'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, 15 August 2013

On The Cusp Of the Year

Today is Thursday, 15th August, 2013. It's the last day of the year since, on a whim, I first started the blog, The Stair, on Thursday 16 August, 2012. On the cusp of the year, both for the blog and when late summer is just turning to early autumn I thought I would display this lovely photograph of the season. 

The photograph has been taken up at Swanston Road with the T Woods in the background on the lower slopes of the Pentland Hills. A local farm worker is atop a cart and horse carrying hay; they are making gentle progress up the slope on a golden afternoon at the cusp as summer turns to autumn.

It was on such afternoons throughout the 1960s and on to 1972 that I along with the other twenty four children from The Stair contemplated our return to the classroom. Quite often the weather remained similarly fine and sunny which made it a struggle to return to stifling classrooms at Hunters Tryst, Firhill and Boroughmuir Schools. Those of us with an awareness of the English system would be envious that our peers across the border wouldn't return until September.

For most of the kids we didn't really want to go back-even if by the back end of the holidays being off school had perhaps lost a little of its sparkle. I've no doubt though that a few others like Gavin Swanson who were more studious actually looked forward to the start of the autumn term and the new school academic year. I don't think I ever did, but there was always a certain 'buzz' about going back. 

The boys had visited Ben Mackenzie for a haircut-Michael; Boo-Boo; Brian and Alan Hanlon will have had their number ones, whilst Iain Hoffmann and I had our hair plastered down with jungle juice. 

For those with new schoolbags (and that unforgettable smell of leather) or new school clothes and ties or perhaps those going up to secondary for the first time many will recall these days with a mixture of excitement and pleasure, but pain might be too extreme a word choice!

Many of us were keen to squeeze the last drops from the summer fruits and as the countdown began we managed to play amongst the hay in the fields at Swanston; have grass fights with the mown grass in the front garden of 6/2 Oxgangs Avenue; or late evening games of kick-the can or British Bulldog at The Field. Bike runs were still taking place-I note that in August 1972 Paul Forbes; Boo-Boo Hanlon; Iain Hoffmann and I cycled through Arthur's Seat to Portobello whilst young Colin Hanlon cycled so far. On another occasion Boo-Boo, Iain and I watched a world record at the Edinburgh Highland Games-little did I realise that a few years later I would take part myself. 

There was still a certain continuity in our lives as milk runs and paper runs were still being undertaken, because not many of us at The Stair went away on holiday other than Liz Blades to Stonehaven; Anne Hoffmann to our New Town cousins; or Alison and Fiona Blades; Iain; Paul and I camping at Stobo, Peebles. 

For a few summers we enjoyed our Mini-Olympics at the army's former running track at Redford Barracks which were great fun. We might even manage a final visit to go jumping the burn at Colinton Mains through to the Braid-Burn Valley, but by then the grass and wild flowers and weeds and nettles had perhaps become too overgrown. 

And if it was wet, Iain, Paul and I would enjoy card games at The Blades with Fiona and the girls or play mischievously with their giant tape-recorder with Paul blowing great rasps onto the tape.

The cusp of the year was further illustrated and articulated through the school calendar.What was truly lovely about the summer was that it brought many of us at The Stair together whilst school would unfortunately divide us. At the start of the autumn term The Duffys returned to St Augustine's whilst The Hanlons; The Hoggs; Norman Stewart; The Swansons; and The Hoffmanns were divided up between Boroughmuir; Firhill; The Royal High; and of course Hunters Tryst. The cusp was thus metaphorical and literal.

And on this last day of the year of the blog whilst it should perhaps be a time for reflection I'm not inclined to go down that road, and for whatever reason I'm not inclined to quite bring down the curtain on it-and certainly not before I do a Where Are They Now blog-and even that of course is unlikely to be a final hurrah.

So, on the cusp of the year after a golden 2013 summer good luck in your adventures-and I look forward to meeting and hearing from old acquaintances and making new. And by way of update, one former member at The Stair, Fiona Blades has been accepted to undertake a PhD whilst I'm joining Iain Hoffmann on holiday to Portugal. Any updates from others would be welcome!

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