'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, 18 October 2012

Books No 1-'Dreams Of A Life In The Greenwood'

Were any children in The Stair keen readers of books?

(Dr) Gavin Swanson was the most studious child in The Stair so I suspect he may have been. Certainly, as previously mentioned Norman Stewart had a lovely collection of Rupert Annuals and being a solitary child perhaps felt the need to fall back on books. Many of the children were keen readers of comics. Comics are a great basis for developing the sensibility and habit of reading so no doubt some of the twenty five children will have become ardent readers.

We had a decent small adult library of books at 6/2 because my mother, Mrs Anne Hoffmann read every day of life. I picked up the same habit from around the age of sixteen. Before then, like many of the more active kids I preferred to be out and about.

Developing a reading habit or sensibility is similar to any other pursuit or mode of life-the first stage is some thing or event that creates the initial spark to fire an interest or passion-thereafter you need access, resources and support to participate and develop which fosters and encourages-you enjoy it, become motivated and before you know it, it's becomes an integral part of your lifestyle-thereafter the whole process is ongoing and cyclical. Reading is such a wonderful activity and transports you to another world and helps you to empathise and understand others too.

Reader at Morningside being transported to another world-this time to
 Treasure Island-RLS would have been pleased! 
(Peter Hoffmann  13/10/2012)

There's the primary influences-home, school, peers and friends as well as having the access, time and space to read too. Today Oxgangs has an excellent library; back in the 1960s and as mentioned by Ruth Blades, we mainly got our books from the Edinburgh Corporation mobile library. 

Mobile Library, 1963 (Robin Hill)
notice the sign for Children's Books at the back of the van where we used to browse 

Photograph by John Campbell Harper

The library was sited at the corner of Oxgangs Terrace. We read more in the second half of the year and on dark late autumn or winter evenings; it was always a nice break to venture down to the mobile library and be transported to another world; the children's books were kept at the rear of the van and my favourites were always the Folk Tales or Fairy Tales of other lands-in particular Rumpelstilskin or The Tinder Box.

'Cosy' (Peter Hoffmann, 2006)

There were weather influences too-after morning papers or milk deliveries I enjoyed sitting on the inside window ledge of my bedroom on miserable Saturday mornings reading my comics, drinking some Koolapop cola and eating some Paris Buns from the bakers.

There are three books from my childhood at The Stair which I recall with great affection. The first of these is Robin Hood and His Merrie Men. It was the Regent Classics version, although Dean & Son produced the same story format, but without the nice black and white illustrations inside. It's a lovely read, with thirty seven self contained stories, beautifully written and which would inspire any child to run away to enjoy life in the greenwood! It seems a shame the author isn't acknowledged. Atticus and d'Artagnan loved it too-even reading it with them a decade or so ago I appreciated it. If you've got children or grandchildren go on to eBay and buy a copy for them-or even yourself-you won't regret it!

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