Jim Haynes newsletters

Newsletter No. 672

Edinburgh Festival
6 to 30 August 2007

Jim in Edinburgh

Monday, August 6th: Lunch with Galina Prokhorova and Lucy Allwood. Galina will cook the next Sunday dinner, the 2nd of September. Go to my bank and deposit two small checks and some cash. Visit briefly with Vincent Pierrot at the Village Voice Bookshop. Call Antonia Hoogewerf and we arrange to meet at our travel agency. Taxi to visit briefly with Michael Zwerin and am pleased to see that he is in top form. Book my flight to India in November and leave a deposit for the ticket. Dine with Antonia at the Zimmer in the evening.

Tuesday, 7th: Collect Varda Ducovny at 10.45 and we ride in the glorious morning sunshine to the Gare du Nord. Immediately on departing the taxi, run into Remy van Heezik. We speak briefly and he tells me that he and Jack do not communicate with one another. That's sad. Varda and I clear French and British passport controls, have a quick coffee and are soon rolling towards London. Hooray for Eurostar! We sit near a young Harry Potter look-alike who chats loudly with his precocious sister. We elect to move further away, but still hear them. Ksenia is at Waterloo to greet us. After introductions, we pile into a taxi and race towards Marble Arch. We drop Varda at her hotel and continue to Ksenia's apartment which is almost directly opposite Paddington Station. Her flat is a bit of a mess because she is re-painting it. She declines going to Ernie Eban's tonight because she has a lot to do. She thanks me again for bringing her photographs and reports it is not a problem to host me. I accept.
Walk the short distance to Ernie's place and find he is sitting with his sister, Jeanette Petrushkim and brother-in-law, Mark. They are in the process of selling their mother's home. They soon leave us and Ernie and I start calling people regarding tonight's Indian take-away dinner. Ernie's nephew, Harry Petrushkim, arrives and the three of us walk to Queensway. Harry helps me to purchase a Nokia mobile phone. It costs only 20 pounds plus ten pounds of start-up charges. Next we purchase a small case of French wine for tonight. He puts it on his visa card and I contribute 20 pounds in cash. Back at Ernie's, our guests begin to arrive. We are six men: Ernie, myself, Hercules Bellville, Colin Stills, Harry, Alex Kan. And ten women: Varda Ducovny, her friend Karen Harms, Joan Bakewell, Fern Stills, Mary Clemmey, Yelena Durden-Smith, Sylvia Libedinsky, Natasha Morgan, Claire Downs, and Georgina with Yelena. We order a large take-away from Khan's and it is delivered fairly quickly. Needless to say, it is delicious. It's a great evening and everyone seems to enjoy it. Yelena is still upset. Her husband, Jo, and my and Ernie's friend, recently left life. Joan and I discuss the Edinburgh Festival. Fairly late, everyone begins to drift off. I walk in the pouring rain to Sylvia's car and she drops me at Ksenia's flat. Wet, tired and happy, I fall into bed. Ksenia sleeps in her room.

Wednesday, 8th: Up early. Coffee and a bagel with butter and honey downstairs. Purchase today's Independent because Joan reported last night that she has a weekly column in it, but it is not there. (Later she tells me it is on Fridays). Purchase a new New Yorker. Upstairs discover that Ksenia is up and about to head East to her new pub, the Islington Tap. She has recently become the part-owner and manager. Give her copies of White Washing Fences and Everything Is! She says that she has enjoyed Thanks for Coming! We agree to meet at the Islington Tap about 6.30 this evening. I call Ernie and we speak of last night's dinner party. We both feel it was a big success. He tells me that Mary Clemmey left a coat, that she will pass this evening to collect it. I know that Mary is extremely busy and that she is departing for a long weekend in Paris. Since I have no appointments today, maybe I can return her coat. Walk to Ernie's, call Mary and she is pleased that I will be delivering the coat to her. She says she will feed me lunch. Leave Ernie and walk to a newsagent, purchase a tube/bus day pass ($10) and take a tube to Kentish Town. Short walk to Mary's home and office. Her assistant, Niadmh Walsh, welcomes me. Mary soon joins us. Instead of the promised sandwiches, it has been decided that Mary will take the afternoon off and take me someplace exciting. In the car, driving toward Hampstead Heath, Mary tells me a great deal about her family. The first place Mary had selected is closed for re-painting. Nevertheless we have a brief inspection tour and the place is truly lovely. Her second selection is Kenwood House and Estate, located on the other side of the Heath. The place is a gift to the nation from a titled 18th century aristocrat. The view of London, spread out below us, is spectacular. The house and grounds are impressive. In my five years living in London, I rarely left Covent Garden to travel this far North. Mary guides me to a table outside and we leave our coats and ask the three people sitting nearby to keep an eye on them for us. Inside we both select sausages and veggies. Mary insists upon treating me. (Hooray for liberated ladies!) The pretty blonde, Anna, is from Lodz in Poland. I tell her she is lovely. Back at our table, Mary reports there is a fellow busy writing at a table near us. I ask him if he is a poet and it seems he is. Give him a newsletter and invite him to dine when he is next in Paris. His name is Sasi and he writes in Urdu. His wife is from Germany and their daughter is English. Mary reports that her great grandmother was a Parsee. I mention that my son, Jesper, has a Swedish mother, an American father and that he was born in Edinburgh. When Mary and I go for dessert, I give Anna a newsletter and invite her to dine in Paris. Afterwards Mary and I examine the Rembrandt self-portrait inside Kenwood House. We both know that our dear departed friend, Sally Belfrage, collected postcards of Rembrandt's self-portraits. Mary wishes to drop off a birthday present to her nephew's son and I elect to ride with her. His home is opposite Midge Mackenzie's old home. I am introduced to her nephew, Hugh, and to his son, Alfie. I suggest she drop me near a tube station that would take me to Islington. She reports we are in Islington. She drops me opposite the King's Head and I almost find myself attending an afternoon performance. Instead, after my pineapple juice, I walk to 8 Duncan Terrace to call upon Jay and Fran Landesmann. Their son, Miles, opens the door and gives me a warm welcome. Jay has just gone out for a walk, but Fran and I are soon talking about the "good old days". I remember the many wonderful moments spent here with her and Jay and friends. I tell her about Michael Zwerin and his amazing recovery. We also talk about Hanja Kochansky. Fran is pure joy. In our lively conversation, she quotes from many of her recent poems. She is extremely talented and productive. Words just roll out. We speak of other friends including Tutte Lemkov, Jack Moore. Suddenly Jay appears. He and I go downstairs to his cave and we talk and talk and talk. He tells me his age and I cannot believe it. He is handsome and vital and full of life. His birthday is the 15th of July and I tell him that we have a big parade down the Champs-Elysées every 14th of July to honor him. We talk of Michael Zwerin, of Michael Neal, of Hanja, of Ernie Eban, of the 60s in London and all the fun we had. We talk of projects and when I mention that I am trying to purchase a small hotel in Paris, he wants to be involved.
It is time for me to meet Ksenia. I hug Jay a fond farewell and thank him and Fran for the dinner invitation, then slip away. Walk to Therberton Street and I arrive at the Islington Tap. I am impressed. I do not like pubs, but I like the Islington Tap. It looks superb. Ksenia joins me, shows me around the place and then we have an excellent dinner in the pub. Of course she will not let me pay. She introduces me to a very nice fellow named Evgeny Romanov and I suggest he come and dine the next time he is in Paris. I am also introduced to an attractive young woman named Elina. Her father is the person who purchased the pub and who asked Ksenia to run it. Ksenia and I slip away, find a bus that goes toward Paddington, and ride most of the way there. Then we walk for a while and later catch another bus to her flat. I fall into bed exhausted.

Thursday, 9th: Up very early. Ksenia sleeps. Go downstairs. Purchase a Guardian and go to a different café for a morning coffee and a pastry. And there is another pretty waitress from Poland. Give her a big tip. Outside a young woman asks me for information. Francine has just arrived from New York City and it is her first visit to London. She wants to change dollars and I take her to the place Ksenia has recommended. Give her a newsletter about the Sunday dinners and she tells me her father is a chef at the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan. We talk about him and Dorothy Parker. When I get back to the flat, discover Ksenia is up and out. Call Ernie and get his answering machine. Call Mary Clemmey and we talk about our day together. We talk about Ksenia's pub and about Mary's upcoming trip to Paris. Call Hercules Bellville next and he is in a meeting and he asks if I can call him again in thirty minutes. Get a call from Kostas in Paris and he reports his mother has arrived. Get another call from Paris from Jill Emery. She is looking for two English-speaking actors to make voice-overs for a documentary and I suggest Phyllis Roome and Geoffrey Bateman. (Later when I am back in Paris, Phyllis calls to tell me that she did, in fact, do the voice-over). Call Hercules again and he suggests we meet at 14.30 at Bertorelli in Charlotte Street. OK, not a problem. I remember that Sonia Orwell used to have a flat in Charlotte Street. Also Arnold Linken used to be a doctor in a VD clinic in Charlotte Street. After a check-up, he and I would often go for lunch.
Ksenia returns. I have a quick shave, shower and shampoo. She cooks corn on the cob and I have one. Ksenia goes for a shower. I go out for a walkabout. Elect to have a pannini and a coffee latte in the Caffé Nero. Massimo, who makes it, is super nice.
Bus to Oxford Street and walk to Charlotte Street. At 14.30, I head for the meeting with Hercules. He is sitting with Lizzie Franke. Herc introduces us. Copies of White Washing Fences and Everything Is! are produced for him and a copy of the Chicago Tribune article for her. Lots of talk about the June date for next year's Edinburgh Film Festival. Both Hercules and I prefer the August date, but Lizzie supports the new change. It is soon time for them to depart. I head slowly to Soho Square and then continue to John Calder's bookshop in The Cut, across from the Young Vic. I talk with Margaret Jaquess and learn it is not the programme I thought it was going to be. (A dramatized reading of Pietro Aretino's The School of Whoredom and The Secret Life of Nuns). End up buying a copy of both books. I also purchase Christine Wallace's biography of Germaine Greer, Untamed Shrew. Margaret says she will be attending the Edinburgh Festival once again. Tonight it's Jim McManus' one-man show, recreating one of Charles Dickens' famous lectures. Go up the street to the Café Nero and the woman behind the counter is a great beauty. Needless to say Ania is from N.E. Poland. I tell her she is beautiful, but suspect she is well aware of it. Give her the Chicago Tribune article and invite her to dine in Paris. Tell her I edited a guide book to Poland, but I do not think she is impressed.
Back to the bookshop for the evening's event. Sit next to Dedwydd Jones and he tells me his daughter is a photographer and living in Paris. John O'Mahony arrives with his wonderful wife, Masha. Afterwards we three find an empty and quiet Indian restaurant, The Southbank Tandoori, where we can talk and catch up with news and plans. John and Masha are about to depart London for a long voyage that will include China, Japan and other countries in South East Asia. Dinner is delicious, but suddenly the restaurant fills and we can barely hear one another. The noise level is deafening. John insists upon treating our dinner. And it had been my intention to take them out. We walk to Waterloo and they head South East and I go on the Bakerloo Line to Paddington. Ksenia sleeps. I do the same soon.

Friday, 10th: Once again up early. Quickly dress and pack. Write a thank you note for Ksenia. Slip out of the flat and find a taxi straight away. When I get to Kings X, try to change my ticket to get an earlier train. But it seems to be impossible. Finally at 10.30, I manage to board and we are on our way. Sit and read all the way. There is a fellow with a dog sitting a short distance away. When we arrive in Edinburgh Waverly, he asks me if I am Jim Haynes. When I reply in the affirmative, he says that he is Damian Cruden. Damn it to hell. We could have talked all the way to Edinburgh. Damian created a fantastic fringe production during the 1987 festival based on the life of Marlene Dietrich. It was the last production I managed to see that festival. I loved it so much that I ended up taking the production to a small theatre in Paris where it had a successful short run. Anne Marie Timoney was simply great playing Marlene. And every night after the performance, we would party with the performers from the Alcazar. What great fun we had. Damian and I talk briefly because he has another train to catch, but he promises to call me when he comes again to Edinburgh next week.
Taxi to Great King Street. Find notes from Martin Burke. He and Ruth have gone to London and will be back Sunday night. There is a note on the door telling me where to find a key. Soon I am inside, back in my old room. Make a few telephone calls. Talk with Sheila Colvin and she suggests we dine tonight about 8 at Lancers in Stockbridge with John Calder and his sister, Betty. Try to find Steven Sapota. In the end, am semi-successful. Decide to try and rush to the Underbelly Theatre to catch Ed Hamell's "Hamell on Trial - The Terrorism (Of Everyday Life)". Rush out and bus to the Underbelly ticket office. There I am told it is in the Underbelly Theatre in Cowgate. Rush there. The young woman, Penny Sims, in the press office is super nice and minutes later I am looking for a place to sit in a crowded theatre. Spot Keith Bruce, the Arts Editor of The Herald, and he motions that there is a spot near him. Keith introduces me to someone, but Ed's performance is about to begin, and I fail to get the person's name. Ed is over the top excellent. Articulate and funny. The hour flies by. When it is over, I stick around to meet Steven and Ed. See James Seabright. He and I met here at the Festival in 2005. James seems to be the U.K. producer of Ed's show. I tell him how much I have enjoyed Ed's performance. Spot a fellow I assume to be Steven and I am right. Introduce myself and he expresses his pleasure of seeing me at the performance. Ed Hamell comes out and we are introduced. He gets lots of congratulations.
I have a date to meet John Calder, Sheila Colvin and Betty Calder at Lancer's. So rush out. Hail a taxi and am soon there. We have a feast. I try to pay for our dinner, but John insists that it is his treat.
They drop me at the Assembly Rooms and one of the first people I encounter is Jon Beeby. I give him Sheila's greetings. He gives me a Club Bar pass. Chat with the two young women guarding the Club Bar, Amy and Olivia. See Rich Hall and we exchange greetings. See Fiona Evans and we exchange embraces. Then elect to have an early night.

Claudia Monteiro, Frances Sutton, Peggy Hughes. Photograph ©Murdo MacLeod
Claudia Monteiro, Frances Sutton, Peggy Hughes. Photograph ©Murdo MacLeod

Saturday, 11th: Taxi to Charlotte Square. My name is shouted as I exit. It is Sheila Colvin and Betty Calder. Cross the street and give them warm embraces. On my way to the Press Pod, bump into Jenny Brown and we exchange brief greetings. She is with Candia McWilliam. Jenny will introduce her in the Spiegeltent, the first event to start the Book Festival. Inside the Press Pod, meet Peggy Hughes, one of Frances Sutton's new assistants. Peggy is from Northern Ireland, but has been studying at St. Andrews University. She gives me my Book Festival press pass. Frances arrives and we exchange kisses. I am introduced to Claudia Monteiro, another press assistant. Claudia and I have exchanged email messages. Claudia passes me a ticket for the William Dalrymple talk, Focus on India, at 11.30 in the RBS Main Theatre. I miss Olivier Joly who has moved to be a Press Officer at the Film Festival. But these three women are a dynamite team. Beauty, intelligence and sensitivity in abundance! Plus they are fun.
Walk to the Signing Tent and read the London Review of Books (one of the sponsors of the Book Festival along with The Times and the Royal Bank of Scotland). Spot Gabor and Lois Ronay and they join me. We talk about the festival and mutual friends until it is time for me to join the queue for William Dalrymple's talk. Meet Melina Maclean in the queue; she was Antonia Hoogewerf's hostess in 2005. She asks about Antonia and I ask that my best wishes to sent to her husband, Alex. William Dalrymple is superb. He delivers a spell-binding talk, full of insights and meaning. The audience is captivated. I would love to meet him and almost purchase a book in order to tell him how much I enjoy his creative output. I suspect we have dozens of mutual friends. I know that William is a friend of Chris and Ann Thompson. But it will happen one of these days. He gave a talk in Calcutta when I was in the city last November but I learned about it after it happened. A brief encounter with Faith Liddell and Ramona Koval. Congratulate Faith on her new position. Ask Ramona if she is staying in William Street once again. She is.
Leave the Book Festival and walk up George Street. Almost bump into David Steel. We pause and chat a bit. Continue to Hanover Street where Anne Goring shouts to me from her car. She asks if I am free for lunch. Yes, but I would like to get my Bus Pass now that I am here. Anne kindly says she will wait. A few minutes later and forty pounds less and I have my pass. We ride to Patisserie Florentin and there is a round table full of people waiting for us. Samir Mehanovic and Robert MacFarland I know already. I am introduced to a couple. Her name is Patrice Aggs and she is from America. I think Detroit. Her husband is English and his name is Chris Aggs. He is a painter. Their son, John, is about to create a cartoon, I think, in The Guardian.
After lunch, short walk to 84 Great King Street for a wee rest. Bus to George Street and meet another Polish beauty in the bus. Change 400 euros into pounds. Continue to High Street and get my Fringe Festival Press Pass. Walk to the Elephant House and have a hot chocolate. Back to the Book Festival. Encounter Edmund White and we exchange greetings. Peggy walks me to the queue for the 19.30 event, Writers of the World: Naim Araidi (Arab-Israeli), Seyhan Erozcelik (Turkish), Fatma Naoot (Egyptian) and Amie Oz (Israli). One of the great joys of the Book Festival is the opportunity to hear new voices from all corners of the world. Another is the chance encounters. Sit with a delightful woman from Edinburgh. Her name is Sarah Oliver. She has lived and traveled extensively especially in the Middle East. We go to the Signing Tent to have a drink and to continue our conversation. Robert MacFarlane joins us.

The Book Festival opening party has started in the Spiegeltent. Go over to see a few friends. First spot Michael and Mona Shea. They are with Faith Liddell and with Karen Koren, the Artistic Director of the Gilded Balloon. Learn that Karen is also from Norway. I have never seen her so out-going. She gives me her card and invites me to call upon her. See Leslie Hills who introduces me to Lee Randall. Learn that Lee is the Assistant Editor of The Scotsman (for Magazine and Arts). Talk briefly with Ron Butlin and his pretty wife, Regi. Also with Jenny Brown's fella, Sandy Richardson. Also chat with James Mackintosh and ask him about Mary Shields. A superb party.
Slip away and walk to the Assembly Rooms and sit with Bill Burdett-Coutts and his wife, Fiona. Am introduced to Bill's sister, Diana, who lives in Zimbabwe. She and I have a long discussion about life there. Embrace Mary Shields (who I adore). See Steven Gove. Steven tells me there will be an Aussie drag queen show downstairs in the Supper Room. I go down and sit with John Ritchie and his wife, Catriona. Also greet Fiona Evans and learn she has a production here in the Assemble Rooms entitled Scarborough.
William Burdett-Coutts, photograph R.R.
William Burdett-Coutts
artistic director of the Assembly Rooms
Sunday, 12th: Up at 9. Make coffee. Shave and shower. Try to call Angela Bartie in Glasgow to wish her birthday greetings, but have her old number. Also try to call Astrid Silins. Again no luck. But succeed with Michael and Mona Shea. We talk about last night's Book Festival opening party and make a date to have lunch on Tuesday. Taxi to the Scottish Arts Club in Rutland Square for John Calder's talk. Sit with Sheila Colvin and Betty Calder. John's talk is on George Thomson, an 18th century Scottish enlightenment figure, who commissioned Beethoven and other composers on the Continent to set music to Robert Burns and various Scottish poets. His talk features several student singers and a pianist. When it is over, I talk with Claire Colvin, Paul Harris and David Black. Afterwards stroll over to the Traverse and learn from Emma Pirie that Natalie Ibu is no longer with the Traverse. Andy Catlin makes a few suggestions of productions I must see. Go downstairs to the Traverse restaurant and have haggis for lunch. Sit next to a journalist from Dublin. His name is Brian O'Connell. He joins me and we discuss the early Traverse and the fact that I date the beginning of the Traverse to 1960, the first productions in my bookshop, The Paperback. He knows Max Stafford-Clark and I tell him how I came to invite Max to direct a revue in the bookshop. We also talk about Jonathan Philbin Bowman and his tragic death. I have apple pie for dessert. An Irish actress joins us and we are introduced. Alas I cannot remember her name.
Go upstairs and order tickets from Emma Pirie for two Traverse productions for next Thursday. Walk to Charlotte Square and meet Olivier Joly at the entrance to Book Festival. We chat about his new life as a press officer for the Film Festival and the fact that the Film Festival will move from August to June in 2008. I wonder if I will go two times yearly to Edinburgh. It would certainly mean that I would become more deeply involved with the Film Festival. Maybe that is a good idea.

See Claudia Monteiro in the Press Pod and she gives me a ticket for Sarfraz Manzoor who will be reading from his autobiography, Greetings from Bury Park, at 14.30 in the Pepper Theatre. It's an interesting talk. Ruth Wishart is in the chair. She reports enjoying his book. I end up buying a copy when he signs his book in the bookshop tent. Give Astrid a call and she will come to the Book Festival to collect me. Sit in the Press Pod and chat with Frances, Claudia and Peggy. Three fantastic ladies! The Norman Mailer event is sold out and Claudia apologizes that there are no more tickets. I tell her it is not a problem. Only Norman might be upset if I am not there. (Only kidding!) Norman is in America and he will be interviewed "live" via closed-circuit TV by Andrew O'Hagan here in Charlotte Square. I tell Claudia that I co-organized the first Edinburgh International Writers' Conference with John Calder and Sonia Orwell - way back in 1962. Seventy novelists attended including Norman Mailer, Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell, Mary McCarthy, Angus Wilson. Alex Trocchi, William Burroughs, Kushwant Singh, Niccolo Tucci, Cees Nooteboom, Alek Stefanovic, etc etc. I also have corresponded with Norman and dined with him in Cannes. Also attended his session when he was last in Edinburgh a few years ago. We met and talked then So I do not have to be there today.
Meet Robin Hodge and we talk about The List. I ask him about Jamie Byng. He tells me about an open-air screening of the Zidane film behind the National Gallery at the Mound.
Astrid calls. She cannot find a parking place. She is out front. I tell her I will be right out. At first I do not spot her. It is because she has a new car. The old blue Batmobile is no more. It is being sold. Her new car is spectacular. And I am someone who does not like cars. We drive down to her home in Leith. Astrid has just come from Waverley Station where she left her beautiful daughter to catch a train to London. Astrid learns that Clara got on a train to Aberdeen, discovered she was on the wrong train and managed to get off just before the train left the station. Now she is on the train to London. Astrid serves me a nice cuppa tea plus delicious Latvian black bread and Dutch cheese. And we have a long catch-up talk. Then I go out to get a bus to the High Street. Talk, in French, with two lads from Paris who are also waiting for the bus. They are performing Score, at Aurora Nova. I tell them that I will come and see their show. Alas I fail to make it.
Stick my head into Creeler's and learn it is Fran's night off. Walk to my dinner date with Steven Sapota and Ed Hamell. And I arrive at 19.00 hours, on time. Ed has just finished his performance. They introduce me to Richard Hurst and he will join us. We end up going to an Indian restaurant in Victoria Street for a feast. Lots of festival talk. Ed and Steven tell me not to miss a singer named Meow Meow who is performing in George Square at 23.00 nightly. Steven treats us all. He needs an early night because he flies to Switzerland at the crack of dawn tomorrow. Thanks, Steven, I owe you one!
I wander down to the Assembly Rooms. Meet Steven Gove and his lovely mum, Carol. She looks young enough to be his sister. He and Carol go to an Italian restaurant in Hanover Street and I join them. The beautiful waitress from Poland is still there. Then I dash back to the Assembly Rooms to see a late night revue. Afterwards, Steven drops me at Great King Street in a taxi.

Monday, 13th: Up early and greet Brian Jones. Go out to Margiotta and purchase coffee, sugar, cereal, milk, the Guardian, the Scotsman, and Vanity Fair. And photocopy the Chicago Tribune article. Back to Great King street and talk with Ruth and Martin about dinner in the Thai restaurant tonight. Bus to Princes Street and sit next to a journalist from Madrid and we chat away in Spanish. Give him an invitation to a Sunday dinner. He thanks me and says that he will be moving to Paris in the autumn. Bus to the Film Festival Press Office and am too early Olivier Joly welcomes me, but tells me to come back at High Noon. Bus to Princes Street and walk to Charlotte Square and give Claudia and Peggy copies of White Washing Fences. Talk with Peggy about fullering. Catherine Lockerbie enters the Press Pod and we exchange warm greetings. Wish her much success with this year's Book Festival. She has been a great Director and this year's Festival looks better than ever. See Geraint Lewis and we talk about his wife, Mel, and their babies. Learn that he has already been thirteen days in Edinburgh. He has a colour photograph in today's Telegraph.
Taxi to the top of Johnston Terrace. Steven Gove has invited me to an interesting encounter of a number of Fringe Festival Directors: from Prague (Steven Gove), from Adelaide (Christie Anthony), from Montreal (Patrick Goodard), from Dublin (Wolfgang Hoffman), from Brighton (Holly Payton), and from Edinburgh (the new Director, Jon Morgan). See Steven straight away. He is inside a wee shop purchasing coffee and a bacon roll for his wonderful mum, Carol. I join him and get the same for myself. Go next door and encounter Wolfgang Hoffman and learn a bit about his experiences with the Dublin Fringe Festival. He sees me eating a bacon roll. I recommend it and he goes next door to get one for himself. Also see Michael from the Rocket venue. This meeting of Fringe Directors is interesting and reveals how large the Fringe Festival has evolved and is still evolving. I am proud of the role I have played in all this. At some point I contemplate asking a question or making a contribution of historical relevance. But in the end I say nothing. When it is over, I slip out and walk down the hill to Bread Street and the Film Festival Press Office. Get my press card and a bag of information. Use the wonderful computers and check my email and there are almost 900 messages. Mostly spam. But do get a message from Nilanjan Chatterjee, the Director of the Calcutta Film Festival. Answer all the important messages and manage to erase most of the spam. Olivier gives me a press screening schedule as well as the big fat Festival Programme.
Walk to Filmhouse and join a table with John Pavel, Willie Milliken, and Syd Kyman and I purchase drinks for everyone. Later Ailsa Hollinshead joins us.
Make my way to the Book Festival. Claudia produces a ticket for me for the novelists from Spain at 19.30 in the Writers' Retreat. Frances arrives and tells me how much she has enjoyed my little manifesto, Workers of the World, Unite and Stop Working! I explain my new verb and noun to Claudia. She realizes she has never "worked" in her life. Talk briefly with Peggy Hughes and she introduces me to her fella, Colin Fraser, and to a pretty blonde named Anna. There are only two novelists; one has had to cancel at the last minute. Paul Johnson is in the Chair and Finn Petch, who lives in Mexico, translates for one of the novelists.
Since I have a date with Ruth Holloway and Martin Burke in a Thai restaurant near my old home at 1, Doune Terrace, I must rush from the Book Festival. Walk quickly pass my old flat and remember all the good times there. I am the first to arrive. They come minutes later. We are soon having a feast. Thai food is delicious and this is an excellent restaurant. It is my treat of course. We walk the short distance back to 84 Great King Street - stuffed and happy!

Tuesday, 14th: Up at 7 and by 8.30 I have had coffee and cereal, talked with Ruth, with Liz Brock, and with a woman named Sandy. Call John Calder. He and Sheila will collect me downstairs at 10. Chat a bit with Martin Burke and then go downstairs and wait for John and Sheila. They arrive and when I get inside discover that Frank Dunlop is with us. What a nice surprise! In the very short ride to the National Portrait Gallery, Frank and I manage to exchange a lot of news.
We go upstairs and John, Sheila and I sit at three chairs facing a small gathering of friends. I see John Martin, Liz Brock, Paul Harris and others I know. Ricky makes a typical Rickesque introduction, mentioning almost everyone's name in the audience. He has a romantic flow that does not always have a 100% accuracy. Still it sounds good. Anyway everyone has their own "truth". Ricky, at least, dates the start of the Traverse with the opening of my Paperback Bookshop and Gallery in 1959. After the very long introduction, we three add brief remarks about the period and our roles in it. It's fun. And it is soon over. I walk to Great King Street and meet Paul Harris on the way. Paul reports he is moving back to East Lothian because the school system is better there for his daughter. Paul continues to the Oxford Bar and I pick up a bag of washing. Find a taxi and the driver, Noelle Nicol, takes me to the laundry near Sheila's old flat in Raeburn Place, waits while I leave it, then delivers me to Charlotte Square. Her taxi is No. 500 and she is a sweetheart Visit the Press Pod ladies. Suggest to Peggy that she should be running the U.N. Talk briefly with The Scotsman Literary Editor, David Robinson. Then stroll to the Signing Tent to meet Michael and Mona Shea.
We three wander out into George Street to find a quiet corner where we can talk and have a simple lunch. Tigerlily is selected. It is perfect to catch up with our lives since we last were together during last year's Festival. Lunch is excellent but our intimate exchanges are even better. I try to pick up the check, but Michael will not let me. I return to Charlotte Square.
See Philip Mackenzie and he reports that Rainer Kölmel will be staying with him during the next few days. We walk down Lothian Road, pass Filmhouse. I see Syd Kyman and try to introduce Philip to him, but they know each other of course. I walk to the Film Festival Press Center, but Olivier reports it is closed. Back to the Filmhouse and order a hot chocolate from the pretty Icelandic waitress. Tell her I once saw a movie so bad at the Cannes Film Festival that I announced to the world that we should not be watching this stupid film, that we should be in our hotel rooms making love. A woman nearby, stood up, said that she agreed with me and we left the cinema together and spent the afternoon in my hotel room in each other's arms. She was a Miss Iceland. An amazing story that I will never forget. Of course she wants to know the woman's name. But I do not kiss and tell. Take my hot chocolate to a nearby table and join Willie Milligan. James Mavor passes and tells me his father, Bingo Mavor, died recently in France. He further states that John Calder's has written an obituary that will appear in tomorrow's Scotsman. He and I talk a while about his father and I relate how much I admired and liked his father. A young "twin" of Bingo passes and it is James' son, Alexander. James calls him Zander. Life is certainly an extremely quick passage on Earth. Walk in the rain to the Cameo Cinema. Get a call from Sheila Colvin and tell her about Bingo Mavor. I know that John will want to know. Ask Sheila for Stephanie Wolfe-Murray's number in the country. Sheila tells me she enjoyed my talk this morning. That's nice. I tell her that I enjoyed her talk as well. And I did. I tell her that I think we were all good. Call Stephanie and we agree to meet at the Book Festival at 1 p.m. tomorrow. Bus to Great King Street, quickly pick up my jacket, cap and scarf, deposit my shoulder bag, and head for the bus stop. Start a conversation with a fellow and it turns out to be Richard Ireland. His father, Kenneth Ireland, was a friend of mine way back in the 60s when he was the Director of the Pitlochry Theatre Festival.
I wait outside the King's Theatre for Rona Thomson. She has kindly invited me to see a new version of The Bacchae by Euripides by David Greig tonight with her. Plus her sister, Alison, and brother-in-law, Sandy Ross. Alison and Sandy arrive and join me outside in the corner under the overhead structure. It is raining but we three manage to stay dry. It is getting dangerously close to curtain up and no sign of Rona. She calls, says she is in Princes Street and cannot find a taxi. At the very last possible minute, Rona arrives and we make our way to the stalls. I love the King's Theatre, but the leg room is extremely painful for someone of my height. Tonight there is no interval, so I suffer. Not sure what to say about the production. There are some great moments. No doubt about that. But the limited leg room prevents me from enjoying it. Afterwards Rona and I are dropped at the Assembly Rooms. We are both hungry, so we walk to the Starbucks on the corner and share a panini. I discover that I have lost my new cap. And this puts me in a funk.

Wednesday, 15th: Once again up at 7.30. Take the No.23 bus from Hanover Street to Toll X and walk toward the Film Festival Press Office. Stop at the shoe store where I once purchased some shoes. Go inside, try on a pair and decide to take them and to wear them. I hate shopping. This is the only way I can do it. Quickly. At the press room, check email and I have a message from Kiev from a fellow named Valentine. He is with the British Council and Terry Sandell has suggested he contact me. He comes to Edinburgh next week. I fire back a message and give him my mobile telephone number. Talk with Olivier Joly about tonight's opening film, Hallam Foe, and the party afterwards. He says there are no tickets available for the party but that he can produce two tickets for the second screening at Cineworld at 21.45. Thank him. I know that Stephanie Wolfe Murray would like to see the film.
Bus to Princes Street and walk to the Assembly Rooms. Sit with Steven Gove. Jon Beeby has a hang-over. He went out on the town last night and consumed too much alcohol.
Walk to Charlotte Square. Chat with Peg, Claudia and Frances. Get a ticket for Focus on India at 3 p.m. with Maria Misra and Alex Von Tunzelmann. Sit in the Signing Tent and read The London Review of Books. Stephanie Wolfe Murray arrives. We both have sandwiches. She also gets a ticket for Focus on India. We both love the event. Two very attractive and very bright women. Both extremely articulate. Afterwards we sit in the café outside the Signing Tent. Maria Misra sits behind us and I engage her in conversation. She is with her husband. He and she are both Oxford Dons. He is a Professor of Russian History. I compliment her for the excellence of her talk and invite them to come and dine whenever they are in Paris. Give them the Chicago Tribune article. Tell them that I once dined with Vladimir Putin, but forget to tell them that I also dined with Indira Gandhi.
I cannot remember how the rest of the afternoon unfolds. I know that I meet Maggie McKernan and we talk about her late husband, Giles Gordon. He died tragically, falling down stairs in their Ann Street home. I tell her how much I liked Giles, how I have known him since he was very young and used to sit on the floor in my bookshop, reading endlessly. I know that Stephanie and I sit and watch the world go pass. We see Catherine Lockerbie. We see Ian Rankin. I know that Stephanie and I attend the 21.45 screening of the opening film, Hallam Foe, of the Film Festival in Cineworld. We both have mixed feelings about the film. The photography is superb. Scotland's countryside looks beautiful as it certainly is. Edinburgh looks fantastic. The acting is excellent. But not entirely happy with the story: a young lad and his loss. His mother has died and we are not sure if it has been a murder, a suicide or an accident. The boy thinks his step-mother has murdered his mother. Still as time passes, I find I like the film more and more. Stephanie and I walk down Lothian Road. I peal off to go to the Traverse. Stephanie heads for her son's, Gavin, home. Later I walk to The Assembly Rooms. See John Ritchie.

Thursday, 16th: Ruth produces coffee and toast for me. I use some of the orange marmalade Martin purchased yesterday. Take a bus to the King's Theatre and they look for my cap. But it is not there. My lovely cap I purchased recently in Paris is gone. Boo Hoo!
Walk to the Film Festival press room. See Lynda Myles and Ginnie Atkinson and, of course, we discuss the June festival dates Yes, I suppose it will be better for the Film Festival to move to June. Lynda reports that Isabel Hilton and Neal Ascherson are in Edinburgh. I go to the Traverse and have a simple lunch. Alan Taylor sits at the table next to me and introduces me to his companion. Leonard Foreman I think is his name. Alan asks about John Calder and I report he will be spending a lot of time in Edinburgh during the festival. Alan tells me his daughter will be studying at the Pratt Institute in Manhattan this autumn. Bob and Sara Macaulay join my table. Always good to see old friends. Sara treats Bob and me to ice cream with chocolate sauce. Our waitress, Jennifer Kean, gets us extra chocolate sauce. She is a young architect-to-be.
Walk to the Book Festival and greet les girls in the Press Pod. Back to the Traverse and wait for the production of The Walworth Farce by Enda Walsh at 15.00 hours. Discover that Isabel Hilton, Neal Ascherson and Lynda Myles will also be attending The Walworth Farce. Down we go for the production. Alas I just cannot get into it. At the interval we discuss going back for the second half or staying out. In the end I stay out and they go back down. I have a ticket for the David Greig play, Damascus, but I cannot face another session in the theatre, so return the ticket to Melissa Clark, Emma Pirie's assistant. Back downstairs, Alice Boyle and I talk. She is Anne Goring's cousin. An extremely attractive young woman. She tells me she is moving to London.
Meet Bob Kingdom in the Assembly Rooms. Introduce him to Steven Gove and suggest that Steven see Bob's performances. On my way out of the Assembly Rooms, I encounter Bill Burdett-Coutts. He asks me to remind him why he is doing what he is doing. I suggest he is doing it because it is important, it is stimulating, exciting and contributes to making our world a better place. Bill smiles and thanks me.
Bob Kingdom and I elect to dine in Henderson's. We have a good long talk. I return to Great King Street and see Ruth, Tara (Ruth's beautiful daughter) and Martin. Martin tells me that I have a post card from Sheila Duffy and a phone message from Xaviera Hollander.

I decide to go up to George Square and see the Meow Meow performance. Even the taxi driver taking me to George Square wants to see Meow Meow. Collect a ticket and make my way to the queue. Talk to a pretty blonde behind me. She is soon joined by two friends. We are separated when we enter the Bosco Theatre. I am placed down front. Meow Meow is wonderfully outrageous. I immediately adore her. Ed Hamell and Steven Sapota are right. At the beginning of the show Meow Meow asks a number of people to undress her. And I am one of them. She sings in a number of languages. Something about her reminds me of Lindsay Kemp. When the show is over, I wait around for her to come out (as Ed said she would). She and I talk and I say the magic words: "that David Bowie met Lindsay Kemp in my theatre in London".
Meow Meow in Beyond Glamour, photo©Karl Giant
Meow Meow in Beyond Glamour, photo©Karl Giant
We talk and talk. There is a strong possibility that she will come to Paris in September and stay a few days here with me in my atelier. I tell her about Ed's show and she says that would like to attend his performance with me. Meow Meow introduces me to Paul Lucas. And there is the couple from California, Gerry and Rebecca Smilovitz, who I see almost everyday. It's late. I leave everyone and walk pass my old bookshop (currently a building site) and order a nutella crepe. Then get a rickshaw ride to the Assembly Rooms. The young fellow, from Vienna, has no change, so I end up paying 20 pounds, a lot of money for the ride. Purchase tomorrow's Scotsman and walk down the hill to Great King Street and bed.

Friday, 17th: Coffee, produced by Ruth, at 8.15. Make myself a bowl of cereal. Slowly dress and begin to make plans for today. Get a call from Angela Bartie in Glasgow. She has chicken pox and is confined to her room. Poor baby. I call Rona Thomson and thank her for our lovely evening together. She asks if I have found my missing cap. Alas no. Call Michael McEvoy and we chat about his production, Not in My Name! The Trial of Niccolò Machiavelli. Written and performed by Michael, he has taken it to Pakistan (via the British Council) and has performed it in my atelier in Paris. I will spread the word in Edinburgh. Try to telephone Valentine Boinitsky in Kiev. No success. He is with the British Council. I feel sure that Michael's production would be a big success in the Ukraine.

Michael McEvoy, Not in My Name! Photograph Rights Reserved
Michael McEvoy, photo R.R.
Go to the Film Festival press room. Rainer Kölmel is due to arrive in Edinburgh today. All the computers are in use, so cross the street and eat a bacon roll. A fellow comes in and is carrying a Film Festival shoulder bag, so I speak with him. His name is Mike Cerda and he is from Denver, Colorado. We talk a bit. Then I go back to the press center and check my email.
Briefly stick my head into the Press Pod. Claudia introduces me to two of her friends from Lisboa, Olga and Humberto Bernardo. She asks if I am free to dine with her, Ian, her fellow, and with Olga and Humberto tonight. Yes!

Stroll to the Assembly Rooms and meet Bob Kingdom. We discuss his two one-man shows: Dylan Thomas and Truman Capote. He is excellent in both shows and becomes both writers. We brought both his Truman Capote and Dylan Thomas productions to Paris some years ago and they were both successful.
Briefly visit the press room. Talk with Liz Smith and she introduces me to her assistant, Daniel. Bob and I take the bus to Chambers Street. I leave him and stroll towards George Square. Suddenly encounter a friend from Paris, Dale Gaber. Dale is really from New Orleans, but has been living in Paris for some time. So good to see her. I suggest we go to Négociant's, a café very near by. Sitting at a table near ours is Jim Hicky and Al Lauder. Wave greetings to them. Dale and I talk about New Orleans and its slow recovery. We also discuss the Edinburgh Festival. We both agree it is an amazing event. A couple comes over to say hello to me and to say they have both attended a Sunday night dinner. Dale departs to see a production and I join Marion and Francis Shennan's table, We talk a while. They invite me to come and visit them in Glasgow. Really I must do this one of these days. (Speaking of Glasgow, I telephone old friend, Elaine Gerber, and she and I have a good long talk).
At 19.30, go to hear Javier Cercas and Alexis Stamatis in the Writers' Retreat. Javier is a Spanish novelist and Alexis is a Greek novelist. It is chaired by Paul Johnson. (Paul has lived in Athens and has a Greek wife).
Bob Dylan: return journey, Bob Kingdom, photograph R.R.
In the evening dine with Claudia Monteiro and her husband, Ian King, and her friends from Lisboa, Olga and Humberto. It is a delightful evening in every way. We have Thai cuisine and it is always delicious. We talk about the Edinburgh Festival, the possibility of creating a Fringe Theatre Festival in Lisboa (and I suggest that Humberto meet and talk with Steven Gove). I tell them about my friendship with the singer, Sergio Godinho. I also mention my friendship with Maria Do Céu Baptista (who I met at an Edinburgh Festival in 1988) and who I visited in Lisboa in 1990. Her husband, Gil, translates poetry from Chinese into Portugese. Claudia shows us a proof copy of her proposed guide book to Edinburgh and it is lovely. We all think it will be well received. Claudia and Ian live in S.E. Circus Place, so it is a short walk of one hundred meters to 84 Great King Street. I am soon in my bed.

Saturday, 18th: Today it rains all day. Bus to the Film Festival Press Centre. Talk with Alison Potock. She is involved with the East London Film Festival.. We decide to have a coffee together. She tells me a bit about her life. Encounter Heinz Badewitz and I introduce him to Alison. Heinz asks if I will be attending Rainer's dinner and I reply that I hope to do so. Talk briefly with Michael Shea. Call Sheila Colvin
Bus to Princes Street and walk to Charlotte Square. Charlotte Square could be re-named Lake Charlotte. Visit "les girls" in the Press Pod. Everyone has put on a brave face and all seem to be coping with the wet weather. There is a Germaine Greer photo call. I see GG, but she does not see me. Then Catherine Lockerbie comes up and pulls me inside and suddenly I am standing next to Germaine. She smiles and tells me to sit down. Ruth Wishart and Magus Linklater make room on the bench for me to sit next to Germaine. We chat briefly. No major themes explored. It seems funny. We were very close friends once upon a time. Or so I thought. Then it is time for her 11 o'clock talk in the RBS Main Theatre. And that is that. I go and join the queue. Ruth Wishart chairs the event. I sit inside with Liz Wright and she introduces me to someone named Charlotte. Germaine's talk deals with her new book on Ann Hathaway, Shakespeare's wife. All well and good, except I believe that Christopher Marlowe wrote the plays. At the end of her talk, there is a general question time and someone asks about Princess Diana. Germaine's answer will produce newspaper headlines, editorials, and much talk in the following days to come. (And it does). She certainly knows how to sell newspapers.
At some point, head for the Assembly Rooms. Go inside the Press Room and offer Liz Smith and Daniel drinks, but they decline. See the couple from California, Gerry and Rebecca Smilovitz, and we chat briefly. Sit and talk with a woman named Juliette. She and I used to teach English together for a funny language school in Paris entitled Télélangue. We had the same student, a fellow named George. Now Juliette is producing babies.
Walk down Frederick Street and purchase items for the house from Margiotta including two bottles of Australian wine for Ruth. Great King Street and a wee siesta. Talk with Steven Gove on the telephone. He tells me that he has been elected to the Fringe Council. I congratulate him and tell him that it was my vote that did the trick.
Go to St Stephen's and have a delicious bowl of soup. Talk with a theatre critic from South Africa. His name is Brent Meersman and he writes for the Mail Guardian. Steven Gove appears and I introduce him to Brent. They are both going to see Orpheus. And they talk me into attending as well. It is presented by the Clipa Theatre Company in Israel. Alas I cannot remember very much because I dozed off and missed most of it. Then when I am leaving the production, encounter Kate McGrath and her beautiful mum, Elizabeth McLennan. They talk me into attending the next production in the same theatre, the Austin, Texas Rude Mechs company's production entitled Get Your War On. It is an over-the-top but at the same time extremely nuanced send up of the Bush administration and its war on terrorism. Thank Kate and Elizabeth and find a taxi.
Head off to Bread Street to attend the party in the roof penthouse that is being given for the film critics attending the Film Festival. Meet a fellow named George from Crete and we have a long talk. Robert Alstead gives me a DVD of his film, You'll Never Bike Alone, a feature documentary about biking in Vancouver. I tell him about Audrey de Nazelle and her successful fight for biker's rights in Paris. I talk about our Mayor's recent deployment of 10,000 bicycles in Paris and his plan to add a further 10,000 bicycles this autumn. (Later in Paris, I learn from Linda de Nazelle that the idea for the bicycle plan originated with Denis Baupin, the Green Party's candidate for mayor of Paris). He and I also talk about the lovely Frances Anderson.
I decide to go back to St. Stephen's Aurora Nova. Find a taxi and the driver, Michal Chola, and I talk all the way there. He is from Prague and I tell him how I delivered a letter from Solidarnosc in Warsaw to Vaclay Havel in Prague in 1981. His hero is Havel and when we arrive, Michal will not let me pay the fare. I give him the Chicago Tribune article and tell him that when he is next in Paris, he is invited to dine and he also does not have to pay.
Sitting in the warm café, having another delicious bowl of soup, an attractive woman comes up to my table. It is Emily Wilson from Paris, the ex-Jacques Lecoq student who I met in my atelier with her husband, Jos Houben, via Steven Gove. She introduces me to her two companions, Jofre Caraben (from Barcelona) and Nathalie Baunaure (from Paris) - who are also ex-Lecoq graduates. The three of them have a hit revue entitled Cabaret Decay that has received rave reviews and can be seen nightly here at Aurora Nova
Time for me to go to my bed.      

Sunday, 19th: I am up at 9 and make myself a bowl of cereal. Sit in my room and ponder how the day will unfold. It starts well when Ruth knocks on my door with a cup of coffee. She and I discuss the shows we have seen and the ones we still wish to see. A bit later I stroll down St. Vincent Street to St. Stephen's Church. and have a bowl of delicious soup. Then taxi to Film Festival press room and check email. Fire off a message to Nina Lamparski, The press director of Aurora Nova. See Olivier Joly and we exchange news. Walk to Filmhouse and get "attacked" by two wee lasses who want me to see their fringe production. They look like they are 13 and 14 years old. See Syd standing outside Filmhouse and he reports that Ailsa is inside. Order a hot chocolate from Tilly and tell her she has a wonderful smile. Later Syd tells me that she has been selected to perform in a TV series.
Meet Astrid at Charlotte Square and she drives me to Stockbridge. Yesterday it rained and rained off and on all day. The Waters of Leith which usually run quietly are today roaring like the Colorado River. If one were on a raft, it would be an amazing adventure, Astrid wants to show me two installations. Not sure how the two installations can complete with the beauty of the surroundings. Richard Wright has created these two installations. I'm impressed, Meet Chris Malcolm and ask him about Herzmark.
Joan Bakewell, The View from Here, TheGuardian/Atlantic Books, photograph©Scott Wishart
TheGuardian/Atlantic books
photograph©Scott Wishart
Astrid drops me back at Charlotte Square. Frances Sutton tells me that Joan Bakewell has written something in today's Observer about the joys of attending the festival is sharing it with old friends and I am mentioned. I agree, Joan. It is always a joy to be here in Edinburgh with you!
Encounter Kirsy Gunn and her husband, David. She is so full of life.

At 4 p.m., I attend Writers of the World in the Peppers Theatre. Four Bengali writers: three women. Bani Basu, Nabaneeta Dev Sen, and Selina Hossain (who is from Bangladesh. and one man, Nabarun Bhattacharya. I sit next to Jenny Daiches. All four read briefly from their works. And answer questions. To a question about which English-language writers in Britain have influenced them or that they admire, one woman mentions Germaine Greer. The man on the panel, Nabarun Bhattacharya, mentions A.L. Kennedy. I must remember to tell her. (Alas when I see her, I fail to do so). Nabarun writes poetry and long and short narratives The three women are poets, essayists, and novelists. After the reading, we all go to the Bookshop where they sign copies of their books. I talk with Nabaneeta Dev Sen and she signs a book for me. It contains poetry, essays and stories. I tell her that I will be in Calcutta in November and would love to take her to dinner. She says that she accepts and looks forward to meeting me again. I also meet and talk with Samarjit (Sam) Guha, who is with the British Council in Kolkata. I tell him that I am involved with Nilanjan Chatterjee and the Kolkata Film Festival. Sam reports that he is also involved with Nilanjan and the film festival. We talk about Ken Loach and Stephan Frears. Meet and talk with Tanaji Dasgupta who produced a short film that is shown in the Peppers Theatre before today's talk. Calcutta and Edinburgh are sister cities. Congratulate Tanaji and am introduced to his father.

Nabaneeta Dev Sen, Selections, photograph©Mala Mukhopadhyay
Dev Sen
Walk with Sheila Colvin up George Street. Go alone to see Special at 19.15. Written, designed and directed by John Keates, it is a study in S & M sexuality. Extremely interesting and well-done. The two actors are John Keates and Anna Brook.
Down Frederick Street to St. Stephen's Church and into Aurora Nova's café. Sit and talk with Jo Duffy, the Associate Director, and with Nina Lamparski.
At 21.00, attend Cabaret Decay in St. Stephens and am knocked out by it. Done with humour and style. Or to quote the programme note: "Since we're all going to rot, we might as well do it in style!" One of the most delightful performances I have seen at this year's Festival. Steven Gove said I would love it and he is, as usual, right. Wait around in the Café afterwards to tell Emily Wilson and her two associates, Jofre Caraben and Nathalie Baunaure, how much I enjoyed their performances. But they do not come. Slowly make my way to Great King Street. Sit with Martin and Ruth in the kitchen for a while.
Monday, 20th: Wonderful Ruth produces coffee and toast for me. Call Sheila Colvin and we talk briefly. Get a text message from Frances Anderson. She cannot meet me today. Walk to the Raeburn laundry and deliver another bag of items to be washed. Bus back to Howe Street and purchase more items for the house. Bus to the Film Festival Press Centre. See Cecilia Stevenson and we exchange news. Talk briefly with Ginnie Atkinson.

Back to St. Stephen's to see The Battle of Stalingrad at 12.45. It is a puppet show performed by the Tbilisi Marionette State Theatre (in Russian with English subtitles). Written and directed by Rezo Gabriadze, it is "a requiem" for all the madness of war and senseless killing. (Just before I go into to see the production, get a call from Tim Pierce and he is meeting Rainer in a café called G & T in Dundas Street at 14.30. I tell him that I will join them).

The Battle of Stalingrad, Tbilisi Marionette Theatre
Huff and puff up the hill and find them sitting outside in the sunshine. They have all eaten. Warm embraces for everyone. Alas I cannot attend Rainer's annual dinner tonight because I have a date with Joan Bakewell to attend her Book Festival event and to dine with her afterwards. Rainer says he will forgive me this time. Tim and I discuss the possibility of Footsbarn's production of As You Like It performing under the Assembly Room's umbrella next Festival in St. Andrew Square in their tent. It seems the city fathers have given their permission. Bill Burdett-Coutts has seen the production in Portugal and likes it.
Dorota calls. She, Tim, Joe and Lila come to G & T. Rainer has already slipped away. He wants to say hello to Petros Vartanyan and hopes to catch him in his carpet hop. Tim and his attractive wife depart. And I have another hot chocolate with the new-comers.
Collect a ticket from Peggy Hughes and dash to attend Joan Bakewell's talk at 8 p.m. in the RBS Main Theatre. Sheena Macdonald is in the chair. Two fantastic and extremely articulate women. Meet Sarah Oliver afterwards and she introduces me to her mother. Two more fantastic women. Sarah gives me a postcard of one of her drawings.
Catherine Lockerbie invites Joan and me to attend a Sponsor's party in the Party Pavilion. We are introduced to dozens of people and Joan charms them all. After a bit, she and I slip out and go to Tigerlily for a quiet and delicious meal. At a nearby table, we witness a frigid dinner that ends with the woman walking out rather briskly.
Find a taxi for Joan and she returns to her hotel. I walk to the Assembly Rooms. See Steven Gove and his lovely mum. We chat a bit and then I head for home and bed.

Tuesday, 21st: Ruth brings me coffee at 8. Quick shower and dress. Eat a bowl of cereal and two crumpets with orange marmalade. Get a call from Paris from Bailey Alexander; she and Robert are coming to Scotland this Thursday. Bus to Film Festival Press room. I am missing the Korean reception that Steven Gove suggested I attend. But that is the trouble with the festival. One cannot be everywhere. See Olivier Joly and we chat about the festival. Stroll over to Filmhouse. Encounter Yvonne Baginsky and we talk about her husband, Jack Shea. He tragically died recently. Go into Filmhouse 2 to see a film from Germany entitled Auftauchen. But there is a problem with the reel order and the screening is cancelled after about 20 minutes. It's too bad because the film starts well and looks like it could have been a winner. See Syd and Alisa and eat a sandwich in the Filmhouse café.
Bus to Stockbridge, collect clean laundry, continue to Great King Street and rest a bit. Write three postcards: to Antonia Hoogewerf, John Flattau, and to David Turner. Bus half way up the Mound and walk the short distance to Michael and Mona Shea's home. They have a surprise for me. It turns out to be the beautiful and wonderful Catherine Carnie. We four giggle and talk about the past, present and future. Very delightful. There is a planned "live" TV broadcast tonight with John Calder, Rupert Thomson, Mary Folliet in New York City and yours truly that Martin Belk has organized. He sends a car to collect me. So I have to cut short my visit with Michael, Mona and Catherine.
The car delivers me to Rose Street and Castle Street. Martin Belt collects me and we walk the short distance to the Royal Scottish Pipers Society in Rose Street South Lane. John Calder and Sheila soon arrive. I am introduced to Rupert Thomson. And with the usual number of technical hitches, we complete the four way discussion in under two hours. I call Joan Bakewell on her mobile and we all agree to meet at the Pizza Express in Stockbridge. John Calder, Martin Belk, Rupert Thomson, Andrew Wilson and yours truly find a taxi and speed to Pizza Express. Joan has beat us there. She is surprised to see that she will be surrounded by five men. But not unhappy about it. We move to a table downstairs. And Nina, from Barcelona, is our waitress. I call Sheila Colvin and she soon joins us.

Wednesday, 22nd: Ruth makes coffee. Stephanie Wolfe Murray telephones and will come over. Joan Bakewell calls to say she enjoyed the evening last night and looks forward to the Krashny dinner tonight. I tease Ruth because she looks like a school girl on her way to her first class of the year. Dale Gaber calls and we make a breakfast date for tomorrow in the Traverse café. Stephanie arrives and we walk to the Patisserie Florentin for a second breakfast (for me). It's a glorious morning. Edinburgh looks fantastic in the bright morning sunshine! Coffee and warm croissants.
Stephanie drives me to the Assembly Rooms and I get two tickets for the 2 p.m. production from South Africa, Truth in Translation. Then she drives me to the Book Festival. Frances Sutton and Finn slip me into the 11.30 session with Joan Bakewell and Blake Morrison. Joan is in the chair and does an excellent job. Afterwards go to the Signing Tent and meet Joan. She introduces me to Blake Morrison. Outside the Authors Tent, talk with Angela Wrapson and Judith Doherty. Learn that Grid Iron Theatre company will take a production to Stavanger in Norway. Next year, it will be Europe's City of Culture. I tell Angela that I am one of Grid Iron's patrons and am very proud of Judith and what she has accomplished.
Joan and I walk to Hanover Street and take a bus half way up the Mound. We have seats right down front. Perfect places in fact. It's a very interesting production. One that must have had a major impact in South Africa where the relevance of the material is much closer to the bone. The story is the relationships that the various interpreters of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have with each other and their reactions to what they have to listen to and interpret. Very powerful stuff. Yet mixed with humour and music. Joan is also knocked out. We walk down the Mound in a haze to the Assembly Rooms in George Street. And then continue to Charlotte Square. Joan goes to her hotel to rest and to get ready for tonight. I sit with Astrid in the Signing Tent. Later walk to the Film Festival Press room. Get a call from Sheila. She tells me that John has something he wants to give me. I immediately guess correctly what it might be. He has written something for the Krashny dinner. Take a taxi to Sheila's home in Oxford Terrace. And my guess was correct. John has "received" an email message from Anton Krashny's brother in Baghdad. It seems that our Krashny has become the victim of a suicide bomber. He has not been killed, but he has lost a limb. I bus home to get ready for tonight's dinner.
Tonight is the 30th Annual Anton Vladimir Krashny dinner. The Scottish Arts Club hosts tonight's feast. At the top of the table sit Douglas Rae, Chairman, Dame Joan Bakewell, President for Life, and Roddy Martine, Keeper of the Archive. Hugh Buchanan sits on my left, He is a local painter. Hugh has three daughters. Ian Mitchell, sits on my right. He lives in Moscow and Leith. We talk a lot about Russia. Ricky Demarco and Alasdair Riley sit nearby. An excellent dinner and an amusing meal. Lots of talks about Anton Vladimir Krashny. Alasdair gives his annual rant. I read the email about Krashny's dangerous situation in Bagdad and it is received with stunned silence. Douglas Rae awards gasmasks to Ricky Demarco and yours truly for "services to the city and the festival". I speak briefly with William Lyons, Mark Samuelson, and with a few others.
After it is all over, I slip out and walk alone down Princess Street to the Assembly Rooms Club Bar. See Bill Burdett-Coutts and Steven Gove. Steven introduces me to the Canadian Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Michael Calcott. I realize that it is time for an early night. Minutes later I excuse myself and walk home.

Thursday, 23rd: Bailey and Robert Alexander arrive today. Joan Bakewell flies to the Orkneys today. Ruth makes coffee and toast to launch me into the day. She and I agree to go out to dinner next Tuesday evening either at Fishers in the City or at the Thai restaurant. Tell her to invite her two beautiful daughters as well. I talk with Sheila Colvin calls about last night's dinner. Dale Gaber calls and we make a breakfast date for tomorrow in the Traverse.
Bus to George Square and leave two books for Meow Meow with the box office woman. Purchase four tickets for Camille for next Monday night (for Martin and Ruth and for Hanna Horowitz and me). Try to call Martin Burke to tell him of my success but my mobile does not work. (Later I realize I dialed the wrong number).
Bus and walk to the Film Festival press room. Check email. Talk with Yelena Durden-Smith and suggest she call Stephanie Wolfe-Murray and her son's Russian girlfriend, Margo. Yelena wants to come to Scotland to film four grand houses for Moscow TV. Talk with a clean-shaved Olivier Joly. I tell him that I liked his growth. Walk to Filmhouse and encounter Al Lauder on the way. We talk about the festival, about Hamburg, and about Babette Peters and about Calcutta. Al has taught in Calcutta and we talk about the book-dealers in College Street, the Indian Coffee House nearby. We continue to stroll down Lothian Road all the way to Charlotte Square. I ask him to deliver my best wishes to Babette and I promise to give his greetings to Calcutta in November.
Inside I spot Sheila Colvin, Margaret Jaquess and John Cairney. We share our table with a woman named Jessie Turner who tells me that she has seen 64 events in the festival so far. I congratulate her and give her a leaflet about the dinners in Paris. She gives me her card and reports that she and her husband have a bed and breakfast in their home in Morningside. I leave the table to go and find Joan Bakewell. Say "Good morning!" to Frances Sutton on the way. Find Joan and she joins us back at the Signing Tent café. John Fowler sits at a nearby table. Get up to say hello to him and he introduces me to his wife. John was the Arts Editor of The Herald until his recent retirement. Sheila and I purchase a bottle of white wine plus juice and chips for me.
Later Joan and I have lunch in Centrotres in George Street. Our handsome waiter is from Lodz. After our excellent lunch, Joan walks to her hotel and will fly off this afternoon. I walk to Great King Street. It has been wonderful to share the festival once again with such a sensitive and attractive woman. She is certainly as lovely as ever.
I feel bad that I have not seen many films at the festival this year. Maybe it is a good idea that the Film Festival moves earlier to June. I decide to see Blame It on Fidel at Cineworld. Manage to get there by bus. The film is excellent. It is the story of a young girl, Anna (Nina Kervel) whose family in Paris are gauches and whose grandparents are well to the Right. And her view of the world swings from Left to Right and back to the Left again. Very sweet and moving film directed by Julie Garvas. I must try to get it for Calcutta Film Festival in 2008. I think the film shows how political and other attitudes are passed to children.

Rush to Film Festival press room and check email. Then soup in Filmhouse with Syd and Alisa and a woman friend of Alisa's. Walk to the Traverse Bar and meet Damian Cruden and he introduces me to a table full of his friends. I decide to see Linda Marlowe's one-woman show, Believe. Go upstairs and one of the ticket-sellers, Jo Burnside, produces a ticket for me. I ask her about the Glasgow drama student who was a ticket-seller last year. Chrisie O'Carroll hears me speak of her and gives me a shout. She has changed the colour of her hair. She tells me that she has finished her studies and that she wants to create a company of actors. I wish her luck and tell her she is always welcomed in Paris. Ask her and Jo what they have liked this year and Jo tells me that she liked Yellow Moon by David Greig.
Go down to theatre 2 and find that there is a place next to Bob and Sara Macaulay. Afterwards sit upstairs with Bob and Sara and Linda passes to say hello.
Linda Marlowe, Believe. Illustr. Julia Lloyd
Linda Marlowe, ill. Julia Lloyd
We tell her that she was fantastic. And she was! She always is! I tell her that I saw Jay and Fran in London and that Fran and I talked about her. It is getting late. Bob heads for his new home near the canal and Sara and I walk to Frederick Street. We pause in the Café Rouge for hot chocolate and more talk. Then we walk to Heriot Row. I continue to Great King Street and Sara heads East to London Road.

Friday, 24th: Mary Shields has asked me to present an award this morning at 9.45 at the Assembly Hall on the Mound. And I have a breakfast date with Dale Gaber in the Traverse at 10.30. It is going to be a crazy morning. Of course I cannot find Dale's telephone number. I call the Traverse and try to get someone there to find her. It would be perfect if I could get her to come to the ceremony. Then I could take her to lunch afterwards. In the end, I do speak with someone at the Traverse. But I do not see or hear from Dale. I hope she will forgive me The Scotsman Award Ceremony is superb. Joyce McMillan does an excellent job as Mistress of Ceremony. She gives me a glorious introduction. I give a brief speech. It is a fitting end to a glorious three weeks. All I remember now is the dozens of people who come up afterwards to either introduce themselves to me or just to say how much they enjoyed my talk. And I do not even remember what I said. Liz Smith, Bill Burdet-Coutts, Mary Shields, Joyce McMillan, Jackie McGlone, Philip Howard and many others are all super kind. A fellow named Daniel Beaty, an actor and writer from New York City, gives me his card and invites me to see his show, Emergence - See!, that he is performing in St. George's West. I tell him that I will try, but fail to make it. A journalist with the Washington Post, Karla Adam, comes up to me and we speak briefly about the Festival. She is based in London. Tell her to call and come and visit me in Paris. I wish that Dale Gaber had been here. She would have enjoyed the event.
Walk down the Mound to the Assembly Rooms in a daze. Find Steven Gove in the upstairs café and we have a bacon roll and we talk about the festival. Get a call from Dorota and she suggests we meet at Pizza Express in Stockbridge for lunch.
We sit outside on the terrace. Another glorious day. Joe has left Edinburgh to attend a music festival down South. But Dorota, Tim, Lila and I have a lovely time. For some reason, service is slow today, but we do not seem to care. The weather, the view, the company - all delightful.
Bus to the Film Festival press room. Check email and I have a message from Cathy Monnet in China. The offer to teach at a language school in Shanghai is on the table again. They also are seeking a Spanish-language teacher. Something for Benny and Victoria perhaps.
Walk to the Traverse and try to find the person who delivered the message to Dale. No success, but one of the ticket-sellers tells me that the message was delivered.
Walk to the Book Festival. Claudia produces a ticket for the John Pilger event. I give copies of Everything Is! to Claudia and to Peg. Ask them if they would like to teach in English and Spanish in China. Ride in a rickshaw to Frederick and Queen Streets. The lad who delivers me is a student from Barcelona. We chat a bit in Spanish. Walk down the hill to Margiotta and purchase more items for the house. The tall beauty behind the cash register is from Krakov. We have a nice chat about Poland.
I call Michael Stromme and tell him that I will accept his kind invitation to attend La French Touch in Adam House 21.00 hours tonight. He says that he will arrange tickets to be there for me.
John Pilger in the RBS Main Theatre at 18.30. Ruth Wishart is in the chair. John is as provocative and stimulating as I thought he would be. And fair too. When someone in the audience asks (and suggests) that it is our lifestyle, our consumption, our gas-guzzeling cars, etc that has created our rapacious foreign policy and that has got us in the mess we are in, he agrees. Later in the Signing Tent, Peg comes over to me to ask if I am all right. I guess I look upset. And maybe I am. Sit in the entrance of the Book Festival. Spot Gordon Wright trying to sell two tickets he has for an Ian Rankin event tonight. Also see Peter Guttridge and he suggests we have a drink and talk together before we both depart Edinburgh. A good idea.
Outside bump into Michael McEvoy and ask him if he would like to come with me to see La French Touch. Earlier I had offered the ticket to a number of lovely ladies (Astrid Silins, Sheila Colvin, Frances Anderson, Stephanie Wolfe Murray, Frances Sutton) and either I could not reach them on the telephone or they already had a ticket to see something. Michael says that he might meet me at Adam House.
Walk to Hanover Street and take the bus to Chambers Street. Drink a ginger beer in the bar at Adam House. Get a call from Michael and he says that he cannot make it. Walk up to the next floor and wait in a chair next to the theatre entrance. To my pleasant surprise, Steven Gove appears. He is coming to see La French Touch tonight. When we go into the theatre, a fellow in the row in front of us recognizes me and climbs over a row of seats to come and greet me. It is Victor Young. He used to be one of my best customers when I had my bookshop in Edinburgh. We chat briefly.

La French Touch is delightful! Isabelle Georges is a fantastic singer and dancer and has a great stage presence. Her backing musicians, Frédérik Steenbrink (piano and vocals), Stephane Logerot (double bass, guitar, accordion), and Philippe Dallais (drums and percussions) are also superb. For me it is a five star event. Afterwards I slip a Chicago Tribune article to Victor Young. Purchase two CDs from Michael Stromme and thank him for the ticket.
Isabelle Georges and Frédérik Steenbrink, ©photo: Thierry Cron
Isabelle Georges and Frédérik Steenbrink
Photograph ©Thierry Cron

Tell him that if he produces the show in Paris, I will organize a large group to attend opening night. He is pleased that I have come and that I liked the performance. Steven wanders off to see someone and we agree to meet later in the Assembly Rooms. I walk up to Hunter Square and say hello to Fran James. She invites me in for a drink, but I decline. I want to have an early night tonight. Continue walking down the Mound and stop in Rose Street to visit with Xaviera Hollander and her fellow, Philip. They are surprised and pleased to see me and we have a good long visit. So much for my early night. Briefly stick my head into the Club Bar at the Assembly Rooms and see Diana Burdett-Coutts. Purchase tomorrow's Scotsman, walk to Café Rouge, drink a hot chocolate and read the paper. Walk down to Great King Street and find Brian Jones in the kitchen talking with Laura and her friend from Berlin, Stephanie. Join them for a little while.

Saturday, 25th: The Film Festival ends tonight with the film, Two Days in Paris. Up at 8, pee, and then go back to bed for another hour. See Ruth in the kitchen and she tells me that Ed Jones arrived last night, but his luggage is in Zürich. Ask Ruth to give Ed my best regards. Rush out the door and taxi to the Film Festival Press Centre. See Ginnie Atkinson and she offers me a ticket for tonight's closing film and the party. I thank her, but must refuse the offer because I have been invited to Jenny Brown's party tonight and a number of people are expecting me. I promise Ginnie to see the film in Paris. I tell Ginnie that I am acting as a Consultant to the Kalkota Film Festival, tell her it is a wonderful festival and since Edinburgh and Kolkata are sister cities, she must plan to attend sometime soon. I do tell Ginnie that I am attending Stephen Frears talk this afternoon. She tells me he is upstairs and if I wait a few minutes, he will be coming down. Go and say some words with Olivier Joly. Then chat a bit with the door girls. One is half American/half Italian and her name is Renata. The other one is hald Indonesian and something else. Head for Filmhouse and collect my Stephen Frears ticket from Seinid from Ireland. Talk briefly with Gemma McGrath. Bus to Princes Street and attempt to purchase some Fénofibrate from Booths, but they will not sell it to me without a prescription. But they will and do sell me a small electric toothbrush. Continue up Princes Street to Marks & Spencer and change 400 euros into pounds. While there also purchase T-shirts, underwear, and a cap. Elect to go to St. Stephen's Church for a bowl of Hungarian goulash. Then at Great King Street, unload my purchases.
Back to Charlotte Square and ask Claudia to write some sweet words in Portugese to my friend Dulce dos Santos in Paris. Claudia smiles and produces the words. Peg takes a photograph of me with a light bulb above my head. What a silly lady she is!
Bus to Cineworld for Stephen Frears talk. Becky Brazil sees me and gives me a DVD of Godlessness and Dirt - 60 Years of the Edinburgh Festival. Becky directed the film and it was broadcast by BBC television last August 2006 to celebrate the Festival. And it is a glorious film and a wonderful portrait of the festival these past 60 years. Earlier we had talked about my needing another DVD. (When I am home in Paris, I look at it again and find I am enjoying it even more). I will send it to Calcutta for their consideration for this year's (or next year's) Film Festival. Becky and I find seats and sit together for Stephen's superb talk (with clips from his films). Afterwards chat with Karla Adam. She is a journalist with the Washington Post and based in London. Outside, see Stephen and we chat briefly. He repeats his warm impression of Calcutta based on his one-day visit. I tell him the Calcutta Film Festival is a delight and it would be great if he could come this year or in 2008. He said it is not impossible and that we must stay in touch.

Manage to catch Susan Claassen in A Conversation with Edith Head at the Hill Street Theatre at 18.15. Edith Head was Hollywood's most famous costume designer. Her career spanned 58 years - from 1923 to 1981. She died two weeks after completing her last film, Dead Men Don's Wear Plaid. Susan Claassen, who co-wrote the piece with Paddy Calistro, captures Edith in all her glory in 1981 at the top of her fame. Afterwards, manage to tell Susan Claassen how much I enjoyed her performance. Give her a Chicago Tribune leaflet and invite her to call me when she is next in Paris. She thanks me, tells me she will do it and gets someone to snap a photograph of the two of us. Which she later emails to me in Paris!
Attend Jenny Brown's superb party at the Book Festival Party Pavilon tonight with Stephanie Wolfe Murray. See lots of people we know. Jenny is celebrating the fifth birthday of her literary agency.
Later I walk to Broughton Street and down to the converted church where the Film Festival party is taking place. Hear my name called and it is Stephen Frears. He is in the front seat of a minivan and is about to be driven to his hotel. We chat again briefly.
Susan Claassen, A Conversation with Edith Head, photograph R.R.
Susan Claassen
photograph R.R.
I go to the door and am controlled by a young woman. No, I am not on the list I tell her. She is just about to turn me away when Michael and Mona Shea walk out of the party. They see me and go over to the young woman and tell her I am their guest. In we go and Michael and Mona proceed to introduce me to a number of people including the new French consul in Edinburgh, Nicole Taillefer. When I give her the Chicago Tribune leaflet, she says that she has heard of the Sunday dinners and would like to attend one day. Michael and Mona leave me. I see Clea Tammes and Jean-Margaret Mountford. Also see Mark Cousins. See Allan Ross. (And it is so sad not to have Penny Thomson with us). And lots of people I know.
Late, walk past Astrid Sillims' small apartment that is being used by the Festival for an installation, pass my old flat at 4 Great King Street, pass John, Elizabeth and Kate McGrath's home (41 Great King Street), pass W. Gordon Smith's home and my first room in Edinburgh back in 1956 (at No. 67 or 69 Great King Street.
Sunday, 26th: Today is a crazy and completely packed day. Michael and Mona Shea want me to attend Vanessa and William Prosser's brunch, but I have not been invited and do not wish to crash it. They rightly say that Vanessa and William will welcome me. I know that to be so, but still… (Later in Paris, I do have an invitation from them and feel silly for not going). Quick coffee, shower, etc and dress in my finest and take a taxi to Rutland Square. Go upstairs and sit with Sheila Colvin. John gives a talk this morning at the Scottish Arts Club on the superstar of the Scottish Enlightenment, Francis Jeffrey. Derek Watson will read selections from Jeffrey's writings. Talk afterwards with Hilary Mounfield. Am introduced to Lena Russell and we also chat a bit. Michael and Mona also attend John's talk and they urge me again to leave with them for the Prossers. Silly me refuses.
Later back at the Book Festival, I see Michael and Mona and they say that I was truly invited and that I am a silly fellow. I have to agree with them.
Alaa Al Aswany, The Yacoubian Building, Harper Perennial Ed;,  Illustration by Sarah Gibb
The Yacoubian Building
Illustr. Sarah Gibb
Meet the writer, Alaa Al Aswany, that I truly wanted to meet. I read his novel, The Yacoubian Building, (thanks to Sarah Dobbs), and found it superb. Then I saw the movie and found it also excellent. I recommended the film to the Calcutta Film Festival and they also loved the film. It now might well open the Festival this November. When Antonia Hoogewerf traveled recently to Egypt, I commissioned her to find Alaa. And she did it. He was extremely kind to her and she found him to be enchanting. Now here he is at the Book Festival and we finally meet. And what a nice man he is. Completely modest. I like him immediately. And his reading and talk at 2 p.m. is fun. The Writers' Retreat is completely packed. I am looking forward to his next book, Chicago, which is coming out soon. I think that Egypt and the entire Arab-language world has a major new writer. Afterwards in the Bookshop, he signs copies of The Yacoubian Building for many people. I even purchase another copy and he signs one to me. Meet and talk with his "minder", Lizzy Kingston, from HarperCollins. She is very young and sweet. When I leave them, I make him promise to call when he is next in Paris and Antonia and I will take him to dinner. He promises to do so.
Walk down the hill to Ainslie Place and Jim and Ingrid Kempston's home. I am early, but when their houseguests, Jerry and Judith Fow, from Cardiff arrive, I go upstairs with them. They are both doctors. A warm welcome awaits me. Sit and talk about the festival as the other guests begin to arrive. First is Ingrid's sister, Astrid Silins. Then an attractive neighbor, Susie Lendrum.
Then the Prossers who rightly scold me for missing their brunch today. As always, the food is sublime. I can only eat the first course because a taxi I have ordered arrives to take me to the Book Festival. I painfully excuse myself and go downstairs to ride the short distance to Charlotte Square. I want to attend the Writers of the World event at 6 because one of the writers, Moris Farhi, is a friend. He is also one of the few people on Earth to have read my autobiography, Thanks for Coming! And to have written a note to say how much he enjoyed it. Thank you, Moris.
Moris reads from his new book, Young Turk, and he shares the platform with another novelist from Turkey, Latife Tekin. She also reads from her new novel in Turkish. And a professor from the University of Edinburgh reads an English-language translation. Afterwards in the Bookshop, I chat with Moris and purchase his book, Young Turk. He signs it lovingly. I also purchase a copy of Latife's novel, Swords of Ice, and she signs it.
Moris Farhi, Young Turk

Find a taxi in George Street and it delivers me to Rona Thomson's home in Hamilton Folly Mews. She introduces me to a number of people and I sit and talk with a number of them including her lovely sister, Alison.

Mabou Mines Dolhouse, photograph©Richard Termine
Maud Mitchell in
Mabou Mines Dolhouse
photograph©Richard Termine
Decide to go to the King's Theatre and be a stage-door Johnny. The fabulous Maude Mitchell is here in Edinburgh performing the Mabou Mines Dollhouse. When I saw it in Paris, I was completely knocked out. I contacted the Edinburgh International Festival and raved about it and recommended it highly as a future festival production Not sure my call was responsible in any way, but it certainly did not hurt. Maude and a number of the cast members attended one of my Sunday dinners. And what a nice lady she is. I created the Traverse Theatre all those many years ago for Jane Alexander. Jane went on to become one of America's leading actresses. And it was Jane who insisted I see the Dollhouse in Paris and to meet Maude and the Director, Lee Breuer. I go back stage and encounter one of the actors, Krist Medina. We talk briefly and he says he fondly remembers the Sunday dinner he attended. I am delivered to Maude's dressing room and we have a big embrace. She brings me up to date with all the events since we last met.
The productions in Madrid, Chicago and Oslo were three of the best. Pedro Almodovar loved it as did all of Madrid. Oslo loved it. I feel sure that Ibsen would have loved it. Lee Breuer sticks his head into Maude's dressing room and when he sees me, he gives me a warm embrace and thanks me for all I have done to help the production. Very sweet of him. But I have not done much. The production speaks for itself. It is fabulous. Now it seems it will be filmed in Glasgow and Lee has to rush off to a production meeting. I suspect that Maude also has to attend. Give her a farewell hug and slip away into the night.

Bus to Princes Street, purchase a Scotsman in front of the Assembly Rooms and then walk to Great King Street. Find Ruth, Martin, Liz and Barry Wright and Ed Jones sitting in the kitchen. They have all been attending the Ricky Gervais the Castle Esplanade. Now I remember that Martin Burke said that Barry had also invited me. Silly me forgot all about it. Apparently it was a superb evening. It seems that Barry produced the show. Ed has arrived from te Middle East where he is the representative of Saatchi & Saattchi. He looks great. I join them for a while as we exchange festival and other tales.

Monday, 27th: Coffee and toast with Ruth at 8. Quick read of today's Scotsman and then take it to Martin who is still in bed. Decide to do one more laundry run. Walk to Raeburn Place and leave a small bag. Go to Bob Macaulay's once favorite coffee shop and have a bacon roll with brown sauce. One waitress with deep blue eyes is from Krakov; the second, equally pretty, is from Scotland. Bus two stops and make some more photocopies of the Chicago Tribune article. Then bus and walk to Charlotte Square. Visit the Press Pod and meet Robbie Jack and we have a long catch-up chat. Learn that his oldest daughter has just married,
Encounter Clea and Astrid and they are going to the 12 Noon Andrey Kurkov and Ronan Bennett event in the Peppers Theatre. Clea reports she knows Ronan. Claudia produces a ticket for me and I join them. It is an excellent session. Andrey is born in St. Petersburg and lives in the Ukraine. Ronan was brought in Belfast and his novel, Zugzwang, is set in St. Petersburg. I remember reading parts of it when it was serialized in The Observer. Andrey tells us amazing tales about his self-publishing activities in Kiev and his encounters with the Mafia. Roy Cross, who is the Director of the British Council in Scotland, is in the chair. Afterwards stroll over to the Bookshop and find myself talking with Ronan's Editor, Alexandra Pringle, at Bloomsbury. We talk about Paris and the Village Voice Bookshop. Give her a Chicago Tribune article and invite her to dine when she is next in Paris. She tells me that she will send me a copy of Ronan's book. (And she does! It arrives the 7th of September in the morning post. Thank you, Alexandra). Talk briefly with Ronan and with Andrey. Also talk with Roy Cross, the British Council fellow who chaired today's event. He and I talk about Terry Sendell in Kiev, about this fellow, Valentine, who is visiting the Edinburgh Festival from Kiev, and we talk about Sam Guha, who is with the British Council in Kolkata. Purchase a copy of Andrey's book, The President's Last Love, and we speak of Terry Sandell. Tell Andrey that I wish to visit Kiev and Terry in the near future The Ukraine is one of the few countries in the East I do not know. I have been on my way there a number of times, but never succeeded in making it there.
Sit on the Signing Tent café with Roza Nazipova Petherick and a friend of hers. They have also been to the Kurkov/Bennett event and they both also enjoyed it. They have to rush off. An attractive couple from Rome take their place. We talk briefly. Then I excuse myself and go to the Press Pod just as Peggy and Claudia are about to go to the Spiegeltent for lunch. They invite me to join them. And I do. We have three different kinds of soup Peg has pea, Claudia has Thai and I have fish chowder. All delicious. Kostas calls from Paris and I pass the phone to Peggy. And they chat away. Time for them to return to the Press Pod. Give Claudia my books to keep so I do not have to carry them all day. After they have left me, I notice that Claudia has left her handbag behind. Take it to her in the Press Pod and ask her "to watch it for me". She smiles when she realizes it is her bag. Leave them and encounter the couple from Rome again outside in George Street. They are a bit lost. I continue to the Assembly Rooms where I see Steven Gove and he tells me to come back at 17.45 and he will slip me into Fiona Evans' play Scarborough. OK! I rush to the Grassmarket and go to Fabhatrix (at Gordon Wright's suggestion) and purchase another cap. Not entirely happy with my selection, but a sweet couple who are also looking for a hat tell me it suits me. Also, the proprietor, Fawns Reid, says it suits me.

Make it in time to slip into Fiona's production. The room is the set. The audience of 25 are so close we can all touch the actors. A young school teacher is spending the weekend with one of her students. He is only fifteen and she is almost thirty. Society frowns on this sort of thing. A real no-no. But not me of course. If it brings them joy, what is the problem? The two performers are excellent. I enjoy the production. Thanks, Fiona! (And thanks, Steven).
Attend Roddy Martine's talk in the Peppers Theatre at 19.30. It is packed with friends. But spot Hannah Horowitz and we sit together. Roddy has written a book about Rosslyn Chapel entitled The Secrets of Rosslyn and looks at 600 years of its history and shows that once again the truth is stranger than fiction. Michael Fass, who was once the Chaplin of Rosslyn, is in the Chair. Lots of questions after his excellent talk and reading.
Hannah and I walk to the Italian restaurant in Hanover Street and attempt to catch each other up to date. It's a good meeting. But Hannah is not up for a late night concert in George Square. So up I go alone. I easily find a fellow who wishes to purchase my extra ticket. He is a Scot who is studying in France. I give him the Chicago Tribune article and invite him to dine when he comes to Paris. He thanks me for the ticket and the invitation. Find Ruth and Martin in the queue and join them. Camille certainly knows how to put on a great show and I can understand why The Scotsman and others papers gave her five stars. While I also like the performance, I prefer Meow Meow and Isabelle Georges.
Scarborough by Fiona Evans
by Fiona Evans

Tuesday, 28th: Coffee and cereal at 8. Collect laundry and have a bacon roll with brown sauce. Bus to Northumberland Street and purchase milk (for me) and wine (for Martin and Ruth). Get a call from Catherine Carnie regarding drinks at 5 today with Justin Dukes. Then get a call from Edith Graham regarding my being photographed by Edith Simon's daughter this afternoon, standing next to a portrait that Edith made of me some years ago.
Go to the National Portrait Gallery for Hannah Horowitz's talk with Ricky Demarco. Sit with Sheila Colvin and behind Sheena McDonald.
Today I take Claudia and Peggy to lunch. I make my way to Charlotte Square. And there are children everywhere. Not sure how many, but several thousand. The Press Pod is slowly coming down. The office is moving across the street to No.5 Charlotte Square. Frances seems to be on the constant move between the Pod and the permanent office. See Kath Mainland. Thank her and congratulate her on another well-run Book Festival. Ask them all to pass my best wishes and congratulations to Catherine Lockerbie.
We have lunch in Browns in George Street. Two sweethearts. When I am asked what did I most like at this year's Festival, the answer is always the people I encountered, both my old friends and the new ones I have made. Peg and Claudia are certainly new friends that I hope to see often in the months and years to come.
Get a call from Fiona Graham, who will come and collect me in front of Charlotte Square and drive me to Art et Facts, a small gallery on Roseburn Terrace. Edith Simon's daughter, Antonia Reeve, greets us, takes us inside and introduces me to George Rendall, the gallery owner and to her partner, Ron Anderson. Then Antonia takes a number of photographs of me holding the portrait her mother made of me. We talk about her mother and father and I tell her how much I admired her mother. Fiona drops me back at 84 Great King Street. I go up and rest for a while. (Later Antonia writes to tell me that the photograph has been published in an Edinburgh Evening News article about her mother).
Taxi to Catherine Carnie's Carlton Terrace Mews home for drinks with her, Justin Dukes, Eric von Ibier and another fellow. They invite me to dine with them tonight, but I cannot go because I have dinner tonight with Martin and Ruth. We all catch each other up with our news. I give my Emile-the-Rat update. And we talk lovingly of Jane MacAllister.
In the evening, we have a feast in Fishers in the City in Thistle Street Lane. Our party consists of Ruth Holloway, her two beautiful daughters, Grace and Tara, Martin Burke, Ed Jones and yours truly. I suggest we play my circle game and it is a big success. Even Ed enjoys it. A truly delightful evening!

Wednesday, 29th: Stephanie Wolfe Murray calls me to ask if I would like to have a breakfast with her. I have been up some time and am more or less packed and ready to leave Edinburgh. She arrives and we walk the short distance to the Patisserie Florentin. We have coffee and warm croissants. . Then it is back to Great King Street. Ed is already moving into my room. I tell him to take care of it for me. He helps me to take down my large bag and we load it in Stephanie's car. I thank Ruth and Martin. They have been super hosts.
Stephanie drops me at Waverley Station. What a lovely lady she is. Always a joy to see her and to share time and space with her. Soon on board the 12 Noon GNER train to London and leaving another Edinburgh Festival behind me. Read all the way to London. The train stops briefly in Peterborough and I think of my old University of Edinburgh History Professor, George Shepperson. I quietly send him greetings. What a wonderful man he is!
When the train pulls into Kings X at 1646, I quickly find a taxi and tell the friendly driver to take me to John Calder's bookshop in The Cut. He says the street is under repair, but he will do his best to get me as near to the shop as possible. And he succeeds.
John is downstairs in his basement office. We talk about the festival of course. He goes out to make some photocopies and post some letters, but the post office closes just as he arrives. And he returns pissed-off at the rudeness of the person who closed and locked the door in his face. I call Ernie Eban and invite him down to dine with us. To my pleasant surprise, Ernie agrees. We three have a feast in an Indian restaurant nearby, called Spice of India. Great food and great conversation. John insists upon treating us for dinner.
Ernie heads for the tube and his home. I walk around the corner to John's small flat and sleep in John Carney's old bed. Tired, happy and ready for Paris.

Thursday, 30th: Wake up at 7 with the sound of falling water. Get up and discover water is falling onto the kitchen floor. Wake John, but he doesn't seem to be very interested. Quickly dress and go upstairs. Knock several times on the door and finally a woman's voice demands to know who is there. I tell her I am from the downstairs flat and that water is coming from her flat and falling into our kitchen. She opens the door, apologizes and says she will do something about it. When I get back downstairs, it has stopped falling. Since I am up, I decide to shave. The woman comes down while I am shaving and apologizes again. Meanwhile John is sleeping through all of this. I go out to the Caffé Nero and have a morning coffee and a pain au chocolat. Purchase a Guardian and a new light bulb for John's room. Back to John's place and he is beginning to come alive. Install the new bulb. Now we walk back to the Caffé Nero for John's breakfast. Afterwards we go to his office in the basement of the bookshop. John has to post some letters and make some photocopies. I sit upstairs in the bookshop. A well-dressed man enters the shop and purchases Beckett's trilogy and John Calder's book on the Philosophy of Samuel Beckett. He is from Brighton and the two of us have a brief talk about Beckett. I give him a newsletter and invite him to dine when he is next in Paris. I suggest he linger a bit and that I will introduce him to John Calder when he returns within five or ten minutes. He has a meeting and cannot wait. John returns minutes later and I report the sales. He is pleased. Earlier John reported that his book about Beckett was in its third printing in Budapest. Mark, who runs the bookshop, arrives and I pass over the money I received and report my success.
I manage to get Beatriz Belfrage on the telephone and she will come over and have lunch with me. Also talk with Mary Clemmey and she says that she had a great time in Paris. Beatriz finally arrives and I introduce her to John Calder and the two of them speak briefly about Sally and Cedric Belfrage. Beatriz and I go out for an early lunch at the Italian restaurant, Paradiso, a few doors down the street. She has pasta and I have a pizza. We talk about her plans to travel around South America and to make a quick visit to Paris before she goes. We talk about Kostas, David Lucas and the Paris atelier. She asks if she can stay in the atelier when she is in Paris. I say I hope so. A fellow sitting near us asks if I am Jim Haynes. It is Steve Unwin. He was once the co-Artistic Director of the Traverse with his then wife. He comes over and introductions are made. He is no longer with Jenny Killick, but they have two sons. And are still friends.
After our lunch, we go back to the bookshop, collect my bags, hail a taxi and ride the short distance to Waterloo Station. Beatriz watches my bags while I see if I can change my ticket. Yes, it is possible. There is a place on the 15.11 train. I have 20 minutes to board. Quickly kiss Beatriz and rush through British and French passport control, up the escalator and walk to the front of the train. Find my seat opposite a mother and daughter. Call Ksenia and Ernie as the train is pulling out and get their answering machines. Leave thank you messages for all their kindnesses. Read all the way to Paris. Finally chat with the two ladies when we are only minutes away from the Gare du Nord. They ask if they can walk to their hotel in the Avenue de l'Opera from the Gare. I say no, not if they have luggage. It is too far. They ask about the metro. Finally I suggest I drop them in my taxi. They accept. I give them a copy of the Chicago Tribune article and invite them to dine this Sunday. But they are going back to London on Sunday and then will fly home to South Africa. We quickly move to the taxi queue and are on our way. I drop them at their hotel. They thank me. And I speed on my way to Tombe Issoire. I never do get their names.
Enter an empty atelier. Lots of post, email messages, and telephone messages. Feels great to be home again. No more travels for a few months and then it is time for the Frankfurt Book Fair (October) and the Calcutta Film Festival (November).
What does the future hold? Will I sell my atelier, my home in Paris for the past 36 years? Will I successfully acquire a small hotel in central Paris? Where will I next live? Will I travel around the world? Visit the Ukraine? Visit Buenos Aires? Will I finally write and publish volume 2 of my autobiography? Will my fight with Emile-the-Rat have a successful finale? Yes, what does the future hold? I certainly hope it includes more Edinburgh Festivals…



Jim Haynes
September 2007

Atelier A-2,
83 rue de la tombe Issoire,
75014 Paris









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