23 May – Dora S praises Stravinsky to the heights but thinks Robert Craft and choir were bloodless and insignificant.

Walker praises Stravinsky but says Robert Craft is no “sorcerer’s
apprentice”. He says that the third movement of the Psalms was good
although the diction was poor. We sounded – says he – more
harassed than exalted!

1 May – I go to the Durban icerink in the morning. It is delightfully modern and I skate well.

2 May – We go to the beach in the morning and swim in the surf. We meet Lyndith Irvine and her parents there. They live in Salisbury now. Dad and I see Light on the Piazza in the afternoon and at night the Irvines visit us at the hotel and I play the piano.

3 May – Am listening to Drawing Room with Peggy Haddon and Anna Bender playing duets. Webster says, “I give you – the misses Haddon and Bender!” Signor Vitali plays the trumpet – he remarked on the wonderful playing when we met him on that memorable evening last month. He says, “Wonderful! You make it sound so easy.” After Sarie Lamprecht sings, he says, “Bravo, Miss Lamprecht! That was quite charming.” He sings three Irish songs – the Ballymure Ballad, Trottin’ to the Fair and Maira, My Girl. I wish I could have recorded them.

Dad and I have a swim in the afternoon.

4 May – We go to the beach in the morning and have fun in the surf. I am beginning to tan.

At night we go to the Irvines’ hotel and listen to a small band in stuffy “intimate” lounge. Lyndith has a Crème de Menthe. They went to the Oyster Box today. They also visited Anne Ahlers (friend of Penny Berrington)

5 May – Go to town and postcards to friends and then see The Quiet Man with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Good in parts – like the curate’s egg!

The Irvines phone to say the Webbs have arrived so we go to their hotel to see them. Jackie Keenan is with them. I play the piano in the lounge after walk.

6 May – Go to the beach in the morning and then it starts to rain. After lunch I have a rest and then play the “pianoforte” in the “drawing room”!

I listen to Webster at night. He continues with the Mikado.

7 May – Go to town and have lunch in Paynes department store and swim in the afternoon.

8 May – Swim in the surf. Dad and I see The Guns of Navaronne, with Gregory Peck and David Niven.

I am now listening to the Norma Broadcast – the one we did in Afrikaans at the Aula. Mimi is excellent but Jossie B sounds very worried and a little flat.

9 May – Go to town and have tea in Paynes. In the afternoon go on a coach tour to Umhlanga Rocks . We stop at the Chevron Hotel for tea and go onto the beach which is lovely. We pass through Glen Ashley (where Miss Ursula Scott lives).

I listen to Drawing Room (the second programme with Anne singing duets)

10 May – We go to beach and I come back to listen to repeat of Drawing Room. Anne’s Smilin’ Thro’ is beautiful but the other things she sings are shadows of her former glory.

The Irvines call to say goodbye. They leave tomorrow night by train for a long journey to Rhodesia. I play the piano to a packed lounge at night and they applaud loudly.

11 May – In the afternoon we go to the Playhouse to see Lover Come Back, with Doris Day and Rock Hudson.

12 May – Last full day of holiday. We go to town and have tea in Paynes with pianist playing the piano. In the afternoon I go for a ride in a motor boat with Dad then come back to pack.

13 May – Last day. We take a taxi to the airport after delightful holiday. The Marsdens meet us at Jan Smuts and take us home. Shandy is very glad to see us again! I listen to G and S at night.

14 May – Go to SABC at night. Hester and company tell me that Stravinsky is progressing nicely and there are oodles of professional singers augmenting the choir. He will conduct us on Saturday night.

See Gill and Ruth. Latter is thrilled to see me again and tells me she has been busy with exams and was delighted with my card. Johan works us hard, and guess who is singing in the chorus? Jossie Boshoff! Anton H arrives and tells us how honoured we should feel to be singing with Stravinsky who is no conductor but a very great composer and musician.

Ruth says she thinks Webster is being snobbish and big by refusing to sing in the chorus as all the good singers are in it anyway. Anne, says she, is finished and they should both stop singing publicly. “They’ve had their day,” says she.

I suppose it wouldn’t have hurt Webster’s reputation to sing with us. It would have been very sporting of him but I can understand his point of view.

15 May – Listen to half of the English version of Norma in the evening. Mimi and Jossie B’s Afrikaans accents are very much in evidence in their singing. Choir sounds much better here than in the Afrikaans version. I am reminded that at this particular recording, Webster kissed us – just to think of it!

16 May –. Singing practice goes really well and I am quite thrilled with it.

Go to piano in the afternoon. Mrs S kisses me, and when I go in a party is in progress – it is her birthday! Svea gives me cake and coffee. My lesson goes reasonably well and after it I practise scales to put in the time.

We go to Gill’s studio which is in a rather austere, grim building where music teachers of every variety conduct their lessons – Castle Mansions. Polliacks building is a palace compared with it. We go to Hillbrow to visit a friend of Gill’s – Lynn – a rather alarming but fascinating girl with unusual pictures arranged throughout her flatlet on the eighth floor.

We have supper in the Lili Marlene restaurant. We return to SABC after depositing Svea at Blood Transfusion and hang around in the foyer. Ruth arrives looking very smart. The orchestra is there and we practise hard. The tubist (Englishman) does his best to amuse us and Andy Johnson (the drummer) is good fun too. After hearing the piece with orchestra I can only ask, is Stravinsky mad? It certainly looks like it.

Mrs S is there sitting next to Jossie B. She is most affable to Ruth and me.

Ruth says that Drawing Room was a great flop. She hasn’t a good word to say about them, it seems. Iris Williams gives me a lift home.

17 May – I listen to Drawing Room – the one with trumpeter, Signor Vitali, and Sarie Lamprecht. Webster sings Friend o’ Mine and a Tosti song, Beauty’s Eyes.

Go to choir at night. Talk to Andy Johnson and Iris beforehand. We work very hard with Johan. Ruth tells me that she had a big fight with Eleanor (another member of the choir) who kept Ruth and her father waiting for twenty minutes.

18 May – Go to the studio and am greeted by a tired-looking Anne who says, “Hello, stranger.” She thanks me for my postcard and tells me that Piet van Zyl (rugby Springbok who won a prize at the recent eisteddfod) has had a stroke and she is most upset about it. Lucille’s grandmother died last week and Webster is having a most awful time with toothache. “He had toothache a couple of days ago and thought that a few whiskies and soda would sort it out but when it persisted he had to have the tooth out. There was an abscess in the gum and last night he sat up in bed trembling violently and I had to go and fetch two hot-water bottles for him. Today he had a penicillin injection so he’s sleeping now.”

Poor Webster, and poor her having to do all the work and worry about him.

Singing doesn’t go too badly today except for lower register.

We talk of Stravinsky and I tell her about Jossie Boshoff etc. She says that it was a pure cheek to ask Webster and not even offer him a fee – after all, they make their living by singing.

He phones and says he feels a bit better now and has woken up. She talks to him like a mother to her little boy and calls him darling. She says he can stand a lot of pain but this was all too much for him.

Say goodbye – it’s nice to be back but what a lot of bad things have happened since I’ve been away.

Stravinsky by Hilda Wiener
Anton Hartman meets Stravinsky at Jan Smuts Airport – May 1962

19 May – I am up early and go for my piano lesson. My chromatic scales are shocking. Have ear tests wit Elaine Commons and a few others. I hear someone whisper that I have a lovely voice – cheering. Leave with Margaret who tells me that she could sing top C recently but now she’s singing badly.

I go to Ansteys with mother and after lunch we see The Absent Minded Professor which is amusing.

Go to SABC at night. Anna Bender is at one piano; Gordon Beasley at the other, Kathleen Allister on the harp and Andy Johnson on drums. Robert Craft, a thin, pale man with glasses and lovely hands appears and in a soft American accent starts working with us on Symphony of Psalms. Edgar Cree and Johan are seated on the side, and Dora Sowden in a purple turban, sits next to Ruth.

Suddenly Anton H enters with small, stooped little man with large nose, a bald head and high forehead, wearing two pairs of glasses – it is the Maestro Stravinsky, the greatest living composer and musician in the world today. We all stand up and clap violently. I feel quite overwhelmed.

We continue our rehearsal and Robert Craft is very happy with us. Johan talks a lot to Stravinsky who has taken a great liking to him. S follows the score, and beats his music violently.

Ruth tells me that Anne phoned her at 6.30 this morning to say that Webster was sick. Could she go to the house. Ruth agrees. At 8.30 Anne phones once more to tell her that he is far worse than before, very ill indeed in fact, and she is calling the Doctor immediately so don’t come.

There is a picture of Anne in the paper being presented with a bouquet at the Varsity production of Vagabond King. Her dress is very low cut and hair rather strange. She looks tired.

The second half goes well. We do the Bach and Stravinsky looks happy and so does Robert Craft. He lets us depart. “I’ll give a booby prize to the last one out!” says he.

20 May. Sunday school. Afterwards Mr Rainer asks if I would care to take over the post as pianist in junior Sunday School and take a class there. As it will be good experience for me, I accept although I will be sorry to leave the little boys.

When I get home parents tell me that I ought to phone Anne to see how Webster is and if I can do anything at the studio for her. I do so, telling Anne that I heard Webster was not very well yesterday.

“Were you phoning to ask about him – how sweet! He’s still in a lot of pain and getting penicillin but he’s improving slowly.’

“I’m so glad. I wondered, seeing I’ve nothing much to do, if I could help you in the studio next week? I could answer the door and the phone and so on if he wasn’t able to manage in.”

“Oh, Jean, that’s terribly sweet of you and if he isn’t up to it, I’ll phone you by all means, but I think he’ll be able to record his G and S tomorrow morning and he might be well enough to go to the studio.”

“Well, I hope he feels much better soon. Do tell him that.”

“I will, Jean. I appreciate your offer very much and I know he will too. God bless you, Jean. Goodbye.”

Listen to G and S. Webster plays full recording of A Wand’ring Minstrel, “conducted by my old friend and fellow Birmingham citizen, Leslie Heward.” He promises to play Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes which is on the flip side, shortly.

He continues with Mikado and tells us that Ko Ko means Pickles so if you have a friend called Wilfred Pickles, as I have, it’ll be quite in keeping to call him Ko Ko!”

21 May – Work hard at music. Anne doesn’t phone so I presume Webster is better now or perhaps she thinks I might be more of a hindrance than a help to her!

Parents and self go to final rehearsal for Stravinsky concert in the City Hall. Quite a lot of visitors arrive and sit in the gallery. Robert Craft goes through the whole Symphony of Psalms which takes 25 minutes. Stravinsky and his wife sit in front with Edgar Cree and listen to it all. Stravinsky is very tired and puts his feet up.

At interval Mum and Dad leave and I collect Ruth. We go across to café and she asks about Webster so I’m able to tell her that he’s improving. The Ormonds arrive – he dressed in a duffle coat and cap. Mr O says I brighten up the front row of the choir. They buy us cold drinks and we discuss everything.

Ruth and I return and are overwhelmed by a group of Parktown Girls who are most impressed with Ruth and me. Ruth tells them, “Of course, we’re not just singing in the Stravinsky concert. We’re in the SABC choir all the time.” She tells them that the Bach is pretty dreich! I have a good laugh at the word but she doesn’t even realise how Scottish it is.

We practise walking in. The steps are frightfully steep and we do the Bach again. We get tickets for tomorrow – “With the compliments of the SABC,” and some of them get Robert Craft’s autograph. He is conducting us, and Stravinsky is conducting Petrouchka. Mum and Dad enjoyed the rehearsal but thought it sounds a little weird.

22 May – Practise and then rest in the afternoon ready for the big occasion. I go into the City Hall in my long white dress. I stand with Ila Silansky and Anna Marie and we survey the audience. We go into the mayoral reception rooms to leave our things.

Ruth arrives wearing her mother’s coat so, as I have my coat on as well, we look like peas in a pod together. We go onto the stage of the crammed City Hall prepared for the concert. Anna Bender and Kathleen Allister look quite delightful as does Annie Kossman. Braam Ver Hoef, the orchestra leader, comes on and finally Robert Craft in white tie and tails, still looking very pale. We sing Vom Himmel Hoch and then he conducts the orchestra. After that we sing the Symphony of Psalms, which goes very well. We are given a tremendous ovation and Robert Craft brings Johan on to take a bow as the choirmaster. We all applaud him.

At the interval, we hear from all sides how wonderful everyone in the choir was – so young and talented, and wasn’t the symphony delightful? In the second half we are kept at least 5 minutes waiting for Stravinsky. Anton H leads him on to the stage. He looks around at the audience as though he is frightened and bows and waves his hands to them.

He conducts Fireworks and Petrouchka without a baton. His whole attention is focused on his music and he forgets the huge audience in the City Hall. He licks his finger each time he turns a page.

During Petrouchka he loses his place in the score but manages to find it again. Then it is all over and we hear the greatest ovation, possibly in the history of music in South Africa. Anton H has to lead him on three times more to take bows. The last time he leaves he pats each of the members of the orchestra that he passes, like a father.

We go outside and I wait with Iris for her husband. We see Percy Tucker and Dame Flora Robson with his party. She wears no make-up at all but looks a rather sweet woman.

23 May – Dora S praises Stravinsky to the heights but thinks Robert Craft and choir were bloodless and insignificant.

Oliver Walker praises Stravinsky but says Robert Craft is no “sorcerer’s apprentice”. He says that the third movement of the Psalms was good although the diction was poor. We sounded – says he – more harassed than exalted!

Go to Mrs S in the afternoon and do a lot of ear tests. I’m very good at them. Gill groans and moans about Johan, and Hartman not allowing her to see Robert Craft who has some of her music, and weren’t the write-ups awful?

I listen to Drawing Room at night – the second last one, alas. The soloists are Maisie Flink, Walter Mony, Graham Burns and Doris Brasch. It’s the best programme yet – lovely songs and nice instrumental pieces. Webster joins Graham Burns in a duet, Watchman, what of the night?

There is a picture of the choir with Stravinsky in the Star. I can pick myself out from the crowd on the stage quite well.

I am sitting with choir altos behind the orchestra.

24 May Anne phones about 11. “Hello, is that Mrs Campbell?” “No, this is Jean.” “Oh, Jean, this is Anne … Ziegler.”

She tells me she’s phoning about the audition tonight. Did Ruth tell me about it? Evidently they just want to see us if we’re in the SABC choir and we don’t have to sing. Anne says if we get accepted we had better “lie doggo” – an old British expression says she – from Johan for a bit and then talk to him about it afterwards. I tell Anne that we have decided to ask him if we may be excused for a few months but if he refuses we’ll just stay in the choir.

We discuss Stravinsky. She says she listened to the concert but it just isn’t her kind of music. She prefers a little more melody.

We discuss Webster’s sore teeth. She says he sweated it out on Monday morning and was determined to go into the studio in the afternoon but he just couldn’t make it and it was too late to phone me. He was in the whole of Tuesday but had a bad time of it. Today he’s gone to have the other tooth out and feels a little better.

She says she really appreciated my kind offer but didn’t like to phone me so late when I had Stravinsky to worry about. “Bless you,” says she. We spoke for twenty minutes on the phone.

At night Dad takes me to the Duncan Hall. I tell Ruth about Anne phoning and she says she had a lovely lesson. Anne told her that if you are unwell the first thing to go is the voice. She says that she’s unwell at the moment so hopes we don’t have to sing.

She says, “We’re the best-looking girls in the whole hall!” Anton Hartman arrives and tells us they need 7 altos, 8 sopranos, 10 tenors and 10 basses. Evidently we are in and are told to collect our music from Solly Aronowsky, 406 Internation House, Loveday Street. Ask for a Miss Basson. The first rehearsal is 6 June at Duncan Hall.

25 May – I receive £100-0-0 from Aunt Nellie! I nearly faint – my money worries are over for a while.

I go to the studio in the afternoon. Webster answers the door looking very smart in a black pinstripe suit. He says he still feels a bit grim, “But I think I’ll live.”

Boy, Chris, who cannot sing in tune is having a lesson. He is a bass and having awful trouble. Webster sings his song but Chris still cannot get it. Eventually he leaves after telling me I must have suffered and I must remember that he is strictly an amateur!

Anne is in no mood for giggling and tells me that the boy is hopeless and whenever he comes she goes and sits in the office. I say he does sing out of tune. Webster says that Chris is afraid he’ll ruin his piping or his rowing – why does he sing then? Anne says it takes her an hour to get over it every week.

They ask about the opera and I tell them how they want 10 basses and 10 tenors. He says, “Where will they get 10 tenors? There aren’t 10 tenors in Johannesburg!” Bragger!

We do scales and he keeps saying, “We must do set exercises and then record My Mother Bids Me.” He imitates my faults. As far as I can see, his teeth are all there!

Someone phones and Anne answers. He goes to the office and says, “Tell her you can’t talk now. You’re busy giving a lesson.”

She shouts, “I can’t do that. It would be rude!”

He comes out in an awful rage and tells me that it is such a cheek of people to phone in the middle of a lesson for once one runs late it’s quite fatal. He points out the few mistakes and I watch his hand tremble slightly. He fetches tea and Anne returns and we try to record second verse once more.

As I go, he asks, “How did you enjoy yourself? It’s the first time I’ve seen you since you got back from your holiday.” At least he remembered that I did go on holiday in the first place. I say I had a lovely time and he says, “Lucky girl. I wish I could get away!” If only he knew it – his life is an eternal holiday.

David Fletcher gives me a lift down Juno Street. At night I go to guild and we have a braai which is fun. Peter is very much in evidence.

27 May – Go to Sunday School and have my little boys for the last time. Feel quite sad.

I listen to G and S. He must have recorded this last Monday when he was still under the weather. He starts on Ruddigore and says that he never sang the tenor role in this because the tenor has to dance a hornpipe and no one ever took the trouble to teach him the hornpipe!

Of the main character he says, “He has the manners of a Marquis and the morals of a Methodist!”

29 May – In the afternoon I phone Ruth to check on address in International House. Her sister, very nicely spoken, answers the phone. Ruth says she had an awful lesson on Saturday and couldn’t sing to save her life. She also thought that Webster looks far better than usual.

30 May – We see Taxi to Tobruk with Hardy Kruger and listen to the last Drawing Room which is excellent. He sings a duet with Graham Burns – The Battle Eve.


At the end of the recording she powders her face and talks to us brightly. Ruth says that Webster was wonderful and Anne says fiercely, “Yes, of course he’s still got a voice.”

I leave with my parents I tell her that Webster was lovely and sang
terrifically. She says in joking tones, “Yes, we’re both
very proud of him, aren’t we, Jean?” I could have crawled under a
sofa if there was one around.

1 March – Work slackens off a fraction but Mr Allen still flaps. Have lunch with mum in Ansteys and meet Gwen Per from school.

Go to singing at night and Webster isn’t there. I go straight in because Nellie has ‘flu and isn’t there either. We start on vocalisation studies which I have cunningly put on the top of my pile and they go gloriously. Anne makes tea and I pay her and we return to the exercises.

Anne says that my voice is really beautiful now and my production is vastly improved. I give her the look of a hardened cynic and she says, “What have I or you to gain by telling you that? I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true. Don’t you notice it?” I say, “Yes, I do, but nobody else does.” We do the exercises and she picks out the notes that tend on the hard side and we work on them. She says, “Have all your notes like a string of pearls as my old music mistress used to say.”

Over tea she tells me that she went to see the mime of Marcel Marceau last night and it was the most absorbing act she has ever seen. Speaking nary a word he entertained the audience for two hours on a bare stage.

I tell her at the end of the lesson how I intend to give up the bank at the end of March in order to study music full time and she is pleased. She is quite shocked about the high blood pressure diagnosis. I say it’s probably due to overwork and nerves. She says that I am the type of person who “bottles everything up” and I mustn’t.

3 March –  See the Scott Fitzgerald Tender is the Night in the afternoon. Rather depressing.

4 March – Listen to Webster at night. He sounds rather tired. He keeps on saying, “In my day,” which makes him sound rather decrepit. He’s right though – Patience is a bit corny.

5 March –  Go to SABC at night and see Gill who introduces me to her friend Doreen who works there. We go to Doreen’s office in Springbok Schedules and see exactly what is going to happen tomorrow on Springbok. Leslie Green actually has a written script for all the supposedly off-the-cuff things he says on his programme.

We go to a grill house for supper and then go back to choir and have Harry Stanton, the organist at St Columba’s Presbyterian Church in Parkview as our accompanist. We do the Bach, and Johan takes a lot out of himself conducting the choir.

At interval Ruth tells me that on Saturday morning she went to a wedding and got a little tipsy toasting the bride and when she got up to the studio she was rather happy. Leslie Green came and they all had tea together and he listened to her singing.

Her father says that the Booths are good social drinkers – they can take a lot at a party without much reaction but they’re not alcoholics. She says that Webster could have been the best operatic tenor in the world but because of his relationship with Anne he wasn’t. Anne had an offer to go to Hollywood but because of Webster, she refused.

After the rehearsal I meet her father – a small man but quite charming. Gill asks me to stay with her for two nights when we’re in the opera in Pretoria. She gives Harry Stanton a lift home – he lives a few streets away from her in Parkwood.

8 March – Go to studio and Anne tells me to help myself to tea. Nellie sings badly and leaves. When I go in Webster tells me, “I’ll be out of prison on Saturday night – that play has been a real prison for me – every moment of it.”

We start on studies and Webster says the quality is beautiful but I must keep it moving even when it’s soft. He says, “You must know these things so well that ten professors can be there and it won’t worry you.”

We do My Mother and he says, “Why didn’t you smile?” I say indignantly that I was smiling and he says, “You were not – you were frowning all the way!”

They make me go and look in in the mirror and sing to myself. I do this and try to smile all the way. He says, “You see! An entirely different song.”

9 March – Lezya goes on holiday. Picture of Webster in paper. He’s one of the adjudicators in a hymn writing composition. I go to Betty’s twenty-first birthday party at night. There is a huge crowd there, including Mavis Knox.

10 March –  Work in the morning. After work, walking along Pritchard Street, I meet Ruth looking red and flushed. She informs me in breathless tones that she has just been to her lesson and had a wonderful time. Webster was there and she is so happy.

Go to YWCA to meet Patricia Webb who is just the same but more sophisticated and just as cheeky. We see Back Street which is excellent although Patricia passes caustic comments throughout the film.

12 March – Go to SABC in the evening. Gill says Harry Stanton hinted for a lift in as well as from the SABC. He takes the girls for rehearsal and Johan takes the chaps. Harry takes us through Norma at record speed and sings very badly to demonstrate how it should be done.

Ruth says her father has a nice voice and coming in in the car he was imitating Webster and she was pretending she was Anne. She says they certainly don’t think I am bad-looking. When they were talking about people not smiling when they sing, Webster said, “Jean, there’s a sad one for you!” and Anne said, “She’s a very beautiful girl and if she smiled she could go so far with her singing.” Ruth says, “For goodness sake, don’t tell them I told you. They told me this in confidence.”

She thinks they should have had at least one child and she’d like to meet his son, and isn’t Harry Stanton a card?

She says Edgar Cree looks as though he wears a corset. She went to hear Tamas Vasary yesterday and cried at the Chopin. We go on with Norma and I introduce Ruth to Dad afterwards – he likes her.

14 March –  Work. Have my piano lesson in the afternoon and meet Pat Eastwood who is now at college and Elna Hansen who is doing a modelling course and teaching ballet. Gill and Svea Ward (SS’s niece) are at SS studio. Mrs S is in good mood and I do loads of scales.

15 March – Work. Lunch in Ansteys with Mum. Go to Webster and Anne and Webster answers the door. Nellie is singing badly and he brings me a cup of tea – lukewarm and devoid of sugar and I have the good grace to tell him it’s “perfect”!

I ask Anne about a new earlier time for when I leave the bank. While she arranges this I sing to Webster’s awful accompaniment and go sharp on the last three notes.

We do the vocalisation study and he doesn’t get the beat right so it doesn’t go very well. Anne returns with time – 4 on Friday as from April – and she takes over on the piano. When Webster sits down he groans and clutches his back!

I make a second attempt at the studies and, with Anne playing, they go very well. I go on to Polly Oliver and get into a nice fandangle. Anne says, “Sweety, you really must smile when you sing.” “I can’t.” “But, darling, you must. It’s no good singing if you won’t. You’re not shy of us, are you?” I say nothing and gaze at the grain of the wood in the grand piano. Webster says, “Good God – no!” “I expect I must be!” “Oh, darling no – not after all this time. Does he worry you more than I do?”

Webster stares at me and I want to crawl under the piano. Unconvincingly I say, “No!”

I do it again with a will and it all turns out all right. I promise him I’ll spend all my waking hours gaping in mirror and smile at myself. He tells me I look very attractive when I smile and don’t look a clot.

16 March – Guild. Peter tells me he is giving up singing lessons with the Booths!

17 March – Go into town with mum to buy material for the choir. I also buy an SABC Bulletin which brings me glad tidings. Webster has another programme, starting a week on Wednesday at 8.30 pm It is called Drawing Room and will be a show with a small studio audience depicting the early 1900 entertainment. There is an article by him in the magazine.

18 March – Sunday starts with gorgeous article and picture in the Sunday Times by Gary A. He hopes the new programme will bring them back as duettists.

19 March – Go to SABC. At interval Ruth tells me that Webster asked if she’d like to go to recording on Wednesday and she said she’d phone on Tuesday night. She says she’ll ask him I can have three tickets as well. We continue with Norma.

20 March – Today at work I take heart and phone Webster myself. He is sweet and when I ask him about tickets for Drawing Room he says, “But I thought I asked you to come.” I say, “No, you didn’t.” So he says, “Well, we’d be delighted to have you. Meet Anne in the foyer at 8 o’clock, and don’t be late! If it goes swimmingly we’ll finish by 9.30.” I say I’m looking forward to it tremendously.

I work very hard and phone Ruth to tell her what has happened. She says that she and her parents will be going tomorrow. I will see her at a quarter to eight in the foyer.

21 March –  I go for a music lesson and at night I work myself into a state of nerves about going to the SABC. We arrive and Lucille is there with a number of her relatives. I meet Joy Bodes who is going to a recording of Eye-gene Jackpot. Ruth arrives with her parents. She is also Scottish and comes from Kelvin Grove, only a mile away from where I was born.

Anne arrives, her hair in a bun. Ruth’s and my parents go into the studio and I am left to help Anne with the lists. She takes me into the studio from the stage side and everyone gapes at her. She tells me to save a seat for her. I sit with Ruth and keep a seat for her between us. She comes in eventually, and Webster – face very red, wearing evening suit with a red rose in his lapel. He sits down at a table in the front of the studio and tells us that he has picked a very select audience because of the nature of Drawing Room. He is charm itself and introduces the artists – Anna Bender (accompanist), Walter Mony (violinist), and Rita Roberts (soprano). His compering is terrific and he sings two songs which are beautiful – Parted and The Sweetest Flower that Blows. His hand shakes as he handles the music but his voice is as perfect as ever. Anne doesn’t look at him the whole time he is singing but looks very sad.

We have an interval after the first recording. Anne says that RR should open her mouth more. When we return Webster sings If You Had But Known so beautifully I want to howl. We are told to talk in between the items and Anne talks sweetly to me the whole time.

In the second programme he sings O, Dry Those Tears and the Kashmiri Song so utterly and completely beautifully in a voice that only God could have given him that tears come to my eyes. I am shocked to see Anne crying next to me. She looks utterly heartbroken.

At the end of the recording she powders her face and talks to us brightly. Ruth says that Webster was wonderful and Anne says fiercely, “Yes, of course he’s still got a voice.”

When I leave with my parents I tell her that Webster was lovely and sang terrifically. She says in joking tones, “Yes, we’re both very proud of him, aren’t we, Jean?” I could have crawled under a sofa if there was one around.

What an evening. Anne says that most of the people in the audience are hangers-on and pays very little attention to them. Ruth and I seem to be teachers’ pets however, and she puts her arm around me and is the sweetest, most adorable creature.

As for Webster – he’ll get to heaven before any of us with a voice that only God could have fashioned and the angels given to him.

22 March – Go in to the studio and learn that Nellie is leaving because she is moving to Bloemfontein. Anne kisses her goodbye and cries.

I go in and rave to Webster about the programme and he says, “Well, I hope it comes over as well on the radio.” Anne says rather bitterly, “Yes, he sang very well, didn’t he?”

I sing quite well too and she is pleased but she looks very strained. We do My Mother which goes much better than usual and she suggests that we leave it for a while and do something else.

Webster answers the phone and tells one of their friends that Anne is having a terrible time with her back. They say my voice is getting much higher and she thinks I’m going be a ‘low” soprano or a “high” mezzo. She tells me to find something a bit higher to sing for next time.

23 March – I phone Ruth to tell her I can’t go to choir. Will she apologise for me? We talk about Wednesday and agree that it is terrific.

24 March – Work very hard and Mr Allen goes mad.

The Halls, who have been living in LA for past two years, come to visit us. She tells me that there was quite a scandal about his divorce in the thirties. His wife divorced him because of Anne.

Scotts, who are going to India, come in the evening and we have a pleasant time. I sing for them and they appear to enjoy it.

25 March –  In the afternoon I go to SABC and feel quite nostalgic about Broadcast House after last Wednesday. We look in at Mervyn John and Esmé Euvrard broadcasting in their studio. He says over the air, “There’s a lot of very attractive people standing outside the studio. Welcome to Springbok Radio!” Esmé waves at us!

Gill arrives with Harry Stanton and we go in and talk to Cora Leibowitz. She thinks Anne is very emotional and that Webster has a better voice than Anne.

Listen to Webster at night. He says he will recap to let people who “might have gone to parties or gone to bed early” to hear what happened in Iolanthe.

26 March – Last day of work. I am wished well in my musical career by Messrs Buckley, Ford and Peddy.

Go to SABC at night. We go on with Passion with Johan and Harry Stanton. Ruth says the Booths gave her a lift home on Saturday as they were going to a wedding.

She tells me that next Wednesday Anne and Webster are singing duets on Drawing Room at SABC. I’d love to go but I’m not sure if I can.

We have Gert Potgieter to sing with us in the second half.

French lady from the bank tells me she is practically neighbours of the Booths and that their house was in a terrible mess when they bought it for only £2500 but they have made great improvements to it.

27 March – Go to dressmakers for a fitting for my concert dress.

28 March – Go to music in the afternoon and Mr McKenzie gives me a lift to town in his Jaguar. Mrs S says I must come to the morning recital on 7 April.

Go to SABC and we make a recording with Gert Potgieter. At interval, Ruth and I are confronted by two old women wanting to know where Webster Booth’s programme was being held. Ruth and I take them along and decide to stay ourselves. Luckily the programme is just starting so we crawl into the last two back seats and are given a surprised look by Webster. Soloists are Gé Korsten, Jean Gluckman, Kathleen Allister (harp). Pieces are In a Persian Market, The Sunshine of Your Smile, Always, An Old-fashioned Town. We slip out at the end with another thunderous look from Webster and return (a bit late) to our own recording which we complete very successfully.

29 March – Listen to Webster and record him. It is gorgeous and glorious. His singing is wonderful.

I go into town. Webster is teaching Lucille. When I go in he says he’s expecting her ladyship at any minute and would like to record me. He plays something at the wrong speed and says, “In case you don’t know it, that’s Ruth singing Messiah!” We do the Bedfordshire May Day Carol and when he plays it back to me he points out one beautiful tone and tells me to match all my tones with it and then I shall have a perfect voice.

At this point, Anne comes in looking thin, pale and ill. I say I was sorry to hear that she was ill. She looks resigned and says, “Yes, these things do happen.”

While we have tea we listen to playback of recording. She tells me, “Smile, don’t pull faces. You are pretty when you smile. Have self-confidence. We’ll have to do something to boost your morale.”

After recording do Where E’er You Walk. They say I can do this for a change. It’s a man’s song but it suits my voice which (says Anne) has a Jennifer Vyvyan quality.

I ask Webster if we can come to the concert next week and he says he’d be delighted to have me and I can bring as many as I like. How many shall I bring? I say three. I say to Anne, “You are singing next week, aren’t you?” and she says, “Yes, if I’ve got any voice by then.” I tell her that we’d love to hear her singing and she looks wistfully pleased.

I tell him that we were there last night because we escorted two old ladies there. He says, “Yes, I saw you. I tried to catch you at the end to see how you were getting home but you disappeared very quickly!”

He asks what I thought of today’s broadcast and I emote about it and she says the piano solo was too long. We all admit that he sang beautifully. I’m going next Friday at 4pm. They couldn’t care about the public holiday – Van Riebeek day is not important!

30 March – Cartoon of Webster in Show Folk in the Star.



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Anne and Webster settled in South Africa in mid-July 1956. I compiled the following list from newspapers, magazines and personal diaries. Contact me if you can add more information to this list.

MOBILGAS MELODY WORLD 16 February 1956/57? Springbok Radio, 
Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth in a programme compèred by Michael Drinn.

LIGHT UP AND LAUGH – ITMA, December1956. Thirteen-week series on Springbok Radio, recorded at the Brooke Theatre. Webster (rather incongruously!) took Tommy Handley’s part in South African presentation of ITMA scripts.

ELDORADO, (Ralph Trewhela) 1957. Anne and Webster took the leading roles in this musical, directed by Frank Douglass, SABC Theatre Orchestra, conducted by Jeremy Schulman. Work commissioned by SABC for 21st anniversary programme.

AT HOME WITH ANNE, commenced on 21 January 1958. Anne presented this series on Springbok Radio. The programme was still running in July 1959.

DO YOU REMEMBER? 1959 to 24 April 1960, Anne and Webster presented weekly music programme on Springbok Radio on Sunday afternoon. They spoke about their illustrious careers and the people with whom they had worked. I have asked numerous times whether there are any copies of this programme still in the archives of Springbok Radio. Sadly, I have had no response to my query.+

Anne in a recording of a broadcast at SABC, 1963

CONCERT HOUR 1960 – English service of the SABC. SABC Concert Orchestra, Rita Roberts, Webster Booth, Asaf and Philharmonic Choirs, conducted by Anton Hartman. 

DOUGLAS LAWS Record show, 4 October 1960. Anne and Webster appeared as guest artistes.

MESSIAH 8 December 1960. Webster sang tenor solos in the Port Elizabeth Oratorio Festival, conducted by Robert Selley.

TEST YOURSELF 1960. Anne and Webster presented this quiz show together on Springbok Radio.

OPERA, ORATORIO AND OPERETTA (ON WINGS OF SONG) Wednesdays at 8.30 pm, later Thursday, 9.20 pm, 1961. Webster presented a weekly programme of recordings (including some of their own) on the English Service.

DREAM OF GERONTIUS, MESSIAH, 27 November 1961. Port Elizabeth Oratorio Festival broadcast Monday and Wednesday at 8.00 pm. Webster had appeared in the first performance of the Dream of Gerontius in South Africa in Cape Town in 1957. Webster, with Emelie Hooke, Joyce Scotcher, Harold Hart, Port Elizabeth Orchestra, directed by Robert Selley.

GILBERT AND SULLIVAN 1962, 1963. When the copyright on Gilbert’s words ended, Webster presented a weekly programme on the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas on the English Service. During his illness in 1962, Paddy O’Byrne read the scripts of this programme.

DRAWING ROOM, April 1962. Webster presented a short series of drawing room concerts before a studio audience on the English Service. He and Anne sang in this series, and a number of guest artistes took part. He also sang duets with the bass, Graham Burns. The guest artistes were Doris Brasch, Rita Roberts, Gert Potgieter, Gé Korsten, Graham Burns, Jean Gluckman, Kathleen Allister and Walter Mony The accompanist was Anna Bender.

1962 Drawing room-02

Here is a recording from The Drawing Room. Webster is accompanied by Anna Bender.


MUSIC FOR ROMANCE, August 1962. Anne presented a series of programmes in which she presented recordings and reminisced about her life and career in England.

PORT ELIZABETH ORATORIO FESTIVAL, November 1962. Elijah and Messiah. 
Webster, Monica Hunter, Joyce Scotcher, and Graham Burns, conducted by Robert Selley. 
The complete oratorios were broadcast locally in the Eastern Cape. Excerpts were broadcast nationally later, but strangely, none of Webster’s recordings were used in the national broadcast.

RECITAL WITH ORCHESTRA 8 April1963. Anne and Webster sang a programme of duets, with orchestra conducted by Edgar Cree, on the English service.

BALLADS OLD AND NEW, October 1963. Webster presented this short series on the English Service towards the end of 1963.

SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE PALACE, November 1963. A short series, which attempted to recreate the atmosphere of the Music Hall on the English Service. Anne and Webster were guest artistes on this programme. 

Webster, Anne, Jeanette James and Bruce Anderson sing a quartet in the programme
GREAT VOICES, 1963-1964. Webster presented this series on the English Service. He was unkindly criticised by the critic Jon Sylvester of The Star for including some of his own recordings on the programme, yet most people expected to hear Webster Booth the singer, as well as Webster Booth, lately-turned broadcaster. If one listens to recordings of Webster Booth, one will realise that he had a very great voice indeed and should be remembered today as a great singer, rather than as a romantic duettist. I sent a letter of protest to Jon Silvester under the pseudonym of Pooh Bah.

I met Webster in the street shortly after this cutting appeared in The Star and he asked me if I had written it. I asked him how he knew, and he replied that I was the only one who could have written it!

Pooh Bah
Me (as Pooh Bah) sent a letter of protest to Jon Silvester!

SUNDAY AT HOME 1963. English Service. Paddy O’Byrne conducted a fifteen minute interview with Anne and Webster at their home in Craighall Park. Click on the link to listen to the broadcast:  PADDY O’BYRNE PRESENTED SUNDAY AT HOME WITH ANNE ZIEGLER AND WEBSTER BOOTH (1963)

OPERA AND OPERETTA, July 1964, Monday, 7.35 pm. Webster returned to the English Service with this series.

IF THE SHOE FITS, Christmas 1964. Webster and Anne starred in this Christmas pantomime on the English Service.

CHILDREN’S PROGRAMME 1965. Anne and Webster presented a series of children’s programmes, directed by Kathleen Davydd.

TEN O’CLOCK AND ALL’S WELL, September 1966. Webster was guest presenter for a week in this short series on the English Service. Earlier in the year he had presented a “sort of housewives’ choice” programme early in the morning.

By that time I was living in the UK but Webster told me about TEN O’CLOCK AND ALL’S WELL in a letter dated 19 September 1966.September 7 66 LWB2




2 October 1966, CITY HALL, JOHANNESBURG. Anne and Webster were soloists, with the SABC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edgar Cree. 
O lovely night (Anne and Webster) 
Drink to me only with thine eyes (Anne)
Lehar medley (Anne and Webster) 
The Holy City (Webster) 
Love’s old sweet song (Anne and Webster) We’ll gather lilacs (Anne and Webster) 
Selection from Bitter Sweet (Anne and Webster)

MELODY MARKET, May 1967. Webster presented this programme in the early morning on the English Service.  “A sort of housewife’s choice,” was how he described it. It was the last programme for the SABC before he and Anne left Johannesburg for Knysna a month or so later. 

Documentary. Anne and Webster appeared in this documentary. Anne said that she had had enough of South Africa and wanted to go home to die. The programme ended with Anne and Webster singing We’ll gather lilacs

PETER BROOMFIELD’S OPEN HOUSE, 20 March 1975. English Service. 
Anne and Webster were guests of Peter Broomfield on his morning programme, broadcast from Cape Town, on the English Service. Anne’s friend, Babs Wilson-Hill (Marie Thompson) who was on a visit from the UK, and Anne and Webster’s singing dog, Silva were also present in the studio. Silva sang along to a Harry Lauder record! 

A MUSICIAN REMEMBERS, 19 and 26 October 1975. English Service. Webster reminisced about his career in the theatre. Click on the link to hear this programme: A MUSICIAN REMEMBERS 1

A MUSICIAN REMEMBERS, 2 and 9 November 1975. English Service. Anne reminisced about her career in the theatre. Click on the link to hear the programme: A MUSICIAN REMEMBERS 2

WOMENS’ WORLD, English Service,1975 – Pamela Deal, who had conducted the first interview with Anne and Webster when they stopped off briefly on their way to Australia in 1948, interviewed them again when they decided to stop singing in public. They had given a farewell concert in Somerset West towards the end of 1975. This decision was rescinded when they moved back to the UK in early 1978 and found that people remembered them and wanted to see and hear them once again.

 When Anne and Webster left South Africa their voices were rarely heard on South African radio. Ronald Charles, the broadcaster and musician who had been the musical director at Michaelhouse in the sixties, played several of Webster’s oratorio recordings from his personal collection on his classical request programme. As far as I know, most of the 78s in the SABC record library were discarded, but as time passed, a number of their recordings were released on CD. Occasionally a recording was played on Uit Vergange se Dae on Radio Pretoria. 

The late Paddy O’Byrne was always happy to play a recording when he was with the SABC and later at Radio Today, although his access to their recordings was extremely limited. Clare Marshall, on her Sunday morning programme, Morning Star on Radio Today 1485, was about the only broadcaster in South Africa to feature their recordings regularly. Sadly, her programme is no longer on the air as the station has changed direction recently. After I wrote my book Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth Clare invited me to be her guest on her Morning Star programme on 28 April 2013. Click on the link at: My interview with Clare Marshall on “Morning Star” (28 April 2013)

Compiled by Jean Collen. Updated in 2017.


Webster came out of the studio after the recording and appeared delighted to see us and kissed us both in greeting. He asked what we were doing there, and then said, “Oh, of course, you’re working aren’t you? It’s a pity you can’t stay for the next recording to hear the wonderful trumpeter.”

 Webster Booth, seated left, Peggy Haddon and Anna Bender (at piano), Gé Korsten and Jean Gluckman (singers), Kathleen Alister (harp) and studio audience.


Nearly fifty-seven years ago, in April 1962, Webster Booth presented a short series of drawing room concerts on the English Service of the SABC before an invited studio audience. He and

Anne sang solos and duets in several programmes, and a number of guest
artistes took part. Webster also sang duets with bass, Graham Burns.
Among the guest artistes were Doris Brasch and Rita Roberts (sopranos),
Gert Potgieter and Gé Korsten (tenors), Graham Burns (bass) Jean
Gluckman (contralto), Kathleen Allister (harp), Maisie Flinck and Peggy
Haddon (pianos) and Walter Mony (violin). A trumpeter also appeared in
one of the programmes, but I do not remember his name after all this
time. The accompanist was Anna Bender, the official accompanist at the SABC.

 The idea was to create the atmosphere of a polite middle-class Victorian or Edwardian drawing room concert, where singers and instrumentalists performed their party pieces such as In a Monastery Garden, The Maiden’s Prayer, O Dry Those Tears and the like. Sounds of polite conversation and laughter between the items,with restrained applause for the musical offerings were required, so a studio audience was invited to provide these “noises off”.

Shortly before this programme started, Webster wrote an article for the SABC Bulletin on 17 March 1962.

A Nostalgic Half-hour of Memories by Webster Booth

“Do you remember those Drawing-room concerts our Grandparents used to hold in the afternoons and evenings way back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s? There were of course, the Society At Homes. These were rather serious affairs, when artistes of repute were engaged. Such artistes as Ben Davis, Madame Patti, Charles Santley and even Madame Melba were paid huge sums of money to entertain the guests.

However, in this new series, to be called Drawing-Room, we want to concentrate on the homely atmosphere, with those lovely old ballads, such as Parted, Little Grey Home in the West, The Rosary, Tosti’s Goodbye, Friend o’ Mine, A Perfect Day, etc., together with those grand pianoforte solos which were all in the Star Folios, and without which no one was considered a pianist. Items like The Maiden’s Prayer, Destiny Waltz, In a Monastery Garden etc. Then the fiddle solos and fiddle obbligatos, vocal duets such as Watchman, What of the Night? Moonlight and Roses and Battle Eve. I so well remember my father, who was Barber-Surgeon to the Royal Staffordshire Regiment, dressing up in his red and gold uniform and singing The Veteran’s Song, and I would be induced to sing in my treble voice, songs like Valé and The Song of Hope, while my mother and sisters had a wonderful evening crying their eyes out. Those were the days when composers wrote songs for the voice, and singers learned to sing ballads. Believe me, those songs needed singing.  They had a story to tell, usually in three verses, all different tempos, portraying passion, joy and tears, and finishing up on a hefty top note.

We intend to invite a small studio audience to help to catch the atmosphere of the drawing-room, and to have well known South African artistes, both vocal and instrumental, to sing and play to us. This  programme will, I am sure, bring to the older listeners a glorious nostalgic half-hour of memories, and will let the younger generations realise there was real music in the home before the advent of the Cinema, Radio and the gramophone. Do tune in to the English programme at 8.30 pm on Wednesday evenings and join us in our Drawing-room. I shall be in charge of the entertainment and Miss Anna Bender will be our Hostess at the pianoforte.”

For the first recording, Webster invited pupils and friends to form part of the Drawing Room in one of the smaller recording studios at Broadcasting House, Commissioner Street. I was very excited when he asked if I would like to attend the recording. My great friend and fellow pupil of Anne and Webster’s, Ruth Ormond, and I were there with our parents and we noticed Lucille Ackerman, another pupil,  accompanied by a large family contingent.

Anne Ziegler & Webster Booth (1963)

Anne and Webster looked particularly glamorous for the occasion. Anne was wearing a beautiful evening gown, a mink stole – not yet a politically incorrect item of dress  – her fair hair in a chignon, while Webster was in full evening dress, all set to act as compère for the evening and to sing some drawing room ballads into the bargain. The accompanist for the series was Anna Bender, the official accompanist for the SABC. Anne and Webster received their guests graciously. Anne told Ruth and me to save her a seat in the front row, where she sat between us and played her full part in chatting to us between the items on the programme to evoke the atmosphere of a drawing room at the beginning of the twentieth

My dear friend, Ruth Ormond, 1963
Ruth Ormond and me (below).

Photo Album

 I’m afraid that this was not the atmosphere conveyed to those listening in to these broadcasts. The polite studio audience applauded vigorously, suggesting the city hall rather than a drawing room. Fifty-seven years later I still remember Miss Rita Roberts (soprano) singing Christina’s Lament to the tune of Dvorak’s Humoresque, Mr Walter Mony (violin), Miss Anna Bender (accompanist) and finally Webster himself, aged sixty and still in fine voice, singing The Kashmiri Song, The Sweetest flower that Blows, Parted, O Dry Those Tears and finally If You Had But Known with violin obbligato by the excellent Mr Mony, a French Canadian, who became a professor and head of the music department at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Ruth and I were entranced to have spent such a happy evening and to see and hear Webster singing only a few feet away from where we were sitting. As we were leaving I told Anne breathlessly that Webster’s singing was wonderful and she replied, “Yes, we’re both very proud of him, aren’t we, darling?” which made me feel rather naïve and childish although I was all of eighteen at the time.

The Drawing Room series was recorded over a number of weeks and we attended another recording when Anne, in a sleeveless black evening dress, sang If No One Ever Marries Me, The Little Damozel and a Handel aria from the opera Xerses, He’ll Say That For My Love. Anne had sung the last song at her Wigmore Hall recital in 1933. Later in that programme she and Webster sang duets together: Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes and The Second Minuet.

One evening Ruth and I were at a choir practice with the SABC choir and she decided that during our interval, we should go to the Drawing Room studio to say hello to Webster during the break in his recording session. The first programme was not quite finished so we slipped into the studio quietly and listened to Kathleen Alister playing two solos on her harp.

Webster came out of the studio after the recording and appeared delighted to see us and kissed us both in greeting. He asked what we were doing there, and then said, “Oh, of course, you’re working aren’t you? It’s a pity you can’t stay for the next recording to hear the wonderful trumpeter.”

We were both so excited at meeting Webster (not entirely unexpectedly) and being kissed into the bargain, that Ruth walked into the men’s cloakroom instead of the women’s, only to have him politely point her in the right direction. We were both blood red with embarrassment by the time we got back to our seats at our now rather tame choir practice.

I thought Drawing Room was a lovely programme, but the critics had their misgivings about it, saying that the atmosphere created was not quite right, so it was taken off the air after a relatively short time. I once made enquiries at the SABC as to whether any of the programmes existed in their archives, but apparently these had not been kept. I had recorded several programmes via a microphone on my newly-acquired reel-to-reel tape recorder. The sound quality of these recordings is not very good, but when I listen to them all these years later, I am transformed into an excited and optimistic teenager, back in that SABC studio with Ruth and Anne, completely entranced with the music of the Drawing Room.

Sadly, it has occurred to me that most of the people mentioned in this article are now dead and gone, but the memory of that happy time remains vividly in my mind.

Here are links to some of the songs Webster sang on that programme.

Click on the links to hear him.

Friend o’ Mine (Restored by Mike Taylor) https://clyp.it/2hupnyrm

Parted (Tosti) https://clyp.it/qriewsgs

O, Dry Those Tears (del Riego) https://clyp.it/llblyizd

The Sweetest Flower that Blows https://clyp.it/0iftdnlr

Jean Collen –  April 2016

Updated 7 November 2019.

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