Jim Haynes newsletters
Newsletter No. 720
International Edinburgh Festival
Monday, 6th August: Estelle, one of my wonderful nurses, comes at 7.30 to test my blood sugar levels. When she has departed, do the accounts from last night's dinner. We were 75. Great food. Lovely guests. Go downstairs at 8.30 and Natalia produces a pot of fresh coffee plus toast and strawberry jam. Galina arrives with a suitcase. She departs this afternoon for a week's holiday. Morning post and I have an official invitation to the Book Festival opening party. Email messages from Jesper and from Susie Parker. She reports she will be in Edinburgh. Quiet day at home. Pack for Edinburgh. Reply to email requests to dine. Ernie prepares my medical records. In the evening, Kristi, Natalia and Séamas prepare a dinner feast. Ernie goes out to dine with Valerie.
Tuesday, 7th: Once again, up at 7.30. And again Estelle checks my blood sugar level. We are both off for three weeks. Shave, shower, shampoo. Natalia has produced another pot of coffee and pancakes. Finish packing. Cathy Monnet calls and we discuss the festival. Taxi outside at 11.30 and we zip across Paris in the morning sunshine to the Gare du Nord. Ernie and I take the 13.13 Eurostar to London. Uneventful and pleasant trip. I read the Economist all the way. A wheelchair takes us to the taxi rank and we are soon on our way to Ernie's apartment. In the evening we have a take-away dinner delivered from Khan's. We are nine: Ernie, Natalia and Anastasia, Dan Topolski, Jim Campbell, Sylvia Libedinsky, Natasha Morgan and Louise Stjernsward. Everyone departs about 11 pm. Ernie insists I sleep in his bed and he takes his couch.
Wednesday, 8th: Up as usual at 7.30. Give myself
a blood sugar test. And it is high, maybe too high. Give myself an insulin
injection and go back to bed. Up again at 9.30. Ernie has made a pot of
coffee and toast. We go over last night's dinner and we agree it was a
superb evening. Call Dorota. Call Samra and we agree to dine tonight.
Call Ali and he will come and collect me. Dorota comes and collects me
at Samra's. Go out to the corner shop, the Chelsea Deli and we both have
cappuccinos. We sit outside in the warm sun. And have a good long catch-up
talk. She says she will fly up to Edinburgh for the ceremony on the 22nd.
I tell her she is crazy to just come up for one day.
Thursday, 9th: Awake early. Go up and shower, shave and shampoo. When I have finished, I check the time and it is just after 7. There is a message from Dorota on my phone. She has booked her tickets to Edinburgh. Samra comes downstairs to wake me and is surprised to find that I am up and dressed. She goes to make coffee and toast and I join her. Ali joins us. Soon Ernie and I are on our way to Kings X and Edinburgh. We arrive Waverley Station just after 3 pm. Roza calls to say that she and David are waiting in Waverley Station for us. They are parked opposite the taxi queue. A fellow collects me and I ride in a wheelchair through the construction site that is everywhere. Soon spot Roza. Introduce Ernie and she leads us to the car. More introductions. David and Angelica. Soon we are rolling out of Waverley to Great King Street. Martin Burke welcomes us. David takes my bag up the two flights. Roza and David leave us. Bob Kingdom calls and asks if I am free to attend a Jacques Brel performance. Alas I have just arrived and cannot get it together to go out. I call Sheila Colvin and we have a long chat. Martin cooks a chicken curry dinner for Ruth, Ernie and yours truly. After dinner Ernie and I decide to go see Brian Butterworth's daughter, Amy, perform at 10.45 in the Underbelly in a production entitled A Guide to Second Date Sex. We taxi to Cow gate, purchase two tickets and walk up several flights of steps to the theatre. It's a very silly production, but performed rather well. Sadly we are both too tired to stick around to meet Amy. So taxi home.
Friday, 10th: Up, as always, about 7.15. The
lovely Ruth produces a cup of coffee and toast for me. Stephanie Wolfe
Murray calls and comes over. Ernie and I elect to go to Florentine for
more coffee. We sit outside in the morning sunshine. Afterwards, Stephanie
drives us to George Street and Ernie and I walk to the Lothian Buses and
we both purchase bus passes. We bus up the Mound to George Square and
head for the Fringe Press Centre to seek Fringe Press Passes. Neil Mackinnon
tells us to come again in the afternoon and he will have them ready for
us. We walk the short distance to the Assembly Club Bar. Wave to Bill
Burdett-Coutts. Go to the Press Office and chat with Emma, Fiona Evans,
and Kelly Fogarty. Everyone says we have to see Mies Julie, the
South African adaptation of the Strindberg play. We are swept along and
find ourselves in a taxi with Fiona Evans headed for Assembly on the Mound.
It seems that Mary Shields is looking after this production. I see her,
looking her usual fantastic self. We get seats on the front row and we
are in for a ride. It feels more like Tennessee Williams than Strindberg.
The two principal actors, Bongile Mantsai and Hilda Cronje, are terrific.
Both Ernie and I leave the performance semi shell-shocked. Sitting next
to us is the New York theatre producer, Carol Tambour. We chat briefly.
Saturday, 11th: Once again I am up at 7.15 and
test my blood sugar level. And it is excellent. See Ruth when she brings
me a cup of coffee and toast. Give her the two tickets for next Monday
at Summer Hall. Quickly shave, shower and shampoo. Call Astrid Silins
and we discuss meeting in the afternoon at Summer Hall.
I see Mary Shields and congratulate her. Later The
People Show get an Angel and Mark Long says some kind words addressed
to me when he collects the award. Keith Bruse also says some kind words
addressed to me. Ernie introduces me to Nicolas Kent who founded the Tricycle
Theatre in London. He has directed the David Greig play in the Traverse.
Neal Cooper comes over to welcome me to Edinburgh. Afterwards we walk
to Marks & Spencer and change Euros. Then we stroll down Princes Street
to Booths where we purchase a converter for my new British mobile phone.
Angela Bartie calls from Glasgow to discuss our having dinner tonight.
Claudia Montero and Jim Haynes,
photo © Séamas McSwiney
|Greet Esme and Harrison. Go into the Writers'
Yurt and meet Zuzana. She is from Slovakia, but lives now in Amsterdam.
She is wonderful! Peg Hughes gets me a sandwich and a bowl of soup.
There is the Book Festival opening party tonight. See lots of people I know. Have a talk with Bob Flynn.
Sunday, 12th: Early morning blood sugar test and am pleased to note that it is back to normal after the extreme high of yesterday afternoon. Ruth passes with coffee and toast. Ernie has an appointment somewhere. And I contemplate going to Vanessa and William Prosser's for brunch. Finally decide to go next Sunday instead. But I cannot remember what I did this day.
Monday, 13th: Ernie and I plan to go to Bob Kingdom's production, An Audience with the Duke of Windsor, in the Assembly Hall, the Mound, at 12 Noon. But somehow or other, we do not make it. In the evening, go to Filmhouse for dinner with Ernie. Astrid Silins joins us.
Tuesday, 14th: Up again at 7.30. Do my tests
and injections. Ernie suggests I get a new Nokia. The one I have is some
years old and needs replacement. Off he goes to Princes Street to get
me a new phone. Jim Campbell calls from London to ask me what I remember
from the 1962 Writers' Conference. He is writing something for his column
in the TLS. Ernie and I meet and we decide to go to Bob Kingdom's production.
And, as expected, he does a delightful job. Afterwards, we walk to the
Hub and I manage to score two press tickets to Camille O'Sullivan's performance
of The Rape of Lucrece in the Lyceum Theatre. Thanks to Helen Ella
and Susie Gray Bennet. Susie used to be Press at the Traverse.
Catherine Hoffmann & Molly Haslund in "Molly and Me"
Next we taxi to Sheila Colvin's flat in Oxford Terrace.
I have a blood sugar test and it is extremely high. Call my nurse in Paris.
Sheila suggests we call her GP, Dr. Campbell. He is not in his office,
but calls us back. He says that I am not to worry about the high test
Wednesday, 15th: Lunch today in Creelers with Mona Shea, her sister, Ellen, with Astrid Silins and Ernie. The co-proprietor, Fran James, arrives when we are at the coffee stage and announces this is her last Festival running Creelers. After lunch, Ernie and I head for McEwan Hall where we meet Steve Gove. We purchase three tickets for Casablanca - the Gin Joint Cut. I saw it last year at Astrid's suggestion and it was one of my favorite productions in the festival. I am looking forward to seeing it again. Written and directed by Morag Fullarton and featuring Gavin Mitchell, Clare Waugh and Jimmy Chisholm, it is an absolute hoot! I would love to bring the production to Paris. We walk to the private members bar in the Underbelly. There will be a party to celebrate an anniversary this evening. Steve Gove has been invited and we just tag along.
Later we head for the Debating Hall in the Gilded Balloon
for Casablanca. And it is as good or even better than I remembered.
Ernie and Steve like it as well and thank me for pushing them to see it.
We wander into the private members bar of the Gilded Balloon to congratulate
the cast. They come out and seem to be pleased that I have seen the production
a second time. I tell them I would love to bring the production to Paris
where I feel it would be a big hit and could run forever. It seems that
Karen Koren, the Artistic Director, controls the show. She tells me that
it will go on tour in Scotland after the festival and then play in London
for some weeks. I tell her I would like to be kept informed about the
future of the production. (Just after writing these words, I get an email
message from Karen Koren. She says the Casablanca cast would love to perform
it in Paris. I fire back a message to say I will do all I can to make
Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut
by Morag Fullarton, with Jimmy Chisholm, Gavin Mitchell and Clare Waugh
We call Angela Bartie in Glasgow who will also be on the programme and tell her we cannot get into the building. It is all very Marx Brothers, but we manage to enter and go up to the 3rd floor studio. Later I am told the programme went well. Ernie and I drop Mark near Waverley Station and we continue to Great King Street.
Thursday, 16th: Up before 8. Blood sugar test
indicates all OK. Ruth arrives with coffee and toast. Call Dr. Campbell
for an appointment and it is impossible today. Taxi to Charlotte Square
with Ernie, Ruth and Martin. Sheila Colvin calls me and we have our usual
delightful conversation. She is such a lovely lady! See Alastair Riley
and we have a wee talk. He is excited about coming to study in Paris in
September. See Sarah Dee and her boyfriend, Mark Keane. Highly recommend
Casablanca to them and they say they will go this afternoon to
see it. Séamas calls from Paris and it looks like he will fly to Edinburgh
soon. Peggy Hughes passes. She is one of the great wonders of Edinburgh!
I adore her.
Friday, 17th: Up at 6.20. Get a text message
from Evgenija Demnievska in Paris. Shower, shave and shampoo. Ruth produces
her superb coffee and toast. Test my blood sugar level and it is OK. Wake
Ernie. Soon we are out the door and on our way to the Book Festival. We
head straight to the Writers' Yurt. Coffee again. More and more people
arrive. Angela Bartie and Eleanor Bell are among the first. This morning
at 10.30 is the first session of "The Edinburgh Writers Conference 1962:
The Legacy" with John Calder, myself, Eleanor Bell and Angela Bartie.
Charlotte Higgins is in the chair. The entire hour is on You Tube and
one can see it if one is so inclined. I think it goes well. The ScottishPower
Studio Theatre is packed. Afterwards we all walk the short distance to
the London Review of Books signing tent. There is a queue of people
to purchase the excellent book edited by Eleanor Bell and Angela Bartie
and published by Mark Buckland of Cargo Publishing. Lots of friends I
know are in the queue. David Baird for one. Victor Young is another. Also
Antonia Reeve. We are led behind the Press Tent where we are photographed.
Saturday, 18th: I bus to Princes Street and walk
to Marks & Spencer and change more Euros into pounds. Bus up the Mound
to the National Library and walk down West Bow to the Grassmarket and
the Last Drop Café. Xaviera Hollander is there and I join her on the terrace.
A few drops of rain chase us inside. Zin Craig arrives with two friends.
Then Xaviera's Philip. Coffee and talk. Zin lives in London, Xaviera and
Philip live in Amsterdam. And the festival brings us together.
Sunday, 19th: Up at 6.30. Test my sugar levels
and all OK. Give myself an insulin injection. Tonight we will dine with
David and Roza. Taxi to Charlotte Square. Sharon is my lovely driver once
again. (She drove me yesterday from the Traverse to the Scottish Arts
Club.) Check my phone messages and I have a lovely one from Rainer Kölmel
in the South of France. Also one from Liz Block in London. Try to call
Rainer, but not successful. Do have success with Liz and we have a long
Monday, 20th: The usual start to today. Sheila
Colvin calls and she reminds me that I am expected at the Scottish Arts
Club next Sunday evening for the presentation of various prizes. We also
discuss Antonia and Séamas and the Leslie Hills lunch today. Walk down
to the pharmacy across from the Florentine Café. The fellow is extremely
helpful. He tells me that there is a doctor on duty every day in the Western
General from Noon to 6 that will handle prescription renewals. Bus to
George Street and taxi to the Book Festival where I am to have a podcast
interview with Ryan Van Winkle. Roddy Martine calls and suggests we have
lunch together tomorrow. OK, we can meet at the Book Festival. It is a
beautiful warm sunny day. Yes, they do exist in Edinburgh. After my wee
session with Ryan, Ernie and I take a taxi to Scotland Street and the
lunch date with Leslie Hills. She is in the kitchen when we arrive, producing
delicious things for us all. Mark Long is also there. He is staying during
the festival with Leslie. I tell him again how much I enjoyed his performance.
Soon more guests arrive and we move into the dining room. I sit with Mark
and Bill Paterson. Bill is performing in the Traverse and I tell him I
plan to see his production. John Clifford is also with us. And John Calder
and Sheila Colvin. And two women whose family names I do not remember
are Claire, a writer, and her sister, Sally.
Tuesday, 21st: Ruth brings me coffee and toast
and my clean T-shirts. Taxi up to Charlotte Square and manage to get into
the Anthony Beevor talk at 11.30. Chaired by Magnus Linklater, the talk
is a devastating critique of World War II with many interesting insights
and new interpretations. He reminds me of my old professor George Shepperson.
Both are exciting lecturers. Lunch with Antonia and Séamas in an Italian
restaurant next to Brown's called Gusto. We have a delicious lunch. Our
waiter is Polish, Christophe, and he is super sweet fellow.
Wednesday, 22nd: Finally get through to Rainer Kölmel who wishes me lots of luck for today. Lunch with Roddy Martine and Rory Knight Bruce in Browns in George Street. Afterwards go to the Scottish Arts Club. John Calder, Sheila Colvin, Eleanor Bell. Angela Bartie, Séamas and Ernie are there. Eleanor and Angela have a lovely framed photograph of John, Sheila and yours truly in the Grille in Paris which they give me. Collect Ernie and we taxi to the Western General Hospital where we both renew our prescriptions. I see a Doctor Smith. She is amazingly beautiful. I tell her if she is ever tired of medicine, she could be a fashion model in Paris.
Afterwards Ernie and I take a taxi to George Square. Today is the "unveiling" of my rhino head - dedicated to the memory of the Paperback Bookshop. A young sculptor named Will Durrell is responsible for it. And it looks great! There is a second statue as well - a book created by David Forsyth. I am interviewed for the University of Edinburgh's web site. And then we go inside the Informatics Forum Building for the formal proceedings. See lots of people I know. The retired Bishop of Edinburgh, Brian Smith, is one of the first to speak. He relates how and why he had the idea to commemorate both the bookshop and the cultural hub for students that it represented. The statues are the winners of a competition run for Edinburgh College of Art students, and also to celebrate the merger of the University of Edinburgh with Edinburgh College of Art in 2011. Champagne flows. I am asked to say a few words and I talk about the founding of the bookshop. I don't really remember what I say, but afterwards many people congratulate me.
It is a great pleasure to note that Alexander McCall
Smith is present. I am a big fan of his novels. And I know that he was
partly responsible for this sculpture. Jamie Byng, John Calder and Sheila
Colvin, Ricky and Ann Demarco, Terry Newman, Astrid Silins, Dorota Chrisp,
Martin Belk and so many friends are present.
Jamie Byng and Jim Haynes, photo © Séamas McSwiney
Thursday, 23rd: Ruth brings coffee and toast
for me and for Séamas. Later we walk to the pharmacy and leave our prescriptions
to be filled. Encounter Colin Cooper, the doctor I met a year or so ago
via David Snashall. The pharmacy staff are super nice. We cross over to
Florentine for bacon rolls and coffee. Back to the pharmacy to collect
our prescriptions. Taxi to the Traverse. Chat with Sarah Dee. She travels
to Berlin tomorrow with her boyfriend, Mark. Sarah gives me a ticket to
see And No More Shall We Part with Bill Paterson. Taxi to the Book
Festival. Have a nice long chat with Ian Rankin in the Author's Yurt.
Get a ticket for the Ian McEwan talk at 3 pm in the RBS Main Theatre.
Ian dedicated his novel, Amsterdam, to Elisabeth and Jaco Groot.
Jaco was one of Ian McEwan's first publishers. Jaco is also a dear friend
and a constant source of inspiration. He was also one of the first publishers
to purchase rights for J.K.Rowling.
Friday, 24th: Up at 6.45. Test blood sugar levels
and give myself an insulin injection. Taxi to George Street, drop Séamas,
and Ernie and I continue to Waverley Station. He and I are able to reserve
places on the 8.48 train to Kings X next Monday morning. I leave Ernie
to deal with the tickets and go to purchase a New Yorker. When
he rejoins me, he reports that the woman behind the counter asked him
if I were still holding open house in Paris. Ernie is impressed.
I go to the 2pm talk on China ("What Future for China
and Central Asia?"). Then go to the 15.30 talk, "Understanding Israel"
with Ilan Pappé and the mighty Ruth Wishart in the Chair. Ilan Pappé has
argued that Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people amounted to ethic
cleaning - and he's been vilified in his home country as a result. Strong
stuff. Ask Zuzana to photocopy the Chicago Tribune article about
the Sunday dinners in Paris. She does and I give her one and tell her
she is always welcome to visit in Paris. She is a lovely person.
Camille O'Sullivan, 2012 Festival Guide Cover
Saturday, 25th: Taxi to the Festival Theatre
with Séamas to participate in the Herald Angels presentations. Warm greetings
from Keith Bruce and Neil Cooper. They are both super nice. I spot Camille
O'Sullivan. She is getting an Award this morning. Introduce her to Séamas
and they discuss Cork. Camille lived there in her youth. See Joyce McMillan
and Liz Smith and join them. Séamas brings me a bacon roll. Chat with
Joyce and Liz. Later tell Camille how much we enjoyed her performance
last night. She looks divine this morning. See her Edinburgh agent, Morag
Neil. Thank her for all her kindness to me. She pulls out a CD and passes
it to me. Then the morning award ceremony begins. I sit on the steps with
Robert McDowell. He collects an Award for a Polish company that has already
returned to Poland.
Sunday, 26th: Breakfast in the Café Rouge with
Susie Parker, Antonia Hoogewerf, Séamas McSweeney and Ernie. Antonia and
Séamas are flying to Paris in the early afternoon and will head for the
airport after our breakfast. They drop me in their taxi in front of Marks
& Spencer and I change 400 Euros into pounds sterling. Ernie goes to Jenner's
to purchase two boxes of chocolates for the girls in the yurt and for
the press team in the Book Festival. We give one box to Frances, Esmé
and Harrison. The second box goes to the Yurt ladies: Emma, Rachel, Charlotte,
Ernie, Antonia, Jim, Susie and Séamas in front of the Cafe Rouge in Edinburgh
Taxi to Rutland Square. See dozens of people I know.
First to greet me is David Lyle, the club president. Then see Hilary Mounfield,
Catherine Robins, Joyce Caplan, Liz Smith, John Ritchie. Astrid Silins,
Mona Shea and Neil Mackinnon. I am sad to say that I did not see the play
that is awarded the prize.
Monday, 27th: I am up very early this morning.
Much earlier than usual. Make my blood sugar tests and give myself an
insulin injection. Shave, shower and shampoo. Dress and pack. Ruth brings
both Ernie and me coffee and toast. Soon we are ready to depart. Shout
our thank-yous. And we are out the door and on our way. Ernie takes my
bag down the steps. He calls City Cabs and one arrives quickly. We have
been good clients and they have provided excellent service. Ernie finds
the wheel chair service fellow and I am wheeled rapidly to our carriage.
It's an uneventful trip to London's Kings X. Natalia greets us when we
exit the train. Soon a wheelchair fellow wheels me over to St. Pancras
Station. It is too complicated to change my ticket and continue to Paris
today. So decide to keep my reservation and to travel on Wednesday morning.
Ernie calls a taxi and we are able to jump the long queue. We go straight
to Ernie's and need not have worried about the Notting Hill Carnival because
there are few signs of disruption at Ernie's street.
Tuesday, 28th: Ernie will have lunch today with
his sister, Jeanette. He asks if I would like to join them. Yes, that
would be nice. I call Dorota and ask if she would like to dine this evening
with Ernie and me. She will meet us at the Café Anglais at 8.30. I will
dine in the evening with Dorota Chrisp, Natalia Shkola, Ernie in the Café
Wednesday, 29th: Up early and dress and wash. Coffee and toast with Samra and Ali. She departs for her hospital. Ali walks with me to purchase a New Yorker and helps me find a taxi to Ernie's place. Ernie is up and dressed and opens the front door before I press the bell. Pack my bag and we depart for St.Pancras and the Eurostar to Paris. The fellow who pushes me in a wheelchair asks if I am still hosting dinners in Paris. His name is Michael Jones and he is a big Henry Miller fan. After he wheels me through British and French customs procedures, we have a long talk about Henry Miller. Sleep all the way to Paris. I guess I am tired. A very sweet Pauline wheels me to the taxi stand.
Jim Haynes under the rhino head
photo © Graham Clarke
Antonia greets me at the Gare du Nord and rides with me across Paris to Tombe Issoire and home. It has been a great three weeks. I have enjoyed every minute. Edinburgh and the festival are once again terrific. I hope to go again next August. And to see you there...
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