EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES (1960 – AUGUST 1963)

30 April 1963 In the afternoon he goes to sleep for a while and then plays a tape of his religious songs for me and makes me cry – they are so beautiful. We have one last pupil and then he comes home to dinner with us. He has two drinks and is so sweet to me and my parents. He keeps Shandy on his knee and calls her, “my girlfriend.” He tells us lots of theatrical stories and is absolutely charming.
Shandy – “my girlfriend”!
My mother says, as he is leaving, “Thank you for looking after Jean,” and he gives me a fond glance and replies, “I think it’s Jean who’s looking after me.” He gives a short hoot of farewell as he drives over the Juno Street hill on his way home. What a heavenly day.

Extracts from my Teenage Diaries.
https://www.lulu.com/duettists

I have published each month of these diaries individually on this website but now I have published the entire book as a pdf file, dating from 1960 until my twentieth birthday on 31 August 1963. The book is substantially illustrated and contains tales of the period, the many musical, broadcasting and theatrical personalities frequenting Johannesburg at that time.

It also tells of my own very innocent life in those days. As I was going through the diaries I wondered what had happened to so many people I knew in those days. Sadly, many of them are dead now, and others have probably left South Africa. I would be delighted to hear from some of my lost friends from those far-off days. Many people are still fresh in my mind, while others, like Elsa and Pam, I do not remember at all.

I am not sure whether this book will be of any interest to anyone at all, but it is now available in my Book Store on Lulu, along with a number of other books – some paperback, others epub and pdf, all reasonably priced. Have a look.

Jean Collen

March 2019.

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.

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!

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – SEPTEMBER 1962

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

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

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

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

Sylvia Sullivan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I say, “How nice. Where?”

“In Stars of Tomorrow.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – JULY 1962

I get rather a shock because Webster does not do the programme this evening. They say that unfortunately he is indisposed, so Paddy O’Byrne reads from his script. I feel like howling, honestly I do! It sounds absolutely ridiculous but it would be futile if I could never hear or see him again. I’m shocked with myself for saying this but I’m afraid it’s true. I cannot help myself.

1 July – Go to Sunday School in the morning. Play for them but little boys are too much for me to handle! I get the play script from Gail and stay to church. Mr R very good.

2 July – Go to choir in the evening. I go up to 2c with Anna Marie and we see Hugh Rouse reading newscast. He won’t be doing that for much longer, I’m afraid.

We rehearse quite hard. Ruth is away and Gill is not there so I talk to Scots couple and a girl who is doing the same TC exam as me in August. We have a pleasant time – it is nice to get to know others in the choir for Ruth and I have a tendency to live in a little world or our own. Iris gives me a lift home.

3 July – I work extremely hard today and enjoy it. I hear JB Priestley talking about Ryder Haggard. He has a lovely, soothing voice.

Adjudicating in Bulawayo

At night we all listen to Anne’s new programme – Music for Romance. I’m afraid the summing up of this would be tried and found wanting. She spoke nicely of course in a sophisticated and deep drawl but she didn’t play one of their records. When I first met her I thought her such a pet – unaffected, charming. She has changed.

4 July – I lunch with Mum in the Capinero and then I meet Gill who is going to collect her clarinet from Gerrit Bonn at the SABC. I go with her and say hello to Johan and Gerrit B. I wait in the foyer while she collects the clarinet and am fed peppermints by two girls who are waiting to go to the Radio Record Club.

I go to Mrs S’s studio with Gill (complete with clarinet) and she demonstrates it to me but not much sound comes out yet!

We do ear tests which go well and then I sight-sing – I do this far better than Gill. She is fairly impressed.

Rita, Mrs S and I have coffee and then I have a nice lesson with Mrs S in which she asks me to join her choir, the Sylvia Sullivan Choristers, which rehearses on Saturdays at noon. Should be fun. She is pleased with my work and I feel quite elated. She plays a record of the Chopin Mazurka I am working on.

There is a picture of Webster in the Rhodesian paper just after his illness and he looks really awful.

He is going to be in a film about a Boer who inherits an English title called Lord Oom Piet.

I go to first play rehearsal at night and feel that I don’t do badly at all. My North country accent is a fair treat. Fun!

5 July – Have lunch with mum again and then go to lunch hour concert which is crowded out. I see Roselle reclining in a box, Jill Harry, and the lady who sits next to Ruth at choir. Quite a few children are there and they make a lot of noise. Gideon Fagan conducts and Walter Mony is the soloist. He is very good but naturally is angry at the noise – I don’t blame him!

Listen to Webster at night. He continues The Yeomen and gives us Martyn Green. Unfortunately Webster’s voice is very croaky.

6 July – Go to studio and Anne answers the door looking really awful and I feel sorry for her. She tells me that Webster is very seriously ill indeed and is now in hospital.

On the fourth day of his trip to Bulawayo, he collapsed and the doctors thought he had pneumonia because he couldn’t breathe. He managed to return home and was examined by their doctor here who was so worried about him that he sent for a specialist. He took blood tests and decided that he had developed a fever. It was too expensive for him to be treated at home so they put him into the fever hospital with a temperature of 103 degrees. She isn’t allowed to see him and today someone from the municipality rang up and asked if she was the wife of the “suspected typhoid case.” She says he can’t have typhoid fever but they’ll have to wait a week before they have the results of the tests.

When I got home I look up typhoid fever in a medical book. Within seven days red spots develop so maybe he does have it. Also, the heart valves have been affected. Poor, poor Webster. I am so very sorry for him and I pray that he will be well.

She makes us tea and I help and say (to cheer her up) that I liked her programme. She says she thought she sounded rather dull and slow but she’s rectified this in the second one. Let’s hope so!

My exercises (due to shock maybe?) go out of tune and she says it may be the result of my out-of-tune piano because I have a good ear. We go through them again and they get a little better – but not much! She says I must go through them bar by bar at home to get the tune firmly imprinted in my mind.

Sweet Polly Oliver is quite good – a little dull perhaps – but good. Mayday Carol is also better and My Mother is technically perfect but needs a little more light and shade. The studies go very well and she says, “I see you’ve been doing what your Uncle Boo told you!” She asks to borrow the music to practise them if she’s going to be my accompanist at the exam. I’ve to collect them on Tuesday evening before choir. Also, I have to go a bit later at 4.30 for the next two weeks because the little boy is going on holiday.

I say I hope Webster will feel a bit better and that she’ll get good news of him. She puts on a face of studied tragedy. I’m so sorry for him and I do want him to get well. To think that only two months ago – almost to the day – he was so happy doing Drawing Room and kissing Ruth and me.

Go to guild at night and we have the best evening for a long time. At fellowship I pray in round of prayer – my first ever public prayer. I pray for the sick but my heart was praying for Webster. We also pray for the poor Sharpe girls whose father died of a heart attack on Wednesday.

We have a games evening and I play the piano. All very jolly and good fun.

7 July – Go to rehearsal early – 8.30am and we work quite hard. Peter Spargo brings me home for tape recorder and we record hymn for communion which goes quite well.

Sylvia Sullivan with great-niece.

I go into Mrs S’s studio to sing in ensemble. Most of the girls are from Parktown Girls’ High. Mrs S makes me take the altos and then she comes in to helps us. She says she hopes to get a broadcast for us.

I have lunch with parents in Galaxy and we see Susan Slade with Connie Francis who is very good. All most enjoyable.

8 July – Go to Sunday School and play for them. Church is conducted by Mr Huth.

I listen to Leslie Green, Die Goeie Ou Tyd, Time to Remember and Life with the Lyons. Gary A is “bitterly disappointed with Music for Romance”. Says that the public want to hear her own recorded stage appearances. Good for Gary. I agree.

9 July – Develop another cold so as today is Family Day (alias The Queen’s Birthday) I nurse it – grue, ghastly etc!

10 July – Work and nurse cold in the morning. I phone Johan’s secretary to apologise for not attending choir tonight.

I go into town to buy tissues and go up to the studio to collect music. Anne answers and, lo and behold, she has left it on top of the piano at home – she’s so sorry! What can she say? Will it be all right on Friday. I expect so.

Webster has a normal temperature now and if he’s all right by Saturday they may let him out of hospital. As yet, they don’t know what’s the matter with him but I expect if his temperature is normal he must be quite well. I say, “I’m so glad,” – perhaps a little too fervently, but it is the truth.

She is all apologies for not bringing the music but it doesn’t really matter because I really wanted to know about Webster. Thank God he is better.

11 July – Work in the morning and then go into town. I meet Eleanor – Ruth’s enemy – on the bus. She is affable and most la-de-da and talks about everything but Ruth. I rather think she used to be quite nauseated with Ruth and me drooling over Anne and Webster all the time!

I have lunch in Ansteys with Mum and it is quite like old times. The second trumpeter is still there drooling over his roast chicken and green peas.

I go up to Mrs S’s and do ear tests with Elaine, Rita and Gill. Latter tells me that next week we are recording the commercial record unaccompanied. All goes well. We have coffee and then I have my lesson in which I do scales and a Czerny technical exercise which (I think) I sight-read well. Have to go and “perform” on Saturday immediately after play rehearsal – how ghastly!

Go to rehearsal at night – I don’t know my words very well – must really learn them. We practise with our recording. Peter S brings me home and also fetched me. He is a very easy chap to talk to but oh, so learned!

The record Net Maar ‘n Roos is on sale in Ansteys so evidently it couldn’t have been terribly popular.

12 July – Work very hard and listen to Leslie Green – recording in Trafalgar Square – talks of pigeons, rain, London bobbies and buses and makes me feel quite nostalgic about it all.

Am now in bed waiting for G and S. It is a simply glorious programme. He finishes The Yeomen and plays a record by “my dear old friend, Winifred Lawson. Winnie made this in 1921.”

He then plays one of Sullivan’s part songs, The Long Day Closes – a record made after the funeral of Tommy Handley by eight of his singing friends – the most famous singers in Britain at that time – Norman Allin, Parry Jones, Trefor Jones and of course, “myself”. The proceeds went to the Tommy Handley Memorial fund. Good for them.

He finishes with his own recording of Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes seeing he’s starting to play the Gondoliers next week. It is very beautiful indeed and I enjoy it. Tonight was one of the loveliest programmes he’s done for ages. I’m so happy he’s better.

13 July – I go up to studio and Anne is there listening to Leslie Green broadcasting from London. I say I listened yesterday and felt quite nostalgic hearing his broadcast from Trafalgar Square and him talking about the pigeons. She says they had a letter from him yesterday and he has absolutely fallen in love with London. He’s very pro-British – both his parents were from Yorkshire and had broad accents.

She says that since Webster was taken ill she has felt more home-sick than ever. She hates South Africa and simply can’t settle here. “Maybe if I went back to Britain for a holiday that would settle me but I just can’t settle here now!”

I say that my mother is just the same and she says that the people here are very ill-mannered. She has to put the car into the garage in Plein Street and people are ready to run her down and bump into her. She has reached the point where she stops her car and gives them a mouthful! She says, “Webster was always there to help me but now there’s no one.”

Webster is getting out of hospital on Monday but the membranes of his heart are severely damaged and next week he has to stay in bed and have a cardiograph every day and then he’ll have to rest up for two or three weeks. She went to see him through a glass and could only wave at him but he was able to write her a letter on Tuesday.

My singing goes quite well today – best for a long time. We do studies and they are better for leaving them alone for a bit. Bedfordshire Carol is still a bit out of tune but she says that if I “think flat” on the D it should come right. I do this and it improves. My Mother and Polly Oliver are better because of vast practice. She says I must practise octaves and come down on all vowels to achieve evenness. She praises (sincerely) the tone of my voice and I feel elated.

She says Ruth sent her a postcard and she feels so sorry for her still being at school – I don’t! I envy her. We decide that after this exam we’ll burn the music.

I have a nice long lesson today as Bill Perry doesn’t turn up. It is just like old times. I feel elated and light as air but a little sad for Anne being so homesick and poor Webster still being ill.

Anne has been under a terrible strain running the studio, worrying about Webster and feeling homesick. If I had such a darling husband as him I’d feel pretty awful too.

14 July – I go to Mrs S’s studio. I play my pieces to Elaine and she plays hers to me. We work a little and then have coffee and cake with Mrs S, and her sister, Mrs Du Plessis. We work a bit more. Elaine says my pieces are excellent and then we play to Mrs S’s friend, Miss Cameron. The choir arrives and I play the piano for the altos. They all know Ruth and are impressed that I sing in the SABC choir. Their names are Shelley, Linda and Leila.

Go in the afternoon to see West Side Story which is, in my opinion, rather ghastly and too modern and ugly for words. That’s not music – that’s dis-chord!

15 July – Go to Sunday school and play the piano for them. I go with Joan to hear Peter C’s sermon – a great improvement from the last one. He speaks slower which aids matter considerably.

Listen to the radio – Leslie Green, Time to Remember and Life with the Lyons.

16 July – Have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to get the unaccompanied song in tune but have found another that I can sing perfectly in tune so I’m going to try and learn it beautifully for Friday and hope that Anne will allow me to sing it in the exam. It’s a bit late but I think it would be worth it.

In the evening I go to the SABC and the first person I come across is Gill V complete with her clarinet. I go and have supper with her.

We go into 1a to make the recording as Guest Stars of the Kreel Orphanage on the commercial record they have made and which is soon to be released. We sing our two Volksliedjies, unaccompanied. We manage to complete one song by the interval. Graham Green is the controller – he also did the controlling for Drawing Room. A photographer comes to take our picture.

At the interval, I try to play Gill’s clarinet and we all have a hilarious time. The noise I produce gets more squeaky as I proceed! After interval we record the first song Die Lied van Jong Suid Afrika. The sentiment of both songs is decidedly pro-Nat.

We also get our wages tonight which is perhaps the best part of the whole evening. I am quite surprised by the amount – far more than I expected. My first fee for singing!

17 July – Work and then have lunch with Mum in Ansteys. I treat her with my fee!

Work hard in the afternoon and listen to Leslie G in Kew Gardens.

Anne’s programme at night is still pretty awful as far as the music is concerned but her speaking is sweet and next fortnight she’s to play the Vagabond King so let’s hope it’s their beautiful recordings of it.

18 July – Work hard and then have lunch with mum and go up to the SS studio. Elaine and I sight-read duets together. We have coffee and then I have my lesson which goes quite well. I play on 1 September. I’m not looking forward to it.

We go for a drive at night to Hillbrow.

19 July – Go to shops, library, and park today with Shandy and we have fun.

I listen to Leslie G. He goes to the Tower of London where there is an actual rehearsal of the D’Oyly Carte company for Yeomen of the Guard. Then he goes to Petticoat Lane and tells of having high tea for 3/-. Am now in bed waiting for You Know Who!

I get rather a shock because Webster does not do the programme this evening. They say that unfortunately he is indisposed, so Paddy O’Byrne reads from his script. I feel like howling, honestly I do! It sounds absolutely ridiculous but it would be futile if I could never hear or see him again. I’m shocked with myself for saying this but I’m afraid it’s true. I cannot help myself.

Paddy O’B is excellent and from Webster’s script he tells us, “A pupil of mine lent me a record because he thought I was one of the singers. I made it such a long while ago that I’d forgotten about it. It has George Baker, Alice Moxon and Dennis Noble on it, and of course, myself. “ It is lovely – a selection from Gondoliers and his voice is glorious.

“This small company was called the Light Opera Company but we didn’t mind not being in the full company because the pay was the same.”

He starts with the overture to the Gondoliers and says, “I saw The Gondoliers in Birmingham the night before my audition and thought how bright and fresh everything looked. Imagine my dismay when the next morning I walked on to the stage and saw such tatty and dingy props! But who am I to disillusion the theatre-going public who have been my bread and butter for so many years?”

Paddy O’B goes on with the story. I feel so sorry that Webster wasn’t able to do it himself. I hope to heaven he is a bit stronger now. It’s so difficult to imagine such a strong, dependable, kindly man like that very ill and weak but no doubt he is and he must get better.

20 July – Go to the library and then to the studio in the afternoon. Anne answers the door and once more is in the middle of listening to Leslie G. I go in and listen too. He is on the train on his way to Edinburgh and describes the carriage, the friendly ticket collectors, the punctual time-keeping and the fast train. He went to visit a friend of Anne’s (Babs) and thought her garden was the loveliest in England.

Anne says that hearing him talk about all that she remembers so well makes shivers go down her spine and she feels so homesick. Strangely enough, I do too. When I listen to these programmes I always want to cry.

Webster is home now but he is still very weak and has to stay in bed. Last night and today he had a most terrible pain in his chest at the back of his breast bone so she called the doctor, and the specialist is coming for a cardiograph tomorrow. The virus cannot be killed and will only go in its own good time.

She tells me to come at a quarter to four next week and then, after my lesson, we can listen to Leslie Green and have tea together. That should be great fun.

I moot Hush My Dear and Anne is delighted with it. She says I must cover it more and all will be well. She spoke to Webster about the other one and he said he thought it was a state of mind with me. If he can say things like that he must be getting better.

All my songs go really well today and she is delighted. She says I am now singing quite beautifully and interpreting the songs well. Exercises are good and she says that my attack must be bang in the middle of the note. We finish with scale exercises. I think, with a bit of luck, I should pass the flipping exam!

Anne says that it is very tiring to sing properly because of the concentration it requires. Someone told her that it was simply pleasure, but brother, that is a fib!

I tell her to give Webster my love and tell him that I hope he will soon be well. She says, “God bless you, Jean,” and I depart.

I don’t know whether her awful gnawing homesickness makes her sweeter and more sincere but I do know that these last two lessons have been glorious and such fun, even though she’s worried about him. I think I cheer her up in some funny way – it must be that I’m British and love Britain as much as she does and she can confide how homesick she is to me when she can’t to a South African. She used to make a pretence of adoring this country but now she doesn’t have to because she knows that I understand how she feels.

Go to guild at night and we have a talk on guide dogs by young, handsome Mr Dawson and a demonstration by a lovely Alsatian. Very interesting.

21 July – Go to rehearsal for play and we mess around at the piano. Joan Rudman plays and I sing and they are greatly impressed and it gives me good practice at the same time.

Go to the studio and do ear tests with Pam and Olive. We have choir practice – only 3 altos and 4 sopranos are there. We combine with the sopranos today and it sounds very good.

Have lunch with parents at Galaxy and we see Follow that Dream with Elvis Presley who is quite decent for a change and very funny.

22 July. – Go to Sunday school. Playing and lesson go well.

In the afternoon the Alexanders come with Inge. They have a nice new Opel Rekord.

I listen to Leslie G and he plays a lovely record by Anne and Webster which I record. I turn over to Die Goei Ou Tyd and Francois van Heyningen plays a section from Glamorous Night with Webster singing Shine Through My Dreams and Fold Your Wings with Muriel Barron. Sunday has some really good radio programmes.

23 July – Leslie G is in Scotland – Loch Lomond, Stirling and Edinburgh.

Go to SABC at night. We start on Messiah and I really enjoy it and sight- read it well. Ruth is due tonight but she doesn’t arrive. I suppose she’s too exhausted after flying back.

Gill, Iris and I have coffee at interval and Gill says hello to Uncle Edgar and he grins at me as well. We do the Ninth Symphony after interval. Poor Iris might be having an operation soon.

24 July – Leslie G’s programme from the UK doesn’t arrive in time so we hear one he made in Jo’burg before he left. Quite disappointing not to hear from ‘home’ as Anne calls it.

25 July – Go to music in the afternoon and do ear tests wit Gill and Rita. Mrs S asks Gill to adjudicate at an Indian Eisteddfod at beginning of September so she asks me to go with her and be a second opinion. I agree to do this – will be a very good experience.

I have lesson which goes well. Mrs S says I must come as soon as rehearsal is over on Saturday and work with Elaine.

Go to rehearsal at night and it goes reasonably well. Archie is quite good but Shorty is hopeless. I cannot imagine play going on on 17 August.

Mummy listens to the radio in order to record Leslie G but instead of him, John Silver is on. He says that the programme hasn’t arrived yet but one wonders if his programmes were a little too pro-British for the SABC. They just have to put it on for Friday for we’ve such a lovely day planned and it must come off!

26 July – Have a rather grim day of feeling ill again. However, I manage to listen to Leslie G – he’s back, thank goodness. He’s still in Scotland and talks of Edinburgh, Stirling and Falkirk.

I am now in bed waiting for G and S and wondering who will broadcast it tonight. Paddy O’B does it again. The station announcer says once again that he is sorry that Webster is still indisposed. Paddy O’B goes on with the Gondoliers which is nice and also plays a quartet with Henry Lytton, Bertha Lewis and Leo Sheffield, lent to Webster by a friend – Norman Roberts. Henry Lytton is quite fabulous. Webster says in his script that he thinks they were far livelier than they are today. Paddy O’B sounds horrified at this!

27 July – Go up to studio. Peter (someone) a tenor with a glorious voice is singing the Serenade from Frasquita and Hear my song, Violetta. Anne says, “We’ll lend you our record of it. It’s a very good recording – we made it when we were young and sprightly and still had voices!” Hear her say that Webster is once again in the fever hospital!

Go in and in my excitement say, “What’s happened to Webster?” Anne says that he is terribly ill once again. Over the weekend he had terrible pains and the specialist decided that his heart was all right. It must be indigestion so he put him on a diet – no alcohol ( which he couldn’t tolerate for he must have at least one whisky and soda before dinner) and only ten cigarettes a day. The pains persisted and on Tuesday they were so bad that he had to have the doctor in again and his temperature was up. Doctor decided that he had better go to hospital again and have x-rays as the virus must have flared up again.

Wednesday and Thursday they were too busy to do x-rays but they thought it was either gallstones or something pressing against the heart.

Today Anne went along and sat with him while he was x-rayed and the radiographer was terribly rude and said he’d have to come back tomorrow (when there’ll be about 50 people there!). He said he had no intention of coming back again, so she said, “Do as you please. If you want to die, I don’t care!”

However, whether he likes it or not, he has to go back tomorrow. They’re allowing him to have a gin and tonic because he can’t go without it. He absolutely hated having to go back to hospital and is in a grim room. I’m so very sorry for him.

Anne says she thinks perhaps his gums could have affected his system but they won’t listen to her. She says she’d rather have all this happening to her because he’s in such agony.

We decide that we’ve wasted so much time we can’t listen to Leslie G today but I have tea anyway.

I sing – not too badly – considering. I haven’t been very well myself but I feel wretched about him. We go through everything and as tickets haven’t arrived Anne has to phone Arnold Fulton tonight. She says I can phone her at home on Sunday night to hear the outcome of the call. After all that work the tickets must come!

I say goodbye and send Webster my love. Poor, poor pet – he’s had one hang of a bad time and he must get better. How I pray he will get well.

When I get home Ruth has phoned. She phones again at 5.30 and tells me simply astounding unbelievable news – they (her family) have won £40,000 on the Ndola sweep! Can you imagine! I am utterly delighted and she tells me her parents are driving up from Natal today in a state of great excitement. I ask what they will do with all that money and she says they will probably go overseas and buy a new car. I am thrilled for her sake. She is a darling and deserves all the happiness she can get.

She says she phoned Anne but I’m the only one she has told about the money and she’s terribly sorry about him. It shows what a sweet lovely child she is to be concerned with him after winning £40,000! She’s coming to choir on Monday – I can’t wait to see her. I’m surprised at myself for I don’t feel envious. I’m just delighted for her.

28 July – Go early in the morning for rehearsal. Shorty, who is supposed to be my husband in the play, insists on giving me slobbery kisses and putting his arms around me at every opportunity. I survive, however.

Go to town where I see Johan in a bottle-green t-shirt and sports jacket looking far removed from being Anton Hartman’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice!

I arrive at SS studio in time for coffee and then practise Viva Voce with Pam and Elaine. This proves rather grilling with Mrs S listening to every word. Luckily I have to ask the questions rather than answer them. The choral singing goes rather nicely. Shelly, Leila, Mary and Belinda Bozzoli are the altos.

Have lunch with parents in Galaxy and come across Sally Bowling there. She looks older and more sophisticated than I remember her. She doesn’t go skating much now.

We see The Silver Key by Edgar Wallace – very exciting, and an excellent short on Russian culture – singing, ballet etc.

29 July – Go to Sunday school and play the piano. David Dury shows me all the postcards from Ireland. I promise Mr Russell to train the soloists which should be fun. He gives an excellent sermon today.

In the afternoon we have another rehearsal which goes well. Play is shaping up very well indeed. Later I have to phone Anne. She has not phoned Arnold Fulton yet. “I just haven’t had a minute with the two programmes. Would you do it?” She is so insincerely charming that I can’t really refuse. I say I’ll phone tomorrow afternoon. I’ll phone her about it on Tuesday.

Webster is a bit better and had an x-ray for gallstones today and is to have a stomach x-ray on Wednesday. She doesn’t sound terribly upset about him either – she is in one of her more callous moods tonight!

30 July – Work hard and intermittently spend time phoning Arnold Fulton but he’s not there.

Go to SABC tonight. Ruth arrives and is quite unchanged despite the £40,000. They are going to buy a Rover and her parents are going to Scotland and then around the world in September. They’re going to have another two servants and each of the girls has £100 to spend on clothes. She says she doesn’t intend to swank about it or get big-headed but she’s quite thrilled at the minute.

She says that Anne is acting very strangely and she is disgusted that Anne is charging us a fee for accompaniment. We enlarge on this. Ruth is rather sweet and says, “Money is no object to me now but I still think it’s a bit much.”

She says they sent Webster a whole lot of books to read in hospital. I’d like to be able to do that too, but alas – impecunious me!

We sing Messiah and Gill is rather acid about Tufty’s successful audition with Bruce Anderson. “They have to take people whether they can sing or not!” Poor Tufty.

At interval, Ruth and I disappear and she tells me about her holiday, Alan and Anne and Webster. She doesn’t seem so gone on them any more. She goes and asks Johan for her wages and says, “The more I get, the more I want! Life’s too short not to be happy!” Some philosophy this!

We do the Ninth and then Johan tells us that next week, as the orchestra is going on tour, we shall probably have Edgar Cree to take us. Come home with Iris and feel quite elated.

31 July – I get through to Arnold Fulton today and discover that he is as Scottish as the day he was born. He says he sent the forms to them so they must have gone astray. He tells me to fill in a form with all the particulars and send them to him.

I phone Anne and tell her this news. She tends on the brittle side but it quite affable. Webster has no gallstones and just has to have his stomach x-rayed and he might be home on Thursday all going well. I say that it’s lovely about Ruth isn’t it? And she says, “It’s not true!” Presumably, this is an expression of pleasure.

Have lunch in Ansteys with Mum and post letter to Arnold Fulton. Leslie G is in the Midlands today.

Listen to Anne’s programme tonight and have to say that it is quite fabulous. The reason is that she plays their own records and talks about Webster a lot. She plays Wunderbar, Only a Rose and Love Me Tonight. She says, “You’ll have to excuse the surface of that record. It’s probably getting old, just as Webster and I are also!” There is a slight tremor in her voice at this – somehow, it touches my heart. Her programme is fabulous and if it goes on like that it will probably run for ages.

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – MAY 1962

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

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

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

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

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

Dad and I have a swim in the afternoon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am sitting with choir altos behind the orchestra.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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