HE’S been a familiar site on Leith Walk come rain, wind or snow for upwards of 30 years. And scores of tributes and good wishes have now been left for Arthur Thompson – fondly nicknamed “Rastatramp” for his distinctive dreadlocks – after it emerged he had been taken to hospital.
After he went missing from his usual spot outside Majestic Wine, many people had feared the worst.
Rumours escalated that the popular character had died of pneumonia and bunches of flowers were even carefully placed next to his abandoned cardboard home.
Hundreds of people took to a Facebook page to leave tributes with the page attracting more than 3500 likes within hours of his reported passing.
But the Evening News can report that “Arthur of Leith,” as he is known by locals, is currently being cared for at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
Raymond Laurenson, 59, who works at Ladbrokes next to where he stays, said the police picked him up on Wednesday afternoon.
He said: “The police came in here to say he was OK and that he was not being arrested. They said they were just taking him to hospital to sort him out and clean him up a bit.
“Someone came in this morning and said he had passed away of pneumonia which had me worried. I was really glad to hear that he’s OK.
“He’s a bit of a legend down here, he’s part of Leith. He’s like a piece of furniture – when it’s taken away you instantly notice.”
Sheila Paget, 71, who runs Easy Tan on Leith Walk, said she had been inundated by people asking how he was.
“We have had so many people in the shop and phone calls asking about him. It has been unbelievable. I don’t know if he would like this fuss, he’s a very independent man.
“I wish someone would take the flowers away. I was going to put a sign out saying he was alive but someone had beaten me to it.
“He really needed to get some care, he was doing really badly. When I’d come to the shop on a morning he would just be lying there. We all wish him well and hope he gets better.”
Sonya Simpson, landlady at The Volunteer Arms, said everyone in the pub had been asking after his whereabouts and she had called police to find out how he was.
Regular Calvin Laidlaw, 47, said he had spoken to Arthur’s social worker who said he was being well looked after and he had a bed on a ward, next to the window.
“He’s a legend around here, not in a sorry way. If you take Arthur away from Leith then everyone notices.”
Twitter and Facebook have been flooded with messages of support for Arthur.
Craig Lumsden: “One word : legend :)”
Evelyn Stables wrote: “Arthur is in hospital being looked after and receiving treatment. Hope get gets well soon.”
Nana Ethel Vikki Hansen: “Love Arthur! Absolute ledge of a guy! Been around since i was a little kiddie! Has always stayed in/ around the smiths place area, as thats where he used to stay.” Daz Graham: “Hope everythings ok arthur!”
Dean Melville: “Hope arthur is well, he is a great old guy, bothers no one asks for nothing and if you give him something or get to no him he brightens up ur day.”