ANNE ON HER OWN (1996 – 2003)

I had known, admired and loved Anne and Webster, and had been deeply influenced by them for forty-three years, and Anne’s death was the end of an era for me. But I am left with a few sad, but many happy memories of them, some of which I have shared in this personal memoir. If they had never been able to sing a note, I would have loved them for their warm, generous and kind hearts, and as long as I live they will never be forgotten.

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Anne and her nephew, Mike Eastwood from Portsmouth (circa 1996)
1997 With Bonnie in Joan Tapper’s garden in Mold.
Anne and Maurice Buckley on the way to the RNCM for the awards concert and presentation 1997.
1997.
Anne and Bonnie 1997.

In 1997 Webster’s son Keith died at the age of 72, and in March of 1998 Anne’s dear little Yorkie Bonnie had to be put to sleep, aged 15. Anne was very lonely without her and although she vowed that she could never have another dog because she was too old, eventually she did take on Toby, another Yorkie.

With Jean Buckley on holiday in Harrogate in 1998.
Anne, Allun Davies and Joan Tapper after a lunch in 1998.
Anne and the new Yorkie, Toby in 1999. Sadly, Anne became too frail to care for him and he had to be placed in a new home a year or so later.
Anne and Joan after lunch at the Groes Inn in 1999.
Anne and Joan 2000
Anne and some fans celebrating her birthday (circa 2000)
Anne sends a birthday greeting to me (2001)
Joan and Anne (2002)

Extract from my book Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth:

I phoned Anne on 3 August 2003. By this time her carer was coming in three times a day. Anne could still joke, “Once in the morning to see I am still alive, next at lunchtime, and then at 6pm to see I’m having supper and set for the night.”

We spoke of the days in Johannesburg when I was young – and she much younger – when everything had been happy and carefree. She could not believe that I was nearly sixty as she always thought of me as a young woman. It was forty years since I had first started playing for Webster when she went away on the trip with Leslie Green.

She had not seen Babs for over a year and did not know if she was alive or dead. We decided that it was a pity that things had worked out so badly with Babs, as it could have been a very happy arrangement.

She remarked, “That’s life – or should I say – death?” I told her that she still sounded wonderful, not like an old person at all, with her beautiful speaking voice and her alert mind. I said that I would phone again in a few months. We said, “God bless you,” to one another, and her last words to me were, “Take care, darling.”

Five days after that phone call Anne had another dreadful fall. She was taken to the Llewellyn Ward at Llandudno Hospital, where Dudley Holmes found her in September. She was pleased to see Dudley, but he was deeply shocked at the change in her physical appearance. Dudley spoke to Sally Rayner, who told him that Anne could never return to the bungalow and that they were looking round to find a suitable frail care home for her. Although she would probably never be able to write to us again, we vowed that we would write to her regularly as long as she lived.

On 27 September I wrote a letter to Anne and enclosed a cutting about Kathleen Ferrier on the fiftieth anniversary of her death, and sent it care of Sally Rayner. On the morning of 13 October, there was a telephone message from Sally to tell me that Anne was unlikely to last for more than a day or two.

I phoned Sally immediately and she told me that she was going in to sit with her that morning. Later that day Sally phoned again to let me know that Anne had died peacefully. She had sat with her, and later in the morning had been joined by Anne’s great-nephew, Michael, Jinnie’s son, from Liverpool. They remained with her, holding her hand until she passed away peacefully at 1.30 pm.

Sally had taken my letter in that morning to read out bits of interest to her – about Kathleen Ferrier, the records my actor friend Bill Curry had given me, and Love’s Philosophy, the song she had sung at her Wigmore Hall recital all those years ago. Sally said that some parts of the letter made her smile, although she had not opened her eyes for a long time.

Telegraph obituary 17 October 2003.

TIMES OBITUARY FOR ANNE ZIEGLER – 17 OCTOBER 2003

During the 1930s and 1940s Anne Ziegler and her husband, Webster Booth were among the most popular acts on the British stage. A handsome, beautifully dressed couple (he in immaculate tails and she in crinolines designed by Norman Hartnell), they were often billed as the British equivalent to the Hollywood stars, Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. With their signature tune Only a Rose and their wide repertoire of popular operetta and musical comedy, they were rarely out of work, and during their heyday topped the bill not only in concerts but also in variety shows. Each had had a successful singing career before they teamed up as an act.

Anne was born Irené Frances Eastwood in Liverpool and from an early age had trained to be a classical pianist. She gave her first recital in her native city in 1928. (As a singer, not as a pianist!)

She moved to London in 1934 and joined the chorus of the operetta By Appointment at the Adelphi Theatre. In 1936 (1934!), after being chosen from 250 applicants to play the leading soprano role of Marguerita (Marguerite!) in an early film production of Faust, she met the tenor Webster Booth.

Booth, a romantic figure with a profile not unlike Ivor Novello’s (!!), had performed in numerous Gilbert and Sullivan operas with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company as well as recording classical oratorios for HMV records. He married Anne Ziegler in 1938 and two years later they decided to form a double act.

Billed as Sweethearts in Song, their act was pure romance and was hugely popular with wartime audiences. The couple made numerous broadcasts with the BBC in which they sang a variety of rousing songs and bitter-sweet ballads including We’ll Gather Lilacs, If You Were the Only Girl in the World, Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life and The Bells of St Mary’s.

Radio inevitably led them to top the bills in variety and they often appeared in company with leading artists of the day including Douglas Byng, Tommy Trinder, Max Wall, and others. They appeared in summer shows in Blackpool, the revue Gangway at the London Palladium and in a revival of Rudolph Friml’s operetta, The Vagabond King at the Winter Garden Theatre, London.

One of their most famous stage successes was Sweet Yesterday at the Adelphi Theatre in 1945, a “cape and sword” romance of the Napoleonic era which ran for more than 200 performances.

They were happiest on stage together just as themselves in either concert or variety. Inevitably their film career was a brief one, the most notable being The Laughing Lady (1946) and Demobbed (1946 – 1944!) a light-weight comedy in which they appeared opposite Norman Evans. They did not appear opposite Norman Evans but were guest stars in two brief episodes of the film!

With the advent of rock ‘n roll in the 1950s, the appeal of the duo towards the public began to fade and they decided to emigrate to South Africa, where they lived and worked until 1978. While there they wrote an autobiography Duet, published in 1951. They emigrated to South Africa in 1956 and the autobiography was published in the UK in 1951, 5 years before they emigrated!

On their return to Britain, they were astonished to discover that there was a boom in nostalgia and particularly with music from the 1930s and 1940s. Radio stations began playing their old hits and new albums were released including Sweethearts in Song (1979) and The Golden Age of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth (1980). They made numerous television appearances including on such programmes as Looks Familiar with Dennis Norden.

Although they were no longer in their prime as singers, they continued to appear on stage well into their seventies in old-time music hall and variety shows throughout the country. The venues may not have been as glamorous or the bills as prestigious, but older audiences held an obvious warmth and affection for the couple and they were admired by their peers for their stamina and professionalism.

The impresario Aubrey Phillips, whop presented the couple in concert at the Wimbledon Theatre in 1982, remembered how romantic they appeared. “It was very touching to see them at that age, holding hands together as they left the dressing room for the stage,” he said. “They were still very much in love and audiences could sense that. That was the secret of their enduring success.”

The couple had made their home in Colwyn Bay, North Wales and occasionally appeared in concert in Llandudno, often in company with their friend Jess Yates, the organist. They sang their last duet, I’ll See You Again at a concert in the town, in June 1983. (They sang this at a concert in Bridlington!)

Webster Booth died a year later at the age of 82. Ziegler, who remained supremely elegant to the end, spent her final days in a nursing home in Colwyn Bay.

There were no children.

As there were a number of errors in the obituary, I wrote an email to The Editor of the Times.

19 October 2003 – St Andrew’s Kensington pew leaflet. I was the musical director at the Church at that time.

Anne’s funeral took place on 21 October at 2.00 pm. The organist played We’ll Gather Lilacs at the beginning and their recording of Now is the Hour was played at the end of the service as the coffin disappeared behind the curtain. One of Sally’s friends, Stanley, a member of the Rhos on Sea Savoyards, sang their signature tune, Only a Rose, during the service.

About forty people, including Webster’s grandson, Nicholas Webster Booth, and the Meals on Wheels ladies, attended the service on a rainy afternoon. Most of the people present had some firm connection with Anne, although there were a few curious “hangers-on”. Forty people did not seem a large number considering who she was and how many friends she had made over the years.

There were obituaries for Anne in papers all over the world, but I was saddened that little notice was paid to her death in South Africa, where she and Webster had lived and worked for twenty-two years. Errol sent an e-mail to the Afrikaans newspaper Die Beeld to inform them of Anne’s death but the paper made no mention of it.

A week or so later I was surprised to hear from Anne’s solicitors in Rhos on Sea that she had left me a legacy in her Will.

An abridged version of my letter was published in The Times in early November.

I contacted the actress and broadcaster, Clare Marshall at Radio Today to let her know that Anne had died. She was the only broadcaster in South Africa to pay a fitting tribute to Anne on the radio. Later I sent her copies of a number of their CDs and she continued to play them frequently on her Sunday morning programme, Morning Star. Sadly, Radio Today has changed direction and Clare’s programme is no longer featured on that station.

Ironically, Anne’s friend Babs, who was two years older than her, had died two weeks before Anne, leaving all her money – nearly £1,000,000 – to various charities.

I had known, admired and loved Anne and Webster, and had been deeply influenced by them for forty-three years, and Anne’s death was the end of an era for me. But I am left with a few sad, but many happy memories of them, some of which I have shared in this personal memoir. If they had never been able to sing a note, I would have loved them for their warm, generous and kind hearts, and as long as I live they will never be forgotten.

Evergreen – Winter 2003 – note from Joan Tapper, Anne’s friend and fan from Mold.

All the written material comes from my book: Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth which was published three years later in 2006.

Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth

Post updated on 26 July 2019

Jean Collen.

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES: MAY 1963

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great Voices 13 May 1963

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – FEBRUARY 1963

I phone Mum at lunchtime and she tells me that Webster phoned and wants me to help him in the studio for two weeks while Anne is away with Leslie Green in April. He wants me to play the piano for him! I am simply amazed and delighted at this unexpected surprise. Imagine seeing him every day for two weeks!

1 February – Work very hard at recording exam songs and pieces. Parents listen to them at night and my father is rude and hurtful about my singing – particularly Father of Heaven. I feel awful about it and cry for hours.

2 February – I go to Mrs S and do ear tests and then go to singing. I return Webster’s record and he gets the story of my father’s unkindness out of me. He tells me that his own parents were always horrible about his singing and he would never have become a singer had he listened to them. It is kind of him to compare himself to me and my poor efforts. Anne is furious about Dad’s unpleasantness and I nearly cry all over again, but don’t. She says that we’ll make a tape in the studio for him to hear. I sing, not too badly. He says I must bring the offending tape next week and let them hear it. He also says that he used to have a strong Birmingham accent but it never came over in his singing. I’m the opposite as far as Scots is concerned. I see Ruth afterwards and we see The Phantom of the Opera in the afternoon – very good.

3 February – I go to church in the morning and make arrangements with Betty for the Old Girls Reunion and My Fair Lady. Peter Marsden is most affable.

Ruth phones at night and tells me that Anne and Webster were terribly upset yesterday because my confidence had been so severely shaken and that I was so hurt. They kept saying, “Poor Jean,” and Webster said, “These damned relatives.” She says they felt awful about it and were very sorry for me, which was sweet of them and I appreciate their kindness.

4 February – I go into Mrs S’s studio to teach a child, Gail who doesn’t turn up! I come home on the bus with Gill McDade who has been doing her teaching prac. We talk theatre, which is fun.

5 February – Go to singing. Webster tells me he loved the shortbread. He has eaten some of it and still has some left. Says, “Bless you,” again and is sweet. They listen to my recording of Father of Heav’n and Anne asks me rather sharply who was playing my accompaniment. I tell her it was me. We record Father of Heav’n on my tape again and he sings it for me as it should be sung. It is so heavenly when he sings it that I want to cry. He says I must forget vowels and just think on singing the aria. Lunch in Ansteys with Mum. Dad has ‘flu when we return home – it has probably come on because of his unkindness!

6 February – I go into SS studio and work hard in the morning. I “get” Father of Heav’n! I phone Mum at lunchtime and she tells me that Webster phoned and wants me to help him in the studio for two weeks while Anne is away with Leslie Green in April. He wants me to play the piano for him! I am simply amazed and delighted at this unexpected surprise. Imagine seeing him every day for two weeks! I manage to survive ear tests with Elaine and Elsa and a lesson with Mrs Sullivan.

I come home and phone Anne who tells me that she’s got an offer to go away either on 20th or 27th April and Webster would like me to help him in the studio. I say I’d love to do it. She says we can talk about it all nearer the time, and thank you. I am thrilled to pieces. I wonder what Ruth will say.

7 February – Work hard, thinking intermittently of yesterday’s surprise with alternating delight and horror! Mum and I go to the lunch hour concert. Alfred Schenker plays the violin well.

8 February I work. Mum, Dad and I go to see Mrs P and I enjoy it just as much as I did the first time. Anne is charmingly bitchy; Webster is a honey, and Jane Fenn is sweet and amusing. I think Anne sees me in the audience but I don’t think he does – I shall know tomorrow. We have supper in the Galaxy.

9 February – Go to singing in the morning. I work with Webster and he tells me that the reason he can’t play the piano properly is his bifocals! He tells me about the music I’ll need to be able to play for the little time I’m going to help him. We do exercises and studies and when Anne appears I say how much my parents enjoyed the show. Webster says that he soaked George Moore in the second show last night. We work hard and all goes well. I see Ruth before I leave.

I go with Betty to the Old Girls Reunion at Quondam – Helena Tomes is there and Miss Mclarty talks about her trip to America. Webster’s Great Voices are good tonight – Owen Brannigan, Richard Tauber etc.

10 February – I go to church in the morning – Harvest Festival. Doreen asks me to take a class next Sunday.

I phone Ruth in afternoon after listening to Leslie Green. She says that Webster told her that Anne is going away with Leslie Green for two weeks and that I’m going to help him with accompanying! She says I must go and swim again soon – we talk for over an hour!

11 February – Work hard in the morning and go to the music library in afternoon to procure reams of music for sight reading purposes.

12 February – I go to singing. We do Ein Schwan and after the final attempt at it Webster says that it is good and I am a musician. Lucille has left a present, “To dear Uncle Boo and Aunt Anne.” – I ask you! I am made to sing in front of the mirror and halfway through I stop for some reason or other. He says, “God bless you, dear – you and Ruth should be put in a box together!” Have lunch and see Cape Fear with Mum.

13 February Work at SS studio in morning and then lunch in Rand Central. Have a lesson with Mrs S in the afternoon and work with Elaine. Talk to Gill V who is as morose as ever.

14 February – Work and lunch in Ansteys with Mum. Lunch hour concert with Bryden Thompson conducting, and Lionel Bowman as soloist is great. Edgar C, Anton H and Adelaide N are there to hear the concert. Come home and listen to Leslie Green.

15 February – Go to town with Mum and buy a lot of new clothes. Betty phones about My Fair Lady and Dad phones from Warmbaths. Webster phones later to say that Anne is sick so would I like to help him in the studio tomorrow. I say yes, for better or worse, and he says, “Don’t worry, dear. There’s nothing too difficult!” I only hope there isn’t and I can do it properly!

16 February – I go into studio to play for Webster who is very charming. My sight reading isn’t too bad. The first pupil sings Sylvia by Oley Speaks. I’m sure I’ll never forget that first song I played in the studio! One of Ruth’s songs has a difficult accompaniment but otherwise I manage fairly well. He makes me sing with Kath (on record) and we really work hard at it. Lottie (one of the pupils) says she heard me singing a few weeks ago and thought it was lovely! Lucille has an hour lesson and he makes a great fuss of her. He sings Only a Rose with her and puts his arm around her waist! This makes me feel quite jealous! He thanks me very much and says that my playing is well up to standard and I’ll do fine in April. His show of affection for Lucille dampens my good mood somewhat.

I go to the Empire to see My Fair Lady with Doreen and Betty in the afternoon and it is very good. Great Voices is very good too.

17 February I go to Sunday School and take the class. David D begs me to come again next week! Webster phones to ask me whether I will come tomorrow for three hours as Anne is still ill. I agree and he is very pleased.

Ruth phones and we discuss the happenings of yesterday. She says she adored her lesson yesterday and wishes I’d play for her all the time. She doesn’t quite know what to make of the Lucille episode. We don’t like it!

18 February – I go to the studio to play for Webster again and I get through everything fairly well. Margaret Linklater, a girl from the Orkneys is sweet. Her family run a bakery in Benoni. She tells me she’s scared of Webster. Mary Harrison from My Fair Lady has a lesson. She is an absolute scream and also sings a duet with him but there is no canoodling in that one! A tenor, John Steenkamp with a fabulous voice sings operatic arias and he thanks me very much for playing and says – rather condescendingly – that I did well.

19 February – Anne phones to ask me to come at 12.00. I do so. Lucille has a lesson before me and, despite her excellent voice is most unsuccessful! Anne says she’s not very bright musically. I sing Father of Heav’n and she says she thinks it might be a good idea for her to stay away from the studio for I have improved a lot with Webster! Webster makes me do Zion and Open thy Blue Eyes and they both go well. Anne thanks me very much for “holding the fort” while she was ill!

20 February – I work at SS studio all morning – I have to admit that it is rather a dull thud after the excitement of the past week. Have lunch in Ansteys. Mrs S saw Mrs P on Saturday and is non-committal about Anne and Webster! Unfortunately, Jane F has a broken arm and is playing Mrs Puffin wearing a plaster. Webster was trying to tell me this the other day but I didn’t quite follow what he was saying. I have an interesting piano lesson and then do more ear tests with Elaine.

21 February – There is a story in the paper about Diane Todd (who plays Eliza Doolittle) going off to the North Coast for a break. At least I know the inside story on that count. I go to town for the lunch hour concert only to find that it isn’t on this week. I feel rather disgruntled after the heaven of the past week.

23 February – I go to a ghastly performance day at Mrs Sullivan’s and to singing afterwards. They decide that I should sing Softly Awakes My Heart as a change from the exam setworks. I do this fairly well and they are pleased. I tell them about having my eyes tested and Webster says he’s not surprised because he thought I was straining them. I try on his glasses and he says that as he’s about 50 years older than me we can hardly compare our eyes with each other. Anne and he say they are simply sweating on the stage – especially him. I have a fabulous lesson and sing well. I see Ruth, sing in the SS choir and see Gypsy – a bit raucous. Listen to Webster’s Great Voices – it’s like having an old pal in the lounge – the pet!

24 February – Anne phones to ask if I should like to come at 12.00 on Tuesday and I say, “Yes, thank you.” Go to church and Gail asks me to act in another play. Mr R’s sermon is fairly good. Phone Ruth in the afternoon and she says she feels very depressed with singing and Anne and Webster. She says my singing sounded so good yesterday that she didn’t think it was me! I tell her that I’m going to sing soprano at the SABC tomorrow and she is pleased.

25 February – Work. I have my eyes tested and I am to have glasses! Go to SABC and sing soprano and have a lovely time with Ruth. Chris Lamprecht works us on the Creation and we get paid. Bryden Thompson looks in on us. At interval Ruth, Hester and I chat to one another!

26 February – I go to singing and Webster shows me all the decorations for the studio and he says that he worked yesterday wearing only underpants and overall! I sing fairly well apart from “er” vowels but Anne is in a bad mood today (Mrs Fordycey). She goes to the phone so Webster and I talk about the ear tests and Lincoln Cathedral. He is a darling and so sweet.

Ruth phones at night and we talk for an hour and cheer ourselves up!

28 February – I get my glasses today and look like a regular bluestocking. I have lunch with Mum in Ansteys and go to the concert. Bryden Thomson is simply fabulous and Philip Levy is good. I go to the library with Dad and listen to a play on the radio in which Michael Newell (who is in Mrs Puffin) acts.

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – DECEMBER 1962

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Ormond

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – NOVEMBER 1962

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Geoffrey Parsons.

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

In the society page.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19 November -Dad better today.

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

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

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

Gary Allighan writes about the forthcoming oratorio season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I get my certificate for the singing exam today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Webster goes on with HMS Pinafore at night.

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

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

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

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

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – DECEMBER 1961

Webster comes in with Lemon, wearing his white sports jacket and they decide to hear the two aspirants. Peter goes in first and I talk to Lucille Ackerman. Peter is accepted and will start on 6 January. Lucille sings Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life. She has a fantastic voice. She is 19. All her family arrive and intend to sit and talk about the glories of Lucille. However, Anne remembers me and tells them that she’ll have to ask them to go as, “The poor child has been waiting an hour for her lesson.”

1 December – Work. At night have rather dull evening at guild but I have to go because of playing the hymns. I tell everyone about the SABC choir and act vivaciously!

2 December – Work in the morning. Have a quiet afternoon. Spargos, Strattons and Fred Shaw visit at night and we have fun. I sing solos, and duets with Mr Stratton.

3 December – Sunday school. Diamonds come in the afternoon and have tea in the manse at night.

4 December – Work. At night I go to the SABC and we have a lovely rehearsal. I look around for Ruth Ormond but don’t think she’s here.

5 December – Go for music lesson and meet Gill V. there. Poor Mrs S is very cut up about the death of her mother.

7 December Work. Have lunch with mum in Ansteys. Go to studio after work and Webster answers the door looking fit. Nellie is as bad as ever.

When I go in I ask Webster how he enjoyed Durban and PE. He says he had a wonderful time but was furious that the SABC didn’t broadcast The Dream or Messiah but they put on an Afrikaans Messiah on Sunday which was grim and very poorly done. Handel must have been turning in his grave, says he. “That damned Anton Hartman,” he adds.

I make tea for myself and pay Anne before starting on exercises and scales. In the middle of the vocalisation exercise the phone rings. It is Mum to tell me to meet Dad outside the studio to get a lift home. It is the first time I am in their little office and see all the playbills with their names 50” high and wide!

We go on with the songs and they cannot decide where the grace note in Polly Oliver should go so they take the book home to check up on it.

We do My Mother.. and Webster sings it with me to get the accompaniment right. His singing is more wonderful than ever. Imagine singing with the best tenor in the world (which is what I know he is!)

I depart with Webster in the lift. He moans at me about the SABC not broadcasting the PE oratorios. He says Anton Hartman put his own wife into the Afrikaans Messiah and the bass was putrid with a limited range. At least Gary Allighan stuck up for him.

He stands with me in Pritchard street for a little while and asks if I’ll be all right. I insist I shall so he says goodbye and walks purposefully off to fetch his car. While I’m waiting for Dad Anne comes down and we talk about how lackadaisical the choir is. She decides it’s going to rain so she dashes to the other side of the road. Dad arrives on the other side too so I wave at her and depart.

Go to SABC choir and we record the carol concert for Christmas day. There is a huge crowd there, including Annie Kossman, leader of the orchestra. I sit near Gill V and we sing for all our worth. A photographer takes a number of photographs and Johan conducts beautifully and all is glorious.

At our tea break I look around for Ruth O. See a likely-looking girl – small with deep blue eyes. However, when I go out, all I can do is stare at her and she stares at me. She is sitting all by herself in the foyer. I suffer Gill, Mrs Viljoen, and Rita Oosthuisen and then, when I go back into the studio, I decide to take the bull by the horns.

I go over to her and say, “Are you Ruth Ormond?” She says, yes, she is. I tell her that I’m a pupil of Webster and Anne and I believe she is too. She is quite delighted and tells me that Anne told her about me, saying I was tall and dark and she was very, very fond of me indeed. I tell Ruth what Anne said about her. Ruth says, “I’ll bet she said I was shy-looking.” I deny this, although Anne said she was very intense. She tells me that she plays the piano as well but doesn’t play very well and we both agree that singing is wonderful and we love it more than anything but the piano is a means to an end. She’s been learning with the Booths for a year and a half. We agree too that they are both pets and good teachers, and we talk about him singing in PE.

She is a perfectly lovely girl and terrific fun but she seems a little lonely. She has the same enthusiasm as Roselle but she is quieter. I’m so glad I’ve met her and I’m sure we will be friends.

Return to my place and we manage to finish recording. There’s a party on Monday. Says Johan, “Tea or coffee will be served in the canteen.” There is hollow laughter all round. I hope Ruth goes.

8 December – Work. Listen to tape-recording of Webster’s programme – Kathleen F, Isobel B, Laurence Tibbet, Webster and Anne singing Porgy and Bess, and something specially written for them by Harry Parr-Davies, and Webster singing Give and Forgive.

9 December – Work for the morning and leave about 11.30am. The first person I meet in Pritchard Street is Gill V. She says she’s exhausted after teaching all morning. “Let’s go and have a cold drink.” She takes me into a coffee bar in the arcade between Pritchard and Kerk and we have cokes.

She emotes about how terribly we sang on Thursday and how patient, sweet and kind Johan is. It’ll probably turn out beautifully but we’ll know it isn’t as good as all that. I promise to go to the SABC party on Monday night.

Practise at night. My Mother is coming along after Webster has given me a few ideas about it.

10 December – Go to sing in a combined choral festival of carols at City Hall. There are 300 singers but they don’t sound nearly as good as the SABC choir.

Dora Sowden comes in for a while but soon disappears. During the tea break I meet Elna Hansen who was with me in Lace on Her Petticoat in 1958. She is going to teach ballet next year.

11 December – Go to SABC at night. We all go up to SABC canteen and have tables of eats and tea and coffee. Johan comes in and we sing For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow. He makes a little speech and says he is very happy with us as a choir and now we can all start eating.

Gill and I talk about music. Unfortunately, she doesn’t like Webster for some reason or other. I say he is a pet and she says nothing further. We go to the studio opposite Springbok Radio to hear our recording. It is not at all bad.

13 December –Feel a bit under the weather at work today. I ask mum to excuse me from piano. I manage to go to table tennis at night and Peter tells me he phoned Webster Booth and has made an arrangement to go to see them.

14 December –. Webster answers the door and tells me to take a cup of tea and I do this while Nellie sings. She wants to sing The Holy City and Webster sings this for her most beautifully. After Nellie’s lesson he goes to put 3d in the meter “so that I won’t be had up,” he tells me.

Anne tells me that the verse with the grace note in Polly Oliver is left out so we can forget about it. She says Ruth told her that she had met me and I say how sweet I thought her.

Webster comes in and sits on the chair opposite the piano while I sing. He says that I’m getting into a bad habit of standing sideways over the piano instead of behind it!

We do My Mother which I mustn’t drag.

After the lesson I ask if they had a call from Peter. I suggest that I could give up ten minutes of my lesson next week if he’d like to audition him then. Anne says that Nellie isn’t coming next week so I could come earlier and Peter can have the audition at 5.20. I say that Peter is very nervous and will be glad to get the audition over before Christmas. Webster says, “Good Lord! How can anyone be nervous of me?” I tell them that he’s studying to be a minister. Anne says, “Now tell him to make sure to come ’cause I’ve got his name written down.’

When I get home I phone Peter and he is thrilled about the arrangement.

Listen to Webster at night. He starts with The Ballad of Diss by Vaughan Williams. He says he was a great friend of Vaughan Williams (who looked more like a farmer than a musician) and that Anne’s uncle was the rector of Diss for many years.

Next he plays his own recording of The Little Road to Bethlehem which makes me cry. He then plays Tales of Hoffman featuring Lili Pons and Richard Tauber. He plays their own duet, Take the Sun. He says that since the copyright on Gilbert’s words has fallen away he has been asked to give a series on G and S on the radio from the beginning of next year.

17 December Sunday school. Peter worries about suitable music so I ask him to come and practise in the afternoon. He sings I’ll Walk Beside You. His voice is sweet enough but rather unusual. He is nervous about singing to Webster. Who wouldn’t be?

18 December – Work hard and have lunch at Ansteys with mum. Our photo is in the SABC bulletin. Choir looks like specks on the horizon. I can see myself on the right-hand side but poor Ruth (on the opposite side) is cut right out of the picture altogether.

20 December – Work hard and long. Go to music in the afternoon and work reasonably well at piano. See Gill and wish her a happy holiday. At night, because of the pressure of work, I get mum to phone the Booths to see if I can go up at a quarter past five with Peter and have lesson afterwards.

Go to party at Betty Johnson’s at night and have a lovely time. Dance mainly with Peter. Come home in the wee small hours of the morning.

21 December – Work hard. Meet Peter outside the studio building. He looks a wee bit nervous. Go up and Anne is wearing a gorgeous pink dress with white spots. I introduce him and she is charming and asks us to have a seat. She is teaching another nice quiet girl with a good soprano voice. When she goes Anne tells us that she’d like Peter to have his audition when Webster comes so I can start on my lesson and go on after the other girl and Peter have their auditions.

I go in and Anne offers me tea which I accept. I have tea with Anne and say how tired I am with the Christmas rush. We start on scales and she takes me over to the mirror and makes me drop my jaw down more. Webster comes in with Lemon, wearing his white sports jacket and they decide to hear the two aspirants. Peter goes in first and I talk to Lucille Ackerman. Peter is accepted and will start on 6 January. Lucille sings Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life. She has a fantastic voice. She is 19. All her family arrive and intend to sit and talk about the glories of Lucille. However, Anne remembers me and tells them that she’ll have to ask them to go as, “The poor child has been waiting an hour for her lesson.”

I go in and say what a wonderful voice Lucille has. Webster says, “Yes, but if she isn’t careful, she’ll strain it and lose it altogether.”

Anne says, “Jean went to a party last night and didn’t get to bed at all and then she had to work hard today!”

Webster asks, “Are you busy?” and I enlarge on the subject. We go through My Mother a few times, also Bedford May Day Carol and Polly Oliver. He says I can borrow his recording of the latter by Jennifer Vyvyan so that I can get the hang of the acting part of it. I wish them a happy Christmas. Webster wishes me one back and Anne thanks me for my card and comes with me to the door. She wishes me a happy Christmas and kisses me, saying, “God bless you.” When I get out of the studio my eyes fill with tears – she is a darling.

Get Elna on the bus – if I hadn’t had someone to talk to I would have sat howling with emotion! She tells me she met someone at dancing who is staying with Webster and Anne at the moment. She says she adores dancing and couldn’t live without it. We talk in the same strain.

Am now listening and recording Webster’s lovely Christmas programme Next week is the last in the series. How shall I bear it to end?

22 December – Work fairly hard. We go to the Kensington Sanitorium to sing carols with the Guild. After that, we come down to my house and have tea, song, and music.

23 December – Am lucky enough to have the day off. I do some last minute shopping and meet Cressola in John Orrs, also Joy Bodes.

See On the Double with Danny Kaye in the afternoon.

25 December – Go to church with family and everyone kisses everyone else! We go to Diamonds in the afternoon and then come home to listen to SABC choir broadcast. It is really lovely – far better than I expected. Listen to Scrooge at night – very enjoyable Christmas day.

6.15pm Carols for Christmas Night, The SABC Studio Orchestra, Conductor: Johan van der Merwe, with the SABC Choir in a programme of Carols, arranged by Spruhan Kennedy.

Wassail song (trad), O Little Town of Bethlehem (Trad), Whence is that Goodly Fragrance Flowing (Trad), The Cradle (Kennedy), Pat-a-Pan (Trad), I saw three ships come sailing by (Trad), The Son of God (Kennedy), Adeste Fideles (Trad), Pastoral Symphony (Handel)

27 December Work again like mad but get off in time to go to Mrs S for lesson. Gill is there and we discuss broadcast in blasé tones.

Go to table tennis and to Doreen Craig’s for tea afterwards. Peter brings me home.

28 December Work like mad today. Have lunch with mum. In the afternoon I am so busy that I doubt whether I’ll be able to get to my lesson. I phone and Webster answers – loud, loud, “Helloooo!” Anyway, when he hears it’s me he says, “Oh, hello, Jean,” pretty normally. I’m going up at 5.15 but manage to get away in time for my normal lesson. Lemon is there. Nellie starts singing Ye Banks and Braes and Lemon barks along, only to be scolded by Webster.

“Come in, honey,” says Anne. I go in and complain bitterly about work. She is charmingly sympathetic, shoves a biscuit down my throat and orders Webster to make tea.

She talks to me about Peter and says she doesn’t think she’s deaf but when anyone talks quickly with their mouth shut she can’t hear a word they say! She says that he need foster no illusions about his voice. It is very light and at best will only be moderately good. Anne says she loves my hair in a band, “Don’t you, Boo?” We talk about Christmas. She said it was parties all the way. Her maid is on holiday so they have to cook for themselves. Webster comes in with tea and says, “Don’t you two plan to do any work today?”

We start on My Mother and it goes quite well. He tells me to sing through the rests more and watch the “er” vowels and spread them – the only vowel I can spread. He says I must have more facial expression, for heaven’s sake! He stands and stares at me and I feel self-conscious and he knows it!

They sing the May Day carol together. He sings beautifully. Anne still has a tremor in her voice. She says, “The maid got a holiday because I wasn’t in a show this year.”

We work through everything and all goes quite well – considering. Bill Perry doesn’t come but apparently he goes on paying all the same.

I go down with Webster after wishing Anne a happy new year. He tells me he’s so tired he can hardly stand up and his legs are sore. When we’re in the lift I say, ”Tonight is your last programme, Webster.” He says, “Oh yes. I’m sorry it’s ending. I’ve enjoyed the series.” and I say, “So have I. I’ve heard every single programme.” He looks quite impressed, and then remarks, “I haven’t!” He tells me that he got a letter from Douglas Fuchs, the regional director, saying how much he and his wife had enjoyed the programme. He says he’s looking forward to the G and S programme although he doesn’t know if he’s approaching it in the right way, but if he isn’t he can always revise it. We part in Pritchard Street – he going one way, me the other. He’s such a pet.

At night his programme is glorious. He plays something by the Huddersfield Choral Society, I Know That My Redeemer Liveth by Elsie Morison. I’ve recorded everything so I’m not going into great detail. There are two records by Webster and Now is the Hour – it makes me howl.

31 December – Well, this is the end of another year. What have I achieved?

Passed matric although it must be classed as an extra from 1960.

Learnt shorthand, typing and bookkeeping. Started work and it’s probably good to know that I’m capable of doing a hard day’s work!

Learnt the rudiments of singing. I can keep my tongue flat now and I have a far better idea of how to sing than I did a year ago.

Learnt much about music – mainly from Webster’s radio programme I only knew about 2 pieces from the Messiah before. Now I know the entire work!

Webster and Anne have inspired me to do various things

I sang my first solo and was accepted into the SABC choir.

What would I like to achieve in the new year?

Pass my singing and piano exams and, at least, be able to be good enough to teach music for a living.

Sing like a bird!

I’d like to make real friends with Ruth Ormond and others in the choir.

I wish I had fewer inhibitions. Let me be able to smile when I sing.

I’d like to be a nicer person. I’ve made many mistakes, been bitter and hard at times, but the new year holds a wealth of opportunities!

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – JULY 1961

6 July – I go to the music library and have lunch with Mum in the Capeniro.  Afterwards I go to the lunch hour concert and meet Jill Harry, who is much nicer than usual. Edgar Cree conducts orchestra beautifully – Eric Coates suite, My Fair Lady, with soloists from the orchestra.

At night I go to the choir with the Strattons. Anne has gone on holiday with Leona. Mr Stratton and Mrs Weakly are singing a duet on Sunday night.  Come home from choir and listen to Webster on the radio. It’s difficult to believe that I haven’t seen him for over two weeks. He starts off with something from Elijah but makes the terrible mistake of saying, “Now something from Mendelssohn’s Messiah!” He plays Woe Unto Them sung by Gladys Ripley and an aria by Harold W. He also  plays his own recording of In Native Worth (Creation), which is lovely and two extracts from Nabucco. Evidently Nabucco was the nickname Verdi gave to Nebuchadnezzar because the proper name was so long. “I always associated Nebuchadnezzar with one of the earliest stories I ever heard. A man knocked down a cow in Nebuchadnezzar street and went to fetch a policeman to see what he could do about it. The policeman came along and took out his notebook to write down the details. When he realised the name of the street he said, “Let’s drag the cow round into Smith Street – I can’t spell Nebuchadnezzar!”

He plays an aria by Ezzio Pinza and then the Slaves’ Chorus. After that comes the part of the programme I’ve been waiting for – The Vagabond King, revived by them in 1943 at the Winter Garden Theatre. He plays three duets from the show and I lie in bed and cry the whole way through!

He ends with the overture to Iolanthe and says it’s his favourite G and S opera. And then goodnight and goodbye for another week, but I’m luckier than most – I’ll see them on Monday. I don’t honestly think I could live without seeing them. They’re different from parents and relations. I know that one day I’ll have to say goodbye to them – it’s inevitable – happiness like this doesn’t last forever, but while it does there is no harm in being happy, is there?

7 July – I hear Webster singing in an early recording from 1936 – I Breathe on Windows – a very lively affair by Billy Mayerl.

8 July – Go into town in the morning and buy a few things, including a Rhodesian newspaper. Webster and Anne’s concert in Salisbury is splashed all over it. Go to see Return to Peyton Place with Dad – seaminess isn’t in it!

9 July – Go to Sunday school and have the pleasure of teaching my little boys – and one little girl – and also playing the piano for the department. Sing in choir at night.

10 July – Go to lesson in the afternoon and enter a very quiet Polliacks building (family day) They are running late so I sit in the kitchen and listen to them giving a lesson to Dell. She sings Il Bacio very charmingly and Webster sings along with her. Anne can’t stand this so she says quite rudely, “Shut up!” He does for a time and then joins in again. Dell says that she heard Doris Brasch singing this song very nicely the other evening and evidently Anne gives her a very fishy look for Dell says, “Oh, don’t you like her?” and Anne replies, “Yes, but I think that this is far too high for her.”

Anne has her hair died mousy blonde which looks quite attractive and startling. She tells me she had a really nasty time in the last week. “As you know, I went up to Rhodesia and the first thing I did was to contract a ‘flu virus so I spent practically the whole time in bed.” We start on scales and she looks really ill. I feel terrible for making her pound away at the piano. Webster comes in from the verandah dressed very flamboyantly in a brown checked waistcoat and brown shirt. They are pleased with my scales.

We go on to Rest in the Lord and Webster tells me to almost hum the first note to get the hang of it. He sings along with me and this time she doesn’t tell him to shut up. During one of the breaks, Anne tells me that when she was in Rhodesia she had to make a recording but collapsed halfway through it on Tuesday and then had to get up to do the concert on Wednesday and then they had to finish the recording on Thursday and by the time they got home he had the ‘flu as well. Anne shivers  the whole time during my lesson and complains of the cold – she can even make the ‘flu romantic!

We do the Messiah aria which goes reasonably but not nearly as well as when I had Anne to herself. She discovers the Noel Coward songs that I have in a book and she plays them through, singing them vaguely and is quite delighted with them. She says I may as well do a few of them because what I’m doing is hell of a serious, so she picks out three and I try them. I feel a bit nervous singing musical comedy in front of them for isn’t that where they made their money and their name? Anyhow, I do and all goes fairly reasonably. If Webster didn’t exert that magnetic personality of his, I should feel far happier.

When I leave I tell Anne that I hope she will feel better soon. She smiles wanly and says she hopes so too. During the lesson, she remarked several times that she was feeling dizzy, so I was waiting for her to faint into my arms.

Webster comes down with me on the lift to unlock the door, and for want of something better to say, I tell him that it was pity they both got ‘flu in Rhodesia. He says, “I honestly think it was more of a heavy cold that I caught.” His manners are charming as always, and he opens the doors in a courteous fashion and comes right out into the street with me. The pictures are out and I can feel the eyes on us, staring at him. I just happen to be in the way! I leave him standing at the door of Polliacks in the “I am a monarch of all I survey” attitude.

13 July Go to studio in the afternoon. They are talking to a man from the Star as they’re going to advertise for more pupils. “A few vacancies exist for selected pupils..” The ad is going to be in the Star all next week.The man leaves and there is another knock at the door. Webster answers and says, “My God, you’re early aren’t you?”

“I know, I’m sorry,” says Roselle. “But I’ve got a reason. Two men were pestering me downstairs.” Webster looks amused and says, “Well, you’re lucky that someone takes notice of you, aren’t you?” Roselle makes a horrified face and says, “Oh, Mr Booth – they’re horrible.”

Anne tells me that she has to go for her glasses from the optician, but Webster will take me through exercises. What a vile player he is. Exercises go reasonably, but Rest in the Lord cracks on “rest” – an “er” vowel – and we do various experiments to get this without a crack. I think it is partly nervousness at being alone in the presence of the maestro. However I manage to waffle through it and then Anne returns and listens and says it is very unsteady – the understatement of the year.

Do some more exercises and Webster says, “Well her voice cracks in the right place.’ Anne says, “Nonsense – she’s not a bass!” I do more exercises and eventually it is a bit better.

Webster tells me to get Samson and Delilah and look at an aria there. Anne, being in a flippant mood today, rubs it in about me being a contralto with a mezzo top!! I ask her how her ‘flu is now and she says, “Oh, fine, thank you. I got rid of it by working in the garden.”  Come home feeling worse than death.

At night Webster plays Schubert’s Ave Maria sung by Marian Anderson – a contralto who doesn’t crack and I don’t suppose she would crack even if she had someone as terrible as Webster to accompany her!  He plays Love in her eyes sits playing from Acis and Galatea. He says afterwards, “Well, all you young tenors, get your tongues down and your jaws working!” Bragger.

He plays two recordings from Lohengrin – the prelude and an aria and then some music from Kiss me Kate with Alfred Drake and Pat Morrison, and says that it came to London about 1950 but “Anne and I heard the record before it came to London and we liked Wunderbar, which has since become our most popular duet.” He plays two cuts from the record and says, “Now Anne will join me in singing Wunderbar in Afrikaans, believe it or not.” I can safely say that this left me cold. Their accents, voices, everything about it is terrible.  Webster ends with the Nutcracker suite and says that next week he’ll play something from Gangway.

17 July – Poor Linda Michael from college was killed in a motor crash with her brother. Can hardly believe it – poor Linda.

19 July – Back at college and all is miserable because of poor Linda’s tragic death.

2O July – College goes nicely with Jill and Lyn.  Go to studio and a gorgeous blonde Anne answers the door. She tells me that Dell is sick – her sixth cold this season.

We start on “ca” and Anne is pleased with new tone. Webster comes in, rather red in the face, and looks surprised to see me there so early. They are pleased with cas and we start on Oh, Love, From Thy Power from Samson and Delilah. Anne sings the whole thing jolly well, considering that it is miles too low for her. She says that Cora Leibowitz sang it at the eisteddfod for the mezzo solo.

This song ends on low A flat and they spend time getting my jaw in the right position for it. After seeing much of Webster’s bad teeth, I manage it. Anne says I must put some “guts” into it and gives rather a good imitation of my choir boy lyrical singing of the dramatic aria. Then she laughs and pats me and tells me that she doesn’t mean to be unkind – I know that, don’t I? I start again and become a little more dynamic and put “Vulgarly I know, darling, guts into it.”

Says something to Webster – and looks fondly at him, saying, “An old North country expression, isn’t it?” She asks me to copy the piece out and, as she says, it’s a stinker to play and to copy. Swears charmingly, “These bloody keys; where the hell is it?”

Webster sees me to the door and asks concernedly if I can manage. They are in good moods today.  Meet Roselle on ground floor rushing madly, “Am I late?” she yells, and then, with a “My goodness!” she jumps into the lift and is gone.

There is an article in the paper about them in the morning – they were guests of honour at the Rand Women’s club and spoke archly about their world tour in 1948.

Go to choir and am now listening to Webster. He starts with the Bach Mass in B Minor Hosanna in Excelsis sung by the Society of Friends of New York. He says he thinks the performance is too staccato. He plays the Ab Dextrum sung beautifully by Kathleen Ferrier. Webster says she was “the loveliest of singers and our dear friend”.  He plays his own recording of Sullivan’s Lost Chord made in the Kingsway Hall which seats 2000 people, a full symphony orchestra and a choir of 500. Accompanied by Herbert Dawson on the organ.

He plays three pieces from Il Trovatore and says that he isn’t very fond of the opera – it’s a bit corny. He saw the opera at the Carl Rosa when they were going through a bad period and the chorus was very small so they had to relay it. 

25 July – College. At night (after large singing practice) Peter Spargo takes me to Sunday school fellowship at Ann S’s home. A wee bit dull but we have a lovely tea! Come home at 11.

27 July College – all gay.  Go to studio in afternoon and I listen to Dell having a lesson. Anne is in a really lovely mood. She comes into the kitchen and asks, “Would you like a cuppa?” I agree and she fills the kettle. “The old man’s sick, so that’s why he isn’t here.” I say, “Oh, shame. What’s wrong?” She tells me that he has ‘flu really badly and she was frightened in case it was going to mean congestion of the lungs. “On Monday he came home from doing his recording and felt so ill he went to bed.” On Tuesday she called the doctor and he said Webster had to stay in bed. By Wednesday he was delirious.

Then Anne says, “Don’t think I’m telling you lies if I tell someone on the phone that he’s gone away for a few days. There is a certain woman who would be over at our house immediately if she knew he was alone in bed!” 

We do some scales and then have tea. She says she has a terrible headache from all the running around. She had a lot of penicillin injections in Rhodesia so she warded off the ‘flu but Webster got it badly. She has a misplaced vertebrae and she’s not even supposed to lift a case, but she likes gardening. “Life’s too short to take precautions and worry about everything.”

We do Oh, Love and she is delighted with the transcription and said she’d come to me any day for copy work. The song goes fairly well and we go through it several times. She is a darling today and I sing well – better than when I’m trembling in front of Webster. I say that I hope Webster will be all right soon and she says she’ll be glad to have him back in circulation again.

I listen to him at night. I haven’t got my list of records here but I remember most of them – a glorious record of Be Thou Faithful Unto Death. He says he always sings this at weddings. Please let him sing it at mine! He also plays his recording of Celeste Aida – from Aida, in his opinion Verdi’s best opera – conducted by Sir Malcolm. Plays a selection from South Pacific – not a musical I care for. Next week his musical will be King’s Rhapsody.

He talks about adjudicating in in Salisbury and the good choirs they have there. “But, alas, choral work seems to be a lost art in the Union,” says Webster. I hope he’ll be better soon.

28 July – Last day of college. Say goodbye to Jill and everyone and feel quite OK about it. I have lunch with mummy then we come home – meet Liz Moir and she asks what I’m doing I say in my “Lizzie” voice that I’m unemployed at present. She wishes me luck and we bid each other goodbye – I still think she’s a pet.

29 July  – Go for a job interview this morning. We buy a Philips 4 track tape recording and it is really gorgeous.

We see Tea for Two with Doris Day and it is lovely.

At night I hear my own singing voice on tape for the first time and I am quite pleased. It’s not as bad as I imagined it might be. We have fun with the tape recorder!

30 July Tape, tape glorious tape! In the afternoon I record Webster and Anne’s Hear My Song, Violetta and it is perfect in every respect but not sentimental enough to make me cry.  I go to church and night – Denis Newton preaches beautifully and the choir sounds a little better than usual.

31 July Spend the day practising singing and piano and amusing myself on the tape – great fun.