August 18th, 2020

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Potatoes, Children, Alcohol, and Violence: A true tale of Monday night

Last night, I had a series of tasks to carry out, mostly involving food and children. One of these was to leave the house at 16:45, pick up Sophia at 17:00, and be back home at 17:15 with her in order to get the potatoes in the oven so that they'd be ready at the same time as the chicken had roasted.

This was all going fine and according to plan, when at 16:55, as I was ambling nursery-wards I heard a sickening crunch from ahead of me. Looking up from my phone, I saw someone about 30m ahead of me repeatedly kicking the side of a car, and the wing mirror coming off. They then walked up to the next car and did exactly the same thing.

I think of myself of a fluffy liberal type, with concerns about police overreach, and am generally uncomfortable getting them involved. But this didn't seem like something that the person should just be allowed to do. On the other hand, nobody was being murdered, so I decided to google "Police Edinburgh" and find out what the non-emergency number was to call and let them know. Sadly, the top hit for that search is of no use for contacting them. And as I was looking through the other results I lost track of the vandal as he walked around the corner. So I hung up the phone, sure that he'd be out of sight before I got there.

A couple of minutes later I walked around the same corner, expecting him to be well and truly gone, to find him just 10m up the road, slumped behind a lamppost. I immediately slowed, noticing that the guy was clearly not with it - weaving back and forth, gesticulating, and making the baby sign for "drink". And then followed him slowly around another corner (still in the direction of Sophia's nursery). He clearly scared a couple of the older people he walked past, and I decided to phone the non-emergency number again, so I checked, found "101", and dialled that.

I then followed him, at a distance, as he remained completely oblivious to me, and the non-emergency number rang repeatedly.

What got me particularly worried was when the vandal started picking up cones from the edge of the road and moving them to the middle. This meant that passing cars had to either weave onto the other side of the road, or the drivers had to get out and move the cones out of their way. This was definitely putting people's lives at risk, so I dropped the call (which never picked up) and dialled 999. I filled in the police as to what was going on, and gave them my number and address, and then hung up.

And that's when I did the (mildly) stupid thing of continuing to follow the guy. Admittedly he was about 50m away, on the other side of the road, and utterly incapable of moving at anything more than a weaving lurch, but still I probably should have left it there. Instead I followed him further up the road towards Marchmont until he crossed over a large road about 5 minutes later, and I was definitely moving away from Sophia's nursery.

So I called things off there, chatted to Jane for 5 minutes as my heart rate went down, asked her to put the potatoes in (as I was now running about 15 minutes late), and headed off to get Sophia.

I haven't heard anything back from the police. I feel sorry for the people whose cars were vandalised. I hope the guy doesn't hurt anyone.
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