Before I left Edinburgh this evening, I had a drink with comedian-writer-photographer Ian Fox who was attacked in the street on Wednesday night.
When I was with him today, he got a phone call from the police.
“It was around 11.30 at night and I was coming up that curved street Candlemakers Row, just before you get to the statue of Greyfriars Bobby,” he told me. “There were loads of people walking about, because the Tattoo had just finished.”
Throughout the Edinburgh Fringe, Ian has been taking nighttime photos of Edinburgh between around 10.00pm and midnight.
“I’d taken a photo in the Cowgate,” he told me, “ but put my camera away because there isn’t anything else to take photos of until you get to Bristo Square. The camera was round my neck, but underneath my top, so they didn’t see it. But it wasn’t a mugging.
“Some students were arsing about on the left hand side of the road, kicking a traffic cone about, so I crossed over the road to avoid them. I was in the road and only vaguely aware there were people walking down the other footpath then, as soon as the guy got level with me, he just hit me. He was wearing a ring, which is what cut me.
“I hit the ground, mainly out of surprise, then I heard another guy say: He’s gone down. I think the first guy had passed me, the second guy then hit me and I think the first guy had turned to watch, because he knew what was about to happen and then he was celebrating the fact I’d gone down.
“When I heard him say He’s gone down! I thought to myself This probably isn’t the best place to be because I’ll get a kicking when I’m down on the ground. I’d quite like it if this was over now. So I stood up and turned around and walked to Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar.
“There was a chef outside. I thought he must have seen the whole thing, but he later told the police he hadn’t seen anything. I asked him if he could help me. He took about three seconds to make a decision on that. He obviously just thought it was drunks fighting but then I think he could tell from the way I was dressed and the way I was speaking that I wasn’t drunk.
“So I went into Bobby’s Bar and the waitress in there took over; she started handing me all the blue papery stuff to soak up the blood. They phoned the police and the paramedics, because they were worried about how much blood was coming out of me. My cheek was bleeding; my nose was bleeding; so there was a lot of blood.
“The woman in there told me they’d just refused service to two blokes because they were very loud and very aggressive so the chances are it was these two blokes who had just got refused who walked outside and clocked the first person they saw.
“From the way they had been moving, I think they were on speed or something. They were on something, they’d had a skinful and the adrenaline buzz of hitting someone was the next thing they were after.
“The police said they hoped the cameras inside Bobby’s Bar had got a clear shot of them coming through the door, but that phone call I just got was the police saying it turned out the CCTV inside Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar has not been working since the 12th of August. The police said they’re now going to look at the Council’s CCTV in the street. But I’ve had a look three times and I can’t see a camera around there. I’m guessing somebody who behaves like that has probably done it before so would not do it near cameras.”
“You had another check-up today, didn’t you?” I asked.
“Yes, at the specialist Facial Injury unit in Livingston at 9 o’clock this morning,” said Ian. “It turned out everyone was given a 9 o’clock appointment, so it was first come, first served.”
“Livingston?” I said. “That’s miles away! That’s about 15 miles away!”
“It still counts as Edinburgh,” Ian said, “because it’s got an EH postcode.”
“Good job you brought your car up here,” I said. “You might easily not have done.”
“They told me I don’t need any further treatment,” said Ian, “but I may have a permanent scar beside my nose and the nurse advised me to avoid being punched in the face for a few months.”
“She didn’t,” I said.
“She did,” said Ian. “and I’m sure that’s very good advice.”
“I imagine the police won’t do anything about it,” I told him. “Did you read that blog of mine a couple of days ago, where a comedian had his computer stolen and he told the police where it was from the Apple GPS positioning and they wouldn’t do anything about it?”
“Well,” Ian said, “a deli I go into every day here… The guy there told me he had an incident a while back where one of his fridges wasn’t working and he called a repair man from an advert in the paper. The guy came and gave him a ridiculously high quote, so he said No.
“A couple of hours later, the cafe owner goes to the bank. Whilst he’s away, the repair man comes back, tells the girls behind the counter he’s there to fix the fridge, moves the fridges, hacks all the wiring at the back, tells the girls the griddle’s broken and says he needs to take it away for repair and leaves with the griddle.
“The cafe owner comes back, finds all the fridges are knackered and the griddle’s missing. So it’s criminal damage and theft. He rings the police, gives them the phone number of the advert and tells them this is the bloke who has done it – the girls have given a description of the guy… That was five months ago and he hasn’t heard anything since.
“He says he opens at 7.00am in the morning and has trouble with drunks coming in and, in the past, he’s tried to get the police to come and shift them and they won’t do it.”
“I love Edinburgh,” I said, “and it’s physically beautiful, but it’s a tough town under the surface. I’m surprised more comedians don’t have problems.”
“Seymour Mace got head-butted outside the ScotMid in Nicolson Street in 2009,” Ian told me.
“Was that unmotivated as well?” I asked.
“Exactly the same thing as me,” Ian said. “Except he got headbutted instead of punched. Never even saw them. Though headbutting seems a lot more personal, somehow.”
“More Glaswegian,” I suggested.
“Seymour had a black eye for a week,” Ian said, “and he was doing a children’s show, so he had to explain to the children that he’d hit his head on a door. You can’t tell children there are random nutters out there in Edinburgh who will just headbutt you for no reason.”