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."
Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigourfilm
Bannatyne leaves Dragon's DenTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 2 Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber pass £170,000 on eBay
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’