BOOTHS IN SOUTH AFRICA (1958 – 1959)

October 1958 –
Wedding Anniversary – Merrie motoring. Our charming stage
celebrities, Anne Ziegler and her husband, Webster Booth, will spend the night of their 20th wedding anniversary, which takes place early next month, rehearsing until 1 am for Merrie
England for the Johannesburg Operatic and Dramatic Society. It opens in the Reps Theatre with a gala performance in aid of Santa on November 12.
When the Booths
came to see me recently about this they were worried about their car parking situation. “Double parked – oh, dear – we must be
quick,” they said.
Cars loom large in
the lives of the couple. Anne’s husband said, “I once followed
her in my car from Maritzburg to Durban. I won’t tell you the speed
at which she was travelling.”
Mr Booth may have
endorsed the remark, but the driving licence remains unendorsed!

21 January 1958 – At Home with Anne. Anne presented this series on Springbok Radio. The programme was still running in July 1959.

A poor newspaper cutting photocopied by microfiche. 1 February 1958.

1 February 1958 – Jennifer Vyvyan recital

A photograph of the Booths appeared in the Rand Daily Mail. They had attended the recital given by English soprano Jennifer Vyvyan in the Selborne Hall. Webster had appeared with Jennifer Vyvyan in performances of Hiawatha and Messiah in 1955 before he left the UK.

7 March 1958 with Harry Stanton.

7 March 1958. Outdoor theatre at Joubert Park.

14 March 1958. Little Theatre, Springs.

17 May 1958 Elijah at the City Hall.
20 May 1958.

31 May 1958 – Springs Operatic Society – May Time

31 May 1958 – Springs Operatic Society – May Time
31 May 1958
16 June 1958
16 June 1958

Merrie England 16 June 1958 with Mabel Fenney, Jimmy Nicholas and Pam Emslie
Anne and Webster in Merrie England, East London 1958.
Anne and Webster in Cape Town.
1 August 1958 Vagabond King, Durban.
22 July 1958.
July 1958

October 1958 – Wedding Anniversary – Merrie motoring.

Our charming stage celebrities, Anne Ziegler and her husband, Webster Booth, will spend the night of their 20th wedding anniversary, which takes place early next month, rehearsing until 1 am for Merrie England for the Johannesburg Operatic and Dramatic Society. It opens in the Reps Theatre with a gala performance in aid of Santa on November 12.

When the Booths came to see me recently about this they were worried about their car parking situation. “Double parked – oh, dear – we must be quick,” they said.

Cars loom large in the lives of the couple. Anne’s husband said, “I once followed her in my car from Maritzburg to Durban. I won’t tell you the speed at which she was travelling.”

Mr Booth may have endorsed the remark, but the driving licence remains unendorsed!

November 1958 JODS

l January 1959

8 January, 12 March 1959 Variety under the stars.
17 February 1959.
February 1959.
7 March 1959 – A bed for Zandile.
12 March 1959 Merrie England – Dora Sowden.
11 April 1959 SABC Pavilion Rand Easter Show.
May 1959.
Waltz Time, East London 18 May 1959.
Anne and Lemon. Anne opens flower show at the City Hall. 1959.

At the old Carlton Hotel – the Press Club party for the All Blacks.
At home in Craighall Park.

With Lemon and Spinach.

With Lemon.

Advertising Lourenco Marques Radio.

Anne and Webster launch their Afrikaans LP – Net Maar ‘n Roos.

The Glass Slipper December 1959.

Anne plays the Fairy Godmother.

Jean Collen 30 April 2019.

BOOTHS IN SOUTH AFRICA (1956 – 1957)

My most enduring memory of the occasion was the tea break when Anne, her hair recently cut in a rather startling Italian Boy hairstyle, drank tea and chatted animatedly with the star-struck tea ladies a few feet away from where we were seated. Little did I know then what a great influence they would exert on the rest of my life. JEAN COLLEN.

Signing autographs in South Africa – 1956.
16 August 1956 Anne and Webster appeared in Spring Quartet in Cape Town shortly after they arrived in South Africa.

17 September 1956 Hofmeyr Theatre, Cape Town. Cockpit Players present Spring Quartet with Anne and Webster, Joyce Bradley, Cynthia Coller, Jane Fenn, Gavin Houghton, Sydney Welch, directed by Leonard Schach.

17 October 1956 – Beethoven Ninth Symphony. City Hall, Johannesburg. Webster, Betsy de la Porte, Mimi Coertse, Frederick Dalberg, SABC Orchestra, Festival Choir, conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent.


A very poor newspaper cutting (taken by microfiche) showing Webster, Betsy de la Porte, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Mimi Coertse and Frederick Dalberg,
12 November 1956 – Night in Venice for JODS
14 November 1956 – Night in Venice for JODs.

NIGHT IN VENICE

15 November 1956 – Star “crit” by Oliver Walker.

Booths in convertible Hillman Minx outside their flat at Waverley, Highlands North.
December 1956

16 April 1957. Webster has cartoon drawn at Rand Easter Show by Roy Sumner.

21 April 1957 – Easter Sunday morning, The Crucifixion. St George’s Presbyterian Church, Noord Street, Webster, Wilfred Hutchings, Choir augmented with Johannesburg Operatic Society chorus, conducted by Drummond Bell.

Polliack’s Corner – eighth floor balcony Booth studio Singing and Stagecraft. (Photo: Gail Wilson)
Anne’s new hairstyle – July 1957.

July 1957 – Keith Jewell and The Dream of Gerontius

At Cape Town – and this is almost unbelievable (but it is true) – young organist, Keith Jewell (only 27) put on the St Matthew Passion in the City Hall. But more than that he has another three oratorios scheduled before the end of the year, one of which is Elgar’s gigantic work The Dream of Gerontius, which has never before been performed in South Africa. Webster Booth, who has sung in a number of Dreams under Malcolm Sargent at the Albert Hall will be taking a leading role.

I know for a fact – he told me a day or two ago – that Edgar Cree is itching to put it on here. While we have the orchestra, the choirs and singers like Booth right on our doorstep, my reaction is an exasperated: WHY NOT?

1 August 1957 – Anne in her first straight play in South Africa as Dearest in Angels in Love.
September 1957. The Reps did not take up the option on this play.
Advert for Adrenaline!

20 November 1957 – Scots Eisteddfod.

Anne Hamblin was awarded 95% in the Scots Eisteddfod. Webster Booth was the adjudicator.

23 November 1957 – Messiah, St George’s Presbyterian Church and St James’ Presbyterian Church, Malvern. Anne, Webster, Joy Hillier and Wilfred Hutchings, conducted by Drummond Bell.

My parents and I (aged 13) attended the performance at St James’ Presbyterian Church, Mars Street, Malvern. It was the first time I had seen Anne and Webster, although I had already heard many of their recordings on the radio.

We arrived in Johannesburg in October of 1957. My father had been offered a job in the same firm as a former Scottish colleague from ISCOR in Vanderbijl Park and we were living in the Valmeidere Hotel in Roberts Avenue, Kensington until we found a suitable flat. We witnessed the lights of Sputnik flying over our heads at night and wondered whether this was a sign that we had made the right move to the big city.

  The boarding house proprietors were fellow Scots, Mr and Mrs Jimmy Murdoch. They were friendly with a couple called Mr and Mrs McDonald-Rouse. Mrs McDonald-Rouse ran a flourishing amateur concert party and was the accompanist to all the singers in the group. Her daughter Heather, a theatrical costumier, had recently married and sometimes dined with her parents and her new husband at the Valmeidere. In due course we were introduced to the McDonald-Rouses, Heather and her husband.

Through her work, Heather had met Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth shortly after their arrival in South Africa the year before and had become very friendly with them. Through the grapevine, we heard that Webster had sung the aria from Mendelssohn’s oratorio, St Paul at Heather’s wedding, entitled Be Thou Faithful unto Death. Later I learnt that this aria was one of his favourite choices when requested to sing a solo at a wedding. Another of his wedding favourites was the ballad, My Prayer.

John Corrigan, my father’s colleague, was an elder at St James’ Presbyterian Church, then situated in Mars Street, Malvern. He invited us to a performance of Messiah to be held in the Church Hall, conducted by Drummond Bell, organist and choirmaster at the Central Presbyterian Church, St George’s. Coincidentally, the tenor and soprano soloists were to be Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth. This was the first time I ever attended a performance of Messiah, and the first time I ever saw Anne and Webster. I did not know then that Webster had been one of the foremost oratorio tenors in Britain, but I had heard a number of their duet recordings, which were often played on the radio. It now seems rather incongruous that they should be singing Messiah in a suburban Church Hall when only two years before Webster’s oratorio stamping ground had been the Royal Albert Hall, with the Royal Choral Society, with Sir Malcolm Sargent as conductor and other foremost oratorio soloists.

Since their arrival in South Africa, Anne and Webster had received a great deal of publicity on the radio and in the newspapers. As I have mentioned, their records were featured on South African radio a number of times each day. South Africans could not quite believe that such an illustrious theatrical couple had willingly chosen to exchange their successful careers and lives in the UK as the best-known duettists in Britain – possibly the world – to become immigrants in the colonial backwater of Johannesburg. My parents remembered them fondly from their frequent broadcasts in the UK, and seeing them in Variety and in the musical play, Sweet Yesterday at Glasgow theatres.

We sat fairly near the front of the hall on the right-hand side. I wish I could say that I remember every moment of that performance nearly sixty years ago. But sadly. I only remember snatches of it. Webster looked rather stern during the whole proceeding and I am sorry to admit that I was not immediately struck with the exquisite beauty of his voice. I did not know every aria from the Messiah then as I do now. In fact, the only piece I had heard before was the Halleluiah Chorus.

My most enduring memory of the occasion was the tea break when Anne, her hair recently cut in a rather startling Italian Boy hairstyle, drank tea and chatted animatedly with the star-struck tea ladies a few feet away from where we were seated. Little did I know then what a great influence they would exert on the rest of my life. JEAN COLLEN.

25 November 1957 – Messiah, Johannesburg Town Hall, Webster Booth(tenor)

December 1957 – The Dream of Gerontius, City Hall, Cape Town. Webster, conducted by Keith Jewell, aged 27. This was the first performance of Gerontius in South Africa.

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES: JUNE 1963

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

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

Webster as Colonel Fairfax

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

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

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

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

Lewis Sowden – Rand Daily Mail.

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

Oliver Walker – the Yeomen of the Guard crit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Yeomen of the Guard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – JANUARY 1963

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great Voices

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anne and Webster with their stage children.

We go to the Carmichaels for drinks in the evening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crit from Rand Daily Mail.

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

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

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

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

We see Jigsaw with Jack Warner – very good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr and Mrs Fordyce in programme of Goodnight Mrs Puffin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – MAY 1962

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

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

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

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

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

Dad and I have a swim in the afternoon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am sitting with choir altos behind the orchestra.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – FEBRUARY 1962

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

1 February – Lunch with Mum in Ansteys.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14 February – Very ill indeed and am incapacitated completely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18 February – Sunday school.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anne as the SA Showperson of the week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARY – SEPTEMBER 1961

Go for piano lesson with Sylvia Sullivan in the afternoon. She says that I can do a Senior Trinity College exam and seems quite pleased with my playing. Start on set work and she is stickler about fingering. She is very good but quite impersonal – quite the opposite to Webster and Anne. Her niece brings her a cup of coffee but certainly not to me! Now look at Webster and Anne – the great man makes tea himself and then gives us all a cup into the bargain!

5 September – Have lunch with mum. Opening night of The Amorous Prawn. Peter phones at night.

6 September – Go for piano lesson with Sylvia Sullivan in the afternoon. She says that I can do a Senior Trinity College exam and seems quite pleased with my  playing. Start on set work and she is stickler about fingering. She is very good but quite impersonal – quite the opposite to Webster and Anne. Her niece brings her a cup of coffee but certainly not to me! Now look at Webster and Anne –  the great man makes tea himself and then gives us all a cup into the bargain!

Oliver Walker’s crit in the Star is a dream as far as Webster is concerned. He says that he has a wonderful sense of timing.

We go to the Strattons at night and are showered with Ann’s handiwork made in connection with the Teachers’ Training College.

Anne and Leslie Green at The Amorous Prawn First Night, September 1961

Article about Mabel Fenney – back in South Africa on a visit from Berlin.

Mabel Fenney back in South Africa on holiday. Returning to Berlin.

7 September – Go into town in the afternoon and book for The Amorous Prawn matinee next Saturday. Go up to Webster and Anne and Webster answers the door as large as life and in quite a gay mood.

My friend Dell is in having lesson once more singing Mimi’s aria from La Bohème and breathing badly. Anne gives her usual breathing lecture and makes her practise. Dell says, somewhat sarcastically, “I had better take up swimming to improve my breathing.” Anne says that the area around her own ribs is quite hard which is unusual for a woman and also very large. She used to be quite tiny when she was young – 89,000 years ago – but intercostal breathing developed her. She goes on about how healthy it is to breathe properly and yesterday morning after Webster’s first night when they both felt like hell, breathing did them good.

I go in and pay. Webster asks if I’d like some tea and I say I would love a cup. Anne shouts through – “Boo – will you bring the biscuits, darling?” She asks if I’m going to see him in his play and I say, “Yes. I booked today for next Saturday’s matinee.”

Anne says, “Oh, sweet! It’s really a wonderful play. The first night was one of the best I’ve been to – the audience laughed right through the whole three hours. Being British, I think you’ll really enjoy it.” I say that the crits were wonderful and she agrees emphatically. Webster says I mustn’t expect to see him till about 5 o’clock. He’s actually very modest about the whole thing.

We start on scales and she makes me smile into a little mirror. I get it right but my cheeks tremble for some reason. She, of course, has to notice this.”

She corrects the Delilah vowels – I tell her that she’ll have to excuse it because I was ill at the weekend when I did it. She is all sympathy and finds out that I had a stomach chill. Most of the vowels are right. She tests them as she goes through it and says, “This would sound funny on the tape.”

When we do the aria they are both very happy about it and say that there is an improvement. Webster goes to put 6d in the meter. She says the aria has come on very nicely and next week we must do something about the consonants.

When we have tea and Anne has a biscuit, she says, “I shouldn’t have this really. I’m getting so fat!” I almost choke with derisive laughter! Thankfully, I don’t say the inevitable, “Oh, nonsense, Anne. Look at me!”

I happen to be wearing a copper bracelet for it matches the clip in my hair. Anne says she hopes I’m not suffering from rheumatism. We have a good laugh about it.

I meet Webster at the bottom of the stairs and say goodbye to him.

I go to choir at night and we work through anthem which is lovely – I hope they do it properly on Sunday.

Listen to Webster at night. He presents a really charming programme. He starts with Elijah and says that it’s popular because it’s tuneful music and he thinks that, first and foremost, music should be tuneful. He plays a duet sung by Isobel Baillie and Gladys Ripley, conducted by Sir Malcolm. Next, he plays his own recording If, With All Your Hearts, with Warwick Braithwaite conducting, next Is Not His Word Like a Fire? By Harold Williams. He plays three arias from the Magic Flute, more from Gypsy Baron and ends with Nutcracker suite.

9 September In the Star there is a gorgeous picture of an almost aristocratic-looking Anne with Mr Leslie Green at first night of Amorous Prawn.

10 September Sunday Times crit by James Ambrose Brown is also excellent and says much the same about Webster – suave, man of the world. Very nice.

Mum and I go with the Diamonds to Hartebeespoort dam and we skirt Craighall Park. I like it very much – it isn’t anything like Houghton but just nice, and in-between and quite modern.

12 September – Go into town and have lunch with Mum. We decide that as I am presumably going to start work soon I should go today and see Anne to arrange a time for my lessons.

She phones and Webster answers and tells him that it is Mrs Campbell, Jean’s mother. He says, “Oh yes, how d’ye do?” Mum asks to speak to Anne and he says, “Who?” and eventually obliges with Anne who says I can come at half past one.

I go up to the studio. Webster answers the door. He opens door, looks at me and says in outraged manner, “What the dickens are you doing here?” I tell him that I have an appointment at half past one and he looks relieved and tells me to have a seat for a few minutes. There is a big bass singing very loudly. Hear Webster cursing the kettle – “My God, this kettle’s got too damn hot!”

Anne comes in to see me, dressed in tight skirt and dark over-blouse. Her hair is almost straight but attractive as always. She goes through her appointment book while big bass continues to sing. We decide on Friday at 5.30 for next week. She asks, “Are you glad you’re starting work?” I say, “Not particularly. I’ve enjoyed doing nothing!”

13 September – Go for piano lesson in afternoon. I feel more at home with Mrs S now.

14 September – Go to Anne in afternoon. She answers the door looking glorious in a very low-cut summer dress. A girl is singing Hello, Young Lovers – not very well. Anne says, “That must be the Irish in you.” The girl says quite vehemently that there is no Irish blood in her. Anne says, “Oh, surely – with a name like Maureen!”

Maureen departs I get a surprise when I see that it is Maureen Schneider who was at college with me.

Anne and I have discussion about times and come to reasonably satisfactory arrangements. Webster presents me with the Samson and Delilah record with a really seductive picture on the cover. Anne says we should listen to it here first so while Webster sets up the record we start on scales. She makes me go to the mirror to see that I drop my jaw right down and then she comes over and puts her arm round me and we do it together. She says that my scales are really lovely.

Webster plays the aria and says I have in my own voice all the power and quality of Risé Stevens if I would project and bring it forward and work. He wants to hear me singing with as much richness as Risé Stevens next week. I have a wonderful voice and I must use it. I feel quite embarrassed but it must be true – he doesn’t say things without meaning them.

Webster makes tea and I sing the aria – well, I think. Webster goes to put 3d in the meter. Anne says she doesn’t think I’m too young to sing Delilah because she had a friend, Nancy Evans and she sang it at 16. She tells me that when she was 17 she joined a women’s choir of 24 voices and received more training in it than anywhere else.

I tell her that I know Maureen and Anne says she seems a sweet girl but hasn’t got a voice anywhere near mine.

We go on with the aria and it goes well. Webster’s suit arrives and Anne signs for it. Webster is in the kitchen with Roselle who is making a frantic attempt to wash the dishes. I depart with record and the signature of Webster Booth scrawled all over it.

I go to choir and then listen to Webster. Today is the 220th anniversary of Messiah so he plays some of it. It was first produced in Dublin where you can get gorgeous shrimps. Handel discovered that one of the singers – a little man from the North wasn’t singing in the right time. He said to him in broken English, “I zot you zed zat you could seeng at sight?” Replied the man, “Ay, so I did, but not at first sight!” His accents are gorgeous and I have a good laugh. He plays the chorus, The Glory of the Lord.

At the opening ladies were requested not to come to the performance wearing hoops. He, himself, has given a recital in the same music hall and he liked it. He plays his own recordings from Messiah and says that this is one of his favourite recordings and one of his best.

He goes on to Madame Butterfly which he says he doesn’t like it very much as it is built around two arias, The Love Duet and One Fine Day.

He goes on to Eldorado by Ralph Trewhela. He says it was originally written for “Anne and myself” for a radio programme but because Anne had so many commitments he was “ably partnered by Doris Brasch”.

15 September – Go to guild at night. I give the epilogue which goes very well and everyone congratulates me about it. We practise for Guild Sunday and they can’t manage one of the hymns so Mrs Russell makes the 4 from the choir sing it alone. Once again I practically sing a solo. I have to do the reading and talk about the work.

Peter walks Doreen, and me home and I get home at about 11.

16 September – We go to see Webster’s play and it is really gorgeous. When we arrive the first people I meet are Claire Judelman and Adele Fisher. Claire tells me about European trip and I tell her I’m here to see my singing teacher. First two acts are good and at the beginning of the third act I see a woman slipping in to the theatre and think it is Anne. Webster comes on – handsome, well-dressed, young-looking – perfect for his role. His diction is glorious, his acting well-timed. He makes the play and when he takes his bow I clap until my hands are red and almost blistered.

I see that Anne slips out the minute the lights go up and I am a little disappointed but when we get outside I see her a little way down the road talking to a fat garrulous man. She is wearing the same dress that she wore on Thursday, flat shoes and straight hair. I go up to her and her face lights up and I tell her, “Oh, Anne, I thought your husband was lovely.” She says, “Oh, I’m so glad you liked him. Did you enjoy the play?” I say, “Oh, yes, it was wonderful. Please tell Webster I thought he was lovely.” She asks if I came with my parents and when she sees them she smiles in charming fashion.

I come home – on air. I believe I enjoyed my little talk with Anne better than anything else that afternoon – except Webster of course. I noticed that she also clapped violently for Webster and laughed loudly at all his jokes. She probably didn’t want to be recognised because she did look a little bit of a sight. The blurb in the programme reads:

17 September – Go and have all my little children for Sunday school. Afterwards I go to Betty’s house with my record (Webster’s actually!) and we listen to Risé Stevens. She has a really thick – or should I say, velvety? – voice. I shall never sing like that. I wish Webster didn’t have such confidence in my voice. I have a nice tea with the Johnsons but feel a bit insulted when Mrs J says that she thinks Webster has a far better voice than Anne and she doesn’t like her. People – especially women of her own age seem to dislike Anne but it’s probably because she’s too attractive for them.

At night we have a guild service and I do the reading which goes off well. Afterwards we have a social and see a film about Liverpool delinquents.

18 September – Letter comes from Aunt Nellie in Scotland and she says her stepson and his wife know my teachers and remember them well.  Practise piano and singing.

20 September – Go to piano lesson and all goes well. Mrs S is very affable and we concentrate entirely on the work in hand.

21 September – Go into town and have lunch with Mum and then go to lunch hour concert. Phillip Levy is the piano soloist. I meet Jill Harry. She doesn’t like her job and is leaving at the end of the month.

Meet Gill Mc D in the street and she is very affable for a change. I go up to studio and Anne arrives late with her hair almost straight. She says that all she seems to do is rush around. She was playing for an exam this morning and what with the Springs eisteddfod she has had “a hell of a week”. She gives me a new exercise to do so that I can get up speed.

She says I must be getting a bit sick of Oh Love so I can start a new song soon. We do Oh Love and on the trill my tongue goes up so I must get it down. We look in the mirror and her tongue goes up too! She says she didn’t pay enough attention to her tongue when she was a girl and now – “at my age I’m having to battle with it. When I’m singing publicly I know that if my tongue goes up my voice will go out of pitch and I’d hate to think that when you get to my age you’ll blame me for not insisting that you keep your tongue down!”

Maureen is ill today so Anne comes down on the lift with me to do some shopping. We talk about the play and I say how lovely I thought it was. She says, “Weren’t you shocked?” I say, no. She says she thought he was very well-cast. “Of course some snobs say that it isn’t real theatre, though, is it? But I think it’s a masterpiece.” She quotes, “Easy to write first and second acts but the third act is the telling one.”  She treats me as though she is genuinely fond of me and she always brings out the best in me.

Go to choir and come home and listen to Webster. He starts with Dream of Gerontius sung by Heddle Nash and Dennis Noble. He says, “It may be of interest to you to know that I am going to sing in The Dream in PE in November.”  He goes on to Tosca. He plays his own recording from it and two other recordings by the Rome opera company.

He goes on to Merrie England and says, “Anne and I have played Bessie and Raleigh innumerable times.” He plays his recording of the English Rose – one of the loveliest recordings I have heard.

Then he says, “I’m going to let you into a secret. When I first took Anne to the recording studios for a test recording, the song which she sang was Bessie’s Waltz song. When she signed her first contract the company gave me the test record and I have it here with me now.” He says after the record is over, “Not bad for a young beginner, is it?”

Next week he is going to play more from The Dream, Der Rosenkavalier and the White Horse Inn.

23 September – Go into town in the morning and meet Ann and Leona preparing to study in Rhodes Park library. I go to Central library and then to John Orrs. When I come out the first people I meet are Webster and Anne and Lemon. Anne is wearing black and white striped dress. She is terribly sweet and Webster gives me big grin. Lemon dashes around madly. What a lovely surprise.  Meet Liz Moir as I’m going down Eloff Street.

27 September – Go for lesson with Mrs S. Her studio houses the Trinity College examinations room. Imagine my surprise when I hear a well-known voice talking to someone, “You’ll have to come and have dinner with us then.” I decide not to greet her in case she thinks I’m taking singing with Mrs S instead of with them.

I have my lesson and Mrs S loads me with work which I shall do. On the bus home I think that I should have greeted Anne for I shall have to mention it to her tomorrow so that she understands that I’m doing piano and not singing with Mrs S.

28 September – I have lunch with Mum and then go to a lovely lunch hour concert – Sonette Heyns sings and Edgar Cree conducts. I meet Jill and Lynn afterwards and we talk for a while.

I kill time in the library for a while and then go up to studio. Anne is wearing a pink striped dress. Middle-aged pupil called Nellie is having a lesson. Webster is playing a recording of his Abide With Me (Liddle) and he says, “I’ll play this for you one Thursday night – say a fortnight from today.

Nellie departs and Webster tells me to go in. Before we start on scales Anne tells me about all the prizes they had won at the Springs eisteddfod. I say, “Were you at the Trinity College examination rooms yesterday?” She says she was, and I tell her I was going for a piano lesson with Sylvia Sullivan and I heard her speaking to someone. She said she was speaking to the old examiner from Britain who comes out every year and looks about 90 although he’s only 70!

We start on scales and on one note Webster says, “That was glorious – sing it again!” Over tea I tell Webster rather nervously that I loved his play. He says, “Oh, did you like it? It is fun, isn’t it. Did the others like it?”  I say, “Yes, it was lovely.”

Anne says that on that day after the show she went out to see a particular garden. The roof was off on the Hillman and she was wearing flat shoes so she arrived looking a dreadful sight but didn’t expect to see anyone she knew. When she walked in all her friends were there and she felt terribly embarrassed.

We do Roslein and it is agreed that it is an improvement beyond bounds from the last time I sang it.  We do Hark, Hark, the Lark and she decides that we should do it. We look at it in one of her books which she has had since school days. He says he hates it for he sang too much of it as a choir boy.

I listen to Webster at night and find complete peace listening to him. He plays a few excerpts from The Dream sung by Heddle Nash and Gladys Ripley. He says he found it very difficult at first but then decided it was the loveliest oratorio of the lot.

Then he goes on to The Rosenkavalier which he sang in 1938 at Covent Garden with Erich Kleiber conducting. He tells the story of Lotte Lehmann’s husband being arrested by the Nazis and she was so upset that she was unable to continue with the performance.

He plays some pieces from The White Horse Inn and says that he spent many happy weeks in the Austrian Alps where the musical is set.

Continue reading “EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARY – SEPTEMBER 1961”