Jim Haynes newsletters

Newsletter No. 690

Edinburgh Festival
6 to 28 August 2008

Edinburgh Festival 08, logo Rights Reserved


Wednesday, 6th August:Today I depart for London via Eurostar. It is a quiet quick trip. Read all the way. It's strange to arrive in St-Pancras. Find a taxi and soon arrive at 166 Gloucester Terrace. A warm welcome from Ernie Eban. Suggest we go and have a pizza, but learn that Pizza Express is no longer there. It is now a North African restaurant.
Ernie and I spend a funny evening. First we go to Chelsea to visit a friend of his. Her name is Charlotte. We are urged to sit down and join them for dinner. One of her friends is Carinthia West. When she hears my name, she tells everyone that she had a secret crush on me in the 60s. Ernie tells me that she was a great beauty in the 60s. In fact, she is still lovely. In one sense, Ernie and I have wandered into The Importance of Being Ernest. A very silly dinner. But Charlotte is very sweet. Her mother is Lady Bracknell. Then we visit Beatriz Belfrage's home in the Fulham Road. I meet her mum, Candida, and B's sister, Ixta. Beatriz is still in Brazil. Mary Clemmey gives us a ride home and when we get to Ernie's, I realize that I left my red jacket there. Ernie departs to sleep at his sister's and leaves me in the flat.

Thursday, 7th: Up at 8. Putter about. Dorota Chrisp calls, but I fail to reach the phone on time. Call her back. We agree to meet at the Polish Cultural Centre near her office in Chiswick for lunch. Go down to the Spanish café for breakfast. On the way there purchase The Guardian and The New Yorker. Sit outside and have a half English breakfast: one egg, toast, coffee, hash browns, ham, sausage. A couple comes and sits next to me. They have just arrived from Australia and cannot get into their hotel room until 14.00 hours - almost five hours from now. Read a review of the new Woody Allen movie, Vicky Cristina Barcelona in The New Yorker. Back to Ernie's. Leave a note for him. Go out and wonder which bus to catch. A sudden heavy rain. Allow two buses to go by and for reasons I do not know, get on the third. Bingo. It goes to Chiswick. I arrive before Dorota. Find a table in the window and order a hot chocolate until she arrives. We both have very filling bowls of soup. Then we order something else. Very silly of us. She and Tim are off to Crete for a holiday. They met there almost twenty years ago. Their wonderful daughter, Lila, will go with them, but Joe, their son, will stay in London. So if I need a place to stay when I come down from Edinburgh, I am welcome to the guest bedroom. Take the bus back to Ernie's. He is there and we start making calls for tonight's annual Khan's Indian take-away dinner. In the end we are about a dozen. Men are Ernie, Mark Petrushkin, Jim Campbell, Alex Kan, Tom Hope and yours truly. Women are Mary Clemmey, Jeannette Petrushkin, Emma Hope, Ksenia Nova and Ksenia's friend, Juliette. It's another fun evening. Mary Clemmey is a hero for driving to Candida"s home and collecting my red jacket that I left there last night. Mary even gives me a book, Man Is Wolf to Man - Surviving Stalin's Gulag by Janusz Bardach. Ernie goes again to his sister's and leaves me his bed. What a host!

Friday, 8th: Up at 7.45. I slowly shave and dress. Go out and find a taxi. The driver is a Francophile. He loves Paris. Give him the Chicago Tribune article and invite him to dine when he next travels to Paris. The ticket fellow advises me to run for the next train departing for Newcastle and get the Flying Scotsman when it passes through Newcastle. I dash to platform 4 and manage to make it with seconds to spare. The ticket attendant inside the train advises me to get out at York and to pick up the Flying Scotsman there. Not sure of her reasons but do as she suggests. Get a call on my mobile from John Calder who says he missed the dinner last night because he failed to check his messages. He will be coming up to Edinburgh on Sunday. Get a call from Hercules Bellville who says he is home in bed with a bad cold. He, too, is sorry not being with us last night. He further advises my sitting on the right side of the train to get the best views. This leads to a discussion of POSH and its etymology. I reply "portside out starboard home" home before he can tell me. This requires my asking Hercules if he knows the etymology of wow. He doesn't and I tell him that it is from a West African language meaning "yes". He is not impressed. I promise to call him when I pass back through London the end of the month.
We pull into York and I get out and walk across the platform. Ask a young student if she is waiting for the train to Edinburgh and she is. Telephone rings again and it is Jim Campbell. He says he enjoyed last night's dinner but he forgot to contribute anything towards it. Not a problem I retort. It was my pleasure to treat everyone. I ask him if he knows a bookshop that might have his new collection of essays, Syncopations, published by the University of California Press. He tells me to give him my address in Edinburgh and he will send me a copy. (And he does!) The Flying Scotsman approaches. Once on board, discover it is packed. But manage to find a seat. Ride in comfort all the way to Waverley Station. Oh Edinburgh, I love you!
Find a taxi and am delivered to 84 Great King Street. Manage it get my bag up to the second floor and ring Martin's bell. And no one is home. Leave the bag in front of the door and walk to Patisserie Florentine in Circus Place. Have a hot chocolate and ponder what to do. Decide to walk to Theatre Workshop and see if Ruth Holloway might be there. She is! After we have embraced and she has welcomed me to Edinburgh, she gives me her key. She tells me that Martin is cooking dinner for us.
When I get back to the apartment, my bag is inside my room. And Martin is in the kitchen busy preparing dinner for Ruth, Dougie, me, himself. He greets me and apologizes for not being home when I arrived. No problem. Soon Ruth is with us and we are feasting. Dougie, who is from Edinburgh, but living now in Australia. He is staying here at Martin's for a few days more and then flies home. Martin is a great cook and seems to enjoy the act of cooking. He announces that he and Ruth are going to a vernissage of painting, jewellery, sculptures, textiles tonight and would we like to join them. Yes, we would.
And after dinner we drive down to Coburg House in Leith to an old building that houses dozens of small rooms all filled with attractive young men and women and their creative endeavors. One of the first people I encounter is Gavin Wolfe-Murray with a tray of drinks in his hands. I tell him I have just arrived in Edinburgh and ask him about his mother, Stephanie Wolfe-Murray. She is still living in the country about an hour South of Edinburgh. I give him my mobile number and ask him to pass it to Stephanie. We go from room to room. Lots of very talented individuals. I especially like Stephanie Rew and Dylan Lisle's paintings.
Wander up to the Assembly Rooms and am able to talk my way into the Club Bar. See Karel Beer. He runs a comedy club in Paris. See Abdel Bari Atwan standing at the bar alone and invite him to join me. We have never met, but I find his contributions to the BBC World Service Dateline, London TV programme extremely provocative. He sits at our table and we talk and talk. He is warm and extremely interesting. He will be speaking in the Book Festival Sunday at 12.30. I give him the Chicago Tribune article and invite him to come and dine when he is next in Paris. John Ritchie and his beautiful wife, Catriona, join us. Tim Cornwell, a journalist at the Scotsman and a neighbor of Sheila Colvin's, invites me to a reception at the Scottish Arts Club tomorrow afternoon Bari has a ticket for Best of the Fest in the Music Room at midnight. I am tired, but go inside nevertheless. Four stand-up comedians. A classic way to begin the Festival.

Saturday, 9th: The Book Festival starts today at 10.00 with Ian Rankin interviewing a mystery guest from the world of politics. One part of me wants to go, but I am sure it is sold out and I probably cannot get a ticket. (Later I learn it is Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister.) Head up to Hanover Street and purchase a bus pass. Change euros into pounds at Marks & Spencer.
Go to the Scottish Arts Club in the afternoon. Tim Cornwell has invited a lot of people to attend a reception. It's a superb gathering. Tim is making information available about a project in Zambia. It is a three year project, in its first year, aims to benefit 15,400 people in 20 communities and 10 schools. By 2010 the project should have improved the health of some 46,000 people by providing clean drinking water and school latrines. Toby Gough brings many performers from his various shows in St. George's West, especially the entire cast of Hemingway's Havana. The musicians play and the dancers dance. One extremely beautiful dancer beckons me to dance with her and I cannot say no. I meet them all thanks to Toby. It is very nice to meet and to talk with Valerie Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway's secretary and daughter-in-law. I promise them all that I will attend their show.
This evening the Book Festival's opening party. Once again I have not been invited and I attend with some hesitation. Do not go into the Spiegeltent, but stay outside in the garden. See lots of people I know including Jamie Byng and Elizabeth Sheinkman, David Graham and Kristy Gunn, Bill Campbell, Faith Liddell and Amy Saunders, Bob Flynn, Leslie Hills, Kath Mainland, James Mackintosh and so many more. Of course Claudia Monteiro and Frances Sutton. When I leave Charlotte Square, find myself walking next to Kath, whose family name I cannot remember, and her fellow. In the softly falling rain. She used to be Barbara Grigor's assistant. Her fellow says he interviewed me for a BBC-TV programme some years ago. They are going to Heriot Row. Hail a taxi and offer to drop them, but they say they prefer to walk. I go home to Great King Street.

Sunday, 10th: Up at 8. Very slow start. Listen to old friend, Daniel Topolski, on the television talking about boat races. Eat a bowl of muesli and drink a cup of coffee. Chat with Martin in the kitchen. Out the door and bus to Assembly Rooms. Ask for Steve Gove, but he is not on duty.

Walk to Book Festival. Meet Michael and Mona Shea in the entrance and they introduce me to someone. Inside the Press Pod, Claudia Monteiro introduces me to Maria Joao Silveirinha, a Professor of Media Studies at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. I tell her I taught Media Studies and Sexual Politics at the University of Paris 8 for thirty years. Claudia also introduces me to a woman doing landscape gardening in Edinburgh. Also Claudia's husband, Ian King, is present. And a journalist from Spain. The photographer, Geraint Lewis, enters. We embrace and chat. His wife, Melody, is in Madrid with their children and will not be coming up for the Festival. I have a copy of Throw a Great Party for Frances Sutton. Claudia gives me a ticket for Abdel Bari Atwan for 12.30 and one for Tariq Ali for 18.30. Wander into the Writers Yurt and encounter Kirsty Gunn and her husband, David Graham. She asks if I have seen Stephanie Wolfe-Murray.
Sit with Tariq Ali and tell him that I look forward to his talk this evening. Greet Jude Doherty. Also see Ruth Wishart. Tell Abdel Bari Atwan that I will be attending his session in a few minutes.
Walk toward the Peppers Theatre and pause to chat with David Black on the way. Also see Finn Petch. He comes every year from Mexico to handle the Main Theatre. The session with Abdel Bari Atwan is stimulating and provocative. It also features Kasra Naji, who has written a book dealing with contemporary Iran. Chat afterwards with a BBC radio 4 journalist, Paul Moss. Walk over to the bookshop tent and purchase Bari's book, The Secret History of Al-Qaída. He signs it: "To Jim my friend, It was a pleasure to meet you. My best regards, Bari". Tony Benn is quoted on the cover: "By far the best book on the subject".

The secret history of Al-qaid'a
by Abdel Bari Atwan
Abacus, London

Back to the Press Pod. Call David Petherick and tell him I cannot come to dinner tonight. He says that Roza has a ticket to something and cannot be there anyway. So we will make it another evening. Go into the Writers Yurt and Jude introduces me to Ilena (from Florence and Milano) and to an Edinburgh lass. She tells me that her theatre company, Grid Iron, will be doing a production in Norway. I am one of the patrons of Grid Iron. Catherine Lockerbie, the Director of the Book Festival, appears and we embrace. I give her a copy of our cookbook, Throw a Great Party. And she thanks me.
Chat with Ian Rankin about the Gordon Brown opening session. He says it went well, that he talked only about literary matters, did not mention politics at all. He tells me he will walk home. I ask him what part of Edinburgh and he says "literary Edinburgh -Morningside" and goes on to say that three writers live there: J.K. Rowling. Alexander McCall Smith, and himself. It is such a lovely day that I decide to go for a walk. Call Carine Kennedy and she says she is about to see a show and that she will call me later.
Elect to eat a panini in Starbucks. Back to the Book Festival for the 15.30 talk about Israel, Jews in the World, with Eva Figes and Ladislaus Löb. Sit with Paul Moss and with Pru Rowlandson, Eva's publicist at Granta. She tells me she used to travel to Paris a great deal because of a love affair. The affair has ended so have her trips to Paris. Eva's talk is strong stuff, not likely to please many Israelis. She seems to be saying that some Israelis in Israel are not much better than the Nazis in their treatment of Palestinians.
See Val McDermid and tell her I will try to attend her session at 16.30, but cannot make it because of Eva Figes ends too late. Sit in the Signing Tent. Guillaume Basset and his girlfriend, Laure, have just arrived from Paris. We talk about Michael March, Vlasta Brtniková, and the Prague Writers'Festival. Guillaume served as Michael's Assistant in June this year and I met him while attending the Festival. He says the subject will be 2001 Nights: The Art of Storytelling and the dates will be 7 to 11 June. We are both attending the Tariq Ali Main Theatre talk at 18.30.

As expected, Tariq is superb. Ruth Wishart chairs. The theatre is packed. He is eloquent and provocative as he discusses the political situation in Venezuela and Bolivia. Wander into the signing tent afterwards and purchase his book, Pirates of the Caribbean. He signs it "For Jim, love and solidarity". We agree to go for a drink. Guillaume and Laure plus two fellows from Pakistan, Dr. Aamer Khan and Mir Mohammad Idrees. Aamer suggests we go to the roof restaurant, corner of Castle Street and George Street. Up we go and it is a fantastic view of the castle and the Firth of the Forth. Talk turns to eating and Aamer suggests a restaurant in Johnston Terrace. Guillaume and Laure elect not to come, but the four of us find a taxi and speed up the Mound. There is a round table in the corner that is perfect for us. The cuisine is Middle Eastern and delicious. I suggest we play my circle game and it works its magic. Dr. Khan is a psychiatrist in an Edinburgh hospital who dreams of life in Canada. He is a big fan of Tariq's and has read all his books. Dr. Khan is meeting him for the first time and is very excited by this encounter. He and Mohammad have not met each other before. It seems that Mohammad is a PhD student in Glasgow. Because Tariq has to catch an early morning train to London, we decide to call it a night. Dr. Khan insists upon treating us all to our dinner (as he earlier picked up the bill for our drinks). We stroll down the Mound to Princes Street and into Rose Street. I peal off and walk to the Assembly Rooms. The three of them continue to Hope Street and Tariq's hotel.

Pirates of the Caribbean, Axis of Hope, by Tariq Ali, Verso, London
Pirates of the Caribbean
by Tariq Ali, Verso, London

Inside the Club Bar, see Rona Thomson. Go upstairs in the Assembly Rooms and meet Steve Gove. He introduces me to an Adam, from Poland, and a Nora Wardell. Steve has mentioned me to Nora and has told her I can host her after the festival when she travels to Paris, Vienna and maybe Poland. She is an extremely attractive drama student from Edinburgh, studying in Bristol. I tell her that she is welcome. (And in fact as I write these words, Nora is a houseguest.)
Purchase tomorrow's Scotsman. Walk down the hill to Great King Street and my bed.

Monday, 11th: Sheila Colvin calls and we agree to meet at 12.45 in the Scottish Arts Club in Rutland Square. I have lunch with her and John Calder. And we share a table with Hilary Mounfield and others. Hilary suggests I have one of my Sunday night dinners next year in the Scottish Arts Club. It is a tempting proposal.
Walk to Charlotte Square for the 15.30 session with Kirsty Gunn and Robert Crawford in the Studio Theatre.
Afterwards attend (at the suggestion of Mohammad Idrees) Changing Climate, Changing World in the Spiegeltent at 19,00 hours and listen to Alastair McIntosh and Michael Northcott. Stephanie Wolfe-Murray joins me. They discuss climate change and some of the things we must do to reverse global warming.
I want to hear Alison (A.L.) Kennedy in the Main Theatre at 20.00 hours but cannot make it. Instead Stephanie and I go to Creeler's in Hunter Square for our annual festival feast. We call Astrid Silins to come and join us. She thanks us but elects to have a quiet evening at home. Alas neither Tim nor Fran James is present, but the staff take good care of us and the meal is as usual very delicious. Stephanie drops me at the Assembly Rooms afterwards and she goes to Gavin's to sleep. Visit briefly the Club Bar and then walk to Great King Street and bed.

Tuesday, 12th: Stephanie Wolfe-Murray and I meet at the Patisserie Florentine for a breakfast together. Stephanie drives me to the Raeburn Laundry and I drop off two bags of items to be washed. Then we drive to Oxford Terrace and call on John Calder. Sheila mentioned yesterday that she had to go to Glasgow this morning and would I look in on John and make sure he was all right. Sheila is just leaving when we arrive. John is happy to see us, especially to see Stephanie. We talk and talk.
Stephanie and I ask Astrid to join us for lunch in the Café Rouge. (John has a date to lunch with someone in the Scottish Arts Club and we drop him in Rutland Square.) Nick Phillipson sees me in the café and invites me to lunch in his home next Sunday.
At 14,00 hours I meet Rona Thomson and we go to the Simon Callow's performance of his reading two Charles Dickens stories. Appearing at Assembly's Music Hall where Dickens himself performed his readings. Superb! Afterwards bump into Simon outside the Club Bar and congratulate him.
Rona and I walk to Café Rouge and have hot chocolate together. Then it is time for me to walk to Ingrid and Jim Kempston's home in Ainslie Place. Walk down Queen Street, pass the flat I shared with Christopher McLeHose. We paid fifteen pounds a month (seven pounds, ten shillings each) and central heating was included at no extra cost. I am early, but I ring the bell nevertheless, and get invited inside. They are very welcoming and we are able to spend quality time together before the other guests. Soon other guests fill the room and we are urged to sit and start eating because they are all going to an opera performance. I ask Jim to call a taxi for me, so I can be at Charlotte Square for the 19.30 Mahammed Hanif & Robin Yassin-Kassab session. Before the taxi arrives, I have to say I have one of the best meals I have ever had. So delicious, so simple. Perfect. Jim Kemptson, you are a genius. I talk with a woman on my left who lived in Stockholm for two years. It is painful to leave, but the taxi is downstairs.
In the Writers Yurt, chat briefly with Steven Berkoff. A few days ago, I saw him on BBC World Service television being interviewed. I am a big Steven Berkoff fan.
Go into the Writers Retreat. Roy Cross introduces Mohammed Hanif. He is head of the BBC's Urdu service and his novel, A Case of Exploding Mangoes, which explores the real life plane crash that killed Pakistan's military dictator in 1988. Friends who have read it say it is superb. I want to read it, but will wait to purchase it in Paris. Robin Yassin-Kassab's book, The Road from Damascus, "explores journeys towards and away from Islam in a multi-faith UK". It's a very stimulating session. I talk with Mohammed afterwards and invite him and his lovely wife to dinner when they are next in Paris.
Walk to the Traverse and there is one ticket left for the Daniel Kitson performance at 22.00 hours. The woman behind the ticket desk refuses to let me have it because she says she is not authorized and the performance begins in three minutes. And no one else wants it. Rona Thomson is inside. I guess I should have purchased it, but something prevented it.
Walk to the Assembly Rooms. Kate and Sam are the guards for the Club Bar. We speak briefly. Go inside and Sarah, the very pretty barmaid, serves me a ginger beer. Go upstairs and chat with Steve Gove. His lovely mother, Carol, arrives. Tell them I am having an early night and walk down the hill. Ruth and Martin are in the kitchen. Join them for a bit.

Wednesday, 13th: I am running low on pounds, so bus to Princes Street and cash 400 euros. And buy some socks. Walk to Hanover Street and take a bus up the Mound. Syd Kyman boards at the next stop and sits with me. I ask him how he and Ailsa enjoyed their recent trip to France. He gets off at the next stop before we can explore anything. I get off in George IV Bridge and walk to the National Library of Scotland. Carol Stobie is not on duty today. Walk around to the Fringe Press Centre and Kitty prepares a press card for me. While sitting on a couch waiting for the card, Eileen O'Reilly walks pass me, sees me and joins me. We have a good long talk. She is so nice. Kitty too.
Outside in High Street, I pause and listen to a Chinese woman (I think) play a strange stringed instrument. I drop some change into her instrument case, exchange a smile with her and continue on my way pass the stature to David Hume. Catch a bus and get off near the Assembly Rooms. Check email. Chat with Steve Gove and his mum. Steve suggests we see a production in the Drawing Room immediately at 12.45. It's called Weights, a true story written and performed by Lynn Manning. In 1978 a gunshot in an L.A. bar changes Lynn Manning's life forever. (He is blinded.) I find it excellent. I think Carol fails to understand some of the street language and is a bit confused by it.
We three have soup, sitting outside the Assembly Rooms in the warm afternoon sun, watching the world go by. Extremely pleasant. After a bit, I leave them and head for Stockbridge and collect laundry. Also buy some items for the house like coffee and wine for Martin and Ruth and return to Great King Street. Watch Olympics for a bit.

Then head for Queen Street and drop Fringe Society voting list in lawyer's offices. Back to Assembly Rooms. At 18.30, see Britt Ekland's Britt on Britt in the Supper Room with Steven Flannery and Michael Johnson. And a woman they introduce me to. I think her name is Ellen. The lads have the Brunswick Hotel in Glasgow where I stayed in February 2001 when I was invited to create "a happening". The lads are also friends of Anne Marie Timoney, the actress who played the role of Marlene Dietrich in the Festival of 1987. It is delightful to see them. They also know George, who runs the Supper Room. George provided technical support when I brought the mini-musical, If I Were Me, written, directed and performed by Paris-based American actress, Gay Marshall. After the production, they head for the train and the trip back to Glasgow.
I order a panini from Urban Angel's Jessica from Melbourne. There is also Monique from New South Wales. And Lyndsay from Edinburgh. I sit in the alleyway and encounter Liz Smith. She stops and we chat about the Festival. An Indian woman comes up to me and says they knows me but cannot remember how or when. I give her a Chicago Tribune article and say come to dinner when she is in Paris.

Britt on Britt, photograph rights Reserved

I walk down George Street toward Charlotte Square and encounter Toby Gough walking toward me. He is with three fellows. He is one wild fellow. Extremely sweet about my contributions to the intellectual life of Edinburgh. He introduces me to his friends in an outlandish fashion. I thank him and report that I am on my way to St. Georges West to see his production, Hemingway's Havana. He orders me to announce myself to his assistant when I arrive. I promise to do so. Continue on my way.. Meet Guillaume and Laure and invite them to join me. But they cannot. We talk about Martin Belk and the Book Festival and walk together to Princes Street. I turn into Shandwick Place. I pick up a ticket but don't announce myself. Order a hot chocolate and sit and wait for the show to start. And it is wonderful. Pure Toby Gough. Over the top. It has everything. Hemingway's Irish daughter-in-law, Valerie is interviewed on stage and talks lovingly about meeting the great man in Madrid and then being invited to Havana. She talks about her memories of these days, of Hemingway's days and nights in Havana before and after Castro. Mixed with this is great music and dancing. One dancer I find extremely attractive. When it ends I talk with a lovely couple sitting next to me. They are from Slovakia, from Bratislava. I tell them that I have spent time in Bratislava. And that I have been invited to serve on the jury next year of a film festival in Slovakia. Before I can talk further with them or to invite them for a drink, Toby spots me and pulls me away. I do manage to give them a Chicago Tribune article. On stage, Toby showers me with glorious compliments. He walks me to the front door and offers to take me to my next destination in his taxi. I jump into a taxi with him and he drops me at the Traverse. I cannot remember how the rest of the evening unfolds. I suspect I wander to the Assembly rooms, have a drink in the Club Bar and then walk down Frederick Street to Great King Street and bed.

Thursday, 14th: The day starts well with Ruth bringing me coffee at 8 am. I have been up since 7.30 watching Olympics. Make toast for myself. Slowly dress. Gossip with Martin.
Bus to George Street. Have a latte in the Assembly Rooms. Learn the Uban Angel waitress will be 21 tomorrow. That she will celebrate with a barbecue. The other Urban Angel is Mary Anne. She is also from Edinburgh. I telephone Irene O'Neil and we arrange to meet in the Press Pod of the Book Festival this afternoon between 14.00 and 15.00 hours. Also try to reach Heather Edmond, the girl on the park bench, who emailed me after an encounter with an elderly fellow who suggested she contact me. I try to call her, but get her answering machine. Walk to Charlotte Square.
Meet Gordon Wright. He introduces me to his son, Robert. He gets his son to take a photograph of the two of us, (which he later sends me). Robert is being trained to be a photographer. Another photographer, Robbie Jack, comes up to greet me. He and I talk about India. Go inside and visit with Claudia Monteiro and Frances Sutton. Claudia tells me she dined with Julia Watson's cousin and they talked about me. Julia is Martin Walker's wife. Claudia suggests we should all dine one evening together. Yes, of course. Claudia gives me a ticket to the Tony Benn Main Theatre event at 13.30. Ruth Wishart will chair it. I wish that Varda Ducovny were here to attend this with me. Varda said that she is in love with Tony. The Book Festival has issued some cards to celebrate 25 years of the Book Festival. The one with Tony Benn's statement is my favorite: "The Edinburgh International Book Festival is a university for people of all ages who can come without any O levels or A levels and learn what they want to learn without any examinations at the end. This is what education is all about. That is why I love it." Hooray for Tony Benn!
Geraint Lewis and other photographers are waiting to photograph Tony Benn. Claudia has two visitors. I sit and read The Times. She introduces me to Jack Malvern who writes the people column in The Times. And to another fellow, Marshall Cordell, who is theatre producer from Chicago. Marie Celine Lachaud, who has written and who performs One Day I'll Go to Compostela, enters the Press Pod and sees me. She tells me it is going well and that she is happy with the Hill Street Theatre. She thanks me for recommending them.
Claudia and I escape to the Spiegeltent for Thai soup. Mary Fulton joins us. She does publicity for The Times and The Times is a major sponsor of the Book Festival. After our lunch, Mary and I go to the Main Theatre for the Tony Benn session. And he doesn't disappoint. I am knocked-out by his performance. There is very little Ruth Wishart can do, but she does manage to hold her own with a few great one-liners. One of Benn's best is his grandmother's on her death bed: "The great thing about your last journey is you don't have to pack for it." Insight and humour run in the family.
I contemplate buying a book to share with Varda, but really I have no room in my luggage. Also it would be great to shake Tony Benn's hand. Get a call Larkin McLean and we agree to meet at Filmhouse at 17.00 hours. Sit in the Press Pod and thank Claudia for the Tony Benn session. Irene O'Neil arrives on time. We go outside and I meet her husband, Brian. I suggest we go to the Spiegeltent where we can sit in a quiet corner and talk. Irene grew up in Charles Street in the same building where I launched my bookshop, The Paperback. I try to give her a copy of my autobiography, Thanks for Coming!, but Brian insists upon giving me some pounds. Irene gives me a lovely framed painting of the area as it then was. We have fun talking about the late 50s They ask if they can drop me anywhere. I reply that my next appointment is in Filmhouse in Lothian Road. No problem they reply.
A few minutes after my arrival, Larkin arrives. She and I met in Filmhouse 17 years ago when she was a precocious 16 years old. She was attending the festival with her mother and father. Her mum, Louisa, is a lawyer and her papa, Ross, is a university professor. Larkin is a talented jazz singer. I listen to her CD often. She has a sweetie-pie in Edinburgh. She met him all those many years ago. He is moving to L.A. to be with her. Larkin has been many times to visit in my home in Paris. We walk across to the Traverse and I check on the possibility of a ticket tonight for the Daniel Kitson. Yes, there is a ticket for me. We walk to Princes Street and Larkin continues to Leith. I go to the Book Festival.
Gita Sharma greets me and reports she has an extra ticket for Hanif Kureishi for next Sunday morning and I can have it. Thank her, but say I am not sure.
See Frances and Claudia and get a ticket for Pascal Mercier and Ilya Troyanov in the Writers' Retreat at 18.00 hours. They both write in the German-language. Pascal Mercier is Swiss; his Night Train to Lisbon has sold over two million copies. Ilya Troyanov is born in Bulgaria; his The Collector of Worlds re-images the life of the great Victorian adventurer and scholar Sir Richard Burton. A literary editor of The Independent chairs.
Afterwards a fellow named Ian Alexander, who teaches geography in Balermo, tells me that he attended one of my Sunday dinners earlier in the year. He said he enjoyed it and plans to come again. Bump into Michael and Mona Shea and they tell me there is an Ian Rankin party taking place right now. I go and ask Claudia if she would like something to drink or eat. She asks for carrot cake, so get some for her and for me. Mike Wade is busy with a report on the telephone to the Sunday Times. Ian King's father comes into the Pod to ask if Claudia would like a ride. See Ramona Koval, who is with ABC Radio in Melbourne, and she tells me that she is going to be a grandmother. She is expecting a grand daughter. Veronica Linklater sticks her head into the tent and asks where is the Ian Rankin party. I tell her and off she goes. Then at 20.00 hours, there is an Ian Rankin event. Peter Guttridge chairs. The session is mainly concerned with the future post-Rebus. What will Rebus fans do?
Walk to the Traverse Theatre. Meet William Prosser in Lothian Road and he invites me to lunch next Wednesday with three bank chairmen. I will be the comic relief. Thank him.
Sophie Posted gives me a ticket to the Daniel Kitson production, 66a Church Road. It starts at 22.00 hours in theatre one. My first production in the Traverse this festival. Kitson writes extremely well and performs his text with nuance. It is a funny and tender piece.
Walk to the Club Bar in the Assembly Rooms. Sit with Keith Adams and Rona Thomson. Then home to bed.

Friday, 15th: Up at 7.45. Find Ruth in the kitchen and she produces coffee and toast for me. Sheila Colvin calls and she asks if I have any influence at the Traverse. I reply: "very little". It seems Frank Dunlop wants to see The New Electric Ballroom by Enda Walsh this afternoon at 16.00 hours. Taxi to the Traverse and the Press Office is not yet open. Matt gives me a ticket for Fall by Zinnie Harris and he says that he thinks he can find a ticket for Frank.
Enter theatre one and enter the aftermath of a civil war. It's directed by the new Artistic Director of the Traverse (appointed July 2007), Dominic Hill. The victors want to execute its war criminals. This is a World Premiere. Very bare set. The city burns and the new government struggles. A young woman, Kate, gets caught up in it all. There is one bath tub scene that really scares me. Water is added to the tub. Kate and one of the men get in the tub and she asks to be killed. The scene looks like it could get out of hand and someone could get hurt.
Knock on the office door and ask Andy Catlin if the new Artistic Director is available to exchange a few words. But he is in a meeting away from the building.
Walk to the Café Italie and have a bowl of soup. Frank Dunlop calls while I am having my soup and I am able to give him good news. He has a ticket. Ask for Matt. Then elect to check on Peggy Hughes and her alternative Book Festival. Go outside and bump into Peggy. She takes me to Edinburgh Books at 145 West Bow and introduces me to the proprietor, William Lytle, and to the Director of the West Bow Book Festival, Hannah Adcock. Hannah says that she has met me in Paris in Shakespeare & Co. We talk about George Whitman and his wonderful daughter, Sylvia Beach Whitman. Sylvia is now in Edinburgh for the Book Festival. We talk about the festivals that Sylvia has organized.

Peggy and I walk towards a pub and she asks me if I would like a drink. I thank her, but I want to check email. So wish her good luck with the festival and continue walking toward Lothian Road. Sit next to two fellows from Sevilla. Tell them I spend a summer in Sevilla. I think it was 1960. I gave English conversation classes to the Pizjuan family. Give them the Chicago Tribune article and invite them to dine when they are next in Paris. They say they will do it. Walk to Filmhouse. Bus to Princes Street. Walk down Rose Street to Charlotte Square.
Get a ticket for New Kolkata Writing from Claudia. I ask if any other journalists will be there and she says Bob Flynn. Talk with a photographer from Scotland who says he is based in Japan. I tell him that my son, Jesper, is a photographer, based in New York City, but who spends a lot of time every year in Tokyo and Bangkok. Go over to the Writers' Yurt. See The Scotsman's Literary Editor, David Robertson,, and we sit and talk. Roy Cross enters and he asks if I will be attending his party tomorrow night. I say yes and that I will be attending the New Kolkata Writing at 17.00 hours. Peter Guttridge enters and we chat. He tells me not to miss a play in the Assembly Rooms. I think he said the Tailor of Inverness by Matthew Zajac. Roy sends over Rimi Chatterjee to meet me. She is very attractive. I learn she is not related to Nilanjan Chatterjee, the Director of the Kolkata Film Festival. I tell her I will be in Kolkata in November for the film festival. She asks if I will come and visit her university classes. Yes, with pleasure. I ask her what she has written and she tells me a History of Oxford University Press. I mention Charles Lewis. Of course, she knows him. She tells me he is now living in Oxford. Samarjit (Sam) Guha, from the British Council in Kolkata enters. I like him a lot. We talk about Nilanjan Chatterjee and the Kolkata Film Festival.

photograph Rights Reserved

Simon Callow enters the Writers' Yurt. He is an unscheduled speaker, talking at 16.30. I apologize for not being able to attend. I tell him I have read his book about the making of the film, Manifesto. And that Bojana and Dusan Makavejev are dear friends. He asks me to send his love and greetings to them. I also tell him that I attended his one-man show about Jean Jacques Rousseau that he performed in the Grassmarket Traverse in 1984. Time for him to go.
Soon it is time for me to go to the Studio Theatre. Before the writers arrive, I talk with a British Council woman from Taskent, Nodira Nazarova. We have a brief talk and exchange cards. The three writers arrive. A poet called Srijato, Rimi of course, and a woman named Alka Saraogi. Roy Cross chairs the event. It is over far too quickly. Afterwards talk with a young woman, Padmini Ray Murray, who I met at a Book Festival last year or the year before that. She is now with Edinburgh University Press.
Eat a panini in the café of the Assembly Rooms. Monique makes it. Go into the Club Bar. Kim leads me to Mary Shields. See Bill Burdett-Coutts, his wife Fiona, and his sister, Diana. She, Diana, is here with another sculpture exhibition from Zimbabwe.
Up the Mound in a bus and get out in George IV Bridge. Try to get into More Lives Than One, but am too late. The theatre staff will not let me slip inside. Go for a drink in Greyfriars' Bobby bar afterwards with Trish Kessler and Les Clack and Les Clack's wife, Jackie and some of their friends We discuss Oscar Wilde and the production. I understand from John Calder, who saw and liked the production, that a tour of Ireland is in the works.
Slip away and walk through the Grassmarket to Ristorante Lazio in Lothian Road. I think I am the first to arrive, but I am wrong. Diana Jervis-Read and her delightful husband, Oliver Everett, are sitting in a table in the back. I join them. John Calder and Sheila Colvin soon arrive. Then Frank Dunlop. We are expecting Cathie Boyd, but we order and start eating anyway. Later we learn that Cathie had her handbag stolen in a bar where she was having a drink. Very late and no sign of Cathie Boyd, we decide to call it a night and head for taxis. John and Sheila are the first dropped, then Frank in Saxe-Coberg, and I choose to continue to the Assembly Rooms. In the Club Bar, join Tim Cornwell and Kim Mee-Young for a talk.

Saturday, 16th: Martin makes coffee and toast for me. Read today's Scotsman. Begin to ponder how I might spend the day. Larkin calls and suggests we meet today. Sheila Colvin calls and we discuss Cathie Boyd and her loss. Sheila invites me to the Lyceum Theatre to see The Palestinian National Theatre. She tells me to be out front at 19.45. I agree.
I cannot remember how this day unfolded. I know that I went to two Book Festival events, plus meeting Sheila Colvin and Ruth Wishart in the Lyceum and a British Council party in the Party Pavillon in Charlotte Square. The first Book Festival event was at 17.00 hours in the Studio Theatre, New Norwegian Writing. I half expect Mona Shea to be here, but she isn't. I seem to remember there are six writers, but everything is a blur.

Then at 18.30 there is Alexander McCall Smith in the Main Theatre. One of the best things is that I see old friend, Charlie MacLean. He was my host in the Edinburgh Festival of 1998 in his then Rutland Square flat. He hasn't changed a bit.
Rush to the Lyceum and arrive at 20.00 hours. Pick up my ticket from the box office and rush inside, stalls, row G, seat 6. Sheila and Ruth are already settled in their seats. The Palestinian National Theatre performs Jidariyya by Mahmoud Darwish in Arabic with English subtitles. Darwish is the national poet of the Palestinian people. He recently tragically died. Really a highly stylized theatre performance. Very moving. Thank you, Sheila.
Back to the Book Festival for the British Council party. Like last year meet lots of people and see lots of friends. Sylvia Beach Whitman and David Delannet are in top form. See Tim Cornwell and he introduces me to his brother, Nick Harkaway. See Ron Butlin, who gives an address of welcome. Judy Moir and I chat briefly. Roy Cross hosts the event. It is wonderfully catered. See Sam Guha and the group from Kolkata. Meet a Heinemann editor and a Cape Editor.

Mahmoud Darwish, photograph Rights Reserved
Mahmoud Darwich
photograph Rights Reserved

Sunday, 17th: Coffee with Martin and Chrissie Ferguson. She says she met me in Moscow through John Lloyd. She is a lawyer. Angela Bartie calls; she and Andy plus Andy's daughter are coming over from Glasgow. They will arrive about 11.30. I call Sheila and get Nick Phillipson's address. Walk to Raeburn Laundry and collect clean items. Purchase coffee, milk, and other house supplies. Taxi back to 84 Great King Street and deposit clean laundry and kitchen supplies. Angela calls again. They are in Edinburgh. I suggest they meet me in the Patisserie Florentine in Circus Place. I walk the short distance there.
See Samir Mehanovic outside the Patisserie Florentine and he introduces me to two attractive ladies . One of them says that she has attended a Sunday night dinner. It seems she is up to be interviewed for an editorial post with Canongate. Samir runs for a bus; Andy and Angela alight from a taxi. Andy is with his pretty four-year old daughter, Orla. No places to sit outside, so we go inside in the back. They have pastry. I have a bacon sandwich. We all have coffee lattes. I give Angela the collection of essays, Syncopations by Jim Campbell, for her birthday. I urge her to read the last essay, Boswell and Mrs. Miller. It is terrific. Andy treats. They walk me to Dundas Street. They turn South toward Princes Street; I walk the short distance to Nick Phillipson's and walk up to the top floor. I am the first guest to arrive. Nick welcomes me and takes me into the living room. Bob Lockyer is a houseguest. We three talk mainly about the Festival. John Calder and Sheila Colvin soon arrive followed by Oliver Everett and Diana Jervis-Read. We are seven for lunch. Damn if I can remember what we have, but I do remember it is delicious and plentiful. A wonderful fish dish! Lots of festival talk and lots of festival gossip. At some point we all disappear.

I find a taxi and go to Charlotte Square. Bump into Sylvia Beach Whitman and her fellow, David Delannet. She looks very beautiful with a heart-breaking smile. They are enjoying the Festival. Especially the Book Festival! I tell her that her own literary festival was divine. She has organized three so far.
Anna Bacciarelli gives me a ticket for Xiaolu Guo in the Peppers Theatre at 18.45. Glenn Patterson, from Belfast, is in the Writers' Retreat at 18.00, We chat briefly. He and I spent a week together once at the Lahti Writers' Reunion in Finland.
Xiaolu Guo and I first met in the Village Voice Bookshop in Paris when Odile Hellier introduced us. Then later I heard her read from A Concise Chinese - English Dictionary for Lovers, an early novel in the Village Voice. Today she talks about and reads from 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth. Go across to the bookshop and purchase Xiaolu's new book. Somehow or other we agree to dine. We are five: Xiaolu Guo, Elizabeth Pisani, Margaret Douglas, a young lad I think is named Al, and me Xiaolu knows a Chinese restaurant that she highly recommends. It's called Rainbow Arch Chinese Restaurant and its around the corner from Filmhouse in Morrison Street. Xiaolu asks if we want her to order for everyone. Yes we shout. And it is one of the best Chinese meals I have ever had. Xiaolu wants to go to a late night comedy show and Al agrees to take her. We all go our separate ways. I see Peggy Hughes on the corner of Lothian Road and Bread Street. She asks if I would like to join her and some friends. Thank her, but no. Go to Assembly Rooms and see Steve Gove.

20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth
by Xiaolu Guo, Chatto & Windus, London

Monday, 18th: Up at 7.30. Coffee and toast. Read today's Scotsman and then pass it to Martin in his bed. Ruth and I discuss going to Creeler's on Thursday evening.
Taxi to Charlotte Square. Am greeted by Michael Shea. He too is hearing John Calder read from his new volume of poetry, Solo. We walk to the Writers' Yurt and I see Claudia. I introduced them in June. They talk. John appears with Derek Watson and with Michael David. Michael and I walk to the Peppers Theatre. We join the queue. Astrid Silins joins us. Lots of people I know suddenly appear: Sheila Colvin, Martin Belk, Lesslie Hills, Oliver Everett and Diana Jervis-Read. Michael and I sit in the front row. Jessica Craig joins us. John Calder goes to the table in front of us and introduces his two readers. They begin straight away. The three voices reading from John's new book. It is highly successful and fun reading. One poem of John's starts off with me returning from Greece. He ends his reading by reading from a young Edinburgh poet, Mike Stocks. John takes a few questions and then his time is up. Walk with Jessica Craig to the bookshop. She tells me she has a boyfriend, that she enjoys being in London and likes her new agency. Talk with Martin Belk. Cathie Boyd appears busting with youthful energy. She is so lovely. I get John to sign a copy of Solo. He asks if I am going to the Scottish Arts Club for lunch. Alas, no. I have a ticket to an event in the Book Festival at 14.30. Martin Belk introduces me to Elisabeth Andrews. She runs the Scottish Ensemble. David Black asks me if I will write a short piece for his anthology, the architectural destruction of Edinburgh. I reluctantly say OK. Gabor Ronay appears. We talk about a Russian general who joined Hitler to fight Stalin, then betrayed Hitler's orders to destroy Prague. After the war, he was returned to Russia and, of course, Stalin had him and his men executed. Gabor invites me to lunch with him and his wife, Lois, next Saturday.
Go to visit Claudia Monteiro in the Press Pod. She tells me about a production she enjoyed in the Traverse. See Guillaume and Laure at the Spiegeltent. They refuse my offer of soup. I have smoked haddock and corn chowder. See Murray Grigor and we talk about Sean Connery's book, Being a Scot, that Murray assisted Sean Connery with. They will be in the Main Theatre next Monday, the 25th. It has been sold out since it was announced.
In the afternoon, meet Paul Young and Sheila Duffy at the Book Festival. We have a long catch-up talk.
At 14.30 attend a session entitled Medicine and Society. It is with my dinner guest from last night, Elizabeth Pisani. She is an extremely bright and attractive woman, She will be talking with a Giles Bolton. They have both written books about public health and the politics involved in international aid organizations. Elizabeth Pisani reveals the ideologies which hinder work preventing the spread of HIV. (I am not able to speak with Elizabeth again, but when I am in Paris I email her a note of congratulations and urge her to keep up her spirits and good works. She replies that she will come and dine when she is next in my part of the world.)
Sheila Colvin hosts a reception in the Scottish Arts Club in the afternoon. I slowly make my way there. Needless to say, it is delightful. See lots of old friends and am introduced to many new ones. See Nick Phillipson and Bob Lockyer and thank them for the delicious lunch yesterday. See Murray Grigor and meet Carol Høgel.(Diana Jervis-Read takes a photograph of Mona Shea and Carol Høgel and yours truly.) Talk with Magnus & Veronica Linklater. Meet Jim Fraser's son, Iain Fraser.. Michael and Mona Shea and I relate our festival adventures. And I learn that Oliver Everett is an old friend of Michael's. Martin Belk and I discuss his magazine, One, and I tell him to send copies to me in Paris and I will help to distribute them via my Sunday dinners and through a number of bookshops. (He does and I do.) Cathie Boyd giggles and looks lovely. I have a long talk with Nelson Fernandez about his new venture. He is retiring from Visiting Arts in the coming weeks and he is ready to begin this new career as a consultant. Talk with the poet, Mike Stocks. John Calder ended his reading this morning by reading one of Mike's poems. And I bought his new book of poetry, Folly, published by Herla Books. Exchange smiles and a few words with a number of friends: Ruth Wishart, Sheila Brock, Elisabeth Fairbairn, John Martin, Vanessa and William Prosser, Alasdair Riley. Talk briefly with Jonathan Mills, the Director of the International Festival, and remind him of the evening we met in the Assembly Rooms with Steve Gove. Meet a former Chairman of the Bank of Scotland, Sir Thomas Risk, and his wife Suzanne. And, of course, my pals, Stephanie Wolfe-Murray and Astrid Silins.
Elect to dine with Stephanie and Astrid. We select the restaurant Zanzero in North West Circus Place.

Tuesday, 19th: Ruth produces a cup of coffee. I quickly dress and out the door. Photocopy a few more copies of the Chicago Tribune article. Bus to George Street. Try to get a press ticket for the Tailor of Inverness. Astrid calls and asks me to purchase three tickets for Tailor. Go outside and join the ticket queue. Talk to a fellow behind me in the queue; he is going to see a George Orwell play in five minutes. Tell him he can go ahead of me. Tell him about my "rental contract" with Sonia Orwell. I lived in her basement flat in the mid-60s and all I had to do was serve drinks in her weekly Friday afternoon parties to Mary McCarthy, Francis Bacon, Cyril Connolly, Stephen Spencer, etc etc. It was a lovely arrangement. Learn that Tailor of Inverness is sold out today, but there are tickets tomorrow. So don't purchase any. Call Astrid and leave a message for her.
Walk to St, Andrew Square. See Geraint Lewis. It's a lovely day. We chat and I continue to the Bank of Scotland. Withdraw from my wee account 400 pounds.
Walk back to Press Room of the Assembly Rooms and chat with Liz Smith. Tell her I attempted to purchase three tickets for The Tailor of Inverness. She is very pleased because she is involved with the production, arranging the tour for it after the festival ends. Also ask Liz for the telephone number of Mary Shields. Call Mary and get her answering machine.
Purchase a panini from Monique, one of the Urban Angels in the Assembly Rooms alley café. She tells me she attended an Antonio Forcione performance and really liked it. I agree he is superb. Tell her I dined with him some years ago and found him really nice.
Sit outside in the sunshine and watch the world go by. Get a text message that I find difficult to read. Ask a fellow sitting next to me to read it. It's from Amanda Morrow; she is in Edinburgh and is available now for coffee. I text her to come to George Street to the Assembly Rooms. And she arrives! After we have embraced, we walk to Café Rouge for ice cream. We sit outside on the terrace. Our handsome waiter is from Krakov. She gives me all the news from the atelier in Paris. Later we walk back to the Assembly Rooms. Call Astrid and we talk about the ticket situation; she says she received my message. Walk to entrance of the Edinburgh Suite. Meet Nora Wardell and introduce her to Amanda. Meet Raymond Mills and he is going to see The Tailor of Inverness with the mother of the author. I have not seen Raymond in years.
Amanda and I walk to Charlotte Square. Claudia is away from the Press Pod. We continue to the Caledonia Hotel and I ask for Geeta Sharma. Am told she is not working any more for them. Walk to the Traverse. Show Amanda my baby. Greet Andy and the press ladies. Meet Julie Ellen, the Creative Director of Playwrights' Studio, Scotland. Somehow or other, I suspect this organization is a direct result of my decision to make the Traverse a new writing theatre all those many years ago. Also talk with Nicolas Kent. He is with the Tricycle Theatre in London.
Walk to Princess Street and go to the Book Festival. This time I see Claudia in the Press Pod. Continue to Northumberland Street and purchase items for the flat including wine for Ruth and Martin. Rest a bit in the flat. Call Creeler's and book for Thursday evening. Try to get Mary Shields, but again forced to leave a message.. Get Sean Hignett on the phone and we agree to meet at 19.45 at Jolly in Elm Row. Walk down Great King Street and find a taxi. Arrive minutes before Sean. We have our usual feast and talk about friends. Poor Michael Sissons is always on our agenda. Sean gives me copies of his two novels, A Picture to Hang on the Wall and A Cut Loaf.
Outside it is raining. I find a taxi and go to the Assembly Rooms. Gossip with Steve Gove. Purchase tomorrow's Scotsman. Walk home. Get a message from Mary Shields. Sheila Colvin calls.

Wednesday, 20th: Lazy morning. Ruth, the sweetheart, makes coffee and toast for me. Outside it is raining. I call Ingrid and Jim Kempston and get their answering machine. Leave them a message, thanking them for the superb dinner. Out the door and deliver 2 bags of laundry to Raeburn Place.
Taxi to William and Vanessa Prosser's in Randolph Crescent for a lovely lunch with three bank chairmen and their wives. One I know having met him at Sheila Colvin's party, Sir Thomas Risk and his lovely wife, Suzanne. I remember he is the Bank of Scotland. I am the clown (or court jester). There is also a very lovely woman from Paris named Agnés. We have gazpacho and salmon. William and Vanessa are terrific hosts. Lunch is superb.
Walk over to Ingrid and Jim Kempton's in Ainslie Place. Ring the bell and tell Ingrid I wish to drop a book off for them and that I will only be a minute. She lets me inside. And I leave them a copy of Throw a Great Party.
Walk up the hill to Charlotte Square. See Mike Wade in the Press Pod. Also Peggy Hughes is busy writing a review. Greet Frances and Claudia. Talk with Lesley Fraser-Taylor who is with the Book Programme of the Forth Radio. Marcus Jonas asks when he can interview me . (He does something with Faith Liddell and Amy Saunders.) I thank him again for the lovely bar of chocolate he gave me several days ago. And say yes.
In the evening, I go very late to the Rat Pack Piano Bar in Shandwick Place where Steve Bennett celebrates his 40th birthday. Amanda Morrow comes with a fellow, Michael, who is a lawyer in Moscow and who is sharing her apartment in Edinburgh. He and I discuss daily life in Moscow.
About midnight, I head for the Assembly Rooms Club Bar and then home.

Thursday, 21st: Out the door early and collect my laundry from Raeburn Place. Return to Great King Street and deposit the laundry. Head for Waverly Station and attempt to make seat reservations for John Calder and myself. But they will not make the reservations without seeing the tickets. Taxi to Sheila's and manage to catch them before they depart for Kinross. Continue to Great King Street, find my ticket and back to Waverly. This time I am successful. Seat reservations for next Tuesday at 11.30 hours on the 26th. Go to check email in Bread Street. Eat a bacon sandwich in the Bar Italia. Bus to the Assembly Rooms. Try to see The Tailor of Inverness. It's full.
Sit outside with Ingrid & Jim Kempston's friends from Cardiff, Jerry & Judith Fow. They are both doctors and I ask some professional advice. Jerry suggests some cream that I can purchase at Boot's. John Ritchie joins us. Walk to Charlotte Square and visit with Frances Sutton. No sign of Claudia or Anna. I walk to Queensferry Street to find out how many more performances of Adam's play. Continue to Boot's and purchase the cream that Jerry recommended. Walk to the Grassmarket to Danceplace and the reception. Meet Martin and Ruth and her associates. Am surprised to see Eva Maarika Schmitz from Koln; I met her in Ljubljana in June. She is half Finnish. See Nelson Fernandez; he tells me he returns to London on Tuesday. I tell him that John Calder and I also go to London on Tuesday. Amanda Morrow texts me and I reply; tell her to come to Danceplace.

Meet two women from America; Rachel Chavkin and Libby King have a production at the Traverse called Architecting. I tell them that I created the Traverse and established the new play policy. Amanda arrives and I introduce her to Rachel and Libby. They ask us to come and see their production tomorrow morning at 11.00 hours. They will leave two tickets for us. I learn that Libby and I have Atlanta and LSU in common. See Mary Shields and we agree to meet on Sunday at 13.45 hours in Victoria Street. I see Jude Doherty. And talk to so many people. I am really enjoying this reception. But we have to go to keep our reservation at Creeler's. Outside we find a taxi and arrive in Hunter Square. No Tim or Fran. But as always it is a wonderful experience. Ruth and I have venison. Amanda and Martin have fish. It is my treat. We are four happy individuals. Outside it is raining. Since Amanda is staying on the corner, we dash for her place to wait out the rain.

Friday, 22nd: Up before 8. Shave, wash and dress. Ruth produces coffee and toast. I move into Martin's office because we will have more visitors tonight. Taxi to Bread Street to check email. Walk down to the Traverse. Yes, there is one ticket for me for Architecting, but there is not another ticket available for Amanda. Rachel apologizes, but there is nothing she can do. No sign of Amanda, but she arrives just before the show is to start. We have to tell her there are no more tickets. She takes it well and wanders off. I go down to theatre 2 and see a wild production. I should stick around and congratulate Rachel, Libby and the rest of the cast, but if I am going to see The Tailor of Inverness at the Assembly Rooms, I have to get my ass there.
Hurry to the Assembly Rooms and see Liz Smith. Suggest she come to lunch with Astrid and me. She hands me two tickets to The Tailor of Inverness, but says she is too busy to accept our lunch invitation. I offer to collect her something and bring it back to her, but she says no.
Astrid and I join the packed theatre and enjoy the performance. We understand why the show is a sell-out. The Tailor of Inverness is great theatre.
Astrid and I walk down Rose Street. We bump into Jane Frere and Neville Rigby. We exchange news and cards. Then continue to Charlotte Square. Astrid wants to attend the Duncan Campbell talk. I do as well. I wonder if Julie Christie will be with him. (She is!) But I also want to hear what Misha Glenny has to say about international crime. Ask Astrid to give Duncan my best wishes. Go into the Press Pod and Anna gives me a ticket. (Later I briefly encounter Duncan Campbell in the Assembly Rooms and we embrace.)
Go outside and encounter Jenny Brown. We walk around the Charlotte Square together. She is looking for her twin sons, Tommy and Davy Zyw. We find one and she gives him her car keys; he is going to Glasgow. Then she bumps into the second son. (They will be 21 in October.)
Sit in the Studio Theatre next to Ramona Koval and she introduces me to her fella, David Mayer. Misha Glenny gives us a hair-raising talk about global crime. To quote the Book Festival programme: "Organized crime has grown so fast that it accounts for a fifth of the world's gross domestic product." Walk to the Signing Tent and join the end of the queue. Give Misha Glenny a Chicago Tribune article and tell him if he ever wants a reading and book-signing in Paris to give me a call. I further suggest that we have a friend in common and mention Alek Stefanovic. He smiles and says he knows Alek and thanks me for the article. I also state the fact that President Kennedy's father, Joseph, was a bootlegger, that he smuggled Scotch into Boston, that this was the basis of his fortune. So the Kennedys were a part of global crime. Most fortunes are built on crime. Misha acknowledges this fact.
Go to the Press Pod and chat with Frances, Claudia and Anna. Anna departs "to break a few hearts". Claudia and I discuss going to the theatre tomorrow night.
Purchase a lot of cheeses and sausages from a street market in Castle Street to take to Astrid's. Get the No. 10 bus to Leith. Sit behind an attractive woman and ask her if this bus goes to Timber Bush. It doesn't and she tells me which bus I am to change to. Her name is Monica and she went to the Glasgow Drama College. We have a good talk and I am sad to leave her, but she tells me to get out at the next stop. Invite her to come and dine in Paris.
I am the first dinner guest to arrive. And Astrid and I are able to have quality time together. The other guests drift in. First, there is Ennio Troili. He used to be the Italian Cultural Attaché in Edinburgh; now he is Beiut. He further tells me that when he was in Edinburgh, he lived at 4 Great King Street, just underneath my old home. Bizarre. Brian Donald is the next guest; he is a sheriff/judge and will be retiring in a week's time. He has a house in the South of France where he plans to spent a great deal of time. The last guest is Marianne Dickens. All I know is that she is Swedish, has four daughters and has a house in Italy. It's a jolly evening with superb food. Late Astrid throws us out and we taxi back into the city.
In the kitchen, Ruth introduces me to her sister, Nova, and to her niece, Ashley. And to Ashley's husband, Ian. Sit with them for a while.

Saturday, 23rd: The Festival is nearing the end. I still have lots of shows I wish to see as well as people I want to see and be with. There is Margaret Atwood in the Book Festival at 11.30 this morning
Rush to 17 Queensferry Street and purchase a ticket for Adam Kay's 10.00 show, House of the Grape, in the French restaurant, Petit Paris. While waiting for the show to start, Stephanie Wolfe-Murray appears with her son, Gavin, and with two grandsons. We all five enjoy the show and congratulate Adam afterwards. I leave them and wander back to the Book Festival. Stroll along George Street. Find I am walking next to Alan Little and Sheena McDonald. They ask me if I have heard the terrible news. It seems Leslie Hills' pregnant daughter has had a problem and has lost the baby. Oh me oh my. That is so sad. They wonder if Leslie will want to see everyone this Sunday.
Take a bus up the Mound. Get out in George IV Bridge and walk to 9 Victoria Street to the Indian restaurant, Khushi's. Upstairs to sit and wait for Lois and Gabor Ronay. They are soon here. I have known Gabor since 1956 when he fled Budapest for Edinburgh. We attended Edinburgh University together and partied together. We see each other almost every Festival. He lives in London, is married to the delightful Lois, and writes for The Sunday Herald. Always a source of political insights and a joy to be with. Today we have a feast. Gabor tells me to pick up History Today. He has an article in the new issue. They refuse to let me contribute to the lunch.
Walk to the High Street and purchase a New Yorker. Go into the Fringe Press Centre and Kitty produces a ticket to Whiskey Bars for 20.40 tonight and a ticket for Shakespod for Monday night. Get text messages from Amanda and from Samra Turajlic. Amanda is going to see The Tailor of Inverness with the ticket I purchased a few days ago. Samra will come to meet me in the Elephant House café in George IV Bridge. I walk to meet her there. We get a table in the back room. Sarah Boyle joins us. Her father, John Trevelyan, was the film censor who did not believe in censorship. (My friend, Alexandros Lykourezos, was the Film Censor of Greece for a while. He did not believe in censorship either.) I had the great pleasure to have corresponded with John Trevelyan before his death. Sarah, Samra and I have a lovely time. Later Samra and I walk to Rocket venue to see if we can find Ricky Demarco. No luck. We walk to Amanda's apartment and visit a bit with her.
Then I take a taxi and drop Amanda and Samara and continue to Great King Street. Call John and Sheila. Call Leslie Hills and tell her how sorry I am and ask her if she wishes to cancel the lunch. She says no, that now more than ever, she needs company. Ruth Holloway's niece rings the doorbell and I let her and her husband inside. It's a good thing I am in the flat because they would not have been able to get inside otherwise. I call Claudia Monteiro and we agree to meet in front of 11 Merchant Street, to have a drink and then to go to Bremner Duthie's Whiskey Bars. I find a taxi in Hanover Street and soon arrive in Merchant Street. Claudia and Ian take me to an amazing coffee house, Under the Stairs (3a Merchant Street), that I fall in love with straight away. They introduce me to Debbie, the woman who runs the place and I fall in love with her straight away. We have hot chocolates and they are great. If I lived in Edinburgh, this place would be one of my favorites.
We walk across to The Vault. While we are waiting to enter, we see Lisa Pasold, Bremner's wife, rush about, helping Bremner get ready. (Lisa is an award-winning poet.) And then we enter the small theatre and the show begins. Bremner is superb and the Kurt Weill songs produce their magic. It is an excellent show. While I do like the show, I would like to see Bremner write another show about the life of Kurt Weill and include more songs in it. We linger and I introduce them to Bremner and congratulate him.
Claudia has two tickets to a Camille midnight concert in the Music Hall of the Assembly Rooms. Her friend, Marshall Cordell, gave them to her. She asks me if I would like them because she has decided to have an early night. Ian drops me in George Street. I give one of the tickets to Clare Walters. Minutes later Clare comes back to me with a woman and we are introduced. Her name is Ronnie Dorsey and she thanks me for the ticket. She tells me she heard me speak in the Assembly Hall last year and that she is a big fan of mine. She takes me into the Club Bar and offers me a drink. She introduces me to Brett Ekland and I sit down next to her. I tell Brett that I saw her show and greatly enjoyed it. She thanks me and seems to be super sweet and nice. Not to mention the fact that she is a world class beauty. Soon it is time to go into the Music Hall and I don't presume to join them. I go up to the balcony and sit on the front row alone.
Just before the concert starts, I see a lovely woman just a few meters from me. I recognize her even though she is hiding from the public. It is Camille. She winks and smiles and wins me over to her completely. Another conquest. The concert is divine. Camille not only sings like an angel, she seduces every man and woman in the audience.
Go down the hill to Great King Street.

Sunday, 24th: Up at 7.30. Shower, etc. Walk to Stockbridge. Coffee in Starbucks. Deposit a bag of laundry. Bus to Assembly Rooms. Check email. Robert McDowell calls and tells me not to miss Up the Republic. I tell him I plan to see it tonight or tomorrow night. Talk with Diana, the sister of Bill Burdett-Coutts, Then chat with Clare Walters and tell her she is welcome to come and visit in the autumn.
Walk to Charlotte Square and thank Claudia for a lovely evening with her and Ian. There are a number of events I would like to attend in the Book Festival, (Salman Rushdie, Andrey Kurkov, Arundhati), but which I know I will be forced to miss. Bus to Sheila Colvin's. We ride to Leslie Hills place in Scotland Street. We are the first to arrive. Lesslie is in the kitchen still busy preparing the lunch. I tell her that I will not eat because I must have a late lunch in the Grain Store in Victoria Street, that the chef is coming to Paris next month to cook a Sunday dinner. Meet lots of people including Richard Mowe, who organizes French and Italian Film Festivals in Edinburgh and Glasgow, Una Maclean and Bernard Crick, Lee Randall, the Assistant Editor of The Scotsman, Richard McDowell. Alastair Reid is invited, but does not attend. He has decided to stay at home and prepare his reading for tomorrow's Book Festival. His friend, Leslie Clark from New York City, comes and gives us the news.

Taxi to George IV Bridge and walk to The Grain Store. Go upstairs and join Claire Smith. Mary Shields and Peter Wood soon arrive. We order and devour superb food. The chef/owner, Carlo Coxon, comes and we discuss a plan for all of them to come to Paris, for Carlo and Mary to cook a Sunday dinner for 60 to 70 people and for Claire to write about it for The Scotsman. Not sure whose idea it is but it sure as hell is a good idea. Mary is the Programme Director of the Assembly Rooms. I suggest I do my "happening" next year and Mary is all for it. Peter Wood is the Assembly Communications Director. They think that October might be the best time for all concerned.

We all scatter. I find a taxi and go to Rona Thomson's annual festival party. I am completely full, but still manage to eat some cheese. Lots of lovely individuals.
Once again in Charlotte Square. See Aleksandar Hemon and we talk briefly about his wife, Teri, and their new daughter. And life in Chicago. His event is in the Studio Theatre at 20.30. It is not in the programme, so I wonder what size audience he will have. We talk about meeting afterwards for a drink or a meal. Go into the Studio Theatre and sit near the exit. I make a hasty departure during the question and answer session. Rush to the Hill Street Theatre and see the production, Up the Republic by Max McGuinness, with Lola Peploe. Leave word for her when it ends and dash back to the Book Festival. Look for Sasha Hemon and cannot find him anywhere. Later I learn that Samra Turajlic arrived a minute or two too late and was refused entrance. Shit. I would have liked to introduce Sasha to Samra. She also was looking for me afterwards.

Up the Republic, photograph Rights Reserved
Up the Republic by Max McGuinness, with Lola Peploe

Oh what a mess. Sometimes everything goes wrong when one is trying to do too many things. I could have taken Lola out for a meal or a drink. Or Samra. Or both of them. And Sasha. Damn.

Monday, 25th: Another very early start. Rush to the Raeburn Laundry and collect my clean clothes. Back to the flat and bring a few supplies for the kitchen.

This morning Sean Connery and Murray Grigor will present Sean's book, Being a Scot, in the Book Festival at 11.30 Today is the last day of the Book Festival. The security arrangements seem to be over the top. Sean is definitely the King of Scotland. It's fun to see how excited everyone is. Lots of photographers. Murray, Sean and Catherine Lockerbie are only a few feet away as the photographers snap away. And then they go to the Main Theatre.
Ruth Holloway calls me and asks if I can come and meet some people in Theatre Workshop who are busy preparing a production of Marat/Sade by Peter Weiss. Yes, it will be a pleasure.

Sean Connery, Catherine Lockerbie, and Murray Grigor. Photograph Rights Reserved
Sean Connery, Catherine Lockerbie
and Murray Grigor. Photograph Rights Reserved

I go down to Stockbridge and have a bowl of soup with Robert Rae, the Artistic Director, and with Gordon Davidson, who is designing the production. They will open in September in Glasgow, then tour Scotland and end up back in Edinburgh. I tell them that in one month's period, I saw a half dozen or more productions of Marat/Sade in London, Paris, Stockholm, Geneva, Barcelona, Holland. I would love to see their production.

Alastair Reid will close the Book Festival with his reading at 20.30 tonight.
I cannot remember how the evening unfolded. I know I ended up in the Assembly Rooms and Steve Gove introduced me to Nancy Black. She is from Melbourne; I tell her of my round the world experience thanks to Yvonne Row. Nancy is a writer/director of a puppet theatre. Somehow or other, we end up going to see the comic from Dublin, David O'Doherty, in the Ballroom. He won the if dot comedy award this festival. The place is packed. I must say I enjoy his performance; it's soft and low key. And not loud and vulgar. I know I also see Wolfgang Hoffmann and he gives me a copy of his Dublin Fringe Festival programme. It takes place the 6th of September for two weeks. We last saw each other in Ljubljana in May.
Late, I start walking down the hill. Someone shouts my name from a car. It's Nora Wardell asking if I need a ride home. But I am almost to Great King Street, so I thank her and continue walking. She is terrific.
I begin the Festival seeing Best of the Fest, four comedians in the Assembly Rooms, and my festival ends seeing "the best of the festival" a comedian in the Assembly Rooms.

Tuesday, 26th: This morning John Calder and I take the train to London. I have been in the UK and in Edinburgh almost three weeks. I have seen over thirty talks and productions making on average three events per day. I have had a rich social life, many lunches and dinners, seeing old friends and meeting new ones. I have fallen in love approximately once a day (at least). It has been exciting, stimulating and fun.
Pack. Say my thank-yous and goodbyes to Ruth and Martin and go downstairs (with help from Martin) to await John and Sheila. We soon drive up to Waverley. Sheila goes to purchase The Guardian for John and History Today for me. She leaves us in the hands of the station staff. She departs for Glasgow to have an eye operation. We are helped to our reserved seats. Our bags are placed in the storage van. A smooth ride South. I read Gabor Ronay's account of the so-called suicide of the Crown Prince, Archduke Rudolf, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his seventeen-year old mistress, Baroness Marie Vetsera. Gabor revisits the story and finds the evidence clearly pointing to murder. Rudolf was reform-minded and his conservative father, Franz Joseph, were on opposite sides on all political issues, especially on Austro-Hungary's alliance with Bismarck's Germany.
There is also an obituary and an appreciation of Angus Calder in History Today by Juliet Gardiner. Angus died of lung cancer aged sixty-six on the 5th of June 2008. Martin Belk's magazine, ONE, also has printed an appreciation in its latest issue.(Heather Edmond has written me an email message saying she sat next to "an old man" on a park bench in Edinburgh and he told her to write to me. It seems, maybe, that it was Angus Calder.)
We pull into Kings X. I collect our bags from the luggage car. We join the long taxi queue and are soon delivered to The Cut. After we have deposited our stuff in the bookshop and John's apartment, we call Joan Bakewell and Ernie Eban and arrange to meet them for dinner. We dine in La Barca, not very far from the Old Vic Theatre. Just the four of us. We have a feast.

Wednesday, 27th: Breakfast with John Calder in the Young Vic café. Then cross the street with John and read the manuscript of his next book, The Garden of Eros. It is a literary stroll through the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s. I like it. Dear John has an amazing memory. He writes about the first Writers' Conference in Edinburgh in 1962, the Drama Conference in 1963 with the nude happening and the trial, about Suck and the Wet Dream Film Festival, about Maurice Girodias, the Frankfurt Book Fairs, about Samuel Beckett, Henry Miller, William Burroughs, about so many people I know and so many events I have witnessed.
It's time for me to head for my lunch date with Sandra Higgins in the Chelsea Arts Club. Tube it to Sloane Square and walk to Old Church Street. Sandra greets me at the door of the Chelsea Arts Club and we go to the garden in the back. We both order Salad Nicoise and talk about mutual friends and in particular Ricky Demarco and John Calder.
Leave her and walk around the corner to Fulham Road. Call Ulla Larson and invite myself up to her small apartment. She welcomes me, old friend that she is.
Bus to South Ken tube station. Call Ernie Eban and we agree to meet outside Covent Garden tube station. He has a hard drive that he wishes me to take to Paris to Valerie and Ricky Leacock. I want to purchase the DVD of Persepolis and Ernie walks with me the short distance to FOPP. There I find the DVD of Persepolis. He goes off to a meeting and we may or may not meet again later. Try to contact Hercules Bellville, but he is out of the office. Try to call Benny Puigrefagut. No luck.
Walk to my old Arts lab in 182 Drury Lane and then bus to The Cut. Sit in Caffe Nero and have a hot chocolate. The woman who makes it is Floriana from Pau in the South of France. She is super sweet. Go to John's shop and await him. Samra Turajlic calls me and I suggest she come to the performance of Beckett's Fragments. She cannot, but will meet us in the theatre when it ends and come for dinner with us.

John Calder and I go to see Fragments, three short pieces by Samuel Beckett, directed by Peter Brook in the Young Vic at 19.30. John wants to sit on the end of the row. Along from me I hear a young man discussing Beckett and a book he has read entitled The Philosophy of Samuel Beckett and how great he found the book. I stick my nose into it, tell him the author of the book is sitting on my left. He is completely surprised, then realizes that John once signed the book for him. They met after a lecture somewhere. He is elated. I pass a Chicago Tribune article to him and invite him to dine. I hope he shows the article to his beautiful companion.
John and I meet Peter Brook and his French Assistant as we leave the theatre. We stop and chat and tell him how much we enjoyed the production.
Samra is waiting. We cross the street to dine in an Italian restaurant that John likes. It's called Florentina. The fellow sitting along the row from us comes again and tells John how much he liked his book. I want to ask him about his companion, but don't. What restraint on my part.
We have a lovely meal. Our waitress is the lovely Isabella from Constansa in Romania. Samra tells us about her last days in Edinburgh. We talk about the assassination of her father who was under United Nations protection. John finds her wonderful and we walk back to the bookshop after our meal and he signs a copy of Solo for her. Then I walk Samra to Waterloo where she will take the tube home. She thanks me for a lovely evening. I tell her she is lovely! Back to John's tiny apartment and sleep.

Solo, John Calder
Solo, by John Calder
Herla, Richmond

Thursday, 28th: This morning I take the Eurostar to Paris and home. John and I go to Caffe Nero and I am surprised to see Floriana so early. She sees my luggage and asks if I am going to Paris. I reply that I am. She says she wishes she were going. I don't say that I wish she were coming with me. John helps me to find a taxi and I zoom North to St. Pancras. Dash to the ticket office. I can get the ticket changed for a small payment. I am sure Nicholas said I would be able to change the ticket, but I don't argue. Pay the money and rush to the platform. In a few minutes I am on my way to Paris.

Another Edinburgh Festival. Now I suppose the next trip will be to the Frankfurt Book Fair the 14th of October. I keep talking about Lodz in October. And Istanbul to Odessa, across the Black Sea. John Flattau is coming to Paris the 6th of October. John Calder and Sheila Colvin also arrive the 6th. And Jodi Poretto arrives the 7th from New Orleans. Shoko and Mark, friends of Jesper's, arrive the 10th of October. Mary and Paul arrive the 14th. Stanley Cohen arrives the 20th.
I will travel to the Kolkata Film Festival once again in November. Via Bangkok. Jesper's good friends, Guk and Yvan Cohen, live in Bangkok and they have stayed many times in my atelier and have invited me to visit them many times. The Prague Fringe is next May (22nd to 30th) and Steve Gove, the Director, wants me to attend. The Prague Writers Festival is next June. Recently Michael March has called to say that he and his wife, Vlasta, plan to come to Paris very soon. And I hope to attend the Edinburgh Film Festival again next June. Ludmila Cviková has asked me to serve on the jury of a film festival in Slovakia next year. And then there is August once again and another Edinburgh Festival, Book Festival, Fringe Festival… Ah life, it is so good.
And there will be still more visitors. Aaron Todd flies to Cairo via Paris. Nora Watson visits from Edinburgh. Mary Shields, Claire Smith, Carlo Coxon will come from Edinburgh in October. Kaja Cencelj comes from Ljubljana for a few days, then plans to return to stay three months. Ruth Bonapace and her daughter, Lisa, come from America. Kelly Mitchell returns to brighten the household. Judith Weston arrives from Atlanta, Almantas Samalavicius, from Vilnius, Lithuania, visits with his girlfriend, Ruta. Freya Olafson, who I met in Ljubljana in May, visits from Canada. Howard Aster passes from Toronto to Dijon. So many people coming and going.

Jim Haynes
October 2008

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




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