I have to admit that I am good at voices. Give me a face or a name and I am the pits at remembering, but give me an interesting voice and I never forget it.
My Mother's voice was very special and He Who Must be Obeyed has a lovely rich Dark Brown Voice which sometimes makes me tremble, but most often makes me smile !!
One of the really special voices in my life however was that of the late Paddy Vickery, much loved Bulawayo historian and teacher,
Paddy was my teacher in form one at Eveline School way back in the dark ages, and Paddy used to read The Wind in The Willows to us during our English periods.
The tales of Mole and Ratty, Toad and Badger kept us spellbound for most of our first term as Paddy's melodious, beautiful voice guided us carefully along the River bank and towards a great love for literature and for life in general.
Voices mean so much to us all, think about the voices that have made an impact on your life. Often it is voices from the media that make the most impact. Think about that most famous voice of the twentieth century, the unmistakable voice of Winston Churchill.
Who will ever forget that voice, that rhetoric, those phrases that will last forever in history "We will fight them on the beaches"'...
Another voice that will always remain in my mind is that of Richard Burton, quite the most magnificent baritone which rolls and rambles mellifluously around the magnificent English language and makes it very special to most people who love the works of Thomas Hardy all the more, because of its presentation by Richard Burton.
Talking to people about voices, there was one voice that stood out in the minds of us baby boomers. The voices of Gerry Wilmot and Long John Burke from L.M. radio !! We had no TV in those days and Sunday night radio with Gerry and Long John was probably the highlight of our week !
(Now that is an admission of age and is so far removed from the lives of our children that anyone below fifty will think it is verging on senility !!)
Voices on the radio always stood out from TV voices because one had only the audible to concentrate on, and one did not have visual influences to disconcert one. Of course there are the voices of Larry King, Walter Kronkite , Dan Rather and some of those shrill and strident voices of the CNN Anchorwomen who we will perhaps remember, but who of our era in this country will ever forget the voice of Lesley Sullivan "Come on.. UP Up Up Up Up !!! "
Remember him, early morning radio on the RBC Lesley (ex BSAP radio operator ) got us all off to a good start in the mornings with his wicked humour on the Breakfast Show and I will never forget the day he was suspended from the hallowed halls of the RBC for his terrible joke.!!
Now that terrible joke was terrible in those bygone days but in fact is pretty mild in terms of the degenerating verbal standards of today, and what we are being forced to accepting as the plethora of "f" words grace our airwaves more and more. The joke poor old Lesley got fired for was this and I quote Question "What did the young couple buy a jar of vaseline for "
Answer "One and sixpence !!" Maybe it was the syntax that got him fired !!
Then of course there was the voice of James Thrush that was so well loved over the airwaves. James was my friend and mentor and it was thanks to him that I got involved in a very long and much cherished career with radio and TV. God Bless you James wherever you are in Heaven !!
Senior Zimbabweans will also remember the mellow voice of Don Burdett as he purred his way caringly through the hospital request programme every Wednesday morning on "Silver Lining" for what seemed like a hundred years on RBC. And then there was that incorrigible fellow "At the end of the Pier" every Sunday - Eric Edwoods.
Sundays were not Sundays without hearing all those oldies (and I mean OLDIES ) from Eric. Eric loved comediennes such as Tony Hancock and Alan Sherman and would play songs from people that youngsters have never even heard of such as Marlene Dietriche !!
Another favourite voice was Beryl Salt. Remember her - hundreds of thousands of children listened to Beryl every day on Children's Hour at 5 p.m. on RBC. (Forgive me if I have my times and dates wrong !! I will happily stand corrected. )
Other voices which we would recognise instantly today if we heard them would be the voices of Lesley McKenzie, Bulawayo's First Lady - Sonia Hatton, Geoffrey Atkins, Alan Brittain, Alan Ridell, John Aldridge (and his famous piano), Jill Baker , Tony Bulling and of course more recently that rich and powerful voice of Noreen Welsh (that incorrigible Wellington Boot ) who got such a raw deal from the authorities despite all her tireless and unselfish drought relief work.
Yet another memorable voice will always be that of Martin Lock, remember "Rock with Lock" and "Lyons Maid Hits of the Week" on Saturday mornings.
We teenagers from the dark ages did not have CDs nor could we afford Seven Singles and L.P.s but had to contend with hearing our favourite songs once a week on the Lyons Maid hit programme on RBC. Martin of course went on to be top notch sports presenter and his contemporary was the unmistakable, bouncy, long haired Mike Westcott !!
The voice of Peter Rollason has always been in a class of it's own. Peter was thrown in at the deep end at the RBC when he became our favourite Sports Commentator and then he found fame for so many years as Mr Wildlife Forum heralded in by his pet Heuglins Robin. !!
Classical music of course was one of his great passions and Peter's voice was always synonymous with grand occasions which required pomp and ceremony on the radio - occasions like the Trade Fair opening ceremony in the days of Zoe Shearer and Clifford Dupont, the Queen's Birthday Parade and of course state funerals and the like.
But the voice that I am sure means more to most of us awful colonialists is that of Forces Sweetheart - Sally Donaldson. Sally was an icon. Sally will always be an icon. Sally's sexy, breathless unmistakable voice will live long in the memories of everyone who lived in this country during the "war years". Forces request, every Saturday afternoon was never to be missed.
Men and women, soldiers, lovers, mothers, fathers all over the country stopped whatever they were doing at for a precious hour and a half on Saturday afternoon to draw strength from the messages sent in by their loved ones at such a tenuous time in our unforgettable little history.
Sally too , must be in Heaven somewhere, singing haunting love songs with that beautiful and much loved voice.