Buenos Aires Rowing ClubFriday, March 24, 2006
The Retiro train station in Buenos Aires could be anywhere in London if it weren't for the Argentine Spanish you would hear on the platforms waiting for the train to Coghlan where I lived as a boy. My uncle Freddy Hayward, who was born in Buenos Aires and worked for Glaxo, went back "home" to England every few years. He always wore his St. Andrew's Scots School blazer when I was invited for tea. I liked to go because Aunt Iris made the best deviled ham in the world and both Uncle Freddy and I would smoke our Bewlay pipes (filled with Galloway's Three Nuns) after tea. Recently when I went to Buenos Aires in November 2004 with Rosemary and our granddaughter Rebecca I told Rebecca that my first cousin and godmother, Inesita O'Reilly Kuker spoke like the Queen of England. Strictly speaking it is the other way around as Inesita is 83 and so is older. Some years before, her husband Dolfi Kuker (who introduced me to the unique Argentine white wine made from torrontés grapes) took me on a tour of patrician Buenos Aires which included lunch at the venerable Jockey Club. As a young man I had spent weekends in the Paraná River delta called El Tigre. Each ethnic community had its own rowing club and I would lust after the women rowers with my friend John Sullivan (he was a conscript in the Argentine Army while I was in the Argentine Navy) who had a small bungalow on one of the thousands of little islands of the delta. We would identify the red, white and green stripes on the tips of the oars as those from the Italian Rowing Club while the red, black and white were the Germans. But our favourites where the English ladies who rowed with white and blue striped oars of the Buenos Aires Rowing Club. Alas! When Dolfi Kuker took me to their club house all we found were these handsome young men.