EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES: JULY 1963

20 July – Go into the studio and Webster is there, in a good mood, and making coffee. Anne is evidently worse this morning. We have the morning pupils and the last two don’t come so we go home in the Hillman with the roof down. As we pass the Kensington Sanitorium he says that it’s such a lovely day that he wishes we could carry on driving all the way to the coast! Unfortunately, we can’t do that!

I have made omissions and toned down some entries in this episode before publishing it!

1 July – Go to music library and see Leo Quayle there. Coming home I see Graham Burns waiting for a bus.

2 July – Go to singing. Anne is wearing her mink coat. We have tea and biscuits and she tells me she hates Britain at the moment – with the shock of the John Profumo/Christine Keeler affair. She says they used to belong to the Conservative Party in Hampstead but fell out with them over something or other.

I sing Open Thy Blue Eyes, the Landon Ronald song Cycle, and Love’s sickness. She is pleased. She tells me I can use the studio at any time and don’t owe them anything for this month. I see Dennis and his mum and have more tea with them. I meet Betty on the way home and Ruth phones in the evening.

3 July – Go to studio and work hard in the peaceful atmosphere. I have lunch in Ansteys with Mum then go to Mrs S for lesson. I’m going to listen to our broadcast now.

4 July – Go to the studio and the lunch hour concert. Webster comes in a bit late – Anne phones to let me know that he’ll be late. We have Heather and Yvonne Marais and then he puts his hands on my shoulder and says, “Put on your coat, love, and put some money in my meter!” I do so. He is a honey. We have Graham and Reeka and then come home in the Anglia. He tells me about the near accident he had coming down the Great Orme in his Talbot in Llandudno, and the Springs Operatic Society. He says, “Imagine that I’ll not be seeing you until next Friday!” I say, “How can I bear it?” half in fun, but whole in earnest!

5 July – I work in the studio in the morning and lunch with Mum. In the afternoon Anne comes in and I have an hour lesson and I enjoy it enormously. We have tea and biscuits and she says I must eat them up when I’m in the studio by myself. She says Webster told her all about my account of Jossie B’s singing lesson and she enjoyed it. She lends me Doris Bolton’s Joan Sutherland biography to read over the weekend and says that of course I can come in on Monday although it’s a public holiday. She’s a sweety.

8 July – Family day. Go to studio to return the Joan S autobiography.

9 July – Go to singing in afternoon. Anne is there teaching Jimmy Elkin, the son of the optician! She tells me that I’ll be in on Monday to play for Webster for he really can’t manage without me. Last Monday was too much for him! We do Love’s Sickness and when we are having tea Anne shows me the Ravel song cycle she sang at the Wigmore Hall as Irené Eastwood – Scheherezade. We do the unaccompanied folk song and she imitates my serious face during my singing of it. We both end up in the giggles. Webster phones and she gives me a whole hour. We finish with Love, From thy Power and then Winnie arrives. I wash the dishes before I leave.

10 July – Go into the studio and read the script for Mrs Puffin. Lunch in Ansteys with Mum then go to Mrs S for lesson. Listen to Webster’s super new programme Ballads Old and New. He plays the Evening Song by Blumenthal – beautiful.

Ballads Old and New – July – not October!

12 July Go to studio and Webster arrives at 3.00 but Lucille doesn’t arrive!! He tells me of the difficulty they are having to find an accompanist for their concert in Ficksburg. He says he would ask me to play for them but they have always preferred a male accompanist as a woman takes the audience’s attention away from Anne. Mayor of Brakpan’s son comes and sings pleasantly. I have a lesson and we go over all the Messiah arias. Gertie and “Clara Butt” come later. Come home in the car from the garage and we have a discussion about Gert P and Jossie B!

13 July – Webster’s programme is excellent. He plays one of his own records. Go to Mrs S and work with Margaret and company. We see Sammy Going South.

15 July – Go to the studio to play. Webster makes me tea the moment I arrive. Myrtle is our first pupil. We talk about his programme on Saturday and have a number of pupils. He talks about making the Afrikaans record on the way home.

16 July – Go to Mrs S and work with Margaret. Lunch with Mummy and go to studio where Anne makes me tea. Tells me the lights fused completely last night and they didn’t eat until 10.00! I sing well and she is pleased. Jimmy doesn’t come so she gives me an hour because she says she enjoys working with me. There is a lovely picture of them in the paper at night. I listen to the recording of the SABC choir and think it is very good indeed.

18 July -Anne phones to say Webster will be a bit late. Yvonne, her Mum and little sister arrive early. Yvonne wants him to hear her sister sing. He tells them that she can’t start having lessons as she is far too young – wait until she is in her teens. We have Heather, Yvonne and Colleen. He tells me that Anne has caught a cold from Leslie Green – she went to a film with him last night. On the way home we go up to Wallie Petersen’s theatrical agency where he is offered a directorship of a film company. He introduces me as, “This is Miss Campbell – she plays for me.” We are pleased about the offer. I hope something comes of it. He says he’ll phone tomorrow if he wants me to go in and work for him at the studio.

19 July -Anne is too sick to come to studio and my father has ‘flu too so Webster and I “do” again. Lucille comes first and tells us about a funeral she attended. She sings well for an hour and I play well. I have my lesson – oratorio as before. Selwyn arrives in a weepy mood. Gertie comes next and he says to me, “Jean, darling, make me a cup of tea.” Gertie and Brian Morris come afterwards. Webster brings me home and I tell him to give Anne my love and I hope she will feel better.

20 July – Go into the studio and Webster is there, in a good mood, and making coffee. Anne is evidently worse this morning. We have the morning pupils and the last two don’t come so we go home in the Hillman with the roof down. As we pass the Kensington Sanitorium he says that it’s such a lovely day that he wishes we could carry on driving all the way to the coast! Unfortunately, we can’t do that!

21 July – I wash my clothes and hair in the morning. I phone Ruth in the afternoon and she is full of her recent holiday to Victoria Falls. We decide to go out together sometime next week. She’ll phone me on Tuesday. I phone to see how Anne is keeping. Webster answers and is pleased to hear from me. He tells me she is improving and crawling around the house. When we part, he says, “Goodbye, darling.”

22 July – Lunch in Ansteys with Mum. Go to studio and Webster tells me that Anne is a lot worse today. Myrtle comes for her lesson and he tells us about the loss of vision he experienced last night. When he went to lie down the room spun around him and he felt awful. He makes a tape of the pupils today for his cousin in England, Jean Webster. Janet and Lucille come. Webster is always far too nice to the latter for my liking! Reeka is the last pupil and then we come home and discuss the possible reasons for his bad turn yesterday. I hope there is nothing seriously wrong with him.

23 July – Work. Lunch in the Capeniro with Mum. I feel in rather a remote frame of mind after the obsequious way he behaved with Lucille yesterday. I must be jealous! When I get back to the studio Anne is there looking terribly ill. We spend a long time discussing Webster but I don’t say anything to her about Lucille. She says he used to be such a good husband but these days he’s always in a bad mood and drinks and smokes too much. She wants him to see the doctor but he refuses to go. We do some Elijah and have tea. She says he hates teaching in the studio (apart from a few pets), and he is too indulgent with Lemon so he is too spoilt for words. I wish her well and depart feeling somewhat restored but sorry for Anne.


24 July – Go to the studio. After lunch I go to Mrs S and work with Elaine and Edith and have my piano lesson. Ruth phones. She’s coming to fetch me tomorrow at the studio for lunch. She tells me about all her activities, including Yoga lessons which she is enjoying. Listen to Webster’s Ballads Old and New and it is terrific as usual. Why is he always so good?

25 July – Leslie Green phones the studio wanting to speak to Anne and Webster. He talks to me for quite a while – he is just as pleasant as he is to his listeners on the radio. Ruth comes up and we have lunch in the Chesa – she tells me all about her holiday while I spend time imitating my two current bones of contention – “Ag, Uncle Boooo!”

26 July – Lucille arrives early so we go out for an hour and return together. He calls out a casual greeting to me, then when he sees that Lucille is there he makes a great fuss of her. I am upset and spend a dismal hour playing for her during her lesson. He tells me that Anne is just as ill as ever and has been physically sick today too. In the car we discuss Leslie Green, Brian M and Show Boat. He promises to phone me tomorrow if he needs me.

27 July – Anne is still sick so I go into the studio to play for him. Webster makes me coffee and this time it is he who tells me he’s had a disagreement with Anne over Leslie Green and the doctor! Anne insisted on them going to dinner in Leslie Green’s draughty house despite the fact that she is not at all well. Ruth has a lesson and she is full of the joys of spring over the results of her aptitude test. Coming home in the car he talks about Gary A. I listen to him on the radio at night.

29 July – Go to town with Mum and lunch in Ansteys. Go to studio a little early and have tea with Webster. He is tired but in a lovely mood. Ruth phones. She has passed her driving licence and asks me to dinner. Webster says he will drop me off at her house which means a much shorter trip home for him. We pass Zoo Lake on the way to the Ormonds and he says the bowling club is in one of the loveliest settings in the world. I have a pleasant dinner with the Ormonds and they drive us in their huge Rover to the SABC where we have a meeting and then refreshments a la Anton H. Mr O drives me home – lovely day.

30 July Go to singing in the afternoon. Anne tells me she is going to see the doctor on Thursday about her laryngitis. She would have preferred to go on Wednesday but Webster is going to play bowls then come hell or high water! We have tea together and discuss Ruth and the effects of the lottery on her life – all favourable. We work at Father of Heav’n and concentrate on breathing. I see Lucille’s invitation to her twenty-first birthday – they can’t go. Good!

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES: JUNE 1963

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

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

Webster as Colonel Fairfax

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

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

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

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

Lewis Sowden – Rand Daily Mail.

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

Oliver Walker – the Yeomen of the Guard crit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Yeomen of the Guard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – JANUARY 1963

PLEASE NOTE: My full-length diaries of 1963, 1964 and 1965 were destroyed but I still have summaries of the days in 1963 and 1964 in a five-year diary. Sadly, 1965 is lost forever and could only be recalled by memory after I realised that the diaries had been destroyed. Why the diaries were destroyed is the subject of another story which I will not be sharing here!

PLEASE NOTE: My full-length diaries of 1963, 1964 and 1965 were destroyed but I still have summaries of the days in 1963 and 1964 in a five-year diary. Sadly, 1965 is lost forever and could only be recalled by memory after I realised that the diaries had been destroyed. Why the diaries were destroyed is the subject of another story which I will not be sharing here!

As this series of posts only concern diaries written while I was a teenager I shall finish them on my twentieth birthday at the end of August 1963.

1 January – Have a quiet meditative morning considering New Year resolutions I probably won’t be able to keep! We see Jumbo in the afternoon. Jimmy Durante is best but it’s not a great picture. I work at night and listen to the radio.

2 January – Work in the morning and then have lunch in the Capinero with Mum. Go to music with Mrs Sullivan. Gill is leaving for Durban on Friday. We are all shocked about the sudden death of Anderson Tyrer, pictured below as conductor of the Centennial Orchestra in New Zealand in 1940.

3 January – Work fairly hard today and listen to Leslie Green. I miss G and S at night after hearing it regularly for a whole year!

4 January – I get a lift into town from Mr McKenzie in his jag. He tells me that Penny Sage, his son, Alistair’s girlfriend, is in Europe with Holiday on Ice at the moment.

I go to singing and Webster answers the door looking rather tired. I even have to pour my own tea today. Singing goes fairly well and I learn a lot. Anne is preoccupied with their play and is very theatrical. He says, “Goodbye, dear!”

5 January – I go into Mrs S’s studio, work with Elaine and then sing in the SS ensemble. In the afternoon we see Doctor No – very good.

Webster’s new programme Great voices is lovely and he tells of Peter Dawson discovering his voice and taking him to the HMV studios for a recording audition thirty-four years ago.

6 January – Ruth phones to ask me to go and swim in her new pool tomorrow. She tells me all about Christmas and says that Webster is a honey in all circumstances but Anne is behaving in a very theatrical fashion about appearing in the play. She has put off a lot of pupils because of it but has kept us on because we are special!

7 January – Unfortunately, It is too overcast to swim today so we postpone my visit.

I go to singing and Webster tells me how tired he feels doing the play and says he likes my dress. Anne tells me all about the rehearsals. I work hard and Webster sings with me most of the time – really beautifully. I tell him how much I liked his new programme – he seems pleased about it. A really gorgeous lesson today.

Great Voices

8 January – Work very hard indeed today. There is a matinee of Goodnight Mrs Puffin on Saturday 26 January. I must see if I can arrange to go to it. I hope Ruth won’t be away for it.

9 January – Work hard in the morning and lunch in Ansteys with Mum. I see Gideon Fagan in the city and meet a woman from the SABC choir. I go up to Mrs S’s and work hard – she corrects my harmony.

Ruth phones in the evening about going to the swimming pool and tells me that when Webster took her into town for her lesson last Thursday morning and swore atrociously at the other drivers and drove very badly!

10 January – Go into town on the bus with Gill McD and go to Show Service with her. Ruth is waiting for me at the bus stop and we go back to her house for lunch and swim in her gorgeous kidney-shaped pool in the afternoon. Ruth is coming to visit me on Monday and I’ll meet her at 12.45. On the bus back I see Webster driving home in the opposite direction down Jan Smuts Avenue.

He phones at night, saying, “Hello, dear. This is Webster.” He tells me that Anne is terribly sick with jaundice and can I come next Saturday (a week on Saturday) instead. He says the play is hanging on the balance and he doesn’t know his lines properly.

11 January I go to the shops and then to Rhodes Park Library where I try to swot. I work in the afternoon and listen to Leslie Green. There is a picture of Anne and Webster as they hope to appear in Mrs Puffin.

Anne and Webster with their stage children.

We go to the Carmichaels for drinks in the evening.

12 January – Go to Mrs S and work with Elaine and then sing in the ensemble. We go to see Girls with Elvis in it – childish and dull to my way of thinking!

I listen to Webster and Great Voices at night. It is lovely but how I wish he’d play some of his own records. I suppose he is too modest to do so!

13 January – I listen to the little interview with the Booths conducted by Paddy O’Byrne. They talk about their house, garden, pets and pictures. Webster sounds most sincere but Anne is a little flighty. We go for a run in the afternoon.

At night I phone to see how Anne is keeping. They are both rehearsing at the Alex so Anne must have recovered by now. Hilda tells me that she is still rather tired and weak, but better.

14 January – I go into town to fetch Ruth and meet Gill McD on the bus. I go with her to the bank. Ruth comes home and we have a lovely lunch and a most hilarious time. We play with the tape recorder and I record her singing, whistling and speaking and she is thrilled. She says quite seriously that she loves Webster! We have a wonderful time and she promises to send me a card from Rustenburg.

15 January – There is a picture of Webster and Jane Fenn (Mrs Puffin) in the paper. It is simply gorgeous.

I go into town and see Brian McDade. There is a picture of Anne and Webster in the paper at night and an article (most pretentious) called Booths at Home.

16 January – Work and lunch in Ansteys with Mum. I go up to Mrs S and do ear tests with Elsa. I have a nice lesson. Ruth phones to say that she went to the dress rehearsal of Mrs Puffin this morning. Webster wanted me to go as well but Ruth said I wouldn’t be able to come because I was working – I could slaughter her! She must have known that I would have made every effort to go to the dress rehearsal. She says it was good – light and funny. She phoned Anne tonight but Anne was nervous and offhand with her prior to the opening night of the play.

Crit from Rand Daily Mail.

17 January Lewis Sowden’s crit is good as far as the play goes but non-committal about them. I work and phone Ruth to ask her to swop times with me and she agrees. I’m going at 10.30 then. Oliver Walker gives a good crit apart from criticising Webster.

18 January – Webster phones me in the morning to thank me for my telegram and to say that the play is going well and to remind me about tomorrow. He is very sweet and charming and cheers me no end. Work fairly hard for the rest of the day.

I listen to his Great Voices at night – very good, but he’s the greatest voice I know so I miss hearing his own recordings.

19 January – I go to singing. Ruth has a simply ghastly lesson before me. Anne thanks me very much for the telegram. It was so sweet etc! Webster says he’s so sorry he didn’t phone me about the dress rehearsal but Ruth was very firm about telling them that I was working. We moan about her! I would have loved to go. I sing very well and they are pleased. I talk about getting old and he says, “You’re just a little girl to me, dear.” Sweet.

We see Jigsaw with Jack Warner – very good.

20 January – I go to church and make arrangements with Betty for Saturday. I phone Ruth to thank her for changing her lesson with me yesterday. She didn’t enjoy her lesson and I’m not at all surprised!

My mother makes some shortbread for Webster’s 61st birthday tomorrow – I hope he likes it.

21 January – I go to singing and give Webster some of my mother’s shortbread to sample. He says, “Bless you,” a couple of times and Anne says, “Did you know it was his birthday?” and I say I had an inkling about it and wish him a very happy birthday. I sing well and work hard and they are pleased. I ask if I can come backstage on Saturday and they say, of course, I must come. I tell him that I’ll be cross if he doesn’t have some shortbread! I have a lovely time. He is 61 today.

22 January – Work very hard today. Leslie Green has Ivor Dennis to tea this afternoon and he talks of his experiences working with the Jack Hylton show in England – such a sweet old man.

23 January – I have lunch in Ansteys with Mummy – lovely. I meet Roselle Deavall after almost a year. Last time I saw her was on that eventful 11 April, Drawing Room. I go to Mrs S and work at ear tests with Elsa. I have a nice lesson and say I won’t be coming on Saturday due to Mrs Puffin.

24 January – I go to lunch hour concert. Anton H conducts Vincent Fritelli, the brilliant violinist – a lovely programme of Grieg, Sibelius and Saint-Saens.

Mr and Mrs Fordyce in programme of Goodnight Mrs Puffin

25 January – I have my hair set in honour of Mrs Puffin tomorrow. I listen to Dewar McCormack’s Friday at Eight – Bryden Thompson (Scottish conductor) and our Gracie.

26 January – I go to see Mrs Puffin with Betty at the Alexander Theatre in Braamfontein. We arrive quite early, and after we have coffee we look at all the gorgeous pictures of Anne and Webster in the foyer. The play is simply fabulous. They are all good – particularly Anne and Webster. It is a really good laugh and we enjoy it enormously. We go to see the Booths afterwards in their dressing room. They are very sweet. He puts his socks on as we talk of the play, his lines, his illness (the same as Gaitskell’s) and hers. They come out with us and say hello to boy in the play. He catches the same bus as us and is charming. I listen to Great Voices at night.

28 January I go to singing – Webster is wearing his ancient well-cut pinstripe suit. I sing well but without much expression. Anne says Ruth was very depressed about her sisters treatment of her today. They are cross because I didn’t want to audition for My Fair Lady. Webster sees me to door and says, “Goodbye, deeer!”

I go to the SABC at night. Our new choirmaster is called Chris Lamprecht and we start work on The Creation. Ruth tells me of her depression with her sisters and her seeming inability to sing. She wants to give it up for a while after her exam. Her eyes are red and swollen from crying.

29 January – I am not too well today but recover later. Elsa phones at night to see if I’ll go and do ear tests with her tomorrow. I say I will and will be there at two and will collect the keys from the optician.

30 January – I work and lunch in Ansteys with Mum. I go to the SS studio and see Stan who looks very ill. Elsa and I do ear tests together and Mrs S asks me to teach a child called Gail on Monday. I come home on the bus with Margaret. We are going to work together on Saturday morning.

31 January – I make a dental appoint and go to the SABC concert. Two old women are raving about Mrs Puffin and this makes me smile. Jossie B and Nohline Mitchell are the soloists. They sing excerpts from Hansel and Gretel but they hardly get any applause at all.

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 – 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.

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – APRIL 1962

We listen at the door to Webster singing – glorious! When it is over (with much debate) we decide to wait to see him. We go and look in at the studio and Ruth calls to him to “Come here!” He obliges like a lamb and comes out and, guess what?? He kisses us!! I mean it – he gives Ruth and me a kiss each – quite calmly and unhurriedly. We both go red.

1 April – Go to SABC in the afternoon. Johan takes men and Harry Stanton the ladies. We practise Norma and there is an improvement. Tufty has become very friendly with Gill. Talk to Ruth at interval. Says she’s very tired after dance last night. She is going on Wednesday and is shocked about the cruel cartoon.

I was going to listen to Webster but tape breaks down three-quarters of the way through. Station announcer apologises to listeners “and Mr Webster Booth.” I am livid.

2 April – Go to SABC in evening. Gill comes early and I go with her to have supper. Ruth is there wearing blue jeans and a duffle coat. She says she also calls the Booths by their Christian names. “Stage people like that!” I hope she’s right!

4 April – Work quite hard in the morning and then go to music in afternoon.

At night I go to the SABC for Drawing Room recording. Anne and Webster greet us all – rather like the King and Queen greeting their loyal subjects – and we sit down in tense nervous state. Anne looks gorgeous in a low-cut black sheath dress and mink stole.

Programme begins and Anne sings two songs (one by Ivor Novello with his writing on it) – the Little Damozel, and He’ll Say That for My Love (Handel). She has expression and all else required of a singer. Bob Barowsky sings and a bassoonist plays. Anne and Webster sing The Second Minuet and Drink to Me Only. He puts his hand on her bare shoulder as they sing.

Ruth asks him for a lift home and he says, “Certainly, darling.” The second broadcast is fabulous. Anne sings If No One Ever Marries Me and Smilin’ Through. They sing two more duets – Love’s Old Sweet Song and another. Ruth and I wait afterwards and talk to Anne. I tell her that her singing made me cry and she is thrilled, “The highest compliment you can pay a singer!” she says. She was worried about what her voice might sound like with the cold. While we are talking a Lancashire woman comes and congratulates her and says she heard her twenty years ago in Sheffield – she’s English, you know. Says Anne, “Yes, I thought you were!” We all laugh and she says, “Oh, ‘ave I still got me accent?”

Come home after a really delightful evening. When you hear an artist like Anne you realise how far you have to go to be even half as good. It makes me feel utterly hopeless.

5 April – Listen to Webster’s programme of last week – Gé Korsten etc.

6 April – Public holiday and Ruth’s seventeenth birthday. Have a rest in the morning and then go into town for singing lesson. Webster answers door wearing white jersey with green, yellow and red stripes!

Go in. Anne is wearing tight black stovies and revealing jersey. I do scales and am in bad form – if I see them sing the next lesson is harrowing for I know how far I have to go!

Webster makes tea for me. He forgets the sugar so goes to fetch some and Anne tells me of Peter Broomfield’s remark on the radio. “Last night Hennie Joubert accompanied Mi-mi-mi-mi – all the way!”

We do Where E’er You Walk and somehow I just cannot sing well and feel awful. She says I mustn’t sing too loudly in Norma. “Everyone has their off days,” Webster says, “Today is one of mine.” (Probably to cheer me up).

7 April –  Collect my long white SABC dress and go to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s at night.

8 April – Go to Sunday School in the morning I really like the new children now.

Go to SABC in the afternoon. Mr Miller, one of the second violins in the orchestra, is on my bus. The full orchestra, Anton Hartman, Mimi Coertse, Gé K and other soloists are there. Anton works us hard. Mimi is petulant and bossy but she sings beautifully.

At interval Ruth tells me she got a Maria Callas record for her birthday and a card from the Booths. Yesterday Anne wasn’t feeling well so she asked Ruth to go to the house for a lesson while Webster went to the studio. She’s coming home with Gill and me tomorrow in Gill’s car. We manage to record last quarter of Norma.

Listen to Webster’s G and S programme at night. He says, “After my costume was made for this part I had my photograph taken and this constitutes one of my few claims to fame. They put the photo into a series of G and S cigarette cards. That dates me, doesn’t it?” He plays Princess Ida and I fall asleep halfway through.

9 April – Have sudden urge to have my hair cut and set so have this done at Marie Distler in the morning and feel a boost to my morale. I meet Diane Munro on the bus and she doesn’t recognise me, but when she realises who I am she likes the new look a lot.

I go to the SABC and we get on the bus to Pretoria. Ruth says the Booth’s house is small and not much to look at from the outside, but charming but whimsical within.

When we arrive in Pretoria we are fed with hamburgers at Tukkies’ cafeteria. We go into the Aula theatre – it seats 3000 people. We work hard.

Anton lets us go home at 11.00 pm. Ruth and I go home with Gill. She and Ruth have an argument about the choir on the journey home. Ruth has a very nice house, white double-storey with undergrowth and trees in the garden. Gill stays quite near her (also in Parkwood) and has a flatlet to herself. I go to sleep quickly.

10 April – Go to town with Gill and then go home. Go to SABC once more, armed with box containing white dress.

Ruth and Gill arrive and we sit at the very back of the bus. Ruth says Anne and Webster should have had children of their own. She whistles beautifully and we travel along in a state of semi-consciousness. We arrive and change into our dresses, parade around for a while and have a meat roll for supper in the cafeteria.

The house is absolutely packed – men in evening dress, orchestra in evening dress, and furs flying, Hartman in tails and Mimi in a black dress with silver top showing her vast chest. She sings well and there are shouts of “bravo!”. She takes bows and we take bows and it is interval.

Gill has tea with Uncle Edgar and Johan, but Ruth and I don’t have anything to drink!

Second half is much better although Jossie Boshoff lets the side down. We finish at ten. Cheers, curtain calls, excitement, bouquets for soloists, an orchid for Mimi…

Return to Parkwood and Ruth is very rude about Edgar Cree, saying that he had a broad accent and puts on his good one. Gill says that he studied at Cambridge. I say I like him as a broadcaster. Gill and Ruth are probably enemies for life.

11 April – Go into town very early in the morning and get home in time for breakfast. Farewell to Parkwood.

Decide to have a rest when there is a knock at the door – Roselle arrives with music and a dog. She wasn’t placed in the eisteddfod and is most disappointed. We sing for each other and record the results.

Go to music in the afternoon and go to SABC in the evening. We go into studio and Anton H begins his recording. At interval, Ruth and I go to have a cold drink at nearby café and return with the same object in view – the recording of The Drawing Room!

We listen at the door to Webster singing – glorious! When it is over (with much debate) we decide to wait to see him. We go and look in at the studio and Ruth calls to him to “Come here!” He obliges like a lamb and comes out and, guess what?? He kisses us!! I mean it – he gives Ruth and me a kiss each – quite calmly and unhurriedly. We both go red.

He tells us the programme is gorgeous, particularly the brilliant trumpeter. Why don’t we come in and we tell him we’re recording with Mimi. He says, “Oh yes. You’re working.”

He tells us about the eisteddfod. The tenor got a first and quite a few more were highly placed.

We say we’ll have to be going and Ruth walks straight into the men’s cloakroom! He says diplomatically, “The exit is there, and the ladies is over there!” We depart – Ruth nearly hysterical and I very red.

We go back to recording and tell Gill and Tufty about the kiss and Gill says, “Since I saw Webster Booth going into the ladies change rooms with a bottle of brandy, I’ve had no time for him!”

I leave before the recording ends and look out for my father. The first person I meet is Webster, leaving with a retinue of seemingly important men. He stops when he sees me and asks, “Has the recording finished?” I say, “No. I’m looking for my father.” He says, “D’ye think he’ll come?” I say, “Oh yes,” and he says “Well cheery-bye, Jean,” and I say, “Cheerio.”

Father appears and we come home. But honestly, what a night. Mimi gave us some prima donna tactics. (“They do,” says Webster) and she leaves the country tomorrow.

But in Ruth’s night and mine, one thing stands out!

“Webster kissed us when we met,

Jumping from the chair he sat in,

Time, you thief, who loves to get sweets into your list,

GET THAT IN!!”

I don’t care what anyone says about them – or him. Even if it’s all true, I know one thing. He is a great man, a great singer and a pleasure to know!

12 April  – Work and record the glorious Drawing Room programme with Oh, Dry Those Tears and the Kashmiri Song.

13 April – In the afternoon I go to the SABC to claim my lost purse. The receptionist tells me proudly that Johan handed it in so I tell her to thank him for me. Honest Hans.

I go to the studio. I see Webster in the CNA so I walk round the block and when I get back I go in almost immediately for the girl before me doesn’t come. Anne likes my hair. We fill in the form for the exam and she tells Webster not to interfere and he looks hurt. We have a glorious fifteen minutes running down Anton H, Jossie Boshoff etc. Anne says that Adalgisa should be a contralto, but of course, Jossie had to have a part.

We talk about Mabel Fenney and I say that she taught at our school for a term. Anne says she was batty but worked like mad.

We work at songs and vocal studies and they encourage me to smile (as always!) All great singers of previous generations sold their songs even if they didn’t have good voices such as John Coates, Anne tells me.

I wait for the lift and when it arrives I open it, thinking no one is there. Get a shock to see Webster. He laughs and says, “Did I startle you, Jean? I’m sorry!”

16 April – Go to choir at night and have supper with Gill and feel like a traitor. We do Stravinsky. Sit with Ruth at interval and we talk about drinking. Apparently her father is a connoisseur of wine. Her parents went to a première at Colosseum costing £5 a ticket!

I start telling her what Gill said about Webster but we have to go back before I can finish the tale. I get her to promise not to mention anything about this incident to Gill in the car. I think Gill overhears this. I feel very muddled about the whole matter. It’s all Gill’s fault for telling me this story and trying to disillusion me about him.

17 April – Go to studio and Webster answers the door. Girl with high but harsh voice is singing Waltz of My Heart and This is My Lovely Day. High notes are quite awful. Anne is wearing a brick red dress. We work hard at all the exam pieces.

I tell them that I’m going to Durban on holiday. He asks if I’m going to the Oyster Box in Umhlanga Rocks, and I say we’re going to the city itself.

18 April – Oh, dear! A terrible thing happens in the broadcast of Drawing Room. It all goes nicely until the last announcement which goes like this, “Now, on behalf of Madame Jean Gluckman, Miss Kathleen – oh, I beg your pardon – Madame Kathleen Allister, Miss Jean er er – oh, yes – Miss Jean Gluckman – that’s right, Mr Gé Korsten and myself, Webster Booth, goodnight – Oh dear, I’d better do that all over again, hadn’t I? Now on…” (Cut short)

Obviously the controller reproduced the wrong announcement and not the repeat, so he’ll get into trouble. It damns him in the eyes of the public and perhaps the SABC. He sounded old, doddery and drunk. He couldn’t have heard the broadcast tonight. If he wasn’t making a programme he’d be at the prize-winners concert. He’s going to get a nasty shock when he hears about it. I saw him that night and he wasn’t drunk but what will people think?

19 April – Programme is done correctly today. Work hard and go to choir at night. Ruth comes and we talk about the mess and she is most distressed. We work at Stravinsky. Ruth wishes father and me a happy Easter.

20 April – Good Friday. I talk to Peter Marsden who is back from the army for two days leave.

I listen to our SABC choir recording of the Passion and Cantata. It is lovely and I am proud of it.

21 April – Go skating in the morning after a long absence. Dawn Vivian is there. My skating is more or less the same but I’m a bit stiff. She tells me that Gwyn has joined the cast of Holiday on Ice and has gone touring all over the world and doesn’t intend returning to SA.

I buy theory questions in Kelly’s and wander around John Orrs. We see Swiss Family Robinson in the afternoon – John Mills, Cecil Parker etc.

22 April – Go to Sunday School and church. I still haven’t got my music from Peter who has given up his singing lessons after less than three months!

Mr and Mrs Watts come from Vanderbijl for lunch. They like the Booths. I sing for them and they are impressed – or are polite!

Listen to Webster and he finishes Princess Ida and promises to start Mikado next week when I’ll probably be on holiday.

27 April – Go to singing and Anne arrives looking very attractive. She says she’s exhausted because of the production of Vagabond King in Springs. They have to go there every night and are furious that some members of the cast haven’t even learnt their parts properly. She had to go by herself on Wednesday because Webster was doing the last recording of Drawing Room and there was an awful storm on the way there.

She says I should practise singing octaves and chromatics when I’m on holiday. He says, “I can’t sing a chromatic scale – I never could!” We decide that the only way to do that is to count the notes on our fingers!

I say that Johan has given me work for my holiday for forthcoming Stravinsky concert. Anne asks if tenors are weak in the choir and I say, “Rather!” He tells me, “They wrote me a letter asking if I’d sing in the chorus for the Stravinsky concert.” I say, “What!”

She says, “We don’t want to act big or anything but, I mean to say, the chorus!” I say I think it is a real insult and he agrees with me. I say, “Are you going to?” and he replies, “Not likely! I phoned them up and said I had no intention of rehearsing every Saturday night for Stravinsky!” Boy, what an insult! She says that people will only go to the Stravinsky concerts for snob value anyway.

We do Where E’er You Walk and work at it. She says I can sing scales on the seashore. I laugh, and he says, “Don’t laugh! I’ve sung whole scores on the seashore. Vagabond King, Waltz Time. People think you’re mad but it’s a wonderful place to sing.”

He makes tea and asks if I’d like a cup. I say, “It doesn’t matter,” and Anne says, “Stay and have a cup. It’ll be ready in five minutes.”

There is a knock at the door – An English lady with little boy (soprano) and a gorgeous hot apple tart so Anne decides that we’ll all have tea and apple tart. “Can we eat it now?” she asks. Mrs Andrews and her son, Dennis are sweet and homely with delightful accents. Webster says, “Where’s the Devonshire cream?” and she says, “Oh, I forgot it at home.” Anne says, “Some of us are from the North Country and Jean comes from Scotland.” Anne takes a piece of cake with cloves, spice and apple and says, “To hell with my figure!”

She notices that I eat left-handed as does she and she remarks on it, so I say, “All great people are left-handed.” We all laugh.

We talk about Drawing Room and Webster tells me that Doris Brasch (he spelt her name BRASH and she was livid) and Graham Burns were the soloists on Wednesday. Anne says, “What did you think of Wednesday night’s programme? My singing was really awful, wasn’t it!” We protest and she adds, “It wasn’t lovely. It was disgusting!”

When I say goodbye to Anne I promise to send them a postcard and she says, “You can tell me if you manage to sing any octaves on the seashore!”

I talk to Dennis’s mother and we say how sweet they are. Dennis calls them Auntie Anne and Uncle Webster. They are wonderful and I love them!

29 April – Mr Marsden kindly gives us a lift to the airport and we eventually board the plane and have a delightful flight to Durban. It’s the first time I have ever flown – it was more like a bus than a plane. The land below looks like a map of physical geography.

We arrive at the Berkeley Hotel where I met Maisie Weldon and Carl Carlisle five years ago. We have a walk along the seafront but I can hardly see myself singing scales there. My room has a radio so I’ll be able to listen to Drawing Room and G and S. I listen to G and S. Webster bursts into song periodically during Mikado.

30 April – We go into town and to the lunch hour concert. Swim in the afternoon in the same pool where we swam five years ago, and I play the piano in the lounge at night.

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – FEBRUARY 1962

Webster as the prison doctor is on stage all the time and speaks hardly twenty words during the whole proceeding. However, as we are sitting practically at eye level to him, he stares at me and gives me a broad grin when he should be concentrating on the bleak trial. My heart jumps madly into my mouth and I blush. Thank heaven for the darkness of the theatre. I smile (a little!) at him and look at someone else when the experience gets too intense for me.

1 February – Lunch with Mum in Ansteys.

I go to singing at night. When I get out of the lift am confronted with an agitated Webster who tells me he can’t stop to let me in now but will be back in a second – I presume he has to put 6d in the meter. He comes back and complains about the heat. We go in and I pour myself tea and wash the cup. Nellie is singing for dear life.

Go in and pay Anne. She looks as gorgeous as she did in the recent photo. She is wearing her mauve dress. We talk of choir and she says I must try to sing in Tales of Hoffman as it is essential that I appear before a huge audience! She says, “I hear you are doing the Bach Passion and Cantata. Webster says, “Charming music, isn’t it?” in sarcastic tones, and he says, “They can keep the Passion – and the tenor role!”

We start on vocalisation studies for Trinity College and they go exceptionally well. Anne says I mustn’t let my chest sag when I sing. She makes me feel above her chest and how she manages to control her breath without her chest sagging! Fantastic – honestly!

I persevere with the exercises and they come right and feel right too! Webster comes in and listens and says that he can hear that I am smiling as tone is much lighter. We do them unaccompanied and all is well.

Do Bedfordshire Carol and she emphasises the diction and this improves. We end with the first vocalisation study. Goes well and they are thrilled and so am I. Webster says it’s glorious. Anne says I’ll go very far and I am elated. She and Webster are going to audition people in Springs for their production of The Vagabond King.

Have supper and then go to the SABC. See Anton Hartman and (presumably) Jossie Boshoff, his wife. See Annie Kossman and Hugh Rouse. The latter dashes in at 7 on the dot for the news and dashes out promptly at a quarter past.

We go to Studio 2c and copy in words of music and sing the Passion. Gill waits with me until Dad arrives and talks of Edgar Cree as “Uncle”.

3 February – Saturday off. Go into town with Dad. Have lunch in Century and then we see The Innocents with Deborah Kerr.

5 February – Work. Choir at night. Have an argument with a woman about Webster and Anne. We have the AGM and I talk to Ruth. She says she doesn’t blush in front of Anne alone but I mustn’t tell anyone – it isn’t that she doesn’t like Webster – she adores him – but she can’t imagine what the answer is to this strange phenomenon. I can imagine vaguely, but I don’t tell her.

8 February – Work. Go to Ansteys for lunch and then go up to the studio in the afternoon. Anne answers door looking gorgeous in white skirt with hair grey-white – lovely. She tells Nellie that Lucille came for her lesson today and had a bad nose bleed.

Go in and Anne makes tea. She washes cups and I dry them and she tells me all about the tank being clogged up with tea leaves put there by Madge Wallace. She says Webster’s play was super and LS gave it a terrific crit. They saw Oliver but it was so amateurish it nearly broke her heart. There wasn’t a good voice in the show and it makes her cry to think of the West End productions she used to go to.

She says that Webster is so tired that he didn’t wake up till ten this morning and consequently didn’t come to the studio. All he seems to do now is sleep and, as I know, he’s no youngster now. She says that Nellie told her that she hardly ever talks to her husband and she thinks she’s getting to be the same now although she expects that after so many years it’s only natural that they don’t have much to talk about any more.

I sing (believe it or not!)and she marks my vowels – all my “ah” vowels (practically) should be “ers”! Singing goes quite well but I too feel desperately tired. She sings to a very top G. Funny, but her voice has returned as though it had never been absent!

When I depart, she says she adores my hair band. The colour is glorious. I say that my hair won’t stay in curls so she says, “Do it in a bun like Hilda, my maid from St Helena, does.”

Says she’s dying for Oliver Walker’s crit.

I meet Joan Armstrong from Vanderbijlpark standing outside the Carlton Hotel in Eloff Street. She is doing a hairdressing course and she makes a note of Penny Berrington’s address in New Zealand.

OW crit is awful. He doesn’t even mention Webster at all. He says the play drags and some of the players took little trouble to disguise their own speech and mannerisms! To think that ten years ago he and Anne were right at the top of the tree and now he has to resort to playing bit parts! The Amorous Prawn was a small part too but he was wonderful in the play. Unfortunately, this part definitely falls into the bit category.

Nellie said to Anne that she felt sorry for her having to teach people to sing and it’s quite true. Had they saved six months’ wages when they were at the top they could be living in luxury in Britain. Instead – what? I know I’m secretly glad that they had to come out here but how I wish they could lead distinguished and comfortable lives. Poor Anne and Webster!

9 February – Go to guild at night and have interesting talk about the Red Cross.

10 February – Work hard in the morning. In the afternoon I go with Betty to the Old Girls’ Reunion at Quondam. All very pleasant. Misses Reid, Allen, Heller, Martin and Hanna turn up in full force as does Margaret Masterton, Yvonne Lautré, Sandra Heyman and Wendy Wayburne. We sit with Margaret, Yvonne, Eugenie Braun, Joyce Aitken and a few others. Margaret sings Nymphs and Shepherds and The Lass with the Delicate Air.

I talk to Margaret about Mrs Sullivan. Apparently, Margaret knows all about what I’m doing at the SABC. She says she’d like to join the choir when she can find the time to do so.

There is a matinee of Webster’s play next Saturday so Betty promises to go with me.

11 February – Sunday School in the morning. I have Betty to visit me in the afternoon and we decide to meet at 1.45pm at the corner of Rissik and Pritchard Streets for Webster’s play.

I listen to Webster at night and before him to Edgar Cree. Webster is excellent as usual and goes on with the Pirates of Penzance. It is really good and he helps the music along with an interesting discussion.

12 February – Work. Book for Webster’s play at Show Service. Have lunch with Mum and go to choir at night. All goes well. I talk to Ruth who tells me she is depressed. School went all wrong today and she had a puncture on her bike. She enjoys tennis and says she only goes to church (St Francis, Parkview) in order to sing in the choir. She would like to make singing her career if her voice develops fantastically and she thinks that when she leaves school, she’ll work for a while. She is going to Webster’s play on Friday first show “because the seats are cheap!” I suppose she isn’t as wealthy as I had imagined.

She is singing The Nightingale by Delius which she hates. “I’ve told the Booths,” says she, Where the Bee Sucks, which we both adore, and Hush My Dear, “It’s easy,” says she.

14 February – Very ill indeed and am incapacitated completely.

15 February – Work. I have a nice lunch in Ansteys with my mother. Go up to the studio and Anne is there alone with Nellie. When I go in Anne remarks on the fact that (as per her suggestion) I am wearing my hair in a bun. She thinks it suits me. She says she feels good with longer hair and I say I like her hair longer. She had it set for a Ciro’s charity performance for David Beattie. This went well, with 400 at Ciros and 25 artistes. The cabaret finished at one but she got home at 4! She had a wonderful time and feels that all work and no play etc. She says, “Webster has got to the stage where he wants to go home, lock the front door and go to bed and doesn’t bother to talk to me but I believe in enjoying life. Theatrical life is the only life I know and I like to have fun.”

We start on scales and she makes me sing to “moo” opening up to “ma” in front of mirror. She puts her arm round my waist and sings with me and I improve. We do vocal studies and I say I haven’t had much time to practise owing to illness. She is charmingly sympathetic. We talk about Ruth, and Anne says she’s quite a character.

We do My Mother which improves today. She says “Did I ever tell you the story of that Craven A advert?” I glance at the bewitching picture of her and say, “No.” “When I was very young and in the chorus of a show professionally for the first time, a photographer discovered me and asked me to pose for this advert. When I went along, he said, ‘Smile!’ I grinned, showing my teeth. He said, ‘That’s not smiling. I want a smile from the eyes.’ I’ve always remembered that advice. You can wangle yourself into many places with a smile and you have a lovely one if only you’d use it more often.”

That picture is truly bewitching so I decide to try to smile!

We do Sweet Polly Oliver and it goes well because of the smile. It’s the first time I’ve been able to smile for her! She says she hopes Bill Perry doesn’t come as she can’t stand him. He has a wonderful, God-given voice but he’d rather go for a couple of beers after work rather than work at it. “I am not a deeply religious person but I do believe that when you have a God-given gift like that you should work at it and make something of it.”

17 February –Work in the morning and have lunch with Mum and Dad.

I meet Betty and we go to the Alexander Theatre. Webster’s name is included in the supporting cast and there is a picture of him in very warm clothes in the foyer. We have terrific seats. Mrs Sullivan is sitting a few seats along from us.

Play begins and it is, to say the least of it, a fantastic experience. Webster as the prison doctor is on stage all the time and speaks hardly twenty words during the whole proceeding. However, as we are sitting practically at eye level to him, he stares at me and gives me a broad grin when he should be concentrating on the bleak trial. My heart jumps madly into my mouth and I blush. Thank heaven for the darkness of the theatre. I smile (a little!) at him and look at someone else when the experience gets too intense for me.

After the first act I think that perhaps this is all in my imagination but Betty – without any encouragement – says that she noticed him staring at me when his attention wandered from the stage. In the second act, all is confirmed and I spend a nice time looking affably at him and he at me! This is the first time I have had a tete a tete with a famous actor (singer) with eyes from stage to audience! His acting (when he remembers to act!) is good but as he sat there, looking rather weary with his eyes blinking in the strong stage light, I thought how he had sung with the famous and acted in all the international theatres. This part is hardly better than a walk-on. It’s shameful. He was so apathetic towards the part that instead of concentrating on the proceedings on stage he concentrated on me instead! Poor Webster. I think he would honestly prefer to be sitting at home in front of the fire at night rather than “sit on his behind” – as Ruth said – on the stage of the Alex. Nobody can know how sorry I am for him yet he – in spite of it all – remains, kind, friendly and understanding.

However, although his part was small he certainly gave me “my money’s worth!” If only Anne had seen him!!

18 February – Sunday school.

Listen to Webster at night and he is excellent. He finishes Pirates which is terrific. He says that when he was young and in the chorus of pirates they all used to bang their cutlasses on stage to make a noise! He plays a few things from The Sorcerer – someone has lent him the record.

19 February –  Work. Go to the choir at night. Ruth says she loved the play and I tell her about strange happenings when I went. Gill and I talk to Johan. We see John Silver, Esmé Euvrard, the drummer from the orchestra and Hugh Rouse.

21 February – Work hard and go to my piano lesson. Gill is there and we discuss the Bach. I do quite well at the piano. Mrs S says the play on Saturday was very depressing and Webster had an awful part to play for such a great man!

22 February – Work. Have lunch in Ansteys – gorgeous.

Go to singing at night and Webster is there! After Nellie goes I go in and we discuss the play (with no reference to his unusual behaviour!) Anne is not terribly enthusiastic about it but he says, “It’s well done, isn’t it?” I agree but say it depressed me. He says he nearly falls asleep every night and one chap opposite him actually did fall asleep the other night!

We start on My Mother and then he wades into me, pointing out various faults: diction is not clear. I have hardly any expression and no smile. He enlarges on these things. I should picture what I’m singing about – forget about the audience – OK, so I’m tired, singing should reinvigorate me, not make me think, “Don’t say I have to sing this bloody song again!”

He sings the whole song through and she accompanies him beautifully. Right, so it isn’t a song for a man to sing under any circumstances but he can and does, so beautifully that I am mesmerised and listen as though in a dream. That a man of 60 can produce such beautiful sounds and words is fantastic. Even when he criticises me he still remains my favourite tenor.

During tea he looks at the jasmine on my cardigan and says it looks like an amethyst. He used to have one on a tie-pin but Anne had it set in a ring with two diamonds.

He sings Sweet Polly Oliver for me – again with the required expression and once again it is brilliant. I can’t say I think he is fantastic to him, but he is!

Anne says I must look in the mirror and work everything out for every bar. I depart, determined to bring mind over matter.

23 February – Work and go to guild at night. They have a mock wedding with Leona and David. Ann is the best man and Peter, in long plaits is a flower girl. The Strattons are moving to Brakpan and Ann says she is dreading the move.

24 February –  Go to the doctor in the morning. Evidently I have high blood pressure possibly due to nervous tension.

We go to pictures in the afternoon – The Rebel with Tony Hancock.

Anne is the stage personality for this week in the Star. The interviewer says it amazes him how such an attractive woman is not on the stage more. He mentions the Palladium, Command performances, records etc.

Anne as the SA Showperson of the week.

While I am writing this diary and listening to the radio I hear You, Just You duet – it’s utterly glorious.

25 February – Don’t go to Sunday School today. Listen to Leslie Green in the afternoon. He plays the Booths’ Deep in Your Heart. He first met and interviewed them in 1948. He liked them and they have been friends ever since. I record Webster in the evening singing Sylvia – beautiful. I listen to the G and S programme at night. He plays Patience.

26 February – Work hard. Go to SABC at night. Ruth comes and we greet each other. While waiting for things to start Gill and I talk to a dark woman behind us. She says, “Do you learn with Anne Ziegler?” I agree that I do, and she says, “I thought I’d seen you there. I am Cora Leibowitz!” I remember Anne telling me that Cora Leibowitz sang Oh, Love From Thy Power at an Eisteddfod.

When Johan comes we start on the Stravinsky which grows on me as we go over it. At interval, Ruth and I sit in the foyer and talk gloomily about not being able to smile and we decide that this week we’re going to!” She says, “I look forward to my lesson all week and they are so sweet when I get there but I still can’t smile!”

Ila Silansky talks to us and we talk about eisteddfods and how we dislike them. Ruth won a medal at the Springs one. Ila Silansky says the children in the flat above her imitate her singing. Ruth says her two sisters tell her to shut up even when she knows her voice sounds beautiful. She can reach top G flat. At the Springs Eisteddfod Roselle sang on the same night and Roselle and her mother made Ruth nervous and consequently, Roselle came first. Ruth doesn’t have much of an opinion of her. Ruth will be 17 on sixth April so she’s only about one and a half years younger than me.

28 February – Work hard. Go to piano lesson and girl who learns singing with Mauryn Glenton (who has the studio next door to Mrs S) is singing loudly in the corridor! I see Gill, and Mrs S fills in forms for TC theory exams – two exams on 9 June.