Jim Haynes newsletters

Newsletter No. 65
Edinburgh Evening News
Thursday, February 23, 1984

Remember Jim Haynes?


`I've mellowed.
I'm on the wagon -No drinking, no smoking, no cocaine, no heroin, no cannabis,no snuff.
I just sit in front of a coal fire with a book'


Haynes, 50, has been lecturing at Paris University these past 15 years. One day a week. But it's a living, he's still writing and he'll tell you he's at peace. With himself and the world.
"All university lecturers tend to be baby-sitters. I guess I'm doing a little bit of that. I'm supposed to be lecturing on media studies. And I lecture on sexual politics. I was invited to lecture for one year at the university. I'm still there, if that means anything."
You might say Haynes is in his element. He's living in a spacious flat in Montparnasse. Henry Miller lived just up the road. Francoise Sagan used to be a neighbour. Francoise Hardy lives down the street. And Juliette Greco lives round the corner. They use the same grocer.
He's in Paris for life. "I've no desire to live anywhere else. I always think the lyric of a famous First World War long is applicable to the city and certainly to me. It goes 'How can you keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree?' I like and need city environments… cities that haven't been completely destroyed by the automobile, like Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Paris, although it's got plenty cars."
He's at peace all right, but he hasn't managed never to worry. He worries for Edinburgh. "In the late sixties, the university in their wisdom demolished the whole block where I had my paperback shop… the houses, the shoe repairers, etc. It's now a car park.
"People stop me in the street and tell me it's a crime what the University did. I'm almost stopped more for that than for the Traverse.
"Just across the road from this very restaurant where we are in Rose Street there was this mad Greek restaurant and I had a flat next door, rented from Mike Shea, who's now the Queen's Press Secretary. I had dinner in the Beehive last night when I was delighted to hear the Grassmarket is still being refurbished. Some institutions go on and on in this town. Henderson's, for instance. I knew Ma Henderson. I ate there a lot."
He worries for the Traverse too.
"It's 21 years old this year, but I'm genuinely worried about it, like so many other people. It needs dynamic energy pumped into it, more than money. I wish they had a bit more sense of purpose, rather than rest on their laurels. It's got an incredible history.

Jim Haynes, photograph R.R.

"But last Festival I went into the downstairs bar and nobody was there. I couldn't believe it. We began with no capital and our rent to the dear man who owned the building was one shilling a year. I thought that was fair. I'm told the Traverse now gets £210,000 a year from the Arts Council."


Haynes was married once, to a Swede he met in Edinburgh. Never again.
"I've no plans to embark on farther adventures in matrimony. It's a good way to kill a good relationship. We co-produced a son, Jasper, who's 22. He came up with me to the Festival lest year and wanted to stay here.
"I've mellowed, I hope. I'm on the wagon apart from the occasional glass of wine. No drinking. No smoking. No cocaine. No heroin. No cannabis. No snuff. I just like to sit in front of a coal fire with a good book."
He laughed. "I must say I have a weakness for the ladies. I'm not interested in marriage or possessions and I'm not jealous, so I don't cause problems. I never fall out of love and I'm constantly falling in love, so I'm in love with at least 5000 women."
His racy autobiog has a cast of thousands, by the way. "This book is for ..." it starts and the first 19 pages are crammed with some 3000 names. His major regret here is that the list doesn't include that Air Force corporal. "I never did remember his name and I've no way of contacting him."
Haynes on his mellow Montparnasse nights by the fire is writing another book. "It's an attempt to demystify the East-West conflict and I'm calling it 'Workers of the World Unite and Stop Working.'
"No, it isn't heavy and, yes, it's an ironical title. As we say in America, I've thrown a curved ball."



©Edinburgh Evening News, Thursday, February 23, 1984




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