Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Everything Elementary!

This is the tenement where I grew up; 38,Broughton Street in Edinburgh,Scotland. We lived on the third floor with the second turret overlooking the Firth of Forth. Seven of us shared six large rooms, two with marble fireplaces, a stone floor in the kitchen that was both a dining room and a place for drying the laundry on the 'pulley'. A large black hob kept that one room warm, our legs toasting ( called fireside tartan) trying to keep warm. One toilet and no bath. No washing machine; that job was for Saturday mornings when my mother and sister and I would carry our baskets of laundry to the public wash house called the 'steamie'. Two of the rooms were completely round, even the doors were beveled. At that time the brass pulls and name plates were in evidence at the main door and they would jangle all the way to the third floor as we opened the door to visitors. Mid century security!When I lived there before immigrating to Canada the stairs to the third floor were very worn and the 'close' or hallways still had gas lighting.

These buildings are part of the New Town of Edinburgh (1765-1850) as opposed to the Old Town which was 16th -18th century that included Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace the Queen's home when she is in residence. The architecture is neo-classical /Georgian period. Both the old and the new town are now Unesco World heritage sites.

My father rented this flat for the princely sum of 10 shillings a month. Mind you, there were absolutely no amenities and pleas to the landlord to fix the holes in the roof went unheard. That's when the wallpaper would start slipping off the walls after it had rained. Edinburgh is known for rain!  I believe these flats now sell for upward of 300.000 pounds. I'm sure they've added a bathtub and some central heating!

What had me on a nostalgia trip was researching Sir Arthur Conan Doyle author of Sherlock Holmes. When travelling Google earth to find a picture I was reminded of my own home that was a five minute walk from Picardy Place. I must have past the house hundreds of times but never registered the significance.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's birthplace, 11,Picardy Place, Edinburgh 
The Conan Doyle pub and St Paul's and St George's church where I  married in 1966.

I'll tell you some more stories of #38 another time.

Slowly getting into our new book and gearing up for the Bloody Words conference at the end of the month.
Enjoy this wonderful spring weather and the Victoria day holiday.

Talk soon,


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