'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

Monday, 27 October 2014

A Leap of Faith-Jimmy’s Revenge!

This is the long awaited (!) follow up to 'Jimmy's Green Van' published on 21, September, 2012.

Jimmy got his revenge some time later. Lots of the boys at The Stair used to wait for the Green Van to drive off and we would then leap onto the back steps of the vehicle for a free hurl. He always drove about two hundred yards along Oxgangs Avenue to his next stop. On one occasion it was only me who had quietly hopped on-well blimey he must have seen me in the mirror and known it was me.

Instead of stopping, he kept on driving along the Avenue. The van built up speed and was soon travelling at 30 mph so I couldn't leap off. I was terrified! What would I do? Very fortunately, when the van reached Greenbank, it struggled to maintain the speed up the hill and slowed down. It was now or never, because at the top of the hill it was all downhill to Morningside. With a ‘leap of faith’ I jumped off backwards taking a quick pitter-patter step, the way we did getting off a moving number 16 bus. I managed to stay upright. It was with great relief I’d absconded-I’d escaped and was free to walk all the way home back to the safety of The Stair. I had lived to fight another day and to enjoy further adventures. 

Friday, 24 October 2014

Scottish Field November, 2014, Book Review, The Stair

I was standing in Tesco's haeing a free read o' the magazines, when I stumbled across this-couldn't resist buying a copy! :-)

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

'The Stair' Book Reviews

Now available in illustrated paperback from Amazon.

'Brought back many memories, a very enjoyable read, a must for all who were brought up in the Oxgangs area.' Vanessa Campbell 16 January, 2015

'Good read especially having been brought up in Edinburgh not far from Oxgangs in that time frame.' Pamocwylde 2 January, 2015

'Reading your wonderful book and loving it. I lived in the Crescent and have so many memories of Oxgangs.' Sandra Donnan

'A good read this Christmas.' Edinburgh Life and the Lothians, November/December, 2014

'Strangely compelling' The Scottish Field, November, 2014

'It's a good read.' Ray McMahon

'I am sure there is a movie in there, somewhere!' Ruth Kaye

'A trip back to the days when kids actually played outside. A great read whether you come from Oxgangs or not as it transports you to a time when you had ice on the INSIDE of the windows, hairy blankets in the pre-duvet days, hot water bottles, banana sandwiches at parties and roller skates on books.. Great job by Peter Hoffmann and would make an excellent Christmas present for any mum or dad who lived through 60s and 70s Oxgangs.' Jim Hunter

'As someone who was born in Oxgangs and still living there today, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It transported me back to the good old days with great memories of Oxgangs as it used to be (a great community) – wish it was still the same. Everyone in Oxgangs should have a copy of this book and most definitely all those who grew up in the Oxgangs of old.' June Marr

'Beautifully written ,this book is a loving and nostalgic reminiscence of a boyhood spent on an Edinburgh Council Estate. Buy and read this charming book. You will not regret it.' Anne Duncan

'I couldn't put it down!' Louise Melville

'This is a great book which brings back so many great memories and friendships; every time I visit my mum and walk through The Stair door at no 6, you can't help but go back in time and remember all the mischief most of us got up to 45 to 50 years ago-thanks Peter.' Brian Hanlon

Haven't finished this book yet but enjoying it so far. Although a child of the 70s and so coming to the era slighter later than the cover title advises, I've found this an enjoyable read which chimes with many of my memories of growing up in Oxgangs. Nearly all my memories of living there are also happy ones, I must confess, despite the power cuts, the cold winters and the "relative" poverty experienced by many living in the area. Hunters Tryst, Bar Ox, Swanston, Morningside, Sandy's, the High Flats they are all here. An affectionate, if slightly rose tinted, look back at a simpler time. Highly recommended. Thanks to the blogger, Peter Hoffmann, for capturing the essence of life back then. This was the kind of book I always hoped I'd write, but never have...yet. G Craig

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Drum Major

One of the most colourful little scenarios that used to take place each teatime at 'The Stair', throughout the summer evenings in the 1960s was the sight of the drum major who practiced throwing and twirling the regiment's mace at the side of 2 Oxgangs Street, in what was the wee field. Looking back he was probably appearing at the Edinburgh Tattoo at the castle later on in the evening.

The easiest way to learn to juggle, is to stand quite close to a wall, so perhaps that was why he stood so close to the building when he practiced.

Whilst we were in the living room eating our beans on toast and watching Robin Hood on the telly, for quarter of an hour or so, he used to go through his whole repertoire. He was quite amazing to watch as the mace weaved its way through his hands, especially given the size and weight of it-it must have been around six foot in length.

The routine began in a slightly conservative way with the mace at a diagonal across his body. Then it would begin to wend its way through his hands, twisting its way from side to side and round and round, followed by the mace spinning on its axis through the air. After some cycles it would then fly sky-wards, up into the air and as it dropped down, he would deftly catch it. Sometimes he might pause with the mace held horizontally under his nose, but mostly there was almost constant movement unless he made such a dramatic pause; then the cycle began once again, yet he never seemed to move from the one spot, unless he did some stationary marching. He was incredibly efficient and minimalist in his movements, indeed the only part of him which appeared to move most of the time were his hands and lower arms.

As he completed each cycle, the mace would be thrown higher and higher into the air until it was at around level two of 'The Stair'. The performance would build and build until the mace was heaved high into the air which signaled the dramatic end to a truly mesmeric and dazzling performance. In all the years of witnessing him practice, I never, ever saw him drop it-well if he had it was probably a court martial offence, plus I suspect he took a real pride in his craft!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Comment From Gerry Frew

Hi Peter,
I stumbled across your site the other day and have been totally wrapped up in it since. I grew up on Oxgangs Road North opposite the Park and just down from the store. I went to school with the Duffys (St Mark's then St Augustine's) and though John Duffy was in my brother's year we used to hang out together on occasion. I think Mary was in my year and I must confess I harboured a secret crush on her for a while. You mentioned the Dibley family and I recall trying to get off with Lesley at a party but like most things when you're that age, it didn't last long. I must say thanks for evoking so many happy memories.

Regards, Gerry Frew