This is a bitter-sweet day for Bellevue residents.
Sweet: because the characters at the heart of this story are genuinely happy and optimistic about the change in their circumstances.
Bitter: because so many residents in the neighbourhood will miss them terribly.
Mohammad and Zahida Anjum are retiring today from their M.A. Store after 35 years.
The couple moved to Edinburgh from Birmingham in 1974, and first managed a convenience store in Musselburgh for five years.
Then, in 1979, they moved the business to 34 East Claremont Street on the corner with Melgund Terrace, and have been indispensable stalwarts of the community ever since.
For over three decades, they have been a consistently calm, charming, helpful, and diplomatic presence in the neighbourhood.
Wind, rain, snow, brief heatwaves, major roadworks, and a heart attack never seriously deterred them.
Their shop has been a small lighthouse of reliability in an otherwise maddening and unpredictable world.
Mohammad – who for years has woken up at 5.00am, travelled in from Musselburgh, and hasn’t closed until 7.30pm or even 9.30pm – will not miss the long hours.
However, he doesn’t think he can escape them. He’s never used an alarm clock in his life, but doesn’t expect to be able to lie-in any time soon. Old habits die hard.
He and Zahida say they’ll miss the chat with friendly locals. They won’t miss early starts and deserted streets at the start of the working day.
Spurtle wondered what the biggest changes are they’ve seen in over 35 years.
They agreed that the arrival of supermarket ‘Locals’ has seriously impacted trade, as has the closure of so many guesthouses on East Claremont Street and the move of the SCVO from Claremont Crescent to Mansfield Place.
Drummond CHS kids – and their insatiable appetite for sweets, crisps, and juice – remain central to the business.
Mohammad is reluctant to make plans until all the tax and VAT issues associated with selling the business are resolved in January.
However, their now grown-up children in Dundee, Edinburgh, and Newcastle – and relations in Birmingham – can expect a lot more attention soon.
The new owners of the East Claremont Street corner shop will make their own mark in due course. We’ll welcome them soon.
But for now, we salute Mohammad and Zahida for their long service – for providing such a useful, reliable, sympathetic, and loveable port of call at the centre of this community for so many years.
We thank them, and wish them every happiness and success in the years to come.