Julian Hall's Edinburgh Festival diary
Friday 22 August 2008
The Book Festival talk by Jonathan Powell, former Downing Street Chief of Staff, was packed with fascinating anecdotes about the Northern Ireland peace process. He recalled the logistics of the first meeting between Sinn Fein and the DUP: "The DUP wanted to sit opposite Sinn Fein to signify that they were antagonists, but Gerry Adams wanted both parties side by side, to look like colleagues. In the end, we opted for a diamond-shaped table so they could be both opposite and beside."
Also, towards the end of the process, when told that Ian Paisley was in a bad mood, Powell feared the worst. Until, that is, his adviser explained that it was because Paisley had been "up all night Scottish-Irish dancing with Martin McGuinness".
Frank Woodley breaks a guitar every night in his show Possessed. To avoid paying import tax on the 65 guitars he brought over from his native Australia, the comedian had to prove that he isn't selling them in the UK and not taking them out of the country. Despite explaining to customs what he does with the instruments, it took some highly strung negotiations before officials relented.
Martin Bell told his Book Festival audience that he "accepts so many invitations and solicitations that my wife said, if I was a woman, I'd be permanently pregnant". One of his roles is that of Unicef ambassador: "They have more famous people representing them than I," said Bell, "including Robbie Williams and David Beckham, but they can't send them to war zones. I consider myself as the expendable ambassador."
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
Final Top Gear reviewTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 Iain Duncan Smith's expenses credit card is suspended after he runs up £1,000 debt to taxpayer
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 French woman dies in freak bungee jumping accident
- 5 Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck to divorce and end their 10-year marriage
Top Gear: Former co-host James May to present new BBC2 car show
The Rolling Stones announce biggest ever touring rock exhibition with Saatchi Gallery
Glastonbury 2015: The best bits you missed from Lionel Richie and the Dalai Lama to The Libertines' secret set
Glastonbury 2015: The picture of a man crowd surfing in a wheelchair is brilliant, but it wasn't taken at Glastonbury
Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James' Twitter Q&A didn't exactly go as planned
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS