Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Crying for Argentina

The other day a strange girl stopped me at my local station and said "I love your shoes." I was on the way to the South Bank in the most live-in-able of my tango-style heels from Buenos Aires. The young woman turned out to be a dance teacher.

Any of you who remember our pathetic attempts at learning the tango a couple of years ago will probably have surmised that after the big trip to South America in January 06, we admitted defeat (de feet were not OK). Wow, do I miss it. The CD Canciones Argentinas had me hankering after the place, the atmosphere, the music, that peculiar brand of bone-twisting nostalgia.

Buenos Aires is not the most beautiful city I've ever visited, the food was not the finest in the world, I can't speak the language and I can't dance the dance. The people were extremely charming (especially a certain leather jacket salesman, who was Cuban), yet there was a slight undercurrent of unspecified threat, and as for the driving, you take your life in your hands when you step into a taxi. But what can I do? It's got under my skin. I miss it. I want to go back.

Problem - my editor tells me that South America is 'the kiss of death' in fiction. I don't know why. Perhaps Isabelle Allende has a monopoly, or perhaps it's just that people can't jump on Easyjet and check out the locations for themselves in a cheap weekend. I doubt that my next book is going to be tango-centric, much as I would love it to be. So there's only one thing for it...

...hunting down Astor Piazzolla on Youtube from the safety of my London study, where coincidentally I've spent the morning chewing over concepts concerning solitude, loneliness and the peculiar sonic qualities of the violin that make it so perfect as a vehicle for such emotions. So here is Piazzolla, with fiddler friend, in 'Soledad'.