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 – AUGUST 1962

1 August – Go to Mrs S and have coffee with Gill. We do ear tests with Elaine. Mrs S gives me my report for the theory exam and guess what? I get 100% honours for both exams. I’m quite delighted at this. It’s the first time I’ve had 100% for any exam. Lesson goes quite well. I have to perform again on Saturday.

We rehearse at night. Betty is back from her holiday and Peter S brings me home.

2 August – Go to town and have lunch with Mum. I meet Mrs Ormond. She looks no different than before – still in the same suede coat with hair hanging loosely. She is affable but in a hurry.

I am now waiting for G and S substitute. Station announcer says, “All Webster Booth’s admirers will be glad to know that he is now recovering from his recent illness and will soon be back again.”

Paddy O’B goes on with The Gondoliers. I do hope Webster will be back next week.

3 August – I get a letter from Arnold Fulton giving details of our exam on the 11 September. I phone to tell Anne about this. She is not in but Webster is and answers the phone to me. I honestly cannot say how happy I am to hear his delightful, gruff voice again saying, “Helloo!”

He tells me that she’s at the studio and I can give her a ring there. He feels much better now and it is his first day up. He says, “I feel fine but evidently this bug is still running around in me!” He sounds rather weak but is terribly sweet. He says, “Anne’ll either be having lunch or putting her head – I mean, her feet – up at the studio so you can give her a ring there.” I say that I’m crossing my fingers for him and say Cheerio. He sounds rather tired and weak but he still sounds a real pet and I adore him.

I phone Anne and tell her about this and she says they might be going away for a break so she hopes she’ll still be there to play for the exam. Webster really needs a holiday for a few weeks after all that lot. She says, “I got him home yesterday.” I say, “Yes, I phoned your house and I was speaking to him.” This tends to give a mistaken conception of the whole matter so I hope she realises that I was phoning to speak to her.

It’s grand to have spoken to him again after one and a half months without him. Mad? I know I am.

4 August – Peter S takes me and tape recorder to rehearsal and all goes quite well. I know most of my lines now. I have to leave early to go into Mrs S’s for recital.

I go up to Mrs S’s and play scales and ear tests with Pam and Elaine. Mrs S makes me play to Mrs du P, Pam and Elaine and Mrs du P and Mrs S are pleased with my playing. When Pam and Elaine go I practise Higher Local sight-reading which I can, strangely enough, do quite well.

Leila, Mary and the rest of choir come and we practise. We sing (three altos and 7 sopranos) together today and it goes well.

Have lunch in Galaxy with Mum and Dad. Dad tells me that Anne phoned about changing my time because Ruth wants to have extra lessons, on a Monday at 3. I am rather furious about this.

We see Mr Hobbs Takes a Vacation with Jimmy Stewart and it is terrific. Jimmy S is a scream and cheers me up.

Come home and phone for fifth time this week to Anne, feeling furious. Poor, unsuspecting Webster answers the phone and I am afraid I vent my feelings on him by being extremely cold and haughty, asking for Anne in frigid tones. He is most affable and fetches her.

Anne is all oozy and sweet to me but I am neither oozy nor sweet to her. She tells me story about Ruth only being able to go for extra lessons before her exam on Tuesday at 4. I say coldly that I’m afraid Monday is quite unsuitable for me. I have a lot to do during the week and I have already been changed once and have had to rearrange all my plans accordingly. I’m not trying to be inconsiderate but it’s quite impossible. She says that she understands and she’ll arrange something. I say, “Perhaps you could change someone else?” She is terribly sweet and says, “We’ll see you on Tuesday at 4 then. I hope you don’t mind.” I say, “OK, goodbye,” in frigid tones and put down the receiver.

She sounded genuinely sorry and I have a feeling that Ruth suggested that she could change my time – probably at her mother’s instigation – but that isn’t fair. When I first knew that Ruth had won that money I was delighted but it appears she really is going to get big over it and, in the end, it will probably come between us.

5 August – Go to Sunday School and play piano well. Ian – my problem child is back. We do a word rehearsal after Church. Gary A praises Anne’s revision of her programme in the Sunday Times today.

6 August – Go to SABC in the evening fully prepared to have an argument with a proud, haughty Ruth throwing her £40,000 weight around. However, she is just the same – far sweeter than usual in fact – and tells me she went for a lesson today and Anne was in a nice mood.

She says that Anne spoke about me for ages and said she thought I was one of the sweetest, most sincere girls she had ever met and she is extremely fond of me and thinks a lot of me.

I say that perhaps she was probably being insincere but Ruth says, “No. She was terribly natural and sincere today and she likes you a lot. She thinks you are sweet and sincere, and so do I,” says Ruth.

She spoke to Webster on the phone on Saturday for a short while. He isn’t going into the studio till Friday but managed to make his G and S recording in the morning. I am glad he’s well and fit again.

Some nameless, but highly qualified, man takes us through Messiah.

7 August – Work hard in the morning and get a letter from Penny Berrington. She’s getting married on the thirteenth of this month!

Go to studio in the afternoon. Anne answers and is very affable. Piet Muller, the glorious tenor is singing and is having an audition with the SABC later this month.

Anne thanks me for getting the examination cards fixed up and tells me that the self-same thing happened to Mabel Fenney – maybe Arnold Fulton has a grudge against them.

She gives me a lukewarm cup of tea and tells me that Webster is fine now but the virus could flare up again at any moment. We do vocal studies which go well and exercises which don’t go so well, so we spend the rest of the lesson concentrating on them and they improve.

Her next pupil, John Fletcher, brings fudge and gives Anne some. She asks if she can have some for her girlfriend who is Scottish! We continue with exercises and I feel that I learn a lot.

I tell her to tell Webster that he must keep well and she says, “My God, I hope so!”

Go to rehearsal at night with Peter and all goes well.

8 August – Work very hard in the morning. I just have to do well in these blooming exams.

Have lovely lunch with Mum in Ansteys and see tall, dark viola player (lady) there. Go up to SS studios and work with Elaine and Mrs S works me hard during lesson. I get home quite exhausted after the exertions of the day.

9 August – It is Webster himself tonight and he is, as usual, his own fabulous self. He sounds just a little weak and out of breath – doing a programme after he had only been up for a few days must have been rather strenuous for him. He thanks the listeners who sent him flowers, letters and phone messages when he was in hospital and says that he is truly thankful to be out of hospital and feeling better again. He also thanks Paddy O’B for reading his script in a very warm, gentlemanly way and then continues with The Gondoliers.

For the third time in this series he plays his own record of Sparkling Eyes and at the end of the programme they play his Wand’ring Minstrel almost all the way through. Next week he intends to finish the Gondoliers and start on a full-length recording of Iolanthe, complete with dialogue.

It is really wonderful to hear him back on the radio again and to know that he is better. I’m rather sorry now that I didn’t send him something when he was in hospital but, knowing Anne, I think she would have thought up the worst possible motive for my doing so. Nevertheless, I have worried about him and I was sympathetic when she needed sympathy most. I do thank God that he is well again.

10 August – Work and then go into town and buy a lovely coat. I meet Eileen in town and come home on bus with Rosemary Nixon. Go to guild at night – talk by Sister Constantine. I take the epilogue.

11 August – We have rehearsal at 8am and Peter S takes me there. All goes well.

Go up to SS studios and see Margaret Masterton who is back from Britain looking very well. I do ear tests with Elaine and Pam and then sing in choir.

At 4.30 go to church and meet Peter and Gail and go with Fred, Charles and Joan to guild rally in Krugersdorp. We have supper and hear a wonderful talk by Prof Charles Coulson from Oxford University.

12 August – Go to final rehearsal. We hear Mark, Mr Russell’s little boy, singing Ag, Pleez, Daddy on the tape recorder – cute! We have a pleasant time making up before the play while Peter C is conducting his last service before leaving for the UK. There is a huge turnout for the play and it goes fabulously. Afterwards everyone congratulates us heartily and all is lovely. They present some gifts to Peter. I hope he will do very well abroad.

13 August – Work very hard during the day. Go to SABC. Ruth comes with the joyful news of having seen Webster on Saturday and there is general exaltation.

Her version of meeting is as follows: She came up on the lift with him and kissed him, leaving lipstick on his face. When they go in there is a query from Anne as to whether he had scratched himself and a sheepish admission of guilt from Ruth. Anne is slightly flabbergasted. It certainly sounds as though Webster is well once more. She is going tomorrow at 4.30 after me.

14 August – In the afternoon go to studio feeling quite tense at seeing Webster again. However, it is Anne who answers the door. When Anne tells me about Webster, she says that he looks ninety and his face is haggard. I expect I looked very crestfallen, for she says, “I’m afraid you’ll have to suffer me for another week!” I feel quite awful about this. I must have shown terrible disappointment at not seeing him but that didn’t mean that I didn’t want her. What a thing to think!

I have tea with her as there is nobody there before me and she tells me that Webster came in on Saturday for three hours and it exhausted him utterly so he decided to stay at home for this week. She says there is too much sediment in his blood and he has got to be x-rayed for that tomorrow. She says he’s been terribly, terribly ill and has to be very careful indeed.

She tells me that they’re going on holiday in the last two weeks of September to a cottage in Hermanus because Webster really needs a holiday but they are waiting until after our exam because she has to play for us. I am going to have my lesson on the morning of the exam as a warm-up and Ruth can have her lesson after me and we can all go to the SS studio together.

We talk about Guy Magrath (the examiner who isn’t going to adjudicate our exam) and she tells me that last year she met him and he had played in an orchestra with Webster and herself as soloists. Harold Fielding, the impresario had been near bankruptcy and they had been right at the top of the entertainment tree. They did a tour for him which was highly successful and so saved him from failure. She says, “We were right at the top then.”

Studies are fabulous and she is delighted but exercises are grim as ever. She says Ruth has the same battle – I needn’t worry. Everything else goes well and she is happy. Ruth arrives at about 4.25 still in her school uniform. She says, “Tell Jean, I’m sorry to come so early.”

Ruth Ormond.

Afterwards we all talk and Ruth says that she thinks my voice very beautiful. She never imagined that I could sing like that. We discuss her uniform and decide that she looks like a 7-year-old in it! Actually she looks terribly sweet and young and is of course charming. I say goodbye to them both and feel happy.

Listen to Anne at night and once more it is a fabulous programme. She plays music from Bitter Sweet, And So to Bed, The Threepenny Opera and The Dancing Years. She plays their duet from Bitter SweetI’ll See You Again and it is lovely. She talks of their friendship with Noel Coward, Ivor Novello and Vivian Ellis. The last-named used to play rugger with her brother who was ten years older than her. She also talks of Mark Lubbock, the BBC conductor who accompanied them on a tour of And So to Bed.

15 August – Have lunch with Mum in Ansteys. Go up to SS studio and talk to Gill about the horrors of exams. We do sight-singing and ear tests and I have a successful lesson with Mrs S. She says she wants me to get honours in this exam.

Go to rehearsal at Rosettenville tonight with Peter S. Archie’s car breaks down on the way home so Peter tows him and it takes us ages to get home.

16 August – Work quite hard during the day but feel very sleepy and doddery.

Listen to G and S and Webster is lovely. He finishes the Gondoliers and plays A Highly Respectable Gondolier sung by Robert Radford in 1921. The record was given to him when he was in hospital. He mentions that George Baker sings on this record – he had a letter from George the other day. He is 78 and intends to make a recording of Ruddigore at the end of the year.

He starts (for the second time this year) on a recording of Iolanthe with Isadore Godfrey conducting. He plays the overture which he says is his favourite of all the G and S overtures.

I haven’t seen him for such an age that I feel as though I hardly know him. On Tuesday when I thought I would see him again, I was as nervous as though I had never met him. If I don’t see him this following week, he shall be a complete stranger to me.

17 August – Work hard during the morning and have lunch with Mum. I go to the library and see my old boss from the bank, Mr Peddy, browsing through a file there.

At night I go with Peter S, Archie and Yvonne to Rosettenville for our performance. Gill Mc D comes along to do the make-up and we have a jolly evening. Play goes extremely well and adjudicator from the Bank Players says we acted excellently and show great promise, but as this is a religious festival we don’t win because our play lacked a biblical message! Mr R is angry and says (privately of course) that the man is 50 years out of touch with religion. However, all was delightful and fun. We go back to Tsessebe, the Jeppe Boys’ boarding house for tea and sit in Peter’s study. Denis Newton gives me a lift home at 12.30am.

18 August – At the unearthly hour of 8.30am I catch a bus into Mrs S’s studio. Work diligently with Elaine at scales and exercises, and after coffee, Margaret M, Pam, Elaine and I do ear tests. Margaret cheers me up by telling me that she went flat in her unaccompanied piece during her exam so perhaps this is not a problem unique to me.

The choir arrives and I talk to a girl called Maureen about Ruth. She tells me that Ruth was at the Engineers’ Dance last night with Trevor and was not very kind to him! We practise well.

Dad is in bed with a cold so Mum and I have lunch and see The Inspector with Stephen Boyd and Dolores Hart.

19 August – Go to Sunday school. I play well but singing is rather ghastly. Dudley Penn brings a white rat to Sunday School!.

20 August – Go to SABC. Gill practises clarinet in studio. It sounds quite good. Johan comes in and has a shot at it – first time and jolly good too. He is most affable.

When Ruth comes she tells me that Webster is quite, quite well again and looks wonderful and is most cheerful. She hasn’t started swotting for her exams yet so she isn’t coming to the choir for two weeks while they’re on. She doesn’t intend having any more extra lessons after the exam.

21 August – Work quite hard in the morning and once more develop a state of dreadful nervous tension.

I go up to the studio in a great state in the afternoon and today I am not disappointed. Webster answers the door! I say, “Hello,” and he says, “Hello, Jean” in pleased tones. I ask after his health and he tells me that he is simply fine. He looks just the same as usual in his striped suit but he is just a trifle more haggard and old-looking.

Piet M is singing Can I Forget You? very beautifully indeed and then Webster sings the same song to show Piet how it’s done. The voice is weaker, but, oh, how angel-like. He sings as though his life depends on it in his dear, sweet restrained tenor and I sit in the kitchen and cry! When he comes to the last three notes, he says, “You finish it! I can’t reach them now.” I dry my tears before they come out. I have never been so moved for a long, long time. Here is a man of 60 who has been at death’s door recently, singing so well that a man in his prime would be proud!

Piet sings beautifully but Webster is the greater artist who can move his audience to unashamed tears. I hear Anne telling Piet M and his wife that show business is a real struggle. People make promises and don’t keep them. A production house here promised them work if they came over to settle, but they never kept their word.

Webster says, “Nobody will give me a job as a singer here! I haven’t had an engagement for months. Perhaps I’m just getting too old.”

I go in and Anne tells me to come at 10.30 on the eleventh and they are leaving on holiday the next day. She asks about the examiner and I tell her it is Anderson Tyrer. She is delighted and says they’ve met him and he’s nice. He told Mabel Fenney that he thought a lot of them. I say that everyone says he is very bad-tempered. Webster says, “Well, I’m damned sure that I’d be bad tempered if I had his job. I’m bad-tempered enough in this studio.” He says that AT is quite an age – he doesn’t know how he stands it.

I do vocal studies and sing very well. Webster comes in and says, “You were singing beautifully but I’ll bet you weren’t showing your teeth!” I laugh nervously. We do Polly Oliver and I am so strung up that I don’t do it exceptionally well. However, sing Hush My Dear perfectly in tune and he is pleased. He says that to ensure I don’t go off pitch I must support my breath. Do My Mother and he says I must make a bigger crescendo at the end of the verse. Exercises are – as usual – ghastly. I say indignantly that I can do them perfectly at home and Anne says, “Yes, Jean. I am terrifying you dreadfully, aren’t I?” I laugh in slightly shame-faced fashion. I should make a tape to prove it.

Ruth comes and acts in simpering tones with Webster. Webster comes with me to the door and I say that I hope he’ll keep well. He says, “Oh, yes. I think I’ll keep well now, dear.”

It was lovely seeing him once more and hearing his lovely angel-like voice again. I don’t care what anyone says; he is (or was) the finest tenor in the world.

22 August Work in the morning and then have lunch with Mum in Ansteys, which is most delightful.

Go up to SS studio and do ear tests with Gill and they go fairly well. I play for her as well. Elaine comes and we do more ear exercises. Mrs S is pleased with me and says I should do well in the exam.

As I’m terribly worried about the exercises I get mum to phone Anne to see about three extra lessons before the exam. Webster answers the phone and tells Mum that he feels much better now. He calls Anne and she says she can’t look up her book now – they’re making a film and dashing off to the set but she’ll phone after six.

She does, and after much deliberation, she finds three times to suit. I am going on Saturday at 9.00. She tells me they’ve been invited to the opening of the Civic Theatre on Monday night. They are obviously very busy.

23 August – Listen to G and S at night. He continues with Iolanthe for the second time and I do enjoy it. He says that in his day the peers were bald and their crowns would inevitably fall off into the foliage.

25 August – Go into town at the unearthly hour of 8.00 and meet Margaret M on the bus. Go up to studio and I am there first. Anne arrives with Lemon. Lemon disgraces himself in most vulgar fashion and Anne is terribly embarrassed. I disappear into the kitchen until the chaos subsides.

We start and she makes me do scales to ‘moo’ down and then up and they go very well. Webster comes in and Anne says, “I’m not speaking to you again! You will feed Lemon before we come out and he disgraced himself in front of Jean.” He finds this most amusing and says, “No wonder he’s licking his chops!” He is wearing a Wanderer’s blazer and his face is very red and flushed.

We continue with exercises and she makes me do them in front of the mirror and open my mouth wider on top notes. I sing them onto the tape and he stands and holds the microphone for me (makes me feel funny!) but I sing them very well and they are pleased. When he is recording me Lemon starts barking at the next pupil and he shouts, “Shut up!” loudly and when the tape is played back it sounds very funny. When Lemon hears himself he starts barking all over again!

She says that I must be very careful with my breath and she feels it. Makes me feel hers. I shall never cease to be amazed at it. Her ribs are as hard as a barrel and she simply doesn’t let any breath escape. She says the tummy must go in and the ribs out. I must practise to see how long I can hold my breath. I should be able to hold it for 25 seconds. She can hold hers for 37!

I am amazed at how well the exercises go today. She says my voice is very pure and even and sweet and I must never think that I can’t do the exercises because I can do them very well, “Isn’t that so, Boo?” “Yes, that’s so!” I feel much happier about them today and have far more confidence.

When I leave, I say goodbye to Webster and then, “Goodbye, Lemon.” Anne says she’s terribly sorry about Lemon’s disgraceful behaviour!

After that I toddle down to Mrs S’s just in time for coffee with Margaret and Elaine. Margaret and I are shoved off to do musicianship tests and when she goes, Mrs S makes me record my pieces which go quite well. This time next Saturday – ugh! Elaine and I work together for a while and then we are allowed home. Really glorious day.

I phone Gail Cain. We’re doing the play tomorrow night at Bedfordview.

26 August – Have quite Sunday. In the afternoon Ruth phones and we have a lovely conversation. She is busy swotting for exams and phones me for ‘relaxation’! She tells me that Anne and Webster told her yesterday that I sang really beautifully at my lesson and they were amazed and thrilled.

I tell her about the film they are making and we talk of previous films we have seen them in. I say, “Of course, I didn’t know them then…” and she says, “But now, we’re real pals, aren’t we?”

She says she is having new shoes and getting her hair done for the commerce ball and she’s looking forward to it, but she is a bit worried about the exams. She is also worried about going to singing on Tuesday when she ought to be swotting. She loves going, but…

We chat for a good half hour and I promise to apologise for her to Johan. It does me good to talk to her. She is such fun and we understand each other’s nonsense. I tell her about the film advert with Webster leering over his boater on a Parisienne avenue and she squeals with delight.

We go out to Bedfordview in the evening and do the play once more. There are about 35 in the audience. We have to do it again on Tuesday night in Orange Grove.

Afterwards we go to Mr and Mrs R’s for coffee. Mum and Dad will have to record Anne for me on Tuesday.

28 August – Today it snows and the world is white! After I recover from the shock I work.

I go to singing in the afternoon and get a dull, shabby old man in the lift with me. He speaks to Anne and reveals himself as Guy Magrath – honestly, I nearly have a fit!

Anne tells me that they went to the opening of the Civic Theatre last night and it didn’t finish till 12.10. They had the opening itself which lasted three-quarters of an hour and then the opera. By the end of it she felt as though she had been in an alcoholic’s nightmare! Mimi was good in two of the roles but as the “dancing doll” she was rather large!

The foyer is gaudy – dark red and blue with hanging lights. It reminded her of the Winter Gardens, Blackpool. There’s a bar in the foyer and all the whisky was finished by the second interval.

Webster felt too awful to come into the studio today – presumably from all that whisky. They sat in the second row and Verwoerd sat in the gallery. “Somebody would have shot him if he had sat in the stalls,” said Webster.

Anne says she found the people quite mad. South Africans are a race apart the more she sees of them. “I wouldn’t say this to anyone but someone from home because a South African couldn’t take it.”

We have this long conversation while washing the dishes and making tea till 4. Leslie G is back and had a wonderful holiday and is going to dinner with them tonight. He says it’ll take him a month to finish talking about his holiday.

We work at exercises and when Ruth comes I listen to her singing the exercises. Her voice is sweet but rather wobbly and a bit off key. She races through the exercises like billy-oh. We spend a bit more time talking about Tales of Hoffman and running down Anton Hartman (who conducted last night) and Jossie Boshoff (who is 44). Ruth’s mother had her birthday party at the Carlton Hotel last night, if you don’t mind!

We all have a lovely time as Anne’s two teacher’s pets! I think our voices are on a par.

We do the play at Orange Grove at night and it goes very well. We go back to Gail’s for coffee and cake and Peter takes me home.

29 August – Listen to Anne’s recorded programme. It is well done but she alludes to too many old friends such as Richard Tauber, Hermione Gingold and others I have never heard about. The shows are Land of Smiles, Gigi, The Boy Friend and Song of Norway. She tells several amusing stories with regards to The Boy Friend. She spent her teenage years in the twenties and remembers the fashions of the times, being kissed by awkward youths, wearing short shapeless dresses and bathing costumes with cloche bathing caps. She says they both roared at the first night which they had first seen in Hampstead and also at the first night here when they sat in front of Sandy Wilson who was convinced they were trying to ruin the show with their laughter. Lovely programme.

Go to town and have lunch with Mum in Ansteys. Put in hard afternoon’s work in SS studio with Gill, Elaine and Mrs du P. When examiner leaves we try out the piano in that studio and it goes reasonably well. Anderson Tyrer leaves at least 20 cigarette ends behind him as well as a stale, smoky smell. Come home on the bus with Betty and have an early night.

30 August – I work very hard today trying to polish up all my examination pieces.

Listen to G and S at night. He goes on with Iolanthe and plays the Lord Chancellor’s song by Martyn Green, a record he made in America. His voice is past its best. Very nice programme but I’m not sure whether people (apart from myself) want to listen to a repeat after only three or four months even if it is done by a different company.

31 August – My nineteenth birthday.

Go to studio. Anne arrives after me and says she’s quite exhausted after teaching in Brakpan yesterday – they didn’t get home till after 9.

We start on scales and they go very well and then go onto studies. Webster comes in in the middle of the second one. His face is still terribly red. She makes me sing down 2 octaves for him and he says that it is lovely and very even. I do exercises on the tape and they go pretty well. Webster says I must take my time with them and hum and sing an arpeggio or two if I feel like it! To hell with the examiner. “It’s none of his business!”

Anne says that Leslie G came to dinner and brought slides to show them. He had a fabulous one of the Scots Memorial in Princes Street taken from a turret of Edinburgh Castle. He also made a recording with her girlfriend, Babs Wilson-Hill, in her garden which is to be broadcast soon.

I sing studies on tape and they are pleased with them but Webster says I must look at the hairpins again. When we do the second study he sings with me and emphasises the hairpins. He stands far away from me but it is mostly him we hear on the tape. I go red and feel a wee bit embarrassed but it all goes well.

He says I mustn’t worry at all. I shall be all right. I must go to the exam thinking, “Well, I know everything there is to know about this blooming exam!”

I tell them that I am playing tomorrow and if I don’t play well the examiner will probably be horrified to see me again! Webster has a right hearty laugh at this and we part in an atmosphere of great frivolity.

Lucille is waiting for a lesson after me, looking most superior. I expect she heard the tape with my endeavours to sing and Webster bawling!

For the first time in many months, I come down Eloff Street elated, gay and happy.

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – JULY 1962

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

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

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

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

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

Adjudicating in Bulawayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sylvia Sullivan with great-niece.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We go for a drive at night to Hillbrow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – MARCH 1962

At the end of the recording she powders her face and talks to us brightly. Ruth says that Webster was wonderful and Anne says fiercely, “Yes, of course he’s still got a voice.”

When
I leave with my parents I tell her that Webster was lovely and sang
terrifically. She says in joking tones, “Yes, we’re both
very proud of him, aren’t we, Jean?” I could have crawled under a
sofa if there was one around.

1 March – Work slackens off a fraction but Mr Allen still flaps. Have lunch with mum in Ansteys and meet Gwen Per from school.

Go to singing at night and Webster isn’t there. I go straight in because Nellie has ‘flu and isn’t there either. We start on vocalisation studies which I have cunningly put on the top of my pile and they go gloriously. Anne makes tea and I pay her and we return to the exercises.

Anne says that my voice is really beautiful now and my production is vastly improved. I give her the look of a hardened cynic and she says, “What have I or you to gain by telling you that? I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true. Don’t you notice it?” I say, “Yes, I do, but nobody else does.” We do the exercises and she picks out the notes that tend on the hard side and we work on them. She says, “Have all your notes like a string of pearls as my old music mistress used to say.”

Over tea she tells me that she went to see the mime of Marcel Marceau last night and it was the most absorbing act she has ever seen. Speaking nary a word he entertained the audience for two hours on a bare stage.

I tell her at the end of the lesson how I intend to give up the bank at the end of March in order to study music full time and she is pleased. She is quite shocked about the high blood pressure diagnosis. I say it’s probably due to overwork and nerves. She says that I am the type of person who “bottles everything up” and I mustn’t.

3 March –  See the Scott Fitzgerald Tender is the Night in the afternoon. Rather depressing.

4 March – Listen to Webster at night. He sounds rather tired. He keeps on saying, “In my day,” which makes him sound rather decrepit. He’s right though – Patience is a bit corny.

5 March –  Go to SABC at night and see Gill who introduces me to her friend Doreen who works there. We go to Doreen’s office in Springbok Schedules and see exactly what is going to happen tomorrow on Springbok. Leslie Green actually has a written script for all the supposedly off-the-cuff things he says on his programme.

We go to a grill house for supper and then go back to choir and have Harry Stanton, the organist at St Columba’s Presbyterian Church in Parkview as our accompanist. We do the Bach, and Johan takes a lot out of himself conducting the choir.

At interval Ruth tells me that on Saturday morning she went to a wedding and got a little tipsy toasting the bride and when she got up to the studio she was rather happy. Leslie Green came and they all had tea together and he listened to her singing.

Her father says that the Booths are good social drinkers – they can take a lot at a party without much reaction but they’re not alcoholics. She says that Webster could have been the best operatic tenor in the world but because of his relationship with Anne he wasn’t. Anne had an offer to go to Hollywood but because of Webster, she refused.

After the rehearsal I meet her father – a small man but quite charming. Gill asks me to stay with her for two nights when we’re in the opera in Pretoria. She gives Harry Stanton a lift home – he lives a few streets away from her in Parkwood.

8 March – Go to studio and Anne tells me to help myself to tea. Nellie sings badly and leaves. When I go in Webster tells me, “I’ll be out of prison on Saturday night – that play has been a real prison for me – every moment of it.”

We start on studies and Webster says the quality is beautiful but I must keep it moving even when it’s soft. He says, “You must know these things so well that ten professors can be there and it won’t worry you.”

We do My Mother and he says, “Why didn’t you smile?” I say indignantly that I was smiling and he says, “You were not – you were frowning all the way!”

They make me go and look in in the mirror and sing to myself. I do this and try to smile all the way. He says, “You see! An entirely different song.”

9 March – Lezya goes on holiday. Picture of Webster in paper. He’s one of the adjudicators in a hymn writing composition. I go to Betty’s twenty-first birthday party at night. There is a huge crowd there, including Mavis Knox.

10 March –  Work in the morning. After work, walking along Pritchard Street, I meet Ruth looking red and flushed. She informs me in breathless tones that she has just been to her lesson and had a wonderful time. Webster was there and she is so happy.

Go to YWCA to meet Patricia Webb who is just the same but more sophisticated and just as cheeky. We see Back Street which is excellent although Patricia passes caustic comments throughout the film.

12 March – Go to SABC in the evening. Gill says Harry Stanton hinted for a lift in as well as from the SABC. He takes the girls for rehearsal and Johan takes the chaps. Harry takes us through Norma at record speed and sings very badly to demonstrate how it should be done.

Ruth says her father has a nice voice and coming in in the car he was imitating Webster and she was pretending she was Anne. She says they certainly don’t think I am bad-looking. When they were talking about people not smiling when they sing, Webster said, “Jean, there’s a sad one for you!” and Anne said, “She’s a very beautiful girl and if she smiled she could go so far with her singing.” Ruth says, “For goodness sake, don’t tell them I told you. They told me this in confidence.”

She thinks they should have had at least one child and she’d like to meet his son, and isn’t Harry Stanton a card?

She says Edgar Cree looks as though he wears a corset. She went to hear Tamas Vasary yesterday and cried at the Chopin. We go on with Norma and I introduce Ruth to Dad afterwards – he likes her.

14 March –  Work. Have my piano lesson in the afternoon and meet Pat Eastwood who is now at college and Elna Hansen who is doing a modelling course and teaching ballet. Gill and Svea Ward (SS’s niece) are at SS studio. Mrs S is in good mood and I do loads of scales.

15 March – Work. Lunch in Ansteys with Mum. Go to Webster and Anne and Webster answers the door. Nellie is singing badly and he brings me a cup of tea – lukewarm and devoid of sugar and I have the good grace to tell him it’s “perfect”!

I ask Anne about a new earlier time for when I leave the bank. While she arranges this I sing to Webster’s awful accompaniment and go sharp on the last three notes.

We do the vocalisation study and he doesn’t get the beat right so it doesn’t go very well. Anne returns with time – 4 on Friday as from April – and she takes over on the piano. When Webster sits down he groans and clutches his back!

I make a second attempt at the studies and, with Anne playing, they go very well. I go on to Polly Oliver and get into a nice fandangle. Anne says, “Sweety, you really must smile when you sing.” “I can’t.” “But, darling, you must. It’s no good singing if you won’t. You’re not shy of us, are you?” I say nothing and gaze at the grain of the wood in the grand piano. Webster says, “Good God – no!” “I expect I must be!” “Oh, darling no – not after all this time. Does he worry you more than I do?”

Webster stares at me and I want to crawl under the piano. Unconvincingly I say, “No!”

I do it again with a will and it all turns out all right. I promise him I’ll spend all my waking hours gaping in mirror and smile at myself. He tells me I look very attractive when I smile and don’t look a clot.

16 March – Guild. Peter tells me he is giving up singing lessons with the Booths!

17 March – Go into town with mum to buy material for the choir. I also buy an SABC Bulletin which brings me glad tidings. Webster has another programme, starting a week on Wednesday at 8.30 pm It is called Drawing Room and will be a show with a small studio audience depicting the early 1900 entertainment. There is an article by him in the magazine.

18 March – Sunday starts with gorgeous article and picture in the Sunday Times by Gary A. He hopes the new programme will bring them back as duettists.

19 March – Go to SABC. At interval Ruth tells me that Webster asked if she’d like to go to recording on Wednesday and she said she’d phone on Tuesday night. She says she’ll ask him I can have three tickets as well. We continue with Norma.

20 March – Today at work I take heart and phone Webster myself. He is sweet and when I ask him about tickets for Drawing Room he says, “But I thought I asked you to come.” I say, “No, you didn’t.” So he says, “Well, we’d be delighted to have you. Meet Anne in the foyer at 8 o’clock, and don’t be late! If it goes swimmingly we’ll finish by 9.30.” I say I’m looking forward to it tremendously.

I work very hard and phone Ruth to tell her what has happened. She says that she and her parents will be going tomorrow. I will see her at a quarter to eight in the foyer.

21 March –  I go for a music lesson and at night I work myself into a state of nerves about going to the SABC. We arrive and Lucille is there with a number of her relatives. I meet Joy Bodes who is going to a recording of Eye-gene Jackpot. Ruth arrives with her parents. She is also Scottish and comes from Kelvin Grove, only a mile away from where I was born.

Anne arrives, her hair in a bun. Ruth’s and my parents go into the studio and I am left to help Anne with the lists. She takes me into the studio from the stage side and everyone gapes at her. She tells me to save a seat for her. I sit with Ruth and keep a seat for her between us. She comes in eventually, and Webster – face very red, wearing evening suit with a red rose in his lapel. He sits down at a table in the front of the studio and tells us that he has picked a very select audience because of the nature of Drawing Room. He is charm itself and introduces the artists – Anna Bender (accompanist), Walter Mony (violinist), and Rita Roberts (soprano). His compering is terrific and he sings two songs which are beautiful – Parted and The Sweetest Flower that Blows. His hand shakes as he handles the music but his voice is as perfect as ever. Anne doesn’t look at him the whole time he is singing but looks very sad.

We have an interval after the first recording. Anne says that RR should open her mouth more. When we return Webster sings If You Had But Known so beautifully I want to howl. We are told to talk in between the items and Anne talks sweetly to me the whole time.

In the second programme he sings O, Dry Those Tears and the Kashmiri Song so utterly and completely beautifully in a voice that only God could have given him that tears come to my eyes. I am shocked to see Anne crying next to me. She looks utterly heartbroken.

At the end of the recording she powders her face and talks to us brightly. Ruth says that Webster was wonderful and Anne says fiercely, “Yes, of course he’s still got a voice.”

When I leave with my parents I tell her that Webster was lovely and sang terrifically. She says in joking tones, “Yes, we’re both very proud of him, aren’t we, Jean?” I could have crawled under a sofa if there was one around.

What an evening. Anne says that most of the people in the audience are hangers-on and pays very little attention to them. Ruth and I seem to be teachers’ pets however, and she puts her arm around me and is the sweetest, most adorable creature.

As for Webster – he’ll get to heaven before any of us with a voice that only God could have fashioned and the angels given to him.

22 March – Go in to the studio and learn that Nellie is leaving because she is moving to Bloemfontein. Anne kisses her goodbye and cries.

I go in and rave to Webster about the programme and he says, “Well, I hope it comes over as well on the radio.” Anne says rather bitterly, “Yes, he sang very well, didn’t he?”

I sing quite well too and she is pleased but she looks very strained. We do My Mother which goes much better than usual and she suggests that we leave it for a while and do something else.

Webster answers the phone and tells one of their friends that Anne is having a terrible time with her back. They say my voice is getting much higher and she thinks I’m going be a ‘low” soprano or a “high” mezzo. She tells me to find something a bit higher to sing for next time.

23 March – I phone Ruth to tell her I can’t go to choir. Will she apologise for me? We talk about Wednesday and agree that it is terrific.

24 March – Work very hard and Mr Allen goes mad.

The Halls, who have been living in LA for past two years, come to visit us. She tells me that there was quite a scandal about his divorce in the thirties. His wife divorced him because of Anne.

Scotts, who are going to India, come in the evening and we have a pleasant time. I sing for them and they appear to enjoy it.

25 March –  In the afternoon I go to SABC and feel quite nostalgic about Broadcast House after last Wednesday. We look in at Mervyn John and Esmé Euvrard broadcasting in their studio. He says over the air, “There’s a lot of very attractive people standing outside the studio. Welcome to Springbok Radio!” Esmé waves at us!

Gill arrives with Harry Stanton and we go in and talk to Cora Leibowitz. She thinks Anne is very emotional and that Webster has a better voice than Anne.

Listen to Webster at night. He says he will recap to let people who “might have gone to parties or gone to bed early” to hear what happened in Iolanthe.

26 March – Last day of work. I am wished well in my musical career by Messrs Buckley, Ford and Peddy.

Go to SABC at night. We go on with Passion with Johan and Harry Stanton. Ruth says the Booths gave her a lift home on Saturday as they were going to a wedding.

She tells me that next Wednesday Anne and Webster are singing duets on Drawing Room at SABC. I’d love to go but I’m not sure if I can.

We have Gert Potgieter to sing with us in the second half.

French lady from the bank tells me she is practically neighbours of the Booths and that their house was in a terrible mess when they bought it for only £2500 but they have made great improvements to it.

27 March – Go to dressmakers for a fitting for my concert dress.

28 March – Go to music in the afternoon and Mr McKenzie gives me a lift to town in his Jaguar. Mrs S says I must come to the morning recital on 7 April.

Go to SABC and we make a recording with Gert Potgieter. At interval, Ruth and I are confronted by two old women wanting to know where Webster Booth’s programme was being held. Ruth and I take them along and decide to stay ourselves. Luckily the programme is just starting so we crawl into the last two back seats and are given a surprised look by Webster. Soloists are Gé Korsten, Jean Gluckman, Kathleen Allister (harp). Pieces are In a Persian Market, The Sunshine of Your Smile, Always, An Old-fashioned Town. We slip out at the end with another thunderous look from Webster and return (a bit late) to our own recording which we complete very successfully.

29 March – Listen to Webster and record him. It is gorgeous and glorious. His singing is wonderful.

I go into town. Webster is teaching Lucille. When I go in he says he’s expecting her ladyship at any minute and would like to record me. He plays something at the wrong speed and says, “In case you don’t know it, that’s Ruth singing Messiah!” We do the Bedfordshire May Day Carol and when he plays it back to me he points out one beautiful tone and tells me to match all my tones with it and then I shall have a perfect voice.

At this point, Anne comes in looking thin, pale and ill. I say I was sorry to hear that she was ill. She looks resigned and says, “Yes, these things do happen.”

While we have tea we listen to playback of recording. She tells me, “Smile, don’t pull faces. You are pretty when you smile. Have self-confidence. We’ll have to do something to boost your morale.”

After recording do Where E’er You Walk. They say I can do this for a change. It’s a man’s song but it suits my voice which (says Anne) has a Jennifer Vyvyan quality.

I ask Webster if we can come to the concert next week and he says he’d be delighted to have me and I can bring as many as I like. How many shall I bring? I say three. I say to Anne, “You are singing next week, aren’t you?” and she says, “Yes, if I’ve got any voice by then.” I tell her that we’d love to hear her singing and she looks wistfully pleased.

I tell him that we were there last night because we escorted two old ladies there. He says, “Yes, I saw you. I tried to catch you at the end to see how you were getting home but you disappeared very quickly!”

He asks what I thought of today’s broadcast and I emote about it and she says the piano solo was too long. We all admit that he sang beautifully. I’m going next Friday at 4pm. They couldn’t care about the public holiday – Van Riebeek day is not important!

30 March – Cartoon of Webster in Show Folk in the Star.

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – JANUARY 1962

3 January – Work. I have a cold drink with Yvonne and Lezya after work. I go to music and talk to Gill V who is going on holiday soon. Music goes well. I am improving and have a lot of things to work on. I go to table tennis at night. Peter says nothing about singing lessons so I don’t say anything either.

4 January – Work and have lunch with Mum in Ansteys. I go up to the studio and Webster answers the door. Nellie, as usual, is singing. Webster comes into the kitchen and makes tea. He is sweating and complains bitterly about the heat. He makes tea very efficiently and gives me a cup and then returns to Nellie who continues singing oblivious of rather ghastly mistakes!

When she goes, Anne in a pretty flowery dress and with hair definitely grey, tells me to go in. She too complains about the heat and orders Webster to bring her another cup of tea.

She asks about the SABC choir and I say that we are still on holiday until the 22nd of the month. She says she expects we’ll sing in the last symphony concert. She tells me that Anton Hartman has a wife called Jossie Boshoff who is a third rate coloratura and has been included in the season as the only vocal soloist. Webster says he can’t fathom the audacity of Hartman if she could sing, but when she can’t – well! He says that she’ll sing the bass arias herself if need be!

We do scales, starting from high note and coming down in order to settle the registers, I gather, although Anne feels that vocal registers are rude words. Anne says, “I wouldn’t say this if I didn’t think it true or if I didn’t mean it. You honestly have the makings of a magnificent voice if you work hard at it. It’s really beautiful!” I look cynical. She says, “Truly. If someone hasn’t a voice, I’ll teach them but I won’t tell them they have a voice if they haven’t. Your voice could really be exceptional when you’re a bit older.” I try to look modest but I feel gratified. We work very hard and long at the exercises.

Bill Perry arrives and we do My Mother Bids Me. Webster glowers at me the whole time so that I can’t smile. They moan about it and I say that I feel stupid when I smile. Anne gives her usual talk about it. “Singing is like selling stockings in John Orrs. You have to give it everything you’ve got. That’s what got Webster and me to where we are today. We would go on to the stage and even though we had squabbled off-stage we would make the audience believe we were madly in love. I would give him a lovey-dovey look and we would use our eyes and smile at one another. Isn’t that so, darling?”

Webster agrees. “Yes. Very true!”

I respond with a watery smile and agree to try.

7 January – Sunday school and Church.

Listen to Webster’s first programme of G and S. He introduces it with his recording of A Wand’ring Minstrel. He does Trial By Jury. I think he should talk more during the programme.

11 January – Have lunch with Mum in Anstey’s.

Go to studio. I listen to Nellie singing. Webster comes in and says, “God, let’s make a cup of tea! Is this weather hot enough for you, Jean?” He goos over Lemon and tells him, “Say hello to Jean.”

I hear Nellie say that she never goes to the theatre as her husband doesn’t approve of it.

Anne has her hair pinned up at the back – dead straight. It looks lovely. She tells me they went to see Beryl Reid’s show at the Playhouse and they thoroughly enjoyed it. They were very friendly with her in England and Anne thinks she’s got fatter and older-looking since they saw her last. When they were at a rehearsal at the BBC she was there wearing a hat with a cluster of feathers in it. She had complained in her broad B’ham accent, “I don’t know if it’s all this excitement but I ‘ave an awful headache.” A few weeks later she told them that it wasn’t the excitement giving her the headache, “It was that ‘at!”

We start on scales and Webster tells me that they sound much better. We have tea and Anne tells me that I have a most beautiful English complexion, “Hasn’t she, Boo?” I blush.

We continue with vocalisation studies which go particularly well. She corrects a few things and we go over them again to correct the mistakes but can see – as can they – a marked improvement.

Webster presents me with his record of Songs of England so that I can listen to Sweet Polly Oliver – A collection of English songs sung by Jennifer Vyvyan with Edward Lush at the piano. We listen to the record – Jennifer Vyvyan has a good voice and is extremely musical . Accept it with thanks. His signature is scrawled on the cover – L. Webster Booth. Anne says my Scots accent must not come out in my singing. I say I can’t hear this accent – even on tape. She says, “Oh, yes! It’s there!” Poor me.

She asks, “Have you seen your friend Peter since his lesson?”

I say, “Oh, yes. He enjoyed it. He’s decided he has a lot to learn.”
She has a good laugh. I manage to smile today but before I start singing Webster says to me, “I don’t want to be nasty, Jean, but remember to smile!”

I feel quite elated when I say goodbye.

14 January – Sunday school. Go to Betty’s afterwards and listen to Jennifer V. Her Bobby Shaftoe is fabulous. I love her “bookles”!

In the afternoon the Stablers from the flats on the corner, Robert’s Heights, visit. She is a doctor of psychology – a charming old lady. I listen to Leslie Green. Gary Allighan in the Sunday Times gives Webster a rave notice for his new programme.

Church at night. Listen to Webster’s G and S programme and his change in presentation makes the programme quite fabulous. He plays his own recording of The Lost Chord which is glorious – Herbert Dawson at the organ. He tells us that only two people were allowed to make G and S recordings without the personal supervision of D’Oyly Carte – Malcolm Sargent and himself!

He tells the story of HMS Pinafore and introduces the characters by imitating them. It is a really fabulous presentation and I enjoy every minute of it. I can congratulate him on Thursday now without any qualms about being insincere. Good old Webster – he’s done it again!

15 January – Go to work and faint when I’m there – am slapped and have water thrown over me and am then sent home! Mummy restores me to life! Rest for remainder of day and manage to practise at night. Strangely enough, all goes well!

16 January – Work. Lezya – who doesn’t look even vaguely ill – departs in the afternoon and I am left on my own to pass a million entries. Steadily decline but manage to get through it all.

Practise at night and we are invited to the Scotts on Saturday night. The choir starts on Monday. Have received no intimation about it so may phone Ruth Ormond.

17 January – Go to Mrs S in the afternoon and see Stan, her brother-in-law. Receive intimation from Johan v d M concerning choir on Monday night.

18 January – Work. Have a gorgeous lunch with Mum upstairs in Ansteys.

Toddle up to Webster’s at night. He is most affable and tells me to help myself to a cup of tea. I do this and make much noise with cups. Nellie (whose diction and voice are not at their best this evening) holds forth. Anne is silent but Webster is more eloquent. Nellie asks for a drink of water and he comes to get one for her and tells me, “It’s too hot to think, far less sing.” Nellie goes and tells Anne that she hopes she’ll be better next week. I wonder what is wrong and go in at Webster’s bidding. When I go in I get the fright of my life – Anne is pale with a huge swelling at one ankle and is hobbling. I voice my horror and she tells me that she has an allergy to mosquito bites and the swelling is the result of one. When she was in the south of France she was always hobbling around or had her arm in a sling because of mosquito bites. She hobbles over to the piano and tells Webster that she’d like a cup of tea and a biscuit because she feels hungry.

We start on scales which go reasonably well. She says I must retain my mezzo quality up and keep the soprano quality for the very top.

I thank Webster for his record and tell him I enjoyed his programme tremendously on Sunday night. He says, “Did you really? I couldn’t hear it very well because we were out in the country in the car. Do you think it’s the right formula?”

I say how I loved his characterisation of the parts – he seems pleased.

Anne says that I might (if I want to) audition for a part in the chorus of the two operas taking place soon with Mimi Coertse in them. Speak to JvdM. She says the SABC choir will probably be asked to sing in them anyway.

We do Sweet Polly Oliver and work like hell on it. Anne says that my consonants are lazy so we go through the thing again. I am accused of Scottish accent. She feels my breathing although she can hardly get up.

We do My Mother. Webster sings one part to me as it should be sung. It is as though I have never heard or seen him sing in my life – as I expect he sings on stage – quite a different man with a smile and a light in his eyes as though he’s singing for the joy and love of it. Losing his voice? Not Webster!

When talking about the opera Webster says, “Tell them you won’t sing for any less than £50 a week! Have a good laugh.

When I leave I tell Anne that I hope she will be better very soon indeed. She is so sweet and puts such a good face on it. She even tells me, “I’m glad I come from the North Country – all the people drop their jaws and yap all day there!” (in appropriate accents!)

With her hair back, her face pale and her ankle sore, she looked her age today, but there is still something about her that makes her remarkable. She is an angel at heart and I adore her!

19 January – After work I sing for at least two and a half hours in the evening. Confirmation from father that My Mother Bids Me has vastly improved.

20 January – Work in morning and meet parents in the Century restaurant and have lunch, then see Bachelor Flat with Terry Thomas – a poor film. We get a lift home from Mr Russell.

At night we visit the Scotts. Linda is going to high school shortly. Mr S says, “Tell Webster to play Iolanthe and the Mikado – the real Gilbert and Sullivan.”

21 January – (Webster’s sixtieth birthday). Webster at night is terrific.

22 January – Work. I go to SABC at night. We are doing a Cantata and Passion (Bach) for Good Friday (in Afrikaans). We will be singing in Norma with Mimi Coertse and also Tales of Hoffman, Hansel and Gretel and in the Symphony of Psalms when Stravinsky comes out.

Speak to Ruth O at break. She lives in Parkwood and goes to Parktown Girls’ High (in Form 4 this year) and Webster and Anne are on visiting terms with her parents. She calls them Anne and Webster. She tells me that Anne came to her house this afternoon with music for her exam – she’s doing the same one as me – and Anne showed her all my songs and exercises.

We say that neither of us can smile; we both hate looking in the mirror at the studio for next to Anne we look like hags; we are both nervous and it seems we both think alike generally. She tells me that Webster has a red face because of sunburn! She knows Mrs S for she teaches at her school. She says, “Girls are frighted of her, but I’m not!” We both blush when nervous and we’re nervous when we sing alone. It was a lovely conversation.

25 January – Have lunch with Mum in Ansteys.

Go to studio. Webster answers and he is not looking very well. I help myself to tea and wash and dry cup too. Nellie is singing for all her worth.

Go in and Anne tells me (on enquiry) that she had to stay in bed last Friday and have a cortisone injection but she’s all right now.

She tells me that a girl, Colleen McMenamin has been accepted into the SABC choir and is supposed to be going tonight. She’s a mezzo and comes from Germiston. I say I’ll look out for her on Monday. We’ll have quite a gang soon!

At Webster’s suggestion we start on vocalisation studies. Have to battle like mad over them. He spares me nothing although I’m dead beat. After many contortions by Webster and myself they improve.

We do My Mother and she says that my consonants are positively sluggish. No wonder – so am I! We try it to “ca” at Webster’s provocation. This is a great success and for once, he is pleased. When we do it again my diction has improved.

Webster gets terrible pain around his chest “like a band of hot steel pressing on me.” She looks startled and he says, “It’s probably the cheese sandwich I had at lunchtime.” He takes pills and I depart.

He is rehearsing for a new play, The Andersonville Trial.

26 January – At lunchtime I meet Liz Moir with her mother. She is most affable. I meet Mum in John Orrs and we look at sales. Do large and very profitable singing practice at night.

27 January – Work hard and buy some clothes afterwards. I pass the studio and their car is parked in Pritchard Street. When I come out of John Orrs I see Webster looking very hot in shirt getting into it.

28 January – Sunday school and work. Webster’s programme is lovely.

29 January – Work. Go to SABC at night and have a wonderful time. Gill is back. I talk to Ruth and she asks if I saw picture of Webster and Anne in the Star. She saw the Amorous Prawn twice. I don’t come across Colleen M. I think she is married. I see the photo of Webster and Anne at the home of Aussie Commissioner in Lower Houghton when I get home.

Anne and Webster 1962

30 January – Work hard. At night Peter C arrives unannounced and we sing. He had Anne all to himself on Saturday. Webster was probably rehearsing. His voice has definitely improved.

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 – February/March 1961

2 February –  Work hard at the library – the hours are unbearable so I may be going to business college instead.

3 February – Am definitely going to business college! Have lunch in town with Mum and Dad and then wander around and look in the Belfast – I meet Inge Alexander there and we talk for a while. Practise my piece at night.

4 February  – I go for my lesson today. First, I miss the tram and then the lift in Polliacks Building leaves without me and I have to wait for ages for it to return to the ground floor. I imagine I shall be frightfully late, but when I arrive at the studio Webster answers the door with their little Maltese poodle (Lemon) in his arms and he asks me to have a seat. I pet Lemon, and Webster warns me that he goes for ankles. I sit in the kitchen and play with Lemon and listen to them teaching a girl to sing. They all sing together and this make me giggle with Lemon.

Girl – all these other girls seem elusive and nondescript – goes and Anne calls me in and we discuss Lemon. She says that he’s the loveliest pet she’s ever had – she’s crackers over him.

Webster goes out for a while and Anne says to Lemon, “Now come and sit down at my feet and be obedient.” For a moment I forget that Lemon is there and then I realise who she was talking to! I tell her my mistake and we have a good laugh.

Anne says that my diction in the poem is now perfect, but everything must be a hundred percent, “So use yer face and yer eyes!” I endeavour to do this to the best of my ability – impossible! Anne says, “A smile lifts the voice and gives it light and shade.” Webster comes back and she calls to him, “Oh, Boo, this is much better!” and he replies, “Yes, I could hear she was smiling.”

We start on the movement again. 1) Move from waist down. 2) Move knees (flexibility) and 3) Know every move. She asks, “Did you see Lock Up Your Daughters, Jean?”

Feel grim at this and have to lie, “No, I would have loved to of course but we just didn’t seem to find the time.” What a whopper! How could I have told her, “My father didn’t approve of this risque play!” She talks and demonstrates different movements such as the “Cor blimey cockney movement” (as she calls it), the burlesque movement and others. She says, “Come with me towards the mirror, Jean, dear!” Talks about the way Indians and Africans walk. “You must enter a room, stage, anywhere without apologising for living. Even if old Dr Verwoerd comes in, still feel that you are just as good as him!” Yay for Anne’s attitude. Wish I could do all this.

Says I must work out every move beforehand because for two minutes everybody’s attention will be focused on me and the adjudicator will be waiting for me to make a mistake. Says that dozens of people have said to them, “But you and Webster are so natural on stage.” She takes me by the hand and we stand in some corny position in front of it (like foxtrotting at the rink) and she says that they might appear natural but every move is planned and they even know exactly where they will put their feet.

They are going on holiday soon and will be back about the 5 March and she will phone me on the Monday after they get back to make an arrangement for lessons. However, I’m still going to her on Monday afternoon. Shall have to work hard tomorrow.

Anne says she gets rheumatism in her neck – that must be grim. She is wearing exactly the same shoes I bought the other day – I shall never be able to wear them to the studio. Webster says goodbye to me and Anne comes with me to the door, and Lemon is in the offing. Webster says, “The whole family is here today.” They give me practically a whole hour today. They are honeys. Webster looks rather grim in a light white sports jacket.

Meet Mummy and buy a briefcase for college – Harvard Commercial College in Pritchard Street under the direction of Mr Pelkowitz, then we have lunch with Dad and see Make Mine Mink with Terry Thomas and Hattie Jacques which is good!

6 February – I start my commercial course at Harvard Commercial College in President Street, near the library today. I find Jill Harry from school there, so there is a known Jeppe face amongst the other girls who are mainly from the northern suburbs, putting in time until they find a suitable husband. When we come out of college in the afternoon I moon around for an hour, walking round and round the block between John Orrs and Polliacks. I get tired of doing this so I go up to the Booths – terribly early but desperate.

Webster answers the door and takes me into the waiting room cum kitchenette while he dries the dishes. He asks me about college and the brief job in the library and is hang of a sweet. He tells me that he has been walking around town for hours this afternoon in sweltering heat. I ask whether I can help him dry the dishes, but he says resignedly, “No, I’m used to it.” He offers me a cup of tea but I refuse – I’m too tired to live, far less drink tea. While sitting there I think how sweet they are and how horrible everyone else is to be so nasty about them.

I go in at Anne’s bidding – I feel at times as though she’s the Queen granting an audience to a very lowly subject, and she says, “How are you?” I say, “Tired,” which makes a change from “Fine”.

She gets me to do Shall I Compare Thee? and tells me that it is absolutely perfect and she wouldn’t interfere with it in any way. Praise indeed. She spends ages going through the book to find some new ones for me to do while she is away on holiday. Eventually, after a long search – in which time I realise that the photo on the table is of Leslie Green – she chooses three poems – one Scots one – To a Field Mouse, and she makes me read them, sits next to me and listens, then criticises, reads them over herself and says my Scots accent is so cute.

Gets Webster to put the poems on tape – they sound ghastly and she had said, while tape was still running, “Oh, darling, I’ll read this poem too!” We practically kill ourselves when it is played back. Anne says I pitch my voice too high when I start. She says it’s like some of their early speeches where they sounded quite burlesque because of the high pitch of their voices. Webster calls through asking for something. She looks at me in such a puzzled fashion and asks what he said. I say, “Something about ink.” and she calls, “Oh, Boo, we haven’t any.” Poor old Boo!

Anne makes arrangements for my next lesson. I am in credit and she owes me a lesson – 10 March, a whole month away – boo-hoo (no pun intended) and she makes me write down the times. Webster hands me a pen. He checks my phone number and asks what suburb the number stands for – I say Kensington, and he looks enlightened and says, “Oh, of course, Kensington!”

I wish them a lovely holiday and they are pleased. I hope they do have a lovely holiday. They deserve it.

8 February – Listen to Leslie Green and Marjorie Gordon and do homework. Play piano and sing (seriously in both cases) at night. Have worked out three poems starting on Friday thus giving me a week each for two short ones and two weeks for long one. All during this time must keep up Shall I Compare Thee.

9 February – Webster and Anne leave on holiday. Very miserable and rainy but dare say they would leave anyway.

Spend lunchtime on the college veranda with Jill H, Audrey and Lynnette and we consider whether it would be a good idea to spend our lunchtime in the bar across street – decide against it!

Learn Fair Daffodils We Weep to See on tram in about ten minutes – good, eh?

10 February – Meet Doreen Craig on the bus and we discuss the guild outing at the old age home. I am to play a selection of songs. Perhaps I can wangle We’ll Gather Lilacs (Webster and Anne’s song!)

At guild at night we go to Rosettenville church and have mock Olympics which is quite fun. Doreen and I go and return with Mr Russell, the minister. We talk – or gabble would be a better name for our conversation!

18 February – I go to the rink and I’m delighted to see Kay Tilley there after a long absence. Kay is still at college in her second year. She says she thinks Anne is not as good as Webster – the first approving opinion of him I have heard for a long time…

20 February – College once more. Jill tells me that Colleen O’Donaghue has got into varsity. We sit on library steps at lunch. Listen to Leslie Green in the afternoon. He’s sweet.

22 February – I am absent from college today because I still feel ill. It’s worth it thought because I hear Sweethearts sung in Afrikaans (very well) by Webster and Anne. I feel really proud of them. They have wonderful voices no matter what people say.

I was thinking yesterday that the present generation of performers don’t really have much talent – Elvis Presley, Tommy Steele, Cliff Richard etc. earn much more money than Mr MacMillan (British PM) yet they’re positively amateurish compared with the Booths. Even now, in middle age, they are wonderful. Britain doesn’t know what they’re missing not to have them living there any more. It is sad that they should have had to come to South Africa to make a living – and even here they are constantly criticised by ignorant people.

23 February –  I practise for our concert at the Old Folks Home. Doreen phones to talk about this and I feel as though I’m preparing for a first night at the London Palladium.

24 February – College goes well as always. At home I read the autobiography of Noel Coward which doesn’t cheer me up any owing to talk of bad performances of his which took place in London theatres, and don’t really apply to playing at old folks’ home!

Go up to guild at night feeling vaguely theatrical. I am first, with Doreen a close second. We speak to Peter Casteling and he agrees to lead the singing and is very affable. Doreen organises lifts for us – Peter, me, and Doreen go with Mr Russell.  At OPH we hear great hilarity – old people are already singing to the accompaniment of an old lady who plays extremely well. Peter C leads the singing. When singing Roamin’ in the Gloamin’ he says, “Now lets give it big licks for the benefit of our Scottish pianist!”  Dave shows slides; Kippy gives a talk, and I play hymns. Then, while we are having tea, the old lady plays again – a bit loudly, but still very well indeed. Peter asks me to play again. I do so because of vague recollections that an artist must never play hard to get, and also because I want to shove all the songs the Booths sing down their ears!  Play We’ll Gather Lilacs, Operette, and Only a Rose (Webster and Anne’s signature tune).

Joan and Doreen tell me with great surprise, “You played so well tonight.” Obviously a good piano and a lively imagination contributed to that. Peter says, when he introduces me for a second time, “I don’t think I’ve introduced you properly to our Scottish pianist, born at the bottom of the banks of Loch Lomond – Miss Jean Campbell!” All very nice in a terribly small way I know, but how I’d love to revel in things like that often. I wouldn’t be a pianist of course, but an actress – professional at that! But these are dreams that will probably never come true. In the meantime, I shall have to make do with giving speeches at guild, playing at old folks’ homes, spouting poetry at eisteddfods (if I don’t go dry-mouthed) and doing speech with Anne. Webster and Anne are the luckiest people I know. They have had world-fame and respect, and now they are still great celebrities over here.

March Ann, Brian and Mr and Mrs Stratton come at night. Mr S goes back home to fetch music and comes back with it to sing for us while I play. He has a lovely baritone voice. When Ann is in my room she sees picture of Anne and says, “What a lovely picture of Anne Ziegler!” She has never mentioned Anne before – except with derision!

MARCH

3 March –  I get Gill McDade home on the tram. We talk theatre. I am put off when she tells me that Lock Up Your Daughters was wonderful except for Anne who gave her the shivers because she yelled far too much. I tell her that I expect the play was terrible and that Anne is sweet and a real darling. I should like to know how they achieved such fame and popularity when everybody I know seems to have terrible vindictive downs against them.

4 March  – Go to the ice rink today and Susan comes. I skate for a time and then get the shock of my life when I see Gwyn Jones arriving, complete with Springbok colours blazer – whew! I go in and tell Sue about his arrival and we both talk to him for ages. He was allowed into the rink again on Tuesday. I’m glad to see him back. Says he had a gorgeous time in Scotland and at the Olympics and didn’t need any oxygen. He shows us various routines – very good, considering how long he’s been away from skating. We talk about the Goon Show and Peter Sellers. I mimic his Scottish accent in recent film – terrific fun. Gwyn carries on madly on ice.

5 March Booths are back from their holiday today!

7 March – George Formby dies.

8 March – Sir Thomas Beecham dies. Wendy phones at night about Cliff Richard and so does Peter (hymns – 4!).

9 March – Cliff Richard arrives today – mobbing outside Carlton in evidence from the morning.

10 March – After college I come home in terrible rain and then – the time I have looked forward to for a month arrives – I go for my lesson with the Booths. When I arrive I bang on the door and nobody answers. I begin to think vile thoughts, thinking they have forgotten me again, and decide to wait until five past five and then leave. A number of prospective models arrive for Madge Wallace’s modelling school next door and they eye me and I eye them with mutual disdain. Madge Wallace comes out and asks whether I’m waiting for her.

I say, “No, actually I’m waiting for the Booths, but as it’s five I doubt whether they’ll come now.”

She says, “Yes, they will, but they’re always late. Why not take a seat in my studio until they arrive and watch the models.” I do this – models are still extremely disdainful, but the seat is very welcome. Eventually I see Anne at the door of her studio and forget all social graces and go out to Anne who was looking a bit worried. Maybe she thought I had changed studios and was going to take up modelling instead!

Anyway, she is a honey as always – quite brown after holiday and wearing sunglasses. She says their holiday was gorgeous. I go into the studio and sit on studio couch and look at these infernal pictures. I say infernal because they all reflect their fame which I shall never achieve! I hear someone clearing their throat at the door – Webster Booth!

Never in all my living experience can I describe what a shock I receive when I see him – he has grown a beard! I ask you – a beard! A horrible bristly beard, very grey which clashes with the colour of his hair, and moustache. I hope I didn’t let my feeling of horror show. I ask him how he enjoyed his holiday and he talks through his teeth with ecstasy, “It was wonderful,” he says.

1961 Advertising Skol beer – Webster with beard!

Anne and I start on Shall I? and she says it is good but I must have no inhibitions, shyness, or embarrassment of any kind. (Q. Am I showing all those negatives?) We do the other Shakespearean sonnet, Being Your Slave and suddenly she decides that I do that far better than the other. She says, “I’m almost tempted… What do you think Boo, don’t you think Jean could do this better for the eisteddfod?”

He says, “Is it a sonnet?”

“Yes, it’s got fourteen lines.”

“But Anne, are you sure it hasn’t got fourteen lines by accident?”

She asks me what I think – I don’t really mind. She says, “It’s much less hackneyed, but I must smile when I do it. She makes me walk into the room smiling and makes me look at myself in the mirror – I always look vile in their mirrors! She says, “Walk on your toes, head up, shoulders down, and a slight movement of hips wouldn’t go amiss!”

Begins to wax eloquent and continues, “There’s nothing so attractive as seeing a beautiful girl walking on to a stage with a lovely smile. Even if the adjudicator doesn’t smile back, don’t worry – he won’t be in the Profession. A person in the Profession would always smile back at you. In Springs when I was adjudicating I smiled at every contestant just to cheer them up!”

At the end of my lesson she says to me, “You have a lovely face, so smile!” Gives me a big grin which I reciprocate in practised manner and feel quite touched at her good acting. During the whole session Webster chipped in once to say I must clip off “world-without-end-hour”. She says that my diction is good but I can afford to be less pedantic now. Both come with me to the door. A rather nice chap is waiting for his lesson – gives me a grin – sweet! Say bye-bye about a dozen times. (Must remember to say cheerio) and then get lift and come down.

See their car with its GB plate – after five years one would think they might remove it. It’s a green Zephyr – that is, it isn’t a Jag, Rolls or a Mercedes like Daphne Darras’s father, but still, its theirs!

11 March Go to rink. Sue comes and while she, I and Carol Ann (little American) are sitting in cloakroom Mrs Nicholls (Denise’s mother) comes in and tells us that Lennie and Glenda have won British junior pairs championships. She is nearly crying with excitement and I must say that a lump comes to my throat too. Sue and I are utterly thrilled and say so. Good show!

We go out and talk to Gwyn about it, and I must say, that he takes it all in good heart and says how terrific it is. Go on ice and talk to Neill about it too and we are all thrilled. Menina Klein comes and we talk – I tell her about Webster and Anne and she nearly does her nut over them, telling me how lucky I am and how famous they are.

Gwyn is as mad as usual and carries on on the ice wonderfully. Sue has (at least her dad has) a new car and she wants a name for it. Gwyn says in disgustingly – or should I say – deliciously rude manner – why not a chemical formula: ShoneT! My goodness! Says he saw Cliff last night – he thought him good but too screamy. Sue skates gorgeously as usual and so does Gwyn. We fool about and make spectacles of ourselves – everyone watches us – wonderful fun! Neill buys me a cold drink and is sweet but a terrible bragger. Still, he is cute. Afterwards I walk down the road with him and catch a bus on the other side of the road. Lovely morning and am thrilled about Lennie and Glenda.

14 March College – fine. Come into town again and wait outside the Carlton for Wendy to go to see Cliff Richard. Girls and boys are waiting for Cliff to come out of the hotel – all in vain.  Wendy comes and we have supper in the Capinero and talk to Carol Balfour afterwards. 

Go to Coliseum and feel the atmosphere! Show is very good and so are supporting turns, especially young comedian, Norman Vaughan – amusing and can play the guitar, tap and sing.  Cliff and Shadows are lovely and we all clap to the beat. I really enjoyed it, although, on reflection, I prefer Tommy Steele but Cliff is good fun.

17 March. College. We are all thankful for the weekend ahead. I come home with Ann and Colleen O’Donaghue. Talk is centred around college and all the projects Ann has to do for Teacher’s Training College.  I come back to town in rather a strange frame of mind and feel rather a failure theatrically speaking. Go up on the lift and think they probably won’t be there yet, so I knock. I am shocked when I realise that somebody is singing and I’ve interrupted them.

Webster answers door – still with beard – and is affable. Takes me into the kitchen and asks me if I want a cup of black tea. I decide to accept so he tells me to help myself. I do so and he disappears. I drink tea and then wash and dry spoon, cup and saucer.

Girl – her name is Roselle – sings Someday My Heart will Awake really gloriously and touches high A with great ease – the sort of singing that touches the heart. Anne says, “Very cheap, very common, but lovely.” After lesson, Roselle tells Webster and Anne she loves singing far more than the piano and could give her whole life to it. She is very eloquent about the whole thing – something I could never be. I am very surprised when I see that Roselle is only a girl of about fourteen – very plain and a bit stodgy, but my goodness, her voice will be her fortune.

I go in next – an anti-climax for all – and say that Roselle’s voice is too gorgeous for words. They are both enthusiastic about it too and enlarge on her. She could only sing to the A above middle C when she first came but can now reach high A. Has a great future if she’ll work. She loves singing and is very musical. Webster says, “The day she came, I knew she was going to be good. She has a voice like an adult.” (He places the accent on the ULT)

Webster gives me a long lecture. “When I was young, the famous character actor, Bransby Williams gave me a tip. He said, “When you walk onto the stage, feel proud of yourself as if you’re just as good – if not better – than anybody else. It’s something I have never forgotten.” He gives a demonstration of Bransby Williams walking onto the stage.

Anne says, “He wouldn’t have been so arrogant, Boo.”

“He wasn’t arrogant, but he was self-assured.”

I tell them that I don’t feel nervous on the stage in a play, only when I’m doing something by myself. They say that is understandable, but one must be able to be a soloist as well as an actor. Anne says that she has to accompany some of the singers and she feels nervous. How unusual! On leaving, Webster says I shall have to get onto some plays – very good idea. I’m sick of spouting poetry…

18 March Copy music, play piano and listen to radio in morning. Go to lunch with Mum and Dad in and then we go to see Midnight Lace with Doris Day and Rex Harrison. It is a really good thriller – Doris Day excels herself in this dramatic role. Rex Harrison is excellent too with beautiful diction.

When we come home I see Jeppe girls coming from the swimming gala. I talk to Dawn Vivian and she tells me that Jeppe came seventh out of nine! Parktown came first – watch out for bragging at college on Monday! Girls are far more demure than usual – Miss Reid and Miss Allen are following them in their car to keep order!

21 March College. Mr Pelkowitz says it’s OK for tomorrow – prize-giving at school so shall have a holiday.  Wendy phones this evening and we discuss the prize giving. I am meeting her tomorrow at 9.45. It will be funny going back to school again.

Play the piano and then listen to the radio. I am barely seated at the radio when the phone rings again. I wonder if it is Wendy phoning again and wonder what on earth she wants.

Voice, which isn’t Wendy’s says, “Hello, is that Jean speaking?” I reply “Yes,” and wonder if it is Mrs Watt or Mrs Corrigan. Then mysterious voice says, “Oh, Jean this is Anne Ziegler speaking.” I nearly die on the spot. My heart jumps into my throat and I say in surprised voice, “Oh, good evening.”

“I just phoned about your lesson, Jean. Do you think you could possibly make it Thursday instead of Friday?”

“Yes, Mrs Booth – that would be fine – what time?”

“Four o’clock – would that suit you?”

“Yes, that’ll be perfect.” I reply in slightly dazed tone.

“Well, goodbye, Jean. We’ll see you then. Don’t forget – Thursday 4 o’clock.”

“Goodbye,” I reply in cheerful yet distraught fashion.

I go through to the lounge feeling a great shock, but it’s rather a nice feeling really. Can I forget, “This is Anne Ziegler,” – To have a name so famous and to use it so carelessly. I don’t know what or why it is, but when I speak to them I forget their fame and their singing, but this incident gives me a gentle reminder of who they are – not Webster and Anne as they have become to me, but Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, the famous singers.

22 March. We have prize-giving today. It is very strange returning to school – seeing the girls again. Winnie, Gay and Hazel J are nurses. Sit next to Claire J and Audrey D. Miss Reid’s report on last year’s events is cold and impartial – take a deep breath at mention of Miss Scott (who taught us English so brilliantly for a term). We get our prizes (matric certificate!) and talk. Gill Clarke is there – gushing and facetious as usual – utterly charming all the same.

Go into town and Mum buys a tangerine jacket for me in the Belfast – lovely.

While dad is twiddling with the radio he comes across a well-known voice on the English programme – Webster presenting a new programme – Webster Booth presents opera, oratorio and operetta. It is lovely to hear his voice on the radio unexpectedly and to know that I know him. He reminisces about his youth – born in Birmingham then advised to go for audition at Lincoln Cathedral school which would give him a free education. He was accepted and became a boy chorister, trained by Piggy (nicknamed because he snorted while he was conducting). Life at Lincoln gave him a rigorous musical training for four years until he was thirteen when his voice broke. He was told, “Don’t sing for two years and then you’ll be a tenor.” He followed the advice, but he hoped to be a bass rather than a tenor. He says in typical Webster manner, “I have made 350 solo recordings and many duets with Anne Ziegler.”

He fills this talk in with record he has made – religious aria, aria from Carmen and several others – oh, yes – How Lovely are Thy Dwellings. He plays some Gilbert and Sullivan overtures too. It is a gorgeous programme – not only because it’s him but because he’s so interesting and presents himself so well, and because his singing is beautiful and cannot be surpassed. Please let me have the courage to tell him that his programme was wonderful when I see him tomorrow. No one who has good taste can deny that!

23 March Go to college again and work hard and feel dead by the end of it all. I kill time for an hour in Anstey’s and then meander slowly up to the studio, feeling quite strange in the lift as I usually do.

Anne arrives after me and is charming as usual. She admires my tangerine jersey acquired yesterday. We go in and I sit down for a minute and look at the photos. She sits down and I do poem – swallow “per chance” for some reason – perhaps because Webster opens the door at that very moment. Webster stampedes – that’s the word for it – in, and it takes him a few seconds to realise that I’m there! He says, “Oh, hello Jean. I didn’t realise you were there!” I ask you!

He says that six weeks ago he wrote to hire a wig and it didn’t arrive, and now he has had a letter to say would he please return it. He is furious and goes into the office to phone up about it.

Anne tells me that they haven’t had any tickets for the eisteddfod. How can people make arrangements for Easter with this infernal eisteddfod looming? Their maid is going into hospital for a tonsillitis operation so she won’t have any help in the house. She has to come into town for eisteddfod about nine times, so doesn’t know what to do.

She says that if I’m nervous I should take deep breaths as this is very calming. Swears, using hell in one of its forms – can’t remember what exactly she says! She says it’s time I started on plays now. She pores over innumerable scripts and brings out Spring Quartet – they were in it in Cape Town when they first arrived in the country in 1956. She explains the plot to me and I do the part of a Scottish girl in Austria while she reads all the other parts. It is gorgeous acting with her. She says that Scottish comes very naturally to me so she’d like me to try something else. She finds And So to Bed when the phone rings and Webster looks up the part – Mistress Pepys – and hands it to me after much searching. They played Mistress Knight and King Charles II in the touring production in the UK in 1953/54. She comes back from the phone and tells me that I should take the script home and study Mistress Pepys which should be done with a slight French accent.

She’ll phone me if she gets any news of the eisteddfod. I say goodbye and shout goodbye to Webster who is in the office. He is affable in a dazed fashion and shouts, “Oh, goodbye, Jean.”

Armed with the script which they had used at the height of their fame – I walk down Eloff Street feeling spontaneous and happy. I glance through the script on the bus and laugh at some remarks Anne had written in the back of it.

Betty phones at night – Peter, 1 o’clock on Saturday – coming here. And now, as Pepys would say, “Goodnight, sweet dreams and so to bed!”

25 March Go to visit Mr and Mrs Jones who have stand at Hartebeespoort Dam with rest of teachers. We have a really gorgeous time. I go with Fred Shaw, Joan Spargo, Wendy Price-Williams and Dorothy Shaw – houseboat in wilderness of shrubs adjoining the dam – really beautiful. Ann, Peter, Leona are already there when we arrive. Mr Jones is a local preacher who preached once at our church.

Go home eventually with Fred. Peter comes too and we sing on the way home. Peter has a good voice – should have it trained with Webster! We discuss them. Wendy says how wonderful it was when they sang Wunderbar at church concert, and she loved it when Anne said to Webster, “Just wait till I get you home!”

We all sing this and other songs and Wendy tells me I have a wonderful voice – I should join the choir – says this so sincerely it fairly bucks me up. I adore singing. I put my heart and soul into it – I love it!

29 March Webster with his gorgeous programme again – it has been renamed On Wings of Song and it is introduced with the Booths’ recording of the song. Webster sounds familiar and yet a complete stranger.

He tells of applying for the post of tenor soloist at a certain cathedral, but turned it down for the salary of £200 a year was too low. He started his singing training with Dr Richard Wassall and started to sing tenor solos in the choir.

While working in an accountant’s office, he gets offers from oratorio agents and began singing all over the country – including in Wales and Scotland – and so became reasonably well-known in oratorio circles.

He is proud that he sang with Harold Williams, whom he considers to be the baritone of his generation. He plays some of his own recordings, all conducted by “my old friend, Sir Malcolm Sargent”. He also plays the overture to Merrie England, in which he took the tenor lead with Dr Wassall.

He makes all this so interesting and his records are beautiful – plays arias from Messiah and Elijah and other songs. What a man, what a voice and how nice he really is. To think I’ll see him tomorrow and he will once more become that rather vague person, dominated by Anne.

30 March Go for lesson. Arrive early and hear snuffles of Lemon at the door. Man who has come up on the lift with me comes into the studio too. I go in and Webster holds Lemon in his arms and asks customary question, “Are you wearing stockings?” I say, “Yes, but please put Lemon down.” I play with him – what a sweetie. Anne comes into kitchen looking too beautiful for words in red and white sheath dress and she tells me she is dead tired because of all the work she had to do at home without the maid who has gone into hospital for her tonsil operation. Between the worry of the eisteddfod and the heat, she’s dead beat. She takes me into the studio and Webster introduces me to the man called André van der Merwe. He says, “We’re sorry we haven’t been able to spend more time with you while you were here,” and A vd M departs – saddened, me thinks.

Anne gives me tickets for the eisteddfod and says she doesn’t know if she’ll manage to be there to hear me. Webster disappears to make tea. She says that she’ll have to accompany a singer in the Duncan Hall, so she isn’t quite sure… I say, “Anne, please don’t come. I shan’t feel so badly if you’re not there.” She laughs and says that she’s sure I shan’t do anything badly. Now I come to think of it, I don’t suppose she has any intention of coming to hear me recite the silly poem at the eisteddfod!

Webster returns and Anne searches for her And So to Bed script. I realise that this is the moment, so I say, “I thought your programme was terrific last night, Webster.” He turns around and says, “Oh, thank you, but I wasn’t too happy with it last night. I could hardly hear it either with the crowd around the radio. I was better pleased with the first one, but next week is a nice one.” I assure him that I enjoyed both of them and he is obviously pleased, but tries to appear nonchalant.

Anne takes me over and shows me pictures of And So to Bed. Mistress Pepys with Charles and Pepys (played by Leslie Henson) with Anne looking as gorgeous as anything. I make appropriate remarks and then we start. Webster promises to do Charles, but we don’t get that far. I really enjoy doing the play with Anne. She’s terribly vulgar in explaining character – be bitchy and wish the other woman to hell. She seems pleased with my acting and French accent. She says that I pick up my cues well and I obviously have been taught to do this. Webster turns around and says that I do it very well and could do the part anywhere – rather a compliment coming from him when he usually tries to criticise me.

In the middle of this there is a knock at the door and a stodgy little girl of about nine enters the room. Anne’s expression changes to ice and she says in a horribly cold voice, “Oh, it’s you Sally. You had better sit in the kitchen for a while.”

Anne tells me that this kid hasn’t turned up for her lesson for six weeks and yesterday her mother phoned up for a lesson for her today. Anne was flaming mad, but said, “OK, 3.30.” She didn’t turn up then and has turned up now and they are expecting someone else after me. Webster comes in and Anne says flatly that Sally can’t have a lesson today. We continue with our play without further disturbance and all is convivial.

During tea a discussion arises about different teas. Anne says that in Britain they used to drink Indian tea and she loathes Ceylon tea. She has discovered an imported blend in Thrupps, and compared to it, this tea tastes like DDT. Webster says, “What nonsense,” and I am inclined to agree with him but more politely. When I leave they both wish me luck. I say goodbye to Webster and Lemon. and Anne comes with me to the door and wishes me luck yet again and see I win a prize! I shan’t! What pets they are. Anne tells me how she loved Daddy’s Scots accent.