This is where I was born at the Florence Nightingale Hospital in Hillbrow, inner city Jhb in 1961. That was the year after the Sharpeville Massacres and the year before Marilyn Monroe died. It is strange the names you always knew and remember and the names you never knew. It's also strange what you have to edit out for your TED Talk because of time and inclination. This post doesn't worry about leaving anything out although I would hate to ramble.
My mom says this was the poshest nursing home in the whole of Johannesburg. She also says when I came out of her my hair was standing straight on end and that I looked exactly like a toilet brush. Thanks mom. She already told everyone or I might have hesitated. I think my hair stood on end because I had some kind of premonition of the future. Two years later I was back in the Florence having an emergency tracheotomy with no anaesthetic because most of the specialists were in shul because it was Rosh ha Shona and they were Jewish. The surgeon told my mom and dad to expect the worst and they went home and cried under a tree in our garden in the rain.
As you know by now I did not peg, yet. That grey building is where I landed up about 18 years later, still in Hillbrow, learning drama in case there wasn't enough in my life, with a wonderful teacher by the name of Lyndsay Reardon who I love and trust though I haven't seem him in an age.
Before it was a drama school, it was painted in all psychaedelic colours and called Narnia and I am told that my dad went there once in a slight rage looking for my one sister and when he didn't find her he took all the chairs and tables out of the top floor and threw them over what is now this gated balcony. I wonder if they put up the bars to stop more fathers.
Anyway, after it was a drama school, it was well known as Club 58 where many of my friends like Joanna Weinberg and Natalie Gamsu and Soli Philander got a bit famous. Next door was a restaurant on the corner called Lucky Luke's where we all used to hangout for hours because the service was so bad they never used to move you on if you had no money. And next to that was a clothing shop where the beautiful young Stan James worked. Some people used to hang out at Lucky Luke's just to catch a glimpse of him, hearts fluttering. I got this information from a friend and this part was also not in my TED Talk but I hope it came across in the sub-text.
Here's Olivia Court where I lived also in the corner flat with two balconies, first with my first love and then with his friend who I married. Moving along swiftly ...
Speaking of firsts, this was my first place in Hillbrow where I moved when I left school. I lived under this house in a little flatlet that had a grate where a wall used to be. In the house, at that time, were Boetie, Loftie, Buzzard and Mrs Doreen Baptiste. There are stories about them and those days still to come, suffice now to say that Loftie was as big as Ponte and he wore a vest and kicked the dog and scratched. Here is a close-up Johannes Dreyer, who took all these photographs, captured before we kind of made our way rather fast out of this particular street after getting that feeling.
When I lived there circa 1979 it was not a wank. This fact was in my TED Talk but I am not sure the audience got it. The photograph probably made them feel a bit anxious and apparently they don't wank. I mean they don't use the word wank so much in America. I am sure they play with themselves though and there are lots of banks that get bailed out and everything.