Jim Haynes newsletters
Newsletter No. 672
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Claudia Monteiro, Frances Sutton, Peggy Hughes. Photograph ©Murdo MacLeod
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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, 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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Maud Mitchell in
Mabou Mines Dolhouse
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.
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,
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.
by Fiona Evans
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.
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.
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.
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