18th: The lovely Ruth brings coffee to me at 8.30. Quickly up and
dress. Go out for milk, bran flakes, sugar, two bottles of wine, and The
Scotsman. Back upstairs and quickly read the paper and eat a bowl
of cereal. See Martin and insist he accept some euros in order to contribute
to household expenses. Head for Marks & Spencer, change 500 euros,
and purchase a few items. Walk around the corner and purchase a week's
bus pass. Then stroll down Princes Street and pick up another Nokia mobile
phone plus ten pounds of credit.
the Delegates Centre. The press card is not ready yet, so go across the
street to the Café Italia for a bacon roll and a coffee. It is
delicious. Call Leslie Hills and she invites me to go with her to the
opening film tonight and the party afterwards. Yes, thanks! Try to call
Mona and Michael Shea. No success. Bob Flynn enters and we have a good
long talk. He tells me about the Valladolid Film Festival in October and
says that he thinks I would like it. I highly recommend the Calcutta Film
Festival to him. Back to the Delegates Centre and check email. My press
card is now ready. Thank you, Kate Wilson, Graeme Thomson and Nicola Ingram.
the Traverse, but no sign of anyone I know. Walk to the Book Festival
office in Charlotte Square and visit briefly with Claudia Monteiro and
thank her once again for collecting me at the airport. See Kath Mainland
and we chat briefly. She is surprised to see me in Edinburgh in June.
Tell her I will be back in August for the Book Festival. And that she
will see me every day in August.
to the post office in Frederick Street and purchase 20 stamps. Down to
Margiotta and purchase a few more items for the house. Then to Great King
Street and finish the Alan Furst novel, The Spies of Warsaw. It
is superb! One of his best yet. It would make a great film! Alan is an
old friend. I am a big fan of his novels and have read all of them. Call
Leslie Hills and leave a message regarding tonight's opening of the film
festival. Go out to find a taxi and get a call from Leslie. She will pick
me up at 17.45. I go back to the apartment and study the film programme.
Then go downstairs and wait for Leslie's taxi. It soon appears and she
is with two women and a fellow. He is Robin Gillanders, a photographer,
and one of the women is his partner Marjorie Wilson, a teacher. The other
woman is Joe Hall who runs the Discovery Children's Film Festival in Dundee.
begin to see people I know. The opening film is entitled The Edge of
Love. It is a bio pic about the life of the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas,
and his wife, Caitlin, and his "friend", Vera Philips. We have
a little time, so I purchase drinks for Leslie and for Astrid Silins.
See Fran James and she introduces me to her son. Tell Fran that I plan
to dine in her restaurant, Creelers, this week. She says that she plans
a trip to France soon. Chat briefly with Rupert Thomson, a friend of Martin
Belk's. See Mary Shields and she looks beautiful. We exchange warm embraces.
We both say how pleased we are that the Film Festival is now in June.
It's soon time to head for the cinema. Embrace Mona and Michael Shea on
my way into the cinema. They ask me to call them so we can make a date.
Leslie reports she is currently involved in a film project about a Japanese
sculptor setting up an arts colony in the tip of Italy. She and I have
great seats. Mary Shields sits in front of me. She says that she would
like to come over to Paris in October and stay the weekend with me. And
maybe come with one or two friends. One of her friends is a cook. I tell
her this is a good idea. Sean Connery sits with his wife two rows in front
of us. Pete Irvine sits just down from Leslie. David Bruce enters and
introduces his attractive cousin, Kirsten Fisher, from Toronto.
the Chairman of the Film Festival board, welcomes us. Then, Hannah McGill,
the Artistic Director, introduces the director, John Maybury, and the
cast, Keira Knightly, Senna Miller and one of the two principal actors,
but I do not remember which one. The actor, Cillian Murphy, plays William,
who courts Vera (Keira Knightly) and eventually marries her. Matthew Rhys
plays Dylan Thomas. Senna Miller plays Dylan's wife, Caitlin. It is a
wild marriage to say the least. The screenwriter, Sharman Macdonald, who
is Keira's mother, is introduced. I like the film. Both the women are
fantastic. I have mixed feelings about Dylan Thomas, the man, because
he is in many ways a classic bastard and treats both women (and one suspects
all women) very badly But it seems that women like bastards.
is over, see Keith Bruce, the Arts Editor of The Herald. We talk
briefly and he introduces me to an attractive woman. Walk out with Leslie
Hills to a bus that will take us to a party in the old Men's Union, next
to my old bookshop, in Charles Street. We enter a bus and I spot Rainer
Kölmel sitting with Mary Davies. Tell him that I will see him on
Thursday evening. There are no two seats together, so sit next to a young
attractive woman. Her name is Lisa Trnovski and she is the producer of
the film, Mum and Dad, which seems to be a domestic horror film.
We have a good talk all the way to the party. I wish her good luck. The
Men's Union contains many memories. I organized a successful poetry reading
for Yevgeny Yevtushenko there in 1962. And during the Festival of 1962,
I arranged for it to be used as our lunch-time base for the Writers' Conference.
Inside Leslie and I wander about. We locate a fish & chips stand and
it is a delicious feast. I go back two times. I spot Lynda Myles sitting
with Colin Young and we are invited to join them. Lots of gossip exchanged.
Una McLean looms into view and we exchange warm embraces. David Bruce
and Kirsten Fisher join us for a while. Michael Shea introduces me to
two people from the Lyceum Theatre. Mona Shea and Astrid Silins appear.
I go to get Colin Young a drink from the bar. But because it is so hot,
I excuse myself. And seek a cooler corner. Plus I seem to have lost Leslie.
to another bar and stand and talk with Faith Liddell and her tall beautiful
blonde friend from New Zealand, Amy Saunders. Faith has an amazing position.
She and her assistant, Amy, attempt to co-ordinate the 13 festivals that
take place every year in Edinburgh. I am introduced to a fellow named
Doug Hunter (also from New Zealand) who presents concerts of Gypsy musicians.
We talk briefly about Goran Bregovic and I tell him that Goran recently
fell out of a tree and had a serious accident. His agent, Maria Rankov,
is a dear friend of mine. Kath Mainland is also with us and a journalist
from the Sunday Times named Mike Wade. They all go wandering off,
but before they go, Faith, Amy and I agree to meet for lunch next Monday
in a restaurant in Hanover Street. Discover that I am sitting next to
Tim Cornwell and he and I begin to talk. He is a journalist with The
Scotsman newspaper. We met last Festival or the one before that. He
and his wife, from America, live next door to Sheila Colvin. We have a
good long talk and I tell him why I like the Film Festival's move from
August to June and why I think it benefits everyone. I confess that I
was alarmed when I first heard the proposal, but now I am a convert. He
and I also talk about Steven Gove and the Prague Fringe Festival. Astrid
and her beautiful daughter (or is it little sister?), Clea, appear. They
are with another woman and we are introduced. Her name is Abi Harris.
Plans are afoot to head outside, find a taxi and return to our homes.
Somehow or other, Clea is left behind because Astrid thinks she needs
to stay longer at the party. Or wants to stay longer. We drop off Abi
at the Caledonian Hotel and Astrid's mobile phone rings. It is Clea wanting
to know why we left her. She will take another taxi to Leith. I am dropped
at Great King Street and Astrid speeds on her way to her home. A superb
evening! Thank you, Leslie!
up, sitting in the kitchen. She and I talk about our day and then I go
and fall into my bed. Tired and happy.
19th: Another coffee plus toast and honey produced by the honey, Ruth.
Delightful shower. Out the door and take the bus up to George Street.
A woman leaves her seat to exit the bus and I spot her purse. She is forgetting
it. Shout to her and she turns back and discovers her bag, collects it
and profusely thanks me. I am a hero, briefly. A great way to start the
day. Get on another bus and head for the Delegates Centre. Check email.
Flirt with the press staff. Decide to accept Bob Flynn's suggestion and
go to Filmhouse and Daniel gives me two tickets for the Terence Davies
film this afternoon. One for Bob Flynn and one for me. Start walking to
Cineworld to see In the City of Sylvia. Discover I am running late,
so jump in a taxi and arrive on time. It is a bizarre film. Directed by
José Luis Guerin, the film has almost no plot and almost no dialogue.
Set in Strasbourg, the protagonist, played by Xavier Lafitte, spends almost
the entire film following women he thinks might be Sylvia. The film could
be a publicity ad for the city of Strasbourg because the city truly looks
inviting. Not sure if I like it or not, but I do think about it afterwards
a great deal. This must mean something.
to the Cameo to see another strange film entitled Good Dick, directed
by and performed by Marianna Palka. Born and raised in Glasgow, she moved
to New York when she was 17. Now she lives in L.A. and is an actor, writer,
director, photographer and co-founder of a production company. I could
not make up my mind about what I thought about the film and, I suspect,
did not give it much time to grab me. I left after about fifteen minutes
into the film. Now I want to see it again to give it another chance.
Filmhouse. See Syd Kyman and Ailsa Hollinshead. Ask them if Willie Milliken
and John Pavel are here or not. Willie is, but John has not come. They
tell me they will be traveling to a small town just outside Paris in late
July. They rush off to see a Jeanne Moreau film, Eve, directed by Joseph
Losey. A fellow asks if he can share my table. His name is Paul Ines and
he is a Town Councilor. We have a good chat about the various Edinburgh
festivals. Call Astrid and we chat. See Mark Cousins and we discuss the
Kolkata Film Festival.
to the Café Rouge in Frederick Street and order a cup of hot chocolate.
The pretty waitress is from Lille. She is enjoying her time in Edinburgh.
Call Michael and Mona Shea and we agree to meet next Monday afternoon
at 18.30 in their home for a drink.
to Great King Street to rest a bit. Then head for Cineworld again to see
Of Time and the City at 17.30. Directed by Terence Davies, it is
a homage to Liverpool and a loving portrait of the city and his relationship
to it from his youth. It is a poetic documentary that uses very little
new material, but manages with old stock film aided by his own voiceover.
It is a wonderful evocation and I enjoyed every minute of its 75 minutes
running time. Terence Davies is present and the film is well-received.
I cannot stay long for the Q & A because of Rainer Kolmel's dinner
party tonight in Leith. He and I slip out, find a taxi and are soon zooming
down to Vintners. Rainer has invited about fifteen people to a feast.
Not sure I can remember everyone present, but Ursula Boeser (a professor
at Heriot Watt University), Mary Davies (runs the Industry Services for
the Film Festival) , Lynda Myles (ex-Director Edinburgh Film Festival
and now an independent film producer), Gay Cox (involved with Jim Hickey
and various aspects of cinema), Carol Sharpe (photographer), Barbara McLean
(literary agent and teacher), Ruth Pelzer (Artist and Lecturer at Edinburgh
College of Art), Joe Hall (who runs a children's film festival) and Lisa
Esskuche (translator) are the women. The men are Philip MacKenzie (retired
professor of History), Jim Hickey (ex-Director of the Edinburgh Film Festival
and independent film producer), David Campbell (old friend and storyteller),
Nick Roddick (film critic and film journalist), John MacInnes (restauranteur),
and Hugh Keith (translator and ex-lecturer at Heriot Watt University)
plus the host (ex-professor of Heriot Watt University, Director of Kinowelt
Film Company, husband of the incredible Sabine Kölmel and dear friend)
and yours truly. We have a private dining room that dates from the 12th
century. Two large tables. I sit next to Ursula and discover that I like
her the more I see her. The meal is outrageous. I select the grilled crottin
de Chavignol with lemon and honey dressing to start followed by roast
rump of lamb provencal and ending with lemon tarte meringue and coffee.
Plus wines - both white and red. Extremely delicious. A number of people
stand up and make witty speeches including our host. Rainer is super kind
and generous. I feel honored to know him and Sabine.
share a taxi with Jim Hickey and Gay Cox. Earlier tonight there has been
a Robin Hodge, the publisher of The List, party. And a woman there
wanted to meet me. When we arrive, we discover it is all over and everyone
has departed. Jim and Gay live next door in Tweeddale Court and they invite
me inside for a cup of tea. I accept and we have a delightful visit. Taxi
to Great King Street. Telephone Sheila Colvin and think I have awakened
20th: Toast and coffee at 8.15 - thanks to Ruth. A lazy morning. Write
a few postcards. Shave, shower, dress. Call Sheila Colvin and we agree
to meet at Bar Italia in Lothian Road at 20.30. She and I will go to see
the documentary film about Barney Rosset at 21.50 in Cineworld entitled
Bus to Toll
Cross and post the new Alan Furst novel, The Spies of Warsaw, to
old friend, Stash Pruszynsky in Warsaw. I think he will enjoy it. I certainly
did. Go to the Press Centre and check email.
Filmhouse where I encounter Roza Nazipova. We chat briefly. Collect one
ticket and purchase another for Obscene. Sit inside and have a
cup of hot chocolate. See Terence Davies sitting alone at a table nearby
and go over to congratulate him for his film, Of Time and the City.
Also mention the Kolkata Film Festival to him. Giles Sutherland asks if
he may join me. Of course. We met when he visited in Paris with his then
girlfriend, a delightful woman from Poland named Dorota. We dined (plus
Anna Strickland) in one of my favorite restaurants, the Auberge des
Trois Saveurs, just a few minutes from my home. He tells me he is
no longer with Dorota and this he finds extremely painful.
calls and soon arrives. We walk the short distance to the Café
Italia. The two delightful individuals who seem to be the proprietors
are from Poland. Her name is Agnieszka and his name is Andrzej. I order
bigos and Angela has a stuffed potato with tuna. We are both happy with
our lunch selections. She and her fella, Andy, are flying next Thursday
to Paris for the Bruce Springsteen concert. Angela departs for a meeting
and I chat with two women at a table near mine. They are Carrie Wootten
and Tara Halloran. Both are involved with the film industry. Carrie lives
in London and Tara, who is with the UK Film Council, lives in West Hollywood.
They invite me to see something called Trailblazers 2008 - short films
by the brightest and best of UK film talent in the Cameo on Monday afternoon.
Leave them and watch a Serbian-German co-production, Love and Other
Crimes in the Videotheque (in the basement of the Delegates Centre).
It's a bizarre film set in Belgrade, but it is also extremely moving.
The director, Stefan Arsenijevic, poses the question: what happens if
you fall in love on the very day you intend to leave forever?
see Before the Rains in Cineworld 10. Directed by Santosh Sivan,
it is an Indian/American co-production set in the 1930s colonial Kerala.
It is this Indian director's assured English-language debut. Santosh also
was the cinematographer and the visuals are breathtaking. A married English
tea-planter has an affair with a local girl that gets out of hand when
she becomes pregnant. In the background, rising Indian nationalism mixed
with the taboo of the affair. An interesting film that is beautifully
shot and told.
to Filmhouse. See Leslie Hills in the café and join her table.
She is sitting with Ginnie Atkinson and a fellow. His name is Jeff. They
leave and I call Sheila Colvin and suggest we meet in the café
of Filmhouse at 20.30. Sit with Syd, Ailsa and Willie. Meet Sheila Colvin
and we have a delicious meal in the Bar Italia in Lothian Road. Our waiter,
Stefan, is an excellent fella, smart, witty and handsome. Both Sheila
and I like him. We find a taxi and rush to the Cineworld for the 21.50
screening of the documentary, Obscene, directed by Daniel O'Connor
and Neil Ortenberg, Congratulations, gentlemen! This is a European premiere.
Bravo, Hannah McGill, for electing to show this portrait of the iconoclast
publisher, Barney Rosset, the founder of Grove Press and the publisher
of Evergreen Review. Barney Rosset, Maurice Girodias and John Calder
are three of the most important publishers in the last half of the 20th
century. (At least in the English-language.) Both Sheila and I know most
of the people interviewed in the film as well as Barney himself. His successful
legal defense of D.H. Lawrence (Lady Chatterley's Lover), Henry
Miller (Tropic of Cancer) and the film, I Am Curious/ Yellow
(Directed by Vilgot Sjöman) almost single-handedly defeated censorship
in the USA. I wonder how many writers and film-makers know his name and
appreciate what he has done for them. I admire his fighting spirit. Thank
leave the cinema, I do not have my cap. We find a taxi and pass the Bar
Italia and when I enter, Stefan smiles and presents it to me. Drop Sheila
at her home and continue to mine.