|Newsletter No. 644
|Edinburgh Festival 2006
10 to 29 August 2006
All three alarms, (the old fashioned alarm clock, the telephone and the
mobile phone) ring at the same time: 4 a.m. and I jump into action. First
make a small pot of coffee, then shave and shower. Finish packing. Call
Martin Lehberger and tell him that I am on my way to collect him and request
that he be downstairs about 5.15.
Outside it is still dark. The taxi
is waiting and the meter is ticking. Down the Blvd Raspail to rue du Fleurus
and spot Martin standing outside his office. So far all is going as planned.
There is far more traffic than expected. But we are soon at Charles de
Gaulle Airport 2F. A long check-in queue, yet we are quickly given our
boarding passes. We go downstairs to the waiting area. Collect a copy
of Liberation and the Herald Tribune as we board the shuttle
bus. Morning light promises a sunny clear day ahead. Soon in our seats
and on our way at 7.15. Very attractive flight attendant has a slight
accent. I suspect she is from Eastern Europe. An hour and a half later
we are on the ground in Edinburgh. Quickly clear passport control, collect
our bags and go out to take the City Bus into Princess Street. Edinburgh
looks, as always, fabulous. The driver lets us out at Frederick Street
and we walk pass Ann and Ricky Demarco's old apartment, pass No. 63 where
the wonderful Viveka cooked dinner for Yevgeny Yevtushenko (and where
Alan Daiches took a photograph of Yevgeny and yours truly that was printed
in Paris Match) in 1961 and where our son, Jesper, lived the first
year of his life. Martin expresses his appreciation and surprise regarding
the beauty of the city.
As we arrive at our destination,
at 84 Great King Street, we encounter my host, Martin Burke. Introductions
are made and we all go upstairs. Discover John Morrison is staying in
the red room. After I introduce John to Martin Lehberger, he reports he
has been in the city for a number of days. Gregory Burke's Black Watch,
a National Theatre of Scotland production in association with the Traverse
Theatre, that John saw last night in the Drill Hall in Forrest Road, is
his favorite so far. John's wife, Penny, left Edinburgh just the day before.
Martin Burke makes toast and coffee for us. I ask John about his book,
Anthony Blair Captain of School, and he reports sales have been
going well. But it could always be better. I suggest he come to Paris
and give a reading in the atelier sometime in the autumn. (Note: John
and I agree it will be the 25th of October in my atelier in Paris.)
We are interrupted by a call from
Séamas McSwiney in Paris to ask if we are OK. It seems there has
been a terror alert in London at Heathrow Airport and 23 people have been
arrested. Oh shit. I tell Séamas that we are fine. Afterwards I
call Stephanie Wolfe Murray and Leslie Hills. Stephanie says she is a
semi-cripple with a broken ankle. She will, nevertheless, travel out of
Edinburgh today and we can meet tomorrow. Leslie suggests we come to her
home in Scotland Street at High Noon. Martin Burke suggests we all plan
to dine at Great King Street tonight. He will cook a feast for us.
Martin Lehberger and I go for a walkabout.
We make our way slowly down to St, Stephens Church, now hosting some 15
dance theatre productions under the Aurora Nova banner.We pick up a programme
and continue toward Stockbridge. An attractive young woman smiles at us
and of course she is an actress in a production in the Grassmarket. She
passes us a leaflet and we exchange a few words. Her name is Sally Branagh
and she is with her mother, Cathy, who looks young enough to be her big
sister. We promise to see her production, Playing with Myself.
I give them the Chicago Tribune article about the Sunday dinners
and they promise to come and dine. We continue on our way and I show Martin
some of my favorite spots including No.1 Doune Terrace where I lived in
the late 50s. Then to Charlotte Square and on to the Assembly Rooms where
there are signs of hectic activity. The Fringe Festival has been under
way a week now. No sign of anyone I know. We head for Hanover Street where
we purchase bus passes. (One month for me and a one-week one for Martin.)
We use the passes immediately as we take a bus to Great King Street and
stroll pass No. 4 where I once lived with Viveka and Jesper (and which
was the office for the International Drama Conference in 1963). Leslie
Hills opens the door at Scotland Street and we make our way to the kitchen
and more coffee and toast. Stephanie, Leslie's daughter, passes the keys
to her fella's apartment in the Haymarket. Max spends his nights here
at Scotland Street, so Martin is a lucky fellow.
Martin and I walk back to 84 Great
King Street to collect his bag and then find a taxi and head for Rosebury
Crescent. It will be Martin's home for the next ten days. He wants to
purchase a few items, unpack, and settle into his new space. So I leave
him and we agree to meet later for dinner at Great King Street. Around
the corner in Shandwick Place, meet Mark Cousins. This is one of the reasons
I like to spend August in Edinburgh - the accidental meetings in the street.
Mark and I have a long talk. He has just been visiting a friend who has
an advanced case of cancer and Mark attempts to comfort him. I learn that
his new book on world cinema has been translated in 22 languages, the
latest being Chinese. He has also been appointed Visiting Professor to
the University of Sterling. There is much on which to congratulate him.
Continue on my way to the Assembly Rooms. Ask at the Information Desk
if Clare Walters or Steven Gove are in the building. And a few minutes
later, Clare and I are embracing. She passes me a Club Bar card and tells
me that Steven will be on duty at 6. Leave her and continue down Frederick
Street and see two people studying a map. Ask if I may help them and discover
they are from France and are looking for a French restaurant. We chat
away in French and I give them directions. Stop at Margiotta and purchase
Vanity Fair, the Edinburgh Evening News, plus milk, sugar,
coffee and other household items. When I arrive at 84 Great King Street,
realize that I do not have keys and no one seems to be at home. Sit on
the front steps, read, and await someone's arrival or departure. Brian
Jones, who lives at Martin's, arrives and lets me inside.
Martin, my delightful host, cooks
a feast for his step-mother, Maggie, for John Morrison, for Stuart Trotter,
and for Martin Lehberger and myself. After dinner, Martin Lehberger, John
and I stroll up the hill to the Assembly Rooms. Immediately spot Steven
Gove and after we have embraced, I introduce him to Martin and John. Steven
leads us into the Club Bar, then disappears briefly. The lovely waitress,
Kat, prepares a large cranberry juice for me. Later Steven re-joins us
and we have a long talk about the Edinburgh Festival and his own Prague
Bump into Louise Chantal and she
and I have a long talk about Toby Gough and the shows they are co-producing
for this year's festival. I ask her to pass my love and best wishes to
Toby. Later Martin gets directions to the Haymarket and his home. John
and I walk down the hill to our beds.
Martin Burke produces a cup of coffee for me. Slowly come alive and make
my way to the upstairs café in the Assembly Rooms where I am to
meet Martin Lehberger at Noon. But first I meet Joyce McMillan and buy
her a cup of tea. She tells me that she has been reviewing a large number
of productions for The Scotsman. We chat a bit and she rushes off
to review another performance. What a hero! Martin Lehberger arrives and
he reports that he had no problem finding his new home last night. He
and I walk and bus to Lothian Road and I point out the Traverse Theatre,
Usher Hall, Filmhouse and other notable sights. We continue to the Film
Festival Press and Delegates Centre in Bread Street. There I am happy
to find Duc Pham. We three have a brief talk. Walk next door to see if
Rolf and Iris Alter have arrived at the Point Hotel. They have, but they
are out in the city. Leave a note of welcome for them.
Martin and I take the No. 2 bus to
Forrest Road and I tell Martin the story of how I met James Campbell.
We stroll pass the Elephant Café where J.K.Rowling reputedly spent
hours writing the first Harry Potter novel. And on pass the National Library
of Scotland who have all my early letters and documents concerning the
Traverse Theatre. We turn into the High Street and I tell Martin the story
of how I once was the co-owner of 369 High Street. (I paid one hundred
and twenty-five pounds and my partner, Roy Guest, paid the same sum. Now
the property must be worth many thousands of pounds.) Discover that Tim
de Jersey is not in the Fringe Press office this year. Someone tells me
he is in Australia. The fellow who has replaced Tim, Steve Pucci, is out
for lunch and am told to come back in the afternoon.
Martin and I walk up to the Lawnmarket
where I show Martin the first home of the Traverse Theatre Club and where
I lived briefly in the 60s. I really date the founding of the Traverse
to my first production in my bookshop in 1960. Then next came The Howff
(at 369 High Street). After Roy Guest left Edinburgh with all the funds,
I was forced to sell my half to avoid bankruptcy. Next came the property
in the Lawnmarket that belonged to Tom Mitchell and the creation of the
Traverse Theatre Club. (Tom agreed to a rental contract of one shilling
per year and he was made Honorary President of the Traverse.) We are so
near Michael and Mona Shea's home in Ramsay Gardens. I attempt to call
them, but cannot get my mobile phone to function.
We continue down Johnston Terrace.
A pretty Swedish girl asks for directions to the Sheridan Hotel. I suggest
she follow us because we are walking in the same direction, but no, she
prefers to speed along. Further down the hill, she asks someone else for
directions and they do not know. She is lost. By this time, we have passed
her and I signal back to her to follow us. She catches up with us and
I learn that she is a photographer from Stockholm and that she has been
living some years in London. I tell her my son is half-Swedish, that he,
too, is a photographer and that he lives in Manhattan. I ask her if she
knows the Queen of Chelsea, Ulla Larsen. She doesn't know Ulla or Jesper.
I think she says her name is Anna Larson. I give her a newsletter and
invite her to dine the next time she is in Paris.
Inside the Traverse, greet Natalie
Ibu, the Traverse Press Officer. Go downstairs for soup. Ask at the office
if Laura Collier is available. She and I have a brief meeting and she
apologizes that the Traverse was not able to host the Kurt Weill show
(with Bremner Duthie) that I wished to bring to the Festival this year.
Maybe next year. Also see Andy Catlin, the Marketing Manager. Andy tells
me that the Traverse has many hits this year including Black Watch,
that is selling out every night in the Drill Hall in Forrest Road. He
says he can get me a ticket if I am prepared to wait until later in the
festival. No problem. I can wait. Soup is delicious. Our waitress is beautiful.
Her name is Alice Boyle and she is Anne Goring's cousin.
Martin and I go back to the Fringe
Festival Press Office. He waits outside in the High Street. Many performers
are busy hawking their productions with excerpts from their shows. Inside
I meet Steve Pucci and get my press pass. A young woman named Sian Roberts
give me a piece of fudge. Thanks, Sian
Martin and I go down the Mound to
Hanover Street and the Assembly Rooms and manage to see the 5 p.m. one-woman
show, Pauline Goldsmith - Should've Had the Fish - in the Wildwood
Room. A sweet start to the festival.
We go afterwards to the Café
Rouge in Frederick Street for hot chocolate. I suggest we go to Great
King Street where I can deposit a pile of paper I have collected during
today's walkabout. On the corner of Frederick and Queen, we meet Pauline
Goldsmith, the actress from the 5 p.m. show. We three chat a bit and tell
her how much we enjoyed her show. I give her an invitation to dine in
Martin and I elect to dine in Henderson's
in Hanover Street. I tell Martin about my long relationship with the restaurant.
Later a couple joins our table and it seems our paths have crossed in
the past. Martin and I leave them, bus up the Mound, walk down West Bow
(one of the most delightful streets anywhere in the world) and make our
way to the Greyfriars Kirk Theatre to see Playing with Myself.
It's a sweet performance. The actress, Sally Branagh, can really sing.
She seems to be made for musical comedy, a young Julie Andrews in the
making. Martin and I stick around afterwards to congratulate her and her
team. Then we elect to have hot chocolate. Bump into Allan Little and
Sheena McDonald in Candlemaker Row and we have a brief talk. Continue
to Café Rouge. Kathy and Sally are both delightful.
As we are ending the evening, my mobile
telephone rings and it is Rolf and Iris Alter. I suggest they meet us
at the entrance to the Assembly Rooms in George Street. We say our goodbyes
to Kathy and Sarah (who elect to have an early night) and we walk back
to the Assembly Rooms. Rolf and Iris soon arrive and I introduce them
to Martin. I then suggest we walk to the Dome in George Street for a drink.
Everyone loves the Dome. It is an old Bank of Scotland (I think) that
has been converted into a restaurant and bar. Excellent place. Delightful
atmosphere. We have a fun encounter. Much later, they taxi to their beds
and I walk down the hill to mine.
Martin and I elect
to dine in Henderson's in Hanover Street. I tell Martin about my long
relationship with the restaurant. Later a couple joins our table and it
seems our paths have crossed in the past. Martin and I leave them, bus
up the Mound, walk down West Bow (one of the most delightful streets anywhere
in the world) and make our way to the Greyfriars Kirk Theatre to see Playing
with Myself. It's a sweet performance. The actress, Sally Branagh,
can really sing. She seems to be made for musical comedy, a young Julie
Andrews in the making.
Martin and I stick around afterwards to congratulate
her and her team. Then we elect to have hot chocolate. Bump into Allan
Little and Sheena McDonald in Candlemaker Row and we have a brief talk.
Continue to Café Rouge. Kathy and Sally are both delightful.
As we are ending the evening, my mobile
telephone rings and it is Rolf and Iris Alter. I suggest they meet us
at the entrance to the Assembly Rooms in George Street. We say our goodbyes
to Kathy and Sarah (who elect to have an early night) and we walk back
to the Assembly Rooms. Rolf and Iris soon arrive and I introduce them
to Martin. I then suggest we walk to the Dome in George Street for a drink.
Everyone loves the Dome. It is an old Bank of Scotland (I think) that
has been converted into a restaurant and bar. Excellent place. Delightful
atmosphere. We have a fun encounter. Much later, they taxi to their beds
and I walk down the hill to mine.
Today is Angela Bartie's birthday. I get up at 9 and Ruth welcomes me
to Edinburgh with a great cup of coffee and a large bowl of fruit salad.
I slowly come alive. Put on my suit that I had made in Calcutta (for thirty
euros) and go out in the bright morning sun. Find a taxi and ask to be
dropped at the crematorium. There is a ceremony for Sandy Mountford's
mother, Biddy, who recently died after a long, active and full life. Biddy
and I always liked each other. I do not like to attend weddings or funerals.
And I am the last one to arrive at the small chapel. It is packed, but
manage to squeeze into a seat next to Mona and Michael Shea. I have to
admit it is a moving ceremony. Even funny. Biddy's granddaughter, Jean-Margaret,
gives an excellent talk about her grandmother. Afterwards we pile into
cars and drive to Astrid Sillins' large apartment in Leith. I ride with
Ingrid Kempston. Lots of people have gathered to eat and to drink and
to celebrate Biddy's life. Talk with Michael and Mona. Talk with David
Steel. Talk with Jim and Ingrid. Briefly chat with Clea, Astrid's beautiful
daughter. Talk with Sandy and his wife, Gina. They say they will come
to Paris in early October and they will call me. Talk with Helen, Sandy's
daughter, and with her husband, Vlad.
Michael and Mona and I slip out and
head back into the city center. We elect to travel by Lothian city buses.
Michael gets out first at the bottom of the Mound. Mona and I continue
to Lothian Road and the Film Festival Press and Delegates Centre. I collect
my Press Pass and Mona collects her Delegates Badge. She is on the Board
of the Film Festival. Mona departs for Ramsay Gardens and I decide to
check my email. There is a message from Frances Anderson who asks if I
am prepared to be interviewed by her. I reply "yes of course"
- just say when and where. Take a bus to Princes Street. When I am about
to leave the bus, two women inform me that I am forgetting my new Film
Festival bag. Thanks, ladies!
Walk to the Book Festival and immediately
see Olivier Joly, the Press Officer of the Book Festival. After our warm
embrace, ask him about his friend, Ingo. And we talk about the next two
weeks. He introduces me to Frances Sutton, an associate, and to Clare
Smith who is also a part of the press team. Minutes later I see Faith
Liddell and Ramona Koval. The Book Festival is one of my favorite parts
of the entire Edinburgh Festival. See Ruth Wishart in the Signing Tent
with Carmen Callil and greet them both. Fenn and I exchange smiles and
greetings. I happen to be standing next to Catherine Lockerbie and John
Morrison and so introduce them to each other. Meet Angela Bartie and her
fellow, Tommy Callan, in the Signing Tent. They are with Esme and another
woman. Irvine Welsh is signing his books only a few meters from us. Martin
Lehberger arrives. More introductions.
At 8 p.m., Martin Lehberger, Leslie
Hills and I attend Val McDermid's lecture. There is the Book Festival
opening party afterwards. I make no attempt to go into the Spiegeltent.
I do see Jenny Brown and she is super sweet. She invites me to come to
a reception in her new office at Noon tomorrow. I tell her about Stephanie's
accident and tell her that I will bring her with me. Later I call Stephanie
and suggest she dine with Martin and me tonight, but she cannot. She does
agree to go to Jenny Brown's reception tomorrow and I tell her that I
will come and collect her.
Martin and I walk to Hanover Street
and end up in the Napoli restaurant. I order spaghetti alio/olio and it
is the hottest most spicy I have ever tasted. I am unable to finish it.
There is a tall beautiful brunette from Lodz. Her name is Anna. She is
so beautiful that she almost makes up for the meal I do not eat. Give
her an invitation to dine in Paris.
Walk back to the Assembly Rooms and
briefly talk with Bill Burdett-Coutts, with Steven Gove, with Liz Smith.
Then home to bed.
Up at 8 a.m. There is email from Olga in Paris and from Francis Anderson.
Talk briefly with John Morrison. Tell Ruth and Martin Burke about the
BBC2 TV programme tonight about the festival and they promise to watch
it. Ruth makes coffee. I have a date with Martin Lehberger to meet him
at the Assembly Rooms, but he calls to say that he is not feeling well
and will stay home and rest. Chat briefly with Steven Gove. Then head
for Marks & Spencer in Princes Street and change 300 euros. Get 195
pounds. Take a bus to Stephanie Wolfe-Murray's home. We take a taxi to
Jenny Brown's office reception. Jenny Brown's associate, Mark Stanton,
greets us. It is an interesting event. Jenny Brown is a sweetheart. I
ask her about her husband, Sandy Richardson. Talk with lots of people
including Jessica Craig, who is the Rights Director at Canongate Books.
She introduces me to Wanda Gloude, a publisher, (Ambo Anthos) in Amsterdam.
And I introduce Jessica to Stephanie Wolfe Murray. We talk about Jacob
Groot, Cees Nooteboom, Harry Mulisch, Willem de Ridder, and other Dutch
literary personalities. Also talk with Julie Davidson about Paris. Tom
Pow is here, a slightly larger than life poet who lives and teaches in
Dumfries (which is a part of Strathclyde University in Glasgow). I suspect
he teaches creative writing. Much of his output was published by Canongate
during Stephanie Wolfe-Murray's reign. (Two books of poetry and a book
about his travels in Peru.) And a long talk with Mary Contini, the Director
of Valvona & Crolla. I recommend Alan Furst's new novel, The Foreign
Correspondent, to her.
After a while it seems it is the time
to go. We thank our hosts and slip out. It is a short walk to the Meadows
where we find a taxi and return to Stephanie's place for tea and talk.
Bus No. 2 to Lothian Road and taxi
to Charlotte Square. See lots of friends: Sheila Colvin, Leslie and Stephanie
Hills, Pete Irvine and Geraldine Coates.
At 4 p.m., attend an interesting literary
event in the Peppers Theatre. Richard Davenport-Hines evokes the fabled
Paris night in 1922 when Proust, Joyce, Stravinsky, Picasso and Diaghilev
sat down to dinner together. David Edmonds & John Eidinow examine
another far-reaching encounter between David Hume and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
It seems that Rousseau was an enormous pain in the ass.
Walk with Sheila Colvin to her Oxford
Terrace home and have tea with her and John Calder. Then John and I have
wee naps. Later they drop me in Princes Street and I walk to the Book
Festival. Talk with Olivier Joly and Frances Sutton. Olivier says his
friend, Ingo Johannessen, will also attend the Fukuyama lecture.
At 8 p.m., attend Francis Fukuyama's
lecture in the Main Theatre. I don't see Ingo, but sit with David Black.
It is a pleasure to hear someone speak so clearly and so eloquently about
contemporary politics in the USA and its ramifications in the world. His
new book, After the Neocons: America at the Crossroads, criticizes
US policy in Iraq and the neoconservative ideology he once embraced. Alan
Little is in the chair and does a great job.
See Jessica Craig and Wanda Gloude.
Congratulate Alan Little afterwards.
Go to the Usher Hall to collect John
and Sheila. It seems the opening concert was sensational. We dine in Pizza
Express in Stockbridge. Then have an early night.
Ruth makes a cup of coffee for me and tea for herself and Martin. She
gives me a bunch of messages. Ruth and Martin saw the BBC 2 TV programme
last night, Godlessness and Dirt - 60 Years of the Edinburgh Festival,
and they both thought it was excellent. Find a note from John Morrison
to say that he would like to come and read sometime in the autumn in my
atelier. He is off to his home in the South of England. There is a call
from Sylvie Daniel in France. Also two messages from Steve Ross. Also
get a call from Martin Lehberger and Martin Belk. And a real letter from
Lucy Allwood in Paris; she tells me she is reading Cavafy. Walk to the
printers and produce more copies of the Chicago Tribune newsletter
as well as John Calder's letter to Jean-Pierre Cahen. Bus to the top of
the Mound and try to find Paul Gudgin, the Director of the Fringe Festival,
but he is out. Leave Newsletter No. 626 and 556 and the Fringe Society
voting slip for his attention. Talk with a pretty blonde from Groningen.
Her name seems to be Fredau.
Back to the Assembly Rooms and go
upstairs to the café and order a chicken wrap. Wait for two Martins
to arrive: Lehberger and Belk. Steven Gove passes and we exchange gossip.
Give him No. 626; he says his mum will arrive at the festival today. Then
Martin Belk arrives with his new manifesto that aims to make the fringe
more fun. Martin Lehberger arrives and we leave shortly thereafter for
a stroll down George Street to Charlotte Square. I visit with Olivier
Joly and Frances Sutton. Olivier and I talk about his friend, Ingo, and
his reaction to Professor Fukuyama's talk last night. See Jenny Brown
and Kath Maitland. Spot Catherine Lockerbie as she passes. She has a big
smile on her face as well she should. The Book Festival is going well.
Doris Lessing, who I knew in London in the 60s, is in the Main Theatre
at 13.30 today and Alison Kennedy, who is a pal, is in the Main Theatre
at 8 p.m. - but I am unable to attend their talks.
Wander to the Film Festival Press
Office with Martin Lehberger. No sign of Duc. Check email. We take the
No. 2 bus to Chambers Street and we walk to the Fringe Festival Press
Office. I give Steve Pucci last year's Edinburgh Festival newsletter and
a copy of White Washing Fences.
Martin and I run into Sally Branagh
and her mother, Cathy. They are both in outrageous costumes and handing
out flyers for Sally's show. Martin takes several photographs of us. We
walk to Hunter Square and Creeler's. Fran is warm and welcoming and will
not let us pay for our coffee and tea. Fran has broken a finger and I
tell her about Stephanie's broken ankle. Give her a copy of Workers
and last year's festival report.
Walk Martin to his 6 o'clock show
and I taxi to Great King Street.
The Film Festival
opens today with The Flying Scot. Leslie Hills has invited me to
attend with her and to go to the party afterwards. She collects me at
84 Great King Street and we taxi to Cineworld. The film is Chariots
of Fire on bicycles without Vangelis' music. Nevertheless it is a
warm and tender story. We walk the short distance to the opening party
that is held in a place called Cargo. I see hundreds of people I know
including Michael and Mona Shea, Murray Grigor, Jim Jermanok, James Mavor,
Jim and Gay Cox, David Kemp. Later Jim Jermanok introduces me to Guy Jacobson
and to Guy Moshe. Eve Pomerance is the connection. She had both Jim and
Guy Jacobson email me. Jim has attended a Sunday night dinner. I talk
a long time with the two Guys about their movie, Holly, and promise
to see it as soon as possible.
Varda Ducovny and Sylvie Daniel are due to arrive from Paris today
Go to the Film Festival Press Centre
and check my email. Meet Guy Jacobson and he introduces me to other people
connected with the film, Holly. I report I will be attending the
13.30 screening today in Cineworld.
The film has no "star hooks"
as such. But it is a powerful story of how a 12-year-old Vietnamese girl
is sold by her impoverished family and smuggled across the border to work
for a Madam in a brodello in Cambodia. Her chance meeting with a young
American drifter and his attempt to get her out of the horrific situation
she is in sets the drama of the film. Beautifully written, acted, and
filmed. It is a strong indictment of child prostitution and a call to
arms. Duc Phan and I walk to Filmhouse afterwards and wonder what can
be done for the thousands of young girls everywhere in the same situation.
The world is unjust that is for sure. Is it hopeless? Not as far as Guy
Jacobson is concerned. He has created this film and two documentaries
to raise awareness of the situation. "The K11 Project", a charitable
foundation, has enlisted various filmmakers and activists as well as existing
organizations like UNICEF to produce films on the subject. I join Syd
Kyman, Ailsa Hollingshead, Willie Milliken and John Pavel and tell them
not to miss the film, Holly.
Martin Lehberger and I go to the Traverse
to have lunch. We must share a table with someone and that person, Terry
Andrews, turns out to be from Charleston, South Carolina, but now lives
in Scotland. I mention Bobo Legrendre and, of course, Terry knows the
family. We talk about Bobo for some time. Funny, strange world when total
strangers suddenly find someone they both know. Terry gives me her address
and I give her mine. A bizarre co-incidence. Where is Bobo today? I have
not seen or heard from her in years
At 19.30 a bunch of us attend the
Traverse production of Strawberries in January. We are Martin Lehberger,
Stephanie Wolfe-Murray, Duc Pham and his friend, Marie. We all love the
Afterwards Martin, Stephanie and I
dine in Spirit of Thai in Grindlay Street across from the Lyceum Theatre.
We have a feast. We put Stephanie in a taxi for her home. Martin walks
to the Haymarket. And I stroll to the Assembly Rooms where I meet Robbie
Jack and Louise Chantal. We have a long talk about Toby Gough and Lindsay
Kemp. Robbie drops me in his car at Great King Street.
Check email at 8. Ruth brings coffee to me and gives me a short shopping
list. I call Varda at 9.15; she has just arrived in Edinburgh. She is
upset that she was not able to hear Tony Benn who spoke at the Book Festival
yesterday. We agree to meet at the Signing Tent at the Book Festival at
High Noon. I would like to hear John Banville (at 11.30) and John Mortimer
(at 13.30) today. But do not make it. Try to reach Sylvie Daniel, get
an answering machine. Leave a message to meet at the Signing Tent as well.
Go to Stockbridge to collect my laundry and am only charged 4 pounds (instead
of 6) because I left so little.
Bus to Northumberland Street and purchase
a few items for the house from Margiotta's. Back in Great King Street
and get a call from Sylvie Daniel. Tell her to meet us at the Book Festival
at High Noon.
See Alan Taylor in Charlotte Square and
as always we discuss John Calder. Collect Varda, Sylvie and Martin and
we walk to the Traverse for lunch. See Joyce McMillan and we exchange
waves as she rushes away. Alice Boyle serves our lunch and it is once
again delicious. After lunch, we order tickets for a number of Traverse
productions. Then it is back to the Book Festival and Varda and I attend
an interesting session. An examination of Israel and Palestine with two
deep and informed perspectives. Karl Sabbagh's history of Palestine includes
his own father's life, as a leading broadcaster for the BBC Arabic service.
Ahron Bregman presents the Israeli point of view. The session is chaired
by Magnus Linklater. Both Ahron Bregman and Karl Sabbagh do an excellent
job, so good I feel they should tour together. Varda wants to meet Ahron
because her neighbor in Paris, Jihan el-Tahri ,an Egyptian film-maker,
has co-written a book with Ahron. We walk to the Signing Tent and Varda
speaks with him. Congratulate the two authors and Magnus and suggest they
do a lecture tour together. Later see Veronica and Archie Linklater. Meet
Angela Bartie. And Faith Liddell. Faith invites me to a breakfast this
Go to the Hub with Martin, Sylvia and Varda,
so they can purchase tickets for the ballet. Meet Angela Bartie and we
wander down the High Street and have a hot chocolate sitting outside Creeler's
in Hunter Square. Then walk with her to Waverly Station where she takes
a train to Glasgow. Take a bus down Princes Street. (Martin Lehberger
later reports that he passed me in a bus, that he waved but I did not
At 19.30 attend a Book Festival session
entitled Reporters in the Field with Allan Little, George Packer and Åsne
Seierstad. Robert Fish was supposed to be with them, but he is stuck in
Beirut. An extremely interesting session.
Afterwards meet Martin, Sylvie and Varda
and we walk to Lancers in Stockbridge for a superb Indian dinner. A real
feast. Everyone is pleased with the meal. I am happy to see that Varda
and Sylvie have bonded and are becoming fast friends. We find a taxi and
I am the first to be dropped off. Talk for a while in the kitchen with
Ruth and Martin.
Up at 7.30 and have toast and coffee thanks to Ruth. Bus to the Film Festival
Press Centre and check email. Walk to Charlotte Square. Talk with Olivier
Joly who says that he enjoyed Thanks for Coming! Give him a copy
of White Washing Fences. Give Frances Sutton a copy of Workers.
I would like to hear Jon Lee Anderson today at Noon at the Book Festival,
but he is unable to be here this year. I find his reportage in The
New Yorker always well informed and stimulating. Sit in the Book Signing
Tent as the rain falls. Kath Mainland passes and we chat briefly. See
Faith Liddell and Ramona Koval.
I do manage to attend Åsne Seierstad's
talk at 2 p.m. with Ramona Koval in the chair. At one point, Åsne
mentions being inspired by Ryszard Kapuscinski. Today she talks about
her new book that deals with the Serbs and Serbia. And the Balkan Wars.
Afterwards I go to the Signing Tent and purchase this new book entitled
With Their backs to the World. Tell her that Ryszard and I are
friends and that I, too, am a big fan of his. Give her a Chicago Tribune
article and invite her to dine the next time she is in Paris. She smiles,
accepts and says that she will take me up on it. What a sweetheart she
Cross paths with Michael and Mona Shea and
they introduce me to a former head of the Arts Council. See Sheila Brock
and she says that I just missed Sheila Colvin and Ruth Wishart. Attend
the 4 p.m. session entitled Germany Translated: Richard Kämmerlings,
Michael Krüger, and Boyd Tonkin. Meet old friend Christopher MacLeHose
and he introduces me to Per Peterson. Per is the winner of the Independent
Foreign Fiction Prize and he will be speaking at 11 tomorrow morning in
the Peppers Theatre. It is a bizarre session that does not really take
off. Not sure why. Afterwards talk briefly with Robert McDowell who has
nice things to say about my web site.
Meet with Sheila Colvin and Stephanie Wolfe-Murray
in the Signing Tent and they have white wine and I have a coffee latté.
At 8 p.m., listen to Ian Rankin in conversation
with Denise Mina in the Main Theatre. I sit next to a woman from Glasgow
who is a Denise Mina fan. Denise Mina is also a crime writer.
Walk to Traverse, then to Filmhouse where
I have a pasta dinner and sit with Syd Kyman and Ailsa Hollinshead. John
Pavel and Willie Milliken. They are all going to see a late night film
entitled Hong Yan (Dam Street), a Chinese film in Mandarin with
English subtitles. We pile into Syd's car and speed to Cineworld. I find
myself being pulled long in the undertow. The film is directed by Li Yu,
a young woman, and French co-produced. I find it a moving experience and
am pleased that I was talked into attending.
When we come out it is raining heavily.
I spot Leslie Hills and she says she will call her taxi service and will
drop me in Great King Street. Said and done. She is with a fellow and
we are introduced, but I cannot remember his name.
The poet Mahmood Jamal stayed here last night. He had a reading at Theatre
Workshop. Ruth makes coffee and he and I are introduced. But there is
a feeling that we have met before and we finally decide it was in the
Troubadour in London in the 60s. Get a text message from Bob Kingdom.
Call his London number. He has an exhibition of his "folded photographs"
at the Radison Hotel in the High Street and I promise to check it out.
(I do some days later and it is uncanny and bizarre.) Faith Liddell has
invited me to a breakfast date at 5 Charlotte Square this morning at 9
to celebrate the revival of the short story. Ask Mahmood if I might drop
him somewhere and suggest he might like to inspect the Book Festival in
Charlotte Square. He thinks this is a good idea. We find a taxi and this
is soon accomplished. I arrive at Faith's breakfast just as she is talking
and welcoming everyone. She announces her on-going defense of the Short
Story. There I meet lots of people, including James Lasdun, and have another
coffee and a delicious bacon roll. Meet also a woman named Kate Griffin.
She does something with the Arts Council. She introduces me to a fellow
named Derek Johns and he and I talk about Michael Sissons. Derek is also
a Literary Agent with A. P. Watt. Also meet Sophie Lewis, an attractive
woman who is the Fiction Assistant for the magazine, Prospect. We talk
about Alex Linklater, who is the Deputy Editor of Prospect. (I
even manage to pick up two back issues of Prospect.)
At 11, attend the Per Petterson and Edgardo
Cozarinsky session. Per writes about the isolation in rural Norway and
Edgardo deals with Jewish immigrants in Buenos Aires in the early years
of last century. Encounter Patricia and Alex Neish at the end of this
talk and we exchange a few words. I purchase two books by Edgardo. The
Moldavian Pimp and The Bride from Odessa. When he writes a
dedication, he says that he knows my name and my "reputation"
(What can that mean?) I tell him to come to dinner the next time he is
in Paris. (Note: Since Edinburgh, I have read The Bride from Odessa
and found it superb. Now I am looking forward to The Moldavian
I would like to attend the Jeanette Winterson
session but it was at 11.30 and therefore impossible. I loved her play
Power Book which I managed to see in Paris. Simon Callow will be
speaking about Orson Welles tonight at 8, but I cannot attend because
I will be going to the Canongate party. I met Simon years ago when he
performed at the Traverse when it was in the Grassmarket. And I talked
about him recently in Paris with Bojana and Dusan Makavejev.
Run into Emanuela Rossini in the Traverse.
She and I met Edinburgh Festival in 1997 when we were both getting press
passes for the Book Festival and she now tells me that she wrote a short
piece for The Herald newspaper about our meeting. She gives me
her card, tells me that she now lives in Trento in Italy and that she
will send me the article when she is back home.
At 13.45 attend Particularly in the Heartlands
at the Traverse. Sit with Varda, Sylvie, Martin and Angela and Laurence.
It's a very silly production. Maybe too silly for me. Afterwards we all
sit in the Traverse bar and drink and talk. The lovely Christie O'Carroll,
a drama student in Glasgow but who is a ticket seller here at the Traverse
during the Festival, passes and we have a wee talk. She highly recommends
the production, Unprotected, in Traverse 1.
Take Martin Lehberger to the Canongate party
and as expected, it is as fun as ever. Gus and Stephanie Wolfe appear.
Nice surprise to see Gus. Talk a long time to Jamie Byng and Elizabeth
Sheinkman and catch up with their news. They say they will come to Paris
after the Frankfurt Book Messe and that they plan to attend a Sunday night
dinner. Meet and talk with the Nobel Prize winning novelist, Ismail Kadare.
He doesn't speak English. Since he lives part of the time in Paris (and
the rest of the time in his native Albania), we gossip in French. I find
him to be friendly, funny and unassuming. Canongate will be publishing
him. He will be speaking at the Book Festival tomorrow and I promise to
try and attend. I also meet his English-language translator, Professor
David Bellos. See the poet, Mahmood Jamal, and he introduces me to a couple,
Elaine Henry and Tarlochan Geta-Aura, who have a bookshop called Word
Power in West Nicholson Street very near my old bookshop. I promise to
visit them in the next few days.
Talk as well to Paul Marsh. He is a Literary
Agent in London. He asks if I am going to the British Council party in
the Book Festival on Sunday night. Meet Gavin Wolfe Murray and he introduces
me to his pretty St. Petersburg friend, Margo. It's a great party!
Up at 8 a.m. and make myself a cup of coffee. Chat with Mahmood Jamal.
Try to call Frances Anderson, but no success. Walk to Scotland Street
and Leslie Hills makes me another coffee. Talk with Stephanie about her
plan to stay in Paris this autumn. Bernard Crick visits and we talk about
mutual friends. I slip out, find a taxi and get dropped at the Book Festival.
As suspected Ismail Kadare is sold out at
11 a.m. in the Main Theatre. See William Miller and we chat briefly about
Japan. Meet Varda Ducovny and Sylvia Daniel and we decide to go to the
Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern
Art in Belford Road. We rush out, find a taxi and are soon deposited at
I like the exhibition, but I would have preferred to
hear Ismail Kadare. Leave Varda and Sylvia and rush to Ainslie Place for
a lunch date with James and Ingrid Kempston. Also present are Astrid Silins,
Gunnie Moberg, Sara Macaulay, Nick Groves-Rains and Limma, his beautiful
child bride from Iceland. James mentions that he has two of my books in
his bathroom. I go inside and sign Everything Is! and Workers!
And leave a dedicated copy of White Washing Fences. Lunch is delicious
and plentiful. One can hardly move afterwards.
Taxi to the Traverse. Meet Una McLean and
she is looking divine. Also meet Pete Ayrton and we discuss meeting later
for a meal or a drink. Una and I sit together for the production Unprotected.
It is very difficult for me to understand; the production is from Liverpool.
Afterwards we sit outside, drink coffee, have a long talk and say hello
Walk to the Film Festival Press Centre and
the lovely woman from Dresden and I talk about many things. She lives
in Glasgow. Check email, then go to Filmhouse and get a ticket to see
Black Sheep. Help Duc Pham to get a ticket as well. Bus to Great
King Street and rest briefly. Then taxi to Filmhouse. Sit with Roza and
David Petherick. They introduce me to someone named Paul. Then I go into
Cinema 3 to see Black Sheep. Very silly. Super silly. Set in today's Berlin.
All characters in the film have no redeeming value. All losers. I suspect
the film could have a major cult following - even in the USA. It is so
gross, so vulgar, so stupid that it begins to have a sweetness about it.
This is its World Premiere. I wonder if Rainer has seen it, I suspect
it could have a long life on DVD. After the screening, the director and
members of the cast are presented and we are encouraged to ask questions.
I ask a few.
Sunday, 20th: Joan
Bakewell is at her usual hotel today. Gita Kazimer and Peter van Staveren
arrive from Holland this afternoon. Bus up to Princes Street and change
300 euros for pounds at Marks & Spencers. Walk down George Street
to the Book Festival. Greet Frances Sutton in the Press Tent. Then short
walk to the Scottish Arts Club for the annual garden party but because
of the threat of rain, it takes place inside. Sit with John Calder, Sheila
Colvin, Elisa Seagrove, Hilary Mounfield and David Black. (David gives
me a copy of The Eagle and the Thistle.) And the couple, Chris
and Enid Stephenson, who run a small festival in Yorkshire, also share
our table. Hilary tells me she graduated in Geography from Edinburgh University
in 1963. She further states she was a happy customer in my bookshop and
that she attended the last day of the Drama Conference. Delicious lunch.
Delicious talk. Thank you, John and thank you, Sheila.
Walk to Charlotte Square and run into Geraint
Lewis and he introduces me to a photographer from Glasgow. Meet Martin
Lehberger and he reports he is having a good time. Stephanie Wolfe Murray
joins us. Also meet David Graham. He was the managing Director of from
Canongate and his lovely wife, Kirsty Gunn. David is moving to London
and will join Granta Books as their Managing Editor. Kirsty is a novelist
and is published by Faber and Faber. She is also super sweet. Elisa Seagrove
takes the afternoon train to London in a few hours time. Also talk with
David Robinson, the Literary Editor of The Scotsman. He and I met
briefly last festival. I want to hear the two Swedish writers, Åke
Edwardson and Aris Fioretos, at 6 p.m., but do not make it. Do chat with
them afterwards in the Bookshop Tent when they are signing their books.
Also talk with Paul Johnston, who chaired their session. Learn that he
lives in Athens, so of course ask him if he knows my friend, Alexandros
Lykourezos. He smiles and says everyone "knows" Alexandros.
I almost purchase Aris Fioretos' novel, The Truth About Sascha Knisch,
but elect to get it when I am back in Paris. Learn that he is the Swedish
Cultural Attache in Berlin.
Ernie Eban calls from London and we talk
about his arrival Tuesday in Edinburgh. I tell him that I have found a
superb place for him to stay.
Martin Lehberger and I go to hear Joan Bakewell
interview Sheila McLean in the Spiegeltent at 19.30. Professor McLean
is a leading expert on medical ethics and Joan does an excellent job interviewing
her. Afterwards Joan, Martin and I go to Browns in George Street where
Joan dines (a wee bit of pasta) and Martin and I have a drink. Our waitress
is from Madrid. We head back to the Hospitality Tent in Charlotte Square
for a party. Not sure who is the host, but I suspect it is the British
Council. Talk again with David Graham and Kirsty Gunn. Also see Neal Ascherson
and Isabel Hilton. Two of my favorite individuals. And meet writers and
poets from Palestine, Egypt, Syria and the Lebanon: Kifah Hanna (an Arab
writer from Israel), Ala Hlehel (she is from Syria, but studying Comparative
Literature at Edinburgh University) and Jokha Alharthi (not sure where
she is from).
Take Joan to the Channing Hotel and continue
to Stockbridge. Try to see Outre, a show at Aurora Nova, but am
one minute too late. Time for bed. See Gita and Peter in the kitchen and
we sit and talk a while.
I know that I wish to hear Doug Kennedy talk at 12.30 today, but do not
make it. (I heard him talk recently in the Village Voice Bookshop in Paris.)
Have a quiet lunch with Sheila Colvin and
John Calder in Oxford Terrace. Afterwards John goes off to meet someone
and Sheila and I watch a DVD of the documentary about the first sixty
Edinburgh Festivals. We are both impressed - both with historical footage
and the contemporary interviews. Afterwards we watch the DVD of The
Holocaust Tourist directed by Jes Benstock and produced by Leslie
Hills and Maggie Ellis. It's only ten minutes, but an extremely powerful
ten minutes. Later Sheila drops me in her car at Great King Street and
I have a wee siesta.
Meet Joan Bakewell at 18.30
at the Kings Theatre to see the Royal Shakespeare Company production of
Troilus and Cressida. Vanessa and William Prosser arrive at the
same moment and we four enter the Kings together. I want to buy drinks
for everyone, but we lose the Prossers in the theatre. But Joan has a
glass of white wine and I have a Irish milkshake (i.e. Bailey's). We have
excellent seats in the Grand Circle, but my knees are jammed up against
the one in front and it is extremely uncomfortable. Because I had heard
so many bad and disparaging remarks about the production, I find it not
too bad. The two actresses are lovely to look at, but when Joan suggests
we leave at the interval, I readily agree to depart. We walk a while and
then I suggest we dine at the Dome in George Street. And it is superb!
We both enjoy our meal. I even have a haggis starter. Our two waitresses
are from Madrid and Krakow. We walk afterwards to the Club Bar in the
Assembly Rooms and Joan sees a friend. I am introduced, but cannot remember
Tuesday, 22nd: Martin
Lehberger departs for Paris today and Ernie Eban arrives from London.
I have arranged with Stephanie Hills for Ernie to stay in her boyfriend's
flat, the same place Martin has been staying these past ten days. Ernie
calls from Kings X to say he will be arriving at Waverly Station about
2 p.m. and I promise to be there to meet him. Michael Shea calls to invite
me to pass about 6 to have drinks with him, Mona and a few friends and
then all go to Judy Steel's production in the High Street. I ask if I
can bring a friend who is arriving from London and Michael says of course.
Leave Great King Street and bus up the Mound
to Chambers Street. Walk pass my old bookshop to a small independent bookshop
called Word Power (43 West Nicholson Street). Meet the two proprietors,
Elaine Henry and Tarlochan Geta-Aura. Tarlochan shows me new premises
they have acquired next door which will give them much more space. They
published Sugar-Coated Pill: Selected Poems by Mahmood Jamal. Purchase
a copy and congratulate them. Notice the book has an introduction by Angus
Calder. Leave them and take a taxi to the Film Festival Press Centre.
See Duc Pham and he introduces me to a woman from Dundee. See Samir Mehanovic
and he gives me a ticket to see his new film that is screening at 4 p.m.
today. See Mary Davies and she says that she will dine with Rainer Kölmel
and me on Wednesday evening. I call Martin Lehberger and we agree to meet
at 1 at the Book Festival Signing Tent. Jenni Daiches gives a talk this
morning at 10.15 which I miss. Damn it. Sometimes there is just too much
going on at the festival.
Bus to Charlotte Square. See Ian Rankin
at the Book Festival and we have a friendly chat. See Joan Bakewell and
Catherine Lockerbie. Joan asks that I give her greetings to Martin and
she and I agree to call each other at 8 tomorrow morning. No sign of Martin
Lehberger. Walk with Ramona to the Writers' Tent and see Geraint Lewis,
Pascal the photographer and Olivier Joly. Back to the Signing Tent and
this time find Martin. He and I make our way slowly to Waverly Station.
We wait and wait for Ernie's train to arrive. Finally Ernie and I are
embracing. Martin and Ernie remember that they have met in Paris. Ernie
is with Teresa Wells. They met in the train. She asks if I remember having
dinner in her home. Yes, it was in October 2004 via her daughter, Dolly.
The dinner was for Matthew and Roxana Tynan. A lovely evening! Teresa
has come up to stay with Drue Heinz and is supposed to be picked up. But
there is a mix-up. Somehow or other, we all pile in a taxi and ride to
the Traverse. Mobile phones are used. Drue Heinz arrives at the Traverse
and all is OK once again. Drue and I exchange greetings. She and I first
met via Diana Phipps in London in the late 60s, then again via Stephanie
Wolfe Murray during the Festival of 1993. I remember that I had lunch
at Hawthornden Castle in 1995. I tell her about Stephanie Wolfe Murray's
broken ankle. They quickly speed off to Hawthornden. Martin, Ernie and
I find a taxi and ride to Roseberry Cresscent. Martin shows Ernie around
the flat. Then we three go out. It's time for Martin to head for the airport
and Paris. He says that he has greatly enjoyed his visit to Edinburgh.
Martin takes the City Bus to the airport. Ernie and I head for the Cameo
and a screening of Scottish Shorts. There are two we like. The Way
We Played is made by Samir Mehanovic, a friend. The other, Laid
Off, is made by Zam Salim.
Ernie wants to see where The Paperback Bookshop
and Gallery was located. We take the No. 2 bus through the Grassmarket
and exit near the McEwan Hall. I tell Ernie that the 1962 Writers' Conference
and the 1963 Drama Conference were held in this majestic Hall. Relate
the story of how I asked two attractive young women at the end of the
queue why they were coming to the Writers' Conference. They replied that
they had heard Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell would be attending. I
pulled them out of the queue and took them the short distance to the old
Men's Union building and sat them at a table with Henry Miller and Lawrence
Durrell. They immediately became the conference mascots and served drinks
at the many parties I organized that week. Then I lost track of them.
Four years later, in 1966, I organized a Saul Bellow lecture at the Jeanetta
Cochrine Theatre in London. Another queue. And surprise, surprise! One
of the attractive women from 1962, Nina Raginsky from Montreal, is as
surprised to see me as I am to see her. I relate this now to Ernie because
he and Nina became good friends. And are still in contact with each other.
We stroll toward George Square and I show Ernie the spot that once was
We continue to stroll about. While waiting
at the traffic light next to the Old Quad, I engage an attractive young
woman in conversation. Her name is Marianne and she sells cashmire sweaters
in a shop in the Grassmarket. She is waiting for her brother to arrive.
He soon appears and he is a student of theology. We four talk briefly.
Ernie and I continue to the Pleasance. Then we have coffee in the Italian
café next to the Japanese restaurant I like. I call Stephanie Wolfe
Murray and we agree to meet and dine. We finally settle on Creeler's in
Hunter Square. Tim and Fran James, the proprietors, are not there this
evening, but their lovely daughter, Eliza, takes care of us. And Nina
from Frankfurt. Of course the meal is fabulous. Afterwards Stephanie calls
Gus, her ex-husband, and he comes to collect her. Ernie and I walk and
bus to the Assembly Rooms. See lots of people we know including Rona Thomson.
Later drop Ernie in Roseberry Crescent and continue to Great King Street.
Am surprised when the taxi driver knows my name and asks about Paris.
Call Joan Bakewell as promised at 8 regarding an exhibition. We agree
to meet at the entrance of the Royal National Academy for the Ron Mueck
exhibition at 10.30. Everyone in Edinburgh seems to be asking if Ron Mueck's
sculptors are "art or not". Everyone except me. As most of you
know, I do not believe in the concept of "art". There is just
media. Painting, sculpture, etc are mediums for storing and transmitting
information. And to call some of the things produced in these mediums,
"art" is simply subjective mystification.
Walk to the laundry in
Stockbridge and leave some items which I can pick up later in the afternoon.
Bus up the hill to George Street and walk to Charlotte Square. Greet the
press team: Olivier, Frances and Clare. John Fowler will be talking at
10, but I cannot attend and keep my appointment with Joan at the same
time. Damn. I would like to hear John. Walk to the Film Festival Press
Centre and chat with Duc Pram. Check my email and there are lots of messages
regarding the Sunday dinners. Bus to the National Academy in Princes Street.
Meet Joan inside and it is a pleasure to
examine the exhibition with her. After the Ron Mueck show, we go to another
part of the Gallery and check out the paintings of Adam Elsheimer (1578-1610).
I like the Muech sculptures. Not sure what to say about Elsheimer's paintings.
Then we go out on the terrace for a coffee. We share a table with three
men and a woman. They are speaking a language that I cannot identify.
So of course I ask them. It is Icelandic and they are pleased and surprised
when we mention a number of Icelanders we know. Afterwards find a taxi
for Joan and she heads for her hotel and home to London. It has been delightful
to share another Edinburgh Festival with her.
Stroll to St. Andrew Square and the National
Bank of Scotland. Withdraw 200 pounds from my account. Continue to the
Dome and use their toilet facilities to have a pee. Visit the press room
in the Assembly Rooms and get a few tickets (including Terre Haute
by Edmund White's play at 2 p.m. and Two Men Talking at 3.30
-both in the Wildwood Room). See Geraint Lewis and we sit together in
the café. I order a wrap and Geraint insists upon paying. Steven
Gove and Clare Walters passes and I am introduced to a fellow who co-founded
the Prague Fringe Festival with Steven.
Meet Ernie Eban and we get in the queue.
Ernie spots Teresa Wells and she and Drue Heinz are also going to see
the Peter Eyre performance. The play is outstanding and the two actors
give outstanding performances. Afterwards we congratulate Peter. (Ed White
is going to be in Paris mid-September to give a reading in the Village
Voice Bookshop. I will definitely congratulate him for this fantastic
piece of writing.) The play deals with Gore Vidal corresponding with Timothy
McVeigh and then visiting him in a federal prison in Terre Haute, to try
to understand his motivations for blowing up the Federal Building in Oklahoma.
I remember I was in Budapest when the blast took place.
We are back in the Wildwood Room for Two
Men Talking and it is a delight. It is presented by Barrow Street
Productions and one of the producers is a friend, Jim Jermanok. The piece
is written and performed by Paul Browde and Murray Nossel. They are
the two men talking and they are outta sight. Two South Africans who have
known each other for years and who now both live in New York City, they
seem to have accidentally re-discovered each other and have created an
acting career together. They could tour this production forever. I would
certainly like to see it again, to see it evolve.
Afterwards Ernie and I walk the short distance
to Café Rouge for hot chocolate. One of the two performers from
Two Men Talking sits near us and I tell him how much we enjoyed
his performance. This is one nice aspect of the Festival - running into
performers one has just seen. And to be able to tell them how much you
enjoyed their show. I also see a familiar face sitting several tables
away. It is Bailey Alexander. She emailed me from Paris to suggest we
meet in Edinburgh. And here we are meeting. We talk briefly and agree
to meet again tomorrow after the End of the Rainbow performance
in the Assembly Hall.
Then we bus half way up the Mound to Michael
and Mona Shea's incredible home. They are warm and welcoming. Lots of
people present including Astrid Silins. Ernie joins them to see the production
of Hermiston in the Netherbow Theatre. I know that Judy Steel has
something to do with this production, but not really sure what. (Later
Ernie tells me that he enjoyed the production.) I walk to 31 Jeffrey Street
to the restaurant, La Garrigue where I am to meet Rainer Kölmel and
friends. I am the first to arrive. Heinz Badewitz is next. He and I discuss
this film festival and his film festival. I would really like to attend
his festival one of these years. Jim Hickey arrives, but without Gay Cox.
I think it has to do with her or someone's birthday. Rainer and Mary Davies
are soon with us. This has become an annual ritual. It is good that Rainer
brings us together.
Hitch a ride in a taxi with Heinz and he
drops me at the Assembly Rooms. See Fiona Duff and Mary Shields. Meet
Ernie Eban and we decide to go to the Traverse Bar. There we meet Tom
Morris and Kate McGrath. Kate invites me to a late night party tomorrow
night. It's late so we head for our beds
Up at 7.30. After morning coffee, get a call from Angela in Glasgow. Talk
in the kitchen with Ruth and Martin and with Gita and Peter. Gita gives
me a sweet compliment. Later I call Becky Brazil and congratulate her
and her team for the excellent TV programme about the first 60 years of
the Edinburgh Festival. Next call Stephanie Wolfe-Murray and we agree
to meet at 19.45 in the Assembly Rooms to see the one-woman show by Maria
Bamford. Call Ernie Eban and wake him. Tell him that we can meet in Charlotte
Square at 10.30. Sheila Colvin calls and we shall meet today for a late
lunch. Taxi up the hill to the Book Festival. Ernie arrives and he departs
today for London. He says that he has had a great time. I have certainly
enjoyed his visit. I think all my friends have enjoyed meeting him as
well. See Simon Pia and he asks if I would agree to be interviewed on
his radio programme tomorrow afternoon. Yes, Simon it will be a pleasure
to talk with you because you are one of the nicest people I know in Edinburgh!
Now how's that for a compliment?
Talk briefly with Frances Sutton. Give her
a copy of last year's Edinburgh Festival report.
Walk part of the way with Ernie to Waverly
Station. He heads for the station and London and I continue to the Fringe
Office in High Street. This time I am lucky and have a brief meeting with
Paul Gudgin. Leave him and rush to the Assembly Hall to see the Judy Garland
musical, End of the Rainbow. It is written (beautifully written
I might add) by Peter Quilter and stars Caroline O'Connor as Judy Garland.
A very show-biz production about the last few months in Judy Garland's
turbulent life. The Sydney Morning Herald says it is "a sensational
performance" and I agree. Afterwards look around to see if I can
spot Mary Shields in order to congratulate her. But no luck. Go outside
and meet, as scheduled, Bailey Alexander. She and I and her two small
dogs walk down the Mound to 103 George Street and my lunch date with Sheila
Colvin. I am early, so we sit on the steps of the building next to Centotre.
We talk about Paris, Edinburgh and Scotland, Edith Kunz and the Sunday
Spot Sheila and introduce the two ladies to each other.
Bailey has had lunch, so she leaves us. And Sheila and I go inside. We
talk about Stanley Cohen and last year's festival and dozens of other
topics. Sheila says that she will meet Margaret from John Calder's office
later in the afternoon and wonders if I might like to join them for a
coffee. Yes, of course.
Go to Stockbridge and collect my laundry
and deliver it to Great King Street. Rest a bit and then head for Charlotte
Square and my meeting with Sheila and Margaret. We sit and discuss the
festival. Margaret is amazing. Both Sheila and I are impressed with her
energy. She comes every year to the Festival.
Head next to the Assembly Rooms and my meeting
with Stephanie Wolfe-Murray. Because of the crutches, Steven Gove sees
that we are in the front of the queue and are first seated inside for
Maria Bamford's one-woman show, Plan B. It starts at 19.30 in the
Wildman Room. It's a strange performance. Not really sure what else to
Afterwards we walk the short distance to
Café Rouge in Frederick Street. We are hungry, so elect to stay
here and have something to eat. Ruth Wishart pauses at our table and we
three giggle and gossip. Another fabulous lady! We call Astrid Silins
and she joins us. Our meal is simple and delicious. We are happy with
our decision to stay. Suddenly we think it might be a good idea to host
a festival party here next August. We find the manager. He is an excellent
fellow. From Turkey. We all three like him. He seems to feel it would
not be a problem to reserve the back two/thirds of the café for
our party. Since many people have been asking when we will have another
party, this option seems to be an easy and simple one.
Kate McGrath's invitation yesterday to a
party that starts after 10 tonight means that I do not walk down to Great
King Street. Both Stephanie and Astrid decline to come with me, but I
head for Broughton Street Lane. The party is loud and fun. Kate introduces
me to lots of attractive people. I linger a while and talk to lots of
lovely individuals. Then walk down Broughton Street, turn toward Great
King Street and walk past Veronica and Magnus Linklater's home in Drummond
Place. I remember there was a terrible fire there recently and they were
lucky that it was not a major tragedy.
I have arrange to meet with John Grey in the Italian Home Bakery in Stockbridge
this morning for a breakfast and long talk together. Just before leaving
Great King Street, I call John to make sure if is still good for him.
It is. So slowly make my way to Stockbridge. (If I ever elected to live
again in Edinburgh, I would try to purchase Sheila Colvin's old flat in
Mary's Place. It would be perfect for me. I love Stockbridge.)
I arrive before John and order a latté
and bacon roll. John soon joins me and together we sort out the world.
It is so good to see him looking so good.
Bus up the hill and go to the Bank
of Scotland in St Andrew Square and withdraw 200 pounds. This leaves 100
pounds in my account. On to the Traverse and see the Dublin musical, Improbable
Frequency. Sit with the Traverse press officer, Natalie Ibu. We both
are knocked out by the performance. It is delightful in every way. It
becomes one of the best things I see at this year's festival. I would
love to bring it to Paris. I keep wondering how it might be produced in
Paris. I think Séamas would love it. It all takes place in a bar
in wartime Dublin that is full of spies and spivs. Tom Morris and Kate
McGrath are also attending the performance and they like the piece as
much as I do. Later bump into Andy Catlin and when I ask him about a ticket
for Black Watch, he tells me that there are no more, that I waited
too long to claim the one he was saving for me. Oh, woe is me.
Simon Pia has invited me to be on
his talk radio programme in the Assembly Rooms, so call him at 15.45 to
double-check that he still wants me to come. Yes, he does and I promise
to be there at 5 p.m. Sit in the Traverse Bar and talk with Tom, Kate
and others until it is time to go. The programme is pure pleasure. I meet
an attractive young woman named Heather Dee and the two of them "interview"
me. It is all very light, silly and fun. I like Simon and tell him that
I miss his Scotsman's column. He says that he and his Editor had
a wee falling out over something he wrote. It is the Scotsman's
loss and talk radio's gain.
Talk with Sheila Colvin and I agree
to meet John Calder at 9 for dinner. Go to Oxford Terrace and collect
John. We go down to Stockbridge and dine in the San Marco, an Italian
restaurant next door to Sheila's old flat in Mary's Place. Just the two
of us. Food is OK. Our Italian waitress, Sonia from Ancona, is a sweetie-pie.
On the way out we see Veronica and Magnus Linklater plus Archie Linklater
and his wife. We pause and chat briefly. Then John drops me at Great King
Very late Kate McGrath calls and tells
me there is a ticket left for me at the Assembly Rooms for the play, Receipt.
Before going to bed, I decide to go up to George Street and pick up the
ticket. Then very late back at Great King Street, Gita gives me 20 euros
and asks that I post a copy of White Washing Fences to Holland
to her and Peter.
Up at 7 a.m. to say goodbye to Gita and Peter (and to have a pee). Back
to bed for an hour. Make coffee for myself. Rainer calls and we agree
to have breakfast together tomorrow morning before he flies off. We discuss
the film, Black Sheep, and both agree it could become a cult movie
and have a long life on DVD. Martin Belk calls and says 10.15 is good
for him. I call Sheila and she says 10.30 is good for John. Call Martin
and he will pick me up in front of Great King Street. Rainer calls again
and says he would prefer to meet this afternoon in Filmhouse. We agree
on 4 p.m. Martin has organized a small video crew and arranged for John
Calder and me to be interviewed. Martin collects me at Great King Street
and we ride the short distance to Oxford Terrace. Sheila is just going
out to a performance when we arrive. The video cameras are quickly set
up and the interview begins straight away. For various reasons, I let
John do most of the talking. And just stick my nose into it from time
Leave them and rush to the Assembly
Rooms and the Kafkaesque play, Receipt, devised and performed by
Will Adamsdale and Chris Branch. It was commissioned by and developed
at the Battersey Arts Centre in London. Kate McGrath is the Dramaturg.
It is excellent. Thank you, Kate! Rush outside and hail a taxi to get
to the High Street in time to see Jean Giono's The Man Who Planted
Trees. It has been adapted by Elspeth Murray's fellow, Richard Medrington.
A puppet show for children from 8 to 80 years young. Everyone in the audience
loves it. I sit with Stephanie Wolf-Murray (who has invited about six
of us) and keep thinking that Phyllis Roome and Abbi Patrix would love
it, that somehow I should arrange for it to come to Paris. And then tour
France. Later I mention this to Elspeth and Richard and they say that
they would love to bring it to Paris, that they speak French.
Afterwards we go in search of food.
Sheila Colvin is with us. We go down Blackfriars Street and one place
is full and the second is closed. Then I excuse myself, find a taxi and
zoom off to Rona Thomson's home for her annual festival gathering. She
and Keith Adams have cooked lots of goodies. I have some chili made by
Rona. Sit and talk with her and with Keith. Then am introduced to lots
Next the meeting with Rainer Kölmel
in Filmhouse. We catch each other up to date with the various events since
our last encounter. He flies to München tomorrow morning and then
to the Toronto Film Festival. He tells me that Sabine has had two exhibitions
since her exhibition in my private gallery. I had to bully her to have
a show. Now in her last two shows, almost all her paintings were sold.
Hooray for Sabine! I ask that my love and best wishes be given to her.
I hope the exhibition in my atelier broke the ice and gave her confidence.
Michael and Mona Shea have invited
me to Ramsay Gardens to have drinks with their beautiful daughter, Katriona.
So find another taxi and manage to get to the top of the Lawnmarket. Lots
of people I know and am introduced to lots of others. After embracing
Katriona, I am introduced to her fellow, Ottar. And I like him immediately.
He is very charming. And a Norwegian to boot! I also see Sara Cameron
and George McBean. We talk about the time I dined with them in Pelham,
New York. Plus David Steel. Michael and Mona are wonderful hosts and dear
friends. They are constantly asking when am I moving back to Edinburgh.
And I must admit, with friends like them, it is very tempting.
Manage to find the Steve Ross concert.
It is in the Opale Lounge at 51a George Street. I bump into Roddy Martine
and it turns out that he and Steve are friends. He suggests I join him
and two friends at their table. I learn that the Opale is an Andrew Brown
venture. Years ago Andrew had a gallery at 369 High Street, a property
I once owned. Last festival I attended an event for Bob Kingdom to celebrate
Truman Capote's birthday in Andrew's gallery in Howe Street. Roddy is
with Vivien Devlin, a writer, and with her friend, Ken Scott. Steve Ross,
as I suspected he might be, is delightful. The rest of the items on the
bill are bizarre to say the least. Andrew is the Master of Ceremonies
and he is over the top. Silly and fun. I have to leave after two sets
and ask Roddy to give my best wishes to Steve and to thank Andrew. Slip
out and make my way to meet John Calder for dinner at a Chinese restaurant
across from the Lyceum Theatre.
Something goes wrong and we end up
missing each other.
Get up at 7.30. Decide to go back to bed for another hour. Martin makes
coffee. Séamas calls from Paris to ask if there is a dinner tonight.
No, the dinners will begin next Sunday. Leave for the Film Festival Press
Centre where I check email and attempt to get a ticket for this afternoon's
Al Gore film. But all have been distributed. Today is Willie Milliken's
birthday. He has suggested I pass the Sheraton Hotel this afternoon and
join him and a few others for a drink.
Walk to the Traverse and give Emma
Pirie a copy of Workers and Natalie Ibu a copy of White Washing
Fences. Thank them both for all the kindness and courtesy they have
shown me the past three weeks. Chat with the ticket-sellers and one tells
me that she comes to Paris next week. I suggest she give me a call and
I will take her out to dine.
Now I slowly make my way to Charlotte
Square. Pause in front of the Caledonian Hotel and purchase a doughnut
from Don. We chat briefly. Visit with Olivier, Frances and Clare. Thank
them for all their kindness and courtesy to me. See Robbie Jack and Gordon
Wright and we chat briefly. See Catherine Lockerbie and give her Rainer's
Walk down to Randolph Crescent for
the Sunday brunch chez the Prossers. They are so kind to throw their home
open to so many people every year. Long may they continue to do so! William
and Vanessa's son, David, and his pregnant wife, Polly, greet me. Vanessa
serves a fish chowder that is absolutely delicious. I have two bowls.
As always, see lots of people I know and meet lots of new people as well.
John Calder, Sheila Colvin, Mona and Michael Shea, Astrid Silins, Veronique
and Magnus Linklater, James Dunbar-Nasmith, Sheila Brock and so many friends
are here. Talk a long time with the beautiful Limma Hannesdottir and the
handsome Nicholas Groves Raines. One new person I meet just as we both
are about to leave. She is a tall beauty from Australia named Sheridan
Humphreys. She seems to be the Head of PR for something called ediacom.
Astrid and I walk along Queen Street
in the bright morning sunshine. The weather has been fantastic this year.
Not much rain either. We turn into Frederick Street and run into Toby
Gough. What a sweetheart he is! He introduces me to several people and
we talk about meeting later. Alas it does not happen. Toby always seems
to be directing a number of productions that involve performers from Cuba
and Ceylon. His productions are full of joy reflecting his own full of
life personality. Hooray for Toby!
Roddy Martine calls me via my mobile.
He managed to get my number from Sheila Colvin. He invites me to join
him and Steve Ross at Andrew Brown's place in Abercrombie Place. I get
into action and am soon with them. Andrew is an excellent host and introduces
me to everyone. It feels funny to be meeting Steve Ross for the first
time. After listening to his CD, I Won't Dance, I feel that I know
him already. We have a good talk and I tell him how much I enjoyed his
performance last night. He says that he will be coming in September to
Paris after a trip to Poland. (And he does and we meet again!) I have
to be at the Book Fair, so I thank Andrew and Roddy and rush to the Book
At 6.46 attend, with Stephanie Wolfe-Murray,
John Calder's semi-theatrical lecture concerning the life and literary
output of Samuel Beckett in the Peppers Theatre in the Book Festival.
He is assisted by the actor, Derek Watson. John and Derek are both superb.
A great event. I wish that Catherine Lockerbie had been present.
We dash afterwards to Pizza Express in Stockbridge
and a bunch of us sit at a round table.I worry that I will be late for
the Al Gore lecture, so ask if my pizza can be a take-away. Excuse myself
and slip out to find a taxi. One finally arrives and says that he will
not take me with food. But I manage to talk him into it. He delivers me
to Charlotte Square with a few minutes to spare and I give him a big tip.
So we are both happy. Manage to wolf down half the pizza and to store
the rest in the Spiegeltent. Manage to be the last one inside the Main
Theatre. The place is packed. Find a seat in front of Frances Sutton,
Alasdair Riley and his pretty daughter, Tess. It is an outstanding performance.
One cannot but wonder what the past eight years would
have been like if Gore had been the President. He is articulate, well-informed,
passionate, and charming. Afterwards I contemplate buying his new book
in order to shake his hand, but I have promised Carmen Raya-Vargas that
I would be at the Bongo Club tonight to give out a Tap Water Award. And
it is almost 11 p.m., so I cannot linger any longer in Charlotte Square.
Find a taxi and I am soon deposited.
Everyone is in a good mood. This small group of individuals have successfully
chased The Perrier Awards away from Edinburgh. Nestle, the parent company
who control Perrier, produce a powered milk that they sell in the Third
World and discourage mothers from giving their babies the natural milk
from their own bodies. I am asked to give an Award and to say a few words.
Carmen and the others are full of good cheer and warmth. It is a delightful
ceremony. I am home and in my bed about 3 a.m.
Ruth brings coffee to me in bed and announces she has made a table reservation
tonight for Fishers in the City for four people tonight at 9. Maybe Carrie
might like to join us. After I am up and dressed, I call Sheila Colvin
and tell her I will pass about noon today to collect the box that I was
going to send to Paris in John Calder's car and that now I have decided
to post. Walk slowly to Stockbridge and have another coffee (with a bacon
roll) in the Italian Home Kitchen. Later walk to Ann Street and think
of Gwen, Victor, David and Lizzie McDougall (at No. 28) and Giles Gordon
(at No. 6). Dear friends. On to Oxford Terrace and ring the bell at Sheila
Colvin's. Both Sheila and John Calder are busy writing - Sheila on a computer
and John on an old portable typewriter. Refuse Sheila's offer for more
coffee. John drives me and the large package to Stockbridge post office
and I am surprised by the large fee demanded (almost 37 pounds) for posting
the box to Paris. But I pay it nevertheless. No real choice.
John buys some drawing pencils and
then we collect Sheila and drive to Rutland Square for lunch in the Scottish
Arts Club. We manage to see Virginia Fraser just as she is departing somewhere
on her bicycle. Lunch is excellent. Sit with David Black and he tells
me that he passed his recent essay, The Eagle and the Thistle,
to Al Gore last night. David also suggests that I see Zelda which
is starting within fifteen minutes in the Grassmarket. Sheila tells me
she will treat my lunch and that I am to dash. Try to find a taxi, but
in the end walk all the way and arrive a few minutes late. Alas I am not
allowed inside. It is a pity, but that is the way it is.
Walk up West Bow to the Scottish National
Library and decide to see the John James Audubon exhibition. And it is
excellent. Now I am pleased that I was refused entrance into Zelda. When
I was a young lad, living in Shreveport, Louisiana, I joined the John
James Audubon Society and was an avid ornithologist.
Taxi to Charlotte Square and see Olivier,
Frances and Clare. Thank them for being so kind and wonderful to me these
past two weeks. Tell them they must come to Paris and let me spoil them.
Then see Fenn and Catherine Lockerbie and tell them that both the Al Gore
and John Calder events were extremely valuable. Thank Catherine and congratulate
her. Meet Faith Liddell and we make a date to lunch tomorrow at Blue,
the restaurant above the Traverse, at 1 p.m.
Attend Michael Shea's talk at 15.30.
Stephanie Wolfe-Murray, John Calder, Mona and Katriona Shea, and many
other friends also present. As expected, Michael is an excellent speaker
and everyone is happy with his talk. Go to the signing tent afterwards
and purchase his new book, The Freedom Years, and get him to sign
it. He tells me I do not have to purchase it, that he will give me a copy,
but I insist. Sit and talk a while with Katriona about Pennsylvania and
about her delightful fella.
Not sure why, but I elect to see Passion
in Ricky Demarco's Rocket venue at 6 p.m. Purchase a ticket and stand
in the queue. There are two people from India standing behind me and I
engage them in conversation. Both Ajesh Ramachandran and Swati Maheshwari
are television journalists. They live in New Delhi and are in Britain
courtesy of the British Council. We sit together inside and talk and talk.
Afterwards we are all three a bit disappointed in the production. As much
as I like Stephen Sondheim and consider him to be one of the outstanding
talents in contemporary musical theatre, the piece does not work for me.
Maybe my expectations were too high. Ricky Demarco suggests I stay for
the next production, but I tell him that I cannot. He says he wants to
discuss something important with me and gives me a mobile number to call
Walk with Swati and Ajesh to Négociant's
for more talk and drinks afterwards. Tell them I will be attending the
Kolkata Film Festival in November and then journey up to New Delhi afterwards.
Cards are exchanged. I try to pay for our drinks but they will not let
me. They tell me to call them in November and I tell them to call me whenever
they come to Paris.
Find a taxi and rush to Great King
Street. Deposit some items upstairs and then join Ruth and Martin downstairs.
In another taxi we ride the short distance to 58 Thistle Street and Fishers
in the City. Learn that Carrie cannot join us. Discover that we have a
table for four next to Sheila Colvin and John Calder (who also have a
table for four). Their two guests cannot join them, so we all elect to
dine together. And it is a great final evening. Delicious dinner, lovely
waitress ( Kylie from Brisbane) and wonderful conversation. We are five
full and contented individuals. I slip away and pay the bill. John, Sheila,
Ruth and Martin are always extremely generous with me, so it is appropriate
that I treat them this evening. I chat briefly in Spanish with a table
next to ours with several generations having dinner together. John (and
Sheila) will drive Ruth and Martin home, but I elect to stay up a bit
longer and see what trouble I can find.
Walk to the Assembly Club Bar and
encounter Steven Gove. He introduces me to the new Festival Director,
Jonathan Mills. We three have a superb talk. I like Jonathan immediately
and wish him well in his new position. I keep wanting to tell him to use
Steven Gove as an advisor. I also want to suggest Faith Liddell and Sheila
Colvin to him. I have the feeling that the Edinburgh Festival is going
to be even better than ever next year.
Talk briefly with Andrew Brown and
thank him for the wee lunch I had yesterday afternoon in his home. I also
meet and talk with a Tom, who attended the same lunch. Talk briefly with
a couple from Manhattan. His name is John Clancy and he directed Midnight
Cowboy in the Assembly Rooms. But I cannot remember his wife's name.
Say good bye to Bill Burdett-Coutts
and thank him for another fantastic festival.
Walk down Frederick Street, a tired
but happy fellow.
Up at 7.30 and make my own cup of coffee. See Carrie and we chat briefly.
She is a lovely lady. See Brian and his brother, Andrew. Quickly shave,
shower, shampoo, dress and pack. My last day in Edinburgh. I fly late
this afternoon for home. Slowly make my way by bus to my rendez-vous with
Faith Liddell at Blue. She and I have a glorious lunch and we discuss
the festival, the many friends we have in common, the next time she will
come to Paris, the new festival director and so many more topics. We talk
about her apartment in Leith. She tells me she met Jonathan Mills in Australia
and that she likes him. I tell her that I met him last night via Steven
Gove and that I found him to be charming and friendly. I also tell her
that I wanted to suggest to him that he look to Faith, to Sheila and to
Steven as possible advisers. We also talk about Ramona Koval and Catherine
Lockerbie. Faith insists upon treating our lunch. What a sweetheart she
is! She drives me to 84 Great King Street and I hug her and thank her.
Tell her to come to Paris soon. Go upstairs to collect my bag and call
a taxi. Thank Martin for being so hospitable. Insist he accept a few pounds
toward the household expenses. And then it is time to go. My 50th festival!
The driver drops me at Waverly Station
and I board the air port bus. Sit and talk with a couple from Bristol
who are flying home after another Edinburgh Festival. Then it is time
to check-in for the flight. I cannot take the new film festival umbrella
into the plane, so give it to the woman at the check-in counter. Upstairs
we are make to take off our shoes, belt and have our carry-on bag checked.
All very different from the Pan Am flight I made from Houston to Caracas
long ago in the 1940s. It took almost three days. No hysteria. No checks
of any kind. No paranoia. We live in sad and troubled times. Learn that
AF5053 flight to Paris scheduled to depart at 18.15 is an hour late. In
the end it is a quick and smooth flight. Collect my bag and go outside
to find a taxi. There is a small queue. A woman in front of me says in
English that I can go ahead of her because she wants to finish her cigarette.
I ask her if she would like to share a taxi into Paris. She says why not.
On the way, learn that her father is American and her mother is French,
that she lives in the 7eme, that she has been in Scotland with her boyfriend.
Drop her in the Blvd St. Germain and she insists upon contributing 25
euros. Give her an invitation to a Sunday dinner and she says that she
would like to attend. Her name is, Lauren, I think. Soon the driver pulls
up in front of 83 rue de la Tombe Issoire. Give him a big tip. Inside
I find a super clean atelier. Olga Kovshanova greets me warmly. My room
looks great - thanks to Anna Skochilenko. Lots of messages, letters, and
email. There is a woman staying whose name is Giselle Ty and she is from
California (via the Philippines). She and Olga met via the internet. It
feels so good to be home. The Edinburgh Festival is one of the great events
in the world. It brings so many people so much joy. It would be great
if every city in the world had a festival like Edinburgh's. Certainly
more fun than a rocket attack.
Now I have started writing this
the first day of September. Last night seven women stayed here: Olga,
Giselle, Lucia Bobacheva, her mother, Ira, her aunt, Tanya plus Jesper's
friends, Nym Punlopruksa and Sirima Boonalert (both from Thailand). Ward
Campbell and Stephanie Hills are scheduled to arrive Sunday and Jesper,
my son, arrives on Monday. Lucia, Ira and Tanya depart shortly and Giselle
flies to NYC on Monday. Lots of coming and going.
I will attend another Frankfurt
Book Fair in October. It does look like I will attend the Kolkata Film
Festival from November 6th to 23rd with Antonia Hoogewerf. (I have already
purchased my ticket.) Maybe Stanley Cohen will join us. Even Séamas
McSwiney is talking about going to Kolkata. John Flattau comes to Europe
October 13th and wants me to travel with him to Sevilla. I still want
to go to Lodz, to Warsaw, to Lvov, to Kiev and to Odessa. But when? Maybe
I am still fighting Emile-the-Rat.
My only victory in this long struggle is his disbarment in France. He
is no longer a lawyer in France or in the USA. A small victory for humankind.
But he has managed to acquire thousands of euros from me that I suspect
I will never be able to get back. Recently I had to pay this Bastard 53,000
euros and he is demanding a further 200,000 or more euros. It looks like
I might have to sell my home next year to pay this Rat. If I had never
walked into his office, I would have $300,000 or more in my bank account.
As it is now, I am broke. But life is too short to grieve. Living well
is the best revenge as F. Scott Fitzgerald once said (or so I believe).
My health is OK. My spirits are high. I plan to attend another fifty Edinburgh
Festivals. Carpe diem
83 rue de la tombe Issoire,