Falling in love again with Marlene

WE THOUGHT our cri de coeur last week for a bit more razzmatazz at the Edinburgh Festival had been answered yesterday when we received the message: "Marlene Dietrich returns to Edinburgh."

But, remembering Marlene had passed away some time ago, we thought at first it might be her ashes. However, it was Patricia Hartshorne telling us she is returning to the Fringe with a new show about Dietrich, researched and co-written with Michael Elphick.

"A woman ahead of her time," says Hartshorne. "Very beautiful - and she broke all the rules. Bisexual, cross-dressing, she defied Hitler. Marlene did it all, and more."

Indeed she did, taking Edinburgh by storm in 1964 at the Festival, and she was back for more the next year.

"I'll return every year if they want me," she said, but unfortunately, they didn't.

It sounds as if it might have been Auld Reekie's "Ye'll have had yer tea" mentality at work again, as in 1965 she ordered all 20,000 copies of the Lyceum programme to be destroyed because she disliked her cover photograph.

Our man Jim Haynes, legendary co-founder of the Traverse, not only recalls her visit but met her when she was here. Then again, Jim's met just about everyone. "I attended Ms Dietrich's Festival concert in the Lyceum," he told us, "and then boldly went to her dressing room after the concert, introduced myself and congratulated her. Just the two of us talked for 30 minutes."

But we have always had our suspicions it might have been a bit more than a chat, especially if you knew Jim like we know Jim and if what we've read about Dietrich was true.

Years later, when her diaries were published, there was an entry for her 1965 Edinburgh Festival visit which bore the cryptic reference: "Had an affair with an elderly Jewish gentleman: PD."

Many more celebrated liaisons were noted in the diaries, but "PD" was never identified. That was until The Scotsman spilled the beans shortly after Peter Diamand, the quiet, slightly-built, Festival director of that time, passed away. But Peter had been a perfect gentleman and never mentioned anything about it.

But such perks of the job may encourage not just Brian McMaster but also Fringe director Paul Gudgin or Film Fest director Shane Danielsen to push the boat out for A-list stars, albeit hardly legendary ones, like Nicole Kidman.

Even if they didn't quite make it into the star's diary, at least we'd give them a mention.

Elton is good enough to eat

IT HAS oft been said of certain celebrities that if they were chocolate, they'd eat themselves.

It would be certainly true of Sir Elton John not so much because he is particularly vain by celebrity standards anyway, but because he is notorious for liking his tucker.

Indeed, it should be noted that Elton is pretty down to earth by megastar standards, but Cadbury has whipped up this confection of him to put on display at Madame Tussaud's. Chocolate, wax, what's the difference. Indeed, a chocolatier of our acquaintance informs us most British bars taste like wax.

Elton's partner, David Furnish, unveiled the 126kg statue declaring that he - that's Elton - looked good enough to eat. There is no accounting for taste but even Elton might baulk at consuming all 661,500 calories.

Cadbury chose Elton as it seems one old queen has replaced another, the late Queen Mum, as the nation's favourite celebrity to beat off competition from Will Young, Paula Radcliffe and David Beckham. Meanwhile, we left Furnish licking his lips. "What could be better than to take the person you love and dip them in chocolate." Mmm.

Fare degree of patter

LET the train take the strain but the patter on the bus is better. Our woman on the Citylink coach from Edinburgh to Glasgow was most impressed by the cabaret.

The driver entertained passengers, including some Ulster tourists, who loved the repartee. "There's no sectarianism on ma bus," he told them, "because there are only two football teams in Scotland worth caring about, Celtic and Celtic Reserves. Anyone who doesnae agree can get off." And there was some advice for Rangers manager Alex McLeish. "He better start driving his car up and down past these speed cameras because it is the only points he is getting anytime soon."

Even more enlightening was his speculation about the future of Citylink itself. "Sure, National Express will take them over to take on Stagecoach but it willnae work. Ma firm has a new fleet of coaches that Citylink drivers have been using and they've already had more hits than the Beatles."

• Spray-on mud is de rigueur for G8. City types use it on the 4x4 to pretend they've been roughing it up-country. Now the kiddiewinks can borrow dad's can to kid on they've been roughing it at the Live8 campsite.

Jacko walks and Jay talks

DID we not tell you Michael Jackson would moonwalk? But at least the handcuffs are off Jay Leno who has finally been able to let loose about Michael's legal predicament on his chat show as he was somewhat curtailed since he had been called as a witness.

"Good news for Michael Jackson: not guilty on all ten counts," Jay said. "The bad news, he's going to Disneyland.

"Michael is so happy with the verdict when he got back to Neverland Ranch he gave all the cleaning monkeys the rest of the day off."

But we wonder how celebrity felon Martha Stewart must feel?

OJ goes free, Robert Blake walks, Michael Jackson is not guilty and yet she ended up in prison because of one phone call to her broker.

Meanwhile, the writer of Fringe show Martha loves Michael, the debut play by Sally Abbott who has worked on Doctors, Coronation Street and (briefly) on Shameless, tells us there are no changes necessary.

Bald is beautiful

Struth, our antipodean colleagues are stunned to hear Shane Warne is getting a hair transplant. Worried his pate is starting to resemble a threadbare wicket, the legspinner is undergoing replacement treatment to regenerate his peroxided locks.

It may be all right for effete English cricketers like Graham Gooch, but the macho world of cricket in Oz is not impressed. Tinting his locks hardly passed muster as it was the sort of thing best left to Sheilas. Indeed, the guys at silly mid-on reckon creeping baldness is a sign of virility.