Dame Kate Har­court

Dame Kate Har­court, 90, ac­tor and broad­caster on a re­u­nion year

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS - As told to Paul Lit­tle.

Iwas 60 so the year would have been 1987. But to ex­plain what hap­pened then, I have to go back a bit fur­ther. Many years pre­vi­ously, my­self and two friends — Anne Ran­dles who was South African, and Susie Sk­er­man, who is a New Zealand painter — lived in the same club in Lon­don — it was sup­posed to be just for stu­dents but we man­aged to stay there. It was great fun. One sum­mer we hitch­hiked through Europe for six weeks — from Spain to Italy and all over Europe. It was just a won­der­ful time. It must have been 1953, the year Hil­lary con­quered Ever­est.

Even­tu­ally our group sep­a­rated. Sue left, Anne went back to South Africa and I stayed on the long­est.

I had been in Lon­don to study singing. I had gone to the Mel­bourne Univer­sity Con­ser­va­to­rium and got a diploma in singing there; then I went to the Joan Cross Opera School.

I was in Eng­land for four years in to­tal. I came home be­cause my mother was not well but it was time to come home any­way

De­spite my train­ing, I was al­ways too ner­vous to per­form as a singer. But when I came back here, and met and mar­ried Peter, he in­tro­duced me to broad­cast­ing and I got the job on Lis­ten with Mother — a preschool pro­gramme that went out ev­ery morn­ing on the ra­dio. And it com­bined all the train­ing I’d had and used all my skills, be­cause I was a kinder­garten teacher be­fore I stud­ied singing.

Any­way, when Anne went back to South Africa she mar­ried a man called Rad­clyffe Macbeth Cad­man who was the head of the New Re­pub­lic, an anti-apartheid party. They lived in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg un­til he re­tired, when they went to live on a sugar farm in Zu­l­u­land.

And that was where we three friends, who hadn’t been to­gether since Lon­don, spent the most won­der­ful hol­i­day. Susie and I flew from Auck­land, to Perth, to Jo­han­nes­burg and they picked us up and drove us to Natal.

Ev­ery­thing about it was mag­i­cal. It was a beau­ti­ful place with huge stands of sugar cane.

They lived in the most won­der­ful house. There was a cook called Blos­som and masses of ser­vants. We didn’t have to do a sin­gle thing. Not even make our beds.

But mainly the hol­i­day was about the peo­ple and spend­ing time with such good friends af­ter so many years.

We stayed there sev­eral weeks. They took us to a game farm, where we stayed in a lodge and saw ze­bras, gi­raffes and lions. It was ex­cit­ing be­cause it was all so dif­fer­ent from any­thing in our own lives.

There was a swim­ming pool at the house that Sue and I swam in. It was too cold for them but for us it was just fine.

At the end of the hol­i­day Anne drove us down the east coast all the way to Cape Town over three or four days, which was another mar­vel­lous ex­pe­ri­ence, driv­ing through in­cred­i­ble coun­try­side with in­cred­i­ble views. I re­mem­ber we had a cell­phone in a box in the boot, which was not a lot of use to us as no one knew how to use it. It stayed in its box the whole time.

There was also a gun and a lit­tle white flag there. A hole drilled be­hind the num­ber­plate meant that Ann could poke the flag through and wave it if she had been car-jacked and chucked in the boot. It was very dif­fer­ent from Susie’s and my lives in New Zealand.

I re­mem­ber we had a cell­phone in a box in the boot, which was not a lot of use to us as no one knew how to use it. It stayed in its box the whole time.

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