Jim Haynes newsletters
Newsletter No. 728
My 57th Edinburgh Festival
5th: Up early. Barbara, my blonde wonderful nurse, arrives and I report
I have tested my blood sugar level and have given myself an insulin injection.
She wishes me happy travels. Coffee and cereal. Shave, shower and shampoo.
Quickly dress and finish packing. Call a taxi and off to the Gare du Nord
in a warm beautiful full of sunshine day. No traffic. All the locals are
away at the seaside or the mountains. Paris streets are empty. We arrive
in record time. Go upstairs and ask a Eurostar attendant if I might have
some assistance. And a young girl is assigned to look after me. Sad to
say I have forgotten her name. She delivers me to my seat. Thank you,
Eurostar. And at 11h43 we are off. Another journey in a life full of journeys.
Am served a delicious cheese platter. Read and rest and soon we are pulling
into London's St Pancras. It is 14h00. Natalia Skhola is there waiting
for me. Hooray for her. Because I am in a wheelchair, we move to the front
of the queue. A quick journey to Gloucester Terrace. Happily Ernie Eban
is home and waiting for our arrival. After our warm greetings, he deposits
my large suitcase in his back bedroom. And we begin to plan our annual
Khans take-away dinner.
6th: Awake in Ernie's bedroom very early. Wash and dress. Walk into
the front room and Ernie is still sleeping. Call Dorota Chrisp and she
cannot meet me for lunch today. Call Martin Belk and we arrange to meet
in Oxford Circus. Take a bus there and Martin soon appears. We walk towards
the BBC in Portland Place. We elect to have a lunch in Illy. Our waitress,
Elisa Boscaro, is from Venice. A sweetheart! We have panini and lots of
fantastic coffee. We have some last minute editing for Everything Is!,
discuss the planned party for the launch of the two books in The Scottish
Arts Club, and generally have a pleasant afternoon. We both like Illy.
7th: Wake at 6. Go back to bed for another hour. Get up at 7 and do
my medical chores. Shave and dress. Go into the kitchen and read The
Guardian Literary Review. Ernie gets up and we have toast and coffee.
About 9h30 we go out, find a taxi and head for Kings X. I sit and have
a hot chocolate while Ernie goes to find wheelchair assistance. It is
Cecil from Nigeria to the rescue. I roll and they walk to platform 4 and
the 11 o'clock train to Edinburgh Waverley. Ernie departs for the British
Library. He will come up next week to the Festival.
money in my pocket, walk to Hanover Street and purchase my monthly Bus
Pass. There is a pretty young woman in the queue from Lithuania. We chat
briefly and she is surprised to learn that I have been to Vilnius. Use
my pass and bus up the Mound to Chambers Street and to the Hotel du Vin.
I love the Hotel du Vin. Last Festival I was in it a lot because Toni
Bentley stayed there. Make a few phone calls with my new mobile. First
to Martin Burke and get his answering machine. Leave a message for him
and Ruth. Next call Astrid Silins and she invites me to lunch on Monday
for Mona Shea's surprise birthday. Roza Pethrick calls. She is going to
see Ennio Marchetto perform tonight. I tell her I will see her there.
I have a dinner date tonight at 7 with John O'Mahoney and Sheldon Forrest.
8th: Again awake at 6. Back to bed for another hour. Quickly wash
and dress and go downstairs for a great breakfast. Read The Scotsman,
The Guardian and The Independent. Then back to my room to
shave, shower and shampoo. The shower is so delightful that it is difficult
to leave it. Walk towards George Square and bump into Sophie Walker. She
gives me a flyer for her 13h40 show. I promise to see her performance
soon. Continue on my way to the Assembly Club Bar, but filming is taking
place and no one is allowed inside. Call Stephanie Wolfe Murray. We chat
briefly until she is called away. She tells me she will call me back.
Walk to the Assembly and exchange air kisses with Bill Burdett Coutts
who is talking on the telephone. Go inside the Press Room and chat with
the lovely Emma Fyvie.
9th: Up at 6 again. Ugh. This is getting to be a habit. Back to bed
for another hour. Go down for breakfast and read the daily papers. Try
to email my son, Jesper. Fail. Text Paris. Call Sheila Colvin. Later walk
around the corner for a Thai lunch.
10th: Sleep late. Get up at 8.30. Go down for breakfast. Remember
that Angela Bartie will be at the Book Festival this morning. Go back
to my room and get ready to head to Charlotte Square. Stand in Forrest
Road. All taxis are full. Catch the 41 bus to Queensferry Road. Walk the
short distance to the Book Festival. Collect my ticket from Charlotte
Gosling in the Press Yurt. See Angela and Andy in the Author's Yurt. Walk
to Angela's event. Peter Guttridge is in the chair and he introduces Angela.
She has a new book out about the Edinburgh Festival. Her talk is full
of stories of how the festival was created. I had heard a number of these
before. But it is good to hear them again. Then Peter introduces Jonathan
Mills, the current Director of the Festival. This is his last year as
Director. I slip out. Walk to the signing session in the bookshop. Chat
with Gill Tasker and Eleanor Bell. Susie Hollands greets me. She is with
her pretty daughter, Paloma. We talk about living in Paris and in Edinburgh.
She hints that she might return to Edinburgh. Go to the Author's Yurt
and have soup with Angela and Andy. And their friend, Margaret. See Charlotte
Gosling and we talk about Sanjoy and his British Council dinner. It was
one of the best events of last year's festival.
11th: Up at 7. Blood sugar level is perfect. Stash Pruszynski arrives
today from Warsaw. Go down for breakfast and greet Magda at the front
desk. She is so lovely. I eat a modest breakfast this morning. Back up
to my room and shave, shower and shampoo. Roza calls and we agree to meet
at the Book Festival at 20H30. Go out to purchase a few items. Back to
my room. Down to the front desk and chat with Magda and Martine. Leave
the hotel and walk to the Assembly offices in George Square. Meet David
Sloan and he introduces me to someone from Melbourne. This means I always
tell the story of meeting Yvonne Rockman in Paris and our having dinner.
She reports her husband, Irving, is the current mayor of Melbourne. And
later they invite me to visit. It is a crazy 33-day trip around-the-world.
I spend two weeks with Yvonne and Irving in delightful Melbourne. Bill
Burdett-Coutts arrives. He asks David to arrange a VIP Pass for me for
all the Assembly productions. Go afterwards to the Press Room and hug
the lovely Laura Donaldson and Emma Fyvie.
12th: Today is Angela Bartie's birthday. She says she is 35, but I
don't believe her. She can't be a day over 25. I am up at 8, fulfil my
medical needs and go down for breakfast. I miss not staying with Martin
and Ruth. But life in the Hotel du Vin is certainly lovely in every way.
Megan Bidwell arrives and we elect to have hot chocolates and chat on
the terrace. I suggest that we go to the book Festival. Megan Bidwell
agrees. Find a taxi and we quickly arrive in Charlotte Square. Text Angela
that we are in the Signing Tent. She and Andy soon join us. We decide
to have lunch in Brown's in George Street. A Polish beauty, Paulina, is
our waitress. Fish & chips! We stroll afterwards to Waterstones in
Princes Street. I ask for Martin Walker's new book, Children of the
War. Alas they are out of copies. But they report it can be obtained
in Waterstones in George Street. They do have Alan Furst's new book, Midnight
in Europe. I purchase it. (Later in Paris I read both Alan's and Martin's
books and greatly enjoy both books.)
Midnight in Europe by Alan Furst, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London
to Stash that we dine in a Nepalese & Indian restaurant, Namaste,
at 17 Forest Road. He is OK with this. We make our way there. And manage
to get a table. We find ourselves sitting next to a family from North
Carolina. While I am wolfing down my garlic chicken, we have a conversation
with our table neighbours. Their daughter is studying in Georgetown in
Washington, D.C. To my surprise and delight, Stash insists upon treating
our dinner. He also gives me his new book, Israel: An American Catastrophe.
He signs it inside with the following dedication\; "For Jim, One
of my oldest and dearest friends". Damn. Very nice. Hooray for Stash.
(Note: I am writing this on the 22nd of October and Stash is flying here
tomorrow to celebrate his birthday.) Stash walks with me back to my hotel.
We say goodnight and I head slowly towards my bed. But I do not make it.
James Seabright sees me and invites me to join him and his crew at a party
in the hotel. I reluctantly agree. And I have a great time talking to
lots of very pretty and extremely attractive young women. And I meet his
mother. Thank you, James!
13th: Up at 7H45. Go down for coffee and cereal. Back to room and shave,
shower and shampoo. Get a call from the front desk. I have a visitor. I
tell them to send them up to my room. It is the lovely sculptor, Deirdre
Nicholls. She asks if I am still available to go with her on Friday evening
to a meeting of the Edinburgh Oyster Club in the New Club in Princes Street.
Why yes I am, thank you. She will pick me up at the hotel at 16H30 and we
can walk or take a taxi .
14th: Get up at 7.30. Go down for breakfast. Read the daily papers.
Head for Charlotte Square and the Book Festival, but arrive too late to
attend A.L. Kennedy's session at 11H30. Visit with Charlotte Gosling and
Frances Sutton. Go next to the Author's Yurt and have a bowl of delicious
soup. Greet Ruth Wishart. Chat with Charlotte Ormston. Sit outside with
Peggy Hughes. She is a sweetheart. A fantastic human being! The always amazing
Ian Rankin walks up to me and introduces me to his son, Jack. Also outside
are Stuart Kelly and Alexander McCall Smith. Tell him that I have a new
French edition of one of his books that I have brought from Paris and that
I helped the translator. Stuart will be chairing his 13H30 session. I decide
to see if I can get a ticket and yes there is one left. It is in the Main
Theatre. And it is a 100% delight.
15th: Wash and dress and go down for breakfast. Call Ruth Holloway
and she has a letter for me. She is in St. Andrew's Square and we arrange
to meet. She has a letter for me from the Bank of Scotland. She introduces
me to some people. And Leonie, Martin Burke's daughter, is there. We all
stroll down George Street. I call Steve Gove and we arrange to meet in
Hendersons in Hanover Street. He soon arrives and joins me. After our
lunch, we go to my hotel.
Steve Gove and Jim in Edinburgh
photo by Steve Gove
16th: Up early. Go down for breakfast. Back to the room and start to
plan the day ahead. Decide to walk to the Festival Theatre to attend The
Herald awards ceremony. See Keith Bruce and we exchange greetings. See Neil
Cooper. Have a coffee and watch the awards.
17th: Today is my big day. My book launch at the Scottish Arts Club
tonight. Have a hardy breakfast. Shave, shower and shampoo.
18th: Sleep late this morning. Go down for coffee and porridge. Leave
a copy of Thanks for Coming! Encore! for Magda and a copy of Everything
is! for Martine. Back to my room. Martin Belk calls. I thank him for
last night and tell him that I think it went extremely well. Call Ernie,
Roza and Sheila. Leave messages for all three.
19th: Blood sugar level is low. Damn. This means I must eat something
sweet. Hooray! Bus to Princes Street and tram to the Scottish Arts Club.
Decide to have lunch. Then collect 15 copies of my two books. Taxi to
the hotel and deposit the books in my room. Taxi to Charlotte Square and
leave a few copies of my books with Charlotte Gosling. Go into the Author's
Yurt and visit with Charlotte Ormston. Chat briefly with Ruth Wishart
who will be chairing a session in the Book Festival tomorrow with Germaine
Greer tomorrow. I wish her luck. Germaine can be difficult. Nick Barley
thanks me for the two books I gave him yesterday. He then gives me a book
entitled The 21st-Century Novel (subtitled Notes from The Edinburgh
World Writers' Conference), Edited by Jonathan Bastable and Hannah McGill.
20th: Go down for coffee and porridge. Get a call from Kevin Wolfe
Murray. Minutes later I am talking with Stephanie Wolfe Murray. She promises
to come and see me in the hotel.
21st: I have a lunch date today with Sheila Colvin and John Calder
in Contini in George Street. Steve Gove and Ernie Eban will join us. It
is a fun lunch. A famous courtesan sits two tables from us. Give John
and Sheila copies of the new books.
22nd: Up early. Go down for breakfast. Coffee and porridge. Take a
taxi to meet Ernie Eban in the Waverley Station. to make travel reservations
to London next Monday afternoon.
Sara Pascoe vs History, at Assembly George Square Studios, Edinburgh
Ernie and I have been invited to dine with Astrid Silins and her wonderful sister, Ingrid Kempston in Ansley Place. A superb dinner and a delightful evening.
24rd: Ernie Eban and I have been invited to lunch with Claudia Monteiro
today. I have suggested to him that he collect me at the hotel and we
will continue to Claudia's. After breakfast, I shave and shower. Get dressed.
Ernie arrives. We walk around to the top of Mid-Meadows Walk. Ernie goes
to purchase a bottle of wine. I am surprised to see Alexander McCall Smith
walking up the Mid-Meadows Walk. He spots me and comes over to give me
a warm greeting. He tells me that he is writing a new Edinburgh novel
and that I am a named character in it. He tells me that he will send it
to me in Paris before publication in order for me to give him my approval.
I tell him that this is not necessary.
Go in the
evening to the Scottish Arts Club for a party for the Flying Artichoke
Award. Dear John Ritchie, who has recently rejoined his ancestors, was
one of the creators of this award together with the Scottish Arts Club.
Sad not to share the festival with John. The wonderful Catherine Robins
heads the jury. She looks like she is in top form. I invited Catherine
Robins to come to Edinburgh way back in the early 60s. She accepted and
has been living here more or less ever since. Joyce Caplan is also one
of the jury members. I have decided to accept an invitation to attend
Mary Gordon's 'pop-up' restaurant in Leith. Ernie will join me. We manage
to slip away. Our taxi driver, Mark, delivers us to a street in Leith
that I have never been in before. This dinner party has been modelled
on my open Sunday dinners in Paris. Our taxi driver, Mark, is a sweetheart.
He will come back to collect us so we can make the 22H30 comedy performance.
Mary Gordon is old friend David Brotherton's niece. It is a successful
and fun event. Both Ernie and I have a good time. We painfully have to
depart at 22H00 in order to make it on time to see Marcel Lucont Is.
We are dropped off at the Pleasance Courtyard, only to discover after
Mark has left that we are in the wrong place. It is in the Pleasance Dome.
We rush the short distance and manage to arrive in time. Marcel Lucont
performance has been highly recommended to us by Steve Gove. And he is
outrageous. An arrogant French bastard, as it is stereotyped. All things
non-French are second-rate.
White Ghost Girls, by Alice Greenway, Black Cat, NYC
Monday, 25rd: Today I check out of the Hotel du Vin and take the train to London. Go downstairs for my last breakfast. Coffee and porridge. Stop by the front desk and pay my bill. Painful to write the check, but it was wonderful to stay in the hotel. Thank Magda and Martine and all the staff for the special care and kindness they bestowed on me. Maybe in life we have to do sometimes extravagant indulgences. I love staying with Martin Burke and Ruth Holloway in Great King Street. They were wonderful with me, but the location of the Hotel du Vin, the elevator, the room, the bed, the shower, the morning breakfast feast. It was truly an amazing experience. I have a last shower, then dress and pack. Ernie arrives. Then Steve Gove. Soon it is time to get into a taxi and ride the short distance to Waverley Station. Minutes later we are pulling out of the station and gathering speed as we head for London. My 57th August in Edinburgh! My 57th Festival!
12H50 and pull into King's X at 17H42. Natalia Shkola is there to meet
us. What a sweetheart! I contemplate continuing on to Paris. But I call
Paris and am told not to return. The atelier is turned upside down and
fresh paint fumes would prevent me from sleeping at home. Damn. We three
get in a taxi and head for Ernie's and Gloucester Terrace. The Notting
Hill Festival is ending this evening.
Ernie Eban and Jim in the train back to London,
photo by Steve Gove
In a side street, see an attractive young woman taking in chairs as she
prepares to close up. Stop and chat with her. Of course she is from Poland.
She is so sweet. I decide to give her an invitation to dine in Paris.
And give her a copy of Thanks for Coming! Encore! Continue my stroll
up to Drury Lane, pass my old Arts Laboratory. Ah, memories!
27rd: Natalia and I will meet for lunch and go to see an afternoon
matinee in the West End. In the end we select The Pajama Game.
We bus to the Shaftesbury Theatre and have a delicious lunch near the
old Arts Laboratory. We walk the short distance to the Shaftesbury and
I purchase two tickets in the stalls. A fun show. Super silly. But why
not? I remember attending Hair a number of times in the Shaftesbury
Theatre in the 60s. I danced on the stage at the opening night of Hair.
28th: Today I take the Eurostar to Paris. Tonight in Paris I will
attend the opening of Chante! with Isabelle Georges and Frederik
Steenbrink. It is a fabulous production that we will, I hope, take to
next year's Edinburgh Festival.
Note and apologia: I am writing this report on the Edinburgh Festival later than usual. Today is the 12th of November and I still have not finished. I am late this year for lots of reasons. My atelier has been recently re-painted, the first time in the 42 years I have lived here and everything is still a mess. Then I journeyed to the San Sebastian Film Festival and I have had an endless number of visitors. Plus my memory is not what it once was. I know that I met Stephanie Wolfe Murray, Toby Gough, Catherine Robins, David Calvitto, George & Sara McBean, Faith Liddle and many other friends at this year's Festival and that I did not see more of them. I managed to see a superb production of the play, The Confessions of Gordon Brown by Kevin Toolis, in Rainy Hall in the Assembly on the Mound. Kevin dined here at A2 last Sunday evening. I only talked with Ricky Demarco on the telephone this Festival. Shocking. I wanted to take Martin Burke and Ruth Holloway to dinner and failed to do so. I wanted to see Morag Fullarton, Gavin Mitchell, and Clare Waugh from the great production of Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut that I brought from Scotland to Paris this past April, but it did not happen. A day, as you know, contains 24 hours, but it is not enough during an Edinburgh Festival. I managed to see only one production in the Traverse and missed a number of shows that I wanted to see. I did catch Lady Rizo in the Assembly Checkpoint, but not sure when it was. And I missed Julia and Martin Walker when they briefly visited the Festival... Well there is always next year!
18th November 2014
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