|A Happening in Glasgow
30 January to 4 February, 2001
Tuesday, 30th: Up at 9 to make final preparations
for the departure to Edinburgh this afternoon. Jack gets up before I depart
and we discuss the arrangements for next Sunday's dinner. Then out the
door and on my way to Scotland.
Take the RER from Denfert Rochereau,
an express to Charles de Gaulle. There are two attractive women speaking
in English sitting behind me. They are from Dublin. They have been in
Paris on business. I give them a newsletter and invite them to dine the
next time they are in Paris. We say goodbye at CDG 2 and I walk to the
new terminal to check on my flight. I immediately spot Maria Rankov sitting
in a café. Walk up to her and apologize for being late. She laughs. Marie
cooked a wonderful dinner for me the 24th, not even a week ago. Maria
is on her way to Rome. We sit and talk and she tells me that Bojana was
happy to get our telephone call on her birthday. Then it is time for her
flight. I check in and learn that the Edinburgh flight will be delayed
almost an hour. I go for a walk and run into the two Dublin ladies. We
chat briefly and they head for their flight. I realize that I forgot the
wine that I was bringing to Martin Burke. Go to a duty free shop and purchase
two bottles. Sit and read a number of English and French newspapers until
the flight is called.
It's a very smooth flight in a very
small airplane. Maybe only a 60-seater. Sit next to a window and observe
the blue sky. The universe is truly an amazing place. To think that we
are in an airplane roaring high above Planet Earth, speeding toward Écosse,
a journey of only a few hours. One hundred years ago, it would have taken
Lunch is simple and delicious. Arrival
in Edinburgh is painless. It is my first Scottish winter since 1984 the
year my autobiography was published by Faber & Faber. Its dark and cold
outside. I elect to take the airport bus into the city centre. Only one
fellow on the bus and we sit near each other. We chat. His name is Laks
and he is from New Delhi, in Edinburgh on a contract to create a software
program for the Bank of Scotland. I tell him it is my bank. We have a
nice conversation all the way into the city. Give him a newsletter and
suggest he come to dinner when he visits Paris. He thanks me and says
that he will do so.
in Princes Street. Walk down Frederick Street and look up to where Ricky
and Anne Demarco once lived, where many parties took place in the late
50s and early 60s. There is also my old apartment on the corner of Frederick
and Queen Streets where I lived with my lovely wife, Eva Clara Viveka
Reüterskiold, and our son, Jesper. It is in this same flat where Viveka
cooked (in May, 1962) a wonderful dinner for the Russian poet, Yevgeny
Yevtushenko, the Paris Match journalist, Serge Lentz, a Cuban poet,
Cesar Lopez, and Sean Hignett, a novelist and Edinburgh friend. Alan Daiches
photographed the evening and his two-page spread of Yevgeny and myself
appeared in a June 1962 Paris Match. (Jesper was born in Edinburgh
in February 1961.) This same flat became the headquarters for the 1962
Edinburgh International Festival "Writers' Conference" that I co-organized
with John Calder and Sonia Orwell. So many memories. Dear Edinburgh! Viveka
re-married and lives with her delightful sculptor husband, Gosta, on Gotland
Pause briefly to purchase a telephone
card, then cross the street to 84 Great King Street and ring Martin's
bell. He buzzes me inside. After our warm embraces, I learn that he was
cooked a feast. Lamb for the prodigal son home from my travels once again.
Edinburgh definitely is my spiritual home. In many ways I came of age
in Edinburgh. My first big explosion of creative juices happened in this
It's a lovely evening. There are a
half dozen attractive women: Sheila Colvin, Astrid Silins, Martin's friend,
Ruth Holloway, her daughter Tara, and Rob's friend, Linda from South Africa.
We are four fellows: Martin, his housemate, Rob Henderson, John Gray,
and yours' truly. Late we all scatter to our beds. Full, tired and contented,
I fall into Martin's daughter, Leonie's bed. (She is living in her own
flat now in Stockbridge and I have inherited her bedroom.)
Wednesday, 31st: Wake up early in a bed I am
beginning to know well. Thank you, Martin Burke. Your warm hospitality
greatly appreciated by yours truly. The dinner you prepared last night
made all of us very happy. After coffee, slip out and walk up the hill,
pass the Assembly Rooms (and think of Mary Shields in Moscow), continue
down George Street and ponder crossing to the Bank of Scotland. Decide
I have enough pounds and elect to continue to Waverly Station. Quickly
purchase a ticket and rush to get the 9.30 train to Glasgow. Sit quietly
and read The Herald and The Scotsman. There is a positive
article in The Herald by Keith Bruce (Arts funding boost produces
an air of optimism) plus a supporting leader about funding for the arts
in Scotland and a sour and bitter article (and leader) in The Scotsman
about the same subject. It just sums up the differences between the two
papers. What happened to The Scotsman? It used to be a great newspaper.
Suddenly there is an announcement
that we are pulling into Queen Street Station. I gather my things and
step out on the platform. Then am surprised to discover that Lou McLoughlan
was in the train as well and sitting only a short distance from me. We
giggle and embrace. Lou is on her way to Scottish Television to see if
she can sell them her film on John Calder. We go looking for a taxi. Once
inside we ask the driver to drop her first at STV. Lou asks if I can lunch
with her and her boyfriend, Tommy, on Thursday in Edinburgh. Maybe, if
I can get away from Glasgow. John Gray has a film screening on Thursday
morning in Edinburgh and I would love to see it.
The driver is extremely nice and
we talk about the Lockerbie trial results. Yes, we both agree that blowing
the Pan Am plane out of the sky was a terrible and tragic event. But only
when we can move on, draw a line and stop seeking revenge will there ever
be a possibility that these human tragedies can end. An Iranian airliner
was shot down with a lost of life for all on board. Tripoli bombed by
Reagan and many innocent people killed. On and on it goes. A never-ending
cycle of pain.
Get out at the Brunswick Hotel in
Brunswick Street in Merchant City. Its a short walk from the Queen Street
Station. A lovely lady, Jodi, warmly welcomes me. She is not sure if my
room is ready or not. I tell her I will go into the café and have a coffee
and that she can call me when she has news. A warm and friendly fellow,
Steven, welcomes me and asks if I am Dr. Love? I confirm this to be more
or less so and ask how did he know. Ken Davidson has been talking about
me. I discover that Steven is one of the proprietors. He produces a great
cappuccino and we talk about Ken, Glasgow and "my happening".
Jodi tells me my room is ready. Up
to the 3rd floor and discover an enchanting room. Make a few telephone
calls. First to Bingo Mavor and apologize for my calling him so late last
night, leaving a message on his machine. He insists it was not a problem.
Tonight we will meet at the Inn on the Green. There will be three others
with us. We are going to attend a Burns Supper and old friend, the actor
John Cairney, will become Burns once again. I produced Tom Wright's play,
There Was a Man, with John Cairney playing Burns way back in February
1965 in the Traverse. It was such a big success that John has been performing
Burns ever since. He will be surprised to see me. Bingo warns that if
he is not feeling better, he might not meet us.
I call Anne-Marie Timoney, a wonderful
actress, who I brought to Paris in 1987. Her play, Falling in Love
Again, a Marlene Dietrich musical, a hit on the Edinburgh fringe that
year. We had a great success (and a lot of fun) with it in Paris. She
is not at home, but I leave a message on her machine. I hope she is in
Glasgow. I call Ken Davidson and he says he will be at the Tramway Theatre
all afternoon. I call Keith Bruce at The Herald. We agree to meet
for lunch in an Italian restaurant in Bath Street called Sarti's.
I slowly make my way to Bath Street
and discover that central Glasgow is an easy city to navigate. Arrive
seconds after Keith. Lots of talk about the two principal Scottish newspapers
and their different attitudes to funding the arts. We have pasta and its
delicious. So is our waitress, Abbey. Keith gives me directions on how
to get to the Tramway from Central Station. He also tells me that a friend
of his is writing a guidebook to Paris. We talk about the Paris Arts Club
and Keith's recent visit to Barcelona.
After lunch Keith heads for his office.
I turn to walk next door to the Art Hotel and spot Angela Murray. She
is leaving the hotel with an attractive woman. We are introduced, but
do not get her name. It seems they are writing a film script. Angela is
on her way to deliver her friend to the airport. She asks if we can meet
later and I explain that I have a dinner date tonight but that it can
be later this week.
After a quick inspection of the Art
Hotel (where I am to meet Sheila Colvin and Ruth Wishart for a drink on
Friday), I am impressed by its design. Glasgow is certainly full of surprises.
Walk the short distance to Sauchiehall Street and explore Waterstones
Bookshop. Try to find the travel book by Keith's friend, but no luck.
Stroll to the Central Station and
purchase a ticket to Pollokshields East. Minutes later I am in the Tramway.
A starkly beautiful space. I am introduced to most of the staff and am
given a tour of the building. I know that Peter Brook produced his famous
Maharabata here and this was the first time the space was used
as a theatre. The City Council, in their wisdom, wished to demolish the
building. Pressure from Peter Brook and others enabled the building not
only to live but also to become a major cultural space in the city. Thanks,
Peter. We examine a number of possible spaces for my event. I assure everyone
that almost any place will be OK. I have performed it in train compartments,
at restaurant tables, in private homes. It almost never fails. The more
intimate the better. Ken Davidson arrives and we talk about his show and
my happening. Renew my meeting with his friend, Carla (who I think is
from New York City). Thank Ken for inviting me to Glasgow and wish him
"Good luck!" with his production tomorrow night.
Train back to Central Station and
meander to the Brunswick Hotel. Shave, shower and shampoo followed by
a wee siesta.
Find a taxi in the street and soon
arrive at the Inn on the Green. I spot John Cairney talking with some
people on the other side of the room. To say hello or to surprise him
later that is the question. I decide to walk over and stand so close that
he finally notices. He is completely surprised. After our embrace, we
both talk at once. He is briefly in Glasgow; his lovely wife is in their
home in New Zealand. I report I am here for my little happening, that
I will be with Bingo tonight. No sooner said and Bingo appears. I excuse
myself and join Bingo and meet two lovely ladies and a young lad. One
of the women is Alex Gibson's widow, Veronica; the other woman, Jennifer
Mavor, used to be married to one of Bingo's relatives. The fellow is called
Finn and I think he is Bingo's nephew.
Down we go to the restaurant-theatre
and our table. We are handed menus and a lovely waitress, Catherine, takes
our orders. My first course is salmon and prawns, followed by haggis,
neeps'n'tatties, then a shank of lamb, ending with chocolate and glayva
cheesecake. Between courses, John becomes Burns. Of course John mentions
a number of people in the audience in a loving and teasing fashion including
Bingo and me. It's a fabulous evening. It ends about 11.30 and I am so
full I can barely move. I thank John and ask that my greetings be passed
to his lovely wife, Alannah O'Sullivan, and her family. We five go outside
and I am dropped back at the Brunswick. Ponder going to the Tron for a
drink, but it is late and cold. Bed calls.
Thursday, 1st: A great night's sleep in my lovely
room followed by a quick wash. Go down for a superb breakfast. Back in
my room and Anne-Marie Timoney calls. We agree to meet in the hotel today
and have lunch together. Earlier I had contemplated taking the train to
Edinburgh to see John Grays film and to have lunch with Lou. In the end
I elect to stay in Glasgow and not rush about like a fool.
Walk to Queen Street Station and purchase
The List plus The Scotsman, The Herald, and Edinburgh's
new daily, Business AM. There is the interview in The List with
Steve Cramer. He telephoned me in Paris a week or so ago and we chatted
about the Traverse Theatre in the early days. Hot chocolate in the Café
Rouge. Back to the Brunswick for my lunch date with the fabulous Anne-Marie
Timoney. She and I first met in 1987 when I introduced myself after seeing
her performance in an Edinburgh Festival fringe production entitled Falling
in Love Again. In her performance she becomes Dietrich. I invited the
production to Paris. Again a success. Anne-Marie had a lot of fun in Paris.
She arrives in the Brunswick just after I do. We embrace and elect to
dine here in the hotel. It seems she and the two fellows who own the hotel,
Steven and Michael, are pals. We catch each other up to date. She is in
rehearsal in a new play at the Tron Theatre entitled Casanova.
We talk about Paris and Jack Henry Moore. I report his film about Marlene
Dietrich is moving again. Someone in Berlin is interested in producing
it. I tell her our plans to create a Paris Arts Club and that we would
like her to come and see us, maybe she can perform in our new theatre.
Afterwards I try to pay for our lunch. It seems that Steven and Michael
are treating us. Walk her the short distance back to the Tron and her
Afterwards I take it easy in my room
until it is time to walk to the Central Station and the train to the Tramway
Theatre. We select a small studio room for tonight's performance. Not
many people tonight. Someone tells me that the Tramway publicity states
that my event is only happening once, on Saturday. Not sure if I am pleased
Getting to Know You always
seems to be a success. It's a very small audience but it includes two
friends who have come over from Edinburgh to surprise me, Herzmark and
Eric Kohn. Mary Brennan, who writes about theatre for The Herald, and
a young woman from Yugoslavia are also participants. As much as I would
like to spend the rest of the evening with Herzmark and Eric, it is impossible.
I have promised Juliet Cadzow and David MacLennan that I would come to
their home for a meal.
Dash outside when it is over, find
a taxi and minutes later I am being welcomed by Juliet and David. We spend
a lovely evening together talking and eating.
Back at the hotel and fall into bed
Friday, 2nd: After breakfast I decide to go to
a cyber café and send some e-mail messages to various friends. But I seem
to be an idiot because even with help from a young woman, I am unable
to send any messages. Silly me.
Walk to the Art Hotel for the meeting
with Sheila and Ruth. I am early so sit and read today's newspapers over
a cup of hot chocolate. A photographer is shooting the restaurant and
asks if I would move to another space. I say it is no problem. The fellow
who served me the hot chocolate reports the chocolate is "on the house".
Sheila is the first to arrive. We
talk about Martin Burke's dinner, about my happening, about John Calder,
the Paris Arts Club, Sheila's mum and her next visit to Paris. And Ruth
Wishart arrives. More talk about the Paris Arts Club. Suddenly Ruth pulls
out her check book and joins the Paris Arts Club. What an angel! Juliet
Cadzow arrives and joins us. Sheila and Ruth have to leave to get to a
concert. Juliet and I talk a bit more, then she too has to depart. We
walk up Bath Street together. I decide to stick my head into the Groucho
just to have a look. And am surprised to see Ann and Chris Thompson having
lunch with a young woman. They are surprised to see me as well. I join
them and they are in Glasgow for an exhibition of children's drawings
and paintings. The young woman they are lunching with is a professor of
textiles at Glasgow College of Art. When they finish lunch I walk with
them to the gallery nearby for an exhibition for Friends of Paintings
in Hospitals Scotland.
Walk back to the Brunswick. I have
had a call from Jan McTaggart and the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. Call
her back but no luck in reaching her. (Later in Paris we talk and I learn
that she wants me to write about the creation of the Traverse for their
new web site. I promise to do it.) Rest before it is time to go out to
the Tramway and my second "happening". Sit in the small café and have
a delicious bowl of soup for my supper. To my surprise, Cordelia Oliver
appears and joins me. She gives me a book of photographs by her late husband,
George. And she tells me a wonderful story about how she became a theatre
critic. When the Traverse began, Cordelia received a telephone call from
an editor of The Guardian who asked her if she was a theatre lover. When
she replied that she was, he asked her to cover the productions in the
Traverse. And ever since, she was been writing about theatre. We also
talk about the time she, George and Ricky Demarco journeyed to Paris to
see a Kantor production. And how knocked out we all were by it.
Tonight my happening contains only
men except for Cordelia. Than goodness she has come. As always, it is
Afterwards I stay for Ken Davidson's,
past Eve and Adam's, his impressionistic view of Finnegans Wake
using 36 tons of topsoil, eight cases of Guinness, a trained horse, a
chicken and a cat, as well as nine (human) performers. It's wild! I like
it. Our two events could not be more opposite. Afterwards when I congratulate
him, he gives me a check for my expenses. I thank him once again for inviting
me to come up to Scotland. It has been great fun. I had forgotten how
much fun Getting to Know You could be. Maybe I should unleash it
again during next year's Edinburgh Festival in the Assembly Rooms or in
Saturday, 3rd:Talk with Penny Richardson in Edinburgh
about our meeting at the Central Station to go out to spend the afternoon
with Elaine Gerber. Go down for another delightful breakfast. Call Bingo
Mavor and thank him for our evening. He suggests I come and visit him
in the spring when he is in his home in Cahors. Get another call from
Penny; her train is running late. She will meet me at Elaine's.
I walk in the bright morning sunshine
to the Central Station. Yes, the sun shines in Glasgow! Catch the train
to Whitecraigs and Elaine is waiting for me when I arrive. After our embraces,
we get in her car and ride a short distance to a café in a park. Elaine
announces that Penny will join us. The place is full of kids and its noisy.
But it is good to be with Elaine. Penny soon joins us. We have panini
and I have soup. Afterwards we ride to Elaine's home and she reminds me
of my last visit to see her and Joe and my request for porridge. Now we
have coffee and wonderful homemade meringue. We all talk about Joe. Elaine
shows us a photograph when the two of them first met. Joe is very handsome
and Elaine is a beauty. (She still is!) The afternoon drifts along and
it is soon time for Penny and me to return to the city centre. Elaine
drives us to Whitecraigs and insists upon waiting to make sure we get
I say goodbye to Penny and thank her
for sharing the afternoon with Elaine and me. Walk the short distance
to Borders bookshop and try to purchase two copies of Mikhail Lermontov's
A Hero of our Time but cannot find it. I want one copy for Bingo
and one for me. (Later call the Village Voice in Paris and they have copies.)
Walk to the Brunswick to rest a bit before my last happening.
And tonight's is the best of the three.
For one thing it is full! And there are four friends attending: Anne-Marie
Timoney, Steven, Michael and Angela Murray. I certainly enjoy myself tonight
and I think everyone else does as well. When it is over, Anne-Marie asks
if I would like to go for something to eat. Yes, but could we please take
the underground. I have not been on the subway in Glasgow in many years
and I would love to ride it a few stations. We leave the Tramway without
my thanking Ken but I will do it when I return to Paris.
Five of us taxi to a nearby tube station
and ride into the Queen Street Station. The metro ride is one of the highlights
of my trip to Glasgow. Simple pleasures. Then we pile into a brand new
taxi and ride to Steven and Michaels flat. There we have superb soup.
And soon it is time for me to leave Glasgow and head for Edinburgh. Angela
comes with me to see me off. I collect my bag from the locker, purchase
a Scotland on Sunday, embrace Angela and board the train. Less
than an hour later, we arrive at Waverly Station. No taxis so walk out
into the dark cold night and optimistically look for a taxi. Of course
its late Saturday night and they are impossible to find. Walk to George
Street and see a fellow sitting in a taxi next to the George Hotel. His
lights are out but I walk to him and ask if he could take me to 84 Great
King Street. He tells me it will be his pleasure. I thank him and tell
him that I forgot to pee while I was in the train from Glasgow and desperately
need to find a toilet. (Why didn't I use the George Hotel facilities?)
We chat all the way to Great King Street where I thank him once again
and give him a big tip. Ring Martin's doorbell and he buzzes me inside.
After I have had my pee, sit in the kitchen with him and Ruth. They have
just returned from a concert, Dialogues des Carmelites, in the
Festival Theatre performed by students from the Glasgow Opera School.
They report it was wonderful. Before I head for bed, Martin says that
I may wake him in the morning and he will drive me to Waverly Station
where I can get the bus to the airport.