EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES: MAY 1963

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great Voices 13 May 1963

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – JANUARY 1963

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great Voices

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anne and Webster with their stage children.

We go to the Carmichaels for drinks in the evening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crit from Rand Daily Mail.

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

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

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

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

We see Jigsaw with Jack Warner – very good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr and Mrs Fordyce in programme of Goodnight Mrs Puffin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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