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November 2008

THE ESSENTIAL MONTHLY FOR ALL AMERICANS

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THE AMERICAN • NOVEMBER 2008 • Issue 667

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Issue 667 – November 2008 Published by Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Old Byre House, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK Publisher: Michael Burland +44 (0)1747 830328 theamerican@blueedge.co.uk Please contact us with your news or article ideas Advertising & Promotions: Sabrina Sully, Commercial Director Nadia Abd Rabbo, Ad Manager +44 (0)1747 830520 sabrina.theamerican@blueedge.co.uk nadia.theamerican@blueedge.co.uk Subscriptions enquiries: Phone +44 (0)1747 830328, email theamerican@blueedge.co.uk Correspondents: Virginia Schultz, Wining & Dining virginias@blueedge.co.uk Mary Bailey, Social maryb@blueedge.co.uk Cece Mills, Arts cecem@blueedge.co.uk Jarlath O’Connell, Theater jarlatho@blueedge.co.uk Bob Pickens, Columnist bobp@blueedge.co.uk Richard Gale, Sports Editor richardg@blueedge.co.uk Sean Chaplin, Sports seanc@blueedge.co.uk Dom Mills, Motorsports domm@blueedge.co.uk Jeremy Lanaway, Hockey jeremyl@blueedge.co.uk Riki Evans Johnson, European rikie@blueedge.co.uk Nadia Abd Rabbo, Music nadiaa@blueedge.co.uk ©2008 Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Printed by The Westdale Press Ltd 70 Portmanmoor Road, Industrial Estate, East Moors, Cardiff CF24 5HB Cover inset image: Daniel Schwen

Welcome Hmm, where to start this month? The election? Your vote matters. If you’re reading this after the event, we hope your guy got in and that they will improve the lot of the expatriate American. Read what they say they’ll do for you starting page 44. The credit crunch? Let’s come up with a better name for it. The trillions of taxpayer dollars being used to shore up failed financial institutions didn’t all go on sub-prime mortgages. There will be changes to make. Let’s hope part of that is the banks getting back to old-style banking business, taking deposits from customers and lending real money to real people. Talking of getting real, one real talent with real songs and a real good voice is Brooklyn chantoose Nell Bryden. Just back from Iraq, you can read our interview with her on page 18 and see her playing London this month. ‘This just in’ department… The Queen is opening the gardens of Buckingham Palace to visitors. It’s pretty exclusive, limited to 25 at a time, and surely a must-see. You can call the Buck House switchboard on 020 7930 4832. Happy Thanksgiving

Michael Burland, Editor

SOME OF THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS

This month we’re joined by Carol Gould, American author and film-maker, who looks at the important role of fathers in families and societies.

Sir Robert Worcester, doyen of pollsters, takes a look at the election and how the British would vote if they had the chance.

Another welcome addition is Olivier Award judge Jarlath O’Connell. Pithy and witty, he is The American’s new theater critic.

Don’t forget to check out The American online at www.theamerican.co.uk The entire contents of The American and www.theamerican.co.uk 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.

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The American

In This Issue... The American • Issue 667 • November 2008

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Spotlight on 42 Art:Cambridgeshire

News Big changes on the horizon in Mayfair. Both the old ‘American Church’ and the American Embassy could soon be gone

10 Diary Dates The Lord Mayor’s Show in the City of London is always a spectacle. And see you at St. Paul’s for the Thanksgiving service? 14 As I Was Saying... Bob Pickens takes a look at how America’s foreign representatives are chosen – and who could be next 17 Don’t Tread on Father’s Day America has a lot to offer Britain when it comes to images of fatherhood, says our new correspondent Carol Gould

Dates : 10 Diary The Lord Mayor’s Show Save the 6 News: ‘American Church’

18 Music Album review, pick of the live concerts, music photography exhibitions and an interview with a new country/jazz/rock and roll star 23 Competition WIN TICKETS - Counting Crows at Wembley 24 Coffee Break Cartoon - Rocco Johnson’s having a great round of golf, until... Qashqai 52 Nissan reviewed

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and NCAA hoops 54 NBA previews


The American

26 Steam Dreams Mary Bailey has a suggestion for a great day out – culture, countryside and trains! 27 King of America ‘King Paul of America’ is alive and well and living in San Antonio. 28 Lessons of 9/11 Sobering, but possibly life-saving advice for anyone who goes into tall buildings 29 Reviews Beautiful books, and our new theater critic sharpens his quill on Philip Seymour Hoffmans’ Riflemind 34 Wining & Dining Virginia looks at three of London’s top restaurants and chooses inexpensive wines for Thanksgiving

candidates speak to 44 TheAmericans abroad reviews: 32 Theater including Riflemind

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dream 26 It’s– thisnotisa 2008!

40 Arts Cece finds art outside everywhere on pub signs, and explores the art of Cambridge 44 Politics McCain and Obama on what they would do for you, plus Bob Worcester on how the British would vote 50 Drive Time Sabrina’s surprising soft spot for a sturdy Ssangyong

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54 Sports Basketball: NBA, NCAA and BBL 60 American Organizations Your comprehensive guide 64 Paw Talk Cat and canine chaos chez Rebel. Did you expect anything else? 3


The American

The American Museum in Britain

News

Learn about the early pioneers in the American Heritage Exhibition. Join our Quilting Bees. Enjoy the grounds.

THIS MONTH Thanksgiving Dinner A roast turkey dinner with all the trimmings to celebrate the American traditional day of thanks. Tickets only - call 01225 823014 £30 members, £35 non-members Thursday November 27, 7.30 Christmas at Claverton Lots of activities and crafts. Saturday November 22 – Sunday 14 December, 12noon-4.30pm Christmas at Claverton: Festive Feasts Discover what early Americans feasted on during the winter to keep them warm and merry. Boston baked beans are being served in Conkey’s Tavern, while the refined Mrs. Deming is preparing a magnificent centrepiece topped by a precious pineapple – a great rarity in the 18th century. Tree Trimming Kids, help us finish the holiday decorating with ornaments for the museum’s tree as well as for your tree at home. Saturday November 22, 12.30-3.30pm The Museum closes on November 2, but reopens for Christmas at Claverton on Saturday November 22. We look forward to seeing you then.

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

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AWS Tree Planting in Cobham

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he American Women of Surrey is supporting The Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas (FAWCO)’s commitment to the United Nations ‘Plant a Billion Trees’ campaign through a contribution to Painshill Park, Cobham. On September 14, AWS hosted a Memorial Tree Planting and Family Picnic at Painshill Park where trees were planted in memory of loved ones lost by members this past year. Pictured above from left: Janet Byrne, AWS FAWCO Representative, Chris Carr, Painshill Park Gardener, Michael Gove, Painshill Park General Director, and Peggy Strode, AWS President.

AWS Annual Gift Fayre AWS’s 18th Annual Gift Fayre will be held Tuesday, November 11th from 9.00am to 2.30pm at the new Club at Cobham Sports. Over thirty vendors will offer their beautiful wares, designer clothes, jewellery, home decorating objects, handmade glass, and more. You can purchase fabulous items for your gift list (and yourself ) and share in the goodwill of the season knowing that a portion of the sales from this annual event will benefit AWS’s slate of Surreybased charities and a Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas’ Developmental Grant. The venue is at Cobham Rugby Club at the intersection of Portsmouth Road and Fairmile Lane. Visit www.cobhamrfc.com/contact-us for directions or www.awsurrey.org for more information. £3.00 entrance charge.


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The American

The third annual survey of admissions officers at UK universities, commissioned by ACS International Schools Admissions, concludes that UK universities’ admissions officers believe that a wider choice of post-16 qualifications will be better for Britain. However, they are concerned about both the lack of government commitment to maintain A-levels and the withdrawal of plans to fund the extension of the International Baccalaureate (IB) in every Local Authority. The IB continues to be highly regarded by admissions officers, with more citing the it as the best preparation to thrive at university than all other qualifications combined. Over a third name the IB as providing the best preparation for students to thrive at university, compared to 18 per cent who cite A-levels. Only eight per cent feel the Pre-U is the best preparation for university, and six per cent the recently announced new Diplomas. A third were unable to express a view, perhaps due to the newness of some of the qualifications. 59 per cent said that many more schools should now consider teaching new Diplomas. Over half feel that they mark a positive step forward in teaching and learning style, but many are concerned by suggestions that the Diploma could completely replace the A-level. 63 per cent said that A-levels should not be phased out at all, while 53 per cent do not think that A levels will be perfectly fit for purpose even with the new A star grade, which is to be introduced in 2010.

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GEOFF CRAWFORD

Universities Welcome Wider Range Of Qualifications

‘American Church’ Under Threat A Grade 1 listed building that for many years was ‘The American Church’ for expats in London is under threat of conversion into a luxury spa. During the Second World War, St Mark’s Church in Mayfair, London, became the spiritual home of American service personnel, who were mainly based in the Supreme Command HQ in nearby Grosvenor Square. General Eisenhower was a regular worshipper. By 1953 the church was known as the ‘US Navy Church in London’, and later the American Church in London. In the early 1970s, the Church offered the Diocese $200,000 for the building, according to the Save St Mark’s Action Group. This was refused and they were offered a 20 year lease instead. They deemed this too short to make long-term plans for the future of the building, so they left. Various planning applications to turn St Marks into a shopping arcade, a restaurant, a bank and an auction house have failed. In 1987, English Heritage placed the church on its Buildings at Risk register. For the last 14 years the evangelical Commonwealth Church has used St. Marks. They have paid for cleaning, pew restoration, and installed a

new heating system, but were unable to raise the necessary amounts for much-needed roof repairs. They lost their lease agreement, remaining as caretakers. The Revd. Rod Anderson and his wife Julie became leaders of the Church in November 2007 and were presented with the latest planning application. In 2004 the Diocese had quietly put the building on the market and in 2005 agreement was reached with Hammer Holdings, whose other ventures have included various spas in London, says the campaign, adding that the proposal is for a “Wellness Centre” which may require no change of use permission. Revd. Anderson says that the congregation has doubled and that there is a real opportunity to see St. Marks retained as a house of worship. However the Diocese of London served a notice to vacate despite not knowing whether the current application will be successful or not. To find out more about the Save St Mark’s Action Group, contact the Co-ordinator, Kirk Mitchell on 07595 290513 or email savestmarksactiongroup@googlemail.com. The campaign’s website is http://savestmarks.com


The American

Junior League of London’s Boutique de Noel

Mildenhall Firefighters Save Life A charity mountain climbing expedition by three civilian Defence Fire Service firefighters with the 100th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department, RAF Mildenhall, turned into a rescue mission in which they saved a man’s life, October 3. Alan Coldwell, Chris Gould, Jerry Myles and their guide, Dave Wainwright from 100th Force Support Squadron Outdoor Recreation, were on the summit of Mount Snowdon when they came across a man covered in snow, unconscious, and suffering from hypothermia and frostbite. The climbers were on the final leg of the Three Peaks Challenge, in which climbers scale the highest peaks in Scotland (Ben Nevis), England (Scaffell Pike) and Wales (Snowdon), within 24 hours. Because of snow and wind, the men abandoned their planned route and followed the line of the Snowdon Railway to the top. “The winds were gusting up to 80 miles per hour, and it was difficult to keep your footing,” said Mr. Wainwright, a qualified mountain guide. Without the route change they would never have found the man. 150 feet below the peak they spotted something in the doorway of a lodge being built at the top of Mount

Snowdon. At first they thought it was rubbish, or a pile of clothes. “As we got closer, we could see it was someone wearing a hat, and saw the guy sitting there, just huddled up in the corner, trying to keep warm,” Mr Coldwell explained. “It was fairly hard to bring him round at first; he took quite a bit of rousing to get anything out of him, and then it was just moans and groans. He was very stiff and cold, and we could tell straight away he was suffering from hypothermia – he’d obviously been out there a long time.” He had been on the mountain all night. According to reports, the man was from Manchester and was found alone at the top of the mountain. He had no coat, and on his feet wore only tennis shoes. The four men used their equipment, extra clothing and supplies to keep him alive. Mr. Wainwright contacted the emergency services. Hearing a noise they assumed it was a rescue helicopter, but the weather meant it had not been able to reach the summit. It was the train, bringing Welsh Assembly members to see the new café. The train took the patient part way down the mountain where the patient was winched into the rescue helicopter.

On November 11 and 12 the Junior League of London will host its 29th annual Boutique de Noel at the Kensington Town Hall. From 6.00 to 10.00 pm on November 11 you can listen to strolling carollers and enjoy complimentary wine and canapés, experience the VIP room and bid in the silent auction and raffle to win exciting prizes such as designer jewellery and handbags, cooking lessons in Michelin-starred restaurants with celebrity chefs, stays in elegant hotels and vacation homes, return business class tickets to the US, sumptuous food and wines, and hard to get tickets to sporting events. On November 12 from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm the League invites you to browse through over 130 exclusive vendors providing jewellery, children’s clothing and gifts, home decor, stationery, men’s accessories, cashmere, artwork and much more! Tickets are available at the door or in advance by contacting the Junior League of London on 020 7499 8159, via email at jrleague@jll.org.uk or at www.jll.org.uk




The American

Royal Mail has announced that the last recommended posting dates for Christmas surface mail from the UK to the USA is… October 20. Darn! But never fear, you can send cards and gifts by airmail until Friday December 5. They also advise that parcels are wrapped carefully, with padding inside, strong paper outside, and sealed with parcel tape. Address the package clearly and put a return address on the back of the parcel. It is also advisable to attach the sender’s and recipient’s address to the item inside the parcel. Parcels to the USA must have a completed Customs declaration attached. This can be downloaded from www.royalmail.com/customs. For more information on pricing, restricted items and customs requirements please visit www. royalmail.com or www.parcelforce. com.

AMERICAN EMBASSY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 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 http://london.usembassy.gov Hours: American Citizen Services, daily 8.30-12.00; then Monday/ Wednesday/Friday 2-4pm

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U.S EMBASSY PHOTO

Last Christmas Mailing Dates to U.S.

US To Move Embassy in London A

fter more than 200 years on historic Grosvenor Square, the U. S. Embassy plans to move to South London, Ambassador Robert Tuttle informed a group of reporters early October. The move, which will require U. S. congressional approval and local planning permission, is part of plans to strengthen and improve security at U.S. embassies all over the world. “This has been a long and careful process,” Ambassador Tuttle said. “We looked at all our options, including renovation of our current building on Grosvenor Square. In the end, we realized that the goal of a modern, secure and environmentally sustainable Embassy could best be met by constructing a new facility.” Before meeting with journalists, Ambassador Tuttle signed an agreement with British real estate development firm Ballymore to acquire a five acre site south of the Thames in the Nine Elms Opportunity Area. Renovations and upgrades of the present embassy building would have cost close to $600 million and taken at least seven years to improve security but still not had the state of art security of a new facility, he added. Selling the Grosvenor Square site in one of London’s most expensive areas is expected to cover most of the cost of a new embassy. A leading Mayfair real estate developer, Peter Wetherell, suggested the complex

By Virginia E. Schultz

could sell for 300 million to 500 million pounds. An international design competition will be held to ensure that the new embassy would have the best of modern design, incorporate the latest in energy-efficient building techniques and celebrate the value of freedom and democracy. The embassy in Grosvenor Square is the United State’s largest in Western Europe. It was designed by Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen, who also created the main terminal at Dulles International Airport, and has often been criticized as a graceless and lumbering 1950s architectural style dropped into an 18th-19th century environment. A few Americans have even described it as an oversized post office. Mayfair residents will undoubtedly welcome the move. They had complained that not only were the security barriers, constructed after 9/11 unattractive, but left their residences vulnerable if terrorists were to attack. Speaking to the reporters, Ambassador Tuttle, who led the search for a new site said, “We wanted the site to be as close to Parliament and governments buildings as the current site, and we have achieved that.” He added that in the case of not being able to move forward, they would probably renovate the present embassy.


The American

New Terminal For JFK

Salisbury Cathedral at 750 S

alisbury Cathedral celebrated the 750th anniversary of its dedication by Archbishop Boniface of Savoy on 29th September 1258 with a stunning new font. The font is the culmination of an on-going project initiated 10 years ago the Very Revd June Osborne, now Dean of Salisbury. It is Salisbury Cathedral’s first permanent font for centuries. Modern but slotting perfectly into the ancient architecture, it is one of the most significant recent additions to an English Cathedral. The Dean said “It is wonderful that our new font, designed by Britain’s most distinguished water sculptor William Pye, has been formally dedicated for us and used for baptism for the first time. The words which are engraved on its four curves are taken from the new baptism and confirmation services which our own Bishop of Salisbury, Dr David Stancliffe, was instrumental in creating and are therefore of particular significance to us.” Cruciform in shape, and large enough for total immersion baptism, it is made from green patinated bronze with a Purbeck Freestone plinth and brown patinated bronze grating. The highlight of Salisbury

Cathedral’s year of celebrations, the new font was consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Rowan Williams, who baptised two babies on Sunday September 28. The cathedral is well worth a visit while you are in the UK. It has the tallest church spire in the UK at 404ft, the largest cloister and the largest cathedral close in Britain. The cathedral contains the world’s oldest working clock (dating from 1386) and one of only four surviving original copies of the Magna Carta. There are three great processional services at the Cathedral. In the Advent Procession on Saturday November 29 and Sunday 30, the service begins in total darkness and silence. Two processions move around the Cathedral which becomes illuminated by 1300 candles. The Christmas Procession is on Sunday December 21and Monday 22. This is the Cathedral’s carol service and for the first time the choir will be joined by an ensemble of trumpets and trombones. The Epiphany Procession on Sunday January 18 commemorates the journey of the Magi coming from the East to worship Jesus. All are at 7.00pm.

A new terminal was inaugurated at John F. Kennedy International Airport on September 22, home to JetBlue Airways. Executives from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey joined JetBlue Airways CEO Dave Barger to inaugurate the new Terminal 5 at JFK, part of a $6 billion improvements plan for the Port Authority’s airports. The agency provided nearly $800 million finance for the new 26gate, 635,000-square-foot terminal, designed to handle up to 20 million passengers per year. The new Terminal 5 stands behind the landmark TWA Terminal and the two buildings are joined via tubes that were originally used by TWA’s passengers to access gates. The iconic TWA Terminal, designed by renowned architect Eero Saarinen and controlled by the Port Authority, can no longer meet passengers’ needs, but the Port Authority has committed to reopening it to the public by adapting it to new airport-related uses yet to be determined. Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward said, “Kennedy Airport’s remarkable 60-year history as the gateway to the world adds an important new chapter today with the debut of the new Terminal 5. We’re proud to have invested in a facility that will play such a critical role in accommodating future growth in air travel, and we wish JetBlue the greatest success.”




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 editor@theamerican.co.uk Mark Rothko Tate Modern, Bankside, London Tate Modern presents an exhibition by one of the world’s most famous and best–loved artists, Mark Rothko. This is the first significant exhibition of his work to be held in the UK for over 20 years. www.tate.org.uk to February 01, 2009 Statuephilia British Museum, London An exhibition of major works by leading contemporary British

artists, paying tribute to the cultural significance of sculpture across the ages. Works by Damien Hirst, Antony Gormley, Ron Mueck, Marc Quinn and Noble and Webster. www.britishmuseum.org 020 7323 8000 to January 25, 2009 Renaissance Faces: Van Eyck to Titian National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London This landmark exhibition, organised by the National Gallery, London, and the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid,

explores the dramatic rise of portraiture in the Renaissance and features works by the great masters of Northern and Southern Europe, including Raphael, Titian, Botticelli, Van Eyck, Holbein, Dürer, Lotto, Pontormo and Bellini. Over 70 paintings, important sculptures, drawings and medals. www.nationalgallery.org.uk 020 7747 2885 to January 18, 2009 Art and Cities The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, London The Art Fund, the UK’s leading independent art charity, is hosting a series of exclusive talks by respected academics entitled – a must for anyone planning a city break, as they will provide unique cultural insights that can’t be found in the guide books. Paris in 1900 October 23; Rotterdam / Amsterdam Vermeer and Delft October 29; Berlin: in the 1920s November 5; Prague during the reign of Charles IV of Luxemburg November 13; St. Petersburg November 20; Madrid Goya and Madrid November 27; Florence David and Florence in the 15th century December 4 & 11; All are at 2.30pm. www.artfund.org to December 11, 2008 Stranger in the House Imperial War Museum North, Trafford, Manchester A small but unique display focusing for the first time on an often unspoken history, the plight of women whose lives were affected by the return of their menfolk at the end of the Second World War. www.iwm.org.uk 0161 836 4000 to March 01, 2009

Lord Mayor’s Show City of London Lord Mayor’s Show with bands, floats, state procession, military parade, fair in Paternoster Square and firework display on the River Thames at 5pm. www.lordmayorsshow.org November 08, 2008

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Paths to Fame: Turner’s Watercolours in The Courtauld Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, London WC2 Eight magnificent watercolours, recently bequeathed by the late Dorothy Scharf, are among a collection of thirty outstanding works by Turner


held at The Courtauld Gallery which will be displayed together for the first time. The works range from early studies to magnificent late compositions and give an account of the artist’s rise to fame. www.courtauld.ac.uk/gallery October 30, 2008 to January 25, 2009 Liverpool Music Week The European Capital of Culture, is holding a week-long festival of popular music featuring artists and groups from Liverpool as well as new talent from the rest of the UK and the world – the UK’s largest indoor winter music festival. Over 50 events, 16 venues and more than 250 live acts inc. Goldfrapp, Dizzee Rascal, Black Kids, Vampire Weekend, The Fall, Martha Wainwright. www.liverpool08.com 0151 256 5555 October 30, 2008 to November 06, 2008 Tennessee Williams Season British Film Institute, Southbank, London 25 years since the death of Tennessee Williams, this is a once-in-a-generation programme that offers audiences a unique journey through some of Tennessee William’s most powerful and dramatic screenplays including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and an extended run of A Streetcar Named Desire. Also pays tribute to some of the great performers of the 20th century, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Robert Redford, Natalie Wood and Montgomery Clift. www.bfi.org.uk/ 020 7928 3232 November 01, 2008 to November 30, 2008 Klang: A Tribute to Karlheinz Stockhausen Southbank Centre, London Intended as an 88th birthday celebration, this is now a tribute to Stockhausen who died last December. The programme includes excerpts from the ‘Klang’ cycle, the ‘Licht’ cycle and the ‘Heaven’s Door’. www.southbankcentre.co.uk/ 0871 663 2500 November 01, 2008 to November 09, 2008

Stephen Petronio The Churchill theatre, in Bromley Renowned New York dance company Stephen Petronio is performing in south east London following its sell out run at the Southbank Centre. Three works will be performed, two of which – Bud Suite and Bloom – are set to a score by Rufus Wainwright, and the third Lareigne has music by The Stranglers. www.theambassadors.com/tickets/ bromley/churchill/4686/stephenpetronio-company.html 0871 297 5473 November 01, 2008 Any Which Way Only Connect Theatre, Camden. In a new London theatre. A play about the human causes and effects of knife crime, commissioned by the charity Only Connect, and performed by a mixed cast of professional actors and ex-offenders. 0845 370 7990 November 03, 2008 to November 29, 2008 The Glasshouse Men The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall To mark the 90th Anniversary of the 1918 Armistice, an unusual garden exhibition of lenticular images (interlacing separate images behind glass, which appear to change or move) drawing on World War I and the American Civil War, the first truly ‘photographed’ war. www.heligan.com 01726 845100 November 04, 2008 to November 28, 2008 Carrying the tar barrels Ottery St Mary, Devon Dating back to 1688, men carry flaming barrels of tar, some weighing over 50 pounds, on their shoulders until the weight or heat becomes too much for them and another takes over. This carries on until the barrels break up and burn out. www.otterytourism.org.uk November 05, 2008

Billy Hicks

The American

Guy Fawkes / Bonfire Night On and around 5 November, there are events commemorating with bonfires and fireworks the ‘Gunpowder Plot’ of 1605, in which a group of disaffected Catholics tried – and failed – to blow up parliament, King James I, and the aristocracy. Despite its origins, Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night, is celebrated by Britons of all traditions. You will find one locally – one special one is listed below. www.enjoyengland.com November 05, 2008

Sisley in England and Wales National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London Alfred Sisley (1839–1899) was one of the greatest landscape painters of the C19th and a leading figure in the Impressionist movement, the only Englishman among the French Impressionists. Now relatively unknown, this is a rare opportunity to see his paintings of the British landscape. www.nationalgallery.org.uk 020 7747 2885 November 12, 2008 to February 15, 2008

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The American

ROLAND KEMP

Garden Museum Re-opens Lambeth Palace Road, London The first-ever retrospective of Beth Chatto, one of the most influential living gardeners in Britain re-opens the museum (formally the Museum of Garden History) in a former church. The museum’s garden has a reproduction 17th-century knot garden with historically authentic planting. www.gardenmuseum.org.uk 020 7401 8865 November 18, 2008 onwards

Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul’s Cathedral St. Paul’s Cathedral, London The Thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s has become a tradition among American visitors, expatriates, and their British friends. Ambassador Robert H. Tuttle invites all interested parties to attend the service. 11am. www.usembassy.org.uk/culture/thanksgiving_service.html November 27, 2008 Babylon British Museum, London An exhibition exploring the rich legacy of the city of Babylon – what is now Iraq. Includes ancient artifacts and modern art. The Museum’s response to the Iraqi cultural heritage crisis. www.britishmuseum.org/ November 13, 2008 to March 15, 2009 Christmas Markets Across the UK and Europe Christmas markets are fun and a great way to get all your festive requirements as well as presents. Among the best in Britain are in Bath, Bournemouth, Canterbury, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland in London, Leeds, Portsmouth and Waterperry in Oxfordshire. Check the website for dates and details. www.christmasmarkets.com/UK November 14, 2008 to December 23, 2008

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Darwin Natural History Museum, London Explores Charles Darwin’s life and his revolutionary idea that changed our understanding of the natural world and our place within it. Retraces his journey aboard HMS Beagle. www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/ temporary-exhibitions/darwin/index. html November 14, 2008 to April 19, 2009 London Jazz Festival Various venues, London Leading international stars Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and John McLaughlin will be playing with new bands at the festival, which also features British jazzmen Keith Tippett, Courtney Pine, Alan Barnes and Martin Taylor. www.londonjazzfestival.org.uk November 14, 2008 to November 23, 2008

Biggest Liar in the World Competition Bridge Inn, Stanton Bridge, Holmrook, Cumbria In recent years the audience has heard how the Lake District was formed (by large moles and eels not ice age or volcanoes) and how the Pope waterskied on the back of the QEII cruise ship! In 2006, actress and comedienne Sue Perkins won with a tale of sheep breaking wind and causing a hole in the ozone layer – ‘muttons of mass destruction’! www.santonbridgeinn.com/liar 01946 514960 November 20, 2008 Erotica 08 Olympia, London The biggest consumer adult lifestyle show in the world. They describe it as ‘the most daring and exciting event of the year’, so be warned! www.erotica2008.com/ November 21, 2008 to November 23, 2008 August: Osage County National Theatre, London Tracy Letts makes his debut at the National with this production, an exposition of the dark side of the Midwestern American family. Time Out New York said ‘a bulging scrapbook of misery, grudge-holding and poisoned heritage’. www.nationaltheatre.org.uk 020 7452 3000 November 21, 2008 to January 21, 2009


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The American

As I was saying... Bob Pickens looks at how US ambassadors are chosen – and who the next London envoy may be.

B

y the time this issue reaches the newsstands, the United States will be a few hours away from choosing a new President. For several weeks after we know the results, the front pages will be concerned with the new President’s coming to grips with the various economic crises and military conflicts sweeping across our sad, maligned planet. What will be all but forgotten, for a little while at least, is how the new President will be personally represented in this country, that is, who will be the next US Ambassador the Court of St. James’s. What we do know is that on November 4, the current ambassador to Britain will tender his resignation in a procedure that is one of the many traditions of American foreign service. All US ambassadors will write a formal letter of resignation to President Bush thanking him

for having been given the opportunity to serve the United States as a plenipotentiary, and perhaps providing a brief account of how the ties between the two countries have fared during the course of the ambassador’s tenure. Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the US Constitution designates appointment of ambassadors as one of the responsibilities of the President, with the nominations subject to approval by Congress. There are a lot of posts to fill, and a lot of people to consider for those jobs, so there will be an interlude between the resignation of Robert Tuttle, the current occupant of Winfield House, and whoever will assume the post, more than likely at some time in the late winter or spring if the time lapse runs true to form. In the meantime the senior professional diplomat at the embassy becomes the chargé d’affaires, taking on the role of head of mission until the President’s appointee arrives on the scene. There have been times when the chargé or another career diplomat is chosen by the President to be the next ambassador; this is unusual in countries like the United Kingdom, but it is not unknown. Raymond Seitz served as a senior minister in London in the late 1980s, and though he didn’t take up the ambassador’s job immediately, he returned after a subsequent Ambassador William Crowe

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State Department posting to serve several years under two Presidents of different parties, became the first American to be given the Freedom of the City of London, received five honorary doctorates from UK universities, and even became a guest on BBC’s Desert Island Discs, where his first chosen song was “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” Selection of ambassadors for the “plum” postings like London will be a time when the President and his advisors head for a dimly lit room after raiding the choicest cigars from the humidor, these postings generally having been set aside as a reward. That the person chosen is a pal or supporter and not a professional diplomat is not necessarily a bad thing; there is, after all, a large corps of senior ministers and administrators to support the ambassador at Grosvenor Square. What is said to be the most important quality of any new ambassador is that he or she “has the President’s ear” – that the Chief Executive will listen to and trust what message that person brings to the Oval Office. Many earn an ambassador’s job through loyal work for their political party, like John Danilovich, a Californian who lived in London until the mid-1990s and was a Republican Party activist during that time. Involved in the maritime shipping industry, his work with Republicans Abroad eventually led


The American

to an appointment first as ambassador to Costa Rica, and then to Brazil. He is still serving in the State Department as an ambassador, at the Millennium Challenge Corporation. And there are those who just appear out of the blue. The late William Crowe, who succeeded Seitz, was a Navy admiral and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and one of the few senior military people to support Bill Clinton in his first Presidential campaign. Two years after those elections Crowe got the appointment to the Court of St James’s to general surprise. But it turned out to be an inspired appointment with Crowe earning much affection from Britain’s leaders as much for his dry Oklahoma wit as his non-nonsense diplomatic skill. So for a couple of months we can have fun speculating on who will be the next ambassador to Britain. If recent appointments give any clues to possible trends, then it’s possible a native Texan could be our next envoy: four of the last 10 ambassadors have been from the Lone Star State. It helps to be a businessperson: Charles Price, called to the State Department as our man in Brussels first, and moved to London to serve as ambassador from 1983-89, was a banker, as is Philip Lader, ambassador from 1997-2001, who ran Sir James Goldsmith’s American businesses before he got into the diplomatic scene. Or an academic, perhaps? Lader for a time taught at a university, and Kingman Brewster, ambassador from 1977-81, was the most ivy clad of all, having left his job as President of Yale University to come to London. Of course, it never hurts to be a political operative: Anne Armstrong, who died this past July, may have spent much of her life running a cattle ranch, but it was

”What is said to be the most important quality of any new ambassador is that he or she ‘has the President’s ear’.” her role in the Republican Party, as its co-chairman and as counselor to President Ford and numerous other jobs that finally won her the assignment in 1976-77. Henry Catto, envoy from 1989-91 had likewise dedicated himself to Republican electoral causes before commencing a string of appointments that included a stint as ambassador to El Salvador, too. There have been scions of wealthy, politically connected families: John Louis of the Johnson Wax family and William Farish, grandson of the Standard Oil president who was accused of conspiring with the Nazis in World War II, have both, unfortunately, had the adjective “invisible” used to describe their watch at Grosvenor Square. I don’t know whether that’s ever been used to describe Mr. Tuttle, but he is certainly from a wealthy family, the grandson of the founder of one of the largest auto dealership chains in Southern California, who became involved in Republican politics when he sold Ronald Reagan a car and then, it is said, persuaded him to run for governor of California. We know that, above all, whoever is named to the job should have the ability to capture the attention of and hold the trust of the President. Bearing in mind that the person who holds the job as our envoy to London is also going to have to be highly and competently visible, and that he

Ambassador Robert Tuttle

or she must possess an instinctive ability to make a connection with the man on the Clapham omnibus just as effectively as with a minister of Her Majesty’s Government, what focus will that person have once they arrive on the scene? One place to look for clues might be a speech given by US Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James K. Glassman on 11 September at Chatham House, the headquarters of the Royal institute of International Affairs. Stressing the importance of using public diplomacy to defeat terrorism, Glassman said, “Our mission today in the war of ideas is highly focused: it is to use the tools of ideological engagement – words, deeds, and images – to create an environment hostile to violent extremism… Our challenge today is to ensure that

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The American

”Perhaps it would be someone like Madeleine Albright, who has been stumping for Obama and is currently advising him on security issues.”

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

negative sentiments and day-to-day grievances toward the US and its allies do not manifest themselves in the form of violent extremism.” Could this mean that the next US ambassador’s role might be exclusively geared toward the war against terrorism? Of course not; there are many, many other areas of bi- and multilateral interest in US-UK relations that also need to be covered. But it is going to be a significant part of the job description, quite probably more so than it has been for recent appointees. Expatriate Americans, far from direct, daily contact with the federal government, sometimes forget how completely its commitment to fighting terrorism has permeated every one of its sectors, as any full-blown war policy would. This will exert a great influence on who, in the next President’s deployment of plenipotentiaries, comes to the United Kingdom. London may be a cozy posting, but

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the State Department will want someone here who is as capable of discharging the US public diplomacy as the person assigned to Moscow, Islamabad or Cairo. As Glassman said: “Most of the animosity toward us is centered in Europe and the Middle East, and it is related to disagreements with our policies, especially in Iraq and toward Israelis and Palestinians. But, as far as ideological engagement is concerned, these policy differences should not hinder our efforts. Even countries and people who disagree with us on Iraq cooperate with us in reducing the threat of violent extremism – which challenges them as much as, or more than, it challenges us. In this, we have common cause.” There is no way, outside a very small and tight circle of operatives, of knowing which people the Presidential candidates may have in mind for London. But it is fun having a guess, anyway, so for the Democrats, I might put my bet on someone who has previously served in high public office (since Barack Obama has been proposing changes in the campaign financing rules, and has had a successful run in acquiring many small donations instead of fewer, larger ones, it would be hard for him to choose an ambassador on the basis of the size of their contribution without

being held to hypocrisy). Perhaps it would be someone like Madeleine Albright, the former US Secretary of State and ambassador to the United Nations, who has been stumping for Obama and is currently advising him on security issues. Or Robert Reich, an academic who was President Clinton’s former Labor Secretary, who studied at Oxford and who is a trustee of the Economists for Peace and Security organization. If he was to take the celebrity route he has an Allsorts list of names who have given him public support, from actor Ben Affleck to Motorola Chairman Edward Zander. Republicans have tended to look to party activists and donors to fill the job in the recent past, although it was a Republican President who nominated the only professional diplomat of recent decades – so a nominee could come out of anywhere, a la the Sarah Palin method. Could Robert Kagan be their man for London? A foreign policy adviser to McCain, he’s been in government, he’s an academic, he writes columns for major publications – and he’s already in Europe, a Brussels resident with his wife Victoria Nuland, who recently stepped down as US ambassador to NATO. For the big donors, we might look back toward the Rio Grande again, where Texas homebuilder Bob Perry, is known for big giving to the Republican cause through various “527” organizations, including a whopping $4 million plus to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The role of that organization in torpedoing the John Kerry campaign in 2004 has not been forgotten. One other big donor to that organization, Missourian Sam Fox, has been serving as US ambassador to Belgium for the past 18 months. H


The American

Don’t Tread on Father’s Day D

uring this summer’s Presidential campaigning Senator Barack Obama delivered a speech setting out his vision for black men. The junior Senator from Illinois reminded the somewhat discomfited crowd that his father had deserted him when he was two years old. His mother later remarried but, he told them, he never shed the scars of paternal abandonment. Obama delivered some home truths, reminding the audience that a juvenile delinquent is the product of delinquent fatherhood. Here in Britain the plague of knife crime has burgeoned alongside family breakdown. It is notable that in America other groups look to the Jewish community for the ‘magic formula’ that keeps their youth off the streets. The omnipresent Jewish father is integral to that community’s ‘peace in the street’. Obama’s speech coincided with an editorial by Gill Hornby in The Daily Telegraph entitled “Father’s Day - the worst thing American President Richard Nixon did”. Hornby blames America for Halloween, Mothering Sunday and Father’s Day. She resents celebrating fatherhood and makes an unfortunate reference to going ‘back to the coalface;’ angry bloggers reminded her that Father’s Day was created to honour the 361 miners, mostly poor immigrants, who lost their lives in a 1908 coalface explosion in Moongah, West Virginia.

Halloween and other national observances in the USA that Hornby eschews are more than just a reason to go shopping. In my childhood every national observance, Memorial Day, Independence Day or Thanksgiving, was a reason to be with family. One of the great father-son broadcasting icons of America, Tim Russert, died suddenly in June at 58. Sitting on a London bus I realised that in Washington at that very moment Tim’s memory was being honoured at the Kennedy Centre. His book about his father came out exactly a year ago on Father’s Day. One book in his trilogy was Wisdom of Our Fathers. ‘Big Russ,‘ his father, who started life as a refuse collector, became as beloved to Americans as the anchorman himself. Barack Obama’s powerful book is Dreams of My Father and John McCain’s book is Faith of our Fathers. Fathers went and fought to save us all from Hitler. Fathers take their daughters out and keep them fit with – as mine did – punishing baseball practice. Fathers take their sons to sport. They are a special presence in one’s formative years. Right now I am making a film about the Britons still searching for their GI fathers. One GI baby I am filming has been searching for her father for fifty years, and when she met two African-American veterans

by Carol Gould I had brought to Britain for a reunion she said she would like to make them her ‘honorary daddies’ as she wept in their arms. My own father, a civilised man whose own dad died when he was only twelve, was raised by my grandmother. Dad worked by day and studied at night, eventually becoming a respected naval architect. Throughout his long life, however, he carried with him a cloud of melancholy generated by the loss of his own dad. Fathers, and for that matter, grandfathers deserve to be honoured one day of the year. In the same weekend in which Tim Russert died, leaving a young son, and in which Barack Obama reminded fathers of their obligations, Flag Day was observed. Before blaming America for the misery of Halloween and Father’s Day, Gill should look to Britain’s deteriorating social fabric and see what positive images America can offer. H

Carol Gould is an American author and film-maker who lives in London. Her new book, Don’t Tread on Me – anti-Americanism Abroad is to be published in the UK and USA in October. Spitfire Girls, her novel about the women of Air Transport Auxiliary, is to be published by Random HouseArrow in the UK in 2009. She edits ‘Current Viewpoint’ and is a Sky News commentator on American politics.

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The American

The American Interview:

Nell Bryden on Keeping it Real

We reviewed Nell’s album Second Time Around in September and highlighted her as a star in the making. Michael Burland caught her on her cellphone in a rare quiet moment between gigs on a mountain top in Peru. The American: Sorry to have broken into your holiday – you’ve been busy. Nell Bryden: It’s been pretty non-stop. I’m just lucky to have had the opportunity to keep playing for people. How did your recent UK tour go? Great! I’d already fallen in love with Ireland and England and so many of my favorite bands came from there. I brought my band over from New York, which was cool. Every other tour I’d done was solo, which was OK, but I’d rather have the rhythm and the blues behind me. You mentioned Ireland. Do you get different reactions to your music from the different countries here? I think so. A lot of Americans lump Ireland into the UK, but Ireland appreciates being separate, and culturally it has a very different attitude to music. When you’re out there on your own, playing for the sheer joy of it, they appreciate you’re doing it for the right reasons. I think the UK, especially London, is more like New York, where people are suspicious of the purity of your actions.

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People think Dublin is Ireland, or London is England, or New York is America. I had a lot of experience of the north of England; Manchester, Liverpool and I especially love Leeds. It’s funny how different the cities are. I love Scotland, but it’s amazing how different Edinburgh is from Glasgow, only 50 minutes apart but even the accents – the Glaswegian accent is impossible! New York is different to other parts of America, It’s so international, I often feel I have more in common with people from parts of England than I do with people from Kansas or Nebraska. Los Angeles is physically so far away from Europe it feels cut off. You’ve built your following by playing live. There’s been a shift from making a living through recorded music to playing live. It’s bringing it back home. Music started out live, became recorded, then a radio medium and things changed. In recordings now a lot of it is an illusion. Things are tuned in ProTools, or worked out by the producer. I’ve always felt you can tell a real musician when you see how they

deliver it live. I come from a jazz background too, so to see someone improvize over a chord structure, they can make the night whatever it’s supposed to be. It’s more organic and includes the audience more. It keeps it fresh for the musicians too. I wrote a whole bunch of songs on the road and went right into the studio. We had a great producer, David Kershenbaum, a real pro. The band was all greased up, the machine was running well. When you go into the studio like that it doesn’t take a lot of modern tricks to make it sound good, it’s just down to getting the best performance. There’s a chemistry when a band is really playing together. It’s more authentic and fair to people. People have gotten sick of being misled with sounds. I don’t think people need their music to be perfect, that’s not what they’re looking for in art. This quest for perfection has screwed people up in the last 20 years. It’s become so synthetic that it’s not believable emotionally any more, and that’s what you need music for. Listen to those old Bob Dylan records, the piano or guitar is sometimes horribly out of tune, but you realize that he was so inspired that he thought, let’s just go! That’s why it’s so important to be on the road. You get a level of trust with your band. If you go somewhere musically, you know they’re going to go with you. A lot of people have studio musicians. I recorded one of my early albums in Nashville with some amazing studio musicians and they did an incredible job, but it just doesn’t have that charm. And if you have that trust you can try out different areas and end up with your own sound. You come from an interesting background – your mother was a classical singer and your father a painter. You could have gone in any direction. And what you do is not pure country…


The American

At the end of October Nell played a series of concerts to support the troops in Kuwait and Iraq. Next she is playing in London at The Gibson Guitar Studio on October 28th, The Cobden Club on the 29th and The Borderline on November 12th.

I’m from Brooklyn! I like country music because I love the sound of it. I’m talking about the golden age of country – that’s something that gets lost in translation. To the English ‘country’ is a bad word, but they’re thinking of modern country, very smooth round the edges, like pop music. I’m talking about the golden age, people like Johnny Cash, or even Elvis, who could be in the R&B, pop and country charts, all at the same time. I’m always flummoxed when people ask me what style I consider myself. It depends on the song I’m singing at that moment. Jazz oriented, country, ballads, rock and roll, it depends what I’m trying to portray. I was singing scales before I could even talk. My mother would take me on tour whenever she could. My dad says I associated applause with her – whenever I heard applause I’d say ‘Where’s mommy?’. She took me onstage when she was taking bows – I got the taste for performing pretty young.

I studied cello for twelve years. I love cello, it’s such a profoundly sexy instrument, but there’s something restrictive about classical music, it’s an existing repertoire that everybody knows, and you’re only allowed a moderately unique interpretation of it before it’s considered wrong. I wanted to be Maria Callas, she had so much fire and passion in her voice, but I don’t have that style of voice. I fell into jazz. Billie Holiday is not technically perfect but she had such a mainline into her emotions that, all these years after her death, you feel she’s right there, singing to you. She sounds so honest. Then I realized I was improvizing too much even for jazz – not melodically but rewriting the lyrics and song structures. I took a year off before college and went traveling by myself to try to decide who I was. I went to Australia, about as far away as you can get and still speak English! I started writing melodies that were in my head and singing them to people. I

learnt guitar to accompany myself. That took me in a folky direction, then I fell in the trap of trying to make it sound perfect. I can’t listen to my first few albums. I don’t sound like I’m trying to say anything, just to sound perfect like a pop singer trying to get on the radio, too calculated. Then September 11th happened. I was in New York at the time. I was in a band that I was not happy with. It was one of those moments where anything that had any falseness to it, the walls fell away and exposed it for the sham that it was. Anything that was not emotionally honest had no place in life at that point. I had to fall in love with music again and it took me a trip to New Orleans – a town that does not embrace the categorization of other towns. You could play anything there and be accepted? Exactly, and it was so liberating. H

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© JOSEPH A ROSEN

The Blues Anthology

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roud Gallery in Camden has a phenomenal collection of photographic portraits of the blues icons whose music changed popular music for all time and change the social situation of African Americans as individuals and as a community, imahes of famous and less well known musicians by world class photographers including Herb Snitzer, Joseph A Rosen, Ernest Withers, Ralph Fales and Terry Cryer. Sir Paul McCartney has praised Cryer’s work and the respected MOJO magazine describes him as “the dean of jazz and blues photographers”. His images give an enormous insight into the era when blues musicians came to Britain from the first time. Having grown up in the slums of Leeds, he left school at 14 and learnt his trade in Egypt as a war office photographer. After leaving this post in 1955 he gained recognition for the images he took around the jazz clubs of the UK, leading to personal friendships with many of the foremost musicians of the time. Proud Camden, The Horse Hospital, Chalk Farm Road NW1, The Horse Hospital, Chalk Farm Road NW1

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Music Music Photo Exhibitions

Music photography has become a recognised art form in recent years, a genuine addition to the music not just snaps capturing the ephemeral moments of performance in a second-hand way. Two exhibitions prove the point.

The Beggars Banquet Collection An Exhibition by Michael Joseph

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his is the result of the legendary photo session for the Rolling Stones “Beggars Banquet” album which took place over two days in 1968. 40 years on from the year of revolution, these extraordinary photographs go on display, many for the first time. A young photographer called Michael Joseph had been chosen for the shoot. He was known for his use of large group scenes with people, animals and food. His advertising work included White Horse whisky. This was Joseph’s first and only rock music session. The results made him the most famous commercial photographer of the next three decades. Some have only recently been rediscovered after more than 40 years. They will be exhibited in large format. The two day shoot took place at Sarum Chase and Swarkestone on June 18th and 19th, 1968. When the Stones arrived at Sarum Chase in West Hampstead London, (the former home of Victorian society

painter Frank Owen Salisbury) they were suitably impressed by the amount of lights and props but somewhat ‘frazzled’ as Brian Jones had just been busted for drugs the day before. The cat, three dogs, a sheep and a goat were dissuaded from eating the food, and the shooting (on 10x8 sheets) began with Michael directing proceedings via a megaphone. The following day’s shoot took place at Swarkestone in Derbyshire, built in 1632 for bear-baiting and jousting. The van with the props was late so some shots were taken of a bored looking band in a field before the now notorious game of cricket got under way. Medieval costume, a one legged white piano and a load of smoke all contributed to the scene. (The final shot also ended up on the cover of Hot Rocks 1964-1971, the Rolling Stones’ two CD set.) Blink Gallery, 11 Poland Street, London W1F 8QA from November 7th to December 6th.


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Exclusive Christmas Cards

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ou enjoyed them last year, so The American is again offering a selection of exclusive, quality, unusual Christmas cards for you. Designed by designer Maureen Gray, these three lovely Christmas cards – Christmas Angel, Christmas Gift and Christmas Holly – are available only to readers of The American, and of Interior Scene, the upmarket interior designer’s publication. A successful designer and illustrator, Maureen has designed cards for many companies including Pier One in America, Paperchase, Boots the Chemist nationwide, and Fenwick of Bond Street, London. In 1997 one of her Christmas card designs was printed by the Great Ormond Street Hospital charity in memory of Princess Diana. Printed on high quality card and measuring 6 inches (15cm) square, each design comes in packs of five, with quality envelopes, at a cost of £6.75 per pack + vat. Overprinting is available on volume orders and discounts are available for orders of 20 or more packs – please call Maureen on 01747 830 923 or sales@ridgepublications.com for further details. Wish your friends a happy holiday in an exclusive and beautiful way.

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The American

Black Ice

AC/DC Columbia Records

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The opener Rock ‘N Roll Train states its intent. A simple guitar riff blasts purposefully from the right speaker, drums join in centre stage and the bass and second guitar fill from the left. Track two, Skies on Fire and it’s the drums that lead off, but the formula’s the same. Angus Young’s solos, played as ever on a Gibson SG, are all distortion and treble. This writer saw them on their first visit to Britain in 1976 at a tender age (for me and them - Angus was just 17 years old). Band histories imply they were near-headliners, but I recall a daytime slot for an unknown outfit of scruffy, loud mouthed, even louder guitar-ed Aussies, determined to shake a field full of hippies out of their sun/lager/ dope-fuelled torpor. A particular live favorite at the time was The Jack, a tender tale of a young lady suffering from a social disease. Nothing changes on planet AC/DC, not even the loss of singer Bon Scott in 1980. (For goodness sake, track 3 is called Big Jack.) They do what the poodle hair bands overdo. They play good, loud stripped down rock music, no more, no less. Production is by Brendan O’Brien, who specialises in sparse but sympathetic recordings, showing off bands and their songs to their best advantage (viz. later Springsteen, Pearl Jam, The Wallflowers) Black Ice is AC/DC’s first studio album for eight years. Worth the wait? Yes – it’s one of their best. Proper stuff.

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LIVE AND KICKING

Here is The American’s selection of the best live gigs in the next weeks. (Please check with venues as details may change.)

Al Green

The Reverend Al Green is over in Britain for a rare tour. See him on October 28th at Birmingham NIA; 30th Glasgow, Clyde Auditorium; November 3rd Manchester, MEN Arena, 5th London, Royal Albert Hall; 6th London, Hammersmith Apollo, all supported by Gabrielle. This month also brings a classic live performance from Al Green on DVD. Al Green Live in ’72 is released on November 3, the first time the soul legend has released a live performance on DVD. Classic songs include Let’s Stay Together, Tired of Being Alone and Love and Happiness. Recorded at WNET in New York City, the show first aired on the PBS show, Soul! There’s an extra, The Gospel According to Al Green. Price £19.99

Black Kids

The new cult indy band are touring in the British Isles. Is this one of those occasions where you’ll be saying in twenty years time, I was there, or will it be a footnote in the rock and roll history books? The American isn’t convinced, but they are hot at the moment. Make up your mind at: October 21st Dublin, The Academy; 22nd Birmingham Academy; 23rd Oxford Academy; 26th Glasgow ABC; 27th Leeds Metropolitan University; 28th Cambridge, Junction; 30th London, Astoria; 31st Nottingham Trent University; November 1st Liverpool, The Nation; 2nd Portsmouth, Pyramids.

STEVE JURVETSON

ALBUMS THEOF MONTH

Kanye West

Kanye West is probably the biggest rap crossover artist on the planet. Expect a sell out for this gig, as well as a stage set that will blow your minds. November 12, O2 Arena

Fleet Foxes

The hirsute purveyors of the finest harmonies since the Beach Boys. Swoon at the following venues: October 10th Sheffield University; 31st Birmingham, The Custard Factory; November 2nd Nottingham Trent Uni; 5th London, Shepherds Bush Empire; 7th Dublin, Vicar Street; 8th Glasgow ABC; 10th London, Shepherds Bush Empire.

Bryan Adams

Film theme-smith Adams brings his crowd-pleasing anthems to the expected arenas, plus some more intimate gigs described as ‘A Very


The American WIN TICKETS TO

Special Solo Performance’ which we’ve marked [Solo]: October 25th Nottingham, Trent FM Arena; 26th Dundee, Caird Hall [Solo]; 27th Glasgow, SECC; 28th Liverpool Echo Arena; 29th Sheffield Arena; 30th Manchester, M.E.N. Arena; 31st York, Grand Opera House [Solo]; November 1st Newcastle Upon Tyne, Metro Radio Arena; 2nd Birmingham, LG Arena; 3rd Cardiff CIA; 5th London, The O2.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Live in London

That’s the real, old-time, barnstorming American rock ‘n’ roll y’all. Some of the last men (and women) standing are over here late October and early November. The London Rock ‘n’ Roll Festival presents exclusive performances from legendary US artists Jerry Lee Lewis, Jack Scott, Wanda Jackson and Frankie ‘Sea Cruise’ Ford. Linda Gail Lewis joins dad. All of them are flying in especially for this one event and are appearing nowhere else in the UK. They are backed up by some hot British rockers at The Forum in Kentish Town. Forget those 80s gigs where Jerry Lee played nothing but gospel, swore at the lighting man and stomped off after 25 minutes [sadly I was there – ed], if The Killer is on form he can still boogie with the best of them. November 8th, London, The Forum.

Ones to look out for

Little Richard will be coming over to play The Forum in London, March 2009, a concert postponed after his recent surgery following a mild heart attack. Ray Lamontagne is playing in the UK and Ireland in February 2009.

COUNTING CROWS

at Wembley Arena LIVE AT WEMBLEY ARENA! Counting Crows are a global phenomenon with a host of multiple platinum albums and Top 10 chart positions worldwide. The band have been a huge presence in the music world; from initial hit single Mr. Jones to 2005’s Accidentally In Love. New album Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings saw the band split their musical personality with the rock music of Saturday Nights to the more acoustic Sunday Mornings. Featuring special guest Ben Folds and Melee as support, this promises to be a show not to be missed! The American has 3 pairs of tickets to the Counting Crows concert on December 5th to give away courtesy of Wembley Arena. HOW TO ENTER Win one of three pairs of tickets to see Counting Crows at Wembley Arena by answering this question – all correct answers will go into a draw. QUESTION: Counting Crows’ first hit was Mr. Jones. But who had a hit in 1972 with Me and Mrs. Jones? A Billy Paul B Billy Joel C Paul Simon Send your answer with your name, address, daytime telephone number and email address (optional) to reach us by mid-day, Friday November 28, 2008. Email it to theamerican@blueedge.co.uk with COUNTING CROWS COMPETITION in the subject line. Or send a postcard to: COUNTING CROWS COMPETITION, The American, Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK. Tickets are for the December 5 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.

To be sure of being the first to know about upcoming gigs at Wembley Arena, register TODAY with www.wembleyarena.co.uk. For more information or to book tickets call 0844 815 0815 or visit www.wembleyarena.co.uk

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The American

Coffee Break Coffee Break Quiz QUESTIONS 1 W  hich famous actor was born in 1916 with the real name of Issur Danielovitch Demsky? 2 W  hat is Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick Dr. Watson’s first name? 3 N  elson Mandela was one of two men who were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for their role in ending apartheid

in South Africa. Who was the other one? 4 T he Mauretania, launched in 1906, was the largest and fastest ship in the world at that time. What was the name of her sister ship that was launched in the same year, but sunk by a German U-boat in 1915?

5 T he Ballearics, in the Mediterranean Sea, are made up of three major islands. Majorca and Minorca are two, but what is the other one? 6 Which historical figure is reputed to have laid his cloak over a muddy puddle so that Queen Elizabeth I would not get her feet dirty? 7 I n golf, there are four “major” tournaments. The Masters, the US Open and the UK Open Championship are three of them, but what is the other one? 8 A  t which famous golf course is the US Masters played each year? 9 B  y what name was criminal Albert de Salvo better known? 10 Which four presidents heads are sculpted on Mount Rushmore? 11 Which three films are tied for winning the most Academy Awards, with 11 Oscars each? 12 Which famous sitcom actor provides the voice for Sideshow Bob, Krusty The Clown’s original sidekick in “The Simpsons”? 

Answers at foot of the page.

September Issue Competition Winners The winner of the Barbara Taylor Bradford box set last month was Eleanor Gray of Maida Vale, London. Fall Out Boy tickets went to Claire Herrera of Brandon, Suffolk, Susan Hallam of Nottingham and Dianna McKnight of London.

Coffee Break Quiz Answers 1. Kirk Douglas; 2. John; 3. Frederik Willem De Clerk; 4. Lusitania; 5. Ibiza; 6. Sir Walter Raleigh; 7. The PGA Championship; 8. Augusta; 9. The Boston Strangler; 10. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson; 11. Ben-Hur, Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; 12. Kelsey Grammar

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It happened one... November November 1, 1604 & 1611 – Othello is presented for the first time in 1604 and The Tempest in 1611, both at Whitehall Palace in London. November 2, 1898 – Cheerleading is started at the University of Minnesota with Johnny Campbell leading the crowd in cheering on the football team. November 3, 1493 & 1978 – Two for Dominica, in the Caribbean Sea: Christopher Columbus first sights the island in 1493 and in 1978 Dominica gains its independence from the UK. November 4, 1924 – Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming is elected as the first female governor in the United States. November 5, 1940 – Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected to a third term as President of the USA. November 6, 1947 – Meet The Press makes its television debut November 7, 1786 – The oldest musical organization in the USA is founded as the Stoughton Musical Society. November 8, 1519 – Hernán Cortés enters Tenochtitlán, Aztec ruler Moctezuma welcomes him as a returning god. November 9, 1989 – Fall of the Berlin Wall. Communist East Germany opens checkpoints and people start demolishing the Wall. November 10, 1919 – The first national convention of the American Legion is held in Minneapolis, Minnesota November 11, 1620 – The Mayflower Compact is signed on the Mayflower, establishing the basic laws for the Plymouth Colony, in Provincetown Harbor, Cape Cod.

November 12, 1439 – Plymouth, England, becomes the first town incorporated by the English Parliament. November 13, 1002 – The St. Brice’s Day massacre: King Ethelred orders the killing of all Danes in England.

November 14, 1889 – Pioneering female journalist Nellie Bly (aka Elizabeth Cochrane) begins her attempt to travel around the world in less than 80 days. She completes the trip in a world record time of 72 days. November 15, 1959 – Four members of the Herbert Clutter Family are murdered at their farm outside Holcomb, Kansas, later inspiring Truman Capote’s book In Cold Blood.

November 16, 1821 – American Old West: Missouri trader William Becknell arrives in Santa Fe, New Mexico over a route that became known as the Santa Fe Trail. November 17, 1800 – The United States Congress holds its first session in Washington, D.C. November 18, 1307 – William Tell shoots an apple off of his son’s head (well, according to legend).

November 19, 1493 – Christopher Columbus stays busy, goes ashore on an island he sighted the day before. He names it San Juan Bautista. It is later renamed Puerto Rico. November 20, 1985 – Microsoft Windows 1.0 is released.

November 21, 1980 – A misplaced Texaco oil probe causes Lake Peigneur, Louisiana, to drain into the Diamond Crystal Salt Mine. The resulting whirlpool sucks the drilling platform, several

victor hugo king

The American

barges, houses and trees thousands of feet, to the bottom of the mine.

November 22, 1963 – President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. US Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as the 36th President of the United States.

November 23, 1889 – The first jukebox goes into operation at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco. November 24, 1963 – Lee Harvey Oswald is assassinated by Jack Ruby in the basement of Dallas police department headquarters on live television. November 25, 1952 – The Mousetrap, Agatha Christie’s murder-mystery, opens at the Ambassadors Theatre, London. It becomes the longest continuously-running play in history.

November 26, 1789 – Thanksgiving Day is observed nationally in the U.S. as recommended by President George Washington and approved by Congress. November 27, 1934 – Baby Face Nelson, bank robber, dies in a shootout with the FBI.

November 28, 1893 – Women vote in a national election for the first time: not in the U.S. or UK, but in New Zealand. November 29, 1877 – Thomas Edison demonstrates his phonograph for the first time.

November 30, 1934 – The steam locomotive Flying Scotsman becomes the first to officially exceed 100mph.

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The American

London International Tattoo Convention

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ody art is becoming socially acceptable, far from the gang member / scary freak / tough guy sailor image of yesteryear. Just ask Samantha Cameron, wife of the Conservative [sic] Party leader and so possibly the UK’s next ‘first lady’, whose ankle is adorned with an inked dolphin. The fourth London International Tattoo Convention, held at the vast expanse of East London’s Tobacco Dock was truly one of the highlights of the tattoo scene this year. With over 190 tattoo artists from around the globe, including a large contingent from America, this was an opportunity to get inked by some of the best and most highly regarded artists in the world. With the sun shining down on London (I know, it worried me too), even if you weren’t there to get tattooed it was fascinating to watch the artists at work and see their different styles from traditional Samoan hand work to the currently fashionable rockabilly style. There was also plenty of alternative entertainment from magicians, dancers, music, shops, an anthropological exhibition as well as a real ale bar, plenty of food, and even a nightclub. I had a great time and in my opinion, it would be very hard to get bored at this event. NAR

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Full Steam Ahead For Christmas Mary Bailey enjoys a day out from another era

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e all, in spite of our grumbles, love Christmas but it is good to find something a little different to enjoy at this dark time of year. I greatly enjoyed my recent Cathedrals Express steam engine trip with Steam Dreams. The company’s engines are real steam locomotives that were the regular rail transport in a bygone era, completely re-serviced and passing all safety checks. They bear such dignified names as Oliver Cromwell and Sir Lamiel, and date from an age when, as one traveler commented ‘they polished the brass’ The carriages are comfortable and fit the time they represent. Many of the numerous destinations are cathedral cities. On your arrival in the cathedral, a carol concert is arranged for your pleasure, led by a superb local choir. After this there is time for shopping and sightseeing. These cities often have wonderful Christmas markets and sightseeing has no limit. Ely Cathedral is wonderful. Christians have worshiped there for over a thousand years and the echo in one chapel was designed to suit chanting monks. The trips start at Victoria with pick up points along the way. The engine needs water too, of course! Don’t be late, even Sir Nigel Gresley must not hold up ordinary traffic. 01483 209888 www.steamdreams.com


The American

The King of America

Candidates’ Irish and Battlefield State Heritage

by Sabrina Sully

ith the Presidential race in our minds, we thought it would be interesting to look at what would have happened if America had ended up with its own Royalty instead of a President. And who would be the current monarch? If many of George Washington’s officers had their way, he would have been the United States’ own King George I. Washington created the Continental Army out of what was little more than an armed mob and after an eight-year struggle forced Great Britain to grant independence to its overseas possession. Washington was the most revered man in the U.S. and many Americans including his officers wanted to make him King, the leadership model in most countries of the day. Instead, he suppressed all attempts to establish a military dictatorship or crown him and used his prestige and popularity to get the Constitution ratified instead. Only reluctantly did he even accept the presidency. Washington understood the significance of the position. “I walk on untrodden ground,” he said. “There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn in precedent.” His eight years of office laid down the guidelines for future presidents. Those clever people at Ancestry. com started to delve into the Washington line. George Washington had no children, but he had an older half brother and a younger full brother.

IKIWANER

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Researching the lines of descendants showed that 8,000 people could be included in the succession line, although less than 200 of them bear the Washington surname. Ultimately there were four possible succession paths. Amazingly, two of the four paths, with male-only heirs, converge on one ‘heir’, Paul Emery Washington, aged 82, of San Antonio, Texas. This makes him the strongest candidate for king today, should America decide to go that route. ‘King Paul’ is a retired regional manager for a manufacturer of building materials. His employer’s offices are at Valley Forge, Pa., where coincidentally George Washington and his army were based in the Revolutionary War, during the winter of 1778-79. Paul has a son Bill, who he jokingly calls “Prince William.”

The genealogical experts also took a sideways turn and looked at the roots of the presidential & vice presidential candidates. John McCain has roots on both sides of his family tree in North Carolina, way back to the mid 1700s. His family hail from Coleraine, County Antrim, in Ulster, from where they left in 1719, arriving on the borders of Pennsylvania and Maryland in the early 1720s. McCain’s paternal grandmother, Katherine Vaulx, was born in Arkansas. Her parents, James Vaulx, a minister, and Margaret Garside, were longtime residents of Arkansas. Barack Obama has roots in Ohio, back to 1850. His Irish forebears can be traced back to Moneygall and Shinrone in County Offaly, Ireland. His great- great- great-grandfather Falmouth Kearney arrived in New York in 1850 and settled in Fayette County, Ohio. Senator Obama also has roots in the swing states of Virginia, Missouri and Indiana. Joe Biden’s Irish ancestors arrived in America within six months of Obama’s. Both families were shoemakers. Biden has deep Pennsylvania ties: Patrick and Catherine Blewett, his great-great-grandparents, settled in Scranton in 1860. Sarah Palin’s family has roots in Ohio, Minnesota and Virginia. Her strongest family background, though, is in Connecticut and Massachusetts. She is descended from generations of Sheerans, who again originated in Ireland. One ancestor, Rev. John Lothrop, arrived in Massachusetts colony in 1634. Gov. Palin is also a distant cousin of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Princess Di! ★

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The American

ritish researchers from the Universities of Ulster, Greenwich and Liverpool have come up with startling conclusions after investigating the evacuation of the World Trade Center on September 11th 2001. Their most chilling finding is that five times more people would have died if the Twin Towers had been fully occupied. There were only 8,000 people in each of the towers on 9/11. 2,752 people died, 1,462 in the North Tower. The full capacity of each tower was 25,000 and the team say that if the towers were full, 7,592 people would have been killed in the North Tower alone. They also discovered more than half the occupants stayed to carry out tasks before evacuating, occupants trying to find out what was happening took 1.5 to 2.6 times longer to respond, and delays were mainly caused by congestion on the stairs. The three and a half year study, involving interviews with 271 survivors, has been welcomed by Sally Regenhard, Chairperson of the Skyscraper Safety Campaign and mother of a firefighter lost at the WTC, who said: “Designers of high rise buildings and their evacuation procedures are architects of destiny for millions around the world. When I see a new skyscraper, I want to know that the deadly mistakes of 9/11 have been corrected.” Many of the survivors said they had benefited personally from taking part in the research. “Some of us believe that the only way to deal with the aftermath of the event is to talk about it and that any lessons learned from the events of the WTC evacuation on 9/11 should be shared so that we can be better prepared,” said one participant. Their contributions were entered

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JIM WATSON, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

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Lessons of 9/11

in the High-rise Evacuation Evaluation Database (HEED). Project Director Professor Ed Galea of the University of Greenwich said: “Together these personal stories paint a comprehensive picture of what happened and why. What influenced evacuees’ behaviour? What was going through their minds when they made key decisions? We will be making the HEED database available to bone fide researchers all over the world, so that it can become a valuable international resource for others to use.” The analysis revealed that people took longer to start their evacuation than engineers predicted. The longer people take to start their evacuation the longer it takes to get out safely. They also travelled more slowly down the World Trade Center’s stairs than expected. However this was not due, as some experts had suggested, to growing levels of obesity in the community, but to the high numbers of people crowded onto the stairs. Response time is vital to the success – or failure – of an evacuation. 82% of those interviewed said that they stopped at least once; a small number stopped more than 20 times during their descent. Congestion was

By Michael Burland the primary cause of stopping (44% of incidents), followed by ascending fire fighters and descending groups of injured people (17.6%). Only 9.7% needed to take a rest while 3.5% were stopped by debris, smoke, heat and water on the stairs. Contrary to the usual advice to avoid elevators, the results show that that for buildings above a critical population and height, stairs alone are not enough to safely evacuate everyone. You can help with this research by completing an on-line questionnaire at the University of Greenwich website: http://fseg.gre. ac.uk/elevator Five golden rules which could make the difference between life and death in an emergency evacuation: ●

● ●

Don’t do anything to delay your departure. Know your way out. Don’t stop on the way to reassure friends and family. Don’t discard your shoes on the stairs. Know how long it will take to get out. ★


The American

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

The Woman In The Fifth ByDouglasKennedy

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ouglas Kennedy was unknown to me until I picked up his novel, A Special Relationship in an airport in Paris. Coincidentally, the first time I read Patricia Highsmith, author of The Talented Mr. Ripley, some twenty years before, I purchased the book at the same airport and in many ways, this American author, who now lives in London, reminds me of Highsmith. Both have sinister and unexpected twists in their stories that keeps you turning the pages tp the end. After an involvement with one of his students at a small American college that cost him his job, his marriage and his relationship with his daughter, Harry Ricks escapes to Paris. With only enough money to live on for a few months he is forced to work as a night watchman with a firm that has disturbing and illegal connections. His life gets worse until he attends a cocktail party and meets Margit, an elegant, sophisticated Hungarian émigré in her fifties. Widowed and, like Harry, alone in Paris, they soon become lovers. Margit will only see Harry in her apartment in the Fifth Arrondissement twice a week, always at the same time. She tells him about her late husband and daughter and their tragic deaths, but refuses to reveal what she does when he’s not with her. Harry does not question their relationship until a man he met on

his arrival in Paris is found dead and the police question him. Other strange things happen, but it is only when his daughter is seriously injured in an accident that Harry begins to fear Margit might be involved. Kennedy’s compelling, fascinating and gripping mystery romance will be enjoyed by men as much as women. I’ve already put in my order for his next book. VS ArrowBooks£8.99

Chicago Bears – The Complete Illustrated History Among several sports volumes that arrived together (Chicago Cubs and Minnesota Vikings being others) this is one of those team retrospectives that work best because of a sense of history to the photography, and 1920s photos of George Halas and Red Grange give the Bears entry an edge, even if the book’s layout is by-the-numbers rather than lush. There’s some sense of ‘ticking the boxes’ about these volumes, and the information within is nothing a few clicks of the internet wouldn’t supply, but with Christmas approaching, they’re a sound pictorial gift for any fan of the team that hasn’t owned this sort of book before. RG  VoyageurPress,192pages,£17.99

Mountains My Passion ByValerieSkinner

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alerie Skinner started climbing at age fifty-five. Now in her seventieth year she has climbed to the summit of the Eiger, the hard way. via the Mittelegi Ridge. An Australian living between France and her home country, she’s proved against the odds that with determination and grit one can achieve one’s goal no matter how challenging, or even how old one is. Skinner has been fascinated by mountains since she first started skiing in Australia. When she and her husband John, a former Australian diplomat and travel writer, moved to their chalet in France in 1989 with its magnificent view of Mont Blanc she stopped dreaming and decided to climb the mountain, which at 4,810 metres is the highest in Western Europe. It was not the most difficult climb, but required exceptional physical fitness and the need to overcome the fear of getting lost in one of the numerous crevasses. Since that first climb, Valerie has confronted mountains all over Europe, Africa, New Zealand, and Nepal. She describes the fatigue and pain as she fights her way to the top and the sheer beauty of the view when she finally reaches the summit. I’ve known this petite strawberry blonde since the sixties. Her spirit and courage are summed up by her guide, Alex, “I don’t know who is more reckless. You for asking me to do this climb...or me for guiding you.” This self-publishing book is fascinating from beginning to end. VS  DreamtimeBeachPublishing,  Australiawww.lulu.com

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The American

The American House and The English Garden P

haidon have triumphed again, with two simple but stunning books that will delight and inform anyone interested in homes and gardens on both sides of the Atlantic. Delight? You can spend many a happy moment just wallowing in the beautiful. And the short, welledited text gives the information one needs about each iconic location and its designer or architect. Apart from those we’ve chosen here, The American House includes Pueblo Indian dwellings, Mark Twain’s house by Edward Potter, homes by Joseph Eichler, Frank Furness and Frank Lloyd Wright, right up to date with UN Studio’s Modernist designs, and even the Airstream trailer. The English Garden has a similar layout and celebrates the development of the various styles that have influenced gardens around the world and made Britain a world leader in this area of design. The gardens shown are from the medieval period up to the present day of the Eden Project and Tom

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Stuart-Smith’s Chelsea Flower Show winning design. Many are open to the public so you can even use the book as ‘where to go’ guidebook! Priced very reasonably, the high quality production, the concise but inclusive text and the beauty of the photography make The American House and The English Garden ideal coffee table books in the very best sense. Now, like the publishers, we’ll let the pictures do the talking. MB Phaidon Press, £12.95


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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 www.doctorcowan.co.uk

… for a healthy attractive smile Dr. Robert S. Wright DDS, MS, Cert Pros (California) American Dentistry in London • Regis House 49 Beaumont Street • London W1G 6DN 020 7486 0203 www.americandentistryinlondon.com


THEATER REVIEWS BY JARLATH O’CONNELL

Now or Later BY CHRISTOPHER SHINN • ROYAL COURT THEATRE, SLOANE SQUARE, LONDON SW1

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f young Bristol Palin frequented the Royal Court Theatre she might recognise an all too familiar family squabble, one that would have been played out round the kitchen table in Wassila a few weeks back. For, when your parent is running for President (or Vice President) of the United States, whatever they may tell you to the contrary, you don’t have a private life. US writer Christopher Shinn’s excellent new play couldn’t be more topical, however as a piece of writing it should outlive ‘Indecision 2008’, as Jon Stewart calls it. It is election night and things are looking rosy for the Democratic Party candidate (Matthew Marsh) who looks set to be the next President. In another room in the hotel his only son John Jr. (Eddie Redmayne in a glorious star turn), is locked in with a friend and they’ve realised that photos of him attending a wild frat party, dressed as the prophet Mohammad, have just started to surface on the internet. What’s to be done? Of course his father’s advisors are already drafting the fulsome apology he will make and one by one they, and eventually the President elect himself, appear at the door to try and talk the pesky kid round. He is stubborn, independent minded, incredibly intellectual and gay and as relations between him and his distant father were never that great,

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things are set for a bumpy night. Fans of ‘The West Wing’ will wallow as the debates come fast and furious and the characters display a cogency of political argument which would do credit to the LSE’s brightest. The play cuts straight to the heart of these issues and doesn’t patronise the audience’s intelligence. John Jr. sums it up neatly when he says “ I don’t think we should give up our values to find common ground. Then it’s not common ground, it’s their ground and we’re just standing on it”. Crafting a human drama with believable characters out of the top political and philosophical argument of our day is no mean feat and Shinn’s great achievement here is to do it in just 80 minutes running time. For the first time in my theatregoing life, I actually wanted a play to be longer. Witnessing the eloquence and humanity in Redmayne’s performance too made me think that in 10 or 20 years time I will be able to look back and say “I was there”. With an already booming film and TV career he is one to watch.

Flamenco Flamen’ka BY JORGE LUIS BORGES AND CRAIG REVEL HORWOOD LYRIC SHAFTESBURY AVENUE, LONDON

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ow many times before have you heard the names of the father of magic realism and the Mr Nasty of BBC TV’s Strictly Come Dancing mentioned in the same breath? Never, I hear you say. The man the Strictly fans love to hate has just directed and staged a new show combining Flamenco, Tango, Salsa and whatever you’re havin’ yourself, for the West End stage. The show, which is based on “The Interloper” and three other short stories of Borges is billed as “a passionate fusion of the traditional and the cutting edge”, which is one way of putting it. Originally devised by the Paris based Karen Ruimy, Revel Horwood discovered the show there and re–imagined it for the West End, working with three choreographers, specialists in respectively flamenco, tango and contemporary dance. Ms Ruimy, who brought over most of the Parisian cast with her, also narrates the show and her Gallic tones add to the general confusion. She is variously the bordello madam, the narrator, the lead singer and now and again wanders on repeating the mantra “All it takes to die is to be alive”. This reminded me of the Flann O’Brien quip “Life, shure it’ll be the death of us in the end”. The narrative relates the story of Juliana and her doomed ménage


a trois with two brothers, Cristian and Eduardo, who rescue her from the bordello, share her for a bit, get bored and then do her in. In terms of musical style the show covers the gamut with samples of every bit traditional flamenco and tango music you’ve ever heard. Bizarrely, when they run out of musical clichés they throw in a limp rendition of “Besame Mucho” (a Mexican bolero) and samples of “The Girl from Ipanema” (Brazilian bossa nova), Quizas, Quizas, Quizas (now forever linked to Doris Day) and even the old warhorse of Ravel’s “Bolero”, on which there should now be a moratorium in terms of choreography. As the latin tunes were being crossed off the list I shuddered to think what might be coming next, “The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat” perhaps? London theatregoers are blessed by visits from the great Tango companies such as “Tango Por Dos” and “Tango Argentino”. Sadlers Wells’ annual Flamenco Festival in February features all the greats of that art form. They play to packed houses of both anglos and latinos. They do not seem to be that inaccessible to the masses. Why then are we presented with this end of the pier show in the West End? Dance aficionados will surely recoil at the really poor quality of the dancing and the mainstream theatregoer, who they apparently think needs a strong narrative line to cope, will surely struggle to find one in this overcooked paella. One presumes the reason for this fusion was to make it more accessible to a general audience, as if good dance needs explaining to anyone. At the end when Juliana meets her maker and the boys reaffirm their brotherly love I asked myself “Why?”. For once, I wasn’t being metaphysical.

Riflemind

A NEW PLAY BY ANDREW UPTON • TRAFALGAR STUDIOS, WHITEHALL, LONDON SW1

W

hat can we do to get more young people into the theatre? Like the cuckoo, this comes round once a year and every time some politician thinks he’s cracked it. Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has launched a scheme to provide free theatre tickets for people under 26. The fact that they are more engaged with their X-boxes or Facebook never seems to sink in with the Cultural Commissars. These thoughts entered my head as I watched a new play by Australian Andrew Upton. The audience at the Trafalgar Studios was considerably younger and trendier than the average and so, I asked myself, what is the Trafalgar Studios doing “right”? Firstly, they’ve put on a play about rock stars – rarer than hens’ teeth. Secondly, they got Oscar winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman to direct it and put his name in lights. Thirdly, they’ve got John Hannah, much loved movie actor, to star. Finally they’ve obviously got the marketing right. Trouble is, it’s a turkey. The public’s fatal attraction to rock stars and their addictions to sex, drugs & rock’n’roll resonated with the young audience but the overweening self pity of these totally unsympathetic characters is enough to drive anyone to join the Young Conservatives. The play centres on John, played by Hannah, the lead singer of the rock band Riflemind, who’s invited the old gang to his country pile for a reunion

and an attempt at a comeback tour, 10 years after they split up. Set in the kitchen of his mansion (great set by Richard Roberts) the five band members and two girlfriends talk about old times, goad each other, bicker, make up, and down vast quantities of vodka. Inevitably old rivalries resurface and a new threat is posed by the fawning, rookie guitarist, Lee, invited to join the group for this session. Dramatically, the piece is totally inert, with scenes which drag on far too long. An hour could be cut out of its 2½ hour running time with no real loss. It cries out for editing, an inevitable hazard when the writer is also the producer. Upton created the play for the Sydney Theatre Company of which he is Co-Artistic Director with his wife Cate Blanchette. Only one scene in the play really catches fire, the inevitable argument about the share of royalty payments and the real value of each member’s contribution over the years. Here, Hannah vividly captures the monstrous ego of the lead singer, the alpha male of the group. This struggle is at the heart of how rock bands are created and how they sow the seeds of their own self-destruction. It would be the stuff of real drama. By focusing instead on the self-indulgence, self-pity and nihilism of this group, Upton ends up annoying rather than enlightening us. Rifle Mind indeed. If only I’d had one with me. ★

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Diningoutatthe

AQUASIA RESTAURANT I

still recall the warm June day some years ago when members of the private dining club run by Nelly Pateras were asked to put on the kind of hats they would wear to Royal Ascot at a luncheon at Aquasia. The hotel was known then as the Conrad and Executive Chef Michael Gresslin ran the kitchen. Although I’ve lunched there several times since, returning with Nelly was the first time either of us had dinner in the restaurant since Michael left. Entering the spacious lobby I saw little had changed. A member of staff, noting we were rather windblown, came to help then guided us to the bar next door to Aquasia, an immediate point in the hotel’s favour. I’ve had to wander more than once through a hotel searching for a restaurant which was tucked away in some out of way corner almost impossible to find. The bar was crowded with customers, many local, and we decided to go straight to the restaurant. Soon

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we were sitting in front of the spacious windows circling the restaurant overlooking the marina, watching the yachts bob up and down as if we were in the south of France. Although we were dining early, the restaurant was already half full. This is usually a sign of a successful restaurant, but in a hotel filled with paying guests one is never certain. A lovely young woman soon brought us the menu and not long afterwards, the glass of champagne we ordered. On studying the menu, we suspected the chef from Venezuela who has taken Michael’s place has not changed the menu as there were several dishes we recognized from before. Perhaps because he has not officially been named executive chef he is hesitant, which doesn’t help him or the restaurant. For her starter, Nelly had the salmon and swordfish carpaccio with mango salsa (£8.00), a beguiling combination she thoroughly enjoyed.

ReviewsbyVirginiaESchultz My dressed Devonshire crabmeat with grapefruit, chilli and avocado puree (£9.50) was also excellent. For her main course, Nelly decided on the Thai Green Chicken curry which she enjoyed before, sadly a mistake. Imitating a former chef ’s recipe is always tricky. On the other hand, my pan fried fillet of black sea bream (£20.50) with baby courgettes, sparked by a hint of lemon grass was superb. The chef was not relying on any slight of hand from the past but on technique and fresh ingredients. Nelly and I then decided on the dessert platter (£11.00) which served two. We selected the Eton mess, a medley of English strawberries and whipped cream with meringue, the crème brulee trio with cinnamon thins and the chocolate soup and ice cream and ate every luscious bite. Service was excellent as were the white and red house wines.


A few weeks after our dinner at the Wyndham Grand, I joined a group of guests to view their all-suite hotel and to sample their £1,000 (per two) seafood platter as well as taste Roberto Cavalli’s new vodka. Quite honestly, looking at the massive selection of fish and shellfish, which includes a can of Sevruga caviar, I decided there was enough for four people if some night I was feeling flush. However, it was Cavalli’s vodka in its very stylish bottle that for me was a treasure. Smooth, creamy, and absolutely the best vodka I’ve ever tasted. I haven’t discovered where it’s being sold... yet...but, I have no doubt it will be as expensive as his clothing.

Aquasia, Wyndham Grand Hotel, Chelsea Harbour, London, SW10 OXG www.thewyndhamgrandcollection.com Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday: 7am – 10:30 pm

THE GORING W

hen I quoted Anthony Powell, author of A Dance to the Music of Time, saying “Buckingham Palace is like an annexe to The Goring”, to my friend Jeff, he returned, “Yes, but the food and service are better.” Whether that’s true or not I can’t say, but I did see the Queen Mother lunching there a number of years ago and I’ve been told the Queen sometimes hops over from Buckingham Palace, right around the corner. Jeff, whose mother was English, always stays at The Goring when he’s in London and his last night he invited me to join him for dinner. Like me, he believes the English can equal or better most continental chefs when it comes to wild game and one of the best is The Goring’s executive chef, Derek Quelch.

A royal restaurant of choice

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The American

Beeston Place, Grosvenor Gardens, London SW1 0JW 020 7396 9000

”Despite knowing I’d almost eaten too much, I relented when I saw the selection of  British cheese.” With the hotel for over ten years, Derek believes his countrymen underestimate their food traditions and tramps the country and seaside for wild herbs to flavour his dishes and locate the finest fish and chicken to be found on the British Isles. We had to have the Lobster omelette, a rich man’s version of Arnold Bennett and possibly the most popular dish on the menu. I wasn’t there to review the restaurant but simply to dine with an old friend. Still, for a few minutes I debated having the whisky marinated Scottish salmon (which I enjoyed at lunch a few months before) as my first course. Jeff, who lived in South America for a number of years, chose a bottle of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc (£28.00). A lovely wine, but not one I would have ordered with the

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Lobster omelette. Still, hey, I’m his guest. Jeff, who had partridge the night before, succumbed to the pork belly with apple puree while I had the venison. Both dishes were perfectly cooked and presented without the fuss and glamour that too often happens in some restaurants, leaving the diner with the impression the chef was more interested in styling the plate than cooking the food. This time Jeff took the advice of the sommelier and we had a French merlot (£30.00) that blended with our very different dishes. Jeffrey Goring, who is the fourth or fifth generation Goring to run the hotel has a hand on approach, helping select the wine for the extensive cellar and taking off with Quelch to look for the ethically raised fowl and meat they use in the kitchen. Despite knowing I’d almost eaten too much, I relented when I saw the selection of British cheese. The British have a complex about their cheeses, often copying the favourite French cheeses rather than showing off their own which dairy farmers have been making for generations. Between us we selected eight different types of cheese to sample, all of them delicious. For dessert Jeff had a marmalade type of pudding that was popular in most English Public schools as I recall from my youngest daughter who attended one, while I, having decided even a sorbet was too much, had coffee. Perhaps because of the continuity of the Goring family who have run the hotel since Otto Goring opened the doors in 1910 there remains a sense of gentility without being stuffy that hasn’t changed even in 2008. Fortunately, the younger generation are beginning to appreciate this preservation of tradition and the majority of diners in the restaurant that evening were in their thirties to early fifties. Mad dogs and Englishmen may go out in the mid day sun in other countries, but in England, Jeff assured me, they stay at The Goring.


The American

The American

Diningoutat

ORRERY RESTAURANT C

asual French dining, that sensibility of relaxed eating with elegant surroundings, is not easily found in London, I thought when I dined at Orrery Restaurant with interior designer Jennifer Atterbury. But here we watched diners greet each other in that familiar manner of people who were old acquaintances. Across from us a woman sat alone, something you’ll often see in Paris, but seldom in London. The waiter was as attentive to her as to the other diners, something that doesn’t always happen to a woman on their own, and she was obviously comfortable on her own. The restaurant is named after the mechanical devices used for plotting the motion of the earth in relation to the sun, moon and planets - there is one on loan from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich in the entrance hall. On the floor above the dining room are a bar and terrace. During the day the long narrow dining room is bathed in light coming through the huge windows and it is equally lovely at night, the church bright with light. Before dinner we had a drink in a small room off the bar which frankly could

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use some revamping. A shame when the rest of the restaurant is so lovely. The Menu Potager (£46.00, or with sommelier wine pairings 55 Marylebone High Street for each course £84.00), was London W1U 5RB thoroughly tempting as it www,orreryrestaurant.co.uk was matched with various 020 7616 8000 interesting Rieslings, but in the end I decided to stick to the dinner menu. Jennifer started with the Eric Charriaux (£11.00) then we decided Tiger Prawn risotto, slightly disappointto share the Valrhona chocolate foning, while I had the warm red wine dant milk ice cream. poached foie gras saddling a brioche. Head chef, Igor Tymchyshyn, joined (£3.00 supplement) which was superb. Orrery in April and is beginning to The main course selection was without put his hallmark on the restaurant. fault. Jennifer ordered the Tournedos Originally from the Ukraine, his cooking Rossini with a wonderful dense truffle is classic and timeless in the tradition of sauce that a dieting Posh Spice would the best French chefs in London, with a have cleaned to the last morsel. I was touch of his home region. Having previthoroughly tempted by Sea Bass with ously been head chef at the Michelin stuffed courgette flowers and turbot starred Mirabelle in Mayfair, he has with cod tortellini with parsley and a series of producers from whom he garlic puree (£5.00 extra) but at the last purchases his ingredients and like most minute decided on the Welsh rump of top chefs he is ready to return them lamb with olive jus. Excellent though it if they don’t meet his approval. After was, the Tournedos Rossini is the classic dinner, we met with Igor and spent soul satisfying dish I’d return for. the next hour and a half talking on We only asked to see – then everything from politics, raising a child indulged in – the selection of farmin London (he has a daughter) to the house cheeses selected and ripened by restaurant scene in England. Eventually, he hopes to return to the Ukraine and open his own restaurant. Service was excellent. Neither too formal nor over-friendly. As usual I consulted the Head Sommelier, Robert Giorgione, on the wines we should drink with our different courses. Robert, formerly at Harvey Nichols Fifth Floor Restaurant and La Tante Claire, knows his 800 bin wine list thoroughly. Unless one is familiar with a wine on the wine list, he’s the man to consult. And don’t, in this credit crunch era, be afraid to tell him what you can afford to spend. ★

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The American

Cellar Talk Libations by Virginia E. Schultz

Thanksgiving Michelin Eating Out in Pubs 2009 The 2009 edition of Michelin’s useful guide has just been launched, priced £14.99. Of the listed 563 pubs, 84 are new additions. As expected with Michelin’s seal of approval, all are worth a visit for good cooking in a characterful environment that the best British pubs can offer. But there are many more than 563 decent gastropubs in the UK and Ireland. Many of the entries have been selected for that certain extra ‘something’ that makes a place memorable. It could be a particularly beautiful setting, excellent service, value for money, an especially welcoming atmosphere, or the intangible feelgood factor that makes you want to revisit one place rather than another similar establishment. 110 of the pubs have been highlighted with a ‘Bibendum’ stamp, marking them out as the inspectors’ favourites. If you’re planning a trip or staying in an unfamiliar area on business or vacation, the guide is usefully divided into regions and counties, each introduced by an overview of the area. There’s a map showing the location of each pub, which then has a full page entry, a colour picture, a description of its character, typical dishes, the makes of beer served as well as contact information, opening times, location, and prices.

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M

y first advice on choosing a wine for Thanksgiving is… not to choose an expensive one. The combination of flavours with side dishes such as marshmallow topped sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and herb stuffing will overwhelm that Cabernet Sauvignon 1982 you’ve been dying to serve to friends. Unless you plan to eliminate the sweetness and spiciness of the traditional side dishes and emphasize the gamey flavour of the turkey, the safest solution is that Beaujolais Nouveau you bought on a whim or a similar young, uncomplicated New World wine. If you prefer white, stick to an Australian Riesling which, except for the more expensive ones, is slightly less complicated than the Alsace or have a Pinot Gris or Chenin Blanc. Keep away from Chardonnay as the tannin in the wine can make it taste bitter. Fruit is a characteristic of American. For reds, think California Gamay, Mourvedre or Zinfandel which are less oaky. In white, go for Sauvignon Blanc, Oregon Pinot Gris or Washington Riesling. Last year a friend served an American Zinfandel, refrigerated for 20 minutes, which her guests preferred to the Pinot Noir, myself included. If you have Pinot Noir, chill it too, to bring out the fruit and take away the bite of alcohol. Or have a wine with some sweetness like a white zinfandel or a German Riesling. Again, think cheap. Modification to the menu can improve the quality of wine you plan to serve. You can eliminate the marshmallows and use cranberries in a bread

or have it in a dessert like ice cream. However, that isn’t Thanksgiving for me and as much as I dislike marshmallows, it will be part of the dinner I shall be cooking at my oldest daughter’s home. The main thing to remember is to find one with fruit in its character. If the gathering is large, put out red and white wine and a sparkling rosé and let family and guests choose what they prefer. Thanksgiving is not the time to show off your cellar, but to celebrate with friends and family and give thanks for the blessings we have received even in this time of financial worry all over the world.★

WINE of the MONTH

Ridge Lytton Springs Sonoma County California £19.00 Aged for 15 months in American oak with approximately 80% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, and 4% Carignan. Zinfandel is perhaps the most American grape and will harmonize with most of the Thanksgiving dishes.


for B ook & C Thank no hri w st sgivin ma s g

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: www.lacapanna.co.uk Business account customers and party bookings are welcome. All major credit cards accepted.

FULLY AIR CONDITIONED • PRIVATE CAR PARK

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 • www.mondorestaurant.co.uk • mondorestaurant@btconnect.com


The American

CECE’S CHOICE

Cece Mills picks her Arts and Exhibitions for November

Right: Sterling silver cock pheasant by Richard Comyns, London 1968.

The Sculptor’s Art in Silver Until 31st January 2009 London Silver Vaults

Emory Douglas. All the Power To The People.

Emory Douglas and the Art of Revolution Until April 2009 Urbis, Manchester American graphic artist Emory Douglas was the official artist for the Black Panther Party – a black power movement known to all Americans during the 1960s and 70s. His poster designs, cartoons and campaign pamphlets challenged racial inequalities as well as police attitudes and discrimination. The Urbis is all about celebrating city life and those who live there embracing all cultures.

Steve McQueen Until 23rd November Baltic, Gateshead Turner Prize winner McQueen exhibits previously unseen work such as Pursuit 2005 – a space, sound and projected video installation which disorientates and confuses the viewer.

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Shimmering selling exhibition of models and figures made by silversmiths the world over throughout the centuries. Also glorious sculptures of animals and birds, domestic and wild, including a 32” high, 21” long German rendering of a Capercaillie. For car enthusiasts, silver marques of the most famous cars – Ferrari, Bugatti and Mercedes amongst others. What an opportunity for some original Christmas shopping! If you’re wondering what I’d like – the Capercaillie please!

Sisley in England and Wales 12th November to 15th February 2009 National Gallery, London Sisley’s (1839 – 1899) Impressionist paintings capturing the dramatic British landscape were painted during his only two visits to the UK in 1874 and 1897. Born in Paris, Sisley was in fact British. The paintings depict his visits to London, Cornwall and Wales. Alfred Sisley (1839–1899) Under the Bridge at Hampton Court, 1874 © Kunstmuseum Winterthur


Is this Art? Is th Pub Signs

Techniques at a Party, 1953. Ink, colored pencil, and watercolor on paper. photo Courtesy oF the sAul steinberg FoundAtion. © the sAul steinberg FoundAtion/Artists rights soCiety. (Ars)/dACs, london

Saul Steinberg Illuminations 26th November to 15th February 2009 Dulwich Picture Gallery American artist Steinberg will be familiar to you all from the pages of The New Yorker. This retrospective features hundreds of drawings, cartoons and works by this much admired and witty artist.

Also: Last chance to catch The Grand Tour – 44 full size recreations of National Gallery paintings hanging in the streets of York. Paintings reproduced using the latest HP technology. Below: Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh on St Helen’s Square. C yorK museums trust

m

ore like, is this A dying Art? pub signs are uniquely british and there is a great danger that mass production and corporate ownership of inns could be doing away with the traditional, hand-painted signs by talented artists and sign writers, in favour of digitally produced ones. shame. ever realised that great art is all around you in the towns and villages of britain, on the high street and up the alley? And all for free! All you have to do is raise your eyes a bit higher than the paving stones to find a wealth of history and local folklore depicted in the often elaborate and nearly always intriguing pub signs. they record, artistically, a range of historical moments, battles, traditions, inventions, sporting events, local heroes and royalty. one of the oldest of british pub signs is the bush, which comes directly from the oldest signage in history created by the romans. so that the public could tell what each building was for, the romans would carve a stone depicting what

lay within. but the tabernae, or pub, was most commonly to be found by the vine leaves hanging outside. A natural transition to the bush – after all, there aren’t too many vines in britain. signs were important in early times because not many of the population could read or write, so a picture said it all. in 1393 richard ii passed an act making it a law that pubs must have a painted sign – did he have shares in the sign painting fellowship? then in 1751 another law was passed stating that pubs must have an approved name registered ‘At the sign of…’. luckily there are still those that adhere to the old ways of doing things. i found J C signs and scenes, whose proprietor trained at somerset College of Art. i was cheered to read that they excel in the skill of traditional hand-painted signs, using gold and platinum leaf to enhance the images. the gold leaf never fades or tarnishes and can withstand all sorts of wild weather conditions. perfect for that grand coat of arms or crest. happily sign writing, a particular skill, is more in demand than ever as local councils choose to enhance conservation areas and streets with the genuine thing rather than tawdry plastic signs. Traditional pub signs can be found all over the UK – just look up. sign photos by CeCe mills

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The American

Cambridgeshire Spotlight on

All Cambridge photos by Cece Mills

C

ambridgeshire is bordered by no less than 7 counties – Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire, and it’s lowest physical point at Holme Fen is 9 feet below sea level, the lowest point in the UK. Did you know that there are no hills or mountains between Cambridge and Russia! That’s why the wind whistling across the Fens and Cambridgeshire is so chilly. Inevitably the focal point of Cambridgeshire is Cambridge, but the county has a wealth of interesting towns and villages to explore, from St Neots, Peterborough, Huntingdon and Kettering to Wellingborough and Ely. Interestingly, although Newmarket looks as if it is in the county, it’s in

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Suffolk, bordered by Cambridgeshire on 3 sides, like a little pimple. Just to give this months Spotlight a bit more verisimilitude, I went to Cambridge to check out a few sights. And not just the arty ones either – my Queens’ College husband (circa 1959) took to the punt after 30 years without practice, and we drifted elegantly and uneventfully down to Magdalene Bridge. Not in panama hats or diaphanous dresses, but armed with umbrellas and raincoats! From the river you can sit back and admire the heavenly variety of styles and periods of architecture as you pass Queens’ College under the famous Mathematical Bridge. Then you drift past King’s and the glorious King’s College Chapel. Clare College, the sec-

ond oldest college in Cambridge and founded in 1326, after Peterhouse sits back elegantly from the river behind a high wall. My big brother’s old college Trinity Hall comes next, and is generally known as the Lawyers’ College. America’s first university, Harvard, was founded by John Harvard, a former Emmanuel undergraduate. Cambridge is full of quirky stories – like the Great Gate of Trinity which sports a statue of Henry VIII clutching a chair leg – students over 100 years ago replaced the sceptre he was holding with the chair leg and it has been there ever since. We spent a very happy afternoon at Kettle’s Yard. Not the gallery I keep mentioning periodically, which is next door, but the original home of the late Jim Ede and his wife. Ede was the curator of the Tate Gallery and an inveterate collector of contemporary art and sculpture. Kettle’s Yard is several cottages cleverly joined together and


The American

(l-r from opposite page): Wimpole Hall – piglets and sculpture!; Cambridge’s glorious King’s College; Bridge of Sighs; (inset) Yes, that’s Henry VIII… and yes, that’s a chair leg!; Queens’ College

adapted to make not only a quirky home but an incredible space for exhibiting some exceptional works of art. Nothing is labelled – you get the feeling you are poking around their house while they’ve nipped out shopping. There are works by Barbara Hepworth, Bernard Leach, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Henry Moore and Brancusi. Indeed, Gaudier-Brzeska has the whole attic space dedicated to his wonderful drawings. Most glorious for me was the enormous number of Alfred Wallis paintings all over the house. The FitzWilliam Museum is the other important place to visit in Cambridge, after admiring the colleges, churches and punters on the river, avoiding the countless somewhat wayward cyclists and eating a Chelsea bun at Fitzbillies bakery. Of course, every city has its spectacular collection of paintings, ceramics and sculptures, but this one is not too big and has some excellent things to see. Just outside Cambridge in Madingley is the only American Second World War Cemetery in Britain. Nearly 4,000 white crosses stand in neat rows, while another 5,000 names of those servicemen never found are inscribed on the Wall of the Missing. A lone American flag adds poignancy to the

quiet sadness of the place. If you are interested in military and aircraft, you must go to the Imperial War Museum, Duxford which is on the site of the Battle of Britain airfield. Also here is the American Air Museum, with the best display of aircraft outside the US. Some 15 miles north of Cambridge is Ely Cathedral. This is especially spectacular as it looms out of the otherwise very flat landscape of the fens. Our last visit was to the wonderful Wimpole Hall, not only a wonderful stately home, but a working farm too. Latterly, Wimpole was owned by Captain George Bambridge and his wife Elsie, the daughter of Rudyard Kipling, and it was they who lovingly restored the house and its collection of art. It has been the property of the National Trust since 1976. We hit it on an open day so were able to turn our hands at making butter in the Victorian Dairy and admire the various sets of piglets from newborns to teenagers! The grounds are spectacular, and the walled kitchen garden grows enough fruit and veg to keep the restaurant going as well as surplus for the pigs. If you happen to be around there in December (6th, 7th and 13th, 14th) Wimpole will be celebrating with Victorian Christmas events including Father Christmas. H

Above: Kettle’s Yard, home of Tate curator Jim Ede. Below: Butter making at Wimpole Hall (art editor not pictured)

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The American

The Candidates Speak to Expatriate Americans The American is pleased to bring you statements released by Barack Obama and John McCain on what they will do for Americans abroad. The published sections deal particularly with expatriates, and full statements can be found at www.theamerican.co.uk.

Barack Obama: Supporting Americans Living Overseas A

mericans abroad are uniquely aware of the impact that our government’s policies have on the rest of the world and recognize that it’s time for America to be seen as a global leader once more. Facing terrorism, climate change, global AIDS, or the spread of weapons of mass destruction, America cannot meet these challenges on its own, and the world cannot defeat them without America. As president, Obama will restore America’s moral leadership in the world and the understanding that the world shares a common security and a common humanity. Obama understands the special concerns and issues of Americans living abroad and will seek to address these as president.

Strengthen Economic Security for Americans Abroad

Barack Obama believes that the U.S. government should pay close attention to how American citizens are treated in the private sector while they live and work abroad. Our government must work to ensure that overseas Americans have every chance to compete on a level playing field, and he will work with Ameri-

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cans abroad to identify and understand problems they may face as a result of U.S. government policies.

Responding to Social Security Concerns

As president, Obama will make sure that the Social Security Administration guidelines on receiving Social Security benefits abroad are made more accessible to overseas Americans. He will ensure that the U.S. State Department works with U.S. embassies and U.S. consulates, which are usually the point of contact for Social Security beneficiaries living abroad, to ensure that embassy officials are properly trained on Social Security issues.

Citizenship Transmission

Each year, several thousand children of Americans living abroad are denied U.S. citizenship, and some are born “stateless,” without any nationality or citizenship. Barack Obama is committed to addressing these effects on travel abroad, immigration of family members, and citizenship in a manner that protects American interests. In an Obama administra-

tion, the U.S. State Department will work to ensure that U.S. regulations on reporting the birth of a child born to an American parent abroad are more widely communicated to Americans living abroad. Obama will also work to ensure U.S. embassies and consulates streamline the citizenship claim process for American children born abroad.

Voting Procedures

Obama supports vigorous efforts to ensure that American citizens abroad have the ability to exercise their voting rights. He supports efforts like “VoteFromAbroad.org” that seek to make the overseas voting process more transparent and accessible for Americans abroad. Obama supports the Overseas Vote Act, the Overseas Voting Practical Amendments Act of 2007, and full funding to implement the Help America Vote Act.

Census of Americans Abroad

The U.S. Census currently does not count American citizens living outside the U.S. Obama supports efforts to find an efficient and accurate procedure to count Americans living abroad in the U.S. Census.

Concerns of Americans Living Abroad

Obama believes it is important to understand the role of Americans abroad in determining U.S. policy.


The American

Other Governmental Services and Benefits

Americans living abroad have little access to basic information about U.S. government services and affairs. Barack Obama believes that U.S. embassies and consulates, which are the main U.S. government contact points for Americans abroad, should develop and implement concrete plans on how to communicate basic information to Americans living abroad. Additionally, Obama supports efforts to ensure that U.S. State Department staff members have proper training to assist Americans abroad in determining their various rights and responsibilities as American citizens. He welcomes a continued dialogue between the White House, the State Department, and citizens abroad in an Obama administration.

Strategy for Ending the War and Achieving Success in Iraq

In 2002, as Washington lined up for war, Barack Obama had the judgment and courage to oppose it. Our heroic American troops have found the right tactics to contain violence, but we still have the wrong strategy. Reducing our troop presence in Iraq will apply real pressure on the Iraqi government to make necessary political accommodations, while enabling us to address

other challenges, like Afghanistan. Immediately upon taking office, Obama will give his military commanders a new mission in Iraq: ending the war. The redeployment of our troops will be responsible and phased, directed by commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government. A residual force will remain in Iraq and in the region to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions and to protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel. If Iraqis take significant steps toward creating non-sectarian security forces, then American forces will help train those forces. Obama will not build permanent bases in Iraq. During our redeployment, Obama will launch aggressive initiatives to press for reconciliation within Iraq, to achieve a new regional compact on stability in the Middle East, and to address Iraq’s humanitarian crisis.

recruit, train, and equip our armed forces to better target terrorists and to help foreign militaries to do the same. This will include a program to bolster our military’s ability to speak different languages, understand different cultures, and coordinate complex missions with our civilian agencies.

Strengthen Homeland Security

As president, Barack Obama will make our homeland more secure. He will implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations and ensure that the nation is prepared to prevent and respond to catastrophe. An Obama administration will provide the nation’s first responders with the equipment, training, and support they need; invest in the resources necessary to improve our emergency preparedness and planning; allocate our homeland security dollars according to risk; increase the security of our transit systems, rail lines, and ports; and secure our chemical and nuclear plants, and other critical infrastructure. In addition, Obama will expand the military and ensure that they are prepared to meet 21st century threats.

Re-establish U.S. Moral Leadership

Obama will restore America’s standing, reputation, and authority in the world by respecting civil liberties, ending torture, restoring habeas corpus and the rule of law, making the U.S. electoral processes fair and transparent, and fighting corruption at home.

Prepare the Military to Meet 21st Century Threats

Barack Obama will not hesitate to use military force to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to America. This requires a broader set of capabilities, as outlined in the Army and Marine Corps’s new counterinsurgency manual. Obama will ensure that our military becomes more stealthy, agile, and lethal in its ability to capture or kill terrorists. He will

DANIEL SCHWEN

Obama will work with members of the Americans abroad community and the U.S. embassies to determine how the U.S. government can be responsive to the concerns of overseas Americans. As a U.S. Senator, Obama has taken seriously the concerns of all Illinoisans, whether they are currently in Illinois or not. As president, Obama will work to establish a direct dialogue with Americans abroad.


The American

John McCain - Sarah Palin Statement on Americans Abroad U

S citizens living abroad may be distant, but they are not disengaged. In fact, as unofficial American Ambassadors, they play a vital role in the life of the nation. Not only do Americans abroad vote and pay taxes, they are often the first contact other nationalities have with our country and you experience firsthand the impact that our government’s policies have overseas. No matter where Americans may find themselves, John McCain cares about their welfare, hopes and fears. As President, John McCain will work hard to improve the United States’ image in the world. But image is not everything. Above all, John McCain is committed to protecting the lives and livelihoods of all Americans and defending their personal freedoms. Through reform he will tackle the severe US trade deficit and strengthen the dollar, while providing a more inclusive, peaceful and prosperous future for all Americans.

The Role of Foreign Policy for Americans Abroad

As an American abroad, you know the significance of having a strong and informed foreign policy. The United States will benefit from stronger alliances, and together we will prevail against radical Islamic extremism, stand together in Afghanistan and work together in NATO. A strong European Union, a strong NATO and a true strategic partnership between them

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is profoundly in our interest. As President, John McCain will renew and revitalize our democratic alliances, while using diplomacy to promote the nation’s interests in international affairs. John McCain will work with the more than 100 democratic nations around the world to advance our values and defend our shared interests. At the heart of these alliances, John McCain believes there must be mutual respect and trust. The United States must listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies. When we believe that international action is necessary, whether military, economic or diplomatic, we will try to persuade our friends that we are right. But we, in return, must also be willing to be persuaded by them. Through revitalized alliances, John McCain will strive to strengthen democracy around the globe. When necessary, the United States will defend its friends against external aggression and bullying. The recent events in Georgia remind us all that the world remains a dangerous place, and John McCain is a leader who is prepared to protect our national security. In winning the war in Iraq, John McCain will bring our troops home with victory and honor, while remaining ever vigilant against threats around the world. Foreign assistance will also be an important element of his foreign policy. Economic development in key countries around the world is a long term investment in

American national security, intended to build the political and economic foundations of peace and stability. In doing so, America takes the route of responsible statesmanship. Even as the United States increases its military capabilities, John McCain will increase our civilian capacity so that an undue burden does not again fall on our soldiers as it has in Afghanistan and Iraq, where civilian agencies of our government have too often been missing in action. As President, John McCain would be committed to bolstering peaceful development in order to reduce the chances of war breaking out in the first place. As President, John McCain will respect and uphold the US Constitution and US commitments around the world. John McCain will fight the terrorists and at the same time defend the rights that are the foundations of our society. In a John McCain administration we will not torture or treat inhumanely suspected terrorists that are detained in wartime. We will close the detention facility at Guantanamo and come to a common international understanding on the disposition of dangerous detainees under our control.

Economic Prosperity for Americans Abroad

To provide economic security, John McCain will clean-up the systemic problems of the US financial system. With today’s crippling deficit, the United States’ room for maneuver


The American

Social Security Issues

in all matters is severely diminished. An increasingly isolationist, anti-free trade America would further weaken our country and the US dollar. The depreciating dollar particularly affects Americans abroad because of the disadvantageous effect of exchange rates on the tax value of a fixed salary or pension. To secure America’s economic prosperity and leadership in the world, John McCain believes that globalization is an opportunity for American workers today and in the future. A John McCain Administration would have a competitive export mentality, because ninetyfive percent of the world’s customers lie outside our borders, and as a result, we need to be at the table when the rules for access to those markets are written. John McCain will engage in multilateral, regional and bilateral efforts to reduce barriers to trade and build effective enforcement of global trading rules. To make our country more competitive, John McCain wants to turn global markets into level playing fields for American citizens and companies everywhere. Under a John McCain presidency international investment in the United States would

be encouraged to create jobs, and in turn promote prosperity, while also expanding foreign markets for American goods. These policies would tackle the US trade deficit, improve the economic security of Americans abroad and strengthen the dollar.

Voting From Abroad

Having spent years in military service overseas, John McCain understands the issues that affect Americans abroad. The US expatriate population is an important demographic that is too often overlooked in Washington, but a John McCain administration will address their concerns and make sure the voices of Americans abroad are heard. Despite recent legislation, absentee voting still remains a complicated and unsatisfactory procedure that in effect disenfranchises many Americans, affecting the Armed Forces and civilians alike. The rules and regulations surrounding absentee voting must be made simpler and more uniform, and should find secure means to vote electronically. John McCain will reform existing legislation to ensure all Americans have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.

John McCain believes that reform is needed to make US Social Security services more accessible to Americans living and working overseas. As president he would consider reforming “windfall elimination” rules, as part of any bipartisan reform to restore solvency to our social security system.

Census

At this time, the US Census counts overseas members of the military, federal civilian employees, and their dependants, it does not include private citizens residing abroad. With an estimated 6 million Americans, discounting private citizens leaves the US Census lacking. For the purposes of the apportionment of Representatives among the states, John McCain would work with the Census Bureau to find an effective, inclusive way of counting all Americans living abroad.

Citizenship Transmission

As President, John McCain would respond to the need to clarify the issues surrounding the transmission of citizenship. Every year, thousands of children born to American parents outside of the United States are rendered legally stateless at birth. While preserving American interests, John McCain would provide the leadership to resolve this ambiguity by reviewing the rules and regulations concerning citizenship of children born and adopted by US citizens overseas. H

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The American

Why Brits Don’t Vote – But Should by Jo Cole

AR DL

EWI S

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clear choice to make. Not only are the characters themselves very different, but the policies and the history of the parties are also marked and well distinguished. Here, New Labour and Cameron’s Conservatives have never been so similar and the space of the ‘middle ground’ is unashamedly fought over. MPs sitting to the left or right of their party are scathingly viewed as ‘extremists’ and both parties are fighting to own the same issues; the economy, climate change, crime and anti-social behaviour. This creates the perfect opportunity for the third party, the Liberal Democrats, to mark themselves out and offer a real alternative. However, Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, has instead claimed that they owned the middle ground all along which – rightly or wrongly – has simply led to the third party being squeezed out, appearing more insignificant to British voters than ever. The next General election, like the Presidential elections, will be a two horse race, of that we can be sure. So why does my friend – who has two degrees and works for one of the world’s largest banks – insist on not using her vote, even before the election date has been called? It seems wrong that someone who works in banking should believe that politicians’ choices don’t affect her – particularly in

CH

ell I definitely won’t be voting in the next election” a good friend of mine announced after a few glasses of merlot. I’ve mentioned before the perils of discussing politics in such circumstances but (I’d also had a few) I couldn’t on this occasion help myself from getting entangled in this debate. I began with the predictable guilt trip argument, “women died so that you could have your vote, therefore you should use it”. After a brief discussion on the history of enfranchisement, my friend declared that she cared so little about who came into power that by voting for anyone she was negating the vote of someone who felt strongly one way or another. She argued that whoever her local MP is it doesn’t make any difference to her life, and that there just isn’t enough choice between the two main political parties. I came up with some pedantic points about the difference between Labour and Conservative policies but long after our friends had left and I was drying the wine glasses, I was still thinking about her opinion and secretly wondering if she had a point. As I write, we are hurtling towards the Presidential elections. Americans across the globe are faced with a stark choice. Obama and McCain – it might not be the choice everyone wanted but there is a

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the current economic climate. But in a literal sense our choice isn’t ‘Cameron or Brown’. Rather, we vote for our local MP, whose decisions affect us locally. I put this argument to my friend but she retorted that she’d never met her MP and nothing they’d done had touched her life. In fact, like many, she couldn’t even name them – and after all if she’s never needed them then why should she? But she misses the point here. Whether or not you yourself need your local MP, isn’t it our duty to vote for the person we think will do the best for the most vulnerable in our area? In this way, British politics is much less ‘tribal’ than that in America – a large percentage of the electorate change their party and voting habits according to local choice and there is less blind loyalty to a particular party, so every voter – floating voters in particular – holds sway. This is as good a reason as any for my friend to use her vote but I’ve a feeling it’ll take more than that to convince her - starting with another glass of merlot. H


The American

It’s Not All Over Yet Barack Obama and Joe Biden have it in the bag? Not necessarily! says Sir Robert Worcester

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t the end of the Democratic Convention, their ‘bounce’ in one poll took them to a seven point lead over Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin. There were those in the media who said then “it’s all over”. Yet ten days later, the McCain/Palin team had moved into a two point lead with the election nine weeks ahead. I said in last month’s column “Where it counts is not in the national polls, but in the individual states, and there the race is much closer, according to my source of American election what-you-needto-know, www.realclearpolitics.com.” In last month’s article, I quoted the RCP experts who used the stateby-state polls to make their best guess as to the state of play with nine weeks to go as Obama by a tiny win, 273 to 265, just over the 270 electoral vote winning post. Now, a month later (October 17, 2008), everything’s turned round again, with the RCP national polls averaging 6.9. Their key states’ electoral college score stands at 364 for Obama to 174 for McCain, a veritable landslide. It could turn again (although I suspect it won’t). So do the punters, as the gambling odds are now heavily on Obama to win. Much has been written about the so-called Bradley effect, about the idea that whites are lying or kidding themselves when they say they’ll vote for Obama, and when it comes to pulling the lever they’ll not, and therefore the polls are overestimating the Democrat’s lead.

  

Q If you had a vote in the American presidential election in November, you votepresidential for, the Republican Q Q If you hadhad a vote in would the American election in in If you awho vote in the American presidential election candidates John McCain andvote Sarah or the Democratic November, who would youyou vote for, thePalin, Republican November, who would for, the Republican candidates Barack Obama and Joe Biden? candidates John McCain andand Sarah Palin, or the Democratic candidates John McCain Sarah Palin, or the Democratic candidates Barack Obama andand JoeJoe Biden? candidates Barack Obama Biden? Don’t know Don’t Don’t knowknow

Neither Neither Neither

26% 26% 26%

Barack Obama Barack Barack Obama Obama

51% 11% 51% 51% 11% 11% 12% Obama lead = +39 12% 12% John Obama leadlead = +39 Obama = +39

McCain John John McCain McCain

Base: 1,987 British adults 18+, 18-23 Sept 2008

Base: 1,987 18-23 Base:British 1,987 adults British 18+, adults 18+,Sept 18-232008 Sept 2008

There are two problems about this. First, that it’s based on an old academic article using data now some 15 years old. More recent evidence, based on six different cases where there has been a black/white contest, five senate and one governor, there’s no sign of the Bradley effect at work. Second, that if it does affect some voters, they’ll most likely be in the ‘red’ states, the Republican’s safe states in the South and midwest and western states.

What about the Brits?

If they had a vote, the British public tell us that they’d give the American election to the Democratic candidates for President, Barack Obama, and Vice President, Joe Biden by a four to one margin.

Source: Ipsos MORI Political Monitor Source:Source: Ipsos MORI MonitorMonitor Ipsos Political MORI Political

When asked “Which candidate, if either, do you think would do the most to strengthen the relationship between Britain and America, John McCain or Barack Obama?”, by 2.5 to 1, 40% to 16%, said Obama rather than McCain. Another 9% said neither and a third (35%) didn’t know. Obama and Biden were thought to be the better at improving America’s economy by 38% to 14% for McCain and Palin. And by an even wider margin, 55% to 9%, 5.5 to 1, Obama and Biden were thought to be potentially better at improving America’s image abroad than the Republicans. H Sir Robert Worcester is founder of MORI. He will be appearing on ITN TV on election night, midnight to 6 am.

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The American

Drive Time Phil Hill at Goodwood

Phil Hill

Phillip Toll Hill Jr., the only American driver to win the Formula One World Championship, has died aged 81. The Ferrari driver had a special skill in endurance racing then became one of the most highly respected competitors in Grands Prix. Hill was never injured throughout a 20-year career when one in three drivers could expect to be killed. In his self-deprecating way, he said “I can’t have been trying hard enough.” Born into a well off family in Miami, Florida in 1927, Hill was car mad from the first. His first sentence was “Gran’ma’s car in garage”. The family moved to Santa Monica, California. Hill lived in the same house for the rest of his life. His first driving exploits were at the wheel of a Model T, which his aunt bought him when he was twelve. In 1947 Hill started working for International Motors, Beverly Hills, who sent him to England on a course in 1949. He went to many races here and later said, “The limit of my ambition then was some day to become mechanic to a great racing driver.” Back home, Hill became a professional racer. His first major win, the Carrera PanAmericana, was followed by a string of victories. Hill retired in 1964. He is survived by his wife, their son and daughter.

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The ZR1 is now available in the UK

Corvette ‘Sensible’ Shocker I n a surprising result, a Corvette has won a fuel efficiency test. The annual Fleet World/ALD Automotive MPG Marathon is a real-world test in which cars of all sorts are driven on a 411 mile course of British roads over two days. Hybrids and small family compacts did best, but there is a special category for the car that improves its efficiency compared to its official combined mpg figure. A Corvette ZO6 supercar driven by Press Association journalist Richard Hammond recorded a recordbreaking 61.26 per cent improvement, achieving 30.96mpg over the route compared to its official combined figure of 19.2mpg. MPG Marathon organiser Ross Durkin said: “Driving economically is possible in whatever car you own – all it takes is consideration of prevailing road conditions and an educated approach to how you drive your car. The Corvette’s success proves that any

driver can improve their fuel economy if they think in advance and anticipate road conditions.” So, a 198mph supercar can achieve fuel economy similar to that of a modern family hatchback if driven with a sensible approach to road and traffic conditions. And if you buy one, that’s just how you’ll drive it. Right? The Corvette ZO6 ‘505 hp’ is available in the UK now, priced from £54,995. Of course, 505 may not be enough ponies under your hood. The 205 mph, supercharged 6.2-litre V8-powered Corvette ZR1 supercar has just been made available, from £109,000 on the road in the UK, in very limited numbers to ensure exclusivity – 2 in 2008, ‘single digit’ next year. Advanced driver training is offered to every customer of The General’s fast ever road car. I wonder if that will include eco-driving?


The American

COURTSY OF A1GP

Dixon claims IRL crown

Motorsports Roundup

by Dom Mills

Andretti Green to represent Team USA in A1GP M

ichael Andretti’s team have taken over the running of Team USA in A1GP which began in Holland at the beginning of October. The series has faced a little turmoil so far this year after the first race was cancelled due to the new car not being delivered to the teams on time. Ferrari have signed a four-year contract to provide the engines and assist in the chassis design for the series but the new package suffered technical difficulties in its developDamon Hill, the 1996 Formula 1 World Champion (and son of the ’60s F1 and Indy Champion Graham), presented a 60th Birthday cake in the shape of the Grand Prix track to staff at Silverstone to celebrate the circuit’s Diamond Anniversary. It was rather poignant, as F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and FIA President Max Mosley have announced that after years at Silverstone (it first hosted the race in 1948) the British Grand Prix will be staged at Donington Park from 2010.

ment which slowed down the manufacture. Andretti feels that his experience in IRL - another one-make series with limited setup changes – will give him an edge over other teams especially following the introduction of the new car. Michael’s son Marco will race in the series taking the seat from Jonathan Summerton who we interviewed back in May; ironically Summerton did not think Marco would ever venture away from IRL.

After losing last year’s title on the last corner, New Zealand’s Scott Dixon comparatively strolled to the championship in 2008. Victory at the Indy 500 added the icing to the cake in a near faultless season for the Ganassi team driver. Dixon won six out of 17 races, led in 11 and totalled a mammoth 899 laps at the head of the field, over 300 more laps than second placed driver Helio Castroneves – utter dominance. Castroneves won two races and finished second a record eight times and it was only this consistency that kept the race for the title so close for so long but, to be honest, the championship was never in doubt following Dixon’s win at the first race back in March. The teams head down to Australia for a non-championship race at Surfer’s Paradise, a contractual obligation to the now defunct Champ Car series, with driver changes already announced for 2009. Dixon’s teammate Dan Wheldon will leave the Ganassi team replacing Vitor Meira at Panther Racing where he began racing in IRL. Dixon’s new teammate is 2007 champion Dario Franchitti who returns to the series following a failed attempt at NASCAR with Ganassi; Franchitti had a season he’d like to forget after a broken ankle forced him to miss a number of races then his sponsorship dried up bringing his season to a premature end. Castroneves may well be absent next year following a court case accusing the Brazilian of tax evasion and rumours have surfaced that Sam Hornish Jnr may return to team Penske from NASCAR if Castroneves loses his court case. ★

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The American

Nissan Qashqai and (below) Ssangyong Rexton II

Qashqai and Rexton Sabrina Sully finds herself more at home in a traditional offroader than a newer crossover.

Nissan Qashqai

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issan always seem to put ‘something to love’ in each car – in the first X-trails which we reviewed in 2002 it was the two soda can coolers. In the Qashqai it is the sunroof so large the whole roof seems made of glass. This is A Good Thing, as without it this car would be claustrophobic. Nissan describe it as a crossover car. It has part-time four wheel drive, making for sure footed motoring in bad conditions, while not being overly capable off road. It feels like a taller estate car, and I think they’ve achieved this by raising the seat level within the car, as well as putting large tyres on it.

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This led to a problem for me – although not, perhaps for everyone. I’m short in the body, [but long in the leg! – Ed] and found lack of visibility a key issue, due to the thick windscreen and rear window pillars and the small rear window, which was about the same as that of an old VW Beetle. This is compensated for by the large side mirrors, but I would hate to put it to the test in a supermarket car park with a 7 year old kid running behind you. I also found myself trying to dodge round the

rear view mirror to check a junction through the windscreen. That said, the Qashqai is extremely handsome from the outside and is nicely kitted out inside. It was extremely easy and comfortable to drive, its diesel engine having plenty of pulling power up hills, and its supple suspension made short work of potholes. The 2.0-litre diesel gave around 40mpg, and Nissans are known for their reliability, so it should be reasonably inexpensive to run.

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The American

We’ll be reviewing the brand-new bigger sister, the 7 seater Qashqai +2, soon. Until then, I found Qashqai an easy-driving, dependable, competent family car, but at the end of our week with it, after driving it in all kinds of family motoring, I didn’t mind when it went back. Whereas…

Ssangyong Rexton II

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his car doesn’t have great mpg – I was forever putting more diesel in it. It didn’t have Sat Nav or a DVD player (cue groans from the children). It didn’t even come with an impressive badge – in fact most people didn’t even know what it was. But from the first moment I drove this car, I loved it. It somehow looks like a proper 4x4 and, possibly something from my childhood. I used to play Gangsters in - and on - two old cars with running boards. Stepping up onto the built-in running boards and sitting in this car made me feel good every time. The light steering gave little feel for the heavy piece of metal I was throwing round the roads, but you do get used to it, and it is effortless. The MPG is unfortunately about that of most ‘proper’ 4x4s, in this case just under 30mpg – but bear in mind that our figures are based on British ‘imperial’ gallons, so you’re getting more miles than in smaller U.S. units. This precluded me from spending all my waking hours driving the Rexton II around, which I honestly would have been happy to do. It has a large boot space, with plenty of nets and things to hold your shopping in place, and

our version had suitably mysterious tinted windows. The privacy glass added to the car’s very dark-blue metallic paintjob, I felt like I should be talking up my sleeve, security agency style, as I got in. The Rexton II has a high centre of gravity, so it’s not something to do fast cornering in. That said, it was a pleasure to potter around in, and felt like a very reliable workhorse. It has genuine off-road competence, based on a serious ‘ladder’ frame unlike most monocoque bodied SUV’s and whilst not seeing off the BMW, Lexus and Mercedes softroaders on road, could certainly do so in the rough. The Mercedes derived gearbox and 2.7 litre common rail fuel injection turbo-diesel should add up to longterm reliability. That Mercedes connection – the German firm invested in the Korean one – and a new importing and distribution network also make Ssangyong a much better proposition for ownership than the reportedly flaky previous setup. Equipment on the Rexton is not bad either, with hill descent control, Hi & Low ratio gears for off-road performance, cruise control on the auto gearbox model, auto-tilt door

mirrors, roof rails, dual airbags with front side-airbags, speed-sensing door locks, air conditioning and leather upholstery as standard. Higher spec models also include a handy flip-up rear window, rear spoiler, the side steps and privacy glass I loved, rain sensing wipers, heated seats, electronically adjusted driver’s seat with three memory settings, and the permanent torque-on-demand (TOD) four-wheel drive system. It has a seven-seater option with seats that fold into the floor, it is roomy inside, and feels solidly built. When you reverse, the side mirrors automatically tilt, and when you get in the car the seat automatically adjusts to the memory position, which feels odd at first, but then becomes like the waiter pushing the chair in for us ladies. I’d replace the Kenwood radio though, the signal wasn’t very good, and I kept accidentally pushing the fiddly knob slightly as I tried to turn it down when driving conditions got tricky, only to find that I was into adjusting the balance, bass & treble at the most inopportune times. That said, I miss this car, and was missing it already as I handed the keys back. ★

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The American

Small Changes,

Big Results

Is Mickaël Piétrus the most important man in the NBA? We sort through the NBA’s notable offseason moves.

I

n a sport where only five men take to the court at one time and half the league makes the playoffs, it stands to reason that one player can make a difference easier in the NBA than in Major League Baseball or the NFL. All moves are big news. ron Artest has never had a problem making headlines, and the arrival of Elton Brand in Philadelphia may be a bigger factor in the Atlantic Division than the departure of Jason Kidd from New Jersey, but lower-key movements such as Mickael Pietrus may prove every bit as significant as Mo Williams’ move from Milwaukee to Cleveland. For the Orlando Magic, the Southeastern Division is not enough and finding a way to match up with Boston, Detroit and Cleveland in the Eastern Conference playoffs is the focus. Pietrus could be key, not because he is any kind of superstar (at least not outside France or Guadeloupe), but because he developed into a solid swingman at Golden State. While up and down center Dwight Howard needs the help of Lewis and Turkoglu to ensure somebody has a big game on the night, and youngsters JJ redick or Courtney Lee may be the future at shooting guard, Pietrus represents an unheralded bridge between the pieces, someone Stan Van Gundy can count on for 2008/09.

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ATLANTIC

The Celtics’ 30-something stars better not rest on their laurels. The 76ers add former Clipper forward Elton Brand, and if he can gel with Dalembert (or judging from preseason, possibly rookie C Marreese Speights, Brand could complete the combination of offense and defense Philly needs to chase down Boston. If the raptors bounce back to reclaim their divisional crown from 06/07, it will have a lot to do with arrival C Jermaine O’Neal. Jason Kidd’s departure from the Nets leaves them in the basement… unless it’s the Knicks, where Mike D’Antoni must figure out whether to bench, start, or trade Stephon Marbury.

CENTRAL

A new coach is always an X factor. Michael Curry inherits a deep, veteran Pistons side that are any sleep-walker’s selection in the Central. However, the Cavs added PG Mo Williams to LeBron James on offense, both challenging Detroit and hurting the Bucks. Milwaukee were also busy, however, replacing Williams with Luke ridnour, signing F richard Jefferson, and giving Andrew Bogut a new contract. If Bogut and Villanueva progress, the Bucks could really surprise. The Bulls wisely resigned Deng and drafted Derrick rose. The Pacers are simply rebuilding.

SOUTHEAST

Orlando are the pick, but who next? The Wizards resigned Arenas, Jamison and Butler for huuuge money, but Arenas is out for the start of the season, and late-breaking news suggests C Brendan Haywood could be gone 4-6 months. Welcome back Miami? They have their own preseason niggles, but the combination of a post-China return to form for Dwyane Wade, arrival of F Michael Beasley, the unfulfilled potential of Shaun Livingston, and the drafting of Mario Chalmers makes the Heat the most intriguing unknown in the conference. The Hawks may have belief in themselves (except for Josh Childress, who headed to Greece instead), but may be a playoff mirage like the Warriors the year before. Larry Brown must bring leadership to the Bobcats to have a hope of escaping the basement.

NORTHWEST

With their combination of chemisty and defense, the only worry for the Utah Jazz to worry about is how they could survive any injury to Deron Williams. The Trail Blazers could be a massive story this year, with PG Jerryd Bayless breaking through, C Greg Oden finally unleashing himself, and F Channing Frye mixing in later on after injury. The Timberwolves will be hoping rookie F Kevin Love is the catalyst for putting the pieces together in Minnesota; Telfair’s 3-game suspension suggests problems with younger players remains an ongoing theme. Bad at defense, the Nuggets responded by trading away Marcus Camby? At least trade rumors about Allen Iverson have come to nought. The former Sonics (those that made the trip) will spend this year bathing in the adoration of their new crowd in Oklahoma, but the Thunder won’t be making much noise on the floor.


The American

PACIFIC

The Lakers are the pick in the Pacific, the West, and the NBA in general. Bynum will be fit again, Paul Gasol will play the whole season at forward, where China’s Sun yue also arrives. The Suns return Shaq, Nash, Stoudamire, and Hill, but not coach Mike D’Antoni, which might actually help the defense. It’s all change for the Clippers, who add PF Marcus Camby and PG Baron Davis, and for while it looked like they might retain Elton Brand; however, he ultimately signed with Philadelphia, probably denying the Clippers the leap to playoff contention they might have had. The Warriors loss of Baron Davis was offset by signing ex-Clipper F Corey Maggette, but G Monta Ellis is out for 3 months – advantage Clips. Sacramento said goodbye to ron Artest and any hope of not being 5th in the Pacific.

The Miami Heat lost narrowly to the New Jersey Nets in Paris and London during a European vacation that included this score by Shawn Marion at the O2 Arena. However, come the regular season, the Heat are expected to be a grade above the Nets in Eastern Conference action. NBA Commissioner David Stern suggested this past month that regular season games in London could be in the works as London gets closer to the 2012 Olympics.

If four Southwest Division teams can’t make postseason play again, who gets squeezed (well, the Grizzlies obviously, but who else?). The Spurs are without Manu Ginobli until mid-December, and Bowen and Duncan are no spring chickens. The Hornets, having added F James Posey will stretch a gap over the Spurs, but both could be leapfrogged by the rockets – who retained Carl Landry and added ron Artest – with two caveats: Ming and McGrady stay relatively healthy (oh dear) and Artest doesn’t disrupt team chemistry. If you believe all of that, Houston’s your division champ. The Mavs will see a full season of Kidd working with Nowitzki and Dampier and Stackhouse, but wow, this team is old; signing Shawne Williams from the Pacers may prove a smart move down the road. The Mavs have a shot at competing with the Spurs for third in what could be the NBA’s most volatile division.

©2008 NBAE (PHOTO By NATHANIEL S. BUTLEr/NBAE VIA GETTy IMAGES)

SOUTHWEST

55


The American

Stepping Back NCAA basketball is back on our screens. Richard Gale ranks the contenders and ponders whether the revised 3-point line is going to shuffle college hoops’ usual heirarchy.

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or the first time since the 3-point line arrived in college hoops, the arc is moving, back one foot to the 20'9". The effect? We’ll see. The change is expected to open up lanes by spreading the bodies out, but in the early going the effect is more likely to be players losing a sense of where their feet are and shooting a long 2 pointer. Once they get a feel for the new arc in live competition, we’ll discover how many outside shooters can adjust easily without adapting their technique. Expect a little early frustration. Right now, we just can’t be sure which teams factored the new range into their recruiting, or anticipated it during past classes – do the best 19'9" shooting teams necessarily translate to the best 20'9" teams? This could sort the men from the boys for NBA scouts. One thing that seems certain: improbable late comebacks may just have become that little bit more improbable when the trailing team is looking for a bunch of threes. A good inside team still has nothing to fear.

1. North Carolina – Move the arc where you like, the Tar Heels remain massive favorites. Tyler Hansbrough’s accuracy and Ty Lawson’s speed make NC arc-proof, let alone coach Roy Williams’s experience and a supporting cast that was supposed to be in the NBA by now. Anything less than no.1 will be disappointment. 2. Duke – If last year was anything to go by, Coach K knows how to coach perimeter shooting. All the same, this placing assumes everybody plays that well and more, forward Kyle Singler building on his impressive debut. 3. Connecticut – Here’s a team that will be watching that arc. Guard AJ Price is back from an injury that halted UConn’s tournament, but he is the only standout perimeter shooter. For that reason, the Huskies are a shade behind Duke and step behind the Tar Heels. 4. Notre Dame – So do you want it inside or out? Kyle McAlarney is a perimeter stud, while Tory Jackson danced in the lanes even before the change. And then there’s 6’8” beast Luke Harangody. Basketball season can’t start soon enough for beleaguered Irish football fans. 5. Pittsburgh – I hate to labor the 3-point theme, but Sam Young finally nailed his perimeter shooting last season and now they move the line back a foot? That’s reason enough for reservation. However, Young, DeJuan Blair and Levance Fields are reasons enough for the Panthers to be thinking national title. 6. Louisville – There’s depth (at guard), experience (two senior starters), raw talent (forwards Samardo Samuels and Terrance Jennings), and Ric Pitino running the show. Sounds like Elite 8 to me.

7. Purdue – Continuity will have Purdue stepping up to the Elite 8, with every starter returning. They can play anybody close. 8=. Oklahoma & Texas – With four starters back and outstanding freshman guard Willie Warren, Oklahoma is the legit pick here, but we’d love to see a little ‘Red River’ action if Texas can find a replacement for DJ Augustine. 10. Tennessee – With JaJuan Smith and Chris Lofton gone (yes, along with their 3-point prowess), the Vols are reloading, and the ammunition is special. But are they Elite yet? 11. Georgetown – The new Hoyas, including 6-11 center Greg Monroe, mean no vanishing act despite the loss of Roy Hibbert. 12. Gonzaga – Talent and experience enough that Jeremy Pargo came back for what could be a very extended season. 13. Wake Forest – A massive class of talent and size arrives. If it fits together, watch out! 14. UCLA – The losses of Westbrook and Love are too much for the talent to overcome ... yet. 15. Villanova – The ‘Cats will be back if last year’s acquisitions can all take the next step. 16. Michigan State – Unknown: do they have the shooting to belong in the Sweet Sixteen? The Next Sixteen: Memphis; Kansas; Marquette; Arizona State; USC; Baylor; Davidson; UNLV; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Syracuse; Xavier; Ohio State; Miami; Kentucky. Catch NCAA basketball all the way to March Madness on NASN. Visit www.nasn.com


The American

Transition Game Former Toledo Rocket Keonta Howell is new in town. The Guildford Heat’s forward shares his experiences as he adjusts to life in Britain and in the BBL.

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y journey to England started off kind of rocky. When I played in Germany I didn’t have to get my work permit until I was there, but with my UK permit not ready on the day I was supposed to leave, I arrived in Guildford after three days stuck in Chicago. To my surprise when I got to the house that me and my teammates are staying in, it was very nice – it even has a sauna! This was a major upgrade from last year. I lived in a Hotel the whole time I was in Germany, which is nice for maybe a couple of weeks, but it gets to be like being in jail after a long period of time. That same day, I met coach Paul James, and everyone involved with the team – including the fans – at a party at my coach’s house. It was different to see how friendly the fans were, like one big family. It was good to have that kind of support before the people even got to know me or see me play. Our first practice was one of the hardest first practices I have ever had in my life. I don’t know if I was still jet lagged, but I was so tired after. My teammates are all great people and I instantly got along with them and felt welcome. In the States you really don’t get that close with your teammates until maybe a couple weeks of meeting them because every one is so competitive and worried about themselves. It was easy to adjust to the basketball style of play of Guildford because it’s similar to the way my college team

played. A few of the players on my team have been playing in the BBL for years, so anything they felt I needed to know about playing, or what you can and can’t do, they schooled me to it early on. But even they couldn’t get me ready for what was going to happen. After practicing with the whole team maybe three times we had our first game. It started off really well. I made my first 3 point attempt and I was feeling great. But I picked up two fouls within a matter of minutes in the first quarter, picked up my third and fourth in the second, and fouling out early in the third quarter. I never even saw a guard foul out of a game that early. I had no idea what I was doing to pick up these fouls. I was in such shock, I couldn’t even be mad, it was so crazy. I quickly found out that this would be one of the big adjustments I would have to make while playing here in England. I won’t say anything bad about the refereeing here but I will just say it is different – you just never know how the game is going to be refereed. I have never experienced anything like it in all my time of playing basketball. It’s almost a totally different game than what is played in the United States, or even in Germany. But just like adjusting to a team’s defense you have to adjust to the referees, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. The next couple games I didn’t get in foul trouble and ended up playing well.

College ball is so intense and aggressive, you’re used to playing that way and it can get you in trouble sometimes here. Not to say basketball isn’t aggressive here, it’s just you never know how aggressive you can be. Also the pace of the games here is a bit slower. I haven’t figured out why that is yet. I have been very impressed with some of the English players that I’ve played against so far. In the States you tend to think that other countries are far behind in basketball only because it isn’t as popular there. I’ve even learned things from some of my older teammates because they have more experience than me and that’s different to Germany because over there it seemed as if I was always helping my German teammates just because they hadn’t experienced certain situations out on the court. So I’m enjoying playing in England because it almost feels like I’m playing at home. So except for driving on the other side of the road, my adjustment to England has been a smooth transition so far. H To follow how Keonta’s doing this season, visit www.guildfordheat.com

57


The American

ew issues divide hockey fans like the NHL’s ever-growing vision of expanding to Europe. Purists maintain that North American hockey, with its smaller ice surfaces, fondness for physicality, and reliance on frontier-style justice, simply doesn’t mix with the European version of the sport, while advocates for expansion believe that the NHL’s brand of hockey is the best in the world and deserves to be enjoyed by as many people as possible. Despite the conflicting outlooks, the fact of the matter is that you can’t stop progress, especially if there’s money to be made from it, so it’s likely that the latter group will eventually get their way.

© Gregory Shamus / Pittsburgh Penguins

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Is the NHL headed for the Old World? By Jeremy Lanaway

Bill Daly, the deputy commissioner of the NHL, has positioned himself alongside the yay-sayers in the belief that the league is destined to migrate to the Old World. In fact, he recently put a due date on the NHL’s cross-Atlantic expansion plans. ‘As time goes on, you’ll see us making increasing movements into Europe,’ he explained. ‘Certainly it’s a possibility that within ten years’ time, we’ll be playing games there.’ Hockey fans in Europe are clearly in favour of the NHL reaching across the pond in the future, as evidenced by the sold-out crowds at this season’s first four games, which saw the Pittsburgh Penguins playing the Ottawa Senators in back-to-back games in Stockholm,

58

Sweden, and the New York Rangers playing a two-tilt series against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Prague, Czech Republic. The overwhelming support of the games in Stockholm and Prague, coupled with the success of last season’s launch in London, England, proves that Europeans’ hearts are in it. The question is — would it work? Jason Spezza, a centreman for the Senators, believes that the answer is undeniably ‘no’. ‘Maybe a Champions League-type format, like they have in soccer, but to have a regular season all the time with separate divisions would be a little bit tricky,’ he suggested. ‘Obviously, the passion is here, and the fans are great, but the geography just doesn’t work.’

Spezza’s Swedish teammate, Daniel Alfredsson, who’s gone on record to say that playing the first two games of the 2008-09 season in his native land has been one of the highlights of his career, has the opposite opinion: ‘I definitely think [it would work]. There are probably a few cities that could make it work. Will it happen? Who knows? But I think there’s potential.’ Ever-mindful of the topic’s divisiveness, the NHL’s commissioner, Gary Bettman, has upheld a more sterile stance. ‘We know the importance of our game internationally,’ he stated. ‘What I have repeatedly said is that we want to develop a more permanent, more regular presence in Europe, but permanent


The American

Sideline

A football farewell to Yankee Stadium.

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strange thing happened on the way to the World Series... the yankees didn’t show up for the playoffs. Now, while that may not be a life-changing deal to a ‘baseball – what’s baseball?’ football addict like me, it did spell the end of the yankee Stadium era after 85 years. And that’s at least as noteworthy for football fans as baseball fans, if not more so. Next year, the New yankee Stadium will be there, its field cloned from the original to the exact dimensions, but it will be a dedicated baseball stadium, and that wasn’t always the case for the original yankee. yankee stadium was the home Army-Notre Dame games from 1925 to 1947, and in 1928 was the site of Knute rockne’s legendary ‘Win one for the Gipper’ speech, probably the most famous halftime speech

IMAGE: SILENT WIND OF DOOM

doesn’t necessarily mean franchises on the ground.’ Sidney Crosby, the Penguins’ captain and the face of the NHL, must’ve attended the same diplomacy seminar as Bettman, because his opinion on the issue is as impartial as that of the top boss: ‘It’s definitely a possibility, and something that’s been talked about a lot, but I’m sure there’s a lot of thought before you can make any big decisions like that.’ The fact that Europe already has its share of high-level hockey leagues, such as the Swedish Elite League, the Czech Extraliga, the Finnish SM-liiga, the Swiss Nationalliga A, and Russia’s newly minted Kontinental Hockey League — along with the International Ice Hockey Federation, which has been running the World Hockey Championships since 1908 — might indicate that the NHL would thrive on the right-hand side of the Atlantic. Or it might suggest that Europe is already saturated with hockey, and that the NHL would flop if translated into Swedish, Czech, Finnish, or Russian. It’s impossible to say for certain. One certainty is that the current system of European hockey, which has NHL players being drawn to the continent’s regular, short-term international tournaments, such as the World Hockey Championships, the Spengler Cup, and the Olympic Games, works perfectly fine, giving many hockey insiders reason to believe that the scheme shouldn’t be altered. In short, they don’t feel that there’s a need to fix something that isn’t broken. Another certainty is that people on both sides of the Atlantic love the game of hockey, plain and simple, which means that the question of the NHL expanding to Europe isn’t going away anytime soon.

in football history. Also in 1928, Army played Stanford in front of 86,000 fans. Not bad for a baseball ground, huh?). Pro football first took the field at yankee Stadium in 1926 with red Grange’s New york yankees (the first of three football teams to bear such a name), before the New york Giants moved in from 1956 to 1973. “The Greatest Game Ever Played”? That was held there at yankee Stadium too, as Johnny Unitas led the Colts to a 20-17 overtime win over the Giants in the 1958 NFL Championship game – the modern NFL was practically born there. The New yankee Stadium may look and feel much like the old place for baseball fans. But for football fans, it’s goodbye. I just wish I was old enough to remember.


The American

Tail End

Paw Talk, or My Life as a Dog in London, by Rebel. Let’s have a tea party for dogs... and cats. Sorry Reb, it was never going to work.

T

he tea and bone party I gave for my six dog friends and two cat acquaintances, who were there because their mistresses are friends of She-Who-Must-Be-ObeyedUsually, was a disaster. There was so much noise, a policeman showed up at the door. Thankfully, he owned a dog and cat and was understanding until Keller, my Mastiff friend, knocked him over as he was chasing Mortimer, the Maine Coon cat, out the front door. Unfortunately, each

64

time the policeman tried to stand up, Keller knocked him down as he chased Mortimer round our very small entrance hall. But, let me start at the beginning. That morning, after She-WhoMust-Be-Obeyed-Usually took me for my usual libation, I set the plates and bowls with the pictures of dogs on the floor and the same dishes on the dining room table for Lotus, the white Persian cat, and Mortimer. I even used catnip as a center piece. Everything was perfect, all the dogs politely sniffed each other but were admittedly, subdued as they had never been to a tea and bone party before. Lotus arrived, fashionably fifteen minutes late, of course, in her gold cage, sitting on a satin pillow. She says the cage is pure gold, but I doubt that as I saw metal where the gold is rubbed off. By four o’clock all the dogs had arrived and the only one not there was Mortimer, the Maine Coon cat. After waiting until four-thirty, SheWho-Must-Be-ObeyedUsually said she had to serve tea

to the dog’s owners as it was getting late. The dogs were all happily eating the homemade biscuits or chewing on a real beef bone that was the perfect size for them and Lotus was lying on her satin pillow nibbling on her wild poached salmon when Mortimer came in with his mistress. Now, as everyone knows, SheWho-Must-Be-Obeyed-Usually wants a Maine Coon cat and she coos and ahs all over him which makes Lotus so jealous she takes a claw to Tody, the Pekinese, who snaps at Scout, my Westie best friend, who growls at Ginger, the Collie, who shoves Warren, the Cocker Spaniel, who goes after Mortimer who falls into Keller’s food who becomes so upset he begins to chase Mortimer all over our flat. Tea is spilling onto laps, cakes and sandwiches are falling over the rug and She-Who-MustBe-Obeyed-Usually is now lying on her bed with a cold towel over her forehead and muttering over and over, “Never, ever again.” Still, all my dog pals and even Lotus and Mortimer told me it was the best party they ever attended and were looking forward to my tea and bone party next year. The policeman’s stomach is now half the size before he was pummelled and jumped on by Keller which he said would please his girl friend and he’s asked if his Boxer and Siamese cat could join the party as well. ★


The American

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The American November 2008  

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