EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – APRIL 1962

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Webster kissed us when we met,

Jumping from the chair he sat in,

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

GET THAT IN!!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – 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.

BROADCASTING IN SOUTH AFRICA (1956 – 1975)

 

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BROADCASTING IN SOUTH AFRICA. 

Anne and Webster settled in South Africa in mid-July 1956. I compiled the following list from newspapers, magazines and personal diaries. Contact me if you can add more information to this list.

MOBILGAS MELODY WORLD 16 February 1956/57? Springbok Radio, 
Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth in a programme compèred by Michael Drinn.

LIGHT UP AND LAUGH – ITMA, December1956. Thirteen-week series on Springbok Radio, recorded at the Brooke Theatre. Webster (rather incongruously!) took Tommy Handley’s part in South African presentation of ITMA scripts.

ELDORADO, (Ralph Trewhela) 1957. Anne and Webster took the leading roles in this musical, directed by Frank Douglass, SABC Theatre Orchestra, conducted by Jeremy Schulman. Work commissioned by SABC for 21st anniversary programme.

AT HOME WITH ANNE, commenced on 21 January 1958. Anne presented this series on Springbok Radio. The programme was still running in July 1959.

DO YOU REMEMBER? 1959 to 24 April 1960, Anne and Webster presented weekly music programme on Springbok Radio on Sunday afternoon. They spoke about their illustrious careers and the people with whom they had worked. I have asked numerous times whether there are any copies of this programme still in the archives of Springbok Radio. Sadly, I have had no response to my query.+

Anne in a recording of a broadcast at SABC, 1963

CONCERT HOUR 1960 – English service of the SABC. SABC Concert Orchestra, Rita Roberts, Webster Booth, Asaf and Philharmonic Choirs, conducted by Anton Hartman. 

DOUGLAS LAWS Record show, 4 October 1960. Anne and Webster appeared as guest artistes.

MESSIAH 8 December 1960. Webster sang tenor solos in the Port Elizabeth Oratorio Festival, conducted by Robert Selley.

TEST YOURSELF 1960. Anne and Webster presented this quiz show together on Springbok Radio.

OPERA, ORATORIO AND OPERETTA (ON WINGS OF SONG) Wednesdays at 8.30 pm, later Thursday, 9.20 pm, 1961. Webster presented a weekly programme of recordings (including some of their own) on the English Service.

DREAM OF GERONTIUS, MESSIAH, 27 November 1961. Port Elizabeth Oratorio Festival broadcast Monday and Wednesday at 8.00 pm. Webster had appeared in the first performance of the Dream of Gerontius in South Africa in Cape Town in 1957. Webster, with Emelie Hooke, Joyce Scotcher, Harold Hart, Port Elizabeth Orchestra, directed by Robert Selley.

GILBERT AND SULLIVAN 1962, 1963. When the copyright on Gilbert’s words ended, Webster presented a weekly programme on the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas on the English Service. During his illness in 1962, Paddy O’Byrne read the scripts of this programme.

DRAWING ROOM, April 1962. Webster presented a short series of drawing room concerts before a studio audience on the English Service. He and Anne sang in this series, and a number of guest artistes took part. He also sang duets with the bass, Graham Burns. The guest artistes were Doris Brasch, Rita Roberts, Gert Potgieter, Gé Korsten, Graham Burns, Jean Gluckman, Kathleen Allister and Walter Mony The accompanist was Anna Bender.

1962 Drawing room-02

Here is a recording from The Drawing Room. Webster is accompanied by Anna Bender.

FRIEND O’ MINE (1962)

MUSIC FOR ROMANCE, August 1962. Anne presented a series of programmes in which she presented recordings and reminisced about her life and career in England.

PORT ELIZABETH ORATORIO FESTIVAL, November 1962. Elijah and Messiah. 
Webster, Monica Hunter, Joyce Scotcher, and Graham Burns, conducted by Robert Selley. 
The complete oratorios were broadcast locally in the Eastern Cape. Excerpts were broadcast nationally later, but strangely, none of Webster’s recordings were used in the national broadcast.

RECITAL WITH ORCHESTRA 8 April1963. Anne and Webster sang a programme of duets, with orchestra conducted by Edgar Cree, on the English service.

BALLADS OLD AND NEW, October 1963. Webster presented this short series on the English Service towards the end of 1963.

SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE PALACE, November 1963. A short series, which attempted to recreate the atmosphere of the Music Hall on the English Service. Anne and Webster were guest artistes on this programme. 

Webster, Anne, Jeanette James and Bruce Anderson sing a quartet in the programme
GREAT VOICES, 1963-1964. Webster presented this series on the English Service. He was unkindly criticised by the critic Jon Sylvester of The Star for including some of his own recordings on the programme, yet most people expected to hear Webster Booth the singer, as well as Webster Booth, lately-turned broadcaster. If one listens to recordings of Webster Booth, one will realise that he had a very great voice indeed and should be remembered today as a great singer, rather than as a romantic duettist. I sent a letter of protest to Jon Silvester under the pseudonym of Pooh Bah.

I met Webster in the street shortly after this cutting appeared in The Star and he asked me if I had written it. I asked him how he knew, and he replied that I was the only one who could have written it!

Pooh Bah
Me (as Pooh Bah) sent a letter of protest to Jon Silvester!

SUNDAY AT HOME 1963. English Service. Paddy O’Byrne conducted a fifteen minute interview with Anne and Webster at their home in Craighall Park. Click on the link to listen to the broadcast:  PADDY O’BYRNE PRESENTED SUNDAY AT HOME WITH ANNE ZIEGLER AND WEBSTER BOOTH (1963)

OPERA AND OPERETTA, July 1964, Monday, 7.35 pm. Webster returned to the English Service with this series.

IF THE SHOE FITS, Christmas 1964. Webster and Anne starred in this Christmas pantomime on the English Service.

CHILDREN’S PROGRAMME 1965. Anne and Webster presented a series of children’s programmes, directed by Kathleen Davydd.

TEN O’CLOCK AND ALL’S WELL, September 1966. Webster was guest presenter for a week in this short series on the English Service. Earlier in the year he had presented a “sort of housewives’ choice” programme early in the morning.

By that time I was living in the UK but Webster told me about TEN O’CLOCK AND ALL’S WELL in a letter dated 19 September 1966.September 7 66 LWB2


 

 

 

ORCHESTRAL CONCERT (FOR JOHANNESBURG EIGHTIETH BIRTHDAY)  
2 October 1966, CITY HALL, JOHANNESBURG. Anne and Webster were soloists, with the SABC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edgar Cree. 
O lovely night (Anne and Webster) 
Drink to me only with thine eyes (Anne)
Lehar medley (Anne and Webster) 
The Holy City (Webster) 
Love’s old sweet song (Anne and Webster) We’ll gather lilacs (Anne and Webster) 
Selection from Bitter Sweet (Anne and Webster)

MELODY MARKET, May 1967. Webster presented this programme in the early morning on the English Service.  “A sort of housewife’s choice,” was how he described it. It was the last programme for the SABC before he and Anne left Johannesburg for Knysna a month or so later. 

SOUTH AFRICA A TOUCH OF THE BRITISH, 29 May 1973. BBC TV. 
Documentary. Anne and Webster appeared in this documentary. Anne said that she had had enough of South Africa and wanted to go home to die. The programme ended with Anne and Webster singing We’ll gather lilacs

PETER BROOMFIELD’S OPEN HOUSE, 20 March 1975. English Service. 
Anne and Webster were guests of Peter Broomfield on his morning programme, broadcast from Cape Town, on the English Service. Anne’s friend, Babs Wilson-Hill (Marie Thompson) who was on a visit from the UK, and Anne and Webster’s singing dog, Silva were also present in the studio. Silva sang along to a Harry Lauder record! 

A MUSICIAN REMEMBERS, 19 and 26 October 1975. English Service. Webster reminisced about his career in the theatre. Click on the link to hear this programme: A MUSICIAN REMEMBERS 1

A MUSICIAN REMEMBERS, 2 and 9 November 1975. English Service. Anne reminisced about her career in the theatre. Click on the link to hear the programme: A MUSICIAN REMEMBERS 2

WOMENS’ WORLD, English Service,1975 – Pamela Deal, who had conducted the first interview with Anne and Webster when they stopped off briefly on their way to Australia in 1948, interviewed them again when they decided to stop singing in public. They had given a farewell concert in Somerset West towards the end of 1975. This decision was rescinded when they moved back to the UK in early 1978 and found that people remembered them and wanted to see and hear them once again.

 When Anne and Webster left South Africa their voices were rarely heard on South African radio. Ronald Charles, the broadcaster and musician who had been the musical director at Michaelhouse in the sixties, played several of Webster’s oratorio recordings from his personal collection on his classical request programme. As far as I know, most of the 78s in the SABC record library were discarded, but as time passed, a number of their recordings were released on CD. Occasionally a recording was played on Uit Vergange se Dae on Radio Pretoria. 

The late Paddy O’Byrne was always happy to play a recording when he was with the SABC and later at Radio Today, although his access to their recordings was extremely limited. Clare Marshall, on her Sunday morning programme, Morning Star on Radio Today 1485, was about the only broadcaster in South Africa to feature their recordings regularly. Sadly, her programme is no longer on the air as the station has changed direction recently. After I wrote my book Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth Clare invited me to be her guest on her Morning Star programme on 28 April 2013. Click on the link at: My interview with Clare Marshall on “Morning Star” (28 April 2013)



Compiled by Jean Collen. Updated in 2017.