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May 2009

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THE AMERICAN • MAY 2009 • Issue 673

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CHARTWELL Winston Churchill’s countryside retreat www.theamerican.co.uk

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HOLLY WILLIAMS


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The American Issue 673 – May 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 +44 (0)1747 830520 sabrina.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 ©2009 Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Printed by The Westdale Press Ltd 70 Portmanmoor Road, Industrial Estate, East Moors, Cardiff CF24 5HB Main cover image: Chartwell in Kent, (photo by NTPL Ian Shaw). Inset: Holly Williams.

Welcome A

fter all the excitement of the G20 (see our thoughtprovoking analysis in this issue), let’s hope that this summer our heads of government can get their heads down and sort out the world’s financial dilemmas. Speaking of summer, you may have noticed that the weather in Britain is not as it is in California, Florida or even New York. If you’ve been here during the last two years, let’s just say that there should have been a new word to describe the months between May and August. On the other hand, we may just have a Martha and the Vandellas-style heatwave (see our Ticket Competition!). There are many wonderful places to visit in Britain, and if the weather does look variable (to be polite) one of the glorious country houses is a good bet for a day out – beautiful gardens and other attractions outside, and if the rain comes down like cats and dogs there’s a marvelous building to enjoy. This month we explore Sir Winston Churchill’s country home, Chartwell, and check out a Summer School at ancient Marlborough College. Enjoy your magazine.

Michael Burland, Editor

SOME OF THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS

James Hickman is the American managing director of one of Britain’s leading foreign exchange companies. In this issue he looks at the UK property scene.

Riki Evans Johnson is an American expat and regular writer for The American. She now reports from her new home in Spain

Jo Cole, our political commentator, has been giving her opinion of Obama to Californian hairdressers. Those gals have sharp scissors! Check the photo for a wonky fringe!

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 673 • May 2009

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News Veterans of WWI, the Civil War and the US Army’s first female aviator are all in the news

11 Diary Dates Eel Day, Cheese Rolling, a Wool Sack Race, and a World War II dogfight – just some of the ancient and unusual events happening this month 14 Music If Holly Williams, grand-daughter of Hank, is not yet the Queen of Country, she’s at least a princess 17 Competition Time to get Dancing in the Street – or Wembley Arena at any rate. Win tickets to see the Legends of Motown.

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20 As I Was Saying... Bob Pickens gets a slightly schizophrenic feeling as he heads back home to the States 23 Chartwell, Churchill’s Gem Visit The country house of Britain’s greatest Prime Minister, Winston Churchill 24 Summer Schools Fill the summer weeks with something worthwhile and fun

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The American

26 Costa Pets An Anglo-American couple are saving stray cats and dogs in Spain 27 Home, Sweet-Priced Home Property in Britain – is it time for Americans to consider buying again? 28 Coffee Break Take a break with our fun pages 30 Wining & Dining A special offer for The American’s readers from one of the most beautiful restaurants in Britain

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36 Arts Cece Mills has the choice of the UK arts scene 43 Reviews Jarlath O’Connell goes on a journey to the heart of fabulousness – but gets burnt by the sun 49 Politics Never argue with a hairdresser! And can world leaders keep gobal trade going while keeping their electorates happy? 52 Drive Time Are friends electric? The city of the future will be, if the government has its way

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54 Sports Jay Cutler takes the Bus, Dinara Safina reaches no.1, and Brawn blitz Formula 1 60 American Organizations Your comprehensive guide 64 Paw Talk Oh Rebel, what have you done? Our canine columnist invites Foxy and his mate to stay 3


The American

Above: See life as it was during World War II

‘American Church’ Setback

Forties Family Fun

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he campaign to save St Mark’s Church in Mayfair, london is continuing despite suffering a setback. The london Diocese decided to sell the Grade 1 listed church on a long lease to a developer, Hammer Holdings, who plan to convert the spiritual home of the American military in london during World War II into a luxury spa, despite a planning decision against the conversion and an equal offer from another church, Holy Trinity of Brompton, whose two churches are overflowing. lady Sainsbury, who has been leading the campaign, said at a protest, “We will continue to fight for as long as it takes. We believe that the decision to sell is wrong. It is wrong because Holy Trinity, Brompton Road can repair and use the church for the purposes for which it was designed and dedicated. It is wrong because they will be rushing through this sale today, just to get shot of the problem. It is wrong because they will be ignoring two ancient covenants that commit the land on which the church is built “for ecclesiastical purposes forever”. She accused the Diocese of using its heritage as ‘a cash cow’. The decision is to be referred to the Bishops’ Council in May for ratification.

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here’s a lot to do on public holidays in Britain and one that will appeal to all the folks is the Forties Family Festival at Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes (May 25, from 10.30am through 5pm). The fun includes Second World War re-enactors, a 1940s Lindyhopper dance troupe, wartime cinema reels, the re-enactment of a wartime plotting table and a bombed-out London display. There will be a rare opportunity to see the stunning Battle of Britain Memorial Flight – a Lancaster, Hurricane and Spitfire – and a flypast by the world famous Red Arrows RAF display team (weather permitting!).

Bletchley Park was the site of the British codebreaking team that shortened the Second World War and saved countless lives when they cracked the German Enigma encryption device. It was also the birthplace of the modern computer. There will be lectures on fascinating wartime subjects by former codebreakers, an Evacuee and Jean Valentine, a volunteer, who will talk about her life as a ‘Wren’ (in the Women’s Royal Navy) during the War. Family (£22.50) or adult (£10) season tickets allow free and unlimited visits to Bletchley Park a year, including many special events. Under 12s are free.

Civil War Graves Honored in Liverpool

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nyone interested in American Civil War history may wish to attend a rededication of the grave of Irvine Stephens Bulloch. An uncle of President Teddy Roosevelt, Bulloch served in the Confederate navy aboard the CSS Alabama and the Shenandoah. After the service, the grave of a Union soldier buried 800 yards away in the same cemetery will be marked. lieutenant Colonel James Henshaw Stubbs of the new Jersey cavalry is believed to have been the third highest ranked man to have a horse shot from underneath him. The organisers say they hope that relatives of Irvine Bulloch, re-enactors both Union and Confederates, and an official representative from the US embassy in london will join them for the day to “help uphold the Anglo/American heritage that we have been handed the responsibility for, and to join us remembering these two men, who fought on opposite sides for what they each believed to be right.” The services will be at Toxteth Park Cemetery, liverpool, on July 18 at 2 pm.


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The American

The American Museum in Britain The American Museum in Britain takes you on a journey through the history of America, from its early settlers to the 20th century. Enjoy traditional American music concerts, kids’ activities, living History Events, the grounds, great food, the textiles, quilts and map collections, and much more. It’s the only museum of Americana outside the United States.

THIS MONTH QUILTING BEE Tuesdays, May 5, 12, 19, 26. Noon - 4pm WILDERNESS 09 Students from Bath Spa University create sculptural works in the grounds. May 23 to June 21 KIDS STUFF - RUSTIC SIGNS May 28, 1-4pm MUSICAL LECTURE: ‘WOODY GUTHRIE: HARD TIMES AND HARD TRAVELLIN’ BY WILLIAM KAUFMAN Advance tickets only, available through Bath Festivals Box Office 01225 463362. Saturday 30, 1pm SUNDAY @ CLAVERTON: RED JACKSON A home grown trio specialising in the blues, from the Mississippi Delta to the street corners of Chicago. May 31, 2pm

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

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Inset: Frank W Buckles at the age of 16

Frank Buckles, Last Man Standing

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ut of the approximately two million men that the United States sent overseas in 1917-1918 there is today just one remaining American veteran, Frank W. Buckles. Now aged 108 years and living in Charles Town, West Virginia, Buckles served as an ambulance driver in WWI after enlisting at age 15. When Frank Buckles passes on, he will be the last dry leaf fallen from what was once a full-leafed tree, writes David Homsher. Homsher, a veteran of U.S. Army service during the Korean War, is an acclaimed historian-author who has

dedicated himself to perpetuating the memory of the American World War I “Doughboy”. He notes that the same situation applies to the few living veterans of other countries. It is sad to realize, he says, that very soon they will all be gathered into that Valhalla that surely is reserved for them all, regardless of what side they fought on. Pictured is Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates (left) talking with guest of honor Frank Buckles during Pentagon ceremonies in 2008 unveiling an exhibit of portraits of the last nine veterans of WWI.

UK National Register to Vote Week

‘R

egister to Vote’ week will be held from May 4 - 10, 2009 in Great Britain. During this week, the Electoral Commission, which oversees political elections in the UK, will be urging everyone who is eligible to vote here to do so. you may wish to check with them whether you are eligible. Go to www.aboutmyvote.co.uk. It’s worth doing so now as European Parliament and English local elections will be held on June 4. Additionally, unlike in the United States where politicians have fixed terms of tenure, UK General Elections can be called at any time with a relatively short notice period. The next one must be held in 2010 at latest, but Gordon Brown has not been elected as Prime Minister and in the current financial and political climate a General Election could happen at any time. The Electoral Commission’s message to the public is: if you want to vote, make sure nothing stops you.


The American

Top Marks for ACS Schools

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CS International Schools, popular among American expat families, have scored well in the Financial Times list of UK schools offering the International Baccalaureate (IB). The non-selective schools attained an average of 33 IB points in the 2008 exams across their three campuses in Cobham, Egham and Hillingdon, comparing favourably to the international average of just under 30 points. They also achieved an overall 99 per cent pass rate, comfortably above the international benchmark of 80 per cent. ACS Egham reached number 14 in the list, up three places from last year. Hillingdon was rated 26, and Cobham 33. Head of ACS Egham, Moyra Hadley, said, “As a non-selective

ACS Hillingdon students celebrate

school with students from a wide range of academic backgrounds we are very proud to have achieved such strong results. The IB rewards pupils for their academic success and for the work they do in both the local and the international community, so the grades we achieve reflect our students’ development into well rounded, educated, global citizens.” ACS’s research shows that university admissions officers regard the IB highly, 35 per cent naming it as providing the best preparation for students to thrive at university. 18 per cent said the same about the traditional British system of A-levels. 55 per cent of admissions officers reported a noticeable increase in applications from students with the IB.

Students selected for life-changing Jaipur project

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CS International Schools Foundation has sponsored three students to take part in a wonderful opportunity to join an ORBIS International mission to Jaipur, India, to provide sight-saving operations. ORBIS is a non-profit organisation working to eliminate avoidable blindness in developing countries by transferring sight-saving skills to local doctors. American expatriates Alexander Urban, 16, and Ryan Tacon, 17, and Slovakian Sasha Vohlidkova, 17, will join ophthalmologists in September for ten days aboard the world’s only Flying Eye Hospital – a DC-10 specially converted into a mobile teaching hospital. Alexander said, “ORBIS is changing people’s lives for the better, and I am honored to participate in such a worthy program”. Sasha added “I am looking forward to the ten days spent in Jaipur, both because of what I can offer and what the programme can offer to me”.

Col. Sally Murphy in a US Army Blackhawk at Fort Myer, VA, after receiving her Commendation Business Wire

Army Honors First Female Aviator

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n a ceremony at Fort Myer in Arlington, VA, Colonel (Ret.) Sally Murphy has been awarded the U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute Veteran Commendation to commemorate 27 years of service and her place in military history. Murphy became the first woman to graduate from the Army Aviation School in 1974, becoming the Army’s first female helicopter and fixed wing pilot. After graduating, she flew RU-21 airplanes as an intelligence officer along the border between Germany and the Soviet Union and later Huey helicopters. After commanding Companies in Kansans and Germany and a Battalion in Japan, she retired in 1999. “I come from an Army family that is dedicated to service,” said Murphy, now 60 years old. “I am humbled and take great pride in receiving the Freedom Team Salute Commendation. “I was the only woman in Army Aviation School in the early 70s and if I told you I did not have problems with a few people, I would not be truthful,” she said. “But things were changing and with the Vietnam War winding down, the Army needed to fill some voids. There were some tough times but it made me stronger. The Army is a family and there was always someone giving me encouragement and ready to assist me anytime I needed help.”




The American

Lincoln Bicentennial Conference

T A Special Forces medic treats a US Army soldier in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. DAnIEl lOVE, US ARMy

Operation Comfort Warriors

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peration Comfort Warriors was announced 3 weeks before last Christmas. The purpose of the American legion program is to purchase comfort items for our wounded heroes recovering in places like Walter Reed Army Medical Center, The national naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Madigan Army Hospital in Fort lewis, Washington and many other U.S. military hospitals around the globe. The program has now received over $140,000 and is being used to purchase comfort items such as hooded sweat shirts and pants, DVDs, puzzles, iPods, portable electronic items, as well as gifts that provide welcome distractions to the tedium that often comes with prolonged hospital stays. It has even supplied a bio-feedback system, to benefit troops with stress disorders, brain injuries and other war-related injuries. The American legion’s national Commander David K. Rehbein says, “not a single penny of donated funds is spent on administrative costs or fundraising. Those expenses are paid from our headquarters budget.” you may donate online at www. legion.org/ocw or you can mail a check to Operation Comfort Warriors, PO Box 1055, Indianapolis, In 46206.

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o commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of President Lincoln, The American Civil Round Table UK, Britain’s premier Civil War historical society, is holding a conference on ‘Lincoln & the War for the Union’. The speakers at the event, to be held on October 17 & 18 at the Holiday Inn, Oxford, include Dr. Craig L. Symonds, Professor Emeritus of American History at the US Naval Academy. The first person to win the Academy’s awards for Excellence in both Teaching and Research, he is the prize-winning author of twelve books. The latest, ‘Lincoln and His Admirals’, won the Barondess Prize and the Lincoln Prize for 2009. Joining him will be Geoff rey Perret, author of ‘Lincoln’s War’. One of the leading historians working today, he was born in the US to English entertainer parents and educated there. He volunteered for the US army, studied law at Berkeley and did graduate work at Harvard. The third speaker is Len Riedel, Executive Director of the Blue and Gray Education Society. Based in Chatham, VA, the BGES is committed to “Revealing America’s Past for Future Generations.” Riedel is a retired USAF officer who served as the Director of Airspace Management at the US 3rd Air Force, RAF Mildenhall and has an MA in History, his speciality being the Civil War. He has planned and conducted over 200 historical tours and taken people to over 400 different battlefields from American history. He is an accomplished speaker and experienced battlefield detective.

Allan Pinkerton, President Abraham Lincoln and Major General John A. McClernand at the Antietam battlefield

ACWRT UK May Meeting

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he American Civil Round Table UK invites you to its May meeting to hear about ‘Lincoln’s Tragic Admiral: The Life of Samuel Francis Du Pont’. Once revered as one of the finest officers in the U.S. Navy, Rear Admiral Du Pont is now, when remembered at all, criticized for resisting technological innovation and for half-heartedly leading the disastrous all-ironclad Union naval attack on Charleston. The speaker, Col. (Rtd) Kevin J. Weddle, Ph.D., is a Professor of Military Theory and Strategy at the US Army War College. A native Minnesotan, he served in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom. Col. Weddle reassesses the eventful life of one of the most interesting officers ever to serve in the United States Navy. The meeting is on May 23 at 1pm at The Civil Service Club, Great Scotland Yard, London SW1A 2HJ. For further information on the conference or meeting, please contact Peter Lockwood at 01747 828719, oldcount@aol.com or www.americancivilwar.org.uk


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The American

Obituary

February 20, 1918 to March 12, 2009 by Virginia Schultz

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friend of Leonore “Lee” Annenberg once told me it was she who influenced Prince Charles to start the Prince’s Trust. True or not, she was an inspiration to almost everyone who came to know her. Yet, when this twice divorced socialite married Walter Annenberg in 1951, few predicted the impact she would have in both artistic and charitable organizations. She was born Leonore Cohn in New York on February 29, 1918, the eldest daughter of Max Cohn, a failing textile merchant, and Clara Henle. When, at the age of seven, her mother died, her father could not cope and his brother Harry, the founder of Columbia Pictures and one of Hollywood’s legendary producers, brought her up from the age of eleven. Harry Cohn, called one of the meanest men in Hollywood, was not an easy man to know or work for, according to almost everyone who knew him. After graduating from Stanford University in 1940, Leonora married Belden Katlemen, whose family made a fortune in property and parking lots. The couple had a daughter, but were divorced a few years later. Soon after her divorce, she married Lewis Rosenstiel, a multi-millionaire and the founder of Schenley liquor distillery, twenty-seven years older than her, with whom she had another daughter. The marriage ended in a bitter divorce with Lee citing extreme mental cruelty. In 1951, she married Walter

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Annenberg who had turned the failing family publishing empire into a great success. The marriage proved a close and enduring relationship until his death. “We do everything together, and that fulfils something I wanted in life and he wanted in life,” she told the Washington Post. “You know some men friends go out to play golf with their men friends. Well, Walter prefers to play golf with me.” The Annenbergs built a renowned collection of Impressionist and Post-impressionist masterpieces estimated to be worth over a billion dollars when they pledged it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The collection which included paintings by Cezanne, Renoir, Monet and Van Gogh were usually hung in Sunnylands, their magnificent mansion near Palm Springs. It was here President Richard Nixon, a long time friend, went after the Watergate scandal. When Prince Charles visited there for the first time he said, “You gave this up to come to London?” In 1969, after Nixon became President, he appointed Walter Annenberg US Ambassador to Britain. Lee immediately started to renovate Winfield House in Regent’s Park, the mansion the Woolworth heir Barbara Hutton had donated to the U.S. Annenberg spent over five million dollars in restoring in six months and filled it with magnificent post impressionist paintings. The hand painted Chinese wallpaper in the main draw-

University of Southern California

LEONORE ANNENBERG

ing room was painstakingly restored and hung and is exceptional. The Annenbergs were supporters of Ronald Reagan and Walter helped forge his friendship with Margaret Thatcher. After Reagan’s election in 1980, his appointed Lee chief of protocol of the United States, with ambassadorial status. She advised the president and others in the government, and formally welcomed foreign dignities to the White House. She resigned following a dispute over who should organize the president’s attendance at Anwar Sadat’s funeral. For the rest of their lives the Annenbergs supported numerous worthy causes. Lee was a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a board member of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and a managing director of the Metropolitan Opera. She was associated with numerous enterprises including the University of Pennsylvania, the Richard Nixon Library and the Royal Academy. In 2004, she was appointed an honorary CBE by the Queen. Lee and Walter’s “unparalleled philanthropy” as Nancy Reagan described it, will not be forgotten. Mrs. Annenberg is survived by two daughters and a stepdaughter. H


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 Dead by Dawn Festival Filmhouse, Edinburgh Independent horror cinema festival. www.deadbydawn.co.uk April 30 to May 03 Selling Democracy: Re–discovering the Lost Films of The Marshall Plan 1948 – 1953 Barbican Centre, London A landmark film series showcasing a selection from the 260 plus films originally produced under The Marshall Plan, the US government project designed to hasten European economic recovery after WWII. www.barbican.org.uk/film 0845 120 7527 May 01 to May 03 Ely’s Eel Day Jubilee Gardens, Ely, Cambs This slithery celebration brings to life the city’s eel traditions with eel tasting, folklore and historical entertainment and displays. 11 am until 4 pm. www.eastcambs.gov.uk/tourism tic@eastcambs.gov.uk 01353 662062 May 02 Well Dressing Across the Midlands of England This ancient custom is peculiar to England, Derbyshire and Staffordshire in particular. Well dressings are pictures made from natural materials such as flower petals, seeds, leaves and berries. Most are religious although more modern themes have been adopted. When the well dressing is at the site of the well it is blessed by the local clergy. Well dressing is thought

to have originated from Pagan times, a ritual performed to give thanks for the supply of fresh water. Some claim that the Romans introduced the custom into Britain, others connect the celebration with outbreaks of plague. Check the website for details. www.welldressing.com May 04 to September 12 Montagu Motor Museum Golden Anniversary Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Hampshire Celebrating the Museum’s 50th anniversary with a Cavalcade of Cars & Car Club Parade www.beaulieuevents.co.uk 01590 612345 May 04 The Churchill Lecture Series Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, Clive Steps, King Charles Street, London SW1 In Sickness and In Power: Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. Lord Owens discusses whether Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt’s health problems impaired their effectiveness as world leaders. 6.30pm. cwr.iwm.org.uk May 07 Helston Flora Day Streets of Helston, Cornwall A spring festival, the first festival after winter, featuring the Early Morning Dance, Hal–an–Tow, the Children’s Dance, the Ancient Furry Dance and Evening Dance. www.helstonfloraday.org.uk May 08

‘Life As A Dream’ A solo show of the most recent work by Igor Tcholaria Hay Hill Gallery, 23 Cork Street, Mayfair, London W1S 3NJ Igor Tcholaria, the St Petersburg artist whose art was banned in the USSR, is one of Russia’s most well-known contemporary artists. He is collected by international clients, many from the USA. Tcholaria created four murals for Cunard’s Queen Mary II, and added his paintings to Volvo cars for the Millionaire Show in Moscow. His work is in the collection of The Mayfair Hotel, London. His fourth book is published this Fall to tie in with a show in The Netherlands and an exhibition in the State Russian Museum in St Petersburg. ‘Life As A Dream’ is inspired by the Commedia dell’Arte and the Circus and is a rare opportunity to see Tcholaria’s work in London. The exhibition also introduces a collection of 50 iconic bronze sculptures by Auguste Rodin. 020 7734 7010 www.hayhill.com April 20 to May 16

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The American

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‘Hours of Devotion’ & ‘Shelf Life’ Photographic works by Veronica Bailey Colnaghi, 15 Old Bond Street, London W1S 4AX Colnaghi, in association with GBS Fine Art, presents a solo photographic exhibition by Jerwood Photographic Prize winner Veronica Bailey. ‘Hours of Devotion’ resulted from an invitation from Coutts Bank to explore their Old Staff Library, founded in the 1850’s as a philanthropic resource for the bank’s staff. This collection of 13 large works from ‘Hours of Devotion’ and 20 from ‘Shelf Life’ consists of largely C19th works, many in tooled leather bindings, with lusciously marbled and gilded page edges. Bailey presents the Coutts’ books as opulent neo-gothic monuments on an appropriately impressive scale. Collectors can view the images in the Colnaghi Library, one of the largest and oldest private art libraries. Bailey’s works are in series of 8 to 12, ranging in price from £950 to £13,500. Opening hours: Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm 020 7491 7408 www.colnaghi.co.uk May 8 to June 6

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Native American Theatre: a panel of playwrights British Library Conference Centre As part of the Origins Festival of First Nations Theatre and Culture, a panel of Native American theatre–makers discuss their work. What makes Native American theatre distinctive? How does it express traditional culture and relate it to the contemporary world? What are its main concerns today? The panel includes Cherokee playwright Diane Glancy, Delaware playwright Daniel David Moses, and the directors of the Huron–Wendat company Ondinnok: Yves Sioui Durand and Catherine Joncas. 6.30pm www.riversidestudios.co.uk 020 8237 1111 May 11 Salvage, Presented at Origins – Festival of First Nations Riverside Studios, Crisp Road, Hammersmith, London W6 and venues across London The UK’s inaugural festival of First Nations creative arts, bringing together groundbreaking artists from the indigenous cultures of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. The festival explores First Nations experience in the C21st through theatre, film screenings, and participation. In Salvage Cherokee writer Diane Glancy offers a picture of Native American culture battling to exist in the contemporary world. A man ruins another family’s life in a car accident. As his own family becomes the target of revenge, his elderly father turns to the spirits and his devout wife turns to her God and the past. There will be a post–show discussion 13th May. www.deadbydawn.co.uk 12 May to 17 May Charleston Festival Charleston Firle, Lewes, East Sussex Named after the country retreat of the artists, writers and intellectuals known as the Bloomsbury Group, the Charleston Festival celebrates

a magnificent literary heritage. Workshops, talks from prominent writers, discussions and performances. www.charleston.org.uk May 15 to May 24 Beaulieu MotorMart Autojumble Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Hampshire 1000 Autojumble stands plus 150 cars for sale. Includes entry to the Beaulieu Attraction. www.beaulieuevents.co.uk 01590 612888 May 16 to May 17 Spirit of the West Inveraray Castle, Argyll Part of the year long Homecoming Scotland 2009 celebrations, a two day event celebrating Scotland’s west coast whisky and the rich culture and dramatic scenery in which it is created. Includes a traditional Scottish ceilidh. A great place for golf fans too. www.whiskycoast.co.uk May 16 to May 17 Spring Air Show Imperial War Museum Duxford,Cambridgeshire CB22 4QR Opening Duxford’s air show season, the 2009 Spring Air Show’s aerial spectacle showcases aircraft both vintage and modern. On the ground, complimenting the flying display, activities for all – from children rides to tank rides – are sure to make this a day to remember for all the family. An evocative mix of historic and contemporary military and civil aircraft, including the legendary Mustang. Already confirmed flying participation: Eurofighter Typhoon from RAF 29 Squadron, BAE Systems Hawk from 208 Squadron, Embraer Tucano from RAF Linton-on-Ouse, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane. Prices held for 2009, plus children go free when adults buy tickets in advance. www.iwm.org.uk/duxford 01223 499 353 May 17


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Cambridge Beer Festival Jesus Green, Cambridge Look out for real ale festivals across Britain – worth checking out to see what the warm, flat, brown, but very tasty beers are all about. Cambridge has the longest running beer festival in the country. www.cambridgebeerfestival. com/summer/ May 18 to May 23 An Enlightenment Friendship: Franklin and Polly Hewson Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, London WC2N 5NF A fascinating story of personal friendships in the Enlightenment. The correspondence between Franklin and Polly, daughter of Franklin’s landlady in his London lodgings, highlights many aspects of 18th Century life, including Franklin’s scientific experiments, his political associates and his social circle. 1pm £5/£3.50 www.benjaminfranklinhouse.org info@benjaminfranklinhouse.org May 18 Chelsea Flower Show Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London The latest gardening trends, the newest and most desirable gardening products, 15 show gardens, 20 spectacular smaller gardens, 300 shopping stalls and, in the Great Pavilion, the centrepiece of the show, 110 plant and floral displays. www.rhs.org.uk 0844 209 1810 (00353 74 9388136 from outside the UK) May 19 to May 23 Bath International Music Festival Various Venues, Bath 16 eclectic days celebrating the world’s best jazz, classical, folk, roots and world music, includes Appalachian music and Harrison Birtwistle birthday celebrations www.bathmusicfest.org.uk 01225 463362 May 22 to June 06

Cheese Rolling Coopers Hill, Brockworth, Gloucestershire Daredevils hurl themselves down the steep, grassy slopes of Coopers Hill in pursuit of a giant Double Gloucester cheese! It is a rough uneven slope with a 1:2 gradient, so the winner takes home a few cuts and bruises along with the cheese. Popular with international competitors including New Zealanders and Canadians, this unique event dates back to at least medieval times. It may originate from a pagan festival celebrating the onset of summer or ancient fertility rights. Four races including one for ladies. 12 midday www.cheese-rolling.co.uk May 25 Trucks & Troops Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Hampshire An explosive show with 250 military vehicles and live combat displays. www.beaulieuevents.co.uk 01590 612888 May 23 to May 25 Tetbury Wool Sack Race Tetbury, Gloucestershire A gruelling competition dating back to the C17th run between two pubs in Tetbury. Competitors run in pairs and fours up Gumstool Hill carrying a large sack of wool. www.tetburywoolsack.co.uk May 25 The Royal Bath & West Show The Showground, Shepton Mallet, Somerset BA4 6QN The South West’s premier agricultural event. Main ring attractions, thousands of livestock, something for all the family, whether farmers or families, town or country. There are agricultural shows across the country. www.bathandwest.com May 27 to May 30

Robert Dover’s Cotswold Olimpicks (Shin Kicking) Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire Since 1612 this annual event has featured countryside games like tug–of–war, obstacle races and wrestling and the bizarre shin–kicking competition – two contestants fill their trouser legs with straw and kick each other using steel capped boots. Bonfire, fireworks, torchlight procession & Morris dancing. 7.30pm www.olimpickgames.co.uk May 29 Colonial Wars – Quebec 1759 Cowdray Heritage Trust, Midhurst, West Sussex GU29 9AL Recreation of life in colonial America in the 18th century, set against the backdrop of the French & Indian War, “The Last of the Mohicans” time. British, French, and Native Americans, as they would have appeared in the mid–C18th, when Britain and France battled for control of the continent. www.cowdray.org.uk 01730 810781 May 30 to May 31

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ChildLine Rocks 2009 Following last year’s successful event, ChildLine Rocks returns to the IndigO2 in Greenwich, London, on June 1st. Profits from the evening of music from some of the biggest rock stars in the business go to Childline, the charity for service to children in danger. Last year’s bill included Roger Daltrey, Lulu, The Zombies and members of Deep Purple and raised an incredible £100,000. This year promises to be even bigger. Compered again by BBC radio DJ Bob Harris, ChildLine Rocks will also feature a very special auction at the June 1st show to be followed in the Autumn by a substantial music auction at Bonhams.

Damien Hirst Counts The Hours Hip new indie band The Hours have a major name artist designing their new forthcoming album cover. The CD and digital artwork for ‘See The Light’ has been designed by Damien Hirst. But the connection goes deeper. The album has been released on Hirst’s own record label, Is Good. The artist previously designed the sleeve for The Hours debut single, Ali In The Jungle and 2007 album Narcissus Road, and oversaw last year’s video for See The Light, starring Sienna Miller and directed by American History X director Tony Kaye.

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News Round-up Barbican and Jazz at Lincoln Center The Lincoln Center In New York City’s world-famous resident big band, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra has become an International Associate of the Barbican. In a unique partnership, they will play a series of biennial residencies in London starting in 2010, involving large and small-scale concerts, new commissions, and educational and outreach work. Adrian Ellis, the orchestra’s Executive Director, said, “The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra has performed for audiences across the UK for many years. This is a great opportunity to cement the relationship with a residency that brings the full breadth of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s programs, spanning concerts, workshops, master classes, educational outreach and collaborations with British artists and teachers. It helps create a lasting community for the music.” The first residency, in June 2010, will involve three concerts including one at the Hackney Empire (pictured).

Live Outplays Records Box office grosses from the live music industry surpassed total sales of recorded music for the first time in decades last year, according to the chief economist of the PRS, Will Page. The PRS is the organization that collects royalties from businesses that play music and sends them to the musicians who created it. Page has calculated that the live performance royalties that his organisation receives from UK concerts

equates to an overall box office total of £1.28bn, compared to the BPI’s figure of £1.24bn for the total value of recorded music sales last year.

Mayor Sways to the Rhythm of London London’s Mayor Boris Johnson has unveiled plans for Rhythm of London, a two days festival of music events and activities on July 10-11. It is part of his initiative to increase musical opportunities and education for young Londoners. Dozens of events will happen across the capital, including performances in schools, ‘street pianos’ placed in London’s streets and squares, and the finale to the City of London Festival. The aim is to encourage participation for everyone, especially those who may be less experienced. Mr Johnson said, “We are planning a magnificent programme of events to get young Londoners enthused about music making, and give them a chance to shine. London’s thriving music scene is known around the world and is constantly re-invigorated by fresh ideas and talent. But despite music being such an important part of London’s cultural and social landscape, it is not always easy for young Londoners to get access to music education, instrument tuition and venues.”


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ALBUMS THEOF MONTH Hot City – The 1974 Unreleased Album

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band MLP In the early 70s there was no-one like The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. Come to think of it there hasn’t been anyone like them before or since. A combination of raw theatricality, street menace, Jacques Brel songs, heavy rock and overpowering charisma was unique. If you haven’t heard of Alex Harvey, Google ‘YouTube’, ‘SAHB’, and ‘Next’ or ‘Faith Healer’, and prepare to be astonished. After two albums, the Glaswegian band had established a fanatical following and prepared to go global, recording a new LP with legendary American producer Shel Talmy. Extraordinarily, the band decided they didn’t like the sound and ‘Hot City’ was canned. Many of the songs were rewritten and rerecorded, to come out as the album ‘The Impossible Dream’. After 35 years, the fully mixed tracks were rediscovered and Talmy and the remaining band members (Harvey died in 1982, aged 46) decided to release the album as it would originally have been.

Not Before Time Pete Brown Pod Music

Speaking of should-beknown-better British talent, Pete Brown has helped create some of the best music of the last twenty years, engineering, producing and playing on recordings by Sade, Dusty Springfield, Edwin Starr, Yello (The Race was one of his), Big Country, David Gilmour,

Denis Locorriere, Pete’s sister Sam (he produced the multi-platinum hit ‘Stop’) and many more. The appropriately named Not Before Time is his first solo album and unsurprisingly it is a varied, accomplished and well put together piece of work. But more, it is a great listen, the sound of a man enjoying his, and others’, music. ‘Say You Know Me Well’ is ridiculously funky (courtesy of drummer Mike Sturgis). Jack White’s Doorbell successfully gets a mandolin and Hammond workout – there are Celtic and Cajun flavors throughout. ‘Twenty Million Things’ is a perhaps-toorespectful run through Lowell George’s wistful ballad. More successful is the trippy, funky, Irish folky ‘Twisted Out of Shape’, while The Smell of You has a wonderful, lazy, extended guitar solo by Brown that (deliberately) more than nods to his client Gilmour’s solo on Dark Side’s Breathe. Pete Brown is touring the UK from May 22 through June 19.

American Soldier Queensrÿche Atco/Rhino Records

The concept album is not dead, if lead singer and songwriter Geoff Tate has anything to do with it. And if any concept is deserving of Queensrÿche’s ’80s era Brit-influenced metal, it is War. The idea came after Tate spoke to fans that were veterans, as well as his father who served in Korea and Vietnam. He talked to veterans of wars from World War II up to date in Iraq, and clips from those interviews are integrated with songs like ‘Sliver’, ‘Hundred Mile Stare’ and ‘Man Down!’. The band’s portenteous and dark sound suits the subject matter. American Soldier is unlikely to win them any converts, but metal fans will love it. Queensrÿche are touring the US in the spring, with international dates coming later.

That Lonesome Song Jamey Johnson Humphead/Mercury

There are an awful lot of baritone voiced country singers who tell us about their drinking, drugging, womanizing and their hard-up life, no-good job and beat-up truck. But there’s a ring of truth in the dour-faced Jamey Johnson’s songs here. He wrote them while living in a friend’s basement, after losing both his wife in a difficult divorce, and his record deal. He gave up drinking and started writing, and these songs are, he says in his sleevenotes, ‘a collection of my observations of my life as I saw it during that time.’ ‘High Cost of Living’ sums up the ambience – “I had a job and a piece of land and my sweet wife was my best friend, but I traded that for cocaine and a whore”. It’s not all doom and gloom – he has some laughs along the way – but it’s gritty and real. Johnson takes on the mantle of Johnny Cash. Mercury have done a good job by signing the newly clean (and now ACM Song of the Year award winner) Johnson and bringing him to wider attention.

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LIVE AND KICKING

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Solomon Burke at WOMAD

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orld music festival WOMAD, the brainchild of Peter Gabriel, has confirmed the first acts for this year’s festival. Among the main attractions at the Wiltshire-based event are Ethiopian collective Ethiopiques, Fat Freddy’s Drop from New Zealand, Mali’s Oumou Sangare and Rokia Traoré. A surprise addition - and a main attraction for lovers of soul music - is the Philly-born King of Soul, Solomon Burke! The World Of Music And Dance events are now held in Spain (Cáceres, May 5-10), Abu Dhabi (you’ve just missed it) and London (September 19-20), but King Solomon will be at the Charlton Park, Malmesbury one, which runs from July 24 to 26.

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Brian Wilson Headlines GuilFest July 2009

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clecticism reigns at GuilFest, as the headliners for the three days have been announced as scuzzy uber-rockers Motorhead on Friday and wacked-out funk/house/indie Mancunians Happy Mondays on Sunday, sandwiching on the Saturday night... Brian Wilson Now in its 18th year, Guilfest is one of the friendliest festivals in the UK and the nearest and easiest to get to from London, as it’s situated in lovely Stoke Park in Guildford, Surrey. If the weather holds and the sun shines, it will be a perfect place to see ‘the Mozart Of Rock’ play classics like ‘California Girls’, ‘God Only Knows’, ‘Good Vibrations’ and maybe some newer material from ‘That Lucky Old Sun’. Wilson has played in the UK in recent years, but it’s fair to say that he is now healthier and happier than he has been for years and it should be a great occasion. This is Brian’s only UK date on a short European tour. Legend is a much over-used word. Wilson is a legend. By way of contrast, Lemmy, the Motorhead-meister, lives the rock ‘n’ roll life to the max and his music embodies that. ”Born to lose – live to win”, says his famous tattoo. Heads down and boogie!

GuilFest has been consistently voted as one of the UK’s best family festivals with seven stages of live music, comedy, theater, children’s entertainment, Farmer Giles’ barn dance, street theater, art and crafts, delicious food and drink from around the world and a truly festive atmosphere. A large children’s area, The KidZone, means you can take the kids too. July 10, 11 and 12. See www.guilfest. co.uk for full lineup information.

Three dates for Steely Dan

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teely Dan are returning to the UK to play three concerts in the summer. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen’s sophisticated jazz-rock group have garnered such epithets as “cerebral,” “wry” and “eccentric” but that has not stopped them selling over 30 million albums worldwide. This is a rare chance to see one of the most accomplished and respected song writing teams of the last four decades. June 28th Edinburgh Playhouse; 29th Birmingham Academy; July 1st London, Hammersmith Apollo.


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WIN TICKETS TO THE

ONCE IN A LIFETIME –

LEGENDS LIVE TOUR

The legends that helped make Motown the most vibrant record label of the sixties are on the road once more, and you can win one of two pairs of tickets to see them with The American.

JUST ANSWER THIS SIMPLE QUESTION:

The Commodores

According to Martha and the Vandellas’ parenthetical hit single1963 hit, (Love Is Like A)… what?” A Heat Wave B Red Red Rose C Butterfly

SEE THE COMMODORES, MARY WILSON OF THE SUPREMES, MARTHA REEVES & THE VANDELLAS, THE MIRACLES, JR WALKER’S ALL STARS

Mary Wilson

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his tour may be your last chance to see these incredibly talented stars perform on the same bill. The Commodores are one of the biggest-selling groups of the 70s, scoring many of the decade’s best loved hits including the No 1 smash ‘Three Times A Lady’ (Motown’s biggest selling single ever), ‘Sail On’, ‘Easy’, ‘Machine Gun’ and ‘Still’, Mary Wilson was one third of the Supremes, one of the most influential and successful vocal groups of the 60s & 70s. Their hits include ‘Baby Love’, ‘Where Did Our Love Go’, ‘Stop! In The Name Of Love’, ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’ and ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’. Martha Reeves & The Vandellas’ earthy soul sound brought hits like ‘Nowhere To Run’, ‘Dancing In The Street’, ‘Heatwave’, and ‘Jimmy Mac’. The Miracles were the first Motown group to earn a gold record. You will know their hits, ‘Tears Of A Clown’, ‘Love Machine’ and ‘Tracks Of My Tears’. And Jr. Walker’s All Stars, the “Ultimate Motown Party Band”, will be forever remembered for ‘Road Runner’. Expect these hits and many more at Wembley Arena on Thursday, June 25.

All correct answers will go into a draw. Send your answer with your name, address, daytime telephone number and email address (optional) to reach us by mid-day, Monday June 1, 2009. H Use the form at www.theamerican.co.uk H Or email theamerican@blueedge. co.uk with ONCE IN A LIFETIME COMPETITION in the subject line. H Or send a postcard to: ONCE IN A LIFETIME COMPETITION, The American, Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK. Tickets are for the June 25 performance. You must be 18 years old or over to enter this competition. Only one entry per person per draw. The editor’s decision is final.

CELEBRATING WEMBLEY ARENA’S 50th YEAR OF LIVE MUSIC

BOX OFFICE 0844 815 0815 www.wembleyarena.co.uk 17


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Holly Williams Holly, daughter of Hank Junior, sister of Hank III and grand-daughter of original country legend Hank Williams is very much her own person. She spoke with Michael Burland.

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olly, you’re just about to go onstage at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London, supporting Sugarland. How did you meet Kristian and Jennifer? We’ve been labelmates for a while. It’s not a very big label so we got together. And I have a clothing store that Jennifer shops in sometimes. Being in Nashville I kinda know everyone. You grew up in Nashville, didn’t you? I did. We moved there from Alabama when I was three, in ’84. It’s funny, because people who don’t know me can’t believe I live there, most people move in from other places. All the business is done there. But you didn’t want to be a country musician to start with, did you? The songs I was writing weren’t what was, in America, mainstream country. I just wanted to sing my songs. If people thought they were country, great. If they thought they were alternative, that was fine too. My first album definitely did not fit on country radio at all, so I started to do the singer-songwriter route and toured all over Europe and the US, played in all the coffee shops and clubs. It was definitely not a planned, thoughtout thing, it came out naturally that way.

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Do people isolate themselves into genres, alt. country, Americana, country? Yeah, especially in Nashville. Compared to what’s on country radio now my stuff is pretty left of center, but hopefully I have enough songs to fit down the middle too. Didn’t you want to be a model and be in the fashion business, not a singer? The model thing has been blown out of proportion. I said that once! When I was real young I wrote songs all the time and when I was 18, 19, I started writing again. I did the normal teenager things, going to the karaoke booth every now and then, not taking it seriously. When I started writing songs, I didn’t think I would ever play them live, I just wanted to write songs for other people. Then the songs started becoming so personal, I wanted to be the only one to perform them. The songs don’t sound as if they’ve been rammed into a country niche with a rubber mallet. They have different personalities. Thank you, that means a lot. My label allowed me to be as creative as I wanted to. I started on Universal South, now I’m with Mercury Nashville, but it’s different

labels with the same company. My label head, who’s wonderful, has everyone from Ryan Adams and Morrissey and Lucinda Williams, to Shania Twain and Lee Ann Womack. He understands both sides of it. The music was always there – how could it not be in your family. But your first breakthrough tour was over here in Europe. With Ron Sexsmith, that was my first time here. I flew over here with a guitar case and a backpack full of CDs, and traveled on planes and trains all by myself. I was 22 and I’d just read Jack Kerouac’s On The Road! Your new album ‘Here With Me’ is interesting. It’s deeply personal. Particularly the song, ‘Alone Without Jesus Here With Me’. It’s about a terrible car wreck that you were in with your sister, Hilary. Were you religious before the accident? I was raised in a Christian home with my Mom. I didn’t have a conversion, but it was a miracle that we lived through the wreck, and so many things happened that the doctors said never would. There’s a line in there, “I gladly would have died that day, To save the child


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that went away”. What is that about? Right after the wreck a friend of mine’s son died in a car accident and I had such a hard time…We were so close to dying, but didn’t. It’s not that I wanted to die, but it felt like, we’ll never understand why certain people are left and others aren’t. That was about that whole confusion.

Could you see yourself working with him? You know, under the right circumstances I would love to. If it was the right song we could sing together, or write together, although it would be hard to write with a family member. I can barely write with other people, it’s such a personal thing for me,.

You mention Hank senior in that song too, “Hanks’ words, they taught me everything”, but of course you never met him, by several decades. How much of a part of your family life was he? Did you think of yourselves as – and I put these words in quotes – “country royalty”? No, my Dad was the famous one when I was growing up. I had heard Hank Williams’ name when I was growing up, but I thought he must have done a couple of songs in ‘ye olde times’. Dad was just huge, selling out arenas, but it was when I came here [to Britain] that I realized about the Hank Williams legend. When I first met Bob Dylan he would talk about him. So did Stevie Wonder and other people I love. I got to meet a lot of his friends and they would tell me stories. My Dad made his own music and he always told us, don’t try to copy anyone, stay true to your writing.

Do writing and performing go hand in hand for you? My favorite aspect is writing. It’s natural for me. It took me a while to get comfortable with being on stage and performing. All the songs come to me with the melody, the lyric, all at once. I actually wrote ‘Making A Fool Out Of You’ here in Scotland, I woke up at three in the morning and jotted the whole song down. I don’t sit down with an instrument and say, OK, I’m going to write now, it comes to me at such random times. I wrote ‘Mama’ [about the positive way her mother acted when divorcing her father] when I was driving in the car. That’s the neat thing about it, you never know when it’s going to hit you. Sometimes I may not write a song for four months, then three will come in a week.

There are other dynasties – I’m thinking of the Wainwright and McGarrigle family – Martha and Rufus are doing totally different things. You do your own music, and Hank III’s mix of punk and country is very exciting. You’re half-brother and sister – do you spend much time together? I don’t see him as much as I see Dad, he’s away so much. Dad only does about 20 shows a year now. My brother does anywhere from 250 to 300 shows a year. When he’s in Nashville we get together and we get along great. But I didn’t grow up with him, and he’s so much older.

One of the most outstanding songs on the album is ‘Three days in bed’. That’s a brave song. Very brave! It was very loosely based on my experiences - I didn’t really spend ‘three days in bed with a stranger’ [laughs] but I have had my share of fun… I don’t know if I should say this… brief French affairs. I was going to ask what the percentage of fact and fantasy were. Well, my aunt may read this so I’ll say it was all fantasy! Another song, ‘Love Will Last’, is more of a fun thing.

I wrote that with the guy I was dating at the time, Chris Janson, whose voice is on the record. He’s an incredible harmonica player and artist in Nashville. We wrote that really quickly one day. I love playing it live – it may be the next single over here. Country music has a great tradition of duets. Yeah, we wanted to bring that back, there haven’t been any for a while and some of my favorite things from early country were the duets. Now, where next? I’m going to stay in this musical world I’m in right now. I’ll be writing new songs and hopefully I’ll be touring here again in the Fall. H

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As I was saying... Bob Pickens gets a slightly slightly schizophrenic feeling as he boards that homebound plane

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’m going home. It’s a big deal for me to head back Stateside, as I try to do every 18 months or so to look after ageing parents and, starting just over a year ago, to enjoy the pleasures of grandparenting twin girls. As neither my wife or I are on an expat assignment for a large multinational corporation, we’re not entitled to an annual home leave with tickets paid by the firm. That’s a great perk if you can get it, but it does come with baggage attached. For us, any homebound trip is paid out of our personal account, and we have to do a lot of shopping around to get the best deal well in advance of the event itself – unlike some of our acquaintances who can book a trip for next month with the company travel agent. But then there’s an upside for us that some of our corporate friends envy: our Stateside journeys don’t include a report to company headquarters for a debriefing or performance assessment. It’s pretty much a leisure and time-with-the-folks affair for us, with the opportunity to leave thoughts and worries about careers a clear 5,000 miles behind us – and for that we’re certainly grateful. So, being a family-financed and organized activity, our return trips naturally become a hugely significant occasion in our calendar, with the planning and organizing creating a big anticipation. It occurred to me while preparing for this par-

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ticular trip that people who do it on their own dime and time are likely to have a quite different attitude toward the trip than someone who receives it as a built-in feature in the adventure of living overseas. And it would be reasonable to assume that one of the differences in that attitude would be what we expect to find in the US. I don’t mean “find” as in what you would explore and discover when visiting a country you’ve never been to before; I think it’s more an anticipation of seeing how things have changed – or not – since you were last there. It might be because I’ve gone for a couple of long stretches, five years on one occasion, before returning Stateside that I developed this sense of searching for the changes

in our American society whenever I go back. Or it might be an old exnewspaper reporter’s curiosity. And then, it might also be because, after being abroad for a lengthy period of time, you begin to adopt a stereoscopic view of your home country: from one eye you see it in your home-grown, all-American perspective, and from the other you view it through a foreigner’s perspective. It’s an unusual, slightly schizophrenic feeling I get when I board that homebound plane: excitement about the pleasures of a homecoming, but also the vague sense of an adventure of going to a far-away place that could be different from what you imagine it might be. So there are some things I will be looking forward to seeing or


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experiencing or possibly not seeing and experiencing when I get back to the US in about 24 hours time... Drive-in fast food joints. This is a regular craving I begin to feel weeks before setting off. Why they’ve never caught hold here, I do not know. What I do know is that I miss ’em. This time I feel a desperate need to go to a Sonic Drive-in. I wish I had bought stock in that company 30 years ago. Is it the corn dogs, steaming hot on a stick and smothered in bright yellow American mustard? Or is it a package of onion rings in one hand and a banana milk shake with real chunks of banana in the other hand? I don’t know, but my mouth is already starting to water. My mother-in-law gave me a $20 gift voucher to Sonic, for Christmas a few years ago. A gift voucher to a drive-in restaurant? I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Radio music for driving. I love all kinds of music. And I like road trips. And those go together like biscuits and gravy. When it comes to listening to the radio while on a long motor journey I have a few preferred varieties. There’s country – not Top 40 Country and Western stuff, real country; Hank, Lefty, Patsy, Johnny, Mother Maybelle and them folks. Or blues. No not the Stones, but Blind Blake, Son House, John Hurt, Tampa Red, Bukka White and those boys. And gospel, and Cajun. And in the right place at the right time, a bit of Mozart or Vivaldi. I can get all those quite easily on my computer – right now I’m listening to a station in Alaska that plays the best selection of independent acoustic music I’ve ever come across – but will I be able to tune into anything like that in the US? l

Belinda Hankins Miller

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Fast food is a regular craving I begin to feel weeks before setting off. Why they’ve never caught hold here, I do not know. What I do know is that I miss ’em. This time I feel a desperate need to go to a Sonic Drive-in Lord I hope so, because part of my journey will take me through the Mississippi delta, and I hope that somewhere along that road there’ll be a local station with a playlist of local guitarists. And in that same vein, do people in America sing and whistle anymore – or do they just push a button to have it done for them? Boy could my grandfather double whistle; my buddies and I never tired of hearing him do that trick. So could the milkman and the postman. I wonder what would happen if I strolled through a shopping mall whistling “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey”? l

Seeing big yellow school buses. It’s a potent symbol of America to the world beyond the US. I paid l

for my college education by driving one of those things between classes. They used to be just a big Ford, Chevy or International Harvester cab with a coach built onto it by Bluebird or a handful of other companies. Flashing stop signs that flipped out from the side when you picked up or dropped off kids and a convex mirror angled across the front of the cab were the main safety features. Last time I was in the US I came across a school bus that had a six-foot barrier that dropped down in front of the oncoming lane like a gate at a railway level crossing. When I rode in them as a passenger the seats were padded naugahide and you obeyed the driver. When I drove one the seats had become fibreglass shells because kids would slit the padded ones with their pocket knives, and

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The American

I had to keep a stout, sawed-off broomstick next to my seat – just in case. I wonder if the kids now stand and the driver sits inside a cage. Watching baseball. OK, I’ll miss the main season, but at least I should be able to catch a little bit of the pre-season in the papers and on TV, and maybe even get lucky enough to go to a Cardinals or Royals game. How much would I have to cough up to get a seat in the nosebleed section? I heard that after the Cardinals were in the Series a couple of years ago the ticket prices doubled. I don’t know, but I wouldn’t doubt it’s necessary to pay the bills on that new Busch Stadium. More like Busch City. Apartments and offices overlooking the playing field? Something’s not right there. l

Our new President is like totally megaeloquent

While it certainly seems that US phone companies have got the costings down to a reasonable level, I’ve never been too sure that the effect of the mobile telephone on society is a good thing Speaking of which… I actually don’t want to watch any TV, if I can avoid it. American TV is pretty crap when compared to what we’ve got over here. In my experience, even on cable there’s a commercial every five minutes. I timed the main broadcast channels on their commercial instalments last time I was there and I think Jay Leno managed to get in two to three minutes of jokes before he was required to tell us it was time “for a word from our sponsors”. No wonder gridiron football doesn’t work in the UK, what with its stops for commercials after every three plays, maximum. And no wonder soccer, with 45 minutes of uninterrupted, free-flowing athleticism, doesn’t work in a country where the viewers are stunned into senselessness by hundreds of commercial messages per hour. l

It will only be April, but if I’m lucky and there are one or two hot days when I’m down South, and perhaps I will smell rain on hot asphalt. l

The cost and use and social function of telephones. We called our son on his mobile in St. Louis, MO, and spoke with him for 45 minutes – the cost was £1.70; the next day l

22

spoke to our other son in Southampton for 39 minutes. The cost was £3.50. How did that happen? While it certainly seems that US phone companies have got the costings down to a reasonable level, I’ve never been too sure that the effect of the mobile telephone on society is a good thing. There’s something not right about everyone having their own personal phone, and not sharing one. Our son and his partner have been making a home together and raising kids for two years. Yet when we call, we call HIS cell phone. The likelihood of us ever getting to talk to HER is remote – we’d have to specifically phone her number to do that. When we relied on landlines there was one number to call, and you might end up talking to either person on that one line. There was at least an opportunity to get to know your child’s other half via the phone. Language in America. Seriously. I mean, like we’ve got an awesome President that is mega-eloquent, and that’s what got him into office. Is American going to be, like, totally eloquent what with him being a dude we’re all suppose to admire, and teach us all how to talk, or is it just going be, like whatever, and people will still go like Barbie? Oh barf me out. H l


The American

hartwell, the old home of that great Second World War leader Winston Churchill, is nowadays owned and administered by the National Trust. The charity was formed in 1895 by three philanthropists who were concerned by the impact of industrial development on some of the most beautiful parts of Britain. They acted as guardian for the nation by acquiring areas of coastline, countryside and historic buildings. Britain is not a large country – at 80,800 square miles, three Great Britains would

NTPL Ian Shaw

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Chartwell, Churchill’s Gem phere of a real home. There is a lovely unfinished portrait of Churchill and his wife breakfasting together with, on the table, their much loved marmalade cat Tango. The studio is full of Churchill’s paintings; he was a talented artist. There are works of art in every room, for example, a lovely sculpture of President Roosevelt by Jo Davidson in the library. There are other American connections of course. Churchill’s mother was a beautiful ageless all American girl and his wife chose the famous American garden designer Lanning Roper to carry on her work when the house was opened by the Trust in l966. . The gardens are gorgeous. There are lakes, the home of Australian black swans, Lady Churchill’s rose garden – she chose flowers with beautiful scent – and signs of Churchill’s bricklaying hobby everywhere. There are events of every kind during the year at Chartwell, a Murder Mystery Dinner, a Halloween Batwalk, a Pimms and Roses Day, a Children’s Day and lots more. A great many volunteers help run the Trust’s properties, serving in the gift shops (one of my friends does this on Mondays, hours are negotiable, and

she has now overcome her fear of not being able to add up!). The atmosphere is very informal and on busy days there is a great deal of laughter and chatter as well as study and lectures. The previous owners would, we think, have liked that. Membership of the National Trust (and it’s not too expensive) gives free entrance to their properties. Opening times and entrance prices vary and it is best to check the website nationaltrust.org.uk, or phone – for Chartwell call 01732 866368.

NTPL Ian Shaw

fit into Texas with room to spare - and we have to be grateful to the Trust for free access to acres of untouched countryside UK wide, and the restoration and upkeep of many historic buildings and sites. After the death of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Prince Charles became its President and takes a great interest in the work. The Trust’s motto is ‘for everyone for ever’. Chartwell is an excellent place to visit, easy to get to and with something to interest everyone. The house commands wonderful views across the Weald of Kent. Churchill bought it in 1922 and it was loved by all his family, although his wife, Lady Clementine Churchill, was often concerned about the cost of maintenance and luxurious improvements. Churchill was a gentleman of his generation and their financial state was often fragile. It was normal to serve roast beef for breakfast and we learn that Lady Churchill drank claret with lunch while her husband preferred champagne. Those little extras mount up! Inside the house the rooms have been left very much as they were when the family lived there; they are not state rooms, but rather have the atmos-

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The American

Summer Lovin’

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xpats living in Britain may be wondering how to fill the summer months for the kids – and themselves. Summer schools are the answer, says Liz Prest

L

iz Prest has been an image consultant for over twenty years. A Fellow of the Federation of Image Consultants, her clients include individuals and major corporate companies. She is much in demand as a speaker for ladies clubs and societies. But every summer she packs her bags and heads to beautiful Marlborough College, an independent school where she is a Tutor at its Summer School. Deep in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside, the slumbering market town of Marlborough becomes a hive of activity in mid summer when Summer School arrives. King John’s charter in 1204 gave the borough an annual eight day fair commencing on the vigil of the Assumption of our Lady, which is still held today. The town has been a popular stopping off point for travellers since the age of the London to

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Bristol stagecoach. Nowadays it is better known for fine shops and restaurants; Polly’s Tearooms is a must for afternoon tea. In 1843 a group of Church of England clergymen, backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, leased the Castle Inn and established a boarding school to educate the sons of the clergy. Today over a third of the 870 pupils are girls - Samantha Cameron, the wife of Conservative leader David, is an Old Marlburian. Some great names have attended the school, among them Arts and Crafts designer William Morris, poet John Betjeman, travel writer Bruce Chatwin, spy Anthony Blunt, round-the-world sailor Sir Francis Chichester, war poet Siegfried Sassoon and Princess Anne’s first husband Mark Phillips. There was even a Marlburian killed with Custer at the Little Big Horn!

You can add your name to this illustrious group by attending the Summer School, which Marlborough has run for thirty-five years. This summer, from July 12 to August 1, there are over 273 adults and 120 young peoples’ courses to chose from. These weekly courses are for full days, or half days if you’d like time to explore the beautiful surroundings. Liz has been a tutor at Summer School for the past fifteen years. During this time she has taught many students, both adults and teenagers from the USA, Japan, France and Russia as well as from Great Britain. Liz’s background is in fashion and personal presentation, which enables her to offer a selection of courses pertaining to her skills. Her ‘What Suits Me Best’ course is oversubscribed every year! Not all of her courses are spent on campus. They include full days at the


The American

Bath Museum of Fashion and the Shopping Outlet at Swindon and a ‘walkabout’ to the fashion shops on Marlborough High Street. Other adult courses include Arts and Crafts, Landscape and Architecture, Literature and Creative Writing, History, Art History and Culture, Music, Dance, International Language and Lifestyle, Technology Science and Computing, Body and Mind, Life Skills Hobbies and Country Pursuits and Sport. And if you take – or send - the youngsters, there are Young People’s Courses for Teenagers, for 13 to 16 yrs, Young Adventurers (10 to 12 yrs), Childrens Activities (6 to 10 yrs) and Junior Troopers for 3 to 6 yrs. The courses include accommodation and food, entertainment and coach transfer. The secret of the successful courses, workshops and sports sessions, says Liz, appears to be the mix of satisfaction in acquiring a new skill in an enjoyable environment and having tutors who are not only experts in their field but instrumental in their students having a memorable holiday. The Summer School organisers have found that they have many visitors returning year after year, to take other courses and to meet friends made from previous years. It is not just courses that make the experience; it is the complete atmosphere of the surroundings. Sitting on the lawn, Pimms in one hand, strawberries and cream in the other, listening to a live concert is a perfect way to relax after a hard day’s ‘learning to trace your family tree, painting water colours or reading Jane Austin or flower arranging’!

r e m m u S in

Sussex S

ussex University is launching a new adult summer school in 2009. The course take place in the gorgeous Sussex countryside just outside Brighton – it’s the only British university set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The fascinating, eclectic subjects include Opera at Glyndebourne, Reading Virginia Woolf, Castles and Fortifications of England and Wales, Buckyballs and Talking Lightbeams – Rough Science, Crime in the City – a creative writing course, Experiencing Shamanic Consciousness, The Genius of Rudyard Kipling, The South Downs, a Living Landscape. For a transatlantic connection, of particular interest to The American’s readers, how about Liberty! Thomas Paine, Britain and the American Revolution. The courses, one or two weeks in August, run for five days. Classes are held in the mornings leaving you plenty of free time to take one of the optional trips: explore the local area such as the beautiful old towns of Lewes and Arundel, or the exciting modern city of Brighton with its historical Royal Pavilion and its vibrant and diverse life. Most courses include a day-long field trip to a relevant site of interest, such as the British Museum, National Gallery or local historical venues and there will be guest lectures or other entertainment on most evenings.

H H SPECIAL OFFER FOR READERS OF THE AMERICAN H H Sussex University would like to offer readers of The American a special offer of 10% reduction on the programme fee. This reduction is valid for all bookings made by 1st June - readers should quote ‘The American’ when booking. Call 01273 877299, write to Sussex in Summer, Centre for Continuing Education, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QQ or go to www.sussex.ac.uk/sussexinsummer/feesandbooking.php

Check out Marlborough’s Summer School at www.mcsummerschool.org. uk, and contact Liz on 01747 828396 or lisprest@aol.com

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The American

Costa Pets Riki Evans Johnson discovers a British-American couple saving stray animals near her new home in Spain

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fter attending a fabulous July 4th American Independence Day party in Nerja last year, sponsored by Seacrest Kennels in support of the Costa Animal Society (www.casnerja.org), I became interested in the kennels and how an American and his British wife have adapted to their life and business on the sunny shores of the Mediterranean. I visited Kurt and Laura Weatherby at their fabulous hacienda. Originally Seacrest was the dream of Laura’s parents Vera and Derek, who moved from South Yorkshire to Nerja, near Malaga, and realised a long-term ambition to own boarding kennels when they purchased Seacrest 25 years ago, Kurt told me. Combining hard work with over 15 years of experience in breeding, grooming and showing standard poodles at Crufts and other international shows, they built a firstclass reputation all along the Costa del Sol. As Vera and Derek entertained plans of semi-retirement, Kurt and Laura joined them after time in Florida and California. Laura was a registered nurse for 18 years, on call at Cedar Sinai Medical Center 24/7, and Kurt had had enough of stress and the LA lifestyle

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after years of never taking a vacation. The reigns of Seacrest were officially handed over on January 1st, 2006. Laura now applies her nursing skills and medical knowledge to the animals and Kurt uses his accounting management experience for the business and provides for the daily needs of the boarders. It’s quite an undertaking. In addition to traditional boarding Seacrest also provides grooming, doggy day care, transportation, puppy socialization and training services. High quality food, treats, cuddles and exercise are the main ingredients throughout the day. The housing set up is unique in the area. Seacrest has only 27 kennels and 17 catteries. Each kennel has its own casita built with brick walls and a red tile roof to provide comfortable shelter from the elements, as well as its own secure play area. The sizes vary to accommodate from a small individual dog up to a family of 3-4 large dogs. The dogs are exercised in a large enclosed yard and there is a high priority on safety and cleanliness, with a stringent inoculation and disinfection policy. Kurt emphasized that a special aspect of their work is helping the Costa

Animal Society, with whom they work re-homing rescued animals and hosting the annual July 4th BBQ fundraiser. Many animals are abandoned by their owners, both Spanish and Northern European, especially when families relocate and cannot take their pets with them. Also, with tight quarantine regulations and the expense of tagging and veterinary care, there is an ever increasing amount of animals in desperate situations, Seacrest providing food, medical care and shelter and assists with fundraising and public relations. The business is a drastic change from Kurt and Laura’s California roots. I asked Kurt what they enjoyed most about their new life in Nerja, “We have a crew that is dedicated and allows us the Spanish lifestyle we crave, a better quality of life, less materialistic, and much happier with a lot less,” he told me. “The rewarding aspects are having a strong ongoing business with a highly regarded reputation. We are living the dream and working hard in a business we love.” Kurt and Laura will again be hosting their annual 4th of July charity BBQ to raise funds for the Costa Animal Society, a non-profit organization devoted to helping abandoned dogs and cats find new homes in their area. Seacrest Kennels is at Pago de la Imaroga 11, (29780) Nerja, Malaga, Spain, +34 95 252 14 26, www.seacrestkennels.eu


The American

O

ne real estate agent I spoke to recently said that nearly a quarter of his new applicants are Americans seeking to buy a property in prime central London. That is an astonishing figure, especially when you consider that as recently as 18 months ago, droves of American were selling up in London to move back to the US. Why the change? The exchange rate, of course.

Home, Sweet-Priced Home In 2007 when the rate was 2-1, many Americans took advantage of this, sold their property at the peak of the market and transferred their funds back to the US. The American property market was beginning to wobble and consequently, those flush with dollars could purchase a substantial home back in the US. Two years on, the landscape is vastly different. The UK housing market is now depressed and the US dollar is at its strongest against Sterling in nearly 15 years. In fact, the dollar has not been this strong since Britain pulled out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992. What is more, the problems with the UK housing market are generally acknowledged to be temporary and in time, prices are expected to recover. Those with long term placements in Britain are naturally tempted to buy. Simply put, Americans have been priced out of the British – and especially the London – housing market until very recently. For those who are planning on staying here for five years or more, buying could make sense but property is never a one-way bet and at best, must be viewed as a long–term investment. The longer the placement,

James Hickman considers whether it’s time for Americans to buy property in Britain again though, the more sense it may make. If you are tempted to buy, remember that the process here can be expensive. Stamp duty of four percent of the purchase price applies on all homes over £500,000 and other expenses such as legal fees, title searches, and removal firms add up quickly. When you come to sell the house, bear in mind that the process can be equally expensive and also can take a lot longer than it does in the US. Recent legislation requires sellers to prepare a Home Information Pack before they can market the property and the time between an offer being accepted and a transaction completing can take many months. If you anticipate having to move quickly due to job requirements or similar, it will be hard to make a quick getaway. It is also worth checking with your employer if you receive a housing stipend. Some companies require the stipend to be paid towards rent rather than a mortgage so ask your Human Resources department if this applies to you. Securing a mortgage can also

be problematic for ex-pats as many lenders are wary of handing over money to someone who could easily escape abroad, leaving unpaid debts. However, a specialist mortgage broker can put you in touch with lenders who are willing to provide mortgages to foreign nationals. The pound has recently been valued at between $1.41 and $1.45. It is anticipated that the pound will strengthen on the back of grim US economic data and a recent report showing UK consumer confidence was up. Just because now seems like a good buying opportunity does not mean you should, though. Evaluate your current needs and your long term plans to see what is right for you. There are some relatively cheap properties to be had but it could prove very costly in the long run if a home in the UK is not what you need. James Hickman is the managing director of Caxton FX, one of Britain’s leading foreign exchange companies. www.caxtonfx.com 0845 658 2223.

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The American

Coffee Break COFFEE BREAK QUIZ QUESTIONS 1 What Comes Next? a Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra… b Alpha. Beta, Gamma, Delta… c Australia, Greenland, New Guinea… d Columbia, Challenger, Discovery… e George V, Edward VIII, George VI… f Nile, Amazon… g Roger, John, Brian…

2 The Google logo is very well known, but what are its colours in order from left to right. 3 In which book do the characters Dandelion, Holly and Fiver appear? 4 Which drink was created by the physician Franciscus Sylvius in the Netherlands in the 17th century?

We had great feedback from our Oscars quiz last month, so here’s another batch of film questions for you to puzzle over. 5 The name of which food product, very popular at breakfast time in Britain, comes from the Portugese for the quince fruit? 6 Which TV family lived at 1313 Mockingbird Lane? 7 Who left his wife his ‘second best bed’ in his will? 8 Which popular song title (2 words) never occurs in February? 9 Which song in English, often sung to babies as a lullaby, uses the melody from Mozart’s ‘Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman’? 10 The name for which fictitious vehicle reputedly comes from a World War I phrase for a ‘dirty weekend’ in Paris? 11 In the Davis Cup tennis competition, A Tie is not a draw, it is a round of the competition. What is a Rubber?

COMPETITION WINNERS The winners of our Disney Live competition in April were Helen Topping of South Croydon, Liza Upton of Sonning Common, Oxfordshire and Sandra Blacker of Tunbridge Wells. Coffee Break Quiz Answers 1. a Angola (Alphabetical countries), b epsilon (Greek alphabet), c Borneo (Island sizes), d Atlantis (US Space Shuttles), e Elizabeth II (British Monarchs), f Mississippi (River lengths), g Freddie (Members of Queen); 2. Blue (G) Red (O) Yellow (O) Blue (G) Green (L) Red (E); 3. Watership Down; 4. Gin; 5. Marmalade (from marmelo); 6. The Munsters; 7. William Shakespeare; 8. Blue Moon (a second full moon in any calendar month); 9. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star; 10. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. 11. An individual match.

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The American

It happened one... May May 1, 1751 - The first cricket match is played in America. May 2, 1932 - Comedian Jack Benny’s radio show airs for the first time. May 3, 1937 - Gone with the Wind, a novel by Margaret Mitchell, wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. May 4, 1855 - American adventurer William Walker departs from San Francisco with about 60 men to conquer Nicaragua. May 5, 1921 - Coco Chanel introduces Chanel No. 5 May 6, 1937 - Hindenburg disaster: 36 die when the German zeppelin catches fire and is destroyed within a minute while attempting to dock at Lakehurst, New Jersey. May 7, 1429 - Joan of Arc ends the Siege of Orléans, marking a turning point in the Hundred Years’ War. May 8, 1877 - The first Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show opens at Gilmore’s Gardens, NYC. May 9, 1671 - Thomas Blood, disguised as a clergyman, attempts to steal England’s Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. May 10, 1824 - The National Gallery in London opens to the public. May 11, 1812 - Prime Minister Spencer Perceval is assassinated by John Bellingham in the lobby of the House of Commons, London. May 12, 1962 - Douglas MacArthur delivers his famous “Duty, Honor, Country” valedictory speech at the United States Military Academy.

The Hindenburg crash, Lakehurst, New Jersey

May 13, 1861 - In the American Civil War: Queen Victoria of Great Britain issues a “proclamation of neutrality” recognizing breakaway states as having belligerent rights. May 14, 1998 - The final episode of Seinfeld airs on NBC. May 15, 1940 - McDonald’s opens its first restaurant in San Bernardino, California. May 16, 1770 - 14-year old Marie Antoinette marries 15-year-old Louis-Auguste who later becomes king of France. May 17, 1875 - Aristides wins the first Kentucky Derby. May 18, 1652 - Rhode Island passes the first law in North America making slavery illegal. May 19, 1962 - A birthday salute to President John F. Kennedy takes place at Madison Square Garden. The highlight is Marilyn Monroe’s rendition of Happy Birthday. May 20, 1609 - Shakespeare’s Sonnets are first published in London, perhaps illicitly, by the publisher Thomas Thorpe. May 21, 1927 - Charles Lindbergh touches down at Le Bourget Field in Paris, completing the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. May 22, 1960 - The Great Chilean Earthquake, the most powerful

earthquake ever recorded, measuring 9.5 on the moment magnitude scale, hits southern Chile. May 23, 1934 - American bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde are ambushed by police and killed in Black Lake, Louisiana. May 24, 1626 - Peter Minuit buys Manhattan. May 25, 1961 - President John F. Kennedy announces before Congress his goal to initiate a project to put a “man on the moon” before the end of the decade. May 26, 1857 - Dred Scott is emancipated by the Blow family, his original owners. May 27, 1907 - A Bubonic plague outbreak begins in San Francisco, California. May 28, 1774 - American Revolutionary War: the first Continental Congress convenes. May 29, 1942 - Bing Crosby, the Ken Darby Singers and the John Scott Trotter Orchestra record Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas”, the bestselling Christmas album in history. May 30, 1536 - King Henry VIII marries Jane Seymour, a lady-inwaiting to his first two wives. May 31, 1927 - The last Ford Model T rolls off the assembly line after a production run of 15,007,003 vehicles.

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The American

DINING OUT AT

AND

TIME SPACE Reviewed by Virginia E. Schultz

W

hen a restaurant calls itself Time and Space one suspects it has to be involved with science. As soon as I recognized the building where it was located, I realized how right I had been. The Royal Institution of Great Britain has been sponsoring science for over two hundred years. Behind its walls resident research scientist Michael Faraday unravelled the mysteries of electricity. In the Faraday Theatre, a small circular auditorium,

children have been watching science programs shown on TV for several generations. Even the thermos flask was supposedly thought up here. Touring the various conference rooms it wasn’t difficult to imagine groups of scientists and engineers discussing the future. In fact, my late husband once attended a seminar there. The building has had a twelve million pound refurbishment that sounds terribly expensive until one compares it to what hotels and restaurants in the area have spent in their makeovers. Bright lighting, red chandeliers and plate glass walls are divisioned by bound copies of science journals and there is a Regency style fireplace at each end of the dining room. The bar and Cartier room with its original wood panelling and fireplace have a kind of club feeling and from the number of people relaxing on the black leather seats, very popular. Light snacks can be ordered here as well. Head chef, Julian Ward, a protégé of Anton Edelmann who is also the chief consultant, presents a variety of dishes in the restaurant that are best described as English classic with a hint of continental thrown in. Ward, however, is very much a man of his time and the dishes are less classic and more humble than when a credit card was handed out with hardly a glance at the bill. As one might expect, as a disciple of Edelmann, Ward designs his menu based on seasonal changes. My first course of Crab Salad with green apple and bread crisp (£9.00) had a

Above: Time and Space’s crab salad. Right: Julian Ward, head chef of Time and Space

whiff of southern England in it, but then I was recalling sailing days around the Isle of Wight when we bought freshly caught sea food and fruit at local street markets. The restaurant décor, free of froufrou, pronounces on entry that it is as proud to serve toad in the hole with chipolatas, mash and gravy (£6.20) as vegetable lasagne and black truffle salad (£12.50). Memorable for me, however, was the slow cooked lamb with minted mash and infused with crème fraîche (£15.95). This was English cuisine close and personal without any pretence. If I was disappointed in anything, it was the desserts, but then, I am of the firm conviction that Blackwell tart with custard should be forgotten as soon as one leaves boarding school. Still, the rice pudding wasn’t bad, although I kept hearing in my head over and over again the poem by Milne, “It’s lovely rice pudding again...” There is an interesting wine selection that won’t break the bank and, of course, cocktails of various ingredients including one called Wou Wou (Vodka, peach schnapps and cranberry juice (£9.50) that would be easy to pronounce for anyone who might have overindulged on Berry Caipirinha (berries, sagatiba, lime juice and sugar (£9.50) which is more of a tongue twister.


Nelly Pateras and daughter Sophia enjoy the ambience of Les Eleveurs

Oh, and do take a walk around the free museum. Even those not interested in science would find the eighteenth century rooms such as the library with its Regency mirror that has hung there since 1804 fascinating.

Time and Space Restaurant Cafe and Bar, Royal Institution of Great Britain, 21 Albemarle Street, London W15 4BS 020 7670 2956 ckaberg@ri.ac.uk Opening hours – Bar: Mon-Sat: 11am to 11pm; Restaurant: Mon-Sat: 12 noon to 2:30pm, 6 to 9pm

Slow cooked lamb at Time and Space

The American

LES ELEVEURS Reviewed by Virginia E. Schultz

H

alle is a Belgian city located on the Brussels-Charleroi Canal and the Flemish side of the language border that separates Flanders and Wallonia. Although the official language is Flems or Dutch, there are few shopkeepers or inhabitants in this small town who don’t speak English. My purpose that afternoon was to have a cup of coffee. Now this may sound mad to anyone except another coffee lover, but I know of few countries in the world who serve better coffee than the Dutch in The Netherlands or The Flems in Belgium. Fortunately, ten minutes after leaving Les Eleveurs, the hotel where I was staying, my mission was accomplished and I was sipping a wonderful cup of coffee while outside the window a carnival band went marching by. To be honest, I hadn’t made this approximately five hour trip from London to Halle simply to enjoy a delightful cup of coffee. Nelly Pateras and I, driven by her daughter Sophia, a talented photographer, were in Halles to have dinner in the restaurant of Les Eleveurs at the recommendation of Fernand, Boeynaems, former head sommelier

and now assistant restaurant manager at Brooks. Les Eleveurs’ chef, Sofie Dumont, has been gaining a reputation beyond the borders of this small town for cooking quite amazing food. In this male dominated world, that’s a compliment few women obtain. Les Eleveurs is in the middle of the town only a short walk from the train station. Andy de Brouwer is the fourth generation to be involved in running the hotel and his attention to detail and service is evident. The dining room is comfortable and pleasing to the eye. One has the feeling it has been designed for those serious about enjoying their food without being overwhelmed by their surroundings. Service was excellent, allowing Fernand, Nelly and I to pore over Andy’s imaginatively well-chosen wine list and review the menu without feeling rushed. Prices, of course, are in euro and the glass of R de Ruinart champagne we drank that evening was E12.90 per glass. Whether you want wine, spirit, or beer, it’s all reasonably priced. In truth, I am not all that fond of snails, but the snail dish tucked into

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The American

a sherry type glass among creamy like foam that we started with was a stunner. Moules always sounds so much better than mussels, but whatever language one uses, the mussels blended with cauliflower we enjoyed was lovely, although it might have used slightly more flavouring of spices. But it was our main course of roast English lamb surrounded by perfectly cooked vegetables that was the standout. Delicious! Usually, I eat desserts reluctantly, but Sofie’s citrus mousse with coffee ice cream and a marshmallow topping carried the touch of a master technician. If this talented Belgian chef doesn’t receive a Michelin star in the very near future, I shall be surprised. Calling her the Lady Chef of 2009 is an insult, frankly. Chefs, like a doctor, lawyer or teacher, should not be described by their gender, but only on their talent in the kitchen. We stayed that evening in one of the fifteen comfortable hotel rooms in which we had a surprisingly restful sleep despite the carnival going on outside. After a full English breakfast the next morning we headed back to London. With Brussels not that far away by car or train, this would be the perfect place to stay rather than in the more expensive and crowded city. In this day and age of hotel conglomerates dominating cities all over the world, this family owned establishment is an old fashioned retreat we plan to return to soon.

Suikerkaai 1A (station), 1500 Halle Belgium Tel: 0203611340 ex. 2 , Fax: 0203633278, andy.de.brouwer1@telenet.be 32

CINNAMON KITCHEN and ANISE BAR W

e used Nelly Pateras’ electronic guide and ended up on the other side of the Thames. After getting out the more reliable worn book guide, we finally managed to make it to Cinnamon Kitchen an hour and ten minutes later. Tucked away in a covered courtyard a short walk from Bishopgate in Devonshire Square it was not the easiest of restaurants to find, but then Nelly and I have a great deal of experience in becoming lost all over England and the continent, with or without her unreliable TomTom. Despite our lateness we were greeted warmly by the very friendly staff. Both the Anise Bar and Cinnamon Kitchen have similar color schemes of greys and browns that give them that rather sophisticated macho club look that has become a popular feature in restaurants. Fortunately, Cinnamon Kitchen has kept some of the old features with a

criss-cross of lights and metal pipe work on the ceilings and added mirrors to the walls that along with the large round hanging lamps add an ultra modern twist to the rooms that sets it apart from many others. Opening an upmarket Indian restaurant in this credit crunch era is a tricky business, but with the reputation of its sibling, “Cinnamon Club”, in Westminster and executive chef Vivek Singh behind the helm, very likely a winner if they keep up the kind of standards they did the night we were there. Even in the middle of the week and eight thirty in the evening, the expansive restaurant was over half full. Mainly with males; except for a woman at a table next to us, Nelly and I were the only females in the room. The Cinnamon Kitchen is not quite as elaborate as the Cinnamon Club and the menu seems to have been created more for the business


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.

La Capanna Special Menu, 2 courses only £31.95 Sunday Lunch, 3 courses only £25.95 Children’s Menu – £12.00

Lunch at La Capanna 1 course £11.50 2 courses £15.50 3 courses £19.50 Available lunchtime Tues – Sat; 7 – 8pm Tues – Fri.

MAY READER OFFER Free bottle of wine for tables of 2 or more on presentation of this advert before 31st May 09.

48 High Street, Cobham, Surrey

With riverside Italian Garden for al fresco dining

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

“La Capanna must boast the prettiest interior of any restaurant I have ever dined in”

01932 862121

FULLY AIR CONDITIONED • PRIVATE CAR PARK

– David Billington, Hello Magazine


The American

person than the special occasion diner. An amuse bouche of a Bengali vegetarian croquette was given to us at the beginning which was delicious enough to have as a first course. But then I might have missed the spiced sweet corn soup accompanied by a kebab fashioned from chargrilled corn kernels (£6.00) which I definitely wouldn’t want to. Lovely! Nelly’s Wild African Prawn was equally delicious even if the price wasn’t (£12.00 each). After the first course we were served a palate cleanser of citrus sorbet that was somewhat sweeter than I liked. However, my main course of Seared Haddock with a crust of Devon Crab and kokum (an Indian fruit) (£16.00) was not only beautifully presented, but the fish was perfectly cooked. But it was Nelly’s Rajasthani Spiced red deer with stir fried mushrooms that took us to another dimension (£32.00). The food of Head Chef Abdul Yaseen,

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who was in the kitchen that night, could be compared to Singh’s. Sadly this too often doesn’t happen in top restaurants when the “Master” isn’t in the kitchen supervising. Our sides of masala mashed potatoes (£2.50) and moong bean salad (£2.50), and yellow lentils (£3.00) were wonderful

accomplishments. As for the bread, even Nelly ate more than her share. For dessert we tasted buffalo milk kulfi (£6.00), Spiced Pistachio cake with pepper ice cream (£6.50) and then the chocolate fondant, coffee parfait (£7.50) that is a kind of hot soup flavoured with a touch of cardamom. Forget the cake, however, and just have the ice cream. Next to the dining room is the very modern Anise Bar. No one was there that evening, but it would be the perfect place to have a cocktail or a glass of champagne before dinner or perhaps one of their selection of sharing platters if you’re not particularly hungry or going on to the theatre or concert that evening and don’t want to over indulge.

9 Devonshire Square, London EC2 Tel: 020 7626 5000 Monday to Friday 11am to midnight, Saturday 6pm to midnight, Sunday Private bookings


The American

Cellar Talk Libations by Virginia E. Schultz

American Reds For The White House (continued)

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aving tasted five American wines (see last month), I now brought out the sixth bottle for my judging panel, a mix of people who drink wine for enjoyment and those who make a living from it including Sue and Rodney Gillette, Mickey and Gregory Bowden, Nelly Pateras and Tim Hall. This was Famous Gate 2001, always one of my favourite American Pinot Noirs. Rodney and Sue enjoyed it, but Nelly was disappointed, deciding either the bottle was faulty or it hadn’t aged as well as she expected. Tim remarked it was still lively but he could see the age in his glass. Gregory remarked there was a distinct gameness that smoothed out slightly over a few minutes. I felt it was spicy with a rather earthy edge to the fruit and Mickey agreed. Next was Rubicon Estate 2003, Cask Cabernet. A serious wine, perfect for a State dinner, Tim declared. Although it was going on seven years it does not show its age, Mickey agreed. Rodney thought it was rich, dense, best wine he tasted yet, and he’d happily drink it at any function at the White House. Nelly found it well balanced... Yet smooth and velvety on the finish?, I added, and she agreed. Gregory gave it a thumbs up approval when he said there was a remarkable concentration of fruit with acidity and ripe tannins. The kind of wine that enables you to turn down the central heating and

Opus Vineyard, Napa Valley, California

enjoy interior heating instead. Sue just laughed. After all, what more could we say after Gregory’s accolade. Now, I brought out the last wine... Opus 1979. I had hand carried this wine from England to the States, then back again. After thirty years I could only cross my fingers it hadn’t spoiled along the way. The cork broke into a dozen pieces when Gregory opened the bottle and after he carefully decanted it I could only give a silent prayer it was going to taste like a fine wine rather than a fungus damp cellar. “Ahhh...” was the pleased echo that circled the table after our first sip of this thirty year old Cabernet Sauvignon. Magnificent, Tim said. Thirty years old, but still with a great nose, but then look at its pedigree, he

added. A classic wine that was almost European. Rich, fruity, smooth, a wine anyone would want in their cellar, Rodney emphasized. A wine a president would be proud to show off to the French, I suggested with a grin at Nelly. My French friend laughed and took another sip in approval. A really lovely wine, Mickey put in, quickly seconded by Sue. The delightful surprise was how well the wine aged, Gregory told me. Elegant, rounded, concentrated and showing a degree of complexity that is most unusual in New World wines. A real privilege to taste. So, Mr. President, if you read this, hopefully you’ll take note of our not so humble opinions. There are, of course, other wonderful American wines. If you would like us to arrange a wine tasting at the White House, we are most willing to help out. Just e-mail The American. H

WINE OF THE MONTH: Chateau Musare White 2001 Nelly Pateras and I first tasted this unusual, but savoury white wine at a dinner tasting of Lebanese food. Made from indigenous Obaideh and Merwah grapes, it is an idiosyncratic wine which will not please everyone. A dark yellow gold with notes of burnt sugar and honey, it is not fruity, yet quite complex and interesting. Definitely odd, but the two of us enjoyed it very much.

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The American

CECE’S CHOICE

Cece Mills picks her Arts and Exhibitions for May and continues her alphabetical look at art forms.

‘Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.’ – Pablo Picasso

St Ives York Art Gallery May 2nd to September 27th

Maria Bicknell, 1816 by John Constable © Tate London

Constable Portraits: The Painter and His Circle National Portrait Gallery, London Until June 14th Better known for his landscapes (which you can see at this exhibition too), John Constable was also a brilliant portrait painter. Here you can get to know him, his wife and his children, as well as friends and other members of his family. There are many commissioned works of public figures such as clergy, gentry and rich tradesmen. The painting of Mary Bicknell (pictured here) shows Constable’s loyal and serious fiancee just before they were married. It is one of many paintings that show you just what life was like for Constable and his circle.

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If you know and love St Ives in Cornwall but find it a long way to get to, then here is a great opportunity to see some of the town’s famous artists’ work. The collection at York Art Gallery will consist of works from the period between 1930 and 1970 – the time when the town became well known for its large community of artists, and the consequent onset of the ‘avant garde’

Peter Lanyon, Soaring Flight, 1960 Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © Sheila Lanyon.

movement. Not surprisingly, the light and landscape inspired many artists to great creativity. Works by artists such as Barbara Hepworth, Bernard Leach, Ben Nicholson and Alfred Wallis will be on show as well as the pictured works by Terry Frost and Peter Lanyon. Terry Frost, Red, Yellow and Blue, 1962 Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London, courtesy Beaux Arts and The Terry Frost Estate


The American

Anish Kapoor, Blood Relations

Brighton Festival and Fringe May 2nd to 24th With guest artistic director, Anish Kapoor, things should be fairly exotic at this year’s festival proper. Kapoor will be exhibiting the specially commissioned installation ‘Dismemberment of Jeanne d’Arc’ which will be the focal visual point of the gorgeous performance of Salvatore Sciarrino’s Giavanna D’Arco, sung by Anna Grevelius and accompanied by Chamber Domaine. There is entertainment from Hofesh Schechter’s Dance Company, and a host of other musical, theatrical and artistic events to choose from. At the same time, the Brighton Festival Fringe is under way, with everything on offer in terms of entertainment, from cabaret and comedy to music and literature. The Lady Boys of Bangkok jostle for space with the Roedean Community Musicians, with the excitement provided by the Nofit State Circus, Europe’s most exciting contemporary circus.

Anonymous Chinese artist, Theobroma caca, cocoa tree native to the Andean foothills and cultivated since Mayan times, 462 x 620 mm, Watercolour and bodycolour over pencil, leaves heightened with thick gum arabic. [credit] © British Library

Cerith Wyn Evans and Raffles’ Ark Redrawn Edinburgh Botanic Gardens May 9th to July 5th Two interesting exhibitions at Inverleith House in the heart of the wonderful Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, where you can also have lunch and admire the distant view of imposing Edinburgh Castle. The first is a selection of botanical and zoological drawings from the collection of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, better known as the founder of Singapore. The second is an exhibition of work by Cerith Wyn Evans. He works in a variety of media; installations, film, photography and sculpture and worked with Derek Jarman in the early days of his career. He aims, through his work, to be the beginning or the catalyst of ‘discursive journeys’ for the viewer.

Probably by J. Briois, Lutra sumatrana, the Gray Hairy-nosed Otter, 374 x 540 mm Watercolour, bodycolour and pencil. [credit] © British Library

R. Brown, Rafflesia arnoldii, 760 x 890 mm, Hand coloured engraving, 1826. [credit] © British Library

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© James O. Jenkins

The American

Art News: One and Other The fourth plinth saga – soon it is the turn of sculptor and ‘Angel of the North’ artist Anthony Gormley to have a go at filling the infamous fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. His idea? Anyone can apply to have his or her hour of fame and stand on the plinth as part of his performance installation. You will be filmed non-stop and it seems you can do or wear anything you like once you are up there, so long as it’s legal. Presumably measures will be taken to make sure no one is tempted to blow themselves up. Titled ‘One and Other’, someone, from somewhere in the UK, will get to spend one glorious, famous, hour on the plinth, joining those other illustrious generals, admirals and leaders. How many people do you need if you have 24 hours every day for 100 days? A lot! And it could be YOU! It could also be one of the residents of Ambridge, as they enthusiastically audition in the village for the chance to apply to get on that plinth. Way to Go Archers! The show starts from July 6th but you will need to apply for your position on the plinth. Go to www.oneandother.co.uk and see what happens! My husband fancies standing up there with the spaniel, shooting at the pigeons, but that’s probably not legal.

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Barry Flanagan New Art Centre, Roche Court May 9th to September 7th Barry Flanagan is probably best known for his amazing and enormous bronze sculptures of hares which American readers may have seen in Park Avenue, New York at some stage. This May, at Roche Court, the New Art Centre is showing not only a selection of his larger pieces, but also a collection of his smaller sculptures, prints and drawings.

The Good Life Arnolfini, Bristol April 10th to June 7th Here is an interesting and innovative idea for an ‘installation’! The Arnolfini invited artists Katleen Vermeir and Ronny Heiremans (both Belgian) to create a project for the space. Their idea? To turn what used to be a warehouse and is now the Arnolfini, into luxury residential units, and then sell them off…

Philomena Francis, Distance and Proxcimity © the artist

Mo’Lasses IV: Philomena Francis The City Gallery, Leicester April 4th to June 6th If you think you have heard of everything in the art world, how about this one! Treacle wall drawings. Actually, there is a serious purpose to this, so don’t mock – it is all perfectly logical and sensible once you understand the purpose behind Philomena Francis’ work. She creates installations based around these wall drawings exploring the experiences of black women in contemporary society. Think brown sugar (from which treacle is derived). Not only does brown sugar suggest black female sexuality, but sugar is a strong part of the history of black culture. Sugar provided a pivotal economic role in the slave trade and the material Francis uses for her work reflects the Georgian middle classes who drove the sugar industry.


The American

Looking at:

Etching and Enamelling L

ast month I recommended readers to visit the wonderful exhibition of James McNeill Whistler’s Etchings at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow. If you haven’t been able to go to this, and have resisted the old chat-up line ‘come up and see my etchings’, then you may be confused about what an etching actually is. Take it from me, I tried it at Art College, it is a long, painstaking and technical process which requires immense patience, a steady hand and the ability to see things back to front. It is difficult enough to draw on paper with a nice sharp pencil, but to draw onto a copper plate using a sharp pointed tool – well! I always knew I lacked a certain degree of patience. The etching process works like this: Take one copper plate (or zinc, or steel), any size. Cover this with a wax (known as ‘ground’) which is resistant to acid and will therefore keep the area covered by wax free from marks. Once the ground is dry, then you can start to create your design on its surface. Different types and consistencies of ground allow for different etching effects, but I’ll stick here to the basics. Draw the design in the wax – this is where the back-to-front bit comes in because what you draw will be reversed in printing. For this you use an etching needle. Then dip the plate in acid. Ouch. The acid ‘bites’ into the scratches and marks you have made, but leaves the waxy bits alone. The longer you leave the plate in the acid, the more defined the marks become – the bites get deeper. Once out of the acid, wash the plate thoroughly in water and remove the ground using turps. Now it is ready to be inked up prior to printing. The ink sits in the etched lines and will be squeezed out onto

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the paper as it passes through the press. You can make lots of prints from one plate, although the quality will decrease as the press misshapes the marks on the plate eventually. Very clever.

James McNeill Whistler, ‘The Doorway’, 1879-1880, etching and drypoint. © The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow

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Right: Byzantine enamel icon of Archangel Michael, Unknown artist, Silver gilt, gold cloisonnĂŠ, stones, 46 x 35 cm By kind permission of Procuratoria di San Marco, Venezia. Photo Cameraphoto Arte, Venic

Below: Ruth Ball, a selection of modern enamels

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The exotic skill of enamelling is something that has been going for a very long time. It is an ancient skill used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Celts, Chinese and Russians, not to mention Romans. It is basically the art of fusing powdered glass onto a surface by heating to an incredible 800 degrees Celsius. A temperature high enough to melt the powder, but low enough to preserve the nature of the vessel the enamel is being applied to – be it pot or jewellery. The detail and intricacy that can be achieved by enamelling can best be seen in the incredible FabergÊ eggs. The fine detail on these eggs was most probably achieved using liquid enamel, which consists of enamel frits ground very finely and then mixed in a suspension to form a liquid, which can then be painted on to the surface required with a fine brush. Contemporary artist Ruth Ball has been captivated by the medium for a long time. Her work shows the incredible diversity of the skill and techniques of enamelling, and the results are stunning. Ball exhibits at Studio Fusion in the Oxo Tower, London, and if you would like more of a taste of her

work you can find examples on her website ruthballdesign.co.uk. Ball says her preferred method of working is painted enamel on silver, but will try anything to create the unique piece for her own designs. H

Next Month, Looking At: Frescoes and Film


The American

Expat Art Riki Evans Johnson is The American’s expatriate expat. After moving from Suffolk to Spain she discovers a blossoming international arts scene

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ndalusia and the Costa del Sol have much to whet the appetite of art enthusiasts. Nearing my first year in Spain, my passion for art led me to a stimulating and ‘colourful’ art community. I had the opportunity to interview five innovative and highlytalented international artists living in the Frigiliana area, to explain their work, creative juices and their collective exposition in June. INTER-5 Fine Art Group have combined their artistic styles to present Mediterráneo, an expression of blending natural Mediterranean elements of colour, air, water and landscape in contemporary painting, sculpture and 21st century music and visual technology. Hilary Clegg-Mullany, English painter and sculptor with a difference – weaving shapes, lines and patterns among her canvases, acquiring inspiration from the Mediterranean culture and colours of the region, and Torrox in particular. From Northern England, Hilary studied at the School of Art, Rochdale and Swansea College of Art and has exhibited at numerous galleries throughout England. Themes range from still lifes incorporating a mosaic appearance (shades of the Alhambra in Granada) to figures of buxom women, with great form and a contemporary feel. Hilary feels future concepts will develop from her own work into more simplistic patterns; cutting down on .excess or unimportant elements, thereby producing more minimalistic qualities to achieve in-depth results.

Per Weichenfeldt, Danish sculptor, has achieved success throughout Europe and the US. Schooled at the Royal Academy in Copenhagen, Per works with art media including marble, clay, plaster and ceramics. Insight for his abstract sculpture is derived from the Mediterranean landscape; ‘Reclining Torso’ (above) captures the undulating mountain views from his villa in Frigiliana. Much of Per’s work instils the attributes of Andalusia: ‘The Horns’, ‘Toreador’ and ‘Standing Torso’, the curvaceous body in a ruffled dress. Per’s philosophy ‘sees Mediterranean art as having an ambiguity about it. This is not Andalusian or Spanish, it is specifically Mediterráneo.’ Per’s outlook for future work is characterized as larger stone and marble sculptures with the biggest difference to cut out all detail, but still produce a strong image in its simplest form.

Mediterráneo INTER-5 Fine Art Group Art Show, June 5-26, Palacio del Apero, Frigiliana, Spain.

Left: Hilary CleggMullany, 3 Nudes

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The American

Far right: Jeff Mills, Mediterráneo

Riki on the Radio If you are traveling to southern Spain, seek out Riki’s spot on local radio on Thursday afternoons. She will be reading her articles on C19th to early C20th American women who travelled and/or lived in Spain including Gamel Woolsey, wife of English author Gerald Brennan (South of Granada) who wrote about her life (and loves!) as well as their life here in Spain during the early Franco years of the Spanish Civil War.

Below: José Manuel Garcia Jurado, Politica

Jeff Mills, painter, lithographer, lecturer, grew up in South Wales, his creativity inspired by the mountains and valleys of his homeland, merging familiarity with the landscape of Andalusia and the Mediterranean. Jeff ’s talent, he says, “is to capture both our personal experience and add to it; expanding our mental landscape and see things that are there but not in an instantly recognisable way.” His strong abstract images come to life with an explosion of colour and shape, bringing a deeper view of the area than what the observer would envision. Jeff, quite the character, feels his future would be “working horizontally!’” But basically, bringing together his 12 years in Spain, incorporating the valleys of the Mediterranean, with his life in Wales. Flor Perez Carmona, Spanish musician and teacher from Almeria, brings a new concept to the group. Having studied musicology at the University of Granada, Flor is an accomplished composer, classic guitarist and pianist. Flor has written music expressly for the video installation, combining Andalusian culture with the sea and wind. As an artist of classical music, Flor works in tandem with video installations mixing music with new technology, thereby becoming an integral part of the exhibition. Future plans are to incorporate classic piano and guitar with up-to-the-

minute technology, fusing traditional Spanish music with digital influences. José Manuel García Jurado, Spanish portrait artist, is the only ‘local’ of the group having been born in Torrox. Studying at the Belles Artes in Granada, Jose worked as a modern portrait artist, painter and sculptor. He has honed his contemporary experimental art into video installations and moving graphics. His vision is to introduce his type of art not only to the younger generation, but to educate the older, especially local, generation of viewing their Mediterranean area, heritage and lifestyle in a modern concept. Jose designs his works to show how the individual intertwines with the environment, the sea and the expanse of time. Future projects would incorporate new technical formats for his video installations as well as experimenting with modern techniques in painting using oils and acrylics. Jose has collaborated with Flor for the June exhibition on a project to incorporate her music with a visual installation. The mission of INTER-5 is to produce professional, high-quality art and take this experimental project to venues globally, not just to galleries, where the masses can understand and enjoy art to stimulate and expand their knowledge of the World of Art. With the creative insight of these five inspiring artists, Mediterráneo is destined for global success. H

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The American

Is This Bottle Corked? - The Secret Life of Wine Kathleen Burk and Michael Bywater

Book Reviews by Michael Burland and Virginia E Schultz

GEORGIA O’KEEFE & ANSEL ADAMS: NATURAL AFFINITIES By Barbara Bulher Lynes and the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. When important exhibitions are planned and venerated national artists share the limelight, a lavishly illustrated full colour book is sure to follow. Here we see how these two icons of American Modern Art, who led parallel lives and had many important and influential connections, loving the natural world and New Mexico and much more, found fame through their diverse portrayals. This book illustrates how hugely different they were, both in approach, attitude and personality. O’Keefe’s paintings were feminine, colourful and intensely private and symbolic, and should draw us in with warmth and intrigue, yet manages to distance us in cool admiration, compared to the strength and heat in Adam’s black and white photographic images. Perfectionist, technical brilliance, huge energetic engagement in his subject helps us enter and share the depth and dynamism of his finely observed gelatin silver prints. With knowledgeable forwards by the curator of this touring exhibition, Barbara Buhler Lynes, Richard

B.Woodward and Sandra S. Phillips, the ups and downs of the artists lives are chronicled in detail, underlining the importance of their mentor Alfred Stieglitz, [O’Keefe’s husband ] and influences such as Mabel Dodge Luhan and her hacienda salon in New Mexico. AM Little Brown & Co., $40

39 STEPS & 39 DAYS TO DEBT RECOVERY Christine Thompson Wells This is a book of common sense. It’s what most of us were taught as children when we given an allowance but along the years have forgotten. Author Christine Thompson Wells has experienced the pitfalls of losing her home and business. As she points out in this ninety page book, losing out materially is difficult enough, but it can also mean the destruction of confidence and self-esteem. There are diagrams with explanations that help develop awareness of the pitfalls that overspending can cause. Debt recovery as she points out does not depend on winning the lottery, but facing one’s responsibilities head on. Her practical advice will help not only those in debt but most people in this credit crunch age. VS Planet Press Ltd., £8.50

This is not a book that advises you what to drink with a meal, or even which wine to buy to impress your friends. It’s a book to take to bed with a glass of wine, whether plonk or premier cru, and just enjoy. What was George Washington’s favourite wine? Did the Duke of Clarence really drown in a butt of Malmsey? Why did American grapes make such bad wine? How would rhinos do conjuring? All those questions and more you never even thought of are answered in this unputdownable book that can be enjoyed by both connoisseurs and those who drink wine from a plastic box. Kathleen Burk, the daughter of a grape farmer, was born and raised in California and has travelled from the University of California at Berkeley on her 750cc motorcycle to the hallowed halls of Oxford learning about wine. Michael Bywater is a cultural critic and broadcaster. Together these two have written an entertaining as well as informative book that delightfully points out the similarity of Wall Street traders in their two thousand dollar suits displaying their wealth drinking Petrus to the Moka ceremonies of Papua New Guinea receiving ever finer and fatter pigs. It tells of Chaucer whose payment for some years was to receive a cask of wine, to Robert Parker who, like him or not, has influenced American wine drinkers with his high school ‘ninety to a hundred score’ measuring of wine. VS Faber & Faber Ltd. £12.99

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The American

BIG!: Big Records, Big Events and Big Ideas in American History: Celebrating 75 Years of the National Archives Stacey Bredhoff, with a message from Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States Big! by name, Big! by nature. This book has only 94 pages and few words on each page, being set in Big! type, but it has a Big! title, subtitle and byline and Big! pictures. It is being published to accompany a new exhibition being held at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, throughout May, with free public programs including film screenings, author lectures, and a music discussion. The book covers some of the Big!gest moments from American history. The reproductions of treasures from the US National Archives, four of them printed over gatefold pages, include sections from the Gettysburg battlefield map and the Declaration of Independence (with John Hancock’s Big! signature), the helmet worn by Major General Clarence Huebner, commander of the U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division (the Big! Red One) on D-Day, and an actual size image of Shaqille O’Neill’s Big! Reebok given as a present to George W Bush (one time the President liked receiving footwear while on a visit). MB D Giles Limited, 96 pages, 10 x 12 in., $29.95/UK£16.95

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Long Lost Harlan Coben A new Myron Bolitar novel from a master storyteller. This is the first Harlan Coben I’ve read, and so the first Myron Bolitar novel. It’s a masterly thriller, superbly written, that sadly seems to end too quickly, simply because it’s too enjoyable. The action is fast-paced, the dialogue witty and believable I read it in two very enjoyable sittings. Just like when I read Dicken’s Bleak House for the first time, I felt sad because I enjoyed being there with the characters, and for me, they were still there, and I missed them when I had to leave as I’d finished the book. Myron receives a short message from Terese, with whom he had a short intense affair years ago, but vanished and he’s not heard from in years. She’s in Paris, in trouble, and only he can help. The last time he saw her was when he called her for help and she came good. But Myron’s now settled in a relationship with a widow and her son. He ignores the message but then his widow tells him she’s moving to be near her in-laws, and she doesn’t really want him to come too. Taking After a little altercation in Myron style, he decides to take the option of Paris, as an expediency while the heat dies down, and finds the seat already booked. Terese’s husband has been out of touch with her for years, but contacted her telling her to come to Paris as he had something to tell her in person. But he hasn’t showed, and she has a bad feeling about this. As does Myron when he is searched and questioned by the police at the airport, then followed by them.

Win, his business partner, is heavily involved, helping with his network of contacts and his physical presence where necessary. Although this character is extremely enjoyable, he is perhaps too convenient a writer’s tool – just when you thought Myron is really stuck, up pops Win with his private jet, or whatever is necessary, provided by his seemingly limitless funds. Like Dickens, Coben is a master storyteller, but without the long detailed Dickens descriptions and the proselytizing. This book draws you in from the first words, at first as a new friend chatting to you, telling you his story. Perhaps it is the ‘Dear Reader’ aspect at the beginning that called Dickens to mind, as well as the characterisation that makes them seem real people. MB Orion Books, published 30 April, hardback £18.99


THEATER REVIEWS BY JARLATH O’CONNELL I’ve been undressed by Kings And I’ve seen some things That a woman ain’t s’posed to see I’ve been to Paradise But I’ve….never been to me!

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ow there’s a sentiment we can all relate to. Who can forget Charlene’s 1982 mega hit “I’ve Never Been to Me” which was inflicted on us again ten years later when it made the soundtrack of the Aussie hit movie The Adventures of Priscilla – Queen of the Desert. Well, it’s back and if you want to sing along to it and other ’70s and ’80s disco grooves your ship (or rather your purple bus) has come in. Priscilla has pulled in to the Palace. To describe Priscilla as camp is akin to describing the Himalayas as hilly but it’s a curious brand of camp, a butch camp if you will, which could only emanate from Australia – the land where men are men and women are grateful. In Britain camp has usually meant fey, but not in Oz. Here there are tanned muscles under the sequins and often not too many sequins to hide the blushes. I blame the year round sunshine and all that fresh fruit. Terence Stamp gave his career a much needed shot in the arm and got an Oscar nomination for his trouble when he first played the hard-bitten trannie Bernadette in the movie. Stamp, that ’60s synonym for male beauty, made drag presentable to a mainstream audience. It was almost as if

Priscilla Queen of the Desert – the Musical

Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London

they figured if someone that male can do it, then it’s nothing to worry about. Troubling though the sexual politics of this might be, it didn’t prevent the movie winning the hearts of both gay and straight audiences the world over. In the end however a deep analysis of the sexual politics of Priscilla is like trying to be profound at a party. Someone will pour a drink over your head and shout “Hey, have fun!” While the original film had a certain quiet grace at times, exemplified by Stamp, here the director has gone for the camp jugular and the bitchy insults fly like confetti. The story of how a transsexual and two drag queens, fed up and down on their luck, hire an old bus to travel to Alice Springs to perform at a dodgy casino, is classic road-movie. Tick (Jason Donovan) has initiated the journey to visit the 6 year old son whom he’s never met. Like all road movies

it’s about personal transformation as much as a regular change of scenery and along the way the trio run foul of some hick locals, find love, find happiness and achieve some self-realisation. At times the piece struggles under its torrent of musical set pieces. Everything can’t be a highlight! When it does calm down, it gets sentimental, as with Tick’s emotional reunion with his little boy. Jason Donovan comes alive here with a touching and assured performance which steals the show. Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner have actually enhanced their stunning Oscar winning creations and the costumes alone are a reason to see the show. As well as Aussie stage veteran, Tony Sheldon, in his West End debut as Bernadette, the young and buff Oliver Thornton gives a star making turn as Felicia. It is also enlivened by what appears to be Three Graces with Soul, in the form of the wonderful Zoe Birkett, Kate Gillespie and Emma Lindars, who fly down from the ceiling to perform most of the musical numbers. The marketers call Priscilla “a journey to the heart of fabulousness”. Now if only Joseph Conrad thought of that one, he’d have sold more books.

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Dancing at Lughnasa

By Brian Friel • The Old Vic, London

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ineteen years on from its acclaimed debut, Kevin Spacey and Sonia Friedman have teamed up to produce this timely revival of Brian Friel’s greatest play. In Anna Mackmin’s production at the Old Vic it is given a loving treatment, which confirms it as a modern classic. PHOTOS BY MANUEL HARLAN

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There are two noteworthy aspects. It is in the round (a merciful improvement to the Old Vic) and making her theatrical debut in it is Irish pop diva Andrea Corr who succeeds admirably. One suspects if pop has lost a diva then theatre has gained a “most promising newcomer” at least. In the play we meet the five unmarriageable Mundy sisters during one glorious summer in 1930s Donegal. The tide of industrialisation and the depression is sweeping away a whole way of life and without husbands their prospects are bleak. We see the sisters through the eyes of Michael, a precocious seven year old, doted on by his aunts. Now grown up, he narrates the play.

Troubles come in battalions for the sisters and as the breadwinner of the family, school teacher Kate, puts it “haircracks are appearing everywhere and control is slipping away”. How we keep it all together, how we hold on to some semblance of self is the play’s theme and what makes it universal. But while it is a play about memory it is never mawkish. Friel’s great achievement is to effortlessly reveal these five sisters with a novelist’s eye for detail. There are lots of jokes, mostly cracked by the life force of the family, Aunt Maggie, brilliantly played by Niamh Cusack. It is she who comforts matriarch Kate when things start to crumble. Here is ensemble acting of the highest order and the


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Burnt BY THE Sun PHOTOS BY CATHERINE ASHMORE

five actresses weave a totally credible family unit. The rhythms of their speech and the constant jests have the easy and familiar ring of a family about them and Friel takes everyday conversation and turns it into poetry without us noticing. Unlike other of his Irish contemporaries blessed with a gift for language (Conor McPherson or Enda Walsh come to mind) he also has perfect grasp of narrative. This beautifully crafted story completely engages the audience. The play’s signature moment continues to be magical. The sisters are working in the kitchen and Maggie has, yet again, changed the subject to ease a simmering row. Suddenly some raucous ceilidh music comes on the ‘wireless’ and almost involuntarily, she starts to dance, in a spontaneous eruption of pent-up emotion. This strikes a chord with the other women working in the kitchen and soon, one by one, they all join in, even Aunt Kate. Nothing better encapsulates the life force, what keeps us going, what gets us through, than this singular moment. In this time of doom and gloom being stopped and reminded to live in the moment is certainly no bad lesson. You should catch these Mundy sisters and their dance before they depart for Broadway, where they are (most likely) headed.

By Peter Flannery from the screenplay by Nikita Mikhalkov and Rustam Ibragimbekov • National Theatre, Lyttleton

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nyone who saw Mikhalkov’s Oscar winning 1994 film or read Orlando Figes The Whisperers couldn’t come away from this anything feeling other than disappointed. Figes’ amazing book documents a number of families who endured decades of appalling privation because of guilt by association, after just one of their number might have fallen foul of Stalin’s paranoia. These purges and the societal upheaval that ensued, represent one of the most astonishing periods of modern history. Here, in staging the film for the National Theatre, Howard Davies has opted for an overly familiar ‘Rolls-Royce’ Chekhov approach and it diminishes the work greatly. It is the worst kind of English approach to Chekhov, all plummy voiced, languid, inertia, ‘Who left the Samovar go out’. It’s a tradition of presenting Chekhov, which thankfully, younger directors such as Katie Mitchell (in The Seagull) have discarded. It drains the frustration and pent up energy from the plays and leaves a vapid, drawing room comedy. But this isn’t Chekhov, you may say. Indeed, but that is what we

are served, and the story of a family swept up in Stalin’s purges is reduced to a vicar’s tea party in West Malling. The action takes place over one summer’s day in 1936 when Mitia, the former lover of the wife of the fearsome Red Army General Kotov, abruptly returns to the family’s dacha after an eleven-year absence. By nightfall their lives will have been changed forever. Mikhalkov’s film explored the calm before the storm. It examined the lives of a few gentle country folk on the margins. Here (unlike in Chekhov) they are not aristocrats but rather the left-over and faint-hearted intelligentsia, whom the retired General Kotov despises but puts up with for his wife’s sake. The play does have some compensations – Vicki Mortimer’s impressive designs and a huge and finely tuned ensemble cast. When Ciaran Hinds first appears from the rear of the stage in full Red Army uniform he cuts a striking figure and brings his usual charisma to the part, however his role, unlike in the film, is bizarrely under-developed. In the film Mitia is an ambiguous and unsympathetic

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character, here Rory Kinnear overplays him in a crowd-pleasing turn, attempting to present him as heroic. Likewise, Michelle Dockery as Marouissa, whines like some Rodean schoolgirl complaining about her love life whereas in the film she is a more complex character who is actually in the background. The key relationship in the film was between Kotov and his little girl (they were on the poster and Mikhalkov had her with him when he won the Oscar). The intensity of that relationship and its strong sexual undercurrent were key to the film and the young girl gave one of the great juvenile performances. Here the writers seem to run a mile from this aspect of the story (why?) and the

COMPLICIT

Old Vic • Understudy Review by Virginia E. Schultz

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did not write a review on Richard Dreyfuss in Complcit when I went to see the play at the Old Vic a few weeks ago. Watching the deterioration of a great American actor on stage was for me like throwing stones at an innocent victim. There were echoes of the actor he once was, but for the most part I saw an old man shuffling around the stage wearing an oversized sweater with an ear phone clamped to his ear to help him electronically from back stage in case he forgot his lines. This resulted in slowing down the play to a point the production was almost incomprehensible. David Suchet, especially, tried to

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bring some life to his part in this three hander with only minor success. Yesterday afternoon, I went to see the understudy run of Complicit with James Jordan taking over Dreyfuss’s role of Ben Kritzer, who in the wake of 9/11 had written a powerful piece advocating the use of torture in the “war on terror”. However, after seeing evidence of America’s brutal military tactics and disregard for the Geneva convention, he undergoes a change of mind and finds himself before a grand jury on the charge of espionage which could mean prison if he does not reveal his source. Watching Jordan’s dynamic and

part is reduced to a stage-school turn, like some left over Annie. At one point Kotov says to his wife about Mitia “I left you because I loved my motherland. He left you because he was afraid to die. Do you see the difference”. This production completely misses that point and seems to be looking for a hero. The point about Stalin’s terror was that it eviscerated any heroics. Whether you were in favour or not wasn’t dependent on your moral position. Instead you existed at the whim of a mad dictator and his henchmen. What this does to a society in the long term is a fascinating subject and one which the film gently explored. Here it’s who left the light go out under the samovar.

thoughtful portrayal of Kritzer, especially in his scenes with Suchet, was as if I was seeing a different play from the one in which Dreyfuss appeared. Perhaps because one of my children was put in a similar position as a journalist, I related to the fear of his wife, sensitively played by the understudy, Sara Mennell, who reminded him of the consequences of his actions to his family if he did not cooperate with the grand jury. It was, however, in the scenes between Suchet and Jordan when the play came alive. Like myself, the audience was held spellbound by the performances of these two actors as they debated between press freedom versus saving one’s own skin no matter the consequences. This was theatre at its magnificent best, that no Academy Award film can match. H


The American

The Hair Salon Test

Jo Cole, our commentator on British politics, sounds out grass roots opinion among the hair roots

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henever I visit a foreign country, I try and have my hair cut while I’m there. This little habit started through necessity during a visit to Hong Kong a few years ago but the experience was such an eye opener that I’ve continued the tradition on most of my trips abroad since then. There is nothing like the gossip of a hair salon to give you a real glimpse into the lives of people in that area. It’s usually significantly cheaper than your average London price, too! Last month I had the pleasure of my second ever trip to the USA, ‘road tripping’ around California after going to a friend’s wedding. I popped into the local salon for my obligatory snip and before the scissors had even come out, we were onto the topic of politics. I was in America at the same time that Obama visited Britain (an unfortunate coincidence on my part) and so interest in what us Brits thought of the American President was at an all-time high. The conversation played out a number of times during my trip, generally as follows: “You Australian?” “No, I’m British.” “Ah, British. Well, you sound Australian…So what do you think of Obama?” Fortunately, as a general fan of Obama, I was able to answer this question with relative ease. I certainly felt less squeamish than when the hairdresser in Hong Kong questioned

my opinions on the differences between Chinese and British rule; after all, these people are holding sharp scissors only centimetres away from my face. “We’re fans of Obama,” I replied, taking it upon myself to speak for Britain as a whole, “We think he brings a real change”. This had gone down well in the Californian bars I’d frequented, so it was with some surprise that I discovered that the ladies in the salon did not share this view. “We’re not really fans of the President here”, the hairdresser announced (scissors alarmingly close at this stage). Her reason, she argued, was that she saw the war in Iraq as the most pressing issue for the country at this particular time and felt that Obama was not strong enough to lead in this area. This is a fair enough view, and it certainly wasn’t my place to argue against it. I did reply, though, that I thought sometimes a country needed a change of governance, regardless (to some extent) of the actual policy issues. ‘Change’ is a very easy word in politics – at least to promise, if not to implement. Any opposition party will accuse the current governing party of being tired and in need of renewal, promising slogans, to use David Cameron’s words from his leadership election campaign, such as “change, hope and optimism”. But what does this mean in practice? Often, sadly, very little.

Thinking about this, I realised that my perception of America rejoicing over the change that their new President vowed to bring is perhaps a little naïve. America watches and waits to see what Obama will really bring – and so do us Brits. We’re conscious that Britain will have an election within a year. Many of us want to know if change is possible too and we’re using America as our sounding board. Obama has many supporters in his country, but now he needs to act on his promises, and his first 100 days are being highly scrutinised not only in the American and world press, but also in every hair salon across America. A final word of warning; if you do decide to promote your political views in a hair salon, be careful; I swear my fringe looks wonkier than before. H


The American

Cocktail for Chaos The G20 leaders have a problem – taking decisions that are vital for the world economy that will be unpopular at home, says Alison Holmes

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magine the scene. The leaders of the G20 countries representing 85% of the world economy, are meeting in urgent session. Protestors outside bay for the blood of bankers and chanting ‘death to capitalism’. Inside, the leaders have just promised to ‘take whatever… actions are necessary’ and signed a pledge to avoid protectionist measures – amongst other things. Oh wait. The date on this communiqué is 2008. Since the last session of the G20 in Washington DC, it seems clear that the ‘serious challenge to the world economy and financial markets’ they discussed then has taken on the ugly characteristics of a depression. The leaders could be forgiven for allowing some of their commitments to slide, if only they weren’t going in quite the opposite direction. According to the World Bank’s list of trade measures, since the beginning of the financial crisis officials have proposed or implemented 78 trade measures. Of these, 66 involved trade restrictions. While the World Bank notes that these protectionist measures have probably not had a significant effect and that the contraction in the global volume of trade is more likely due to the recession, the trend is upwards and should be watched carefully. The silver lining is that while the temptation to protectionism remains,

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the practicality of the measures used in the 1930s to such devastating effect has been severely hampered. Today’s markets are far more interdependent through just-in-time-delivery of supplies and products. The high level of dependence on foreign inputs, components and even services makes it difficult for countries to take a swing that would not ultimately result in a self-inflicted black eye. The Bank suggests that the average of trade-to-GDP has gone from 55 percent in 1970 to 96 percent today and that parts and components trade, an indicator of the use and dependence on such supply chains, has more than doubled as a proportion of total trade. If that is what has been going on since Washington, what are we to make of the recent meeting in London? April Fools may not have been the most auspicious day to prepare the groundwork for the big event, but the outcomes suggest three interesting developments in terms of the transatlantic relationship and two wider dangers for the international community. First, the Americans seem to have recognized that economic policy is no longer purely domestic, but an integral part of foreign policy. As President Obama put it, ‘the global economy is so fundamentally interconnected that we can only meet this challenge together.

The ‘serious challenge to the world economy’ they were discussing has taken on the ugly characteristics of a depression We cannot create jobs at home if we are not doing our part to support strong and stable markets around the world’. The U.S. is now more ‘bound in’ to the actively anti-protectionist position espoused by Prime Minister Brown for some time. Both the President and his Deputy National Security Advisor on Economic Affairs, Mike Froman, stated that the rejection of protectionist measures was not only important, but one of the fundamental goals of the summit. The second development is the way in which Gordon Brown established himself as an important part of the momentum required to move the G20 forward as a group. His work prior to the summit and his leadership during the course of the meeting allowed him to bring out the best of British diplomacy as managers of different interests and complex processes. For instance, even on the day of the G20


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meeting, as they were announcing the need to limit tax havens, the OECD was listing countries who had been signing relevant agreements. Even as leaders were pledging to create new and better regulation in London, others were stepping up to say that a new programme of work had been agreed and was underway. The international community does not move of its own accord but requires direction and management – both areas in which the British excel. The third, and perhaps consequent development, was the new tone in the relationship between the leaders. While Mr Brown’s recent visit to Washington seemed forced and staged, on home turf and with substantial results to show for his efforts he was more in control. It may also be that the President, in the context of his first visit overseas, was more aware of the benefits of having someone who had dealt at the ‘high table’ for many years working in concert with the U.S., but his tone was also significantly changed and more directly aligned with that of the PM. The references to the special relationship were not only falling more easily from the mouths of the two leaders but also from their briefing teams – a sure sign that new ground has been broken in the inner circles of confidence. The two wider developments are less clearly defined as they relate to the national publics of the leaders present and to the wider international community. The protesters we might have hoped had taken early retirement post 9/11, are back with a vengeance – complete with staged photo opps and fake blood. Once upon a time anti-globalisation protesters had little to focus their attention. They have always been against capitalism in a rather nebulous sense and what they saw as its inherently anti-environmental, anti-community policies. However, this financial

crisis has brought a much wider sense of victimhood to a broader swathe of the population. The rhetoric of some leaders, including the President until recently, has not helped in that it has been taken as license to hate and to retaliate against those perceived as the beneficiaries of capitalism. The protestors, generally muted since 9/11, have regrouped, reorganized and reoriented their approach in ways that could prove dangerous in terms of the collective domestic debate. All of which leads to the second point on this wider stage. Even as the leaders were meeting, there were small but encouraging signs that the economy may be slowly shifting up – but that unemployment figures were continuing to rise. The jobless rate zcross the 16 euro currency nations was up to 13.47 million. Across the wider European Union the jobless number reached 19.16 million. That means that unemployment across the Eurozone has now risen by more than two million since February of last year and across the 27 nations of the EU it has risen by more than three million. It is expected by some experts to hit 10% by the middle of this year. A lag between a larger recovery and the job market is inevitable but it will make the task of the G20 leaders returning to their countries intensely difficult. The benefits of democracy and of freedom need no elaboration. However, the ability of protestors to press hard for immediate results or threaten civil unrest, combined with the need for the democratically elected leader to at least appear to be doing something to alleviate the current difficulties of the population, makes for a potentially dangerous cocktail for chaos. The communiqué of the G20 leaders is full to overflowing with actions that should and must be taken to begin the process of recovery and of restruc-

World Development Movement’s ‘dollar monster’ at the G20 protests

turing the international regulatory and financial system against such future problems. However, much of that necessary effort will be of little concern to the average voter. Transparency on trade regulations or subsidies, antidumping actions, the intricacies of the Doha round and increased IMF funding or gold reserves to be used for the poorest countries will seem irrelevant to the jobless voter in danger of losing his home. Meanwhile, immigration, job protection and welfare benefits will be enough to bring him out on the streets. The new breed of protestor knows the weakest points of the system and will not fail to exploit that to their own ends. Indeed, the parties of the far right – and left – also know that these pressure points could yield results come election time. The real question from the latest G20 may not be the leaders’ commitment to the international community but their ability to withstand the democratic pressure at home and determination to take actions unpopular with their electorates but necessary to ensure the crisis does not escalate. H

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Electric Car Cities, Subsidies Promised By Government

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otorists will be offered subsidies of up to £5,000 when they buy electric or plug-in hybrid cars, the government has announced. It is part of a £250m plan to develop a network of electric car cities across the UK. Geoff Hoon, the Transport Secretary, said that there was huge potential to reduce emissions. Less than 0.1% of the 26 million cars on Britain’s roads are currently electric. “The scale of incentives we’re announcing today will mean that an electric car is a real option for motorists as well as helping to make the UK a world leader in low carbon transport,” he said. The plan includes £20m to provide for charging points, which are rare at present. Details of which vehicles would be eligible for what subsidies, and how the incentives would be delivered, were not announced. The funds will only be available for fully electric and plug-in petrol-electric hybrids. George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor (opposition party finance minister) said “The Labour plan announced today is like giving people a grant to buy an internal combustion engine, without bothering to set up any petrol stations.”

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Electric Cars Can Be Funky

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arlsbad, California based Aptera are forging ahead with development of their airplane-like three-wheeled two-seater automobile. Despite looking like George Jetson’s sports runabout, the Aptera is potentially a serious proposition for those seeking a high-efficiency vehicle. The engineering is paramount, using a lot of concepts found in Formula 1 design. The composite body is light but strong. In fact guests at the factory are offered $100 if they can dent the Aptera’s composite bodyshell with a sledgehammer. No-one has won the bet. And shock is what you might feel when paying the running bills. The electric/ gasoline hybrid version of the lightweight, aerodynamic car returns over 100mpg and 300mpg plus is the target. There are fully electric and gas only options too. The company has an order book, and some heavyweight talent has joined the team. In the last year Aptera has hired the project manager of the Dodge Viper, Ford GT, and Saleen S7 and Audi America‘s Marketing Director. The company’s founder Steve Fambro has become Chief Technical Officer and Paul Wilbur from American Speciality Cars and Saleen has taken over as CEO.

Ferrari Online And In London

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errari has revamped its website. A new look is allied to lots of new content, including access to the Ferrari Formula 1 racing team’s garage and drivers’ blogs. Ferrari was one of the first car companies to go online in the early 1990s. Now there are sections dedicated to GT & Sport cars, the Scuderia F1 team, News, Community and an online Ferrari Store. New is the Maranello Experience, a virtual tour of the company complex. Enter through the historic gate on Via Abetone in Maranello, just as in real life, then move through the new production areas designed by leading

international architects. In the GT & Sport cars section, you can view all of the current road cars in the setting of a virtual Italian piazza. Choose a car, select some options and a colour and it’s time for a virtual test drive at the Mugello Circuit, with the help of a virtual Michael Schumacher. The first British Ferrari Store, the 25th worldwide, will be officially opened on Regent Street, London on May 6 by Scuderia Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen. The next new Stores to open will be in Dubai, Jeddah, Bahrain, Florence, Athens, Bucharest and New York.


The American

Aston Martin Rapide: The World’s Most Elegant Four-Door Sports Car?

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hh, don’t tell them there’s a credit crunch going on. Aston Martin have announced that the startlingly beautiful Rapide is on course for a public debut later this year, with the first customer cars being delivered early next year. The Rapide Concept was originally seen at the Detroit Auto Show in 2006. The production car retains Aston Martin’s design elements and features ‘swan wing’ doors – rising upwards and outwards as they swing open – making entry to the two rear seats easier. Aston Martin’s Chief Executive, Dr. Ulrich Bez said: “The Rapide will be the most elegant four-door sports car in the world. It completes the Aston Martin range conveying our established attributes of Power, Beauty and Soul.” While this sounds as if it came straight from the marketing consultants, what he is really trying to say is that if you think it is easy to design a large four door car to take four or more people and their bags, that is still a dynamic sports car, and is based on your existing range of two door supercars, take a look at the ungainly Porsche Panamera. Mind you , it helps when the starting point is the current range of Aston Martins, including the DB9, arguably the most beautiful car ever made.

Rahal Waves Stars And Stripes At Silverstone

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egendary American driver Bobby Rahal debuts in the World Sportscar Masters endurance race at the Silverstone Classic event, July 24 to 26. Indianapolis 500 winner and three-times Champ Car champion, Bobby Rahal is no stranger to European historic race events. He has driven a Lola and Porsche 917 at the Le Mans Classic and races touring and GT cars at events like the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Revival. Five more American drivers will be racing along with participants from 12 different countries, making the Silverstone Classic a truly international

racing event. Rahal said: “Without underestimating the opposition, I hope to be a strong contender on my debut in the WSM, driving a Chevron B16 at the Silverstone Classic. Masters Historic Racing is renowned for the high standards of car preparation and driving, but above all it will be enjoyable to be part of a group of like-minded racers at this important historic racing event.”

Beaulieu Motor Museum Golden Anniversary

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hen Lord Montagu opened his home, Palace House, to visitors in 1952 he placed five cars in the front hall as a tribute to his father, John Montagu, one of the early motoring pioneers. The collection grew and within a few years, prompted by complaints from the family about the all pervading smell of motor oil in the house, the vehicles were moved to a couple of wooden sheds in the grounds. Eventually a special building was constructed to house the vehicles and a grand opening ceremony was held for what had become known as the Montagu Motor Museum. This year sees the 50th anniversary of that opening in 1959. To celebrate, all British car clubs have been invited to display a representative car from 1959 or earlier, at the Beaulieu attraction on Bank Holiday Monday, May 4. There will also be a Cavalcade of Motoring from the National Motor Museum collection (as the Montagu Museum became) in the main Arena, featuring several of the vehicles that were also on display in the Montagu Motor Museum, and you can visit the Motor Museum, Palace House and all the Beaulieu attractions. www.beaulieu.co.uk/tickets

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The American Inset (l-r): Rubens Barrichello, Ross Brawn, and Jenson Button Photos: Brawn GP

Turning the Tables

Richard L Gale reports on BrawnGP, Formula One’s much-needed underdog success story

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ormula One is getting interesting. Being F1, it’s interestingness was only confirmed by a court of appeal ruling in Paris between races, but if your daily business takes you anywhere near a British fan of the open-wheel series, expect to be hearing a lot about it this season. In 2007, Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen stole the championship away from bickering McLaren rivals Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton by a single point. Last year, Hamilton topped Räikkönen’s Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa by a single point. Despite these nailbiting finishes, F1 critics have been able to cite the narrow field of competitive teams and the scarcity of overtaking.

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But those bludgeoned by the tedium of Ferrari or McLaren, McLaren or Ferrari, might like to jump aboard the BrawnGP bandwagon. Never heard of BrawnGP? Welcome to the little team that could, a collection of the pieces other teams – bigger teams – overlooked. Former Ferrari Technical Director Ross Brawn remodelled the team from the remains of Honda’s underachieving F1 entry, inheriting two underappreciated drivers who once enjoyed spells with the big boys. 36 year old Brazilian Rubens Barrichello is a hugely popular driver most famous for unselfishly partnering Michael Schumacher at Ferrari (where ‘unselfishly’ means following

team orders and allowing the latter to overtake him). Teammate Jenson Button had been the bright young thing of British F1 drivers when he debuted with Williams in 2000, but contracted out to drive less competitive cars, it took him until 2006 to score his first Grand Prix victory. The following year, fellow Brit Lewis Hamilton’s sensational arrival in F1 turned Button into old news. But Jenson Button opened the season with two race victories, and Barrichello lies second in the driver’s championship, putting BrawnGP atop the constructor’s table. Ferrari have no points. McLaren and Hamilton have been mired in a cheating row. Of course, it’s early days, but


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nHl’s rOunD One rOunD-uP Jeremy Lanaway previews the Stanley Cup Playoffs

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ixteen wins may not sound like much, but for the following teams, they’re the only thing standing between them and arguably the most difficult trophy to win in the whole of professional sports. whichever team ultimately gets its roster etched into Lord stanley’s chalice will have left everything on the ice for the honour.

this sort of script doesn’t happen in F1, where small teams accept graciously the scraps that fall from their masters’ table. Ferrari and some of the other teams aren’t happy about it at all. The key to the sudden flip in the F1 order of things has been the innovative design of rear diffusers at the rear underside of the cars. BrawnGP, Toyota and Williams interpreted the design rules one way. Seven other teams, including Ferrari and McLaren interpreted it another. An appeal before senior racing authorities confirmed what the rest of us saw during April: Jenson Button did win the first two races. And now, as I may have said already, it gets interesting. BrawnGP has a head start with their fancy bodywork. Ferrari, McLaren, Renault et al have their massive operations working flat out to catch up with their own rear diffuser designs. But as they say in Formula One, catching is one thing, overtaking is another. With 2009’s rules changes including the racer with the most wins taking the title outright, Button could succeed Hamilton as a British champion of Formula One. H

EASTERN CONFERENCE Boston Bruins (1) vs. Montreal Canadiens (8) For the first time in years, Boston is back on top, finishing first in the East and second in the league, with a young roster steeped with the proverbial urine and vinegar. Despite slipping down the stretch, the Canadiens squeaked into last spot, but their confidence is shot, and with defender andrei Markov out of the line-up, their road ahead is steep. the series might come down to goaltending, in which case the advantage has to go to the Bruins’ tim thomas, who’s about to write the epilogue to a storybook season. Carey Price is just too fragile.

Washington Capitals (2) vs. New York Rangers (7) the series will come down to firepower versus goaltending. the Capitals have the guns, but many playoff series have been stolen by goaltenders in the past. Does henrik Lundqvist have what it takes to transform the rangers from underdogs to top dogs? no doubt, the Capitals’ snipers, alexander ovechkin, alexander semin, sergei Fedorov, and

Mike Green, will have something to say about that. will rangers uber-pest sean avery be able to make his mark, or will the Capitals have the wherewithal to render the troublemaker impotent by skating away?

New Jersey Devils (3) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (6) the hurricanes come into the series having won 13 of their last 17 tilts, but the Devils have what no other team can lay claim to – the most accomplished goalie in nhL history, richard Brodeur. the Devils will have to get back to playing their trademark style of stingy defence, and if they do, they’ll be tough to penetrate. the hurricanes are younger and faster, and they’re on a roll, but they might not be hungry enough, having won the Cup just three seasons ago.

Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (5) the Penguins are starting to learn that the infamous ‘Cup hangover’ has an ugly cousin – the ‘Cup finals hangover’. the team has had an up-and-down season, after starting out as favourites to return to the big dance this spring, and the hangover just doesn’t seem to want to go away. the Flyers will try to capitalise on the Penguins’ occasional half-heartedness, and try to bully them into indifference, but they’ll need to stay on this side of the line. If they take too many penalties, they’ll have to face the music of the Penguins’ powerplay. not an easy task.

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The American

WESTERN CONFERENCE San Jose Sharks (1) vs. Anaheim Ducks (8) Is this the year that Joe thornton and the sharks are going to go all the way? are they finally going to live up to expectations and dominate in the playoffs as they’ve dominated in the regular season over the past few years? Maybe, maybe not. their cause isn’t helped by the fact that the resurging Ducks seem to have their number, and players like Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo seem to wilt in the shadow of brutish teams. and no other team is more brutish than the Ducks. If the sharks live up to their namesake and bare their teeth, they should be able to match the Ducks’ thuggish tactics. and if they get past the Ducks in the first round, look out. the Cup might be on its way back to sunnier climes.

Detroit Red Wings (2) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (7) what can you say? they’re the red wings, the gold standard in the nhL. they say dynasties are dead, but if any team has a chance of disproving this notion, it’s the red wings. they’re the last team to win back-to-back Cups, in 1996-97 and 1997-98, and they have a chance to do it again. they have the offence (ala Pavel Datsyuk, henrik Zetterberg, and Marian hossa) and the defence (ala niklas Lidstrom, Brian rafalski, and niklas Kronwall), along with an unrivalled mule unit in the form of Johan Franzen and tomas holmstrom, but they’ll need their goaltender, Chris osgood, to return to last season’s form. the Blue Jackets don’t have to worry about their rearguard – rookie

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steve Mason has been among the top tenders all season long – but they’ll need to play a technical game, and not falter in the storm of the red wings’ offence.

Vancouver Canucks (3) vs. St. Louis Blues (6) the Canucks enter the post-season on a high, having made up thirteen points to filch the division title from the Calgary Flames. however, the Blues have been the hottest team in the nhL since Christmas. Both teams are hungry – the Canucks to live up to expectations, and the Blues to take their Cinderella season to another level. Can the Blues upstarts (David Backes, Dave Perron, and tJ oshie) find chinks in the Canucks’ brickwork defence and get rubber on roberto Luongo? or will the Canucks’ suddenly-rounded offence keep the Blues in their own end? whichever team wins the series, it’ll be a force to reckon with in the games ahead.

Chicago Blackhawks (4) vs. Calgary Flames (5) the Blackhawks came close to making the playoffs last season, and a year later, the renaissance in the windy City is nearly complete. the teams’ young superstars, Jonathan toews and Patrick Kane, will need to lead the way, and netminder nik Khabibulin will have to revisit his glory days with the tampa Bay Lightning, when he was a big part of the team’s stanley Cup win. Don’t forget about the Flames, though, who are big on experience and work ethic, and know how to ratchet it up several notches in the post-season. Look for captain Jarome Iginla to lead by example, getting in a tilt each round as he did in the team’s big run in 2004. H

L

ast year, it was Brett Favre, scrambling free of Green Bay with the help of agent James ‘Bus’ Cook. This year, it’s Jay Cutler taking the Bus out of Denver after relations broke down between the Broncos and their franchise quarterback.

Cutler Now Cutler is Chicago’s franchise quarterback. And for the first time in weeks, it seems like all parties are happy. Disillusioned by his former team’s interest in New England back-up (now KC starter) Matt Cassel, Cutler is now a part of the team he followed as a boy. There’s little reason for him to be looking over his shoulder in Chicago, who haven’t had a quarterback with his arm in generations; previous starter Kyle Orton was shipped to Denver as part of the deal for Cutler. Cutler also has the opportunity to renew his passing relationship with former Vanderbilt teammate WR Earl Bennett. Chicago, a team with defensive studs and a solid running game has itself an answer to a question that has been the Bears’ perceived weakness for seasons. They are immediately viewed as a contender in the NFC North, and the conference in general. And as awkward as Broncos coach Josh McDaniels’ first months have seemed, he and General Manager Brian Xanders ultimately agreed a deal that brings in two first round picks – one each in 2009 and 2010, a third round pick, and Orton. From what seemed a weakened bargaining position, the Broncos landed at least


The American

Left to right: Bears GM Jerry Angelo, Cutler, and head coach Lovie Smith.

blockBusted

For the second straight year, agent Bus Cook has brokered the high-profile move of the offseason, writes Richard L Gale an interim passer, and five picks in the first 84 of this year’s draft, allowing them to retool a defense that is one of the worst in the NFL. Whether Jay Cutler was worth such a price has been open to debate. His 17-20 winning record and lack of playoff experience isn’t the stuff legends are made of, while departing Bears passer Orton’s career mark is 21-14 on a team that never had the receivers Cutler did in Denver. However, this year’s splashy offseason move may be a lot more significant than Favre’s brief sojourn for the Jets. The most significant impact of Favre’s arrival in New York was Chad Pennington’s departure for the Miami Dolphins, who turned from a 1-15 team to division winners with Pennington. Whether the displaced Orton achieves parallel progress remains to be seen, but where Favre’s veteran reputation was intended to put the Jets on the map, the Chicago Bears are looking to capitalize on Cutler’s upside as a Pro Bowler many feel was kept from the postseason only by Denver’s poor defense.

Cutler was not the only big name free agent for Chicago, who also signed Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace from the Rams. While the Bears turn their attention to the matter of finding Cutler some receivers – their next glaring weakness – the Cutler trade alters the draft landscape for the rest of the NFL. Do Denver use their two first round picks to trade up and take one of the big-name QBs, or do they hand Orton the reins and stick to defense? With Chicago, Denver, and Kansas City now out of the QB picture, which teams move a step closer to the projected first round passers: Matthew Stafford of Georgia, Mark Sanchez of USC, and Josh Freeman of Kansas State? A more pertinent question might be to wonder at the tenure of any NFL quarterback when they can move to a new team through little more than claiming hurt feelings, and letting Bus Cook do the rest. H Catch The American’s draft review online at www.theamerican.co.uk

Photo: Gary BaKEr

Photo: ChICaGo BEars

Coach PJ, Heat to part ways

the BBL’s Guildford heat have announced that they are to part ways with coach Paul James for the 2009/10 season. one of a minority of BBL teams not to have a playercoach, the heat have decided not to renew Coach James’ contract for financial reasons. Guildford won every piece of BBL silverware at least once during Coach James’ four year tenure with the heat, and he was BBL Coach of the year for the 2006/07 season. In the closing month of this season, the heat climbed from 8th to 4th on the league table to secure a home court playoff game, meaning that Paul James’ coaching farewell at the Guildford spectrum will be on april 26th.

BBL Finals Weekend

the final big event on the BBL calendar takes place this month, as the BBL Playoffs culminate in the Finals weekend, 2-3 May at the national Indoor arena Birmingham. the ‘final four’ event will see the semifinals played on saturday, with the BBL all-star Game preceding the final on sunday. tickets and further information can be found at the league website, www.bbl.org.uk

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The American

On Court

No shortage of No.1s writes Sean L Chaplin

G

Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images

reetings to everyone from sunny Southern California. After a brief hiatus, I’m glad to be back in my ‘On Court’ capacity, and excited to report on the huge fight for top honors on the ladies’ tour. By the time you read these words, Dinara Safina (above right) will have overtaken Serena Williams at the top of the charts. The younger sister of former world number one Marat Safin will make history as part of the first brother/sister duo to hold that honor. Safina was able to impress at both the 2008 French Open, where she finished runner-up to Ana Ivanovic, and at the 2009 Australian Open to Serena. Her four titles in 2008 saw her jump from No. 17 to No. 2, as well as earning

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most improved player honors. Meanwhile, the player she leapfrogged, Serena Williams lost on clay to No. 95 Klara Zakopalova in the first round of the Andalucia Tennis Experience. The defeat was the second in a row for Serena and may not bode well for her psyche as she prepares for the summer season of Slams in Paris and London. Two other number ones are also fighting to find decent form before summer. Jelena Jankovic’s success in Andalucia provides her with her first tourney win of the year, while tennis’s on-off love affair with Ana Ivanovic seems to have cooled. In a bold move to improve her confidence, Ivanovic recently hired former Martina Navratilova coach Craig Kardon. Her compatriot Jankovic is attempting to reverse the effects of a rigorous off-season training program that robbed her of her biggest advantage, speed. Both players are looking to reverse negative trends as well as nagging injuries that dampened an otherwise fine 2008. To complicate matters, a surprising bit of news in the tennis world revolves around the return of ultra-talented Kim Clijsters (left). The Belgian surprisingly is making a comeback after leaving the game to have a family. The former No. 1 claims the layoff reinvigorated her desire to play at the top level and she may be right. She has the talent and with some time to get in match shape, both physically and more importantly mentally, she may very well rise to the top again. Speaking of comebacks, Maria

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Sharapova played doubles at Indian Wells and while not ready for singles play, is looking to be ready for the summer. Sharapova has not played competitively since withdrawing from an event in Montreal in late July, missing both the U.S. Open and Australian. Her presence will be noted by her rivals as she attempts to overcome a damaging rotator cuff injury. However, contending may be a bit of a reach at this point of the season. While mulling over the state of the ladies tour, one must also consider the youngsters who are on the brink of making a run at the top. There is certainly no shortage of kids looking to knock off a big name, as Agnieszka Radwanska, Alize Comet, Victoria Azarenka, Dominika Cibulkova or Caroline Wozniacki have proven. Interestingly, none of the above mentioned rely on power, but have attributes that are different from one another. Cibulkova is quick, Radwanska and Comet are creative and Wozniacki and Azarenka are all-rounder’s. As with any “rookies” they require a maturation period. All should be considered dangerous, and in a year or two will be mentioned with the giants of the game. Look for Kim Clijsters to make a rapid ascent up the rankings, but by the end of the year expect Serena to be at the top and waiting. H


The The American American

The American

Classifieds HERITAGE GUIDE

THe sPOrTs Pages Sporting books reviewed by Richard L Gale

The Years of the Locust By Jon Hotten

‘There is mid-level corruption, which is sometimes in some areas, very pervasive. And Rick ‘Elvis’ Parker is probably the best example of this kind of thing’. So says Senator John McCain before a Congressional committee. And if the content of The Year of the Locust is to be believed, Rick Parker was the mid-level of boxing for a time. Never as big a name as Bob Arum or Don King, boxing promoter Rick Parker aspired to be in their league, and this book seeks to tell the tale of how he and his stable of journeymen boxers stretched the credibility of boxing. As somebody who only follows the highest level of boxing, much of this book played into my preconceptions of boxing promotion as corrupt and odious. Then again, after reading this book, I start to wonder whether much of that dark underbelly that has passed into urban myth isn’t the result of Rick Parker. If you’ve never heard of Rick Parker, you will have heard of some of those ‘boxers’ he came into contact with: former NFL star Mark Gastineau; occasional actor Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb; even heavyweight champion George Foreman, promoted

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by Parker for a time during his resurgence. And, most notably, Tim ‘Doc’ Anderson, whose relationship with Parker ended in murder. It makes for an engaging read, though at 230 pages a brief one, and Hotten’s stacatto sentences detracted from my enjoyment, like enduring 12 rounds of jabs to the face. Perhaps that was by clever design, but it was a distraction none the less. Yellow Jersey Press, £12.99

Mature professional lodger sought for period flat (american owned) near high street Kensington, London. Lovely double bedroom with fireplace, tV; bathroom with shower, use of kitchen; excellent access to transport, shops. £175 per week. Mon-Fri preferred. 0779-605-7812 box7439@theamerican.co.uk

Boston Red Sox/New York Yankees (and the meaning of life)

Englishman, 59, seeks position as

By Mark Rucker / Derek Gentile See those two baseball books at the top of the page? I love ’em! MVP books have a number of other titles formed from similar raw material – nostalgic baseball photos, quotes, historical data – but it’s the format of these two that works for me. Each turn of the page presents a quote, a photo, and four or five lines of commentary. It’s lightweight reading, but hard-covered and an inch thick (400 pages), they make for substantial gifts covering DiMaggio to Jeter, the Splendin Splinter to Johnny Damon’s beard. And of course, The Babe in both of them. MVP Books, £12.99 each

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01747 830520

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The American

Tail End

Paw Talk, or My Life as a Dog in London. Rebel lends a helping paw, but will it end in tears?

F

oxy is back. The last time I saw him was last spring when he was hiding in the bushes in the garden beside our apartment. Fox kits are dark brown or nearly black when they are born and She-Who-MustBe-Obeyed-Usually thought he was a cat and I didn’t tell her any differently as I knew it would upset her. One thing every dog must learn when living with a human is when to bark and when to keep quiet, as my mentor Luke once told me. It was early Saturday morning and She-Who-Must-Be-ObeyedUsually and I were taking a stroll along the Thames when she glanced back and saw this lovely red fox less than two feet behind us. “Shoo, go away,” she orders, but instead he sat down on his haunches and stared up at her. Because he was less than two feet away, I could see she was worried and I gave out a soft bark of warning. “Don’t you remember me, Rebel?” he asked “You used to sneak food to me.” I had no chance to reply as SheWho-Must-Be-Obeyed-Usually pulled my lead and began to walk rapidly. Foxy was still following us because a few minutes later two joggers stopped and asked, “Are you walking a fox?” She-Who-Must-Be-ObeyedUsually glared back at Foxy and replied, “No, he’s following us.”

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Rebel may have more foxy guests than she bargained for MIKE BAIRD

We were meeting Jen Jen for coffee at their favourite pastry shop and before she tied me up outside I could see she was nervous about leaving me alone. Foxy, however, likes most foxes is cunning and he waited until she was seated on a leather chair inside before I heard a whisper from behind a nearby planter say, “Over here, Rebel.” Glancing into the shop where Jen Jen and She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed Usually were talking, I replied anxiously, “It’s after nine, shouldn’t you be back in your lair?” “The gardeners are working there and it’s not safe,” he explained. “As a result, I’m homeless for the next two weeks.” Pushing the marrow bone Jen Jen gave me to him, I twitched my little black nose. She-Who-MustBe-Obeyed-Usually was always worrying about the homeless and why shouldn’t I help an animal pal, I asked myself. “Look, Foxy,” I said. “You know where I live. If you jumped onto the balcony you could hide behind the big planter there and I could bring food to you. I might

even be able to sneak you a blanket.” Which is exactly what Foxy did. The only problem I have now is keeping She-Who-Must-BeObeyed-Usually from stepping onto the balcony and spotting them. I say them because Foxy has been joined by his girlfriend and neither want to leave. “Come on, Rebel,” he says as I argue with him through the French windows. “Why should I leave this lap of luxury for a muddy den with only a bush as a roof to raise my future family? ” It is only then I glance at his girlfriend who is busy eating a chewy I left for her earlier and notice her stomach appears to be growing rounder. Now, what do I do...? ★


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The American May 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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