'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, 10 January 2013

Recent Comment-Neil Black

Anonymous Neil Black said...

Missing my daily fix of The Stair! Come on Peter - bring it back , after you've had a well earned rest from it. A weekly blog would be great. There must be so much more that you have still to tell. Particularly love the geographical references as well as the nostalgia and the characters. Never a dull read!

Aye-it would have to feature the Reichenbach Falls! Peter Hoffmann

Neil Black said...
...or The Braid-Burn Falls at least!

Well it worked for Edinburgh's other prolific author...

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Comment From Liz Blades On the Field In Winter

Sorry, I hadn't realised there were further paras than I'd published so I've rectified publishing your comments in full below-pure chance/serendipity  that I stumbled upon the rest of your missive-makes me wonder if there are further comments out there that I missed.

I suspect you're most definitely the furthest travelled-I wonder what that says! I sometimes wonder what happened to Norman Stewart. Heather Swanson is in America-Florida, I think.

6/6 may be able to see the No 16 bus, but not 6/4 or 6/2. 

That was a brave step you took going to the States-life changing. Departures are strange things and we often handle them awkwardly, poorly or not recognising the moment for its full worth. I tried to bring this theme out in the blog For Whom The Bell TollsThe Scottish/Australian folk singer Eric Bogle captures this in his performance (preface/song) Leaving Nancy-if you're not familiar with it check it out. 

I wasn't going to mention the topic again and it's not a competition (!), but since I'm responding-I'd met up with my mother and sister in Edinburgh on Saturday and whilst acknowledging everything you said on our fathers, we felt a key difference for us was the fear factor which was always there for us because KH was such a very intimidating individual. Anyway-don't feel obliged to respond-we've probably done that one to death!

I've enjoyed our wee chats across the globe-it would be good to keep in touch.


Hi Peter, 

I think I remember those winters and the sledding more so than the summer. Maybe because the snow made things seem pristine, new, and fresh. It made things sparkle - a pleasant change from the dull concrete jungle that was Oxgangs. 

I remember the treacherous ice slides on the pavements and the hard packed snow on the field. It was exhilarating flying down the hill on a sled. I remember using a light low sled, basically a flat 'bed' to lie or sit on with 2 short wooden runners attached. I don't think this was the sled Mr Hogg made, which I don't remember, but thinking back it seemed similarly home-made.

Anyway I was about 9 or 10 yrs and I wanted to emulate the older lads who ran with the sled and launched themselves to lie on it in motion. I unfortunately allowed the rope to trail under the sled as I ran forwards and trod on it just as I launched myself. Of course the sled stopped sharply as I continued going! As you said the hard packed snow was iron hard and my face bore the brunt, severely damaging my front teeth and taking off a layer of skin (ice burn). It was so cold I didn't feel much and felt more foolish than anything but the next day my face was a mess!I think I had a dermabrasion long before we knew what that was!

As for the trees, my how they have grown. I remember those spindly saplings which seemed to forever require propping up. But they made it to maturity forming a copse there on the hill. I wonder if we would still be able to see the No 16 bus coming down the hill?!

On an earlier topic you mentioned leaving Oxgangs in 1972 which I did also although I think it was earlier in the year. I may have been the first to go. I moved into a share house, a beautiful ground floor garden flat in the new town. I worked in Charlotte Square and so I used to walk to and from work, and later that year I went to Philadelphia in the US to work as a 'mother's help'. Now in Australia since 1988, I wonder if I am the former resident now most removed geographically from the stair? Liz Blades

Thursday, 3 January 2013

The Stair Download

If anyone would like a download of The Stair sent to them please let me know. I've managed to download the two hundred or so blogs from the original posts rather than from the blog itself and it's actually come out quite nicely-there are around 350 pages-I still however have to add in several thousands of comments to the appropriate post-I'll do that next week when I return from a visit to Edinburgh this weekend-by the way amongst other venues I'm at The Chocolate Tree Bruntsfield on Saturday morning at 10.30 am if anyone fancies a coffee! Later in January I hope to edit and add some further acknowledgements to complete the project. I've had to be careful downloading from the original posts as there are over a dozen drafts that never saw the light of day!
The Hoffster

Tuesday, 1 January 2013


Great start to the New Year-Another close fight with d'Artagnan-I am getting a seven and eleven start in fights to ten and fifteen!

A couple of years ago along with a few others I was asked to speak at an athletics forum in Edinburgh. Sub 4 minute miler Adrian Weatherhead told a good story. Coe had gone out on Christmas Day morning for a long run. He got home and enjoyed his Christmas Dinner. As he settled back in the family home in Sheffield he started to wonder what Ovett was doing in Brighton. you anything the bastard's out doing a second session. Result? Coe pulls his training gear back on and goes out for a second run that day.

Decades later, Coe and Ovett are attending an athletics forum question and answer session. A young athlete asks if they ever trained on Christmas Day? Coe responds and tells the above story. Ovett looks on in astonishment only trained twice!