This should have been a good weekend for Alexandra Dariescu, an award-winning young Rumanian pianist.
She was planning to spend a day studying and playing with Imogen Cooper, who is mentoring her under the Royal Philharmonic Society scheme set up in memory of the great tenor Philip Langridge.
Alexandra got off the tube at Kilburn Park station and set off towards Imogen’s home with a handbag full of Chopin scores. She never arrived.
A man got out of a car, walked up to her, punched her in the face and took her mobile phone. He then drove off in the car with two others.
The police arrived and took details. They told her that such incidents happen twice a day on average in the area. Her handbag was untouched. The thieves are only looking for iphones to sell abroad.
The police dropped Alexandra off at A&E where she waited four hours to be seen among a mob of weekend drunks. Worryingly, ‘I noticed several cases of alcohol related, clearly self-inflicted incidents where the patients, handcuffed to police, seemed to receives priority treatment which I assume is to do with the fact that the officials could go about filing their reports quicker. Noticing this didn’t make the wait any easier and unable to call anyone without the details on my phone I had to sit it out alone. At least there is no shortage of tissues in hospital. ‘
Alexandra is feeling much better today but with a massive headache and shoulder pain which stem from the initial punch of the attack. Musicians and friends have rallied round and she will be getting a new phone pretty soon, but we should all be shocked by the casual, routine nature of the attack in broad daylight in North London.
This is London, six weeks before the Olympic Games. There will be worse incidents unless the authorities do something about it.
MESSAGE TO BORIS JOHNSON: Get more cops on the streets. Now.
UPDATE: A second pianist was mugged in the same area a few weeks before. James Rhodes has been in touch to say: ‘Sunday afternoon 3pm, sunny day and a guy smacks me one and grabs my phone. We wrestled a bit, I chased him but he got away with it. That’s London alas… It was a day before a run of 3 concerts on 3 consecutive days (not ideal) and that I was an idiot for trying to fight back’.