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Life is one big party
Raymond Ross,
Edinburgh Evening News, Thursday, August 27, 1992

Raymond Ross meets Jim Haynes, an American in Paris and first chairman of the (Edinburgh) Traverse Theater.

IN THE autumn of 1956 a young man by the name of Jim Haynes from Haynesville, Louisiana, arrived at the US airbase at Kirknewton (outside Edinburgh, Scotland) to do his (US) military service.
Listen to the Russians by night and attending Edinburgh University by day, Jim Haynes was soon to become something of a fixture on the Edinburgh cultural scene - such as it was.
"Edinburgh was still in the dark ages and not very charming," says Jim. "There were few coffee houses or restaurants - few meeting places. But I liked the place."
Jim was soon to combine his love for the city with his disaffection at its lack of social graces by establishing the Paperback Bookshop in Charles Street in 1960 , which also served as a meeting place, gallery space and theater. Those early productions led to the establishment of the Traverse Theater.

"The first Traverse was based at 369 High Street in 1961," says Jim. "In 1963 it moved to the Lawnmarket which many now mistakenly regards as the first Traverse."

Jim was chairman of the first Traverse and although he now lives in Paris, where he teaches theater and media studies at the university, he has not missed a (Edinburgh Arts) Festival (every August) since 1957.
"To me the Festival is the Fringe (the unofficial events)," says Jim. "The Fringe is total anarchy in the best sense of the word. It's not just about performances and exhibitions. It's equally about meeting people."

Meeting people is a passion for this world traveller. It is said he has the largest address book in the world. Among friends and acquaintances he could include are, for example, The Beatles, Yoko Ono, Samuel Beckett, Mick Jagger, Xaviera Hollander, David and Judy Steel and, of course, Richard Demarco.
Maybe because he knows so many people around the world, Jim is now writing a series of travel books for Canongate Publishers in Edinburgh.
He has completed two: on Poland and Romania and is now working on others for Eastern European countries. Each book contains a thousand addresses of people to contact in each country, people who will invite you in or out to eat, to play tennis, to go to the theater with. People who will welcome the Traveller.

"We have a duty to ourselves to enjoy life and to contribute to the joy of others," says Jim.
"All my life I've been engaged in fighting against puritanism, against the deathly notion that life here is to be suffered and endured. The world needs good news to lift the spirits and help us believe in ourselves and each other.
"That's why the Festival is so important. The world needs parties! The Festival torch should be passed around the world and Edinburgh should be proud it is an example to the rest of the world."
"In what he calls his 'pro-life anti-puritan campaign" Jim has run up against quite a few opponents in his time, including Mary Whitehouse, Malcolm Muggeridge and that famous Edinburgh worthy, the late Councilor Kidd.

He describes his own loves in life as "women, followed closely by philosophy, food, a hot shower, ice-cream and travel."

Any hates ?
"I hate the word 'No.' I hate hearing it and saying it. I hate any manifestation of insensitivity. The most important thing to aspire to in life is to be sensitive to your own needs, to others and to all humanity."

Veteran of the Cannes Film Festival, the Frankfurt Bookfair and the Warsaw Jazz Jamboree, Jim also runs a restaurant in his Paris home every Sunday evening. "It's a private restaurant, it you like. I invite different chefs every week and the first 50 people to book can come. I'm in the Paris phone book. If you're in town just give me a ring and you can join the Party."

That's, of course, if he's not in Budapest, Warsaw, Frankfurt - or Edinburgh.

©Edinburgh Evening News, 1992



1992: Edinburgh Evening News, life is one big party

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