Jim Haynes newsletters

Newsletter No. 728

My 57th Edinburgh Festival
5 to 28 August 2014

2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Logo

Tuesday, 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.
In the afternoon Natalia and I have an adventure looking for Orange in order to get a new mobile phone and to keep my same mobile telephone number. We end up in Oxford Street and success. Celebrate by going to a small plaza behind Oxford Street for salads. Back to Ernie's for dinner.
We are about 14 for dinner: Natalia Shkola, Natasha Morgan, Natasha Rojina, Oleg Micheyev, Samra Turajlic, Alex Kan, Dan Topolski, Mary Clemmie, David MacIlwaine, Ernie and yours truly. I inflict my circle game on everyone and it seems to be generally appreciated.

Wednesday, 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.
In the evening dine with Ernie and Joan Bakewell in the Café Anglais. The lovely waitress from Poland, Martine, is present and as lovely as ever. She is now the Assistant Manager. We all three have fish & chips. Joan reports that she will not be going to the Edinburgh Festival this year. I am shocked. Ernie and I treat Joan to dinner.

Thursday, 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.
Soon we are on our way. Chicken and bacon sandwiches for lunch. Talk to a fellow across from me from New York City. Never get his name. Four and a half hours later, we pull into Edinburgh. Waverley is in full renovation mode. No taxis can come into the station. Lee Wright waits for me and pushes me to the far East side of the station where he calls a taxi for me. Taxi to the Hotel du Vin, my home for this year's Festival. A big self-indulgence. Quick check-in. Then taxi to the Bank of Scotland in St. Andrew's Square. Kristi Daniels takes care of me. On my way out of the bank, an attractive woman hands me a leaflet for her show. She is Melinda Hughes and her show is called Cocktails with the Diva. I promise to see it, but alas do not manage. But I do invite her after I am back in Paris to come and perform in Paris. (To make a long story short, Melinda does come and gives a concert in the Swan Jazz Bar. It's a fun evening.)

Now with 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.
They are on time. We have a feast. Then we walk afterwards to Charles Street and I show them my two statues. Meet Gerald and Jessica and ask them if they would like to see Ennio. They say yes and we five walk down to Pleasance. I get tickets. See Junko Mackenzie. See Roza and David. Ennio is his usual fantastic self. As I have said many times, he should be made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Afterwards we join him and others for drinks. Taxi back to the Hotel du Vin. Get into my wonderful bed and have a great night's sleep. Magda Gorzelak has left a note of welcome to the hotel and a small bottle of whisky and some chocolate. She is a lovely person.

Ennio Marchetto in The Living Paper Cartoon
Ennio Marchetto in The Living Paper Cartoon

Friday, 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.
Taxi to St Mary's Street and pick up the leaflets that Martin Belk has had printed to announce the Scottish Arts Club party and the publication of Thanks for Coming! Encore! and Everything Is! They look good. Martin has done a good job. Bump into Claire Stewart and we chat briefly.
Go to Sophie Walker's performance at 13h40. It is superb as I knew it would be.
Taxi to the Traverse for lunch. Have a bowl of soup. See Linda Cross. and we exchange warm embraces. Stick my head in the press room and greet them all. Then downstairs. Join Liz Smith and Michael Coveney. We have a long talk about past and present festivals. See the delightful Keith Bruce.
Taxi to the hotel. After a long afternoon's rest, bus to Summerhall. Meet lots of old friends and a few new ones. See Sam Gough. Am introduced to Marcus Kipering. He produces Kipering's Gin.
Eat a superb bacon sandwich. It is produced by Hannah Scott. So good that I order a second one and it is equally delicious.
Taxi to Pleasance and see Ennio's performance a second time. And tonight for some bizarre reason, it is even better than the earlier night. Decide to have an early night, so slip away and return to the Hotel du Vin. And wonderful sleep.

Saturday, 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.
Decide to head for the Festival Theatre in the Bridges and check out The Herald weekly event where Herald Angels and the Little Devil are presented. It is always an opportunity to see old friends and to begin to know what is on in the Fringe.
Walk to Assembly Press Room. Meet Rona Thompson on the way. Visit with the lovely Laura Donaldson and Emma Fyvie. They give me tickets to see Rhythmic Circus: Feet Don't Fail Me Now and Antonia Forcione. Minutes later encounter Antonio and tell him that I will attend his concert next week. Go into the office and meet David Sloan and Bill Burdett-Coutts. They give me a warm welcome. We have a long talk. Then head back to the hotel.
Angela Bartie calls from Glasgow. I tell her that I fully intend to go to her talk tomorrow morning in the Book Festival. I then try to call Jesper in Brooklyn and get his answering machine. Dorota Chrisp calls. She is nearby. I tell her to come over to the hotel. Quickly shave, shower and shampoo. The hotel's shower is the best I have ever had. Dorota is downstairs. I go down and have lunch in the hotel. Dorota, Tim and their beautiful daughter, Lila, join me. They have drinks and we talk about the festival.
The Book Festival opening party is tonight. It is always an opportunity to meet lots of old friends. And I do. There is Peggy Hughes, one of my favourite people. She and her fellow, Colin Fraser, are now based in Dundee where she is directing the Dundee Literary Festival. I am so proud of her. See Bob Flynn and tell him that I will meet him in September in the San Sebastian Film Festival. (And I do.) See Junko and Ian Mackenzie. See Leslie Hills and congratulate her on becoming a grandmother. See Roza and David Petherick. She and I talk about how wonderful Ennio Marchetto is and how much we like him. See so many people I know. Edinburgh is a village.

Sunday, 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.
Walk to Princes Street and add twenty Pounds to my mobile phone. Catch the bus no. 41 up to Bristo Place. Time to rest a bit in my delightful hotel room.
Early evening call Claudia Monteiro and she will come to the hotel. We go to Summerhall and have dinner. She has salmon and I have venison. Our waitress who was born in Hong Kong is super sweet. Robert McDowell and Geraldine Coates visit briefly. Claudia and I decide to go and hear the fabulous Camille O'Sullivan. She is in the George Street Assembly Rooms. I purchase two tickets. It's a wild concert. We both greatly enjoy it. When we are leaving, Camille sees me and calls me to her. She is busy selling DVDs and CDs. But she stops and hugs me warmly. Wow! What a gal! Claudia drops me at the Hotel du Vin.

Monday, 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.
Time for me to head for Leith and Mona Shea's surprise birthday lunch with Astrid Silins. So many old friends are present. Mona arrives and she is truly pleased and excited to celebrate her birthday with all of us. Guests include the following (I think): Astrid (our hostess), Bill & Sue MacArthur, David & Judy Steel, Maggie Hackett, Sheena Jones, Robin & Flora Creighton, Katrona Shea & Ottar Bjoernstad (and their 5-year old twins, Michael & Esme) and the star of the afternoon, the wonderful Mona Shea. Robin Creighton tells me that he and Sylvia Whitman are cousins. Chat with David and Judy Steele.
Taxi to the Hotel du Vin. Meet Tim and Dorota. We decide to see the Fringe production about Frank Sinatra later this afternoon. They depart and I lie down and rest. Dan Topolski calls and we agree to meet tonight at his daughter's production at the Bedlam Theatre. Angela Bartie calls and we agree to meet at Noon tomorrow. I call Ruth Holloway and we discuss having a dinner on Friday. Megan Bidwell texts me about meeting tomorrow morning.
Meet Tim, Dorota and Lila at the theatre at 7h10 to see The Final Curtain. It's sweet in a corny smaltzy way. We are sitting on the front seats, so very close to the actors.
Bus to West End. I have a dinner appointment with Roza and Ennio in the Caledonian Hotel. It is Ennio's night off. They arrive plus two old friends of Ennio's from Italy, Filippo Pellecchia and Giovanni Peccolo. We have a feast.
I excuse myself from the dinner and rush in a taxi to the Bedlam Theatre. Meet Dan and his lovely wife, Susy, and Susy's cousin Jonathan. In we go. This is Living is harrowing, but Tamsin Topolski is brilliant. And oh so lovely!
Dive into bed about 12H30. Cut on the TV and learn that the actor, Robin Williams, has died. Apparently suicide. Damn. Tragic.

Tuesday, 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.)
After a wee rest in the hotel, go to the Assembly on the Mound. I encounter Linda Marlowe and Michael Coveney, two dear friends. Always a good encounter. I have a date with Stash Pruszynski at 19H45 to see Feet Don't Fail Me Now. As we are walking up the stairs to Rainy Hall, the ticket girl tells me that she remembers me from last year. She also adds that she loved Isabelle Georges and Frederik Steenbrink's production of Broadway Enchanté. I tell her that I agree with her. Also report that they will be coming next year to the festival with another production. In the stairs, bump into Nick Phillipson and Bob Lockyer. We exchange greetings. Feet Don's Fail Me Now is an over the top tap dance extravaganza. I suspect Isabelle would love it. She would probably join them on stage and tap away.

Midnight in Europe by Alan Furst, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London
Midnight in Europe by Alan Furst, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London

I suggest 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!
Upstairs in bed, watch a bit a television and learn that Lauren Bacall has died.

Wednesday, 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 .
Bus to Princes street and tram to the West End. Walk the short distance to the Scottish Arts Club. Upstairs encounter Ian Mckenzie. Hilary Mounfield joins us. Then get a message that John Calder and Sheila Colvin are downstairs. And join them for lunch. Get a message from Astrid. She will meet me at the Book Festival. Excuse myself and take a taxi to Charlotte Square. Go inside the Press Yurt and greet Frances Sutton. No sign of Astrid. About 15H30 I wander into Waterstones in George Street. Encounter Rupert Wolfe Murray and he introduces me to his beautiful daughter. Rupert calls Stephanie and suddenly she and I are talking. I purchase Martin Walker's new book, Children of War. (I read it in Paris and I find it is one of Martin's best yet.)
Back to the hotel for blood sugar level tests. Take the 41 Bus to Roza and David's place. Lots of guests including Ennio Marchetto. Then everyone departs early. Ennio to perform. Me to hear Antonio Forcione.

Thursday, 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.
Then talk with the Literary Editor of The Scotsman, David Robinson. See Stash Pruszynski. Join Stash and Astrid Silins and another Astrid. Stash gets me a hot chocolate. It starts to rain and I dash to the Press Yurt. Charlotte Gosling gives me the good news: Sanjoy's dinner is next Monday. Roddy Martine enters the Yurt. And David Black. Then walk slowly to the Scottish Arts Club.
Go at 22H30 to the Pleasance Courtyard to see dear Ennio Marchetto once again. He is always a joy.

Friday, 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.
I know that Deirdre Nicholls collects me in the hotel and we take a taxi to the New Club. We make our way up several floors. And there is a fun gathering. I see lots of people I know and I am introduced to dozens I do not know. Deirdre is super attentive.
At 19H00, I go alone to see Black Grace at the Assembly Roxy. It is a collection of dance works by acclaimed choreographer, Neil Leremia. Highly physical, it is an exhilarating and extraordinary. See Tom Conti who is on his way to see his daughter perform. See Amy Saunders. I know that she had something to do with arranging all these productions from New Zealand. And Steve Gove. He and I taxi to Summerhall for some bacon sandwiches. Robert McDowell invites us to see a concert in St. Giles Cathedral. Meet Toby Gough and some Cuban dancers. Meet Joe Stilgoe. Taxi to Forest Road, drop Steve and walk the short distance to my hotel and bed.

Steve Gove and Jim in Edinburgh, photo by Steve Gove
Steve Gove and Jim in Edinburgh
photo by Steve Gove

Saturday, 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.
Bus to West End and add 20 pounds to my mobile account. Go and visit with Frances Sutton and Charlotte Gosling in the Press Yurt. Chat with Catherine Lockerbie and with the British Council fellow, Roy Cross.
Taxi to the hotel. Chat with Magda and Martine at the desk. Up to my room. Bob Kingdom visits. In the afternoon, cross the street to see Joe Stilgoe's show, Songs on Film and his tribute to 100 years of Hollywood cinema and the film songs that shaped his own musical life. It's fun. When it is over, tell him that I enjoyed his performance. He introduces me to Owen Lewis, who directed the show. Decide to stay in the Assembly Checkpoint and see the next show. It is a fellow from Adelaide, Michael Griffiths, who sings Madonna songs. And it is a hoot. Tell him so when it is over. He says "thanks for coming" and I tell him he is advertising my autobiography every time he says that to anyone. Cross the street and test blood sugar level. It is almost perfect. Call Steve Gove and Martin Belk and leave messages for them both. Text Brenda Cullerton and she calls me back. Her last performance is tomorrow and I promise to come and see her show.
Martin Belk calls me. He and Varda have just seen a show.

Sunday, 17th: Today is my big day. My book launch at the Scottish Arts Club tonight. Have a hardy breakfast. Shave, shower and shampoo.
Go to Pizza Express for a quick pizza. Afterwards I wander down to the Grassmarket to catch the last performance of Jay-Z & Me A (Fast) Talking Memoir written and performed by Brenda Cullerton. Afterwards she and I have a brief talk. I tell her to contact me when she is next in Paris and she promises to do so.
My book launch dinner party starts early tonight in the Scottish Arts Club. Make my way there about 19H00. Meet Martin Belk and he shows me the two books. I am knocked out. They are even better than I expected. Martin has done a first rate job. I love both books. He has also organized a wee exhibition of my various letters. And various photographs and documents, newspaper clippings, etc. I am impressed. He tells me to sit down in a corner and begin to sign copies of books for friends. Stash is one of the first who insists upon purchasing copies. Earlier he gave me a copy of his book about Israel and its undue influence on American foreign policy. I remain more or less all evening in my corner with people coming up to have their books signed. Many friends congratulate me. I have a great time. The Club produces delicious food and everyone seems to be having a great time as well. Do however manage to get something to eat brought to me and it is excellent. Not only did Martin Belk talk me into these two new editions, he organized the editing and the printing as well as this party in the Scottish Arts Club. My new books, Thanks for Coming! Encore! and Everything Is!, are superb! And it is a fabulous evening. Everyone tells me that they have enjoyed the evening. About midnight, a taxi is called for me and I return to my nest in the Hotel du Vin and my wonderful bed.

Monday, 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.
Walk to Fringe Centre and leave a copy of Thanks for Coming! Encore! and Everything Is! with Lloyd Anderson for him to pass to Kath Maitland. Next stroll to the Assembly Press Room and bump into Antonio Forcione. He is leaving Edinburgh. Tell him that I greatly enjoyed his concert and that I hope to see him again next year. Wander into the Assembly offices. Give copies of Thanks for Coming! Encore! and Everything is! to Bill Burdett-Coutts and to David Sloan. Give a copy of Thanks for Coming! Encore! to Emma Fyvie and a copy of Everything Is! to Laura Donaldson. Take a bus to George IV Bridge and then a taxi to Charlotte Square. Give Nick Barley copies of both books. Give Frances Sutton and Charlotte Gosling warm greetings. Mike Wade calls me on my mobile. We talk about the party in the Scottish Arts Club. Have a soup in the Yurt. Chat with the lovely Charlotte Ormston. Tram to Princes Street and bus up to Forrest Road. Purchase a bottle of wine for Sanjoy's dinner party. At the hotel discover that Stash has passed and left me a note. Call him, but no luck. Call Steve Gove and he is free to join me at Sanjoy's dinner.
Early evening, Steve Gove appears at the hotel. We walk around the corner for Steve to purchase a bottle of wine, then make our way to Sanjoy's flat. The smells are in the air as we make our way upstairs where we receive a warm welcome. It is another fantastic evening. Delicious food and delicious guests. It was one of my best evenings last Festival and it looks like being one of my best this year as well. Talk a long time with a delightful young woman from Prague, Lenka Whyles. She speaks many languages and has a job with the Scottish Whisky Association. Also with Sanjoy. He again promises to come to Paris and to cook a dinner for me.

Tuesday, 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.
Talk with Ernie who has arrived at the Book Festival and with Chris Close. We will be having dinner with Roza and David tonight. Ernie and I go to my hotel to test my blood sugar and to give myself an insulin injection. Then we take the No. 41 bus from Forrest Road and it speeds us out to our dinner party. We are on time. Dinner, as expected, is superb. David Pethrick has cooked. We are Alan Bissett and the lovely Kirsten Innes, Chris Close and lovely blonde Michele & David Demestres. Michele, who is from New Zealand will be moving after the Festival to Barcelona (which is her husband's home). Our hosts, David & Roza, plus their beautiful daughter, Angelika, who is every year becoming more and more beautiful. We all promise to see Alan's play which is being performed daily.

Wednesday, 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.
Stephanie visits me in my hotel room. She is impressed with the room. We go down for hot chocolate in the court yard.
Germaine Greer is giving a talk in the Book Festival this afternoon. I suspect it will be sold out, but head for Charlotte Square all the same. Yes, it is full. But I elect to attend Alice Greenway's event at 14H30. Alice is a lovely lady.
Go into the Author's Yurt and have a bowl of soup. Ernie joins me. We see old friend Barry Miles. He gave a talk yesterday about his new biography of William Burroughs and he had a session this morning about the book, Naked Lunch. We have a good talk. Then to our surprise, Germaine enters and sits next to us. Both Barry Miles and yours truly attempt to engage Germaine in a conversation. She seems to be unaware of who we are. Or maybe she is not particularly interested in talking. Dear Germaine, we were once such close associates.
Go outside in the beautiful garden and spot Astrid and her sister, Ingrid. Astrid's grandson, Tygo, is being watched. Where is his mum, Clea?
Ernie and I go to Summerhall for the delicious bacon sandwiches that Hannah Scott produces. Elect to be the lone audience in a bizarre Chinese production. I sit in a rickshaw and talk with a young woman from China. It lasts only 10 or 15 minutes. And then it is over.
Ernie and I go to the Traverse and have an early fish & chips dinner. We end up sharing our table with a woman from France. Brigitte is a professor in a French University. Ernie and I decide to see The Carousel in theatre 2. Alas the play is not my cup of tea.
When we exit the play, Steve Gove calls and suggests we meet him in Deacon Brodie's in the High Street. We will attend a choral music concert in St Giles Cathedral. We successfully meet Steve and walk the short distance to St. Giles. It is a Gaelic music sung by a Polish group and sponsored by Summerhall.

Thursday, 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.
Walk afterwards to Charlotte Square to the Book Festival. Then stroll to the Scottish Arts Club where I collect another ten copies of my two books. Take a taxi to the Hotel du Vin and pay the driver with a copy of Thanks for Coming! Encore!. Many taxi drivers in Edinburgh have accepted copies of my books over the years in exchange for the fare. Taxi to Brown's in George Street and meet Ernie Eban. I have a mushroom tart. Invite Ernie to join me across the street to see The Sake in the New Town Theatre, but Ernie begs out. I rush across the street and manage to make it just in time. It is a fantastic piece of total theatre about how Sake is made. The music, the costumes, the sets, the chorography, the performers. An amazing hour. Bump into Junko Mackenzie on my way out. And also David Yumya Yamada, the Executive Producer of The Sake. It is strange how Junko and I keep encountering. We are photographed together with David Junya Yamada.
Junko drives me to my hotel in her car. Once inside I discover that I have a text message from Jesper in Brooklyn.

Friday, 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.
In the evening, talk my way into Sara Pascoe's sold out performance, Sara Pascoe vs History and am happy that I did so. It is brilliant. Manage to contact Ernie afterwards on my mobile and we agree to meet near the two statues honouring yours truly in Charles Street. Walk the short distance in the softly falling rain and lo, Ernie is there. I suggest we walk back to the Assembly Club Bar for a drink. He agrees. And lo! (No.2), we sit across from Sara Pascoe and her mum. Go over to them. tell Sara how much I enjoyed her performance which I just managed to see minutes earlier and ask her if she would ever like to perform in Paris. I plan to urge Karel Beer to book her. She says she would love to come to Paris. (To be cont'd.)
Saturday, 23rd: The usual start to the day with a breakfast feast downstairs. Ah, hotel life!
Ernie and I decide to see The Time of Our Lies - The Life and Times of Howard Zinn at 12H30 in the Gilded Balloon Teviot. I briefly knew Howard Zinn when he was a Visiting Professor at the University of Paris 8. Alas neither Ernie nor yours truly enjoyed the production very much.
We go afterwards to see Alan Bissett's The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant, a very funny play about the relationship between England and Scotland. and the upcoming vote regarding Scotland's future in or out of the Union. It is in the George Street Assembly Rooms. It feels strange to be in the Assembly Rooms and to know that Bill Burdett-Coutts is not running a dozen or more shows.

  Sara Pascoe vs History, at Assembly George Square Studios
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.

Sunday, 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.
Ernie and I see a taxi and manage to catch him. He drives us to Claudia's on the other side of the Meadows. It is a beautiful apartment, but she tells us that she has to give it up after the Festival. The proprietor wants it back. Damn. She has prepared a fabulous meal for about six of us. All males. There is Joelson Gulsson, a theatre director from Rio de Janeiro, Matthew Springford from Glasgow, Ernie and me.

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.
Back in the hotel, discover that Alice Greenway has passed and left me two of her books and a sweet note. (I am about 50% into her book, White Ghost Girls, and am enjoying every page.)

  White Ghost Girls by Alice Greenway, Black Cat, NYC
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!

We depart 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.
When we arrive, I realize that I left my insulin in the hotel fridge. Ernie makes a telephone call to a National Health Service Help line and a doctor will write a prescription and we can collect some insulin at a pharmacy in Notting Hill. It stays open late. A taxi is called and Natalia and I head out in the rain. We manage after a long wait to succeed in getting insulin. Then it is back to Ernie's for the jab.
We have a modest Indian dinner from Khan's which we bring. We are the lovely Lindsey Bareham and Dan Topolski. Plus Natalia and Ernie and me.
Tuesday, 26th: Travel to Amy Butterworth's fun wedding reception party with Ernie in West Hampstead. Afterwards I head into central London. Decide to return to the Illy Café at 295 Regent Street. I have a cannelloni, a hot chocolate and a cafe latte at 19H00. Then decide to rush to the Strand to see a play, but it is not now currently being performed. Not sure why. Decide to stroll about Covent Garden.

Ernie Eban and Jim in the train back to London, photo by Steve Gove
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!
In Oxford Street, take a bus to Ernie Eban's apartment.

Wednesday, 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.
Bus back to Ernie's and we decide to have a Mexican dinner in the neighbourhood. It is an excellent place called Taqueria. Just Ernie, Natalia and me. Superb!

Tursday, 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!

Jim Haynes
18th November 2014

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




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