A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Saturday evenings are full of pleasure. Hilary, Rebecca, Lauren sit across me at our dining room table and Rosemary to my left. I relish moments that one can never take for granted. They will soon pass and only a fond memory will remain perhaps with the little girls and oblivion for me. We retire to the den and sit by the fire. We scavange bits of wood from the nearby houses that are being built in our neighbourhood. I am careful to supervise Rebecca who insists on lighting and tending the fire. I often tell her (what my grandmother used to tell me), "Niños que juegan con fuego se mean en la cama." Which translates exactly to, "Children who play with fire will piss in their beds." This makes her smile and I can understand her attraction to fire. I have had it all my life.

I take them home around 8:30 and by the time I come back Rosemary is almost asleep. She often says, "I am only resting. I will get up in a while," but she never does and I am left in house that is as quiet as a house with two humans (one asleep) and two cats (both asleep) can be. I read but sometime around midnight I get to think while being distracted by the detritus that one can accumulate in 65 years. There are pictures on the wall, Mexican plates that belonged to my mother, Mexican masks of a collection that I only managed to begin, but invariably I look upon the wall to that facón or gaucho knife given to me by my Argentine navy colleagues when we made our fairwells and parted ways. Perhaps I looked at it since we had watched five minutes of Rebel Without a Cause which featured a knife fight. Knives always make me think of the poems of Jorge Luís Borges. I go to my book shelf with books in Spanish and pick up Jorge Luís Borges Obra Poética 1923-1977 and go to the poems (there are many) that feature knife fights.

Last night I went a bit further and consulted one of my photo files which I know feature my facón. The file, an extremely thick one, is called Linda Lorenzo. I photographed this cromo (a word we use in Spanish to describe a beautiful woman where adjectives fail), in a joint project with Nora Patrich and Juan Manuel Sanchez (two Argentine artists). We photographed, sketched and painted Lorenzo (also Argentine) and imposed (as if she were a blank canvas) on her our childhood and later fantasies related to our homeland of Buenos Aires, Argentina, its pampas, the tango and yes, Borges and his knives. But Borges was far away from my thoughts when I photographed Lorenzo with my facón and one of Nora Patrich's black ponchos.

As a child of 7 or 8 I listened to the radio. Sometimes they were live broadcasts of Juan Manuel Fangio racing in rural road races. But more often than not I would listen to Tarzán, El Rey de La Jungla or El Poncho Negro. El Poncho Negro was an Argentine super hero part Zorro and the Lone Ranger. I can still remember the horse galloping (no Rossini's Overture to William Tell here) and the voice that would slowly say "El Poncho Negro."

So with poncho and facón (and a rastra which is a gaucho belt) we dressed up Lorenzo. I took many photographs and Sanchez and Patrich sketched and sketched. Here are some of my favourites (there are others). These will not unduly affect the eyes and minds of young persons who might take a peek here. And if you do want to ask, during the hot Argentine summmer, Poncho Negro did remove his poncho...


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