'And finally, not everyone’s being doing topical. In fact, here’s the rather lovely 6 Oxgangs Avenue devoted to the history of the development of the area, this week highlighting how the block of flats came into being. Could have been prompted by Who do you think you are? Or just a timely reminder that not everything worth blogging about is in the here and now.'

Kate Higgins, Scottish Roundup 26/08/2012

Thursday, 16 August 2012


Painting by Ed Newman

Exchanging memories and stories can be quite revelatory. When Fiona and I met at Starbucks, South Gyle, Edinburgh on 23 July, 2012, we were talking about days forty years previously when we did newspaper rounds for Baird’s Newsagents at Morningside Drive. I asked her if she remembered old Sandy. 

Sandy was a small, wizened old man. No matter the weather or the season of the year he dressed in an old overcoat and cap. He was toothless and I could never quite understand what he was saying, however Fiona and Pamela Baird (who ran the newsagent’s) could. Sandy was always punctilious; probably getting the first early morning number 41 bus down from Greenlea Old Folks Home, Greenbank to the shop where he collected a bundle of newspapers to thereafter be distributed to the residents of Greenlea. I think Pamela provided him with his bus fares and tobacco. He also visited the shop in the afternoon to collect copies of the Edinburgh Evening News and deliver them to the home. 

On dark winter mornings, Fiona and I would sometimes stand in the shop doorway with Sandy whilst he awaited the number 41 bus for its return journey up Morningside Drive. Old Sandy always had a cigarette in his hand, but it was very difficult for him to smoke it, because his hand shook so much. We would try to converse with him-being young and lacking in empathy we would probably exchange the odd, knowing glances at each other at this poor figure who shook quite violently. We weren’t nasty at all, but we were young and of course couldn't envisage ever being infirm ourselves. Anyway, over coffee, Fiona said to me ‘Peter, do you know why Sandy shook so violently?’ I said ‘No.’ ‘Well, it was shell-shock from the First World War.’

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