Jim Haynes newsletters

Newsletter No.717

The Edinburgh Festival Report
7th - 30th August, 2011

Official Edinburgh Festivals 2010
   

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.
Collect my bag and suddenly feel like I am going to collapse. Two students pass and I ask them for assistance. They immediately come to my aid. They call a station policeman and an ambulance is called. I am having a heart attack. I must confess I felt it coming in London but did not want to believe it. The ambulance crew give me morphine and oxygen and a spray under my tongue and I immediately begin to feel better. Ask the policeman to pass on my newsletter to the two students. But they have disappeared. They are headed for St. Andrews. Damn. I did not get their names. We arrive at the Royal Infirmary within minutes. The lovely Icelandic doctor, Ingi Gudomundsdottir, said that she is taking me down for an easy operation. It will be only 30 minutes she states. I am not prepared for this but there is very little I can do. I am in her hands and must do as she orders. They use a local anesthetic and she says that I can watch if I wish. I cannot watch. It is the longest 30 minutes in my life. In fact afterwards the two doctors tell me it lasted an hour and a half. Two stents and a balloon have been inserted. I am wheeled back to my ward where I will stay the next few days. I am told not to move my right leg. And with great difficulty manage to get to sleep.

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.
Alasdair Riley comes to visit. I cannot remember how he heard about my situation. He asks if he can write something in the Sunday Independent about my stay in the hospital. OK, why not?
Really cannot remember very much about what happens this day. The lovely nurse, Haley Davies, looks after me.

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.
Haley Davies is on duty again at 8 pm. She is wonderful. I am told she has a twin sister who also is a nurse in the Royal Infirmary.

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.
A lazy morning. Soon it is time for lunch. Read, rest, nap. Martin Belk and Jonathan Pryce arrive to visit and they bring lots of newspapers and a "girlie" magazine. Alasdair Riley arrives and I introduce everyone. After they depart, I have a siesta. When I wake up, I discover Faith Liddell sitting next to the bed. She has written me a sweet note because she did not wish to awake me. We have a good long chat. She has to depart to meet a delegation. Then Angela Bartie arrives. Get a call from Frances Sutton and also from Lee Randal. Angela and I discuss the 1962 Writers' Conference and her recent trip to Chicago. Get a call from London from Ernie Eban and Joan Bakewell. Angela brought me Naked by David Sedaris and I read the first two stories. And I am hooked.

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.
Ronnie goes off duty in a few minutes. Also the lovely nurse, Antonia. Chat with the young red-headed nurse, Sarah. Next door George Crawford has a lot of visitors. I call Roy Hutchins and we talk about Heathcote Williams. He tells me that Heathcote was awarded a Herald Angel. He also tells me that Michael Coveney is in Edinburgh. Begin to read another tale in Naked when I am interrupted by a call from Jesper in Brooklyn. He wants to know everything and I tell him I am on the road to recovery. Talk also with the lovely Takae.
Suddenly a group of doctors are in front of my bed. Leslie excuses herself. She is off to Spain on Tuesday. Dr. Denver is among them. We talk about 2001. I tell him I am the "George Clooney" of After Eight. One of the doctors googles After Eight and suddenly we are all looking at my TV commercial. Everyone laughs and all seem to enjoy the commercial.
Ros is the night nurse. It is a strange night. Cannot sleep, so get up and read more David Sedaris tales.

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.
After the entourage moves on, Peter asks if I would like a shower. Yes! It is lovely. Ask Peter to purchase a Scotsman and Herald for me when he has time. Try to call Dorota in London. And also Samra. No luck. Leave messages. Call Natalia in London and she is alarmed to learn my news.. Samra calls back and is surprised that I am in the Royal Infirmary. But we both agree that I was lucky it happened in Edinburgh. George from next door and I chat. He hopes to leave today. He is a big friendly taxi-driver. Astrid calls from the Borders. She sends greetings from Judy and David Steel. Astrid says she wants to come and see me this afternoon.
Lunch time. Chili con carne with rice and apple crumble. Delicious. While I am talking on the telephone, Miss Iceland, Dr. Gudomundsdottir, passes and waves and gives me a big smile. What a lovely lady! No sooner have I finished my lunch than a porter arrives to take me downstairs for some X-rays. Catherine, a pretty blonde from Dumferline, does it quickly. Am wheeled back to my ward. Another nurse comes to tell me to drink lots of water. I am to have another X-ray and I am not to pee until it is over. Mary Clemmey calls from London to say she is coming up to Edinburgh. Ernie told her I was in the hospital. Get a call from Steve Gove who reports he has just arrived in Edinburgh. He is stunned to learn I am in hospital and promises to come and see me tonight or tomorrow morning. Alasdair Riley calls and I tell him I read the piece in the Sunday Independent and found it to be sweet. He passes the phone to Frances Sutton and she reports all is well in Charlotte Square except that I am not there. I promise to ratify that and join her soon. Ruth Holloway calls and she says that she and Martin will come see me this afternoon. Continue to read Naked and find that I have become a David Sedaris fan. Robert, a porter, comes to take me down for more X-rays. The doctor, Chris Hay, immediately sets to his tasks of X-raying my kidneys. About thirty minutes later, he announces they are fine. We talk about our family names and I tell him that I once heard it came from de la Hay from France. He says he has heard the same. A very pregnant Donna, from the Philippines, wheels me out. And another porter delivers me back to my home, bed 7, ward 114. Telephone rings and it is Catherine Robins. She asks how I am enjoying the festival. Tell her I am in an audience-participation production called "Hospital". She laughs and says she will come out later tonight to see me.
Go for a stroll about the ward. Talk to the fellow in Bed 100 who is called Leslie McIntosh. Tell him that his American cousin, Kristi McIntosh, is staying in my atelier in Paris. He is also an Edinburgh taxi-driver. He says he hopes to be departing within the hour. Also learn that George Crawford will be going home today. Go over to say goodbye and good luck to him. And am rewarded by being introduced to his lovely daughter, Sarah. She has a position with Edinburgh's ombudsman. This leads to a discussion of the tram. They think it is a big disaster. I say that one day it will be wonderful. At least I hope so.
Dinner is served. And Astrid Silins arrives. She relates the saga of trying to deposit my euros in the Bank of Scotland. In the end, she didn't. They are in a drawer in her home. She says she plans a dinner next Monday evening and I am invited. Suddenly a group of doctors come to see me. I ask them if Astrid can stay and they say OK. Dr. Peter Henrikson tells me that they want to keep me another few days for more tests. They continue on their rounds. Astrid departs for a Philip Glass concert..
One of the nurses comes up to tell me that she has seen the After Eight commercial on television. She wants to come to dinner. My mobile rings and it is Sheila Colvin. We chat a bit. Then John gets on the phone to tell me "to take it easy". I promise to do so.
Steve Gove calls to say he is coming to visit me. Claudia Monteiro calls to ask how I am doing. She promises to visit tomorrow. Steve arrives. It is always a joy to see him. He is so full of life. We catch each other up to date with our many adventures. He has been home in Montrose, near Dundee. We talk about my "good luck" in having my heart attack in Waverley Station. He explains that he is not involved with the Assembly Rooms this year, that he will be a consultant on two short television films for Czech TV. We talk about dozens of mutual friends including Susi Wyss, Varda Ducovny, Amanda Morrow, Clare Walters and all the people we know in the festival. Ros, the nurse for the upcoming evening shift, comes over to tell me that I am being moved to another ward tonight. This I take to be a good sign as a first step to being free. Steve helps me pack up all my things. He and I talk and talk. He gets a call from a friend named Ben Divall and they agree to meet within the hour. I tell him not to wait any longer with me, that I will be OK. I am to be moved in thirty minutes. Steve departs and promises to call me tomorrow. Ros comes with red-headed Sarah and another nurse and they roll me in my bed with all my stuff on the bed to another ward. This time I share space with three other men.
I arrive in my new ward with great forebodings. It is dark and I have much less space. Ward 114 was like a five star accommodation. My new ward 103 is much more modest. At some point toward midnight, cut off my bed light and try to sleep.

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 to life.
Another nurse comes to change my sheets. He is from the Indian sub-continent. A fellow full of positive energy. He fills the room with joy. I continue to read the delightful David Sedaris book, Naked. I briefly met him years ago in the Village Voice Bookshop via Odile Hellier. Thank you, Angela Bartie, for bringing the book to me. Another nurse comes to take my blood and she is as cheerful as the fellow.
Anne Demarco calls. She has just heard the news. We have a long talk with interruptions from Ricky. He is excited about his new building. It looks like it will be a permanent home for his archives. I promise to call Terry Newman's mobile as soon as I get out of the hospital. Natalia Shkola calls and she wants to know how I am feeling. I tell her much better and that I might be getting out of the hospital today. Astrid calls to check on me. Mary Shields sends me a text message. I reply straight away. A cheerful Bangladeshi fellow gives me a cup of tea. John Martin calls from North Berwick. Purchase a Scotsman from a fellow who pushes a trolley around to all the wards. The world is still going on outside the hospital. The usual wars, rapes and murders.


A pharmacist comes to talk about my pill requirements. And her love of Paris and Orly Airport. She has a friend who lives near Orly.
John Flattau calls. He and I began our friendship over fifty years ago here in Edinburgh. We were students at Edinburgh University. Or maybe I was running my bookshop by then. What a superb fellow he is!
Lunch is served. And again I am surprised by how good it is. Especially the leek and potato soup. Steve Gove calls and I tell him I have moved from a five star accommodation to a much more modest one. He tells me that he saw Clare Walters and Mary Shields last evening. He says that he is off to meet Ben Divall and Jonathan Mills.
A nurse comes to tell me that I have had get well soon messages from two lads in Glasgow. It is Steven Flannery and Michael Johnson, the proprietors of the Brunswick Hotel. What sweethearts.
Headline in today's Scotsman: Watching television as hazardous as smoking. Mary Shields texts me that she will visit tomorrow.
The pretty nurse Jo Griffiths, soon to be Jo McLaughlin, comes to discuss The Heart Manual booklet.
Chat with Shamir, from Bangladesh, about his career. He was seven years in Saudi Arabia. Benny Puigrefagut calls from London. I tell Benny about the Scotsman's headline that TV watching more dangerous than smoking. He tells me that he plans to watch a football match on television tomorrow. I tell Benny that he is living dangerously. More laughter.

  The Heart Manual

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.
One of my roommates offers me today's Telegraph and I give him today's Scotsman. Another headline in the Telegraph: every hour watching TV shortens life by 22 minutes. Anyone who watches six hours a day risks dying 5 years sooner. This is a report from the University of Queensland in Australia.
Mike McLaughlin arrives to visit. He was a fixture at all the parties in Edinburgh in the late 50s and early 60s. He now lives in Melbourne. Mike is researching a book dealing with Edinburgh in the late 50s and the founding of my bookshop and how this led to the creation of the Traverse Theatre. He and I talked recently in Paris. But he now has more questions. I tell him that the Traverse is the result of two love stories: Tom Mitchell's love for Tamara Alferoff and my love for Jane Quigley (now Jane Alexander).
After Mike leaves, text a number of messages that it looks like I will be getting out on Thursday. Call Claudia Monteiro to ask her for Sarah Dee's telephone number. Sarah is the Press Officer at the Traverse. My second question is for Kath Mainland, who is now the Director of the Fringe Society, but I cannot remember what I wanted to ask Kath. Tell Claudia that it looks like I will be getting out on Thursday and she says that she will collect me from the hospital and deliver me to Great King Street.
Call Sarah Dee at the Traverse. She says she is pleased to hear from me. She saw the Independent on Sunday piece and that she was concerned about my welfare. I tell her I am getting better and better and that I hope to come to the Traverse soon for some hugs and kisses.
Spend the evening reading lots of newspapers: the I.H.T., The Guardian, The Scotsman, The Herald and The Telegraph. Read lots of articles by friends. Get a text message from Samra in Greece on holiday. Read Naked until it is after midnight.

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.
Dr. Ingi Gudomundadottir sticks her pretty head into the ward, gives me a great smile and tells me that I am looking better. She says that she will be having dinner with Limma and Nick Groves Raines tonight. I ask that my greetings be passed to them. She says she will be coming back again soon with Dr. Henrikson. Then disappears.
Talk to one of my roommates, Graham Rutherford, and we exchange stories. We both agree that we are lucky to be here in the Royal Infirmary. Give him my Scotsman and he gives me his Times.
Dr. Dawn Caruana, from Malta, comes to talk with me. Maybe I will be free tomorrow if I continue to make progress. Dr. Caruana comes to take blood and it is almost a pleasurable experience. What a lovely person she is. I just might be a free man about noon tomorrow.
Jesper calls from New York City and I attempt to bring him up to date. Talk with Natalia and give her all my news.
Astrid visits and brings me news of the Festival and the outside world. She also brings me a book by an Icelandic writer, Jon Kalman Stefensson's Heaven and Hell. I think he and I have met somewhere. Maybe Lahti Writers' Reunion. She says it is a loan and that she wants the book back. I tell her John Calder's method. He will loan a book from his library, but one must leave a 100 euro note in an envelope in the place where the book rests on a shelf. When the book returns, one can have one's money back. Astrid raves about a production she liked on the fringe called Casablanca. It is time for her to depart, so walk out into the hall with her. Spot Angela Bartie and Eleanor Bell and introduce the three women to each other. Back to my bed. Angela and Eleanor have just come from meeting a publisher, Luath Press, who is interested in their book project about the 1962 Writers' Conference. We also talk about the proposed television programme. A nurse interrupts us and hands me a letter. It is from Joan Bakewell. She reports she will be in Edinburgh on Sunday evening. Thank Angela for Naked. Tell her I have enjoyed it. They pass me a pile of postcards and will not let me pay for them. They depart for the Book Festival.

Dinner is served: delicious Scotch broth, then cod and veggies, followed by ice cream.
Dorota calls from London and I bring her up to date. Steve texts me that he can visit if I am up for it. I text back he would be welcomed. Steve arrives and we go to the TV room to talk. Soon two sisters join us. Their father has just arrived in the hospital with a difficulty in breathing. More people arrive, so Steve and I go downstairs to a café. I have a juice and Steve has tea. He produces an article that Neil Cooper has written for the Herald some time ago. I had never seen it. It's very nice. I must speak with Neil and ask him if I can use it on my web site. Steve tells me a bizarre story about finding one hundred pounds in an envelope. I tell him that I found 600 euros in my trousers. We both laugh. It is time for me to get back to my bed and Steve has festival things to do.
Back to my ward. A night nurse, Stewart, comes to check my blood pressure. I try to call Neil Cooper, but as expected get his answering machine, so leave a message. Minutes later my mobile rings and it is Neal. I tell him that I just read his piece in the Herald and found it excellent and would like to know if I can use it on my web site. He says yes, no problem. He is having a drink with Sarah Dee, who sends kisses.
A nurse from Zimbabwe comes to see if all of us in the ward are all right. His name is Taps. Finish reading Naked and it is a 100% delight.

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 in Edinburgh.
Call Claudia Monteiro and ask her if she is still available to collect me from the hospital. She thinks she can collect me late morning after a meeting with Faith Liddell.
Dr. Tim Cartridge comes to examine me again. He says the doctors are a little worried about my liver. Some of the medicine I am taking for my heart might not be good for my liver. But they are going to let me go today. But I am to return to the hospital next Monday morning for more tests. Joan Bakewell calls from the far North of Scotland. She is concerned about my well-being. She will arrive in Edinburgh on Sunday evening. Like every conversation I have these days, she tells me "to take it easy".
Claudia calls to say she can collect me about 1 pm. Stephanie Wolfe Murray calls and we have a long talk about my situation. She says she is worried about the two flights of stairs at Martin Burke's place. I promise to take it nice and slow. She urges me to stay with Astrid who has an elevator. She also wants me to come out this weekend to her place for a mini-Writers Festival. Talk with Astrid and we discuss the possibility of staying with her. She is off to see something at the Traverse and will call me after 3.
My last lunch is about to be served: Superb lentil soup. Shamir and I exchange smiles. He says he is pleased to have met me. Ditto for me I tell him.
Margerie comes to talk to me about the drug Amiodarone. But the doctors have not decided yet if I am to take it or not. Jo Griffith says she will have everything ready for my departure soon. See the nurse, Ronnie Murray. He says he is surprised I am still here. Ask Dr. Tim Cartilage about Dr. Dawn Caruana and he says she is in Ward 114 and that I am welcome to go over to see her. Ask Dr. Cartilage about stairs. He suggests that Shamir and I go for a walk down the back stairs to see how I manage. Shamir and I have a little excursion and I do OK. A little weak of course.
Claudia calls to say she is on her way. I call Ruth and tell her I will be arriving in the early afternoon. Jo passes and tells me she is preparing medicine to last me into early September when I am home in Paris. She brings me a bag of pills and lots of instructions. My goodness, I will need a secretary or a wife. Or a mother.
Neil Cooper calls to ask if I would like to accept a Herald Little Devil on Saturday morning. I thank him and say I will be there to see him and Keith Bruce. He instructs me to be at the Festival Theatre at 10.30.

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.
No sooner in the flat and get a call from John and Sheila from somewhere in France. They tell me again to take it easy. They are on their way to Geneva to see Jennifer Paull.
Get a text message from Steve Gove to ask if I wish to meet him at the Hill Street Theatre to see a show at 5.15. OK, why not? Call City Cabs and soon arrive at the theatre. Purchase a ticket and walk up two flights to the bar where I find Steve and meet his two friends, Ben Divall, from Melbourne, and Alasdair Satchel, from Edinburgh. Alasdair studied in Paris at the Lecoq School and Jos Houben was his teacher. He also knows Emile Wilson.
We go upstairs to the theatre and sit on the front row. It is called: Donna Disco. I am not ready for it. Afterwards Steve and Ben walk with me to Charlotte Square. They enjoyed the performance. Alas I did not. They leave me at the Book Festival and I make my way to the Press Pod. Find it is bigger - thanks to the sponsorship of The Guardian. Immediately see General Sutton and give her a big embrace. Sit with Colin Fraser and he introduces me to Michael McCloud. We three have a good talk. When I am ready to depart, Frances Sutton insists that Colin go out with me and put me in a taxi. He does. I ask him to pass my love to Peg.
Soon at Great King Street and manage to make the steps up to Martin and Ruth. Martin says dinner will be in thirty minutes. So elect to take a wee nap. Sarah Dee calls from the Traverse to suggest I attend a Fringe First Award ceremony in the Assembly Club Bar tomorrow morning. Astrid calls to see if I am OK. She will call me again tomorrow morning. Natalia calls from London and wants to know if I am OK. Martin Belk calls to say he has tickets to Iain Banks and would I like to join him. Thank him and tell him that I have retired for the night.
Ruth calls and reports dinner is ready. Martin has cooked a feast. Delicious food and we catch up with all our news. Time for my pills and bed.

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.
Stroll to Florentin for a morning coffee. Grace, Ruth's daughter, suddenly arrives and joins me. An unexpected surprise. I have a bacon roll and a latte and Grace has an almond croissant and a cappuccino. We talk about so many things. My mobile rings and it is Michael Seifert calling from his office in London to ask how I am doing. I explain that I am out of the hospital and getting better every minute. He suggests that Ernie, he and I have lunch when I pass back through London. Grace and I walk down to a shop where Grace once assisted and we purchase a weekly pill container. She then leaves me and I continue walking slowly to the post office. Purchase stamps for the post cards for friends in Paris. And top up my mobile.
Catch a bus to Princes Street and sit next to a young woman with a Beatles shoulder bag. Tell her that I knew them all but John Lennon I knew best of all. He was a friend. Get out and walk to Marks & Spencers and change dollars and euros. Bus and taxi to George Square and manage to find the Assembly Club Bar just as Joyce McMillan is thanking everyone for coming. The Fringe First Awards ceremony is ending. Damn. But do see lots of people I know. Kelly Fogarts, who does the press for the Assembly, greets me warmly. Jackie McGlone and I exchange smiles. Liz Smith and Bill Burdett-Coutts also come up to say hello. Bill tells Kelly to make a pass for me and she takes several photos of me. Bill and I talk briefly about the move from George Street to George Square. Spot Sarah Dee, the Traverse press officer, and she tells me that she is going back to the Traverse and would I like a ride there with her. Yes, a good suggestion. Two others will travel with us. Linda Crooks, the Administrative Director of the Traverse, and Stewart Laing, who has directed the play at the Traverse entitled Ten Plagues. It just won a Scotsman Fringe First Award. We walk to the North East corner of George Square and I point out the location of The Paperback Bookshop. Tell them that is where the Traverse began. Our first production in the Paperback was David Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. It was the hit of the 1960 Edinburgh Festival. Harold Hobson wrote in The Sunday Times that it was the best production in the festival. Linda tells me that the Traverse has commissioned two plays about David Hume. At the Traverse, sit in the tiny press room and meet lots of people. Sarah has two assistants. Helen Davies, who I met last year, and Alison Forbes, who I meet for the first time. Learn that Helen has also had heart problems and has spent time in the Royal Infirmary. Meet Catrin Rogers. And Dominic Hill, the Artistic Director of the Traverse, sticks his head inside. I understand it is his last festival at the Traverse and that he is moving on to the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. A journalist enters to collect some press tickets. His name is Alexander Menden and he is from a newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, in Munich. After he departs, Sarah tells me he is a friend of Claudia Monteiro's.
Leave Sarah and the Traverse and take a taxi to the Scottish Arts Club in Rutland Square where I am to meet Astrid Silins and Catherine Robins. I am the first to arrive and ask a couple in the dining room if I may join them. They are Gavin Henderson, the Principal of the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, and Mary Jane Walsh, the Director of New York University in London. They tell me that they were talking about me earlier this morning and here we are having lunch together. Things like this happen often during the festival. Catherine Robins, who studied in the Central School, arrives to join us. And Astrid Silins soon appears. It's a superb lunch. At the dessert stage, Stephanie Wolfe Murray joins us. Later the two of us go upstairs to sit and talk. Stephanie attempts to get me to come out to her place this weekend. It is one hour away from Edinburgh. I tell her I am taking a medicine that prevents me from spending anytime in the sun. The President of the Scottish Arts Club, David Lyle, tells us that he is pleased to see us in the club. Stephanie and I taxi to St. James's Square where she will take a bus home. And I go into the Bank of Scotland to discuss my account. Meet one of the Bank's managers, Shirley-Anne Shaw, and she finds my account on the computer. I have more money in the account than I thought, but it is still not much.
Walk to Hanover Street and get a bus pass. Then stroll down George Street to Charlotte Square. Immediately upon entering the Book Festival, meet Jenny Brown and she introduces me to Jan Michaels, a Dutch literary agent. Then head for the Press Pod and Frances Sutton. Meet Nick Barley, the Director of the Book Festival and he introduces me to a publisher who says he knows my autobiography because he was with Faber & Faber in 1984 when it was published. His company is called Profile Books.

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.
Back to the Press Pod and meet the lovely Peg Hughes. She gives me an invitation to the London Review of Books party later this evening in the party pavilion. Also see Ryan Van Winkle, Colin Fraser and Michael McCloud. Michael makes a short interview with me for the Guardian web page. Frances Sutton introduces me to her two assistants, Harrison Kelly and Esmé White Haigh. Lee Randall calls my mobile number and we talk briefly.
Walk down to the London Review of Books party. Sit down in one of the few places. End up having a delightful talk with Richard Johnson, a Foreign Correspondent with the Sunday Times, and his lovely wife, Irina Filatova from Moscow. They live in Cape Town, South Africa. Also meet a fellow who has written a book about China, but cannot remember his name. The lovely waitress, Kate, makes sure we have a lot of delicious things to nibble.
Peg will find me a taxi. Walking out of the Pavilion, encounter Olivier Joly and we embrace. Also Jenny Brown. I tell Jenny one of my favorite poems is called "Jenny kissed me" and she says she was named after the poem. Peg finds a taxi for me. On the way to Great King Street, discover the driver knows George Crawford, my ward mate in the Royal Infirmary.
Upstairs join Martin, Ruth, Penny and John Morrison in the kitchen. Lots of talk, then I excuse myself and go to bed.

  invitation to the London Review of Books party
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.
Get a call from Antonia Hoogewerf in Rome. She has just heard about my saga in the hospital. And wants to know how I am doing. I assure her that I am getting better every day and that I am taking it easy. Tell her I plan to be back in Paris on the 1st of September.
Text Roy Hutchins and ask if today would be a good time to come to his performance. Out the door about 10 and discover that Brian is also going out. He asks if he might drop me some place and I ask if the Festival Theatre is on his way. He says no problem. Get a call from Mike McLaughlin and he suggests we meet Wednesday morning in Waverley Station to book seats together to London the 29th of August. Brian drops me across the street from the Festival Theatre and I wander over.

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.
Keith begins the ceremonies. I sit on the steps next to Bill Burdett-Coutts and Kelly. Keith begins to hand out the Herald Angels and each winner comes up to accept, thank various people and be photographed. Soon Keith is saying very nice things about me and I go up to accept the Little Devil. It is my second. Keith and The Herald presented me with one in 2001, when I had my first heart attack in Edinburgh. Not sure what I say, but I know I thank The Herald, Neil Cooper, Keith Bruce and all the doctors and nurses in the Royal Infirmary. It is a very emotional impromptu talk. I am the last presentation of the morning. Sit with some of the cast of Beowulf. They perform two numbers from the show for everyone. And invite me to see the show. Kristen asks if I can come before Tuesday because she has to fly to New York for a commitment. I say I will come on Monday.
Keith and Neil ask if I need any assistance. I say no, I am OK. My family name is misspelled on the Little Devil. Allan Ross's step son, Oliver Conway, tells me he can correct it. He made the Little Devil with Allan.

 
Beowulf, a thousand years of Baggage
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.)
Rupert Thomson comes over to invite me to Summer Hall on Tuesday evening. He introduces me to his pretty wife, Anu. They met on a train. They were sitting next to each other.
Walk outside with a young woman who has a broken leg. Her name is, I think, Rowena Smith. Stand outside and chat with her.
Walk slowly to the Assembly press office. Kelly Fogarts welcomes me and introduces me to her two assistants, Emma Fyier and Laura Donaldson. Laura I have met before when she was with the Assembly Rooms in George Street. Ask if I may store the Little Devil for a while. It is just too heavy to carry.

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.
Walk past the site of The Paperback Bookshop and Gallery in Charles Street. And enter the old Men's Union and make my way up to the Wine Bar. Sit near an attractive brunette who is busy with her computer. She looks up and says hello to me. It is Marie Tecce, the lovely and talented singer from Boston, but who currently lives in Dublin. We have a brief catch-up talk. Then I have to go for it is time to attend the Roy Hutchins performance of Heathcote Williams poetry. It is a delightful experience. Heathcote can certainly write movingly of many things and Roy does an excellent job of reciting Heathcote's verse. Go out afterwards and sit in a very comfortable chair in the Wine Bar. Roy will join me shortly. In the meantime engage an attractive young woman in a conversation. Sue Hogg is a nurse. We have a superb conversation and Roy comes to join us. She even suggests I come for a few days to stay with her to rest and recuperate. She departs for a show. Roy and I talk about Heathcote and Diana and their kids and he brings me up to date with a lot of news. He excuses himself for a minute and returns with a set of the poems he read earlier. Very kind of him. Roy has to leave and I say I will just continue to sit in this comfortable chair for a while. A security woman appears. She said that Roy thought I might need some assistance. Her name is Caronne McFie. I thank her and say I will be OK. Wander down to the toilets and encounter Simon Callow on the way. Congratulate him on winning a Herald Angel. He was not at the ceremony this morning. Bill Burdett-Coutts collected it for him.
Take a rickshaw ride to Charlotte Square. James, from Northern Ireland, studies engineering at Hariot Watt University in Edinburgh. Encounter Fiona Duff, the Press Officer from the Wigtown Book Festival. She tells me Pru and Adrian are at the café with their one-year old daughter, Holly. Walk the short distance to them and join their table. They are sharing their table with a half dozen Indian ladies. Meet Holly and the Indian ladies. Pru and Adrian depart and I continue to sit and talk with the ladies. They are happily surprised to learn about my many trips to India. After a bit, I leave them and wander into the Press Pod. I am a bit tired so decide to get a taxi and return to Great King Street. Going out the door of the Book Festival, I meet Alan Taylor. He insists upon finding a taxi. He does and soon I am home. Rest. Angela Bartie calls and we chat a bit. Nap. Ruth and Martin return from a Bar-b-que. Martin produces a pasta dinner for us three. Then I go straight to bed.

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.
Taxi up to the Fringe Centre. Meet Steve Gove at the entrance and he introduces me to three people: World Fringe Perth Director, Marcus Canning, Amsterdam Fringe Festival Director, Anneke Jansen and Dubai Fringe Director, Stuart Avery. They are all surprised and impressed that this is my 55th Edinburgh Festival. They are all part of a presentation that will take place in a few minutes, entitled Fringes Round the World. I catch some of it in the beginning, then go out to get my ticket for Beowulf. Then return to the Fringe Centre and catch a bit more. It is amazing that the little Fringe has grown to be so big and strong.
Go to see Beowulf - A Thousand Years of Baggage at the Dans Paleis Theatre in George Square. Dylan, an actor from Dublin, is in the queue and we sit together in the theatre. It is over the top. I am in love with the actress Kristen Sieh and she is a joy to watch. The entire cast are outstanding. Afterwards many of them come up to me and ask how I am getting along. I saw them all at the Herald's Angels ceremony. Warm embrace from Kristen Sieh who tells me she is so pleased I managed to make it. I wish her smooth flight to New York City and say I hope to see her again soon in Paris.
Taxi to Charlotte Square and the Book Festival. Meet Lee Randall and we have a good catch-up talk. She flies to Dublin tomorrow morning to interview someone and then flies back the same day. We wander into the Writers Tent and see Joan Bakewell. I introduce Lee to Joan, but Lee reports that she and Joan have met before.

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.
Cannot remember how the rest of the evening unfolds.

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.
Bus to the West End and walk to the Press Pod at the Book Festival. Chat with Mike Wade, who writes for The Times. My mobile rings. It is Joan Bakewell calling from the Writers' Tent, only a few meters away. We agree to meet tomorrow evening at the superb Italian restaurant, Centro Tre. Walk to 103 George and reserve a table for Joan and me.
At 17.30, go to St George's West and see the one-man show, Bosom Buddies, written and performed by Jack Klaff. He plays some 24 people including Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin, Ludwig Wittgenstein, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, etc, etc. It's a roller coaster. But extremely stimulating.

  Bosom Buddies, a one man show by Jack Klaff
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.
Take the bus down to Leith and Astrid's home and dinner. We are three men: George McBean, Bronislav Sudjic, and me. The women are Astrid Silins, Sara Cameron, Robin Payne, Mona Shea, and Mona's sister, Ellen Stensen. Dinner is, of course, delicious. Very late George drives Sara, Mona, Ellen and yours truly back to our homes. On my way out, Astrid gives me the envelope containing the euros than I had had her to keep for me when I was in the hospital.

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.
Stroll into the Writers' Tent and greet Joan Bakewell. Tell her I have a ticket to her event. She introduces me to the man she will be interviewing, Ian Stewart. He is a Professor of Mathematics. I leave them and tell her I will see her afterwards. It is time to enter the Studio Theatre. See Edith Simon's daughter, Antonia Reeve, and we talk briefly about her daughter, Indigo. Joan's session begins and it is terrific.
Walk to St. George's West and have a bowl of soup with Steve Gove and the fellow who runs the Perth Fringe, Marcus Canning. Tell him that I was once bumped from an Air India flight in Perth and had to use another air line to continue to Sydney. Then the Air India plane was blown up leaving Perth on its flight back to India.

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
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.
Bus to Summer Hall. Join Ricky Demarco and Terry Newman in their new office. Xela Batchelder is there too. Lots of talk about this new incredible building and its future. Ricky says it feels just like the early days of the Traverse in the Lawnmarket. Get a call from Sheila Colvin and John Calder in Switzerland. They are wondering how I am feeling. I tell them that I am going from strength to strength. Suddenly I am talking with John Martin on the phone. He is home in North Berwick. Then on the phone to Mike McLaughlin.
I have been invited to participate in an experimental production organized, I think, by Zecora Ura and Persis-Jade Maravala. First about thirty individuals sit in a circle and we talk about the festival and the financing of cultural projects. On entering this room we are asked to write our mobile numbers on a small piece of paper. Half the room write on yellow paper, half on green paper. After this circle session ends, the people who write on green are asked to go downstairs and to call someone from the yellow paper. I get a call from Sarah, from Bogotá and we have a short conversation. Based on our talk, she prepares a plate of food for me. Then I go downstairs and call her number and based again on our chat, I prepare a plate of food for her. Then the green paper people come downstairs and we all eat together and talk. It's a fun happening. But alas I have a date with Joan Bakewell and must slip away.
Taxi to Centro Tre and Joan and I meet. She has just come from chairing a discussion on religion entitled "The Future of Faith" in the Book Festival and tells me if was a wild affair. On the platform with Joan were the former clergyman Richard Holloway, the political historian Gregory Claeys and the scientist Richard Wiseman. Both Claeys and Wiseman are unbelievers and Holloway is an agnostic. The people in the audience were a bit shocked. Joan and I also talk about friends: John Calder, Sheila Colvin, Nick Phillipson, Ernie Eban and Séamas McSwiney. And the state of my health. We have a superb dinner. I ask our waiter, Ben, to pass on our warmest greetings to Victor Contini. Then we find a taxi. I drop Joan at her hotel and continue to Great King Street and my bed.

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.
Meet Mike McLaughlin in Waverley Station and we reserve seats together on the 10 o'clock morning train to London. We taxi to Hendersons, one of our favorite places in the 50s. Kristi calls from Paris and tells me that David Turner will meet me at the Gare du Nord when I arrive. I have a bowl of soup. A fellow approaches us. His name is Mike Cipolato and he was around the scene in the 50s. Leave them and walk along Queen Street. Get a call from John Flattau and we have a long talk. Hail a taxi to Charlotte Square. Ruth Wishart takes my taxi when I exit.
Esmé gives me a ticket to Adam Michnik at 15.30 in the Studio Theatre. She also shows me an item in today's Times that Mike Wade has written. It is very sweet and funny. See Mike and thank him. Call Natalia and she says she will meet the train when I arrive in London. Encounter Alastair Moffat. Then Rachel from Bristol. Then Jenny Brown.
Adam Michnik is an extremely interesting intellectual who was and is also an activist. Early, he was involved with Solidarity. Today he is the Editor of the Gazeta Wyborcza, maybe the most important newspaper in Poland today. He is interviewed by the Editor of The Scotsman, John McLellan. I met Adam in Finland in 1995 when we were both delegates at the Lahti Writers' Reunion. Walk around to the signing tent afterwards and purchase his new book of essays, In Search of Lost Meaning. Get in the queue and talk with the young Polish girl in the queue ahead of me. When I get to Adam, I tell him that we met in 1995 in Lathi. He smiles. I ask him to sign the book to Dorota. I also tell him that I was asked in 1981 by friends in Solidarity to deliver a letter to Vaclaw Havel in Prague. Katherine Hilliard, Daniel Topolski and I drove from Warsaw to Prague. We went to Havel's address, knocked on the door, and a man opened the door. We said we had a letter for Vaclaw Havel. The man said that he was Havel's brother, Ivan, and he would accept the letter for his brother who was currently in prison.

 
In Search of Lost Meaning, by Adam Michnik
In Search of Lost Meaning, by Adam Michnik

I also mention Joanna Podolska, who is with Gazeta Wyborcza in Lodz. Yes, Adam knows Joanna.
Walk to the Traverse and visit Sarah Dee in the tiny press office. Sarah introduces me to her flatmate, Cat Rossi.
Cross over to Filmhouse. Encounter Frances Anderson and we embrace warmly. She introduces me to Tara, a lovely friend. Stephanie Wolfe Murray calls and apologizes for not meeting me. She is stuck in the country and will explain later. We walk back to Cinema 3 and see two short films. One is by Rupert Wolfe Murray about the Romanian Revolution. The other film deals with the on-going revolution in Libya. It is time for me to meet John and Penny, so slip out. Find them in the Filmhouse front lobby. We get a taxi to the Chinese restaurant just down from St Stevens Church. And are soon settled into a table eating delicious cuisine. More good conversation as well. Afterwards we walk the short distance to Great King Street and bed.

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.
Go out to Summer Hall in the morning and have a nice encounter with Richard Demarco, Terry Newman, Xela Batchelder, Colin Sanderson and others. It is getting time for me to be at the Chat Masala show, so I ask Kitty Douglas Hamilton to call me a taxi and I go outside to wait for it. Encounter Robert McDowell and he says that he is driving to the center of the town and that he will drop me where I wish to be. Just as I get in his car, the taxi arrives and we apologize and ask to be excused. The driver is OK with us. Driving toward Forrest Road, Robert is able to tell me more about the Summer Hall project, how he came to acquire it and his plans for it. Very ambitious to say the least. I tell him I hope he succeeds. He drops me near the McEwan Hall and I walk the short distance to the old Men's Union.
I am to be a guest on the show, Chat Masala at 2 with Hardeep Singh Kohli. Make my way up to the Union, now called the Gilded Balloon Debating Hall. Go up where I meet Andrew Rogers who seems to be in charge. Am introduced to Hardeep. He is very gracious and welcoming. And we chat briefly. Am introduced to the other guests. One is an attractive young woman named Nina Conti and I ask her if she is related to Tom Conti. He is her father. I ask that my greetings be passed to him. She is a ventriloquist as well as a comedian. Hardeep's show consists of him cooking a curry, chatting with his guests one at a time. When we are all out on the stage, he has finished cooking and the guests get to eat as well as the first few rows of the audience. The hall is large. There must be a few hundred in the audience. I know that Penny and John are there because as they informed me earlier, it is the two of them who recommended that I be a guest. I think it was in 1961 that I used this same space to organize a dramatic poetry reading for Yevgeny Yevtushenko. All goes smoothly. First guest, Arthur Smith, is a stand-up comedian. Followed by Nina Conti. Then yours truly. It ends with a musician, Desmond O'Connor, and curry-eating. Delicious curry and I suggest to Hardeep that he come and cook one Sunday evening in Paris. He says he would be delighted to do so. A woman comes up afterwards and ask me to sign a book of mine. I think it was White Washing Fences. I think her name was Liz Drummond. John and Penny come up and say they are taking a taxi to Great King Street and would I like to join them. Yes, please. Thank Andrew Rogers and Hardeep. Say farewell to the other guests and exit with John and Penny. We find a taxi nearby and zoom to Great King Street.
They keep the taxi, go upstairs to collect their luggage, say goodbye to Ruth, Martin and me. And they are off to Waverley Station and the train South.

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.
She and I decide to go up to the Traverse. Introduce her to Sarah Dee and we discuss John Calder and Sheila Colvin. Stephanie and I go downstairs for a bowl of lentil soup. I have decided to see a show at the Zoo (Roxy). Stephanie has decided to head for her home. She offers to drive me to the Pleasance Roxy, but I tell her I can take a taxi there. It is not a problem. We exit the Traverse and find a taxi straight away. Just as I am about to get inside, see Roy Cross, who used to be the Director of the British Council in Scotland, but who is now based in Stockholm. We exchange a few words and I am off.

  Flavio Rodrigues, Anyway
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.
When I enter to purchase a ticket for Mojo (that Penny and John have highly recommended), a fellow greets me and says that I know his mother and will I not come and see his show at 20.15. It is just before Mojo which starts in the same space at 21.30. I say OK, and purchase a ticket for Flynch, Looking. Am told to go outside and join a queue. Go out and see no queue and walk down to a door that I suspect will lead to a café and when I enter discover there is a performance in progress of Spanish flamenco. Decide to stay and watch it. It is wonderful: a dancer, a singer and a musician. All extremely talented. What a delightful surprise. The audience loves it as well. When it is over, on my way out I purchase a CD by the musician, Flavio Rodrigues. It is the least I can do for the pleasure that the three have bestowed. The dancer is, I think, David Coria, and the musician is Pedro Obregon.

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.
Afterwards she is rushing off to see something else and I get ready to see Mojo. Once more in a queue and have a delightful conversation with two attractive young women from London. This is one of the joys of the festival: the random encounters. Mojo is powerful stuff. I see why John and Penny were so impressed. It is a bit too rough for me, but I am pleased that I have seen it. Plus the added bonus of the Spanish flamenco, Bea, Flynch, the two attractive Londoners...
Find a taxi and head for home. The driver, John Templeton, and I talk all the way. Upstairs, in the kitchen are Martin, Ruth, and her brother, Graham. We all sit and talk a long time. I take my pills, then excuse myself and go to bed.

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.
Walk in the morning sunshine the short distance to Florentin and see Guy Masterson sitting at a front table with an attractive woman. He and I chat a bit and he introduces me to the woman. Tell him my saga. Decide to let them continue to be and take another table. Order a morning coffee and a croissant. Angela Bartie calls from Glasgow and we chat a bit. Taxi to the Assembly Halls half way up the Mound. The Fringe Awards are to be presented and I was under the impression it would be here. But no, it is in the Spiegel Tent in George Square. Manage to keep the taxi and redirect him. Get a call from Samra on my way and we chat briefly. Manage to find a place in the packed Spiegel Tent thanks to Bill Burdett Coutts. The ceremony has started, but I manage to catch most of it. Afterwards chat with Tim Cornwell about Summer Hall. Then I rush off to see 1000 Cranes. I am to give it an award on Sunday evening in the Scottish Arts Club, so it is good that I am able to see it. Very tender and moving performances.
Head for the Traverse and Sarah Dee gives me a ticket to see A Dish of Tea with Dr. Johnson, adapted by Russell Barr, Ian Redford and Max Stafford-Clark. It is also directed by Max Stafford-Clark. I gave Max his first directing job at the festival in my bookshop, I think, in 1961. Later he came to the Traverse in its early days. He recently had a serious heart attack - far worse than mine. I go down to Theatre One and find myself sitting next to David Steel. He has to leave before the end in order to introduce someone at the Book Festival and he cannot be late. We are both near the exit. Judy Steel is sitting on the far side of the theatre and we wave to each other. Ian Redford is outstanding in the role of Dr Johnson. Russell Barr who is supposed to play a number of roles is ill and is replaced by two actors, Andrew Byatt and David Beames, who read from scripts these roles and do an excellent job. I knew Andrew's father, George Byatt.
I cannot remember how the rest of the evening unfolds.

  A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson
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.
Walk to Charlotte Square and encounter Tom Risks. He is the retired CEO of the Bank of Scotland. We have a short talk. Enter the Book Festival and meet Allan Little. We have a brief talk and I ask that my greetings be passed to Sheena McDonald. Into Press Pod and greet Frances and Harrison. Alasdair Riley enters and we have a good long chat. Wander into the Writers' Tent and see Diana Hope. See Nick Barley and he introduces me to his wife and daughter. Am introduced to the fellow who runs the Bath Literary Festival. He is talking with Claire Armitstead, the Literary Editor of The Guardian.
Walk back to St. George's West. Get a text message from Martin Belk. They are nearby and I tell them to come and meet me. They arrive very quickly. I tell them that I am going to see Danny and the Deep Blue Sea and they decide to see it with me. It reminds me of the Tennessee Williams' play, Streetcar Named Desire, in its intensity. The author is Bronx-born John Patrick Stanley. Both the actress and actor, Alessija Lause and Nikolaus Szentmiklosi, are terrific. I just wonder how they can do performance after performance. It is surely rough on them.
I have decided to see the play, Kalagora, at the Zoo Roxy at 17.25. Martin and Jonathan decide to bail out of the play, but they will come up with me to the Roxy. Taxi to the wrong Roxy and we three walk the short distance to the correct one. I purchase a ticket for Kalagora, a one-man performance with Siddhartha Bose performing a monologue about traveling from Mumbai to London to New York. Jonathan and Martin leave me. Again have a nice conversation with two people behind me in the queue. The fellow tells me his father had a play produced in the Traverse. He tells me his name but I have forgotten. I am only attending this production because the actor gave me a flyer some days earlier and we had a short interesting talk. Still I am glad I managed to catch him.

  Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, by John Patrick Shanley
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 soon.
Taxi home and go quickly to bed.

Sunday, 28th: Up at 7.30 and take my pills. Begin to pack for my return to Paris tomorrow.
I know I go up to Filmhouse about 10 o'clock to see the Mark Cousins film at 11. Sit with Astrid Silins and Lindsey Mackie. This is to be the one-hour version of his 15-hour History of Cinema. It is superb! Afterwards sit in the café with John Pavel and Willie Milliken. Gay Cox and Jim Hickey join us. Willie's birthday is the 27th of August and he always has a tea party in the Sheraton Hotel. I thank him for the invitation, but report that I cannot make it.
Go to the production that Astrid said was one of her favorites, Casablanca - The Gin Joint Cut in the Pleasance Courtyard Theatre at 16.30. And I love it. If I were still producing, I would bring it to Paris where I am sure it would run forever. The cast of three are excellent. Gavin Mitchell plays the Bogart role, Rick Blaine, as well as two other characters. Jimmy Chisholm plays five characters including Captain Renault and Victor Lazlo. Clare Waugh plays Major Strasser, Ilsa Lund and Pepe, a gendarme. All are extremely funny. A laugh a minute. I love it! The writer and director is Morag Fullarton. She has done a great job.
Encounter Robbie Jack when I am busy trying to hail a taxi. He is in his car and tells me to get inside. He introduces me to his first wife, Kate, and their daughter, Kama. He is taking them to St. Andrew Square and then he is driving to Rutland Square and the Scottish Arts Club. Hooray! I am in luck.
We have a good talk all the way to Rutland Square. I am to present an award tonight to One Thousand Paper Cranes by Abigail Docherty and directed by Lu Kemp. It features two actresses, Julia Innocenti and Rosalind Sydney.

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.
John Ritchie will drop me at the Pleasance Grand. I want to hear Camille O'Sullivan. Call Morag Neil, who looks after Camille in Edinburgh. She tells me she will walk me in.
Sit next to a fellow named Mark Ettinger. He is with his lovely daughter, Kate. We have a warm contact and I invite them to dinner in Paris. He is with the Flying Karamazov Brothers. We stop talking and Camille swings into action. What a gal! She is really something. When it is over an hour later, there is a standing ovation. Camille rushes out to sign CDs and DVDs. There is a long queue and I ponder getting in it Suddenly Faith Liddell and Amy Saunders appear next to me. They have elected to look after me and to get a taxi for me. My guardian angels. Faith introduces me to someone. But in the softly falling rain their only concern is to call a taxi for me. And they are successful. Kiss them both and speed off to Great King Street and bed.

  Camille O'Sullivan
Camille O'Sullivan

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.
We go to sit and talk. I have an ice cream and Natalia has a coffee. She will come to Paris the end of September. It is soon time for me to depart. We arrange for wheel chair service here in St Pancras and also in Paris. Hug her and thank her for being so wonderful.
Am wheeled through passport control and up an elevator and to my coach. They help me with my bag. I find my seat and we are off. On the way, a lovely dinner is served. Just over two hours later we are pulling into the Gare du Nord. And sure enough, a porter meets me and I ride in a wheel chair to the front of the train. David Turner is there waiting to assist me. The Porter wheels me to the front of the taxi queue. David and I roll across Paris to my home.
David assists me with my bag to my atelier. There we find Kristi, Sarah Hoiland and Susi Wyss. Susi is sewing pillow cases. The atelier is spotless. Davis excuses himself and departs. What a sweetheart for meeting me at the Gare du Nord. Three angels are making the atelier even more beautiful than it is!

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!
It is so good to be home again. I love Edinburgh. But I also love dear old Paris and Atelier A2.

   
   

 

Jim Haynes
September, 2011

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

 

 

 

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