EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – OCTOBER 1962

We discuss picture of Anne and Webster which appeared in the Star and she says she thought Webster looked “mouldy”! Anne looks too gorgeous for words. It was taken at the wedding of Margaret Inglis and Robert Langford in Brian Brooke’s garden. We have a good laugh about Mabel Fenney’s fascination with Webster, although we understand her feelings about him!

1 October – Go up to the studio for report cards and Webster answers looking quite well. He greets me with, “I don’t know what Ruth is going to say when she hears but you’ve beaten her.” I say, “But she sang nicely – much better than I did.” “The examiner didn’t seem to think so!” he says with a hollow laugh. Anne brings in the cards. I have 76% and Ruth has 72%. We have exactly the same for our exercises which I think is rather unfair considering how well Ruth sang them.

Go to SABC and when Ruth arrives I give her the report and she is thankful to have passed. Iris and Ila Silansky talk to us at interval and I get rather carried away defending Webster (whom Ila and Iris don’t like for some unknown reason).

There is a rumour that Johan is leaving the SABC. I see the Ormonds’ new black Rover.

2 October – I work hard in the morning and then Mum and I go to Ansteys for lunch. I’m at the studio first. Webster and Anne arrive, looking very smart. I tell them of my desire to do Higher Local and skip Senior. Webster says, “I see no reason why you shouldn’t.” I add that I want to do it in April and they are still quite complacent and pleased about the idea.

They look out all the Bach and Handel arias and try to decide which one to do. We swither over Father of Heav’n but they decide it is too long. “When I played the record Kathleen made of it, I had to cut it,” Webster tells me. We decide on an aria from the Christmas Oratorio by Bach called Prepare Thyself Zion. It is very nice and he sings it for me very softly and sweetly. There is another aria in the work that is beautiful and I must look at it at home when I’m copying out the Zion one – Slumber Beloved. The book belonged to Mabel Fenney (who taught at our school. Webster says he’d like me to do the same aria as she did for my final exam.

They tell me to get The Swan by Grieg. “I can tell you before we start that any song by Granville Bantock would be difficult, so we won’t do that one,” says he flatly.

They tell me that another of their pupils has just started on the exam I have finished and is doing Polly Oliver. He told her that he had another pupil who would probably be delighted to throw the old music at her!

We talk about Mrs Fenney and Anne tells me that she worked very hard indeed and used to come into the studio before they arrived and practised like mad. She adds that the tragedy of it was that she fell madly in love with Webster and showered him with so much attention that the poor darling was very embarrassed. I roar with laughter and look at him and he looks rather uncomfortable and says he must confess he felt rather flattered. Anne says that towards the end it was rather awful – not that she blamed her for she had such an awful husband! Everyone falls for Webster. “She was a bit mad,” says Anne. I think I’m a bit mad myself to be doing this exam. We have a good laugh and I depart feeling quite elated.

3 October – Work hard in the morning copying from the Christmas Oratorio. After lunch, I say goodbye to Mum and toddle into town to purchase The Swan and the new vocal studies.

Go up to studio and Gill is there in the midst of practising for a last minute accordion duet she is to play at the SA Championships. Miss Margaret Cameron comes up and takes a fancy to me and shows me her book of kitchen tea verses with illustrations by Heather McDonald-Rouse. Apparently she has known her for years. Shealso did the script for Mrs McD-R’s concert on Saturday night in Malvern.

Gill departs to practise with her partner – a chap called Lynn from Durban – “Who would just suit you,” she says. She tells me that Johan has been given the sack. I am so sorry.

I am left alone in the studio and Arnold Fulton phones to inquire about speech exams – he seems to haunt me and I’m sure I’m haunting him.

I come home and try over songs and studies – all most complicated and heaven knows why I have decided to torture myself once more.

4 October – Go to SABC at night. Ruth doesn’t come. Johan works us hard and plays the organ beautifully – I’m so sorry he’s leaving. I really can’t understand that he would have been “given the sack”!

5 October – Work. Dad takes Mum and me for a run to Pretoria which is fun despite the rain.

I listen to recorded version of G and S from last night. Patience is very good. I think Dennis (the boy whose mother made apple tart for Anne, Webster and me) sings Danny Boy on Stars of Tomorrow.

6 October – Go to town and music library. I get three very dry, highly scientific music books. I have to take one back on Monday as it is a work of reference.

Meet Gill who is delighted to have come second in the accordion duet competition. Lynn bought her a brooch to say thank you for playing with him.

Have lunch in Capinero with Mum and Dad and then we see Black Tights, a ballet affair with Cyd Charisse and Moira Shearer. Meet Iris there with her family.

8 October – Go into town with Mum. We have lunch in Ansteys and then go to hear organ recital given by Harry Stanton in the city hall. Very few attend but he plays wonderfully all the same and we enjoy it.

Webster, Petrina Fry and Anne at the wedding of Margaret Inglis and Robert Langford.

At night go to SABC – we work madly on Ninth Symphony and Messiah. Talk to Ruth who is feeling very miserable because she has broken up with Alan as he was getting a bit too serious. She had a lesson on Saturday and is going to do the next exam – Senior. We discuss picture of Anne and Webster which appeared in the Star and she says she thought Webster looked “mouldy”! Anne looks too gorgeous for words. It was taken at the wedding of Margaret Inglis and Robert Langford in Brian Brooke’s garden. We have a good laugh about Mabel Fenney’s fascination with Webster, although we understand her feelings about him!

9 October – I manage to get the diploma syllabus from Mannings. The contents frighten me to death but I’m determined to see it through.

Go up to studio and Webster is there by himself. He tells me that Anne has gone shopping and should have been back hours ago – he is quite worried about her.

He is in the middle of mending a plug which has lost its screw and he seems to find this a most complicated procedure. He curses it in no dignified terms. I ask him how he enjoyed Margaret Inglis’ wedding and he says, “Oh, it was jolly! We had such a delightful time. It was a very small affair.”

He makes me a cup of tea and we take it over to the piano. He starts to get very agitated about Anne and says, “I always worry about her when she doesn’t get back in time. She could easily have been run down by a car.” Knowing Anne, I doubt whether that would be at all likely.

We start on the HL studies and exercises with him playing the piano with sausage fingers. They go quite well, but he says I must learn to cut out the intrusive ‘h’ – it’s bad. Remember what the examiner said in the report.

The studies are fairly complicated and he says that he thinks I should turn the acciacatura into an appoggiatura seeing the note is dotted – I hope he’s right. He suddenly turns round to me and asks whether I read music better with my eyes or my fingers. I say, “My fingers!” He says “I can’t read music with my fingers – they’re too stiff now and I don’t practise much on the piano, but I don’t find it at all difficult to sing at sight!”

He goes to phone the garage because their car is there. Anne arrives in in the middle of the call and tells me she has had to spend forty minutes in Kelly’s – they’re so stupid.

We go through studies and The Swan and he says I must sing it in German. He asks about solo parts in Ninth Symphony. I say that I think Gé Korsten and Graham Burns are going to sing the tenor and bass roles – he looks quite crestfallen at this.

A woman they both detest arrives and Webster gives her a cup of tea. Anne talks to me about the heat and I say that there will probably be a storm later. There always seems to be a storm on the evening of her programme. I tell her that we all enjoy it very much. She is pleased and tells me that although it is a great success the SABC is taking it off at Christmas. I say that it’s about the most enjoyable programme on the radio and it’s a shame to have it taken off so quickly. Needless to say, we part on very friendly terms.

Listen to Anne at night and she is quite wonderful – conjures up London Palladium memories with Tommy Trinder, and them singing So Deep is the Night.

Plays Lock Up Your Daughters – a mistake – and My Fair Lady. She tells us about Rex Harrison almost becoming her brother-in-law. He worked in the Liverpool Repertory company, lived near them and took a fancy to her sister Phyllis. Perhaps it’s just as well that he didn’t marry her sister, judging by his amorous adventures.

I felt sorry for Webster today. He looked so old and tired and acted in a doddery manner, merely a skeleton of the former man. He has to go to Bloemfontein to direct The Pirates of Penzance soon so perhaps that will put some life into him.

11 October – Go to Mrs S in the afternoon. She had bad weather when she was away in Cape Town. We go through the piles of theory I have completed while she was away. I have to go on Saturday for ear tests.

Listen to Webster on G and S at night – he repeats about half of last week’s programme but still manages to get through the first act of Patience after three weeks at it, after much twisting of the tongue over “The Dragoon guards.”

13 October – Go to SS studio in morning. Margaret is there so I go through some of her ear tests with her.

We lunch in Capinero and Mum brings me a letter from Suzanne Pitchford my old Winchester Castle pal whom I haven’t heard from for almost three years. She’s working in Barclays Bank and seems very happy in Brighton and has a steady boyfriend with whom she intends to “rest her case”.

We see Sergeants Three which I enjoy and hear Only a Rose at night sung by my two pals.

14 October – Go to Sunday School and practise for anniversary.

We go to Diamonds in afternoon and pass Anne’s car outside the SABC. Webster is going to Bloemfontein soon so perhaps he is recording his G and S programme today.

15 October – Go to SABC at night and Ruth tells me that Webster went to Bloemfontein to produce Pirates of Penzance on Friday. He might have said goodbye! We pretend to mope about it and Gill asks why I’m sad. Ruth says, “Because her lover is away!” Have a laugh.

At interval, Ruth says she much prefers Webster to Anne. She has a laugh when I imitate him talking about Margaret Inglis’ wedding.

16 October – Go to the studio in the afternoon and Anne is there in a crimson dress looking hot and flustered. We have tea and moan about the heat. She says it is so hot and dry that she could cry at the slightest provocation.

We start on scales and I sing them to “mee” – I tell her I sound like a sheep. I manage to reach top C. I do exercises and studies and decide that they are quite nauseating. She tells me that Mabel Fenney got her diploma in Berlin and is now going to London to carry on studying either with Keith Faulkner or at the Royal Academy. Her husband is still here, stuck outside of PE managing a cheap hotel. She has been away for over two years and the only way he manages to support her is by gambling on the stock exchange. She flew over here last year and the first thing she did was to drive straight to their house and sat with Webster (who had ‘flu at the time) for practically the whole day. She says it was really very painful for everyone and the more Webster snubbed her, the more she made up to him. He practically ignored her in the end but nothing put her off.

She says that Ruth is having a swimming pool – have I seen it yet? That is the first I’ve heard of it. We discuss the Rover and she says that they’re being quite sensible with their money and not buying another house.

17 October – I work in the morning and then have lunch with Mum in Ansteys. We buy a gorgeous hat afterwards.

Go to SS studio where Gill tells me that Tufty is thinking of following Johan when he goes overseas. I have a good lesson and then have tea with Miss Cameron and Mrs S.

18 October Go to SABC at night and possibly due to the horrors of Latin or a compelling desire to listen to G and S, Ruth doesn’t come.

Roger O’Hogan (choirmaster at St Mary’s, Yeoville) takes us, and is excellent. He was one of the judges in the recent hymn competition. I talk to Tufty and Gill but they’re not as much fun as Ruth.

19 October – I listen to a recorded version of G and S. Webster finishes Patience at last and says that next week he has something interesting for the listeners but he imagines some eyebrows will be raised at it. If he’s going to start playing jazzed up G and S I shall die.

Have lunch with Mum and then go to Piccadilly to see Raising the Wind, a British comedy about music students with James R. Justice, Kenneth Williams and Liz Fraser. It is a wonderful film. How I’d adore to go to a London music college.

20 October – Go to SS studios and work with Margaret and then sing in ensemble. Margaret tells us corny jokes just as she used to do at school.

Go to see Roman Holiday in the afternoon.

22 October – Go to SABC. Pieter de Vaal takes us. Ruth tells me that her singing is growing harsh owing to her mother forcing her to sing high notes. She was talking to Anne and saying how depressed she felt and Anne said, “Well, never mind. You’re not the only one. I get depressed with all these pupils. I can’t stand any of them. There’s only four I like and that’s you, Jean, Lucille and someone else.” (she couldn’t remember the name). Ruth told her that she was only including our names to be polite and Anne replied, “No, darling. I really mean it.” Well, that is something!

23 October – Go to the studio in the afternoon and Anne is there by herself in a shocking pink hat. She makes tea and phones about the car – they’ve bought a new Anglia and it’s giving them a lot of trouble. It has to be ready for next Wednesday because she’s driving down to Bloemfontein to fetch Webster.

We have tea and she is very depressed. “I’ve never felt so unhappy in all my life. I hate this city and the whole country. The people are so inconsiderate and rude here and I loathe it. I’ve hated it from the very first but now here, by myself, I hate it more than ever. If I had a family it might be all right but for a woman all by herself, it’s awful.” I feel very sorry for her.

We start on Ein Schwan and it goes fairly well. We go through it a few times and it improves. She says that Ruth’s voice is tending on the harsh side, probably owing to the Ninth symphony (Probably owing to her mother more likely!) She’s terribly depressed with the weather and Alan. I say – at Ruth’s bidding from last night – that she was much cheerier now. Anne says, “Oh, how sweet. I’m very fond of her indeed.”

She tells me that a shop in Edinburgh sent her a parcel of white heather and she had to pay 20 cents on it because the intimation from the post office never arrived. She says heather tends to get very messy.

We work on the Bach aria and take down Mabel’s breath marks. She tells me that Mabel had wonderful breath control. They had a letter from her the other day and it was quite sensible. “Whether it’s because she’s found a new boyfriend or not, I don’t know, but it was a normal letter, like you or I would write!”

We work at the aria and Anne says, “Mum’ll have to work at the accompaniment of that soon!” We do study and she says that it is really excellent and I have memorised it well for it is very difficult indeed.

There is a picture of Anne in the paper in connection with Music for Romance, and Webster sings Love, Could I Only Tell Thee on the radio. Her programme is wonderful. She plays Blossom Time with recordings by Richard Tauber and says she went to see the film with the “young man of the moment after a lovers’ quarrel”.

Plays Annie, Get Your Gun and talks of attending the London first night. Goes on to Merrie England and tells of the production which took place in the grounds of Luton Hoo with a chorus of 600 including the Luton Girls’ Choir and a seating capacity for thousands. She plays his recording of The English Rose, and The Night Was Made for Love, which he made in 1935 with George Melachrino in the orchestra playing the clarinet. He had a cold when he made it.

I’ll bet they will go back to England the moment he gets his post-war credits, and good luck to them!

24 October – In the morning Mum and I go to get registered as aliens which, as someone remarked, is rather like going to prison. We have lunch in Ansteys to cheer us up and this is nice.

Go to SS studio and talk to Gill who runs down Mrs S and raves about Gerrit Bonn, whom she calls by his Christian name now. She does some ear tests with me. I have a good lesson but I have a cold coming on – my third this year. I ask Gill to excuse me from choir tomorrow night if I don’t manage to get there.

25 October – Stay in bed in the morning with ghastly cold – feel stiff, cold, achy and miserable. In the afternoon I phone Ruth to tell her that I can’t go tonight and we talk for half an hour.

She says Anne is going to Bloemfontein so she’s going to miss a lesson as there are 5 weeks in the month. We talk of her picture being in the paper and she tells me about the scrapbook she has full of press-cuttings. I relate a story of my own scrapbooks. She says that some girls at her school don’t like them and one said she heard them sing at the Wanderers and though they were dreadful. Ruth says she was so cross that she nearly slapped the girl in question. We decide that they are lucky to have at least two people who’ll stick up for them, come hell or high water. She tells me jokingly that with Webster being away my resistance is low and that explains my cold. Her mother met Diane Todd (who starred in My Fair Lady and thought she was common.

Listen to Webster at night and he does give us a surprise by playing a version of Mikado recorded for American TV and produced by Martyn Green, with Stan Holloway as Pooh-Bah and Groucho Marx as Ko-Ko. Next week he’s playing Pirates of Penzance as he is “having the pleasure of producing it in the charming new Bloemfontein Civic Theatre.”

27 October – Go to SS studio. Elaine and I spend time doing technical exercises and after tea, I play ear tests for everyone.

28 October – Go to Sunday school and we have our last practice before the anniversary. One little girl tells me that she knows I take singing lessons because they heard me singing when I played the piano and heard how beautifully I could sing!

David Cross tells me that I’ve been nominated to stand for literary CCD minute secretary. I don’t commit myself to anything.

In the paper, Gary A says that G and S is finishing at the end of the year and will be replaced with Webster presenting a programme called Great Voices. Gary A thinks it will run even longer than G and S.

Lord Oom Piet!
Lord Oom Piet

29 October Go to SABC. We rehearse with Pieter de V. At interval I am introduced by Ruth to Hester, the new girl who sits next to her. She informs us that she pays £1-10-0 a month for singing lessons with a Mrs du Preez in Roodepoort. Ruth remarks patronisingly that when she improves she can always go into town and learn with someone great!

30 October – Anne phones early in the morning and tells me that “something has come up” and she can’t possibly go into the studio at all today, but could I come next Monday at 3.30 to make up for it. I could. She says that Ruth told her I wasn’t keeping very well. I say, no, I’m not – next Monday will be better. She says she hopes I’ll be better. Degenerate into a state of illness and nausea. Mum has to come home. Spend day in sheer torture.

31 October – Ruth phones me at night to worry me further. The Performing Arts Council is holding auditions on Monday evening for singers. She’d like to audition – would I? I don’t commit myself. Evidently she had a grand lesson this afternoon and got in at 3.50. Anne had already phoned her mother to see what the matter was. Anyway she had a charming time having a little tea party with Anne and singing intermittently. Evidently Anne is missing Webster in the worst way and says she loathes teaching without him and if he goes away again she feels like refusing to teach. His first night is on Saturday and they are coming back on Sunday. She told Anne to send Webster all her love!