DIARIES continued – SEPTEMBER 1963.

28 September – I meet Anne at Edinburgh Court. She has a soothing effect on me. I
sing well for Guy McG and he drools over her. Questions are all fine, as is the sight- singing. He seems pleased. Anne and I go to Macy’s where she buys a carpet sweeper and she says she was delighted with my singing and thinks I should do very well. She says I am turning out to be another Mabel Fenney! She runs me back to the studio in her
blue Anglia and is a regular love.

Webster comes and says he hears I sang fabulously and do I want to pay his 1/- bet right now!

3 September – Meet Gill Viljoen in town and we go skating. The British champion skater, Daphne Walker is there with two little girls.

Daphne Walker (1946)

We lunch at the SABC with Doreen Taylor. I talk to Arthur (tuba player) and see Edgar Cree, Gerrit Bonn and Thea Mullins’ sister, Wendy (Kim Shippey’s secretary). I go to singing and Webster gives me tea and tells me Anne is feeling a bit miserable and has probably caught a chill. She remarks on my hair style and even he says it looks beautiful. They say the lipstick they gave me looks lovely. Sing Father of Heav’n and do it well. Anne is impressed with my skates! I meet Doreen Craig after her trip to Europe.

6 September – Go into studio. Anne comes in looking too beautiful for words. She tells me about her arthritis which keeps her in constant agony. We decide that everyone has something to worry them.

10 September – Ear tests with Edith Sanders. I learn that Guy McG is the examiner for my Associate diploma. I go to the studio and Anne answers the door as Webster is on the phone with Mum. He comes into the kitchen and gives me a message. When Heather leaves Anne asks me if I should like to help at the theatrical garden party on 5 October with Ruth. They are on the committee – should be fun. Anne says I look more beautiful every week. They emote about all the music history I have to learn for diploma exam.

12 September – Go into studio and work very hard as diploma is looming. Anne arrives looking too lovely for words in a pretty summer dress. We run down The King and I together and she says I’m the only person to whom she can say it because S. Africans would say she was acting big! Linda Walters arrives and I go out and meet Webster on the ground floor. He is very sweet to me. Ah, what a life this is!

13 September – Go into studio. Desmond Wright calls. Lucille and Anne arrive and Webster gives me some tea and complains about the heat. I say if I don’t pass, he knows what I’ll do, and he says if I do, he’ll take the keys away! I do vast amount of scales and Anne tells met to open my mouth wider, and he says, “And a very pretty mouth it is too!”

I phone Ruth at night and we decide to go to the theatrical garden party. There is a disgusting article by Jon Sylvester in the Star about Webster. I phone the Star and complain for I feel really bitter about it!

The Star 13 September 1963. Jon Sylvester – radio critic

14 September – We go to see The Blue Lamp with a lovely Jack Warner of 15 years ago – very similar to studio picture.

16 September – Ruth finishes preliminary exams. I do ear tests with Edith then go up to the studio. Webster is still in one piece after the horrible slating by Jon Silvester in the paper. They tell me all about Mabel Fenney marrying again, Anne’s anaemia, and how well Lucille sang in her exam. He makes tea for us and we make arrangements about lessons next week. We go to the Victoria hotel and dine with Uncle John and Aunt Nellie McKee up from Cape Town. I drink wine!

18 September – Go to studio. Webster phones in the afternoon, calling me Jeannie, and asks me to accompany Selwyn and Dennis at an audition in Ansteys building at the home of Gwen Clark on Saturday. I agree, naturally enough. He tells me about Elijah which he is singing in Pietermaritzburg. I wish him luck and tell him I know he’ll sing beautifully! He says, “Bless you, dear,” when we say goodbye.

19 September – Go to studio and have dozens of phone calls including one from Brian Morris. Linda arrives before Anne and then when she comes, I have to show her the broken window of which she knows nothing. She says she hopes I don’t mind playing for Dennis and Selwyn on Saturday. Anne will probably be early in tomorrow after visit to the doctor.

20 September – Work in studio. When Anne arrives, she tells me she hasn’t got anaemia but still feels horrid. We have tea and she tells me that Webster refused to phone her from Michaelhouse to tell her how he is or to enquire about the blood test she had. She is very hurt. We do scales for the entire lesson. She gives me a lecture on my inferiority complex. I phone Dennis’s mother to arrange to meet them tomorrow. I wash the dishes before I leave. Lucille is doing The Merry Widow in Afrikaans in Kempton Park.

21 September – Accompany Dennis and Selwyn at Gwen Clark’s penthouse in Ansteys. Taubie Kushlik and Ockert Botha are there. The boys sing well. We have a lovely tea after the audition (for Amahl and the Night Visitors) is over. I go up to the studio afterwards and Anne is still there. She makes us coffee and tells me she loathes Gwen Clark and all the pseudo-theatrical types in Johannesburg. She says, “You must think I’m a bitch!” but I agree with her. She says that when they first arrived all the society types were inviting them to the races and other events and were not impressed that they were not rolling in money and had to work for a living. I stay in the studio until 2.00pm. Lucille’s father arrives to talk to Anne about Lucille.

22 September – Phone Ruth who tells me about her exams and how Anne raved about me yesterday during her lesson.

23 September – Ear tests. Edith plays me her pieces and I sing mine to her. Go to the studio and Anne is on the phone talking to Lucille’s father. She tells me she’s sick to death of him. She asks me to make tea and tells me about a visit to the Capri where she had the ghastly experience of seeing Dickie Loader and the Blue Jeans. She says Webster did phone when he arrived at Michaelhouse after all. Webster phones the studio to say he’s home again. I wash the dishes.

24 September – Webster answers door and calls me, “Darling!” He says the trip was fun but tiring when I ask how he is keeping. Heather sings a ghastly wrong note and he says, “See what I mean!” We grimace at each other for ages – lovely! Anne tells me that Lucille just passed her exam. The examiner was not at all impressed with her voice.

27 September – Anne comes and we do the French song and when Webster arrives, he puts everything on tape. He says I shouldn’t take any pills – just a glass of water! Linda W arrives and tells me she thinks I sing most beautifully. Webster jokes with me and then says, “Darling, I wish you all the best of luck.” Ruth phones when I get home and I say I’ll see her at the garden party.

28 September – I meet Anne at Edinburgh Court. She has a soothing effect on me. I sing well for Guy McG and he drools over her. Questions are all fine, as is the sight- singing. He seems pleased. Anne and I go to Macy’s where she buys a carpet sweeper and she says she was delighted with my singing and thinks I should do very well. She says I am turning out to be another Mabel Fenney! She runs me back to the studio in her blue Anglia and is a regular love.

Webster comes and says he hears I sang fabulously and do I want to pay his 1/- bet right now!

29 September – Go to Mrs Sullivan. Margaret arrives in a state after her exam. Mrs S tells me that Webster embarrasses her when he makes her conduct the proceedings for their nursery school record. He told her that they are very proud of me. All the orphans at Nazareth House were allowed to stay up to listen to his programme last week and were very impressed. Listen to Webster’s Great Voices and he plays his Sound an Alarm which is marvellous!

Nursery School sing-along.

29 September – Go to studio to get the sheet music for Rendezvous. Webster answers – still with bad leg. Gertie is there with Anne and they all congratulate me on Grade VII piano exam 85%. Tell them about the record and then depart. I feel sad about Webster in many ways.

30 September – Go to see Kimberley Jim. Despite Jim Reeves being the star of the film it is very poor indeed. Webster has only a tiny part as the innkeeper but plays it well, complete with monocle.

Kimberley Jim with Jim Reeves, Clive Parnell, Arthur Swemmer , Webster and others.

O

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES: AUGUST 1963

When Anne comes back to the studio we do Love’s Sickness and she tells me that Webster said today that my sight reading is phenomenal now! I have an hour today and really enjoy myself with her.

1 August –Heather arrives and then Webster who is in a lovely mood. We have Yvonne but Margriet doesn’t come so we have a chat about Leslie Green and Desmond Wright.I tell him I’ll soon be 20 and what have I done with my life? He says I’ll have done a great deal if I get the ATCL. Thea, Graham and Freddie come and he teases me through all of them and grins at me amiably We come home in Hillman and he asks me to phone Anne as he has forgotten to do so. I’m going in again on Tuesday.

2 August – Go to studio and work. I get the result for my harmony exam – honours! I leave for an hour while Lucille has her lesson. When I come back we go through Father of Heav’n and decide to make more use of the “or” vowel. She says she still doesn’t feel too wonderful. At half-past she goes to ABC for shoes and I make tea for us. When Anne comes back to the studio we do Love’s Sickness and she tells me that Webster said today that my sight reading is phenomenal now! I have an hour today and really enjoy myself with her.

3 August – Go into Mrs S. I get 88% for my harmony which is not bad, considering how ill I was that day. Webster has an excellent programme tonight – Marian Anderson, Robert Merrill and themselves singing the lovely Nocturne duet.

5 August – Go to SABC at night. I feel dizzy and have to go and sit in the foyer. Hester comes with me and we have a pleasant chat. All the boys from the choir ask me how I am keeping.

6 August – Lunch in Ansteys with Mum. Go up to studio and Webster arrives with a, “Hello, darling.” I tell him over tea about the dizzy turn and the theory exam. He’s pleased about the latter. I say that I didn’t think I would pass. He says, “I’ll smack your bottom if you talk like that again!” We have Linda Walters for a lesson and then I have my own lesson in which I manage to sing fairly well. He does slap my bottom after that and tells me I’m improving! Thea, Winnie and a girl called Lou-Anne come and the last-mentioned gives us a lift to the garage. In the car we talk about films and Mary Harrison. I phone Anne to let her know that he is on the way home as he forgot to do so before he left and she is as sweet as always.

8 August – Go to studio and work. Robert Lang phones to say he’ll send up a costume for Anne for tomorrow night. Heather arrives so we have a chat. Anne comes and I give her Bobby’s message and she is grateful. She congratulates me on my exam result and says Webster was full of it when he came home on Tuesday.

9 August – Go into the studio and accompany for the last time. Lucille arrives first so she sings a bit. He wishes her a happy birthday when he arrives. She sings well with her boyfriend and I have my lesson after she leaves and we do Dream of Gerontius which is very interesting. Gertie and Charlotte come next and then we are finished. He tells me in the car that they want to get a studio with a house attached and give up the present one which is rather disconcerting news.

Webster, Anne and Bill Brewer

10 August – Hilda returns from St Helena. Have a reactionary day. I do ear tests at Mrs S and see Hitchcock’s The Birds in the afternoon.

11 August – Phone Ruth in the afternoon. Hilda is definitely back for she saw her when she called at their house to get a record. They also told her of their horrible Northern Suburbs studio idea. It’ll break my heart if it comes off as I would never be able to go all that way for lessons.

12 August – I go and play at Afrikaans Eisteddfod for Connie (Mrs S’s pupil). She sings better than I expected her to sing and calls me “Tannie”!

Learner’s licence!

13 August – Go and get learner’s licence today and then lunch in Capeniro with Mum. I meet Flom (Frances de Vries Robbé) in the library. Go to singing. This time it’s Linda who has a dizzy turn so Webster walks with her to the station so that she can catch the train to Vereeniging. Anne and I discuss her attack and then I sing – not too badly for a change. When he comes back he says, “Where’s that voice coming from?” He makes me tea after my lesson when Thea is having her lesson. He says, “I haven’t asked how you are yet?” I feel rather miserable – perhaps I’m just jealous because they’re both back again in partnership and don’t need me any more.

14 August – I go into the studio and Linda’s mother phones to thank Webster for walking her to the station. I go to Mrs S for an hour’s lesson and get my accompaniment fee. We go to Afrikaans eisteddfod at night to hear Lucille singing the duet with her boyfriend. The Booths haven’t arrived and Lucille is in a frightful state. She says I will be able to play if they don’t come. They do – the car broke down off Jan Smuts Avenue so Dad takes Webster out to collect it. Anne sits behind me and we have a chat. Lucille and boyfriend sing well but they don’t win anything. Anne argues with Webster. We were going to take them home but their car starts.

15 August – Go to studio and work. Joy Anderson phones. When Anne comes in we discuss events of last night and have a laugh. They spoke to the adjudicator afterwards – she had seen them on TV. Heather is there for her lesson. I meet Webster on the way down and he says he’s still trying to recover from the drama of last night. He didn’t get to sleep until 2 in the morning.

16 August – Selwyn’s mother phones to say that he can’t come so I phone Anne to let her know. Anne arrives and tells me that the Anglia broke down. Lucille arrives with a sore throat. Julie, the girl before me is going to be in Sound of Music and auditioned for a Jamie Uys film today. Anne is furious that she wasn’t asked to audition. We do the Cycle of Life which isn’t too bad. He sings it with me and tells me to use my whole body when I sing it. I am there for a long time and wish them luck for their concert tomorrow.

17 August – Skip going to Mrs S and go to studio instead. What a terrible state of affairs when I’m happier in a place with no one there than to be with other people who are less amenable than the place. I love it! We have lunch in Galaxy and see How the West Was Won at the Cinerama. Listen to Webster at night and he plays Great South African Voices.

20 August – Go skating with Gill in the morning and enjoy being the best skater there for a change! Go to singing and Webster remarks on my skates and concludes that I went with my (non-existent) boyfriend. Anne tells me the Ficksburg concert was a great success and Desmond Wright played well. Webster and Anne argue all the time which is embarrassing! She goes to John Orrs and he tells me that they haven’t yet decided about giving up the studio.

21 August – Go to Mrs S and do ear tests with Edith. I work in the Booth studio. I listen to Webster’s ballad programme. Their duet, Love’s Garden of Roses is lovely.

22 August – Go to studio early. Anne arrives and tells me she wishes the other pupils would work as hard as I do. She calls me sweetie. Ruth phones and suggests I meet her after her lesson on my birthday and we can go for coffee together afterwards. She says they’ll be able to wish me a happy birthday too.

23 August – Lucille arrives early and we “goo” over the beautiful photographs. I meet Webster in the street and he is sweet to me. He gives me tea when I get back. We go over the things for the exam and they are absolutely delighted with it all. He tells me that my voice is getting much bigger and better.

24 August –Go into studio to collect glasses. The men working there greet me like an old friend – I suppose they think I’m their daughter or niece!

27 August – I go skating with Gill again and we have lunch in town. I have super singing lesson. Webster makes me tea and calls me darling and Anne admires my new hairstyle. Into the bargain I manage to sing very well. He teases me and throws a paper pellet at me!

28 August – Go to studio and have doleful conversation with estate agent! Obviously they are still thinking about having a studio attached to the house they intend to buy.

29 August –Work in studio and lunch with Mum. Anne comes and tells me that the Estate Agent should phone but doesn’t say why!

30 August – Leslie Green phones and is most affable. Lucille and Anne come and I tell them to help themselves to Danish pastries which I have brought in to celebrate my birthday. When I return Webster come into the kitchen and potters over me. When I go into the studio there is a birthday gift on the piano for me. I am simply delighted and thank them very much indeed. I sing my exam songs and discuss who the examiner will be. Webster says he’s sure it’ll be Guy McG for the diploma. They wish me a very happy day tomorrow.

31 August – I go to studio to fetch Ruth. Webster answers door and wishes me a happy birthday once again. Anne comes in and sings, “Happy birthday” to me and kisses me all over the place and Ruth does too! Ruth and I go for coffee and Webster says, “Not too much whisky!” In the afternoon we see The King and I with a Durban cast. At night Webster plays In Native Worth and Love Calling Me Home. A lovely birthday – but a teenager no longer!

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES: JUNE 1963

She also tells me that Hilda is going to visit her family in St Helena soon and will be away for six and a half weeks so I shall probably be accompanying for Webster again on alternate days. Apparently, he is threatening a cold today but will have to persevere with the Yeomen. She says he’d be very hurt if I didn’t go and say hello backstage on Friday night. I sing exceptionally well today and she is thrilled.

1 June – Go into Mrs S and work with Margaret and Elaine. I have a look at the picture of the juvenile lead (Colonel Fairfax) in the OK.

Webster as Colonel Fairfax

3 June – Go to SABC at night and Chris Lamprecht takes us. Ruth and I meet at interval and have a good chat. She says that they were charming to her on Saturday – lucky her! We’ll see each other at the theory exam on Saturday.

4 June – Work. Go to singing and Anne is there by herself. Webster is exhausted with rehearsing The Yeomen. The musical director, Desmond Wright picked him out for singing flat in the quartet! I don’t believe it! He hardly even retaliated! We work very hard and I send my love to him and wish him luck for the opening night. She wishes me luck for my theory exam on Saturday.

5 June – Go to studio and work hard. I lunch in Ansteys with Mum. A Mr Haagen comes to the studio in the afternoon to give Jossie Boshoff a lesson. I have a lesson with Mrs S and work with Elaine. Gill, Corrie and everyone think that JB is the limit!

6 June – Webster was obviously the hit of the evening for both critics say that although his singing is not all it once was, his great sense of timing, his experience of G&S in D’Oyly Carte, and his perfect diction carried the show through admirably.

Lewis Sowden – Rand Daily Mail.

7 June – Work. Go to singing and meet Roselle’s sister on the bus. Anne is in the studio by herself again. She has her hair in curls on top of her head (set for the first night). She tells me over tea that he stole the show. We work hard and she is very pleased. Selwyn comes after me and I wash the dishes before I leave. I meet Brian McDade on the bus coming home.

Oliver Walker – the Yeomen of the Guard crit.

8 June – Go to write theory exam and Ruth is there writing one too. Afterwards we have a cup of coffee in De Beers and she tells me that Anne raved about my concentration yesterday. I go up to Mrs S and deteriorate from then on. I faint 3 times while singing in the choir and my father has to come in to town to fetch me. I am ill for the rest of the day and Mrs S phones to see how I’m keeping.

9 June – Dora Sowden gives Webster a super crit in the Sunday Times.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 6-june-1963-the-yeomen-of-the-guard-jods-alexander-theatre-rdm-2.jpg

10 June – Work. Go to SABC at night and Ruth tells me that she might be going to Cape Town music school next year. We work hard with Chris Lamprecht.

11 June – Work. Go to singing in the afternoon and tell Anne about the fainting attack on Saturday morning. She is very sympathetic and tells me that she had much the same trouble herself, especially when she was on tour. She also tells me that Hilda is going to visit her family in St Helena soon and will be away for six and a half weeks so I shall probably be accompanying for Webster again on alternate days. Apparently, he is threatening a cold today but will have to persevere with the Yeomen. She says he’d be very hurt if I didn’t go and say hello backstage on Friday night. I sing exceptionally well today and she is thrilled. I wash our teacups after my lesson and this pleases her.

12 June – Go to SS studios and work at ear tests with Edith Sanders. Lunch in Ansteys with Mum and have my piano lesson in the afternoon. I meet Colleen McM on the bus – she is back working in an office and feeling miserable.

13 June – Go to SS studios and work with Edith Sanders again. I have lunch in the restaurant opposite Show Service and see Leon Gluckman there.

14 June – Anne phones in the morning with a king-size attack of the ‘flu. Evidently Webster is almost as bad. I promise to phone Ruth for her and do so in the afternoon to put her off. We go to Yeomen of the Guard at night and it is really gorgeous. Webster sings beautifully and (as I tell him afterwards) makes a charming young man. I go back to see Webster in his dressing room and say how much I enjoyed it. He is terribly pleased. He has a large glass of whisky sitting on the table. He says his temperature is down and Anne is feeling much better tonight. He is a real honey and as unassuming as always. I say, “Ta, ta,” and leave him to dress and get home to bed to nurse his ‘flu.

The Yeomen of the Guard

15 June – Go into the SS studio and rave about the Yeomen. Mrs S is very derisive about it. I work with Margaret and Elaine, sing in the choir and chat to Binky. Come home with Margaret. See Fast Lady (Stanley Black). Listen to Great Voices and he plays a woman of 69 singing. He says, “I wonder if I’ll sound as good as that when I’m 69!”

17 June – Anne phones me in the morning and says she is still sick. We talk for an hour and I think it cheers her up. She runs down Julietta Stanners-B for the peppermint green costume she produced for Webster in the last act. He’s still sick but managing to crawl on stage every night. She says she’ll let me know on Friday about the arrangements for the next six weeks, and certainly, I may have the studio key once more. I go to SABC at night and chat to Ruth. We have rehearsal for Friday and Anton Hartman comes into the studio to talk to us.

18 June – Go to SS studio and work with Edith. Have lunch in Ansteys and then see Sparrows Can’t Sing – an excellent and unusual film. Clive Parnell sits in front of me. Ruth phones to ask me to go to the SABC. Chris L is a pig to everyone in general and Ruth in particular -ugh!

19 June – Go to SS studio and practise. I lunch in Ansteys, have piano lesson and work with Elaine. I phone Anne at night and she still feels revolting even though she’s up. She’s not even sure if she’ll come in on Friday. She says that if she does, she wants Webster to come in with her to offset things as it is too much for her to cope with everyone on her own.

20 June – I go to final rehearsal for SABC in the evening. For a change, Chris L is very affable. Ruth is going for her singing lesson at home on Wednesday but they are not making up the two lessons she missed. She’s cross.

21 June – I go to singing in the afternoon and Anne is back in the studio once more. Lucille, Anne and I have tea together and then I have my lesson. Father of Heav’n goes fairly well. Anne asks me to go in on Wednesday to work for Webster and also next Friday. I’m going to fetch the keys tomorrow. We sing in the Light music concert at the City Hall conducted by Jos Kleiber and it goes well. Ruth remarks that Jos Kleiber is very energetic! Anton H and Edgar Cree congratulate us on our performance.

22 June – Phone early in the morning and speak to Webster to remind Anne about the key. He is sweet to me. I go to Mrs S and work with Margaret and Elaine and then go up to Anne’s to get the keys. I say hello to Robin Gordon and “Clara Butt”! I return to sing in Mrs S’s choir and come home with Margaret. I listen to Webster at night and he plays a super duet by him and Dennis Noble.

24 June – Go into town and buy some clothes. Practise with Margaret. Lunch with Mum in Capeniro. I go home on the bus with Colleen McM who tells me about Norma D’s husband and other theatrical gossip. Anne phones in the afternoon and asks me to go in for an hour tomorrow. Go to SABC at night. Ruth saw the Yeomen but didn’t go backstage to see Webster. She saw Anne in the audience but didn’t talk to her. She says she thought his voice was rather awful yet I thought he sang well. Work at Creation.

25 June – Go to singing for an hour and Webster is back in slightly disgruntled frame of mind. Work fearfully hard at Father of Heav’n but he is sparing with his praise. I sing the Landon Ronald song cycle and Anne raves about my singing and moans at him for being so grim. I have to play for him tomorrow at 3 o’clock. I hope he is in a better mood tomorrow!

26 June – Go into Booth’s studio and practise. Webster arrives in the afternoon and we have Heather Coxon first. I make tea for us and then we have Colleen, and after her our two demons. When Graham has his lesson Webster shines singing all his bass arias. Webster brings me home and talks about the Yeomen and how tiring it was to change into three different sets of tights at every performance!

27 June – Go to studio and work in the lovely calm atmosphere. Yvonne Marais’s mother phones to say she’s sick so I phone Anne to let her know so that she can come in later. She is grateful. Go to ghastly lunch hour concert featuring Jossie B, then come home and wash hair.

28 June – Go to studio and get a lift into town with Mr McKenzie. Webster comes in the afternoon moaning about the rain. Lucille arrives with her boyfriend and they sing a duet together. She’s there for an hour and then we have tea. I have my lesson and sing unusually well and he is pleased for a change. Selwyn comes and then we have an hour’s break before Betsy Oosthuizen and Graham. Webster brings me home in the Hillman, cursing the rain and the cold engine.

29 June – Go to town with Dad and we see Raising the Wind again – I love that film. Webster’s programme is super.

30 June – Have fairly quiet Sunday. Webster phones unexpectedly at night for no apparent reason except to chat with me. He tells me that he doesn’t think I owe them anything for July because of all the work I’m doing with him. We talk about various pupils, Brian Morris and Drummond Bell. He says he’ll go in tomorrow on his own as he can probably manage by himself as everyone is so awful and don’t need a proper accompanist!


EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES: MAY 1963

He is going to Lord Lurgan’s for dinner tonight and tells me all about him. He makes a right carry on about getting himself “tarted up” for the occasion. Tomorrow is probably my last accompanying day. I am sad.

1 May – I wallow in “advanced depression” today. How will I manage after these two halcyon weeks are over? Have lunch with mum and then go to the studio and sing in that hallowed atmosphere. Go to Mrs S, chat to Elaine and teach Corrie Bakker.

2 May – Go to the studio, have lunch there and go to the lunch hour concert. I meet Webster in town and he asks me to put money in the meter for him which I do while he panics and goes to the AA to renew his subscription. He tells me he really enjoyed himself on Tuesday night. I’m so pleased. Colleen sings well but the next two are not so good. He sings duets with the last pupil. He is going to Lord Lurgan’s for dinner tonight and tells me all about him. He makes a right carry on about getting himself “tarted up” for the occasion. Tomorrow is probably my last accompanying day. I am sad.

3 May – Webster phones in the morning to tell me that Lucille isn’t coming this afternoon – I am glad! I go into the studio and entertain Mr Knowles-Lewis (who won the hymn competition last year) until Webster arrives. We have Norma and Selwyn. Anne phones to say that she is home safely and quite exhausted. . The others come and go and then all the heaven of two lovely weeks is finished. Webster thanks me and says he loved having me play for him and if Anne doesn’t feel up to coming in tomorrow he’ll phone me. He takes me home in his car for the very last time. He says quite pensively that, “I’ll miss my Sylvia Pass next week.” We part until Tuesday when I will return to being an ordinary pupil once again.

4 May – I feel sad that my two wonderful weeks are over. I go into Mrs S and have a theory lesson. The choir arrives and we are stooges for two people endeavouring to pass the class teachers’ exam. I have a chat with the TCL secretary and see dear old Uncle Mac for the last time.

I phone Ruth in the afternoon and she says Webster raved and raved about me during her lesson this morning, saying how good I was at accompanying and how the experience has boosted my ego and how he loved having dinner with me and my parents. She says Anne regarded him very coldly when he spoke so fulsomely about me! I phone Anne in the afternoon and we talk for a whole hour about everything under the sun. She tells me that they would have loved to retire to a smallholding in Devon but there wasn’t enough money to do so. I don’t have the impression that she is annoyed with me in any way. I listen to Webster at night.

7 May – Webster phones to remind me to fill in my form for the Trinity diploma exam which I have already done. Go to singing and Anne is looking a little tired. She says she didn’t like all the self-centred South African people she met on her trip around the country with Leslie Green. She says she will be a step-grandmother soon as Webster’s son’s wife is going to have a baby in December. We work at the unaccompanied folk song. Webster tells me that Uncle Mac is going to be doing the exams in September. They had him to dinner on Sunday.

8 May – Work at harmony and go to town and lunch in Ansteys with Mum. Go to SS studios and have a harmony lesson. Mummy phones in the middle of it to say that Webster phoned and wants me to audition at the Brooke on Saturday morning. There is a picture of them in the paper. Phone Anne at night and she says that BB is interested in hearing me but as this is a private audition I mustn’t breathe a word about it to anybody. She says she felt she had to do something for me after our chat on Saturday.

10 May – Go to dentist and have lunch with Mum and then a gruelling harmony lesson. Go to singing and Webster gives me tea. Anne and I go over Gypsy Moon for the audition. Anne says, “You’re a beautiful girl and if you were my daughter I’d be very proud of you.” Go over Father of Heav’n and Webster says he’s playing Kath’s record of it tomorrow night. Anne wishes me a lot of luck and is pleased to hear that I enjoyed their autobiography. She tells me to phone tomorrow night.

11 May – Go for audition at the Brooke Theatre and give Colleen a lift there. We go in and feel nervous. Colleen sings well and should get a part. I sing fairly well and Brian Brooke says I could have a small part which will give me some experience. I go to Mrs S afterwards and sing in ensemble. We see A Touch of Mink. I phone Anne at night and she is pleased and thinks I should take up his offer. I listen to Webster’s Great Voices – he plays Kath and Harry Lauder and talks about Bel Canto.

13 May – Work hard and go to SABC at night. See John Steenkamp and Mrs S. Ruth is there and we work hard with Chris Lamprecht.

Great Voices 13 May 1963

14 May – Work hard. Go to singing in the afternoon. Little boy is having a lesson before me. Anne comes into the kitchen on the verge of tears to moan to me about the child. Webster is more tolerant. She tells me to watch out for Brian Brooke as he’s a wolf – the younger, the better! Sing Massenet and go through the unaccompanied song with Webster which goes well. Norma comes after me looking heavenly and theatrical.

15 May – Have lunch in Ansteys with Mum and we meet Mrs McDonald-Rouse and Mrs Moody. Former tells me to give her love to Webster and Anne. Go to Mrs S and have a long lesson. I chat to Elaine (newly recovered from mumps).

16 May – Lunch with Mum and then go to hear Adelaide Newman and Hans Mommer. Anne arrives rather late and first gives an audition to girl, Heather. I go through all my songs and when Webster arrives he records Father of Heav’n. I feel miserable about it. He makes tea and I wash up afterwards.

18 May – Go to Brooke theatre in the morning and he and Bill Walker audition a few more people. In the end there are 8 of us trying for 4 parts as nuns. Bill Walker’s wife is my rival so I can only hope for the best. BB is quite sweet and calls me darling. Go back to Mrs S afterwards and chat to Suzanne Bilski. I get Betty home on the bus. We see Days of Wine and Roses in the afternoon. I meet Ila Silanski there.

21 May – Work. Go to singing in the afternoon. We go through Love’s Sickness and Webster makes tea. Evidently Colleen didn’t get any part at all for BB was disappointed with her speaking voice and advised her to take speech lessons. They are not pleased about it. I tell them of my experience with Bill Walker’s wife! More or less at the last minute, Webster is going to take the part of Colonel Fairfax in The Yeomen of the Guard for JODS as they do not think the man currently doing the role is up to it. Should be fun. I do the French song well and am there for ages.

22 May – Work and lunch in Ansteys with Mum. I go to Mrs S for harmony lesson and chat with Gill. I do ear tests with Edith Sanders and we decide to go to the studio regularly in the mornings to do ear tests in preparation for the forthcoming diploma exams. Edith has perfect pitch!

24 May – Go to singing. Anne is there by herself as Webster is rehearsing madly for The Yeomen so I make tea for us all – Lucille is there too, having had a lesson before me. Anne tells me that she and Webster had indigestion after eating a sheep’s heart casserole! We decide to do some Landon Ronald songs for a change – she sings them for me in her heavenly voice. They are too gorgeous for words.

25 May – Go to Mrs S and then to Brooke theatre where some of the people don’t turn up. BB tells me to come back again next week but I’m not sure if I shall. We see Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Webster plays duets by Dennis Noble and himself and a song by Bennie Veenemans, the boy soprano. He played that record to me in the studio when I was playing for him.

26 May – Go to church and copy and transpose Anne’s Landon Ronald songs.

27 May – Work. Go to SABC and we have Mr Tyler once more. We work at English folk and traditional songs.

28 May – Go to dentist, lunch hour concert and library. I see Michael Newell. Go to singing and Webster is back again. Norma arrives too early and upsets things. We do the Landon Ronald songs and he is delighted with the transposition. They are disgusted about Brian Brooke.

29 May – Go into SS studio early and Elaine and I do some theory together. Mrs S comes in and tells us that Stan’s mother has died. I lunch with Mum in Ansteys.

30 May – Go to SS studios again and work hard. Lunch with Mum and come home on the bus with Margaret. She tells me that Peter Lynsky (Jack Point in the Yeomen) is a lecturer at Teachers’ Training College.

31 May – Republic Day. We see To Kill a Mocking Bird with Gregory Peck. It is very good indeed.

ACCOMPANYING FOR WEBSTER AGAIN.

Later that week we went to see The Yeomen at the old Reps Theatre in Braamfontein, now named the Alexander Theatre after Muriel Alexander. We were very impressed by Webster’s performance as the somewhat elderly Colonel Fairfax, who wins Elsie Maynard and breaks poor Jack Point’s heart in the process. Anne told me that Webster would be very hurt if I didn’t go backstage to see him afterwards, so I did. He was fighting off the ‘flu and did not look well, although from the auditorium nobody would have realised that he was ill.

This article is mainly from my book, available at: Lulu.com

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is sweethearts-of-song-plus.jpg

ccbd2-2011-04-02_130206

I had played for Webster for two weeks while Anne was away in April and assumed that I would no longer be needed now that she had returned. Anne and Webster insisted that I keep the spare keys to the studio so that I could work there when they were not teaching. I was preparing for the ATCL singing examination in October and Grade 8 piano the following year, so I found the studio, high above the hustle and bustle of downtown Johannesburg, the ideal place to work and practise. In return, I answered queries, took messages on the phone, and answered the door to visitors.

Towards the end of May the Johannesburg Operatic Society (JODS) asked Webster to take over the role of Colonel Fairfax in their production of The Yeomen of the Guard at short notice. This was an incongruously youthful role for someone aged sixty-one, but he acquitted himself as well as he always did and lifted the production with his dynamic stage presence and undiminished vocal gifts. The show opened to mixed reviews, but all the critics had great praise for Webster. Dora Sowden headed her review in one of the Sunday papers:”Webster towers”. He had certainly taken on a remarkable feat as the juvenile lead at sixty-one.

6 June 1963 The Yeomen of the Guard, JODs Alexander Theatre RDM (2)

Later that week we went to see The Yeomen at the old Reps Theatre in Braamfontein, now named the Alexander Theatre after Muriel Alexander. We were very impressed by Webster’s performance as the somewhat elderly Colonel Fairfax, who wins Elsie Maynard and breaks poor Jack Point’s heart in the process. Anne told me that Webster would be very hurt if I didn’t go backstage to see him afterwards, so I did. He was fighting off the ‘flu and did not look well, although from the auditorium nobody would have realised that he was ill.

1963 Yeomen of the Guard 1963-06

In June, while Webster was still involved with The Yeomen, Anne told me that their housekeeper, Hilda, who was from the island of St Helena, was planning a trip home for six and a half weeks. Anne and Webster had decided to do alternate days in the studio while she was away as they would have to do the housework and cooking themselves. Would I care to accompany for Webster again? I did not have to think twice about it before agreeing to do so.

After Hilda left on her trip I settled into accompanying for Webster once again. Anne came in on alternate teaching days so occasionally I had a lesson with her. One Monday afternoon Ruth phoned me at the studio to ask whether I would like to have dinner with her family before going to the SABC choir meeting afterwards. Webster gladly agreed to take me to Parkwood instead of Kensington, as it was on his direct route home. We drove past Zoo Lake and he pointed out his bowling club, saying it was the loveliest setting in the world in which to play bowls. He had played golf in England, but could not afford to do so in South Africa.

I had a pleasant dinner with the Ormonds, and then Mr Ormond transported us to the meeting in his big black Rover which had been bought from the proceeds of the £40,000 Mrs Ormond had won in the Rhodesian Sweep the year before. There was a party after the meeting and Ruth and I chatted to Anton Hartman, the chief orchestral conductor at the SABC. Toward the end of June, we sang in the Light Music Festival where we did a number of unaccompanied American, German and Afrikaans folk songs. The Dutch conductor Jos Cleber conducted the orchestra, with Gert Potgieter and Bob Borowsky as soloists. Ruth was working for matric exams, and I for my singing diploma so we decided to take leave of absence from the choir, with the idea of returning when our respective examinations were behind us.

One evening, after we finished work at the studio, Webster took me with him to see one of The Three Petersen Brothers in connection with going into partnership with them in a new film company. Webster introduced me as: “This is Miss Campbell. She plays for me.” The Petersen brother concerned looked mystified. Webster had to explain to him exactly what it was I played! Although they had a long discussion, nothing came of the film company as far as Webster was concerned.

In July Anne had a very bad cold which lingered on for a long time, and Webster had a funny turn one evening. He lost his vision, and his head was spinning even when he was lying down. Anne told me that she wanted him to see the doctor about the state of his general health and his general grumpiness, but he refused to do so. She admitted that he hated teaching everyone apart from his few “pets”. She was very worried about him.

From the way he treated Lucille at her lessons, I gathered that she was one of the “pets”. She was having her twenty-first birthday party and had invited them to her party, but they had another engagement and could not attend. For some reason I felt quite jealous of her and was glad that they weren’t going to her party!

A few days later Webster told me that Anne’s cold was no better. He wanted her to see the doctor about it but instead she had insisted on going to Leslie Green’s draughty house for dinner. She was not pleased when he told her she would be better off staying in bed and trying to get rid of her cold.

One evening I was washing the dishes in the kitchen before we left the studio for the night, when I overheard him telling Gertie, our last pupil of the day, for whom I had just played the accompaniment of Softly Awakes my Heart from Samson and Delilah, what a wonderful musician I was at only nineteen. Praise indeed.

When Hilda returned from her St Helena holiday, the Booths went to sing at a concert in the country with Desmond Wright, who had conducted The Yeomen, as their accompanist. Webster told me that the only reason he had not asked me to play for them at this concert was because he thought that another woman on the stage would draw the audience’s attention away from Anne.

They made a great fuss of my twentieth birthday at the end of August, with Anne singing Happy Birthday to me, and both of them kissing me to wish me a happy day. There was a present of lipstick and matching nail varnish waiting for me on top of the piano when I went in for my lesson. I was very touched that they had remembered my birthday. Ruth had her lesson after mine, so I waited for her, as we were going out for coffee after her lesson.

Webster said, “Don’t drink too much whisky,” as we left. It was another lovely day.

They had acquired a protégé, a talented boy soprano called Robin Lister, whom they were coaching in preparation for his first LP recording. Robin had an exceptional voice, resembling a mature female soprano rather than the typical Ernest Lough boy soprano. He had been having lessons with a teacher in Benoni, but left her to study with Anne and Webster. Before his voice broke he made several recordings supervised by Anne and Webster. He became very well known and sang at a number of concerts. After his voice broke, he continued his lessons with the Booths, changing from singing to piano. The last I heard was that he became an engineer and had immigrated to Australia.

Webster phoned me before he left for Michaelhouse School in Natal to sing Elijah to ask whether I would play at an audition for two of their boy sopranos for Amahl and the Night Visitors the following Saturday. I agreed to do so and wished him well for the Elijah performance. “I know you’ll sing beautifully,” I added, and he replied, “Bless you, dear”.

On Saturday morning the two boys, Denis Andrews and Selwyn Lotzof, together with their parents and I arrived at Gwen Clark’s sumptuous penthouse at the top of Anstey’s Building, where the audition was to be held. The boys acquitted themselves well and we were given a lovely tea afterwards, but neither was chosen to sing the part of Amahl. Instead they decided to import a boy from Britain. Webster said that Ruth could have done the part, if suitably disguised, as her voice was like a boy’s, with absolutely no vibrato.

I went back to the studio after the audition to let Anne know how the boys had fared. She had had a tiring morning teaching all by herself, as Webster was at Michaelhouse to sing in a performance of Elijah, conducted by Barry Smith, the musical director at Michaelhouse at the time. He and Anne had not parted on good terms when he left for Michaelhouse so she had been rather surprised that he phoned her when he arrived there.

Anne insisted on making us coffee before she left. She spoke of Jo’burg “high” society, who had gone out of its way to cultivate them when they first arrived in South Africa as international stars, but soon dropped them when they realised that they were not rolling in money and were obliged to work for a living and were not able to go with them to race meetings or the like.

My diploma was pending and I spent a lot of time practising ear tests at Sylvia Sullivan’s studio with Edith Sanders, who was working for a piano diploma. She had perfect pitch, so I admired her sense of pitch which made ear tests very easy and she admired my competent sight-reading, which had improved remarkably since the early days of accompanying for Webster.

My Associate diploma, once again with Guy McGrath as examiner and Anne as accompanist, went well in all departments. After the exam, I went with Anne in her pale blue Anglia to Macey’s, a store in the city, where she bought a new carpet sweeper. On the way there she told me that she thought I was going to be another Mabel Fenney. By this time Mabel had passed her final exam at the Höchschule in Berlin. She was divorced from her first husband, Eric Fenney, who had financed her stay in Berlin, and had recently married Maurice Perkin in England.

About a week after the exam Webster phoned me at the studio to ask me to look up something about one of his “great voices” for his radio programme in my musical dictionary. He had seen the heavy tome and always termed it as my Bible.

I met my mother for lunch in Anstey’s that day and was pleased to hear that I had passed the Associate exam with 77%.

When I went to the studio in the afternoon, Webster answered the door. We had our usual shilling bet on passing or failing the exam.


“I owe you a shilling”, I said, handing it to him.


“What’s this for?” he asked as I went into the kitchen-cum-waiting room.


“I’ve passed my exam!” I announced as I sat down.


“Congratulations, darling,” he cried, bending down to kiss me.

We told Anne the good news when I went into the studio for my lesson.
“Did you know about it when I phoned you this morning?” Webster asked.


Anne asked sharply, ‘Why did you phone Jean?”


“I wanted her to look up something in her Bible for me,” he replied mildly.


“Whatever for? We have four Bibles at home!” she retorted, regarding us both with suspicion.


“It’s not a Bible really. It’s a music dictionary,” he explained.

She obviously did not believe a word he told her. I felt embarrassed to suddenly be the object of unfounded suspicions when we had always got on so well together. The episode put a damper on my exam success.

Jean Collen Updated 6 November 2019.