Jim Haynes newsletters
The Edinburgh Festival Report
Sunday, August 7th: Natalia makes porridge and toast. Outside the sun is shining and the sky is blue. A good sign for tonight's dinner. Talk with my wonderful neighbor, Susi Wyss, and she invites me to dine tomorrow evening. I accept. Galina arrives to finish preparations for tonight's feast. Reilly Capps arrives to stay the night. He knows Sharon Shuteran in Telluride. He begins immediately to assist Galina. More and more people email and telephone to confirm their reservations. Then at 7, people begin to arrive. Séamas comes and starts to get ready for the invasion. In the end, it is perfect until about 10.30 when a sudden downpour forces everyone inside. Still it is a lovely dinner party. We are 105.
Monday, 8th: I hear Reilly Capps depart about 6 a.m. I get up at 8.30 and have porridge with Natalia and Elana Riffle. Elana departs shortly after breakfast. Galina arrives. The place is in fairly good order thanks to Evgenija last night. Natalia departs for London and I will see her Tuesday evening at dinner with Ernie Eban. Do a laundry and begin to pack for Edinburgh. Dinner in the evening with wonderful Susi and two of her friends.
Tuesday, 9th: About Noon, take the Eurostar to London. Taxi to Ernie's. Always great to see him. A young American, David Weinberg, comes to Ernie's to interview me for his PhD dealing with Americans and the alternative theatre movement in Britain 1956 to 1980. We are having our traditional Indian take-away from Khan's tonight. We are not a lot of people because of the riots. Daniel Topolski, Michael Seifert, Natalia Shkola and a friend of hers named Penny Diamond, Samra Turajlic, Miles Landesman and Hanja Kochansky. I learn that Fran Landesman recently joined Jay wherever people go when they leave life. Plus Ernie and I. Later Daniel drops me and Samra in her mews flat that is only a few blocks from Ernie. She introduces me to her fellow, Ali Albazzar, and a friend of theirs. His name is Asheesh and he lives in Mumbai. Chat a bit with them, but I am tired, so Samra shows me their guest bedroom and I am soon in sleepyland.
Wednesday, 10th: Breakfast with Samra and her fellow, Ali. Walk
painfully and very slowly in the beautiful sunshine to Ernie's. Wonder
if I will make the short distance of only five blocks. Ernie is up and
the place is cleaned. We discuss last night's dinner. I go to the Orange
Store in Paddington Station. And a lovely Mitzy arranges for me to have
a new sim card in my British mobile telephone. Metro to Waterloo and take
the envelope to John Calder's bookshop in the Cut. Sheila Colvin calls
from Paris while I am there and she and I chat a bit. Back to Ernie's,
collect my bag and taxi to King's X. Smooth ride up to Edinburgh. Sit
across from Donna-Marie Brennan, who is a solicitor in Glasgow. She and
her mum have been in London going to the theatre. The train pulls into
Waverley Station on time at 7 pm.
Thursday, 11th: Feel weak but also feel I am
on the road to recovery. The doctors and nurses are wonderful. Astrid
Silins visits. So good to see her. Give her a lot of euros to deposit
in the Bank of Scotland for me. I call Ernie on my mobile and tell him
my situation. Ask him to email Jesper and John Flattau. Shortly thereafter
John calls from New York and we have a good talk. He is such a good friend.
Friday, 12th: Jesper calls from Stockholm. He flies to New York
City tomorrow. I assure him that I am on the mend. John Calder and Sheila
Colvin call from Paris. Not sure how they found out I am in hospital.
Alasdair Riley calls and comes to visit. Claudia Monteiro and Peggy Hughes
come to visit about 7. They bring sunshine to the ward and are always
a delight. They are both wonderful.
Saturday, 13th: Hayley Davies comes to wake me
up and to take blood. Her shift ends at 8 this morning. The nurse today
is Ronnie Murray. He remembers me from ten years ago when I was in the
Western General Hospital. We talk about Dr. Denver. Ronnie shaves and
washes me. Dorota calls from London. Angela calls from Glasgow. My little
Nokia mobile is a great source of joy. Alasdair calls. Martin Belk calls.
I call Benny in London and tell him where I am.
Sunday, 14th: More or less sleep OK. Up very early for more jabs and tests. Ronnie says I can have my first shower on my own. It feels great. Warm water falling on one's body is great medicine. George Crawford, an Edinburgh taxi driver, is on my left and Leslie McIntosh, another taxi-driver, is on my right. Read a pile of old newspapers. Talk with Claudia Monteiro who says she is at the Book Festival. Alasdair Riley calls to say he has written a small item for the Sunday Independent. He wants to check that it is OK with me. Benny calls from London to ask how I am. He asks if Scott Griffith knows. I say I don't think so. Benny says he will email Scott. Lunch is served and it is surprisingly good. Ronnie also tells me that he saw my After Eight commercial on YouTube.
In the afternoon, get calls from friends in France. I talk with Scott
and tell him to tell Sabine and Rainer Kolmel. Kristi calls and tells
me that all is well with Atelier A2. Ronnie buys me a Sunday Independent
and I read Alasdair's small report. And it is sweet. I think I spot Dr.
Denver who looked after me in the Western General in 2001. Ronnie confirms
it is him. He will be back soon Ronnie reports. Dinner is served and the
mushroom soup is delicious. Leslie Hills suddenly appears. We have a good
catch-up talk. Then get a call from Ernie in London.
Monday, 15th: Ros comes to pull the curtain back and I can see
the entire ward. I tell her it is great to see the production "Hospital"
- another act in this on-going drama. I tell her they are a great bunch
of performers. She smiles at my little joke. I hear George Crawford next
door and shout to ask how he is getting on. He answers in the affirmative.
A new nurse, Peter, brings me a fresh pitcher of water. A woman pushes
a trolley and asks what I would like for breakfast. I reply porridge and
ask her what part of Poland is she from. She replies Warsaw. And I tell
her I know the city well. I use some of my modest Polish vocabulary and
she is pleased and impressed. Her name is Grazyna. A nurse named Susan
comes to take blood and to give me some pills. I ask her if we have met
before and she says she was here when I arrived last Wednesday. Dr. Henrikson
looms into view. He and a team of consultants are making their morning
round. He is still worried about my kidneys. And asks me a lot of questions.
When I mention I had blood tests in Paris, he asks if I can get the results
sent up to him. Yes, I think it will be possible. I call a friend in Paris
and he is able to email the test results.
Tuesday, 16th: About 7 a.m., I awake in
my new quarters. I am sharing the room with another three men. Someone comes
to take my blood. Breakfast of porridge, roll and coffee follows. Then an
attractive young nurse named Jo (for Joanna) from Perth comes to take my
blood pressure and to give me about ten pills and a questionnaire. The latter
is easy and I do it immediately. Lots of questions dealing with one's attitude
Dr. Land comes to see me with an attractive assistant. He says he showed
his family the After Eight commercial and as a result both he and I are
celebrities. He also read the Independent on Sunday item in which
I said I would soon be seeing friend in Charlotte Square at the Book Festival
on Wednesday. He asks if I would be upset if my departure were delayed
until Thursday. I tell him that I will do all that is required of me and
I will not complain. He says that some of the heart medicine has complications.
So more blood tests and more nights here in the Royal Infirmary.
Wednesday, 17th: Awake early from a crazy dream
involving a ride from Paris with a French publisher on our way to the
Frankfurt Book Fair. Maurice Girodias has asked me to do something for
him, bumping into Joan Juliet Buck, meeting a Polish dissident and many
more complications. Get out of bed and learn it is only 5.45. Try to sleep
again, but give up. The sun is shining and I notice it is 7. Steve, a
young nurse, asks me about my life and I ask him about his. He was born
in 1985 and grew up in Stockbridge. I tell him that I love Stockbridge
and have often pondered moving to Edinburgh and living there in Stockbridge
in Sheila Colvin's old flat. A pretty nurse named Holli comes to make
up my bed. Breakfast is served. Porridge again. A happy fellow named Brian
comes to mop the floor. He sings and hums the entire time. My fellow inmates
come alive. And another day begins. Jo arrives to start her day shift.
Nurses are amazing. Long hours and always cheerful. She is so young, so
attractive and so sweet that she is able to spread joy just by being.
She tests my blood pressure and prepares my morning pill consumption.
She tells me how she met her future husband, Jordan, in France. Jo's brother
had a job on a canal boat in France and his friend, Jordan, came to visit.
After their marriage, they want to go to France to celebrate. Suggest
that she and Jordan come to dinner in Paris.
Dinner is served: delicious Scotch broth, then cod and
veggies, followed by ice cream.
Thursday, 18th: The lovely Jo Griffiths appears
and gives me my morning pills. She says I can leave the hospital after
11 this morning. And do I have someone to help me? I say hooray and I
think so. She will come again and give me letters to take to my doctors
in France. She is to be married in ten days. I tell her I also got married
Lunch is served. Jo brings me a letter to give to my
doctors in France. Begin to say my goodbyes and thank yous. Claudia arrives
and I am ready. Out the front door of the Royal Infirmary and into her
car. We speed on our way to Great King Street. We pass Summer Hall, cross
the Meadows, and into Lothian Road, pass Filmhouse and the Traverse, go
around Charlotte Square, and soon into Great King Street. Claudia takes
my bag to the front door, rings the bell and Martin comes down to assist
me. Kiss and thank Claudia. Ruth appears and introductions are made. Then
Claudia departs for George Square. And I slowly make my way up two flights
of stairs. They say I am welcome to dine with them tonight. I accept.
Friday, 19th: Up at 7 a.m. and another good night's
sleep. Go into the kitchen and find Ruth preparing breakfast. She asks
what I would like and I reply "apple juice". Take my morning
pills. Borrow some shaving cream from Graham. Shave, shampoo, and shower.
Penny and John Morrison will arrive late this afternoon.
Leave them and wander about and end up in the bookshop. Roza Petherick
spots me and I join her table. She introduces me to about four or five
people. They have just come out of Stella Rimington's talk. She is retired
from MI5, the British spy agency. The session was chaired by Ruth Wishart.
I am a big fan of Ruth's so I wish that I had been there. Roza has purchased
Stella Rimington's recent thriller and it will be the subject of their
book club. I almost purchased the same book, but I have too much to carry
back to Paris.
invitation to the London Review of Books party
Saturday, 20th: Pills and apple juice in the
kitchen at 8 a.m. with Ruth. Roza Petherick calls to invite me to dinner
next Saturday. Chat with Penny and John about their activities today.
Give some euros to Martin Burke to contribute to the household expenses.
I am one of the first to arrive for the Herald's
weekly awards ceremony. I am greeted by Victoria Scott. She organizes
events for The Herald. Sit down near her friend, Joanne Paterson.
Victoria takes my coat and bag and brings me a cappuccino and bacon roll.
Find myself in a delightful conversation with Kristen Sieh, who is with
the company, Banana, Bag and Bodice. They are in a production of Beowulf,
the musical at the Assembly in George Square. The company is to receive
an award this morning. Kristen is a sweetheart and we bond immediately.
Somehow Anna Kohler's name comes up and Kristen knows her. I tell her
how I brought about changes in Anna's life. Give Kristen a Chicago
Tribune article about my Sunday dinners and suggest she call me when
she next travels to Paris. Neil Cooper and Keith Bruce come over to welcome
me. A lovely blonde woman comes up to me and greets me warmly. Her name
is Kitty Douglas Hamilton. We have met before but I cannot remember where
or when. She is taking care of the Press Office for Summer Hall and tells
me I must come out. I tell her I fully intend to do so and soon.
Beowulf, a thousand years of Baggage, written by Dave Malloy, dorected bu Rod Hipskind and Mallory Catlett
It seems that Allan is very ill and could not make it this morning. Oliver's
mum comes up to remind me that we met last year in a city bus. I ask that
my best wishes be passed to Allan. (Later, back in Paris, I get an email
message from Leslie Hills to tell me that Allan has joined his ancestors.)
Go into the Assembly Club Bar. Meet Kath Mainland and Judith Doherty.
We talk briefly. Then encounter Jonathan Beeby, who I learn has recently
walked across America from New York City to Santa Monica, California.
My goodness what a feat. We sit and talk a bit. I ask that my best wishes
be passed to his brother, sister, mum and dad.
Sunday, 21st: Joan Bakewell arrives in Edinburgh
today. Lee Randall and I text each other and arrange to meet in the afternoon.
Taxi up to Charlotte Square and visit with pals in the Press Pod. See
Tim Cornwell and tell him my saga. He invites me to his home for tea.
We drive the short distance to Oxford Terrace. I have a delicious cup
of tea and a slice of pie. Tim's wife, Alice, is originally from California.
They have two daughters. Afterwards Tim drops Alice near Charlotte Square
and takes me to Stockbridge. There I am to join a picnic that has been
prepared for Grace's daughter, Stella. It is her first birthday party.
Sit in a small tent out of the sun and everyone spoils me.
See Alison (A.L.) Kennedy and we exchange embraces. Later I am told
that she, too, has been ill. Damn. Life is dangerous. Meet Sam Leith.
Monday, 22nd: I have to go out to the Royal Infirmary
this morning for more tests. Taxi out to Little France. Go up to the Ward
and Marian (from Egypt) takes blood. Am told that I can go. Bus into the
Bridges. Sit next to a young woman from Poznan who is talking on her mobile
with her mother. Get off the bus just before the Festival Theatre. Go
up to the Fringe Centre to see Claudia Monteiro. She is with someone when
I arrive, so sit on a couch and wait. After a bit, she is free. But I
can see she is busy. She walks with me to the taxi rank and I ride to
Broughton street and look for the Polish restaurant. It cannot be found.
I am told it recently closed. Damn. Walk down to a pharmacy and purchase
some medicine. Then taxi to Leith Walk where I have been told there is
a Polish supermarket. Find it, but they do not have a café. Purchase
some instant barszcz czerwony which I will take home to Paris.
Bosom Buddies, a one man show by Jack Klaff
Sit and talk afterwards with Alessija Lause. She is an actress from Berlin,
but with a mother from Croatia. I tell her I have been to Zagreb and Dugi
Otok. She is in a show entitled Danny and the Deep Blue Sea here
in St George's West at 15.15 daily. I tell her I will do my best to see
it. (And I manage to do so.) We talk about Wolfgang Hoffman.
Tuesday, 23rd: Talk with Natalia and she says she will meet my
train at Kings X when I journey down on Monday. Talk with Penny about
Odessa and Yalta. We also talk about Meg Bortin in Paris. John and Penny
invite me to dine with them tomorrow evening. Taxi to Stockbridge and
leave some items to be cleaned. Continue to Charlotte Square. See Ruth
Wishart and we talk briefly. What a honey-pie she is! Harrison gives me
a press ticket for Joan Bakewell. Talk with Michael McCloud about his
upcoming trip to Budapest this coming weekend. It will be his first. Highly
recommend old friend, Andras Török's book, on walking in Budapest.
Get kisses from Frances Sutton. Chat with Colin Fraser.
They are going to something in the building. I go outside and use my bus pass to go up Princes Street and walk the short distance to the New Town Theatre in George Street to see the company from Lublin, Poland. They were awarded a Herald Angel the same Saturday I received the Herald Little Devil. The company is called neTTheatre/Grupa Coincidentia. Their production is called Turandot; the production is inspired by the original opera, Puccini's letters and William Burrough's Naked Lunch. It has been written and directed by Pawel Passini. Before going into the theatre, talk with Zoe from the South of England. The production is, of course, delightful. Wild and over the top. Afterward, encounter Tomek Borkowy, the Artistic Director of the Universal Arts team, and we chat briefly. Then I sit and have a drink with Grzezorz Reske and Pawel Passini. We talk about many things: Polish theatre, Edinburgh Festival, my travel books, Jan Kaczmarek, Theatr Nowy in Poznan, Izabella Cywinska, Barbara Hoff, Stash Pruszynski and India. A fellow comes up to me and tells me that we have met before in the Theatre Workshop in Stockbridge. His name is Alan Tweedie and I suggest he join us. He tells us that he is now based in Mumbai and we talk about Alyque and Pearl Padamsee, Dolly Trakore Padamsee, Pearl's daughter, Raell, and Dolly's son, Quasar. We talk about Shashi Kapoor and his daughter, Sanjna.
Turandot, by the neTTheatre/Grupa Coincidentia
We talk about the New Delhi Theatre Festival and the Lublin Theatre Festival.
They tell me I must come to Lublin and I promise to do so. We four have
a great conversation.
Wednesday, 24th: Up at 8.30. Pills and coffee with Ruth in the
kitchen. Lesley Haw lets me have some of her cereal. Elect to go back
to bed for an hour. When I get up again, chat with John and Penny in the
kitchen. They are going to something in the Traverse this evening and
I am going to see a film in Filmhouse. So we agree to meet afterwards.
In Search of Lost Meaning, by Adam Michnik
I also mention Joanna Podolska, who is with Gazeta Wyborcza in
Lodz. Yes, Adam knows Joanna.
Thursday, 25th: Again up at 7. Go into the kitchen
to take my pills. Ruth joins me. She makes me a delicious cup of coffee.
John and Penny depart Edinburgh this afternoon just after the Chat
Marsala production. Ruth's brother, Graham, arrives in the flat today
to stay a few nights. Talk with John and Penny about their Book Festival
in Seven Oaks. I highly recommend Alan Furst, Martin Walker and Cara Black.
Lesley Haw flashes through the kitchen. She is off to Glasgow for her
job with the BBC. I slowly shave, shower and shampoo. Call Owen Dudley
Edwards and, as expected, Martin Walker has left Edinburgh. We speak,
as always, about George Shepperson. He tells me that Shepperson is 90.
Earlier I had agreed with Steve Gove and be interviewed
for a TV programme for Czech TV. They arrive and I am introduced. His
producer is Jirka Macek and the cameraman is Laco Gaspar. As they set
up, Steve explains it is for Q (gay TV programme on Czech TV). Get a call
from Andrew Rogers. Did I still have the radio mike? It was never taken
from me. Yes, it is still in my pocket. They will send someone to Great
King Street to collect it. Get a call from Olivier Conway. Could the Little
Devil be delivered to Great King Street? Yes, no problem. The mike is
collected and the Little Devil is delivered. Steve interviews me about
my 55 years attending the Festival, the scandals, the changes, the great
moments. Ruth serves us tea. We talk about the 1962 Writers' Conference
and the time Van Het Reve announced he was a homosexual from the stage
of the McEwan Hall when it still was a crime to be a homosexual in Britain.
We talk about the "moving" nude happening scandal on the last
day of the 1963 Drama Conference that resulted in future conferences being
banned by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh. Steve and his colleagues are
pleased with the interview. As they pack up, get a call from Stephanie
Wolfe Murray and invite her up to Great King Street. Steve and co depart
and Stephanie arrives.
Flavio Rodrigues, Anyway
The taxi driver is a lovely blonde woman from Edinburgh. We talk all
the way to the Zoo and I invite her to dine the next time she is in Paris.
Stand in the queue for Flynch. A very lovely young woman from
Spain, Bea Querol stands behind me. We have a lovely talk and when it
is time to enter the theatre, we sit together and exchange email addresses.
She is now living in Berlin and this is her first time in Edinburgh. She
is loving the festival. I recommend Summer Hall to her. Our talk ends
when the production begins. The company, called Clout, all met when they
attended the Jacques Lecoq school in Paris. The five performers play about
20 different roles. It is very movement oriented theatre. And very well
done. Both Bea and I enjoy it.
Friday, 26th: This morning get up at 7, pee,
and go back to bed for another 30 minutes. Then go into the kitchen with
my bag of pills. Ruth is there and she makes me a cup of coffee. Lesley
makes me a small bowl of cereal. Ruth and I discuss the Simon Callow play
and we learn it is on again on Monday. I will be on the train to London
and will miss it.
A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson, adapted from James Boswell by Russel Barr, Ian Redford and Max Stafford-Clark
Saturday, 27th: Up at 6, pee, and go back to bed. Up again at 8.Get a text message from Steve Gove and from Samra Turajlic. She reports that she is not coming up to Edinburgh. Ruth sticks her head in my room and asks if I would like a cup of coffee. She, too, got up early, had a shower and then went back to bed for another hour. She also asks if I have anything to be washed because she is doing a laundry load. I give her some under wear and socks. Quickly shave and shower. Call City Cabs and for a change I am downstairs before it arrives. Head up to Ramsay Gardens to have morning coffee with Mona Shea and her sister, Ellen. Astrid soon joins us. And we four have a delightful and restful morning together.
Astrid walks me to the Royal Mile where she puts me
in a taxi and I head for St. George's West to have a delicious bowl of
mushroom soup. Purchase a ticket for the 15.15 Danny and the Deep Blue
Sea. Chat with the ticket girls who say that they have seen my After
Eight commercial and that they want to come to a Sunday dinner.
Danny and the Deep Blue Sea,
by John Patrick Shanley
with Alessija Lause
and Nikolaus Szentmiklosi
I go to dinner at Roza and David Petherick's home. Two
other guests: Alan Bissett and Kristen Innes. He is a published writer.
She has just won the Allen Wright Prize. Superb food and delightful conversation.
David and Roza are lovely hosts. I slip out early. Taxi to Charlotte Square.
Go to Jenny Brown's party, but do not stay very long. A young lad comes
up to me and reports he is Leo, the son of Giles Gordon. This means that
his mother, Maggie McKernan, might be here. But I do not see her. She
is co-hosting the party with Jenny Brown. I am tired, so slip out fairly
Sunday, 28th: Up at 7.30 and take my pills. Begin
to pack for my return to Paris tomorrow.
See lots of friends. Astrid Silins, Catherine Robins,
John Richie. Meet Gerda Stevenson who has written and directed Federer
versus Murray. She also performs in it. I did not see it but I have
heard great things about it.
Monday, 29th: Superb night's sleep. Get up about
7, take my pills, wash and finish packing. Martin says he will drive me
to Waverley, but I tell him he is not to bother, that I can go there with
a taxi. Soon it is 9 and time to call a taxi. Tell everyone "thank
you" and prepare to head downstairs. Ruth's brother, Graham, takes
my bag down and loads it in the taxi. Minutes later we are in Waverley
and it is another goodbye to dear old Edinburgh. Somehow manage to get
to the platform and find Michael McLaughlin is already there. He introduces
me to someone, a cousin of his I think. And it is time to board. He lifts
my heavy bag up and into the train. I follow him and find our seats. And
we are soon on our way. It is a lovely day. The sun is shining and we
are speeding South to Kings X. We are scheduled to arrive about 14.47.
And we are on time. Natalia is on the platform to assist me. Introduce
her to Michael and we walk to the front of the train. Say goodbye to Michael
and wish him a smooth and safe flight to Melbourne. Natalia and I continue
the short walk to St Pancras. We go straight to the ticket office and
I am able to transfer my ticket to leave in just over one hour for Paris.
And I have bumped myself up to first class for not much added money.
Tuesday, 30th: So good to wake up in my own bed. So good to be
back in Paris once again. Up at 7, but decide it is too early to get up,
so go back to bed for two more hours. Answer lots of email messages. Walk
to Franprix and am impressed with the improvements that were made in August.
Sheila Colvin calls from Edinburgh. She and John will be back in Paris
the 9th of September and I will book our table at the Terminus Nord. Ask
Susi Wyss if she would like to dine with Kristi and me tonight. She cannot.
So Kristi and I go up to the Verre Siffleur and have a feast. My appetite
is coming back. Hooray!
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