Making his mark

Last week in the local Edinburgh Evening News I read about a graffiti artist who has been going round mostly the east of the city and spraying mostly right-on political slogans on advertising billboards or sometimes on buildings belonging to large corporations. Then the other day I actually saw the guy at work as I bought a Scooby Snack at a shop near work, looked out the window as I was waiting at the till and saw a young guy on the other side of the road, step-ladders on the pavement in front of the large, ugly billboard sticking up on Southbridge, overlooking the gap site below where the huge fire was in the Cowgate a few years ago (and still, depressingly, a gaping hole in the historic heart of the city as they argue over what will go in there and how it will fit with everything else).

As I glanced over the road at this guy on the ladders it dawned on me he wasn’t pasting up a new billboard ad, he had his spray can out and was scrawling something about cutting carbon emissions. Bright, sunlit day, very busy street, dozens of people walking right past him and no-one seemed to notice except me. He finished his slogan, climbed down, picked up his ladders and simply walked off down the street, almost no-one the wiser. Amusingly right round the corner from there are a number of police cars at any one time as officers come and go at the nearby courts and, as I said this is a busy main street in the Old Town near the University, full of people. Gee, I can see why the council and police are having trouble tracking this devious scrawler down with his advanced stealthy covert tactics! Shame for once I didn’t have me camera with me… Somehow my mind flicked back to Chopper stories from Judge Dredd.

I’m not condoning scrawling (although the billboard is a bloody big, ugly intrusion into an Old Town street anyway, defaced or otherwise) and might even agree with some of his slogans (although some seem a bit cliched) but I had to admire his cheeky gal, the ballsy way he got away with it by just acting like someone who should have been up those ladders doing something so he could do it in the middle of the day rather than some stealthy nocturnal attack.