Comments

'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, 11 December 2012

Saturday Afternoons-You Grunt, I'll Groan!


Can you have a relationship when neither party speaks to one another?

One relation who hasn't really featured thus far was our great-grandfather Willie Wight. He lived until his early nineties as did his wife, known affectionately as Wee Nana. They lived all their married life at London Road, Dalkeith in the upstairs part of the building. It was a solid, well built house-it's a listed building and is still there today.


The house was situated opposite the old Stewart's Shell Garage. I fondly recall looking out the windows at the petrol pumps with the old shell design on top of each pump. The coal fire would be blazing giving off a grand heat on a winter's afternoon.

'Saturday Afternoons, Dalkeith' (Peter Hoffmann, 2004)
He was a remarkable craftsman-as a blacksmith he created gates and railings for prestigious projects and as the town locksmith could open bank doors if the local bankers mislaid their keys.Willie Wight was a a miser. In his bedroom he kept a safe next to his bed-fascinating, if one had the bottle to sneak in!

I believe that one Christmas at Grandma Jo’s he tried to slip me an old penny as a present. I looked at it, considered it, then returned it to him and said no thank you. He laughed so he wasn't entirely without a sense of humour, although 1958 may have been the last time that he smiled; his de-facto demeanour was taciturn and silent. I believe he highly regarded my father Ken Hoffmann-because of his exploits I expect he thought he was a real man!



Our grandmother and grandfather visited them every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon to give a hand, do some shopping and cooking and check they were okay.My Aunt Heather was usually always there on a Saturday and occasionally my mother, Mrs Anne Hoffmann. I liked spending any weekend I could with my grandparents so I quite regularly visited too on Saturday afternoons when I accompanied them. I liked my visits to Dalkeith-it's a small market town with an interesting history-it always had a nice feel to it. Many of the buildings were old and stone built-it was quite different to the housing schemes at Oxgangs.

On the Saturday afternoons everyone disappeared out shopping-getting mixed sweets from Woolworths; triangle shaped scones at the baker's; and fish for the afternoon tea. I meanwhile sat in the sitting room with the silent one-we called him Pumpa-great name eh! He never spoke. Like Grandpa Broon, but without the whiskers, he sat under a great cloud of pipe-smoke. I liked the smell of the tobacco.


The boxes of matches he used always interested me, because they weren't the Bluebell Matches we used at home or Swan Matches with which my grandfather lit his cigarettes. I was fascinated by the different designs on the boxes. I suspect he bought them from his local pub, The Black Bull.


He always had sweets on him which, similar to the matches,  I hadn't come across at Ewarts Newsagents at Oxgangs Broadway.The sweets were liquorice Pontefract cakes-he might very occasionally deign to give me one which I enjoyed, particularly the taste and consistency. More usually he would feed himself and ignore me.


Although many people would have found it an unsettling environment I was quite happy-I knew where I stood with him-there were no surprises.  We'd settle down to watch the wrestling, listening to Kent Walton's  low keyed Canadian accented voice providing the commentary, on Jackie Pallo; Mick McManus; The Royal Brothers et al.

He would then switch over to BBC where we would get David Coleman talking as the teleprinter gave the early football results. The full results were then read out by Tim Gudgin who had as memorable a voice as Walton's.


I enjoyed the wrestling and in our way we communicated-we both wanted the outrageous Mick McManus to get beaten and we both agreed not to speak to each other unless he offered me a sweet when I would thank him.


2 comments:

Sandy Shaw said...

I like your blog post. Keep on writing this type of great stuff. I'll make sure to follow up on your blog in the future.
Locksmith Edinburgh

Peter Hoffmann said...

Thanks for your very kind comments, Sandy-there are approximately 200 daily blogs from last summer to Hogmanay, some of which may be of interest-I'm currently editing them into a book format. Since I stopped them I've had a few requests to re-enact-who knows I might be tempted!