Fears for man living in tent on Portobello beach

A pensioner who set up home in a tent on the beach with his piano has been visited by police over fears for his safety.

Ben Treuhaft, 66, set up his tent on Portobello Beach. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Ben Treuhaft, 66, moved into the tent on Portobello beach in Edinburgh after an arguement with his wife led to hime leaving the nearby family home.

The professional piano tuner uses the bathroom at a local swimming centre and eats at a local cafe. He welcomes visits from other musicians who want to play his instruments and has revealed plans to make the £500 tent his permanent home.

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Police officers visited him yesterday amid concerns about his well-being, after residents raised fears he would be attacked.

Ben Treuhaft, 66, set up his tent on Portobello Beach. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The council has also said it wished to speak to him about potential safety fears, and a Police Scotland spokeswoman said they were “offering safety advice”.

Ben said: “I was shocked. They were very friendly. They came to check that I was OK. We all shook hands and they left. They said ‘if there is anything we can do please come to our station’. The police are on my side, just like the council, which is good for my project.”

Ben left the family home in Morningside after an argument with his 39-year-old wife.

The American father-of-two is the son of a Mitford sister who rebelled against her fascist upbringing, ran away to Spain and married a Communist nephew of Winston Churchill.

Picture: Phil Wilkinson

He honed his music skills in New York and spent some time in Japan before moving to Edinburgh, where he opened a piano shop last year.

Ben said: “It started off as a fantasy but it has come true. I’m planning on staying here for the duration – forever. My wife and I had an argument and she booted me out because I talk too much. I bought the tent for £500 and that’s basically all the expenses covered. The rent is free and I have a great view. I’m going to stay here as long as possible, if the council doesn’t clear me out.

“I’ve always wanted to live with a piano on the beach.”

Ben has been blasted by his wife who described his actions as “ridiculous”.

Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Onlooker Jimmy Bunce, 75, said: “I’ve been up and down this beach for 50 years and I’ve never seen anything like that.

“It’s up to him if he stays. If my daughter throws me out, I’ll come down beside him.”

A council spokesman added: “The council has not changed its position and we plan to reach out to Mr Treuhaft with safety advice and to ask for information on his long-term plans.”