Jim Haynes newsletters

Newsletter No. 216
"When it rains, it pours..."
26 April 1992

My life has been full of joy. Very little pain. Rarely ill and few accidents. All my life, I've had an "open door" policy and have welcomed thousands of people into my home, a large percentage of these being total strangers. I have met people in the street and have invited them to stay as house guests. I have met people in trains, boats, planes, in cafes, restaurants, and have welcomed them. For the past 15 years, every Sunday evening when I am not traveling to Helsinki, Warsaw, Berlin, Edinburgh, London, Budapest, Cannes, and other delightful places, my atelier becomes a private salon and 50-60 people dine, drink, enjoy themselves. But most of you know this all ready; those of you who receive this newsletter have probably been house guests or have attended a Sunday night dinner. Usually 50% of the Sunday night crowd are people I have never met before. Yet many have become lifelong friends. People wonder in amazement and ask if I have ever been ripped-off or unpleasantly surprised. And yes, there have been a few unhappy moments, but on the whole it has been an enriching and positive experience. No regrets, I would do it all again, and I suppose that I will continue until my last breath. I love humans, men and women alike, no matter their age, profession, nationality. For me each person is a country, a fellow Earthling, and I hope to explore and to begin to know everyone out there on this crazy planet of ours.

This preamble is perhaps necessary in order to say that recently there have been three terrible events in my life, that some of you know some of this and that maybe by unloading this pain into this computer and onto this newsletter, the act of telling might make it a bit lighter. One of these days we can all sit in front of a roaring fire place somewhere and you can ask, "What ever happened to..." and I can bring you up to date and we can laugh about the madness. Because to cry is a waste of time and energy.

Where to begin? This tale could be an opus, thousands of pages in the telling. How much detail, what to include, what to leave out? But this is a newsletter and therefore let it be brief.

Years ago - with Garry Davis - we created World Passports and issued them to anyone who wished to define themselves as World Citizens. We saved a few people who were in difficult situations and one was a fellow called Will Reed. He had been eight months in a Bangkok prison for the crime of having no papers. He had renounced his American citizenship in Vietnam and had entered Thailand seeking asylum. By accident he heard about us, wrote for a passport and when he received it, traveled across Asia, the Middle East, and to my doorstep in Paris. He became a house guest, learned French, and in time became a French citizen and a businessman. From time to time I loaned him money so he could buy property, renovate it, resell it, and create a small profit. He always repaid me. About two years ago he asked to borrow 500,000 French francs. I did not have this amount, but when he assured me that he would repay me, I borrowed it from a bank with my atelier as security. Surprise, surprise, he has not been able to repay me. A building was purchased with another fellow; this fellow cheated Will. He lost his apartment, restaurant and estate agency and my 500,000. Too embarassed to go to my wonderful lawyer, Alain Miner. I knew that Will and Alain were having problems. Stupidly I allowed Will to suggest another lawyer, Emile the Rat (as I now call him), and as a result my problems began to escalate dramatically. It's too complicated to relate here, but E the R got me in deeper and deeper. Thanks to Emile the Rat my debts are reaching the 1,500,000 French francs level. Fortunately my dear friend in New York City, John Flattau, and Alain Miner are helping me to move in the direction of a debt free life. First there is a second atelier that I hope to sell soon, then there is the People to People Travel Guides, the possibility of a movie , and a few other mad but delightful projects on the horizon that all might help to get me out of this mess. Keep all your fingers crossed.

No.3: This past weekend I flew to Edinburgh thanks to BBC-TV Glasgow who are making a documentary about the Traverse Theatre, a theatre I launched (with a lot of help from lots of friends) some 30 odd years ago. Scott Griffith and Barbara Cruickshank again let me stay in their delightful mews nest. See Pedro Almodovar's "High Heels" in the Cameo cinema with Scott's beautiful actress daughter, Sara. Lunch with Astrid Silins and friends in her wonderful home next to Leith docks. Am interviewed by John Byrne and later dine with him and his lovely wife, Alice. It's a great weekend! Fly to Paris Monday afternoon.

Arrive home and am welcomed by Jack Moore and Roman Pec. Go up to my room, read my post, and make a few telephone calls. Jack comes upstairs, reports Roman left in a rage, saying he "was going to get Joe Francis". (Over the weekend Joe had several thousand francs disappear from his wallet. On asking if he knew anything about this, Roman suddenly becomes upset.) Dine in a Korean restaurant with Sally Belfrage and Eve Pommerance. Two dear friends. A wonderful evening! Jack departs for Blois at midnight with Gregoire where he is a consultant to a new museum that will open next year. (Museum of Magic and Illusion)

Tuesday. Up bright and early for coffee, the "Herald Tribune" and the morning post. Joe Francis joins me. Roman suddenly arrives, doesn't say a word to either of us, gathers his things, packs them in two small cases, and at the door announces that he will return in one hour and he expects 20,000 francs. I cannot believe my ears. This is the first time Roman has ever demanded money from me. Some months earlier I sent almost 25,000 francs to his family in Poland. He has thanked me for this and has said that one day he would repay me. For some time, Roman has been living in the front building with Anne-Marie and usually spends the day in my atelier studying English, drinking tea and coffee, eating, and hanging out. This morning he does not speak to Joe, instead aims his demands at me. Joe departs for his office and I am alone. I slowly prepare for my afternoon classes at the university. At 3pm, it is time for me to go and no sign of Roman. Ask Mia who is in the garden with her daughter, Zoe, to keep an eye on the atelier. She is with Mike Braun, another neighbor, and I believe the two of them can call the police if necessary.

After my first class, call home to see if all is OK. Seamas McSwiney answers and tells me that Jack called him from Blois and asked him to stay in the atelier because he suspected Roman might do something foolish. And it seems that this suspicion is well founded. Between 3pm and 4pm, (because Mia checked the place at 4pm), Roman had entered with a key, cut the three telephone lines in my room, my computer line, broken my TV remote control, emptied my desk drawers and removed all the cash and cheques. With great difficulty continue the second class. Somehow get through it. Home about 10pm and find Ghazi waiting for me. Seamas had to leave. Jack, Gregoire, and Joe still away. Foolishly perhaps, I decide to telephone Anne-Marie and yes, Roman is with her. She says Roman wants me to come to her apartment, but I request he come to me. He arrives in an agitated state, admits that he cut the wires, took the money, as well as a videocamera and a CD player. We talk calmly for two hours and at one point he puts the money and cheques on the kitchen table. Anne-Marie calls and he says he will be back with her in five minutes. I go to the door with him and continue to talk calmly with him. Suddenly he picks up the money and cheques from the table and says he will keep it until I pay him the 20,000 francs I owe him and that he expects it the following morning. He wants to return to Poland to his wife and child. I repeat that I will help him with a ticket and some money but that I do not have 20,000 francs to give him. He departs and I go upstairs to talk with Ghazi. Within a minute a large brick crashes thru the window and sails pass my head. This is followed by more bricks and stones which completely destroy four of the front windows. Then Roman smashes the front door, rushes into the atelier, upturning the kitchen table. With a large chair he smashes our aquarium, water pours out as well as the tropical fish. The water floods the kitchen floor and falls thru a trap door into the basement where the video collection is stored. Meanwhile Roman continues to throw things about the room, first our telefax machine, than another large pot which again misses me by a narrow margin. Thank god he has a poor aim. He makes so much noise that a number of neighbors rush to see what is happening and in retrospect this is probably what saves us and the rest of the atelier. He suddenly departs for Anne-Marie's apartment. The police arrive immediately and survey the damage. They go to Anne-Marie's, talk with him, but do not take him away. Ghazi, Mia, Mori, and I spend several hours trying to dry the damp videocassettes and to put the atelier back into some kind of order. Ghazi takes five or six large buckets of water out of the basement. I go to bed late but cannot sleep, fearing that this ex-boxer and truck-driver might suddenly appear and continue his rampage. During the night contemplate selling everything and moving to a small village in the south of Spain where I would pass the remainder of my days writing and reading and taking it easy. Alas I doubt that this will come to be. I am addicted to cities and people.

Wednesday. I go to the police at 9am and make a full report. Home at 9:45 and get a menacing telephone call from Roman. Quickly telephone the police. About 20 terrifying minutes later the police call and report they are holding him. A police woman comes and makes a complete inventory of the damaged atelier and asks if Ghazi and I can be at their station at 2pm for another interview session.

At 2pm we are separated. I give my version of what happened to the Inspector, Jean-Michel Laval. When this is completed, Roman is called and via a Polish interpreter, he hears my complaints and admits some guilt. He does make several outright lies. One: that I invited him to Paris; two, that I never sent 25,000 francs to his family; three, that I promised him a job; four, that I owed him 20,000 francs. I ask him what he did to earn this sum, and he says that he made coffee for me and my guests. Inspector Laval asks if I wish to press charges or not. I reply that I think Roman needs psychiatric treatment in Poland and not time in a French prison. Because Roman admits that he has been in France for fifteen months and has over-stayed by one year his right to be here, it is suggested that he will be deported after being held for 48 hours. I declare that I will not press charges against Roman if I can be assured that he will be deported and that he will never bother me or my atelier again. Roman apologizes for what he has done and promises to never bother me again. The money, cheques, videocamera, and CD-player are returned and Roman is taken away. Mr Laval says that he will telephone me if Roman is released.

I call Alain Miner and he calls Mr Laval. Ghazi goes to get four new telephones. Mia's brother, Jeb, and their friend, Phil, spend most of the day fixing the front windows. The new glass costs 1,000 francs. Call Susi Wyss and tell her what has happened and she reminds me that she warned me some months ago about Roman. Michael Kurcfeld telephones and he is in Paris and we agree to meet at my place and dine together this evening. Attempt to rest, but cannot. Jack and Gregoire arrive and survey the damage. Michael arrives, followed shortly afterwards by a film-maker he knows called Christian. The three of us dine next door in my local Italian restaurent. I tell Jack I'm there. Alison Benney is supposed to visit after 10pm; she wants to write something about the People to People series. The good dinner and excellent conversation helps me forget the horror. Michael is in Paris to interview Roman Polanski for a videodisk project. We talk about many mutual pals, but Kyle Roderick is our special connection. No sign of Alison. Home and try to sleep.

Thursday morning begins with a call from Roman Pec. At first I think he is calling from the police station, but then he tells me that they released him last night, that he went to Anne-Marie's, she would not let him inside, that he stayed in the Gare de Nord all night, that he wanted to apologize for what he did to me and my home and that he wanted to see me. He tells me that he has spent time in a psychiatric hospital in Poland. Tell him I cannot see him. I call Alain Miner but he is away from his office. Call Terry Rye who comes over and help. A letter from Vic Wilczur in Montreal contains a good review of the Poland book in the "Montreal Gazette". Nice to get some good news in the midst of this horror show. We call Mr Laval and he says that he passed Roman to another section and there is nothing he can do. When I ask if he is to be deported, he cannot give a reply, he does not know. The lads continue with the windows. Jack and Gregoire are busy with the videocassettes in the basement studio. Mia calls her papa in Oslo regarding my second atelier. Alison calls and says she called last night, that Jack said I was out. I tell her to come over now. Janice Knight calls and comes over. It's another crazy day. Lots of calls to Mr Laval, lots of calls from Roman. Each call more and more menacing. About 6:30 Roman appears outside the atelier and shouts abuse. He departs and I call Mr Laval. Mr Laval reports that Roman has arrived in his office, that Roman says he has not telephoned me nor has he been near my atelier today. Life is surreal. Laval says he cannot do anything unless I make a complaint. I am beginning to think that it is time. Laval suggests I wait, that Roman has promised to leave for Poland Friday afternoon. I call Alain Miner and he says that I am not to wait any longer. Call back Laval and the station is closed for the day. What to do?

Manage to travel the short distance to Susi's for dinner. Tell her and her 12 guests the horror movie I have been a part of these past 48 hours. The dinner is wonderful and everyone is very supportive. Do not want to sleep in my home this night so telephone Janice Knight. Angel that she is, she comes to Susi's to collect me and drive me to her home. Manage to get a good night's sleep.

Friday/Saturday/Sunday: All quiet. Several people have seen Roman and he has told them that he has no intention of leaving Paris. Do not know what to do or how this will end...

 
Jim Haynes
April 1992

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

 

 

 

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