Saturday, April 08, 2006

Cheese Face

I think I mentioned that one of the literary agents I met at the party last week was Dutch. She said she called her agency after her father. Of course her English was perfect with hardly a trace of an accent. I said that she looked Dutch - blonde, very tall, and that broad, open type of face - and she laughed and agreed. 'Yes, in school they called me Cheese Face,' she said. 'That's what they call people like us - little blonde plaits and a white hat and we would be perfect on the front of the cheese packet.'

It is not a term I've heard before but this morning I've come across it again in Gavin Esler's report from Argentina; in Buenos Aires, apparently, 'Cara de Queso' is a term of abuse, but he does not say why.

Otherwise I see from the report that Buenos Aires has not changed much since I was there two years ago. It is a place of extremes, perhaps more than most capital cities - the very affluent living alongside the very poor. For instance I looked up from my breakfast through the huge sheets of glass in my luxury hotel one morning and saw a woman sheltering in the doorway of a church, a baby in her lap - she had obviously been there all night. Then returning from a tango show at 1 am my taxi was stopped in the middle of the city by traffic lights and children suddenly appeared in the front of the car juggling and then their friends tapping at the windows for money. During the day the city seemed prosperous, vibrant and cultured (although edgy especially at the airport - and I was warned to take particular care both here and at the bus stations) it was only at night the other side of Buenos Aires seemed to come to life.


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