, “He didn’t say a thing to me. He can’t love me any more!”

We decide to go to see Sweet Bird of Youth at the Metro on Tuesday and part affably. I’m so glad there was an explanation for Stars of Tomorrow and that Anne didn’t know about it.

10 September – Go into town today feeling nervous and grim. Go up to studio and Anne is practising My Mother. I go in and we discuss nervousness. We go through the works and I sing very well indeed and she is pleased.

Ruth comes and has her lesson. I wait in the kitchen feeling even worse! After this, we all have tea together. When Anne goes out, Ruth asks me to play the piano and I oblige. It is a lovely piano and I play nicely. We look at the pictures on the wall when Anne returns and giggle over the Webster ones. How I adore them! We help Anne to get the tea and have a nice little chat.

Ruth talks about her parents being in Glasgow at the moment and how they are going to stay at the Savoy in London. She says, “But I like Johannesburg. It has everything!” Anne and I burst out laughing and Anne asks, “Such as?” Poor Ruth is quite affronted by our laughter. We spend a jolly time running down the Civic Theatre and I tell them of the argument I had with Peter S about it. We all get on famously and feel a little less nervous.

We walk down to Edinburgh Court and every second person stares at Anne and when we arrive the others there all whisper about her to one another. She tells me to take a deep breath and I do so.

Anderson Tyrer goes out of the studio and Anne says, “I don’t need three guesses to know where he’s going!”

Anderson T is in a less jovial mood today. Anne plays beautifully and my studies and songs are perfect, but my exercises! He can’t give me two marks for them. My nerves go to pieces and my voice trembles. My sight-singing isn’t too startling either but the ear tests and viva voce are fine. He says goodbye affably enough and I come out a nervous wreck.

Ruth sings very well but she cannot answer her questions so perhaps the results might balance. Anne and I talk to the woman in charge. Anne tells me that I sang beautifully but my exercises were a pity. She tells the woman in charge that it is a soul-destroying job, teaching, apart from a few pupils. I say, “I expect it must be most soul destroying to teach me.” She says, “Oh, darling, of course not. You’re one of my best pupils!”

We come downstairs together and discuss the exam and wish her a happy holiday. Ruth says, “I’m going to phone Webster tonight.” I say, “Why, is he ill?” She says, “No! Just to say goodbye.” Anne says, “Oh, he will appreciate that!”

We part and wish her a glorious holiday then Ruth and I go to Ansteys for lunch.

We decide that Anne is quite natural with us and very stiff with everyone else. We have a lovely lunch (for which Ruth pays). “Since my mother won £40,000!” says she, rather vulgarly. We look around John Orrs and then go to the Twentieth Century to see The Inspector because we are afraid that in school uniform she won’t be allowed in at the Metro. I enjoy it again and we decide that Dolores Hart resembles her.

On the way home she suggests that she and I should do some duets together when the Booths come home. That would be fun. I tell her to give Webster my love when she phones him and we say that we’ll see one another on Monday at the SABC. She tells me that Webster told her to tart up her hair for the exam!

I listen to Anne at night. She plays music from The Count of Luxembourg, Show Boat and Sweet Yesterday. She plays Life Begins Anew, her solo Sweet Yesterday and Webster’s Morning Glory. A lovely end to the day. I remember Webster playing them a year or so ago and I did adore them then. I hope they have a wonderful holiday – they deserve it.

12 September – Go to SS studios and see Gill. She heard Ruth on the radio and thought her very feeble. I get my theory certificate from Mrs S. I only hope I do as well in the practical. We work on Advanced Junior theory and I give Corry Bakker a lesson. Rita Oosthuizen is doing her LTCL tomorrow.

13 September – Listen to Webster and he finishes Iolanthe and includes Nightmare Song by John Reid who has really excellent diction. Next week he is going to start Cox and Box. He plays the Captain Shaw song from Patience – the one they teased me about last Saturday.

15 September – Go to Mrs S’s studio in the morning. Elaine, Carol and I discuss exams in morose fashion and decide that we have all done badly. Margaret M has German Measles today.

Before lunch, I meet Patricia Webb who is going home for a month. We lunch in Capinero and then go to the Metro to see The Boys Night Out.

At night, while reading Cry Havoc and immersed in the horrors of the armament factories, I hear familiar voices on the radio singing I’ll See You Again on Freddie Carlé’s programme. It is lovely. I wonder how I shall survive two weeks without them.

16 September – Go to Sunday School – not too many there – possibly due to German Measles epidemic. Continue reading Cry Havoc by Beverley Nichols and find it excellent.

In the guild service at night four of us sing the alto part in the anthem.

17 September – Go to SABC at night. When Ruth arrives Gill tells her that she thought her rendering on Stars of Tomorrow nauseating. (Rather nasty comment, I feel.)

Johan works us mercilessly on Messiah and there is an improvement. Ruth tells me that last Tuesday she had fibrositis when she got home and was in great pain. She phoned Webster despite it and he was sorry to hear about it. He said, “I believe you and Jean sang very well indeed today!”

We decide that we miss them terribly and that Jo’burg is a meaningless place without them. We discuss our exam with Gill and Tufty and Gill says we are sure to pass. She’s heard our voices and our teachers know what they are doing. Results will probably be waiting for us.

19 September – Work in the morning and have lunch in Ansteys with Mum. I go up to SS studio and Gill is going shopping so I go with her. We see a grumpy Anderson Tyrer entering Edinburgh Court. Exams finish this Friday so the results are imminent.

We see Cecil Williams, who has recently come out of jail owing to his communist tendencies. He gives me a half smile of vague recognition. Gill is horrified about his left-wing ideas.

We go up to the studio where Rita is practising for the LTCL exam tomorrow. We have coffee and then work. I have a good lesson with Mrs S who tells me to come early on Saturday morning to do theory.

20 September Take it into my head that I simply must see the Booths’ house. Weak-mindedness, I guess, but the urge is irresistible! I get a connection to Craighall and a rather good-looking boy directs me to Buckingham Avenue. The suburb is idyllic. There are hardly any people around and the only noise is the birds twittering in the trees. Have a long walk along Buckingham Avenue to find their house.

It is much smaller than ours with a few steps leading up to the stoep. The door is bright yellow and the walls are white. The roof is corrugated iron, painted black. The garden is quite large. To think I always imagined them living in a long, modern house. The house next door looks rather awful and the garden is a shambles but the houses across the street are very nice. It is a lovely spot and I think they deserve such lovely scenery. It’s quite surprising that they should have such a small house after all the money they’ve earned. I walk back to Parkwood, have a cold drink in a café there and come home.

Go to bed and listen to G and S. Webster plays Cox and Box. It is very good and I enjoy it. Then he plays a record by Martyn Green in America – The Judge’s Song from Trial by Jury. He burlesques it a good deal. As Webster says, “D’Oyly Carte would have had something to say about it!” Next week he’s starting on a full-length recording (with dialogue) of Patience which we heard about five months ago. Ah, well. If he can get away with it, why worry!

After this programme, the station announcer says, “That fascinating, scintillating star of the musical stage and screen, Anne Ziegler will present a programme on Tuesday at 8.15!”

22 September – Go into SS studio and meet Yvonne Compton (from the bank) on the bus, evidently recovered from her car crash and looking no worse than I remember her. She tells me that Mr Ford has had another heart attack and was off work for three months and the French lady who lives in Craighall Park is off work with a nervous breakdown. I tell her to give everyone my love.

When I arrive at Mrs S’s Elaine and I morosely discuss exams once more and then get a pleasant surprise. The results have arrived – Elaine has 71% and I have 78% ( a pass with merit). We are delighted.

Have choir – Margaret is back, recovered from the German Measles. Have lunch in Capinero with parents and then see Lovers Must Learn.

I am quite happy with the result and hope singing is not too bad. If only I could find out the result before the Booths return from their holiday.

24 September – SABC at night. I talk to Ruth and we worry about our results. Evidently we can’t hear the results until they come home because Arnold Fulton has no record of the marks. We ruminate over what we will do if we fail. I know what I shall do – give up!

Pieter de Villiers takes us because Johan is sick in bed. Maybe he has German Measles as well?

At interval, Ruth and I talk once more and she says if she fails she’ll cry on Webster’s shoulder. Even that delight wouldn’t make failure much fun. I say I shall give up singing and she is quite worried about it. If I’ve done badly in this mouldy old singing exam, I shall know I’m no good and I’ll have to give up.

25 September Work very hard and hear that Arnold F is going to give Mum my results tomorrow – oh, Lord!

Listen to Anne at night and envy her. She plays Die Fledermaus and somehow manages to talk about singing Marguerite in Faust in 1934 where she met her husband, and seeing Rachmaninoff and Tetrazzini in Liverpool. She plays an extract from The Platonic Nymph and excerpts from records made by friends of theirs who appeared with them at the Palladium – Max Miller, Vera Lynn, Rawicz and Landauer, and of course themselves singing Love’s Last Word is Spoken, Cherie.

It is a lovely programme and she is a lovely person. However, the way I feel at the moment is very amateurish and far removed from Anne.

26 September – Get singing result today – at least, I hope it’s my result and Arnold F hasn’t made a mistake. I get 76% (merit) and he tells mum that it is very good. I can’t wait to get the report and see what Anderson T has to say. I have lunch with Mum in Ansteys and feel much happier.

27 September – In bed waiting for Webster and G and S. Poor pet has his terrible cold and talks in very nasal accents which emphasises his brogue. He starts on Patience and when talking of aestheticism says that it is just the same as the Bright Young Things of the 1820s – “I mean 1920s,” says he. I enjoy it again and he is in a very good mood and makes me laugh.

Only three or four days to go till I see him and Anne again.

30 September – Really sick today so I don’t go to Sunday School or Church.

I feel better at night so I phone Anne. How lovely it is to talk to her again. She answers the phone and recognises my voice before I tell her who is calling. She sounds delighted to hear from me and asks how I am. I ask about their holiday and she says it was a lovely rest but the weather was really terrible. She says that at least Lemon enjoyed the holiday.

I tell her about Mum phoning Arnold Fulton and my 76%. I ask if I can come up for Ruth’s and my card tomorrow night at 6.00. She tells Webster who is standing by the phone the whole time about my marks and he is also pleased. She says in hallowed tones, “Webster sends his congratulations.” She says she is very proud of me. “God bless you, darling,” she says. She is pleased with piano results as well. We say goodbye till tomorrow and I feel refreshed and exhilarated with our chat. They are such good fun, both of them.

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