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February 2009

THE ESSENTIAL MONTHLY FOR ALL AMERICANS

Est. 1976

THE AMERICAN • FEBRUARY 2009 • Issue 670

®

£2.00 WHERE SOLD

www.theamerican.co.uk

MARY ELIZABETH

MASTRANTONIO Living in London and returning to the West End

RESTAURANT REVIEWS WHAT’S ON GUIDES SPORTS • POLITICS MUSIC • ARTS

www.theamerican.co.uk

Obama-mania

IN MINIATURE! Norfolk celebrates

LINCOLN & PAINE


The American

KINGS OF SWING (Concert 3)

CADOGAN HALL, SLOANE TERRACE LONDON SW1X 9DQ The Jazz Repertory Company and Boisdale of Belgravia Present

A CENTENARY CELEBRATION

gene krupa america's ACE drumming man

PERFORMED BY PETE LONG'S 16-PIECE BIG BAND Programme to include Sing Sing Sing, Drum Boogie, Dark Eyes, Bolero At The Savoy, Drummin' Man and many more.

Thursday February 26th 2009 at 7:30pm Tickets available from Cadogan Hall Box Office 020 7730 4500 www. cadoganhall.com

Tickets £26, £22, £18, £12 For more information on Kings of Swing concerts: www.kingsofswingconcerts.co.uk info@kingsofswingconcerts.co.uk Boisdale of Belgravia London's Home Of Classic Jazz. 13 Eccleston St SW1W 9LX

www.boisdale.co.uk


The American Issue 670 – February 2009 Published by Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Old Byre House, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK Publisher: Michael Burland +44 (0)1747 830328 theamerican@blueedge.co.uk Please contact us with your news or article ideas Advertising & Promotions: Sabrina Sully, Commercial Director Nadia Abd Rabbo, Ad Manager +44 (0)1747 830520 sabrina.theamerican@blueedge.co.uk nadia.theamerican@blueedge.co.uk Subscriptions enquiries: Phone +44 (0)1747 830328, email theamerican@blueedge.co.uk Correspondents: Virginia Schultz, Wining & Dining virginias@blueedge.co.uk Mary Bailey, Social maryb@blueedge.co.uk Cece Mills, Arts cecem@blueedge.co.uk Jarlath O’Connell, Theater jarlatho@blueedge.co.uk Bob Pickens, Columnist bobp@blueedge.co.uk Richard Gale, Sports Editor richardg@blueedge.co.uk Sean Chaplin, Sports seanc@blueedge.co.uk Dom Mills, Motorsports domm@blueedge.co.uk Jeremy Lanaway, Hockey jeremyl@blueedge.co.uk Riki Evans Johnson, European rikie@blueedge.co.uk Nadia Abd Rabbo, Music nadiaa@blueedge.co.uk

Welcome B

y the time you’re reading this issue of The American the new President will have been in office for some days. The world will, by a small or large degree, be a different place. But how will that difference affect Americans living abroad? The American Citizens Abroad organization has come up with a detailed proposal for a “level playing field commission” to work out what changes should be made. We urge you to read it carefully and respond to the ACA with your thoughts. It could affect your life and that of all American expats. On a lighter note, we have an interview with the talented American actress – and London resident Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio – and lots of ideas for interesting things to do this February whether you like country house getaways, music, arts or exploring the English heritage trail. Enjoy your magazine.

Michael Burland, Editor

SOME OF THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS

Alison Holmes is the Pierre Keller Fellow of Transatlantic Studies at Yale University and a political analyst. This month she explores the future of globalisation.

Bob Pickens is a long term expatriate, UK resident for over 25 years. He takes time this month to applaud other expats in the UK who have inspired him.

Jo Cole, our tame political analyst, says George W is a dog, Gordon Brown a rabbit and her housemate a pig… all according to Chinese horoscopes.

©2009 Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Printed by The Westdale Press Ltd 70 Portmanmoor Road, Industrial Estate, East Moors, Cardiff CF24 5HB Cover: Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio photographed by Marc Brenner

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

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The American

In This Issue... The American • Issue 670 • February 2009

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News Meet President Obama in the Oval Office:… in London?

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Diary Dates Whether you live in Britain or are vacationing here, we have plenty of what’s-on suggestions chosen for you

11 Music The death of music - both live and recorded - has been greatly exaggerated, as our selection of the best of both shows 14 As I Was Saying... Bob Pickens has been an expatriate in the UK for more than half his life. In that time he has been inspired some great Americans who live here 17 Collecting Bits of Coloured Paper Philately will get you everywhere, explains John A Edwards 18 Ten Top Tips for Expats Carol Gould lets off steam over what drives her crazy about Britain 19 Kings of America Day Why the U.S. has Presidents’ Day instead

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20 Lincoln & Paine Bicentenaries in Norfolk Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Paine both have bicentenaries linked to Norfolk, England, and both are this month

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The American

21 Don’t Miss that Flight The wit and wisdom of plane catching 22 Coffee Break Take a break with our fun pages 25 Hartwell House A former royal residence makes a perfect place for a weekend break 27 Wining & Dining Virginia Schultz enjoys inexpensive Turkish eating in London and something more expensive in Paris

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31 Arts Cece rounds up the most interesting arts events and discusses Body Art and Ballet 36 Reviews London resident Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio stars in the West End – interview by Jarlath O’Connell 40 Politics Sir Robert Worcester on the British political scene, Andy Sundberg has suggestions for the new president on how to improve American expatriates’ lives 51 Drive Time Chrysler’s world-first MPV celebrates a quarter century anniversary and Ian Kerr gets away from it all on gravel

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54 Sports The NHL’s naughty boys, the NFL’s latest coaching carousel, and Oxford University’s gridiron connection 60 American Organizations Your comprehensive guide 64 Paw Talk Lotus the cat is a rabbit? Rebel explains 3


The American

News Air Tattoo Releases Cut-Price Tickets

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ut-price tickets for next summer’s Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire have gone on sale. Special day-specific Earlybird tickets priced at £30.95 will be available until March 31, 2009 after which the price will rise to £34.95. Non day-specific tickets, valid for either Saturday, July 18 or Sunday July 19, can be purchased now for £39.95. People who buy before March 31 will also have their booking fee waived, representing an additional saving of £3 per order. The event will be an advance-ticket-only event. No tickets will be sold at the gates on the day. Air Tattoo spokesman Richard Arquati said that despite last summer’s airshow cancellation and the current economic downturn, organisers are keen to ensure ticket prices remain competitive and that all accompanied under-16s continue to enjoy free entry. He said: “During the past five months we have been looking at a range of initiatives that we are confident will make the Air Tattoo more robust in the face of the sort of extreme weather conditions we experienced in July. Among the actions we are taking are providing limited parking on areas of concrete on Base, creating tracked spine roads in the fields and greatly improving the car park entrances.”

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Neat Nanobamas W

hile Madame Tussauds have created an uncanny likeness of the new president, a University of Michigan professor has created 3-D portraits of Barack Obama smaller than a grain of salt. John Hart, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, calls his creations “nanobamas.” Each contains about 150 million carbon nanotubes, extremely strong hollow cylinders about 1/50,000th the width of a human hair that can be used as building blocks in electronics, energy devices and high-performance materials, stacked vertically together. “Developments like this are an excellent way to bring the concepts of nanotechnology to a broader audience,” he said. “Also, we thought

it would be fun.” Professor Hart and his colleagues made the nanobamas to raise awareness of nanotechnology and science. Each presidential face is just half a millimeter, or one fiftieth of an inch in size. The team converted Shepard Fairey’s famous red, white and blue poster of Barack Obama to a line drawing, shrunk it and printed it on a glass plate using a laser to create a mask. Ultraviolet light shone through the mask on to a silicon wafer created a pattern on which the carbon nanotubes were grown in a high-temperature chemical reaction. The researchers photographed the nanobamas with an electron microscope. See nanobliss.com for more of Hart’s nano-art.

Pooh Pictures Smash Records S

otheby’s London have sold the finest single collection of E.H. Shepard’s original drawings for Winnie-the-Pooh books to have come on the market. The collection of Stanley J. Seeger & Christopher Cone realised the extraordinary total of £1,262,863 ($1,968,046), well in excess of the pre-sale high estimate. The top-selling lot was Shepard’s illustration ‘He went on tracking, and Piglet . . . ran after him’ (pictured) which sold for the remarkable sum of £115,250 (est. £40,000, $60,000) establishing a new auction record for a drawing by E.H. Shepard.


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The American

Run On Traditional Light Bulbs

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tores and online retailers in the UK are running out of traditional light bulbs after Britain signed up to an EU agreement designed to help meet climate change targets. Although the current ban is voluntary and ministers will have no legal power to fine retailers until 2016, consumers are stocking up on incandescent bulbs before they are removed from the shelves for ever. The traditional bulbs are to be replaced by more eco-friendly alternatives claimed to use a fifth of the energy of a conventional bulb, reduce the UK’s CO2 emissions by up to 5m tons and save users up to £7 a year in running costs. Retailers including Asda (the UK subsidiary of Walmart), John Lewis and Homebase have sold out of 100W incandescent bulbs. The low energy compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are more expensive to buy and some users complain of sensitivity to their flickering. Some people with epilepsy report that CFL bulbs cause fits, and people affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder have complained of worsened symptoms. The Migraine Action Association has sent a newsletter to its members recommending that they buy as many incandescent bulbs as possible. Director Lee Tomkins said their postbag has been overwhelmed by concerned sufferers. “One in ten people in the UK have migraines which can last up to three days so this is a real problem,” said Ms Tomkins. “We just want people to have a choice.”

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Meet The New President... At Madame Tussauds P resident Barack Obama made a pre-inauguration visit to London in the guise of his newly minted wax figure at Madame Tussauds, London January 15th. Guests can join the smiling waxwork, which stands in a relaxed pose behind the famous ‘Resolute’ desk, in a recreation of the legendary Oval Office. Students from Richmond, The American International University, London, were among the first to see the London display (the figure has already become the most popular personality at Madame Tussauds Washington and can also be seen in Berlin, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Shanghai). “Wow, he looks like he is ready to take charge!” said International Relations student, Andrew Terrell, 21, “The Oval Office looks fantastic, Obama is a great man and will do such an amazing job!” American guests were invited to ‘meet the President’ for free on Inauguration Day itself, January 20th.

ESPN America Launches

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ebruary 1, 2009 is a big day for everyone who loves American Sports on television, with the launch of ESPN America. Taking over from the well known NASN, ESPN America will have live league action throughout every week, live championships games and daily commentary from America’s top sports journalists. A spokesman for the network said, “So that’s the best talk, the biggest stars and the day’s biggest plays. That’s why ESPN America is the real deal – it’s American for Sports.”


The American AMERICAN EMBASSY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM Switchboard: +44 (0)20 7499 9000 Visa Information (£1.20/min): 09042 450100 Mon-Fri 8.00am – 8.00pm, Sat 10.00am – 4.00pm Passport Unit (American Citizen Services): +44 (0)20 7894 0563 24hr assistance for genuine emergencies: +44 (0)20 7499 9000 www.usembassy.org.uk

Embassy News

Urgent Warden Message from the U.S. Embassy London

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he U.S. Embassy in London wishes to alert American citizens in the United Kingdom to the continuing possibility of large and disruptive protests against Israeli military intervention in the Gaza strip. There have been several large demonstrations in various cities within the United Kingdom. To date, most of these demonstrations have been peaceful with little or no violence, but they have included some anti-U.S. slogans. The size of these demonstrations has increased over time. As the situation continues to evolve, the possibility of larger demonstrations may increase, as does the potential for violence. The U. S. Embassy reminds American citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. American citizens are therefore urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations or groups of demonstrators in transit. Since the timing and routes of scheduled marches and demonstrations are always subject to change, U.S. citizens should monitor local media sources for new developments. The Department

of State reminds U.S. citizens to avoid participating in public demonstrations in the United Kingdom. Americans should review their personal protective measures, maintain a low profile, and avoid the public display of items, such as articles of clothing that may draw attention to your American nationality. If you are confronted or find yourself caught up with a group of protestors while using public transportation, avoid contact, depart the area immediately, and seek protection from the nearest public safety officer. As always, dial 999 if you need emergency assistance.

Contacts While Traveling

For more detailed information on staying safe in the United Kingdom, please see the United Kingdom Country Specific Information at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_ tw/cis/cis_1052.html. For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings are posted. American citizens also may obtain up–to–date information

on security conditions overseas by calling 1–888–407–4747 toll–free in the United States or Canada, or from overseas on a regular toll line at 1–202–501–4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). The U.S. Embassy in London is located at 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1A 1AE; telephone: in country 020–7499–9000, from the United States 011–44–20–7499–9000 (24 hours). Consular Section fax: in country 020–7495–5012, from the United States 011–44–20–7495–5012, and on the web at http://london.usembassy.gov.

Registration

U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/ so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

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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 editor@theamerican.co.uk Polly Apfelbaum Milton Keynes Gallery, Milton Keynes This will be the first solo exhibition in a UK public gallery by the American artist Polly Apfelbaum, whose work is characterised by an exciting investigation into colour and form, mainly manifesting itself as expansive floor–based installations. www.mk–g.org (0)1908 676900 January 31 to March 22

Up-Helly-Aa Shetland Islands and Northern Scotland Fire festival involving a torchlit procession, the burning of a Viking longship and a ceilidh which lasts late into the night. The festival heralds the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The burning of the Viking galley also commemorates the way a Viking warrior was cremated: by being pushed out into the sea in his trusty longship. Events are held in various locations. www.visitscotland.com February 6

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US v UK Debate The American School In London, 1 Waverley Place, London, NW8 0NP The American School in London in association with the English–Speaking Union, presents an interesting sounding debate. Worth a visit, and check out their other events. www.esu.org centre@esu.org 020 7529 1550 February 3 Witness: Women War Artists Imperial War Museum North, Trafford, Manchester A major new exhibition focusing on work by women war artists, from the First World War to the Kosovo conflict. Over 100 works by over 25 artists, including Anna Airy (the first UK official woman war artist) , Dame Laura Knight RA (the first woman to be elected to the Royal Academy since the original founding members in 1768), Linda Kitson (official war artist in the Falklands conflict) and Frauke Eigen (a photographic artist in Kosovo). www.iwm.org.uk 0161 836 4000 February 7 to April 19 St Ives Feast and Hurling of the Silver Ball St Ives, Cornwall Hurling is one of the oldest forms of ball game and still takes place at St Ives. The game is rather like footall or rugby and the ball is made from apple-wood encased in sterling silver and weighs about 15 ounces (425g). The ball is thrown from St Ives Parish Church wall at 10.30am and there follows a mad scramble for the ball. February 9

Paolo Veronese : The Petrobelli Altarpiece Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London SE21 7AD Reconstructing a Renaissance Masterpiece. In the late 18th century this huge altarpiece, one of the largest in Renaissance Italy, was butchered for the art market. Three large sections have survived, at Dulwich, at the National Gallery of Scotland, and the National Gallery of Canada. This display brings these fragments together again for the first time – and includes a newly discovered fourth fragment. www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk 020 8693 5254 February 10 to May 3 Unveiling Darwin’s canopy: TREE Natural History Museum, London Unveil a new permanent artwork by British artist Tania Kovats, to celebrate Charles Darwin’s two hundredth birthday. TREE is a wafer–thin longitudinal section of an entire 200– year–old oak tree, including the roots, trunk and branches, inserted into the ceiling of a mezzanine gallery behind the Museum’s iconic Central Hall. www.darwin200.org February 12 Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire A week of fun and story telling starting with a Ceilidh dance. Lantern and story telling workshop, street procession and theatre. The Moonraking Festival is based on a tale of C19th smugglers who were collecting barrels of illegal ‘moonshine’ drink hidden in a canal, who told the police they were trying to rake the moon’s reflection out of the canal. Thinking they were fools, the police let them go. The highlight of the festival is a long procession of villagers bearing colourful lanterns. The theme in 2009 is Moon landing Moonraking in honour of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. www.slaithwaitemoonraking.org February 14 to February 21


The American

Chinese Year of the Ox Museum of East Asian Arts, Bennett Street, Bath BA1 2QJ Come and celebrate the Year of the Ox at the Mooooseum! All Admission HALF PRICE for HALFTERM! Lots of events for children and adults, all free with admission. The Museum has a facinating collection of art from all over eastern Asia. www.meaa.org.uk info@meaa.org.uk 01225 464 640 February 14 to February 22 Scooby Doo and the Pirate Ghost UK Tour Following the sell–out seasons of 2005 and 2007, Scooby Doo and the Mystery Inc. gang are back by popular demand in a brand–new, all singing and dancing “spook–tastic” show, which opens at the Theatre Royal in Norwich on 17 February 2009, just in time for the half–term holidays, and caried on throught the summer. Kids - and retro-kids-show fans - will love it.. www.scooby–doo.co.uk February 17 to October 18 Into The Little Hill — Music Theatre Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, London London Premiere of George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill, which was hailed as a classic at its world premier in 2006, and has since played both sides of the Atlantic. It retells the story of the Pied Piper in a chilling and disturbing way. 7.30pm www.londonsinfonietta.org.uk 020 7239 9340 February 18 Shah Abbas: The Remaking of Iran British Museum, London The exhibition will feature many extraordinary loans, never before seen outside of Iran. The exhibition will examine four key sites: Isfahan, the capital of Shah Abbas, and the three Shi’i shrine cities, Mashhad, Ardabil and Qum, using loans of paintings, manuscripts, ceramics, silks and carpets. Shah Abbas was a key

figure in the creation of modern Iran. Shah of Iran from 1587—1629 AD, his legacy continues to this day and he is remembered as one of the country’s most influential kings. Book for tickets. www.britishmuseum.org (0)20 7323 8181 February 19 to June 14 London Fashion Week Natural History Museum, London The biannual trade show, where each season designers unveil their collections to a professional audience of press and buyers who visit the capital from the UK and across the globe. www.londonfashionweek.co.uk February 21 to February 24 London Philharmonic Orchestra, feat. Californian pianist Leon Fleisher Royal Festival Hall, London Fleisher performs Rachmaninov The Isle of the Dead, Mozart Piano Concerto 23 K.488 and Strauss Also sprach Zarathustra www.lpo.co.uk February 20 Olney Pancake Race Olney, North Buckinghamshire The unique Olney Pancake Race literally stops traffic as energetic local ladies in traditional British housewife attire (including skirt, apron and head scarf), run through the streets. Pancakes are tossed at the start of the race and the winner is required to toss her pancake again at the finish. At the end of the race, the runners and townsfolk go into the Parish Church for the great Shriving Service. The race has been run since around 1445 and since 1950, the contest has been an international event between Olney and the town of Liberal, Kansas in America. The winner is declared after times are compared through a transatlantic telephone call from Liberal to Olney. www.sideburn.demon. co.uk/olney/pancake February 24

Kinetica — the World’s first ever kinetic art fair P3, Under Westminster University, London

Robotic, sound and solar sculptures, mechanical writing machines, laser and subliminal installations are just some of the incredible exhibits at Kinetica Art Fair, the world’s first art fair dedicated to kinetic, robotic, sound, light and time–based art. Over 30 galleries and organisations specialising in kinetic, electronic & new media art are taking part with more than 150 artists exhibiting, providing unparalleled opportunities to view and buy work in this thriving international field and participate in the programme of talks, workshops and performances. www.kinetica–artfair.com 020 7392 9674 February 28 to March 2

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The American

Ages of the Moon Abbey Theatre, 26 Lower Abbey Street, Dublin, Ireland World premiere of American playwright/actor Sam Shepard’s new play Ages of the Moon, written specially for leading Irish actors Seán McGinley and Stephen Rea. www.abbeytheatre.ie Previews from February 24th, Runs from March 3 to April 4.

Bath Decorative Antiques Fair The Pavilion, North Parade Road, Bath BA2 4EU

Picasso: Challenging the Past Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery, London Featuring approximately 60 major works by Picasso, this exhibition explores the many ways in which the greatest painter of the 20th century sought to challenge the Old Masters. The exhibition focuses on enduring themes Picasso confronted throughout his career. www.nationalgallery.org.uk information@ng–london.org.uk 020 7747 2885 February 25 to June 7

Now in its 20th year, there will be plenty of the best in decorative antiques and accessories for both the trade and the collector to feast their eyes upon. Many of the 45 exhibitors only stand at this annual event and so save fresh stock for the occasion. Public Entry £3.00, concessions available www.bathdecorativeantiquesfair. co.uk bathdecorativefair@ ukonline.co.uk 01225 851466 March 5, 2009 to March 7, 2009

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Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones Victoria & Albert Museum, London Headgear from the V& and international collections, from 600BC to the present day, includes creations by radical hat designer Stephen Jones and headgear worn by Audrey Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Madonna, Anna Piaggi and Dita von Teese. www.vam.ac.uk 020 7942 2000 February 24 to May 10

Bath Literature Festival Guildhall, Bath One of the UK’s best known festivals for stimulating debate, lively conversation and fascinating authors’ insights. Using The Guildhall in Bath as its base, the Festival seeks to make you think whilst it entertains, with unique events pairing like–minded authors, dynamic debates on topical issues, and specially commissioned work by leading contemporary writers. www.bathlitfest.org.uk February 28 to March 8 The American Scene: Prints from Hopper to Pollock Nottingham, Djanogly Art Gallery 150 outstanding prints by 74 leading modern American artists, including George Bellows, Edward Hopper, Grant Wood, Josef Albers, Alexander Calder, Louise Bourgeois and Jackson Pollock. www.britishmuseum.org +44 (0)20 7323 8000 February 28 to April 19


Music Classic Artists Unite for War Child B rian Wilson, Sir Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan are among the true megastars participating in a new concept album for the War Child charity. ‘Heroes’, mastered at Abbey Road Studios, is released by Parlophone on February 16. All profits will go to War Child, the charity which protects vulnerable children in war zones. The interesting angle taken on this album is that established artists have chosen a favourite song from their own work and nominated an artist from the next generation to create a modern reworking of the classic. Other contributors and performers include The Clash, The Kinks, U2, Elbow, Hot Chip, Duffy, Scissor Sisters. The omnipresent Duffy has been nominated by Sir Macca, covering Live And Let Die. Hot Chip cover Joy Division’s Transmission. Beck has

Crisis, What Crisis Scissor Sisters cover Roxy Music’s Do The Strand for War Child

been chosen by Bob Dylan, singing Leopard-skin Pill-box Hat while The Kooks cover The Kinks’ Victoria and Brian Wilson has selected Rufus Wainwright to perform a medley of two tracks from Smile.

The Brits are Coming!

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he Brit Awards that is. The ceremony will be televised nationally on ITV1, February 18th. The Brits usually feature performances from major bands and singers. Most years they also grab the headlines with controversial winners and outrageous behaviour by guests (see YouTube for Jarvis Cocker interrupting Michael Jackson’s Earth Song in 1996) and even presenters (Mick Fleetwood and Sam Fox‘s memorable 1989 double act). They’re always good TV. This year there is a tie-in compilation CD, The Brit Awards 2009, with 40 of the biggest hits from the biggest artists in the UK charts over the last year including eleven No. 1 hits from Duffy, Girls Aloud, Kings Of Leon, P!nk, Pet Shop Boys and more, along with a whole host of nominated artists from the Brit Awards like Katy Perry, Britney, Madonna, Coldplay, Foo Fighters and Fleet Foxes.

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he doom merchants said that with the digital revolution – and the piracy of illegal downloads – would come the total collapse of the music industry. Worse was to come – the credit crunch would lead to the end of all retail music sales. Well, the Jeremiahs have been proved wrong, according to the industry’s respected Nielsen Company 2008 Year-End Music Industry Report. In the United States during 2008, total music purchases exceeded $1.5 billion. Contrary to the worst predictions, overall music sales grew by more than 10%. There have been changes. Digital music – downloads – now account for 32% of purchases. Total album sales, the industry benchmark for decades, slumped by 14%, and that includes CD, CS, LP, and digital album formats. The growth came from individual digital track sales, up 27% to 1,070 million from 844.2m. The future of music may be brighter than we were led to believe. Hoorah!

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The American

LIVE AND KICKING

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

Hugh Cornwell – UK Tour and Free Album

H Share Valentine’s the Slipknot way BILL SHOULDIS

Just Say No to Valentines

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h, romantic February, when thoughts of love surround us and we celebrate Valentine’s Day. If the thought make you quiver with revulsion rather than anticipation, Rhino Records have the antidote. They proudly present ‘It’s A Misery Business’, a 19 track compilation of loud and noisy rock, emo, punk and metal which they guarantee will turn even the warmest of hearts black! The album features Nickelback’s romantic ditty Something In Your Mouth (it’s available as a single, but you won’t hear it on the radio as their own label have banned it from UK airwaves), Slipknot’s Dead Memories, I Write Sins Not Tragedies by Panic At The Disco, and Misery Business by Franklin, Tennessee’s own Paramore.

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ugh Cornwell, best known as the original singer, guitarist and main songwriter of The Stranglers, embarks on a 27 date UK tour in February to perform his latest album Hooverdam. Hugh says, “I can’t wait to get Hooverdam on the road now, it’s been a long time coming, and it will be the first time I have ever played an album in its entirety... there’ll be some old faves to follow it, of course!” The band comprises Caroline Campbell on bass and Chris Bell drums. In typical indie/punk Cornwell style, Hooverdam has been released by Invisible Hands Music but is available to download completely free as high quality DRM-free MP3s from www.hooverdamdownload.com. If you prefer the physical form, you can order it as a digipak which features Hooverdam plus the DVD of Blueprint, a feature-length film that revolves around a live performance of the whole Hooverdam album, recorded at the legendary Toe Rag Studios where the album was made and interspersed with interview footage from writer and broadcaster Robert Elms. The album is also available on vinyl. Check www.hughcornwell.com/ live.html for tour dates

AC/DC Add UK Stadium Dates After the critical and sales success of the Black Ice album, AC/DC have followed it up with a monster tour that just keeps growing. Black Ice got the critics raving. The Washington Post said it was “the best record the band has made in decades” and this magazine chipped in with “Black Ice is AC/DC’s first studio album for eight years. Worth the wait? Yes – it’s one of their best. Proper stuff.“ It made history debuting at No. 1 in 29 countries and the first single, Rock N Roll Train, has been nominated for a Grammy Award. The Chicago Tribune called the live experience “a celebration of all that is great about rock n roll”. The Black Ice World Tour is currently making its monolithic way across the United States before heading to Europe. The band play the O2 Arena, London, Manchester’s MEN Arena and the NEC, Birmingham in April – all sold out. Then they are off for a jaunt around Europe. The new dates are June 26 at Wembley Stadium, London and June 30 at Hampden Park Glasgow.


The American

LIVE REVIEW by Rob Hurst

WIN X FACTOR TICKETS

The American has two pairs of tickets for lucky X Factor fans to win

The Bittersweets London Borderline January 15th 2009 • With Laura Critchley + Caroline Lost

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he Borderline is packed and bristling with anticipation for The Bittersweets’ first London gig. As they take the stage, the band explain; ‘Usually when we first play a city, 5 or 6 people turn up and we have to come back again and again to get an audience like this – everyone back home’s going to think we’re superfamous in the UK!’. ‘We left our rock band in Nashville’ explains Chris Meyers, one half of The Bittersweets, from behind a keyboard as front-woman Hannah Prater adjusts her harmonica and sets up her microphone. As a duo, the band have far more stage presence than many full band setups I’ve seen. The set, which includes two off-mic a cappella numbers, has the audience captivated throughout. The set is populated with tracks from their recently released album, ‘Goodnight, San Francisco’, including the beautiful ‘Wreck’ and a heartfelt rendition of the title track to close out the set. With only two albums currently on the market, a pair of covers make up the complete set-list; an unexpected rendition of Tom Wait’s classic, ‘I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You’ was a highlight and

the acoustic arrangement served to highlight the emotion in the lyrics. Another highlight comes in form of the gorgeous ‘Birmingham’, which, Chris explains is about the Birmingham in Alabama, ‘you have to own a gun to live there…No I’m just kidding, y’all probably think we’re backwards but Nashville is actually a real liberal city for the south’, ‘but it’s all relative’, interjects Hannah to a roar of laughter and besides, it would be about (cue quite accurate and effortlessly twee British accent) ‘Birmingham’ otherwise. The band’s love for what they do is echoed in both their performance and the audience reaction when they leave the stage. After an encore the crowd turn and head for the CDs stacked in the back of the venue and the band greet everyone with a smile. The Bittersweets are a band on the rise and whilst they’re signed to a Nashville country label, their mainstream crossover appeal is huge. With a little luck and a following wind, they could easily contend with KT Tunstall and Katie Melua in the UK charts. The popularity of the band on this side of the pond is deservedly starting to grow.

Britain could not get enough of the X Factor on TV. If you got the bug, it’s time to catch the acts LIVE. The X Factor Live Tour 2009 will feature the winner Alexandra Burke and the other finalists Laura, Daniel, Rachel, Eoghan, JLS, Diana and Ruth. The stage show will be packed full of special guests and feature performances from some of the show’s more memorable characters. Demand for tickets is frantic, so book your tickets now. Tickets are £28.50 and can be booked at www.livenation.co.uk

JUST ANSWER THIS QUESTION: Simon Cowell is the mastermind behind the X Factor. But in the Marvel comics, who was the mastermind behind the X-Men? A Professor Xavier B Professor Xylophone C Professor Xtreme Send your answer with your name, address, daytime telephone number and email address (optional) to reach us by 9am, Monday February 23, 2009. Email theamerican@blueedge.co.uk with X FACTOR COMPETITION in the subject line. Or send a postcard to: X FACTOR COMPETITION, The American, Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK. Tickets are for the 2.30pm show on March 1, 2009 only. 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.

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The American

As I was saying... Bob Pickens has been a high-profile and influential member of the American expatriot community for many years, but which expats are inspiring him?

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s I began to prepare this particular instalment, I was being deluged by the annual parade of newspaper columns, radio programs and television shows that encapsulate the news, events and the people of 2008, followed quickly by articles that make predictions on the news, events and people to watch out for in 2009. There are always surprises: I don’t think I have ever read through the summary obits of the year just past without learning of a notable figure whose leadership, creativity or good works I admired and whose demise I had not read at the time of their passing. And likewise there are always a few fearless predictions that capture my imagination; this year I

have heard it twice said that 2009 will be the year that making money solely for the sake of getting rich (or richer) and then ostentatiously showing off that wealth will be considered extremely uncool. And about time, too, I say, with thoughts of greedy brokers, easily-duped bankers and the people who run my faltering pension portfolio prominently in mind. Such uncoolness would not, of course, be associated with my winning the rollover lottery or receiving a six-figure advance on an unyet-written novel, both of which have been included in my plans for 2009. Of those three categories, news, events and people, it is the latter that stick in our minds, sometimes far

Mary Crist Fleming, with two of the TASIS students she inspires

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more than even the most significant events. The Tiananmen Square protest was a hugely important, worldimpacting event in 1989, which still influences us today, but it isn’t the student demonstrations in the square and, as horrible as it is, the slaughter of perhaps several thousand people that remains foremost in my recollections; it is that brave, unnamed man with the shopping bags who stood in front of the squadron of tanks en route to the square. You don’t have to look halfway around the world for inspiration, though. You can find inspiring people in your own street, in your church, your football club, your grocery store – and yes, even in your bank. So I thought I’d look around for a few fellow American expats in the UK (or who spend a lot of time here) who I consider worth looking to for inspiration as 2009 unfolds. Among us are some really remarkable individuals whose acknowledgement as such may not extend much beyond family, close friends and associates. What a shame it is that we don’t have some kind of “Expat of the Year” award to honor these people. I’ve been reading the New Year’s Honours List each January 1 for many years, and though it’s not a perfect system, it does have a few good qualities, and recognizing people for their good work to their community is one of its better features. So here is my list of fellow expats I will look to for inspiration in 2009:


The American

First is the doyen of American expatriate education, Mary Crist Fleming. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Fleming a few times, and the cumulative impression is that one should never try to anticipate what they are in for when meeting Mrs. F. Well into her 80s when I last shook her hand, she offered a firm grip and sharp (and sometimes acid) conversation. Tales of Mrs. Fleming’s driving, either haring about London in her Mini or wheeling a lumbering van load of students around the European countryside, are legend at the TASIS schools, which she founded in 1956. I believe Mrs. F is in her 98th year this year, and hope she will live it with the vitality which has been her trademark. If I can make it through this year with half her energy and exuberance I will consider myself a fortunate person indeed.

Industrial Ecology

In another life I edit books on economics. Not that I know much about economics, as my grade in Econ 101 will testify; I’m mainly there to help academics communicate their ideas clearly in print. In the process one does tend to pick up a few of the principles and concepts, and it is a fascinating science. Or at least it is when the author can explain their thoughts in lucid terms, and believe me, not many can. Someone who does is Robert U. Ayres, a leading authority on industrial ecology. Industrial what? Yes, well, it’s sort of like an examination of the stuff that we put into industry and the stuff that results from the process. “Stuff ” is not just physical material, it is also energy. Or rather exergy, which Ayres points out is the proper term that we should use if we are going to apply the logic of the laws of thermodynamics to economics.

”Brad Friedel was denied  a work permit four times by the Home Office.” As you can see, the subject quickly begins to get very complicated, but Ayres has a way of reining complex ideas back to a comprehendible level. I suspect he grew up on a farm, because he seems to have a fondness for mules, and regularly refers to how mules were, not that long ago, one of the mainstays of America’s industrial, agricultural and commercial strength. I suspect Ayres could explain the most abstract concept of the economics of industrial ecology in terms of mulepower - and it would then make sense. Unfortunately, much of what he has to say is scary. Later this year he is to publish a book with the working title “The Make or Break Moment” about decisions that must be made now by our governments if they are serious about saving our environment. I am looking forward to reading that book, and I hope politicians will be, too. On the sporting side of 2009, I will seek my inspiration from Brad Friedel, goalkeeper for Aston Villa, who after a successful university soccer career, decided he would become a professional footballer in England. Starting in 1995, he was denied a work permit four times by the Home Office, and it was Liverpool’s appeal against that fourth denial three years later that finally won him the necessary papers to play in this country. Friedel has responded by appearing in more consecutive Premiership games than any other player. The count was 167 when this column was being written. I’ve only watched Friedel’s game on television, but even

Villa Veteran Friedel

on the small screen you can see how he got his moniker “The Human Wall”. The Ohioan’s perseverance and his 10 years of good service to English football is why I will look to him for inspiration this year. Another person who has so fulfillingly responded to his adopted English life is Kevin Spacey, artistic director of the once-troubled Old Vic Theatre in London. Spacey arrived in London to work at the theatre in 2003, saying that he would commit to a decade of work building it back to its former glory. Many people thought he had lost a grip on his movie career, which included two Oscars, but several years later he again publicly recommitted to a further decade at the Old Vic. This

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The American

Sharon Manitta, working for expats of all political persuasions

year, The Times predicts, Spacey “seems to be fulfilling his ambition of staging the serious in a non-subsidized house.” That, if it happens in the current economic climate, will be a remarkable achievement, worth far more than a third Oscar, and the result of a determination and commitment that I find inspiring. And then there is Sharon Manitta, not a name in the forefront of theatrical or athletic news, but a person who has almost certainly directly influenced American expats far more than people with a higher public profile. Manitta, whose day job is as a PR consultant and a textile conservator specializing in repairing damaged, often historic fabrics, works quietly and determinedly behind the scenes in her other area of expertise, which is politics. For more than two decades Manitta has been at the heart of the Democrats Abroad UK organization. She is a Democrat through and through, and has loyally served the party in a variety of positions, including leading its press operations in this country and around the world. Yet what I admire about

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my friend Sharon, which I have seen in very few other enthusiastic party activists, is her ability to stop being a Democrat when the occasion calls for it, and to address issues affecting expatriate Americans from an apolitical perspective. Manitta will never cease being an ardent Democrat, but it is reassuring to have someone in the forefront of the political scene here who can effectively judge when a political issue needs to be addressed from a wider point of view, and who is as genuine in that as she is in her efforts for her party. I will also be watching Steve Wold this year. He is now basking in global fame under his stage name of Seasick Steve, a former hobo turned big gig bluesman, who plays a trademark dime-store electric guitar held together with duct tape and glue, and which features only three playing strings. But with only half the strings, Wold turns out a form of blues that is twice as powerful as almost anything else being released today, and which can be evocative of the delta tunes that originated in the juke joints and front porches of Coahoma and Sunflower counties. For most of his life Wold has been a traveller, without a lot of recognition and perhaps without much hope of ever having much, at least before his “discovery” in London a couple of

”With only half the strings, Seasick Steve turns out a form of blues that is twice as powerful as almost anything else being released today.”

Christmases ago. If it can happen to Seasick Steve, I tell myself, then perhaps one day it will happen to me, too. I will also hearken to the musings of my colleague on these pages, SIR Robert Worcester, founder of the MORI organization. Though retired from day-to-day leadership of the polling industry, Worcester is still a regular figure in news programs where public opinion is a major component of the story – much like a retired politician who, free from the confines of political office can offer comment that is unburdened by the clichés and patois of the party line. Long familiar with the machinations of Whitehall and the City, and personally acquainted with many key people who work in those parts of London, Worcester’s observations of British political events should continue to provide entertainment and insight in the coming year. And in 2009 I will continue, to the best of my ability, to follow the words and wisdom of Dorothy Kirkman, a Californian resident in Surrey. Dorothy is my piano teacher, and I love her dearly. Though I still falter at simple performances of “Minuet” or “Londonderry Air” I have learned more about the joys of music from Dorothy than I have from a million hours in front of the phonograph. H


The American

Collecting Bits of Coloured Paper I By John A Edwards, FRPSL

’m a stamp collector, also called a philatelist. Non-collectors may wonder what is the attraction of collecting ‘little bits of coloured paper’. A stamp dealer once told me that he believed there is a ‘collecting gene’. People with this gene enjoy collecting, whether it’s stamps, coins, postcards, paintings or antiques. For genuine collectors value is usually secondary, though it always seems to be the valuable items that hit the headlines. A recent auction saw the United States 24 cents stamp of the 1869 issue with inverted centre sold for $1,271,250 (including buyer’s premium). This was a world record for a single U.S. stamp, and works out at over $1,000 for each square millimetre; surely the most expensive piece of paper ever sold in America! The specialist club in the UK for collectors of U.S. stamps is the American Stamp Club of Great Britain. Founded in 1954, it has about 340 members, mainly in the UK but with overseas members as far away as New Zealand – and the United States. Our members collect all

Space exploration, US Moon landing: a popular thematic subject. 1917 error showing two 5 cents stamps in a sheet of 2 cents stamps.

Above: 1847 ten cents stamp of the first United States general issue; 1869 24 cents stamp with inverted centre. Top of page: Encased stamp used as currency during the Civil War.

aspects of U.S. philately from Army Post Offices to Zeppelin Flights. We welcome new members from beginners to experienced collectors. We offer stamp sales through circulating packets, a quarterly journal free to members, a new issues service and an annual convention. The U.S. offers a great variety of collecting subjects. Some collectors form ‘thematic’ collections (in the US known as ‘topical’ collections), based on animals, Presidents, the Civil War or even the US Postal Service. Often they will tie their collection to a subject that interests them, such as space exploration, fishing or American football. Stamps have not just been used for postage. During the American Civil War there was a shortage of metal to mint coins, and stamps were encased in plastic and used as currency. Revenue stamps also provide a popular byway

of stamp collecting. They were used to collect government duty on a variety of products such as spirits, medicines and even matches. There are catalogues and handbooks published to help collectors find their way through this maze of collectables, and the American Stamp Club has a comprehensive library available to members. There have been many forgeries of stamps, some designed to fool collectors and others intended to defraud the postal service. There have even been some bogus issues attempting to make money from collectors by trying to pass off a non-existent ‘stamp’ as genuine. Errors on stamps can increase the value of the stamp significantly. In 1917 a new issue was being prepared and the 2c printing plate was returned as some of the images were imperfect. In correcting the images the printing plate was impressed with the 5c image instead of the 2c. The stamps were printed and issued. The resulting error of a five cents stamp in red is worth considerably more than the normal one in its correct colour of blue. In the current difficult financial times stamps are sometimes seen as a good investment. But beware of offers of portfolios of stamps said to provide substantial returns. Like all commodities the value of stamps can go down as well as up. ★

More information about the American Stamp Club of Great Britain can be obtained from its Secretary, Ernest Malinow, 16 Sutherland Avenue, Leeds LS8 1BZ, 0113 266 2871.

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The American

Top Tips for Newcomers Veteran Expat Carol Gould finds plenty to wind her up

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could entitle this ‘The Things That Make Me Crazy.’ Having lived in Great Britain for 33 years there are aspects of life here that will never change; here are tips for folks new to the island kingdom. 1. Do not expect a glass of water and a friendly Doris-the-diner waitress with coffee jug in hand when you enter an eatery. Whether it is a five-star restaurant or a ‘greasy caff ’ you will maybe get a menu from a-usually-grumpy-serverwho-almost-always-is-not-British. You will need to ask for water two or three times and won’t be offered coffee until the end of the meal (when the water finally arrives). Don’t ask for refills unless you plan to re-mortgage your home. 2. London is tough if you are handicapped. At present most London underground and train stations do not have disabled access. You may have to mount flights of steps to get to the next level. Many rural train stations have steep stairs up to a footbridge. Some tube stations require the long march to China to get from one line to another. If you are wheelchair-bound you will not get too far in this city. 3. Don’t expect folks to smile back if you smile at them; Londoners are not the chirpiest of species. However this is not evidence of malice.

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4. Most black cabbies are irritable and talk on their hands-free mobiles whilst you are screaming ’HEY, CAN I GET OUT HERE?’ Do not be shocked by cabbies who spend your entire ride shouting into the cellphone: ‘The f--ing c--- told me to f-- off .. etc. Bus drivers seemmostly straight out of Wandsworth Prison and will glare at you even if you just say Hi. My local drivers in Washington call me ‘sugar pie’ and ‘doll face.’ That will NEVER happen here. 5. Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT talk to people. The Brits hate it. I was coming home from a business trip and tried to chat up three people sitting at my dining table in the train. All three looked at me as if I was Laura the Lunatic and each raised a newspaper to block me out. In restaurants don’t talk to the folks at the next table; they will ask to be moved to a different location. 6. If you are Jewish or just like Jewish cuisine do not expect to readily find knishes, latkes, kugel, haimishe pickles, Old Vienna gefilte fish or matjes herring in any old café; the Jews were expelled in 1290 and though some came back since, Yiddishkeit is not part of the culture.

7. Register with an NHS (National Health Service) doctor’s practice; be sure you have a letter from an employer or university stating you are resident here for at least a year. 8. British physicians are usually pale and near-death; they listen to you for thirty seconds then their eyes glaze over because they have not slept for three days having seen 600 patients on the trot. If you want the undivided attention of an American-style doctor ask your local chemist (pharmacy) for a list of private General Practitioners. 9. The Princess Grace Hospital in Nottingham Place W1 has an excellent emergency department, $170 for initial consultation. St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington is one of the best NHS A&E (Accident and Emergency) departments in central London. 10. You can only get Egg Nog at Selfridges. Good luck! ★ Next time: It’s not all horror-stories! In her next article, Carol tells all about the things in Britain that she loves.

Tell us what you love or hate about living in the UK – email editor@theamerican.co.uk


The American

Kings of America Day Wendy Barnes explains why the third Monday in February is actually Presidents’ Day

1659

was a momentous year on both sides of the Atlantic. In England its critical nature was clear; any possibility of continuing a republican government was lost in the aftermath of the Commonwealth established by Oliver Cromwell. In Virginia it was an unnoticed beginning rather than a disputed end – the establishment of a new American family which, within two generations would provide a new nation with its first President. Lawrence Washington, the first of George’s American ancestors, was born that year at Popes Creek on the Northern Neck to John Washington, a native Englishman and Anne Pope, a native Virginian . It’s an odd coincidence that the same year should see the death of republicanism in England and the birth of the family whose most famous member is famously supposed to have refused to be crowned King. The story of George being offered the opportunity to become the first American Royal is not as well known as it might be. In May 1782, George Washington, as the victorious general, was the only person who could unite the 13 former colonies – his position and authority were unchallenged. Col. Lewis Nicola, a Frenchman who had served under Washington, is said to have suggested to George that he should make himself King but Washington was horrified at the suggestion. “Let me conjure you then,” Washington admonished Nicola, “if you have any

regard for your country, concern for yourself or for posterity, or respect for me, to banish these thoughts from your mind and never communicate, as from yourself or any one else, a sentiment of like nature.” And that was the end of it. Except, of course, that it is such an appealing story that it gets resurrected occasionally. Life magazine, for example, explored the story in 1951 going as far as identifying who amongst the Washington descendants would then have been King of America if George had said yes. In 2002 the Washington Times took another look at it and found a different claimant. In that year also a historian, Robert F Haggard, demolished the story entirely, proclaiming there was no evidence at all to support it and every reason to believe it purely a myth! But now we approach Presidents’ Day, the third Monday in February because this is the month when the first President was born (until 1971 the first federal holiday to honor an American citizen was celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday, February 22). This is a good time to ponder how, if the story were true and George had not said no, life in the States might have been different.

George Washington (left) and his birthplace

There isn’t a lot of choice if you want to celebrate Presidents’ Day in England – it’s not like Independence Day with parties and events happening here and there. But you can make a pilgrimage to Sulgrave Manor, the home of John Washington’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather (which not only opens specially on Monday, February 16th but gives free entry to all American citizens) and give thanks that you weren’t taught how to curtsy and bow to the royals in your school-days! Sulgrave Manor, Sulgrave, Banbury OX17 2SD, open from 11am to 4pm February 16th, free entry to American citizens, please take identification. www.sulgravemanor.org.uk Robert F. Haggard, “The Nicola Affair: Lewis Nicola, George Washington, and American Military Discontent during the Revolutionary War,” Proceedings of The American Philosophical Society Vol. 146, No. 2, June 2002, pp. 139-169, on line at the APS site: http://www.aps-pub.com/proceedings/1462/201.pdf ★

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The American

T

he East Anglian county of Norfolk has connections with two significant American bicentenaries in 2009, the birth of President Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and the death of radical writer Thomas Paine (June 8). And what a strange coincidence that makes. Two

Lincoln and Paine Bicentenaries in Norfolk of the greatest names in the establishment, development and progress of the United States that exist in seemingly totally different eras of American history ‘crossing over’ by four slim months. Abraham Lincoln has connections with Norfolk that lead straight back to Swanton Morley, a picturesque village deep in the heart of the county. The village’s documented history goes back to the Domesday book, in which William the Conqueror’s Norman administration listed all the properties and assets in their newly won domain. Swanton Morley was home to Richard Lincoln, a direct ancestor of Abraham Lincoln and grandfather of Samuel Lincoln. Samuel was among a group of Puritans who left Hingham, Norfolk for Massachusetts in the 1630s. The Swanton Morley Lincoln Festival runs from February 12 to July 19. Organised by The Friends of All Saints’ Church, Swanton Morley, the Festival will also commemorate the area’s many and deep links with the US Army Air Force during World War II. Events include talks in Norwich Cathedral Library (February 12 and March 12), a tour of the Swanton Morley Lincoln lands (May 9) and exhibitions in the Norfolk & Norwich Millennium

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Library (February), Dereham Library (April 4-25), and All Saints’ Church, Swanton Morley (June 13 - July 19). There will be a concert of American music in All Saints Church on Saturday, June 27, incorporating a specially commissioned cantata In Memoriam Abraham Lincoln based on the Gettysburg Address, by local composer Geoff Davison. Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was the son of a corset maker from Thetford, Norfolk. Thetford is a market town in the Breckland area of Norfolk, found on the main A11 road between Norwich and London, south of Thetford Forest. Paine (pictured above) was actively involved in the American and French revolutions and his major works Common Sense, Rights of Man and The Age of Reason challenged the 18th century order and helped shape the democracies of the modern world. Paine emigrated to America in 1774 and it was his revolutionary pamphlet, Common Sense, published in 1776, that influenced the opinion of the colonial population in favour of independence. Thetford’s Bicentenary Weekend, Friday, June 5 to Monday, June 8, launches Tom Paine 200, seven months of events celebrating Paine and Georgian Thet-

ford. Promoted by The Thetford Society, the Bicentenary Weekend will recreate Georgian Thetford with electioneering in the ‘rotten borough’, street entertainment, period music and dance, military recruitment and manoeuvres along with exhibitions about Thomas Paine exploring his life and ideas. Guided tours and lectures throughout the summer and autumn as well as an 18th century cricket match will culminate in performances of Citizen of the World, a specially commissioned play from East Anglian dramatist, Mike Levy. See www.tompaine200.org.uk for more details. Diss, where Paine lived and worked from 1765-66 making leather for the corset industry, also has a Thomas Paine Festival, organised by Diss Museum. The museum opens a special Thomas Paine display in mid March, combined with a historic study of Denmark Street, where Paine worked. The museum has also produced a CD , Thomas Paine: A Man For All Reason. Events include an 18th century ceilidh with Horses Brawl on March 21, performances by Norwich Early dance group on April 11 and a tour of radical Diss with Peter Clark, author of The Lefties Guide to Britain on May 10. ★


The American

Chic says “Don’t Miss That Flight” C

hic Murray was a fabulously dry Scottish comedian. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of him, but you may have heard some of his jokes. For example, Steve Wright’s brilliantly dead pan “It’s a small world… but I wouldn’t want to have to paint it...” Yep, that was one of Chic’s. If anything Chic was funnier in real life. Staying with a friend who lived in a very grand house in Glasgow, the doorbell rang. A visitor snootily asked for the master of the house. Chic asked “Would you like to wait in the library?”. Sure, came the reply. “Good,” Chic replied, “Go down the street til you come to the Town Hall and it’s right over the road.” Then there was the hotel which served Chic the tiniest pot of honey. “Oh,” he observed, “I see you keep a bee.” One of Chic’s finest moments came in the passport control line at the airport, en route to a holiday in warmer climes. “I wish we had brought the piano with us Maidie,” he exclaimed. “Why, dear?” his long suffering wife asked “Because I’ve left the tickets on the top of it.” All this is a long way of introducing a survey by travel website missedaflight.com of the most common reasons why travelers miss their planes. Here are the problems, and some helpful hints and tips on how to avoid becoming one of these statistics.

Misread and misspelt documents On receipt of your documents check the name, spelling and flight details are correct. Flight schedule changes Check your latest paperwork for any changes. Remember the times on the ticket will be written using the 24 hr clock. Traffic delays caused by road accidents and road works or railways engineering works Check with the RAC and AA (www.rac. co.uk, www.TheAA.com) for any delays, accidents or engineering works that may affect your route and if need be find an alternative route. Denied permission to travel due to incorrect passport or expired passports. Review your passport in advance to ensure it still has six months to run after your return to the UK. Otherwise they may not let you back in. Also remember to pack your passport in your hand luggage.

Essential medication needed urgently but packed in hold luggage which has been checked–in If your bags do not join you on the aircraft you run the risk of missing your flight. Make sure any prescribed medication is packed in your hand luggage just in case you need it before the flight departs. And remember to keep it in the labelled containers. Too late to check-in Add more time, make sure you have left plenty of time to get from the car park to the terminal, and into the correct checkin zone - and which terminal to go to. Not enough time to get to the departure gate once checked-in Airlines require their passengers to arrive at the gate for their flights earlier these days. Get to the gate at least 30 minutes before your flight departs. If you’re late they won’t wait. Flights not connecting Connecting flights are the most difficult to negotiate. Build extra time into your itinerary. Ask for flights with 2 to 4 hours layover rather than 45 minutes. You may not be able to do this online, instead call your travel agent or the airline directly. If you do miss your flight visit www. missedaflight.com and fill in a form or call 0871 6666 737 ★

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The American

Coffee Break Coffee Break Quiz QUESTIONS

8 I f you were born on 29th February, what star sign would you be? 9 P  oet and novelist Thomas Hardy’s heart is buried in his native Dorset, but where in London is his body buried? 10 What does the word ‘pop’ refer to in Pop Goes The Weasel?

4 H  ow many days will there be in February 2012?

11 Which member of the Royal Family was born on 19th February 1960?

5 H  ow old is Juliet when she dies in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet?

12 What is made using soda, lime and silica?

2 F ebruary is the shortest month in the year, but in the UK which is the longest?

6 O  n what occasions would the British royal standard be flown at half mast?

13 What is the birthstone for the month of February? Amethyst or Aquamarine?

3 W  ho played Jane opposite Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan in 1932?

7 W  hich two months are covered by the star sign Aquarius?

14 How is the chaparral cock, a ground cuckoo native of Mexico, better known?

1 B  uddy Holly and the Big Bopper were two of the three musicians who died in a plane crash in February 1959. Who was the other?

15 Who created Wikipedia on the World Wide Web? 16 Who did Ted Turner, the media tycoon, marry in 1991?

OK, BUT HOW‛S THAT GOING TO HELP YOU FIND YOUR WIFE?

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I NEED TO FIND MY WIFE SO I‛M GONNA HAVE TO STAND HERE TALKING TO YOU

18 What was the breed of TV detective Columbo’s dog? 

OK, BUT HOW‛S Answers at foot of the page. THAT GOING TO HELP YOU FIND YOUR WIFE? Competition Winners

The winner of Mandy Patinkin tickets in the January issue was Suzan Tibbetts of West Row, Suffolk

WHENEVER I TALK TO AN ATTRACTIVE

Sociology Absolutely not! WOMAN SHE JUST SEEMS TO APPEAR

Coffee Break Quiz Answers 1. Richie Valens. 2. October - the clocks go back so it lasts 31 days and 1 hour. 3. Maureen O’Sullivan in Tarzan The Ape Man. 4. 29. 5. 13 years of age (nearly 14). 6. Never - when a monarch dies, his or her descendant immediately accedes to the throne. 7. January and February. 8. Pisces. 9. Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey. 10. To pawn (weasel was a shoemakers tool). 11. Prince Andrew, Duke of York. 12 Glass. 13. Amethyst. 14. The Roadrunner. 15 Jimmy Wales. 16. Jane Fonda. 17. Cotton. 18 Basset hound

©Ferrett on Eales 2009

17 What type of material is produced in a ginnery?

haven‘t done my homework


The American

It happened one... February

Butch O’Hare, American fighter ace

February 1, 1790 – In New York City the Supreme Court of the United States attempts to convene for the first time. February 2, 1967 – The American Basketball Association is formed. February 3, 1783 – American Revolutionary War: Spain recognizes United States independence. February 4, 1789 – George Washington is unanimously elected to be the first President of the United States by the U.S. Electoral College. February 5, 1919 – Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith launch United Artists. February 6, 1843 – The first minstrel show in the United States The Virginia Minstrels opens (Bowery Amphitheatre in New York City). February 7, 1964 – The Beatles arrive at JFK International Airport to begin their first tour of the United States.

February 11, 1812 – Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry gerrymanders for the first time. February 12, 2004 – The city of San Francisco, California begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. February 13, 1635 – The first public school in the U.S., Boston Latin School, is founded. February 14, 1778 – The United States Flag is formally recognized by a foreign naval vessel for the first time, French Admiral Toussaint-Guillaume Picquet de la Motte gives a 9 gun salute to USS Ranger, commanded by John Paul Jones. February 15, 2005 – YouTube, the popular Internet site on which videos may be shared and viewed by others, is launched in the United States. February 16, 1923 – Howard Carter unseals the burial chamber of Pharaoh Tutankhamun. February 17, 1936 – The world’s first superhero, The Phantom, makes his first appearance in comics.

February 8, 1915 – D.W. Griffith’s controversial film The Birth of a Nation premieres in Los Angeles.

February 18, 1885 – Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is published.

February 9, 1969 – First test flight of the Boeing 747.

February 19, 1847 – The Donner Party, a group of California-bound settlers caught up in the “westering fever” of the 1840s, is rescued after becoming snowbound in the Sierra Nevada.

February 10, 1840 – Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom marries Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

February 20, 1942 – Lieutenant Edward ‘Butch’ O’Hare becomes America’s first World War II flying ace. February 21, 1937 – Initial flight of the first successful flying car, Waldo Waterman’s Arrowbile, in San Diego. February 22, 1879 – Frank Woolworth opens the first of many of 5 and 10-cent Woolworth stores in Utica, New York. February 23, 1903 – Cuba leases Guantanamo Bay to the United States “in perpetuity”. February 24, 1868 – The first parade to have floats is staged at Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana. February 25, 1919 – Oregon places a 1 cent per U.S. gallon tax on gasoline, becoming the first U.S. state to levy a gasoline tax. February 26, 1870 – In New York City, the first pneumatic-subway opens. February 27, 1801 – Washington, DC is placed under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress. February 28, 1883 – The first vaudeville theater opens in Boston, Massachusetts.

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The American

Hartwell House

Sabrina Sully experiences a country house hotel with more style and history than most

All Photos: Sabrina Sully

Live the life of a king, in the former court of Louis VIII

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W

hen visiting a Stately Home have you ever wished you could step over the red rope to experience living in luxury surrounded by such beautiful things? Well, you can. And with sterling weaker, the euro very strong, and the dollar bouncing around, why not treat yourself to a Break from the City in the UK, instead of a European City Break?

Originally built for the Hampden and Lee families, from whom General Robert E Lee was descended, the current Hartwell House was built in the early 1600s and remained in these families until 1938. It became the Court of the exiled King Louis XVIII of France for five years from 1809. Two miles west of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, and within easy reach of London, the south and east of England and the Midlands, this Grade I listed Jacobean & Georgian house is surrounded by 90 acres of beautiful gardens and parkland. It is nowadays a hotel with full spa facilities (including a large indoor pool, spa bath, steam room and sauna, gym, and treatment salons). It is part of the Historic House Hotels group, which in turn became part of the National Trust in September 2008. Hartwell reminded me of weekends in the country at friends’ grandparental homes and I half expected a head to pop round the door inviting me to tennis. But this is a much sleeker experience, with courteous, efficient and all but invisible staff oiling the wheels to


The American

make your stay relaxing and effortless. Here is somewhere to unwind and ‘take 5’. The feeling of exclusivity is immediate, as the gatekeeper allows you through the gates, and the final turn of the drive reveals the house with a statue of Frederick, Prince of Wales (father of George III) on horseback in the turning circle. The Great Hall, Morning Room, Drawing Room, Library and bedrooms all have period decoration and furnishings, with Rococo plasterwork and oak panelled walls. The main staircase is an original, in every sense of the word, replete with carvings and statuettes. There are 30 bedrooms in the main house, and 16 more in the Court, all ensuite with broadband, wifi & flatscreen TVs. There are also conference facilities, and they cater for private parties of all sizes – a dining room and drawing room were in use for one when we were there. Throughout there is a feeling of plenty of space and time. We stayed in the King’s Suite. Unlike many country houses where ‘Queen Elizabeth I’s room’ is either of such doubtful provenance that it is unlikely she ever came within a mile of the place, or at best stayed a single night, this was the exiled French King Louis XVIII’s bedroom suite during the five years he held court at Hartwell House, from 1809 to 1814. To be scrupulously accurate it was his summer suite, as it was too chilly for him in the winter. It is an impressive room, and I can vouch for the efficient modern central heating having stayed there on a very cold December night. That’s progress! The suite was a large and magnificent room, at least the size of three bedsits, replete with four-poster bed, Reynolds oil paintings either side of the fireplace (Sir Joshua, that is, only the founder of the Royal Academy), a sofa, easy chairs, a period desk and dressing table, and a walk-in wardrobe. The Edwardian bathroom off our vestibule

was warm and generous, and the dual aspect views from the bedroom windows across the parkland were like paintings in themselves. A mouthwatering platter of fruit greeted us on an occasional table. Escaping from builders and their mess at home, it was the perfect refined antidote. We found the suite relaxing, comfortable and serene and sadly didn’t avail ourselves of the all-weather tennis courts, or the croquet lawn, but did take a walk in the lovely grounds laid out by an C18th contemporary of ‘Capability’ Brown, and sampled the spa facilities, which were good. We ate in one of the three dining rooms. The cuisine is imaginative nouvelle – delicious, but after all the bracing air I could have eaten Fred the Prince of Wales’ horse afterwards! The house has a wonderful collection of oil paintings throughout. I just loved them. We sipped coffee in the Great Hall, admiring the large portraits of King Charles II and Prince Rupert of the Rhine, his cousin, reminding us of drinking coffee in the hall at Goodwood House, looking at similar portraits. If you’re looking for modernism, this isn’t the place. If you’re looking for the perfect place to unwind, with plenty of atmosphere and genuine history, then this is the place for you. In its long history it has been good enough for Louis XVIII, the Emperor & Empress of Japan and President Clinton, and it was certainly good enough for me! H

Above, classic interiors meet modern spa facilities at Hartwell House Double/twin rooms from £290 B&B. Contact 01296 747444 or www.hartwell-house. com for details and offers

Below, a plaque of former owner John Hampden, ancestor of Robert E. Lee

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The American

Dining Out At

LE CINQ By Virginia E Schultz

“Come join me for lunch in Paris,” said the voice over the telephone. “At Le Cinq...”

t

he invitation took me by surprise. the last time i saw my friend Dorothy was Valentine’s Day in 2002 when she and her husband invited seven of us to celebrate their fortieth wedding anniversary at le Cinq. Phillipe legrande was the chef at the time and i remembered him from his years at taillevent, my late husband’s favourite restaurant in Paris. the dinner had been exceptional and although we stayed after most of the other guests in the dining room were gone there had been no effort to move us on. “you’ll be the only one from that last time,” she went on in her slightly ironical texas drawl. “Everyone else is either dead or too old to join me.” it wasn’t the most flattering of invitations, but our friendship went back to Puerto rico when our two engineer husbands were working on the same project and besides, how could i turn down lunch at le Cinq? Dorothy was staying at the Four

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seasons George V in a lovely room with a view of the garden and i met her there for a glass of champagne before we went on to lunch. she had been taking advantage of the spa and offered to give me a tour before lunch. Decorated in muted colors and 18th century prints lining the walls, it was luxury with a capital l. saunas, whirlpools, steam bath and a pool surrounded by trompe l’oeil gardens, even the most spoiled Queens of France would have felt comfortable there. When i asked if there were special prices off season i was given the impression there was no off season in Paris. Dorothy told me, however, she managed to get a special rate when she made reservations in the states. she also added that the treatments she had were excellent and comparable to any of the top spas she went to in England or the states. the setting at le Cinq is exceptionally formal and as we walked through

the entrance with its magnificent floral display and entered the dining room decorated by French architect Pierre-yves rochon to replicate a French chateau, i was glad i wore my black Chanel suit and Prada shoes with their three inch heels even though i quickly slipped partly out of them as soon as we sat down. our table had exquisite views overlooking the hotel’s courtyard and gardens and within minutes after we were seated the vintage bottle of champagne Dorothy ordered earlier was brought to us. As the waiter opened the champagne i gazed around the room at the various tables where guests murmured in low voices to each other. the women were smartly dressed in designer casual and the only one who was overweight was my friend sitting across from me. Dorothy, sadly, noticed as well and wistfully sighed that the French women she met in the spa and at the hotel all enjoyed food, yet managed to retain


The American

Right: Chef Eric Biffard.

All photos by Shin Shin

the same figure they had at eighteen. No junk food or eating between meals, I suggested, and she agreed. The porcelain, linen and silver are all custom designed and made especially for the restaurant. Tables are far enough apart so that private conversation is not interrupted by nearby diners’ whispers and laughter which, call me old fashioned, is the way I prefer to dine. The menu draws upon classic dishes and ingredients and meat, game and fish are mainly from France. The restaurant has approximately 70,000 bottles in its cellar, none of which are cheap and the most expensive more than many people make in a month. There is a five course light tasting menu which looked interesting, but perhaps it was the sight of so many slim women that made us decide to go a la carte. Dorothy started with risotto cepe mushrooms flavoured with truffles while I had prawns in a delicious sauce

that made any similar dish in the past forgettable. Dorothy decided on milk fed farm veal while I, after some contemplation and deliberation, asked for line caught sea bass cooked plainly and simply without a sauce. Although it wasn’t on the menu, there was no hesitation in answering my request. In between courses, perhaps because my friend was eating there every day, we were offered tidbits of unusual combinations that tantalized my taste buds and filled our stomachs which was why we decided to have sorbet for dessert. Unfortunately, when the cheese selection was shown to us, we succumbed to temptation and all the calorie counting was thrown to the wind . We each made a selection of three cheeses, however I did insist on a smaller portion of each cheese offered!

The new chef, Eric Briffard, seems to have taken over Legende’s mantle with more modern ideas of cooking which may not satisfy everyone, but certainly pleased me. Cost? As a guest, I have no idea, but in adding up the prices of the various dishes in my head, I am certain it was at least three hundred euro which didn’t include the champagne. Despite the fact the restaurant was busy, service was impeccable. There was no haughtiness from the serving staff and the sommelier answered my questions willingly, something that doesn’t always happen in France or anywhere else as a matter of fact. Smart casual is recommended for lunch, however, and evening is more formal than perhaps you’d find in most English or American restaurants. H

Hotel Four Seasons George V, 31 Avenue George V, Champs-Elysees, 75008 Paris France, +33 (01) 4952 7000, www.fourseasons.com/paris

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The American

Dining Out At t

here was a time i thought of the turkish diet as little more than kebabs and mezze, not knowing of the rich food history of the ottoman Empire. on my first visit to istanbul i learned that during the peak of ottoman power, which spanned three continents, the spices of Asia, the sweetmeats of the Middle East, fresh vegetables from the Mediterranean and the stews and pickled dishes of the balkans had combined to give turkish gastronomy variations that some compare to the Chinese. Certainly there was a similarity to what was demanded of the chefs. Chefs in turkey like their counterparts in China, spent a lifetime perfecting the dishes to be presented to the sultans who, in return, took immense pride in what they served their visiting guests. During the past seven years, i’ve enjoyed lunch and dinner at Kazan, the turkish restaurant in Victoria opened by turkish Cypriot brothers, levent and bulent hassan. on hearing they had opened a second restaurant in the City near liverpool station, i was somewhat dubious; too often second restaurants don’t quite meet the standards of the first. i certainly can’t say that about this new Kazan after dining there recently with actress friend, Maxine howe. i prefer the slightly more sophisticate design of this new restaurant than the more rustic original. the tables aren’t quite as close together and i didn’t feel as if we were sharing our conversation with the people next to us. it is less of a neighbourhood restaurant, but then this is the City where business, especially at lunchtime, is being discussed and deals made.

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Kazan City Maxine and i, however, weren’t there to review the interior or discuss the latest financial crisis, but to taste the food. And taste we did, from starter to dessert. i started with a glass of raki (£4.95), the aniseed national beverage called “lion’s Drink” while she decided to check out Cankaya blanco, Central Anatolia (£4/14.50) which was dry and elegant. Although Maxine is more knowledgeable about turkish food than i am, she suggested the waiter advise us. We started with a mixture of cold and hot mezze, selections of dishes brought in small portions that begin a meal. one of my favourites is tabouleh, a salad of parsley, mint, lemon, tomato and onion, and nowhere is it better than at Kazan. Another familiar dish was humus, mashed chickpeas with lemon and garlic. We also enjoyed Mulabl, smoked aubergine pureed with olive oil and lemon, Kabinbudfu Kofte, ground lamb rolled in the shape of ladies thighs and baby iman bayidi, classic stuffed aubergine. two people, depending on their appetite, could easily share the various mezze. Whether you want fish, fowl, meat or vegetarian as a main course, the

chef is ready to prepare it. Maxine had the ottoman Grill, marinated chicken and lamb with a lamb chop, poussin and garlic sausage served with rice and salad. Delicious! i went a slightly lighter route and had fire roasted King Prawns marinated in chilli and lime. scrumptious! We shared Fistik Kebab, pistachio shavings in minced lamb, that gave a different meaning to kebabs. Delectable! traditional ingredients are sourced from all over England and the aromatic spices imported from Anatolia. if the chef ever decides to give cooking lessons on turkish cuisine, Maxine and i will be the first to sign up. one of the nicest things about Kazan is that no one hurried us. the two remaining couples dining when we left that evening looked as if they were only half way through dinner. When Maxine commented that it was going to be a late night for the staff, our waiter replied, “A meal is never to be rushed, but to savour with friends, or even alone”. H

34-36 Houndsditch, London EC3A 7DB, Telephone: 020 7626 222, www.kazan-restaurant.com


Don’t Tread on Me

20th

American broadcaster and journalist and a 33 year expatriate in Britain, Carol Gould presents a searing indictment of the rampant anti-Americanism that has become integral to British and European culture. Deploying humour and irony, she explodes falsehoods put about by the media and by anti-American and antiZionist politicians, debunks myths heard at polite dinner parties, and takes the reader on a journey of disturbing and often incomprehensible America-hatred.

Supporting WEADA

B AT H DECORATIVE & ANTIQUES FAIR 2009

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“Carol Gould rightly turns her rage on the most acceptable prejudice of our time: the racism of the anti-racists, the intolerance of the tolerant and the reactionary-ism of the progressives. Anti-Americans have found a doughty opponent in Carol Gould.” – Douglas Murray, writer and Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion

(Follow signs for Sports Centre)

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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

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

FULLY AIR CONDITIONED • PRIVATE CAR PARK

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

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


The American

Cellar Talk Libations by Virginia E. Schultz

Valentine’s Day Seduction

F

ebruary 14th was the day ancient Romans honoured Juno, the Queen of the Roman Gods and the Goddess of women and marriage. The following day saw the Feast of Lupercalia, celebrating the she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus. The association of the middle of February with love and fertility, however, was not new. In the ancient Athenian calendar, the period between our mid-January to mid-February was the month of Gamelion, dedicated to the sacred marriage of the Greek Gods Zeus and Hera. Believing that he was unable to recruit soldiers to the military because men did not want to leave their wives or sweethearts, Emperor Claudius II, known as Claudius the Cruel, cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome. A priest, Saint Valentine, secretly and illegally married couples with the help of Saint Marius. Valentine was condemned to death with clubs and had his head chopped off around the year 270 AD. Two hundred years later in 496, Pope Gelasius declared the feast of St. Valentine on the anniversary of his death, February 14th, supposedly to counter the Lupercalia practice of young men and women pairing off as lovers by drawing names out of an urn. In 1969, the church removed St. Valentine’s day as an official holiday on its calendar. The connection between St. Valentine and romantic love, however, is not mentioned in any early histories and

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is regarded by most historians as little more than legend. Church approved or not, we continue to celebrate Valentine’s day. As well as cards, men usually give flowers or chocolate to their loved one. No other food is more closely linked to love than chocolate. During their wedding ceremony, the ancient Mayan bride and groom would exchange cacao beans to signify their acceptance of each other. Believing chocolate to be a love potion, the Aztecs carried it even further. Montezuma was said to drink as many as fifty cups of chocolate a day, including one right before he visited his harem. Nomadic lovers relied on the fig to preserve their potency. Figs are rich in silicon, a mineral which supposedly prevents impotence. French men soak figs in Champagne for two hours and then hand feed them to their mistresses. What they feed their wives is not mentioned. The apple has been a source of temptation since Eve seduced Adam. The French eat them soaked in white wine, the Germans in brandy and the Italians marinate theirs in honey and red wine. The apple is rich in magnesium and sulphur which stimulates the glands and relaxes the body … so I’ve been told. Honey also ranks high on lists of aphrodisiacs and for centuries has been considered a powerful sexual stimulant. Oysters on the other hand supposedly stimulate hormone production, but no one has told me whether it is better

eaten by men or women. Most people nowadays prefer going to dinner at some favourite restaurant where they will drink champagne or perhaps a special cocktail. A favourite of a friend of mine is called Love Passion, a passion fruit champagne cocktail. H

DRINKS of the MONTH Love Passion Cocktail ½ ounce gin ½ ounce Alize (passion fruit liqueur) 6 tablespoons chilled dry Champagne Strawberries Combine gin, liqueur and top with Champagne. Garnish with strawberries. Makes one drink. Another favourite cocktail is: Black Cat Potion ½ cup canton ginger liqueur ¼ cup blood orange juice ¼ cup strong ginger beer 1 tsp. powdered ginger Stir well. Mix 1 part love potion with 3 parts champagne. Frankly, I prefer champagne all on its own. As Jancis Robinson recommends: “All I can suggest is some good vintage champagne, so hedonistic that it must be seductive.”


The American

CECE’S CHOICE

Cece Mills picks her Arts and Exhibitions for February and continues her alphabetical look at art forms. B stands for Ballet... and Body Art. “The longer you look at an object, the more abstract it becomes, and, ironically, the more real.” – Lucian Freud

Art News Opening at the Onassis Cultural Center in Fifth Avenue, New York, and running until May 9th, is an exhibition exploring the role of women in Classical Athens. It shows how women’s involvement in religious festivals and other activities contributed and shaped urban Athens, and how the generally accepted fact that women were excluded from public life is simply not so. ‘Worshipping Women: Ritual and Reality in Classical Athens’ is an exhibition of more than 150 artefacts revealing new information regarding the role of women.

arriving at an energetic conclusion which the viewer can make their own assumptions and conclusions about. Ruhwald is a Danish artist and is primarily a ceramic artist, and some of the works have been created specifically for the spaces at MIMA. Like Moran, he creates works that are almost something we recognise, and can therefore put our own label on, identifying with them on any level we choose. His works act as a link between art and everyday life.

Katy Moran, Ledger, 2008, acrylic on canvas Courtesy the artist and Stuart Shave/ Modern Art

Painting Kate Moran at MIMA Anders Ruhwald: You in between Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Middlesbrough Until 15th February Katy Moran has a particular style that really appeals to me. Born in 1975, Moran is becoming one of the most acclaimed painters of her generation. She appears to paint instinctively, without plan or purpose,

Anders Ruhwald You in between, Installation view, mima 2008

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The American

Paper Cutting Wycinanki: The Art of Polish Paper Cuts The Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, London 14th February to 27th September Opening on Valentine’s Day, these totally exquisite and intricately worked pieces make a gorgeously romantic show. Traditionally used by Polish peasants to decorate their cottages, this lovely art form is still practised today in various parts of Poland. The paper cuts feature scenes from their daily lives, weddings and special occasions. If you do go along to see this, nip in to look at the photographs of Darwin and his family at home in Bromley, Kent. Beautiful Wycinanki paper art from Poland Horniman Museum

Modern Italian Art Luca Buvoli: Velocity Zero Umberto Boccioni: Futurism 100! The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, London N1 Until 19th April Buvoli, who now lives in New York City, explores the themes of Futurism. Velocity Zero consists of film and animation, works on paper, murals and sculpture, as well as a talk by the artist. Futurism is the Italian movement which all started with the publication of Marinetti’s Manifesto in the Parisian newspaper Le Figaro in 1909. Marinetti proposed to break with the long-standing traditions of Italian art and culture, bringing it up to speed with modern life and technology with particular emphasis on speed and the machine. His movement embraced many art forms and gave rise to the first phase of Futurism. The video animation Velocity Zero features excerpts from this manifesto being read out by people with speech problems, creating a grim contrast between the fast

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Top: Dynamism of a Human Body (Dynamic Deconstruction of Figures) 1913 Ink and tempera on paper Civico Gabinetto dei Disegni, Castello Sforzesco, Milan

Above: Luca Buvoli (b.1963), Stills from the animated film A Very Beautiful Day After Tomorrow, 2007 Images courtesy the artist and Susan Inglett Gallery © Luca Buvoli 2007

and furious nature of the Futurists and the slow, spasmodic presentation of the ideas. It’s complicated! The Futurist movement is 100 years old, and the Estorick Collection are featuring an exhibition of the work of Boccioni (1882 – 1916) alongside Buvoli. Boccioni was a signatory of the 1910 ‘Manifesto of the Futurist Painters’ and generally thought to be the most significant of Futurist art. Like Buvoli, he was fascinated with speed and movement.


The American

Sculpture Kenny Hunter: More Light, More Shadows New Art Centre, Roche Court, Salisbury 21st February to 4th May

John Varley, Old Ouse Bridge and St Williams Chapel CoPyriGht of yorK MuseuMs trust

Drawings and Prints A Different View: The Changing Landscapes of York York Art Gallery, York Until May 3rd Every town or city changes dramatically over the years and sometimes what used to be is lost for ever. Thanks to the pictorial recordings of local artists, much of the medieval architecture and landscape of York is preserved for us on paper, the only evidence of demolished buildings and ancient streets.

Costume Antonio Riello: B Square! Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead Until 29th March

scottish sculptor hunter depicts the ever widening gap between the natural world and the world inhabited by man. his style ‘though belonging to the monumental tradition is imbued with an almost pop sensibility, has a laconic and contemplative appeal. it is an effective blending of what is new with what has always been.’ so tells the press release and i find i cannot express it better! a lot of animals feature in his work, particularly those with symbolic associations. the pictured sculpture is of a wreath of rooks, symbolising heralds of change and inspired by rooks that return each spring to roche Court. The Unknown, 2008, patinated bronze; Rooks, 2008, resin. New Art Centre, Roche Court Kenny hunter

And now for something completely different! Antonio Riello has created a series of zany outfits for the gallery staff to wear until the end of March. Not just gallery staff either – front of house, office staff and even directors are taking part in this fun idea. Riello is exploring the sense of identity and belonging, creating a kind of uniform with what appears to be a specially designed tartan outfit. The tartan was created for the European Union in 1999 using the colours of blue and yellow of the European flag, with the colour red symbolising attachment and the colour white symbolising peace and non-violence. This is the B.Square tartan. You can even buy B.Square tee shirts if you fancy it! Baltic staff get into the picture

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The American

LOOKING AT:

Ballet and Body Art t

he art of manipulating the body into graceful and elegant lines, expressing with the aid of music a myriad of emotions, is surely body art, along with all types of dance and movement. however, by body art here i am referring more to the ancient practice, steeped in tradition and culture, of body adornment, either through the use of paint, ink, scars or even foreign objects. it is as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. a walk along the high street today will reveal many young people, and not so young too, adorned in one way or another. eyebrow, ear, lip and tongue piercings, tattoos, wild hairstyles, and even excessive make-up, all identify the wearers as people who want to stand out and be different. they are also telling us they belong to a tribe or group. Just as cultures all over the world identify themselves to each other through body adornment. decoration and transformation of the body comes in all forms. body painting is perhaps the most tame, because it is temporary. Paintings will be done for special occasions, for example aboriginal communities paint their bodies to communicate, combining this with the use of dances to tell stories. they recognise and identify family groups from the style of body painting. now, think of the fabulous Carnival in rio di Janeiro, where virtually naked ladies parade through the streets with the most elaborate body paintings and feather head-gear. in india, Mehendi is an important part of the wedding cer-

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Daria Klimentová and Friedemann Vogel in Manon Photo by laurent liotardo

emony, where the hands are painted with henna. henna is used for it’s advantageous properties symbolising good luck and protection. from temporary painting to the more permanent tattooing. tattoos have been known to exist for literally thousands of years. a frozen man found in the austrian alps, calculated to be about 5,300 years old, was discovered to have 57 tattoos on his body, thought to be applied to treat various ailments or diseases. all over the world, from south america to Japan, ancient Greece to 19th century england, tattooing is commonplace. like piercing and scarification (cutting the body to create scars), tattooing labels the person adorned as being brave and able to withstand pain, as

well as identifying them. it can be a ritual marking the rite of passage from boy to manhood. it serves as a very permanent testament to that person’s bravery and status. the marking of the body with scars still exists as a way of reminding people of events, to prove their bravery to others or to punish themselves for something they did. it is astonishing what people will do to their bodies in the name of beauty – threading bones and foreign objects through their piercings, elongating their necks with a gradual build up of necklace rings, Japanese foot binding – ow!, head binding to make the head elongated and signify more brains, and now, an endless supply of cosmetic surgery to make


The American

you exactly the person you wish to be. even the ballerina’s life is pretty hellish and akin to Japanese foot binding, as she tortures her feet by dancing on points. Ballet, the word, can ultimately be traced from the latin ballare – to dance. it has its origins in the french Court in the 17th century, and is a formal, technical style of dancing incorporating specific movements. Graceful, lithe and elegant, the dances are more commonly accompanied by classical music and involve mime, acting and emotion. the english national ballet have a huge programme of fabulous ballet for 2009, including Manon (pictured opposite) which will be performed at oxford new theatre in april, in Cardiff at the end of april, and in Parma in May. this is the first time the enb has performed MacMillan’s

‘Manon’ in its history. the story is simple – beautiful Manon is caught between two handsome men who both want her and, not surprisingly, she cannot choose between them! love or money… what is a girl to do? it makes for a powerful and emotional ballet. to finish, the most extreme style of contemporary body art has been that of the artist Maria abramovic, who has performed a number of ‘acts’ involving her own body. in one she danced until she collapsed of exhaustion, while in another, she stood in front of her audience and invited them to use a number of instruments of pleasure or pain on her in any way they chose. she was subjected to being pierced by thorns, prodded and poked with sharp instruments and even had a gun put to her head. ★

A modern take on an ancient art form. tattoo Photos: Matt hunt.

Next Month, Looking At: CALLIGRAPHY, CAMEOS AND CAVE PAINTING! 35


The American

LUCKY BILLY by John Vernon

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n his latest novel, John Vernon tries to pierce the fiction of Billy the Kid’s life with facts previously missed by earlier writers. The legend of Billy the Kid appeared out of the Lincoln County War, a malicious and Byzantine feud that erupted between wealthy ranchers and merchants led by John Dolan. John Tunstall, an English cattle baron, hires Henry McCarty, Billy’s birth name, and a number of other renegades to fight them. Billy admires the fastidious Tunstall, because ‘He had polish. He was different’. When Tunstall is murdered by the socalled Dolanites, the Regulators, Billy among them, set out to avenge his death. The carnage ignited by the conflict and fanned by sensational newspaper reporting brings Billy to national attention and he is credited with killing a man for each one of the twenty-one years he has lived. The book becomes rather confusing at times as it hops back and forth in time and place. In the end, even Billy’s death becomes fictionalized. Pat Garret shoots him in a bedroom in the dark and then writes a dramatic version of the event with himself as the hero. Author Vernon tries to capture the real Billy and does a better job than most. In the end, Billy remains elusive. As the young outlaw tells a friend, “There are plenty of Billies. I’m the made up one.” Which is possibly the way most of us want to see him no matter the truth. VS Houghton Mifflin Company $24.00

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Reviews

Books reviewed by Michael Burland and Virginia E Schultz

Michelle Obama: First Lady of Hope By Elizabeth Lightfoot

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irst Ladies are often as famous as their presidential spouses, and in many ways as influential. Like modern celebrities some are instantly recognizable by their first name. Go way back to Martha, fly to the 20th century and think of Eleanor, Mamie, Jackie, Nancy, Barbara, Hillary… Now there is a First Lady that is set to be as big a star as any of her forebears and potentially make as big an impact as Michelle. Most obviously Michelle Obama will create headlines by becoming the first black First Lady. But while that in itself is astonishing, important and exciting, once the world – and that includes the rest of the world beyond U.S. shores – gets used to that fact, they will find there are many other qualities that Michelle Obama brings to the White House. Qualities that come out in this book through Elizabeth Lightfoot’s careful biography. It is too early in the Michelle Obama story to write about what makes her tick, but Lightfoot finds a vast amount of detail about how Michelle became a key part of ‘Team Obama’ and helped her husband reach the highest position in the land. Her personal abilities – her intelligence, poise, media savviness

and humor – have been instrumental in President Obama’s rise, and it has been said that they may lead her to become a future candidate herself. First Lady of Hope details Michelle’s career and her personal beliefs. Lightfoot’s journalistic background (this is her first book and she admits how daunting it was to produce it in a few short months) is evident from the meticulously annotated text – no quote or reference goes uncredited and she keeps her personal comments quarantined from the factual story. The book’s 169 pages of text are introduced with 25 pages of personal preface, and supplemented with a full 31 pages of acknowledgements and explanatory notes. MB The Lyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press, Paperback £9.99


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The Dish by Penny Isaacs and Sarah Lockett

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n American executive living in London unexpectedly found himself modelling for the cover of a new book, posing suggestively with a bloody steak! The reason? His love of good food and the conviction that it oils the wheels of practically any relationship. Authors Penny Isaacs and Sarah Lockett take up the story. Following an arduous search for a ‘Dish’ to adorn the cover of our new book one candidate stood out. More than eye candy, shots of an acquaintance from a cocktail party - Joseph Panetta - suggested a three dimensional character with whom you could imagine sharing an interesting meal. The basic premise of The Dish is that an intelligent food strategy helps woo people – boyfriends, WAGS (wives/girlfriends), stepchildren, even mothers-in-law and bosses. We call our approach CookSmart. The secret lies in tailoring meals to diners and occasions, strongly flavoured quality ingredients, difficult-to-botch recipes and forward planning, making culinary delights appear effortless. We suggest menus, conversational dos and don’ts, music and what to wear – in a conspiratorial way. Men abhor some foodstuffs women love, so avoid serving anything which would not appeal to masculine taste buds. They want straightforward food; honest accompaniments. An ideal ‘first date’/Valentine’s supper comprises tender, flavoursome garlic-studded beef fillet, seasoned, buttered baked potato with sour cream and chives,

followed by fresh, juicy peach melba, all lubricated by red Burgundy. No green salad, rich cream sauce or pink tablecloth in sight. By a miracle of synchronicity, Joseph subscribes fully to the feelgood factor of home-cooked food. Aged 41, and of Italian and Southern American extraction he spent his formative years in Jackson, Mississippi and lived in Stockholm and Paris before landing a job in the ‘culinary capital’ New York. In 2007 he relocated to London as communications director of an international watch company. Immaculately groomed in the distinctively confident ‘Manhattan chic’ style English men can’t quite emulate (sharp suit, shirt supernaturally pressed), his “parents’ gift was the concept of food” – an appreciation of gutsy, fresh ingredients, simply prepared. He is no food snob; he just wants good food. Joseph concludes there are two ways to learn about a culture; language and food. Through language you discover how people think, through food – social dynamics. Home-made meals are “‘indicative of hearth, home and family”, connecting you to the past. More than this “You are just deriving intense enjoyment because it is being made for you’”, engendering co-operation. The host has taken trouble, so you’ll help with washing up and cooking. This encapsulates the ethos of the book. Incidentally, what was Joseph eating as we chatted? Steak! Sarah had fish and me, chicken. Point made. Published by Troubador (£9.95) in February 2009. ISBN: 9781848761018

How to Pass the Life in the UK Test

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f you are thinking of taking British – or dual – citizenship, there is one hurdle to jump that you can prepare for: the Life in the UK Test. It is essential to achieving a pass mark of 75 per cent or higher. But that need not be too daunting if you have the right assistance. This simply laid out book, published by Which? Books, part of the consumer champions organization Which?, can help. How to Pass the Life in the UK Test explains what the test involves, how to book one, what to take with you and what to do on the day. It even explains what to do if you fail. The book has up to date study material on the key test topics and over 1,000 practice questions. The revision topics make for fascinating reading, even for British people and the layout of bitesized sections with key questions at the end of each chapter, makes learning it all easy. As with most new skills, practice is key to success and the interactive CD-ROM that comes with the book contains mock tests designed to help readers familiarise themselves with the test. Don’t worry if you don’t get 100%. We tried out some of the sample questions on English coleagues at The American – not one got them all right. MB Published January 21, 2009, 224 pages, £12.99

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The American

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio Interviewed by Jarlath O’Connell

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ou couldn’t miss that hair. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s fabulous mane burst onto the scene in the 1980s when hair was big. In her debut she stole some scenes from Al Pacino as Gina, the feisty sister of Tony Montana or Scarface. She followed this up with an Oscar nominated triumph in Scorsese’s The Color of Money, working with Paul Newman and Tom Cruise; a small role she had played in Scorsese’s The King of Comedy had failed to make the final cut but the director was so impressed with her he cast her as the female lead in his next one. After the Oscar nomination she was on a roll and with films such as Slam Dance opposite Tom Hulce, The January Man opposite Kevin Kline, The Abyss with Ed Harris and Class Action with Gene Hackman she became firmly established as one to watch. She took over from Robin Wright as Maid Marian in Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (more big hair), which became one of the iconic hits of the ’90s. Now happily residing in London she is returning to the West End stage this month in a new production of Arthur Miller’s classic A View from the Bridge. The producer, Kim Poster, first worked with her on her last West End outing, the musical Grand Hotel at the Donmar Warehouse. “Kim and I have trod similar boards and have lots in common. She likes to do short runs of great plays which is the best way to do them really” she says. In the play she is Beatrice, the long-suffering wife of New York ‘longshoreman’ Eddie Carbone. The plot centres on Eddie’s passion for his orphaned niece, whom they’ve raised and his jealousy of her romance, which

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ultimately leads to tragedy. Playing Eddie will be Ken Stott who has the unenviable task of following in the footsteps of Bernard Hill and Michael Gambon. Hill played the part (opposite Joseph Fiennes’ as a starry Rodolfo) in 1995 and Gambon’s performance at the National in 1987 swept all the acting prizes that year.

she starred in The Perfect Storm or had a recurring role, for a while, in the TV drama Without a Trace. The star of that show, Anthony La Paglia, is a good friend of hers and in fact was himself a recently highly acclaimed Eddie Carbone, winning the Tony award for the role in 1998. He had asked her to join him in that hit production but family

”The pressure in New York with a play is unbelievable. It’s got to be brilliant, then it’s got to be nominated, then it’s got to win and then there has to be a movie!” “I started living here more about 18 to 20 years ago,” she says, “although there was never a moment when we decided to move”. She is married to the Irish film director Pat O’Connor (Cal, A Month in the Country, Dancing at Lughnasa) and has focused most of her energies of late in raising their two sons, Jack (16) and Declan (12). “16 years, they’re my longest run” she says proudly “and I wanted to spend more time with them”. She certainly doesn’t view any of this in terms of a sacrifice and of the roles she turned down, she is philosophical: “I knew I could do the part, it’s just a question of do I really want to do this part right now”. The fact that most people would think of her as US based has been a problem she admits and she says she would love to be offered more work in London. When she has worked in the past few years it has been on Broadway, where she was Tony nominated in 2003 for her role in the musical Man of La Mancha or in Hollywood where

commitments had prevented it. Now, things having come full circle, she is pleased to be having a crack at the part in London. Having worked on both sides of the pond she is relieved to be doing the play here “It’s just so much calmer” she says. “The pressure in New York with a play is unbelievable. There is always another goal line to cross. It can’t be OK, it’s got to be brilliant, then it’s got to be nominated, then it’s got to win and then there has to be a movie!” Two weeks into rehearsals, when we spoke, she was full of praise for the team. “All are so well trained, proper performers and their reasons for being there are true” she exclaims. Ken Stott is “gracious and generous” which helps a great deal because, as she says, the part of Eddie is so crucial that the play would be very tough on the other actors if the lead were “difficult”. “It would be like the fish rotting from the head”, she says ominously. Her own role “is not wholly written


but has some beautiful writing in it” and the key to the play she says is establishing the right dynamic between Beatrice and Eddie and going on from there. The part of Eddie is one of Miller’s least sympathetic leads, however she is full of understanding towards him. The key to him she says is that “he doesn’t know enough to help himself. He is inarticulate and doesn’t know what he is thinking”. “In their world” she adds “life was about getting food on the table. Eddie didn’t know compassion or genuine emotion and so was threatened by it. Lots of couples at the time, they got married, they were separated for years by the war and then they had to resume life with a stranger, someone who would have been scarred. Give ‘em a break I say”. The working class Italian-American milieu is not wholly alien to Mary either. Her grandparents were Italian and her father was a bronze foundry operator in Oak Park, Illinois. “Our household however was a cut above working class and just a little bit more cultured and genteel than the world of the Carbones” she explains. The emigrant experience of “never really fitting in” however, which is so well explored in the play, does resonate with her. So how come we haven’t seen more of her on the London stage? “I am American, I am Italian American. I don’t look like anybody” she jokes. “While anyone can be middle class it is harder to be regional” and that can hold back American expat actors in playing roles here she says. She would love to get her teeth into another musical and loved working on Grand Hotel although she says “Musicals are tricky with a family. You can’t have a cold. You can’t have a back spasm!”. She trained for opera at the University of Illinois at ChampagneUrbana where she majored in music.

PHOTO: MARC BRENNER

The American

In time honoured fashioned she dropped out of college after two years and headed for Broadway where she understudied and was the vacation replacement for Maria in a revival of West Side Story. Having worked her way up through several off Broadway and Broadway productions, she received raves for her Viola in the New York Shakespeare Festival production of Twelfth Night in Central Park. So, with a solid background in musicals, Shakespeare and now an American classic in the West End, isn’t it about time we saw her more regularly on the West End stage. Over to you, Mr Producers! ★

”Musicals are tricky with a family, You can‘t have a cold. You can’t have a back spasm!” 39


The American

A Level Playing Field Andy Sundberg, founder of Geneva-based American Citizens Abroad, has sent this open letter to a number of overseas American organizations. So far the response has been positive. What do you think?

D

uring the recent U.S. federal elections, we were able for the first time to get both of the major presidential candidates to send us detailed statements telling us how they view the problems that we confront while we live and work abroad, and how they intend to incorporate our ideas and direct participation into the deliberations of their future administrations. Now that Barack Obama has won this election, it is both our opportunity and indeed our responsibility to take the initiative to try to help our new

President Obama in Kuwait, 2008. What will he do for overseas Americans? Jarod Perkioniemi

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President fulfil his generous offer of support to us. As a wise old dictum so rightly concludes: “in politics, power is never just given it is creatively taken.” In other words, we should not be passive in anticipating that someone back in Washington will remember these promises, and will now do something about them. It is rather our direct responsibility to take such an initiative ourselves and make some powerful, realistic, and very positive suggestions as to how we believe these promises could and should best be respected. We should also offer some useful concrete actions that we individually, and just as importantly, collectively, believe should be launched and maintained. It is with this in mind that I am attaching herewith a proposal that we at ACA have prepared and are about to send to the Obama transition team and to the leadership of the Congress encouraging them to consider supporting the creation of a new Permanent Presidential “Level Playing Field Commission”. The purpose of this long overdue entity is to enable all of us, at home and abroad, to work more effectively together to seek to identify and then resolve the myriad long standing problems that we face as we continue our struggle to compete in, and manifest the best side of America to all of the major and minor foreign markets of the

world. This we believe could be a most fitting way to try to implement the eloquent promises that Barack Obama made to our overseas American community just a couple of months ago. We are now putting together an initial task force to get this initiative launched overseas and to also identify and enlist supporters in Washington. The board of the Association of Americans Resident Overseas (AARO) has already given us their support. We rejoice in this, and we are hereby asking all of the other overseas American organizations, and American individuals and organizations back home, to also join with us in launching this as a common initiative. We would be delighted and encouraged if you too would be willing to become co-sponsors and supporters of this proposal. This could be a very unique opportunity to not only launch a worldwide teamwork effort that is long overdue, but also a chance to show the folks back home that although we are scattered to the farthest reaches of the globe we share common interests and a common belief that something positive can and should be done that will be to the very great benefit of all Americans, and indeed to everyone else too. We’d be very grateful for your comments, suggestions, and especially for your support. Email info.aca@gmail.com


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A proposal to create a permanent presidential “level playing field commission”, to define what “a level playing field” for overseas Americans means and then to identify changes in U.S. laws and regulations needed to optimally position overseas Americans worldwide on “a level playing field” Yes We Can, Too The excitement of the presidential campaign resonated nowhere more enthusiastically than among the 4+ million U.S. citizens who live and work abroad. We are especially grateful for the promises that Barack Obama made addressing our unique concerns. We propose the following as a positive step forward for all Americans, at home and abroad.

The Promises

Other Governmental Services and Benefits: Americans living abroad have little access to basic information about U.S. government services and affairs. l

B arack Obama believes that U.S. embassies and consulates, which are the main U.S. government contact points for Americans abroad, should develop and implement concrete plans on how to communicate basic information to Americans living abroad.

l Additionally,

Barack Obama supports efforts to ensure that U.S. State Department staff members have proper training to assist Americans abroad in determining their various rights and responsibilities as American citizens.

Our government must l Work

to ensure that overseas Americans have every chance to compete on a level playing field.

l Barack Obama will work with

Americans abroad to identify and understand problems they may face as a result of U.S. government policies. Concerns of Americans Living Abroad: Barack Obama believes it is important to understand the role of Americans abroad in determining U.S. policy. l

 arack Obama will work with memB bers of the Americans abroad community and the U.S. embassies to determine how the U.S. government can be responsive to the concerns of overseas Americans.

l As

president, Barack Obama will work to establish a direct dialogue with Americans abroad.

l

 e welcomes a continued dialogue H between the White House, the State Department, and citizens abroad in an Obama administration.

Basic Steps to Implement These Promises In order to turn these promises into reality, and thereby bring benefits to all Americans by creating more and better jobs in the U.S. and reducing our trade deficits by increasing our exports of both products and services, the President should create a Permanent Presidential Commission on a “”Level Playing Field”. The four steps by which this Commission should be created, structured, tasked and funded are as follows.

Step One:

Creation of Such a Commission The Commission should be a tri-partite entity consisting of representatives of the Executive and Legislative branches of the Federal Government and the private sector, including U.S. citizens living and working abroad. 1. U.S. Domestic Participants: Commission members should include outstanding individual American business executives as well as senior appointed officials and staff members of Executive Departments and agencies including, but not limited to: l

The White House;

l

T he Departments of State, Treasury, Commerce, Labor, Homeland Security, Education, Health and Human Services, Defense and other relevant entities; l Members of Congress on relevant committees, and staff members of these committees; and. l Relevant

U.S. Chambers of Commerce, and Labor Unions.

2. Overseas American Participants: Overseas Commission Members should include outstanding individual overseas Americans as well as representatives of: l Non-partisan

organizations such as American Citizens Abroad (ACA), Association of Americans Resident Overseas (AARO), Federation of

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The American

American Women’s Clubs Overseas (FAWCO), Alliance of American Organizations in Iberia (ALLAMO), and other relevant overseas American organizations; l Middle

East Council of American Chambers of Commerce (MECACC), Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC), and other regional and national American Chambers of Commerce in major foreign countries;

l Democrats

Abroad and Republicans

Abroad. 3. Commission Leadership and Staff: The Commission should be led by a Presidential appointee chosen with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate. The commission should consist of ten fulltime staff members.

Step Two:

To put this into an appropriate perspective, the first requirement would be to examine current laws and regulations of the other major trading nations of the world to determine how they treat their overseas citizens competing in world markets. This should be a comprehensive review of the nature of the official relationships that exist between other overseas citizen communities and their home country governments, their taxation, human rights, citizenship, education, social security, health care, voting rights, direct representation in home country legislatures, etc. It should also include statistics of the numbers of overseas citizens of all of our major competitors living and working in the major markets of the world. From this detailed analysis would come a definition of what an optimum “level playing field” really means, and the identification of which of our competitors are the most privileged in world markets today.

The Functions of Such a Commission The ultimate purpose of this commission is to evaluate the impact that a level playing field could have on improving the health and welfare of the U.S. economy, creating new jobs at home and abroad, strengthening U.S. participation in world markets, and reducing our massive trade deficits. The relevance and utility of these conclusions and recommendations would be directly dependent on accurately defining what a level playing field is all about today, as seen by ourselves and by other countries against whom we are competing in major world markets. Thus, the four principal tasks of this Commission should be the following. 1. Define what a “Level Playing Field” really means today.

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2. Define the current relative standing of U.S. citizens in world markets. The second requirement is to determine the comparative size and distribution of the overseas American community, and identify all of the comparable U.S. laws and regulations that apply to U.S. citizens who live and work abroad, to thereby determine the relative advantages and disadvantages of the United States and individual U.S. citizens trying to compete in these same world markets today. 3. Identify and prioritize the changes that need to be made to U.S. laws and regulations to put U.S. citizens on a level playing field in world markets. The third requirement is to identify and prioritize all of the relevant changes that need to be made to U.S.

laws and regulations that apply to U.S. citizens who live and work abroad so that their competitive status will be at least equal to, if not better than, that of the most privileged overseas citizens of our major trading competitors. This should also include research and analysis to identify the potential for revenue increases and cost savings to the U.S. Government that may result from these proposed modifications. 4. Draft appropriate remedial legislation. The fourth requirement is to draft legislation and new regulations in the appropriate language and form needed to remedy the problems and benefit from the opportunities that have been identified.

Step Three:

Reports from the Commission The Commission should be tasked with providing an initial background report and subsequent bi-annual updates. These reports should be submitted to the President and to the Majority and Minority Leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives. 1. The Initial Comprehensive Report. As outlined above, this initial report should define the current structure and functioning of international markets for products and services, and the competitive advantages and disadvantages that other nations and their individual citizens enjoy as they try to compete in these same locations. These level playing field characteristics should include a comprehensive analysis of the comparative treatment of other overseas citizens in terms of the extent to which they are directly involved in official dialogs with their


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home country governments; the taxation of all of their home country and foreign source income; the citizenship status of their children born abroad; their health, education, social security and other benefits; their ability to vote in home country elections; their direct representation in their home country legislatures; and any other relevant factors that put them at a competitive advantage or disadvantage. This report should also identify the potential for revenue increases and cost reductions for the U.S. Government that could result from the proposed modifications, and recommend and prioritize legislative and regulatory changes that would be needed to assure that a truly level playing field will be possible for all U.S. citizens in the private sector trying to compete in world markets. The report should also contain the text of recommended legislation to achieve these goals. The first report should be submitted to the President and the leadership of the Congress by 30 September 2009.

Foggy Bottom: the State Department aims to look after US expats

ship of the Congress by 30 September every odd-numbered year.

Step Four:

Legislation and Funding Congress should be asked to adopt legislation to establish this commission and to appropriate the funding required for the commission to carry out its work. 1. Legislation and Funding for the Initial Comprehensive Report.

2. Bi-Annual Reviews. Every subsequent two years, new reports should be prepared and submitted by this Commission that include an updated survey of the current status of the world playing field for trade, the relative position of U.S. citizens on such a playing field, the status of the implementation of recommendations from earlier report(s), new problems that now need to be addressed, and recommendations for how best to take advantage of new opportunities to enhance the competitive status of U.S. citizens in world markets and to more efficiently redress any of the outstanding grievances yet to be resolved. Bi-Annual reviews should be submitted to the President and the leader-

Congress should be asked to appropriate sufficient funds to enable overseas and domestic commission members, their staffs and consultants to actively take part in the research, deliberations and debates on conclusions and recommendations necessary for the preparation and presentation of the initial comprehensive report to the President and the leadership of the Congress. This appropriation should cover the costs of background research; collection and analysis of data from foreign governments and international organizations; travel, lodging and per diem expenses for commission members and staff; and the preparation, printing and presentations of the final reports in the United States. The costs

of lobbying efforts to obtain passage of the draft legislation should also be included. 2. Legislation and Funding for Bi-Annual Reviews. Congress should also be requested to make regular bi-annual appropriations of sufficient funds to enable overseas and domestic participants and their staffs to continue monitoring the changes that take place in the definitions of level playing fields in all major markets of the world, and to continue to actively take part in the deliberations necessary for the preparation and presentation of the bi-annual update reviews that will be submitted to the President and the Congress during the first term of each new Congress. As with the funding for the initial report, these new appropriations should continue to cover the costs of background research; collection and analysis of data from foreign governments and international organizations; travel, lodging and per diem expenses for commission members and staff; and the preparation, printing and presentations of the bi-annual update reports at hearings in the United States. The costs of continuing lobbying efforts to obtain passage of the relevant new draft legislation should also be included. H

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The American

Globalisation, ‘G 2009 Style By Alison Holmes

lobalisation’ has come roaring back onto the popular agenda. The financial avalanche that began at the end of last year has reminded us of the perils of interconnectedness, the ugly realities of state regulatory impotence and the terrifying power of single individuals in a global world. As it continues to hurtle downwards into 2009 with government bail-out cum buy-outs, retailer freefall and homeowner paralysis, it may be instructive to remind ourselves how the debate on globalisation began in the hope that it may provide guidance or at least help us to reorient ourselves in the throes of the current debate. When the term ‘globalisation’ came into our vernacular it seemed to harbour progressive portents. Bill Clinton in the United States and Tony Blair in the United Kingdom joined forces and began to assemble a ‘coalition of the willing’ – though

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very different from that which we have come to know. Their respective campaigns were designed to promote the benefits of the borderless world and a weightless economy. Once in power, they developed domestic policies to deal with the increased competition of the global market and sought allies abroad for what they termed the Third Way. It was, they argued, a new kind of politics for a new political paradigm. The world had moved beyond the constraints of state sovereignty with its propensity for violence and could now be organised to face the state-less issues of poverty, environmental degradation and conflict. Some heralded it as a new Camelot but their city on the hill would not be limited to one country because the global age would bring the light of a liberal and cosmopolitan democracy to the whole world. We tend to forget it now, but their worldview also included a healthy dose of humanitarian intervention and even the possibility of pre-emptive action should the need arise. Yet somehow globalisation’s ‘unstoppable wave’ and ‘inevitable consequences’ were stopped cold. From the moment the towers of the World Trade Center tumbled to the ground globalisation was no longer the delivery system for enlightenment but a harbinger of danger. Leadership changed hands in almost all of the Third Way partner countries. International division and

conflict emerged along the old paradigm cleavages of politics, religion and economics. Nationalism returned with a vengeance to both domestic and international debate. Is Camelot so fragile? Are the links of progressive politics so weak? Or did we misinterpret the signs of global change? For some time the pundits and commentators of globalisation dazzled us with explanations of these mysterious tides. It has now become clear that they confused explanations of globalisation with policy prescriptions. The drivers of globalisation are not the same as outcomes. And more importantly the actors and the levels at which they operate have been muddled in ways that makes the next phase of globalisation even more difficult to manage. Our most basic problem is the failure to recognise that we have, in fact, been this way before and we do not need to go back to the development of the state system or the Treaty of Westphalia to find the most relevant comparator to our current difficulties. The alignment of technological, political and economic change at the end of the 19th century as the United Kingdom led the western world through the industrial revolution and the systemic change present at the end of the 20th century as the United States leads the world into a post-industrial world bear more than passing examination. The current eco-


The American

nomic crisis only serves to reinforce the similarities between the period at the birth of the modern, democratic, capitalist state and the current development of the post-modern or postindustrial state and further supports the argument that there have been two clear eras of globalisation with a number of shared drivers, actors – and potentially outcomes. Unfortunately, we have been so mesmerised by the alleged demise of the state and the rise of corporate entities, single issue campaigns and the globally empowered individual, that we have eroded the power of the institutions that are able, or need to be reengineered so as to be able, to deal with the problems that come in the wake of such change. The first issue we need to tackle if we are to deal with the downside of globalisation is the basic problem of definition. It has never been a simple process, but now has so many meanings that it is almost impossible to find a way forward. Globalisation is used as explanation and outcome as well as purpose and policy. From the outset it was invoked, even by progressive leaders, with an equal share of empowerment and inevitability which muddled the debate. Is it economic or political? Does it mean liberalisation westernisation and Americanisation? Is it about homogenisation or fragmentation? The evidence for these different interpretations is as clear as it is disparate ranging from anti-globalisation protesters at Seattle through Al Gore’s successful climate change campaign and President George Bush’s unprecedented funding for both economic development and disease prevention and cure in Africa. The definitional problem also gives rise to the practical issue as to which level should be asked or tasked

to deal with what we can now see are the negative consequences of globalisation. Should the state take action in terms of regulation or legislation? Or should non-governmental organisations, including corporations, be given more power and responsibility? One observation of the previous era of globalisation could be helpful in our approach to the New Year. The first is that globalisation is the process by which society makes new demands on both its economic and political structures. Despite the fact we treat them as such, neither democracy nor capitalism are stagnant. Institutions and power continue to evolve and therefore, to understand globalisation requires us to also understand that each level of action can affect the outcome. The state, as the strongest and most recognised structure, continues to have a major role in a world of uneven power, not only in terms of shaping the debate but also in terms of domestic regulation and management of international organisations but needs a strategy. Corporate entities, perhaps one of the most powerful groups in the reshaping of the power of the state, must deal, just as states did before them, with increasing

Did they win? Anti-globalisation protesters in Warsaw, 2004 ANDRZeJ BARABASZ

problems of legitimacy in a world in which all of their activities are visible to the country and the consumer. NGOs and individuals have increased roles in the global world by virtue of the fact they are able to provide consistent voices in an inconsistent world but should recognise the fact that they are limited to specific problems when success will also require a global view. We have allowed the sunny uplands of globalisation as portrayed by attractive and sympathetic politicians beguile us into thinking that it was a warm benevolent wave of progress. This latest economic crisis should be the ‘tsunami’ we need to remind us that the first era of globalisation ended in two world wars before we were able to find the discipline to create the post-war institutions that govern the society of states and international society as a whole. Perhaps in 2009 we will be able to redefine globalisation so as to include the rest of the rising world in time to avoid the repetition of history. H

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The American

Letter from Britain To those really interested in what’s been going on in the British political scene during 2008 by Sir Robert Worcester

W

e are now at the end of what has been a remarkable political year in both my native and adopted countries, America and Britain. In my first two letters, 30.11.08 (analysing the US result state by state and by American voters’ demographics) and 12.11.08 (judging the American political polls final performance), I concentrated on the amazing election victory of Senator Barack Obama, a black, liberal, intellectual candidate who is now President-elect of the United States of America. In this third “Letter from Britain” I examine just how volatile the British electorate has been during the turbulent political and economic year now behind us. Primarily written for those who report on the British political scene, it might have a somewhat wider audience of those who look at polls anywhere with a critical, rather than cynical, eye to the benefit of those who want polls to illuminate rather than just provide copy and sometimes graphics to fill the pages of newspapers and scant minutes of radio mention and seldom used by the television news to assist the electorate to understand what is happening in the political circus we have in Britain. Next to football, and this year, unusually, the economy, there’s no stronger media lobby than the political journalists. In a country with ten or a dozen national newspapers daily plus region-wide papers in Scotland,

46

Wales and Northern Ireland, plus the nearly as many Sundays, some more independent than others of their sixday sisters, Britain is saturated with acres of political coverage, whether there is political news or not. This is compounded by the too-often-tobe-true rumours of an early election in a country which can be called to the ballot box at the whim of the leader of the ruling party, the prime minister. If there is no need for an early election, there’s always a need for a headline, a spun story ‘to keep the opposition on their toes’, or political pundit without anything better to write. Such as it was in October 2007 when Labour was spinning ‘early election’ and Prime Minister Gordon

Brown let it go too far despite having no intention of calling any election, having gained the premiership after a decade of waiting to grasp the job from his predecessor, Tony Blair. Any credibility he had for his claim to banish spin from No. 10 was shattered when his double digit lead in the summer and early autumn of 2007 melted to low single figures, and he claimed that the shrinking Labour lead had nothing to do with his decision to call off, as it was seen, the 2007 election. I didn’t find anyone in the country who believed that. Earlier this month the Labour spinners were at it again, spreading rumours of a possible February 2009 election, reflecting Brown’s recovery in the polls in October and Novem-


VOTING TRENDS: ALL PUBLISHED POLLS – 2008 (January-June) Fieldwork Dates Sample Publish Poll/Media Size Date

”If there is no need for an election, there’s always a need for a headline, a spun story ‘to keep the opposition on their toes’, or political pundit without anything better to write.” ber following the collapse in the economy and reflecting the British tradition of ‘holding onto nurse for fearing something worse’. Learning from his 2007 experience, Brown stopped it in its tracks. But can the polls be believed? As long ago as 1979 Ivor Crewe propounded “three linked propositions about the way the polls are reported in Britain: (1) “However static public opinion actually is, the polls enable the media to give an impression of flux, change and excitement”, explaining that ‘this is because of sampling error alone... the news value of which will be too great to suppress in the interests of technical purity’, which enabled him to add a rider ‘The more polls there are, the more true this is.’ This, he observed, ‘is because of the incidence of rogue polls (for example, the onein-twenty outside the 95 per cent probability limit) will be higher, as will the variation in sampling methods, fieldwork operations, question wording, procedures for dealing with ‘don’t knows’ and other components of ‘agency effects’. His second proposition: (2) “However clear the outcome and trend, polls allow the media to hedge its bets.” This he said wisely

4-6 January 9-10 January 9-10 January 10-11 January 17-22 January 18-20 January 21-23 January 25-27 January

1,509 1,006 1,011 2,139 2,045 1,009 1,992 1,003

7 Jan Populus/Times 37 12 Jan I.MORI/Sun~** 42 13 Jan ICM/S Tel* 40 13 Jan YouGov/ST# 43 31 Jan I.MORI~fxf 37 26 Jan ICM/Guardian* 37 26 Jan YouGov/Telegraph# 41 28 Jan ComRes/Indy* 38

JANUARY

Outside margin of error of +/-3%

30-31 January 1-3 February 14-15 February 15-17 February 18-20 February

1,012 1,504 tba 1,003 2.118

Outside margin of error of +/-3%

2,063 1,010 2,011 1,502 1,002 2,311 1,983 1,003 1,926 1,004

Outside margin of error of +/-3%

1st Quarter Averages

Outside margin of error of +/-3%

2-3 April 4-6 April 10-11 April 16-17 April 18-20 April 17-22 April 21-23 April 23-24 April 25-27 April

1,010 1,502 1,755 1,006 1,000 1,059 2,073 1,010 1,005

Outside margin of error of +/-3%

2-4 May 7-8 May 14-15 May 15-16 May 15-20 May 16-18 May 27-29 May 30 May-1 June

1,509 1,571 1,004 1,854 1,006 1,008 2,240 1,006

Outside margin of error of +/-3%

4-5 June 6-8 June 11-12 June 12-13 June 13-15 June 18-20 June 20-22 June 23-25 June 25-26 June

1,023 1,508 1,012 1,769 1,012 2,385 1,000 2,163 1,007

11 11 9 10 9 8 10 15

1 (8/8)

1 (8/8)

1 (8/8)

37 40 41 37 40

32 31 32 34 34

21 17 16 21 16

10 12 11 8 10

0 (5/5)

4 10 7 10 -1 2 8 8

5 9 9 3 6

1 (5/5)

1 (5/5)

1 (5/5)

37 30 33 34 31 27 35 29 29 31

16 17 16 19 20 16 18 21 17 17

8 12 11 10 9 14 7 8 11 14

2 11 7 3 9 16 5 13 14 7

40.3% 31.6% 17.7% 10.4%

1 (10/10) 2 (8/10) 0 (10/10) 0 (10/10)

39.7% 32.4% 17.5% 10.3% 7.3

0 (23/23) 3 (20/23) 1 (23/23) 1 (22/23)

43 39 44 40 39 40 44 39 40

32 33 28 30 34 31 26 29 26

18 17 17 19 19 19 17 20 20

7 11 11 11 8 10 13 12 14

11 6 16 10 5 9 18 10 14

40.9% 30.5% 18.2% 10.6%

8 May Populus/Times* 9 May YouGov/Sun# 18 May ComRes/Indy on S* 18 May YouGov/S Times# 22 May I.MORI*~ 21 May ICM/Guardian* 30 May YouGov/Telegraph# 4 Jun ComRes/Indy*

MAY

19 15 18 14 16 20 16 17

39.0% 32.6% 18.2% 10.2%

6 Apr ICM/S Tel* 8 Apr Populus/Times* 13 Apr YouGov/S Times# 20 Apr Populus/Sun Mirror* 22 Apr ICM/Guardian* 27 Apr I.MORI/Ob.~fxf 25 Apr YouGov/Telegraph# 27 Apr ICM/S Tel* 30 Apr ComRes/Indy*

APRIL

33 32 33 33 38 35 33 30

1 (8/8)

5 Mar I.MORI~fxf 39 25 Feb ComRed/Indy* 41 3 Mar YouGov/Telegraph# 40 12 Mar Populus/Times* 37 16 Mar ICM/NotW* 40 16 Mar YouGov/S Times# 43 3 Mar I.MORI*~ 40 19 Mar ICM/Guardian* 42 28 Mar YouGov/Telegraph# 43 2 Apr ComRes/Indy* 38

MARCH

Lab Lib-Dem Other Con % % % Lead

39.4% 33.4% 16.9% 10.4%

3 Feb ICM/S Tel* 5 Feb Populus/Times* 15 Feb YouGov/S Times# 22 Feb ICM/Guardian* 22 Feb YouGov/Economist#

FEBRUARY 21-26 February 22-24 February 25-27 February 7-9 March 12-13 March 13-14 March 13-18 March 14-16 March 25-27 March 28-30 March

Con %

0 (9/9)

2 (7/9)

0 (9/9)

1 (8/9)

40 49 43 45 45 41 47 44

29 23 26 25 32 27 23 30

19 17 19 18 14 22 18 16

12 11 12 12 9 10 12 10

11 26 17 20 13 14 24 14

44.3% 26.9% 17.9% 11.0%

8 Jun ICM/S Tel* 10 Jun Populus/Times* 15 Jun ComRes/Indy on S* 15 Jun YouGov/S Times# 17 Jun I.MORI*~ 22 Jun BPIX/MoS# 24 Jun ICM/Guardian* 27 Jun YouGov/Telegraph# 30 Jun ComRes/Indy*

1 (7/8)

2 (6/8)

2 (6/8)

0 (8/8)

42 45 44 47 45 49 45 46 46

26 25 26 25 28 26 25 28 25

21 20 17 18 16 14 20 15 18

11 10 13 10 11 11 10 11 11

16 20 18 22 17 23 20 18 21

JUNE

45.4% 26.0% 17.7% 10.9%

2nd Quarter Averages

43.5% 27.6% 18.0% 10.9% 15.9

Outside margin of error of +/-3% Outside margin of error of +/-3%

1 (8/9)

1 (9/9)

1 (8/9)

1 (9/9)

2 (24/26) 5 (21/26) 2 (24/26) 2 (24/26)

# = Internet poll; * = Telephone poll, ~ = Figures for those “absolutely certain” to vote NB. Figures in bold are outside margin of error (+/-3%) (@95%)

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VOTING TRENDS: ALL PUBLISHED POLLS – 2008 (July-December) Fieldwork Dates Sample Publish Poll/Media Size Date 4-6 July 10-11 July 16-17 July 18-20 July 18-20 July 23-24 July 23-25 July 25-27 July 29-31 July

1,507 1,832 1,016 1.007 1,016 1,021 TBC 1,002 1,949

8 Jul 13 Jul 20 Jul 22 Jul 22 Jul 28 Jul 28 Jul 30 Jul 1 Aug

Populus/Times* YouGov/S Times# ComRes/IoS* ICM/Guardian* I.MORI/PA* ComRes/Indy* YouGov/Telegraph# Populus/Times* YouGov/Telegraph#

JULY

Outside margin of error of +/-3%

30 July - 1 August 31 July - 2 August 6-8 August 14-15 August 15-17 August 15-17 August 20-21 August 26-27 August 29-31 August

1,001 1,333 2,031 1,745 1,002 1,005 1,014 2,267 1,506

4 Aug 4 Aug 10 Aug 17 Aug 19 Aug 20 Aug 24 Aug 28 Aug 2 Sep

ICM/S Express BPIX/Daily Mail# YouGov/NotW# YouGov/S Times# ICM/Guardian* I.MORI*~ ComRes/IoS* YouGov/Telegraph# Populus/Times*

AUGUST

Outside margin of error of +/-3%

3-4 September 8-10 September 10-12 September 12-14 September 17-18 September 23-24 September 24-26 September 24-25 September 26-28 September

1,013 2,144 2,161 1,017 1,010 1,536 2,020 1,012 1,017

8 Sep 12 Sep 14 Sep 18 Sep 20 Sep 26 Sep 28 Sep 29 Sep 1 Oct

ComRes/Indy* YouGov/Ch 4# YouGov/S Times# I.MORI*~ ComRes/IoS* YouGov/Sun# BPIX/S Telegraph# ICM/Guardian* ComRes/Indy*

41 47 45 43 47 46 45 43 47

Lab Lib-Dem Other Con % % % Lead 28 25 24 28 27 24 26 27 25

19 18 16 19 15 18 17 18 16

12 10 15 10 11 12 12 12 12

13 22 21 15 20 22 19 16 22

44.6% 26.1% 17.5% 11.8% 1 (8/9)

1 (8/9)

1 (8/9)

1 (8/9)

45 47 46 45 44 48 46 45 43

29 24 26 25 29 24 25 26 27

16 16 17 18 19 16 16 16 18

10 13 11 12 8 12 13 13 12

16 23 20 20 15 24 21 19 16

45.6% 26.0% 16.8% 11.6% 0 (8/9)

0 (8/9)

0 (8/9)

0 (8/9)

44 45 46 52 39 41 43 41 41

25 32 27 24 17 31 31 32 29

17 13 16 12 21 16 17 18 18

14 10 11 12 13 12 9 9 9

19 13 19 28 12 10 12 9 9

SEPTEMBER

43.6% 28.7% 16.4% 11.3%

3rd Quarter Averages

44.6% 26.9% 16.9% 11.6% 17.7

Outside margin of error of +/-3% Outside margin of error of +/-3%

1-3 October 1-3 October 1-3 October 3-5 October 9-10 October 15-17 October 16-17 October 15-16 October 17-19 October 24-26 October 17-29 October

2,004 2,048 1,008 1,503 1,941 2,029 2,046 1,007 1,004 1,001 2,271

5 Oct 5 Oct 6 Oct 8 Oct 12 Oct 19 Oct 19 Oct 19 Oct 22 Oct 28 Oct 31 Oct

ICM/NotW* YouGov/S Telegraph# ICM/Guardian* Populus/Times* YouGov/S Times# YouGov/Mirror# BPIX/S Telegraph# DomRes/IoS* I.MORI*~ ComRes/Indy* YouGov/Telegraph#

OCTOBER

Outside margin of error of +/-3%

5-6 November 7-9 November 12-13 November 13-14 November 14-16 November 19-20 November 24-25 November 25-26 November 27-28 November 28-30 November

1,005 1,503 1,010 2,080 1,002 1,010 1,553 1,026 1,017 1,007

9 Nov 11 Nov 16 Nov 16 Nov 18 Nov 23 Nov 26 Nov 28 Nov 30 Nov 05 Dec

ICM/S Tel* Populus/Times* ComRes/IoS* YouGov/S Times# I.MORI*~ OCM/S Mirror* YouGov/Telegraph# ICM/Guardian* I.MORI/Observer* ComRes/Indy*

NOVEMBER

Outside margin of error of +/-3%

5-7 December 11-12 December 10-11 December 10-11 December 12-14 December 12-14 December 16-18 December 19-21 December

1,505 2,098 1,007 1,003 1,000 1,003 2,241 1,001

10 Dec 14 Dec 14 Dec 14 Dec 19 Dec 19 Dec 22 Dec 24 Dec

Populus/Times* YouGov/S Times# I.MORI/Mirror* ComRes/Indy* I.MORI*~ ICM/Guardian* YouGiv/Telegraph# ComRes/Indy*

2 (7/9)

2 (7/9)

2 (7/9)

1 (9/9)

3 (24/27) 2 (27/27) 2 (25/27) 0 (27/27)

43 45 42 45 43 42 46 40 45 39 42

34 31 30 30 33 34 30 31 30 31 33

15 15 17 15 14 14 13 16 14 16 15

8 9 11 10 10 10 11 13 11 14 10

9 14 12 15 10 8 16 9 15 8 9

42.9% 31.5% 14.9% 10.6%

1 (10/11) 0 (11/11) 0 (11/11) 0/11/11)

43 41 43 41 40 42 40 45 43 37

30 35 32 36 37 31 36 30 32 36

18 16 12 14 12 19 14 18 15 17

9 8 13 9 11 8 10 7 10 10

13 6 11 5 3 11 4 15 11 1

41.5% 33.5% 15.5% 9.5% 1 (9/10) 2 (8/10) 1 (9/10)

39 41 41 37 39 38 42 37

35 35 36 36 35 33 35 36

17 15 11 14 15 19 14 14

1 (9/10)

9 9 12 13 11 10 11 13

4 6 5 1 4 5 7 1

DECEMBER

39.3% 35.1% 14.9% 11.0%

4th Quarter Averages

41.5% 33.1% 15.2% 10.3% 8.4

Outside margin of error of +/-3% Outside margin of error of +/-3%

AVERAGE (MEAN) OF 105 POLLS

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Con %

0 (8/8)

1 (8/8)

2 (7/8)

1 (8/8)

5 (24/29) 1 (28/29) 3 (26/29) 1 (28/29)

39.2

33.4 17.3

10.1

5.9

# = Internet poll; * = Telephone poll, ~ = Figures for those “absolutely certain” to vote NB. Figures in bold are outside margin of error (+/-3%) (@95%)

comes about ‘through a happy coincidence of news values and technical considerations’ and adds yet another rider: “The more polls there are, the easier it is to hedge bets. He then concludes with his third proposition: (3) “However improbable a poll finding is, the media will always publish (broadcast) it”, with its rider “The more improbable a poll finding, the more likely the media will give it prominence.” Written thirty years ago, true then, and true today. The media and the politicians collude, perhaps unwittingly, to misunderstand what the polls are saying. Crewe’s propositions rule in the newsrooms, and the newspaper which pays for the poll, or gets exclusivity, naturally puffs it, both on their news pages and when they spin it to the broadcast media. I cringe when the papers brag about how No. 10 will be thinking again after their exclusive poll says this or that, knowing full well that somebody else’s poll said much the same thing just a few days before. Then there is the tendency to over claim on non-significant changes, even when it is just a point. Also, when much is made about changes in the lead or gap, so beloved of headline writers, when the party shares, much the more important, is recording no change. There’s no getting away from it, that the lead doubles the sampling tolerance. As is found in the tables appended, in February for instance, the lead varied between three and nine, six points, yet none of the five polls published varies in the share for each party had a single figure outside of plus or minus three percentage points, the usual ‘margin of error’ of surveys of c. 1,000 people. The average Tory share in February was 39%,


The American

and all five polls from four different pollsters fell between 37% and 41%, plus or minus not three percent, but two. When the polls are that consistent, you’d better believe them. In all, there were 105 polls published in 2008. The Tories started the year at a January average of 39% in the eight polls published that month, varying from 43% in YouGov for the Sunday Telegraph, just outside the month’s margin of error, to Populus’s, Ipsos MORI’s and ICM’s 37%. Labour’s average of 33% masked a spread from 30% (ComRes in the Indy) to Ipsos MORI’s 38%, highest figure for Labour all year, and also outside the margin of error. ComRes and ICM also had one figure each outside the margin, as expected, as the margin or error of plus or minus 3% holds ‘only’ 95% of the time in the best constructed of polls. August was a busy month for the pollsters with nine sets of figures published, which means 36 measures, as each polling organisation reports shares for Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Others, the latter combining the Nats, Greens, UKIP, BNP, and others, so reporting four different share figures for each poll. It’s the news outlets, not the pollsters, who go on about the lead, as they claim it is easier to understand, and don’t bother to mention that as is so often the case, the story is in the shifts between the second and third parties. So it was at the beginning of the year, when the Tories spent the first quarter at about 40%, Labour at 33%, and the Liberal Democrats at 17%, leaving the others with ten collectively. Yet the lead swung from a 1% Labour lead (which William Hague seems to have forgotten in his claim that the Tories had led in “every poll in 2008”) to 16%. The Conservatives did move up to

Opposition party leaders David Cameron (Conservatives, left) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats, right) hope 2009n will be their year

”It’s the news outlets, not the pollsters, who go on about the lead ... the story is in the shifts between the second and third parties.” the 44%/45% level after a good local election in early May, holding at 45% or over until ‘Black Friday’, 16th September, when the economy fell with a thud heard round the world, with the collapse of first Northern Rock and then Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG, and the dominos fell one by one, seemingly daily, for the next several weeks until everyone knew that the economic crisis was going to affect everyone. There were eight polls in January, eight in December. Seven of the eight early on had the Tories at 39% plus or minus 3%; all eight in December had David Cameron’s party at 39% plus or minus 3%. The Central Office mantra these days

seems to be that polls go up and polls go down. That certainly fits the Conservative Party in 2008. Labour started the year at 33%; they finish at 35%, up two. Not statistically significant if it were one poll, but when seven out of eight in January, and eight out of eight in December all are saying the same thing, hopefully the politicians will set aside their usual glib throwaway lines, and the media will look beyond the ‘headline figure’ and see what the people are telling them. Polls have no incentive other than to report systematically and objectively what their samples are telling them, and to do their best to see that they are interpreted fairly and responsibly. H

49


The American

Chinese Crackers Jo Cole celebrates Chinese New Year by considering what animals our favorite politicians are

I

f you, like me, look at every ‘key date’ in the calendar as an excuse to go out for a large meal, then you too will have spent the end of January gorging on Chinese food to celebrate the Chinese New Year festivities. Whilst tucking into my hoi sin duck in pancake, washed down with a generous serving of Chinese beer (oh, yes, the ‘alcohol free January’ rule was broken days before), my eating companion took out her ‘Chinese horoscopes’ book and proceeded to forecast my year ahead. I am a dog, she announced, a fact which kept my friend highly amused until we turned to her birth date to discover that she is, in fact, a pig. (As she is also my housemate, I know this to be a fact and not just a figure of speech.) My year will start off well, the book tells me. If I’m single, I will find love. If I’m in a relationship, I will keep love – so basically all possible areas are nicely covered off. I tend to laugh off such ’hocus pocus’ as a bit of fun, choosing the complimentary sections to believe and ignoring the parts that tell me that this year I need to be more ‘financially responsible’. However, as I’m a deep thinker (all dogs are, apparently), the whole evening got me pondering about

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what may be written in the stars for politicians this year. 2009 will surely be a big year for politics – both in the UK and across the pond. A new Democrat President is settling into the White House, and a General Election here is looking more and more likely – all this against the backdrop of economic doom and gloom. What better way, then, to predict the fate of our country’s leadership than a glimpse at their Chinese horoscopes? A quick google tells me that Barack Obama is an Ox: “Born leaders who will work hard to achieve their aims” is the opening description. (Crikey, perhaps there’s more in these horoscopes than I thought.) Gordon Brown is, apparently, a rabbit. I can’t see the similarity myself – other than occasionally during press conferences when he is asked an awkward question but then he looks more ‘rabbit-in-the-headlights’ than the cute bunny variety. Rabbits, I discover, are “Peacemakers with lots of friends” but they “dislike being the centre of attention”, which might explain some of the

problems Brown has had in handling the media. Should there be a General Election in the UK this year, Conservative Party members will be relieved to hear that Tory Leader David Cameron will keep fighting until the bitter end. As a horse, he “will work on and on until a job is finished.” He’s “very intelligent, ambitious and expects to succeed.” Gone but not forgotten, I couldn’t resist looking up some recent world leaders too. George W Bush is – shock horror – a dog like me (I am consoling myself with the fact that there are many differing breeds of dog…). But my favourite has to be Tony Blair who is (the Chinese Horoscope perhaps confirming what many of us had suspected) a snake. Blair, apparently, is “patient, charming and wise… and prefers not to rely on other people”. (Yes, that included you, Gordon). I could go on listing further amusing horoscope anecdotes but, as a dog, I tend not to believe in this sort of thing so I won’t continue. I urge you to look up your own, though – you never know what you’ll discover. 2009 is officially the Chinese Year of the Ox and the most famous Ox in the world – Obama – will certainly want to make sure this year goes his way. Whether we put it down to ‘hocus pocus’, or follow the signs religiously, one thing is for sure – 2009 is going to be an explosive year in politics – so watch this space. H Remy Steinegger/Renaud d’Avout d’Auerstaedt


The American

Bikes in Bus Lanes

N

Drive Time

Presidential Cadillac Maintains Tradition

P

resident Barack Obama will ride to his Inauguration in an all-new Cadillac Presidential Limousine. It’s a tradition that dates back to President Woodrow Wilson who rode through the streets of Boston during a World War I victory parade in 1919. The latest Limousine is an allnew design, succeeding President Bush’s DTS Presidential Limousine that debuted in 2004. It takes its imposing, modernist grille from the CTS sport sedan and Escalade SUV, while the side and rear profiles evoke Cadillac’s STS and DTS luxury sedans. The cabin blends modern design and technology with old-world hand-made craftsmanship.

The President’s rear passenger area includes useful mobile office features, for that Executive on the go! An embroidered presidential seal is positioned in the centre of the rear seat back panel, as well as on each rear door trim panel. Presidential seals are also affixed to the exterior rear doors. The U.S. flag is placed on the right front fender, and the presidential standard is located on the left front fender when the president travels in the vehicle. In case you still don’t realize who is driving by, high-tech LED spotlights illuminate the flags at night. We believe the Limousine also comes with optional Harley Davidson police outriders.

Drag Racing in the UK

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love the smell of methanol in the morning. It’s the smell of… drag racing! If you’re missing the burning rubber, earth-moving noise and brain-boggling action of full-on drag racing then make your way to Santa Pod Raceway, near Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. ‘The Pod’ is the home of European Drag Racing and this year’s program kicks off with Stunt Night on February 20 (Kids Under 16 get in free). American iron is represented at the Wheels USA show in May and there’s more stunt action on the May Bank Holiday. There’s even Alternative Energy Racing in April and there are regular ‘Run What You Brung’ and ‘Drift What You Brung’ days where petrol-heads can thrash their own cars in total safety, without fear of arrest. Check out www.santapod.co.uk for the full calendar.

ews for bikers, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians is that motorcycles are now allowed to drive on main route bus lanes in London. Some London Boroughs have also opened up bus lanes on local roads, but not all. Check the signs! Riders group MAG has a code of practice designed to protect everyone in and around bus lanes. ●

● ●

We share bus lanes with other vulnerable road users, take extra care around them. Be aware of pedestrians walking through traffic queues and at bus stops. Look out for pedal cycles and give them a wide berth, they may suddenly change direction or position. Pass cyclists on the offside only – never undertake. Always assume cyclists cannot hear or see you behind them. Do not use excessive speed when using bus lanes or overtaking cyclists. Do not overtake each other. Watch out for other vehicles at junctions and side roads. Take extra care when riding alongside congested pavement areas. We are ambassadors for motorcycling, riding in a bus lane is a privilege that needs to be respected.

MAG says other road users also have to play their part. “Urban collisions involving motorcycles are generally not caused by the rider,” said the group’s Nich Brown “Typically a rider will be travelling with right of way when another driver crosses their path at a junction, or a cyclist rides off the pavement into the road or a pedestrian steps out in to the road”.

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The American

Five Star Adventure O

ne drawback with advancing years is that you like your creature comforts more. Adventure is fine as long as you don’t have to rough it for more than a day and at the end is a hot shower, a good meal and a soft bed. Nobody really believes Ewan and Charley sleep rough on their Long Way Down, or ride without a large back-up crew! German Ralf Moeglich worked this out a long time ago. He has been operating in southern Africa for seventeen years, providing motorcycle holidays with a difference. Despite being a Paris-Dakar rider, he realised that not everybody wanted to train, buy specialised machinery and see the world the hard way. So he set up Gravel Travel to offer the ordinary rider the chance to experience the African desert in complete safety without feeling they are on a package holiday. His fleet of Yamaha XT660R’s, (shortly to be replaced by the new Tenere) offers mildly challenging routes off-road that allow you to see the real countryside and wildlife in South Africa and Namibia, with discreet back-up and top-notch accommodation at the end of each day. I jumped onto an Air Namibia night flight into Cape Town to join one of the most popular tours between there and Windhoek in

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Namibia, arriving in time for an afternoon’s exploring this vibrant city before meeting my group in our luxury sea-front hotel for a briefing. Next morning Ralf took us to an off-road site for some tips of how to cope with the terrain, before some more sightseeing. The next day the tour really started and we left Cape Town. The back-up truck took our kit and we headed south along the coastline to the Cape of Good Hope. Most of the day was on surfaced roads, with some easy gravel tracks, finishing with some whale watching from our luxury hotel in Hermanus. Next day we rode down the coast to Cape Agulhus, the most southerly point of the continent, where the Indian and Atlantic Ocean meet. Most of the route was on gravel tracks that for the locals are ‘normal’ roads, complete with road signs and speed limits! Then back inland to Stellenbosch, the wine region, and another luxury hotel right in the heart of a vineyard. Everybody was coping with the hard packed gravel ‘trails’ despite only one having ever ridden off a surfaced road before. A ride up the spectacular Bains Pass on the outskirts of Cape Town saw us move totally away from tourist areas. The Cedarberg Mountains provided more challenging trails with

By Ian Kerr

mindblowing views, showing how vast and unpopulated the country is. The following day the terrain became more rugged, with signs of civilisation as we headed north. I began to appreciate that to ride through this spectacular area, you really do need back-up and local knowledge. Certainly I would not have found the ‘Woodpile’ our overnight lodging in huts on the edge of Namaqualand, with its quirky accommodation, fantastic sunset and seafood barbeque. A gloomy start to the following day saw us ride through diamond mines to the border crossing with Namibia and a short blast to Noordoever and the reed huts on the banks of the Orange River, our next stop. Then it was a short ride to the ghost town at Kolmanskoop to learn about diamond mining and how it brought things like hospitals to the area. After an hour absorbing the history it was back across the desert before turning off the tarmac back onto the trails. The Yamaha handled deserts, mountains and city traffic, four thousand kilometres over two weeks, over 80% on unsurfaced roads with no problems from a group of off-road virgins! Five star adventure with five star comfort – absolutely brilliant! www.graveltravel.co.uk H


The American

25 Years of Voyagers D

espite difficult times for the Big 3, Chrysler have been celebrating one large success. At the end of 1983, a quarter century ago, the world’s first MPV rolled down Chrysler’s assembly line in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. It seems a lifetime ago (and it is for many of our readers!). The first mobile phones were introduced to the public in the U.S., astronauts completed the first space shuttle space walk; and Dallas was the most popular programme on TV. The Internet didn’t exist at the beginning of the year and it seems hard to believe, considering how ubiquitous they now are, that ‘people movers’ did not either. It was a new automobile segment and it was an instant hit. Over 12 million have been sold since around the world. In 1987 the MPV came to Europe and in 1996, Chrysler began to offer right hand drive versions, so the UK, Japan, Australia and South Africa could enjoy the Voyager. In 1983 they defined the concept as a ‘family room on wheels’. Having driven a few models over the years I was interested to see the direction that the recently divorced (from Daimler) Chrysler have taken the vehicle.

The fifth-generation Chrysler MPV, the Grand Voyager, was launched in March 2008. The press information focuses on the 65 plus features that are available for the first time in an MPV. The 35 new or improved features over the previous generation include dualscreen DVD entertainment system that can play different media simultaneously on two screens; ambient halo lighting package with directional LED pinpoint lights; removable and rechargeable LED flashlight and stain repelling seat fabric. Chrysler’s useful Stow‘n’Go seating and storage system, in which the two second row seats van be swivelled 180 degrees to face the third row of seats so rear passengers can chat face to face, makes the GV truly flexible no matter how many bodies or boxes you need to transport. There’s three-zone climate control to keep everyone comfortable, powered sliding side doors and tailgate are – let’s be honest – pretty cool in the superstore car park, but also handy when you’re carrying bags, and a new six-speed automatic transmission, the only transmission in the UK, makes it a smooth ride Are there any disadvantages compared with a regular station

wagon? Not really. It is a bad idea to park a Grand Voyager in a muddy field used as a car park for a soaking British summer’s country event and expect it to get out again like a proper off roader. But that’s obvious and we did manage to extract ourselves! And you can’t drive a GV down a back road like a sports car. Again obvious. Used for what it was designed for, the GV is a helpful friend as well as a useful tool. We tried the 2.8-litre diesel engine, a last vestige of the Daimler Mercedes connection and a great motor. There is also 3.8 V6 petrol alternative and there are three trim levels – LX, Touring and Limited and prices in the UK start from £25,456.49 on the road. The Grand Voyager truly is a family room on wheels – spacious, flexible, comfortable accommodation packed with entertainment systems and capable of taking a huge amount of ‘stuff’ and/or people when called upon. And like a favorite room in a loved house, our family was sad when we weren’t living in it any more. H

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H

ockey is a fast, fluid, physical sport played on a plane that requires a decade-plus of practice simply to be able to move across it, and when the game is played properly, it comes as close to poetry in motion as any sport in existence. However, thanks to a spate of controversies around the NHL in recent weeks, not even the most dedicated hockey fan can deny the fact that the league has a tendency to slum it every once in a while.

Photo by Glenn James / NHLI via Getty Images

The American

The NHL’S Call for

Above: Stars head coach Dave Tippett

Accountability

The most recent player to drag the league into the gutter is Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski, who was suspended for three games without pay for shoving a referee at the end of an altercation during a game against the Montreal Canadiens. Grabovski’s actions were in violation of Rule 41.4, Category III, which states: ‘Any player who deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation shall be suspended for not less than three games.’ Grabovski’s behaviour highlighted a troubling disregard for the official and his authority — and by extension, a lack of respect for the league itself — but it was just a shove, wasn’t it? It happened during the heat of an on-ice scrap,

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Jeremy Lanaway reports on the bites and sound-bites that have recently distracted attention from the game of Hockey so it’s excusable, isn’t it? It doesn’t mean anything, does it? It should be passed off as a hiccup in an otherwise acid-free season. Or should it? The disrespect demonstrated by Grabovski starts to looks more like a problem when examined in the light of another incident that recently put the NHL’s dirty laundry on display in newspapers, in magazines, on TVs, and on websites around the globe — Ottawa Senators forward Jarkko Ruutu’s bite into the thumb of Buffalo Sabres tough guy Andrew Peters. The NHL responded to Ruutu’s Mike Tyson impression by suspending the uber-pest for

two games without pay, a penalty that ended up costing the Finn US$37,707 (the most expensive hors d’oeuvre in history). The NHL has also slapped him with the dreaded ‘repeat offender’ label. Peters’ response to Ruutu’s actions articulated the bewilderment of hockey fans near and far: ‘It goes too far for any player. It doesn’t matter who you are — it’s not part of hockey. I’m just sorry it happened. There are a lot of kids out there who watch, and it sets a bad example. We’re supposed to be role models.’ Hearing the news that Ruutu was denying the chomp, Peters shrugged his shoulders. ‘I don’t think if I did

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The American

”If biting another player’s thumb during a melee isn’t part of the game, certainly making lewd comments about his girlfriend to a throng of reporters isn’t either” something that stupid I’d really be admitting to it either.’ If biting another player’s thumb during a melee isn’t part of the game, certainly making lewd comments about his girlfriend to a throng of reporters isn’t either. Luckily, decency and common sense prevent most hockey players from crossing lines like this one, but common sense is clearly something that former Dallas Stars forward Sean Avery lacks. The oft-controversial agitator, who’d played out a mere sliver of the four-year, multimilliondollar contract that he’d signed in the summer, somehow came to the conclusion that it would be in his and his team’s best interests — as well as being in the best interests of the league — to refer to his former girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert, now dating Calgary Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf, as his ‘sloppy seconds’. Famous last words indeed. The NHL suspended Avery indefinitely, pending a hearing at the head offices in New York, which ultimately resulted in a six-game forced leave for making disparaging off-ice comments. The Stars made the surprising move of refusing to allow Avery back into their dressing

room following his completion of the suspension. In a sublime example of poetic justice, Avery’s mouth, which had caused so much grief for so many players around the league, resulted in his being banished into hockey exile. Avery tried to save his skin with an apology. ‘I would like to sincerely apologize for my off-colour remarks to the press yesterday from Calgary,’ he said in a statement before leaving for New York to appear before NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. ‘It was a bad attempt to build excitement for the game, but I am now acutely aware of how hurtful my actions were. I apologize for offending the great fans of the NHL, the commissioner, my teammates, my coaching staff, and the Dallas Stars management and ownership. As many of you know, I like to mix it up on and off the ice, but I understand that this time I took it too far.’ According to Bettman, Avery’s ill-advised comments offended him as a parent. ‘To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t want to have to explain to my twelve-year-old daughter what he said,’ he explained. He was glad to learn that Avery had checked himself into an anger-management programme. Stars Co-GM Brett Hull didn’t mince his words when speaking about Avery’s actions on behalf of his team. ‘More than anything, he’s let his teammates down. That’s the worst part of it,’ he said. ‘It’s basically a fundamental — you don’t embarrass the team, and you carry yourself with class and good character. I’ve told him before: there’s more to the game than just lacing up the skates. There are things you have to be accountable for.’ Well put, Mr Hull. ★

Photo: FsU/sPoRts InFoRmatIon

FSU’s Rolle tells NFL: I’m off to Oxford first

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lorida state University’s star safety myron Rolle is passing up the nFl’s 2009 draft in order to visit the UK first. Rolle was granted a Rhodes scholarship and intends to pursue studies at oxford University before heading for pro sports. a winner of the lott trophy as defensive player displaying personal character, Rolle was projected as a top 50 draft prospect according to some sources, but myron will instead seek a one-year masters degree in medical anthropology this year after graduating from FsU with a pre-med degree in just 2½ years. 32 Rhodes scholars are selected each year. very few of them hit receivers as a passtime. Rolle says he intends to become a neurosurgeon and help with vaccination programs in impoverished countries. however, he still plans to enter the 2010 nFl draft if his studies at oxford are concluded in time. ★

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The American British University American Football League Team Conference 1 South newcastle Raiders Ut Cougars Durham saints northumbria mustangs sunderland spartans Conference 1 North UWs Pyros napier mavericks Glasgow tigers GCU Roughriders stirling Clansmen Conference 2 North sheffield sabres hallam Warriors leeds Celtics UCh sharks lancaster bombers liverpool Fury huddersfield hawks Conference 2 South staffordshire stallions nottingham outlaws loughborough aces lincoln Colonials Derby braves leicester longhorns Conference 3 North birmingham lions Reading Knights oxford Cavaliers Warwick Wolves bnU buccaneers Conference 3 South UWe bullets Cardiff Cobras Plymouth blitz bath Killer bees bristol barracuda tarrannau aberystwyth Conference 4 North hertfordshire hurricanes essex blades Uea Pirates Kent Falcons anglia Ruskin Phantoms Conference 4 South Portsmouth Destroyers southampton stags brighton tsunami surrey stingers Greenwich mariners Royal holloway bears

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W-L-T PF PA 3-0-0 3-0-0 2-1-0 0-3-0 0-3-0

158 0 102 18 51 60 20 95 12 102

4-0-0 2-2-0 1-2-0 1-2-0 1-4-0

94 54 58 58 58

22 142 36 36 103

3-0-0 3-1-0 2-1-0 1-2-0 1-2-0 0-3-0 0-2-0

41 122 78 13 20 14 6

2 12 20 77 85 54 92

3-0-0 3-1-0 2-1-0 2-2-0 1-3-0 0-3-0

116 65 77 36 40 0

8 13 45 82 84 55

4-0-0 2-2-0 1-2-0 1-2-0 0-4-0

281 22 44 113 12 12 6 67 12 225

3-1-0 3-1-0 3-1-0 2-1-0 1-4-0 0-2-0

168 45 126 68 76 56 96 29 76 210 8 59

4-0-0 3-2-0 2-2-0 1-2-0 0-4-0

229 14 93 119 68 129 28 90 34 137

4-1-0 3-1-0 2-1-0 2-2-0 1-2-0 0-5-0

110 80 200 22 51 32 67 26 58 74 12 227

Above: the classic image of Oxford. Right: David meets Don Shula, Bob Griese and Nick Buonacotti after taking part in a Pro Football Hall of Fame flyby.

BUAFL Player Profile:

LCDR David Reynolds Commercial Pilot, Navy Reserve, Oxford University QB!

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he quarterback’s 37 years old, two offensive linemen are American, and the fullback is a Rhodes scholar. That the hallowed architecture of one of the world’s most famous university cities hides an American football team is a secret probably few residents realize. Surely Oxford means boat racing and rugby, not gridiron? David Reynolds is something of a renaissance man. With a degree in Marine Biology already, he has returned to education to add History and Archeology to his portfolio of knowledge. To do so, he’s taken time out from being a commercial pilot for South West Airlines and a Navy Reserve. So why is he playing football? Like most American boys I grew up playing football. I played a little in high school but quit the team, something I regretted for years since and is prob-

ably one of the reasons I wanted to play now with the Cavaliers. I played intramural flag football when I was in college at Auburn. After I graduated, I served as an officer, pilot, and flight instructor in the US Navy for a total of 10 years. In both of my squadrons, I played flag football I have studied the game since I was a kid and would throw football every day if I could, though I’ve admittedly never been the fasted guy around. How did you end up at Oxford? A few years ago I was deployed on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf and started doing research about going back to school. I had always wanted to study at Oxford and was trying to find an exchange program that would allow me to do that once I left the Navy. On a whim I googled ‘British Collegiate American Football’. When I learned


The American

there might be a way for me to play football again, that sealed it for me. What do you think of the standard of play in the BUAFL? How seriously do the players take it? I am pretty impressed with the standard of play over here. What the British members on our team may lack in experience, compared with guys who grew up in the States, they make up for in attitude and intensity. Our team may lack the financial resources of a college football team in the States but they approach the sport just as seriously. I have been pretty impressed with how quickly guys have picked up their position after being introduced to it for the first time just a few months ago. Are there many Americans on the Cavaliers? We have six on the Cavaliers. I started off playing tight end, but our regular QB was injured two games ago. Will you be trying to persuade Myron Rolle [see p55] to come and help with the coaching? Coaching? I’ll be trying to get him suited up and out on the field! ★

British University American Football League the second half of the bUaFl’s season kicks off January 25 following the Christmas break, with newcastle, staffordshire, birmingham and hertfordshire leading the charge to steal southampton’s crown. the bUaFl playoffs take place in march and april. For more information on the bUaFl and it’s teams, visit www.buafl.net

Return Game ‘Repat expat’ Sean L Chaplin finds that his new home town is involved in a Championship game!

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hat a tremendous end to a spectacular football season in both the pro and college game. If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought that all the sun went to my head, but is arizona really playing for the nFC Championship …against a sixth seed?! the citizenry in the valley of the sun is justifiably fired up, but don’t quite know how to deal with all the attention the Cards are receiving. It’s not like the bidwell family are used to hosting playoff games, let alone winning them, on a regular basis. heck, the franchise has only won two play-off games prior to this year. yet here they are getting ready to host the nFC game. Kurt Warner is the obvious story line, but the Cardinals are playing tremendous defense, especially after their horrible run mid-way through the regular season ending with the loss in new england. a renewed emphasis on hitting during the following week – most nFl clubs do not wear pads in practice, let alone kill each other after training camp breaks – certainly put the club in the right frame of mind. the college bowl season revealed that the big 12 south was over hyped. Florida certainly played a great game against a tough oklahoma sooner outfit, but the good folks in Utah, as well as here in southern California have room to dispute the final results of the bCs rankings. Utah were breathtaking in the first quarter of the sugar bowl and simply ran away from

the heavily-favored Crimson tide, while UsC destroyed yet another big 10 team in the Rose bowl. after laying low for most of the season, the UsC hype machine is full throttle as most publications, including all the local ones, are crying out for a national playoff system. While I understand the debate, I don’t agree with judging a team by its bowl performance when deciding the final standings. a month off is a long time for most teams, especially a team with a high octane offense, and it showed during the post season. Florida, texas and oklahoma all had a difficult time getting their offenses going, with the only exception being UsC. the only way to settle the debate is a play-off system. a quick word on the upcoming tennis season. look for some new blood to shake up the establishment. andy murray looks set to challenge Federer and nadal, and maria sharapova will be back after an injury plagued season and looking to reclaim her number one ranking by season’s end. I hope to report from Indian Well’s this season and will keep you informed on all the happenings this year. best wishes from the Californiaarizona border – and if it consoles anyone, it is much colder here in the winter than I thought – low 20s in the morning and it did snow here right before Christmas! Guess I brought the weather from the UK with me! ★

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The American

Next Man Up With the coaching carousel spinning, Richard L Gale gives his opinion on which new NFL coaches have the easiest jobs

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hen Tony Dungy stepped down as coach of the Indianapolis Colts, there was no mad scramble to find his successor. “We have a saying around here: next man up.” explained Dungy during his retirement announcement. “Jim is next man up.” Jim Caldwell, former head coach of Wake Forest has been an assistant with the Colts since 2002, and provides them with coaching continuity. He inherits one of best situations amongst the NFL’s coaching vacancies. After all, the Colts remain a contender with the league’s MVP under center, and a top ten defense. The imperfections of the running game only give Caldwell something to work on and a fair reason for fans not to expect a year-one title. Dungy’s retirement provokes debate as to the greatness of his record – ten straight postseason visits going back to his tenure in Tampa Bay. While some might argue that he didn’t maximized his opportunities, with only one Super Bowl ring to show for seven years of Peyton Manning. It’s a weak argument, but it leaves Caldwell some wiggle room. He’s very tough to follow,” said Caldwell, “But I’m not competing with Tony. I want to build on the success we have had and move forward.” Caldwell is not alone as a predestined successor. In Seattle, Jim Mora takes over from Mike Holm-

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gren with little pressure to succeed immediately after a 4-12 campaign. Mora spoke of the ‘relentless effort’ with which his Seahawks will play, introducing himself with an energy that suggested a man who couldn’t wait to get his hand on the tiller. The only difference between Mora’s situation and Caldwell’s: Mora has been here before, once head coach of Atlanta, where he was a winner (26-22), whereas Caldwell’s record at Wake was 26-63. In that respect, Caldwell has most to prove. A third coach succeeding a Super Bowl winner is Josh McDaniels, former Patriots offensive coordinator turned Broncos coach. His predecessor, Mike Shanahan won two Super Bowls a decade ago, but more recently worked through a succession of defensive coordinators. Defensive futility ultimately cost Shanahan the job, and McDaniels addressed that immediately by appointing former 49ers head coach Mike Nolan as coordinator. On offense, McDaniels begins his tenure with an excellent young QB in Jay Cutler, but after Denver missed the playoffs three straight years, the 32-year old McDaniels will be given time. At press time, the identity of the Rams and Jets appointments were still unknown, but one of them would seem destined for Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. These are less attractive

Colts coach Jim Caldwell Photo PRovIDeD by the InDIanaPolIs Colts

assignments. Rumors persist that the Rams will come up for sale (and possible relocation), while the Brett Favre retirement circus and the New York media suggest the Jets job could be a thankless task. If the Kansas City job opens up, that might be a more attractive option– new Chiefs GM Scott Pioli has a good record for acquiring talent and should be a gift for any new coach. Jim Schwartz has things comparatively easy in Detroit, where even one win would represent a ‘breakthrough’. Schwartz could improve them a lot with a crash course in tackling. Failing that, the Lions have two first round picks, and no Matt Millen to waste them. And then there’s the Oakland Raiders, when owner Al Davis restlessly searches for a coach to match his aspirations. Tom Cable could convert his interim status to a longterm role, but while fans and media have come to have more modest expectations, Al Davis never expects less than swift success. Of the past seven Raiders head coaches, only one survived three seasons. Next man up, indeed. ★


The American

Transition Game s

ince I last reported, the Guildford invite me so I was grateful. at home heat have been playing well and for Christmas, my family usually eat winning a lot. Personally, I have been what we call ‘soul food’ for dinner playing better, and scoring more – for example, collard greens, stuffing, often. some of that comes from me macaroni and cheese, turkey, ham, settling in and getting comfortable, cheese cake, lemon cake, fried chicken, more used to england, more calm and so on. so that’s what I’m used to, and focused on the court. also, Coach but I was open to anything when it [Paul] James has helped me a lot – it came time to eat. I was skeptical at first seems as though he understand my but I loved all of it. game now and puts me in the right I have been away from home situation to do the things I do best. for new year before, but I’m used to Plus my teammates are great – we celebrating and having a good time on have a point guard now named e. J. new year’s eve. however, this new year harrison and I love playing with him. we had a game the next day. I don’t he is a little older, has a great underknow any young person that wants to standing of english basketball and is stay at home on new years eve, but we just a great leader. had to take care of business so getting the holidays also came and went some rest was more important than since my last article. this was the partying. alan metcalfe’s family came first Christmas away from home in down and there were five of us in our my whole life; I went home last year house, so at least we were with people. when I was in Germany and in college the next day we won our game over I always got to go home for Christmas london by almost 30 points so it was so it was a little difficult for all worth staying in for! me. I had been invited between the basketto my teammate alan ball, I’m always trying metcalfe’s home in to stay updated with manchester and at what’s going on back first I was going to go home in the states. because his parents I don’t know what I are such very kind would do without the Keonta and Coach James people, but in the end internet when I’m away at a fund-raising event I stayed in Guildford. from home. I don’t get on Christmas day I went to see all the sports on tv, to london with e.J. to one of so I have to use the internet to his old friends’ home. their family stay updated and watch the nba, nFl were from Zimbabwe so I knew it was and nCaa football and basketball. I am going to be very different from what a sports junkie. of course, the time difI am used to – they were so nice to ference makes it hard, but I stay awake

Photos: GaRy baKeR

In this month’s diary entry, basketball import Keonta Howell celebrates a victory rather than New Year’s Eve

Keonta in action against the Leicester Riders, who they meet again Feb 15.

no matter what time if the lakers are playing – I am such a big Kobe bryant fan. also I love to watch my college, University of toledo play. I have caught two of their games this year. also, to see a lot of the players that I played against playing in either college or the nba is always fun. the super bowl is coming up and I am going to say it now, I think the Pittsburgh steelers are going to win it all – my dad has been a fan of the steelers since he was a kid. ★ Guildford Heat home fixtures during February include the Scottish Rocks (Feb 1 & 18), Everton Tigers (Feb 8), and Leicester Riders (Feb 15). Visit www.guildfordheat.com for details.

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The American

Tail End

PIG DOG

hinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival begins on 26th January 2009. As the Chinese use the Lunar calendar for their festivals, the date changes from year to year. The Chinese calendar is different from that used in the United Kingdom and the States as it is made up using a cycle of twelve years, each of them named after an animal. This is the year of the ox and people born during this particular year supposedly taken on the characteristics of the animal associated with that year. Ox are born leaders who will work hard to achieve their aims. They are dependable, good organizers and not easily influenced by others. They are also patient, loyal to their friends and expect to receive the same in return. Because they are loyal and patient, they tend to have lasting friendships. I was born in the year of the dog which is said to be caring and loyal with a fearless streak. According to She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed-Usually, that pretty much describes me. My two Mastiff pals also agree. They say most small dogs scoot for cover when they appear on the horizon while I, to their surprise, was ready to take them on. Jen Jen, who was with me a few years ago when I covered an animal blessing ceremony in London, is of the same opinion. She was amazed how relaxed I was when I met this huge boa constrictor who could have swallowed me in one quick gulp if he so desired.

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Still, I don’t find it true of every dog or cat I know! My friend Lotus, the white Persian cat, was born in 1999, the year of the rabbit, and she may be a home lover, but peaceable and sociable she is not. Take her last visit to me a few days ago. As always she arrived in her gold cage which her mistress opened the moment she sat down. Scout, who happened to be visiting, took one look and ran to the guest bedroom where she hid under the bed behind two suitcases and never came out until after I spent ten minutes assuring her Lotus was gone. Of course, Lotus gave no apology for the chaos she created at my tea and bone party. The nearest she admitted to enjoying herself was her assurance she’d come next year. Only politeness kept me from saying “forget it”, but then her mistress being a good friend of She-WhoMust-Be-Obeyed-Usually would bring her even without my invitation. Admittedly, it was fun going over the Chinese New Year list with Lotus and deciding which of the various animal pals we have in common match their Chinese year. Remember, the date corresponds to the new moon (black moon) in either late January or February and though this Year of the Ox starts on January 26, 2009, it will be a different date in twelve years. To find the year, add or subtract twelve from the date it matches in January or February.

RABBIT

MONKEY GOAT

OX TIGER

ROOSTER

Paw Talk, Or My Life as a Dog in London. Rebel says the Chinese Horoscope works for animals too

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RAT

DRAGON

HORSE

SNAKE

Rat (1984/1996) Cheerful, charming and welcome everywhere. Ox (1985/1997) Hardworking and patient. Tiger (1986/1998) Have a forceful personality and are adventurous and confident. Rabbit (1987/1999) Home lovers, peaceable, and sociable. Dragon (1988/2000) Strong personalities, love their freedom and hate routine. Snake (1989/2001) Sensitive with a strong sense of responsibility. Horse (1990/2002) Hardworking, admirable and ambitious. Goat (1991/2003) Gentle, caring and achieve what they want by kindness. Monkey (1992/2004) Charming, cheeky and clever. Rooster (1993/2005) Faithful to family and friends. Dog (1994/2006) Loyal and caring with a fearless streak. Pig (1995/2007) Peace loving, trusting and strong.


The american women’s health centre London www.awhc.co.uk

Fine American Dentistry…

OB GYN

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

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


The American February 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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