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August 2008


Est. 1976

THE AMERICAN • AUGUST 2008 • Issue 664





Win tickets to see

GLORIA ESTEFAN What expats really think



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The American ®

Issue 664 – August 2008 Published by Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Old Byre House, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK Editor: Michael Burland 01747 830328 Please contact us with your news or article ideas Advertising & Promotions: Sabrina Sully, Commercial Director Nadia Abd Rabbo, Ad Manager 01747 830520 Subscriptions enquiries: Phone 01747 830328, email Correspondents: Virginia Schultz, Wining & Dining Correspondent Mary Bailey, Social Correspondent Cece Mills, Arts Correspondent Richard Gale, Sports Editor Sean Chaplin, Sports Columnist

Welcome We’ve had a lot of feedback about The American’s new look from readers regular and new, advertisers and American social groups. I was absolutely flabbergasted (as they say round here) that it was 100% positive. Thanks to everyone for your comments. Of course it’s great to get compliments, but we would also like to hear about anything you don’t like about it, or would like us to change, or would like to read that we don’t currently have. Positive criticism only please, and keep it clean! And if you like it, please subscribe so we can send The American to you every month – see page 15. I would like to introduce you to some of our contributors, that band of writers who entertain and inform you every month. Jo Cole works in the heart of the Westminster machine as a political analyst. With no party axe to grind in her articles she can guide you through the British political world, particularly as it relates to the U.S.A. This month she has a new acronym for you to learn, PKL. That’s Post Ken London! Riki Evans Johnson is our expatriate expat, a New Yorker who took joint British citizenship and is now moving to Spain. She tells you what it’s like to uproot your life – a second time – in the latest instalment of her Real Life Move To The Sun. Bob Pickens recalls a missile crisis that brought the Soviet Empire and the West to the verge of nuclear disaster. Cuba? No, worse than that! Find out more in Bob’s column, As I Was Saying… Enjoy your magazine.

Riki Evans, Columnist Nadia Abd Rabbo, Music Correspondent ©2008 Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Printed by The Westdale Press Ltd 70 Portmanmoor Road, Industrial Estate, East Moors, Cardiff CF24 5HB Cover image: Tatton Park Hallé Fireworks and Light Spectacular. Inset: Julia Love of ACS visits Stonehenge.

Michael Burland, Editor

Don’t forget to check out The American online at The entire contents of The American and are protected by copyright and no part of it may be reproduced without written permission of the publishers. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information in The American is accurate, the editor and publishers cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. The views and comments of contributors are not necessarily those of the publishers.


The American


In This Issue... The American • Issue 664 • August 2008


one of our 13 Connect: August festival picks

News A new London Mayor, a Presidential visit and new Embassy security arrangements – it’ s been a busy month.

10 Diary Dates August is a great time for family days out in Britain. Here’s the pick of the crop. 13 Music How festivals took over the summer music scene . 16 Gloria Estefan See the Queen of Latin Pop courtesy of The American. 18 As I Was Saying... Did the world face nuclear annihilation just a generation ago?

Balloon Fest 10 Bristol’s in our Diary Dates

all the classics at 50 NotGoodwood were Brits

20 What Expats Think About The UK Three American ladies have advice for new arrivals. 22 Eleven Boots of Ightham Mote How to keep witches away from your door, 14th Century style. 24 Real Life Move To The Sun Riki takes a final drive through England on her way to the sun.



The American

28 Coffee Break Quick quiz, funny facts and our very own cartoon, The Johnsons. 30 Wining & Dining Virginia eats out in the grandest style. 36 Our Friends in the East East Anglia, that is – the American Air Museum at RAF Duxford. 37 Eric Baker Interview Viagogo boss on why he came to England. 38 Christie’s Art Courses The famous auctioneers also educate.

40 man who faced down the 18 Theevil empire, but at what risk?

40 Cece’s Choice Monsters vie with manga in our arts round up.

45 Strictly Gershwin

45 Reviews Prince Caspian game, Kurt Vonnegut reprint, a Little Marvel and this lady... 48 Interview with Marcia Preston How she came to write her cold war novel. 49 Politics More Mayors – Ken Livingstone faces life after office while Boris starts work. 50 Drive Time Goodwood Festival and a Land Rover review – so British, dontcha know.

54 30

54 Sports Interview with Saints owner Rita Benson LeBlanc and Draft reviews for the NBA and NHL. 60 Organizations Useful American organizations. 64 Tail End Dog fights are not funny says Rebel. 3

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News New Director for ISA


he Institute for the Study of the Americas, part of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study, has a new Director from September 1, 2008. Professor Maxine Molyneux replaces Professor James Dunkerley, who leaves the Institute after ten years in the role. Professor Molyneux is currently Professor of Sociology at ISA, where she directs the Master’s Programme in Globalisation and Latin American Development. She taught Development and Latin American Studies at the University of Essex before moving to Birkbeck College, London. She joined the Institute of Latin American Studies in 1994 with the establishment of the School of Advanced Study and has published books on Women’s Movements and Gender in international politics and The Ethiopian Revolution. Professor Molyneux says ‘With the merger of two former Institutes of the School, ISA has redrawn the map of studies of the Americas in the UK. Its aim, to combine regional expertise on North and South America and the Caribbean, with a comparative, transnational perspective on the Americas as a whole, offers a distinctive and innovative approach to research and teaching, as well as highlighting the historical and contemporary links between the two hemispheres. ISA will seek to maintain and strengthen both of these elements over coming years’.


Boris, London’s New Mayor L ondon has two Mayors, writes Mary Bailey. The best known title is Lord Mayor of London, an ancient appointment. The first recorded Mayor was Henry FitzAilwyn in 1189. Since then, over 700 men and one woman have held the position including Dick Whittington of cat fame. The Lord Mayor is chosen each year by his fellow Aldermen, the election followed by the famous Lord Mayor’s Show. He works hard and travels a great deal promoting the city of London through charity, business and other events, but is totally apolitical. But many people do not know that the Lord Mayor governs only the ‘square mile’, the financial district. A few years ago the citizens of Greater London, the area defined by London post codes, decided they wanted an elected Mayor. This appointment is political, with parties putting forward

nominees for Mayor and members of the London Assembly. In May this year Boris Johnson, a Conservative, was elected. Boris (always known by his first name) is clever, he read classics at Balliol College Oxford and has held various jobs in media. You may recognise him from TV, he is a largish man with a mop of flaxen hair and a strong baritone voice. He has cultivated a slightly eccentric manner, but has that elusive quality called charm. At a recent press conference I attended he was accompanied by Sir Ian Blair of the Metropolitan Police and their concern was youth knife crime. The Mayor appealed to the young never to carry knives and never to intervene in a misdemeanor. London, he said was a great and basically safe city but this mad craze needed us all to help if it were to be stopped. Youth must never regard gangs as a family and we must all be watchful and report bad actions. At the conclusion of this discussion I had the opportunity to ask Boris what he felt about his exchange of views with the Mayor of New York. He replied that he had already met Mayor Bloomberg and would hopefully do so again in the future for the good of both our cities. We will report on these discussions in due course.

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Eight Academic Medals for Southbank at First Attempt

S Director of Transportation for the City of Westminster Martin Low (L) and Councillor Robert Davis (R) unveil the plaque commemorating the construction work. PHOTO BY RICHARD LEWIS

New Security at Embassy T

he new perimeter security arrangements have been completed at the United States Embassy in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, central London. Finally – and much to the relief of Embassy staff, visitors and local residents and workers - the fencing has been removed after an 18-month construction period. On June 26 the work, which cost $15 million dollars, was celebrated as Ambassador Tuttle, along with representatives from law enforcement and the neighborhood, cut ribbons and unveiled a plaque. Richard LeBaron, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy, introduced the proceedings, saying that having arrived in August 2007 he had not seen the beginning or the middle of the project but was happy to be at its end, and that the new facilities enhance the Embassy and the Square. The project includes two new visitor-access pavilions, designed to speed up access to the Embassy while adding extra security, new landscaping and a larger pedestrian area. The northern pavilion is for individuals seeking visas, while the southern pavilion is for official visitors to the Embassy and American citizens seeking consular services. Ambassador Tuttle said that it was a happy day for the Embassy and noted, “The U.S. Embassy has a long history on Grosvenor Square, and we place great importance on being a good neighbor. The redesign we celebrate today has greatly enhanced the security of the Embassy, and of the neighborhood, while vastly improving the appearance of this stately corner of Mayfair.” He added, “The Embassy will now be better able to serve the public by providing a more streamlined, and thus quicker, access to the building. These two pavilions will allow visa applicants – and others, British and American residents and citizens – to enter the Embassy without the current long waits, often in inclement weather.” Mr Tuttle expressed his thanks to UK law enforcement, local officials, and the Embassy’s neighbors for their patient support and understanding as the project progressed. Unveiling the plaque, he raised a laugh as he said it was the first time his name had been immortalised in this way, so he may never leave London. As the U.S.A. and Britain are two great democracies, the multiple ribbons were cut by all the dignitaries together.

outhbank International School in Westminster, London, has won a team Bronze in the United States Academic Decathlon, the first year the event has been open to American International Schools abroad. The event is the premier academic competition in the United States, providing students of all learning levels the opportunity to excel academically through team competition. American students from Southbank’s Westminster campus competed online in April and May. “Many congratulations to all the students who took part, their teachers and Lisa Saleh. This really is an outstanding achievement for Southbank,” commented Westminster Principal Terry Hedger.

Individual results include Gold

Individual medals won by Southbank studios were: Bronze – Business and economics to Glen Tokola (Varsity); Essay creative writing to Jack O’Connor (Scholastic). Silver – Science to Glen Tokola (Varsity) and Olivia Tokola (Honors); Essay creative writing to Glen Tokola (Varsity) and Devika Joshi (pictured, Scholastic); Language and Literature to Brian Fitzpatrick (Honors). Gold – Mathematics to Ariel Sagalovsky (Honors). Ariel achieved the highest score at the event; Brian, Jack and Devika were the first 9th Graders to medal at the national level and Brian is the youngest competitor to win at Honors level.

The American Museum in Britain Visit the American Museum fand learn about the early pioneers in the American Heritage Exhibition. Wonder at the American Quilts and join our Quilting Bees. Run around the grounds. Enjoy an American Cookie!

THIS MONTH ‘Diving to the Titanic’ Lecture by Commodore Ronald Warwick OBE. August 1, 2pm Sunday @ Claverton: Kevin Brown A leading light in the world of slide guitar and roots music. Mojo Magazine calls him, ‘a living legend – white soul blues at its very best.’ (Sundays @ Claverton concerts are included with grounds admission) August 3, 2pm Kids Stuff: Mini-Beast Mobiles Kids Activities drop-in activities, suitable for children aged 5 and up, last about ½ hour, children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. No reservation required, but space is limited and on a first come, first served basis. Included with grounds admission. August 7, 1-4pm Kids Stuff: Space Creatures August 14, 1-4pm French and Indian War Skirmish August 16–17, 1 & 3.30pm Kids Stuff: Folk Art Picture August 21, 1-4pm Kids Stuff: Tiny Tepees August 28, 1-4pm

Open 12.00 - 5.00pm Closed Mondays except August & Bank Holidays Claverton Manor near Bath. 01225 460503


Hillingdon graduates celebrate with traditional hat toss

Twins and Triplets Celebrate Graduation from ACS Final year students at the three ACS International Schools held graduation ceremonies last month. All recently completed their High School Diplomas and most also took the International Baccalaureate Diploma or Advanced Placement (a prestigious American high school programme). They are now looking forward to going to universities around the world including UCL, Cambridge, Warwick, Cardiff and St. Andrews in the UK, Harvard, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania in the U.S. and the University of British Columbia, the University of Calgary and Queens University in Canada. The graduating students enjoyed inspiring talks from Atlantic rower Chris Martin (at ACS Egham), Paralympic tennis player Mark Eccleston (Hillingdon) and Nikesh Arora, Vice President of Google in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (Cobham) who addressed students on how facing and overcoming challenges are key requirements for success in any environment. This year’s graduates at Cobham included four sets of twins and one set of triplets. Even more surprisingly,

this year group also included two more sets of twins who have since left. If they had still been at ACS Cobham there would have been seven sets of graduating twins or triplets.

From front row, left to right: Patrick, Jacqueline and David Lynch; Meghan and Siobhan Crothers; Tom and Brendan James; Hannah and Lauren Peterson; Joe and Rosie Dimont

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Antony Gormley’s One and Other will be in Trafalgar Square © JAMES O JENKINS

Trafalgar Fourth Plinth T PHOTO BY RICHARD LEWIS

President Bush Visits UK


resident Bush visited mainland Europe and the United Kingdom in June (just too late for The American’s deadline last issue). The President discussed foreign policy initiatives with European leaders Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, including further efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining or developing nuclear weapons. He then flew to London to visit former Prime Minister Tony Blair for a discussion on the Middle East situation, and Prime Minster Brown. The President met Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle and enjoyed a state banquet. Mr Bush also met with Peter Robinson, First Minister and Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, at Stormont Castle, Belfast.


he next two artworks have been selected to join the ever-changing Fourth Plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square. Antony Gormley, famous for the Angel of the North sculpture and Another Place, the enigmatic statues set on lonely beaches, will show One and Other, in which the Fourth Plinth will be occupied for 100 consecutive days, 24 hours a day, by members of the public who have volunteered to stand on it for an hour at a time. Yinka Shonibare’s proposal Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle is a scale replica of Admiral Lord Nelson’s ship, HMS Victory, in a giant glass bottle. Nelson, of course, is himself at the top of his Column in the Square. The ship will have sails made of patterned textiles commonly associated with Africa and bought from Brixton market in London. Shonibare says his piece will reflect the story of multiculturalism in London today: ‘For me it’s a celebration of London’s immense ethnic wealth, giving expression to and honouring the many cultures and ethnicities that are still breathing precious wind into the sails of the UK.’

Armed Forces Voters Week T he Federal Voting Assistance Program has declared August 31-September 7 to be Armed Forces Voters Week, 2008. The 2008 General Election date, November 4, is quickly approaching, so you may well be approached by a Voting Assistance Officer anxious to help you register as an absentee voter with your Local Election Office so you can receive your absentee ballot in time. Different states have differing requirements. Many now allow for various types of electronic transmission of election materials, so there is little excuse for not voting. Details regarding registration, ballot request

forms and deadlines are online at the FVAP’s website, Be particularly sure to notify any changes in your mailing address (where you want your ballot mailed). This is often forgotten as uniformed services members are highly mobile. You should not mail your Federal Post Card Applications or Federal Write-in Absentee Ballots to the FVAP. Check for the correct mailing addresses for your county, city, or municipality of residence in your state in the Voting Assistance Guide or on the website. Remember, although you may live abroad, U.S. elections still affect you.

News from your Embassy Ambassador’s July 4th Ambassador and Mrs. Tuttle hosted the annual Independence Day celebration at their residence, Winfield House. In an evening of mixed weather, a thunderous downpour (the editor thanks Mrs Tuttle for toweling him down as he arrived!) was followed by beautiful sunshine which better suited the celebrations. The guests, Americans from all walks of life and their British friends and colleagues, enjoyed a relaxed and interesting evening and were entertained by blues rocker David Migden and the sensational soprano Sarah Brightman, pictured above with the Ambassador. “American Visions“ Embassy Photo Contest Are you visiting the United States in 2008? The Embassy is looking for the best photos that make a statement about the people, values, society, culture, history or the geographic or ethnic diversity of the U.S. The contest is open to those who have received a U.S. visa from the Embassy in London or Consulate General in Belfast and have visited the U.S. during the contest period. It runs until September 30. Submit up to three photos taken by you in the U.S. during the contest period. Include a title and short description (50 words or less) for each saying what it represents for you about the U.S. or the American people. Send them (max 1 MB file size) with description(s), date and location of photo(s) and contact

information to: CultureLondon@state. gov with “American Visions entry” in subject line. Outstanding 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes will be sponsored by VisitUSA UK member companies and the winning photos will also be published in Essentially America magazine. Interning, studying, performing, marrying or working in the UK – be sure you have the necessary entry clearance/visa. While a visa is not required for tourist or business visits to the UK of six months or less, those planning to visit the UK for any other purpose should consult the website of the British Embassy in the United States,, for current visa requirements. Those who are required to obtain a visa and fail to do so are likely to be denied entry, and returned to their port of origin. Purposes of travel to the UK that generally require a visa or work permit are: internships (paid or unpaid, regardless of length); performances (e.g. musical, theatrical); marriage; au pair/household help (U.S. citizens are not eligible for the UK au pair visa category); and study. (Students coming for less than six months who do not intend to work may be given leave to enter as a ‘Student Visitor’ at the port of entry if studying at an institution included on the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills’ register. Consult with your educational institution prior to traveling to the UK to confirm eligibility.)


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AMERICAN EMBASSY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM GROSVENOR SQUARE, LONDON W1A 1AE Switchboard +44 (0)20 7499 9000 Visa Information (£1.20/min): 09042 450100 Mon-Fri 8.00am – 8.00pm, Sat 10.00am – 4.00pm Passport Unit (American Citizen Services): +44 (0)20 7894 0563 24hr assistance for genuine emergencies: +44 (0)20 7499 9000 Hours: American Citizen Services, daily 8.30-12.00; then Monday/ Wednesday/Friday 2-4pm Ambassador: Robert Holmes Tuttle Deputy Chief of Mission: Richard LeBaron Chief, American Citizen Services: André Goodfriend Minister Counselor for Management: Rich Jaworski Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs/Consul General: John P. Caulfield Minister for Economic Affairs: Mark Tokola Minister Counselor for Public Affairs: Barrie Walkley Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs: Dorothy L. Lutter Minister Counselor for Political Affairs: Maura Connelly Minister Counselor for Agricultural Affairs: Rodrick McSherry Defense Attache: Rear Admiral Ronald H. Henderson, USN Press Attache: Beth Poisson Consul General, Belfast, N.I.: Susan Elliott (028 9038 6100) Consul General, Edinburgh: Lisa Vickers (0131 556 8315) Welsh Affairs Officer, Cardiff: William Muntean (029 2078 6633)


The American

Diary Dates

Your Guide To The Month Ahead

Get your event listed in The American – call the editor on +44 (0)1747 830520, or email details to Capturing Film History in-the-making Getty Images Gallery 46 Eastcastle Street London W1W 8DX Iconic, behind-the-scenes photographs of some of the world’s greatest stars filming at Pinewood, Shepperton and Teddington Studios over the past 50 years, including Stanley Kubrick and Sean Connery. After London, the exhibition will tour to New York in September and Los Angeles in November. +44 (0)20 7291 5380 July 04, 2008 to August 02, 2008

Tour the Palace of Westminster Houses of Parliament, London The UK Parliament, the Palace of Westminster, was the main residence of the kings of England from the C11th until a fire in 1512. During Summer Recess the Palace offers guided tours, taking in the House of Lords, the House of Commons and State Rooms. There are nearly 1,200 rooms, 100 staircases and well over two miles of passages. July 28, 2008 to September 27, 2008

Bristol Balloon Fiesta Ashton Court, Bristol Britain’s biggest balloon festival, includes The Night Glow evenings of musical performances – set to rock and classical music, the balloons are illuminated in a choreographed aerial performance. August 07, 2008 to August 10, 2008


RNAS Air Day Helston, Cornwall Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose is home to almost 100 aircraft including Merlin helicopters, Sea Kings and Hawk Jets. See awesome flying displays, meet the heroic Aircrew who fly Britain’s helicopters around the world, get up close to state-of-the art aircraft and learn all about life in the Royal Navy. (01209) 614000 July 30, 2008 Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace Buckingham Palace, London While the Queen visits Scotland each summer, it is possible to buy a ticket to see the State Rooms at her London residence. Page555.asp July 31, 2008 to September 29, 2008 Elana Durán Mexico Of My Heart Universal Arts Theatre, George Street, Edinburgh As part of the Edinburgh International Festival, Anthony Field Associates and London Artists present Elana Durán with Mexico Of My Heart featuring the music and songs of Mexican idols Jorge Negrete, Pedro Infante and Javier Solis. Also featured will be clips from their iconic ‘epoca de oro’ movies. With Luis Zepeda, piano 1-12 August; With Betty Woo, piano 14-25 August August 01, 2008 to August 25, 2008 Hallé Fireworks & Light Spectacular Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire The Hallé Orchestra celebrate their 150th anniversary at their annual Spectacular at this stunning lakeside setting, conducted by John Wilson with classical masterpieces from Tchaikovsky, Grainger, Prokofiev, Johann Strauss, Wagner, Grieg, Dvorák, Berlioz, and the famous Dam Busters March by Coates. The concert will end with a spectacular and extensive firework display set against Tatton Park’s breathtaking

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backdrop. Concertgoers can pitch up from 5pm, enjoy a picnic in the park and soak up the atmosphere as the Hallé play in to the night. 0871 386 1119 August 02, 2008 Carnival Crazy Design Museum, Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD Children’s Creative Activity – It’s carnival season so here’s your chance to test out your funky fashion skills and design and make your own fantasy carnival costume – including headdresses, sashes and masks. 020 7940 8783 August 03, 2008 then each Sunday to August 31, 2008 Scottish Alternative Games New Galloway Park, Castle Douglas, Scotland Not like traditional Highland Games. Gone are the caber-tossing and bagpiping. In their place traditional agricultural games allow everyone to join in. Things like gird and cleek racing, tossing the sheaf, hurlin’ the curlin’ stane, Balmaclellan skittles, snail racing, axe throwing, tractor pulling and tug of war. August 03, 2008 A Swell Party - A Celebration of the Life and Music of Cole Porter Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ A Swell Party, with West End stars, Maria Friedman, Mary Carewe and Graham Bickley promises to be a sparkling evening of effervescent witty lyrics, sometimes ribald humour, consummate song writing and catchy melodies! I Get a Kick Out of You, Anything Goes, From This Moment On, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, Miss Otis Regrets, Night and Day, You’re the Top and many more...

Edinburgh Military Tattoo Castle Esplanade, Edinburgh A must if you’re in Scotland - or a good reason to visit there – the 2008 Edinburgh Military Tattoo celebrates over 50 years of music and spectacle set against the world famous backdrop of Edinburgh Castle with military bands, acts from Australia, the United States, Canada and the Far East, massed Highland Dancers and the haunting sound of the Lone Piper. +44(0)131 225 1188 August 01, 2008 to August 23, 2008

+44(0)20 7730 4500 August 06, 2008 Brecon Jazz Festival Lion House, Bethel Square, Brecon, Powys LD3 6JP Historic market town Brecon, Mid Wales, stages one of Britain’s most stimulating jazz festivals. Over 80 events and free street entertainment over three days. Van Morrison is rumoured to be joining the line-up of jazz greats, blues legends and emerging young Welsh and British talent. August 08, 2008 to August 10, 2008 Glorious Gershwin Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London

August 13th features Sir Willard White and Eugene Asti and the 14th is Rhapsody in Blue and The Gershwin Song Book featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, pianist Viv McLean and conductor Robert Ziegler. +44(0)20 7730 4500 August 13, 2008 to August 14, 2008 World Pipe Band Championships Glasgow Green, Greendyke Street, Glasgow Since 1948, a celebration of the very best of Scottish music, culture and dance. Over 8,000 pipers and drummers from across the globe compete for the coveted title of World Champions 2007. August 16, 2008


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With Broadway star and West End star Kim Criswell, conductor David Firman and the BBC Big Band. +44(0)20 7730 4500 August 22, 2008 to August 23, 2008 Grasmere Traditional Lakeland Sports Meeting Grasmere, Cumbria Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, hound trails (trained hounds race after the scent of aniseed over the fells), mountain-bike races and fell races, including the English Hill Championship. Trade, crafts and antiques stands. August 24, 2008

Isle of Wight Garlic Festival Newchurch, Isle of Wight Garlic ice-cream, jelly beans, fudge and beer! A two-day event that came about after a visit to the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California. Garlic is grown locally in Newchurch. 01983 823099, August 16, 2008 to August 17, 2008 Victorian Festival Llandrindod Wells, Wales As Llandrindod was a thriving spa resort in the Victorian era it seemed natural to base a festival on the Victorian theme. Horses and carriages, Victorian window displays, townspeople and some visitors sporting appropriate costumes, create a miraculous atmosphere. After nine days, the proceedings close with a torchlight procession and fireworks display over the lake. August 16, 2008 to August 24, 2008 The Energy Ball 2008 Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen A sparkling gala dinner bringing together more than 1,000 energy sector professionals and their guests from across the globe. Top class entertainment including world renowned Abba show Bjorn Again.


The hugely sought after Red Hot Chilli Pipers add a touch of Scotland. Table of 10 £1500 + vat. 01467 628876 August 16, 2008 Race the Train Talyllyn Railway, Tywyn, Wales Race the Train takes place alongside the route taken by the Talyllyn Railway on its journey to Abergynolwyn and back using a mixture of public roads, lanes, unmetalled roads, tracks and agricultural land. In the 14.75 miles and 10km races, the route ascends and descends steep hills on narrow footpaths. August 16, 2008 Gershwin and Friends Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London

World Bog Snorkelling Championships Waun Rhydd peat bog, Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, mid Wales The area is spectacularly scenic and the site is an area of Special Scientific Interest with much rare and protected plant and animal life. Perfect for swimming two lengths of a 60 yard trench in a peat bog with flippers and snorkel – no recognized swimming stroke may be used and lifting the head is allowed purely for orientation purposes! August 25, 2008 National Mud Festival WWT National Wetland Centre, Llanelli, Wales Well dressing (designing and decorating clay with organic matter e.g. berries, flowers), Mud Hut constructions, mud sculptures, mud facials, pottery, Mud Safari – a walk along the estuary to see the importance of mud. Competitions for all the family in ‘welly wanging’ – throwing a welly as far into the estuary as you can – and ‘Mud of War’ (tug-of-war). September 06, 2008 to September 07, 2008

Music A

couple of decades ago, summer was a quiet time for live music in Britain. There was one Rock Festival (Reading), some pub gigs at pubs, and nothing much between. The live music scene is better now, mainly because of the exponential increase in festivals. One-day, two or three days. Festivals from the far north of Scotland to the South Coast of England. Festivals that cover a broad range of musical tastes ( Jay-Z at Glastonbury?) or specialise. Middle of the road or spikily experimental. Family friendly or headbanger heavy. You pay your money and take your choice. Ah, the money. Some say the rise of big-business commercialism has ruined the free and easy attitude of ye olde roque festivals, when flappyflared teenagers arrived with a cheap ticket, a cheaper tent and some cans of beer (and whatever else turned them on), and chilled/rocked out to Yes or The Faces. That generation still goes to festivals, but expects to stay in comparative luxury with good food, fine drinks and clean, sweetsmelling, flushing toilets. Good things, agreed, but there is usually no alternative. Now you are forbidden to bring your own suds and sandwiches. All comestibles must be purchased (at top dollar) from corporate caterers inside the high security fencing. If you try to smuggle a tasty morsel or sustaining libation through, security will relieve you of them and into a trash can they will go. But generally festivals are A Good Thing, and August 2008 has a stunning array. Here are some highlights.

The Rise of the Festival The Big Chill (pictured above)

Alternative, edgy dance music acts. This year arts establishments including the ICA, BFI Southbank, Underbelly and Roundhouse Studios curate new elements of non-musical ‘happenings’. Headliners: The Mighty Boosh (comedy), Norman Jay,. Eastnor Castle, Herefordshire. Tickets priced at £129. August 1-3

Live At Loch Lomond

North of Glasgow, this years headliners are rock, dance and indie bands that were revolutionary, even shocking, in their day but now seem curiously cosy - Groove Armada, Sex Pistols, Happy Mondays. Balloch Country Park, Loch Lomond. £89-£119. August 2-3

Summer Sundae

Smaller scale, with interesting rock, indie, nu-folk, and dance artists including Supergrass, The Coral, Roisin Murphy and the hip Simian Mobile Disco. Leicester De Montfort Hall, Leicester (Midlands). £95. August 8-10.

Green Man Festival

Led Zep went to the Welsh hills to get their heads together. So can you. Folky, acoustic, and psychedelic acts like Spiritualized, Drive-by Truckers, Richard

Thompson, Iron & Wine, and re-formed jazz-folkies Pentangle. Glanusk Park, Brecon Beacons, Wales £105. August 15-18.


Twin festivals with a hit and miss selection of bands. Top names this year are Rage Against The Machine, Queens of the Stone Age, The Killers, The Raconteurs, Metallica and, er, Tenacious D. Bramham Park, Leeds and Little Johns Farm, Reading. home, £155. August 22-24.


Hey, disco! Now a two day event with hundreds of DJs plus live bands that edge into a rockier dimension: Fatboy Slim, Kasabian, Chic, Gossip, Ian Brown, Underworld. Daresbury, Cheshire. £115-£190. August 23-24.


Possibly the festival with the best views (in the grounds of Inveraray Castle, overlooking Loch Fyne) and an interesting line-up: Kasabian, the Manics, Grinderman (Nick Cave), Sigur Ros, Goldfrapp, Mercury Rev, Sparks. Argyll, Scotland. www.connectmusicfestival. com. £120. August 29-31.


The American



The live music scene in the UK is vibrant and varied. Here are some highlights based around the performers at a fantastic new event. It’s always a good idea to check with venues or agencies – dates and details may change.

Southern Fried


ep, it’s the F word again – festivals, can’t get away from them this month. This is one with a difference. It focuses on American roots music, the calibre of the headliners is stellar, and there is real strength in depth on the rest of the bill. It is unusual to get major American roots musicians of this calibre over here, let alone all in one place, so take the opportunity to see them if you can. Southern Fried’s performances are all in Perth, the gateway to the Scottish highlands, with late-night club gigs at Perth Theatre and bigger performances at Perth Concert Hall. The Kevin Locke Native Dance Ensemble adds a Native American cultural context and able support comes from some great Scottish musicians and singers including the pure-voiced Eddie Reader. The mix of country, bluegrass, soul, New Orleans jazz and funk is compelling to anyone interested in the history and the present of American roots. The festival runs from August 1-3. 0845 612 6319. If you can’t get to Perth you can see some of the artists on their own tours. Live & Kicking recommends any and all of them. Here are the details. Nanci Griffith (pictured) – Not seen in the UK for a while, Nanci plays July 27th Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms; August 1st Southern Fried at Perth Concert Hall; 6th Letterkenny, Mount Errigal Hotel, Ireland.

Rachel Harrington – July 29th Edinburgh, Leith Folk Club; 30th Elgin, Red Shoes Theatre; August 1st, Banchory Woodend Barn Arts Centre; 2nd Southern Fried.

Allen Toussaint – The Crescent City superstar, is presenting ‘A Night in New Orleans’ with the Hot 8 Brass Band at Southern Fried. He also plays on August 4th London, The Roundhouse.

Alvin Youngblood Hart – Described as ‘The cosmic American love child of Howlin’ Wolf and Link Wray’. [I’d kill to be called that – Ed.] he’s a young guy with a unique brand of 21st Century blues. He is just playing Southern Fried.

Elizabeth Cook – Some are calling her the ‘new Dolly Parton’, because of her shimmering voice and acute songwriting. July 30th London, The Greenote Café; August 1st Southern Fried at Perth Theatre; 2nd & 3rd Cambridge Folk Festival

Jason Ringenberg – You may remember Ringenberg from alt country / punk / rock & roll crossover pioneers, the Nashville based Jason and the Scorchers. August 1st-3rd Southern Fried ; 4th Southsea, Fat Fox; also 4th Bursledon, Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Activi-


ties Centre; 5th London, Borderline; 6th Lewes, Anchor Inn; 7th Bristol, Thunderbolt; 8th Oxford, Bullingdon Arms (The Bully); 10th Summer Sundae festival. Sid Griffin is always great live – the former singer of the Long Ryders and now the front man of ‘Alt-bluegrass’ band the Coal Porters was born in Kentucky and now lives in London. Sid is Artist-In-Residence, MC, interviewer and performer at Southern Fried. August 1st-3rd Perth, Southern Fried at Perth; 31st - Hull, The Back Room; September 10th - Rippendon, n Halifax, The Traveller’s Rest; October 25th Petersfield, Hampshire, The Studio @ The Petersfield School; November 1st Camden, London, The Green Note; 20th Bristol, The Prom.

The American

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The American


loria Estefan, The Queen of Latin Music, will be appearing for one night only at Wembley Arena on September 10th, 2008. The show, presented by Kennedy Street and SJM Concerts, will be full of Gloria Estefan’s greatest hits and more. With over 70 million worldwide records sales, Gloria Estefan is the most successful crossover artist in the history of pop music. In 1984 the number one hit Dr. Beat began a 22 year run of nonstop hits for Gloria. Tickets can be purchased from: Wembley Arena (0844 815 0815 /, Ticketline (0871 424 4444 /, Ticketmaster (0871 230 9894 / www. and See tickets: (0871 22 00 260 /, priced at £60.00 & 45.00 Gloria says, “The people who come out know me, they know my career ... or have been dragged there by their significant other. It’s fun. It’s like seeing an old friend and getting them to have fun and relax and party with you.” You can win a pair of tickets to this fabulous concert simply by answering this question – all correct answers will go into a draw and the lucky winners will see Gloria at Wembley Arena.



QUESTION: Gloria Estefan owns, with her husband, several restaurants. What are they called?


Send your answer with your name, A Bingos Floridian Café address, daytime telephone number B Congos Miami Café and email address (optional) to reach us C Bongos Cuban Café by mid-day, Friday August 29, 2008. Email it to with ESTEFAN COMPETITION in the subjectline. Or send a postcard to: ESTEFAN COMPETITION, The American, Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK. Tickets are for the September 21 performance. You must be 18 years old or over to enter this competition. Only one entry per person per draw. The editor’s decision is final.


The American

Donnie Munro in pensive moods

ALBUMS THEOF MONTH Café de los Maestros

An Turas (The Journey)

The concept, execution, even the title of this fabulous album owe an obvious debt to the Buena Vista Social Club, the exploration of Cuban music realised through the reuniting of the original, and now aged, musicians who created it. Similarly the music of Café de los Maestros – in this case the tango of Argentina – offers a glimpse of the social and economic troubles that painted the backdrop to the lives of the musicians and their audiences. Also like BVSC, the project hinged on a film (Café de los Maestros, directed by Miguel Kohan). An atmospheric 56 page booklet comes with the CD, packed with great photos of the singers and musicians, lyrics and descriptions of how the music was made. You could call it Buenos Aires Social Club, but if there was a real Café de los Maestros down your street, you and I would be in it late into the small hours, drinking in the passion.

Donnie Munro’s music is thoughtfully and effectively political. The former singer with Scottish rock band Runrig, his new live album An Turas (released July 3rd) revolves around the migration of the Scottish people, particularly to America. Recorded at the Celtic Connections festival in 2007, several of these moving songs are sung in Gaelic. Heart of America, the title track of his last studio album, was influenced by Munro’s journey across the North Eastern states of the U.S. at the height of the Iraq War and an earlier visit to Ellis Island. “I was deeply moved by the whole idea of migration, displacement, travel, hardship and opportunity and the very contradictory nature of the images America has presented throughout its history,” he said. “This all tied into certain themes and ideas which are part of the social history of my own people in the Highlands and Islands.”

Various artists, produced by Gustavo Santaolalla Wrasse Records

Donnie Munro Greentrax Records

Goodbye 20th Century: Sonic Youth and the Rise of the Alternative Nation David Browne Reviewed by Nadia Abd Rabbo

Primarily known as part of the 90’s grunge scene but never defined by that movement, Sonic Youth have been making music and influencing achingly hip kids for over 25 years. Famous names from across the arts – Kurt Cobain, Spike Jonze, Sofia Coppola – have all spoken of their high regard for this band, despite the fact that Sonic Youth have never really been a household name or topped the charts. In Goodbye 20th Century…, David Browne gives us a detailed account of the band’s history, from their beginnings in the early eighties to the present. If you are looking for a gory read of sex n drugs n rock n roll excesses in the vein of lets say, Led Zeppelin or Mötley Crüe, this is probably not the book for you: lead singer Thurston Moore and bassist Kim Gordon are married with kids, Kim’s side project is an uber-hip clothing line X-Girl – not the standard rock clichés. However, if you want a thorough account of one of the coolest bands to have stayed together long-term and made consistently interesting music, give this a go.


The American

As I was saying... Bob Pickens recalls a nuclear missile crisis just a generation ago. The location? Not Cuba, but Britain.


ummer in the south of England has been perfect for evenings lounging on the back patio, sipping rosé, barbecuing and strumming the guitar. There’s been a lively European Cup; the garden is blooming, Lewis Hamilton won the British Grand Prix in a British car, Glastonbury was a hit, and we may have seen the bestever men’s final at Wimbledon. The pound-to-dollar rate is sufficiently high to keep the number of drop-in houseguests from America to a minimum, so our house is once again our home. Oh, and it’s been reported that the last 110 tactical nuclear weapons stored in this country by the United States have been removed from the air base at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk. Webster’s Dictionary defines a generation as “the average span of time between the birth of parents and that of their offspring.”

Let’s make that 25 years, or going backwards from today, August 1983. Looked at this way, it’s not a whole lot of time. It also makes you realize an awful lot can change during a generation. In 1983 most people living in Britain were genuinely worried about whether we were going to be around at the same time in 1984. It wasn’t mass psychosis and people were not so worried that they stopped enjoying life. But just a generation ago the backdrop to anything we talked about at the pub or at dinner parties, read in the papers or heard on the radio was the fear of military confrontation, or worse. In summer 1983 there was a tension between the East and the West that filtered down to the average guy and was palpable in his daily life. The year before, Raymond Briggs had published his moving

B-52s made Britain the U.S.’s “Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier” DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE


and disturbing graphic novel “When the Wind Blows”, about an elderly couple in rural England coping with the effects of a nuclear attack on London. The book mated its frightening theme with gentle humor and illustrations in the style of a child’s bedtime storybook, to powerfully reflect the dark mood of the times. Each weekend streets, parks, and the public areas around military bases and nuclear research facilities pulsed with gatherings of people, often tens of thousands, protesting the build-up of nuclear arms in Europe. Nato was installing American mid-range Pershing missiles in Germany and two new Tomahawk cruise missiles bases were being built in the UK. At USAF bases at Lakenheath, Upper Heyford, Woodbridge and Bentwaters squadrons of aircraft were kept at combat level. Mildenhall’s SR-71 Blackbirds were flying regular reconnaissance missions up to (some say over) Soviet territory; the US Army maintained a warehouse in Warrington so large it held enough provisions and supplies to send an enormous army into a hot battle zone. Those supplies included shrinkwrapped field hospitals, and in the leafy Surrey suburb of Chessington, a railhead was built that would haul battle injuries from that field treatment to a major military hospital that was kept in readiness. American Trident submarines patrolled out of Scotland’s lochs; in Wales the US

Navy’s hydrophonic facilities were listening to Russian submarines passing through the GIUK Gap; and in the West Country B-52 bombers flew in from the American Midwest to conduct training sorties. There were said to be more than 100 US military installations in this country; people called Britain “The Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier”. Our governments made sure we were kept aware of the military build-up on the other side – in particular the 600-plus SS-20 nuclear missiles on mobile launchers aimed at Western Europe that were hidden in the forests and moved about like chess pieces. We were treated to newspaper photos of British or US interceptors flying alongside Soviet Tu-95 Bear bombers, weekly testing the reactions of Nato air forces. Daily reports from Afghanistan told us the Soviets were locked in a struggle that they were not winning – and in which their mujahadin opponents were being openly equipped by the U.S. No one knew much about the new Soviet leader, Yuri Andropov, except that he had come straight from heading up the KGB. It was said he was very ill and could not even regularly attend Politburo meetings. The Soviets, much less the West, could not be sure who was running the USSR – and who had their finger near The Button. As the summer drew to a close things got much worse. On September 1st a Korean airliner was shot down over the Pacific after flying into Russian air space. Many believed this would start the inevitable conflict. Two weeks into the confrontation, the US ambassador to Britain suddenly left office. Actually, John J. Louis Jr. possibly the most ineffective American envoy of the century, who had become known as “The Invisible

President Reagan, standing up to the ‘Evil Empire’. NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION

Soviet premier Andropov – was his finger on The Button? NATHAN JONES

Man” for his skill at avoiding tense situations, was removed, though no government official admitted it then, and probably won’t even today. No ambassador, an unknown leader on the other side, nukes and nuke protesters everywhere, two superpowers massing forces along Europe’s Iron Curtain in response to an airliner being blasted out of the sky on the other side of the world. Could it have gotten worse? Two months later it did. Some argue, with a formidable amount of supporting fact, that in November 1983 the tension between East and West got so white hot that we nearly blew ourselves to Kingdom Come. It was a closer call than the missile crisis of 1962 they say, and Britain, not Cuba, was on the fault line. Nato had long organized a huge military exercise called Able Archer, designed to be so realistic that it even involved moving government leaders to bunkers, Though few of our leaders realized it at the time, it had its realism taken quite literally by the other side. There were those at the highest levels of Soviet authority who thought exercise no more than a ruse to hide a real first strike against them. It is chillingly said that at one

point that November, Warsaw Pact military pilots were sitting in their cockpits, primed nuclear weapons under their wings, waiting for orders to get airborne. At the same time their political leaders, and ours, were broadcasting insults and threats at each other. One head of state coined the still iconic description of the other as an “Evil Empire.” That was 25 years ago – a single generation. I am constantly amazed at the human capacity to pack its most awful experiences and memories away to a recess in the back of our collective brain where, hopefully, they do not interfere with better times. But, considering the state of international affairs today I hope we will not store those memories too deeply into the recesses of our memory. ★


The American


Expats really think about Britain

Julia Love, Abbey Judd and Lynn O’Brian tell us about living in the UK


ulia grew up an expat. Washington, DC is her U.S. base, but she fell in love with London and the lure of a job as Dean of Admissions at ACS International School, Egham three years ago was irresistible. She expects to live here for the forseeable future. Fifteen year old Abbey is a student at ACS Hillingdon. She grew up in Michigan but her family home is Utah. When her dad moved here with his work, “we got to come too”. Abbey expects to stay in Britain until she finishes school, hopes to go to college in the States and then become a primary school teacher and teach in developing countries. Her family will probably return to the U.S. eventually, but at the moment they are very happy here. Lynn’s children study at ACS Cobham. The family came to the UK from Chicago when Lynn’s husband relocated for work. Like Julia, she intends to stay here indefinitely.

Julia Love, left, gets away from it all at Stonehenge


What are your favourite things about living in the UK? Julia: There is so much to do in London – museums, theater, restaurants, pubs. I love that I can do a day trip out to country villages, explore Oxford or Cambridge, or drive to the seaside in a short amount of time. Whitstable is a great seaside town not far from London, un-touched, with friendly people and the oysters are fantastic! With four airports and the Eurostar, it is also easy to get away for a weekend. Abby: I love the theatre, so being able to get a train straight to Central London is great. I also love the rich history of the UK. It’s great visiting the old castles – Warwick is my favourite. I really enjoy the British countryside; it’s so quaint and pretty – Scotland is exceptionally beautiful. We visited the Cabinet War Rooms in London, a really interesting way to learn more about the Second World War. Lynn: I’m an avid rambler so I love the public footpath system. It’s great to have public rights of way across such vast areas of the countryside. In the US there are great places to walk but you have to drive to get to them. The best places have been the Scottish Highlands and the Lake District. What do you miss about America or prefer about the UK? Julia: You can find many food items at Whole Foods in Kensington but you

pay about three times the amount. I prefer shopping for clothes in the States, I prefer the styles, and it’s much more affordable. I haven’t found a decent Mexican food restaurant in London. I miss the morning news programs and the radio stations are better over there. Aside from family and friends, I don’t miss too much. The UK is easy to accept! Abby: I miss some of the foods that I loved growing up, different restaurants and brands like Fruit Loops. I hear the UK used to have Lucky Charms, they should bring them back! I have come to love the milk chocolate here and the freshly made Baguettes and yoghurts from my local shops. I love Indian food, which we don’t get so much in the States, and of course British fish and chips. I miss the clothes in the US, there is a much wider range and they are much cheaper. Lynn: I do miss the wide open roads. The biggest adjustment was not having to drive on the other side, but having so little room. I dislike motorcycles passing on both sides but I like the taxi drivers who are professional and take great pride in their city, their taxis, and their knowledge of London. I love Fulham Football Club – I am a Chicago Cubs fan who loves my annual trip to Wrigley Field, so the attraction to perennial underdogs FFC and their old traditional ball park Craven Cottage was bound to happen. And the Holy Trinity of Comedy – Stephen Fry, Rowan Atkinson, and Hugh Laurie. Does it get any better?

The American

Abbey Judd (right) with friends at ACS Hillingdon school

Lynn O’Brien at Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England

How about the education system? Julia: The UK system is rigid, with little room for flexibility and innovation. Children learn to read and write earlier but they lose the holistic approach to learning. It ‘s more serious because of uniforms and the rote learning approach. ACS Egham’s international curriculum is different. We teach the International Baccalaureate programme, from 2 to 18. It’s more child centered and nurtures their creativity and encourages a deeper love of learning. Abby: At an International School it’s great to learn about many different cultures and meet people who have relocated and can identify with you, as well as British students. The curriculum allows me to gain internationally recognised qualifications, like the IB and the Advanced Placement, that will help when I apply to American universities. I like all the sports available at my school, particularly soccer, playing and watching, and playing in the International Schools Sports Tournament. Lynn: The IB has been a very valuable experience for my children and growing up with so many different nationalities is very important for developing a cultural awareness. This is an increasingly important part of education in a globally mobile world.

What advice would you give to an American to make the most of life here? Julia: Don’t expect the UK to be like the States. We speak the same language (somewhat!) but there are still many cultural differences. Be respectful of the host country. Don’t make too many comparisons to the USA, how things are bigger or better in the States. I have found many British friends and feel that they truly accept me. The English can appear to be more serious and less outgoing than Americans initially. But don’t be put off, keep at them and they’ll soon come round to you. Finally, keep your voice down on public transportation – there is nothing worse than being that loud American! Abby: Give it time. Despite the similarities, it takes some getting used to. I was sad at first and we all missed America (and it rained SO much), but one day we just said we’re going to be happy and focus on the positives. Suddenly we realised how many there were. Lynn: Remember you are a guest in a different country. Make an effort to adapt to their way of life. Go with the flow and accept that things are done a

little differently. It is important to absorb the British culture, but living near to other expats can help you keep a sense of who you are. You shouldn’t try to change the British, but you don’t want them to change you either. Have you had any experiences caused by the differences between ‘English’ and ‘American’? Julia: For the longest time I thought being “chuffed” meant being angry or upset – it actually means pleased. Abby: When I was first here, someone told me they were ‘in the queue for the loo’. I had no idea what a ‘queue’ was – or a ‘loo’. When my Grandma visited from the States she said she was going out in her pants (meaning trousers) – she was told that this wasn’t such a good idea! Lynn: At a playdate, the mother said she would be happy to serve my children tea. I explained to my son that even though he didn’t like tea, he should add extra sugar and drink it to be polite. When I arrived I found him eagerly tucking into a lovely dinner or ‘tea.’ People are usually willing to help you out and will not be cruel about any cultural differences. ★


The American

The Eleven Boots of Ightham Mote Leslie Walford dips a foot into the past


A Bellarmine Jar – the 17th century way to keep witches at bay Museum in Docklands


hen owners of historic English houses start restoration work they are often puzzled by strange objects found inside the walls. Sometimes these take the form of “bellarmine bottles”, named after a mediaeval saint, filled with blood, fingernails and hair to ward off evil spirits. A more common way of keeping witches at bay was to hide a shoe in the fabric of the building. Northampton Museum and Art Gallery’s footwear collection (of tens of thousands of pairs!) has a special section of 250 shoes dating from the 16th Century onwards found “above fireplaces, under staircases, in roofs and around doorways” – the weak spots in a building – to ward off the entry of evil spirits. “It’s the same as putting up a witchguard, like a horseshoe, over a hearth for good luck” according to the keeper of the collection (at one time, Northampton was the centre of English boot manufacturing – there is a 17th century saying that “Northampton stands on other men’s legs”) The National Trust, which preserves places of historic interest or natural beauty for the enjoyment of future generations, has many historic houses in its care. They are regularly maintained and refurbished and over the years many boots, shoes and slippers have been discovered hidden in them. In 1992 eighteen assorted boots, mostly about one hundred years old, were discovered in Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire, a timberframed manor house with “a drunkenly reeling south front”. At Petworth House in West Sussex a late seventeenth century shoe was found secreted in the chapel roof.

More recently, a cottage in the grounds of Sir Winston Churchill’s former home at Chartwell, Kent, yielded a child’s shoe from the 1930s. It is well known that Sir Winston, Britain’s premier in World War Two, was an enthusiastic amateur bricklayer. Was he superstitious? Did he hide one of his children’s shoes to ward off evil spirits when doing some brickwork in the cottage? Perhaps the National Trust’s most interesting footwear find has been eleven boots and shoes found during ten years of conservation work at Ightham Mote, Kent, a moated manor house dating from 1340. The variety of styles shows that they were placed in their hiding places over a very long time span. One particularly splendid pair of shoes – in itself unusual, for they almost always come singly – dates from the 1620s when Dame Dorothy Selby is known to have made several alterations to the house. So fine are the shoes that they may well have been owned by Dame Dorothy herself. Superstition, even today is a powerful force. Visitors to National Trust properties often ask whether it would not have been prudent to return the boots and shoes discovered during conservation work to their original hiding places rather than removing them. Ightham Mote’s live-in property manager once confessed that she, too, had some worries on that score. “I do sense the presence of all the people who have lived here”, she said, “and I am a bit worried about disturbing their shoes, I have to say. It’s a bit like opening a tomb, isn’t it?”

British footwear fables

l At British weddings a shoe is often tied to the

back of the bride and groom’s car for luck, as a fertility wish. The nursery rhyme about the old woman who lived in a shoe is believed to be a reference to the shoe as a symbol of fertility. l Leaving shoes on a bed or a chair or a table is believed to bring bad luck because of a now long forgotten custom of placing the shoes of dead people on their coffins. Wearing one shoe or wearing them, uncomfortably, on the wrong feet is also said to be tempting fate. l Girls in Norfolk. at one time put a clover leaf in their shoes in the superstitious belief that they would marry the next single man they met. l Today, at outdoor charity events, the English sometimes enjoy wellie-throwing contests, but it was once a custom to throw a shoe after those undertaking a journey to wish them a safe return. John Heywood’s Proverbs, published in 1546, includes “Nowe for good luck, caste an old shoe after mee” and Queen Victoria is said to have thrown an old shoe after her soldiers departing to fight in the Crimean War. l Rubber wellingtons were named after the Duke of Wellington and evolved from the leather riding boots popularised by him. They were first manufactured in 1865 by the North British Rubber Company in Edinburgh, Scotland. l In some parts of Lancashire “smickling” – standing in the shoes of someone who has just given birth in the hope of conceiving – is still practiced. l Plimsolls, rubber-soled sports shoes originally worn on boat decks, were name after Samuel Plimsoll, the 19th century English politician who introduced the load-line (plimsoll line) for ships. l On 1 January 1584, the poet and statesman Sir Philip Sidney gave England’s Queen Elizabeth I “a pair of slippers of black vellat all over embrodered with venys gold, perle and small garnets” l When a Londoner talks about his” daisy roots” or his” King Canutes” he is using cockney rhyming slang to refer to his boots. l One regularly used method of weeding out foreigners at British airports, according to former immigration officer Tony Saint, is to look at their shoes. “Any kind of shoes with tassels on and you are not getting in the country”, he revealed after resigning from the service.

Boot beliefs from abroad

l In 1654 the Massachusetts colonial

legislature pronounced its “utter detestation” that the common classes “ should take on the badges of gentlemen” by wearing “boots with roses affixed”. l In Russia it was customary for a bride to first demonstrate her subservience to her husband by removing his boots. She would then hit him over the head with them just to show that, nevertheless, it was she who was really going to take charge of the new household! l There is a tradition in Germany that a pregnant woman gains strength from her husband by wearing his shoes. l In Finland a newly-married couple are traditionally accompanied to their bedroom by the entire wedding party. The bride’s mother will not allow her new son-in-law to go to bed until he has given her a pair of shoes. l As recently as the 1940s in the Veneto, Northern Italy, the family and guests would, as part of the wedding ceremony, attempt to fit a shoe on the bride’s foot, but the only one allowed to succeed would be the groom. l Philetas, ruler of the Greek island of Cos who died in 290 BC, wore lead-soled sandals so that the wind would not blow him away. l Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar blamed his near assassination on putting his left shoe on first when he got up in the morning, giving rise to the superstition that it is bad luck to put the left shoe on before the right, l In the Arab world throwing a shoe at someone is the ultimate insult – remember the Iraqis throwing shoes at statues of Saddam Hussein at the end of the war? H

Ightham Mote, the medieval mansion house where many concealed shoes have been found Andrew Butler


The American

A Real Life Move to the Sun Part II: To have begun is half the job


egular readers may have noticed that Part II of Riki’s article about becoming The American’s ‘expatriate expat’ was not published in July. This was due to family illness. For new readers, Riki is a New Yorker who has lived in England for many years, becoming very involved with the local community. She is now moving with her husband to Spain. In Part I, plans were set into motion for their life-changing step. Now it’s time to say goodbye to England. Moving to the English countryside from New York City was quite a culture shock for a city girl from Manhattan, and a move I was sure would be my major life change. During my seven years in England, I was fortunate to be afforded exceptional opportunities – writing, Brixham Harbour, the fishing village that’s now part of the English Riviera


Riki Evans Johnson used to live in England and day-trip to the Continent – now it’ll be the other way round

radio presenting and of course my introduction to Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace which definitely topped the chart. Over the years, with a number of ups and downs, Ken and I were reaching a new plateau – retirement age (for him at least!) was on the horizon. Stressed out, over worked and reaching the cusp of retirement age, Ken and I set about changing our lifestyle through these ‘golden years’ for sunnier climes and a better quality of life on the Costa del Sol. It was ‘Hasta la vista’ Haverhill and ‘Hola!’ to our friends’ holiday home on the Norfolk coast for 10 days of relaxing,

winding up personal obligations and plotting our drive from the North Sea coast, across the English Channel to our finish line of the Mediterranean Sea. As a non-road trip enthusiast, my anxiety towards this drive put me into meltdown. To dispel my anxiety and Ken’s sanity, the trip would be in instalments; more of a holiday with numerous opportunities for sightseeing. Our Seat Toledo was packed to the hilt like a jigsaw puzzle of what we (me, mostly) would need for two months until our belongings arrived in Spain once we had found permanent housing. I was still mourning all my shoes! Here are some brief highlights of our first 330 miles. SATURDAY, MARCH 29 – WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9 Hopton-on-Sea, Norfolk coast. Eight out of ten days of beautiful warm weather, swimming, walks along fabulous coastal scenery, and wondering if we did the right thing! We took in the Victorian-styled beach resorts of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, straddling the Norfolk/Suffolk coast; Gorleston, a seaside town with its 1930s Ocean View Restaurant and its ballroom, an Aladdin’s cave of Moor-

The American

ish, Art Deco, over-the-top fixtures and a sumptuous Sunday buffet. The Norfolk Broads were Constable paintings, with longboats plying the waterways; enjoyed a drink at the famous Victorian-era Wherry Hotel and learned about the Wherries, the Broads cargo-hauling square-sail boats from centuries ago; visited Oulton Broads, and the charming town of Potter Heigham for true English fish and chips. Off-the-beaten-path, the green and endless countryside took us to Horning, a charming chocolate box village with a wonderful restaurant, Straithe ‘n’ Willow, a C17th thatched house and inn (straight out of Hansel and Gretel) overlooking the River Bure. In 17th century dialect, ‘straithe’ means ‘by the water’. There are also terrific shopping centres, but I wasn’t allowed to buy shoes!

”From searching for fossils to towering cliffs and Victorian villas, Lyme Regis is Stunning”

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9 Our friends wished us bon voyage and we began our road trip. We drove through the lovely hills and dales of Norfolk, Suffolk, Hampshire and Wiltshire countryside, arriving in Amesbury. First on my checklist was Stonehenge. One can wave to the stone structures from the main road, but I wanted to experience standing amongst one of the world’s greatest mysteries, take the photo and buy a fridge magnet. The BBC Time Watch team was conducting a two-week excavation at the site and gave us the opportunity to meet with them. (The programme will air in Autumn 2008.) Thirty minutes north is another ‘henge’ definitely worth a visit, the lesser known but just as fascinating prehistoric monuments of Avebury. Excavated in the C17th, the 4,000 year old Avebury stone circle is a 28 acre site containing 98 standing

stones, 9-19 ft. high monuments, burial chambers, avenues and ceremonial sites. Using the local tourist information centres (a fantastic source of info), we found our most delightful B&B. One mile outside of Salisbury, Bridge Farm, an C18th farmhouse with a garden backing onto the River Avon, was so lovely we almost stayed an extra night. Mrs. Hunt, the host, welcomes you like a long lost friend. Our room and ensuite were extravagantly decorated, and every detail was taken into account – including a ‘rescue kit’ of Rennies, needles and thread, and plasters! Dinner at a local restaurant, The Radnor Arms, brought us together with regulars and visitors alike (we didn’t know if Lord Radnor was actually there, as he is very low-key and is considered ‘a local’) and was just the right ending for our day.

Lyme Regis, focal point of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site

THURSDAY, APRIL 10 After a farmhouse breakfast prepared by our host and stories about the hundreds of ceramic chickens and roosters in her collection, we were on our way to medieval Salisbury. Every twist and turn of the C13th to C15th narrow streets was like walking back in time. The centrepiece of the city is its immense, imposing C13th Cathedral supporting England’s tallest spire. With 750 years of history, Salisbury is a must. By 10am we reached my number one highlight of the road trip. Conceived and developed by Americans Jim and Alison Cronin 20 years ago, Monkey World Rescue Centre in Wareham, Dorset, has worked with governments throughout the world, in the forefront of rescuing abused and endangered apes and monkeys. Ken and I were given a personal tour by marketing officer Louise Matthews and met Jeremy, not one of the monkeys but a star in our books as one of the vital forces behind the care and running of the Centre. Under sunny skies, we listened to keepers giving talks about the distinct species at the Centre, and saw my favourite apes and monkeys from their long-running, fly-on-the-wall


The American

”It was strange to see ‘Tank X-ing’ signs on the road – Ken told me the entire area is a military base” neighbours of horses, donkeys and sheep amid ancient cemeteries, Corfe is a tick on must-sees. Corfe Castle in Dorset ALL PHOTOS BY RIKI EVANS JOHNSON

television show. The keepers definitely have their hands full caring for 160 rambunctious residents. After an exciting morning of woolly monkeys, chimps and orang utans we headed to our final destination for the day, Corfe Castle. The ancient ruins of Corfe Castle (and village of the same name) on the Purbeck Hills are a sight to behold. One can easily have fairytale visions staring at the hilltop and walking along the lanes. The countryside took on a movie-like appearance with military tank manoeuvres on the hills. It was strange to see ‘Tank X-ing’ signs on the road – Ken told me the entire area is a military base – and we even encountered a traffic jam in the middle of nowhere as the tanks were driving down the road. Quite a sight and boy, are they menacing! Our B&B for the night was Westaway, with a lovely private garden, and dinner was at the quaint Castle Inn. We met interesting local regulars who had all relocated to this pin-dot on the map to escape city life for storybook surroundings. With


FRIDAY, APRIL 11 Up early and a good English breakfast under our belts (getting tighter), we were on the road again with our destination the British Jurassic Coast of Lyme Regis. Lyme Regis is an artist’s paradise, enchanting everyone from Jane Austen (1803) to Beatrix Potter to American painter James Whistler (1895). From searching for fossils along the coast (a World Heritage Site), to towering cliffs and Victorian villas, Lyme Regis is stunning. SATURDAY, APRIL 12 After a night at The Lucerne B&B, we set off for our long awaited day in Brixham, the thriving harbour town near Plymouth in Devon. Travelling past Hangman’s Stone, a town called Faraway, and miles of red soil countryside (red potatoes), we arrived on the ‘English Rivera’. My favourite town of the entire drive, we spent the day walking around Brixham’s narrow lanes, having fish and chips at one of Britain’s most beautiful harbours and touring the famous ‘Hind’ C17th Century sailing vessel at the docks. It was a picture-perfect postcard town with views to match. Our B&B for the night was the C19th Westbury whose owners were extremely welcoming and entertain-

ing. Dinner was at The Prince William by the marina and harbour. SUNDAY, APRIL 13 Today was a very special day – Ken’s 65th birthday and we were to board the Pont-Aven Ferry (Brittany Ferries) at 4pm for Santander. We kept saying that leaving on his birthday was our ‘sign’. (I just needed to believe it myself!) The belt long gone now after another breakfast, we headed for our final destination in England: Plymouth. We drove the last 30 miles crossing the River Dart (Dartmouth!) and bordering Dartmoor National Park into Plymouth. Filled with history, and a magnificent coastline and harbour, we spent the day overlooking Plymouth Sound on the Plymouth Hoe (park). With its famous 1757 lighthouse, Victorian hotels and fabulous views, one can see why Plymouth was the height of 1870s holidays. We boarded the ferry at 2.00 pm and realised that tomorrow morning we would be in Spain. We had covered 330 miles from Norfolk, seeing fascinating sights, meeting interesting people, eating our way through England and backtracking a bit (I was the navigator!). We set sail at 4.00pm exactly on a calm sea with a brilliant sky and stood on the deck to watch the shores of England disappear. Spain was calling, and we were answering. Our road-trip through England was over. We were onto a new country and new language (Ken only knew ‘Menu del dia’), driving on the right (with a RHD car) and still hoping we knew what we were doing. ★

Next month: Part III – Reaching the Finish Line




Page 1


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The American

Coffee Break Coffee Break Quiz QUESTIONS 1 W  hich three films did James Dean star in? 2 F rom which language does the word `mythology` come?

5 W  hat is the common link between Fat Larry’s Band, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and the UK’s The Dave Clark 5?

3 I n which decade did America last have four presidents?

6 W  hat is the name for the dot on the letter i?

4 T he Red River forms the border between Texas and which other American state?

7 W  hich mountain range has a name that means ‘the abode of snow’ in English?

8 W  ho was the first American actor to be nominated for Emmy Awards for portraying the same character on three different shows? 9 I n which sport do the two teams sometimes defend goals of different sizes? 10 What is the only property on a Monopoly board that contains all of the letters in the word ‘Monopoly’? 11 What country has the largest coastline? 12 Who was the first Hollywood actress to demand and receive a fee of 1 million dollars for a single film role? 13 In which novel would you find Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy? 14 Which Paul released his first single `I Confess` when he was 14 and had written over 200 songs by the time he was 21? 15 In Britain, where would you most commonly find the inscription `Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants`? 

Answers at foot of the page.

Last month’s Competition Winners The winners of the Afterlife tickets (June issue) were Teresa Moray of Norfolk, Eleanor Gray of Maida Vale, London, and Cathy Charnley of Knaresborough. Candide tickets (July issue) were won by Todd Bachinski and Lisa Buysse, both of London. Coffee Break Quiz Answers 1. East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. 2. Greek (meaning story-telling). 3. 1880s (Presidents Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland & Harrison). 4. Oklahoma. 5. All three are named after their drummer. 6. A tittle. 7. The Himalayas 8. Kelsey Grammar (Cheers, Frasier and Wings) 9. Water Polo (the goal in the shallow end can be higher). 10. Electric Company. 11. Canada. 12. Elizabeth Taylor. 13. Little Women. 14. Paul Anka. 15. On the edge of a two pound coin.


The American

August 1, 1800 – The Act of Union 1800 merges the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. August 2, 1943 – World War II: PT-109 rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri and sinks. Lt. John F. Kennedy, future US President, saves all but two of his crew. August 3, 1958 – The nuclear submarine USS Nautilus travels beneath the Arctic ice cap. August 4, 1892 – The family of Lizzie Borden is murdered in their Fall River, Massachusetts home. August 5, 1620 – The Mayflower departs Southampton, England. August 6, 1890 – At Auburn Prison in New York, murderer William Kemmler becomes the first person to be executed by electric chair. August 7, 2007 – Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants breaks Hank Aaron’s record by hitting his 756th home run. August 8, 1974 – President Richard Nixon announces his resignation after the Watergate scandal. August 9, 1936 – Jesse Owens wins his fourth gold medal at the Berlin Olympic games becoming the first American to win four medals in one Olympiad. August 10, 1948 – Candid Camera makes its television debut after being on radio for a year as Candid Microphone. August 11, 1934 – Alcatraz Federal prison opens. August 12, 30 BC – Cleopatra commits suicide after her lover, Mark Antony’s

Pavel Novak

It happened one... August defeat at the battle of Actium. August 13, 3114 BC – Mayan calendar starts. August 14, 1900 – A joint EuropeanJapanese-United States force (EightNation Alliance) occupies Beijing, in a campaign to end the bloody Boxer Rebellion in China. August 15, 1969 – The Woodstock Music and Art Festival opens. August 16, 1962 – Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey) replaces Pete Best as drummer for The Beatles. August 17, 1907 – Pike Place Market, the longest continuously-running public farmers market in the US, opened in Seattle. August 18, 1587 – Virginia Dare, granddaughter of Gov. John White of the Colony of Roanoke, becomes the first English child born in the Americas. August 19, 1692 – Salem witch trials: In Salem, Massachusetts, Province of Massachusetts Bay five people, one woman and four men, including a clergyman, are executed after being convicted of witchcraft. August 20, 1969 – All four Beatles were together in the recording studio for the final time as they finished the Abbey Road LP. August 21, 1863 – Lawrence, Kansas is destroyed by Confederate guerrillas Quantrill’s Raiders in the Lawrence Massacre. August 22, 1901 – Cadillac Motor

Company founded – exactly a year later in 1902 Theodore Roosevelt became the first U.S. President to ride in an automobile. August 23, 1996 – Osama bin Laden issues message entitled ‘A declaration of war against the Americans occupying the land of the two holy places.’ August 24, 79 – Mount Vesuvius erupts. The cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae are buried in volcanic ash. August 25, 1814 – Washington, D.C. is burned and White House is destroyed by British forces during the War of 1812. August 26, 1939 – The first Major League Baseball game is telecast, a doubleheader between the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field, in Brooklyn, New York. August 27, 1859 – Petroleum discovered in Titusville, Pennsylvania. World’s first successful oil well. August 28, 1961 – Motown releases “Please Mr. Postman” by The Marvelettes. It becomes its first number one hit. August 29, 1966 – The Beatles perform their last concert before paying fans at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. August 30, 1963 – Hotline between U.S. and Soviet leaders goes into operation. August 31, 1888 – Mary Ann Nichols, the first of Jack the Ripper’s known victims, is murdered. Thanks to all our friends at Wikipedia


The American

Dining out at

Le Gavroche

much was when Stephanie, Nelly and I dined at L’Auberge du Vieux Puit in Fontjoncouse, France. Like his French counterpart Chef Gilles Goujon, Michel Jr., breathes new life Reviewed by Virginia E Schultz into traditionally classically French cuisine. As a result, food remains old fashioned hef Michel Roux Jr. makes his way, still enough to please the sweet nostalgia of older in his white chef outfit, through Le diners without letting down the younger in43 Upper Brook Street, Gavroche greeting friends and strangers. novative crowd who prefer the newfangled London W1K 7QR Although raised in England, he has the cooking that is as much a rage today as 020 7408 0881 same Gallic charm as his father and uncle. nouvelle cuisine was in the eighties. A few of the diners at lunch that afternoon There are three selections for each three are young enough to be the grandchildren course at Le Gavroche, to please both the of those who came to dine in the original Le traditionalist and avant garde group. I deGavroche when Albert and Michel opened bated between going retro-sixty by choosing on Sloane Street in 1967. Michel stops at our foie gras with a truffle vinaigrette or teasing table to say a warm hello to Stephanie DonLunch Menu £48.00 my taste buds with a more updated grilled per person including dain, she of Chateau Cabezac, Nelly Pateras Rouget with a parsley coulis and slices of au½ bottle of wine & and myself before moving on to the next bergine: the first won. Main courses are just ½ bottle of Evian or table and a couple in their seventies whom I as interesting. I love Michel’s way with Foie Mineral water per heard reminiscing with the indomitable maide Veau aux Citrus (liver with lemon) but his person and a 12.5% tre d’ and general manager, Silvano Giraldin, ingenuity with a classic like grilled salmon discretionary service about a dinner they enjoyed for a birthday at charge. with olives is pure unadulterated bliss. Le Gavroche in the early 1990s. The selection of French and Le Gavroche is uncompromisingly British farmhouse cheeses was French and all the better for it. temptation itself and took all of I hadn’t been there for five years, my willpower not to indulge. but Silvano, who started as a First and main courses and waiter in 1971, treated me as the desserts change each day, warmly as if I had dined there but this was the middle of the day yesterday. Le Gavroche retains and I decided to have a selection a simplicity contradicting its of sorbets that would pacify my reputation as one of London’s sweet tooth without making me most elegant and sophisticated feel as if I had overeaten. Wine restaurants. And from what is never a problem at Le Gavroche I’ve observed over the years, and the two selections of white and even first time diners are treatred on the lunch menu had been ed cordially by the charming carefully selected and perfect and indomitable Silvano who for the different courses. Le will be much missed when he Gavroche isn’t cheap by any retires in the autumn. means and for some it’s a I was not there to review measure of their success to be able the restaurant but to dine with to dine there regularly. If you like two close friends. It was only blue blood dining at its finest, afterwards that I decided to jot save money by giving up taxis and down my eating pleasure that your car. Dining in this two star afternoon. However, the last restaurant is worth waiting in the time I enjoyed a lunch as rain for a bus.



Dining out at

the thrsee e g d i br Reviewed by Virginia E Schultz


don’t know when I tasted better Italian food,” the South African at the next table told Nelly Pateras and me. “I want to knock at the door of all the flats in my building and tell them about this place.” Our speaker was at The Three Bridges for the second time. His family’s unreserved pleasure as they drank the house wine and tasted the various antipasti was a joy to observe. But then, Nelly and I were quite content ourselves as we dipped delicious homemade bread into olive oil and made our way through the pan fried baby squid with its hint of lemon and chicken livers served with almond and cherry sauce. London has excellent Italian restaurants but, sadly, is bereft of the kind of rustic cooking offered by Chef Piero Cottino at The Three Bridges. Piero, from the Alba region of Italy, feels fortunate that he has New Covent Garden on his doorstep as his menu depends on the fresh fruit and vegetables he buys there every day. Being from Alba, however, doesn’t mean he isn’t passionate about food from other regions as I noted when we got into a discussion on truffles which come from northern Italy. When owners Marco Cristaldi and Antonio Lombardi opened The Three Bridges several months ago, they wanted a family style restaurant where one could dine on one’s own or with family and friends. The interior is simply decorated with wooden floors, table, chairs and leather banquets. Windows on two sides fill the room with light during the day and in the evening brass lamps hanging from the ceiling give an old fashioned feel. One senses that the two owners have put their heart and soul as well as their money into the restaurant,.

The traditionally-made black ink tagliolini served with courgette and crab meat sauce is a definite “wow” dish as is the creamy chestnut and mushroom risotto. And the wonderful braised lamb shank comes with a saffron mash that hints of those Middle Eastern raiders who touched down on the boot of Italy over the centuries. Other not to miss specialities are the grilled tiger prawns with spinach and sweet-sour sauce, and Piero’s thinly sliced beef carpaccio dressed with anchovies and capers. He may have learned to cook at the knees of his mother and grandmother, but Piero has added an imaginative touch to his cooking they surely would be proud of. For dessert you’ll find sun-dried nectarine plums soaked in Italian brandy with vanilla ice cream and even tastier, homemade chocolate and pear tart. Prices are reasonable by London standards. There’s a selection of ten wines by the glass, eight by the half litre and sixty by the bottle. Pasta runs from £6.50 to £9.50 and main courses from £13.00 to £14.50. You can pre-order then pick-up next day, a god send for those who are too tired to eat out after a long day, or battling with children. What’s the downside of this restaurant? The neighbourhood. It’s three bridges before the Battersea Dog’s Home or a fifteen minute walk from the circle at Battersea Park. Unlike the continent where the French, Italian and Dutch will ignore the surroundings if the food is good, we Londoners (including my fellow Americans) tend to hesitate when an area isn’t perfect. Which is a shame because this restaurant should be crowded with friends and families enjoying the food.

152 Battersea Park Road, London SW8 4BX, 020 7720 0204 Open Monday to Saturday, 12:30 to 3, 6 to 11


The American

APSLEYS at the Lanesborough Reviewed by Virginia E Schultz


n 1828 William Wilkins built a handsome Greek Revival hospital on Hyde Park Corner which would become known as the St. George’s Hospital. My husband had gone there for a minor operation and when it closed a few years later it was left empty and derelict until an enterprising woman from Texas decided to turn it into a hotel. We were living in Houston at the time and when I met her at a charity raising event for the Alley Theatre, a repertory theatre in which I served on the board, and mentioned we were going to London she offered to give me an introduction. Despite being aware of her reputation and fabulous taste as a hotelier, I was still taken back when I entered the marble entrance with its original and reproduction Regency furnishings. This was not the hospital I visited a few years before with its clinical smells and white outfitted medical staff, but one of the loveliest and sophisticated hotels in London. Much has changed since that first visit including the owner and management. What remains the same, fortunately, is the impeccable service and beautiful Regency decor. The library bar is one of my favourite places to have drinks after going to the theatre. Even when crowded, which it usually is, a waiter will manage to find me a place to sit which doesn’t always happen at other hotel bars, especially when you’re two or three women on their own. And no matter what kind of cocktail we order, be it Sunrise Surprise or a Strawberry Martini, the bartender somehow manages to serve the perfect drink.


Over the years, I often went to the Conservatory restaurant to enjoy afternoon tea or dinner. The original “Conservatory” had been inspired by the Brighton Pavilion and is one of the most beautiful dining rooms in London. I recall more than once contentedly sitting in the then pink and green conservatory with its potted plants listening to the pianist as he tinkled out some favourite George Gershwin or Cole Porter melody. This was why I became extremely doubtful when I learned several months ago the Conservatory was being turned into an Italian restaurant. It is not in my nature to accept change easily. Still, I must admit when Nelly Pateras and I entered the spacious and airy dining room designed by Tihany Design, who were also responsible for New York’s Le Cirque restaurant, I began to relax. The center piece of the restaurant is a custom commissioned mural by Simon Casson showing mythological figures from classical paintings which give an art deco mood to the glass ceiling room from which contemporary chandeliers hang. This is not a clichéd Italian bistro with chequered table cloths and singing waiters, but a sophisticated restaurant with subtle lighting and plush upholstered seating. I liked it as did Nelly. Surprisingly, Head Chef Nick Bell is not Italian, but an Englishman who was previously the head chef at Cecconi’s and worked closely with Giorgio Locatelli at both Cecconi and Zefferano. Bell, who uses only the finest seasonal produce, offers a

The American

The American

traditional Italian menu of antipasti, soups, pasta as well as meat and fish main courses. Nelly started with the beef carpaccio (£16.00), without the goat’s cheese dressing at her request, which was beautifully presented and tasted just as delicious she assured me. After some debate with myself, I decided on the artichoke salad with pecorino cheese and broad beans (£8.50), an antipasti an Italian-American friend would often make as a starter for his dinner parties. It proved to be a wise choice, especially when this was followed by a small portion of Linguine of Crab with garlic and sweet chilli (£13.00/£19.00) that I will definitely have for lunch on my return. Nelly, who has a mild allergy to gluten, asked if she could exchange the Spaghetti for Risotto with her Lobster, tomato and basil dish (£14.50/£20.50) which they most willingly agreed to do. Nelly loves sweetbreads and it took her only a brief second to decide on Veal Sweetbreads with Peas and Morels (£19.50) as her main course. Sweetbreads are possibly my least favourite food, but I must admit after taking a bite of hers, I wouldn’t turn my nose up if offered them when I dine at Apsleys next time. In the meantime, I was trying to decide whether to have the Rabbit Cacciatora (£18.50) or the new season lamb (£26.00) when our waiter suggested the Grilled Tuna, the fish of the day. Unfortunately, it was grilled too long and as a result dry and not particularly tasty. We also had a side order of fried courgette (£3.50), which we bread cleaned to the last small sliver on the plate and Roasted Potatoes (£3.50). There was a wonderful selection of Italian cheeses as well as desserts, but by this time I decided I had gone several dishes too far and settled on the most luscious Peach sorbet I’ve enjoyed since I lived in Atlanta, Georgia.



The American

Wine plays an important role when I’m dining out and having someone as knowledgeable as sommelier Andrew Conner helping in the selection of the wines for our various courses was a pleasure. Apsleys uses the “Enomatic” process, which preserves the taste, body and aroma of opened bottles of wine, and as a result each glass was equally delicious whether it came from a recently opened bottle or one nearly empty. Afterwards he showed us one of the two temperature controlled walk in wine rooms where customers can discuss their wine selection. Nothing can be more daunting than being quizzed by an American and French woman, or so Nelly and I’ve been told, but Andrew was nice enough to spend nearly a half an hour discussing wine with us. I might add it was after eleven and we were among the last customers to leave Apsleys that evening. At all times there are 6 wines available by the glass, mainly Italian and French, although there are a few New World wines as well in the 500 bin list. Hyde Park Corner, London SW1X 7TA, 020 7259 5599


Cellar Talk by Virginia E. Schultz

Hot Dogs and Wine


ot dogs were a quick stand-by meal for my children during the summer as they grew up all over the world. Not the ball park variety I had when my father took me to baseball games in Philadelphia, or Oscar Mayer, or Hebrew National, but whatever was in my butcher’s refrigerator. I never checked the nutrition label (if there was one!), but let my three have the pleasure of piling catsup, mustard and Del Monte’s sweet pickle relish on top just as I had done. The hot dogs we ate were pure beef, not the turkey, chicken or non-meat concoctions that we now find in the supermarket. The only nutrient addition to this easy supper was giving my children freshly made juice rather than the home made root beer I used to have. For some reason, my mother, who never allowed a drop of coca cola touch our lips unless we had an upset stomach, decided root beer was healthy because it had been made from a root. She may have been right because the glasses of sweetened lemon and orange juice my children drank are no longer considered healthy and my root beer probably did less harm to my teeth. I stopped serving hot dogs when a friend listed all the parts of the animal put into them. So I was surprised when that same friend – who knows the scientific names listed on a package and although thin as a model counts every carb and calorie that slips between her botox lips – asked what kind of wine I would serve with the hot dogs she

was planning to serve at a Fourth of July picnic. “Beer,” I suggested. “Perhaps from a keg, very cold.” “Oh, no,” she said with a definite shiver. “It must be wine. I’m also having corn on the cob cooked in their husks with flavoured chilli butter and brown rice with a mango dressing instead of potato salad.” With such varied and spicy dishes, I advised something cheap and cheerful. As for dessert, fresh blueberry tart, which to me is far more American than apple pie. It’s faster to make as well since you can buy the crust at the supermarket and bake it beforehand, and the blueberry filling takes little time to put together and can be prepared a day ahead. The barbecue, she told me later, was enjoyed by all, especially the grilled peaches she served with ice cream. Her husband did the grilling of the peaches while she enjoyed her guests and the wine I suggested. ★


Laithwaite Merlot Rose 2007, Bordeaux AOC £ 76.99 a case of 12 Ripe black Merlot grapes are not crushed, but let to burst into clear pink juice in the tank and then whisked off to ferment in what Laithwaite describes as the latest chilling kit. Full of lovely summer flavours that will remind you of South of France even when wearing a sweater in cooler England.

La Capanna For the finest Italian dining experience in the most picturesque of settings, perfect for that romantic dinner for two, a family celebration or business entertainment.

L Table d’Hôte, 2 courses only £16.95 La Capanna Special Menu, 2 courses only £29.95 Sunday Lunch, 3 courses only £24.95 Children’s Menu – £12.00 48 High Street, Cobham, Surrey

01932 862121

Book your table online on our website: Business account customers and party bookings are welcome. All major credit cards accepted.


a Capanna, now celebrating its 30th year, was built from an old farm house discovered in the Sussex countryside, which has been rebuilt behind the facade of an equally old 17th century cottage at the end of Cobham high street. The result is a large and spacious rustic restaurant, boasting a wealth of exposed beams and high ceilings, enjoying a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere where you will be well looked after. Enjoy eating al fresco in the lovely riverside Italian Garden. The restaurant also prides itself on catering for large parties such as weddings or birthdays. The food at La Capanna is prepared with singular taste and imagination by head chef Matthew Crook. The antipasto specials trolley, which is brought to your table, has a varied and unique selection of Italian starters that are complimented by a comprehensive a la carte menu. La Capanna offers the best of whatever is in season, and its selection of fresh fish and seafood, meat, and game is second to none.

“La Capanna must boast the prettiest interior of any restaurant I have ever dined in” – David Billington, Hello Magazine

Your Local Italian Restaurant with menus to suit all tastes and pockets

Sunday Lunch 3 Course Menu £19.95 including our famous buffet table Ideal for celebrations of all sizes, whether it be dinner for two, a party or business lunch. Try our new Brunch Menu – we are open all day to welcome you for coffee or something more substantial, and while you relax we can valet your car.

Mondo Restaurant, 2 Temple Hall, Monument Hill, Weybridge, Surrey, KT13 8RH 01932 843470 • •

Our Friends The American Air Day Friday, August 22, 2008 (bank holiday Monday 25) Gates open at 10am. Adults £18.00, Senior* £14.40, Students* £14.40, Unemployed* £9.00, Children (under 16): FREE. * Proof may be required

Coming events September 12 - 13 Celebrating Duxford’s 90th Anniversary air show Come and meet The American. The magazine will be taking a stand at this great event. We love to meet our readers. October 5 Autumn air show Duxford is 7 miles south of Cambridge, at junction 10 of the M11. The Museum is less than 50 miles from central London and only 40 minutes from junction 27 on M25. Ample free parking available; on-site transport; wheelchairs for hire free of charge – needs booking. 01223 835000



his year marks the 90th anniversary of Duxford airfield. A little-known fact is that American personnel have been based in East Anglia since the end of the First World War. In 1916, the whole of the new aeronautical industry in the United States produced only 400 aeroplanes. Yet between April 1917 when America entered the war and the signature of the armistice in November 1918, the US manufactured 11,000 aircraft. And by then, the US Army Air Service had 195,000 men operating 3,500 aircraft in Europe, including five Aero Squadrons stationed at Duxford. In the spring of 1944, the US 8th and 9th Air Forces occupied over 120 airfields in the UK with half a million personnel and over 9,000 aircraft. The largest concentration was in East Anglia, where their presence had an enormous social impact. Duxford’s historic links with American military aviation make it the perfect location for the American Air Museum, which stands as a memorial to the 30,000 US airmen who gave their lives while flying from British bases during the Second World War as well as making an

in the East

interesting and informative day out. The stunning museum, designed by Lord Foster, exhibits the finest collection of American combat aircraft outside of the United States. It tells the story of American air power, its effect on the modern world and the Second World War in Europe in particular. Exhibits housed in the American Air Museum include the outstanding SR-71 Blackbird, B-52 Stratofortress and B-24 Liberator, and personal items such as leather flight jackets and part of the uniform once worn by the late Hollywood actor James Stewart, who was a great supporter of the Museum and, of course, a decorated flyer in World War Two. In 2007, the Imperial War Museum Duxford teamed up with the United States Third Air Force, based in Britain, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the American Air Museum. Building on last year’s success, the American Air Day returns on 22 August 2008 for a second edition. A great day out for all, the

The American

PROFILE: Eric Baker Stub-Hub and Viagogo founder talks with Michael Burland


riginally from Beverley Hills, Eric Baker studied at Harvard and gained an MBA from Stamford. After a stint at Boston private equity firm Bain Capital he established the Stub-Hub ticketing agency, sold the franchise to eBay in March 2007 for $307 million, then moved to the UK to establish Viagogo, a similar model tailored to the UK.

Images (far left to above): Improving AngloAmerican relations at a dance; The American Air Museum in Duxford; Explainer in period flight suit in front of the B17

American Air Day 2008 is a unique opportunity to get up close to a Blackhawk helicopter and MH-130 Hercules, see big fire trucks, learn about combat medical support and watch dog demonstrations by the K-9 unit. Some of the very latest combat aircraft will be in action, from fast jets and helicopters to massive troop and supply carriers. Alongside these icons of modern airpower will be their predecessors, the mighty B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B and the P-51 Mustang, both aircraft from the Second World War, on display on the ground and taking to the air. The event is packed with opportunities for all the family to learn about old and new aircraft, with explainers and active crews available to answer questions and share their passion for aviation. American-style trade stands and music from the USAFE rock band will further set the mood for a relaxing day, where visitors, pilots and crew can meet and maybe even share their experiences of the UK! ★

First, the tomayto/tomahto question: do you say “Vee-ah gogo” or “Vie-ah gogo?” You can say it either way – here in Britain it’s typically Vie-ah gogo, but the American pronunciation is Vee-ah gogo. Are there differences in running a business in Europe? You have to respect and learn about the place, how Europe and the UK work. It’s certainly not the United States of Europe. Americans sometimes think that Europe is a monolithic entity, but no Brit or Italian or Frenchman would refer to themselves as a European. The EU’s trying to change that, but just ask the people in Ireland! It can be difficult for large American companies to make the transition across the ocean. You have to start from scratch – a new mentality, new partnerships, new localised technology and a dedication to really living here to be successful.

and you’re really stuck if it doesn’t work. And primary ticketing companies like Ticketmaster have a conflict of interest with the aftermarket. At the same time you had these passionate fans – it may be soccer instead of American football and the Arctic Monkeys instead of Bruce Springsteen but you had the same issues, fans outside the Hammersmith Apollo looking to buy or sell tickets. Continued overleaf

Was there no secondary ticket market in Europe before you started here? Not in any substantial way. It was like when I started in the U.S. There was a resale market but it was touts – scalpers – on street corners. There was e-Bay, but that doesn’t work well for time-sensitive items


The American

Eric Baker (continued) How did you start? It was 1999. I wanted to see the Lion King with my then girlfriend and the show was sold out. The only alternative was to be gouged by these ticket brokers. So I started Stub-Hub with one partner. I wasn’t the only person with the problem, that’s why it works. At first people thought it was online scalping and we had to let them know it was a marketplace and we were connecting fans. In Europe, a few years later, we got great local backers and struck deals with Manchester United, Chelsea, Bayern Munich. They were controversial at first but people got used to it and realized we actually eliminate scalpers on the street corner and give a safer alternative. Now we’re all across Western Europe. What are the best things about living here? One of the great benefits of staring a business in Europe is being able to travel to any destination – France, Italy, Spain so many fascinating cities and cultures. In the U.S. it’s not two hours to Paris – unless you go to Paris, Texas. London is so cosmopolitan, with everything from sports and music events to some of the best museums in the world, Hyde Park and great restaurants. There’s no time plan – as long as they don’t kick me out of the country I’m still here! What do you miss about home? I’m a huge sports fan and the one thing I can’t do in London is go to a Lakers game. Do you have any advice for Americans coming over here? Don’t assume the UK is the 51st state in the Union. Things may seem similar, but be attuned to the differences. ★


The Christie’s Part-Time Course C

hristie’s is best known for its auctions of fine art. In fact it was the first such auctioneers, which started when James Christie opened his London auction house in 1766. Perhaps less well known, but of great interest to American expats in the UK, is Christie’s educational arm. Many young Americans come to Christie’s Education in London for graduate school, taking the opportunity to spend their year studying the commercial art world in London, and the major European museum collections. Christie’s Education also offers a part-time course in art history, designed for people who need a more flexible timetable for studying. This course is an ideal way to spend your time here in London. The Christie’s Part-Time Course introduces students to modern art and gives them a foundation in the earlier periods. It enables students to gain knowledge of art and the art world through participation in a structured but relaxed environment. Students attend a core lecture series on four mornings a week. There are also regular visits to previews, galleries and museums on some afternoons. A key feature of this course is that study trips both in the UK and abroad are included in the fees. These trips include visits to country houses, museums and galleries in the UK, and annual visits to Rome and Paris. Jami Christen, originally from Seattle, Washington, moved to London with her husband in July of 2005 from Paris. Here, she talks about her year at Christie’s Education. “After spending a year getting settled in, I wanted to immerse myself into British life and discover the city of London. I have always been a lover of art and antiquity, and was very familiar with the world famous, Christie’s Auction House. I decided to enroll at Christies Education and do the part time course in the Fine & Decorative Arts. I enjoy studying history through art, and London is a fantastic place to do this. The city offers some of the best art collections and architecture in the world. This is not reading it in a text book, or seeing it on a slide, this is getting out and experiencing the real thing. I cannot think of a better way to get to know London and the vast cultural cross-section contained in it. The expert lecturers and field trips to Rome and Paris added considerably to the scope and enjoyment of this course.” If you would like to find out more about Christie’s Education, contact them at or visit

ESSENTIAL CONTACTS Here are some crucial telephone numbers to know while you are in the UK. EMERGENCIES Fire, Police, Ambulance  

999 or 112 (NOT 911)

TRANSPORTATION London Underground  020 7222 1234 National Rail Enquiries  08457 4849 50 National Bus Service  0990 808080 TELEPHONES Direct Dial Code, US & Canada  Operator Assistance, UK  Operator Assistance, Int.  International Directory Assistance  Telephone Repair 

001 100 155 153 151

MEDICAL ADVICE LINE NHS Direct delivers 24-hour telephone and e-health information services, direct to the public. www. 0845 4647

The american women’s health centre London OB GYN

DICKINSON B COWAN 214 great portland street london w1w 5qn Appointments: 020 7390 8433 (Phone) 0844 800 3006 (UK only) 020 7383 4162 (Fax) Dickinson B. Cowan

For more details go to and click on Essential Contacts

The American


Cece Mills picks her Arts and Exhibitions for August. There’s plenty to do from the South Coast to Scotland.

Paul Cézanne, Card Players, The Courtauld Gallery, London

The Courtauld Cezannes The Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House To 5th October

Paul Cézanne, Montagne Sainte-Victoire

The Courtauld Gallery, London

The Gallery holds the most impressive body of Cezanne’s work in Britain. Now you can see their entire collection together for the first time and discover why Cezanne was seen as the father of modern art.

Myths and Monsters Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery Until 31 August An exciting and entertaining mixture of animatronic mythical creatures and specimens from the collection at the Natural History Museum. Excellent entertainment for the children – you are introduced to every monster ever invented from all over the world, from cyclops to yetis.


Untitled, Erwin Blumenfeld New York 1946 © the Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld / DACS, London

The famous Mons Meg cannon, Edinburgh Castle Photo: Cece Mills

Edinburgh Festival and Edinburgh Art Festival 8th – 31st August Venues all over Edinburgh The Edinburgh Festival was founded in 1947 and served to revitalise the Arts after the war, as well as bring back hope to those involved in the war with great music, drama, dance and opera. It continues with the same objectives and each year becomes ever more multi-cultural, breaking down social and religious barriers. AlongHot Dog Roll, 2006, Richard Wilson © Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Two Pheasants, Elizabeth Blackadder

Street and Studio

© Photo: John McKenzie

Tate Modern Until 31 August

side the mainstream Festival events runs the Edinburgh Art Festival, with over 50 exhibitions in public and private galleries as well as over 120 associated events. Including a Tracey Emin 20 year retrospective at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Elizabeth Blackadder at the Scottish Gallery, and Richard Wilson in a derelict warehouse called The Grey Gallery, there is no shortage of interesting and eclectic exhibitions. For more information about the main Festival, go to

Street and Studio is an international photography exhibition of images from the street, and taken in the photographers studio. It ranges from the carefully composed and controlled image to the entirely spontaneous. Focussing mainly on urban life, it spans a period from the 1800s to the present day.

South by South West The Story of Art in South West Scotland Until 21 September Kilmarnock, Ayr, Kirkudbright and Dumfries An interesting concept of an art survey exhibition spanning over 200 years. Each venue illustrates local landscapes which were inspirations to artists within those areas. With each area covering a different era (South Ayrshire 1780 – 1880, Dumfries and Galloway 1880 – 1940, and East Ayrshire 1940 – 2008), and showing the work of several members of the ‘Glasgow Boys’ as well as other notable local artists, the only possible shame seems to me to be the fact that the venues aren’t closer together!


Spotlight on



ampshire is a big place! There is also a lot going on all over the county, so read on to find out about some of the different things you could visit in the worlds of arts and activities. Don’t forget, August is the hot month for sailing buffs, with Cowes Week in the Isle of Wight – a must if you like gawping at gorgeous boats teeming with equally gorgeous, deck-shoed sailors from all over the world. ‘The Island’ is the subject and title of a fabulous coffee table book produced by Ben Wood. Full of images taken by photographer Wood, the book’s foreword is written by the late Anthony Minghella. You can see all the images in an exhibition at the Dimbola Lodge Museum in Freshwater Bay, the other end of the island from Cowes. I think 30 of the images from the book are on sale as framed limited edition prints. Dimbola Lodge was the home of Victorian portrait photographer Julia Margaret Cameron from 1860 to 1875. She was mainly famous for her portrait photos of Victorian society figures. Also on the Island, Quay Arts


Centre in Newport is not only an interesting historic building, but always full of innovative and great art. During August you can go and have your cappuccino in the café and admire sculptor and local IoW resident Seamus Bebbington’s wooden and gigantic sculptures inspired by the Queen’s Beasts – more commonly seen in small scale on postage stamps and pound notes. Back on the mainland if you can tear yourself away from the clinking of the halyards and pubs full of yachties, Stokes Bay Festival, incorporating Wickham Festival, runs from 31st July to 3rd August. Stokes Bay looks out across the Solent towards the Isle of Wight and Cowes. The Festival includes such great names as the Levellers, The New Rope String Band, 3 Daft Monkeys, The Saw Doctors and more. There is also a solar powered cinema, Hand to Mouth Theatre Company performing, Punch and Judy displays, Dancing, the Cirque de Normandie, Crafts and lots of exotic food stalls. I know I mentioned this last month, but the Sir Harold Hillier

Beaulieu has one of the major motor museums of the world

Gardens in Romsey are wonderful. Art in the Garden – over 200 works of art in 180 acres of garden – will keep you occupied for the day at least. And if you like being outside, why not trot along and see Phyllida Barlow’s installation called Fence. This is on the public walk by Bailey’s Hard, between Beaulieu and Buckler’s Hard in the New Forest. It is part of the South Bank Centre’s Art on Site programme and consists of a large scale installation of a very pink fence. Hard to imagine! The sculpture is designed to weather and age, to meld in with the landscape… If something indoors is more your scene and you are in the vicinity of Beaulieu, visit the Abbey, the Palace House and the famous National Motor Museum. The latter is for all you men who never seem to be able to resist ogling at cars, new or old. I thought The Abbey was founded in 1204 by Cistercian Monks and you can visit an exhibition illustrating monastic life and learn all about the

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Abbey since 1204. The Palace House was the 14th century gatehouse to the Abbey, and is owned by Lord Montagu. There are all sorts of quirky events going on, from a talk by Victorian Butler Mr Pleasant about his duties for the household, to demonstrations by costumier Tanya Elliot. Beaulieu was often visited and written about in her books by Jane Austen. The Jane Austen House and Museum in Chawton, near Alton, is where she lived latterly and wrote her later books. It’s a great place to visit and understand more about the story of her life. The Fairground Craft and Design Centre in Weyhill, near Andover, promotes, supports, educates and involves everyone in arts and crafts. It is situated on the old Weyhill Fair site, where the legendary Michaelmas Fair used to be held. Here people gathered to show sheep and other livestock, sell cheese and hops, and generally be entertained, have their teeth pulled and so forth. The Craft Centre is re-instigating this fair in September – perhaps without the painful teeth pulling stand. The events for July include mouth-watering demonstrations by their resident chocolatier, and for August they are holding an Open exhibition of artwork. Hampshire Open Studios runs from 16th to 31st August – the usual million and one studios, workshops

The Isle of Wight is known for Cowes Week, but there is a thriving arts scene as well

and homes open to the public. As I can vouch, Open Studios are always good for a snoop and to discover some hitherto unfound secret talents. They are also very valuable for the artists taking part, so get your free guide, take your cheque book and go and explore. One venue opening with an exhibition called ‘Summer’, of 10 different artists working in as many media, is the Hanger Farm Arts Centre in Totton in the New Forest. I loved the idea of the exhibition titled ‘One Lump or Two’. This is in the Havant Arts Centre and by Claire Callanan BA and Lyn Unsworth BA. As they say in their blurb ‘tea drinking provides the gender neutral social glue which bridges every embarrassing silence or difficult conversation’ – a very British and very singular ritual this kind of tea drinking! The John Hansard Gallery at Southampton University has an amazing variety of interesting exhibitions throughout the year. Currently showing is Venezuelan born, London

based painter Juan Bolivar. His predominantly greyscale, muted coloured paintings approach with humour Bolivar’s reaction to abstraction, as reflected in the title of the show ‘Geometry Wars’. Also showing there throughout August is an interesting collection of prints in the Hartley Library at University of Southampton. Here you can follow the eclectic, eccentric and fascinating history of Southampton and its people. Winchester Cathedral – spectacular and beautiful. Worth visiting anyway, but did you know this? In the early 1900s the cathedral was at risk of collapsing. William Walker (1864 to 1918), a diver, saved it virtually single handedly by shoring up the foundations, under water, in pitch dark, for five and a half years! There is now a statue of him in the Cathedral by Sir Charles Wheeler, sadly with the wrong face since Wheeler was given a photo to work from of the wrong man! The face is actually engineer Sir Francis Fox. All this and more at an exhibition about the three heroes who saved the Cathedral – William Walker, Francis Fox (the civil engineer) and Thomas Jackson (the architect).

Seamus Bebbington’ giant mythical beasts, on show at the Quay Arts Centre, Newport, Isle of Wight


this Art? The American

Is this Art? Manga


anga is the word for Japanese comics and printed cartoon. at first sight somewhat novel, this art form is actually not so new. narrative art has long been in existence – indeed the famous Katsushika hokusai, born in 1760, was a pioneer of such art. famous, and you will immediately know when i tell you, for his painting of The Great wave of Kanagawa, painted in the 1820s. hokusai was Japan’s leading expert in painting and printing and the largest of his work was a massive 15 volume collection of some 4,000 sketches. Predominantly of animals, figures and objects, these were the precursor to the cartoon strip. now Manga is experiencing a massive revival as publishers realise the worth of such a medium as a vehicle for dealing with almost every subject, controversial or difficult, taboo or everyday, in a way to suit almost everyone, young or old. in fact, in Japan, Manga is now meshed within the national art curriculum at school and is seen as one of Japan’s traditional and most important modes of expression. we think, ‘comics’. Comics have long been associated in this country with small boys and girls. The storylines generally cartoon characters getting into scrapes, footballers winning endless matches, or spin-offs from disney films. in spite of this, there is an argument for the case of this genre of narrative art in encouraging young things to read more, spurred on by the colour and action in the pages. in Japan the Manga comics approach things in a more realistic way, dealing with problems of gender, racism, sex, crime, even business and finance and so on, in a way that all ages can relate to. well, i can’t, but then i’m not Japanese. historically Manga was heavily shaped by american influences during the us occupation of Japan in 1945 to 1952, including comics brought in by Gis, disney films and other cartoons. ★ Right: A typical Manga character iMaGe By niaBoT


The American


by Virginia E. Schultz, Michael Burland and Richard L. Gale

Strictly Gershwin


oyal Albert Hall was filled with an enthusiastic audience more under thirty than over fifty. No surprise given the UK’s enthusiasm for everything ballroom on TV. Strictly Gershwin was another ambitious production by the English National Ballet, conceived and choreographed by Derek Deane, who was also responsible for last year’s successful Swan Lake. The music, 100 percent Gershwin, at times became lost in the huge rotunda that is Albert Hall. Conductor Gareth Valentine, who did a bit of show off boogieing and jitterbugging as he swung his baton, managed to get at least the brass section to conquer the acoustic dilemma which sometimes failed the rest of the orchestra through no fault of their own. Barbara Cook, a once favorite Broadway ingénue, proved she can still belt out a song despite being a woman of a certain age and two tap dancers brought the audience to their feet. Images of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly in their heyday were projected above the stage. This became a problem for me. Aged twelve, and at five foot eight, I was politely asked to leave my ballet class as I was too tall and studied modern dance instead. Watching Fred, Ginger and Gene on the wall made it obvious that most of the ballet dancers had no experience beyond their ballet school training, in the kind of dance routines those

Gershwin plus English National Ballet PICTURES BY ERIC RICHMOND

three made world famous. However, there were performances that could almost compete with those huge MGM productions of the past. Guillaume Cote’ as the GI who loses his heart in Paris would have brought an approving smile from Gene Kelly who played the part in the film. And Fernanda Oliveira managed to slip from ingénue to vamp with that same seductive innocence Leslie Caron portrayed. Agnes Oaks and Thomas Edur in The Man I Love and Dria Klimentova and Friedemann Vogel in Summertime successfully caught the mood of Gershwin even when the ensemble looked slightly uneasy in their routines. The costumes on the female dancers didn’t always help. We needed more top hats and tails and flowing dresses, not last year’s costumes from Swan Lake. I hope if they do this production again they have a better place to perform and 20th century dresses for the female dancers. For the most part it was “’s wonderful, ‘s marvellous” as Ira Gershwin wrote. And nothing could spoil George’s music. VS

Dickens Unplugged Written and directed by Adam Long. Comedy Theatre, London


hen Adam Long’s Reduced Shakespeare Company staged The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), audiences (including me) laughed and critics praised this hilarious attempt by three Americans to cram all the Bard’s plays into under two hours. It ran for nine years. I expected Dickens Unplugged to be silly and amusing and looked forward to a pleasurable evening. Instead I found myself recalling a junior high school satire of Dicken’s Christmas Carol written by a friend and me that had no one laughing except our parents. Long’s idea for Unplugged came from Bret Harte’s poem Dickens in Camp, in which a group of cowboys listen round the camp fire to The Old Curiosity Shop. I recall that poem – more than I can say about the country and western ditties sung by Long and four male actor-musicians. Contrasting the differences between Victorian prudery and contemporary customs, the male cast stomp around in 19th century dresses, hair in ringlets, using expressions better suited to Graham Norton, as when Dicken’s wife shouts, “I’m sick of your shit” because neither wants to have custody of their ten children. The cast did their utmost to entertain. Unfortunately, the spirited performances and vigorous dancing and singing could not disguise a boring, dismal script. VS (Dickens Unplugged closed on June 29 after four weeks.)


The American

West of the Wall By Marcia Preston

Little Marvel and Other Stories By Wendy Perriam


endy Perriam came up with the idea for her fifth book of short stories after she read that one in twenty-three of us are prey to some kind of phobia. There are the fear of needles (belonephobia), beards (pogonophobia), peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth (arachibutyrophobia), and even fear of fear (phobophobia). Her new collection draws on many phobias, a number she has experienced herself life. Perriam is fascinated by the secret lives and the obsessions that control us behind our public faces. Not that all her characters are crazy or afraid. There is too much humanity and sympathy in the soul of this talented author to characterize everyone as mad. Many of these stories focus on the bravery of the human spirit as it triumphs over fears and doubts. I silently cheered Ian on in “Heart’s Desire” as he galloped off on his high prancing Arab and found tears in my eyes as Jane transformed her garden into a loving memorial for her deceased daughter in “Charlotte Elizabeth”. Whether it’s a girl with a fear of peas or a wife torn between her handsome artist lover and anxious husband, Perriam brings to life the drama in even the most ordinary of lives. “I deliberately depart from the facts,” she writes, “and find myself taken in often surprising new directions. That’s the joy of short stories – their unpredictability.” VS Robert Hale, £18.99



he Berlin Wall separated East and West Berlin for 28 years, from October 1961until 1989, the physical manifestation of the Iron Curtain. East German troops tore up streets and installed barbed wire entanglements around the three western sectors. Border guards were given ‘shoot to kill’ orders if anybody tried to cross. Hundreds were killed trying to cross the Wall into West Berlin. It is likely there were hundreds more, border guards were ordered to shoot defectors and many were left to bleed to death in no man’s land. This book describes the heartache of a young couple in the communist East, their family and Wolfgang, a childhood friend who had joined the Volkspolizei. Trudy’s husband Rolf undertakes a risky escape to West Berlin after hearing that he is about to be arrested, leaving his wife, baby son and mother. Trudy is now the wife of a defector, an enemy of the people. Wolfgang warns her that she too is threatened with arrest and urges her to escape to the West with his help. She has to leave her young son with her mother-in-law, not knowing how they will make ends meet, or whether she will see them again. She learns the truth about her husband and lives for Sundays to sneak glimpses of her son behind the fence the other side of No Man’s Land, her purpose in life to bring her son and mother-in-law to the West, which takes her to the United States in an effort to get help. MB Mira, paperback, £6.99 On page 48 Marcia Preston talks to The American about how she came to write West of the Wall.

Cat’s Cradle By Kurt Vonnegut


his burlesque on religion, greed, power, the naivety of science and the end of the world packs quite a punch for its diminutive weight., managing to pack a lot (including 127 chapters) into its 179 pages. The main character in Cat’s Cradle never actually appears in its action. Dr Felix Hoenikker was one of the ‘fathers of the atom bomb’. Now he pursues his own projects. One of these, ice-nine, is a simple chemical that has the power to destroy the planet. I won’t say how – that would spoil the fun – but suffice to say when he dies he leaves his three dysfunctional children a deadly legacy. Not content with these bizarre characters and extraordinary premise, Vonnegut transfers the action to the poorest country on the globe, a barren rock in the Caribbean with its own weird players - a crazed dictator, his beautiful, other-worldly adopted daughter, and Bokonon, (another major character who is absent from the action but crucial to the plot), the inventor of the world’s newest and most cynical religion, whose messianic but self-destructive aphorisms pepper the pages. The humour of Cat’s Cradle is sometimes laid on with a trowel, but it’s never less than ingenious and inventive. Rumor has it that Leonardo DiCaprio snapped up the rights to develop a movie based on the novel. MB Penguin paperback, £8.99

The American

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (PS2)

N The Making of Star Wars / The Complete Making of Indiana Jones By J. W. Rinzler


ust as Indiana Jones has been salvaging lost treasures, so J.W. Rinzler has been plundering the archives of Lucasfilms to produce these two impressive books. The Complete Making of Indiana Jones is a wealth of Indiana artifacts, bringing together interviews and anectdotes with everyone of note from the series to tell the chronological story of how-it-all-happened. And in some cases, how it didn’t happen – we learn that initial interviews for casting the main characters of Raiders took place in a kitchen while Steven Spielberg cooked, and a parrot punctuated conversation with opera, Lucas and Spielberg bypassing the likes of Christopher Guest and David Hasselhoff before casting... Tom Selleck? As if such gems are not enough, there’s the photos with Selleck doing his screen test, alongside the first two pages of George Lucas’ first treatment, some pages from the script, prop sketches, storyboards, costume designs and much more. There is naturally more of the book given over to Raiders than there is of Crystal Skull, but the most recent film gets a fair crack of Indy’s whip nonetheless, allowing the book to live up to its ‘Complete’ claim. At 300 large and well-illustrated pages,

this book is pure heaven for the Indiana Jones fan, and the £25 price tag is more than fair. While The Complete Making of Indiana Jones would be a welcome diversion for any lover of action movies, The Making of Star Wars deserves to sit on the bookshelf of any student of the film-making art. For all its success, the Indiana Jones series rode in on the coat-tails of Lucas’ box-office redefining Star Wars ‘trilogy’, and this 400-page book of devoted text (including extracts from early drafts and notes) concentrates on merely the original Star Wars movie. Much of the content is gleaned from interviews contemporary to the making of a revolutionary film, so that the book is as much about the creation of special effects giant Industrial Light and Magic as it is about the budgetary rollercoaster or the filming itself. Without Star Wars, Harrison Ford would never have been Indiana Jones – and without Harrison Ford, Han Solo might have been a green rubber mask. £14.99 isn’t cheap for a softback of mostly-text, but this is an invaluable work ...and if the editor thinks he’s getting the review copy back, he’s got a fight on his hands! RG Ebury Press.

arnia seems set to replace that Potter kid as favorite fantasy film franchise, and the games have come close behind. Prince Caspian is the second book in CS Lewis’s series of stories about the alternative universe of Narnia. The game has an extra level set between the two books, exploring how the bad-guy Telmarines overran Narnia. It is for 1-4 players and you can play online in real time. Review by Bella (aged 12): In the game you can explore Narnia and play Lucy, Edmund, Susan, or Peter (the human children who find themselves transported there), giants, centaurs, talking beasts or Prince Caspian himself. To start with it was confusing, but once you get into it, it is fun. It explains the story before each level, but some of the instructions could be clearer. If you don’t pass a level you have to repeat it until you do, which can be good but also frustrating. It’s very well structured – everything links together. It is a little bit boring at times and it’s not really like being in the book, which I love. The characters are not how I imagined them and some of the action is too violent. You don’t really see any blood and gore but you have to hack the Telmarine enemies to death. In that way it’s more like other computer games than the Narnia books. I would buy it and play it. Disney Interactive Studios, PS2 game £24.99; other formats PS3, Nintendo DS, Wii, Xbox.


The American

West of the Wall

Author Marcia Preston talks to Sabrina Sully



s an American, why did you come up with a story based in Germany? I went to Europe several times accompanying school trips. I got to Berlin a couple of times, and those trips were real eye openers. I remember reading about Kennedy’s speech in my youth, but I wasn’t old, or political, enough to really get it until later when I had visited the Wall. I saw this old man standing at the Wall, shaking his fist and cursing the East Berlin Government that had walled him off from his family. He told me he had fled to the West. He was so anguished that it haunted me. I tried to write a short story about him and what he’d gone through but the idea was too large, it wanted to grow. I framed it into a novel and changed the old man to a young woman, separated from her baby by the Wall, the most dramatic example of what happened to so many families. When the Wall came down it was on all the news in the U.S. and I was really caught up in everything that was going on over there, I wanted to be there so badly. I had a draft of this book at home in a drawer, but I thought, there’s no Wall any more, nobody will want to read it! As the years went by it seemed to me that maybe it was valuable in a historic context to tell the story of these people whose lives had been affected by the Wall. I started working on it again, my editor and publisher liked it, so here it is. Who were the models for the characters? I met a young woman, Trabel, in Austria, who became the model for the heroine. Wolfgang was totally out of my head. I kept thinking about an official, a man of principles, who really believed in the communist form of government, but compassionate enough to be swayed by personal issues like Trudy’s separation from her son. Rolf was a matter of convenience, I needed Trudy to be on her own, some reason how they might


have gotten separated. To me Rolf represented all these people who did indeed help people escape through the wall, and often paid with their lives. Several of the incidents I used are taken directly from newspaper accounts of actual events, like the tunnel beneath the cemetery, they dug a tunnel in an unused grave and before the authorities found it, quite a few people escaped that way. Did those European trips include the UK, and has it changed? I haven’t been to the UK for maybe 20 years. I think it’s changed quite a bit. But I was quite young when I was here before, and I think the things you observe may be different. To me, there seems less difference now between an American city and a British city than there was back then. Of course we’ve always felt a huge kinship to the British in the States, they’re our sister country, our mother country, but to me now, it seems that we have more similarities than we had before.” How did you get into writing? I did a lot of different things, I came to writing late. I was a schoolteacher in Oklahoma. I grew up on a farm and there was no notion that a girl could grow up and be a writer, it just wasn’t in anybody’s frame of reference. You could be a schoolteacher, a secretary, a nurse or a farm wife, those were the four things a girl did. I did the first two before I decided to concentrate on writing. I worked in the magazine business for years, freelancing for many magazines all over the country, and published a magazine myself for freelance writers. Finally one of my novels was picked up by a publisher. My husband of over 40 years has been the biggest force in my life, he’s been so supportive of my writing. He believed in it and never begrudged the time I spent doing that, even when things weren’t really working for me. Without his support I would have given up several times. ★

The American

How is PKL for You?


o, how are you enjoying PKL? That’s Post-Ken-London. As Boris hurtles into his third month as the UK’s capital’s Mayor, no-one can argue that it hasn’t been an action packed start. Not all of the action has been good; particularly the accusations and resignations of some of the Mayor’s closest key staff. The first, James McGrath, was accused of making racist comments, leading Boris to be accused of leaving him to ‘hang out to dry’ and accepting his resignation too swiftly. Shortly afterwards, the Deputy Mayor Ray Lewis resigned following various sleaze accusations. But these negatives aside, I for one am enjoying most of the changes that Boris has been making. The Mayor is promising to change the landscape of London – and not just politically. During his election campaign, Boris described his passion for London’s architecture and one of the first policy areas that he has focused on is planning. His proposals in this area include limiting high rise buildings to just three areas in the capital; the city, Docklands and Croydon. Secondly, he has called for the return

of ‘Skylon’. No, not the excellent restaurant on the Southbank, but the cigar-shaped structure which hovered above the Thames as part of the post-war Festival of Britain but was destroyed in the early 1950s. This has pleased those with a passion for the London skyline but such policies can be seen as little more than trivial gestures in light of the myriad of problems facing London. Indeed, even Architecture News, who broadly support Boris’ planning proposals, recently asked if this was “simply a Sarkozy style political ‘branding exercise’ rather than addressing the real and more complex issues of Londoners such as transportation”. But transport is an issue that Boris has addressed recently. Boris has pleased green campaigners by declaring that he doesn’t support the potential third runway at Heathrow airport, advocating instead the idea of moving London’s main airport to the Thames Estuary on reclaimed land. Like Ken before him, Boris has noted the increasing popularity of cycling in the capital and has put forward proposals to create traffic-free ‘superhighways’ for those on two wheels. One of his most popular promises during the election was getting rid of ‘bendy buses’, which many see as unsafe and unsuitable for London’s streets. He has since launched a ‘design a bus’ competition for anyone in the capital to put forward proposals for a better-designed bus. Most recently, he’s fulfilled two manifesto promises; firstly by banning alcohol on the tube, and secondly by quash-

ing Ken Livingston’s proposed rise in the congestion charge from £8 to £25 for vehicles believed to be the most polluting. So, Londoners’ biggest bugbear – transportation - hasn’t been ignored. To those readers who, like the BBC Trust, think that our media is too London-centric, I must apologise for this article’s focus. But it’s only a small apology as I see the changes happening in London as those that could affect the country as a whole; Boris’ action in London could give a steer as to how a future Conservative Government might want to make changes across the country. Before you think that I’ve changed from my usual impartial self, I’ll admit that not everything in London is great – watch this space should Boris make any big mistakes! – but I’ve decided that at least for the Summer, we should all relax and enjoy a bit of PKL. ★



Jo Cole thinks it’s time to cut Boris some slack


Prototypes and concepts abounded – here’s Mazda’s Frua

Goodwood Festival of


he Festival of Speed has become the world’s number one venue to see beautiful, awe-inspiring, historic and megabucks sporting cars and motorcycles. Why number one? Well, at Pebble Beach and other events you can certainly see as high a quality of vehicle. But you won’t see the best drivers from the past and present thrashing them up a hillclimb track, inches away from sharp flint walls, just as they always used to. Nor will you mix with these heroes in the paddock, or stand inches away from their mounts as they fire up. Here are some highlights from this year’s Festival, photos courtesy of Goodwood. 1949 Buick Roadmaster Riviera Coupe makes a handsome centrepiece for the concourse


A 1970 AMC AMX3 Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason is a fixture at Goodwood

Speed ’08

Ford Taurus 2003 5.8 litre V8 gets its tail loose at the first corner

Ducati D16RR Desmosedici – words fail me – you couldn’t hear them anyway Bond’s Aston Martin Vanquish with a Bond Girl – macho man heaven

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Drive Time Right Hand Drive Cadillac CTS Prices Announced


Broken down in Europe… what should you do?

Euro Rules – The Latest Advice


wo motoring organizations have good advice for drivers traveling sur la continent this summer. GEM Motoring Assist is offering a free booklet aimed at avoiding unpleasantness with the politzei or gendarmerie. “The problem is very few new drivers on the continent appreciate that every European country has different rules and regulations that can be enforced with real vigour – even to the point of your vehicle being impounded” says David Williams, GEM’s CEO. Your Introduction to Driving in Europe explains the differences in clear language with country-by-country examples. It has helpful rules about preparation and a bunch of useful checklists. “Treat the pamphlet as a piece of informative bed-time reading, make a few notes and in the morning pop it in the

glove box for future reference and use your list to check your car is ready for the trip,” suggests David. Get a copy by calling +44 (0)1342 825676 or e-mailing from their website The Institute of Advanced Motorists is warning motorists of a new piece of French legislation. From July 1, 2008, it is compulsory to have a reflective jacket on board any vehicle with four wheels or more. In an emergency the jacket must be easily accessible by the driver and must be put on before leaving the car, day or night, regardless of visibility. From October 1, 2008, any person found not complying will face a 135 euro fine (90 euro if paid early). And believe us, the French police stop foreign motorists and collect on the spot fines rigorously.

uestion: The 2009-model Cadillac CTS sports saloon is A: An alternative to executive car park default-choice hyper efficient German sedans. B: Great value at sticker price (depreciation may be steep). C: American as pecan pie, but drivable on British roads! Answer: All of the above. “The launch of the right-hand drive CTS marks a major step forward for the Cadillac brand in the UK,” says Jonathan Nash, director in charge, Cadillac UK. “We believe the focus on dramatic design, craftsmanship and the class leading technologies will ensure the CTS is a desirable, exclusive alternative in today’s premium car market.” The American hopes so. The design looks great, but craftsmanship has been lacking in American cars – just sit in an Audi for ten minutes. But the combination of luxurious specification, rear-wheel drive (still the choice of enthusiastic large-car drivers), efficient petrol engines (a 2.8 litre and a new direct injection 3.6 litre, both V6s) and competitive price points should encourage interest from the natives as well as expatriate Americans. The CTS made its UK debut at the British International Motor Show and will be in dealers from September 1. However, missing until next year (they’re not giving a date) is a new advanced 2.9 litre V6 diesel – that should really be something.


The American

Land Rover Review by Michael Burland


o you know why Land Rover drivers drive around with their windows down and their elbows sticking out? Are they fresh air fiends? Well many are, but that’s not the reason. No, it’s because there is simply nowhere else to put their elbows. The drivers seat is so close to the door that you either have to hold the top of the steering wheel, tuck your right elbow into your ribs (I’m talking about the right-wheeldrive, left-side-of-the-road Brit set up) making it difficult to turn the wheel, or stick said joint out into the breeze. While I’m on the subject, there’s nowhere to put your left leg – that’s where they decided to put the handbrake. And there’s precious little space for the rest of your body – shoulders, legs, you know the sort of thing. Add to this a hard plastic, sharp-edged interior, a so-so radio and a plentiful supply of all the things that automobile design engineers


Defender spend ages trying to dial out – NVH, noise, vibration and harshness – and a bouncy, crashy ride. So all this makes it a terrible car, no? No! It makes it a brilliant car – in the right place, doing the right things. When people say Land Rover, they’re usually referring to the Defender – the latest incarnation of the ‘proper’ Land Rover, the iconic British countryman’s vehicle. The sophisticated Range Rover, clever and practical Discovery and soft-roading Freelander are known by their model names. You have to drive a Defender like a farmer treats a truculent ewe, with respect, even affection, but very firmly. Engage a gear firmly. Second usually suffices as first is for rock crawling and the low range transfer gearbox is reserved for situations that, if you’re a normal human, you really didn’t want to get yourself into in the first place. Accelerate positively. Get up to a higher gear – there

are six now, but it doesn’t matter much whether you choose it or fifth – and settle in to bounce and wrestle around the countryside at 60 to 70mph. And countryside is its natural environment. If you want a 4x4 to look great while doing the shopping and the school run, please (please!) don’t buy a Defender. It will, or course, do these things, but it won’t do them as well as many other cars and it’s physically more effort to drive than even most 4x4s. And it kind of demeans the vehicle too. I don’t want to get all anthropomorphic about it, but it’s like buying a prize ox to pull a dog cart. If, however, you actually do sometimes need to get into difficult, muddy, seriously rocky or steep terrain then you will find nothing better on the planet. It even fits into regular British car parking spaces. Compare that with Audi’s aircraft carrier sized Q7 or most American SUVs.

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The latest Defender – as of 2007 – has a 2.4-litre common rail diesel engine that improves on the previous five cylinder Td5’s refinement (relatively) and pulling power (always good – it can tow 3 ½ tons). The mill comes from former owners Ford’s Transit delivery van, albeit with a vast number of modifications to make it worthy of the go-anywhere-in-anyconditions Defender, and it arrived just in time for Ford to sell Land Rover (along with Jaguar). The long term availability of the engine may be in some doubt. It will return around 27mpg (larger British gallons), not bad for its capabilities but not good if you only want a road car. The separate chassis means that it’s easy to bolt on different body styles. I drove the short wheelbase, two side-door 90 station wagon. Land Rover models are named after their wheelbase, the 90 is the shortie of the family. If you want rear side doors you’ll have to go for the longer wheelbase 110. Inside, why mercy, what’s this? Things have changed. There’s a new fascia with everything in sensible places, high-mounted tweeter speakers and a great big passenger grab handle. The heater works, I mean really works (although it’s lost the quirky, cute ventilation flaps beneath the

windshield). That is news for Landie fans. And the new front seats are long-journey comfortable. The 90 has two separate, adult-size forward facing rear seats that cleverly and easily fold sideways out of the way for large loads. This, too, is a shock to aficionados as older versions had (if they had any rear seats at all) sideways/inward facing, very basic accommodation. For back seat appraisal I asked the experts – Bella (12 years old) and Fleur (10). They reckoned it was “the most comfortable car we’ve ever been in”. Now, realistically, to be truthful, it’s not. By a long way. But they have been chauffeured by Dad in cars of all sorts, up to five times the price of the Defender, and they’ve never been so impressed, nor had so much fun in a car. And that’s the great secret of the Defender. Even if they don’t really, really need its off road prowess, many people buy one because kids love its character. Dogs love it (is there some kind of race memory from generations of sheepdogs?). Most adults love it. And so do I. ★

Depending on the level of specification, the Defender 90 Station Wagon costs between £21,700 and £23,000.

How it Started

Contrary to many people’s perception the Land Rover post-dates the U.S. Army’s General Purpose vehicle – the GP, or ‘Jeep’. There are even some British war movies showing the British Army dashing about in the North African desert or Ardennes mud in their purposeful, effective Land Rovers. In fact the ‘Landie’ wasn’t born until 1948 when a Rover Car company employee found himself short of a car to get about his farm after his Willys Jeep died. He suggested to his employers – who specialised in making staid, respectable middle class cars beloved of doctors and bank managers – that they make something similar but redesigned mainly for British farmers. A legend was born.


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Maid of Orleans The New Orleans Saints head to London this Fall to play an NFL regular season game at Wembley. In an extensive interview, Richard L Gale asks Saints Owner/Executive Vice President Rita Benson LeBlanc about the football business, coming to London, and life after Hurricane Katrina. What was the first football game you can remember watching? I was probably nine or ten. I think it was one of the games where I ran around on the field afterward with my grandfather, celebrating.

Who were your sporting or business heroes growing up? I remember reading Lee Iacocca’s book when I was in junior high. But really my grandfather [Saints Owner Tom Benson] was the most successful person that I knew. I wanted to be involved in all the family businesses and carry on the family legacy, from a very early age. At what age did you realize you could have a career as a football executive? I always felt I wanted to be involved in all the businesses, but once I got into high school and college and worked an internship with the club, it kept my interest. After a degree in AgriBusiness at Texas A&M, you’ve really stood out in marketing. Is this something you picked up from your time through NFL films and publishing? I think I’ve always been someone who understands about marketing and promotion, talking and spreading the word. It was just something I had a knack for, but when I was in business school, I didn’t really want to pigeon-holed – I wanted something that was a bit more broad and unique, and agricultural economics is really commodity markets, feeding the world, really large corporate businesses.

Are you involved in any agri-business? Not especially, but we have a ranch in Texas – that’s about as close as it comes. We do eat our own beef that we raise on the ranch, but that’s more of a family perk. What’s been your most proud achievement: making it within a game of the Superbowl, or selling out at home three years running? I can’t pick one. Competitively all I want is to go to the Superbowl – it is the golden ring and what we all strive towards – so coming that close was a wonderful year, and now we’re so determined. On the business side I’m very proud of the accomplishment, even more so because of the nature of New Orleans. It reiterates the connection we have with our community and our people. You have teams that are very successful, and sell out, but they don’t have our waiting list and those kind of things. That takes a lot of hard work, a lot of communication, a lot of interaction with the public and creating confidence. What special considerations are there in running an NFL team in one of the NFL’s smallest markets? You can’t always tell how cities are going to evolve and which businesses are going to shift in relevance. You figure a way to make them relevant in their community. What we’re really conscious of is working with our local business community to strengthen ties and attract new businesses and use our game as a recruiting tool if possible. We get more attention than most people, so we’re able to use the platform of the NFL and the website to talk about our com-

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munity/ All of that is what a lot of teams strive to do to be strong in their market, but I think we excel at it – we certainly never stop thinking about it! How’s New Orleans looking now? Are there still areas of disarray? In most of the major heart and soul of the city – the French Quarter and the historic areas that most visitors see – you wouldn’t notice. It actually looks better in a lot of areas because people were finally able to get their insurance money, so there’s a different energy. People who came back were absolutely commited to coming back and those that didn’t needed to move on with their lives, so the personality of the city is a lot different. It’s always been very gracious but now there’s even more energy and gratitude and hospitality. We’re also attracting a lot of people from all over the country, a lot of young people coming down to volunteer, to start up companies. People are making a conscious effort to be a part of revitalizing an American city – and I think that’s really special.

”It’s a pleasure for me to bring my family and friends and fans and business partners over, to show them London.” The Superdome is one of the oldest NFL venues. San Antonio is a much larger market than New Orleans, and you even grew up in San Antonio. Isn’t a team move an inevitability? No. Right now we’re in negotiations and discussions with [the Louisiana] Governor and his people. We have a fantastic relationship with them, and we’re as commited to Louisiana as he is, on working out a deal that helps us to be

Community focus: Coach Sean Payton and Saints players take part in a rebuilding program in New Orleans. Courtesy of New Orleans Saints

economically stable so that we can be prosperous here. He recognises the value of an NFL club to a city and to a state. I don’t see any bumps in the road as far as us having a long term agreement to be here in Louisiana. The decision to opt out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement offered the rare sight of 32 owners agreeing. How easy was finding full consensus considering the differences between financial circumstances of 32 teams? What everyone agrees is that it’s the equation of the actual agreement as far as how it disincentivizes growth, and so everyone agreed that it wasn’t working for us. So, much more discussion remains as far as solutions for both sides, but we could all agree that it was putting pressure, that it wasn’t in the long term interests of the NFL – or the players for that matter. The players are paid off of total revenue, and so what we are trying to do is put together a formula that really benefits them, but is based upon a logical business formula and that helps us to grow the game. And the player agreement doesn’t take into account the debt that the owners have put up as far as building these new stadiums and elements like that. So if you’re

Do you think that the influence of Katrina was a factor in the team’s success the following season once they returned home? Our head coach, Sean Payton, did a tremendous job of taking the players, our office and leadership towards the same goal. He’s a guy who was a borderline player who had to work extra hard to make teams, and then our quarterback [Drew Brees] is a guy who has always had an incredible talent, but he had an arm injury and his team didn’t really have faith in his ability, so everyone was kind of coming from behind. People could doubt you – our head coach was a first year head coach – or question that you were young and fresh but everybody sort of had something to prove. The year before, a lot of our guys were the same players, and talented athletes but ... it’s a head game, you have to be able to focus on the game – we had so many games that came close that year even though our record was bad, where their heads weren’t in it. It was so hard to focus, and you were worried and upset about people, and the pressure of thinking that you were playing for an entire community. It wasn’t a measure of their heart. You’re playing in so many locations, its physically draining, so for that, I thought they were incredible because of the adversity that they got through.


The American

disincentivizing us from building new stadiums and expanding, then suddenly we’re all screeching to a halt as far as the economic engine, and it’s trying to communicate that to the other players and the people who are negotiating. We need a CBA to work and operate under, and we fully expect to have one, but it’s just the terms of the contract. We’ve got three years to discuss and figure out a good contract that helps everyone grow the revenue together. If detachment from the CBA leads to a more competitive free agent market, how will the Saints fair against big-spending teams such as the Redskins and Cowboys, who have bigger wallets and flashy facilities? We have fabulous, indoor facilities that weathered the storm. You build it through the reputation of your people. It’s one thing if people are spending money, but you can see the clubs that have spent a lot in free agency and put a bunch of big name guys together who really couldn’t come together as a cohesive team, and they don’t win. So I think a lot of the players are wise to that – or some are, some aren’t – and for the most part they want to be somewhere where they can respect the people they work with, and also where they can win and be successful. If you have that word on the street, that people know what kind of first class facility you have, then you attract the best, because the best want to be where they can be successful. Top to bottom, the people here feel that, and we constantly watch it and do things in our locker room that make it the best, and so there are little big ways that we make ourselves different.

Do you come to the UK often? Quite often. It’s a pleasure for me to bring my family and friends and fans and business partners over, to show them London, because I think it’s one of the finest cities in the world. We’re also going be using elements of cultural and business exchange to attract people to Louisiana and New Orleans. Aside from the Giants making the trip last year and hardly hurting them – are there any things the Saints are trying to accomplish in London as a team and organization, as opposed to being NFL representatives? Our primary focus, as far as the league finding us attractive to go, and making up for losing a home game, is to showcase New Orleans: the recovery of our area, how far we’ve come, and what a wonderful opportunity we have for people to visit as tourists or for people to expand their business, all the things that are possible. There’s so much that oil and gas could do between companies in the UK and Louisiana. We just want to use this game as a catalyst for growth. If nothing else, to spread the word that there’s no more water in New Orleans, because we still get that! It’s dried up, we’ve not underwater any more! What is the confidence level heading into the 2008 season? The energy and excitement and commitment from all of our players in the offseason is tremendous, they are great guys that are highly competitive. They tasted it, they’ve come within a game. It gets you a little giddy to feel that we have that kind of energy to go all the way. ★

To read about Rita’s experiences of owners’ meetings, the New Orleans VooDoo, and Sean Payton’s advice about brushing your teeth, catch the rest of this interview online at


PHoto By CliVe BruNsKill/Getty iMaGes for eViaN © 2008 Getty iMaGes

Sideline Extra: USA’s still best


o much for the us in recession (at least in tennis). Despite andy roddick and James Blake managing more disappointing early exits from a grand slam, Venus williams and her sister serena (above) were the seeds left standing when the ladies’ final came about, Venus triumphing to take her fifth wimbledon crown. she then paired up with her sibling to take the women’s doubles title. and in case anybody’s still wailing and gnashing their teeth in respect of us men’s tennis, let’s note that while Bob and Mike Bryan didn’t manage the doubles title, they did battle through the dim light of sunday night in the mixed doubles final, as Bryan and thingy beat Bryan and the other one. okay, so that might not have been headline stuff, but between Bryan, Bryan, williams and williams, liezel Huber and lindsay Davenport, the us olympic team has six present or former No.1 players. i’d say things weren’t so bad. – Richard L Gale

The American


Sports observations, opinion, and occasional silliness from Richard L Gale. This month: Beckham can stay, but Favre’s gotta go? This from an NFL fan?


rett favre is coming back. at presstime, this seemed beyond mere speculation, although time will tell. admittedly, retiring then unretiring would merely be a new spin on the annual favre-watch, but it’s not as if the Packers haven’t been giving him some big fat hints that it’s over. Hints such as drafting Brian Brohm so aaron rodgers can have a QB controversy even without Brett, and scheduling favre’s number to be retired during the first home game of the season. Heck, they’ve reportedly even arranged for David Beckham receives his 100th international cap against Team USA. Sir Bobby Charlton is believed to be signing with Chivas USA any day now. Courtesy of tHe fa

his locker to be sent to his home in Kiln, Mississippi. talk about changing the locks! Brett, we love you. Now shoo, skiddadle, get outta here. Now, i’m not saying Brett can’t do this any more. we only have to look to Mls to see another legend people have been writing off prematurely. a lot of the writing off has been done by Brits eager to draw the conclusion that if former england national team Captain David Beckham has to go to the usa to play, he must be over the hill. wait, did i say former england Captain? of course, Beckham’s back in the squad, back wearing the Captain’s armband. Back helping england win over ...oh, who was it now? anyway, so much for not being good anymore.

in case you haven’t been following, the formerly-pitiful la Galaxy have spent the season so far being the Best in the west – not a tough task, admittedly, but still a world away from where they were this time last year. one year of Beckham has done that…set-pieces, goals, veteran leadership. sports isn’t forever. in my book, if you think there’s another halfway-adequate game left in you, keep playing – like Beckham, still an international player at the grand old age of 33; like rubens Barrichello, back on the podium at the British Grand Prix in his 20th year of formula one; and like my dad, still skiing the Hahnenkamm at 76 and swearing that next year will probably be his last. But my patience is up with flip-flop favre. He shouldn’t have to retire if he doesn’t want to, but he did want to. My sympathy is with aaron rodgers, who (1) slid down the Nfl draft before (2) being selected as a backup to the Nfl’s all-time ironman passer who (3) would have been an impossible act to follow anyway, and (4) hung around long enough that rodgers has it all still to prove. Now favre changes his mind barely a heartbeat after rodgers has been annointed the starter. favre’s career might not be over, but he’s certainly putting a dent in rodgers’. aaron can only hope favre ends up as a Chicago Bear – because beating Brett the Bear may be the only opportunity favre’s ever going to give rodgers to become the cheesehead hero.


The American

Draft Central

Some more draftees have been gaining major league attention. Sean L Chaplin grades the NBA teams on their 2008 Draft selections. The NBA got it right when they instituted the draft lottery. The term lottery really hits the nail on the head. The draft is the ultimate crap shoot, with vast sums of money on offer, and we won’t know how players will pan out until four or five years down the road. History shows that the draft is littered with can’t-miss prospects that never make an impact, as fans of Kwame Brown, Sam Bowie and Derrick Coleman will testify. With that said, we can only project what an individual may accomplish during a career where playing time and roster spots are as difficult to take as a steak from a hungry lion. Teams either hit a home run, draft the best player available, or in many cases reach for a player who may prove to be a steal. The question of the day is which teams were at the head of the class and which ones are going back to summer school? In looking at the top five draft picks, these guys are counted on to make a contribution right away and this year is no exception. The Bulls led off with Derrick Rose, an intriguing pick due to the fact that they passed on the NBA-ready Michael Beasley. I love the pick because the Bulls needed guard help and this kid will make those around him much better as well as being the cornerstone of the franchise for years to come. The second pick was a nobrainer for the Heat, who took super


scorer Beasley. Most experts had him going to Chicago with the first pick, but the Bulls loss is Miami’s gain – Dwayne Wade must be smiling. Minnesota were thrilled to draft O.J. Mayo with the third pick, especially after gift wrapping the championship to the Celtics by trading Kevin Garnett last year. The Sonics surprised many by taking the talented but raw Russell Westbrook with the fourth pick. Few doubt his willingness to improve, but he is not a true point guard and is too small to play shooting guard. However, he was touted by some to be ahead of more illustrious UCLA teammate Kevin Love as a prospect for the future. With the fifth pick, Memphis were more than happy to take Love. A force in the paint, he will only get better at only 19 years old. Scouts tout his passion for the game, and his intensity will only ensure that he improves as he learns the NBA game.

Head of the class

Chicago should be in this category simply because they had the first pick and made the right choice in taking Rose. He should be the cornerstone of the franchise for years to come. Portland also had an outstanding draft, acquiring loads of future picks while taking offensive dynamo Jerryd Bayless. Miami made an impact by virtue of drafting Michael Beasley, while Milwaukee just got a whole lot better defensively with Joe Alexander

and Luc Mbah a Moute. Minnesota also made a lot of moves, but ended up with the player they wanted all along in imposing big man Love, while New Jersey impressed by taking top center Brook Lopez.

Middle of the pack

Cleveland improved in the frontcourt by taking J.J. Hickson, who will join LeBron James and big Ben Wallace, while Detroit traded the rights to D.J. White and picked up a total of three prospects. Houston traded picks to get the guy they wanted all along in Donte’ Greene while also picking up Darrell Arthur and Joey Dorsey. Larry Bird certainly followed through in his promise to shake off the Indiana roster, trading Jermain O’Neal and draft picks to obtain seven new players, but the jury is still out on whether they pan out. The LA Clippers may have stolen seven footer DeAndre Jordan, and picking up guard Eric Gordon makes up for losing out on O.J. Mayo. The club that did draft Mayo were Memphis, but the price may be too steep in giving up the rights to Kevin Love in order to get him. Mike D’Antoni will bring change to the New York Knicks as his pick of sweet-shooting Danilo Gallinari attests, but the kid should fit right in with D’Antoni’s running and gunning system. Orlando drafted for need with shooting guard Courtney Lee, while Philadelphia also landed a need player in power forward Marresse Speights.

The American

Seattle reached for D.J. White, but used a draft-high six picks for a boat load of prospects. Toronto scored big by acquiring Jermaine O’Neal from the Pacers and are also expected to get Nathan Jawai as well, while the Washington added depth to the front line by picking the best big man available to them, JaVale McGee.

Summer school

The Celtics are champs, so not much had to be addressed during the draft, but J.R. Giddens should help at shooting guard. However, Charlotte did not have the luxury of passing on center Brooke Lopez for D.J. Augustin. Then again, coach Larry Brown may want to trade him along with picks Alexis Ajinca and Kyle Weaver down the road anyway. Dallas traded away its future for what now looks a disaster in acquiring Jason Kidd, and the Mav’s sole draft pick Shan Foster does not look like a fair return. Golden State reached again by drafting Anthony Randolph and Richard Hendrix as Don Nelson lived up to his billing of picking up players with “upside”. The LA Lakers only had a first rounder as part of the Pau Gasol deal last year, but Joe Crawford will not challenge for Kobe Bryant’s job anytime soon. Phoenix picked back-up center Robin Lopez, but having Shaq means that Lopez will be pressed into duty sooner rather than later. Sacramento took Jason Thompson way to high in the draft at 12 and San Antonio really reached for guard George Hill, who was not even listed in the NBA draft guide. Utah don’t seem to have enough big men, yet they drafted seven foot Kosta Koufos and another forward in Ante Tomic. ★ Due to trades, Atlanta, Denver and New Orleans did not participate.

Dancing on Ice Jeremy Lanaway looks at the Top 10 Selections from the 2008 NHL Early Entry Draft 1. Steven Stamkos (centre) Nobody was surprised when the Tampa Bay Lightning chose Central scouting’s top prospect with their first-overall pick. stamkos, who amassed 197 points over the last two seasons with the sarnia sting in the oHl, is expected to make an immediate impact in the NHl. in fact, the lightning have already pencilled the speedy eighteenyear-old into the centre slot of their second line.

4. Alex Pietrangelo (defence): the St Louis Blues used their fourthoverall pick to grab Pietrangelo, a puck-moving defenceman whose on-ice vision is second-to-none. the Niagara ice Dogs (oHl) owe much of their recent success to Pietrangelo, who tallied fifty-three points in sixty games last season. the young defenceman is looking forward to skating alongside the Blues’ other defensive stalwarts, Brad Boyes and erik Johnson.

2. Drew Doughty (defence): Hoping to bolster their blue-line, the Los Angeles Kings used their second-overall pick to draft Doughty, who recently helped team Canada to win a fourth straight gold medal at the iiHf world Junior Championships. Playing for the Guelph storm in the oHl last season, Doughty amassed fifty points, including nine powerplay goals. the steadfast D-man is projected to man the Kings’ backend in october.

5. Luke Schenn (defence): the Toronto Maple Leafs swung a deal with the New york islanders to get into the top five, drafting eighteen-year-old schenn. the bruising defenceman, sizing in at six-foottwo and two hundred and twenty pounds, plays a hard-nosed game that has earned comparisons to veteran defender adam foote. schenn understands the pressure facing him in hockey’s capital — and can’t wait to live up to expectations.

3. Zach Bogosian (defence): the Atlanta Thrashers were quick to pick the eighteen-year-old defenceman, a native of Massena, New york, who was coming off a sixty-onepoint season with the Peterborough Petes in the oHl. in fact, Bogosian was the only oHl defenceman to lead his team in scoring. the young defender’s size, toughness, and skill-set are expected to inject the thrashers with some muchneeded potency.

The next five 6. Nikita Filatov (left-wing). Columbus Blue Jackets 7. Colin Wilson (centre). Nashville Predators 8. Mikkel Boedker (left-wing). Phoenix Coyotes 9. Joshua Bailey (centre). New York Islanders 10. Cody Hodgson (centre). Vancouver Canucks


The American

Tail End

Paw Talk, or My Life as a Dog in London, by Rebel. Rebel’s in serious mood this month, remembering a vicious dog fight


just received a wedding invitation to a wedding between two Scotch terriers in Scotland. I was excited, as I was told to wear my tartan outfit. Sadly, She-Who-Must-Be-ObeyedUsually is going to Verona to see Bax and Dickie and I can’t go with her, so I’m off to Graham’s Resort for Exceptionally Lovely Dogs. (I added the Exceptionally Lovely). Graham lives next door to my vet, Ram, and hopefully, Ram, will bring me home again. The last time he did, we stopped at a pub and it was so much fun. I wish I lived in the country, there are so many more interesting scents to stop and smell than in the city. At the moment, I am asking my dog pals to sign a petition against dog fighting. Having witnessed one when I was only a few months old, I know how terrible this sport is. I’d better explain. It happened when SWMBOU was living in Maryland where I was born – that’s why I bark with a southern accent. Our house was surrounded by huge trees and at a bottom of the foliage covered incline in the back was a pond. One warm summer evening, I was sitting on the balcony having supper with She- Who-Must-Be-ObeyedUsually and a friend when we heard loud voices and the sound of barking dogs coming from the other side of the pond. Luke, my late best Westie friend, started to growl low in his throat which scared me as I never heard him angry before.


“I heard that the noise the other night,” SWMBOU said. “This time I’m going to investigate.” Her friend advised her not to, but SWMBOU can be stubborn when it comes to protecting animals. Slipping on her Wellington boots she clipped the lead on me, and took off in the direction of the noise. What I saw still gives me nightmares. In an open space on the other side of the pond, fifty men were gathered in a circle watching two dogs fighting. The dogs were growling and snarling and biting each other until one of them fell bloody and wounded to the ground, too weak to go on. No one in the crowd tried to help and because he lost, his owner beat him with a huge stick and threw him into a cage that was hardly big enough for me, and he was three times my size. SWMBOU started to run out from behind the tree where we were hiding to rescue the dog and I had to grab her by the hem of her jeans to stop her. Believe me, it took all my strength to stop her. When we returned home, SWMBOU’s friend warned her not to call from our house, but to notify the police anonymously from a pay phone two blocks away. Ten minutes after we made the call, we heard police sirens. The next day the newspaper reported

that the police had caught the organizer of a dog fighting gambling ring. But what upset She-Who-Must-BeObeyed-Usually was reading that the dogs would have to be put down because they were too dangerous to give away as family pets. “It’s the people who organized that dog fight who should be punished, not the dogs,” she told Luke and me tearfully. “There are few really bad dogs, only bad owners.” So, do me a favour, please. If you see a little Westie wearing a plaid hat with a red pom pom in the park with a petition tucked in the collar, make sure you stop me and add your paw print to it. ★








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The American Magazine August 2008  

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