Ways of being, the other, and productive trespassing in Bertrams

Celine Dion blares from a Nissan boot. A man pokes at the coals of a make-shift braai in an iron drum. A little white boy in a torn Spiderman T-shirt scampers across the road after buying a packet of Nik-Naks from a spaza shop. A police van hurtles past, blue siren screaming. A skinny dog pushes its snout into a pile of rubbish. Paint peels. The Jukskei stinks. Children sing. I’m walking through Bertrams, and watching a play…

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A most extraordinary house

I first heard about ‘the Gordon Road house’ through my previous landlord, Toni Morkel. Along with stories about Bez Valley, she also told me about a house that she once lived in. The house, which is located on Gordon Road in a now derelict, forgotten part of the city called Bertrams, sounded like a fascinating and curious place – it was an abode of mostly fun, some pain, and a lot of history. And behind its two remaining bay windows, lived three pyrotechnic brothers – the Taylor brothers – who could bend your ear with stories about art, drugs, and Joburg…

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Toni Morkel – performer & theatre-maker

The first time I met Toni, I was roped in to ‘push the buttons’ on a cheap CD player that balanced on a wonky stool. Toni was rehearsing a scene for a play (The Last Show) in her front room with Roberto Pombo, and it was my job to press play, according to certain cues. I missed said cues because I was completely mesmerised by her performance – even though it was ‘just a rehearsal’, it was clear to me that Toni was a hugely talented performer.

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