Winnifred (2)
Winnifred, aged 75, still performing.

There is no way that this classy, elegant lady would ever, should ever work as a shop assistant.  She was born to sing.  In fact her whole life was spent ‘on stage’ as she played the role she had created for herself as Winnifred.  In stage productions of light operas and musicals, she always stole the show, as her unique voice rippled through the halls sending shivers through the audiences.

Her elegance came naturally to her.  Her style was assured, her clothes expensive – full-skirted, wide-collared or cowl-necked dresses of exotic colours – the greens brilliant emerald, the blues glowing sapphires, the yellows burnished gold.  She was gold – rich, warm, with a lustre that shone in the little country town where she taught at the Primary School.

The facade of her hauteur, her regal carriage – standing, sitting, walking – masked a need to be liked, respected.  From a family of nine children, whose mother had died at the ninth birth, she and two brothers were condemned to three years of hell in a children’s home, only returning to their family when their mother had been replaced.  Winnifred needed to be different, to stand out, to be loved.   Known locally as ‘the little girl who sang’, her voice gave her the means to that end.  It was majestic, dramatic, like rolling hills of lush pasture, and crescendos of waves against the cliffs.

A thirst for knowledge led her to continue her education as a mature-age student, through matriculation, teaching diploma and on to Bachelor of Arts. As Demonstration teacher, then as Head of English at her High School, she became one of the first Student Counsellors, finally rounding it off  with a research trip overseas.  She dazzled within this educational arena, as she dazzled on stage – articulate, musical, her laughter ringing out to fill a room, enveloping all within.

In public she was sunshine.  At home she was like a cloudy day.  If things ran smoothly, as she wanted them to go, the sky was clear.  But if she were thwarted, her well laid plans disturbed, modified by the plans of others, the sky would cloud over.  Although she didn’t hold grudges or seek revenge, she (not surprisingly) harboured resentments for unfair treatment, imagined and real.  And voiced these resentments passionately, building them into immense injustices.  This dented the hard-won respect of those around her, at home and in her musical society.

If only she’d had the breaks at the Conservatorium of Music.  If only they hadn’t seen that she had three young children, and consequently given the Aria Scholarship to a single girl.

She was born to sing – she was born for the stage.

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(C) Copyright jud House April 1997 & 30/09/2011

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