'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

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Yet Another Interesting Pedlar

Did you ever come across a tiny wee tin of polish?

'Another salesman was a Pakistani gentleman who my brother Douglas irreverently called 'Sambo'. I have no idea what his real name was but I always admired him because it took guts to do what he did. He wore a traditional trench coat like Humphrey Bogart and carried a large brown suitcase stuffed with all manner of goods.' Liz Blades

As Liz says one of the many itinerant pedlars, hawkers and salesmen who visited The Stair each week was a small Pakistani or Indian travelling salesman. Liz Blades and I recall that the salesman was always dressed the same way, no matter whether it was summer or winter, he wore a fawn coloured raincoat/trench-coat. Mrs Anne Hoffmann seemed to recall that he wore a turban-I don't recall whether he did or not. If he did, the odds are that he was Indian. Perhaps when I see Douglas Blades towards the end of October I can ask him for his memory.As Liz said she admired him-it took a lot of chutzpah to go from household to household trying to peddle wares. He was always impeccably mannered with a ready smile on his face. For me he was like the rag n bone man because of his suitcase full of curiosities. Whereas Liz admired him, I admired the content of his suitcase-when he opened it to tempt his customers I of course was captivated; Mrs Anne Hoffmann was naturally less excited.

The only occasion I recall us getting something from him was a little tin of polish which he recommended to me for cleaning my bicycle. Ironically, I don't think we bought it-instead it was a free sample to thereafter tempt us to purchase the normal size tin. I believe the manufacturers produced these sample tins for that purpose.

I wonder what happened to him and his family over the years and decades? His was such an exotic appearance and visitation that he left an indelible mark on my memory.


Unknown said...

Yes I vividly remember sambo turning up at the door shame that we never knew his real name is a shame he worked hard to earn his living. I always appreciate that my mother brought us up to appreciate people the way they were. It did not matter the colour of your skin or religion we were taught to respect everyone and for that I am forever grateful.

Peter Hoffmann said...

For me, when I was young, Helen Blades was The Star of The Stair-she had a very big influence on me-very charismatic individual and a great motivator-apart from John Anderson of Gladiators; David Jenkins; Dave Moorcroft; and Liz McColgan fame and much else, who had a big influence on Paul Forbes and me, I am not sure if I have come across such a similar character since!