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




 

Elizabeth Blew Did Not Meet My Legs
Thursday, April 03, 2014


Since I could remember my mother told me that I had a younger, sister, a redhead, who was born dead. I think I have been fascinated by redhead women since, perhaps to the point of obsession.

In my profession as a portrait photographer, now waning, I always had a dearth of opportunity to photograph women with red hair. My interest in such an endeavour came from my inability to ever record on film the true, almost translucent skin of such mysterious people. Only in the last few months, with the advent of my owning a Fuji X-E1 digital camera do I have the ability to finally achieve my goal. In a few weeks, if  Karen Gerbrecht, a violinist for the Vancouver Symphony writes her essay, I will put up her picture as the latest in my red shawl series.

Of late I have been reading lots (in my NY Times and in the National Geographic) of the almost-proven theory of how our universe inflated after the first 10 to the minus 32 milliseconds. For reasons that escape my puny intelligence this theory raises the possibility of several big bangs before our own universe’s Big Bang. If that is indeed the case we could be living in a multiverse. It is then not just science fiction that if there is a googolplex (a very large number) of possible universes there could be one where my sister had not died and I would then not have been an only child.

Today I checked my first Argentine passport and it is dated 1953. This confirms that I left Buenos Aires that year for Mexico City. I was 10.

I remember many things of my life in Argentina until 1953 but my memory of my cousin Elizabeth Blew (who must be two years younger than I) is that of a girl that I would have ignored. She wore a ribbon on one side of  her hair. I know this because I can see her in one of my group birthday party pictures in our garden in Melián in the Buenos Aires suburb of Coghlan. 


Elizabeth Blew is the girl in white almost in the centre. You can see her hair ribbon.
Considering some important events in my life in 1965 I am ashamed of my faulty memory. It would seem that Elizabeth Blew’s memory of me (or at least that of my mother’s) is very good.

She recently read this blog. Elizabeth and I are facebook friends. This is what she wrote:

Alex, I read your story and looked at the various photos. I think all the ladies in your family are very attractive and to me, there is a lot of Aunty Nena in Hilary, also in your looks. Don't know about the legs though, I have not had the pleasure of meeting them, but will take your word for it!

The first thing that hit me is her use of the word Aunty. It seems that word evokes for me an era of nuclear families, no divorces, afternoon teas, and Anglo/Argentine accents that were more British than the Queen of England.

The second thing is a bit more intimate and I will proceed gingerly and hope that I will not embarrass my first cousin, who does happen to be a blazing redhead!

In 1965, I have a hazy memory of some of the events I used to go to my first cousin/godmother Inesita O’Reilly Kuker for dinner once a week. I usually showed up in my Argentine Navy sailor uniform. The table at the Kukers was huge as it had to accommodate Inesita, her husband Dolfi, Inesita’s four children (she was a re-married widow) and Dolfi’s four daughters (he was a re-married widower). Since many of these siblings were teenagers they invited their respective boyfriends and girlfriends. There was another guest. And this was Elizabeth Blew, one of the most strikingly beautiful redheads I have ever met. Part of her charm was a voice that somehow (to me) resembled the voice of Deborah Kerr. Whenever I see a film with Deborah Kerr my heart palpitates. I have no idea if I ever spoke with Elizabeth at the table or if we had after dinner conversations.

What I do remember is that we somehow met (I was in my uniform) at one of those Buenos Aires bar/restaurants that are on a corner. I was sitting with her at window table. I was completely transfixed and tongue-tied. I was completely smitten. I don’t think that my thoughts may have descended into the realm of incest, but perhaps my memory has erased it. It must have been summer as the window was open. If Elizabeth had brought a parasol it would not have seemed out of place. She was my Estella and I her Pip.

The magic moment was broken, a snap it was, when a very tall young man appeared in an Argentine Army uniform (he was Norwegian but he looked like a perfect blonde member of the Wehrmacht). I was introduced to the man perhaps by the expression, “….is my fiancé.”

Elizabeth and I are now first-cousin-type of friends. I have seen her every time that I visit Buenos Aires. I once visited her at her apartment in Martinez, not far from the train station. But I usually see her for tea at Inesita’s who also invites our other first cousin, Dianne. Dianne pouts if you happen to pronounce that Dy-anne. It has to be Dee-anne. 


I am happy to report that Elizabeth’s hair is still red (she says she colours it) and that she still sounds to me like Deborah Kerr.

If you re-read her latest message to me I do believe that her mention of my legs is sort of a piropo (a much milder Spanish word for flirt or a come-on). I wonder what she thought when we were sitting at that café before her soldier jerk showed up. 

I have enclosed here a couple of pictures with my mother so that Elizabeth can have the pleasure of meeting my legs.

Not too long ago Lord Gilbey told me of a drink he called Primos Hermanos. I wrote about it here. The concoction is terrible but I would drink on now if Elizabeth were on the other side of the table with, of course, a parasol.



     

Previous Posts
VanDusen - That Botanical Jewel (A Zircon)

April Played A Fiddle

Emily Posts - A Violin In Baize Replaced

A Fond Embrace With Thirst

Miss Moneypenny's Fishnets & The Last Temptation o...

Metropolis - Moses - Jacobs - Charyn

I Am A Manichee

Joel Adria, 23, Floor Director - Helen Lawrence

Pascal's Wager, Prayer & Buster Crabbe

J. Robert Janes, Jerome Charyn & A Messerschmitt K...



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10/18/15 - 10/25/15

10/25/15 - 11/1/15

11/1/15 - 11/8/15

11/8/15 - 11/15/15

11/15/15 - 11/22/15

11/22/15 - 11/29/15

11/29/15 - 12/6/15

12/6/15 - 12/13/15

12/13/15 - 12/20/15

12/20/15 - 12/27/15

12/27/15 - 1/3/16

1/3/16 - 1/10/16

1/10/16 - 1/17/16

1/31/16 - 2/7/16

2/7/16 - 2/14/16

2/14/16 - 2/21/16

2/21/16 - 2/28/16

2/28/16 - 3/6/16

3/6/16 - 3/13/16

3/13/16 - 3/20/16

3/20/16 - 3/27/16

3/27/16 - 4/3/16

4/3/16 - 4/10/16

4/10/16 - 4/17/16

4/17/16 - 4/24/16

4/24/16 - 5/1/16

5/1/16 - 5/8/16

5/8/16 - 5/15/16

5/15/16 - 5/22/16

5/22/16 - 5/29/16

5/29/16 - 6/5/16

6/5/16 - 6/12/16

6/12/16 - 6/19/16

6/19/16 - 6/26/16

6/26/16 - 7/3/16

7/3/16 - 7/10/16

7/10/16 - 7/17/16

7/17/16 - 7/24/16

7/24/16 - 7/31/16

7/31/16 - 8/7/16

8/7/16 - 8/14/16

8/14/16 - 8/21/16

8/21/16 - 8/28/16

8/28/16 - 9/4/16

9/4/16 - 9/11/16

9/11/16 - 9/18/16

9/18/16 - 9/25/16

9/25/16 - 10/2/16

10/2/16 - 10/9/16

10/9/16 - 10/16/16

10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16

12/11/16 - 12/18/16

12/18/16 - 12/25/16

12/25/16 - 1/1/17

1/1/17 - 1/8/17

1/8/17 - 1/15/17

1/15/17 - 1/22/17