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The Edinburgh Festival Report
Tuesday, August 10th: Today I take the Eurostar to London. I leave the atelier in Katy Masuga's tender care. Two house guests, Don and Aaron Todd, will be here a few more days and then depart for Vancouver. I am up early and take a quick shower. Pack and out the door about 11 and head for the Gare du Nord. Check-in goes smoothly and am soon aboard. Uneventful trip. Taxi from St. Pancras to Ernie Eban's apartment in Gloucester Terrace. We start immediately to call people to invite them to our Indian dinner party tonight. Ernie and I stroll in the rain down to Queensway to have a bite to eat. Afterwards we purchase wine and beer for tonight's feast. Back to his apartment. Back on the phones to continue calling various friends for tonight. In the end, we are eight: Jan Hodenfeld (who is now living in Tunisia and who I hook up with my old friend, Moncef Sassi, when I am back in Paris), Dan Topolski (who has been fighting to keep his father's studio open to the public for years and years now), Susie Parker (who looks amazingly beautiful), Louise Stjernsward (who was born in Kenya of Swedish parents), Emma Hope (always a joy to be with), Natalia Shkola (who will have an exhibition of her photographs here in the A2 Gallery in September), Mary Clemmey (who is about to take a well-deserved break in Greece before we meet again in Frankfurt for the Book Fair), and the wonderful Samra Turajlic (who escaped from her hospital duties to come and visit briefly). Plus Ernie and myself. I keep calling Dorota's telephone number and no one answers. In the end, Daniel Topolski offers me his daughter's bed. Emma is away from London in a recording studio preparing a new CD. I accept.
Wednesday, 11th: Wake up in Emma Topolski's bed.
Quickly wash and dress. Daniel comes downstairs and asks if I would like
coffee or tea. I manage to get Dorota on the telephone. Her flight was
delayed departing Crete. We agree that I will see her later this evening.
Tube it to Paddington and walk to Ernie's. Wake him up and we walk to
the Spanish café near Queensway for a second breakfast feast. We call
Beatriz Belfrage and she rides her bicycle over to us and we sit with
her while she has a lunch and brings us up to date with her life. I leave
them and bus to Soho where I have an appointment to have a coffee with
Michael Seifert in Frith Street. Michael arrives at the same time as an attractive
blonde greets me warmly. It is Elizabeth Muirhead. She dined recently
on a Sunday night in Paris. Michael and I are surprised. We go to his
favorite café and cannot get a table, so cross the street to another.
Michael goes inside to get us coffee and I sit at our table to save our
places. To my happy surprise, I spot Tariq Ali crossing Frith Street and
rapidly walking into Old Compton Street just as Michael returns with our
coffees. I jump up to try and cut Tariq off at the pass, but he has disappeared.
Vanished. I report this fact to Michael and we are both puzzled. We sit
in the glorious warm afternoon and gossip about mutual friends. He suggests
that Ernie and I should join him and his wife, Caroline, in their mill
in the South of France in early September and I say this sounds an excellent
idea. (Ernie does go down, but two factors prevent me. One a date with
my heart doctor in Paris and a visit from my son, Jesper, mean I must
stay in Paris.)
Thursday, 12th: Breakfast with Dorota. We talk about her plan to visit Jessica John in France. And to stay a few days with me in Paris. We walk together to the nearby tube station and I head for King's Cross and my train to Edinburgh. Manage to get the 13.30 train to Edinburgh. Just before boarding, see Diana Hope talking on the telephone. Learn that she is talking to the new director of the Book Festival, Nick Barley. Then it is time to board and of course we are sitting in different coaches. Text and telephone a few friends from the train. Oh, the miracle of technology! Arrive in Waverley Station and suddenly I am home in Edinburgh once again. Taxi to 84 Great King Street. Hug Ruth and Martin. Graham brings up my bag. Martin hands me a key. Talk on the telephone with Susie Parker and arrange to collect her in her hotel in Albany Street. Soon out the door, find a taxi, collect Susie (and she looks divine!), and we pause to purchase some wine and speed on our way to Leith and Timber Bush. Astrid buzzes us up.
Suzie Parker and Jim Haynes
We will be six for dinner tonight: Astrid Silins and her beautiful daughter, Clea Tammes, plus Susie and the two men are old friends, Stash Pruszynski and Bronislav Sudjic. It's a lovely beginning to the Festival. A very happy and joyous dinner. Four of us pile into a taxi back to our various beds. I contemplate going to the Assembly Rooms or to the Traverse, but head for home instead.
Friday, 13th: Awake at 8. A great night's sleep in a new double bed. Ruth Holloway prepares a cup of coffee for me. It is my 53rd festival. Purchase a Day Ticket on the bus and get out in Hanover Street. Purchase a two weeks bus pass. Change 600 euros in Marks & Spencers. Stroll around to the Assembly Rooms and catch the Scotsman's Fringe First Awards ceremony. Exchange waves with Joyce McMillan, the Drama Critic for The Scotsman. Embrace Steve Gove and we discuss his recent trip to Lisboa. See Fiona Shea, the Media person at the Traverse. Go upstairs and have a bacon roll with Steve. He introduces me to someone. Spot Mark Fisher,a Drama Critic for The Herald, and we discuss our love for the Belgian actress, Sophi De Somere. Wander into the Press Room and embrace Catherine Bromley. Outside in George Street, bump into Xaviera Hollander and her lover, Philippe. Now the Festival has truly started. Walk around to Frederick Street and purchase a pair of shoes. Grant Barclay is the Assistant who sells me the shoes.
Continue walking to the Traverse and sit in the tiny press office and
chat with Fiona Shea. She introduces me to Sarah Dee (who I learn knows
John Calder and Sheila Colvin from John's tour of Ireland).Fiona gives
me a Staff T-shirt which has the old Traverse logo on the front and the
words "Thanks for Coming! Jim Haynes" on the back. They
are advertising my autobiography. Neal Cooper, another Herald Drama,
critic comes in and we have a chat.
Saturday, 14th: Start today with a wonderful shower. Coffee with Ruth. Out the door and take a bus up the Mound to the Bank of Scotland for The Herald's award ceremony. See lots of people I know. Keith Bruce, the Arts Editor of The Herald, gives me a warm welcome.
Bus to Toll Cross and walk to the Traverse. See a show in theatre 2 at
1 pm, D.C. Jackson's My Romantic History. But near the end I am
hit with a need to pee, so painfully slip out. Cannot re-enter the theather,
so never learn how it ends. Sarah Dee in the Press Office gives me a copy
of the play published by dear old Faber & Faber. Sarah also gives
me tickets to another play in theatre 2 at 15.45 entitled The Girl
in the Yellow Dress by Craig Higginson. This time sit as near as possible
to the exit in case I have to slip out again. And to my pleasant surprise,
discover that Faith Liddell is sitting on the same row, just a few seats
down from me. She is with the Minister of Culture from South Africa. After
the production, we embrace, but she has to rush away. It is a beautifully
written, well-acted and directed two-hander. Set in Paris, the play explores
the belationship between Celia, a beautiful young English teacher, and
Pierre, her French-Congolese pupil.
The Traverse Theatre 2010 Festival programme cover
She read the book non-stop on a recent train up from London. Karl is
talking about his book at 20.00 in the RBS Main Theatre, so get a ticket.
See Claudia Monteiro, Peggy Hughes and Colin Fraser. (Later talk with
Joyce Kaplan and we talk about Peggy Hughes. We both agree that she is
someone special.) It is so good to encounter these three. Claudia and
I discuss our event in Wigtown on the 1st of October.
Sunday, 15th: Up at 8. Stuart Trotter gives me
a ride to Charlotte Square. It is a glorious day, sunny and warm. The
photographer, Chris Close, asks if he can take my portrait sometime this
coming week. Greet the lovely Frances Sutton in the Press Pod. She introduces
me to Nick Barley, the Director of the Edinburgh Book Festival. He and
I discuss the 1962 Writers' Conference that I co-organized with John Calder
and Sonia Orwell. Nick is well-informed. He wants to do something in the
Festival of 2012 to celebrate the fifty years of our 1962 Festival. I
know that Angela Bartie is busy co-organizing something with Eleanor Bell.
See Peg Hughes and it is always a joy to see her. Tell her that Joyce
Kaplan and I talked lovingly of her yesterday. Peg needs to walk to her
flat in Toll Cross, so I propose to walk in the Lothian Road with her.
We stroll and then I hop on a bus. Get out at Bread Street and wait for
Peg to get there. Ask her if she would like something to eat or to drink,
She thanks me but says she has to prepare for her chairing session this
afternoon in the Book Festival. I go for a bacon roll (OK, I like them!)
and a latte at the Café Plus. My mobile rings and it is Angela
Bartie, I wish her a belated "Happy Birthday!"; it was the 12th
of August. We discuss her coming over to Edinburgh this afternoon. And
I tell her I am loving the festival.
At 18.00, with no ticket, a miracle unfolds and I manage to get into
Peggy's event. It is entitled "Are Friends Electric". Peg chairs
and she is a champ. I become Peggy's "uncle" and this fact allows
me inside. I spot Indigo Reeve and we exchange gossip and smiles. Everyone
congratulates Peggy afterwards for the superb job.There is a 9 pm event
in the Spiegeltent and I wander into it. Cross paths with Nick Barley
again and we are rapidly bonding. He is an excellent fellow. The event
is entitled A Night in the Gutter: McSex and features about six
readers exploring Scottish erotic writing from Robert Burns onward to
Alex Trocchi and Edwin Morgan. It's fun. It is produced by Gutter,
a magazine of new Scottish writing. Afterwards talk with several of the
Monday, 16th: Call Sheila Colvin, leave a message.
She calls me back. She says she called my French mobile yesterday. I talk
with John Calder and learn his grand daughter, Zaja, arrives in Edinburgh
today. He tells me to remember that we will lunch on Friday and celebrate
Zaja's birthday. Ruth makes me a coffee and announces that she met Stash
at the Book Festival yesterday about the same time as I was talking about
him. Bizarre. Maybe we were 50 meters apart. Call Stash and he will come
over to Great King Street with his daughter in about 30 minutes. They
arrive and we walk down to the Florentin to have breakfast. His daughter
is delightful. Her name is Anna. Ruth joins us.
Tuesday, 17th: This morning I have decided to
go to John Banville's talk in the RBS Main Tent. I know that John Calder
knows John Banville and that he and Sheila intend to be there. Meet Limma
Groves-Rains in the queue and she invites me to a dinner party chez elle
tonight. She introduces me to two women. One is name Vivienne Guinness
and the other woman lives in Cairo. See John and Sheila. See Sheila Brock
and Ruth Wishart. See Alan Taylor and Mike Wade of the Sunday Times.
See Al Senter and compliment him on his chairing the John Banville session.
Wednesday, 18th: Up at 8. Another warm sunny
day. Walk down Great King Street and decide to ask Dixon's Travel for
a leaflet about the ferry service from Zeebrugge in Belgium to Rosyth
across the Forth from Edinburgh. When I return to Scotland the end of
September for the Wigtown Book Festival, I think I will use this ferry
service. (I have subsequently booked a ticket to sail on the 29th of September.
My lawyer is also in court that day fighting Emile-the-Rat.)
Thursday, 19th: Nick Phillipson's talk is at
11 this morning. He will discuss his new book that Penguin have recently
published, a biography of Adam Smith. Up to Charlotte Square where I have
an appointment to meet Danuta Orlowska. She and I have communicated via
email but we are meeting this morning in the Press Pod. We meet and she
is lovely. I suggest she join me at Nick Phillipson's reception across
at No. 5 Charlotte Suare after his talk in the Peppers Theatre. Nick's
talk is excellent as all his friends expected it to be. Danuta and I stroll
over to No. 5 Charlotte Square just behind Sheila Colvin and John Calder.
Upstairs Danuta meets a young historian from Paris and she introduces
Gilles Robel to me. It turns out he specializes in Scottish history and
literature and he is the Assistant Mayor of Montreuil. I quickly introduce
him to Sheila and John who live in Montreuil.
Friday, 20th: Today is Zaja's 19th birthday.
She is John Calder's grand daughter. We are to meet at Centro Tre to have
a lunch and a celebration. I have no idea how I passed the morning. I suspect
I checked my email in the cybercafé near the King's Theatre, probably
stuck my head into the Traverse and the Book Festival. And was the first
to arrive for our lunch date. Sheila and John soon arrive then the birthday
girl with her boyfriend, Zaac. We have a superb lunch followed by a delicious
chocolate cake. Zaja is delighted. I return to Great King Street to have
a lovely siesta.
Saturday, 21st: Sheila Colvin calls me
to ask me to keep a lookout for Margaret, a longtime associate of John Calder's,
who will be attending the Book Festival. Ricky Demarco is supposed to be
doing something today in Craigcrook Castle. But I do not know what or when.
Bus to Toll Cross to check my email and then wander into Filmhouse to have
a bowl of soup. Cross over to the Traverse and visit with Sarah in the press
office. We gossip about John Calder and Sheila Colvin.
Sunday, 22nd: Steven Gove has suggested I go
up to Fringe Central, that there will be a gathering of Directors of Fringe
Festivals from all corners of the world and that I might find it interesting.
Do so and it is. Meet lots of people including Dutchman Iwan Dam who has
a show entitled Cooking for Love. I promise him that I will see
it, but do not make it. Damn. Also meet Amy Abler, who has a show entitled
PianoDivalicious!, and I tell her I will try to see her show. (And
I do.) Also meet Tayo Aluko, who has written and who performs Call
Mr. Robeson about the remarkable life of Paul Robeson. I tell him
that I met Paul Robeson in the late 50s via my history professor, George
Shepperson, who had arranged an Honorary Doctorate for him at Edinburgh
University. I also promise to see his production. (And I do! And it is
Sheila Colvin drives me to the Assembly Rooms and I visit with Kate,
the Club Bar guard. Meet Bob Kingdom and apologize to him for my failure
to keep our last date. We have coffee and catch each other up to date
with our news and views.
Monday, 23rd: Joan Bakewell arrives in Edinburgh
today. She will call me when she arrives. Carry two bags to the laundry
in Stockbridge. Bus back toward George Street and share the bus ride with
Mike Hart. There is a talk in Charlotte Square at 12.30 that I would like
to hear. It is entitled "Bombay and Delhi - Dream Cities or Purgatory?"
with Suketu Mehta, the author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found.
And with Sam Miller, author of a new book, Delhi, adventures in a megacity.
I have read Suketu's book and have heard him talk in the Village Voice
Bookshop in Paris. He is an excellent fellow. Charlotte Gosling gives
me a ticket. See Geraint Lewis. See Chris Close who says he wants to take
Then in we go where places have been saved for us. Just befoe the show
starts, one of the cast members comes out and says we are lucky and honored
tonight to have Jim Haynes, one of the Festival founders with us. I stand
up and am applauded. Toby, you are too much! The show is wild, full of
energy, slice of Brazil, singing, dancing and football. It is over-the-top-fun!
Afterwards we walk the short distance to the restaurant called The Outsider
in George IV Bridge. We are Simone, Gina, Liseanne, and Toby. Joan Bakewell
joins us. I think Toby picks up the bill for everyone.
Tuesday, 24th: Head up to the Fringe Centre
to check my email and to gossip with Claudia Monteiro, Neil Mackinnon, and
Amy Dickenson. Then go downstairs and check my email. Walk and bus to the
Traverse where I have a meeting with Joan Bakewell. She is the patron of
the theatre company, Shared Experiences, and we will go to see their production,
Speechless, in theatre 2 at 1.15. Always good to see Joan and to
share Edinburgh with her. The production is based on a true story of two
sisters who refuse to talk and the secret world they share. It is strong
stuff. Joan and I go for soup at Tree Free Tree.
Wednesday, 25th: For some bizarre reason get
up at 7.30. Make myself a pot of coffee. Then decide to go back to sleep
for an hour. John Calder calls at 8.30 to say we have a date with Mona
Shea at 20.30 tonight in the Café Royal. Today's Scotsman
has the news that Hannah McGill has resigned from directing the Edinburgh
International Film Festival. That's sad for us. A very talented young
woman. And very nice too.
Attend Tariq Ali's 16 h 30 session and he is superb as always. He is
photographed by Chris Close outside the Press Pod and Chris asks me to
talk with Tariq while he is photographing him. I tell Tariq about seeing
him in Soho while having coffee with Michael Seifert. And that he disappeared
in Old Compton Street.
Thursday, 26th: Another early morning.
Down to Stockbridge to collect my clean laundry and take it back to 84 Great
King Street. Go up to the Waverly Station and book a place on the morning
train to London for next Monday. Taxi to Book Festival. Talk on the telephone
with John Calder, but he has decided to stay home and nurse his cold. Karin
gives me a clipping about New Orleans. I telephone John Lloyd and he suggests
we dine tomorrow night. I have a meeting with Ros MacKenzie in the Press
Pod at 12 Noon. (Later she and her husband, Cameron, dine on a Sunday evening
in Paris. And present me with a beautiful cashmere MacKenzie scarf.) I have
a lunch date with Grace and am to be presented to Stella. Ruth and Martin
and Victoria Rae, a pal of Grace's, join us. Or I should say, I join them.
They are there when I arrive. Needless to say, Stella is the most beautiful
baby girl in the world. After lunch I walk to Broughton Street. One of my
favorite streets in Edinburgh. Bus to the Fringe Centre in George Square.
Visit with Claudia Monteiro. Neil Mackinnon asks me if I could be present
an Award Ceremony in the Club Bar of the Assembly Rooms on Sunday. Of course.
I would be pleased to do so.
Friday, 27th: Up at 8.30 and make myself a pot
of coffee. Martin's friend, Stuart, shares it. Go out to take a bus up
the hill. Meet a young attractive woman from America named Janet Livingston
. She lives in Bratislava. And I tell her about my People to People
travel books. I leave her in George Street and walk to the Assembly Rooms.
Suddenly realize that the final Fringe First awards ceremony is in the
Assembly in the Princes Street Gardens. Rush there and manage to catch
some of the event. Karen Koren is awarded The Spirit of the Fringe Award.
Outside in the warm sunshine, see lots of friends. Chat with Fiona, Sarah
and Helen from the Traverse. Decide to walk to Bread Street and have a
bacon roll and a latte. Visit Sarah and Helen in the Traverse Press Room.
Home to Great King Street. Astrid calls and suggests I meet her, John
Lloyd and others at Creeler's in Hunter Square. Tell her I am on my way.
Fran James has found them a table in the back room. We are seven: Astrid,
John, his son, Jacob, Jacob's girlfriend, Lindsay Dukes, Astrid's house
guests from France, Denis and Catherine Barritault, and me. Dinner is
wonderful. I like Jacob and Lindsay very much. They are in a production
and it is a pity that I am not able to see it. He looks just like his
father. Astrid's house guest, Denis, picks up the check which is exceedingly
kind of him. (I have posted him a thank-you note and two books of mine.)
Saturday, 28th: Coffee and talk in the kitchen
with Ruth and Stuart. Call Sheila Colvin and she reports that John is
feeling better. Go up to Charlotte Square and bully Colin Fraser and Peg
Hughes into coming for lunch in the Scottish Arts Club. Sheila Colvin
joins us. John has elected to stay in bed. Return to Great King Street,
pausing to buy some supplies for the house. Have a wee rest. Call Gina
Chavez regarding the musical, Reel to Real and tell her I can come
tonight, but can only stay about 20 minutes. She says it will not be a
problem. Ask her about Simone Genatt, the producer, and Gina reports she
is home in New York City.
Sunday, 29th: Call Rona Thomson to ask
when her party will start today. Call Sheila Colvin and she reports that
John is feeling better. Wander down to Florentin for a bacon roll and a
latte. Meet Ruth's daughter, Grace, and her new daughter, Stella. Then meet
Grace's father, Chris, who lives in the South of France. Also meet Sky,
his friend. David Black enters and sits with us. Also Colin Cooper. He thanks
me for introducing him to Stash Pruszynski. Somehow or other, David asks
me about Emile-the-Rat and I attempt to explain how I got into his cobweb.
Bus up to George Street and encounter Iain Morse and Robert McDowell and
we walk to Charlotte Square for a coffee and talk. Leave them and taxi up
to the Fringe Centre to check my email one last time in Edinburgh. Go upstairs
to say greetings to anyone in the Fringe box office. Almost no one there;
it is too early for everyone. Exit via the back door and see a man and a
woman headed for two different cars. Shout to them to ask if either of them
might be driving by the St. Leonard's Police Station. And the woman, to
the man's surprise, says that she is. I introduce myself and she asks if
I am the fellow who has the Sunday dinners in Paris. Sarah Bloomfield is
a policewoman and she has seen the After Eight advertisements. We are both
surprised and chat like old friends all the way to St. Leonard's.
Monday, 30th: Up early. Wash, pack, have coffee with Ruth in the kitchen. Ask Ruth to call a taxi for me. Thank her and Martin for their hospitality and kindness again. They tell me that I am welcome to return next August. I thank them and say that I might be back for a night in late September when I will head to Wigtown. Taxi to Waverly Station and board the train for London Kings Cross. A pleasant trip down. I decide not to stay the night in London. Walk over to St Pancras and manage to change my Eurostar ticket and am soon on my way to Paris. Another Edinburgh Festival! Hooray! I will be there again in 2011, I hope.
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