Protected: DIARIES CONTINUED – 21 – 31 OCTOBER 1963 (PRIVATE)

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DIARIES CONTINUED – October 1963

4 October – Webster phones and Lucille comes to the studio and we arrange to meet tomorrow at the Rand Show Grounds for the Theatrical Garden Party. I meet Webster outside Thrupps. When I come back, I give him the bob and he is delighted and bends over me and kisses me sweetly and thrillingly. Anne is pleased with the result. Webster goes through songs with me and I have a long chat with him – heaven!

1 October.- Go to studio. Irish woman, Eileen Lawless phones about the theatrical garden party. Talks of “Anne and Leslie”. Ruth phones at night to invite us to Intimate theatre to see Playboy of the Western World. It is excellent. The young actor, James White is brilliant. We have coffee in Hillbrow afterwards and then take her home.

2 October – Go into studio. The pianist, Ivor Dennis comes to visit them. I lunch with Mum and buy some new clothes.

3 October – Go into studio and Webster arrives after making record with boy soprano, Robin Lister and feeling exhausted. Anne and I have an interesting chat. We visit Mrs Hooper and her son Alan. She is the sister of Ralph Trewhela. I sing for them and they seem to like it.

4 October – Go to studio and Mummy phones with results for ATCL – 77% which is very good.

Webster phones and Lucille comes to the studio and we arrange to meet tomorrow at the Rand Show Grounds for the Theatrical Garden Party. I meet Webster outside Thrupps. When I come back, I give him the bob and he is delighted and bends over me and kisses me sweetly and thrillingly. Anne is pleased with the result. Webster goes through songs with me and I have a long chat with him – heaven!

5 October. – Theatrical Garden party. I meet Lucille and Ruth outside the Rand Show Grounds. We have a cold drink in the refreshment pavilion because Anne and Webster are late and we are not too sure how to aid proceedings. The New Zealand bass, Inia te Wiata who is in the country to sing in Show Boat for the Johannesburg Operatic Society, is there, saying that he is very keen to see his old friend, Webster Booth. When Webster and Anne eventually arrive, we can hear them fighting with each other before we even see them. When they see us, Webster stops fighting and is pleased to see us, telling us that we look gorgeous. He puts his arm around me, saying that we have plenty of time to have a look around at everything. In contrast, Anne is still in a terrible mood, doesn’t even speak to us and marches off by herself. Webster has to run to catch up with her and we are left to our own devices.

We eventually see them having strawberries and cream with the VIPs. He signals to us to come over to their table but Ruth tells us to ignore them after Anne’s unpleasant behaviour towards us. Ruth brings me home and we have tea and decide that we will tell them that we met some boys we knew and had a hilarious time dancing in the rock ‘n roll tent! We could have had a lovely time with them were it not for Anne’s bad mood. I wonder why she was so cross with him.

6 October- Drive like a hell hound along the airport road and have rather a reactionary day recovering from Anne’s snub yesterday.

7 October – Go to studio and work for a bit. Ralph Trewhela phones. He has a friend who would like to meet Webster. I meet Ruth and her mother and the latter drives us home where Ruth and I have lunch. We enjoy ourselves running the Booths down after the disappointment on Saturday, and singing corny duets together which we record. She invites me to her house tomorrow to swim. We give her a run home.

8 October – Go to Ruth’s to swim and have fun apart from developing beetroot sunburn on my delicate Scottish skin. After having lunch there I go to studio. Webster is very charming when talking about the garden party but they make no mention of Anne’s bad mood. Apparently Inia te Wiata went back to Leslie Green’s house and they all had a party there. Anne asks if I can come on Monday from now on as they are going to teach at home on Tuesday.

10 October – Aunt Ina comes and we spend a day of constant natter as she runs down all our mutual relatives. We take her to Zoo Lake for tea.

11 October – Go into studio and lunch with Mum. Anne arrives in the afternoon. It is impossible to hold a grudge against her for long. Her arm is still sore and she feels sure she’s getting arthritis. Webster comes and says I might as well get on and do the LTCL. I sing My Heart and I for a last fling before thinking of the next exam.

12 October – Go to Mrs S in morning and have piano lesson and then work with Elaine. Just before choir practise Mrs S tells me that Webster was simply raving about me to her and saying how proud he is of me – and apparently Anne is also.

Dad phoned Webster today and he agreed that I could sublet the studio from next March and that I should go on with licentiate and fellowship.

We go to the Piccadilly and see Carry on Taxi.

14 October – I work hard at harmony. Ruth phones to ask me to some concerts. She’s given the Booths free tickets to the Maria Stander recital and is going to go with them. I wish I was going to that concert too.

Maria Stader (soprano)

15 October – Webster phones in the morning to ask if I’d play for him on Thursday, Friday and possibly Saturday as Anne is going to have her neck stretched. Naturally I agree. I decline during the rest of the day so get Mum to phone them to say I can’t come to lesson. Apparently he and Mum are now on Christian name terms. I phone him at night and he tells me the hours for accompanying. He says Anne will have to have a week of treatment. He asks whether I’m feeling any better now and tells me not to work so hard.

17 October – Accompany for Webster. During Linda’s lesson he spends time patting me on the cheek! Yvonne, Margriet, Louisetta, audition, Graham and Freddie come and we have jolly day with them. Freddie takes us to the garage and when Webster helps me out of the car he puts his arm around my waist and keeps it there. He takes me home and we talk outside for a while. I phone Anne to say he’s on his way home. She is feeling a lot better after the treatment. She was probably feeling ill on the day of the garden party and possibly didn’t even want to go to it!

18 October – Lucille arrives first and tells me all about her recently holiday. When Webster arrives wearing his dress suit, he tells me he’s going to the first night of Show Boat and Clara Butt will take me home. Lucille has her lesson and then I have mine during which we decide what to do for next exam. Selwyn, Myrna, Gertie and Charlotte come and all goes well as far as the piano is concerned. I say goodbye to him and am taken home by “Clara Butt” and husband. I feel a bit put out that Anne was not well enough to come to the studio but is well enough to attend the first night.

19 October – Go to Mrs S and have piano lesson. Go to Booth studio and Webster arrives shortly afterwards full of moans about last night’s late night at Show Boat. I make him some black coffee and we have Leanore who is also tired. Erica and Ruth follow. Ruth is very agitated and excited about going with them to hear Maria Stader. At one moment she tells Webster not to look at her when she’s singing and he says, “You want to spend the whole evening at the concert with me but you can’t bear me to look at you!” Robin is full of events in Show Boat chorus, and then we have Frances and Henrietta, sisters who sing duets together. Webster brings me home – we meet Margaret on the way to the garage. He tells me about their new house in Parktown North and about the wallpaper he has chosen for his bedroom. He is not keen on going to the concert as he is still very tired and says it’s a pity I couldn’t go instead of him but he knows Ruth would be upset if he didn’t go. He says he doesn’t like going out at night now that he is old!

20 October – Ruth phones in the morning to tell me about last night. She got home at 10.45 and they had coffee in the café in Parktown North afterwards. She asks me to go to a Shura Cherkasky recital at the SABC in the afternoon. Gill is there. Cherkasky is brilliant and plays the Mozart sonata I am playing myself. Ruth brings me home and we have supper and a cosy chat.

Shura Cherkassky

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – DECEMBER 1962

They are supposed to be singing at a garden party (Ah, Leave Me Not to Pine) thrown by the newly created Lord (Jamie Uys). Anne wears huge dangly earrings and Webster is wearing an evening suit with a cravat in the afternoon. They did this not long after he came out of the hospital and his chin is sunken and he doesn’t look well. Others in the cinema audience have a laugh but I see nothing amusing in it.

1 December – Go to town and singing. Anne tells me that their house was struck by lightning during last night’s storm so she didn’t get to sleep till 2.00. I pay her for the music she kindly bought for me and tell her of similar lightning experience at home a few weeks ago.

We start on Zion. She says I have a tendency to drag it. She tells me they listened to the Ninth and rather enjoyed it but thought the orchestra had no verve. She says, “I’m not trying to be big and know more but the UK orchestras have more life in them.” I tell her about Leo Quayle and she says that he was doing very well in Britain and he was mad to come back here when he had so much work over there.

We do Father of Heav’n. She says it’s a most difficult aria. We alter the words of a certain part and she says that if the examiner says anything about the alteration I can always say that Sargent did it that way.

Ruth is late and I tell Anne about Caroline’s engagement and the cocktail party of last night. She says, “Isn’t she having a lovely time now?” I agree.

Ruth eventually arrives and tells us that the party was simply fabulous. The tiles of their swimming pool are being laid today and everything in the garden is generally very rosy.

Ruth says that I mustn’t forget to come tomorrow afternoon to the City Hall. I go back to Mrs S’s. Miss Cameron comes. I practise sight-reading with Elaine.

Caroline Ormond

We have lunch and then see The Jolson Story. Caroline O’s engagement photo is in paper. She is very attractive.

2 December – Go to City Hall for dress rehearsal. In the paper there is an article by Gary A about the two Messiahs – he thinks PE has an edge on Johanesburg because of Webster.

At interval I take Ruth and Hester to the – café and we have cold drinks. Ruth says it might be fun to see The Merry Widow in Springs and we might arrange something. I tell her about the Lord Oom Piet film and she says she’d love to see it.

We take Ruth home. While we are in that direction we pass the Booths’ little house in Craighall Park. The Anglia is in the drive so I expect he must have gone to PE with Graham B or by plane.

3 December – Go to singing. The girl before me doesn’t arrive. Anne tells me she has three mosquito bites and has to take pills for them which make her drowsy. She makes tea and then we start on Father of Heav’n once more.

She says Bill Perry was accepted by PACT. She thinks Gary A was sweet about Webster. She says the orchestra in PE is very bad so apart from the soloists our Messiah will probably be far better than the PE one. He had a terrible cold when he left on Friday and he had to sing on Saturday in Uitenhage with a male voice choir so she doesn’t know how he’ll get on.

We continue with the aria. She says that I have such a pure voice I should make a fine oratorio singer. I mention the film and she looks embarrassed and says that it’s not at all dignified and I mustn’t expect it to be. She says that people who have seen it say they look nice but that’s about all. She’s worried about the show in Springs which opens of Friday night and she vows that she will never do another one even though they pay her a fortune.

At night I go to City Hall for final dress rehearsal. We have the soloists tonight. Nohline Mitchell has a lovely (but cold) contralto. Rudi Neitz is good but (as Webster mentioned) has to go down instead of up on the high notes. Gert Potgieter has a pleasant enough tenor, but, oh goodness, the soprano, Nan Mayer is simply hopeless. She sings out of tune and everyone has to grit their teeth to bear it. When Gert P finishes his Comfort ye and Ev’ry Valley, Gill says cattily, “And how does he compare with Webster Booth?”

I say that Webster’s record is far superior to Gert P and she says, “And how many years ago did he make it? He can’t sing now. He should give up.”

I say, “Admittedly he’s past his prime but when he was Gert P’s age he had a voice 500 times as good.”

She says, “I know that, but he can’t sing now.”

Iris rudely interposes and says, “I’ve always hated his voice and I shall record from PE to compare the two.”

Ruth, her mother and I go over to the café and have a drink. Mrs O says that it sounds really lovely and she’s looking forward to tomorrow night.

Ruth and I go back and I tell her of the unpleasant remarks of Gill and company. She says we must see each other over the Christmas holidays and she will phone.

Leo keeps us a little late but he is an absolute darling. Anton H comes and we present Johan with a present and sing For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow – quite the most beautiful rendering of that ditty, I think. We all get complimentary tickets for tomorrow.

At the car we meet Ruth and her mother so I introduce Mrs O to Dad.

4 December – Go to see Lord Oom Piet in the afternoon. They are the guest stars. The picture itself is quite amusing but I do feel sorry for them.

They are supposed to be singing at a garden party (Ah, Leave Me Not to Pine) thrown by the newly created Lord (Jamie Uys). Anne wears huge dangly earrings and Webster is wearing an evening suit with a cravat in the afternoon. They did this not long after he came out of the hospital and his chin is sunken and he doesn’t look well. Others in the cinema audience have a laugh but I see nothing amusing in it.

Ah, Leave Me Not to Pine, with Jamie Uys squirming in front of them. Disgraceful!

We go to the City Hall at night for Messiah. Ruth is there when I arrive and she tells me that they sent her an account because she didn’t pay her fees on Saturday. She is angry and is going to ask “the meaning of it!” She says they’re very hard up – doing a film like that and taking any engagement for money. She says they should be retired by now. “And living in a cottage in Devon,” I add.

Our singing goes very well. Leo Quayle is fine. The hall is packed and I see the soprano Rita Roberts in the audience. Soprano stays more in tune in the first half. We get a grand reception.

At interval we see the presentation to Johan. He is leaving tomorrow. I am very sorry he is going. Ruth says her chair was collapsing during the first half and she is exhausted from holding it up She is red and nervous. We say we’ll see each other on Saturday and phone each other.

The second half (apart from soprano soloist’s flatness) is excellent. There is wild applause. The Hallelujah chorus is terrific. Johan is brought on stage. Leo kisses his hands at us to signify delight. And so ends our choir for another year.

I have certainly enjoyed my choral work in the SABC and as I look back to each event I remember happy musical occasions – the Passion and Norma bring memories of the Drawing Room and Webster kissing us; Ruth making a fool of herself by mistaking the men’s cloakroom for an exit – that certainly was a night! Stravinsky, Robert Craft and the Symphony of Psalms, the Ninth and now Messiah. Of all the conductors, I think Leo Quayle was the sweetest and best. Father sat in the front row at Messiah and adored it.

5 December – Work and lunch in Ansteys. We get rave notices from RDM and Star – the Star especially says the choir was brilliant and the best of the lot!

Go to SS studio. Don’t do too much work but have illuminating chat with Gill who finally practically discloses the story about Webster she told me partially in April – about the whisky and the ladies’ cloakroom. According to her he was making up to some woman in the ladies’ dressing room at a concert and drinking whisky – or brandy!

I say, “Well, he’s never behaved badly with me.”

She says, “No. You’re his bread and butter.”

I go on, “All he’s ever done is to kiss me,” and she says, “I’m not saying he did anything more than that but it’s immoral.”

I laugh. She adds, “I don’t want to be old fashioned but I like a man to be a gentleman all the time He’s a typical showman and I feel sorry for his wife!”

I must be getting cynical but the story didn’t shock me in the least. As a matter of fact, I’d like him to kiss me again some time – I enjoyed it!

We part on friendly terms but Gill obviously thinks the worst of him.

Mrs S says she thought our performance awful but the critics begged to differ. Despite her opinion, I have a good lesson.

6 December – Go to hear the best lunch hour concert of the season – Leo Q conducts, and Adelaide Newman plays the piano most beautifully.

In the Eastern Province Newspaper, the critic says of Webster’s Elijah – that he sang with his regular superb artistry. I listen to his G and S at night. Continues with HMS Pinafore.

7 December – Go to guild and when I come home the Carmichaels from across the road are visiting. She was a singer and pianist and taught music and tells me that Webster was very involved with Kathleen Ferrier. She tells me that he has had several kidney operations, is a flirt and has led a wild life but is a wonderful singer. I like him none the less after all the damning revelations which might not even be true.

8 December – Go to singing. Hilda from St Helena answers the door. She is very well spoken and charming. Lemon is there too. Anne says The Merry Widow in Springs went very well last night but she was up till 2 every morning and on Tuesday she stayed overnight on a mine and her host had to give her a tranquilliser.

We start on Father of Heav’n and after the story about KF I feel rather embarrassed about it. To crown it all, he comes in and is charming. I ask about the oratorios and he says he had a terrible cold for Elijah but Messiah was much better. They say they knew our soprano, Nan Mayer in Britain – her father was the editor of a London Newspaper. She never got much work in Britain and must be at least 48.

I say that I had another late night last night so that’s why I can’t sing. She says that his coming back has upset everyone.

Do Zion and this isn’t much better. He says that it’s one of my ‘gargling’ days! She tells me that Mabel Fenney isn’t coming back to her husband and intends to stay in London and study. She says she’s probably got a boyfriend over there and after living in Europe nobody can really be expected to come back here.

Ruth is there to hear my bad effort and promises to phone me. I don’t know what they think I do on Friday nights.

Go to see Friends and Neighbours at night at the Intimate Theatre and it is a great laugh. Charles Vernon is unbelievably amusing and I roar. Frank Douglass, Helen Braithwaite are in it too. It cheers me up no end.

9 December – We go to Vanderbijlpark to see our old friends. We see the Alexanders – Inge is home for the weekend. They have two lovely dachshunds.

We see the Hills in passing. Mr H used to teach me music in days long ago. We pop into the Innes’s next door to them. Kathleen is now a picture of health after her terrible car accident. Sadly, she will never dance again.

We finish up at the Watts. Mr W has been very ill with lung problems and has been away from work.

10 December – Work hard. Anne phones in the afternoon. “Hello, Jean?” “Yes?” “Darling, this is Anne.” “Hello.” She wants me to change the time from 4.30 to 3.30. I agree – it will suit me much better.

I phone Ruth at night and we talk for 40 minutes about nothing. I tell her about Gill and she tells me about a wrapping party at her house for the Press Ball. Her father is a director in an advertising agency. She is going to the Drakensberg for the long weekend.

11 December – Go to singing and meet a little boy, Eddie who used to be in my Sunday School class with a lovely little puppy. He blushes when I stop to pat it.

When I arrive no one answers the door and then lift opens and Webster emerges very quietly and I get a terrible fright. He laughs at me and says, “Really, Jean. Your nerves are bad – jumping like that!” He imitates me. “I expect she must be phoning someone.”

We go in and he complains to me about the heat and tells me that he’s had a terrible thirst all day and has been drinking a lot of tea. While he makes more tea he feeds the pigeons in a concerned fashion and I say, “Your pets,” and he smiles at me.

Anne is busy phoning the doctor about her ears and when she comes out of the office she tells him to let me hear the records. He produces Kathleen’s record first and I prepare myself for an effort in self-control. Her singing of Father of Heav’n is quite glorious. He remarks that she takes it rather slowly and he doesn’t think this necessary. She says that her broad Lancashire accent comes over very much in the way she broadens her consonants. Obviously she wasn’t very fond of her.

I then endeavour to sing the same aria. He makes me hold the music up so that I don’t have to look down and swallow. I fill in a breath mark and she says that she sees I’m left-handed. I say, “Yes, another of my faults!” She says, “Nonsense! I’m very left-handed and left-handed people are all infinitely more intelligent.” “Anyway, what’s all this about faults? If we didn’t all have faults we’d be dull!” “Yes, but I have more faults than most,” I answer.

We listen to Prepare Thyself and I am pleased to see that the singer takes a breath in the middle of the long run. When it is finished Webster sings, “And thank God that’s over!” I then sing it and he beats time along with me. It goes quite well.

They say they’re feeling the heat. “It used to be a dry heat that was pleasant but now it’s very humid,” says he. “A damp, horrible heat.”

I come home with Kathleen’s record and a huge picture of her on the cover. During the lesson, Anne mimics her accent and he says, “She was so terribly ill when she made it.”

12 December – Work in the morning and then lunch in Ansteys with Mum – very nice.

Go to SS studio. Gill is there and tells me that she is planning to go on holiday soon. We steer clear of the pet subject – I’ve had enough revelations to last me a lifetime! I have a good theory lesson with Mrs S.

13 December – Go into the library to work and meet the German cellist from the orchestra there. He tells me he is going to Cape Town for his holiday. Lunch with Mum and meet Dawn Snyman from the rink. She hasn’t been there for ages.

Lunch hour concert – Anton H and Gé K. Not bad but latter takes a lot out of himself.

Listen to G and S at night. He goes on with HMS Pinafore and plays He is an Englishman. He tells of broken bottles in “Dear old Dublin in those hectic revolutionary days when we sang this song.” He says that the programme finishes on the twenty-seventh. Next week he’s playing Pineapple Poll. “You can write down all the tunes you recognise,” says he.

14 December – Work and lunch in Capinero with Mum. Go to singing and Webster arrives first wearing his white sports jacket and feeling warm. He says he can’t imagine what has happened to Anne. He dropped her off at a quarter to three at the ABC shoe shop.

We go in together and the phone rings – someone enquiring about the musical activities at the SABC. He suggests the caller joins the choir and says it’s run by someone called van der Merwe. He stops and calls through to me to ask about it and I tell him that Johan has gone overseas and I think Pieter de V is managing it now. He says to the person on the phone, “Better phone Anton Hartman – he’s the head boy of the SABC!” After this conversation, he says he can’t imagine why the person phoned him when he could have phoned the SABC directly.

He says he had to collect a package and pay 5/- for it which he thought rather a cheek. He says that since his illness he hasn’t been able to stand the heat – sweat pours off him. I make some sympathetic noises.

We do exercises and they go so well that he says I should forget them until nearer the time or I’ll get sick of them.

We start on the first study which he plays rather hideously. Luckily the phone rings again and Anne arrives. He returns and says to me, “Did you or I make a mistake or was it the bell?” He sits down at the piano and insists on playing for me again. We get halfway through and she intervenes by giving him a huge poke in the waist. I stop singing and he teases me, “Any excuse for you to stop when I’m playing for you. Don’t you like my accompaniment?” I have a good laugh at him.

The studies go very well too and they are pleased. Anne says her hands are getting stiff – probably from old age.

We start on Open Thy Blue Eyes by Massenet and she says I must sing it twice as fast. Being a love song I must put guts into it!

We also go through I Attempt from Love’s Sickness to Fly. I say I think it’s a bit high for me but they say it doesn’t sound strained at all. Webster tells me it sounds very fresh.

We complain about the heat and I say I should prefer a nice fog. She says the fog was all right when she was young but not now. He tells me he felt very cold in bed last night and Lemon was shivering after his recent haircut, and now today is a killer. He told me this before Anne arrives. He doesn’t look very well with his sunken jaw, rotten teeth and the suggestion of a nervous tic at his eye.

I come home on bus with Rita Marsden and she tells me she has finished matric and is going to work in the library.

15 December – Go skating after a long absence. M skating is just the same apart from some muscular stiffness. Arthur Apfel is back teaching at the rink and Armand Perren has left. There are few there that I know. When I think of the fabulous crowd we had in Erica Batchelor’s day. Still, I enjoy it once more.

We have lunch and then see No Man is an Island with Jeffrey Hunter who has gorgeous blue eyes.

I hear the choir’s recording of Oranje Blanje Blou on the radio.

16 December (Day of the Covenant) Go to family service at church and then to Betty’s to listen to the two records. Kath is wonderful despite her rolling consonants. At night I listen for the long-awaited broadcast of excerpts from Messiah and Elijah from PE. The announcer states that the soloists are Monica Hunter, Joyce Scotcher and Graham Burns but he doesn’t mention Webster at all. I imagine that he has made a mistake so I listen for one of the tenor arias.

The other soloists sing at least three solos each but not one of his arias are played – no explanation or apology. It makes me furious. What could have happened that they did not play one of his arias?

Imagine how he must be feeling tonight. Yet imagine what he was! Imagine him as a young man – tall, well built with dark hair and a handsome face; Britain’s wonder tenor. How awful he must feel now being spurned in this corny one-eyed country. I know what Gill and Iris will be saying.

18 December – Go to singing in the afternoon. Webster answers the door and appears quite cheerful. He tells me to help myself to a cup of tea and I clatter around with the cups.

The girl before me (Mary Harrison) is singing light songs. She’s an Australian in the cast of My Fair Lady. She sounds rather fun and being theatrical they get on well with her.

When I go in I see that they have started to redecorate the studio – white paper with silver motifs. I tell him that it looks lovely and he is very pleased.

Anne comes out and asks if I could come in the mornings while they are rehearsing for the next play at the Alex – Goodnight Mrs Puffin. It opens on the 16 January and goes into rehearsal on Friday.

He says, “We haven’t done The Swan for a hell of a long time. We had better do it.” I sing it too softly. “You are singing a Drawing room pianissimo – sing a City Hall one,” says he.

We do Blue Eyes and he comes and stands next to me and stares at the music, informing me that I’ve made a mistake with one of the notes. She says she doesn’t believe him. We do it again and he springs on me in delight when I make the mistake. He says he knew it was most unusual for me to make a mistake in my notation. He crows over me in delight.

I say I’ll fill in form for exam. She says that she’s glad she can depend on me to do things like that. Lucille, who has also to do an exam is quite helpless and has to have everything done for her. Webster says that if she passes this exam he has a good mind to do it himself! He does not appear to be particularly cast down about omission on the oratorio programme.

19 December – Go to SS studio. Gill informs me that she had a fight with Svea and proceeds to tell me all about it in a fuming fashion. She also tells me that Iris phoned her on the evening of the PE Messiah to tell her she’d got through to it. I say, “I suppose you were both able to sit down and run Webster down together?” She says, “Oh no. He hadn’t come on yet.” She herself couldn’t get through but listened on Sunday, saying that he probably wasn’t good enough to be broadcast. I say that he got a good crit and she says, “But so did Nan Mayer.” I say, “Damn it all, He wouldn’t have sung out of tune anyway.” She says acidly, “I’ve seen them having to turn their duets into a comedy act.” I make no further comment.

After that unpleasantness, I have a good and restorative lesson with Mrs S.

I get a Christmas card from Ruth and one from Gill. Ruth’s has their address printed on it.

She phones me in the evening. They had a lovely time in the Drakensberg and she met a man there who did the lighting for the Merry Widow. He didn’t like Anne but liked Webster. There were lots of fights during the show and everyone was temperamental. He said that they are very hard up now and can’t make much appearing in shows but producing brings in a lot of money.

He also told her that at a party someone insulted Webster and he was so furious that he didn’t wish to stay on. Anne refused to leave and this man danced with her for the rest of the evening. If anyone had insulted my husband I would have left with him.

She tells me that Caroline has failed her B Com exams but can write supps. She says she hopes she’ll pass her own exams. She is going to her school dance tonight and isn’t looking forward to it because of all the restrictions. We make lengthy arrangements to see Lord Oom Piet on Monday seeing they’re in it and we’re going to have lunch first. I’m to meet her outside the Carlton at 1.00. It should be interesting to see what she thinks of it.

20 December – Listen to Webster at night and he plays the ballet suite Pineapple Poll. Next week is his last G and S programme.

21 December – Go into town and meet Ruth in Ansteys. We talk for a little while and then I go to the studio. Webster answers the door and complains bitterly about the heat and makes me help myself to tea. Mary departs after wishing them a happy Christmas.

We start on Father of Heav’n and this goes much better today except for my diphthongs which he imitates. We do Zion. He says I do it much more easily than the other. He wonders why.

Their scripts are left on the piano for all in sundry to see. She asks if she thanked me for my card. She says, “It was so sweet of you,” to which I give a watery grin.

I wish them a happy Christmas and they wish me one too. She tells me she expects they’ll be working over Christmas with rehearsals and so on. I say hello to Ruth once more and depart in grim frame of mind.

Mr Stabler comes with a present at night and then I go carol singing with the guild. Archie and David have supps at varsity too. We have fun in my usual dull boring uninteresting way and I act gaily with pain gnawing at my heart.

22 December – I phone Ruth early in the morning. She went to a party last night and hated every moment of it and didn’t dance once. The school dance, however, was nice and she enjoyed it.

We discuss our parents’ ages and she tells me that her mother and father are both 50. We agree that our parents are all wonderful for their ages. She says that Webster isn’t bad for his age but Anne is very worried about the way he drinks. He’s not quite an alcoholic, mind you, but he loves drinking!

The swimming pool is finished and she says that I must go one afternoon to swim there. It’s very quiet, for her sisters are at work and we’ll have fun. She is so sweet. At the beginning of this year I made a resolution to make her my friend and pass my music exams. I’ve managed to do both, thank heaven.

We arrange to meet at a quarter to ten on Monday outside the Carlton. Unfortunately, I decline into a state of dire illness and am indisposed in a most excruciating fashion for the best part of the day.

23 December – Am ill today as well – no church, no nothing!

24 December – Go into town and buy Ruth a present. I meet her outside the Carlton. She’s a bit late but terribly apologetic so I don’t mind having to wait for her. We go to Capri and she tells me that she has not been made a prefect next year and hasn’t had her report yet. She tells me about a new boyfriend called Peter.

We enjoy the film and have a good giggle at them. His head trembles – I didn’t notice before – shame. His bad teeth are also very much in evidence. She gives me a present and I give her one.

We go to Greatermans so that she can get the tip of her shoe mended. Caroline is going to work in the Standard Bank and continue with her commerce degree part-time.

I take her to lunch in Ansteys. She says she prefers Webster to Anne because he’s always the same and never has moods. Her father is a partner in an advertising agency and had to work his way up from the bottom. When he came out to SA he didn’t like it but he couldn’t afford to go back to Scotland so he stuck it out. She says her parents had George Moore and his wife to lunch one day and GM drank a lot.

We have great fun and she promises to phone me after the New Year and I will be able to go out to swim at her house. We wish each other a happy Christmas and part cheerfully.

I meet Elna H on bus. She’s still studying ballet and doing commercial art.

Webster’s new programme Great Voices starts at 7.30 on the first Saturday of the year.

Ruth’s present is a pair of blue slipperettes which are very sweet.

25 December – We spend a quiet Christmas day at home and enjoy a lovely Christmas dinner. In the afternoon I listen to the programme of carols of our choir which we did last year. It takes me back to the night we made that recording.

26 December -We go to His Majesty’s to see The Music Man with Robert Preston, Shirley Jones and Hermione Gingold. It is very pleasant and Robert Preston is full of energy.

27 December – Story about Goodnight Mrs Puffin and big picture of Anne and Webster who play Ma and Pa in the play.

Listen to last G and S. He plays all his favourite Sullivan music: Invocation from Iolanthe, selection from Gondoliers, the Wine song from The Rose of Persia and the Long Day Closes by the Tommy Handley Memorial Choir, “which was formed from Tommy Handley’s famous singing friends so that we could pay tribute to this great comedian.” One way of saying you’re famous! He wishes everyone a fabulous new year and invites them to join him a week on Saturday to hear his new programme, Great Voices.

28 December Go to singing in the afternoon determined to be bright and have a fabulous time. Webster answers the door and I give him a fright with my cheerful greeting, so much so that he tells me not to bother with the cold tea – he’ll make me a fresh cup later on. I chat gaily to Anne who tells me how run off their feet they are with the play but they still managed to have a lovely Christmas. I tell her that Ruth and I saw their picture and enjoyed it very much but thought Jamie Uys should have let them finish their song before he jumped in the river. They both have a great laugh at this.

Anne tells me that they went this morning to have their passports stamped as aliens and he says indignantly that they had to wait one and a half hours to have it done. I tell her we went a few months ago. We agree it would be madness to lose one’s British citizenship. Hilda, however, was not allowed to have permanent residence in this country. They’re very cross about it.

We start on Zion and I sing it very well. He brings me some tea. They tell me that they had a Christmas card from Uncle Mac who told them that poor Anderson Tyrer died on the boat home – possibly from a heart attack. Webster says rather callously, “Uncle Mac must be about 100 – I only hope he lasts long enough for you to get your diploma!”

Also, poor Bill Perry lost all his brothers and sisters in a head-on collision. He had to go to identify the bodies on Christmas eve.

She says I may either come at 10 next Thursday or 4.30 next Friday – the two times are between Ruth and me. I say that I’m sure she would like to go on Thursday and he says they might give her a lift in seeing they virtually pass her door – lucky Ruth.

I wish them a happy new year most effusively and shake Anne’s hand – she gets a surprise. I wonder what to do about him but his hand is already out ready to shake mine with a strong, firm, dependable grip – he holds it for ages. He says something about celebrating Hogmanay in joking tones and she says, presumably trying to imitate Scots accent. “Are you not having a party?” They’re going to one. “But we should really be at home learning our lines.”

I feel quite elated when I leave today. My hand tingles with their handshakes – ridiculous, I know!

Webster says that he was very cold yesterday and they nearly lit the fire. He says that last Boxing day they did light the fire and sat huddled in front of it. She says she went out last night to do a Springbok programme Password and had to wear winter clothes.

29 December – Death of Anderson T reported in paper. He was a famous composer and conductor. In SABC Bulletin there is another article about Great Voices, remarking on the fact that he doesn’t intend to put in his own recordings. He started off at a salary of £4 a week as a singer – and now look at him! They are to appear as Entertainers at Home in Paddy O’Byrne’s Sunday morning programme on 13 January.

30 December – Gary A says that G and S was one of the Top Ten radio programmes of the year.

Go to church and Cecil Oberholzer takes the service. There are very few there.

31 December – Here we are at the end of another year. My only real achievements were passing the exams. Next year I have to pass my finals and earn some money with music.

As far as personal relations go – I’ve made real friends with Ruth and I’m very happy about it. I was sorry to see the last of Peter C and Peter S. As for the Booths – they’ve caused me heartache but they’re the only ones who can make me feel elated. I am as fond of them now as I was when I first met them. I’m glad Webster got over his illness and is now prospering theatrically – I got to know Anne well during his illness and I’m grateful for that.

The SABC has helped me developing musicianship and I have enjoyed my experiences there. It is a pity that we shan’t have Johan with us next year.

It’s been a varied and interesting year if not always a happy one. I hope that next year, despite the hard work in store for me, will be interesting and happy at the same time.

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – NOVEMBER 1962

I go to singing in the afternoon. When I go up Anne answers and invites me in to listen to a friend of theirs on the radio – Geoffrey Parsons who used to be their accompanist and is now out here accompanying Erik Friedman, the violinist. Leslie Green has him to tea this afternoon. When I go in Webster is quite immersed in the broadcast but eventually sees me and says hello. The interference on the radio is rather bad and I hardly hear the chap at all – the only thing I gather is that he is an Australian and would like to go back. Webster keeps shouting to Geoffrey, “Speak up, Geoff!” When Leslie’s interview finishes they tell me that originally he had asked Webster to tea, but this was the only time Geoffrey could go. Anne shows me a picture of them with Geoffrey.

1 November – Work hard and swot in reference library where all the poor tired students sit staring blankly at their notes. One chap actually falls asleep and wakes up looking dazed.

At night I go to SABC. Ruth doesn’t come. Johan takes us and Gill runs him down to me. I fear our Messiah will provoke some rotten eggs from the audience unless it improves greatly.

At interval I chat to Iris, Gill, Hester and a middle-aged gent with a leer. Hester tells me she’s in Form 1V at Roodepoort Afrikaans High School and would like to make singing her career. She is rather a nice girl and not ‘loud’ as Ruth described her last night.

2 November – Go to the dentist and miraculously get away with only two fillings but am told to call again in February for a check-up. Buy a lovely dress for tonight, have lunch with mum and have my hair set.

At night I go with Margaret and her mother to the concert. Margaret tends to be rather an erratic driver and Mrs M is most nervous. At Crown Mines hall I enquire about the choir competition in which Ruth conducted and Miss Cameron was the judge. Girls consider it a matter of great hilarity that Ruth’s choir came last and that she conducted in an odd fashion. They tell me that she beat time in wide, uneven strokes and nearly fell off the stage. I laugh at Suzanne’s and others’ description of the event but I still feel so sorry for Ruth. She has a great opinion of herself so perhaps it’s a good thing for her to be cut down to size occasionally.

Concert goes very well indeed and our singing is good. Ellen, my redhead ex SABC friend does a monologue and recitation. A pupil of Walter Mony’s plays one of the pieces WM played in Drawing Room, and at once I am back in Studio G30 reliving those glorious Drawing Room days once more. What fun they were.

Mrs S is in a very jovial mood. Margaret gives me a lift home.

3 November – Go to SS studios. Mrs S says she’d like to see me on the South African Society of Music Teachers’ panel of performers! Have coffee and do ear tests and sing in the SS ensemble.

In the afternoon I go to a cocktail party with Mum and the Lisofskys – a farewell party for Mr Thomas of Shimwells at the house of Mr Immink in Montreux. It is a very nice house with a swimming pool. However my thoughts are with Pirates of Penzance in Bloemfontein. It’s the first night tonight. I shall probably see Webster on Monday after a long absence of three weeks.

4 November – Play in morning and afternoon at the Sunday School anniversary – I play well and the children sing far better than I expected.

Ruth phones at night – still with the crack-pot idea of auditioning tomorrow. She wants to have an extra lesson tomorrow but 3 is too early, so would I mind changing from 3.30 to 3. I don’t mind, so I agree. She says Anne refused to phone me because she thought I’d be cross if she changed my lesson again! I tell Ruth I’m not going to audition but she is persistent and determined. I still refuse. Says that Anne sends her love to me but she didn’t talk very long and didn’t say much about Webster’s play.

I hear glorious recording of Webster singing The Bells of St Mary’s and manage to record most of it.

5 November – Their twenty-fourth wedding anniversary. In the afternoon I go to singing. Anne and I have a long discussion about opera. I half-promise to audition. Webster arrives, wearing an old tattered raincoat and I am delighted to see him once more. He carries on as though my feelings are reciprocated. He doesn’t know what we’re talking about but tells me that whatever I’m going to do will be a cake-walk. I wonder.

I ask about Bloemfontein and The Pirates and he tells me a funny story. He decided to have a gimmick so they borrowed a chimp from the local zoo to come on stage with the pirates. Everyone was delighted with the chimp and she nearly stopped the show. When he was holding her and making a speech after the show she disgraced herself, so he said, “You naughty girl! I’ll never take you out again!” I have a good laugh.

I sing extremely well and tell them my master-plan for ATCL in August. He says that he is quite certain I can do it and I needn’t worry. Anne says she’ll look up an extra time for me and let me know about it tomorrow. She says she wishes all her pupils worked as hard as I did and mastered things as easily. Lucille has 4 lessons a week and is studying full time, trying to do the exam Ruth and I did, and she still can’t master the pieces for it.

Webster says I mustn’t drag too much in Zion. I feel quite nervous today. Webster comes down in the lift with me to see about his parking meter which is out of order and we talk in a friendly fashion. He comes out into Pritchard Street and stands with me for a few moments. He really looks well and more like his old self.

Go to SABC at night and Ruth comes ready for the audition. When she sees the large crowd she changes her mind. We fill in forms but I don’t hand mine in either. She told Webster she thought he was looking very handsome and evidently Anne’s face was a picture.

6 November – It rains again but I manage into town through it all. I go to singing and Webster answers the door still looking extremely healthy. He says, “Oh, hello dear,” in extremely friendly accents.

A little girl of about 12 is singing The Honeysuckle and the Bee in a rather sweet little voice. Anne seems rather lost teaching her, but he is sweet and understanding towards her.

When I go in, Webster calls me over to the window and points at the crowns on top of His Majesty’s which are lit up, and asks me, “Doesn’t that sight gladden your Scottish heart?” We both agree that it is lovely to see the good old crowns up on the theatre again. He asks if I’d like some tea and furnishes me with a rather lukewarm cup.

Anne says that if I come at 10 on Saturday during this month, she’ll arrange for me to come on Friday next month after The Merry Widow in Springs.

I tell them about the audition and how we didn’t take it in the end and how the people had to wait for ages. They sent one of their pupils to the audition. She has a great voice but sings everything quite seriously with burlesque actions like Anna Russel. As if this is not sufficient explanation, Webster insists on giving me a demonstration which makes me laugh.

We start on Zion and Anne makes him sing it along with me. He stands next to me so that he can see my manuscript and tells me that it’s an excellent copy. We sing it together and I try to breathe in exactly the same places that he does. He sings most beautifully but drowns my voice without any effort. I don’t mind being drowned out by such a lovely and great voice as his.

He says that with persistent effort I shall easily master it. I also sing Ein Schwan. When I leave Webster says, “Aren’t you coming next Saturday?” and looks quite disappointed because I’m not.

I listen to Anne on the radio. She plays her test record from Merrie England and tells us about their trip to Calgary for Merrie England, and then plays his recording of Where Haven Lies from A Princess of Kensington, and says, “My favourite tenor!” afterwards, and their two duets from King’s Rhapsody.

7 November – Go to SS studio and talk to Gill. We do some theory and then I have a nice lesson with Mrs S who wishes me luck for Saturday.

8 November – Work hard and then have lunch in Ansteys with mum. Jossie Boshoff, of all people, is having her lunch there also. I go to lunch hour concert where I see Dora Sowden looking her usual gypsy-like self. Soloist on piano, Yonti Solomon is excellent, and conductor, Edgar Cree, good as usual.

Go to SABC at night. We work with Pieter de V and he wades into I. Silansky, who is furious about it.

At interval Ruth buys me a cold drink and tells me that she is beginning to get bored with singing and wonders if a change of teacher would do her any good. Then she says she knows she couldn’t possibly leave them because they would be hurt. She’s so very fond of Webster, and when he dies she’ll miss him more than she would miss Anne!

I don’t get round to telling her about ATCL but I really must on Monday for she’s going to have a lesson at 10.30 on Saturday after me, so she shall have to know.

Gill gives me my share of the fee from the Indian Eisteddfod.

9 November – Listen to Webster when I get up. He continues Pirates and he is very much in possession of his senses and is very good.

Go to guild at night and Mr R tells me he’d like to come and hear us singing the Ninth symphony. This is flattering but perhaps he’d like a comp for the show.

10 November – Go and write theory exam at Selbourne hall. I meet Svea and we go in together. Arnold F is there in all his glory and calls everyone darling and drags them to their places. Exam isn’t bad, but I think I made two mistakes. I see Bridget Anderson (Bruce Anderson’s daughter) from the SS ensemble and tall chap who sings in church choir.

Go to Mrs S’s afterwards and talk to Mrs du P. Belinda Bozzoli talks about Ruth and says she has quite a sweet voice. Belinda is applying for an American Field Scholarship. She had an American girl on AFS living with her family while she was over here.

In the SABC bulletin there is an article about Webster and his G and S programme. We have lunch and see The Lion which is very good.

Cecil Williams has been placed under house arrest. He lives all by himself in a flat in Anstey’s building.

11 November – Go to Sunday School which goes fairly well and then go with Doreen and Betty to Memorial service at Boys’ school. The boys’ band plays a lament and Mr R gives the address.

12 November – Go to SABC at night and meet Gill in animated conversation with Gerrit Bonn. She saw My Fair Lady and enjoyed it. I go to the café with her so that she can have a meal.

We work hard. Gideon Fagan, who is to conduct us, comes to listen to the Ninth Symphony and poor Johan gets very flustered.

At interval Ruth, Hester and I go for a walk and Ruth (when we pass the Drawing Room studio) takes it upon herself to relate the kissing episode we had with Webster there. Poor Hester thinks we are two naughty girls! Ruth has a speed domestic science test on Saturday morning so she’s going to singing next Tuesday instead. I tell her about my plans for the diploma and she says she’s sure I’ll get it.

In the second half we do Messiah with Johan. Ruth leaves her Latin book behind so Hester gives it to me so I will have to arrange to get it to her. I’m quite worried about the test she’s supposed to have using the book. Iris brings me home.

13 November – I phone Ruth about her Latin book but she says she’ll borrow a book from someone.

Geoffrey Parsons.

I go to singing in the afternoon. When I go up Anne answers and invites me in to listen to a friend of theirs on the radio – Geoffrey Parsons who used to be their accompanist and is now out here accompanying Erik Friedman, the violinist. Leslie Green has him to tea this afternoon. When I go in Webster is quite immersed in the broadcast but eventually sees me and says hello. The interference on the radio is rather bad and I hardly hear the chap at all – the only thing I gather is that he is an Australian and would like to go back. Webster keeps shouting to Geoffrey, “Speak up, Geoff!” When Leslie’s interview finishes they tell me that originally he had asked Webster to tea, but this was the only time Geoffrey could go. Anne shows me a picture of them with Geoffrey.

In the society page.

Webster says in teasing tones, “I suppose you want tea?” I say, “Yes please,” and he proceeds to make some. Anne has a look at my ATCL syllabus and says I must make use of my Scottish accent and sing a Scottish folk song. They pore over various books and Webster suggests a song – I don’t catch the title but he finds it most amusing and roars with cynical laughter.

I do my studies and they say that I must keep pace up in the first one, especially the demisemiquavers. He stands and counts while I sing and it goes better. He says they are most complicated.

Do Ein Schwan. He plonks himself down in a chair opposite and stares at me during the whole song and then has the cheek to say that I look a bit nervous. I tell him in dignified tones that it is the lack of accompaniment that makes me nervous.

We go through Zion and he sings along with me and then accuses me of singing a G natural where there should be a G sharp! We succeed in going through the lot without any further interruption. I say it sounds worse every time. He says I’m talking nonsense. I’m getting on with it very well. He says that everything in the Christmas Oratorio is difficult. He sang it two years ago in Kimberley and had to battle with it. He gives me a long list of the oratorios in which he has sung recently. He is going over Elijah for some reason. I say goodbye to him and he says in his ‘folksy’ voice, “Ta, ta!”

Talk to Anne at the door for a while about the Ninth Symphony and tell her about Gideon Fagan coming last night and Johan’s forced resignation. She is disgusted with this and says that she’d believe anything despicable happening in the SABC. We part on most friendly terms. Says that we must start on Zion on Saturday.

Listening to Erik Friedman at the moment and it’s nice to have a vague association with him.

14 November – Have lunch in Ansteys wit Mum and see Arnold Fulton having lunch there.

I go tothe SS studio. Gill says she’s heard our commercial recording and thinks it is quite awful. She played it to her classes as an example of bad singing! She says she’ll be glad when Johan goes. She doesn’t seem to have a good word about anyone!

We do some ear tests. I have nice lesson and Mrs S says that if I work there’s no reason why I shouldn’t do Advanced Senior in March. We start working on harmony and I shall probably do the next theory exam in June. She says I may be excused for a while on Saturday morning seeing I’m having singing lessons this month.

15 November – Go to lunch hour concert. Anton Hartman conducts Bob Borowsky and Ethné Seftel. Work in the afternoon and listen to Leslie G. I expect he’ll have Webster to tea next Tuesday. He has John Silver today.

Go to choir at night. Gill, Iris and Winkle? are there so I chat to Winkle and she tells me about her singing teacher. Johan works us hard and we don’t finish till after 10.

16 November – Listen to Webster who goes on with the Pirates. He sounds so benign and sweet – which he isn’t. He’s a big tease.

17 November – Go to a performance in the morning and play quite well. Have coffee and then go to singing.

Anne arrives, telling me that she is really exhausted producing Merry Widow in Springs. They work in Brakpan all day and then go to Spring for rehearsals and the cast turns up half an hour late. She says they’ll never go to Springs again to produce another show.

We start on scales and she’s pleased about the way I’ve managed to cover the break in my voice. I go from bottom G to top B without any effort. We do Zion and then Webster arrives. His face is bright red and he informs me he had a big night last night. I say I went out too so that’s why I’m so woolly today as well. Anne tells me that they went to two dos last night and didn’t get in till about 2.30 this morning.

He says, “I’m going to make a good hot cup of black coffee. Would you like one too?” I say I’m not quite as bad as all that but I’ll take a white cup. He asks Anne what she wants and she says, “Well, I don’t happen to be in a state where I require black coffee, thank you, darling.”

We go through Zion once again and if the last two movements are hurried up I can get through the run with enough breath.

We do exercises and I get into a bit of a fandango as to where I must breathe in one of them. Into the bargain, the keys in the piano stick and I can’t help laughing at that too!

He brings me a cup of scalding coffee and says, “I really need this or else I shan’t be able to get through today.” Anne says, “I must say, you look simply awful today. Perhaps it’s that yellow shirt you have on.”

“No, it’s the way I feel today after last night.”

“Well, the fact that you drank too much is nothing to be proud of!” says she.

I do Ein Schwan and it goes much better apart from the fact that I don’t cover the vowels sufficiently. In Zion he says I sound a bit hooty on the top notes and gives one of his amusing imitations. Do first study as well and it is not at all bad.

He continues to emote about late nights and alcohol and says that he can’t stand them any more.

He sees me to the door and says goodbye in most affable fashion. The funny thing about him is that he is at his nicest self when he has a hangover.

I go back to Mrs S and sing in the ensemble. I walk down the road with Margaret who tells me she’s not very fond of the Parktown girls. She thinks they are a bunch of little snobs.

Have lunch in Capinero and then we see Surprise Package with Noel Coward.

18 November – Dad has a dreadful pain in his leg today so we have a worrying time. I fetch prescription at chemist and there is an improvement.

19 November -Dad better today.

Go to SABC and we work hard with Johan and Peggy Haddon (who played in Drawing Room) accompanies us. Gideon Fagan proves more cheerful this week and seems quite pleased with us.

I tell Ruth that Leslie G might have Webster to tea tomorrow. It would be fun to listen to that with Anne. She has a laugh about the bad hangover.

20 November – Go to singing and Ruth answers the door telling me that they are listening to Webster on Tea with Mr Green and that Anne is feeling sick.

Gary Allighan writes about the forthcoming oratorio season

Webster talks to Leslie about Bloemfontein and the chimp, and says that the grenadilla vines in their garden are dripping with fruit at the moment, and how long he has been in South Africa.

Ruth goes after telling Anne that she’ll pay her for this month next month. Anne tells me she feels very sick and doesn’t know whether she has apricot sickness or gastric ‘flu. She has a running tummy and feels sick and miserable and can’t eat a thing. She should really be in bed but doesn’t like to leave him in the studio to cope with the piano playing as he isn’t very good at it.

We start on Zion and it goes fairly well but I feel miserable at inflicting my voice on her when she feels sick. He arrives, fresh from his Leslie Green interview and is pleased that we think it was nice. He asks in most concerned tones how she is feeling. She says she is feeling dreadful and will go to bed the minute she gets home. He asks if he should call the doctor. She says she’ll wait till tomorrow and see how she feels in the morning. He suggests a gin and tonic but she says she couldn’t look at one – he mustn’t talk nonsense.

We do the studies and I lose bottom C. He says, “What did you do with that one, dear? Swallow it?” They don’t go too badly but my feeling of concern persists.

I tell her before he arrives about Dad and his cramp on Sunday with neuritis. She says she’s troubled with a slipped disc and has dreadful pain with it and always has to soak in a hot bath for 20 minutes every morning to relieve the stiffness.

Afterwards I talk about Messiah. He says he is very friendly with Leo Quayle and he’s good. Webster is going to PE to sing in Messiah and Elijah soon and the excerpts are to be broadcast on the 16 December between 5.30 and 6.30 pm. We talk about Rudi Neitz and he says that although he’s got a great voice his range is limited and last year he sang Messiah up an octave on the low notes.

I say goodbye eventually and tell Anne that I really hope she will feel better soon. She is shivery and cold and in a very bad way. She has only had a cup of black coffee and two boiled eggs all day and her tummy feels swollen.

Anne’s programme is lovely She plays recordings from Waltz Time and Laughing Lady. The next programme is her last.

I saw a poster there advertising an Elijah in Britain – Gladys Ripley, Harold Williams and Webster.

21 November – Have lunch with Mum in Ansteys – this reminds me of Cecil Williams who has flown the country rather than endure house arrest. He’s going to the UK.

Go to SS studio. Gill is there, recovered from her misplaced vertebrae – it’s in its right place once again. She’s teaching Corrie and I look at a South African Stage Who’s Who? My two pals are featured most prominently in it with pictures – he’s wearing a white tie and evening suit. It says he was considered the greatest oratorio tenor of his generation, and talks about their appearances at the Palladium, the Royal Command performance of 1945 and their private visit to the Royal Lodge.

When Gill finishes teaching I mention all this to her and she laughs derisively, saying it’s all nonsense. She says, “He can’t sing any more.”

I inform her that he’s going to sing Messiah and Elijah in PE. She says, “Oh, no! He should give up singing and stick to teaching.” She does make me sick when she runs him down.

Have a good lesson and try to phone Anne to see how she is but no one answers. Either she is all right or else she is alone and sick.

22 November – Work hard and then go to lunch hour concert. Jill Tonkin (from Lace on Her Petticoat) is there. Anton Hartman conducts and Aubrey Rainier is the cello soloist. He plays beautifully.

Webster finishes Pirates and starts on HMS Pinafore. In this recording he is still under the influence of his hangover but he gets through without a mistake even though his speech is rather thick.

23 November – Go to SABC for an orchestral rehearsal. Gideon Fagan is a grand and sensitive conductor and everything goes really well.

At interval Ruth, Hester and I go to Campbells and have a cold drink. Ruth pays. Gé Korsten, who is singing solos in Messiah, is also there. He certainly is a good looking man.

Ruth says that Anne told her she was very bad at Latin and scripture at school and was so naughty that they asked her to leave. She learnt singing with John Tobin and used to blush throughout her lessons. Ruth says she thinks she was putting on a big act on Tuesday. I don’t really think so.

We go through the Ninth after interval. It really sounds grand. Gideon F is a real gentleman.

24 November – Get a lift to town from Mr McKenzie in his Jaguar. Go to singing in the morning. Anne arrives and is quite well again. I tell her about the Ninth and say that I thought Gé K strained his voice a lot. She says that he isn’t really a tenor – merely a high baritone – and it must take a lot out of him to do the high solo part in the Ninth.

I say that I think Graham B has a glorious voice. She tells me a story about him. At one time he was a hopeless alcoholic but through some religious organisation, he was helped back to sobriety. He was very thankful and consequently became very religious.

A few years ago he went with Webster to sing Messiah in PE and when they were all gathered in the dressing room, Graham remarked, “This is such a beautiful work – a glorification of God – I think it would be very fitting if we all said a prayer before we sing. Shall we all kneel down?”

The others, including Robert Selley, were horrified but they could do nothing else but kneel down while he prayed. The next night, the cynical performers decided not to go into the dressing room if Graham Burns was going to be there so they spent their time waiting to go on stage huddled in the cloakroom.

Robert Selley took about three years to ask Graham back. Anne thinks that Graham was stupid to force religion on to everyone. I laugh to please her, but it doesn’t seem so very silly. I admire him for giving up alcohol.

We do some scales and she gives me a new exercise – a chord and a third up to mee-ee-ray-ay-fa-a-a-a-a-. It is to cover the break. It is very good.

During the first study Webster comes in and he makes me do it again to correct the timing. I tend to drag it.

We do Zion. She says I must make the sound richer. I sing the legato exercise for him. He says I’m putting ‘hs’ in and I must get rid of them.

Ruth is waiting for her lesson when I go so we talk about the Ninth and he says, “Oh, were you working last night?”

I tell him that Gé K had a face like a beetroot and I thought he was going to burst a blood vessel. He tells me derisively that he’s not really a tenor anyway. “I used to be a very high tenor and I found that work difficult to sing – it’ll ruin him. Why, he finds it difficult to sing top G!”

I get my certificate for the singing exam today.

25 November – I hear Geoffrey Parsons accompanying Erick Friedman and he is excellent.

26 November – Don’t feel very well but manage to final rehearsal at City Hall. Gideon Fagan is excellent. I meet Ruth’s sister, Caroline and see her mother. Mr O is in bed with virus ‘flu.

27 November – Go to singing in the afternoon and I sit in the studio for about five minutes before Webster notices me. “Did you really come in with Anne?” he asks. Anne sorts out the various eccentricities connected with my lessons and he gives me a cup of tea. He tells me he has some ghastly things to cheer me up today – the pieces for my diploma.

We start on the studies for which he plays. He doesn’t play the first one too badly so I manage to sing it well and he admits this at the end of it. He plays the second one so badly that I start to laugh in the middle of it. I think he is slightly insulted and when he gets to the end, he says, “Well, it was almost right. If you can sing to that accompaniment you can sing to any accompaniment!”

Anne returns from the office after telling someone coldly on the phone that it is not enough notice to call an hour before a lesson to say that they can’t come. She is not sitting in the studio waiting for them to arrive.

I go through the exercises and songs for the diploma – Purcell and Fauré. She spent an hour in Kelly’s this morning trying to get them for me. They are particularly stupid there, according to her. Next time she’ll try Charles Manning. I recommend him for his son Howard was jolly decent when I went in for the syllabus.

Webster goes through all his oratorios to find a suitable recit and aria for me. He asks if I’d like to do Father of Heav’n with a recit following the aria. I have always thought it most beautiful since I heard Kathleen singing it.

Anne is not fond of it but I persist and so does he. He says to her, “Ah, but you must listen to Kathleen’s recording.” He always says her name in hallowed tones – it gives me a shock every time I hear it. Anne looks very black about it.

For no reason at all, she says, “For heaven’s sake, stop fidgeting and fussing, Boo. You make me quite sick!” He looks very hurt but continues to inform me that I simply must hear Kathleen’s singing of it.

I tell Webster that I hope he’ll do very well with his oratorios in PE. He says in teasing tones, “And I certainly hope you’ll do well in your concerts too, Jean!”

I laugh at the way he says this. He says that he knows Gé K will never do these solos properly tonight. “He’ll probably have to belt it all out to sing at all!”

He gives me his own copy of Judas Maccabeus to look at Father of Heav’n. She says, “Won’t you need it at all, darling?” and he replies, “No! I’ll never sing that again in this world. The only time I shall probably sing it again is in the next world!” It is a very high role so I presume he means that he can’t reach the top notes any more. Poor Webster.

I depart cheerfully with enough work to keep me going for years. I go through his score – his name is signed on the cover and he has listed his appearances on the front cover – 1933 somewhere in Wales. Imagine it – over ten years before I was born.

Dad takes me (in long white dress) to Symphony concert in City Hall. We all stand around in the foyer looking particularly wraith-like. Ruth and Hester have had their hair set. Ruth tells me that Caroline and her mother adore me. We go up to stage door entrance and march onto the stage where we see a full house before us.

Gideon Fagan conducts beautifully and with great feeling. At interval we go and sing scales in the mayoral chambers. I tell Ruth about the Graham Burns incident. She doesn’t think it funny either. Her father is much worse and has sinus trouble on top of everything else.

The Ninth symphony goes very well and our singing is excellent. Gideon has such a lovely feel of the music. The soloists are good although Gé is a little off the beat and there is the usual great applause, bouquets and everything. They bring Johan on stage and the applause is thunderous. I always leave occasions like these with red hands.

Outside, while waiting for Dad to arrive Pieter DeV comes up to me and tells me it was grand and, “U het mooi gesing!” I say, “Dankie, dankie!” and all is most convivial.

28 November – Crits of concert are faily decent. I work at ATCL pieces in morning in a slightly haphazard and gloat over Webster’s Judas.

Go to music in afternoon. Gerrit Bon told Gill that the orchestra was bad but we were fairly good. Have lesson with Mrs S and get my certificate.

Go to hear Margaret sing at Teachers’ Training College. Meet Ann, Leona and the Spargos. Choral work isn’t bad, recorder group quite painful. Margaret is sweet but very nervous.

29 November – Have lunch in Ansteys with Mum. We meet Sue Johnson from the rink with her hair cut short. She is just the same but never has time to go to the rink now that she’s at ‘varsity.

I go to lunch hour concert. Anton H conducts overture from Norma and Cecilia Wessels, a soprano of at least sixty sings. Her top notes are still good but bottom notes poor. It seems a pity she should have to go on singing when she is so old. Pieter de V is sitting with Yonti Solomon in a box.

Webster goes on with HMS Pinafore at night.

30 November – Go to SABC. Leo Quayle comes and is a real honey – he’s about 50 – very gentle and sweet and certainly gets good results from the choir. He’s South African. He tells us about conducting God Save the Queen at Covent Garden. The Scotsman from PE tells me at interval that he’d love to be singing with Robert Selley’s Festival choir this year too.

Hester tells me that Ruth came last night with her mother but they’re having a cocktail party for her sister’s engagement tonight.

Daddy fetches me. I must say that I think Leo is my favourite conductor so far.

The Booths’ film Lord Oom Piet starring Bob Courtney, Madelaine Usher and Jamie Uys is on at the Capri so I must try to see it sometime next week.

RUTH ORMOND (1945 – 1964)

After Ruth’s death my life became more somber and earnest. I was no longer a giddy naïve teenager any longer. I had to grow up fast and face life as an adult. I have had little contact with the Ormonds over the years since Ruth’s death, but I will always remember Ruth as one of my dearest friends.

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My friend, Ruth Ormond, 1963 

Ruth Ormond was a pupil of Anne and Webster’s and they told me about her when I went to audition to join the SABC choir at the end of 1961 as she had joined the choir a few months earlier. She was still at school, about a year and a half younger than me and she was also Scottish. We soon became great friends with our common interest in singing and our admiration and affection for Anne and Webster.

By early 1964, Ruth had left Parktown Girls’ High School, passed the matriculation examination and was preparing to go to Cape Town University to do a BA (Music) degree. I completed my ATCL practical singing diploma in October of 1963 and had started teaching my first pupils in Anne and Webster’s studio on the day they were not teaching there themselves. I put my teaching skills to further practical use by giving Ruth some harmony lessons so that she would be up to standard when she started her course in Cape Town. I knew I would miss her very much when she went to ‘Varsity, but she would be back for the July holidays and we had promised to write to each other.
Just before she left for Cape Town, I spent a happy day at her home in Parkwood. We swam in the kidney-shaped pool for the last time and later her mother took us for lunch to a pleasant tea garden in Bryanston which was quite rural in those days. The midday symphony concert was on the English Service of the SABC and I was impressed at Mrs Ormond’s ability to identify every composition correctly before the title was announced on the radio. I could see where Ruth had inherited her love of music.
Ruth settled down in the University residence of Baxter Hall. She was a good correspondent and told me about her singing lessons with Madame Adelaide Armhold. Madame Armhold wanted Ruth to concentrate on breathing exercises for the next six months before she sang any songs.
In April, I passed my LTCL exam and obtained honours in the Higher Local Piano exam.
On Friday morning, 1 May 1964, I received a letter from Ruth. She had remained in Cape Town for the short Easter holidays and had celebrated her nineteenth birthday there on 6 April. The Easter holiday was short so it had hardly seemed worth her returning to Jo’burg when she had only just settled in at Baxter Hall. In her letter she told me, “Before you can cough it’ll be July and I’ll see you again.”
That evening I was going to sing at a concert with the Sylvia Sullivan Choristers. I was waiting for my lift when the phone rang. It was Ruth’s older sister Caroline to tell me the awful and unbelievable news that Ruth had suffered a cerebral haemorrhage that morning and had died within an hour of developing an excruciating headache.
Caroline Ormond.
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Ruth had always been fit and healthy. She had never missed a day at school. Stunned, I phoned Anne and Webster’s number and spoke to Webster. He was devastated with the news and could not talk for long. It was too late to put off the lift, so my parents had to make my excuses for I certainly was not in a fit state to sing at a concert that night. A short while later Anne phoned and she spent a long time on the phone talking to me about Ruth. We were deeply saddened at the loss of a very dear person. She had been like a sister to me.
I saw her mother several times after Ruth’s death. She gave me some of Ruth’s music, and the photograph that appears at the top of this post. It was taken shortly before Ruth went to Cape Town. Her parents established a memorial prize in her name at Cape Town University. Each year it is awarded to the most promising first year singing student.
After Ruth’s death my life became more somber and earnest. I was no longer a giddy naïve teenager any longer. I had to grow up fast and face life as an adult. I have had little contact with the Ormonds over the years since Ruth’s death, but I will always remember Ruth as one of my dearest friends.
Jean Collen 22 April 2017.