Jim Haynes newsletters

Newsletter No. 687

Edinburgh Film Festival
17 to 26 June 2008

Edinburgh International Film Festival

Tuesday, 17th: Today I fly to Edinburgh for ten days in order to attend the Film Festival. It used to be in August as a part of the overall Edinburgh Festival, but this year for the first time it has been moved forward to June. A move that will certainly be better for all concerned. I am looking for films to recommend to the Calcutta Film Festival. I have become a Consultant to the Director, Nilanjan Chatterjee. Calcutta is a great film festival (10 to 17 November)! Edinburgh too!
Spend a quiet morning packing and getting ready to depart. Keep changing my mind about how I will travel to Charles de Gaulle. Finally decide to take the RER from Denfert Rochereau. Arrive early for the Easy Jet flight which is just as well because there is a long queue. But it moves fairly quickly and soon I am on board sitting next to a young couple from France who are making their first trip to Scotland. A very smooth flight. Clear passport control and find the lovely Claudia Monteiro waiting for me. We quickly find her car and are on our way to the Waverly Bar in St. Mary's Street in order to surprise Peggy Hughes. Peg has a part time job there as a bar maid. Learn lots of news about Claudia, Peggy and Frances Sutton - the three dynamite team who ran the Book Festival press last August. Peg will not be with them this year because she has a new position with the Poetry Centre. There will be a replacement for Peggy (not that one can ever find a replacement for Peg), a new face (and apparently a very pretty one as well) named Anna Bacciarelli. Learn that Claudia's fellow, Ian King, is busy looking for an apartment for them, that in the meantime, they are staying with his family. Lots of road works; the city is re-installing its tram system. But we soon arrive and discover that Peg is not there tonight. There is an event on at the Poetry Centre. But we do spot Jamie Byng sitting with an attractive woman. After he and I embrace, the women are introduced. Anna-Lisa Sandstrum is from California and is the sales manager for Canongate. What a splendiferous encounter. Learn lots of publishing gossip from Jamie including the fact that he publishes Barack Obama's books. Jamie suggests I pass his office and pick up copies. Anna-Lisa rightly says the books are available in most bookshops. I tell her that I agree with her and will support Canongate (and booksellers) by purchasing the books. She smiles. We soon excuse ourselves and walk down the Royal Mile to the Poetry Centre. A talk is going on upstairs, but Peg is sitting downstairs, spots us and comes out. She is very surprised to see us. After our embrace, we chat briefly. (Earlier I called Ruth and she reported Martin had prepared dinner. I promise to be there in thirty minutes.) Claudia soon drops me at Great King Street. I thank her for collecting me and for being wonderful.
Upstairs, deposit my things in "my room" and go into the kitchen for Martin's shepherd's pie. Learn that they are flying off on Monday to Spain and France. Ruth purchased some years ago a house in Spain not far from the sea. And now Martin has elected to become a landowner in France. Only some thirty kilometers from Ruth's place. He will sign the papers next week. Learn the two brothers, Brian and Andrew Jones, are still living in two rooms in the apartment. Also a young woman is in the red room, but she is away in England attending the Glastonbury music festival. More gossip about Theatre Workshop. Then I excuse myself and fall into bed, a very tired lad.

Wednesday, 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.
Walk to 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.
Walk to 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.
Continue 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.
At Cineworld 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.
John McCormick, 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.
When it 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.
Wander downstairs 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!
Ruth is up, sitting in the kitchen. She and I talk about our day and then I go and fall into my bed. Tired and happy.

Thursday, 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.
Then walk 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.
Walk to 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.
Stroll down 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.
Go back 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.
Late, I 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 her. Damn.

Friday, 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 Obscene.
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.
Then to 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.
Angela Bertie 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?
At 17.15, 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.
Bus back 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 you, Barney.
When we 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.

Saturday, 21th: Sheila Colvin calls and we both say how much we enjoyed our dinner and the film last night. She suggests we see Café de los Maestros at 15.50 tomorrow I tell her I will purchase two tickets today and we can meet in the Cameo café at 15.30 tomorrow.
Make my way to Film house and purchase two tickets for the Café de los Maestros. There are only eight tickets left, so it will be a sell-out surely. Decide to see Diary of a Chambermaid, directed by Luis Bunuel and with Jeanne Moreau. Sit with Astrid Silins. Syd Kyman and Ailsa Hollinshead sit a few rows behind us. Lynda Myles sits a row or two in front of us. A strange film. I have the feeling that I have seen it before. I once saw a soft porn film on French TV with more or less the same plot that I found much better in every way. I preferred the actress and everything about it. Damn, but I wish that I could remember its title. I would love to see it again. It really was a superb film. Erotic, but not vulgar.
Later wander to the Delegates Centre with Willie. Then take the bus to the Cineworld complex. I am early. Purchase an ice cream and chat with the young woman who serves it. She is from Sweden and tells me that she plans to attend film school in New York City. I tell her that my son, Jesper, is also Swedish (and American and British), that he lives part of the year in Brooklyn. (when he is not in Tokyo, Bangkok, Stockholm or Paris). Then suddenly Faith Liddell and Amy Saunders arrive and we discover we are all going to the same Dutch film, Tiramisu. It's a sweet film about an aging actress; her husband left her for a younger woman. Classic stuff. It's an old story.
Back to Great King Street. It is going to be a wet night tonight. Martin calls a taxi and we three head for Creelers in Hunter Square. Learn that Fran and Tim are both away in France. Nevertheless, we have a great meal. Three very happy and very stuffed individuals manage to find a taxi in the High Street and return to Great King Street. I am so full and so tired that I go to bed almost straight away.

Sunday, 22nd: Up very early this morning. Walk to the laundry in Stockbridge and pick up a small bundle. Also manage to get some cash from the post office bank machine. Bus up the hill to Northumberland Street and purchase Scotland on Sunday, milk, bread and rolls. Back in Great King Street, chat with Martin in the kitchen and make myself some toast. Take a taxi to the delegates Centre and the driver tells me an unbelievable story about hitch-hiking in France with his future wife. They get picked up just outside Bordeaux and the ride takes them to Paris. The couple takes them to an apartment, gives them a set of keys and tells them they are welcome to stay for the next few days. They are to drop the keys through the mail slot when they leave. After checking my email, go to the videotheque and watch The Visitor. Directed by Thomas McCarthy, who also directed The Station Agent. Both films are relevant and life-enhancing. Note in the credits to The Visitor that the music is by an old friend, Jan Kaczmarek. Ask at the Delegates Desk if anyone from the film might be in Edinburgh and learn that the director and an actor left this morning. Damn. It would have been nice to talk with them about the film and about attending the Kolkata Film Festival.
Walk to the Cameo. Sheila soon arrives. Café de los Maestros is the Buena Vista Social Club re-made with tango music. Fun. But I think I prefer Bossa Nova. We walk to the Caffe Nero in Lothian Road and have a coffee. Sheila treats. Then we taxi to her home in Oxford Terrace. She calls Ricky and Anne Demarco and they walk around the corner and come over for a drink. Ricky tells us about Lodz and his plans for this coming November. He wants me to travel there with him. Soon it is time for everyone to head in a different direction. Sheila has a meeting of the Wagner Society to attend. I have a dinner date in Leith with Astrid. Not sure what Ricky and Anne are up to. A taxi is called and I drop Sheila on the other side of the Dean Bridge and continue to Astrid's. Three guests are there when I arrive: another Latvian, Astrid Balodis (living in Leicester), Fiona McKechnie and a Colin (from Durham, but currently living near Nice). Dinner is, of course, divine. Vinison followed by a fish dish. Good conversation too. Fairly late, Astrid calls a taxi and throws us out. (With grace.) Drop Fiona and Colin and continue to Great King Street.

Monday, 23th: Martin and Ruth fly to Spain today and will stay there a few weeks. Somehow the lunch arrangements with Faith Liddell and Amy Saunders at Urbanangel fail to happen. I sit and wait for them. But they do not appear. (Later back in Paris, I get an email message from Faith to say that she sent me two text messages, but I failed to receive them. Her mum had to be rushed to the hospital. Oh me oh my!)
Bus to the Café Italia opposite the Delegates Centre and have a delicious bowl of Scotch broth. Invite myself to join an attractive young woman from India who is sitting at a table next to me. I remember seeing her in the Cineworld. When I congratulated Santosh Sivan after his superb film, Manisha Korde was talking with him. I gave both of them newsletters regarding the Sunday dinner. Now she reminds me where we encountered. She is from Bombay. We talk about Shashi Kapoor and his theatre (Prithvi) and his daughter (Sanjna), about Alyque Padamsee, about Pearl Padamsee, about Dolly Thakore, about Om Puri, about the Calcutta Film Festival, about the Goa Film Festival and so many other things. Very enjoyable. She is off to spend a few days in the English lake country. Tennyson and Hardy and all that jazz. She has a meeting scheduled in the very near future with Om Puri, so ask her to give him my best wishes.
Go across to the Videotheque and watch a bit of The Lemon Tree. Not able to see it all because I have promised that I would see the Trailblazers collection this afternoon. But what I manage to see of The Lemon Tree looks superb. It is an Israeli film in Arabic and Hebrew. Later head for the Cameo. Arrive a few minutes late, so miss the beginning of the first film which takes place in Havana.
Afterwards bus to Princes Street, call Claudia Monteiro and we agree to meet for a coffee in Brown's in George Street right away. When I get there, an attractive woman calls out my name. It is Marina Zadiraka from Kiev. She once came to Paris with Roza and David Petherick. She is sitting on the terrace and I join her for a few minutes. She tells me that she is now divorced, but living in Edinburgh. Claudia, inside, sees us and joins us. After a bit, Marina's son, now aged 10, arrives. I have a date with Mona and Michael Shea, so everyone exchanges cards and we (Claudia and I) find a taxi. And speed up to Ramsay Gardens. As expected, Michael and Mona like Claudia. It is a superb encounter. Everyone enjoys it. Michael has a check-up scheduled for tomorrow morning, so wishes to have a quiet evening at home. But we steal Mona away and rush to Cineworld to see Gloss: The Director's Cut. Claudia calls Ian, her husband, and he joins us. Gloss, directed and co-written by Andrei Konchalovsky, uses the fashion industry as a microcosm of Moscow today. Hannah McGill introduces the director and his principal actress, Yuliya Vysotskaya, and after the screening he talks about the film and takes questions from the audience. I find the film, from my own limited experience of Moscow, to be extremely accurate. One of Andrei Konchalovsky's last remarks is a quotation from an un-named English journalist something along these lines: "Russians should be the colour blue or purple, but because they are white, we think they are like other Europeans and they are not." I also note in the screen credits the name of a friend, Artyon Troitsky. Briefly bump into Konchalovsky in the corridor afterwards and tell him that I bet the English journalist was my friend, Jo Durden-Smith. He smiles and says yes. Wonderful Jo left us the 11th of May last year to re-join his ancestors. I mention this fact and he replies that he left a wonderful widow, Yelena. I tell him that Yelena is also my friend. Suddenly two strangers have friends in common. I tell him that I saw Artyon Troitsky's name in the credits, but did not see him. He smiles and said that he was cut.
Ian drops Mona at the top of the Lawn Market and then delivers me to Great King Street. Another amazing day and evening in Edinburgh.

Tuesday, 24th: A wonderful shave and shower starts the day off in the best way possible.
I discover there is a press screening of the film, Man on Wire, about Philippe Petit and his high-wire walk in 1974 between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. This will take place in Cineworld at 14.15 today. It will have its European Premiere the 26th (and another screening the 27th), but I will be in Paris then. My only chance to see the film is the press screening this afternoon. And I am knocked-out by it. He and I are friends, dating from the early 70s when he was often in Montparnasse. Philippe has even dined at my Sunday dinners. James Marsh celebrates this impossible dream. His film is a sensitive re-creation of the small team who helped Philippe pull it off. One of these people is also a friend of mine, Jean-Louis Blondeau; his wife is the talented actress/singer, Gay Marshall. I love this film and hope that we can screen it in Kolkata. It will surely be a big success there.
I also see Mark Cousins and he introduces me to Marie Bonnel. Mark tells her about my Sunday dinners in Paris and I give her the Chicago Tribune article and tell her to come and dine when she is next in Paris. She gives me her card and she does something with the French Embassy in London connected with audiovisual information.
Bus to Filmhouse where I sit with Willie Milliken and am introduced to two of his friends. Also sit with Ailsa Hollinshead. Syd enters and joins us. Walk to the Delegates Centre where I check my email and flirt with Kate Wilson, the very attractive brunette at the Press Desk.
Bus No. 2 to Forrest Road and stroll to the Elephant House. See Martin Belk in the queue in front of me. He introduces me to a lovely young woman from France and I join them briefly until my mobile rings and it is from Angela Bartie. She tells me she is in the back room. I look up and see her. Excuse myself and join her. She asks how we should play it tonight and I suggest whatever will be will be. Let us just do it. Carol Stobie joins us. She reports a large advanced booking. It seems we are to have a big turn-out tonight. That's nice. We cross over to the National Library of Scotland and go into the John Murray Room. It soon fills and I spot many faces I know. Angela, as expected, does a great job. I tug my right ear and produce humour, tales of wonder and insight and words of wisdom. (Or at least it seems so at the time.) Lots of questions afterwards. Angela excuses herself and dashes for the train to Glasgow. I sign books, mainly White Washing Fences. Then Carol leads Astrid Silins, Olivier Joly, Ryan Van Winkle and yours truly to a restaurant called Howies in Victoria Street. We have a feast. Because it is "my" night, I bully everyone into playing my circle game. And it works its magic as always. Carol has to rush out at some point in order to catch a train at Waverly to her home in North Berwick. But before she departs, she passes an envelope to me that contains one hundred and fifty pounds sterling. Thank you, Carol. Thank you, National Library of Scotland. Thank you, tax-payers of Scotland.
After Carol departs, I order a dessert and four spoons. (Our waitress from Barcelona is a sweetheart. Give her a newsletter and invite her to dine when she is next in Paris.) Astrid and I find a taxi, but Ryan and Olivier disappear into the night.

Wednesday, 25th: Last night's talk in the National Library of Scotland really went well. I enjoyed every minute. Slow start to today. Feel no need to rush anywhere. Bus to National Library of Scotland and call Carol Stobie. She made her train last night with seconds to spare. Carol also says that not only did she feel last night went well but that all the feedback has been positive. (Even the doorman reported he enjoyed it.) We go upstairs to see the publication of Hugh McDiarmid's talk on David Hume. And learn it is another publication. This is one published later by Giles Gordon. Mine has to be brought forth from the vaults. And will be available in an hour's time.
Bus to the Delegates Centre and check email. Bump into Lizzie Francke and we talk about our friend, Hercules Bellville, and the fact that we both approve of the Film Festival's new June dates. Lizzie was the Artistic Director of the Edinburgh Film Festival from 1997 to 2001. Wander over to Filmhouse. Consider purchasing some DVDs, but realize no space left in my bags to carry anything to Paris. Call Claudia Monteiro and she suggests we meet in fifteen minutes at the National Trust for Scotland in Charlotte Square for a simple lunch. Make my way down Lothian Road and arrive before her. She has reserved a table. Soon Claudia arrives and to my pleasant surprise has Frances Sutton with her. What joy! We three have a superb lunch filled with lots of talk and giggles. I insist it is my treat. Discuss going out to the air port tomorrow with Claudia. We agree to talk later.
Leave them and return to Great King Street to rest and to watch a bit of Wimbledon tennis. Then taxi to the Bank of Scotland and deposit my check from the National Library. Next bus to the National Library and this time successfully examine the first booklet I ever published and discover it was designed by Pete McGinn. The woman who passes the booklet over to me tells me she enjoyed my talk last night. Go to Filmhouse and see Leslie Hills. Sit with her briefly. She is off to see Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and it is a film that I had planned to see at this time as well. But Willie talks me into seeing the documentary, Dreams with Sharp Teeth, about the writer, Harlan Ellison. It means I do not have to leave Filmhouse. I have a dinner date with Sheila Colvin tonight and we are to meet here in Filmhouse. Go out and manage to get a press ticket from the lovely Leanora (who is from London). Harlan is outrageous but he has cultivated it to perfection. Sheila and I meet and go next door to the Bar Italia and Stefan welcomes us and we have another feast. It is to be my "last supper" in Edinburgh this trip. Find a taxi in Lothian Road and drop Sheila and return to Great King Street and a lovely night's sleep.

Thursday, 26th: Sheila Colvin will drive me to the airport this morning and I will be home this afternoon. Quickly have coffee and bran flakes, wash and pack and am ready to depart to the air port. Call Sheila and she says she will pass and collect me. I call Claudia Monteiro to see if she would like a ride to the air port with us because she flies to Portugal today for a friend's wedding. But get her answering machine. (Later learn that she had forgotten her mobile at home and had to return to collect it.) Sheila arrives and we drive painlessly to the air port. Learn that John Calder will come to Edinburgh tomorrow and that they both will be in Paris in mid-July.
It has been another delightful trip to Edinburgh. And in six weeks or so, I will be there again for the theatre and book festivals. I will see all my Edinburgh chums once again.


 

Jim Haynes
July 2008

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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