Recollections of Paddy O’Byrne who died on 3 December 2013

On 4 December 2013 I heard the sad news that Paddy O’Byrne had died the previous night, shortly before his eighty-fourth birthday. People on social media and on radio remembered the man and his broadcasting skills with great affection, just as I do myself.

The Voice of South Africa competition 

I first heard of Paddy during the Voice of South Africa competition organised by the SABC in 1961. My parents and I sat in the lounge at 21 Juno Street, Kensington, in front of our large valve radio with the green cat’s eye tuner, listening to the weekly competition with interest. Paddy won that competition, with Michael Todd second, and Dr Tony Venniker in third place. Paddy was Irish, Michael Todd English, and Dr Tony Venniker was South African!

Paddy’s father was a high court judge in Eire and Paddy himself had studied law and was working for an insurance company in the city, but when he won the competition he began his broadcasting career on the English service. Michael Todd became a newsreader with the SABC, while Dr Tony continued practising medicine but made frequent broadcasts in an excellent series called Medical File with fellow medics, Professors Harry Seftel and Peter Cleaton-Jones. Sadly, Dr Tony died of advanced prostate cancer in 1989, and Michael Todd also died many years ago.

Paddy O’Byrne was a fine broadcaster. He had a beautiful speaking voice, a beguiling personality and had a wide musical knowledge. He and his wife, Vicky, who had a charming singing voice, had appeared in a pantomime with the Hungarian/South African singer, Eve Boswell, before coming to South Africa.

Gilbert and Sullivan series presented by Webster Booth – 1962 

The first connection between Paddy and Webster Booth began in 1962. Webster was presenting a Gilbert and Sullivan series of programmes when the copyright on Gilbert’s words was lifted. Unfortunately he was taken very ill during that year and spent some time in the fever hospital in Braamfontein with a mysterious virus which gave him myocarditis and threatened his life. He was away from the singing studio and unable to record the Gilbert and Sullivan programmes for some time. It fell to Paddy O’Byrne to read Webster’s scripts for several of these programmes, and he made a very good job of this assignment.

Sunday at Home – 1963 

In 1963 Paddy presented a series on the English Service called Sunday at Home. He visited the homes of different celebrities to interview them. On one particular Sunday, Anne and Webster entertained a young Paddy in their home at 121 Buckingham Avenue, Craighall Park. It was a charming, informal interview and I liked it so much that I ordered a tape of it from SABC Enterprises some years later.

To the UK and back to South Africa 

I went to the UK in 1966 for several years, and some time later Paddy and his family went to live in Croydon in the UK. During that time Paddy worked at the BBC as a broadcaster on Radio 2. The family returned to South Africa in 1980 when Paddy launched a new radio station, Channel 702, which initially had a licence to broadcast from the South African “homeland” of Bophuthatswana.

Shortly after the launch, Paddy returned to the SABC, succeeding Peter Broomfield and Ken Marshall in a weekday morning programme called Top of the Morning with Paddy O’Byrne. On this programme he chatted to listeners about a variety of topics which interested him, played a wide selection of music and the occasional request from listeners, and also interviewed guests. I particularly remember him interviewing John Robbie, the Irish rugby player, who is a long-established talk show host on what is now called Talk Radio 702, broadcasting from studios in Sandton.

By this time I had been married for ten years and had two children. Anne and Webster returned to the UK in 1978 and, for a time, established a third career on stage and radio. Webster was not in the best of health and his voice was a shadow of what it had once been, so it was very sad that he had to get up on the stage and sing in public. The only news I had of them in 1983 was a comment from Paddy on his programme to say that he had heard that neither of them was very well and “needed looking after”. I wrote to Paddy asking for further news as I was worried that I had not heard from them for so long. No doubt he thought I was some loony fan for he did not reply to my letter! Later that year I had a letter from Anne telling me that Webster was very ill and was now in a nursing home in North Wales and unlikely to return home. He died on 21 June 1984.

 I Bless the Day (De Jongh)and Brian Morris 

Paddy O’Byrne continued his regular morning programme on the English Service and I listened to it regularly. One day, he had a request from Brian Morris, a former student of Anne and Webster’s. When I was Webster’s studio accompanist I had often played for Brian at his lessons. He had a very good baritone voice, reminiscent of Peter Dawson’s.

Brian asked for Webster’s recording of I Bless the Day by De Jongh. The SABC in Johannesburg had got rid of its collection of 78rpm records years before, so there were few of Anne and Webster’s recordings in the SABC library at that time. I had the recording Brian had requested on a Canadian Rococo LP, and also I Leave My Heart in an English Garden by Harry Parr-Davies, which was on the flipside of the original 78rpm. I wrote to Paddy, offering to lend him my precious recordings so that he could play the song Brian had requested. This time he did get in touch with me. His daughter, Jane, who lived near us, collected the records and Paddy duly played Brian’s request and some other recordings from my LPs over several days.

I was rather worried when Paddy didn’t return my records so eventually I phoned his home. Paddy was out, but I spoke to his wife, Vicky. She was charming and realised that I was concerned about my records and said she would make sure that he returned them very soon. Paddy called at our home unexpectedly one Saturday morning to return my records and was fascinated by the photographs of Anne and Webster which adorned my music room. I had a duplicate copy of the LP The Golden Age of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth and gave it to him so that he could play a wider selection if listeners requested one of Anne and Webster’s recordings. Because of Brian Morris’s request for I Bless the Day Paddy and his wife, Vicky, became personal friends of Brian and his wife, Denise. Someone contacted me on my blog a few years ago to tell me the sad news that Brian had died.

Paddy was writing articles about music and broadcasting, so after our initial meeting he often phoned me if he needed to verify information about Anne and Webster. He was always charming and friendly, and I enjoyed our chats together.

He continued as a broadcaster with the SABC, and in 1995 he did a combined afternoon programme with Vuyo Mbuli. I think this was the first time Vuyo had done any broadcasting. Sadly he died suddenly a few years ago, still only in his forties. By that time he was a top TV presenter and very popular with the South African public. Their musical taste differed widely, so it was often a case of hearing Thomas Hampson one minute, and Michael Jackson the next!

After Paddy retired from the SABC he joined the community radio station of 1485 Radio Today and was as popular with listeners as ever. Return to Ireland He and his family returned to their native Ireland towards the end of the last century. His beloved wife, Vicky, died some time ago, and in June this year Paddy came to South Africa to attend a Requiem Mass for her at the Catholic Church in Rosebank where they had worshipped while living here. He and Peter Lotis were guests on Clare Marshall’s programme Morning Star on 1485 Radio Today, which broadcasts from a beautiful plant nursery in Jan Smuts Avenue. It was good to hear his voice once again, although I could hear that he was not very well.

My sincere condolences to his family and friends. He will be sadly missed, but very fondly remembered by everyone who knew him and enjoyed listening to him on the radio.

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MORNING STAR on Radio Today 1485 and other PODCASTS

Since writing this post I have added several more podcasts and they may all be heard at the same place. The series: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth tells of their lives and careers and my association with them from 1960 to 2003, the year of Anne’s death.

Photo taken in the early 1960s.

Webster Booth and Jean Collen. Photo taken in the early 1960s.

I am also doing a separate series about the more serious work of Webster Booth. These podcasts ar called On Wings of Song – Webster Booth as Soloist. Both series of podcasts may be heard at the following link, where there is one featured podcast, with links to the other podcasts to the right of the page:

MY PODCASTS

I have also created a new blog called ZIEGLER-BOOTH RADIO where my own podcasts, the Morning Star podcast originally broadcast on Radio Today on 28 April 2013, and some of my YOU TUBE videos are embedded. My Soundcloud recordings are also included there.

Please let me know what you think of everything if you listen to them.

1940 AW

I have added a podcast at the following link:  A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth – Episode 1

This is the first in a series of podcasts about the lives and careers of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth and my association with them.

The link to the Morning Star podcast on Radio Today 1485 on 28 April 2013 is: Morning Star presented by Clare Marshall with guest, Jean Collen

On Thursday 25 April 2013 I went to the beautiful studios of Radio Today 1485

Radio Today 1485 studios, Jan Smuts Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg.

Radio Today 1485 studios, Jan Smuts Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg. Photo: Gaynor Paynter.

The beautiful studios are situated in the middle of a plant nursery in Jan Smuts Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg. Clare Marshall, who presents the lovely programme Morning Star on Sunday morning had read my book, Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth asked me into the studios to talk to her about my close relationship with Anne and Webster. I began studying singing with them when I left school at the end of 1960 in their studios on the eighth floor of Polliack’s Corner, Johannesburg.

School of Singing and Stagecraft, Eighth Floor, 69 Pritchard Street, Johannesburg

School of Singing and Stagecraft, Eighth Floor, 69 Pritchard Street, Johannesburg – the building with balconies to the right.

Later I acted as Webster’s studio accompanist when Anne had other engagements. I remained friends with them until their deaths. Webster died in June 1984 and Anne died in October 2003.

I retired as Musical Director at St Andrew’s Church, Kensington at the end of 2005 after thirteen years, and stopped teaching classical singing and piano at the end of 2007, so I thought that talking to Clare on air might be rather daunting, but she was quite charming and soon put me at my ease. What I imagined might be an ordeal proved to be a really enjoyable experience. Clare’s Morning Star programme is on at 8.30 am (South African time) on Sunday mornings. I have listened to it for many years and can recommend it to anyone who enjoys hearing a variety of beautiful music presented by someone with a pristine radio voice.

One of the songs which will be featured on the programme on Sunday morning: http://youtu.be/if-EZpO-e9s

Anne and Webster

Anne and Webster

The programme was aired yesterday (28 April 2013)  on Radio Today Johannesburg 1485 – RADIO THAT DELIVERS One of the songs played was:

THE MERRY WIDOW WALTZ: Franz Léhar

  Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, is available online at my book store on Lulu

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

A Personal Memoir

 

I have had some copies of this book printed locally in wire binding and it is  available to South African readers only at the very reasonable price of R140 (including postage). If you would like a copy of this book, please contact me at: duettists@gmail.com and I’ll give you further details about it.

Jeannie C 29 April 2013.

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LIFE IN KENSINGTON AND JOHANNESBURG FIFTY YEARS AGO

Andrew McDougall read this story yesterday (23 July 2015) on his programme The Canon Piper on Radio Today 1485 Here is a link to the programme: The Canon Piper 23 July 2015.

Recent photo of Windy Brow. Photo: Rev Fr Stewart Peart

Recent photo of Windy Brow. Photo: Rev Fr Stewart Peart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was born in Scotland and lived on and off in the United Kingdom for some years as well as in other places in South Africa, but I have lived in the suburb of Kensington, Johannesburg for most of my life since 1957. I came to South Africa from Scotland with my parents when I was five years old and spent my early years in Vanderbijl Park, a small town in the Vaal Triangle, where we knew most people. I cycled to the Vaal High School, coasting at speed down Faraday Boulevard in the morning and struggling uphill in the heat of the early afternoon.

In 1957 my parents made a sudden move to Johannesburg when my father was offered a job at Rogers-Jenkins with an old work colleague. The engineering company was situated in the Jeppe Dip of Main Street. Even in those days my parents were worried about the high crime rate in Johannesburg in comparison to our relatively crime-free small town. They put our furniture into storage and we lived at the Valmeidere Private Hotel in Roberts Avenue opposite Jeppe Boys’ High until we found somewhere permanent to live. I transferred to Form II (Grade 9) at Jeppe Girls’ High for the last term of that year. I was 13 years of age at the time the world was marvelling at the sight of Sputnik circling the earth each night. My parents thought the roads in Kensington were far too busy for me to ride my bicycle to school, so I caught the tram instead. The tramlines were in the middle of the road, so I prayed that oncoming cars would slow down long enough to give me time to reach the tram and mount its steep iron steps. On the first day at my new school I dodged the oncoming traffic as I walked halfway into the middle of Roberts Avenue to board the tram, and clung to one of the overhanging leather straps as the tram hurtled unsteadily down Roberts Avenue towards my new school. The conductor played a big part on the trip. He forced his way through the passengers to collect money for fares, giving tickets and change from the elaborate stainless steel machine attached around his neck with a leather strap, shouting, “Move further down the car,” to allow yet more people to squeeze into the tram on its peak-hour journey. “Hold tight, please! Move forward in the car. Kaartjies asseblief. All tickets please..” The ticket was to be guarded with one’s life in case the dreaded ticket inspector came on board. I didn’t know what the punishment would be if I lost my ticket, but I thought it must be jail at least, if not death by hanging.

In those days there was no such thing as off-the-shelf school dresses or gym slips. My mother had to buy material and take me to a recommended school dressmaker to be measured for my new uniform so I had to wear my Vaal High uniform until the new uniform was made. Girls in my new class eyed me curiously. One asked in hostile tones why I hadn’t gone to Queen’s High as the Vaal High uniform I wore was almost identical to that of Queen’s High. A kinder girl took pity on me and asked me to join her and her friends to eat my sandwiches with them at break. On the first day I wore my brand new Jeppe Girls’ High School uniform, I carried my regulation panama hat adorned with a band in school colours.

At the Vaal High, hats had not been a compulsory part of the uniform, although my mother had always insisted I should wear one to protect my pink and white Scottish complexion from the harsh sun of the Transvaal High Veld. The only vacant seat on the tram that morning was next to a large, fierce-looking Jeppe girl who sported a severe pudding basin haircut under her hat. She had a prefect badge attached to the front of her green school dress. She glowered at me in disgust, seemingly at a loss for words. I summoned up a watery smile, hoping to break the ice.For some reason she was extremely annoyed with me and I had no idea why. Eventually she managed to speak through her rage. “Why aren’t you wearing your hat? You are letting the school down. Put it on at once.” “I’m new. It’s my first day wearing my uniform. I didn’t know I had to wear it,” I muttered, pulling the offending object onto my head, the elastic tight under my chin. The girl softened slightly. “If you weren’t new you would be in detention this afternoon, writing out two hundred lines. Never let me see you without it again.” I learnt that it was a mortal sin to be seen without one’s hat at Jeppe Girls’ High! Apart from the fact that the girls don’t have to wear hats any more, uniforms of the Jeppe schools have not changed much in the last fifty years but they can be bought off the shelf now. The hard-working Kensington dressmakers of days gone by have long since vanished.

The red tram trundled on its way to school down the hill in Robert’s Avenue, past the suburban houses, interspersed with the Methodist Church on the right, the Kensington Hall on the left and the old low-rise, facebrick block of flats on the corner of Juno Street, which was used as an exterior shot on Egoli, M-Net’s erstwhile soapie. Soon I was venturing further afield on the tram, even braving the trip to the crowded city on Saturday morning.

Kensington remains much the same today as it was in 1957 with its neat suburban houses, the Jeppe Schools, the Kensington Clinic, known then as the Kensington Sanatorium and run by nuns, who later moved upmarket to the Kenridge Hospital in Parktown, now renamed again as the Wits University Donald Gordon Medical Centre, the first private academic hospital in South Africa. The Reverend Fr. Stewart Peart sent me a photograph of Kensington Sanatorium in Roberts Avenue.  It  was designed by the Irish architect, John Francis Beardwood and built in 1897.

Kensington Sanatorium

On the way to the city– “going into town” – the tram passed through the suburbs of Fairview and Jeppestown. Nearer town was a big Chinese grocery store called Yenson’s. People came from all over Johannesburg to shop at Yensons because things were very reasonably priced. Then the tram swept along its tracks on Main Street into the city centre with its smart shops, such as Ansteys, John Orrs and Stuttafords.  Upmarket ladies of leisure from the suburbs, complete with matching hats, gloves, seamed stockings and hair newly set (sometimes blue-rinsed) whiled away their time, while  their maids, gardeners and nannies kept their homes, gardens and offspring in pristine condition.

Pritchard Street, Johannesburg, looking towards John Orr’s Department Store (far right).

These matrons met their friends for morning tea in one of the big department stores. Starched tablecloths, silver cutlery, pleasing crockery and an attentive waiter who probably knew his clientele by name served them. They drank tea or coffee and selected fancy cakes from three-tiered revolving plates to the strains of a discreet pianist or Hammond/Lowry organist playing popular tunes of the day. They were further entertained with a dress show of the latest fashions on sale in the shop. The mannequins paraded round the tearoom, discreetly informing each table of the cost of these creations, which could be purchased in the dress department of the store. Thrupps, the upmarket grocery store had a branch next to John Orr’s in Pritchard Street,  so the ladies often rounded off their morning in town by calling in at Thrupps to discuss the cost and quality of the Stilton cheese with the grocers, and take some delicacy home as a treat for their hard-working husbands to round off their evening meal. The centre of the city has probably changed in character more than any other part of Johannesburg. Many of the buildings remain, but they are used for different purposes today. The smart department stores have either closed or moved to shopping malls in the suburbs. The businesses which remain in the city have their solid security gates firmly locked  at closing time. The  city hall with its fine organ, was the venue for symphony and lunch-hour concerts fifty years ago. The symphony concerts are now presented at the Linder Auditorium in Parktown, and  there are very few concerts held at the city hall these days. Even the fine central library has been closed for renovations recently. I wonder if it will every open again.   We moved into a flat in Samad Court at the corner of Queens Street and Langermann Drive. Samad Court is still here, but the flats were turned into offices some years ago. In the middle of 1958 we returned to the UK and when we came back my parents bought a house in Juno Street. We lived next to the tennis courts and bowling greens of the Kensington Club – I passed there the other day and it looks as though the tennis court next to our old house has disappeared. A half-built building has taken its place.

Our home in Kensington (1959)

Our house had a coal stove in the kitchen where the food was cooked and we had a coal fire in the sitting room so we were never cold in winter as we often are today when we are trying to cut down on electricity usage, and there’s a shortage of gas for heaters. Periodically we would have coal delivered to our cellar from Mac Phail’s, whose slogan was “Mac won’t Phail you”. My mother had an account with the local butcher and Ford’s grocery store and she  placed orders at these shops by phone. She had leisurely discussions with the butcher about the best cuts of meat, and with Mr Ford about the quality of his fruit and vegetables. These orders were delivered to the house, and a quart of milk arrived from the dairy early each morning, and a fresh loaf of bread with a tiny label stuck to it was delivered periodically by a local bakery.My closest friend at school was Daphne Darras, whose father owned the big plant nursery at the corner of Juno Street and Kitchener Avenue, the site of the Darras Shopping Centre today.

Jacaranda time in Juno Street.

There were two cinemas in Kensington in 1957 – the Regent in Langerman Drive where Kentucky Fried Chicken is today, and the Gem at the other side of Kensington, bordering Fairview. I remember seeing Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins at the Regent many decades ago. My father took our dog for a walk every evening and sometimes he would walk to the library at Rhodes Park which was open until 8pm in those days. If he was still alive I don’t suppose he would risk taking these evening walks now. Saturday mornings On Saturday morning, the town was crammed with shoppers and cinema-goers. In 1957, girls wore wide skirts with starched hooped petticoats so it was a real crush walking along the pavement with all those skirts brushing against each other.  Shoes with pointed toes and high thin heels made walking precarious, not to mention setting us up for corns and bunions by the time we reached middle age. My mother was adamant that I should wear sensible shoes with tickey (small) heels rather than hurple around in three-inch heels, probably putting my insides and my spine out of alignment into the bargain. The Jo’burg cinemas were impressive art deco palaces, but the décor was enshrouded in a smoky fug, in an era when smoking was still allowed in cinemas – but not in theatres. I certainly wouldn’t survive in a fug like that now with smoking banned in public places, but it didn’t worry me then. We saw Debbie Reynolds in Tammy and the Bachelor in the Colosseum in Commissioner Street, where the interior was created like a fairy castle with little turrets and windows on the walls, and the ceiling a night sky of deep blue, glimmering with stars.

Colosseum, Commissioner Street, Johannesburg

There was also the Empire and Her Majesty’s. Both these cinemas were sometimes used as venues for live shows, variety, musicals and opera. Stars like Johnny Ray, Tommy Steele, Tommy Trinder, Max Bygraves and Cliff Richard graced the stage of one or other of these theatres in the fifties. The first variety show I saw in Johannesburg was British comedian, Tommy Trinder at His Majesty’s. I was mesmerised. “If its laughter you’re after, Trinder’s the name,” was his by-line. We sat in the dress circle and I was so excited by the experience that I missed my footing on the deeply carpeted steps at the interval, and, to my deep mortification, I rolled all the way down, unable to bring myself to a halt until I reached the bottom of the steps. A year or two later, Cliff Richard came out to do some shows with The Shadows at the Empire. I didn’t really like that kind of music but I went into the city with some school friends to find a mob of people blocking Eloff Street outside the old Carlton Hotel where he was staying. They were all screaming for their idol, “We want Cliff…”. At last the crowd was rewarded when he appeared briefly on the balcony of the hotel to wave rather diffidently at the massive crowd to the accompaniment of cheers and howls of mad adulation from his besotted fans, who were oblivious of the fact that they were causing a massive traffic jam in the centre of the city at rush-hour.

Old Carlton Hotel, corner Eloff and Market Streets, Johannesburg. Demolished in 1964.

The Music Studios After I left school I took music lessons in town. I studied singing with famous British duettists, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth in their studio on the eighth floor of Polliack’s building in Pritchard Street just off Eloff Street, and piano with Sylvia Sullivan whose studio was in Edinburgh Court in Von Brandis Street diagonally opposite  the Jeppe Street post office.

Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler (1963)

OK Bazaars, corner Pritchard/Eloff Streets, Johannesburg

Sylvia Sullivan Chorister. I am in the middle, wearing a hairband.

Anne Ziegler & Webster Booth (1963)

Sylvia Sullivan with her great-niece

In those days most music teachers of any repute had studios in town and their pupils travelled by bus from all over Johannesburg. My parents bought me a leather music case and I was always interested to recognise fellow aspirant musicians with similar cases to mine on the way to their music lessons at one or other of the studios. These days music teachers work from their homes in the suburbs and pupils are usually taken to their lessons by car.

Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth outside their first home at Waverley, Highlands North (1956

Sylvia Sullivan was a highly qualified and gifted teacher of singing and piano. She took her work very seriously and expected her pupils to do the same. She was very strict but always gave credit where it was due. She was at her studio for early morning lessons, then off to teach class music at Parktown Girls’ High School and Nazareth House, then back to the studio for more lessons after school finished, until late in the evening. Mrs Sullivan had a suite of rooms in Edinburgh Court, with grand pianos in the two bigger studios, and uprights in the smaller ones so that pupils could put in some last minute practice before their lessons. In addition to their  private lesson she expected her pupils to go in to her studio early on a Saturday morning to work at ear tests, sight-reading and duets. Once a month she held a performance day when everyone had to play or sing to her and fellow pupils – quite an ordeal – but it got us used to performing in public and at examinations. The morning was rounded off with choir practice as members of the Sylvia Sullivan Choristers.

Anne and Webster had a large, airy studio, with an inter-leading office, and a tiny kitchen in the narrow hall, where pupils waited for their lessons if they arrived early. They had a Chappell Grand piano and a full-length mirror, so that pupils could look at themselves while they were singing, not only to make sure that their posture was good and they looked pleasant, but that they were opening their mouths on the high notes and singing with flat tongues no matter what vowel they sang.  On the wall were innumerable pictures of themselves with various well-known celebrities, taken in their hey-day when they had been top of the bill on the variety circuit and, in addition, Webster had been one of the foremost oratorio soloists of his generation in the United Kingdom. When I was nineteen they asked me to accompany for Webster in the studio when Anne had other engagements. Acting as his studio accompanist was one of the highlights of my life.

 

 

Seeing the photograph of the Kensington Sanatorium in its early days reminded me of  an incident when I was playing for Webster and he drove me home after we had been working in the studio one Saturday morning. My best friend, Ruth Ormond had tickets for the forthcoming recital by the distinguished soprano Maria Stader and she asked the Booths to accompany her to the concert. On Saturday morning, Webster came into the studio feeling tired. He grumbled about having to go to the Maria Stader concert that evening with Ruth and Anne when he would have preferred to have had an early night.

After we finished working he drove me home at lunchtime in his blue Hillman Minx convertible. It was a lovely warm day so he put the roof down. He said sombrely that it would be better if I could go to the concert in his place. But then he added, “It would break Ruth’s heart if I didn’t go.” Without being bigheaded he was perfectly aware of the power and influence he exerted over us lesser mortals.

Just as we were passing the Kensington Sanatorium he said, “It’s such a lovely day. Let’s just keep on driving all the way to Durban”. Lovely impossible idea.

Instead of driving to Durban, he dutifully took me home, and he and Anne went to the concert with Ruth that night as planned. I heard all about the concert on Sunday when Ruth and I went to the SABC to a studio recital given by Shura Cherkassky, the world-renowned pianist. I remember his brilliant performance of the Mozart sonata in B flat, which was in my own repertoire, and Moussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

I remained close friends of Anne and Webster and Sylvia Sullivan until their deaths.

Changes in Kensington  Houses in Queen Street and parts of Langerman Drive are largely used for business purposes today. I remember two elegant houses at the corner of Langerman Drive and Queen Street when they were large private residences. Windy Brow has been used for various business ventures, while the other was demolished completely to make way for a garage, but most of the original Kensington houses are still standing. Kensingtonians are lucky that the CBD shifted to Sandton rather than to the East, so the suburb has not changed as much as many other Johannesburg suburbs. When I look back on the South Africa of my youth and compare it with South Africa today, things have changed so much that I sometimes feel as though I am living in an entirely different country. But although there have been many, changes in Kensington, some for better, some for worse, it is still much as I remember it fifty odd years ago and retains an ongoing sense of community for its inhabitants.

3 March 2015 – Update Yesterday I had a phone call from the Rev. Fr. Stewart Peart, who had attended the funeral service of Mrs Marcella Gill  at St Andrew’s Anglican Church, Kensington that morning.  While he was in the area he managed to take some lovely photographs and I am posting them here. I am very grateful to Stewart for sharing these photographs with me. I was musical director at St Andrew’s for 13 years and retired at the end of 2005 so I was pleased to see that the church in Ocean Street looks very much as I remember it.

St Andrew’s, Ocean Street, Kensington. Photo: Rev. Fr. Stewart Peart

The next photograph is of the Atwell’s former home in Ocean Street. Unfortunately a large wall has been erected so one cannot see much of the house itself, but I’m sure it will still be of interest.

The Atwell's former residence, now with a large wall surrounding it. Photo: Rev. Fr. Stewart Peart.

The Atwell’s former residence, now with a large wall surrounding it. Photo: Rev. Fr. Stewart Peart.

Many people wondered what had happened to the once-beautiful home at the corner of Langerman Drive and Queens Street – Windybrow. Stewart took two photographs of the building, which is now in a sad state of decay.

Windybrow, corner Langerman Drive and Queens Street, Kensington. Photo: Rev. Fr Stewart Peart.

Windybrow, corner Langerman Drive and Queens Street, Kensington. Photo: Rev. Fr Stewart Peart.

Windybrow, corner Langerman Drive and Queens Street, Kensington. Photo: Rev. Fr Stewart Peart. Sadly in a state of decay.

Windybrow, corner Langerman Drive and Queens Street, Kensington. Photo: Rev. Fr Stewart Peart. Sadly in a state of decay.

 

Recent photo of Windy Brow. Photo: Rev Fr Stewart Peart

Recent photo of Windy Brow. Photo: Rev Fr Stewart Peart

Photo: Rev Fr Stewart Peart

Photo: Rev Fr Stewart Peart

Photo: Rev Fr Stewart Peart

Photo: Rev Fr Stewart Peart

Updated – – 16 June 2015

Jean Collen ©

Good Reads Book Reviews

The Moon And SixpenceThe Moon And Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Apparently Strickland was based on the artist Paul Gauguin, but if this was the case, there is a very loose connection between the two for this in not a novel a clef. The book held my interest while the narrator had personal contact with Strickland and his wife. Almost from the beginning of the novel, before Charles Strickland had appeared, I thought him a thoroughly reprehensible character.

Admittedly his wife was not an imaginative woman and used her established position in society to cultivate the society of writers and artists although she appeared to be devoid of any artistic talent herself. She obviously regarded her "dull" husband as nothing more than a meal-ticket and she had never encouraged his artistic inclinations. It is only after he leaves her to her own devices that she manages to pull herself together, fend for herself and look after her children without being dependent on a man any longer.

The portrait of a completely self-centred, inarticulate Strickland, who does not care about the opinion of others was well-drawn but after the narrator is no longer in personal contact with Strickland and the rest of the story of Strickland's life is related to him by a third person the story is less satisfactory. I have to admit that I did not finish the last fifty pages of the book. Although I like Maugham's work, this was not my favourite Maugham novel.

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Blogs I Follow

Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler

The Golden Age of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler

themarcistagenda

my creative adventure

notewords

handwork, writing, life, music, books

Semi-Partisan Politics

A semi-biased commentary on British and American politics, culture and current affairs

Music Hall Alice

All things Music Hall...

Glasgow Dog Training By Dog Behaviourist John McGuigan

Promoting non aversive dog training & puppy training classes

Post a Book

We post stories. You enjoy them.

FIONA COMPTON'S FICTION

This blog has been created to promote Fiona Compton's fiction. All her books are available at: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/fiona_compton

Footlight Notes

Celebrities of popular entertainment, 1850s - 1920s

britishmusichallsociety

Just another WordPress.com site

TIME

Current & Breaking News | National & World Updates

Save our iMfolozi Wilderness

HELP SAVE the iMfolozi Wilderness Area by saying NO to the Fuleni Coal Mine and YES to keeping Wilderness Areas sacred.

Johannesburg 1912 - Suburb by suburb research

"What is fashionable now is despised by the next generation, thought quaint by the following and revered by the one thereafter"

Slipped Disc

Norman Lebrecht on shifting sound worlds

WAR HISTORY ONLINE

THE PLACE FOR MILITARY HISTORY NEWS AND VIEWS

My Grilling Life - Jani Allan

Sautéing and Satire. Blue Jasmine story about someone who was a household name in South Africa who becomes a waitress in New Jersey.

Marc Latilla

"The best thing is surprising people, knowing that tomorrow it will all be forgotten" Regine Zylberberg

helencareybooks

A site for readers and writers

Bowlly Radio

Writer, Editor, Proof-reader, Musician

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