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January 2009


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THE AMERICAN • JANUARY 2009 • Issue 669




Win tickets to see

MANDY PATINKIN Theater reviews including



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The American ®

Issue 669 – January 2009 Published by Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Old Byre House, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK Publisher: Michael Burland +44 (0)1747 830328 Please contact us with your news or article ideas Advertising & Promotions: Sabrina Sully, Commercial Director Nadia Abd Rabbo, Ad Manager +44 (0)1747 830520 Subscriptions enquiries: Phone +44 (0)1747 830328, email Correspondents: Virginia Schultz, Wining & Dining Mary Bailey, Social Cece Mills, Arts Jarlath O’Connell, Theater Bob Pickens, Columnist Richard Gale, Sports Editor Sean Chaplin, Sports Dom Mills, Motorsports Jeremy Lanaway, Hockey Riki Evans Johnson, European Nadia Abd Rabbo, Music ©2009 Blue Edge Publishing Ltd.

Welcome T

his issue of The American comes out just before Christmas and lasts until the end of January, so it’s a good time to wish all our subscribers and readers a Happy New Year. Or, if you’re reading this toward the end of the month, I hope you’ve had a good start to 2009. We are all, of course, living in a time of great uncertainty in the world, uncertainty that may feel all the stronger for expatriates, living far from the familiarity of home and family. In this issue our regular columnist Bob Pickens reflects on whether living abroad brings its own kind of wisdom. The wisdom, or at least the professional accuracy, of political pundits during the recent presidential campaign is explored by Sir Robert Worcester – fascinating to read during this Inaugural month. Our music section has its own kind of familiarity, with reviews of albums by two new artists who are reinvigorating old musical genres. And to make all of us feel at home in Britain, January is bracketed by two Scottish festivals that will bring a glow to the heart – Hogmanay and Burns Night. Enjoy your magazine.

Michael Burland, Editor


Sir Robert Worcester, a Kansas City native, is the founder of the MORI polling and research organisation and the best known pollster in the UK.

Estelle Lovatt is an artist, arts correspondent, author, radio producer and presenter, Chair of the Women’s Radio Group and a tutor on arts courses.

Dan Eales and Alan Ferrett are the brains behind The Johnsons, our regular cartoon,. And Dan and Alan’s brains are a lot sharper than their creations’!

Printed by The Westdale Press Ltd 70 Portmanmoor Road, Industrial Estate, East Moors, Cardiff CF24 5HB

Don’t forget to check out The American online at

Cover: Burn’s Night (courtesy Inset: Treasure Island (© Clive Barda).

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


The American

In This Issue... The American • Issue 669 • January 2009


19 27

News Condy Rice plays for the Queen, Democrats Abroad invite you to a Ball and we name the best place to live in Britain

12 Diary Dates Great things to do around Britain in January 15 Mandy Patinkin Competition Your British friends won’t have heard of him, but we love Mandy – win tickets to see him at Wembley 16 As I Was Saying... Bob Pickens thinks there should be an organization in the U.S. for former expats, and wonders what wisdom we could take back to it


18 Music Great new artists playing great old styles 19 Judas Priest Competition Priest Feast – Priest plus Megadeth plus Testament. Wooooaaargh! 22 Coffee Break Take a break with our fun pages 24 West Highland Way See the incredible sights of Scotland with Maureen Gray

24 29


The American

27 Burns Night Just when you’ve recovered from Hogmanay, here comes Burns Night. Buy shares in Scotch! 28 Cambridge University at 800 The medieval university born out of chaos that became one of the leading educational establishments in the world 29 Reviews How to spend your Christmas book tokens, where to see the best plays

4 12


35 Wining & Dining Virginia gets out of London to the Cotswolds, Berkshire… and Miami! 40 Arts Cece rounds up the most interesting arts events, while Estelle has an overview of Yoko Ono 48 Finance Stocks have crashed, cash is quivering – is it time to invest in American art? 49 Politics Polling guru Sir Robert Worcester flies the flag for his colleagues 51 Drive Time Dodge takes us on a journey

18 51


54 Sports College Bowl Season preview, and the NHL’s Winter Wonder, 60 American Organizations Your comprehensive guide 64 Paw Talk Rebel’s open letter to the imminent White House dog 3

The American


ritish Political & Public Involvement with the Union & Confederate Propaganda Movements in london. Speaker Thomas E Sebrell II Saturday 31 January 2009, 12.30 for 13.00, ends 16.30 Civil Service Club, Great Scotland Yard, London SW1 Thomas Sebrell will be discussing members of British society who subscribed to each side’s propaganda newspapers, both published in Fleet St. during the war. This will be the first public discussion about exactly who in Britain, specifically, supported the north & South – what sort of backgrounds did they come from, what occupations did they work in and why did they contribute to the northern or Southern cause? Thomas was born in lynchburg, Virginia. He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 2001 (the fourth generation in his family), and completed his M.A. at Virginia Tech in 2004. He was a researcher at the Museum of the Confederacy. Thomas is currently working on a Ph.D. at Queen Mary, University of london, writing a thesis on Union & Confederate Propaganda in Britain during the American Civil War. He has also taught undergraduate courses at Queen Mary and has recently had an article about the 5th Michigan Infantry regiment accepted for publication with the Michigan Historical Review. For further information please contact Peter lockwood, 01747 828719, email,


News Marines Help Celebrate Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s O

n November 27, 2008, the annual Thanksgiving service, held for half a century at London’s historic St Pauls Cathedral, was once again packed with 3,500 souls, Americans and their British friends. The non-denominational, American-style service has become a central event for expatriate Americans. It often brings thoughts of friends and family at home. It was particularly poignant this year, with the credit crunch and foreign wars still looming over us, but thoughts of a new presidency to come. The Reverend Barry Gaeddert, GRAHAM lACDAo / ST PAUl’S CATHEDRAl

American Civil War Round Table UK Meeting

pastor at the International Community Church in London, told the congregation in his sermon. “I’d guess there are some here today who don’t much feel like giving thanks. It’s been a wild ride this fall, and it’s by no means over.” He gave comfort to those in the congregation who, as he said, “are going through things that nobody else knows about”. He may have been referring to those whose lives have been swept up in turmoil by recent financial events, for example the 5,200 employees of Lehman Brothers which collapsed in September, or the thousands of Bank of America employees whose jobs are under threat, many of them Americans. Ambassador Robert Tuttle, in his address to the congregation, spoke of the Anglo American special relationship, “working together, and marching together, as we have sung together, for decades, if not for centuries.” A color guard of four marines from the detachment at the Embassy in London, three of them who have seen service in Iraq, carried the Stars and Stripes and the Marine Corps colors across the marble floor and laid them before the altar. As they carried them out after the service the congregation sang “America the Beautiful.”

The american women’s health centre London

Fine American Dentistry…


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

… for 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

The American

ACA at 30 C

oincidentally, American Citizens Abroad also recently celebrated a landmark anniversary, also in Geneva. A gala dinner at the Hotel Richemond celebrated the 30th anniversary of the founding of the organization. ACA is a non-profit, non-partisan, volunteer association that represents the interests of American citizens living abroad, dealing with issues like voting rights, taxation, citizenship, banking, Medicare, Social Security and representation in Congress. The evening featured a tribute to Andy Sundberg, founder of ACA and occasional thorn in the side of Washington administrations. He was presented with the group’s Eugene Abrams Award, which honors US citizens who make outstanding contributions to the well-being of the overseas American community and named after the late Executive Director of ACA in the early 1990s. Guests came from Switzerland, the United States, France, Holland and Qatar. They included long-time ACA volunteer Patric Hale who flew from the U.S. for the gala and enlivened the evening by singing a selection of popular and classical music, lucy laederich from FAWCo (Federation of American Women’s Clubs overseas) and Tom Rose representing AARo (Association of Americans Resident overseas) from Paris, Roberta Enschede, a longtime resident of Holland, and Bea Etienne, daughter of Congressman Robert McClory, who introduced the first ACA-inspired law in 1978 which made it easier for children of US expats to obtain American citizenship.


Declaration of Human Rights is 60 D

ecember 10, 2008, saw the sixtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The UN may not always have been the favorite organization of various U.S. administrations, but the Declaration is generally regarded as a good thing, a practical, civilizing influence. To celebrate the anniversary, and especially to honor the role that former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt played in chairing the drafting committee, a memorial plague was dedicated to Mrs. Roosevelt in front of the United Nations’ Palais des Nations building in Geneva, Switzerland. The plaque is situated near The Broken Chair , the statue of a three-legged chair standing 12 metres high, that commemorates human lives and limbs damaged by land mines. Geneva-based Andy Sundberg,

head of expatriate American group, American Citizens Abroad, commented “It is much to be regretted that sixty years after this noble declaration proclaimed that everyone has a right to a nationality, the U.S. Government still does not seem to believe that this promise should apply to all of the children born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent. The saddest dimension of this neglect occurs when such a child is actually born stateless, as still occurs today. Let’s work together with the new Obama Administration and the 111th Congress to try to bring about true universal respect for the human rights of everyone, including all of our own U.S. children.”

Democrats Abroad London Inaugural Ball


an’t get to Washington? Democrats Abroad brings the party to you! The UK branch invites you to join them for london’s very own Inaugural Ball in honor of President obama and Vice President Biden. It’s on Inauguration Day, Tuesday, January 20, 2009, from 7pm-1am at the Royal lancaster Hotel, lancaster Terrace, Bayswater, london. Highlights will include A cocktail reception and hors d’oeuvres, dinner, including two glasses of wine, video highlights of the Inauguration, live music, a full cash bar. Black tie is optional. For ticket prices and reservations, please email inauguralball@democratsabroad.couk. Specify the full name and contact telephone of each ticket holder. Advance payment is required. All tickets will be sold on a first come, first served basis and a limited number of concession tickets are available. ‘Tis the season… Tickets make a great gift, they say, and they suggest you reserve for yourself and a friend today! For a contribution of £500 or more, you can join the Host Committee and help support the Democratic Party too. For further details, please contact

Daniel Langer and Comic Relief Inc

The American

UK Groups Join New York Youth Summit S

eventeen organizations from 15 countries were brought together with technology experts in New York for the first-ever conference to empower youth against extremism through the use of the latest online tools. The Alliance of Youth Movements Summit was organized by the U.S. Department of State, Facebook, Google, YouTube, MTV, Howcast, Columbia Law School, and Access 360 Media. It took place December 3 to 5 at the Columbia Law School in Manhattan. Speakers at the Summit included Whoopi Goldberg, Dustin Moskovitz, Co-Founder, Facebook, James K. Glassman, Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State and Oscar Morales, Founder, One Million Voices Against the FARC Two of the groups came from the UK. The People’s March Against Knife Crime was formed to pay tribute to all the victims who

have lost their lives to the increasing violence in the UK streets and focus on how the community can help stop the gang-culture plaguing many British cities, and the Quilliam Foundation is the world’s first counter-extremism think tank. Along with the other organizations from around the world, these young leaders have formed a new group, the Alliance of Youth Movements, which is producing a field manual for youth empowerment. That manual will stand in stark contrast to the Al Qaeda manual on the basics of terrorism found by Coalition Forces in Iraq. Mr Glassman said, “The State Department is proud to play a role in highlighting the new wave of civil-society empowerment that is happening online. What is so encouraging is that this effort is being led by public-spirited technology firms like Howcast and innovative educators like those at Columbia University.”

Air Tattoo’s Million Pound Milestone


oyal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises, the company that organizes the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, has announced that it has raised £1 million for its parent charity in just three years. RIAT is the world’s largest military air show and a big favorite with American visitors, both air force personnel and civilians. At a ceremony at the company’s HQ, Enterprises’ Chairman Fred Crawley presented a cheque for £295,000 to the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises’ new chairman, Air Chief Marshal Sir John Cheshire, taking the total raised between 2005 and 2007 to £1 million. The trust has used much of the money to support a variety of RAFrelated projects, including purchasing six flight simulators for air cadets refurbishing welfare facilities at RAF stations and grants to RAF charities combat Stress and RAFA. As well as organising the Tattoo, the company also stages the prestigious national tour by the Royal Air Force Bands, publishes the RAF Yearbook, and operates a successful direct mail order catalogue. Chairman of Enterprises Fred Crawley said: “When the company was set up, I don’t think anyone imagined that we’d raise £1 million in three years so we’ve done rather better than expected!”

The American

Bank Holidays 2009 You will often hear people in Britain talking about Bank Holidays. They are public holidays, when banks and many other businesses are closed for the day. When the usual date falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the ‘substitute day’ is normally the following Monday. For example in 2009, the actual Boxing Day is on Saturday, 26 December, so the substitute bank holiday is Monday, 28 December. Here are the dates for 2009. England and Wales have eight permanent bank holidays: new Year’s Day 1 January Good Friday 10 April Easter Monday 13 April Early May Bank Holiday 4 May Spring Bank Holiday 25 May Summer Bank Holiday31 August Christmas Day 25 December Boxing Day 28 December northern Ireland has ten permanent bank holidays - the eight English ones plus St Patrick’s Day and the Anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 (orangemen’s Day): St Patrick’s Day 17 March Battle of the Boyne 13 July Scotland differs from England. local authorities may set their own holidays, but Scottish banks follow the English and Welsh bank holidays. Scotland’s main bank holidays are: new Year’s Day 1 January 2nd January 2 January Good Friday 10 April Early May Bank Holiday 4 May Spring Bank Holiday 25 May Summer Bank Holiday 3 August St Andrew’s Day 30 november Christmas Day 25 December Boxing Day 28 December



Tourist Office Opens Gates To Soccer Stadiums V isitors to Britain will soon find it easier than ever to see when their favourite Premier League football team is playing, book tickets for a match, enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the ground, or find out more about nearby attractions. Around 1.2m visitors attended a football match during trips to the UK in 2007. Now the national tourism agency VisitBritain has joined forces with the Premier League, the world’s most popular soccer competition which is watched in over 200 countries around the world, to profile destinations with links to its clubs. As well as taking tours of the football grounds that you see on TV, you can discover a wealth of attractions close to the grounds. From Chelsea Physic Garden to the Museum of Fulham Palace, Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower and Historic Dockyard, Liverpool’s historic centre, and Manchester’s Lowry and Urbis. Use, which launched at the end of November, to find out when your favourite players are taking to the pitch, what they like about Britain, as well as a wealth of things to see and do in and around teams’ home grounds. Why not check out where American players are playing – start

with Fulham and Reading! – and go along to support them? You can check ticket availability and purchase them through official outlets. England’s Barclays Premier League is the world’s most watched football league - with a cumulative global audience in excess of 4.5 billion. Players like Didier Drogba from the Ivory Coast, Fernando Torres from Spain, and Ji-Sung Park from South Korea give an example of the diversity of the Barclays Premier League and the partnership aims to use the appeal of both British and foreign stars to attract people to the UK. The website will give fans examples of the some of the favoured British destinations of top Premier League players. It will also help promote Britain as a tourist destination for business visitors, highlighting conference facilities at stadiums. Tourism Minister Barbara Follett said: “Britain has an outstanding international sporting reputation and many people will want to visit the homeland of their heroes. This new website is a great way of encouraging potential visitors to explore everything the United Kingdom has to offer whilst giving them the chance to find out more about their favourite team or player.

The American



Embassy News Condy Rice plays piano for Queen


s a personal farewell gesture before the end of the Bush administration’s term, outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice played piano for Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace on Monday December 1. Dr. Rice is a concert-level pianist. She started playing the piano as a child and was taught by her mother, a music teacher. She had planned a career in music, enrolling at university to study the subject before switching to political science and joining the diplomatic corps. She performs regular chamber music recitals with four friends and has been described as the world’s most prominent amateur musician. In what must be a political and diplomatic first, Dr. Rice was accompanied on violin by louise Miliband, the wife of British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, and three members of the london Symphony orchestra in her performance of Brahms. Miss Rice was in london for a short visit before flying to Brussels for a meeting of nATo leaders. Earlier in the day, she had met Gordon Brown and Mr Miliband, then gone to the Palace to practice for an hour with the other musicians. Sean McCormack, the Secretary’s spokesman, said the Queen had presented a recording of the performance to Dr Rice. “It was all organized by the

British and just a very nice gesture as a farewell gift,” he said.

ESTA Latest

over 386,000 applications had been received for the new Electronic System for Travel Authorization by the time we went to print, more than one-third from UK travelers. British applicants currently account for 37% of all travelers who are signing on to ESTA, but the goal is 100% by January 12, 2009, when ESTA registration in advance of travel to the U.S. becomes mandatory. After that date, all nationals and citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries – including the UK – will be required by law to obtain travel authorization prior to traveling to the United States under the VWP. Travelers can register for authorization online at There is no charge for applying this way. However you should be aware that unauthorized third-parties have established Web sites which charge visitors seeking to travel to the United States under the VWP, for information about ESTA and for submitting ESTA applications to DHS on behalf of the traveler. These businesses and Web sites are not endorsed by, associated with, or affiliated in any way with DHS or the United States Government. Use of a private

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

service to apply for travel authorization via ESTA will not expedite the granting of approval. If travelers cannot access the Internet, the Embassy recommends they ask a friend, relative, colleague, public library or travel agent to fill out an ESTA application on behalf of the traveler.

Embassy Closing Dates

The Embassy will be closed to the public on December 25 and 26 for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, on January 1 for new Year’s Day, and on January 19, in honor of Martin luther King, Jr’s birthday. In addition, the American Citizen Services Section will not be scheduling routine passport or notarial services during the Christmas Holiday Season on the following days in 2008: Wednesday, December 24; Monday, December 29, Tuesday, December 30 and Wednesday December 31. They will not be scheduling routine passport or notarial services on Friday, January 2, 2009.

Happy Holidays from the Embassy The holiday season is here and that means it’s time for the Embassy’s annual reminder about personal security during the holidays. A few precautions can go a long way toward helping you avoid becoming a crime victim. See


The American

Elmbridge Tops Quality Of Life Chart E

lmbridge in Surrey has been named as the place with the best quality of life in the UK in a survey by the mortgage lender Halifax. If you haven’t heard of Elmbridge don’t be surprised, because it is the name of a local government authority area. But you may have heard of some of the towns and villages that make up this sought-after area, among them picturesque Claygate, Cobham on the banks of the river Mole, East Molesey where the Mole meets the Thames, historic Esher, Oxshott surrounded by heath and woodland, Walton on Thames and the larger town of Weybridge with a good choice of housing and shopping. All are far enough from the hurly burly of central London but near enough, and with good public transport links, to make commuting to the City easy. It’s also just up the main A3 road from the London orbital M25 motorway, making it convenient for both Gatwick and Heathrow international airports. The towns and villages of Elmbridge used to be referred to as part of the ‘Stockbroker belt’, but Elmbridge has become known as ‘Surrey’s Beverly Hills’ after the number of celebrities that have cho-


sen to make it their home, including sports stars and television personalities. But it’s not just the glitterati that live in Elmbridge. Many Americans have settled here, partly because of the various American schools and social groups that thrive in the area. As the American community has grown, it has naturally attracted more compatriots. The Mayor of Elmbridge, Cllr Nigel Cooper, told The American “Elmbridge is a super place to live and we are delighted that this is recognised so widely. In particular we like to feel that we give a warm welcome to visitors and new residents alike and just one example of this is the close ties we have formed with the American Community School and the American Women in Surrey, both of whom I have visited on many occasions and have had the honour of their support at my charitable events”. The Halifax’s survey rates an area by aspects of physical well-being. Elmbridge has some of the largest houses in the country, with properties on average having 6.1 rooms, one of the highest rates of central heating and some of the best salaries, with residents earning on average £1,048 a

week. It also has good school results. Even the weather is better than the national average, seeing almost two hours more sunshine per week than the British average – perhaps that’s why many Americans favour the region. All this comes at a price, and average property prices are about 30% higher than the rest of the South East of England, which itself is more expensive than most of the rest of Britain. But Martin Ellis, chief economist at Halifax, said: “People living in Elmbridge have the best quality of life in Great Britain. Residents in this part of Surrey tend to be healthy, have high life expectancy, enjoy relatively high earnings and are highly likely to own their own home.” The Council’s Chief Executive, Robert Moran added, “It is great to see Elmbridge at the top of this survey again. It confirms what our residents already know – that balancing all the factors that make up quality of life from environment to health, and from services to earnings, it really does not get better than living in Elmbridge. The Council can’t take the credit for all aspects included here, but we are happy that our supporting role is reflected in this great result”. H


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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

Brighton’s Forgotten Architecture Brighton Museum, Royal Pavilion Gardens, Brighton, BN1 1EE Photographs documenting buildings around Brighton & Hove, some forgotten, some overlooked, others dimmed in our memories. 04401 2732 92882 to February 08, 2009 Bristol Harbour Festival Explore-At-Bristol Bristol’s liveliest and largest Harbourside event. 0117 922 3719 to August 02, 2009 Vanity Fair - C19th Fashion Chertsey Museum, Chertsey, Surrey A new exhibition tracing the history of fashion in the 19th century and its many different styles of dress. 01932 565764 to September 26, 2009 Wig Out! New Years Eve Party Royal Court Theatre, London SW1 DJ and comedian Boogaloo Stu and special guests will host a New Year’s Eve Party like no other at the Royal Court this year. Revellers will watch a performance of the award-winning playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney’s drag extravaganza Wig Out!, and will see in the New Year in style in the Royal Court bar until the early hours. December 31, 2008

New Year’s Eve / Hogmanay Across the UK New Year’s Eve is a massive celebration in Britain, with public and private parties everywhere. Particularly in Scotland, where it is called Hogmanay. Listed as one of the’Top 100 things to do before you die’, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party brings Princes Street and the Gardens alive with festivities, around 100,000 revellers gathering to bring in 2009 in style. One of the world’s biggest outdoor parties it includes candle-lit concerts, ceilidhs and rock-bands. December 31, 2008


Frobscottle and Snozcumbers Cusworth Hall, Doncaster An exhibition to celebrate the classic children’s books of Roald Dahl and the fabulous illustrations of Quentin Blake. 01302 782342 to January 25, 2009 Renaissance Faces: Van Eyck to Titian National Gallery, London Closes this month, see it ! to January 18, 2009

The American

Maldon Mud Race Promenade Park, Maldon, Essex Watch as the entrants charge through the thick River Blackwater mud at low tide. 01621 891105 January 04, 2009

Hilary Evershed Oxmarket Galleries, Chichester The expressionist art poet and musician presents her exhibition called ‘Scream-Everest’, surviving life after death. 01243 779103 January 19, 2009 to January 31, 2008

London Boat Show ExCel London Special features include an Indoor Watersports Arena and a Hydropool Marina. 0870 060 0246 January 09, 2009

Talk and Tasting with Lurgashall Winery Nymans, Haywards Heath The South of England is becoming one of the most exciting areas in Europe for making wines. A participatory event, price £24.00 01444 405250 January 19, 2009

Complicity Brewhouse Gallery, Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock, OX20 1SN An installation using mixed media giving a contemporary view of slavery by Martyn Brown. 01993 811456 January 11, 2009 to February 03, 2009 Brodsky Quartet St George’s Bristol The Brodsky Quartet superbly captures the virtuosity and mood of this string quartet music. January 16, 2009 London Philharmonic Orchestra, feat. American pianist Jonathan Biss Royal Festival Hall, London Jonathan Biss performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto 22. Also Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel, Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé Suite 2 and Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite. January 16, 2009 The Adventurous Gardener West Dean Gardens, Chichester Plants worth knowing and growing – A lecture with radio & TV expert Roy Lancaster. Price: £52.00 01243 828210 January 17, 2009

Thomas Paine Moyse’s Hall Museum, Bury St. Edmunds Lecture on the great democratic writer and activist. £5 Adult/£4.60 concessions. Booking Essential 01284 706183 January 23, 2009 This Is Who We Are Various Venues, Glasgow This exhibition demonstrates the strong influence of Scots abroad when they travelled and named 1000 Canadian towns after their homeland. January 25, 2009 to January 30, 2009 Homecoming Scotland Across Scotland Celebrations to encourage the 50 million people around the world who can claim Scottish ancestry – and those who simply love Scotland – to ‘come home’. From Burns Night, 25 January, to St Andrew’s Day, 30 November, focusing on the 250th anniversary of the birth of poet Robert Burns, the whisky industry, Scotland’s 550-plus quality golf courses and Scotland’s scientists and thinkers. May will be Whisky Month. Other events include the Gathering, Scotland’s largest ever Highland Games to be held 25–26 July at Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, featuring

Viennese Strauss Gala Warwick Castle, Midlands

Some of the great operettas of Strauss, Kalman and Lehár: including Die Fledermaus, The Merry Widow and many more will feature in this evening that will take you back to a beautiful bygone age of glamorous soirée’s and Strauss waltzes. 01206 573948 January 13, 2009


The American

From the novel by Choderlos de Laclos, which inspired the films Dangerous Liaisons and Cruel Intentions, the play is set amongst the decadent aristocracy of late 18th century France but is a story for all time about sexual manners, lust and revenge. 0870 121 1251 January 27, 2009 to January 31, 2009

Watercolours & Drawings Fair The Flower Cellars, Russell Street, Covent Garden, London In a new venue (formerly at the Royal Academy’s 6 Burlington Gardens) this is the only ‘works on paper’ fair in the UK. It includes Old Master Drawings, the 18th and 19th centuries, through Modern British to the contemporary and includes drawings, watercolours, prints and photographs, with a section devoted to Artist’s Books. Something for everyone – selected by experts. Artists include Thomas Rowlandson, Edward Lear, Edward Burne-Jones, Helen Allingham, Augustus John, Graham Sutherland, John Piper, Terry Frost, Bridget Riley, Snowdon, Henry Moore, and Damien Hirst. Also includes Crisis? What Crisis?, An exhibition of original artwork for cartoons, relating to financial and political crises. 01798 861 815 February 04, 2009 to February 08, 2009

a Clan Parade along the Royal Mile and a Historic Pageant on the Castle’s esplanade. default.html January 25, 2009 to November 30, 2009 Riverdance Farewell Tour UK Tour The last chance for UK audiences to see the show rightly described by the Irish Times as ‘The Original...The Best’. January 26, 2009 to April 25, 2009


Chinese New Year Festival Chintown, London, and all over the UK In China, the New Year is still called the Spring festival.The date of the Chinese New Year is always changing and is dependant on the Chinese calendar. 2009 is the Year of the Ox. January 26, 2009 Les Liaisons Dangereuses Sherman Theatre, Senghennydd Road, Cardiff

2009 Visa Freestyle International World Cup Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort, Utah If you’re heading home in January, head West for one of the most spectacular wintersports festivals in the world – moguls, dual moguls and aerials at Deer Valley, and ski halfpipe at Park City. January 29, 2009 to January 31, 2009 American artists at Milton Keynes Gallery 900 Midsummer Boulevard, Central Milton Keynes MK9 3QA The first solo exhibition in a UK public gallery by American artist Polly Apfelbaum, whose work is characterised by an exciting investigation into colour and form, mainly manifesting itself as expansive floor-based installations. January 31, 2009 to March 22, 2009 Picasso: Challenging the Past Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London ‘Disciples be damned… It’s only the masters that matter. Those who create…’ (Pablo Picasso). The National Gallery’s first exhibition dedicated to Pablo Picasso reveals how the greatest artist of the 20th century pitted himself against the great European painting tradition. 020 7747 2885 February 25, 2009 to June 07, 2009

The American

WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS ‘ From Rodgers & Hammerstein to Sondheim, Schönberg to Irving Berlin & Cole Porter, Mandy Patinkin is in the business of showstopping’. J>;D;MOEHA;H

‘ The greatest entertainer on Broadway today - period’. J>;D;MOEHAFEIJ

Deadline: January 9 Before he was an Emmy-winning TV actor, Mandy Patinkin was already a Tony-winning Broadway star. Mandy Patinkin in Concert presents the acclaimed actor/ singer/ storyteller in his most electrifying role: concert performer. “Mandy Patinkin is in the business of showstopping,” raves The New Yorker, and that’s exactly what he does in this powerful, passionate evening of popular song. From Irving Berlin to Stephen Sondheim, from Cole Porter to Harry Chapin, Mandy Patinkin takes you on a dazzling musical journey you’ll never forget.


9 PERFORMANCES ONLY JAN 8TH - JAN 18TH 2009 Duke of York’s Theatre St Martin’s Lane London WC2


end your answer with your name, address, daytime telephone number and email address (optional) to reach us by 9am, Friday January 9, 2008. Email with MANDY PATINKIN COMPETITION in the subject line. Or send a postcard to: MANDY PATINKIN COMPETITION, The American, Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK. Tickets are for the January 12th-15th performances. The organizers will contact you to arrange date and delivery. You must be 18 years old or over to enter this competition. All correct answers will go into a draw. Only one entry per person per draw. The editor’s decision is final.

QUESTION: In which Rob Reiner-directed movie did Mandy Patinkin play a Spanish swordsman hellbent on avenging his father’s death? A The Princess Bride B Night of the Juggler C Yentl


0870 060 6623


The American

As I was saying... Bob Pickens wonders whether our shared experience of living abroad gives us wisdom – and who we can pass it on to


n deep winter we spend a lot of the dark hours indoors, perhaps in front of a cozy fire with something nice to drink, a situation conducive to a little contemplation about recent events and what is facing us in the coming months. If New Year’s Day, with its passing of the old, arrival of the new and resolutions intended to make us better people, hasn’t kickstarted a bit of introspection, then other recent events have surely prompted us to the occasional thoughtful pause. It’s only a few days since Christmas when you might have drawn out a few chestnuts about family history with the family elders. Just over a

month ago there was Thanksgiving, when we thank the Good Lord for the blessings we have had since the turkey was last carved and acknowledge the people who make it possible for us to carry on despite our tribulations. A few weeks earlier, the solemnity of Britain’s Remembrance Day ceremonies sparked a few moments in quiet thought about human suffering, sacrifice, courage and heroism. If that was not enough, if the Presidential election campaign and its conclusion didn’t give someone a reason to pause for a ponder, I don’t suppose anything would. With all that, you might expect us to start 2009 with a smidgen of

newly acquired wisdom – the “quality of having experience, knowledge and good judgment” according to one of my dictionaries. That’s a fair definition, though the writer may have left out one or two important components. One is the “tree falling in the forest” enigma – if there’s no one in the forest to hear the tree fall, does it make a sound? The same could be said here: do you have wisdom when wise words fall on deaf ears? When wisdom is shared only with oneself, for the most part it’s just what we’d call common sense. Then there’s the matter of how to go about cultivating the tree of wisdom from the seed of knowledge. I don’t know that anyone has determined what a person has to possess in order to acquire wisdom, but there must be something in almost any of us; I know a few very intelligent people who are not wise at all, and also some who are not particularly smart, but have a considerable degree of wisdom. Both my grandfathers were wise, in quite different ways, but surely they must have come by their wisdom through some common process. One, who lived in rural north Mississippi, was profoundly wise in the ways of nature and our relationship to the natural world. The font of all We may not have the Wisdom of Solomon, but does living abroad give us a special insight?


The American

”On occasion it might become evident that someone has become wiser as a result of  living abroad.” past sixty days I have found myself wondering whether those of us who have spent part of their lives abroad might have acquired an intellectual insight that could only be acquired through living abroad. Maybe not quantifiable, because wisdom can’t be measured like your hat size, but on occasion it might become evident that someone has become wiser as a result of living abroad. The opportunities to experience, learn, and improve one’s judgment are surely there for the taking if you get the chance to live abroad. That’s part of the reason so many people look at it as a great opportunity. It would take a pretty determined person to not be affected in some way by the experience. The second question: whether the experience might supply them with a dollop of the Big W, is not so simple to answer. Perhaps it cannot be answered. It has something to do with the falling tree in the forest: if you have no audience to pass your wisdom on to then everything you’ve experienced, no matter how much you tested it with your deepest reasoning and measured it with your best judgment, is not going to be…. That’s it – it’s just not going to be. I’m not aware of any kind of institution or society that exists specifically for people who have lived abroad, a place where they can go to share their experience with others who have done likewise. One so narrow in purpose probably wouldn’t

Man Vyi

wisdom seemed to be in his tomato patch as he could explain almost anything to a young grandson through the analogy of growing tomatoes. If that didn’t work, hunting, fishing, dog or horse stories would usually do the trick. It’s not hard for a young boy to relate to beagles or quarterhorses or quail or crappie, so I always found Granddad’s lessons a lot more entertaining and worthwhile than those I got in the classroom. My other grandfather, Fred, lived in the New Jersey suburbs and commuted to an advertising job in the city. He had access to some of the world’s greatest theatre, museums, art and sport, and he would take me on the Staten Island ferry and into the city to show me the giant meteorite in Hayden Planetarium, musicals on Broadway, and big league baseball at Yankee Stadium, where he got Mickey Mantle to pose for my Brownie camera. Fred introduced me to the culture of a great metropolitan society, and gave me a chance to observe the social interaction of people on a grand scale. What I could not understand in situ he would explain later, simply but intelligently, as he played Rogers and Hart songs on the piano or printed photographs in his basement darkroom. As far as I am concerned, no two wiser men, with such contrasting but equal wisdom, ever walked the earth. One’s Browning double-barrel and the other’s twin lens Rolleiflex are my most treasured possessions, and holding those mementoes makes me miss the times they would share their wonderful wisdom with me. Wisdom is a dangerous subject to write about, because it inevitably leads to you being assessed as to how much you have – or don’t have. Let me say now that I’m well aware I’m no Solomon. However over the

be very practical anyway, but in the UK there are organizations which were founded as the result of peoples’ experience of having lived or traveled abroad, and their interest in the wider world. The Royal Over-Seas League, the English-Speaking Union and the Royal Commonwealth Society have international memberships of people who have an interest in and often experience of, other nations and cultures. They may have wider remits, say as an educational charity, but nonetheless, they are places where you’ll find people from all around the world, sharing ideas and philosophies and insights. Perhaps there are similar groups back in the US, but I can’t say I’ve ever heard of them. I’m sure that through the many people I’ve known who have spent some time here and then returned to the US, that word might have made its way back about an organization with a special appeal for former expats. In a globalizing world there should be something like that back in the US, where our insights, perhaps even our wisdom, could be shared. Perhaps first we need to assemble a sympathetic audience, just in case some of us have some worthwhile wisdom to share. H


Music Bono, with Al Gore at the World Economic Forum, 2008 ROBERT SCOBLE

Bono Awarded Peace Prize


committee of Nobel laureates have awarded the Man of Peace prize to the U2 singer during a summit in Paris, December 2008. Bono was given the award for his work in tackling global poverty and campaigning to raise funds for the treatment of HIV-AIDS. Accepting the award, he said, “Seriously though, I am really honoured to be here, to accept this award from all of you, thank you for taking me seriously, because that’s not a given when you’re a rockstar. Even worse, a rock star with a conscience… Spare me!” He added, “Since the start of the 21st century, just 8 years ago, many millions more African children are in school, millions on life-saving ARVs, millions protected from malaria by bed nets. Momentum is building. Energies are converging. The wheels of change are turning and the people in this room are living proof that we can alter their direction. You know, this is not a burden, this is an adventure. Its exciting. Together we can make the insanity and injustice and inequality of extreme stupid poverty look ridiculous, a child dying in a world of plenty for lack of food in its belly... Death by mosquito bite or dirty water... These things we can consign to the ash heap of history, and write a new history which makes us all proud.”


Odetta, American Folk Singer Dies At 77


egendary folk singer Odetta died on December 2, 2008, just a few short weeks before she was to perform at Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony. Odetta’s songs became anthems for the civil rights movement. She was one of the most influential performers of the folk revival, inspiring Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and countless others. She was politically involved and performed on the march when Martin Luther King Jr. made his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. Odetta was born in Birmingham, Alabama on New Year’s Eve, 1930. When she was six, her family moved to Los Angeles. Her singing voice was noticed early on, and started classical training when she was 13. In 1949, at 19 years old, Odetta landed a role in Finian’s Rainbow at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, where she discovered the blues harmonica

Blur to reunite B

player Sonny Terry, sparking an interest in folk music. Later she appeared with Paul Robeson. Both Pete Seeger and Harry Belafonte took an interest in her career. Her debut album was released in 1954, but Odetta’s key period as a recording artist was the 1960s, when she released an incredible sixteen albums. In 1999, President Clinton presented her with the National Endowment for the Arts’ Medal of the Arts. Odetta had suffered from heart disease and pulmonary fibrosis for some years. She was admitted to Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City, in November with symptoms of kidney failure. She died December 2 of heart disease. Her long-term manager, Doug Yeager said, “May Odetta’s luminous spirit and volcanic voice from the heavens live on for the ages. Her voice will never die.”

ritpop band Blur are to reunite for a live show in Hyde Park, London, on July 3. Blur have not performed on stage together since 2000. Guitarist Graham Coxon left the band over ‘musical differences’, singer Damon Albarn has had an interesting career in world music, recently writing and producing Monkey Journey To The West. Alex James, Blur’s bass player, has become a TV personality, farmer and cheese maker. Dave Rowntree became a cartoon animator and more recently has been studying to become a lawyer. All four members of the band were recently snapped together at the premier of ‘Monkey’. In December they met to sign contracts for the Hyde Park show. There are also strong, although unconfirmed, rumors that Blur will headline the next Glastonbury Festival.


The American

The American

Book Review The Many Lives of Tom Waits Patrick Humphries Omnibus Press


he average radio listener may not know Waits’ name, but they will know his music. His songs have been covered by many bigger stars, The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen, and Rod Stewart among them, but the originals, as so often, are the real thing. He is a fearless artist, not averse to throwing away a whole self-invented style that a small but fanatical audience adored – boozy bar-room pianist and crooner – for an extreme Beefheartesque clanging blues-rock. A true legend and enigma, Waits deserves a thorough biography. Humphries has obliged. The introduction tries a little too hard to please with Waitsian similes and American product brand names – written for a British audience? – but it comes together when he describes the genesis and evolution of the music. Waits is notorious for diverting interviewers away from his real life with amusing anecdotes. His onstage, on record persona is real in the sense that he lives it, but it is not the only Tom Waits. He was not born on Desolation Row, but in an ordinary California family. The diffident, shy artist switches easily into the entertaining huckster. Fans of the latter need not worry – they will not lose out by discovering the fuller picture.


WIN TICKETS WITH THE AMERICAN JUDAS PRIEST One of the world’s most popular and influential Heavy Metal bands, Judas Priest‘s ‘Priest Feast’ tour plays 7 arena dates in February. Since 1974, Judas Priest have been one of heavy metal’s most successful bands, with anthems like Breaking the Law and Living After Midnight, spearheaded by Rob Halford’s powerful four-and-a-half octave vocal range and the twin guitar harmonies of KK Downing and Glenn Tipton. MEGADETH Formed by guitarist Dave Mustaine after he left Metallica, Megadeth have long represented the dark and nasty side of American thrash and have sold more than 20 million albums worldwide. TESTAMENT One of the first thrash metal bands to emerge from the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980s, Testament’s powerful sound, influence, and longevity make them one of the Top 5 All-Time Thrash Metal Bands. Full dates: February 13th Sheffield Arena; 14th Birmingham LG Arena; 16th Glasgow SECC Hall 4; 17th Manchester Arena; 18th Nottingham Arena; 20th Cardiff Arena; 21st Wembley Arena. Tickets £37.50 (subject to booking fee) from 0844 576 5483 or

WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS – HERE’S HOW: ANSWER THIS QUESTION: Judas Priest’s name comes from a song by an American folk singer. Was it… A Tom Paxton

B Bob Dylan

C John Denver

Send your answer with your name, address, daytime telephone number and email address (optional) to reach us by mid-day, Saturday January 31, 2009. Email it to with PRIEST FEAST COMPETITION in the subject line. Or send a postcard to: PRIEST FEAST COMPETITION, The American, Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK. Tickets are for the February 21st Wembley Arena performance. You must be 18 years old or over to enter this competition. All correct answers will go into a draw. Only one entry per person. The editor’s decision is final.


The American



This Is Soul – Red Hot Tour


etro package tours are not normally The American’s thing. Superannuated singers and bands with no original members leave us cold. But here is one that should be red hot! This Is Soul brings harnesses the power of three of soul music’s most rousing artists. Geno Washington was an American airman who came to England with the USAF and stayed, becoming an honorary Brit and a great live performer with The Ram Jam Band, achieving two of the biggest selling UK albums of the sixties. After a successful career in his native Jamaica, Jimmy James (above) came to England and became a legend with his band the Vagabonds in the high energy form of the music that became known as Northern Soul. His hits include Red Red Wine, I’ll Go Where Your Music Takes Me, and Now Is The Time. And PP Arnold, originally an Ikette, has been a backing singer for an incredible line-up including Eric Clapton, Barry Gibb, Boy George, Roger Waters and even Oasis. She perhaps best known for her brilliant solo hits Angel of the Morning and First Cut is the Deepest. The tour kicks off in Tunbridge Wells on January 16, and plays 23 dates throughout the country. Tickets cost a very reasonable £14.50£23.50 depending on venue (plus booking fee). Check theamerican. or for more details.


My One and Only Thrill Melody Gardot Universal

There’s a new tradition of female singers melding classic American styles with modern, media-friendly production - the Norah Jones, Madeleine Peyroux strand of bluesy, smoky jazz. A new traveler on this street is the gorgeously named Melody Gardot. There’s a sense of melancholy in her lyrics and delivery, perhaps the result of a catastrophic accident at the age of 19. Riding her bicycle she was struck by a car, causing pelvic fractures that force her to walk with a cane, and permanent sensitivity to noise and light. Those dark glasses are not an affectation. Gardot has her own sound, close to Peggy Lee, with beautiful, slow tunes allied to arrangements straight out of the late ’50s. The most effective numbers are those, like Who Will Comfort Me (the first single, out March 2) and Your Heart is as Black As The Night, with simple double bass and drum riffs illuminated by stabs of horns and swirls of Hammond organ. Our Love is Easy is a Julie London-esque torch song. In contrast to the somewhat downbeat feel of her own numbers, Gardot even has the chutzpah to reinterpret Somewhere Over The Rainbow as a cheerful rumba just when you might have expected Eva Cassidy style angst. Released on March 30, My One and Only Thrill is timeless American music, with more depth than some of the dinner-jazz background music that has sold so well in recent years.


Eli “Paperboy” Reed & The True Loves Q Division Records I feel a theme coming on. The reinterpretation of classic, Afro American music of the late ’50s/early ’60s by young, white musicians. Of course, it’s been done before, but rarely with such genuine feel. How can a round-faced, twentysomething white kid from Allston, Massachusetts, sound like Al Green, Sam and Dave, Otis Redding, Dion and James Brown, all rolled into one. And don’t forget the tight Muscle Shoals / Atlantic soul sound of The True Loves. Doo Wop, blues, soul and even proto-funk get their place in this great album. Shut your eyes and you’re hanging outside the Harlem Apollo during the golden age of soul. Seriously, I think he must have paranormal powers, channelling the vibes of those greats – even the ones who have not passed on! Reed was seen on Jools Holland’s Later– pretty much the only TV show for those who love live music of all genres – prompting amazed discussion by everyone in our household. If you caught him live on a short European tour in December, well done. If not, keep a look out for his next transatlantic trip and book early. This album could have been so close to pastiche, but manages to miss it by a country mile. Reed’s obvious passion for the music and commitment to the real sound of early soul make it, just possibly, The American’s Album of the Year 2008.

The American

Contemporary Music at the Wednesday 21 Jan 7.30pm Folk America: Hollerers, Stompers & Old-Time Ramblers Tickets: £15/20/25 Produced by the Barbican in association with BBC Four

Seasick Steve

The Wiyos, CW Stoneking, Cedric Watson And Bijoux Creole, Diana Jones and others tbc – hosted by Seasick Steve


howcasing an exciting revival of Old-Time musical traditions first recorded in the South in the ’20s, this concert features an eclectic line-up of emerging new talent. Mountain string band music, vaudeville swing, junk shop blues, creole dance tunes, folk country ballads… are all delivered here via energetic performances with a fresh twist. Seasick Steve – real name Steve Wold – is the polar opposite of the showbiz overnight success story. Born in 1941 and now resident in Norway (and sometimes Norfolk) after a lifetime of musician’s travels, he only came to prominence in the UK after an electrifying performance on Jools Holland’s Hootenanny Show on New Year’s Eve 2006. In 2007 he toured many UK festivals and recently sold out the Albert Hall with his authentic and personal take on Mississippi blues, played on his unique customised guitars. ‘You’re buoyed by the visceral, unvarnished power of his music’ – The Guardian In their five-year lifespan, The Wiyos, purveyors of Vaudevillian Ragtime Blues, Hillbilly Swing and OldTime Country claim to have driven over 400,000 miles in seven countries and

played over a thousand shows. Blending their own songwriting with a wide spectrum of classic American music, they have built a reputation for riveting live performances. ‘The group brings exuberance and intensity to these vintage styles, and its performances are layered with vaudevillian stage antics’ – The New Yorker. Part of the world Blues diaspora, Australia’s CW Stoneking was born to American parents in 1974 and, until 9 years of age, raised in an Aboriginal community. His brand of ‘hokum blues’ and ‘jungle jazz’ powerfully evokes the 1920 and ‘30s. Cedric Watson, fiddler, vocalist, accordionist and songwriter is one of the most noted young talents to emerge in Cajun or Creole music in the past few years. He has a mission, in his words, ‘to present the Creole Nation of Louisiana to the Creole Nations in other parts of the world, to make these Creole cultures aware of the one in Louisiana, and vice versa’. Playing a variety of old-school zydeco styles with his group Bijoux Creole, he has revived the Creole fiddling styles of Canray Fontenot and Bebe Carrier.

Eric Anderson

Judy Collins Diana Jones’ debut album, My Remembrance of You, draws upon the old-time sounds of Appalachia and was acclaimed by BBC Radio 2’s Bob Harris as ‘The best album I’ve heard in months and months – an absolute gem’. Thu 22 Jan 7.30pm Folk America: Greenwich Village Revisited Tickets: £15/20/25 Produced by the Barbican in association with BBC Four Judy Collins, Eric Andersen and others tbc Folk America on BBC Four: The documentary series will be be broadcast on Friday 23rd January, Friday 30th January and Friday 6th February. The Old-Time concert will be broadcast on Friday 23rd January and the Greenwich Village concert will be broadcast in early February. These will be accompanied by archive documentaries and sessions.


The American

Coffee Break Coffee Break Quiz QUESTIONS 1 What is the name of the sequel to the film American Graffiti?

4 In golf, which four events make up the Grand Slam?

2 What is the name of Don Quixote’s sidekick?

5 What are the first four books of the Bible?

3 What is the running length of “War And Peace”, the 1968 Best Foreign Language Film winner and the longest film to win an Oscar?

6 In the BBC’s poll of 2002 to find the 100 Greatest Britons, which four people in the top ten were alive during the 20th century?

7 What was the Christian name of Mr Smirnoff, the man behind the popular brand of vodka? 8 Which 1981 film is the only Best Picture Oscar winner to contain all of the letters of “Oscar” in its title? 9 What are the names of the four American states which begin with either “North” or “South”? 10 Which is the only dwarf that never speaks in Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs? 11 What are the first names of the four children who enter Narnia in “The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe”? 12 Four more fictional favorites - in the children’s TV show, what are the names of the Banana Splits? 13 The Statue of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, was built in which ancient Greek town? 14 What are the names of the four films in which Pierce Brosnan played James Bond? 

Answers at foot of the page.

Competition Winners The Counting Crows concert featured in our November issue has been postponed to May 2009. We will notify the winners when the dates have been confirmed. Kings of Leon tickets were won by Aaron Rutland of Brandon, Suffolk. Coffee Break Quiz Answers 1. More American Graffiti; 2. Sancho Panza; 3. 7 hours 33 minutes; 4. The Open, The US Open, The US Masters, The US PGA; 5. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers; 6. Winston Churchill, Princess Diana, The Queen and John Lennon; 7. Pierre; 8. Chariots Of Fire; 9. North Carolina, South Carolina, North Dakota and South Dakota; 10. Dopey; 11. Lucy, Peter, Susan and Edmund; 12. Bingo, Drooper, Fleegle and Snorky; 13. Olympia; 14. Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day


The American

It happened one... January

Right: Louis Armstrong – amongst the opening night performers at the Metropolitan Opera House, NYC.

January 1, 1892 – Ellis Island opens to begin processing immigrants into the United States.

January 2, 1974 – President Richard Nixon signs a bill lowering the maximum U.S. speed limit to 55 MPH in order to conserve gasoline during an OPEC embargo.

January 3, 1961 – The United States severs diplomatic relations with Cuba. January 4, 1975 – Elizabeth Ann Seton becomes the first Americanborn saint.

January 5, 1914 – The Ford Motor Company announces an eight-hour workday and a minimum wage of $5 for a day’s labor. January 6, 1838 – Samuel Morse first successfully tests the electrical telegraph.

January 7, 1785 – Frenchman JeanPierre Blanchard and American John Jeffries travel from Dover, England, to Calais, France, in a gas balloon. January 8, 1877 – Crazy Horse and his warriors fight their last battle with the United States Cavalry at Wolf Mountain (Montana Territory). January 9, 1793 – Jean-Pierre Blanchard becomes the first person to fly in a balloon in the United States. January 10, 1901 – The first great Texas oil gusher is discovered at Spindletop in Beaumont, Texas.

January 11, 1935 – Amelia Earhart is the first woman to fly solo from Hawaii to California.

January 12, 1967 – Dr. James Bedford becomes the first person to be cryonically preserved with intent of future resuscitation. January 13, 1968 – Johnny Cash performs live at Folsom Prison

January 14, 1539 – Spain annexes Cuba. January 15, 1759 – The British Museum opens.

January 16, 1707 – The Scottish Parliament ratifies the Act of Union, paving the way for the creation of Great Britain.

January 17, 1912 – Sir Robert Falcon Scott (Scott of the Antarctic) reaches the South Pole... one month after Roald Amundsen.

January 18, 1944 – The Metropolitan Opera House in New York City hosts a jazz concert for the first time. The performers were Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Artie Shaw, Roy Eldridge and Jack Teagarden.

January 19, 1953 – 68% of all television sets in the United States are tuned in to I Love Lucy to watch Lucy give birth.

January 20, 1929 – In Old Arizona, the first full-length talking film filmed outdoors, is released. January 21, 1789 – The first American novel, The Power of Sympathy or the Triumph of Nature Founded in Truth by William Hill Brown is printed in Boston, Massachusetts.

January 22, 1901 – Edward VII becomes King after his mother, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, dies. January 23, 1510 – Henry VIII of England, then 18 years old, appears incognito in the lists at Richmond, and is applauded for his jousting before he reveals his identity. January 24, 1984 – The first Apple Macintosh goes on sale.

January 25, 1881 – Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell form the Oriental Telephone Company.

January 26, 1988 – Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera has its first performance on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre in New York. January 27, 1939 – First flight of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning.

January 28, 1902 – The Carnegie Institution is founded in Washington, D.C. with a $10 million gift from Andrew Carnegie. January 29, 1856 – Queen Victoria institutes the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest military honour.

January 30, 1661 – Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England is ritually executed after having been dead for two years. January 31, 1876 – The United States orders all Native Americans to move into reservations.


The American

A walk along the

West Highland Way – an Anglo-American experience

That’s no watercolour, it’s an everyday scene in the spectacular landscape of western Scotland. Maureen Gray tells the story, Roger Hague provides the photos


he West Highland Way spans ninety five miles of the most glorious Scottish countryside. Starting from the gentle lowlands of Milngavie just outside Glasgow, it heads northwards, threading its way along the shores of Loch Lomond, across the wild Rannoch Moor – the heartland of the legendary seventeenth century rogue and cattle rustler Rob Roy MacGregor – through the magnificent rugged scenery of Glencoe to its final destination in Fort William, where if energy levels, weather and enthusiasm permit you can spend the next day yomping up Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain.


I had always planned to mark my 50th birthday by walking the West Highland Way in May 2006. As it happens May is one of the best months, along with September, for walking this route as the weather is usually warm, but those voracious Scottish midges which plague Scotland during the summer months are thankfully absent. The way is well signed, with unobtrusive posts bearing thistles placed at strategic points to guide you, although a good Ordnance Survey map is a must (ask in any bookshop). It is pretty accessible for walkers of all ages, if reasonably fit, as my partner, (then 59),

and I can testify, having one mildly arthritic hip (mine) and one knee shot to pieces by years of rugby (his) between us. Also you can plan your route to be more or less as demanding as you wish by choosing the number of stops you want to make on the way. We took ten days in all to complete the walk, with days varying from seven to eight miles to some in excess of fourteen. We eagerly anticipated the spectacular scenery and the excitement of walking to a new destination every day but were surprised and delighted by the unexpected pleasure of bonding with fellow travellers, who were often walking the same route over

The American

the same number of days. In the latter stages of the walk we found ourselves looking forward to meeting up with various people in the evenings to chew over the days’ events. It was on the shores of Loch Lomond on a sunny third day of walking that we met George and his two companions, carrying the most enormous of rucksacks, the size of folded camp beds, in which they seemed to have all their worldly goods. Questioning our own baggage, a modest rucksack containing only our lunch and waterproofs, we explained that there were several baggage carrying services along this route, which not only map out and book your accommodation for you, but also make sure your main luggage is transported every day to your new destination and is ‘usually’ at your hotel or B&B when you arrive later that day. George, a tall, charismatic American in his mid fifties had been introduced to the delights and eccentricities of Scotland by his son who had just married a local lassie! Having come all the way to Scotland for the wedding he decided he would plan some adventures afterwards with his two friends, a quiet mild mannered man of about the same age and a white haired, more elderly gentleman in his early seventies. Unfortunately, the names of these two I cannot remember so overshadowed were they by the erudite George who quickly took note of the baggage handling information and informed us they would see us later in the walk but not for a couple of days as they were taking a detour to climb Ben More. Our accommodation along the way varied from the most excellent B&Bs to moderately sized hotels. I can recommend the 700 year old

Drovers Inn in Inverarnan, where the staff were not allowed to clean the walls, blackened by age and open fires over hundreds of years. The Drovers is a popular venue for music (live) and, apparently, ghosts (not so live!). Also the Bridge of Orchy Hotel for its luxurious bathrooms and its splendid scenery from the restaurant. And don’t miss the delightfully faded charm of the Kingshouse Hotel nestling in the very heart of Glencoe in the most dramatic of scenery. Without doubt my favourite stopping point. We could see the Kingshouse Hotel far ahead in the distance, a long low white building lying in isolation surrounded by craggy escarpments, as we walked in driving rain with grey storm clouds above us. Stormy weather is truly the very best way to see Glencoe and appreciate its powerful mountainous magnificence. Somehow it just would not have the same dramatic visual impact with blue skies and fluffy clouds as a backdrop. Arriving dripping wet and exhausted we were so pleased to have arrived and be ushered to the lounge for cups of hot tea that we barely turned a hair when we discovered that our bags were missing. A few phone calls were made and we felt reasonably optimistic that this would be resolved, which it was a few hours later. Our luggage had somehow been missed on the morning pick up by the baggage van. It was at the Kingshouse Hotel we again bumped into George ‘et al’! By the time our luggage arrived and we finally made it downstairs he was already holding court in the bar and amusing guests and staff alike with his engaging banter. The mild-mannered man was also there but their older companion was absent. It was then that we discovered that although

all setting off together in the morning they all walked at their own pace, and arrived at their destination at differing times. Consequently the older chap always came in a couple of hours behind the others but this seemed to be a happy arrangement. There is an abundance of wildlife on the walk. You cannot miss the large hairy highland cows (or ‘heeland coos’ if you’re talking to a local!) and one or two people were lucky enough to spot a rare golden eagle, but our very best wildlife experience was actually in the evening at the hotel in Glencoe. A couple of smokers had ventured from the bar to the back door of the hotel and then returned excitedly, ushering us back with them. Outside the back entrance standing in the spotlight of the security lights was a magnificent stag surrounded by a herd of red deer. It was a breath-taking sight and one I will not forget.

A Highland cow, content in the wind and rain


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Favourite stop, the Kingshouse Hotel, Glencoe

Some useful advice:1. B  ook now (January) for walking in May as hotels like the Kingshouse are booked well in advance for the months of May & September – the favourite months to do this walk. 2. T ake good walking boots, a good map & be prepared for all weathers. Besides your lunch make sure you have plenty of bottled water in your backpack each day and a flask of hot coffee. I would also pack a good book for the evenings when you’re often too tired to talk to your companion(s)! 3. M  ake sure you book rooms wherever possible with an ensuite bath. At the end of each walk you’ll be dying for a long soak, and a shower just won’t do it for you! 4. T ake a camera – or a photographic memory!


The next day we again set off in pouring rain and gusty winds for the nine mile trek to Kinlochleven, the last stop before our final fourteen mile walk into Fort William. This was probably the most demanding part of the walk and included the aptly named ‘Devil’s Staircase’, a steep climb, and exhausting. While staggering up the staircase to our left we spied a lone figure desperately chasing his cagoule which had been caught by a sudden gust of wind. This turned out to be the mild mannered American and caused great amusement in the bar that evening. Our final day’s long walk into Fort William saw the weather return to blissful sunshine. I have to say the end of the walk is a bit underwhelming being a large metal signpost on a busy road in Fort William with a picture of a gigantic thistle, but we still felt the need to accost an innocent passer-by to take our photograph standing on either side of it. By luck this was not the complete end though, as the next day was brilliantly sunny again and the top of Ben Nevis was completely

free from cloud which only happens a few days each year, so we left Fort William with a much more triumphant photo of ourselves on the top of Scotland’s highest mountain, a much more exalted feeling and a longing to go back. H

A rather underwhelming journey’s end, but Maureen can’t wait to go walking in Scotland again

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Burns Night – the must-do January invitation R

obert (Rabbie) Burns, author of many poems including Auld Lang Syne, is regarded as the national poet of Scotland. 2009 is the 250th anniversary of his birth. Celebratory suppers were held by his friends in Ayrshire on the anniversary of his death, July 21, 1796 and although the date changed to his birthday, January 25, they have been an annual event ever since. If you’re invited to one, do go, they’re great fun. Try learning a Burns poem like ‘To a Mouse’, or part of one. John Steinbeck took the title of his 1937 novel Of Mice and Men from it: ‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley’ [go oft awry].

Burns Supper Etiquette The host welcomes everyone before saying the following Grace, wrongly attributed to Burns but used by him at dinner with the Earl of Selkirk:

Some hae meat and canna eat, And some wad eat that want it; But we hae meat, and we can eat, Sae let the Lord be thankit. After Scotch Broth or Cock-a-Leekie Soup, all stand for the entrance of the Haggis, often preceded by bagpipes. Haggis is minced sheep’s offal, boiled in a casing with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, salt, and stock for approximately three hours. It is nutty and savoury and is served with tatties (mashed potatoes) and neeps (mashed swede – rutabaga or turnip). It’s much

tastier than it sounds, but pour a tot of Scotch on your haggis, even if like me, you don’t drink whisky. The haggis tastes much better. Someone proclaims Burns’ Address To A Haggis:

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie [cheeky] face, Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race! Aboon [above] them a’ ye tak your place, Painch, tripe, or thairm [intestine]: Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace As lang’s my arm. The groaning trencher there ye fill, Your hurdies [hips] like a distant hill, Your pin wad help to mend a mill In time o’ need, While thro’ your pores the dews distil Like amber bead. His knife see rustic Labour dicht, [wipe] - the speaker draws his Sgian Dubh dagger An’ cut you up wi’ ready slicht, [skill] - he plunges it into the haggis Trenching your gushing entrails bricht, Like ony ditch; And then, O what a glorious sicht, Warm-reekin, rich! Then, horn for horn, they stretch an’ strive: Deil [devil] tak the hindmaist! on they drive, Till a’ their weel-swall’d [swollen] kytes [bellies] belyve [soon], Are bent like drums; Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive [burst], “Bethankit” hums. Is there that o’re his French ragout

Robert Burns, Scotland’s National Poet

Or olio [olive oil] that wad staw [make sick] a sow, Or fricassee wad mak her spew Wi’ perfect scunner [disgust], Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view On sic a dinner? Poor devil! see him ower his trash, As feckless as a wither’d rash, His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash, His nieve [fist] a nit [louse’s egg, tiny], Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash, O how unfit! But mark the Rustic, haggis fed, The trembling earth resounds his tread. Clap in his wallie [mighty] nieve [fist] a blade, He’ll mak it whistle; An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned [cut off ], Like taps o’ thristle [thistle]. Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care, And dish them out their bill o’ fare, Auld Scotland wants nae skinkin ware [watery soup] That jaups [slops about] in luggies [bowls]; But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer, Gie her a haggis! Whisky toasts are made to the haggis, the monarch and to Burns himself. At the end of the evening, all stand, link hands and sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’. H


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he University of Cambridge, the second-oldest university in the Englishspeaking world, is 800 years old this year. Cambridge is the alma mater of Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, William Wordsworth, Sylvia Plath – and John Cleese! – as well as eminent politicians, musicians, writers and thinkers and over 80 Nobel Prize winners, more than any other institution. It will celebrate with a year-long programme of events including lectures, the University’s famous Science Festival, a new Festival of Ideas, a concert in London and a Winter Light Finale.

Cambridge University at 800 The universities were one of the most significant creations of Medieval England. Oxford University began first when, in 1167, a quarrel between King Henry II and Thomas Becket led to a ban on English scholars studying in Paris, the greatest University of the time. Instead they congregated in Oxford. In 1209 students and masters migrated to Cambridge after a student supposedly killed a townswoman. Some say that King John ordered three students to be hanged but they fled, others that a mob hung three other students in revenge. Whatever the truth, the University of Oxford went into voluntary suspension in protest at the hanging order. Some scholars migrated to Paris and some to Cambridge which had a “school”. These exiled scholars started Cambridge’s university in 1209. By 1214, when King and Pope were reconciled, Cambridge was well established. In 1228 there was an influx of scholars from Paris to England, which had a reputation for protecting the rights of


scholars more than elsewhere. By 1284 Cambridge’s first college, Peterhouse, was founded by the Bishop of Ely. Cambridge was described as a studium generale in a papal letter in 1290, and confirmed by Pope John XXII in 1318. It became common for researchers from European universities to come and visit Cambridge to study or lecture. In 1536, with King Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, the university stopped teaching “scholastic philosophy” and moved towards the classics, the Bible, and mathematics. Cambridge’s colleges began as fellowships of scholars endowed with money so that their students would pray for the souls of the founders. Many colleges were founded during the following centuries, although there was a gap of 204 years between the founding of Sidney Sussex in 1596 and Downing in 1800. The most recent is Robinson, while Hughes Hall achieved full college status in 2007. Cambridge now has 31 self-governing colleges, each with its own property and income. 28 are mixed, though most were originally all-male. The first col-

leges for women were Girton College (founded by Emily Davies) in 1869 and Newnham College in 1872 followed by New Hall in 1954. Only three, Murray Edwards, Newnham and Lucy Cavendish, still admit only women. From Isaac Newton in the late 17th century until the mid-19th century, Cambridge maintained a strong emphasis on mathematics, which was compulsory. Students had to take an exam, the Tripos, for the Bachelor of Arts degree, the main first degree at Cambridge in both arts and science subjects. In 1811 there were three classes of Honours degree; ‘Wranglers’ who were said to be born with golden spoons in their mouths, then ‘Senior Optimes’ with silver spoons in their mouths, and lastly ‘Junior Optimes’, born with lead [pewter] spoons. The bottom Junior Optime was called the Wooden Spoon, hence the phrase for coming last in something. Each Christmas Eve, the BBC broadcasts The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, a national Christmas tradition since 1928. H

The American

Making It All Work David allen

Reviews Books reviewed by Michael Burland

President Obama: The Path to the White House TIME Publications Special Commemorative Edition Photographs by Callie Shell


allie Shell started covering the political career of Barack Obama for TIME magazine in 2006, back when his campaign entourage consisted of just the man himself, a driver and Shell. Just two short years, but in that time the comparatively unknown local politician has risen to the brink of becoming the most powerful leader in the world. Shell’s closeness to Obama, his family and his inner political machine have resulted in photographs that are uniquely intimate as well as covering the large scale political events. This short but attractive and effective book ties together Shell’s images with TIME articles on Obama’s rise, his campaigns, how he defeated Hillary Clinton and the president-elect’s mother and the new first lady. The text is insightful, but it is the photography that will affect the reader most. MB Published in the UK by David & Charles, 96 pages, £9.99 (and TIME Books in the USA)

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Readers of The American can order this book for the special price of £8.99 (rrp £9.99) with free p&p (UK only). To order please call the David & Charles hotline on 0870 9908222 or email and quote code E0116

Obama and Michelle enjoy a benefit concert by Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel in New York City, October 16, 2008


n your days of quiet introspection over the winter holidays (?) there’s a book that might help you make an effective start to 2009. Making It All Work is the follow up to the bestselling Getting Things Done. David Allen describes ‘GTD’ as a primer and manual, while the new title is a road map, to ‘keep you on course and get you where you’re going’. It looks dry, illustrated only by flow charts, but it focuses on gaining control of thought processes and freeing the mind to allow more creativity and greater perspectives. My New Year’s resolution (apart from the usual ones I make every year – boy, if I did them I’d have the body of Brad Pitt, the mind of Stephen Hawking and be playing occasional justfor-fun gigs at the Albert Hall) is to read this tome and implement some inspired ideas, properly. Piatkus, 305pp, £12.99

The Private Eye Annual edited by Ian hislop


nother selfhelp book – helping you to understand British society, politics and mindset. Or, put another way, a hilarious dissection of all those things in a selection of items from the occasionally scurrilous but usually spot-on fortnightly satirical magazine. Recommended for anyone who wants to know what really makes the UK tick. Private Eye, hardback, £9.99


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Cinderella LYRIC, HAMMERSMITH Reviewed by Judy Marsden

his truly magical production, performed by a small, very talented cast, sticks to the original brothers Grimm fable. you know it ends happily as all good fairy stories should, and the step mother and sisters get their just desserts (including some bits which had me and my friends watching through our fingers in fascinated horror.) It was a refreshing change to overblown pantomimes. the acting was excellent and drew out our sympathy for Cinderella’s plight. her stepsisters’ treatment of her roused our anger but also provided a lot of humour in the ball scene. the younger members of the audience with me thought the show was ‘amazing’ and especially loved the ball. the colourful dresses contrasted brilliantly with the stark and beautiful black and white set. the excellent terje Isungset makes music from the strangest instruments. My young friends thought it was very cool to be able to play a bicycle. the percussion really gave the play a sparkling wintry atmosphere and the jew’s harp and rhythmic drumming gave it the air of a folk tale. Don’t miss the Ice ball in the interval! this was a bonus, we felt really involved in the story. Spellbinding seasonal entertainment.


ClIVe barDa


Treasure Island THE THEATRE ROYAL, HAYMARKET Reviewed by Mary Bailey


am always amazed that the physically weak Robert Louis Stevenson wrote such violent gutsy stuff. We can be glad he did because Ken Ludwig’s new adaptation of Treasure Island, in straight theatrical (not pantomime) form, is the answer to what to do with the family over the winter season. Treasure Island is directed by Sean Holmes, and Keith Allen – previously an acerbic stand-up comedian and actor playing the likes of the dastardly Sheriff in TV’s Robin Hood - makes his West End stage debut as Long John Silver. I have never seen a cast enjoy themselves more... to such an extent that the audience got caught up in the mood too, a mood that could be difficult to achieve on a cold winters weekday. They certainly did this very well. I did hear one lady say ‘boys will be boys’ during one particularly vicious sword fight, but why not? We all need something jolly just at the moment. Long John Silver slid across the stage with amazing skill and an enormous false leg. He was wonderful and

remained likeable all the time with a streak of compassion throughout the bloodiest instances. There was charm too in the way he describes how he might live ashore as a rich man. Michael Legge as Jim Hawkins was exceptionally good showing his maturing from boy to man through his experiences in an attractive way. The rest of the talented cast of this pirate fantasy play retained their vigour, and in some cases acrobatic skill until curtain down and there is a live band on stage at all times cleverly adding to the proceedings but never dominating them. There are very good practical points to mention, especially if you have kids in tow. The play is a reasonable length at two hours and it finishes early enough to allow plenty of time to get everyone home. There are discounts on tickets for children and The Theatre Royal is easy to reach. There are also several cafes and restaurants with varying prices nearby. But this play is not just for the kids. Accompanying adults will enjoy it as well because it is very clever and also brings back childhood with a bang (quite literally there are plenty of explosions and scary lights).

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THEATER REVIEWS by Jarlath O’Connell


am Shepard, when asked why he always wrote about families replied, “What else is there?” The family has been central to so many of the great classics of American theatre from O’Neill and Williams to Miller and Shepard. Now, in Tracy Letts’ new play August: Osage County, it is further dissected, during an evening that makes Long Day’s Journey into Night look like The Brady Bunch. The anger and resentments of typical family gatherings are all there but it is leavened by a sharp wit and a realisation that tragedy and comedy are flipsides of the same coin. The play arrives at the National Theatre garlanded with five Tonys and the Pulitzer Prize. NT Director Nicholas Hytner has to be congratulated for bringing it over intact. Central to its success is the brilliant ensemble playing of the great Steppenwolf Theatre Company from Chicago. The play was created there last year and quickly moved on to Broadway. That transfer was quite a victory in itself considering the play is 3hrs 20 min long, has no stars and just one set. Box office suicide was predicted. The naysayers were proved totally wrong and this old fashioned, well-made play has conquered the Great White Way and is likely to do the same over here. This contemporary drama unfolds in the home of the Weston family


August: Osage County National Theatre, Lyttelton, London

during the sweltering August heat of Osage County, Oklahoma. The set, a three storey dolls house, is wonderfully realised by Todd Rosenthal. The father, a burnt out college lecturer and ex-poet now devotes himself to drinking while the mother devotes herself to pills. Deanna Dunagan, in a Tony winning triumph as Violet, the matriarch to end all matriarchs, rattles round the darkened house, dazed from pills and not knowing day from night. She has cancer of the mouth, a sad irony, considering she possesses a venomous tongue, which she unleashes on any poor victim who crosses her path. Soon the father disappears. It turns out he has bailed out, committing suicide during a fishing trip. A funeral is arranged, the relatives gather and the sparks start to fly. First comes Violet’s brassy sister, Mattie Faye, played in a great Tony winning comic-turn by Rondi

Reed. She’s accompanied by her husband, Charlie, who is patience personified. Then we meet the eldest daughter, Barbara, played by Amy Morton. Morton’s riveting performance galvanises the whole play, just as Barbara herself marshals the various family members. She has an errant husband and a dope-smoking teenage daughter in tow and is seething about her lot. Like many an eldest daughter she carries the can for the whole family and ends up getting nothing but punishment for her efforts. Mother and daughter are too alike, something that appals them both, and Barbara was never forgiven for fleeing the nest to start afresh in Colorado. Also in from Florida, is youngest daughter Karen, a hopeless case, pathetically clinging to her latest shyster boyfriend Steve, who surprisingly is played by Gary Cole of Midnight Caller who happens to be a Steppenwolf veteran. Later, Steve gets caught in flagrante with Karen’s 15year-old niece and they have to make a quick exit. A wonderful moment ensues when the wounded Karen, far from giving in to the outrage of

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the girl’s mother, proceeds instead to assail Barbara for her oppressive perfection. Nobody gets an easy ride in this family or in this play. The highlight of the evening is the funeral dinner presided over by Violet who is on a roll. It starts with a hilarious rambling attempt at saying Grace by Uncle Charlie and culminates in an all-out cat fight between mother and daughter. Here the great ensemble work shines through and Barbara has one of the best “curtain” lines of any character in modern drama. To dismiss the play as “merely a soap opera” is to pay it a complement I think. Letts’ command of plot does justice to the best of television drama and he could teach most playwrights about situation and character development. His ear for dialogue is uncanny and his sympathetic understanding of the frailties and vanities of all his characters mark him out as a singular talent. He isn’t really interested in pronouncements about the state of “Bush’s America” or the battle of the sexes, even though someone will probably produce PhD theses on both these themes of the play in time. Instead, he fleshes out real life human beings and leaves the audience to do the extrapolating. After all this family is nothing special and they live in a ‘fly-over’ state but, by focusing on the particular, on the small details of their lives, he and his cast have crafted something profound and universal. Letts understands that while the family provides the nest from which we all take flight it is also where our wings can get savagely clipped by a resentful parent or where the gnawing insecurities which can mark us for a lifetime, get forged. Sam Shepard was right “What else is there?”


by Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor Leicester Square Theatre, London


lex is a City institution,” the blurb says. When this one-man show began its world tour in September in Melbourne one might have easily chuckled along at the egocentricity and snobbery of london’s most notorious merchant banker. now, with the economy tanking and merchant bankers held in the same esteem as rats – or estate agents – it is perhaps not so funny anymore. Alex is a one-man show, based on the highly successful cartoon strip of the same name, which has appeared in the Daily Telegraph since 1992. the job of fleshing out what is literally a caricature was given to acclaimed director Phelim McDermott, who had a worldwide smash with the glorious Shockheaded Peter. he brings the same visual flair to this. What could have been a very wordy evening is transformed, as the actor playing alex shares the stage with a wonderful panoply of animated video projections, so that the cartoon strip literally comes to life. the other great asset of the piece is robert bathurst, the star of british tV’s Cold Feet. he completely gets under the skin of alex and wins over the audience by sheer force of smarm. the convoluted plot involves him trying to rescue both his marriage and a take-over deal whilst all the time looking after number one. the character, like much in satire, serves as a safety valve for the readers’ own frustrations and resentments, against their tedious colleagues, their hectoring spouses or the general idiocy of political correctness. the play also serves to explain to the uninitiated some of the grubbier aspects of merchant banking, reminding one of the definition of a cynic as “one who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”. the night I went the audience was packed with people who looked just like alex or his wife, all having a ball.


The American

Wig Out!

By Tarrell Alvin McCraney Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London SW1


ip-synch replaces kitchen sink at the Royal Court as Tarrell Alvin McCraney’s Wig Out! sashays onto its main stage. The production marks the latest venture for the young AfricanAmerican playwright, who has already had twin triumphs in London this season with The Brother Size and In the Red and Brown Water. McCraney, who has just nabbed the Evening Standard’s Most Promising Playwright award, (hardly ever given to a non Brit) is one of the most startlingly fresh and confident voices to emerge from American theatre for years. Following his earlier plays, which were steeped in the poverty of the Louisiana bayous, Wig Out! takes place on what could be another planet, the ‘House of Light’, a drag queen refuge in New York City. The play tells the stories of the various inhabitants of the House as seen through the prism of Erik, a naïve young “straight” gay guy who gets picked up one night on the


subway by “daughter” Nina and gets more than he bargained for. Through Nina he witnesses the House preparing to compete against the rival House of Diabolique in a Cinderella “ball”. These aren’t conventional balls, but uber-competitive beauty/talent shows, X Factor in stillies. The participants “walk” on a “runway” where they “vogue” and compete to win in a perplexing range of categories: Wall Street, face, fem queen, hand performance, old way or even preppie realness, sending up the Ralph Lauren world to which they would never gain admittance. The subculture evolved in the 60’s and reached their apotheosis with the 1991 documentary “Paris is Burning”. Dominic Cook’s production brings this twilight world to life in all its hyper-reality and McCraney’s trademark poetic dialogue is half street, half ‘Greek’ and all attitude. The theatre has been re-configured with a neon framed ‘runway’ which is presided over by a Supremes-like Greek Chorus, “The Fates”. These sassy ladies (real ones) sing in glorious harmony and could show Beyonce a move or two. A cast of relative newcomers all give exuberant performances with Nathan Stewart Jarrett a stand-out as the main protagonist Wilson/Nina. After his tryst with Erik he dons his wig, his chic femme clothes and his stillettos to head back to the House with his new catch in tow. He suddenly realises however that Erik won’t go out in the street with him and so, like a butterfly going back into a chrysalis, he

transforms back into street kid Wilson. Rarely has an actor’s quick costume change effected such a transformation and it really gets to the heart of the piece. The clothes we wear, it says, may signify gender but do they ever really define the person? The designs by Ultz are beautifully observed and the moves by music-video choreographer Manwe Sauls-Addison are wonderfully detailed, yet they never overwhelm the piece. After all, this is Uptown not Broadway. Indeed the sentimental certainties of Broadway shows like La Cage Aux Folles where men are men and drag queens simper has no place here. Here the drag queen is “top” and the make-up free “straight” gay man is the patsy. Love, sex, life is never that simple. These guys’ identities have been forged by a lifetime of abuse and the play has none of the maudlin sentiment one might expect. McCraney says in a programme note that he wanted to “explore how all the marginalised communities push out to the fringes and create hierarchies within themselves”. In other words there is no getting away from “family”. It is hard-wired in. The play therefore becomes about everyone’s need for love and acceptance. If you’re looking for a harmless bit of drag this is not for you. If you want to witness the greatest new writer in American theatre at the height of his powers then you are in for a treat.

The American

Manwe Sauls-Addison Interview:


anwe Sauls-Addison has danced with Michael Jackson and Beyonce, performed in music videos with Destiny’s Child and Tyrese and actually made his singing debut live on stage with Liza Minnelli on her “Liza’s Back” tour. Liza’s mum may have been “born in a trunk” but Manwe can trump that one: “My Mom” he says, “her waters broke teaching a ballet class and along I came”. Destiny’s child himself, I guess. Now the New York based dancer is making his debut as a theatre choreographer with Wig Out! (the ! is compulsory) at London’s Royal Court Theatre, which is not a bad place to start. Born into a showbiz world (mother, actress Bea Sauls; godmother, jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater) and brought up “all over”, he majored in dance at the San Francisco School of the Arts and spent two years at the Alvin Ailey Conservatory but didn’t stay on to join the Company. “The pay is so different” he says. A nice way of saying he was already cleaning up with tv and music video work. He was also pursuing his love of hip hop with an LA based group called the ‘Housin Authority’, who took him under their wing at an early age. Lately his mentor has been choreographer Laurie Ann Gibson who made him her assistant on the MTV show Making the Band, featuring self styled ‘hip hop mogul’ P Diddy. Although only 28, Manwe says he was “fortunate or unfortunate, to have not had much parental supervision at a crucial time in the early 90s” which allowed him to get caught

Jarlath O’Connell talks to the Wig Out! choreographer

up in “some craziness” and witness at first hand New York’s ‘drag ball’ scene. Like most counter-culture movements of course it has since ended up being appropriated by the mainstream and later on in his career, when he was working with pop diva Janet Jackson, they together witnessed how big these events had become. From “being held in basements of churches they were now taking place in huge concert halls in mid-town”. Eventually stars like Madonna and Beyonce started using drag ball performers in their music videos or imitating their style, which in a kind of crazy way, brought the whole diva thing full circle. So does he think broadway choreography is stale compared to these hip hop turns? “No they’re just different

disciplines” he says and while the show will certainly contain “vogueing” he is aiming to encompass a wide range of movement in the piece. And, he adores Bob Fosse. He’s enjoying the live aspect too “In music video you can make a non-dancer seem like they have every kind of dance ability but you can’t fake it in the theatre”. As for a message? “I see Wig Out! more as raising awareness with some great entertainment value added in”. “I grew up in a very open family and so didn’t have these struggles” he says, but he admits that the sexual politics of the drag houses is a response to opression. Of course it is how the drag ball subculture refracts that opression back on to the mainstream that makes them interesting. Next up for Manwe is to develop his budding career as a recording artist. He defines his dance-pop style as “a male Kylie Minogue” and adds, “We’re going through some hard times around the world now, so we need to have some fun”. A-men to that, Sister. ★


The American

Dining Out At



t a dinner party in Gloucestershire the night before, everyone had been raving about the restaurant Wild Garlic located in the picturesque Cotswold town of Nailsworth and it was a spur of the moment decision to stop there for lunch on my way home to London. To my delight there was a table available and I was ushered into a lovely dining room with wooden floors and stone walls that, except for a few modern amenities, was almost as if I had stepped back into the 12th century. That is if they had had exceptional restaurants way back then in medieval times. Matthew Beardshall, the chef/owner, sources as much as he can from local farmers, including Prince Charles’s nearby Duchy of Cornwall farms and plans his weekly menu according to what is available in the area. On many a morning he will go into the woods to look for wild herbs to use in his various dishes before he even gets to the restaurant. Everything is homemade on the premises and is organic and free range, the waitress assured me. The local butcher, she went on, goes out shooting in the morning and will notify the kitchen when he bags rab-


bits or pigeons. At that dinner party the previous evening my hostess had stuffed wild garlic leaves under the skin of chicken which gave a milder sweeter flavour to the meat than if she used the acerbic commercially grown garlic we buy in a local supermarket, an idea she got after eating at Wild Garlic. I started with a ramekin of chicken liver covered in butter, spreading it thickly on warm thick brown bread that tasted as if it had just came out of the oven. The liver dish was made from local organic chickens and with one bite of the moist spread I knew it was freshly made. Because I would be driving immediately after lunch, I bypassed having wine as I didn’t want to become tired and instead stuck to water. Finished with the starter, I was served a small portion of granita of carmelized apple and thyme which was so delicious I wanted the recipe. The slow cooked rabbit in sage I had planned to order wasn’t on the menu and I had instead seared partridge breast that was pink and tender and could be cut with a fork. Along with this I enjoyed boiled potatoes tinted with pale butter and a just a hint of wild garlic. Delicious!

by Virginia E. Schultz

As much as I would have liked to try a more elaborate dessert, I settled instead on vanilla and chocolate ice cream (made in the restaurant) and a cup of coffee. Wild Garlic is located in the beautiful Cotswold area of southwest Gloucestershire which also has a wonderful farmers market in Stroud which is worth a visit. I must admit, if I hadn’t had my dog with me I would have looked into staying the night in one of the 16th century rooms of the Heaven Above guesthouse above the restaurant. If you decide to stay the night in Heaven Above, make sure you make a reservation to dine in Wild Garlic at the same time. And if you’re a vegetarian or just like good food, stop at the “Star Anise Art Cafe” (Old Painswick Inn, Gloucestershire Street, Stroud, telephone 01453 840021) the following day where main courses run from five to ten pounds and enjoy their great pies and pastries. H

Wild Garlic, 3 Cossack Square, Nailsworth, Gloucestershire 01453 832615

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

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

01932 862121

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


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

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

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

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

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

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Dining Out At



he woman sitting next to me on one of the low elegant sofas in the vast lobby had been at the original opening of Fontainebleu in 1954. Memories glowed in her eyes as she described those long ago days in the 1950’s and early sixties when the hotel entertained and was entertained by Elvis, Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Twenty years before on a trip to Miami I too had stayed at the Fontainebleu, but at the time it reminded me of a woman who, having unhappily faded into middle age, had lost the flamboyance and elegance of her younger years. Originally, I had planned to review Danny Devito’s Restaurant at 150 Ocean Drive at the opposite end of South Beach, but they failed to inform me they were not open for lunch much to my chagrin when I arrived and found them closed. There had been considerable publicity about the Fontainebleu that week


Miami Beach Hotel in the newspapers with well known stars and celebrities attending the billion dollar renovation opening ceremonies and I decided to have lunch there. What a billion dollar makeover can do for a hotel! Martin Lapidus who designed Fontainebleu along with a number of other inimitable buildings in Miami would be pleased. The huge lobby spanned before me with the same distinctive luxurious styling that awed visitors in the past. The hotel will include a two story 40,000 square foot spa, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, including this coming January the Hakkasan, one of my favourite restaurants in London, as well as conference and banquet facilities. There are also pools, both indoors and outside, and facilities for children with planned activities to keep them entertained while parents play. Oh, yes, one can bring their dog as well... for $75.00 a night.

by Virginia E. Schultz Visiting the Fontainebleau when it has only recently opened was somewhat unfair. Still, I didn’t have to be told by one of the managers when I managed to corner her that, yes, it was the official public opening that day, but they had just spent the past two weeks entertaining important celebrities such as Paltrow and she really didn’t have time to discuss the hotel. When I reminded her the people I wrote for may not make the gossip columns but would be paying for their accommodations and entertainment I might have been speaking a different language. Fortunately, I did meet another manager who gave me information on the hotel, although a press package was no longer available. Lunch was in the Scarpetta Restaurant, at least I think it was if I had correctly followed the directions

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of the desk clerk who wasn’t quite certain herself. My waitress was even more nebulous about the location when I questioned her if that was where I was. Anyway, Scarpetta or not, the restaurant fit the description I had been given, although I’d describe the menu as Mediterranean rather than Italian. The restaurant features ocean and poolside views, a cocktail lounge and several casual dining areas and the chef is Scott Conant, who is the owner of Scarpetta in New York City. Wherever I was, I must admit my wood fired crab cakes ($18.00) were the best I’ve had in a very long time, filled with oodles of fresh crab meat and just the right amount of spicy flavouring. My next course, conch and lobster soup ($10.00) was disappointing. Not only couldn’t I find either conch or lobster, but it looked and tasted like dishwater. But then came my main course, Sea Bass with Lime and Coconut Sauce ($27.00) and the previous dish was instantly forgiven. This was Sea Bass cooked to perfection, not overdone as so often happens. The only problem is, I shall now spend the next year in my kitchen in London trying to prepare the same dish to no avail. All in all, with one glass of wine and tax, my bill came to close to $112.00 dollars which isn’t cheap in any currency. My waitress then took my credit card and disappeared for at least ten minutes. Having had my card cloned in the past, this worried me which isn’t the way I want to end

a meal. Nor did I like being given a new bill with a tip added and my original bill crossed out and given back to me. I had planned to tip my waitress and very informative sommelier separately. Getting my sons’ car ($12.50) out of the hotel garage proved a problem as well. Although there were six handsome young men in uniforms waiting to pick up and return vehicles, it took at least fifteen minutes before mine finally appeared. Since, there were only two of us collecting a car at the time, I couldn’t help wonder how long I’d have to wait if they had been busy. The two suites I saw, in what I can only describe as an undercover operation which would have made James Bond proud, were exceptional with every amenity one might want. I might add, most of the staff went out of their way to be helpful and tried to answer the questions I asked or attempted to find someone who could. Would I stay there for a holiday or on business? Yes, most definitely, but I’d wait a few months until management gets their act together and the hotel is running more smoothly. And, on my return, I’d revisit the Scarpetta, if that’s where I was, to enjoy again the Sea Bass with lime and coconut sauce. H

441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, Florida 33140 954 969 0069 39

Donnington Valley Dining Out At



unshine spilled over the rolling Berkshire countryside as, ten minutes off the M4, I pulled up in front of this modern hotel that looks as if it has been designed by a Swiss architect who spent most of his life in California. We were greeted warmly at the desk. On hearing my flu-ravaged voice the receptionist offered me some hot water with lemon. Then actress Maxine Howe and I were ushered up to a lovely room decorated in soft beige with touches of red, with a view of the golf course. Perhaps it was getting away from the gray dreariness of London, but I was feeling more myself as we strolled along the modern art decorated hallway to the bar for lunch. We made ourselves comfortable on one of the long comfortable sofas in front of the wood burning fireplace to enjoy a sandwich before she took off for her spa treatment and I a walk on the beautiful – and tough – golf course toward the Grade 2 listed clubhouse. Although it’s been fifteen years since I held a club I was tempted to take up the game again. Refreshed by the brisk country air, I regretted not signing up for one of the many spa treatments. The downstairs spa area has a beautiful 18 metre pool with natural light as well a Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room,


Reviewed by Virginia E. Schultz

aromatherapy room and jet showers. Overlooking the pool is a cafe/reception area where guests enjoyed lunch or an organic fruit drink. I went to the second floor to view one of the eight treatment rooms, each named after an area in Sonoma Valley, and the relaxation room. Various treatments include a full body mineral massage and a truffle facial. Returning to our room, I indulged in an ESPA oil scented bath in the modern Italian marble bathroom. Maxine had had the holistic stone therapy and massage and when she floated in she told me she didn’t know when she had a better massage. Head chef Kelvin Johnson has been with the Donnington for eighteen years and the food we enjoyed in the Wine Press Restaurant reflects his taste and down to earth cooking, neither over-indulgent or extravagant except in his insistence on the freshest of ingredients. My first course of foie gras, mushroom ballotine with fig jelly (£11.00) was excellent as was Maxine’s Moules Mariniere with its wonderfully creamy sauce (£8/12). Sadly, I was disappointed in my too well-cooked venison loin (£22.00) and somewhat dry fondant potatoes. Maxine’s shoulder of lamb (£22.00) was a go-back for dish, especially on a cold winter evening. My selection

of three wine ice cream jello (£8.00) hit the spot, but next time I shall have the Chocolate Treasure (£8.00), chocolate mousse, Bailey’s torte, and chestnut chocolate panna cotte that Maxine ordered. Abraham, the pastry chef, has won numerous awards for his chocolate sculptures, but his desserts are just as rewarding. There is an excellent wine list, including an interesting selection of American wines as one might expect from the hotel’s owner, Sir Peter Michael, who owns St. Michael’s winery in California. I enjoyed the 2007 Honig, Sauvignon Blanc very much, but it was the 2004 Waterstone, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, I’d definitely buy for my cellar. Service was above reproach. The Donnington, recently named AA English Hotel of 2008, is privately owned by Sir Peter and that may be the answer. In fact, that afternoon I saw Lady Michael checking something out with an assistant. Check with the hotel for special offers that will recharge your batteries without breaking your bank account. H

Old Oxford Road, Donnington, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 3AG 01635 551199

The American

Cellar Talk Libations by Virginia E. Schultz



or me, Zinfandel is the most American of wines, which is why I usually serve it with Thanksgiving turkey or at a Fourth of July barbecue. Zinfandel is what Malbec is to Argentina, Chianti to Italy, Sauvignon Blanc to New Zealand and Riesling to Germany. Zinfandel was first planted in the East, but it didn’t catch on, possibly because Thomas Jefferson had convinced everyone only French wine counted and anything else was for peasants. Since most of the population in the 13 colonies preferred beer anyway, or were teetotallers like my Quaker ancestors, no one minded when a little over a hundred years later Zinfandel travelled West and the newly arrived Italians began to plant the grape. Like many immigrants before and since, the origin was soon forgotten. Everyone began to assume it was Italian until recent DNA technology proved it was more closely related to a grape known as crijenak which came from Croatia. Unlike other grape varieties, Zinfandel managed to survive the phylloxera blight and Prohibition, although most of it ended up in jugs of cheap wines. With the growing interest in wine in the late seventies and eighties, vineyard land became expensive and farmers decided to pull up those ancient vines and plant instead money-making Merlot. Fortunately, Joe the plumber and college students fell in love with white Zinfandel (made by separating

the dark skins from the grape before fermentation) and saved the grape. At the same time, winemakers began to experiment with better wine making techniques and slowly changed the buying public’s view of red Zinfandel. Thomas Keller of the “French Laundry” in Napa Valley and “Per Se” in New York claimed not long ago it was his favourite red wine to drink with the food he enjoys eating after a hard day in the kitchen. Last year a friend and I had a midnight snack of leftover Christmas turkey on homemade rye bread as we finished the bottle of Seghesio Family Vineyards 2003 Old Vine Sonoma ($42.00) we had at dinner. Heaven! Nowadays, the best Zinfandels, all red, come from vineyards over a hundred years old. The price usually matches the age. Those ancient vines have fewer grapes, but the juice is more concentrated and fruitier and the alcohol levels have risen, sometimes over 16 per cent. Not long ago I enjoyed two glasses of 2005 Peachy Canyon Snow Vineyard, Paso Robles, 15.1 per cent alcohol, ($36.00) with wild duck and coconut milk sweet potato soufflé and my legs were more than a little wobbly when I stood up. Zinfandels are more alcoholic than other reds because of their thin skins, which make them susceptible to a fungus that causes shrinking. This gives

WINE of the MONTH Joseph Drouhin, 2006 Domaine de Vaudon Chablis Moderate Enjoyed this lively crisp lemony and touch of peach flavours and slight hint of wood with a friend at an outdoor cafe in Bordeaux before visiting the new Musée du Vin et du Négoce located in magnificent 18th century vaulted wine cellars in the heart of the old town. The wine museum is filled with all kinds of artifacts including a permanent exhibition of vintage wine posters.

Musée du Vin et du Négace

them a higher concentration of sugar and as we all know, more sugar means more alcohol. The interesting thing about Zinfandel is how different the wines made from it can taste. Some can be spicy and Burgundian with lovely fruit and others tight and flowery. For me, a top Zinfandel can reveal far more interesting flavours after three or four years than a Cabernet Sauvignon the same age because it doesn’t pucker up one’s mouth with its too tight tannins. Furthermore, it will be a lot less expensive to drink. H


The American


Cece Mills picks her Arts and Exhibitions for January. Art from 40,000 years ago, right up to date


elcome to the arts pages 2009. I hope this year is full of exciting gallery visits, musical events and theatricals for all of you! A new year deserves a new look and this year I will be looking at different art forms, while still giving you my choice of the best for the month ahead. Remember – your feedback is always interesting and useful, so keep the e mails coming. Happy New Year. “The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery” – Francis Bacon

Auguste Rodin, The Kiss (Le Baiser) 1901-4 © Tate



100 Years of Guardian Photography The Lowry Until 1st March

DLA Piper Series: The Twentieth Century – How it Looked and How it Felt Tate Liverpool Until 1st April

Celebrating photographs featured in the Guardian newspaper since 1908, this exhibition illustrates the particular style and dynamism of Guardian photographers over the last 100 years. Starting with their first photographer Walter Doughty, appointed in 1908, and the 6 who followed in his footsteps over the years, it is a testament to the skills and the ‘eye’ of these brilliant artists.

An overview of some of the finest works in the Tate Collection. 200 works on 3 floors give a taste of early 20th century work right through to the first years of this century. The exhibition explores the history of figurative and abstract art and includes iconic works such as Rodin’s The Kiss (1901-4), Picasso’s Weeping Woman (1937) and Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red (1937-42).

Glass Beautifully Crafted National Glass Centre, Sunderland Until 22 February Featuring beautiful items from the Bowes Collection, contrasting the old and the new. As well as work at the National Glass Centre, there is a trail of contemporary and old work at the Bowes Museum, Bede’s World and MIMA, Middlesbrough. A miner faces police officers at Orgreave Coking Plant near Sheffield during the British miners strike, 1984 Photo by Don McPhee, © the artist & The Guardian


Tea totem, one of the exhibits from the Bowes Collection

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Culture Byzantium 330-1453 Royal Academy Until 22nd March Another great blockbuster exhibition, this time a survey of 1000 years of history, lavishly illustrating the splendours of the Byzantine Empire. Expect a lot of gold icons and glitz, but nevertheless an interesting collection of some 300 objects, wall paintings, mosaics, ivories and enamels from Venice, USA, Russia, Ukraine and Egypt. It starts with the foundation of Constantinople in 330 AD and ends with its capture in 1453.

Costume MagniďŹ cence of the Tsars Victoria and Albert Museum Until 29th March

Attributed to Giunta Pisano, Double sided processional cross, Christ crucified, 1250, egg tempera on wood, 113 x 83 cm from the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo, Pisa

If you have any interest at all in clothing and finery, then this is the show for you. Eye gogglingly gorgeous dress and uniforms of Emperors and officials of the Russian Court from the 1720s, showing lavishly decorated coats, boots and other costumes from the wardrobe of Tsar Peter II. This is all about the power and majesty of male dress and is full of sumptuous and delicious outfits literally fit for kings.

courtesy Del Ministero Per i beni e le attiVita culturali, soPrintenDenza Di Pisa e liVorno/ alDo Mela

Coronation heralds livery and boots at the V&A

Pictured above: Unknown artist, Mosaic icon of Saint Stephen, c. 1108-1113, Tesserae on stucco, 218 x 118 x 7 cm courtsey national conserVation area st. soPhia oF KieV


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Art News: The new Demarco Digital Archive website is now operational on www. This is the culmination of three years work to collate the photos and documents from Richard Demarco’s personal archives in an online collection. Demarco is the Edinburgh-born artist and gallery director, and patron of the arts. The archive will give a valuable insight and resource into the history of visual and performing arts in Scotland from the 1950s. Demarco used his camera to document his organisation of many exhibitions, performances, conferences and meetings, such as with artists Joseph Beuys and Maria Abramovic, and reflects the full range of his activities as well as representing the most important parts of his career. Demarco said of the project, “I have always believed that the archive was an artwork, and my life’s work. This is the justification of that belief.”

Culture Babylon: Myth and Reality The British Museum Until 15th March We are all familiar with The Tower of Babel, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Belshazzar’s Feast and the Fall of Babylon, and these have been the inspiration for many wonderful works of art, film and drama for a long time. But what is the reality of it all? Now archaeologists have

Royalty An Exhibition to celebrate the 60th birthday of HRH The Prince of Wales The Drawings Gallery, Windsor Castle Until 22nd February This needs no explanation, but for all fans of Prince Charles, or just the curious, this is a lovely collection of photographs from all stages of the life of the Prince of Wales. Prince Charles on his way to Cheam School after attending a church service for the first time as Prince of Wales, 27 July 1958 © The Royal Collection 2008,Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II


The Tower of Babel, as depicted in The British Museum’s exhibition

put together a picture of the ‘real’ Babylon, a city of great antiquity and intrigue, a centre of science, mathematical discovery, art and commerce. Material from the British Museum, the Louvre, and the museum in Berlin combine to make an unforgettable experience.

Other Last Post: Remembering the First World War Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms Until 28th February This is all about a somewhat forgotten part of the war which gave so many men such a lot to be thankful for – The Post Office. This fascinating look at the role of the Post Office during the war, not only as a way of loved ones communicating, but also as a tool for propaganda, and a way of tracking down spies, really makes you think. Imagine being a prisoner of war somewhere miles from home and still receiving mail – how did they do it? The exhibition explores stories of soldiers and spies, deeds of great bravery and daring, and those who worked in the system.

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Looking at:

Architecture and Aboriginal Art I

t will be no surprise to you, given the above title, that I have recently been to Australia. Every nation has its indigenous cultures and I could have started with American, African or any amount of other A art forms, but hey, it’s better to write about what you’ve experienced, don’t you think! Aboriginal art has taken Australia by storm. With the Government attempting to put these people back in the places they belonged in a country they have inhabited for over 40,000 years, art has been one area that has emerged as a fabulous tool for promoting a better understanding of the Aboriginals and their culture. It has also provided a way for the Aboriginals to trade and do business. Huge efforts have been made to understand, interpret and promote the traditional work of these tribes. Their art work is part of their culture and heritage, and it is the way in which they pass down their knowledge and beliefs to their children. Aboriginal art includes work previously formed and patterned in the desert sand using sticks as long as 30,000 years ago, and now transferred by their descendents into works on canvas in paint. It also covers contemporary art made by indigenous Australians who continue to express themselves and their history through this medium. A visit to the Melbourne Australian art gallery showed me that these people have many issues they wish to express, as does every non-white person all over the world. It was sobering and humiliating to find out how victimised these people feel.

Every Australian aboriginal tribe and region had their own particular styles of painting and communicating, but universal symbols enabled others to ‘read’ the pictures or stories. Once you have visited the arid, scratchy outback that glows coppery red in the sunlight, speckled with pale tufts of spinifex grass which grows in perfect round blobs such as you see in every Aboriginal painting, you can understand the inspiration behind their work. The colours range through all the reds, ochres and browns, often on a black, night-like background. If

Left: sand crab patterns Cece Mills

you have ever experienced the night sky in the desert, again you can get a glimpse of where the ideas arose. Another example of where the dot paintings stem from can be seen in the wonderful patterns made by sand crabs as they burrow deep into the sand. While many pictures seem just a miasma of white blobs or dots (usually called Papunya Tula art), others reveal careful draftsmanship, attention to detail and evident skill. Of course, painting is not the only art form these people employ. Traditional tools and weapons of

Keringke Arts at Alice Springs Gallery, Gondwana

Cece Mills


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survival have now become works of art, as well as fine carvings of animals, reptiles and birds. Everyone is familiar with the Boomarang, or Kali. These are made from flinched sections of mulga wood and are marked with notches, grooves or pictures illustrating the craftsman’s ceremonial birthplace. Music Sticks are also a familiar sight – the Timpilypa as they call them are richly decorated using lengths of wire to burn the intricate designs onto the eucalyptus or mulga wood. Music sticks are used to keep the beat or rhythm. The tribes have many ways of recording their stories and traditions, as well as identifying themselves to others, for example body painting. Body art is a key component of any ritual or ceremony, identifying the clan of the adorned. Over to the other issue this month – Architecture. What an enormous subject to broach! However, this is something that continuously reflects cultures, economic climates, trends and fashions in a similar way to the artwork of indigenous tribes. We look about at what remains of past civilisations with awe and wonder – the design skills of the Egyptians and their pyramids, the Romans and their huge, elaborate temples complete with mosaics and frescoes, the Sydney Opera House Cece Mills


Mayan temples and Inca remains. All point to incredibly sophisticated design, magnificent organisation and skilled builders. And not a computer in sight, let alone mind. These buildings have stood the test of time too. I wonder if such examples of our modern world will last as long, or indeed remain as beautiful? I hope so. In view of the fact that I’ve just been to Australia and the architect of one of these edifices has recently died, I thought I would pick some Australian examples. In a country that has come relatively recently to the realms of architect-designed buildings we can find some spectacular examples. Sydney Opera House, the best known landmark of the city, deserves to be amongst the ones that will last the test of time. Architect Jorn Utzon received the highest accolade awarded to Architects, the Pritzker Prize, in 2003 for the Opera House, and it is now an iconic building of the 20th century, symbolic not just of the city but of the country. It is also now a world heritage site. Made up from huge pre-cast concrete shells covered by loads of cream Swedish tiles in a chevron pattern, the Opera House soars over

Harbour Bridge Cece Mills

the harbour, graceful, organic and beautiful. The soaring sail-like roofs reflect the sunshine and the water, and blend perfectly with the daily action of sail boats and ferries in the bustling harbour. Sydney’s other iconic structure is the Harbour Bridge (affectionately known as the Coathanger). This was designed and built by Sir Ralph Freeman and Dorman Long and Co. The building was beset by interruptions due to World War, recession and political disagreements, but work eventually began on the much needed connection from one side of Sydney to the other in 1922. H

Next Month, Looking At: Ballet and Body art


by Estelle Lovatt


oko Ono, the most original and inspirational visual artist, was described by John Lennon as “the world’s most famous unknown artist; everybody knows her name, but nobody knows what she does.” I talked to her about her latest projects, from Frieze Art Fair 2008, to the Serpentine Gallery, and the Liverpool Biennial (Ono represents USA/Japan), where she communicates an ‘experience’. Onetime associate of neo-Dada Fluxus, Yoko is an iconic, powerful, award-winning artist. ‘Experiences’ help her engage her audience through storyline, folklore, truth, fiction, rebellious daydream and prediction. All Yoko’s work has this ‘experience’ or ‘event’ bent, whereby experiences, events, family and friends feature. By assimilating various ‘togethernesses’ in which we see, and react, to ourselves, Yoko connects with us. Until March 15, Yoko is having one of her largest exhibitions at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle. This retrospective, ‘Between the Sky and My Head’, spans 50 years of her career. Sculpture, painting, drawing, photography, film, sound installations and participation works, in which people in different places around the world are invited to write wishes on paper to hang on Wish Trees, which will be sent to bring power, to the Imagine Peace Tower in Videy Island, Iceland, are included. As are works from Ono’s 1966 Indica Gallery, London exhibition, where she first met Lennon. Visiting her preview, she handed him a card that read “Breathe”. Lennon was smitten with the wit, optimism and interactive communication that was her conceptual

artwork. John saw her display of a white board with a sign requesting the audience to hammer nails into it, and asked if he could. As the exhibition was not open until the next day, Ono said he couldn’t bang a nail, unless he paid five shillings. Lennon answered, “I’ll give you an imaginary five shillings if you let me hammer in an imaginary nail”. That’s how the Lennon-Ono relationship started. Ono, a Performance art explorer, is at once destructive then instructive. Remember ‘Cut Piece’, 1964, had one verb as its instruction - “Cut.” When she knelt on the stage, motionless, draped in a robe, the audience (in Kyoto, New York, London and Paris) were called to cut her garment off until she was naked. It was Ono’s opportunity to be in touch with her inner sorrowfulness and the larger worldwide issues that concern her, like suffering and sex, being alone and the fundamental need for social unity and love. From Ono’s first conceptual artwork ‘Painting to Be Stepped On’ (a canvas on the floor became finished upon the addition of gallery-goer’s footprints), to her ‘Imagine Peace Tower’, her Performance art is a beautiful way of connecting people, sharing experiences and dilemmas about art, and scruples in life. Ms Ono’s art is not a commodity or article to trade; it’s more a public service, like a counsellor. Ono, also an experimental filmmaker, won merit for her film ‘No. 4’ (‘Bottoms’), 1966. A close-up sequence of human bottoms, as the subject walks on a treadmill. The screen is cut into four by the muscular divisions. Interviews with those filmed make up the soundtrack. The Swatch watch company manufactured a limited edition watch to commemorate this film; Ono was making art accessible to all, even on the wrist. ★

Top: Yoko Ono, Sky TV, 1999, Have You Seen The Horizon Lately?, November 26, 1999 – March 26, 2000, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel COURTESY OF LENONO PHOTO ARCHIVE

Above: Yoko Ono, Bastet 1990, Insound/ Instructure, August 25 – September 30, 1990, Henie Onstad Art Center, Hovikodden, Norway PHOTO: DAVID BEHL



The American

The American Art Market – Time To Buy? Estelle Lovatt says buy, but unlike most investments buy with the heart as well as the head


TIME magazine covered Damien Hirst in financial terms as much as artistic


hat will become of the American art market, with this shattering economic credit crunch causing financial institutions to weaken, the worldwide stock market to plummet, house prices to drop and the US government to inject $250 billion into the banks? Worry not. Listed in the contemporary art magazine ArtReview‘s Power 100, its list of the most powerful people in the art world, 49% of the artists, galleryists, curators, art fairs, museum directors, auction houses, critics and collectors are American. The most collected living artist is the American painter, Thomas Kinkade - the ‘Painter of Light’ – listed at number 100. Years ago it was ballparked that one in twenty American homes owned a Kinkade print or painting. The cultural centre of the universe, America ranks strongly in the contemporary art world. Ranking third, in a list dominated by men, is Kathy Halbreich, the newly appointed Associate Director of MoMA, New York. Expectations on the art market are optimistic, because, as if impervious to increasingly volatile economic depression, the art world sees record prices as the art market confidently forges forward with well-priced established names. Recently

witnessed was Russian artist Malevich’s colourful geometric abstract ‘Suprematist Composition’, 1916 (a blue square floating diagonally), selling for a record $60 million at Sotheby’s New York. The art market will carry on because there are upsides even in a down market. Remember, this year began with the setting of new auction records for contemporary art and ended in global monetary crisis, as Damien Hirst become the first artist to bring his work directly to auction (Sotheby’s London, September), grossing £111 million for two years’ worth of pickled animals, a patchwork of dead butterflies, spot paintings and cigarette butts. ‘Science’, Damien Hirst’s artistic production, marketing and publicity company, ranks as number one in the Power 100. Everyone wondered how the art market – having reached asset-class status – could be immune to the market’s pressures, and keep expanding and set record prices? As the value of assets have fallen, profits are rising in art worth. This is an opportune time for those with cash to buy. Obviously no investment is guaranteed, but with art you will be investing in your personal pleasure and cultured judgment. Buying for love, not investment, in the last recession 1990-92, art prices generally dropped by 60 per cent, but the market kept going with long-term collectors; for the passionate dedicated person, collecting art is not just about the artwork, it is about the journey taken in discovering it. ★

The American

Letter from Britain Sir Robert Worcester, Founder of MORI, writes an open letter to the American pollsters – and the media which (mis)reported them – about the extraordinary accuracy of their Obama predictions


ever have so many trees been sacrificed to produce acres of newsprint and hours of broadcast media time wasted on anything before as the sum total of sceptical reporting of opinion polls in the America presidential election. It seems that every pundit and commentator has taken a swipe at the polls during the recent election. Yet on the night, triumph! FINAL POLLS

As an ‘outside/insider’, permit me to offer my congratulations and admiration for the pollsters of America. The American pollsters’ final tallies have now been examined by me and my team at Ipsos MORI in the light of the outcome. In all, we have been able to source 19 different eve-of-poll data sets, reported on or before November 3rd. Remarkably, the American polls Sample Obama McCain Others Size

Don’t Know

Lead Obama

Polling Organization Rasmussen Reports














Pew Research





Daily Kos/Research 2000



















NBC/Wall Street Journal







American Research Group Inc







Democracy Corps/Greenberg QR










Harris Interactive









CNN/Opinion Research







ABC/Wash Post







CBS News























Fox News, Opinion Dynamics YouGov/Polimetrix




6 7


5 6

9 2

9 8 8










have come up trumps as never before. All 19 sets of share figures from the American eve-of-election polls fell within a margin of plus or minus three percent. In fact, 18 of the 19 polls were within plus or minus two percent, the best record ever. [Editor’s note: we have abstracted the key findings below. The full table can be found online at] After days of working to collect, confirm and standardise the ‘final’ polling figures to make sense of the disparate ways American polling organisations conduct their political polls and report them, once again we arrived at what we consider the definitive list of final polls (but would be glad to have evidence of any others we’ve missed) We’ve scoured all the wonderful web sites which served us so well during this election, including the pollsters’ own sites, the media’s and other clients’ sites, and the now famous compilation sites including, www.538. com,, etc. Here are the pollsters, listed in the order that after standardising them we rank them in terms of error on share for Obama and McCain, averaging the two. Where two or more share errors tied, we used error on lead as the tie break. RasmussenReports Ipsos/McClatchy Diageo/Hotline Pew Research 

(continues over)


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We were not able to use, as we do in Great Britain, a three or even four (for Scotland and Wales where they have separate ‘national’ parties in addition to Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats) party accuracy measure. We do not rank them to present a ‘league table’ so much as to evaluate the performance of the polls generally in as objective a manner as some 40 years of political polling experience provides. Nor do the American pollsters report like for like in other ways. Several did not ask so could not report the share figures for other candidates, and in some cases where they asked the question they failed to report the results in their press releases. Further, several of the press releases/final poll reports did not report the technical details, sample size, fieldwork dates, etc. As a result, it took us nearly as many days to finalise our data analysis as it did for the American election results to be counted. Nearly 40 years ago the legendary founder of Opinion Research Centre in London, later the protégée of Lou Harris as President of the Harris Poll, Humphrey Taylor, called together the major British pollsters to establish ground rules they would


”Several [American pollsters] did not ask – so could not report –  the share figures for  other candidates.” agree to use to improve the reporting of their political opinion polls in the British media, and to clarify the role of voting intention results as not predictions of election outcomes days, months or even years hence but as commentators at the racetrack. At a stroke, the better journalists and more responsible media improved their reporting and interpretation of poll findings to the benefit of their readers and viewers/listeners and each other. Some journalism departments even began the teaching of “Understanding and Reporting British Public Opinion”, and seminars have been held before every British General Election, most in the House of Commons, for the so-called “press lobby” of journalists who frequently report and inevitably comment on poll findings as the election progresses. These have proved popular, and have been well attended. American pollsters have no such common basis of reporting their findings, certainly leading to me, and probably to many of them, being asked throughout the campaign, “How can I believe the polls if two companies’ final polls had Obama at 50% and yet he got 53% on the day; it can’t just be sampling error, can it?” My answer, “No, it isn’t”. In fact, if the two polls had reallocated to take account of the fact that they both reported 5% of their

Photo: Ari Levenson

Daily Kos/Research 2000 Fox News, Opinion Dynamics YouGov/Polimetrix NBC/Wall Street Journal American Research Group Inc Democracy Corps/Greenberg QR Marist Harris Interactive IBD/TIPP CNN/Opinion Research ABC/Wash Post CBS News Reuters/CSPAN/Zogby Gallup GWU/Battleground

samples were ‘don’t knows’, they both were spot on, showing Obama with 53%, the outcome on the day. All British pollsters now follow this convention, year in and year out, so that no one is any longer confused by different polling companies reporting on a different basis, and their findings can be used to compare with the last election result, and demographic comparisons. In addition, having comparable ways of reporting their figures enables them and others to calculate ‘swing’, the statistic universally used in reporting British elections and polls which allows constituencies’ (states in the USA) results to be directly compared to each other and to the national result as well as to the previous party performance at previous elections. This will be the subject of my next Letter from Britain. H

UK’s Top Road-Side Attractions


he UK’s road trips may not be as long as the Pacific Coast Highway or Route 66, but it certainly has its attractions. Britain’s motorway (freeway) network was 50 years old on December 5, and to celebrate, travel website TripAdvisor surveyed its editors and travellers to find the best. The Top 10, and the roads you can see them from, are: 1. Stonehenge (A303 and A344/ A360) Over 5,000 years old, this World Heritage site in Wiltshire is one of the world’s most famous prehistoric sites. 2. The Angel of the North (A1) Designed by sculptor Antony Gormley, the Angel sits on a hilltop site in Gateshead, where it is seen by more than 90,000 drivers a day. 3. Loch Ness (A82) The largest body of water in Scotland is, of course, home to the world-famous monster, ‘Nessie’ - the first official sighting of whom was recorded in 565 AD. 4. Ben Nevis (A82) At 4,408 feet this is the highest mountain in Great Britain. 5. Clifton Suspension Bridge (A4) Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Bristol’s Clifton Suspension

Bridge opened in 1864. It carries over 11,000 vehicles across River Avon every day. 6. Harlech Castle (A496) Built by Edward I in the late 13th Century, this spectacular cliff-top castle in North Wales is a World Heritage Site. 7. Wembley Stadium (A404) The new 90,000 seat Wembley Stadium opened in 2007. It is the most expensive stadium ever built costing an estimated £1 billion. Its 430 ft arch is visible across London. 8. Tintern Abbey (A466) The first Cistercian Abbey in Wales was founded in 1131. In the late 18th Century, its ruins became a popular destination for Romantic artists and poets like William Wordsworth. 9. The Cherhill White Horse (A4) - Cut in 1780, the second oldest of the Wiltshire horses was resurfaced with 160 tonnes of fresh chalk in 2002. 10. Cerne Abbas Giant (A352) Carved from the chalk bedrock, the Dorset giant is said to depict the god Hercules – or perhaps it’s a jest at Oliver Cromwell’s expense. One of the largest hill figures in Britain at 180 feet high, the fertility symbol is not for the easily shocked!


Drive Time

The American

Lucky Cloverleaf Club


mericans have had a love affair with Alfa Romeos ever since Benjamin ran off with Elaine in The Graduate. The Italian marque has now launched a club in the UK for Alfa drivers, the Cloverleaf Club. Since 1923, all of Alfa’s racing cars and exclusive roadgoing models have carried the symbol of the lucky four leaf clover, or Quadrifoglio. Alfa have commissioned a survey to find the luckiest charm. The four leaf clover came out tops, ahead of the horseshoe, wishbone, penny coin and rabbit’s foot. Just as well, or top models of new Alfas might have had to be called the Bunnypaw! All buyers of new Alfa Romeos will get a three-year membership to the new club and ‘approved used’ customers one year. They will enjoy a unique Cloverleaf Club web site, advance information on new models, a chance to win unique prizes, free subscription to Alfa Romeo’s FEEL magazine, exclusive track days, discounted holidays, official merchandise and a member’s forum. Marketing Director at Alfa Romeo UK, Nicholas Bernard, says: “Being an Alfa Romeo driver isn’t simply about owning the car. It’s about the heritage, the emotion, the passion and so much more. Alfa Romeo drivers are part of our extended family and we want them to enjoy their decision to drive an Alfa.

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A Family Dodge

That Dodge macho styling and a complete, practical package – forget the budget price, it’s a family favorite


s we go to press, the great three American car manufacturers are in crisis talks with the Government trying to stay afloat, and we can’t begin to guess the outcome. That said, the new 2009 Dodge Journey Crossover is a great car, that became instantly beloved by the female members of our clan, a part of the family that we were sad to lose. It combines chunky off-roader-inspired looks with a versatile seven-seater cabin and good fuel economy. It is roomy and thoughtful. My 10 year old daughter stroked it when she said goodbye to it! Launched here in August 2008, there is a choice of two engines and SE,

SXT and R/T trim and equipment levels with SXT being the most popular. A 2.4-litre, four-cylinder, variable valve timing, 168bhp petrol engine coupled to a five-speed manual transmission. Prices start from £16,640. The combined fuel cycle economy is 32.1mpg with CO2 emissions of 209g/km giving it a road tax bill of £210. We had the manual version of the second engine, a Volkswagen-sourced (so it should be reliable and long-lived) 2.0-litre turbodiesel 138bhp unit with 310NM of torque from 1,750rpm. It comes in either a six-speed manual or six-speed, twin-clutch automatic transmission. These should achieve 43.5mpg with CO2 emissions of 171g/km which put them in Band E for road tax costing £170. Prices run from £17,995 for the manual, and from £21,195 for the auto. The diesel option is only available in Europe. All-wheel drive is only available on the V6 option, which isn’t available in Europe. The Journey won a ‘Clever Utility’ Achievement award at the annual Ward’s Auto Interiors Show in June 08, and this is understandable. Inside, there’s a lot of stowage, including wide, deep door bins that are shaped to take a bottle, two covered stowage areas under the floor in the rear footwell, each with a removable plastic tray that can be taken out and washed. They can even be used as an ice chest for cold drinks & food! There’s another

larger under floor stowage area in the boot. Flip forward the front passengerseat cushion to reveal a nicely sized compartment for keeping valuables out of sight. There’s even a simple Chill Zone™ glove box beverage cooler. All versions have three-zone air conditioning, six-speaker sound system, electric windows, anti-lock braking, electronic stability and traction control, trailer sway control, front seat and side curtain airbags, child seat fittings and remote central locking with a security alarm. SE models have steel wheels, all other models have 17 or 19-inch alloys. SXT and R/T variants see the specification levels rise further still and some of the added goodies include a power operated driver’s seat, a more comprehensive instrument display plus on-board information computer, a 6CD changer, fog-lights and stain and odour repellent seat fabric. It’s worth going for some of the extra cost options like the MyGig multimedia infotainment system with 3D satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and rear view camera. This costs an extra £1,500 or £2,000 with the added rear seat video entertainment unit. Two integrated child booster seats, a first in the mid-size crossover segment, quickly pull out from the second-row seat cushion, eliminating the need to transport bulky child seats. There’s 3-zone automatic climate con-

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A reversing camera, loads of stowage for all the family’s stuff and that iconic Dodge style

trol, and multistage front and side curtain airbags across all three rows. The rear side doors open to 90° for easy access, and the rear view mirrors are heated. The middle bench splits 60/40, and each seat slides individually. To reach the rearmost seats, you simply pull a lever and the chairs in the second row cleverly fold, pivot and slide forward. It would be a bit of a squash for 3 big adults in the second row, but once in the back, it’s quite roomy even for larger bodies, although foot space is a little tight. With all three rows of seats in use the luggage space is pretty limited at 302-litres but the under floor/seat stowage bins help that situation. However with just two rows of seats up it’s pretty big, and with both rows of seats down, the boot is huge at 1,914-litres although the hard plastic covered rear wheel arches intrude into the load space. Everything folds flat, including the front passenger seat, so that long

loads can be carried. Unlike many cars, it was extremely easy to put seats up and down, even for my 10 year old. So we did, a lot, with the children preferring to ride in the rearmost seats, watching the DVD screen, til I needed to stow the shopping, at which point they folded the seats and hopped into the second row. The quality of the plastics and design of the dashboard is good, and it does feel a ‘solid’ build for a Dodge. Some say the overall look isn’t as yet up to the standards set by European, Japanese or indeed the Korean brands, but I beg to differ. Outside, although technically an MPV, this looks better than many, and more like a 4x4 than many SUVs. The deep red one we had definitely looked butcher than many other SUV’s, and is was one of those cars that made other drivers do a double take, or crack a smile [no, it wasn’t my driving]. The diesel engine sounded a little gruff, and was a bit underpowered for

the chassis, so ours was not a speed machine. I used first gear to pull away in, which I realised I haven’t for years Six gears took a little getting used to [what do I do with all those?] but actually the gearing is evenly spaced and it was forgiving in all of them, although you couldn’t really miss any out when going up and down. The clutch was smooth, so it wasn’t too much of an effort. Although not up to off-roading, this sedan-drive was very smooth over the inevitable road potholes and easy to drive. The steering is quite light, which some may not like, but I found good, but don’t throw it around corners, or it will lurch. Ford’s S-Max is sportier to drive and may have the edge on build quality, but it is no larger or more practical, the mpg is about the same and it costs significantly more. If Chrysler gets bailed out, I think it has a real family car contender here for the UK, with seven seats, a comfortable ride, good looking 4x4 styling and more important here than back home, great mpg and reasonable CO2 emissions. H



n New Year’s Day, the NHL will take its game to the great outdoors for the fourth time in its history, pitting the re-emerging Chicago Blackhawks against last season’s Stanley Cup champions, the Detroit Red Wings, in the 2009 NHL Winter Classic. Wrigley Field will provide the backdrop for the 701st meeting between the Central Division’s original-six teams, a much-anticipated, history-making event that’s expected to be witnessed by upwards of 75,000 hockey fans, who will brave the deep freeze of a Chicago winter to watch professional hockey players revert back to the shinny and pond hockey days of their youths.


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And therein lies the secret behind the popularity of the NHL’s outdoor event, or at least part of it — enthusiasm. Last year, it was evident on the face of every Pittsburgh Penguin and Buffalo Sabre, whose excitement couldn’t be masked by the snowflakes whirling around Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, the setting of the 2008 Winter Classic. More than 70,000 bundled-up fans — 71,217 to be exact — got the rare opportunity to watch the players morph from overpaid, grave-faced professional athletes to giddy, lighthearted young men playing a game for the simple joy of it. The points handed out at the end of the match


Jeremy Lanaway looks at the NHL’s outdoor war as Chris Chelios’ Red Wings prepare to meet the Chicago Blackhawks at Wrigley Field in the 2009 Winter Classic. counted — two to the Penguins for winning in a shootout, and one to the Sabres — but the real prize came in the form of memories, not only for the players, but also for hockey fans around the world. ‘It was spectacular,’ recalls Penguins forward Jordan Staal. ‘You got the feel of what football players play in front of every week. Looking around and seeing all those fans in the stands, there was no better feel-

ing. It was unbelievable how many fans came out for that game, with how cold it was and the snow falling. It was a picture-perfect moment.’ Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff echoes Staal’s sentiment of wonder: ‘I really felt like I was at the Super Bowl. With the aircrafts going over, the smoke and fireworks on the ice, and just the roar of the people, it was an incredible atmosphere. To feel that energy as a hockey player

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— and as a coach — down on the football field, and to hear the roar of those seventy-plus thousand was just overwhelming. It was a great feeling.’ The other key ingredient to the Winter Classic’s success is novelty. For generations, the NHL has been confined to arenas, so seeing a game in the open reaches of a stadium is certainly a sight to behold. In fact, before the 2008 Winter Classic, only two other NHL games had ever been played outside: 2003’s Heritage Classic, a regular-season game between the hosting Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens, and a 1991 exhibition game between the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers, which took place outside Caesar’s Palace in Los Vegas. The 2009 Winter Classic, although not the first of its kind, belongs to a select slice of hockey history, and due to its rarity, everyone wants to be part of it.

The ‘Cold War’

So who had the bright idea of transposing hockey into the larger-than-life realm of stadium sportsdom in the first place? The credit goes to the Michigan State University Spartans, who decided to set their game against their archrival, the University of Michigan Wolverines, in the middle of Spartan Stadium instead of limiting it to the usual confines of their arena. It was a bold move, but it paid off. The game, which has been immortalised in the annals of hockey as the ‘Cold War’, was attended by 74,544 fans, the largest attendance of any game in the history of the sport. Hockey fans in Chicago can thank one person in particular for bringing the 2009 NHL Winter Classic to Wrigley Field — former Cubs and current Blackhawks

”For generations, the NHL has been confined to arenas, so seeing a game in the open reaches of a stadium is certainly a sight to behold” president John McDonough. McDonough watched last season’s Winter Classic in New York, and knew right away that the event was fated to be hosted by the Windy City. It wasn’t easy, but after a heartfelt pitch to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, he finally got his way. ‘It got sentimental,’ McDonough explains. ‘We were talking about the rooftops, and the bleachers, and possibly painting ivy on the boards and the neighbourhood, and what a national, mega-event it would be, and about Wrigley Field. There was so much syrup coming out. I really poured it on.’ Needless to say, the syrup did the trick. How do the Cubs feel about loaning out their storied stadium for a one-time hockey game? Starting pitcher Ryan Dempster, who grew up in Gibsons, British Columbia, can’t wait to watch the event: ‘I love hockey and what a sporting event to see! To say you went to a hockey game at a baseball stadium, but not just any stadium, Wrigley Field, I mean, how cool is that? You’re not going to see a lot of those in your lifetime. Plus, it’s the Red Wings and the Blackhawks. They’re going to just go out there and be kids again. What a fun experience for those guys!’ H

Sports Highlights for the New Year US Open Tennis

The tennis year begins again, with the first Grand Slam event of 2009 January 19-February 1 at the Australian Open. No.3 Novak Djokovic looks to close the gap on Nadal and Federer with a defense of his 2008 title.

NFL Playoffs

The NFL whittles down the contenders as January progresses, with Wildcard games on January 3-4, Divisional Playoffs on January 10-11, and the AFC and NFC championship games January 18. The Titans, Giants, Panthers and Cardinals [really?] have already booked their playoff berths. Now can they continue their runs? Oh, and don’t forget to snap up those tickets for the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium later this year!

BBL Cup Final

On Sunday January 18, the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham hosts the British Basketball League Cup Final. As well as the big clash between the Airwaves Plymouth Raiders and the Everton Tigers, the Worcester Wolves and Leicester Riders will contest a BBL Championship fixture, and the BBL will hold its Slam Dunk Competition. Visit www. for more information.

Bowl Championship Series

Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta Bowls, plus the National Championship game are amongst the new year bowl games. See overleaf for more coverage...


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Bowl Season

34 bowl games in 18 days, and 28 of them on British TV. Richard L Gale prepares for a bowl bonanza.

The Best of the Rest Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl • Dec 20 BYU v Arizona Cougars QB Max Hall (34 TDs) and WR Austin Collie (95 rec, 15 TDs) headline another Pac-10 v MWC show-down. Poinsettia Bowl • Dec 23 TCU v Boise State Still-unbeaten Boise State (12-0) face the No.2 defense of TCU, featuring kick return king Aaron Brown (32 yard average). Meineke Car Care Bowl • Dec 27 UNC v West Virginia QB Pat White finishes his phenomenal college career by facing dangerous Tar Heels DB Trimane Goddard (7 Ints).

Rose Bowl presented by Citi • Penn State v USC

January 1 22.00 GMT

FedEx Orange Bowl • Virginia Tech v Cincinatti

January 1 01.00 GMT (Jan 2) Bowl • Dec 29 Rutgers v N.C. State Rutgers are on a red-hot six-game winning streak. Scarlet Knights QB Mike Teel threw seven TDs in his final home game. Brut Bowl • Dec 31 Oregon State v Pittsburgh Pitt’s LeSean McCoy’s 21 rush TDs make him an NFL star of the future. One of the very few bowls not televised here this year.


This may not be the sexiest BCS match-up, but the Hokies and Bearcats fought every inch to be here. Cincinnati went 11-2 despite using five QBs through the season. Their top30 defense combined with Virginia Tech’s No.13 defense suggests a low-scorer, but the Orange bowl could turn into a wild classic with 16 interceptions a piece this season, and Tech’s rookie QB Tyrod Taylor still a work in progress.

Allstate Sugar Bowl • Utah v Alabama

January 2 01.00 GMT (Jan 3)

AT&T Cotton Bowl • Jan 2 Texas Tech v Ole Miss Tech QB Graham Harrell goes for a 5000yard season as he faces the Mississippi team that delivered Florida’s only loss. GMAC Bowl • Jan 6 Tulsa v Ball State Expect points! Ball State RB MiQuale Lewis has 22 rushing TDs while Tulsa QB David Johnson has passed for 43 scores.

Joe Paterno’s super-solid Nittany Lions try to salvage the reputation of the Big Ten by taking on the nation’s no.1 defense at home. USC have been so dominant that it’s easy to overlook Penn State’s no.15 offensive yardage ranking, only one place behind USC nationally. Nonetheless, the Lions will be underdogs in what may be JoePa’s final game after 43 years in charge.

Unlike other ‘minnow v powerhouse’ BCS matchups of recent years (eg. Oklahoma v Boise State), unbeaten Utah is not a BCS-buster on the basis of a quirky offense, but instead a staunch defense that ranks in the top 20. Alabama’s defense, however, is top 5, and Utah could wear down first if the Tide offensive line and RB Glen Coffee have their way. It could stay close... until suddenly, it isn’t.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl • Texas v Ohio State

January 5 01.00 GMT (Jan 6)

For Ohio State, losers to USC and Penn State, meeting Texas right now seems almost cruel; the Longhorns will be eager to display their talent after being tie-broken out of a National Championship bid. National accuracy leader Colt McCoy (32 TDs, 7 Ints) says he’ll be a Longhorn again next year. Ohio State’s versatile rookie QB Terrelle Pryor may only have flashes to compare this year.


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The BCS National Championship

Oklahoma v Florida

January 8, 2009 Live on NASN, 01.00 GMT, January 9, 2009


orget the annual BCS controversies and politics – the end result is a mouth-watering matchup of the two hottest teams in the nation, and two Heisman Trophy winners going head-to-head to decide the national championship. The Oklahoma team that has scored 60 or more points in their last five games goes up against a Gators team toting the nation’s no.3 offense, averaging over 45 points a game. Florida QB Tim Tebow has 28 TD passes to only two interceptions, plus 12 more scores on the ground, and will be hoping for the returning health of electrifying utility back Percy Harvin (16 combined TDs). Oklahoma counters with Sam Bradford’s 48 TDs (to only 6 picks) while the Sooners can boast two 1000-yard backs in Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray – assets that may be essential if they wish to play keepaway. Between them, Brown and Murray have 39 all-purpose scores. With so much offense about, it could be defense and special teams making the key breaks. The Gators have been playing strong on special teams all season – missed XP against Ole Miss aside – and the defense’s 24 interceptions (five for scores) is second only to Boston College. And, of course, the Sooners are doing most of the traveling here. But don’t feel too sorry for Oklahoma having to play Florida in Florida – the last time they played here, they became national champions (2000). Right: Other games appearing on NasN and NasN 2 (live or as–live) indicated in gold. Visit for broadcast times.

Other Bowls EagleBank Bowl • Dec 20 Wake Forest v Navy New Mexico Bowl • Dec 20 Colorado State v Fresno State St. Petersburg Bowl • Dec 20 South Florida v Memphis New Orleans Bowl • Dec 21 Troy v Southern Miss Sheraton Hawaii Bowl • Dec 24 Hawaii v Notre Dame Motor City Bowl • Dec 26 Central Michigan v Florida Atlantic Champs Sports Bowl • Dec 27 Florida State v Wisconsin Emerald Bowl • Dec 27 California v Miami (Fla.) Independence Bowl • Dec 28 Louisiana Tech v Northern Illinois Valero Alamo Bowl • Dec 29 Northwestern v Missouri Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl • Dec 30 Maryland v Nevada Texas Bowl • Dec 30 Rice v Western Michigan Pacific Life Holiday Bowl • Dec 30 Oregon v Oklahoma State Armed Forces Bowl • Dec 31 Air Force v Houston Music City Bowl • Dec 31 Vanderbilt v Boston College Insight Bowl • Dec 31 Kansas v Minnesota Chick-fil-A Bowl • Dec 31 LSU v Georgia Tech Outback Bowl • Jan 1 Iowa v South Carolina Capital One Bowl • Jan 1 Georgia v Michigan State Konica Minolta Gator Bowl • Jan 1 Nebraska v Clemson AutoZone Liberty Bowl • Jan 2 East Carolina v Kentucky International Bowl • Jan 3 Connecticut v Buffalo


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Sports observations, opinion, and occasional silliness from Richard L Gale. NFL franchise talk for London defies the economic reality, claims our Sports Editor.


t would be hard to call the Bills’ sojourn to Toronto a success. They played like an away team against Miami in a stadium that appeared to have a sparsely populated top tier in addition to those covered seats ringing the field. Oh, how I hate those covered seats. They annoy me at Wembley, but at least they made sense during the rain drenched Miami-NY ’07 slopathon. But there’s no excuse indoors. And why was Buffalo playing under a retractable dome? Something about the roof being sealed for the winter. Seems like somebody didn’t plan ahead. I hate to see any empty seats at sports events. They offend my TV viewer’s eye, distract me like a wooden sword in a fantasy movie, the ‘corpse’ who’s still visibly breathing, or product placement in a Bond film. Empty seats don’t belong at an NFL game. Mind you, apathy towards sports events over here in the UK is a dirty little subject the British don’t usually acknowledge. Manchester United averages an NFLlike 75,000 a game, but I still wonder why Premiership team Wigan Athletic’s 25k stadium manages only 18k. And then there’s the likes of AFC Bournemouth – 4,500 a game in a 9,500 stadium, despite the combined population of Bournemouth and Poole exceeding that of Green Bay. The Packers sell out Lambeau Field to the tune of almost 73,000, so what the heck else are Bournemouth people doing? It’s not like they’re off enjoying Boscombe beach in December.


The Murrayfield crowd goes wild as Mark Robertson of Edinburgh scores against London Wasps in Heineken Cup rugby action. Actually, pan left and there were some fans, but every empty stadium seat offends our writer’s eye. Photo by Getty Images for Heineken

London people have an excuse not to be single-minded about their team. As well as being one of the cultural capitals of the world, its 13m population can choose between 13 league football clubs, 6 rugby teams, Lord’s cricket ground, Wimbledon... That’s what worries me about talk of a London franchise in the NFL. I realise I’m meant to be all rah-rah about the idea, but Wembley once a year is one thing, asking fans from across the nation to travel for one Sunday is fine, but expecting it eight times a season in an economic downturn (yes, recession) isn’t realistic. Novelty won’t do, it requres loyalty and fans parting with cash. Remember the Monarchs? I know the Monarchs weren’t real NFL, but the average of 40,500 for season one (ie a half-empty Wembley) was down in season two, and when the team shifted to White Hart Lane in

1995, attendance was down to 16,500. By 1998, the Monarchs were touring the regions with an average of below 6,000. That was only 10 years ago, while Frankfurt was still averaging around 36,000. So I’m a little skeptical. Okay, a lot skeptical. Pictured above: the recent (very exciting) clash between our capital cities of Edinburgh and London. Murrayfield Stadium capacity: 67,800. Attendance: 7,700. And this was for rugby. This is no time for dreams of American-style football finding success on British shores. Such dreams are an expensive luxury at a time when austerity may be back in fashion. And we don’t do ‘TV blackouts’ in the UK. H

Catch Sideline online at

The American

Return Game Sean L Chaplin enjoys his first Thankgiving since returning to the States ... despite a TV timeout.


t was exciting to be home again for Thanksgiving. We had about 20 family and friends at our home in Phoenix – a logistical nightmare as my wife Liz and I drove through the night from California to make it before the big day. Back in the States for Thanksgiving, I think about not only the football games, but the fact that I can watch them at a normal time, not during the wee hours of the morning. So imagine my disappointment when I realized that we still don’t have cable TV at home in Phoenix. No football for me – nor the other 20 or so unsuspecting guests of the Chaplin household! So, instead of watching football we did the next best thing…we PLAYED football!!! See, where I grew up in Texas, football is king and everything else is a distant second, so we had a tradition in our family, at least us children, that we would play a game of football before dinner (especially since our parents kicked us out of the house anyway so they could finish cooking). In keeping with that theme – and in a desperation bid to keep the ‘no cable’ situation from my guests, we chose sides and kicked off at high noon. My team was the Texas Longhorns and in a football first, we played the hated Green Bay Packers (the captain of our opposition is a huge Green Bay fan, even though he is from Phoenix… don’t ask!). The Longhorns received the kick and proceeded to drive the ball through

the heart of the vaunted Packer defense as Sean “Colt McCoy” Chaplin threaded the needle to his favorite target, Liz “Quan Cosby” Chaplin. After driving the opening kickoff the length of the field… oops, I meant backyard, the rout was on, or so I thought. The Packers put up a brave fight in the first half, but went into half time down 28-7, and after basting the bird and eating some crab-stuffed mushrooms, both sides were back for the second half. What began as a nice friendly game became a grudge match that turned decidedly chippy as two hand touch became full-on tackle football. Green Bay made a game of it with some great adjustments at half-time, one of which was allowing me to overindulge on the finger foods, but in the end the Horns prevailed, 35-28. At the end of the game, the “older” players came off much the worse for wear, while the kids all were ready to go at it again in a re-match; however most of the gang was in no shape to watch football, let alone play another game! All in all, it was a great diversion and we are planning on making this an annual occurrence, the difference being I WILL have cable T.V. next year as I can only stomach missing my beloved Cowboys, or Longhorns once. At least I read the next day that both teams won handily, so I rightly decided that we would have quickly lost interest in both games and eaten more than our fill of turkey and ham! H

H H Ticket Offer H H

Guildford Heat v London Capital January 1st • 7pm guildford spectrum Enjoy a regional rivalry to start the new year, as Keonta Howell and his AngloAmerican teammates on the Guildford Heat host the London Capital at the Spectrum, Guildford. And readers of The American can enjoy the fixture even more with exclusive reduced ticket prices – only £5 entry for this marquee match-up between two of the country’s top basketball teams.

Just £5 Entry Tickets can be bought over the phone from the box office on 01483 44 33 33 or in person at Guildford Spectrum, Parkway, Guildford, Surrey GU1 1UP. Please quote ref lC0101 when booking. Normal ticket price of £7 (child) & £11 (adult). Mike Martin of the Heat in action against london. PHOTO © GARY BAKER


The American

Tail End First Dog The White House Pennsylvania Avenue Washington, D.C. Subject: The do’s and don’ts of being First Dog in the White House. Dear First Dog, As a West Highland White Terrier who was born in the United States, but now lives in England, and has international experience as a journalist, I decided to consult dog friends with prominent masters and mistresses on how best to handle your job as First Dog. Fortunately, all of them including a Corgi friend with royal connections, offered the same advice as I was given by my late mentor, Luke, the Westie, when I came to live with my mistress, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed-Usually. Hopefully, the suggestions listed below will be helpful to you during the next four/eight years. • As First Dog, you are what dog psychologists call Alpha Dog, or the leader of the pack. This does not mean being aggressive. Remember, a dog gets more special treats by wagging their tail than showing their teeth. • If scolded, put your tail and ears down and hide your head under a chair or pillow. Making a human feel guilty works every time. • Never growl at anyone. Even Republicans. It is permissible, however, to have a minor accident on their shoes. The President will act shocked, but, I promise you, he’ll laugh afterwards. However, you cannot do the above with Heads of State from countries the President dislikes or you could cause an international incident. Instead, lift your head disdainfully, keep your tail upright and walk out of the room as if you can’t stand to be in their presence. This reaction makes the President feel good as you are doing what he wishes he could do. • Never, ever beg when the family is eating. Hide under the table in preparation to eat whatever the First Daughters drop on the floor. There will be times when you have to gobble down food like mushrooms, which I detest, but the girls will be appreciative. Take my word, once you have them on your side, the President will be a piece of cake. • Having observed on television the First Lady’s temperament is similar to She-WhoMust-Be-Obeyed-Usually’s, I surmised the best way to deal with her is to gain her sympathy. Whenever She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed-Usually is displeased at something I did, I hop to her on three legs, one paw lifted, as if I’ve been hurt. This brings out her mothering instinct and she forgets why she was provoked by my behaviour. Hopefully, this advice will be helpful. If you ever need to talk about any problem you might be having as First Dog, do not hesitate to either e-mail me on rebel@theamerican. or call me at my flat in London any time day or night. Very truly yours, Rebel


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The American January 2009  

The American has been published in Britain since 1976. It is the only monthly magazine / website / community for Americans visiting and livi...

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