Jim Haynes newsletters

Newsletter No. 720

International Edinburgh Festival
6 to 29 August 2012

 
Edinburgh Festival 2012 logo

 

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.
Back at Samra's and rest in her guest bed room until she arrives. She is soon home and looks more beautiful than ever. Ali is a lucky fellow. We decide on the Café Anglais in Porchester Gardens. Samra, Ernie and I taxi there. Ali will join us shortly. Our waitress is a beautiful young Polish blonde beauty named Martyna. From Gdansk. Ali is soon with us. Dinner is delightful. I have fish and chips.

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.
We go again to the Fringe Press Centre and Ernie goes upstairs to get our press passes. I have a bowl of soup and talk with a lovely lady named Anna Dawson. She is a cellist and gives me a leaflet about her show. (Later in Paris, I get an email message from her.) John Ritchie passes and joins me. Ernie returns with our Fringe Press passes.
Taxi to Summer Hall. Immediately join Robert McDowell on the terrace. See Ricky Demarco and Terry Newman. Tim Cornwell passes and briefly joins our table. As do Judy Steel and her sister, Faye. Also Rupert Thomson. And two young singers - one from Denmark and the other from Romania. Robert gives me two copies of his Arts Journal (with an article about the 1962 Writers' Conference by Tim Cornwell).
Ernie and I taxi to George Square in order to see The People Show No. 121: The Detective Show. And it is wild as expected. Keith Bruce, the Arts Editor of The Herald, sits behind me. He suggests I come to the Bank of Scotland on Saturday morning for the Herald Angels Awards ceremony. It is so good to see Mark Long on stage again. It takes me back to the Arts Lab and the 60s. Am able to say hello to him at the end. He is surprised and pleased.
Outside, we sit on a bench next to a couple of film-makers, Kate and David Moss. They are shooting various productions. Ernie and I taxi to the Traverse and we both have fish and chips for dinner. Ernie is impressed that all the Traverse staff are wearing T-shirts with "Thanks for Coming! Jim Haynes" on the back. We talk with a Ros Philips, who seems to be running the Dundee Rep theatre.
Taxi home and manage to make it up the steps to bed.

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.
Ernie and I walk down Great King Street and I point out my first room in Edinburgh in 1956. We take the No. 23 bus up the Mound. Sheena McDonald is at the bus stop and reports that Allan Little has gone to the Emergency Ward in a local hospital. He has all the symptoms of Lyme's disease. (And it is. He was bitten on Cap Cod.)
We get out of the bus in front of the National Library and walk back towards the Bank of Scotland. Spot Keith Bruce on arrival. We grab bacon rolls and coffee. Inside the Awards Ceremony begins with the production of Mies Julie winning a Herald Angel.

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.
We continue to Charlotte Square. And immediately meet Peg Hughes. What a wonderful woman! Peg and I discuss Claudia Monteiro's marriage that is taking place now in Portugal. Embrace Frances Sutton, "The General" in charge of the press team.

  Claudia Montero and Jim Haynes, photo by Séamas McSwiney
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.
We elect to have lunch in the Kurdish restaurant, Hanam's, in Johnston Terrace. The same restaurant where I once dined with Tariq Ali, after a reading he had in the Book Festival. I liked the meal then and am pleased to note, Ernie and I enjoy it this time as well. We stroll down past 369 High Street, where I had The Howff coffee house in 1961, to the international news agents, but no New Yorker has arrived. We taxi to the Traverse and we visit with Sarah Dee in the Press Office. And her associate, Cian O'Siouchain.

  Catherine Hoffmann and Molly Haslund in "Molly and Me"
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 results.
Ernie and I dine in the Café Rouge in Frederick Street, just up the street from where I lived in 1962. Afterwards we taxi to Summer Hall. Sit with Robert McDowell. He introduces us to Catherine Hoffmann and Molly Haslund. The two of them write songs together and perform them, as Molly and Me, in Denmark and the UK.

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 it happen.)
Steve and I walk with Fiona Duff and Fiona Evans to Checkpoint Charlie for Tim Cornwell's going away party. Ernie will join us. In the bar, see lots of people I know: Mary Shields, Bill Burdett-Coutts, Clare Smith. There is an extremely lovely waitress from Australia named Polly Cameron. She is a real sweetheart and a heart-breaker. I give her a leaflet about the Sunday dinners and tell her she is always welcome there in my atelier. Ernie and I slip out to have some food and for me to have an insulin injection.
We return to Checkpoint Charlie. Tim Cornwell introduces me to a fellow named Roger and we have a nice chat. Mark Buckland, the publisher of Cargo Books and the 1962 Edinburgh Writers' Conference book, edited by Angela Bartie and Eleanor Bell, calls. He will collect me and deliver me to the STV Studios in Edinburgh for late night talk show. And sure enough, he appears. We speed towards Fountainbridge. The driver seems to be a bit lost, but we are soon there. Only to discover hat we are locked out.

  Casablanca: The Gin JointCut by Morag Fullarton, 
      with Jimmy Chisholm, Gavin Mitchell and Clare Waugh
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.
Tim Maby, the Guardian Multi-Media producer, interviews me for a podcast. Encounter Simon Pia in the Press Pod and we have a long catch-up. I tell him that I have missed him the past few festivals.
Joan Bakewell has arrived. She has promised to read some texts by Aung San Suu Kyi for Amnesty International in the Peppers Theatre at 17.30. Ernie and I get tickets and head there. Sit with two nurses from the Royal Infirmary who took care of me last August when I was 9 days in the hospital. We are pleased to see each other. One is very pregnant. After the reading, Ernie and I return to the Writers' Yurt. Joan and Ernie have glasses of red wine. She introduces me to Claire Tomalin. Joan's grandson, Louis Foster, calls her and she puts him on the line and he and I talk. I congratulate him on his acceptance in a film school.
Ernie, Joan and I walk the short distance to CentoTre and have a delightful dinner.

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.
Then there is a lunch produced in the Writers' Retreat. Delicious soup and sandwiches. Nick Barley gives a short speech and says many kind words about John Calder and myself. I sit with Nick Philipson, Nelson Fernanez, Frank Dunlop, Sheila Colvin, John Calder and so many friends. Kirsty Gunn is present and super sweet.
Ernie and I slip out and take a taxi to our appointment with Dr. Campbell at 3 pm. His medical practice is in Murrayfield in Riversdale Crescent, next to Chinese Consulate. He does a number of tests and assures me that all is well. I thank him and we return to the Book Festival. Attend the second half of "Should Literature Be Political?". Sit afterwards outside the Writer' Yurt with Joan Bakewell, Ernie Eban, Eleanor Bell, Angela Bartie and Mark Buckland.
We elect to go to the reception in the City Library in George IV Bridge. We all pile into a bus. I sit with a writer from Egypt, Mustafa Riad, and we talk about the great Egyptian architect, Hassan Fathi. In the library, talk with the novelist, Janne Teller, from Denmark. She lives in New York City now, but has lived in lots of places. Of course I mention Suzanne Brøgger and Jens-Jorgen Thorsen. Lots of talks. See many more people I know including Faith Liddell and Amy Saunders. Two beauties.
Ernie, Joan and I slip out and manage to find a table in Howies in Victoria Street. It is a delightful meal with lots of great talk. Joan is wonderful.

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.
Taxi to Traverse. Greet Cian O'Sochain in the Press Office. Go downstairs for a bowl of soup. When I have finished, I return to the Press Office and talk with Cian and Becky McGann, another press officer. Lots of talk about Sarah Dee and Mark Keane.
Taxi to the Arts Club in Rutland Square. Gill Tasker, the Senior Editor at Cargo Editions, is standing in front of the entrance. After our greeting, go inside and see lots of people I know. Eleanor Bell and Angela Bartie arrive. And the two fellows from BBC's Radio Four, Will Gompertz and Steven Wright. We all shift ourselves to the garden where the interview will take place. We all have words for the programme. Then a few of us taxi to Charlotte Square and the Book Festival.

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 talk.
Walk to Randolph Crescent. Not sure which house is the Prosser's, but then I spot Vanessa standing at her front door. I am one of the first to arrive. After she and I have greeted, go upstairs and see William. Long talk with a fellow named Zander Wedderburn , who lives near Ricky Demarco. Also chat with Sheila Colvin and with Mona Shea. Ride to Charlotte Square with John and Sheila. Chris Close has posted the photograph of me. I am next to Sara Sheridan. She said that she can host Séamas the night he arrives. I call him in Paris and tell him that I have found a hostess for him for a few days.
The 3 o'clock session is entitled "A National Literature? - Nationality and Identify in the Novel Today" with Ian Rankin in the Chair and Irvine Welsh will give the main address.. I want to contribute that I am, like Tom Paine, a World Citizen. All human history is mine. My roots extend everywhere. But Ian Rankin does not look my way, so it is left unsaid.
Roza collects Ernie and myself from Charlotte Square and drives us to her home. We are ten for dinner: Michele Dimestres, from Australia and one of Roza's best friends, Alan Bissett and his girlfriend, Kirsten Innes (they are both writers and I met them last year here at David and Roza's). Ewan Morrison, another writer attending the Book Festival, Victor Albrow, a photographer, Hazel Petherick, David's sister, Ernie Eban, Roza and David and yours truly. David has cooked a feast. I tell Ewan Morrison my crazy vision of the future when we all are writers, etc. One will not purchase books; one will pay one's friends to read one's books. Victor Albrow asks if he can photograph me. I say of course, but we never manage to get together to make it happen. Very late, we (Ernie, Victor, Hazel and I) taxi back into Edinburgh.

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.
Ride with Sheila to Charlotte Square. Go to the 3 o'clock session "Censorship Today". Sit with Eleanor Bell, Angela Bartie and Ernie. The two hours fly by. Séamas calls from Paris to say he has a flight and will arrive tomorrow afternoon. And will meet me in the Book Festival at 4 pm. After the session, sit outside the Writers' Yurt with Ernie, Eleanor and Angela. Drink a coffee and gossip. A fellow named Frank Wynne shares our table. He translates from French and Spanish and he will have an event at 18.45 today entitled "Translation Duel". He and Ernie talk cinema. We elect to attend his session in the Peppers Theatre. It is an interesting "duel" with another translator, Rosalind Harvey. They both have translated the same text from Spanish.
Later dine in Brown's in George Street with Ernie. Our waitress, Sarah, is a sweetie-pie. Ernie and I go to the Spiegeltent at 21.00 for the Unbound session. See Colin Fraser and Peg Hughes when we depart.

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.
Over for the last session of the Edinburgh World Writers' Conference, "the Future of the Novel" Sit with Stuart Kelly and the Literary Editor of The Scotsman, David Robinson. Antonia and Séamas sit near by. John Calder is on the front row. My joke which I related to Ewan Morrison at the Roza and David Pethrith's dinner is that one day in the future when everyone is a novelist, poet, performer, etc, one will not purchase books, etc. Instead one will pay others to read one's literary outpourings. Ewan tells this to the room in the question and answer period at the end. Kirsty Gunn does an excellent job of summing up the session.
Go and rest in Sheila's flat in Oxford Terrace. We decide to dine in Lancer's Indian restaurant in Stockbridge. We are five: Sheila, John, Séamas, Antonia and me. As always it is super-delicious. John treats. Taxi afterwards to Oxford Terrace, drop John and Sheila, then continue to Charlotte Square, drop Séamas, get a call from Ernie who is in a taxi and we agree to meet at the Traverse. Drop Antonia at the top of the Mound. She is catching he second half of the Tattoo.I continue to the Traverse. Sit downstairs with Ernie for a while. When we exit, we meet Neil Mackinnon, who has just come from the Lyceum Theatre and Camille O'Sullivan. He says she was great! I tell him I have tickets for later in the week.

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.

Rhino head by William Darrell

  Nano-stage by David Forysth

plaque for the rhino head

  plaque for the nano-stage

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.
Later taxi to Summer Hall and sit with John Ritchie, Robert McDowell, Astrid Silins, Antonia Hoogewerf, Séamas McSweeney, Ernie Eban, Martin Belk and others. Chat with Wolfgang Hoffman, who I see every Festival. We all decide to dine in a place called Spoon opposite the Old Quad and the Festival Theatre in Nicolson Street. A bunch of us pile into several taxis and we are soon there. The place is great. It is reputedly where J.K.Rowling wrote her books. Our waitress is Lucy and she is lovely. Dinner is excellent and no one will let me pay. We find taxis and drop Antonia at Sheila Colvin's. Then it is home to Great King Street and bed. It has been a long and glorious day.

  Jamie Byng and Jim Haynes, photo © Séamas McSwiney
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.
Taxi up to McEwan Hall (where the 1962 Writers' Conference was held). Get tickets for Casablanca for Antonia, Séamas, and myself. The production is as lovely as ever. Antonia and Séamas love it as well. We go to the Club Bar and congratulate the actors. Tell them I really wish to present them in a theatre in Paris.
We three walk around to Charles Street, so Séamas can photograph the rhino head. Then taxi to the Traverse with Séamas. Soup and blood sugar test. See the David Greig play, The Letter of Last Resort, directed by Nick Kent. At the interval, encounter Linda Crooks and she introduces me to the current Artistic Director of the Traverse, Orla O'Loughlin. Decide to join them and not go back to see the David Harrower play, Good With People. I tell Orla that the Traverse was created for an actress, Jane Alexander. And that I think it would be a good idea to get Jane to perform something in the Traverse next Festival for the fiftieth anniversary celebration. I also tell her the role that Tamara Alferoff played. Orla will travel to New York in the autumn and she promises to contact Jane. Many people come up to our table to speak with Linda, with Orla and with me. They introduce me to a fellow who is half Persian, but cannot remember his name. Faith Liddell joins us. I am surrounded by beautiful and intelligent ladies. Then another one, Antonia Hoogewerf, arrives with Séamas and Ernie. I excuse myself to Linda, Orla and Faith and go to a table to have fish and chips. Antonia has haggis. Taxi home late to Great King Street. Chat with Ruth and Martin in the kitchen.

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.
We taxi to the Book Festival. See Antonia in the Yurt. Have a coffee and chat with Rachel McCrum, one of the hostesses. She is in the poetry slam finals. Antonia goes for a walk and will try to get a ticket for the South African Mies Julie. I go out and sit in the London Review of Books signing tent and read the article about Ryszard Kapuscinski by Neal Ascherson. Neal is a dear friend. And I knew and admired the late Ryszard K. When I go back to the Yurt, I am told that John Cairney was looking for me. Damn. Charlotte, one of the hostesses, says she will keep an eye open for him. Séamas and I purchase tickets for several afternoon sessions. I have a bowl of delicious mushroom soup. Get a text message from Antonia. She got the last ticket to see this afternoon's production of Mies Julie.

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.
Go to the Press tent and give myself a blood sugar test. It is 101. Perfect. Bob Flynne passes. Séamas and I attend the debate/talk on Iran and Israel in the Spiegeltent at 7 pm with Christopher de Bellaigue and Ilan Pappé. Superb stuff. See Mary Clemmey and we embrace. She is having a great time in Edinburgh, enjoying the festival and Scotland.
Séamas and I taxi to the Lyceum Theatre to see Camille O'Sullivan in The Rape of Lucrece . We sit on the same row with Guy Masterson. Séamas is knocked out by Camille. I tell Séamas that I saw Marlene Dietrich perform in this theatre during the festival of 1961 (I think it was). And that afterwards I went back stage to her dressing room and chatted with her for about an hour.

  Camille O'Sullivan, on the cover of the 2012 Festival guide
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.
Afterwards taxi to the Assembly press office. Kelly gives me tickets for Guy Masterson's The Half and for Aly McGregor's late night show. Sit in the Club Bar with Séamas. Wave to Bill Burdett-Coutts. At 2pm, go to see Guy Masterson perform his one-man show. It is directed by David Calvitto. The Half is one hell of a show. My god what actors put themselves through. How can he do it night after night?
Walk to Checkpoint Charlie and have a Thai dish. See Polly Cameron and she is as wonderful as I remember her to be. She invites us into a store room where she plays the piano with a fellow named Jamey playing the guitar. She sings her own songs. And Séamas makes a video of her performance.
After a bit, we leave them and taxi to Charlotte Square. Bob Flynne calls and he will meet me in the Press tent. Susie Parker calls. She has just arrived in Edinburgh from Sydney and will come to the Book Festival. Bob and I talk about the San Sebastian Film Festival in September. He will go and maybe I will join him.
Dine in Browns in George Street. We are Séamas, Antonia, Susie Parker, Ernie and yours truly. Afterwards Susie goes to her hotel to crash. She has just flown to Edinburgh from Sydney and is completely wiped out. The rest of us go to the Assembly in George Square to hear Aly McGregor. I am under the impression (not sure from where) that she is an Australian stand-up comedian. Wrong. She is a singer. I feel I have mis-represented the show but everyone is not upset with me. Not nearly as much as I am with me. Afterwards, we meet the lovely Zuzana. She is having a drink with friends in George Square.
Taxi home.

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, and Zuzana.
Attend a session in the RSA Theatre with Ruth Wishart in the chair with Polly Toynbee and David Walker. Ruth is her usual brilliant wry self. Then go to Peggy Hughes' story presentation in the Spiegeltent. Sit outside with William and Vanessa Prosser, Astrid and Clea, and Ernie.
Encounter Gavin Esler in the Authors' Yurt and tell him that I watch almost every week his BBC World Service TV programme. We have a delightful chat.
Jenny Brown hosts a party at 6pm in the Party Pavilion. Greet her husband, Sandy Richardson and talk with several of her sons. Talk with Martin Hannan, who tells me he also has diabetes and has learned to live with it. We talk also about Frances Anderson. Slip out early because I have promised to be at the Scottish Arts Club for the award presentation. See Francis Bickmore and meet his son and daughter just before departing.

 
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.
Dine in Tiger Lily in George Street with Ernie, Astrid and Mona. The women insist upon treating the fellas. Thank you, ladies.

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.
We have a simple Khan's Indian take-away dinner. Just us three. I call Samra Turajlic; she and Ali are going to the South Bank tomorrow to hear the Iraqi Youth Orchestra perform with the Scottish Youth Orchestra and says she can try to get me a ticket if I would like to join them. I thank her and say I may be too tired to go anywhere. I will sleep at Ernie's flat tonight and at her home tomorrow evening.

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 Anglais.
Jeanette arrives and we three ride in her car to Portobello Road. They select an Italian restaurant they know and like, the Mediterraneo. Ernie spots a friend, Isabel Young, in the street and invites her to join us. She was in Edinburgh with her mother and we met in the Authors' Yurt. We discover that Isabel knows Will Durrell, the sculptor who created the rhino head. Lunch is superb. Ernie insists upon picking up the check. Jeanette drops us back at Ernie's flat.
Ali collects me and I travel the short distance to his place. He and I talk about the Edinburgh Festival and then I rest a bit. Samra returns from her hospital where she does cancer research. I give her a complete Edinburgh report. We taxi to Ernie's place. Then she and I walk to Queensway and the restaurant. Ernie and Dorota will meet us there. The beautiful Martyna is in Poland on vacation. But our Australian waitress is sweet. Dinner is superb. We taxi to Samra's and I fall into bed, completely exhausted.

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, photo © Graham Clarke
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...

Jim Haynes
September 2012

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

 

 

 

Jim Haynes' newsletter