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Monday, 26 August, 2002, 10:17 GMT 11:17 UK
Pinter 'on road to recovery'
Harold Pinter
Harold Pinter says he is getting better
Playwright Harold Pinter has spoken candidly about his battle with cancer at his first public appearance since being diagnosed.

Pinter, 71 - considered one of the UK's leading literary talents - told an audience at the Edinburgh Book Festival on Sunday how the tumour in his oesophagus had been removed and that he was on the road to recovery.

He also proved he had lost none of his zeal for writing as he read his new short work, a poem entitled Meeting, to his sell-out audience.

Pinter, who revealed in February that he was ill, has been at the forefront of UK theatre since the 1960s with works such as The Birthday Party and The Caretaker. He is also a respected stage director and occasional actor.

Describing how he had tackled his illness, Pinter praised his wife and doctor for their support.

He also said that, following his surgery, he was now having chemotherapy treatment.

Tony Blair
Pinter says he will continue attacking Tony Blair
He added: "The whole thing remains a kind of dark dream for me. "It was like being in a pretty impenetrable forest where you can't see the wood for the trees. I had no idea what was going on half the time."

The Meeting is a about the afterlife, despite Pinter being well known as an atheist. He admitted it was a "strange" piece for him to have written.

Outspoken

Pinter is also known for expressing his strong views, recently adding his voice to a call to BBC Radio 4 to open up its Thought for the Day spot to non-religious groups.

His strong political beliefs have never been a secret and he used his festival appearance to speak out against the UK government's support for US President George Bush's "war on terrorism", laying particular emphasis on the suggested attack on Iraq.

He also called the 11 September terror attacks on the US a "direct act of retaliation".

But the mood was not all doom and gloom. Pinter also joked about his love for cricket.

Referring to his criticism of Prime Minister Tony Blair's government, he said: "I can be a bit of a pain in the arse and, since coming out of my cancer, I must say I intend to be even more of a pain in the arse."

Coverage of the 2002 Edinburgh Festival from BBC News Online

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