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July 2009

THE ESSENTIAL MONTHLY FOR ALL AMERICANS

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

WEATHER PROOF WIMBLEDON The American Museum’s

July 4th Offer

Simon Russell Beale’s

Bridge Project


The American Issue 675 – July 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 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 Advent Colour Ltd., 19 East Portway Industrial Estate, Andover, SP10 3LU www.advent-colour.co.uk Main cover image: Centre Court, Wimbledon (Photo: AELTC). Inset: Simon Russell Beale in The Cherry Orchard (Photo © Joan Marcus).

Welcome T

he US Census Bureau has some fun figures that you may not know about the US’s most important date. 2.5 million – the number of people living in the newly independent nation in July 1776 (this year the population will be 307 million). More than 1 in 4 – the chance that the hot dogs and pork sausages consumed in the US on the Fourth of July originated in Iowa. 78 million – Americans who took part in a barbecue last year. $193 million – The value of fireworks imported from China in 2008. US exports of fireworks came to just $28.1 million in 2008 $3.4m – US imports of American flags in 2008, $3.0m worth from China. ($569,400 worth of US flags were exported in 2008, mostly to Belgium.) 31 – Number of places in the USA with “Liberty” in their name. The most populous one as of July 1, 2007, is Liberty, Mo. (29,993), but Iowa has four, more of these places than any other state. $112.4 billion – the dollar value of trade last year between the US and the United Kingdom, making the British, our adversary in 1776, our sixth-leading trading partner today. Enjoy your magazine – and your July 4th.

SOME OF THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS

Olivier Award judge Jarlath O’Connell sees all the major theater productions. He selects the good ones for you – and flags up the turkeys.

Maureen Gray is a journalist and designer. Her passion for the outdoors life and walking trips, particularly in Scotland, take her this month to Skye.

Cece Mills is a talented artist in her own right. This month Cece guides you to the best of British art events and explores Graffiti and Glass in art.

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 675 • July 2009

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News Three Flying Horsemen, Two Boris Johnsons and a July 4th celebration at the Washington family’s ancestral home

11 Diary Dates The strangest, classiest and silliest events around the UK. And don’t miss the Royal Shakespeare Company’s annual open day – just how big was Falstaff? Check out the costume on page 13!

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14 Music Every so often we come across a star in the making. William Fitzsimmons could be the oddest next big thing. Michael Burland catches him on a recent visit to Britain. And we review the best album releases from bands old and new 19 The Isle of Skye The legendary island, steeped in Scottish history – and whisky – and possessing some of the finest landscapes in the UK, proves irresistable to Maureen Gray. Millie the labrador misses out on conquering a second mountain. Amd Roger Haig takes some stunning photographs, but not from where they wanted to be! 22 Coffee Break Take a break and have some fun

★ READER OFFER ★ 2-for-1 admission ★ 4th JULY ★ The American Museum in Britain

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2-for-1 admission to the American Museum in Britain’s 4th July celebrations. Just show a copy of this edition of The American at the entrance ticket office. The day includes The Crown Forces Drill Display, family games and activities and a rock ‘n’ roll band who’ll teach the audience some dance steps. 12noon-5pm. Entrance to all these events is included with grounds & exhibition admission – Adults £5.50, Seniors/Students £4.50, Children £3.50.Full ticket including Museum Adults £8.00, Seniors/Students £7.00, Children £4.50.


The American

24 Wining & Dining Four restaurants reviewed this month, including the revitalised Chicago Rib Shack. Would Bob Payton, the original owner, have approved of its new style? 32 Arts Cece Mills gives her expert choice of the best events in the arts world and looks at the ‘G’s – glass and graffiti. Estelle Lovatt reviews Saatchi’s new American exhibition

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39 Reviews Jarlath O’Connell talks with Simon Russell Beale about the extraordinary Bridge Project and working with Sam Mendes. Wallace Shawn season review

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46 Politics How American ambassadors to the United Kingdom make their assignment work. And how British MPs have made their expenses claims work – until now 49 Drive Time Volkswagen have a new Golf Plus. You might struggle to see the differences from the outside, but it’s a great family car. 52 Sports Could both the UK and USA be celebrating singles titles at Wimbledon, can the United Football League coexist with the NFL, and can Tiger Woods stop Padraig Harrington three-peating at the British Open?

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56 American Organizations Your comprehensive guide and a profile of the American Women of Surrey 64 Paw Talk That Darn Cat! Rebel suffers cat confusion 3


The American

Plastic Stamps?

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eter Lockwood of the American Civil War Round Table and the Old Country Tours battlefield tour guide company writes: Re-reading the ‘Collecting Bits of Coloured Paper’ article in the February 2009 issue, my eyes were attracted to the statement that during the American Civil War, stamps were encased in plastic. Knowing this not to be correct I contacted a American friend of mine, Gary Granzow from Carversville, PA, who replied: “Because of economic panic (sound familiar?), people in the North hoarded coins of all kinds, even pennies. Enterprising businesses bought postage stamps and encased them in tin or brass. On the back they embossed advertising. At the time they were sold for a small markup over the cost of the stamp. Thirty companies are thought to have produced these and about 750,000 were sold. Now only 4,000 to 7,000 remain in collectors hands. “The illustration is a twentyfour cent stamp encased by J. Gault who was the first to think of it. He encased 1 cent through 90 cents. The front was not plastic (which hadn’t been invented yet), it was mica. The 24 cent is now worth $2,500 and the 90 cent, $6,500, which is a reflection of how rare they are. Of course, condition is everything.”

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Boris Johnson, Right... Or is it Left?

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oris Johnson, elected Mayor of London in August 2008, has been quite a hit with American expats and visitors to Britain, whether they agree with his politics or not. Maybe it’s because of his larger than life character, wacky English public school demeanor and occasional outspoken gaffes. Now we can all get a closer look at Boris (as everyone knows him) whenever we wish. Madame Tussauds, the worldfamous house of waxworks, has created an uncannily lifelike Boris wax figure. The figure took five months to create and cost over £150,000. It is dressed in a navy suit with a matching blue shirt and tie donated by the Mayor himself. Characteristically, the ersatz Boris’s suit comes complete with lived-in creases and a slight tear in the left trouser leg from his bicycle – the real world version is well known for cycling round the capital city. A long time was given to recreating the Mayor’s distinctive shock of blonde hair.

The extremely accurate waxwork will reside in the World Stage area, home to a politicians and statesmen from past and present. Boris is the first UK politician to be honored by a Tussaud’s figure since his mayoral predecessor, Ken Livingstone, in 2000. Amazingly, that puts him ahead in one respect over his Conservative Party Leader David Cameron and the current Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. On meeting himself, the Mayor, who has previously said his inclusion in the attraction is the highlight of his career thus far, commented. “‘It is an honour, but I hope not alarming for Londoners to know there are two of me in this great city of London. Like Goethe beholding his Doppelganger on the footpath to Drusenheim, this strange illusion in some measure has calmed me. I look forward to the figure being remodelled in a few months in keeping with the more lean and lithe physique I hope will soon emerge.”


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The American

Peggy Strode, AWS President (far left), and members of the AWS deliver the pillows to Consultant Surgeon Mr Tayo Johnson (second left), Lead Breast Care Nurse, Regina Santos (centre front) and the Breast Care Unit team

Big Hearted Help for Breast Cancer Patients The American Women of Surrey have donated 125 heart-shaped pillows to the Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospital Breast Cancer Unit. The special pillows are designed and shaped to suppor the armpit, to ease pain and increase comfort for patients after surgery. The Heart Pillow project was recently launched by AWS with the Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas (FAWCO) and the American Women’s Club of London. AWS held “sew, stuff and package days” over two days in a member’s house and the pillows were funded by selling specially designed heart cards and donations from local business in Weybridge and Kingston. The pillows were originally discovered in the United States at the Erlanger Breast Resource Center and were brought to Denmark by Nancy Ruth Friis-Jensenl. In 2006, she inaugurated the project at The American Women’s Club in Denmark. To find out more about the heart pillows, or get a pattern to make one yourself, visit www. heartpillow.dk

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John Washington’s final resting place, the family burial plot in Popes Creek, VA.

Independence Day at Washington Ancestral Home 350 years ago, the first American Washington ancestor of George, the First President, was born in Virginia at Pope’s Creek, the son of John Washington who left England in 1657. This year the sites at the beginning and end of John’s journey are uniting over Independence Day weekend to celebrate the anniversary. Two of the National Park Service Rangers from the George Washington Birthplace site in Virginia will join with their colleagues in the celebrations at the Washington ancestral home Sulgrave Manor in the heart of England. They will offering talks and presentations on the Pope’s Creek site to add a dimension to Sulgrave’s traditional celebration with Appalachian dancing, a visiting bald eagle and huskies. Independence Day itself will see almost simultaneous planting of a Virginian Dogwood at Sulgrave by

Baroness Knight and Tim Boswell MP and of an English Oak at Pope’s Creek by Congressman Whittman of Virginia. Sulgrave Manor’s Independence Day Celebrations open at 11am with last entry at 4pm on both Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th July, 01295 760205, www.sulgravemanor.org.uk

Sulgrave Manor, the home of George Washington’s father John and a great place to celebrate Independence Day.


The American

Left: The Horsemen bring their fabulous P-51 Mustang display to Duxford

New Duxford Exhibits

Duxford’s All Action Summer Horsemen Buzz Flying Legends Air Show

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he Horsemen, the world’s only P-51 Mustang aerobatic team, will bring their spectacular show to the Flying Legends event at the Imperial War Museum, RAF Duxford, July 11 and 12. It will be their only UK appearance this year. Ticket prices are £29.95 adults, £24.95 seniors, £9.95 children and concessions (4 years or under and carers go free). The three highly skilled warbird pilots have a particular passion for the Mustang, the USA’s premier fighter plane of World War II. You can see amazing film footage of The Horsemen in action at www. fighter-collection.com. Flying Legends is co-organised by The Fighter Collection in partnership with IWM Duxford. It is one of the finest warbird air shows in the world, with an unrivalled line up of the classic propeller-driven combat aircraft from both the First and Second World Wars, many of which are now rare and unique. There is another Mustang in East Anglia this month. Ferocious

Frankie, the Old Flying Machine Company’s North American P51D, will be displayed on July 4 at Anglesey Abbey to the north of Cambridge. The OFMC, based at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford near Cambridge, have been supplying WWII aircraft including a Spitfire for private display for over 25 years.

Real Wartime Stories In May, Imperial War Museum Duxford brought the history of the Second World War vividly to life with the first hand experiences of British ex-servicepeople and civilians who fought and lived through those tumultuous times. Representatives from the Royal and Merchant Navies, RAF, the Army, and people living and working on the Home Front, chatted informally to visiting members of the public. This fantastic opportunity to hear personal experiences of the war years, will be held again between Tuesday July 28 and Friday July 31, when World War II veterans will be joined by veterans from the Royal Anglian Regiment who have served in conflicts since 1945, including Malaya and Northern Ireland.

Duxford’s F-15 Eagle has recently undergone conservation work and a repaint to give it the striking colours of 5th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, with its distinctive black and gold tail flash. The conservation work was undertaken by Imperial War Museum Duxford’s Conservation Team with additional voluntary support from USAF personnel from RAF Lakenheath. At the F-15’s unveiling on June 4, Richard Ashton, Director of IWM Duxford thanked the Lakenheath personnel for their assistance and highlighted the Anglo-American relationship enjoyed by Duxford and USAFE. Colonel John T Quintas, Commander, 48th Operations Group also made a speech, focusing on the skills honed by USAFE personnel in undertaking the F-15 Eagle conservation project. Duxford will also soon be taking delivery of a special Eurofighter Typhoon, Development Aircraft 4, which will be displayed in pride of place in the museum’s AirSpace exhibition during the summer. DA4 was used in the early stages of the Eurofighter’s lopment, which led to the production of the Typhoon that is flown by the RAF today, the to the famous Harrier, Jaguar and Tornado aircraft which are also display in AirSpace at Imperial War Museum Duxford.




The American

The American Museum in Britain The only museum of Americana outside the United States.

THIS MONTH 4TH OF JULY CELEBRATION The Crown Forces Drill Display and War of Independence Camp (also July 5), family games and a classic rock ‘n roll band who will teach you a few dance steps. Come join the party! 12.00 Noon - 5 pm. SUNDAY @ CLAVERTON: DS BIG BAND Goodman, Dorsey, Shaw, Miller – relax on the lawn with this 18-piece band. July 12, 2pm. ‘FROM CRUCKS TO BALLOONS: THE DEMOCRATIZATION OF CRAFTSMANSHIP IN COLONIAL AMERICA’ Lecture by David Leviatin July 19, 2pm. WILD WEST WEEKEND A cowboy encampment, a full sized Plains Indian tipi and an exhibition of Native American art and artifacts. July 25, demonstration 2pm. KIDS STUFF Activities for the 5 and ups each week during the school holidays. 1pm-4pm. First come, first served, no reservation required, but children must be accompanied by a parent/guardian. For information call 01225 820862.

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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Vickers Vimy Replica Flies In

CHRISTIAN PRATT

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isitors to Imperial War Museum Duxford witnessed an exciting aviation moment recently when the ‘Spirit of Brooklands’, a replica of the 1917 Vickers Vimy, flew in from Oxford, staging a short aerial display before landing. The Vickers Vimy flew into the history books on three separate occasions: it was the first airplane to fly across the Atlantic; from the UK to Capetown and from the UK to Australia. The replica Vickers Vimy has almost unbelievably replicated all three historic flights. The flight to Duxford will likely be one of the last for the replica. It will be on display at Imperial War Museum Duxford during summer 2009, before going on permanent static display at Brooklands Museum, Surrey.

Executive Director Sandra Barghini Leaves For Florida

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andra Barghini, Executive Director of the American Museum in Britain, has been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer and Director of the Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach. Julian Blades, the museum’s Deputy Director, will serve as interim director of the American Museum in Britain commencing July 6th, while a permanent replacement is sought. Ms Barghini was the driving force behind innovations at the museum including the the American Heritage Galleries, an expanded Orangery and

a new Centre for American Culture Studies, while authoring ‘Aspects of America – A Short History. She was previously Chief Curator of the Flagler Museum and Florida Hearst Castle in California.


Fine American Dentistry…

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

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

ART

Style design The Christie’s Part-time Course Gain a knowledge of art and the art world through participation in a structured but relaxed environment. Programme options are also available in Early European Art, Modern and Contemporary Art and the Arts of China. For more information visit www.christieseducation.com GUSTAV KLIMT Courtesy Neue Galerie New York


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

Embassy News www.usembassy.org.uk

Embassy Warns Against Internet Scams

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he US Embassy’s American Citizen Services section has a blog, www. usembassy.org.uk/americanservices, that is updated regularly with information and guidance for US citizens abroad. Here are some of the recent posts, based on real-life cases, that could make your life easier. Q: My friend recently emailed me to say that they’ve been robbed. They have no money to pay for their hotel bills and can’t even buy a flight back home to the U.S. Is there anything that the Embassy can do to help them? A: You should tell your friend to contact the Embassy directly. We can be reached by email at SCSLondon@state. gov , or by telephone to 020 7499 9000 (24hrs). We are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am. to 5:30 pm., excluding U.S. and UK public holidays, so they can also come in person. We must caution you that this sounds very much like many of the internet scams we hear about every day. We strongly advise you not to send any money. Have you ever met this friend in person? Even if this is a well known friend, have you confirmed their story by speaking to them over the phone? We would urge you to read our information on internet scams (see below).

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Q: I have a friend that emailed me saying they need to pay a Basic Travel Allowance (BTA) fee before they are allowed to leave the U.K. Is there such a fee? A: There is no such thing as a BTA fee in the United Kingdom. This is a scam and one that we hear about every day at the Embassy. If your friend is someone you’ve met only over the Internet, we recommend that you cease communications with this individual immediately in order to lessen the risk of being exploited. If you have shared any personal information, you may want to contact the police and your financial institutions to protect your identity. Do NOT give this person any money. For more information on scams, see our website at http://london.usembassy. gov/cons_new/acs/scs/internet_scams. html

Thinking About Adoption?

Each year, thousands of Americans adopt a child from overseas. The process of adopting a child from another country, however, can be difficult. That’s where the Department of State’s adoption website comes in. This website aims to provide what you need to know about the adoption process. How does the adoption process

work? Who can adopt? Where do Americans adopt from? Learn the answers and more at http://adoption. state.gov Other information regarding children’s issues and family matters can be found on our website at http://london. usembassy.gov/cons_new/acs/scs/childrens_issues_and_family_matters.html

2010 Voting Assistance Guide

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) is currently coordinating the 2010-2011 edition of the Voting Assistance Guide with the Chief Election Officials in each of the states and territories. It will be distributed to the Services and Voting Action Officers by September to allow ample time for Voting Assistance Officers (VAO) to plan and implement their 2010 voter outreach efforts prior to the early primary elections in 2010. The Guide is the most important source of procedural information available to servicepeople and civilians citizens covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. The new, more user-friendly Guide will help UOCAVA citizens to better understand and participate in the democratic process. It will be available in book format and on the FVAP’s website at www.fvap.gov. ★


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 Henley Royal Regatta Henley-On-Thames, Oxfordshire The best known rowing event in the world? Certainly a major part of the British ‘Season’. Be careful of the dress code if you’re invited to any of the ‘Enclosures’. www.hrr.co.uk July 01 to July 05 Family events at Natural History Museum Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD Lots of fun events for kids & families throughout the summer holidays including Yellow Book Day, Hands-On Nature: Evolution, Natural Puppet Tales, and Be a Botanist. See the

website for full details. www.nhm.ac.uk 020 7942 5000 July 01 to July 31 Rhapsody in Blue St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 4JJ Opening concert of St Martin’s American Festival. A concert centred on Gershwin’s popular masterpiece Rhapsody in Blue. James Pearson and the internationally acclaimed Ronnie Scott’s Allstars will be performing along with singer Debra Andrew and the multi-talented Lizzie Ball combining violin and vocals. www2.stmartin-in-the-fields.org 020 7766 1100 July 02

Alice’s Day The Story Museum, Town Hal, Blue Boar Street, Oxford OX1 4EY plus citywide trail To commemorate Charles Dodgson {Lewis Carrol)’s Alice books, a free self-guided trail organised by The Story Museum including displays of Alice treasures at world famous venues, White Rabbits performing on random street corners, Storytellers in university quadrangles, Performances, talks, games and activities along the trail, a Tea party picnic in Oxford University Botanic Gardens. www.storymuseum.org.uk office@storymuseum.org.uk 01865 790050 July 04

James Madison University Chorale Concert St. Bartholomew the Great, 6–9 Kinghorn Street, London EC1A 7HW A choir from Washington DC performing music of different styles and times, English motets and madrigals, and American spirituals. www.greatstbarts.com Katie@ ClassicalMovements.com www.greatstbarts.com July 03 July 4th Concert, Lewisham Choral Society Blackheath Halls, Lee Road, Blackheath, London SE3 American Music of the 20th Century from this non–auditioned community choir. John Adams “Harmonium”, Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide Overture” and George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”. 7.30pm www.lewishamchoralsociety.org.uk July 04 Independence Day Celebration Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, London WC2N 5NF Join us for cake and bubbly between 12 and 2pm. Tickets £8, £5. www.benjaminfranklinhouse.org info@benjaminfranklinhouse.org 020 7839 2006 July 04 The Wonderful West End Great Fosters, Egham (close to Heathrow and Windsor) The best of the West End musicals, Phantom, Les Mis, Miss Saigon, Lion King and more together for a magical night of entertainment. Champagne reception in the gardens, dinner beneath the vaulted oak beams of the C14th Tithe Barn and songs from Glyn Kerslake. The night coincides with Independence Day so Glyn will also be performing American classics by George & Ira Gershwin and Cole Porter. www.prestige-promotions.co.uk 01442 879000 July 04

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The American

Company of Fishmongers still organise it. Prizes, include a splendid red coat and silver badge. The 4 3/4 mile course is only open to watermen or women under the age of 26 on the day of the race. Crowds watch from London’s bridges and boats. July 10

Study Contemporary Asian Art this summer Sotheby’s Institute of Art, 30 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3EE Two one-week courses starting on 13 July focusing on the art of China, Korea, and Japan. Lectures in painting, printmaking, religious art and the decorative arts offer an essential understanding. In addition to classrorom lectures, visits to museums and galleries in London. The courses are open to anyone with an interest in this field of art. www.sothebysinstitute.com shortcourses@sothebysinstitute.com or call Gillian McIlwaine on +44 (0)20 7462 2490 East Asian Art • 13 – 17 July • 10am – 5pm Contemporary East Asian Art • 20 – 24 July • 10am – 5pm World Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling Championships Waen Rhydd peat bog, Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, mid Wales Competitors cycle a six-foot deep 45 yard trench on a lead-weighted bike. www.green-events.co.uk July 04 Meet the Tudors Cowdray Heritage Trust, Midhurst, West Sussex GU29 9AL Experience all things Tudor, 500 years after Henry VIII’s accession - costumes, combat, cooking and crafts. www.cowdray.org.uk 01730 810781 July 05 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey One of the greatest garden shows in the world. Highlights include growing your own, gardening in a changing climate, healthy living and making the best of your life outdoor. www.rhs.org.uk/whatson/events July 07 to July 12

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Best of British Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London SE21 7AD Masterpieces from Dulwich’s collection will be displayed alongside lesserknown paintings from other collectors, including a significant group of actors’ portraits from Shakespeare’s time. www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk 020 8693 5254 July 08 to September 27 Texas Girls’ Choir Concert St. Giles Cripplegate Church, Fore Street, Barbican, London EC2Y 8DA The Texas Girls’ Choir was the first girls’ choir to be incorporated in the United States. St Giles Cripplegate will be the first concert of their 2009 tour. 8pm. www.texasgirlschoir.org July 08 Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race The oldest organised race in English history was started in 1715 by Irish actor and comedian Thomas Doggett in honour of King George I’s accession to the throne. The Worshipful

World Pea Shooting Championships Witcham, Cambridgeshire Witcham village green hosts guests from around the world to watch contestants shoot a pea through a tube, 12 feet towards a 12–inch target. July 11 American Friends & Family reception: L’Amour De Loin by Kaija Saariaho ENO, London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, Trafalgar Sq., London The American Friends of English National Opera invite you to a reception for the ENO’s new production. The evening’s programme is: 5:30pm Light supper in the American Bar with Pre-performance entertainment; 6:30pm Performance starts; Interval - Dessert and goody bags in the American Bar; 9:40 ends. Children welcome from age 5. For prices see the ENO website., or book tickets directly from American Friends Coordinator Denise Kaplan. www.eno.org dkaplan@eno.org 020 7845 9331 July 11 Southern Cathedrals Festival Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire Annual festival of choral music featuring the choirs of Chichester, Salisbury and Winchester Cathedrals. Celebrating the anniversaries of Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn and Purcell, the choirs are joined by guest performers in fourteen concerts, nine services, a choral masterclass and world premières by Barry Ferguson and Will Todd. www.southerncathedralsfestival.org.uk Box Office 01722 320333 July 15 to July 18


The American

Art in Action Waterperry House, Wheatley, Oxford OX33 1JZ One of the UK’s longest running art and craft festivals. Artists set up their studios in marquees. Visitors can watch them work and buy and commission art. Highlights include Mexican Arts, and practical classes for children and adults. www.artinaction.org.uk info@artinaction.org.uk 020 7381 3192 July 16 to July 19 Handel Concert Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, London WC2N 5NF Performed by Cenk Karaferya, Founder, Broschi Ensemble. 7pm. Tickets £15, £13 Friends and concessions www.cenkkaraferya.com info@benjaminfranklinhouse.org July 16 World Snail Racing Championships Congham, Norfolk Snails compete by racing on a circular course; this hilarious event attracts worldwide media attention. www.snailracing.net July 18 RHS Show Tatton Park Mereheath Lane, Knutsford, Cheshire As well as the popular large show gardens and smaller back to back gardens, a highlight for many visitors is the RHS/Ball Colegrave National Flower Bed Competition www.rhs.org.uk/whatson/events July 22 to July 26 Square dance weekend Desford, Leicestershire Beginners’ square dance weekend with 5 x 2–hour workshops led by Neil Whiston. Camping available on site and there are local B&Bs. Contact Angie Iliffe for further details. angie.iliffe@btinternet.com 01530?39836 July 24 to July 26

Royal Shakespeare Company Open Day Stratford-upon-Avon An exciting and eclectic mix of free and paid-for events, aimed at fans of Shakespeare and theatre-lovers of all ages. It’s the perfect opportunity to find out more about one of the most well-known theatre companies in the world. With a vast array of talks and hands-on sessions about theatre disciplines including costume, lighting and sound, make-up, wigs, armoury and stage fighting. Highlights include: The Glass of Fashion, 4.45pm, The Courtyard Theatre; Manga Shakespeare, 1pm and 2.45pm, Parish Centre; RSC Sports Day, 2.30-4pm, Theatre Gardens (you are invited to compete against RSC actors in traditional sports events with a Shakespearean twist) and Career talks www.rsc.org.uk July 19 Comedy Night Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, London WC2N 5NF Comedians test their Franklinesque wit in the unusual settings of Franklin’s Parlour. www.benjaminfranklinhouse.org info@benjaminfranklinhouse.org July 24 The Gathering Holyrood Park, Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, EH8 8AS Be a part of history; join clan members from around the world to witness Scotland’s largest ever Highland Games in the inspiring Holyrood Park. Marvel at the athletes battling to win the 2009 World Highland Games Heavy Events, enjoy the skills of the pipers and Highland dancers and the stamina of the hill runners. Sample contemporary Scotland with live music, top-quality arts and crafts, and the best local food and drink. Watch

the centrepiece of The Gathering 2009, the colourful Clan Parade on the famous Royal Mile, culminating in a spectacular Historic Pageant on the Castle’s esplanade. www.clangathering.org July 25 to July 26 Folk by the Oak Hatfield House, Hertfordshire A one Day Folk Festival of award winning contemporary folk artists in the enchanting grounds of Hatfield House. 2009 is its second year and the lineup includes Kate Rusby, Karine Polwart and Lau. www.folkbytheoak.co.uk July 26 Bristol Harbour Festival Explore–At–Bristol Bristol’s liveliest and largest Harbourside event 0117 922 3719 July 31 to August 02

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The American

The American interview:

On The Couch With

William Fitzsimmons W

illiam Fitzsimmons is one of the oddest people you will ever meet. Not my opinion, but the first line in his record company’s biography. You won’t think so when you meet or talk to him. He’s polite, responsive, thoughtful, calm, witty... So why odd? Well, his family, his work methods, his songs. And while musicians are not famous for delving deeply into their psyches, he’s a qualified therapist. Michael Burland spoke with William on his recent UK tour to find out more. You come from an unusual background. You’re sighted, but both your parents were blind. As a kid I didn’t know it was unusual, but when I started hanging out with

friends, they thought it was odd. The way I look at the world is a little bit different. Not to say that I’m unique, we all have a story, but that particular thing bears pretty heavily on who I am today, in some wonderful ways and some maybe not so wonderful. The house was full of sound-creating objects. Did you get into music early? Some parents, I guess, push very hard, some not at all. I guess mine leaned towards the former, but it’s not we were like pageant kids – they didn’t take away dinner if we didn’t practise four hours! My mother would sit at the piano and play and we would go sing and play with her. It was something we could share. Without it there would have been a chasm, maybe. I came to think of music as a language instead of a pastime. When you listen to a song you connect with, it’s more than chords changing from A minor to C, or an individual word, it’s the gestalt, the whole thing. Without that language I don’t know if I would have had the intimacy that I did with my folks. Do you relate to sounds and music differently to other people? I’m not the best judge of it, but yeah, I think so. Your dad was into orchestral music and your mom was into folk. Some people might rebel against that and

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get into techno or hardcore, but your music seems to come from those traditions? When I was an adolescent I got deep into Led Zeppelin and classic rock. I don’t know if that was rebellion or just realizing there was different music out there. Then I happened upon some Bob Dylan records that my mom had. There is something special about finding something that you knew when you were a kid, It gives you that nostalgic, Christmas morning feeling. We all try to chase that, to feel the same way we felt when we were young. Are you in a particular genre or style now? I like to say folk. Some of my stuff goes outside those restraints, but it’s purposeful, I endeavor for it to be substantive and have meaning instead of just having an aesthetic. I don’t want it to just sound good, I want people to have new thoughts about things. Which leads to what you did before music as a career. Didn’t you become a trained therapist? I did my degree and worked at a psychiatric hospital for four years, then I went to graduate school and got my Masters in mental health counseling. I loved that work. Finally when I’d spent God knows how much money on my education music crept up again. I got lucky and had some successes, and hit


The American

the old crossroads of career and thought, this is a good Plan B. Do you think you might go back into counseling? Well, I have the certification, I’m a practising counselor and the degree never goes away. I’m not so foolish to think that careers in music last forever. That’s very rare, you only have so many Paul Simons. I’d be more than happy to walk back into that because I loved it and – this is a bit preachy maybe – I feel that what I’m doing is more therapy than anything else. At the end of today’s show I had a young guy ask me if I could email his brother’s girlfriend. She had wanted to see the show but she had to fly back to the States because her father is dying. Could I say I was thinking of her and wish her well. That’s a huge honor. I get a ton of messages every day from people going through hard things. They’ve stumbled upon one of the songs and it’s helped them with what they’re going through. Living in a big house would be wonderful, and having a boat would be great [laughs], but at the end of the day that’s why I do it, that’s what I want to happen. Does the therapy angle of the music work for you too? For a long time I thought it did, but now I don’t know. The music is a catalyst for me, but sometimes I think it does more harm than good. To sing about your divorce... problems that you’ve had with your family... every night... it gets a little heavy. It may be the first time other people have heard it, but I’m reminding myself of these things every single night. It makes me look forward to writing happier things! The new album Goodnight is about your parents’ divorce. It’s hard enough writing about your own break-ups, but was that more traumatic?

Yes, and ironically it was happening while my own relationship was going downward. I would never make a record that way again. It took me six months to record and mix it. I did most everything. I sat in that room in the dark living through all that crap for half a year. It didn’t do good things for me. Did you find yourself becoming obsessed by it? Obsessed is a very good word for it. I got stuck in it and it took me going through some even more awful things to get out of it. My wake up call was when my marriage fell apart. Once I came to my senses and realized I was not being any kind of person I wanted to be, and I was making horrible choices, it brought me back. We ended up getting divorced, but things heal over time, she’s happy, I’ve even able to move on, we’re cordial now. Hopefully people hear that other side. Songs about hardship and difficulties can have that strange facility of uplifting you – like the blues. I’m glad you found that. Not everyone gets that – and that’s OK. Some people need a happy song to make them happy, others need a sad song to make them feel whole. I love how you said it, that’s exactly the idea I’m grasping for. The album is simple, in the best sense. It’s like your voice is confiding

in the listener. Have you always sung that way? When I started playing guitar at 15, I was doing mostly covers, trying to sing Beatles songs boisterously, but that’s not the voice I have. I learned how to sing from my mother, like a woman, softer, more reserved. I like music that is screaming but done in a whisper. The emotions are so in your face that they’re almost yelled, but when you listen to the vocal they are barely making a noise. When I mixed the record my only goal was that people could fall asleep listening to it. I don’t know why that was important to me – it went along with the motif of the ‘Goodnight’ thing – but there was something fitting. So that people could just experience the almost ethereal sound of it – or listen to the lyrics and go into it more deeply. Hopefully. ★

William Fitzsimmons’ album ‘Goodnight’ is released on June 29 on Naim Label. He will be touring Europe and Britain from August. See www.williamfitzsimmons.com for more information

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The American

Johansen, Rundgren, Sylvain (2nd, 3rd and 4th left) – The Dolls are back

Playing for Change- Songs Around The World Various Hear Music/Universal

Mark Johnson had a vision. A Grammy award winning record engineer, he dreamed of music, the universal language, bringing musicians from around the world together to promote world peace. Over ten years he recorded musicians and singers individually on the streets of South Africa, Santa Monica, New Orleans, New Mexico, Rio, Amsterdam, Moscow, Nepal, Israel, Italy, Venezuela, Congo, Barcelona and more for this CD and accompanying DVD. Digital technology enables it all, and sympathetic production makes it sound as if they are actually there together. The only jarring notes come when U2 singer Bono intrudes into a version of Bob Marley’s War/No More Trouble along with Marley himself, shattering the unknown street musician vibe. That’s carping though. If this was just a worthy and inventive idea,it would be worth one listen. It’s more than that. The multiculturall takes on well known,uplifting songs like Stand By Me, One Love, Biko and The Change Is Gonna Come are really rather good. And if Grandpa Elliot, the singer, mouthorgan player and storyteller who lives on the streets of New Orleans, isn’t a big star there is no justice.

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New York Dolls ‘Cause I Sez So Atco Records

The band least likely to... get back together, make a comeback, work with Todd Rundgren (producer of their first album) again... survive? The Dolls – David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain plus their new henchmen, the other original Dolls having gone the way of all flesh - kick straight back into action again with the gloriously trashy rock n roll of the title track. With all the New York alley swagger of Personality Crisis all those years ago, it has a remarkably modern anti-surveillance society message, “Go point your camera some other way/ Ain’t gonna be in YOUR movie today”. The Dolls were ahead of their time, influencing punk with their attitudeover-accomplishment style, and bighair metal and glam with their scuzzy androgynous looks. Their brash, sneering songs have survived because of the wit and humor that leavened the street smart rock and ’60s girl group hooks: “A man of my stature can’t live like this... How did it come it come to this... this is ridiculous!” and the tongue-in-cheek self-celebration of the ageing rocker in Nobody Got No Bizness, “Invested with virtues no other bands possess,” but “If we don’t come back you can call us on the Ouija board”.

ALBUMS THEOF MONTH Levon Helm

Electric Dirt Dirt Farmer Music/Vanguard Records The real southern voice of The Band is back. Helm, whose tales of growing up on an Arkansan cotton farm gave the influential band their roots, nearly succumbed to throat cancer but returned with the Grammy-winning Dirt Farmer in 2007, his pure tenor voice transformed to a soulful rasp. Electric Dirt plows the same furrow, celebrating Helm’s connection with the land, but adds a broader scope to the music, adding more blues, gospel and soul to the country stew. Growing Trade’s eulogy to the farmer struggling in a harder modern age, sounds straight from Big Pink-era Band. The Randy Newman-penned Kingfish revels in a New Orleans gumbo of blues and jazz aided by Allen Toussaint’s horn arrangements. The track that you’ll return to for sheer pleasure is the rollicking version of the Grateful Dead’s Tennessee Jed, but the one that will burn longer and stay with you longest is When I Go Away, the most soulful celebration of the passing to heaven that you will have heard for a long time – and so much more affecting for Helm’s recent history.


The Original Transatlantic Sessions Volume One

CandyPirate

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Aly Bain & Jay Ungar featuring Jerry Douglas, Iris Dement, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, John Martyn, Mary Black and others Whirlie Records Fourteen years after it was aired, the music from the TV series that started the most wonderful coalition of transatlantic musicians ever recorded is finally released on CD. Shetland fiddler Bain worked with American roots fiddle virtuoso to entice the cream of acoustic players to a country house hotel in Scotland to play their Celtic, English, Appalachian, Cajun and blues styles together and see what would happen. What happened was glorious. The tunes, old and new, are rejuvenated by the transatlantic blood transfusion. The McGarrigles longingly sing Talk To Me Of Mendocino, and Iris Dement’s Let The Mystery Be bounces along. The late lamented John Martyn laughing “I like THAT one!” at the end of a joyful take of his May You Never, played with Kathy Mattea and Jerry Douglas, says it all.

CandyPirate sells all your favourite American Candy, Soda, Cereal, Groceries and Snacks right here in the UK 10off your order DISCOUNT CODE - AMERICP

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Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is Lost Highway Records

If James Brown had been as turned on by electric guitars as he was by horns, and if he had come from Texas, he would have sounded like Black Joe Lewis. Lewis borrows the funk, the call and response choruses with the rest of the Honeybears and the clipped, tight horn arrangements from Mr Brown and adds more guitar. I listened to Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is before reading the press release it came with and caught the Brown sound along with what I thought were Lightnin’ Hopkins guitar flourishes. I don’t know if I was pleased or annoyed when Lewis quotes them both as major influences! Overall I get the same, but more southern, feel as Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed – young guys who love sixties souls and blues and are playing it for real. Black Joe Lewis is establishing a crossover appeal in the States, appearing on TV shows and in magazines that would never normally feature blues acts. He has built a reputation as a dynamite live act. Catch the band and see for yourself at the Latitude Festival, Suffolk on July 17th; Love Box, London on 18th; Jazz Café, London on 21st.

An exploration of The Third Way in British politics that brought New Labour to power in 1997. Alison Homes is Pierre Keller Fellow, Transatlantic Studies,Yale University. Matador £9.99 ISBN 1848760094


BRYAN ADAMS

The American

Todd Rundgren © JEAN LANNEN

Chickenfoot

T

he new rock supergroup Chickenfoot have announced a one-off UK show and their début album (to be reviewed next month). Chickenfoot are drummer Chad Smith (from the Red Hot Chili Peppers), bassist Michael Anthony (ex-Van Halen), guitarist Joe Satriani and vocalist Sammy Hagar (ex-Montrose and Van Halen). A European tour consists of outdoor festivals, including Montreaux, Switzerland, and Bospop, Holland, plus various ‘intimate’ indoor rock shows including the London O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on June 25th, the only UK date on the European tour. “People have this idea of what this band is about, or what Sammy Hagar is about as a lyricist and a vocalist,” says Joe Satriani. “We manage to get each guy to up his game in a non-confrontational way. When I play with Chickenfoot, I want to give them more all the time, and I don’t hold anything back. I think the rest of the guys feel the same way.” “Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers is from Detroit and he can play the hell out of funk, but he’s a rocker,” says Sammy Hagar. “He plays hard and he’s balanced. Chickenfoot wouldn’t exist without his groove.”

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oy, there are there some great gigs by American acts that are worth catching, something for every taste: Michael Jackson’s will-hewon’t-he 50 date stint at the O2, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young at Hard Rock Calling, Anastacia, Fleet Foxes, B.B. King with John Mayall, James Taylor, Lady Gaga, Roger McGuinn, AC/DC, Spinal Tap, Metro Station, Crosby, Stills and Nash at the Royal Albert Hall, the well-regarded Derek Trucks Band, Neil Sedaka. Don’t forget the Brits too – the reformed Blur, Rod Stewart (albeit an honorary Californian), the Pogues (albeit part-Irish!).

White Denim

An interesting left-field choice, this Texan trio have grown over a European tour, from an interesting indie band to a genuinely new voice, building on the psych sounds of the sixties but with a distinctive hardedged sound of their own. Catch them quick, dates are: June 23rd Birmingham, Bar Academy; 24th Manchester, Ruby Lounge; 26th Dublin Academy 2; 27th Belfast, Stiff Kitten; 29th Edinburgh, Cabaret Voltaire; 30th Newcastle, Digital; July 2nd Nottingham, Rescue Rooms; 3rd Oxford, Academy 2; 4th Kent, The Hop Farm; 5th Southampton, Talking Heads; 7th Bristol, Thekla; 8th London, Heaven.

LIVE AND KICKING

±

Todd Rundgren

One to plan ahead for: Todd Rundgren has produced many great bands and he’s made some marvelous music of his own over the years. Rundgren will perform his remarkable 1973 album, A Wizard, a True Star in its entirety for the first time ever in Britain on February 6th, 2010 at the Hammersmith Apollo, London. This marks Todd’s only UK concert of the album, one of the most influential and pioneering progressive rock album recordings of all time. The first half of the concert will feature a selection of Rundgren’s songs throughout his career, while the second half will consist of the entirety of A Wizard, a True Star.

Steely Dan

Another one to grab now or regret it. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen’s Steely Dan made jazz-influenced intelligent music both cool and wildly successful in the late seventies. The complex structures and harmonies played by their cast of borderline genius musicians were topped by clever, wryly humorous lyrical wordplay. Few imagined they would ever play together again after going their separate ways, but.. here they are on June 28th at Edinburgh Playhouse; 29th Birmingham, NIA Academy; July 1st London Hammersmith Apollo.


The American

Over the Sea to Skye Maureen Gray discovers the joys of following in the Bonnie Prince’s footsteps. Photos by Roger Hague

I

think it is the same love of tragic romantic themes which made me as a child adore the story of ‘The Tin Soldier’ by Hans Christian Andersen, (later progressing in my teenage years to Thomas Hardy’s equally poignant ‘The Trumpet Major’), that has always drawn me to the wonderfully melodic and soulful ‘Skye Boat Song’. The ballad recalls the escape in 1746 of Charles Edward Stuart, (better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie), after his defeat at Culloden, which marked the end of his attempt to wrest the thrones of England and Scotland back from the Protestant William of Orange. Sadly, you can no longer sail over the sea to this wonderful island lying off the north west coast of Scotland. Much more conveniently, albeit less romantically, it is now joined to the mainland by the Skye Bridge. Nonetheless, it is still the most enchanting destination and a place of spec-

”Speed bonnie boat like a bird on the wing Onward! The sailors cry Carry the lad that was born to be king Over the sea to Skye” tacular scenery dominated by the magnificent Cuillin Mountains. There is a wide range of accommodation on Skye, from luxury hotels to camping areas. Having a dog in tow, (Millie), we chose to stay in one of the many self-catering cottages. Our journey by car (not for the faint-hearted!) took 10 hours, 10 minutes driving time from the Wiltshire Dorset border to the village of Carbost on the mid west coast of the island. The village is probably best known as the home of the Talisker Distillery, an essential stopping off point for you lovers of a ‘wee dram’.

Having thrown our bags down in the hallway of the cottage at about 8pm, my partner, (who had done all of the driving), collapsed on the sofa, his face a kind of sickly green. I decided to drag him to the local pub, about a hundred yards up the road, which was happily dog friendly and where over a plate of fish and chips and several glasses of red wine he began to revive. ‘The Old Inn’ in Carbost turned out to be a wonderfully lively and social place and we were soon being entertained by live music from ‘Ali and friends’. Ali, a talented singer/guitarist

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The American

Caledonian MacBrayne dominates ferries and boat tours all around the Hebrides, leading to a popular verse: ”The Earth belongs unto the Lord And all that it contains Except the Kyles and the Western Isles And they are all MacBraynes”

plays at various venues all around Skye with different ‘friends’. His friend on this particular occasion was a brilliant fiddle player and we were treated to the most enjoyable evening of music with an atmosphere of delightful informality where one young girl, who had been drinking with her friends got up and sang an impromptu romantic ballad and another young girl drew out of what looked like a hat box, a drum-like instrument and joined in the music. We later discovered from a well known musical oracle, the esteemed editor of The American [ah shucks... ed], that this celtic percussion, which is played with something that looks distinctly like a pastry brush is called a bodhran. Having allowed my driver a rest day on the following day, a Sunday, we decided on the Monday to climb one of the Cuillin, a range of rocky mountains located in the southern part of Skye. The Cuillin are also known as the Black Cuillin. These stark craggy mountains are mainly composed of basalt and gabbro, the latter being a

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Picturesque Portree gets its name from the Gaelic Port-an-Righ, meaning “Kings Port” after a visit by King James V

very rough rock and it is from gabbro’s dark colour that the Black Cuillin receive their name. In complete visual contrast close by, sit The Red Hills, sometime known as The Red Cuillin, which being composed of granite rock much paler than the gabbro and with a reddish tinge have weathered into smooth round shapes. We decided to climb Blaven, which sits apart from the main range and from the top of which you are supposed to be able to get a wonderful view of the rest of the Cuillin. We took the intrepid Millie with us, who last year sat bravely atop Ben More on the Isle of Mull, in the grey misty drizzle of an approaching storm. Unfortunately she was not destined to increase her tally of mountains climbed to two! Despite our best efforts we could not find a way onto the main ridge and eventually and rather despondently gave up. We were slightly heartened by people climbing gingerly down the steep rock face who told us we should have, like them approached it

from the easier south side. While gift shopping in Portree on our last day, we were told there had been a very bad rock fall in the winter gales which had made the ridge on the north side of Blaven much more difficult to climb which should have made us feel better, but there is nothing that can quite quell the disappointment of not reaching the top of a mountain after a long climb and for my companion who had laboured all the way up with his rather unwieldy Nikon there was also the disappointment of not having had the opportunity to capture the wonderful views from the peak. There are many places of interest to visit on Skye, including the Dunvegan Castle, the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years. Being a great lover of history I would have liked to have spent a day exploring this castle but we were blessed the whole week with Caribbean sunshine and it was too much of a temptation not to spend most of our week outdoors enjoying the glorious weather. The scenery is quite breath-taking and it is no surprise that a good number artists and creative people reside on Skye – the surroundings are inspirational and there are galleries, potteries and excellent craft shops dotted all around the island.


The American

No trip to Skye is complete without a visit to Portree, the main town on the island with its beautiful little harbour. Running parallel to the back of the harbour is Bank Street, perhaps best known for the Royal Hotel from which centuries earlier (when it was called McNab’s Inn), Bonnie Prince Charlie bade farewell for the last time to Flora MacDonald, who famously conveyed him from Uist, ‘Over the Sea to Skye’ disguised as a serving maid! Other, sadder departures were made from Portree, when later in the 1700s, Skye folk fleeing poverty and overpopulation, boarded ships bound for North America. Later in the week, whilst meandering around the coast, we happened upon someone who, if only in a symbolic way, had redressed the tearful departures from Portree centuries ago. Passing through Tarskavaig we saw a sign to a Smokery and decided we would we get some things for a picnic lunch. Running the Smokery, we discovered Angela Scott from Brooklyn, New York, who, having come over to Edinburgh University years ago to study Gaelic, had married and eventually found herself living on Skye’s beautiful Sleat Peninsula in the south of the island. After purchasing smoked salmon, smoked nuts and smoked goats

cheese, Angela recommended the bay at Ob Ghabhsgabhaig as a place a few miles on to stop and have a birthday (mine!) picnic lunch. Although we loved the friendly atmosphere in Carbost, on a return trip I would dearly love to rent a cottage in quiet and tranquil Dunvegan in the North of Skye, where the scenery is absolutely stunning. An added advantage to this beautiful location is that a few miles away in the village of Stein on the Waternish Peninsula is the welcoming Stein Inn (which bears no connection with Rick S., the fish chef King of Padstow, Cornwall!) The inn is the oldest on the island. Here we sat outside with a cool glass of wine on yet another sunny day. Indeed Rick Stein would have some culinary competition on this beautiful lochside, as a few yards away from the inn is a delightful place to eat called the Loch Bay Seafood Restaurant where you can enjoy freshly caught seafish and shellfish. Not to be missed! The day we left the weather changed and dark rain clouds reflected our mood. Skye is not an easy place to leave and certainly one we intend to re-visit. Even Millie looked sad – but maybe this was the thought of the long journey home surrounded by luggage! ★

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The American

Coffee Break COFFEE BREAK QUIZ In which songs would you find the following bad people? 1 His brain is squirmin’ like a toad 2 He’s the hairy-handed gent who ran amok in Kent 3 He got a 32 gun in his pocket for fun he got a razor in his shoe 4 Talkin’ about saving souls and all the time leeching, dealing in debt and stealing in the name of the Lord 5 Public enemy number one, running and hiding from every American lawman’s gun

And these good people? 6 You fill up my senses/ Like a night in the forest 7 Other fellas call me up for a date/ but I just sit and wait/ I’d rather concentrate on...

This month it’s a musical theme Musicians are sometimes guilty of giving their children strange names. Name the famous parents. 11 Dandelion 12 Zowie 13 Moon Unit and Dweezil 14 Rolan

8 … draw back your bow and let your arrow go/ Straight to my lover’s heart for me, for me

15 Heavenly Hiraani Tiger

9 … came down from heaven yesterday/ She stayed with me just long enough to rescue me

17 Lennon

10 Well you came and you gave without taking Hi, my name is Dweezil – but who called me that? PHOTO: BJÖRN SÖDERQVIST

16 Apple

18 Peaches, Fifi Trixibelle and Pixie 19 Chastity 20 Misty Kyd

COMPETITION WINNERS The lucky – and clever – winners of our ‘Once In A Lifetime – Motown Live’ tickets draw in June were Miss Sodoma of Croydon, Glenn Wychgram of Thetford, Norfolk, and Phillip Mentor of Kempsford, Gloucestershire. Each will receive a pair of tickets. Our all-American cartoon family ‘The Johnsons’ are on their summer vacation this month Coffee Break Quiz Answers 1 Riders on the storm (The Doors). 2 Werewolves of London (Warren Zevon). 3 Bad Bad Leroy Brown (Jim Croce). 4 Papa Was A Rolling Stone (Temptations). 5 The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde (Georgie Fame). 6 Annie’s Song (John Denver). 7 Johnny Angel (Shelley Fabares). 8 Cupid (Sam Cooke). 9 Angel (Jimi Hendrix, Rod Stewart). 10 Mandy (Barry Manilow). 11 Keith Richards. 12 David Bowie. 13 Frank Zappa. 14 Marc Bolan. 15 Michael Hutchence (and Paula Yates). 16 Chris Martin (and Gwyneth Paltrow). 17 Liam Gallagher (of Oasis). 18 Sir Bob Geldof (and serial offender Paula Yates again). 19 Cher. 20 Sharleen Spiteri (of Scottish band Texas)

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The American

It happened one... July July 1, 1908 – SOS is adopted as the international Distress signal. July 2, 1962 – The first Wal-Mart store opens for business in Rogers, Arkansas.

July 3, 1996 – Stone of Scone returned to Scotland. July 4, 1776 – American Revolution: the United States Declaration of Independence is adopted by the Second Continental Congress July 5, 1934 – “Bloody Thursday” – Police open fire on striking longshoremen in San Francisco.

July 6, 1785 – The dollar is unanimously chosen as the monetary unit for the United States. July 7, 1456 – A retrial acquits Joan of Arc of heresy 25 years after her death.

July 8, 1932 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average reaches its lowest level of the Great Depression, reaching a low of 40.56. July 9, 1922 – Johnny Weissmuller swims the 100 meters freestyle in 58.6 seconds breaking the world swimming record and the ‘minute barrier’. July 10, 988 – The city of Dublin is founded on the banks of the river Liffey.

July 11, 1960 – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is first published. July 12, 1962 – The Rolling Stones perform their first ever concert, at the Marquee Club in London.

July 13, 1919 – The British airship R34 lands in Norfolk, England, completing the first airship return

journey across the Atlantic in 182 hours of flight. July 14, 1943 – In Joplin, Missouri, George Washington Carver National Monument becomes the first United States National Monument in honor of a African American. July 15, 1381 – John Ball, a leader in the Peasants’ Revolt, is hanged, drawn and quartered in the presence of Richard II of England. July 16, 1661 – The first banknotes in Europe are issued by the Swedish bank Stockholms Banco. July 17, 180 – Twelve inhabitants of Scillium in North Africa are executed for being Christians. This is the earliest record of Christianity in that part of the world. July 18, 1925 – Adolf Hitler publishes Mein Kampf. July 19, 1553 – Lady Jane Grey is replaced by Mary I of England as Queen of England after having that title for just nine days. July 20, 1984 – Officials of the Miss America pageant ask Vanessa Lynn Williams to quit after Penthouse published nude photos of her. July 21, 1983 – The world’s lowest temperature is recorded at Vostok Station, Antarctica at -89.2°C (-129°F). July 22, 1934 – “Public Enemy No. 1” John Dillinger is mortally wounded by FBI agents Outside Chicago’s Biograph Theatre. July 23, 1962 – Telstar relays the first live trans-Atlantic television signal.

Lady Jane Grey, the nine day queen.

July 24, 1935 – The dust bowl heat wave reaches its peak, sending temperatures to 109°F (44°C) in Chicago and 104°F (40°C) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. July 25, 1978 – Louise Brown, the world’s first “test tube baby” is born. July 26, 1944 – The first German V-2 rocket hits Great Britain. July 27, 1972 – The F-15 Eagle flies for the first time. July 28, 1540 – Thomas Cromwell is executed at the order of Henry VIII of England on charges of treason. Henry marries his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, on the same day. July 29, 1966 – Bob Dylan is injured in a motorcycle accident near Woodstock, New York. July 30, 762 – Baghdad is founded. July 31, 1498 – Christopher Columbus becomes the first European to discover the island of Trinidad, on his third voyage to the Western Hemisphere. ★

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The American

Dining out at

CHICAGO RIB SHACK

Virginia E. Schultz remembers her friend Bob Payton, the originator of the Chicago Rib Shack, and tries out the restaurant’s latest manifestation.

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I

n the late eighties, my late husband and I, along with our two Westies, spent many a long weekend at Stapleford Park, a 16th century country house hotel owned by Bob Payton. On making reservations the first time, Bob informed me I could bring my dogs providing they got along with his two dogs. His two were five times the size of my twelve pound Belle, but much to Bob’s chagrin, she had them under her royal command in less than an hour. Bob had been transferred to London by the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson in 1973. He opened his first restaurant, The Chicago Pizza Pie Factory, in 1977 and by the time he was killed in an automobile accident in 1994, along with one of his precious dogs, he had set up over thirty American style restaurants in Paris, Brussels, Barcelona, Tel Aviv and Buenos Aires. When I got to know him in the late eighties, he was indulging himself in fox hunting and playing the part of the bigger than life American enjoying the life of a member of the English gentry. A huge man, both in height and weight, riding with him one day over hill and dale and through the crowded woods was a lesson in guts and madness and I never had the courage to do it again. The original Chicago Rib Shack had closed in 1999, but in 2008 this original eighties icon opened again. By the time I had dinner there with friends a few weeks ago it had been damned and slaughtered by every critic in London. One noted columnist listed it along with Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester and Ambassade de l’lle as one of the worst restaurants in London. Quite frankly, being listed with those two very expensive restaurants would have amused Bob. Despite the dreadful reviews, however, the place was almost filled to capacity upstairs


The American

and down when we arrived at eight o’clock Friday night and I understood why my friend Liz insisted reservations were necessary. She had been there a few weeks ago for Saturday lunch with her two teenage nephews, whom she reported galloped down the food as if it was their last meal, and said it was even more crowded then. We were hardly seated when our handsome Polish waiter came with polythene bibs with the words Bone Appetite inscribed across the front and tied them carefully around our necks. Perhaps it’s my age or having lived in Europe too long, but I didn’t find it as amusing at the three couples at the table next to us. In fact, two of the men kept the bib on when they went to the loo...and hey, they weren’t even American! We decided to skip having wine and ordered beer instead. Liz and Harry had a California beer, Anchor Steam (£4.20) while I settled on a Goose Island alcohol free root beer (£3.25). ‘Not bad... for an American beer’, Harry remarked and he had two more that evening before we left. We decided to share the Onion Loaf (£5.75) which, wasn’t as good as I remembered, but then senility may be setting in as my friends loved it. They also insisted on having stuffed potato skins (2 pieces £4.25) The potato skins were stuffed with sour cream and topped with cheese and had enough calories to put on ten pounds if that was all you ate that day. Liz chose the Rib Shack burger (£11.95) and the house salad (£3.00), Harry the organic 18 oz club steak (£29.95), a 21 day aged rib eye on the bone and a baked potato, while I selected the smoked brisket (£13.95) and coleslaw. We also had a plate of French fries (£3.00) to share. The burger came medium rare as Liz liked

it, but the house salad tasted like something from a fast food restaurant. My brisket was drowned in a too sweet sauce which Bob would not have approved of, I thought. Harry’s steak, however, was as good as you can find in London. Char grilled on the outside, juicy red inside, tender, tasty, and he finished it down to the very last scrap on his plate. Portions are huge and as tempted as I was by the Key Lime pie, (£6.25) I declined dessert as did Liz, but Bob had the Mississippi mud pie (£6.25) which, he sighed, brought back memories of the two years he spent in Louisiana when he was in his twenties. However, he wasn’t so happy with the aerated cream served with it. I’m not certain the Chicago Rib Shack reaches quite the standards set by Bob who’d often help out in the kitchen of his restaurants just to keep an eye on everything, but then looking back to those good old days nothing is ever as good as we recall. I’d certainly come back for the Rib Shack burger and fries and perhaps even test try the Pecan pie (£6.25) to see if it’s as delicious as our delightful waiter told me.

Book a table early, not just for July 4th but for any night of the week

145 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7PA 020 7591 4664 Open Monday to Saturday noon to midnight, Sunday noon to 11:30 pm

The Chicago Rib Shack presents The All American Weekend 3rd-5th July

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oin them as they celebrate all that is American over the Independence Day weekend. Start the perfect way from Friday morning with the launch of their delicious new breakfast menu featuring pancakes, waffles and bagels. There will be live music at the venue over the weekend including Patrick Alan and his band performing American soul classics on Friday night and classic rock from the Riccardi Brothers on Sunday lunch. You can expect a venue fully decked out in stars & stripes, and of course the Rib Shack’s traditional American cuisine, including ribs, burgers and their famous homemade cheesecake. Tell ’em The American magazine sent you!

Bookings 020 7591 4664 • www.thechicagoribshack.co.uk 25


The American

THE REFINERY BAR & RESTAURANT

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t’s modern industrial and young zingy,” a twenty something year old writer told me. And then added, as if I might not appreciate her description, “My mother went with me and a group of my friends the other night and loved it”. It was the ‘modern industrial’ which intrigued me, which was why I invited my interior designer friend Jennifer Atterbury to join me that evening. The Refinery is located in the landmark Blue Fin Building, which had mixed reviews at its opening, although most critics agreed with its floor to ceiling glass walls and engineered metal framed ceiling and columns. It certainly added an interesting aspect to wining and dining and didn’t disappoint either Jennifer or myself when we entered the spacious ground floor with its refectory style slabs and high drinking tables. There’s a mezzanine level as well which includes a separate dining room where you can celebrate a

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birthday or observe the crowd below. Head Chef Mitch Kmiecik, who hails from Vancouver, creates comfort food that two and more can divide up. We decided to share the antipasto board with a selection of salami and other cold cuts and the char grilled artichoke, green bean, spinach salad with a balsamic dressing and a selection of delicious bread. We could have had fish and chips or sausages with mashed potato and red onion gravy, but having decided to toss our diets to the wind, we split in half the steak sandwich, Scotch beef with paprika cream, on the most delicious honey bread. There are, of course, light salads on the menu and the sharing bowl with home-made fish cake lolly pops with tartare sauce is on my check list to have when I return. For someone like myself who likes to pick bits of this and that, this is the perfect place to go with friends after visiting nearby Tate Modern after a late night event or just for a fun evening. When

110 Southwark Street, London SE1 OTF 0845 468 0186 • www.therefinerybar.co.uk the weather allows, you can sit out on the terrace which has a number of other restaurants along the wide brick walk surrounding the Blue Fin building. The Refinery offers over fifty different wines that include, thank to the enomatic system, forty vintages by the glass. Jennifer and I started with a Prosecco Dal Bello extra dry at £4.70 a glass or £17.00 a bottle. Of course, if you’re one of the rare people who received a bonus this year, I can highly recommend Dom Perignon Brut 2000, my just about favourite champagne, at £135.00. There are as well low cost cocktails such as a lime and mint fusion mohito or the drakes bloody mary liquefied with Smirnoff black vodka (£6.95). Mother, son, daughter, or sugar daddy, this affordable restaurant is noisy, loud and fun. Music and a late license until 1 am on Thursday and Friday. Oh, yes, and the service was flawless.


The American

Dining out at

FAKHRELDINE W

ith its world class museums, universities, friendly population and exciting night life, Beirut before 1975 was known as “the Paris of the Middle East”. The Ottoman Turks controlled Lebanon from 1516, introducing foods that became staples including lamb. After World War I, France took control of Lebanon until 1946 and introduced many of its foods. It was as an exciting place then to visit and I would wander the streets of Beirut and even take trips into the countryside with only a driver to accompany me. As Jennifer and I followed the night lights up the steep stairs to Fakhreldine’s glamorous bar and restaurant, with their fabulous views overlooking London’s Green Park, I was reminded of those calmer pre-1975 years. In Lebanon, drinks are seldom served without being accompanied by mezze which is similar to the tapas of Spain and antipasto of Italy. The two of us had a variety, hoummous (£5.50), sambousek (£6.00), deep fried pastry with mixed cheese and herbs, grilled aubergine, tahin and lemon – a favourite - and okra cooked in garlic,

onions and tomato sauce. We both loved soujouk (£7.00) pan fried lamb sausages with cherry tomatoes and the bread as well. Fatayer, baked pastry triangles with baby spinach, spring onions and sumac was excellent and Kibbe lakteen (£6.50), deep friend pumpkin and cracked wheat parcels filled with onions, chickpeas and baby spinach is to go back for any time day or night. And don’t underestimate fattoush, a salad of greens, cherry tomatoes, radishes tossed with sumac spiced crispy bread which I plan to make for my next dinner party. The mezzes are delicious. The main courses, I felt, let the restaurant down. The five spice lamb with bukhari rice (£19.00) and the chawarma chicken roasted on a skewer (£15.00) were overcooked and dry. I enjoyed the Sea Bass fillet roasted with onion tajine sauce, but the deep fried baby red mullet with aubergine was too oily. I’ve been to Fakhreldine three times in the past three months, first with a group of food writers, another time with my luncheon group and now with Jennifer.

The first time, the main courses were exceptional, especially the mixed meat grill. All I can surmise is that when the restaurant becomes busy the kitchen can overcook the food. Since I’ve become more knowledgeable about Lebanese wine I persuaded my friends to buy a bottle of Château Musar red that they all loved. And there is Château Ksara, Lebanon’s oldest wine producer started by Jesuit priests in 1847. There is nightly entertainment from Lebanese musicians, with belly dancing on Thursday-Saturdays and although the restaurant can be crowded, service is excellent and we did not have to wait long for our food. Opening Hours: midday to midnight. The ’85 bar and lounge is the best place for relaxing, playing backgammon or listening to live music until the late hours.

85 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 7NB 020 7493 3424 www.fakhreldine.co.uk

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Dining out at

Angelus

Reviewed by Virginia E. Schultz

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once stayed in Paris for three months with my husband. The first two months we stayed in a hotel, but the third month we rented a furnished apartment with creaking pipes and a wrought iron elevator that we were never certain would make it to the second floor. The furniture was attractive and modern, but the kitchen was small and the stove as temperamental as any I have ever known. As a result we began to look for a casual dining place with ambiance and good food in the neighbourhood. We found a belle époque restaurant, warm and inviting and the proprietor greeted us as if we were guests in his home rather than paying diners. I think of that restaurant whenever I dine in Angelus and Thierry Thomasin greets me as if I’m one of his favourite diners. The fact that he

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treats everyone the same way is not phony, but because Thierry really is pleased you’re dining with him. For ten years he was chief sommelier at Le Gavroche before he became general manager of Aubergine, but his dream was to have his own London restaurant where he and everyone else would have fun. He finally found the place, an Edwardian pub next door to a riding stable where I used to hire a horse to ride in Hyde Park, but it took Thierry to see the potential and change this old fashioned bar into a smart French café with dark wood panelling, leather banquettes and huge Art Nouveau mirrors. I hadn’t been there for several months, but hearing that there was a new chef gave me an excuse to return. Martin Nesbit has worked for Anton Edelman at the Savoy and

his restaurant in Hertfordshire and is well established to make certain Britain is represented on the menu as well as France. Seeing pan seared scallops, carrot and star anise purée (£14.00) on the menu was slightly upsetting for my friend Nelly Pateras because she adores Angelus’s Foie Gras Crème Brulée with Carmelized Almonds (£14.00) that was also on the menu and she wanted them both. In the spring when potatoes are at their best, I decided nothing would be better than Warm Potato and Crayfish salad with Chives (£10.00), although I must admit I was somewhat tempted by the asparagus with fried duck egg circled by roasted garlic Hollandaise (£9.00). Main course was an easy choice for Nelly when she saw roast rump and braised belly of Cornish lamb


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Thierry Thomasin saw the potential of an old Edwardian pub and turned it into the perfect place to forget the outside world

(£24.00) on the menu. I decided on the Ballontine of Cotswold’s Chicken, Goujons and Gratin Potatoes which I ate with a great deal of pleasure right down to the last bit of sauce on my plate. Desserts can be old fashioned, blackberry tart, clotted cream or something deliciously chocolatey hinting of its French origin. Thierry is determined that the diners forget their work for two or three hours and relax with lovely food, food and conversation. Angelus is open all day with the option of a brunch or lounge menu or, if it’s warm, outside at a table with your dog underneath. Or at least Thierry gave my dog an invitation. And then there’s the chef ’s table in the kitchen in case you’re celebrating with friends. Thierry’s given a great deal of thought in planning his wine list and you can enjoy a lovely bottle at a reasonable price. Perhaps sip a Muscadet or a Sancerre as the Parisians do or have a glass of champagne in the lounge in the rear which is somewhere between a boudoir and the salon of an aging film star. When and how you dine, Thierry will make certain you have a good time.

4 Bathurst Street, London W2 020 7402 0083

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The American

Cellar Talk Libations by Virginia E. Schultz

Château Musar

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he Lebanese claim to be the first winemakers. More than 5,000 years ago, the Phoenicians, ancient residents of Lebanon, exported wine to Egypt, Greece, Rome and Carthage. Robert Ballard of Titanic fame found two Phoenician wrecks from 750BC, their cargo of wine undamaged. Lebanon has biblical winemaking roots too. Cana, in southern Lebanon, is where Christians believe Jesus turned water to wine. Later, the Romans chose Baalbeck in east Lebanon to build the spectacular Temple of Bacchus in honor of their God of Wine. Lebanese winemakers take immense pride in their heritage, none more than Serge and Ronald Hochar, whose father Gaston founded Château Musar in 1930. In 1979, in the midst of the civil war, Serge put Lebanese wines on the world map when he attended the Bristol Wine Fair. Nowadays Lebanese wines and Château Musar are almost synonymous.

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Recently at a dinner held in the Rosebery Rooms at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London, I had the pleasure of tasting nine Château Musar wines from various years including 1959, 1969 and 1977. I was amazed how they maintained their character. Château Musar Rosé 2006, which is blended with red and white grapes, a style Serge prefers, is one of the most unique rosés I’ve had. Deep salmon pink in colour, it was fermented and aged for 9 months in French oak barrels and then bottled in the summer of 2007. Scents of almonds and wild strawberries with flavours of white and yellow peaches, it ends on a citrusy melody of delight. One of my favourite reds was the 1993 red which, along with the 1981 was served with roast loin of Scottish Highland venison marinated in juniper and thyme. The faintest hint of cloves with a touch of tingling, almost sweetish spice and fruit edge at the finish, it accompanied the venison to perfection. The only year I enjoyed slightly more was the 1994 that I had this past winter with wild duck. Lovely, full bodied, with a lengthy symphonic note that seemed to sing on the palate, it proved to me that Château Musar could compete with the top New World wines. I also enjoyed the Red 2001, although it needs a few more years in the bottle. Château Musar is located in an 18th century castle in Ghazir, fifteen miles north of Beirut. Battle raged around the region in 1983 and Serge had to be smuggled in by boat to make the wine. In 1989, the Hochar

The Romans loved Lebanese wines and chose Baalbeck as the site of this Temple of Baachus. Photo: Carlo Hatem

family home and Château Musar winery suffered direct hits from shelling and for a short period the cellars served as bomb shelters for local people. I had the pleasure of talking to Serge before dinner and later sat beside Ronald at the table. Serge is very much the philosopher and if wine has a soul than its name is Serge Hochar, as someone wrote. God, soil and love was his answer when I asked what makes a fine wine. He isn’t interested in talking about wine in facts and figures and told me life is an accident in the beginning and wine should be the same. Ronald runs the business part of Château Musar, but there is as well the philosopher in him as one would expect from a man whose quiet moments, when he has them, are spent playing the cello.

WINE OF THE MONTH: PRUCIA Umeshu de France Expensive This delightful plum wine liqueur is a fusion between Japan and France. High quality grapes from the French plum growing region in Moissacare, carefully selected then aged in French oak barrels. A delicious dessert wine to sip after the meal or when you need a lift at the end of the day as I did recently on my balcony overlooking the Thames watching the sun slowly enveloped by darkness. H


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 Mon – Sat; 7 – 8pm Mon – Fri.

Open Sunday nights and Mondays as well from 1st June

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

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The American

CECE’S CHOICE

Cece Mills picks her Arts and Exhibitions for July and continues her alphabetical look at art forms. Richard Long: Heaven and Earth Tate Britain Until september 6th I am a great fan of Richard Long’s work and when out walking the dogs am often to be found making my own mini Long landmark. Richard Long loves solitary walks and this means he travels far and wide both in Britain, Canada, Mongolia and Bolivia, simply to walk. On these walks he will make small and subtle additions or adjustments to the landscape or the path he is taking, a simple line of stones or upended Richard Long, A Line in Scotland, 1981 © COPYRIGHT THE ARTIST

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‘The thing I hate the most about advertising is that it attracts all the bright, creative and ambitious young people, leaving us mainly with the slow and self-obsessed to become our artists. Modern art is a disaster area. Never in the field of human history has so much been used by so many to say so little.’ – Banksy rock. He works also within the studio on pieces which document his walks, and the changes he makes on them, as well as sculptures and paintings created out of the mud from these walks. You may remember his fantastic ‘mud wall’ painting featured in these pages in August 2007 when he was exhibiting in Edinburgh, painted with delicious Firth of Forth mud.

A typically bold Missoni design from 1968 WORkSHOP MISSOnI

Workshop Missoni: Daring to be Different estorick Collection of Modern italian Art July 1st to september 20th As well as being a fascinating insight into the design process and manufacture of the Missoni iconic fashionwear, this exhibition also shows us where Ottavio and Rosita Missoni got their inspiration. Their designs are immediately recognizable by their vivid colours and geometric, zig-zag design, though also immediately one senses the ‘dated’ look of the clothing. Ottavio Missoni produced jersey tracksuits in 1948 – fairly revolutionary, for that era. He himself was part of the Italian Athletic Team at the 1948 London Olympics as a hurdle runner, so perhaps he knew best what the team would like to wear! The husband and wife team started their business in a small way from the basement of their home in Italy. It is now such a successful business that it continues to be managed by their three sons, one of which is the curator for this show.


The American

DLA Piper Series: This is Sculpture Tate Liverpool • Until 11th April 2010 This exhibition takes a look at the way modern sculpture and artists have developed. It includes an enormous variety of sculptures in all sorts of media, in the form of assemblages, installation and made objects, as well as including painting, video and photography. As well as being an interesting mix of eclectic pieces, this is an opportunity to learn what the artists are getting at through their work.

Simon Starling, Five-Man Pedersen (Prototype No.1) 2003, at This Is Sculpture © SIMOn STARLInG

Art News:

The auditorium at Brownsea Island Theatre WWW.LInSEY-OnEILL-DESIGn.CO.uk

Brownsea Island Theatre Hamlet • Various dates in July. For a truly unusual and memorable experience while you are holidaying in Dorset, try the Brownsea Island Theatre. You take a short ferry ride from Poole Harbour across to the National Trust owned Brownsea. Then, armed with your picnic, you can explore the island and settle down for an evening of Shakespeare under the stars on a balmy (or might that be barmy) July night. www.brownsea-theatre.co.uk

York St Mary’s is, as I write, about to unveil a fantastic and enormous mosaic made from six thousand shards of medieval pottery. The mosaic is going to cover almost the entire floorspace of the church. The Five Sisters is based on the history within the famous 13th century Five Sister stained glass window at York Minster. The installation is not permanent and the shards of pottery will be returned to their original state at the end of the exhibition in november. The pieces of pot have all come from archaeological digs in Yorkshire and are looked after by the Yorkshire Museums Trust. As a matter of interest, since this month we have been looking at glass, the Five Sisters window in York Minster contains the largest amount of Early English ‘grisaille’ glass in any window in the world. It was completed in 1260 and is made up of over 100,000 bits of glass.

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The American

Banksy, LoveRat © BAnkSY

Eelus, Deer-e-me, © EELuS

The Fourth Element: Urban Art in the Highlands Until July 6th The Watermill, Aberfeldy, perthshire To tie in with this month’s look at Graffiti art, here is an excellent exhibition of the most well-known Urban artists, including Banksy (again), Blek le Rat and Elph, in a fabulous rural setting in Scotland. Hip Hop culture consists of three elements, word, music and dance (breakdance). The Fourth element is Graffiti art. The Watermill presents a selection of Urban artists’ work who, through their graffiti, bring our attention to their take on the world, their political dissatisfactions and their cultural statements. The Watermill is half gallery, half bookshop, and also boasts an excellent café. Dolk, Last Mona Lisa © DOLk

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A Clare Norrington Sculpture at Art in Action, Waterperry

Art in Action

Waterperry House, oxford July 16th to 19th Once again it is the time of year for the fantastic, working, demonstrating, taking part art extravaganza Art in Action. The grounds of Waterperry House are transformed into the most spectacular array of portable studios, where you can watch artists at work. Artists from all over the globe come together to show us what they can do. Wish they didn’t make it look so easy! This year there will be Mexican Arts marquee stuffed full of painting, textiles, the intriguing sounding sand carpets, jewellery and more. The ‘more’ might be just up your street – Mexican beer, tacos and a mariachi band playing to set the scene. Only one foreseeable problem – they may not be able to make it because of Swine Fever. Lets hope they can.

The American Scene: Prints from Hopper to Pollock Brighton Museum and Art gallery To August 31st Last July I wrote about this exhibition which was showing in the British Museum. It turned out to be one of the most popular exhibitions ever shown there, so if you missed it, then here is a chance to nip to Brighton and catch it. It is a clever catalogue of American history, with images showing the changing urbanscape of New York, the Depression, American’s response to their country joining the Second World War, and also lovely, romantic views of the American heartlands.

Louis Lozowick, New York; c1925 Lithograph © LEE LOzOWICk


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LOOKING AT:

Glass & Graffiti G

raffiti has become something we see everywhere and which we all seem to have divided views on. Travelling into London on the train on virtually any line, gazing out of the window in the sort of torpor that trains induce (in me, anyway), it appears that graffiti covers everything you glance at. From the most inaccessible areas of buildings and bridges to every last fence panel and lamp post. These type of graffiti are known as ‘tags’ and you would not be wrong in thinking that they deface and mar the environment, rather than being able to call themselves art. This idea was born in new York City in the 1960s to identify gangs and individuals to each other and to the rest of the city. Presumably in much the same way as a dog will mark his territory by urinating, the tag marks the ‘tagger’s’ territory. This is where modern Graffiti art has its beginnings. new York ‘taggers’ started to get more ambitious, spray paint came into use and made designs and colours easier to apply fast and furiously, virtually anywhere, and the graffiti became more and more elaborate. While in Melbourne, Australia last year, I came across union Lane on a walking tour of the city. union Lane was once a rather creepy, narrow, threateningly dark alley spattered with dull, monochrome, half-hearted tags. Then the City of Melbourne Graffiti Mentoring Project got under way! With the aid of a Street Art permit (making the proposed graffiti legal artwork) people were invited to go

Union Lane Street Art, Melbourne, Australia. PHOTO: CECE MILLS

along and decorate the walls. In the end, 560 square metres of laneway was decorated by more than 50 artists from Melbourne, other parts of Australia, and as far distant as Glasgow and San Salvador. During november and December 2007 the lane was transformed from dingy to dazzling. new Yorkers will be familiar with the enormous works of Banksy which decorate the sides of apartment blocks. Banksy is known to be the ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ of British Modern Graffiti art as no-one actually knows who he is! Have a look at his very enigmatic website – no contact details and no clues about what this person looks like. Even his agent hasn’t met him, apparently. So, all this is very well. But is it art? I found an interesting essay on the very subject written by a Miami university academic George C. Stowers, who has this to say to kick us off on the subject: “It is not strictly denied the status of

genuine art because of a lack of form or other base aesthetic elements. Most of the opposition to graffiti art is due to its location and bold, unexpected, and unconventional presentation, but its presentation and often illegal location does not necessarily disqualify it as art.” Graffitists intend their work to be apprehended as art that can communicate feelings and ideas to the audience. This is in line with Tolstoy’s mandate that art must allow people to express ideas and share in each other’s feelings via the artwork. Graffiti artists according to Stowers, have the same intentions as any other type of artist – that of communicating their ideas, emotions and opinions to others in the best way they can. There is still a case for graffiti being miles away from art though, as can be seen on the poor trees scored with marks in Sydney. However, at the bottom of this one must remember that the word

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The American

Banksy, graffiti art in New York City Wooster Collective, © Banksy

derives from the Italian ‘graffiato’ and means marks, drawings, patterns, messages or scribbles scratched on walls. You can find examples of this right back in ancient times, on the monuments of ancient Egypt and the walls of Pompeii, and even scratched on the walls of caves.

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lass – stained glass, Venetian glass, chandeliers, sculptures and vessels made of glass – is exceedingly versatile, colourful and organic. A visit to the Murano glass works near Venice is a must. The temperatures, and the speed the glassworkers create their intricate animals and vessels in, are absolutely mindblowing. And talking of blowing – why don’t they do serious damage to their lips when blowing red hot lumps of molten glass? If you

Spirile Bowl by Peter Layton, London Glass Blowing Co. Photo: Ester Segarra

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Stained glass window in Santa Maria degli Angeli, Rome. Photo: Cece Mills

cannot go all the way to Murano, try the London Glassblowing Company, situated in the Leather Market in SE1. Fabulous exhibitions run all the year round, and there’s plenty for sale too. Peter Layton’s studio creates contemporary glass art, both sculptural and functional. His inspiration comes from aspects of nature, from cliff patterns to waves. The process of free-blown glass works like this. Glass is melted in the furnace up to 2400ºF. The long, hollow blowing iron is inserted into the glass and a piece attaches itself to the iron. Rather like playing lacrosse, the blowing iron must then be kept in constant motion to stop the glass from dripping off. Then the glassblower puffs air into the tube to inflate the glass, turning and moving it all the time. The molten glass is now about 1900ºF. Once the shape of the piece is established it is transferred to a solid rod called a Puntilor, or Punty Iron, so that the craftsperson can work on the other end of the vessel. Once completed, the piece has to be cooled

slowly to avoid cracking or stress. Glassblowing was invented by the Phoenicians in about 50BC. It saw great popularity in the Roman Empire, as you may have seen here last month in the wonderful Millefleur dish excavated in London. It has continued as an artform throughout history, culminating in well-known glass artists such as Tiffany and Lalique. As well as glass blowing there are other methods of creating spectacular glass art such as Stained Glass. Small pieces of coloured glass are arranged, separated and fastened together by strips of lead and fixed within a frame, as you are familiar with all over the world in every church and in all sorts of famous buildings. My image was taken in the cathedral of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Rome. Something you could try, as I have, is to make your own glass art out of found beach glass. H

Next Month, Looking At: Hieroglyphs and HERALDRY


The American

Matt Johnson, Malus Sieversii, 2008, Carved maple and acrylic paint Courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London, ©Matt Johnson, 2009

Eric and Heather ChanSchatz, PTG.75 (White Pitcher), 2007, Screenprint on silk

Abstract America: New Painting and Sculpture Saatchi Gallery, King’s Road, London SW3 4SQ • Until 13 September 09 Exhibition Review by Estelle Lovatt

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merica can be celebrated through the arts. American artists have mirrored the independence of America through art, independent vision and original beauty, creating an artistic spirit unique to America. The rebelliousness of much contemporary art can be marked as a response to 9/11. Historically, 1950s Abstract Expressionism impulsively freed-up the American spirit, with Pollock, Motherwell, Reinhardt and Rothko. The 1960s brought Frank Stella, Carl Andre, Donald Judd and Brice Marsden’s Minimalism. Later, figurative art made a comeback through imagery from popular and consumer culture. In a contemporary adaptation of this ‘genre’, Saatchi’s thirty-two artists – painters and sculptors – invest in traditional methods, with a new and lively light-heartedness and social irony, making a historical acknowledgement to their mid-twentieth century forerunners. They mix Old Master’s colours with tie-dyed-look splatterings of gum-pink and fluorescent-green. Their artwork

– gripped cyberspace’s jpeg and You Tube – makes for the latest artists’ American dream. In this age of change, art proves its substance. Embracing change, President Barack Obama’s dream of an American Renaissance breathes new life into the arts, creating faith in the com-

Courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London © Eric and Heather ChanSchatz, 2009

munity which realises contemporary art is integral to rebuilding optimism in shifting geopolitics. Having a President and First Lady that like art (Barack and Michelle had their first date at an art gallery) is clearly a step in the right direction in increasing the art of today. In the years of vaudeville, a performance that flopped in Peoria, Illinois, would be scrapped, giving rise to the question “will it play in Peoria?”, It matters to the powers that be what the people of Middle America think. I think they’d appreciate this show and the way it engages with art history. H

Kristin Baker, The Raft of Perseus, 2006, Acrylic on pvc Courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London ©Kirstin Baker, 2009

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National Gallery fits inside iPhone

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he national Gallery is the first gallery in the world to make its paintings accessible through a downloadable iPhone application. It’s now possible to take a mini tour of the Gallery anywhere in the world. The app, which works on iPhones and iTouch devices, is called Love Art. Designed by Antenna Audio it features 250 paintings from the collection plus 200 minutes of audio and video content including interviews with the Gallery’s Director Dr nicholas Penny, dramatist Robin Brooks, artist Maggie Hambling and Girl with a Pearl Earring author Tracy Chevalier. The iPhone’s touch-screen, zoom, Rolodex and scrollable menu features allow Love Art to offer what they call a ‘playful exploration’ of the collection, together with informative commentaries. Love Art has twelve thematic ‘galleries’, in which users can explore a greater selection of paintings grouped by popular themes or types such as portraits, cityscapes and religious paintings. It can be downloaded from Apple’s online iTunes Store, and for a short time only it is available free of charge.

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Above: Charles MacCarthy, ‘Still Life’, Oil on paper, 23cm x 28cm Right: Cressida Bell, ‘Flowers’, 20cm x 30cm COuRTESY CHARLESTOn TRuST

Art News:

Bidding Open for the Quentin Follies Charleston Farmhouse in East Sussex was the home and country meeting place for the Bloomsbury Group, the group of writers, painters and intellectuals who were so influential in the British arts scene of the early twentieth century. Among the regular guests were Maynard Keynes, Virginia and Leonard Woolf, E.M. Forster, Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry, and the interior was painted by the artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, The Quentin Follies and Art Auction is an annual event that raises funds for the Quentin Bell Commemoration Fund to acquire paintings that were originally at Charleston. Some of Britain’s best, and best-known, artists including Sir Peter Blake and Maggi Hambling have donated original works to this year’s auction. It’s your chance to acquire original works of art by local

and established artists while helping preserve a bit of British artistic history. Cressida Bell, textiles artist and granddaughter of Vanessa Bell, thought up the auction as a unique way to support Charleston and her Bloomsbury heritage. She said, “I visited Charleston regularly when Duncan Grant was still living there and always loved being there. I think the fact the everything was decorated really inspired me in my work as a designer. I began the Quentin Follies Art Auction as a way to help return important works to the house for today’s visitors to enjoy.” The artworks are on show online at www.charleston.org.uk/follies/ and in the Charleston Gallery and the auction will run until 5pm on Saturday July 11. Bids start at just £40 and can be made by telephone, fax or in person. H


The American

By Mary Bailey, Virginia E Schultz, Estelle Lovatt, Michael T Burland

Summer on Blossom Street

American Ruins

Summer on Blossom Street, Debbie Macomber’s latest novel, updates us on what is going on in A Good Yarn, Lydia Goetz’s shop on Seattle’s Blossom Street. Debbie is a New York Times best-selling author and Summer on Blossom Street does not let us down. The story is well paced and beautifully written and we feel we might well know the characters who join Lydia’s knitting class, Knit to Quit (all the members are trying to give something up), in our own lives: Abbie with her broken engagement, the overstressed Hutch, Margaret (back again) and Alix trying to give up smoking before starting a family. Lydia and husband Brad are overjoyed to have received permission to adopt a baby boy, but find themselves with an unattractive, homeless 12 year old girl on their doorstep. Throughout the book we have glimpses of humor indicating that this writer has a true love and understanding of life – she is a born story teller. Debbie, who lives with her family in the USA has sold more than 60 million books world wide, as her characters are identifiable in many lands. MB Mira Books, paperback, 352 pages, £6.99

This, amazingly, is the only photography book to record historic ruins throughout America. Travelling across the States, Arthur Drooker recorded iconic sites and historic ruins. Emotively stunning images are complemented by text by noted historian Douglas Brinkley and Christopher Woodward (Director of the Museum of Garden History, London) describing the significance sites from New York to Mississippi, New Mexico to Hawaii, Alcatraz Island, West Virginia, Florida and the Hudson River. It is a stunning visual record of places that stand in defiance of time, ranging from Native America homes to Gilded Age stately homes on the East Coast and a king’s summer address. It raises awareness of sites that remain unheard of even to most Americans, and proffers a new way of seeing the landscape, all that went before and the united identity that is characteristically American. This gorgeous coffee table book (released in paperback in September) will appeal to everyone interested in the architecture, photography, history and archaeology of the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. EL Merrell Publishers, £17.95

Debbie Macomber

Arthur Drooker, Douglas Brinkley, Christopher Woodward

The Sky At Night: Apollo 11: A Night to Remember July 2009 is the 40th anniversary of one of the greatest journeys ever undertaken by (a) man. If you are too young to have seen it this DVD will explain what all the fuss was about. If you remember that night, it will bring all the emotion and tension flooding back. The DVD is based on BBC footage, much of which had been lost to the ravages of time, but now painstakingly reconstructed. It’s edited from the BBC’s The Sky At Night, which adds a frisson of interest to American viewers who can see the event through ‘foreign’ eyes. The program is presented by Sir Patrick Moore, a foremost amateur astronomer, and expert on the moon. Sir Patrick is an impossibly ancient (86 but looking older), impossibly well-loved national treasure who has been presenting the program since 1957. Co-presenting in 1969 were the urbane Michael Crichton and the frenetic James Burke on location at Cape Canaveral. “No-one who has a television set ought to go to bed tonight,” says Crichton at one point, and nor did we. Who cares if Neil Armstrong missed out the ‘a’ and said it was a “small step for man”. It was a great moment in American – and world – history and this is a great memento of it. MTB Acorn Media £19.99

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MILLICENT MONK Virginia E. Schultz talks to the author of Songs of Three Islands

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ears ago, a friend and psychiatrist, Hector Ferrari and I discussed people who suffered childhoods of vindictive heartlessness at the hands of a parent or guardian yet survived and became strong. He named Eleanor Roosevelt as an example. Meeting Millicent Monk to talk about “Songs of Three Islands” (Infinite Ideas, £16.99), a memoir of her troubled childhood with a mentally disturbed mother and emotionally distant father, that conversation came to mind. At 75, Millicent looks ten years younger and speaks with the confidence of a woman who is comfortable with herself. It is difficult to believe what she experienced at the hands of her mother, a paranoid schizophrenic. At eleven she was put into a hospital to be “cleaned out” of the poisons enveloping her body and mind. For three weeks, doctors injected her with penicillin, although physically she showed no sign of illness, relying on the testimony of her mother who had claimed she was ill. Millicent, the great niece of industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, was raised with the kind of wealth and privilege Scott Fitzgerald wrote of. It still existed in the 40s: dinner parties, tennis tournaments, masquerade balls, and picnics on an island owned by the family off Florida. Not even close friends of the family were aware of what lay behind the smiling faces. When Millicent’s

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father, a charming philanderer who loved life as well as drink, went to fight in World War II things at home began to deteriorate. Because of her mother’s demands and anger maids quit, dust collected throughout the mansion and Millicent was forced to steal sweets from the newsstand or ingratiate herself with other families to eat. Arguing with her mother was useless, she shut herself off in her room and became “a child without a shadow.” If friends or family knew what was happening, they closed their eyes. “We don’t talk about it,” was a familiar refrain. Talented musically, Millicent attended a Boston music conservatory where she met her husband, Bobby, a Harvard graduate. They married in 1954 and two years later had a beautiful little girl with huge blue eyes and black hair. She calls her daughter Cassandra in her book to give her privacy, but it was apparent at a very early she had serious emotional problems. Numerous psychiatrists failed to consider that it might be a genetic trait; one wrote, “Cassandra’s focus is her desperate struggle with her brother over her mother’s attention. The mother is a vacant, vain person who is self-preoccupied and has little to give her children.” Cassandra was eventually diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, affecting the part of the brain that regulates anger. A few of those psychiatrists

have sent her an apology. Today her daughter lives close to Millicent, her illness in remission. There is still fear, she admits, and she has at times stockpiled food in the basement in case something happens, which amuses her husband. In “Songs of Three Islands” Millicent describes the sorrow and frustration she felt as a mother and a daughter. Her search for answers led to Jungian analysis, meditation and the sutras and she has qualified as an interfaith minister, conducting marriages for non-denominational couples. The book, a frank personal account of the mental illness that haunted her family, has touched readers who are trying to cope with their own families’ mental problems. Because of people like Millicent, who are not afraid of talking about mental illness, the shame of the disease is disappearing. As we talked about her dance and music – she has no plans to retire – and the journal she’d like to write which, I suggested, sounded similar to Anne Lindberg’s Song of the Sea, I sensed the lessons she learned on the troubled path to knowledge and enlightenment has given Millicent an inner strength and in a strange sort of way, peace of mind.


THEATER REVIEWS BY JARLATH O’CONNELL

Siân Phillips in

Both Sides Now At Pizza on the Park, Knightsbridge, London

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t the age of 75 Sian Phillips does 8 performances a week of the West End hit show Calendar Girls (following a national tour) and on top of this, on her “day off ” she recently did two Sundays at Pizza on the Park, performing two shows a day. That qualifies as being a trouper I think! Looking a million dollars she delivered an intimate and highly entertaining programme of songs and anecdotes spanning her career from her star struck days at RADA to hit shows such as Pal Joey,

A Little Night Music and of course Marlene which she also performed on Broadway and all over the world. The show was sprinkled with some vintage Coward including a perfect rendition of The Bar at the Piccolo Marina, Flanders and Swann’s Have Some Madeira Me Dear (which you can just about get away with in this age of political correctness) and two great comic turns The Shape of Things to Come (Sheldon Harnick) and The Boy From (Sondheim). Not blessed with a conventional singing voice, she more than makes up for it with perfect diction combined with immaculate coming timing and an actor’s ability to deliver a lyric. When she did stray into ballads they too provided fertile territory. Where Have All the Flowers Gone, Amanda McBroom’s Dreams and Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now were all really moving. The latter, more poignant, with her admission that “Growing older, I realise, I know less now than I did at 20”. She has performed this show all over the world and like any good cabaret act it can be dusted off when the occasion demands, so keep an eye out for it. She appeared as part of the American Songbook in London series, which continues to present the best of New York cabaret artistes in London combined with a sprinkling of local talent. Recent “turns” by Maureen McGovern and KT Sullivan continue to demonstrate the uniqueness of this intimate art form. Find out more at www.americansongbookinlondon.com

Preview:

TEAM

Theatre of the Emerging American Moment at the Almeida Summer Festival

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aving won the prestigious Fringe First Award three times at the Edinburgh Festival in their last three appearances, one of America’s most dynamic emerging physical theatre companies TEAM (Theatre of the Emerging American Moment) will appear in London this summer as part of the Almeida’s Summer Festival. From 16-19 July you can catch a work in progress version of their latest show, the grandly titled American Capitalism Project. Led by Artistic Director Rachel Chavkin, who founded TEAM ten years ago with a group of fellow NYU grads, they describe themselves as “dedicated to dissecting and celebrating the experience of living in America today”. Their new show “journeys across the USA in search of an unbiased portrait of American Capitalism today told through cowboy ballet, wailing pianos and people with bank accounts. Las Vegas needs saving. A woman working in a casino says she is Joan of Arc, two outlaws are on the run and there’s murder in the wind. Where did our pursuit of happiness go wrong?” . British audiences will get another chance to see their last hit Architecting at the Barbican later this year. Meanwhile you can see what all the fuss is about pre-Edinburgh at the Almeida in July.

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World Première of

Grasses of a Thousand Colours The Wallace Shawn Season at The Royal Court • Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London SW1

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he only thing bigger than Wallace Shawn’s penis it seems is his ego and the Royal Court has been struggling to confine both in its Theatre Upstairs where his latest play Grasses of a Thousand Colours has received its World Première. Excuse the crudity but this play concerns a meditation on his ‘member’ so there is no other way putting it, so to speak. The Royal Court for reasons which baffle me has cleared its decks for Shawn this summer and as well as a season of his plays in both theatres, there are film screenings, play readings and an appearance by the man himself talking about his new ‘Essays’. At 7.45 the unmistakeable Shawn bursts on stage dressed in a luxurious black dressing gown, monogrammed slippers and a cravat, rather like Noel Coward crossed with an elf. He says he likes to be comfortable. Three and half hours later he is still talking and while he might be comfortable, many in the audience, including your critic, were close to opening a vein. I normally help readers with plot but in this case I will leave you to look

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it up yourself. It is quite irrelevant to the business at hand in any case which is a rambling meditation on Mr Shawn’s relationship with his penis, mediated through a story called ‘The White Cat’ borrowed from 17th century writer Madame d’Aulnoy. Don’t worry, you don’t need a classical education for this stuff. This whimsy however does nothing to elevate this text from the prosaic. Leaden prose replaces dialogue and we are presented with a series of monologues for three and a half hours. Monologues might seem easy to a writer struggling with dialogue and plot but of course they’re not. For them to work the speeches must sing and the words must linger with you afterwards as with Brian Friel’s Faith Healer for example. Here we get lengthy pornographic anecdotes interspersed with parlour chit chat. It’s a tiring mix and the juvenile crudity which one presumes is meant to shock has no more effect that having to endure some badly brought up child. You just want to get out of there. It is burdened also by being about

Above: Wallace Shawn (Ben) with Miranda Richardson (Cerise) JOHN HAYNES

the mechanics of sex and is there any subject more tedious. This is the Anne Summers of theatre. To give himself a break he is joined on stage by three incredibly voluptuous women, Miranda Richardson (as the wife), Oscar nominee for Bullets Over Broadway – Jennifer Tilly (as the lover) and young Emily McDonnell, who comes about half nine to collect a cat but hangs around on the sofa. They all perform bravely and their charisma keeps the thing just about afloat. The set is dominated by a rather splendid white sofa, which characters retire to when not required to speak. Occasionally they nod off and I was not the only one in the audience who envied them. As for the theme of the piece it would be churlish to insist that it has one, its self-importance is so grand. The capacity for short, “middle-aged”, bald men to write parts for themselves where they are the subject of blind adoration by stunningly attractive


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women who talk dirty to them, cook them great meals and worship their “members” never ceases to amaze. If late Woody Allen made you uncomfortable this will make you retch. Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder but never for a minute can one understand why these women would be so enamoured. As it trundles into its third hour the play eventually finds a bandwagon to jump on, in case we might think it trivial. The THEME it turns out is the destruction of the food chain by unscrupulous scientists. Our host who it seems is a geneticist as well as an onanist, has made scientific breakthroughs which allow man and animals to eat of their own kind, leading to the destruction of the food chain. We are suddenly expected to ponder the consequences of “nature fighting back”. You can just see the Greens in the audience getting aroused. The women of course get short shrift and end up “sick and insane” while Mr Shawn himself expires peacefully in a mossy meadow. Early on in the play he ponders the nature of luck. No better man, I thought. Shawn has been blessed with good fortune. His father was the legendary editor of The New Yorker and he grew up in a privileged background in Manhattan. He started his monologues entertaining society friends in their homes and eventually these developed a cult following. Exposed to the harsh light of (semi) commercial theatre however they come across as quite thin. Decorated with celebrity pals they remain banal, facetious and bum-numbingly un-theatrical.

Aunt Dan and Lemon D

ownstairs in the main theatre Dominic Cook has attracted Jane Horrocks to star in the revival of Aunt Dan and Lemon which was premièred at the Royal Court in 1985 with Oscar winner Linda Hunt as Dan. More conventional in structure and with a large cast this play revolves around Lemon (Horrocks) a dysfunctional and reclusive soul who recalls how in her youth, in the early seventies, a charismatic family friend “Aunt Dan” (Lorraine Ashbourne) cast a spell over her which continues to dominate her life. Dan’s ideas about politics (pro Vietnam war and obsessively devoted to Henry Kissinger) and her sexual encounters (dysfunctional to put it mildly) have shaped Lemon as an adult and the play is book ended by two long speeches where she excuses the Nazis. I couldn’t help recalling that great scene from Hannah and Her Sisters where Woody Allen is arguing with his parents about religion and his mother screams at his poor father “Go on, tell him why there were Nazis” to which the father replies “How do I know why there were Nazis, I don’t

Pictured: Lorraine Ashbourne, Mary Roscoe, Paul Chahidi, Jane Horrocks in Aunt Dan and Lemon, part of the Royal Court’s Wallace Shawn Season KEITH PATTISON

even know how the can opener works”. This play doesn’t fare much better and sadly it doesn’t have any jokes. The combination of right wing panic and sexual queasiness is an odd one and a large chunk of play revolves around the sex lives of Lemon’s father and of Aunt Dan’s swinging days. Scarlett Johnson (she MUST change her name) goes beyond the call of duty as the vampish Mindy in pornographic scenes of seduction which really don’t get us anywhere. Part of the problem of the play is that Shawn mediates his ideas through the character of Lemon as a young girl. Are we to believe this is just childish infatuation with Aunt Dan? If so it undermines his arguments. Lemon’s analysis that at least the Nazis were honest about human nature and should be credited for that, are specious to say the least. The theme of how the right wing mind is moulded is a very apt one. These polarities of left and right still dominate our politics and culture wars but addressing them would require Shawn to honestly face up to the arguments presented, to challenge their assumptions and question their motives. Instead, what we get here is a glib parlour game playing to the gallery. H

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Transatlantic Bridge Jarlath O’Connell talks to Simon Russell Beale, arguably the greatest living stage actor, about a fascinating Anglo-American theatrical project © Joan Marcus

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ften dubbed the greatest stage actor of his generation Simon Russell Beale remains a decidedly unstarlike figure. Because he doesn’t do much television he doesn’t get name recognition from those who don’t go to the theatre. He is also capable of walking round London undisturbed which no doubt suits him as he is one of the most self effacing people (not just actors) I’ve ever come across. He is guarded without being rude and charming without being false. Riding high on its recent 7 Tony nominations for The Norman Conquests, the Old Vic will see some of the finest acting talents from New York and London (including Beale) converge there this month, to launch the London leg of an extraordinary new venture called ‘The Bridge Project’. This is an unprecedented three-year transatlantic partnership between Kevin Spacey’s Old Vic in London, The Brooklyn Academy of Music and Sam Mendes’ company Neal Street Productions. The aim is to produce large-scale classical theatre for international audiences and deals have been struck between US and British Equity to allow the 50:50 cast and crew. It marks the return of Oscar winner

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Mendes to the London stage directing a double bill of two revered classics – Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard,in a new translation by Tom Stoppard. Mendes tried this double bill idea out once before when, as his farewell to the Donmar Warehouse, he staged a double bill of Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night which received rave reviews and transferred to BAM. Both marked Beale’s (rather belated) New York début. Born in Malaysia to a father who was Surgeon General to the British Army and a GP (family doctor) mother, Beale was educated at St Paul’s Cathedral School (where he was a chorister), Clifton College in Bristol (choral scholarship), Cambridge (where he got a first in English) and finally Guildhall School of Music. After graduating he quickly established himself at the RSC and worked his way through the classics, picking up Olivier Awards and Evening Standard Awards for productions such as Volpone, Candide, Julius Caesar and The Life of Galileo. His fine baritone voice was first revealed in a Mendes production of The Tempest and as well as Candide he has starred in Spamalot on Broadway and in the West End. In 2003 he was made a CBE and is no doubt

destined to be a theatrical knight. The Bridge Project reunites him with his frequent collaborator Mendes of whom he speaks of very fondly. “I always say ‘yes’ to Sam and in any case matching up Shakespeares and Chekhovs was a bit of parlour game for us” he adds. The chance to play at BAM which he loves (“it has a very open stage”) and the international tour sealed the deal for him. After a long rehearsal period where they worked on both plays together they opened to rave reviews at BAM in January and since then the company has toured to Singapore, Auckland, Madrid and Recklinghausen (in the Ruhr, Germany). Following London they will conclude at the famous Epidauras Festival in Greece. An odd combination of cities but one no doubt dictated by the need of the producers to engage a range of international coproduction partners. “I loved the chance to play in these different theatres but I wouldn’t want to repeat some of the long flights in between” he says. “Auckland to Madrid was surreal, we stopped off for lunch in Chile. I’d never been to South America but at least now I can say I’ve had lunch in Chile”.


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He was also mightily impressed by the Esplanade – Theatre on the Bay building in Singapore, which he says has “the best acoustic of any theatre I’ve ever been in and it seats 2000. It was amazing”. He adds “Playing in a variety of theatres on tour is always a great challenge, we all needed to go up a few gears now and again”. The tour bonded the company together and “now that we are back in London the locals are off living their own lives which is a bit of a shame”. The company for both plays includes Sinead Cusack (Irish theatre royalty), Rebecca Hall (English theatre royalty) and Ethan Hawke (movie heart-throb royalty) as well as New York theatre regulars Josh Hamilton and Richard Easton and Brits Paul Jesson and Selina Cadell. We touch on the inevitable question of differences between US and British actors and he moans “I’m always asked this but really there isn’t any difference when you get down to it. The writers determine the mode of the work. At the early rehearsals we sniffed around each other a bit wondering about this but then, we jointly realised that it’s about how much experience you have of doing classical work. That’s the only difference”. Is the training different?

“No, drama training is a funny old business anyway and you can’t generalise about the difference between the US and the UK”. Like many British actors his first taste of Broadway (where he was Tony nominated for Jumpers) was intoxicating. “It is heady, but it is hard work. “I haven’t done much commercial theatre” he goes on “ I’ve been very fortunate in this country to be rather cosseted in the subsidised theatre and BAM, although not subsidised, is quite similar and it suits me”. In The Cherry Orchard he is cast, rather surprisingly, as Lophakin, the serf turned wealthy business man who ends up owning the orchard after being rebuffed by the Grande Dame Ranyevskaya, whose condescension prevents her from accepting his offer of help. “When Sam asked me I said, are you sure? Surely you want me to play Gayev” a much less Alpha male part. Beale has comically characterised the roles he plays as “fuck off parts” and “I’m sorry parts”. Over his acclaimed career on the London stage, it’s the latter which have predominated. He’s excelled in the great lonely roles such as Vanya, Konstantin, George (in Jumpers), Hamlet. The director David Leveaux once said he “turned lack

Above: Josh Hamilton, Richard Easton, Ethan Hawke; Sinead Cusack, Rebecca Hall, Simon Russell Beale Photos: Nick Heavican [left photo], Ellis Parrinder [right]

of self esteem into an art form”. Of late, though, the alpha males are beginning to emerge, for example Andrew Undershaft in Major Barbara,which he did successfully at the National Theatre last year. This evolution hasn’t been easy – “It was very frightening at first”. He described a comical moment when rehearsing a highly confrontational scene with another very un-alpha male colleague, when both kept giving ground causing the exasperated director to exclaim “Come on – these are two stags fighting”…which didn’t really help, he says! As for Leontes, the King consumed by jealousy in A Winters Tale, and another alpha male, Beale says “he’s a good man gone wrong” and describes how in this production they play up the relationship with the son. He says the last great scene requires a delicacy, which is very un-alpha male and is one of the best in Shakespeare. You can enjoy both alpha males and the rest of what looks like an astonishing company at The Old Vic until 15 August. H

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Welcome To Your New Home, Mr Ambassador With a new Ambassador soon to be appointed, Alison Holmes looks at what the job entails and how former incumbents made it work

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Tough job – Lou Susman will have to get used to living here James Mortimer

here to begin? In transatlantic relations there is so much assumption and presumption it is hard to know which myth to debunk first. Does one go for the American papers that cannot consistently get the job title right or the British papers that cannot be bothered to research who was in post when, or what they did prior to coming to London? I am speaking, of course, of the position that will shortly be much in the news, the Ambassador to the Court of St James’s. Let’s get that title straight from the outset. Odd as it may sound and look, it is cor-

rect to use the possessive in the Ambassador’s title. Granted it is a bit of a mouthful, but it’s not too difficult, so why newspapers ignore this finer point, or worse still put in the wrong thing altogether, remains a mystery. On one hand this faux pas of arcane protocol is annoying but hardly serious. On the other hand, one could argue that missing out the ’s is the tip of a larger and more politically relevant problem revealed daily in media outlets on both sides of the Atlantic: an almost total disregard for unbiased information about the experience of the United States Ambassador to the Court of St James’s.

Fact checking the sleaze

Memories are too short, President Bush too unpopular to defend, and pot shots at public figures too entertaining to allow a few pesky facts get in the way. The approach that many writers have towards the activities in Grosvenor Square and Winfield House is, ‘why bother to fact check the witty piece that allows jokes about car dealers, rich Texans and a just the right whiff of sleaze?’ Perhaps some of this can be understood structurally; the UK/US government systems are very different in their treatment of appointees. The British side has been likened to ‘government by moving van’. Once the election result is known the defeated government – symbolically represented by its Prime Minister in Downing Street – must get out of the way or risk being run over. In this system, the civil service remains a

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primary connector at even the highest levels of government. The American system, by contrast, is powered by a flow of political appointees. Thousands of people, from the Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor through to the head of the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Director of the National Parks, serve at the President’s pleasure. Yet it is the role of Ambassador that uniquely attracts the epithet of ‘cronydom’ and the insistence that private citizens should not be diplomats. In the interests of disclosure, I have worked with a number of Ambassadors and their Deputy Chiefs of Mission, including two years in the London Embassy. More recently, I have had the honor to interview the Ambassadors (and their deputies) of the past twenty-five years for my own research.

A sense of mission

Six men have served in this post over the past quarter of a century, but few people know that two of them were Ambassadors prior to their posting in London, three worked on the White House staff and one was a career Foreign Service Officer. More surprising, only three gave money or acted as fundraiser, while half had given little or no money to the campaigns of the President they served. For a modest salary and little expenses or entertaining budgets to speak of, the Ambassador is responsible for running one of the largest US Embassies in the world, based in the (expensive) capital city of ‘our closest ally’. The resulting expectations are huge. All six former Ambassadors spent extensive amounts of time on the road, often ignored by the press, speaking with local, civic and business organizations, religious bodies and educational institutions. They all hosted hundreds of events with something in the region of 25,000 guests each, and helped the 15,000 annual American government visitors connect with their British counterparts. Promoting the largest bilateral business relationship in the world is a priority. Counselor services loom large with four and a half million Americans and Brits traveling in each

direction each year and a quarter of a million Americans making their home in the UK. All this is in addition to maintaining and nurturing the intense high level governmental interaction that covers issues from warfare to welfare, tax dodgers to terrorism, protesters to protectionism. While the work is done by career officers in a range of agencies, it is all done on the Ambassador’s watch. From my own experience and research, the Ambassadors who have made a success of the post are those that had not only a sense of mission from the President but a proactive strategy for their tenure from the outset. They saw the role of Ambassador in London as that of engaged Chairman of the board vs Chief Operating Officer. They understood that while their ‘contractual’ influence is constrained, the importance of symbolic connection, sensitive balance and intuitive negotiation skills are paramount. Which brings us to the newly nominated Ambassador, 71-year-old Lou Susman., who will hopefully be appointed by July 4th. The President shows little sign of making Mr Susman’s job easier, but with work, planning and good local advice, the new Ambassador to the Court of St James’s will, like his predecessors, be able to find a way to serve that is both valuable and unique. H

The Ambassador’s residence in London, Winfield House, photographed for a beautiful book by Maria Tuttle, the wife of the outgoing Ambassador, published last year by Thames and Hudson James Mortimer

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The American

Payback Time Jo Cole, our British political pundit wonders if a decent wage would stop MPs making daft expenses claims

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og food. Second mortgage. Bath plug. Sauna. ‘Adult’ movies. Moat cleaning. Duck house… Unless you’ve not read a newspaper or seen TV for well over a month, you will know these are just a selection of expenses by Members of the mother of Parliaments. Yes, in Westminster the ‘expenses row’ continues strong and is refusing to go away. The ‘honourable members’ have been filling in expenses forms for years, never suspecting that they would become public property, but now taxpayers, with the help of the Daily Telegraph who apparently paid up to £80,000 for the information, are scrutinising every last receipt. My taxes helped to fund sixty-six metres of shelving in a Scottish MP’s constituency office. Sixty-six metres! In a recent article in the Telegraph, Janet Daley observed the differences between British politicians’ expenses system (to her, largely bad) and the American system (to her, largely good). She accused the House of Commons as relying heavily “on what might be called aristocratic assumptions about the proper way to behave: of instinctive honour and integrity rather than precise, legalistic, accountable mechanisms for judging Members’ conduct.” This, she argued, comes from us Brits’ refusal to have any kind of formal rules (no written constitution!), arguing that we instead rely on tradition and precedents. Members of Congress, she points

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out, don’t have the privilege of a second home allowance for living in Washington but instead see their role as public service. She argues that this makes a statement, that “congressmen are encouraged to feel that their true loyalty and proper identity lies in Idaho or Oregon or wherever, and that their time in Washington should be seen as a period of service, not as an alternative lifestyle.” I can see her point – but I do wonder what Members of Congress’ families think of such a split. One of Conservative Party Leader David Cameron’s main arguments for supporting funding for MPs to have a second home is that it allows MPs to maintain a sense of family life. When Cameron travels back to his constituency in Oxfordshire each Thursday evening, his family journey with him. True, there is a difference between driving a child from London to Oxford each week and flying a child between Arizona and Washington, but you wonder how much family life might be lost with such a large divide. I’m not suggesting any public servant – for that is what they are supposed to be – should be able to have a free house (or a house for their pet ducks for that matter) but there needs to be a happy medium somewhere. Members of Congress earn twice as much as MPs in this country. Perhaps (shock horror) the time has come to address the real issue here – MPs’ salaries. Bump up

Hazel Blears MP, who resigned from the cabinet after (in)famously waving a cheque for unpaid capital gains tax despite claiming that her house ‘flipping’ was within the rules Steve Punter

their pay and they can decide how much they spend on second homes themselves, rather than spending my tax money – which until now I’d naively understood to be going on the NHS, schools, social housing, and the like. This will no doubt cause many rumblings of those who are now just anti-politician in general. After all, we’re in a recession and why should we pay them more when they’ve proved themselves to be dishonest? Those who have been caught with their hands in the till will be punished by the electorate on polling day. With them gone, I believe now is the time to sort this issue once and for all and raise the basic salary that an MP receives, whilst removing any possibility of claiming spurious expenses. Hopefully then, the only link that dog biscuits, second mortgages and bath plugs have will be nothing more than a distant memory. H


The American

Setting up shop? Brawn GP are emphatically NOT selling this year’s championship-leading car. HOMONIHILIS

Bugs Jam Again at Santa Pod

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W Bugs do funny things to otherwise rational people. It’s the time of year when they prove it in Britain. Bug Jam is as much a three day party (held from 17th-19th July) as a motor race event, where over 30,000 Beetle fans can enjoy Bug related frolics. Now in its 23rd year, Bug Jam is biggest VW Beetle festival in Europe and as well as the drag strip activities you can expect live bands, comedy, nightlife and lifestyle. If you can’t make it, you can still enjoy Bug Jam as the action is being captured for a lifestyle documentary programme

on Motors TV and Men and Motors. But one thing the TV version won’t give you is the experience of standing by the serious drag cars. As well as non-stop drag racing from the pros, there are numerous chances for you to have a go yourself in the many ‘Run What You Brung’ sessions held over the weekend. Running on the strip throughout the show will be Fireforce, Santa Pod’s own 270mph Jet Car, the insane ‘High Risk’ Wheelie Car and a 7-second quarter mile 2 seat dragster for the brave to ride in. www.santapod.com

Goodwood an Easy Ride for Fonda

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long with the usual ranks of scores of legendary motor racing and motorcycling heroes and champions (yawn!) will be one unexpected face, but one that is every bit as much a motoring icon. Peter Fonda, who co-wrote, produced and starred as Captain America in the counter-culture classic movie Easy Rider, is due to attend this year’s at Goodwood Festival of Speed (July 3-5) to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of his influential film. He will be reunited with a chopper motorcycle as used in the classic Hollywood road movie – not the original, but you won’t notice the difference – and will ride it up the famous Goodwood 1.16-mile hillclimb at the Festival. Fonda’s bike will be one of a number of custom motocycles due to appear at the 2009 Festival of Speed. A dedicated class of choppers, will form part of the Cartier ‘Style et Luxe,’ an annual vehicle design concours at Goodwood for the most beautiful and rarely-seen cars and motorcycles from around the world.

Brawn GP Selling Family Silver

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urprise sale of the century – or the season at any rate – is the unexpected auction by surprise Formula One Championship leaders Brawn GP of a selection of historic race cars, show cars and memorabilia from their memorabilia collection. They will be sold by Bonhams at the Silverstone Classic Historic Race Meeting on Saturday 25 July. The F1 cars to be sold date from 2001 to 2006 and have been driven by former World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello. They come from the periods of the ownership of the team by British American Tobacco and Honda Motor Company. They will be in rolling chassis form, without engines or other ancillaries, and estimates are expected to range from just £7,000 - £22,000. Another 100 lots of memorabilia will include race overalls, component spares and merchandise. Nick Fry, Chief Executive Officer of Brawn GP commented: “Brawn GP is extremely proud of our heritage with British American Tobacco and Honda, and we have inherited a vast collection of historic race cars and memorabilia from the team’s early years. We are delighted to be able to give collectors and our fans the opportunity to share in our history and purchase some fantastic items, including actual race cars, through this unique sale.”

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The American

Plus Fors (and Minuses) Michael Burland reviews the new Golf Plus and works out what it adds up to

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hat do you use a car for? That’s not such a silly question, not when you’re considering spending your own cash on one. How many people do you know that ask, what image will it give me? Will it enable me to pick up girls/guys (delete where or indeed if applicable)? Will it have key-fob cred when I drop the keys onto the pub bar? Will it have enough raw, out and out performance? Will it match my nail polish? Does the world champion drive this make (he does if he’s paid to)? Is it eco-friendly? All of these are secondary to the main question. Even the green issue – there’s no point buying

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an electric car with a range of 80 miles if you live in the country, you have to travel so far to the shops or the kid’s friends’ houses that you’d have to be prepared to stay the night there while the car recharges enough to get you home. If your choice of car is about being practical, useful, solid, reliable, spacious, efficient and economical then the Golf Plus may well be the answer. It’s obviously part of the Golf family that also includes the Golf Estate, GTi, Touran, Tiguan and Scirocco, but what makes it different? At first glance it is the dowdier, squarer-faced sibling, rather like

Jane Bennett in Pride and Prejudice. Like Jane, the Plus can come out ahead by virtue of its character. So what are the Plus’s pluses? Fuel economy for one. I easily bettered VW’s claimed 55.4mpg for the combined cycle. I averaged 58mpg. Admittedly most of the driving was out of town, but I usually reckon to achieve in rural driving what manufacturers claim for the combined, so a big thumbs up to VW. Bear in mind that the super-smug ‘green’ Toyota Prius only gets 40 to 45 mpg in the real world, and no better than the Plus achieves when the supposedly eco-friendly car is in optimum ‘regenerative driving’ conditions.


The American

Space inside is good. So it should be, as that’s the Plus’s raison’ d’être. Room enough for five long legged adults to travel distances in comfort. And there’s enough headroom for Abe Lincoln in his stovepipe. But Abe and his pals may not be able to take as much luggage as they’d like though, as the boot is smaller than you might expect. That’ll be due to the legroom – damn compromises! And the same factor mitigates against taking dogs larger than a Parson Russell’s terrier. Sorry collies, you’re staying put. Safety is good, as you’d expect from any car in the Golf family. The Plus has an array of safety features including ABS, ESP, driver and front passenger’s whiplashoptimised head restraints and six air bags including deactivation switch for front passenger air bag, important when using baby seats. And what of the Plus’s minuses? Looks – most people won’t notice it or even recognise it, and I parked next to a 2006 model in a car park and had to look twice to check which was mine, despite the slightly lower profile and revamped face with horizontal grill bars. While it’s well put together, the materials feel flimsier than in our family runaround, a 1999 Bora ( Jetta in the US) V5. The seats, front and rear, are firm, wide and flat, not ideal for enthusiastic driving. Our model had four one-touch electric windows and VW’s excellent and informative on-board trip computer but lackssome mod cons like a reversing camera, sat nav, automatically operating windshield wipers and lights... did I miss them? Not really, and they’re all options if you feel the need. Then there’s speed. My partner thought the Plus was fast enough

for all the driving she did. I thought it was a little flat and set up lean for fuel and emissions efficiency rather than excitement – the 2.0-litre TDI 140 horsepower with its 6 speed manual gearbox emits just 135g/km, quite healthy. So we’ll call that a neutral, neither plus nor minus. Neutral too is the on the road price of £19,835 which is pretty fair (the range starts at £14,410 and rises to £21,185), just where you’d expect it to be, slightly more than an equivalent Peugeot 308 or Mazda 5, less than a similarly equipped Mercedes B Class, around the same as a Ford S-Max. No bargain, no rip-off. Let’s get back to the prime question – what do you use a car for? In our family we have an elderly relative who needs driving to the doctor’s and the shops and doesn’t care about cars apart from them being practical and comfortable. We have another disabled family member who has great difficulty getting in and out of cars, but used to be a rally driver and likes them to be at least interesting if not exciting.

Both of them were impressed and gave the Golf Plus a top rating. So in the real world, this plain Jane should be on the ‘possibles’ short-list of anyone needing a good all rounder from a quality manufacturer. H

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The American

Wimbledon ’09:

USA v UK? Despite wailing and gnashing of teeth for the fate of both US and UK Tennis, Wimbledon finds both with high hopes

PHOTO: AELTC

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ritish hopes have been high at Wimbledon before – only a few years ago, Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski graced the world top ten. Neither, however, landed the grand slam knockout blow. Neither became the first British (or adopted British) man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry. Now Britain has only one player in the top ten (or indeed the top 100): Andy Murray. Yet British hopes are higher than ever this year, with tennis experts widely agreeing that Murray is a grand slam winner waiting to happen – a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’.

British fans would like it to be now, and at Wimbledon. Already a finalist at the US Open last year, and a winner of four tournaments this year, Murray’s recent finals win at Queen’s Club suggests a grand slam on grass is not unrealistic. He may be all the UK has, but he may be all it needs. Queen’s Club runner-up, James Blake, recently tried to disarm the London crowd by reminding them that he’s half British too (on his mother’s side). But he’s also part of a triumvirate of in-form Americans heading into Wimbledon. Queen’s was his second

final of the year, courtesy in part to the mid-match retirement of countryman Andy Roddick. Roddick looked set for a showdown with Murray before twisting his ankle on a court-edge gully and pulling out tied 4-4 with Blake in the first set. That retirement, rather than counting against his chances at Wimbledon, is a measure of his commitment to the task, preferring to sacrifice his Queen’s Club run – he’s a four-time winner there – than head for SW19 lame. Also putting in good work at the Aegon Championship was the USA’s

More than just Murray? While the home crowd are unlikely to find more than Andy Murray to cheer during The Championships’ second week, the Brits do have a champion of their own to keep an eye on. Laura Robson, 2008 Wimbledon girls’ champion, is a wildcard entry for the ladies’ competition, and while nobody is expecting the 15 year old to make phenom-style progress, hopes abound that she may do for the ladies what Murray has done for British men’s tennis. Anne Keothavong, no.49, is presently the highest-ranked British lady. Left: Robson being mentored by former top ten player Tim Henman. Would it be cruel to mention which of these has won Wimbledon? PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

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The American

PHOTO: AELTC

Mardy Fish, ultimately ousted by Murray. Fish has risen to no.25 in the world and has reached two finals this year. Although Fish and Blake may be long stayers at Wimbledon this year, Roddick is the legitimate championship contender amongst them. One day, the Williams sisters won’t be around, and with no other US lady in the top 50, that drop-off has US tennis worried. For now, however, Venus and Serena have seven of the last nine Wimbledon ladies’ singles titles between them. Defending champion Venus has five of those titles, and with a recent rise in her ranking to no.3, may be considered the favorite again this year, with Serena her closest rival. World no.1 Dinara Safina may have missed her best shot at a grand slam this summer when she fell to the racket of Svetlana Kuznetsova at the French Open. Kuznetsova may be a contender at Wimbledon too, and is

Book Review

Centre Court Taking centre stage this year: Centre Court itself! The venerable site of so much drama now has a slideable lid to keep the action moving when the bad weather visits (inevitably the weather will be glorious throughout this year’s event) or to extend the hours when the five-setters start mounting. Though 2009 is no significant anniversary, to unveiling of Centre Court’s new coupé look is a fine opportunity to glance back at the history of Tennis’ garden arena, and ‘Centre Court: The Jewel in Wimbledon’s Crown’ is the result. The official 240-page hardback opens with fine photography overlaid with the gushing praise of Centre Court’s famous guests (Roger

Federer provides the foreword), before launching into the history, from its 1922 opening to construction photos of the new roof. Along the way, the ‘Play is Suspended’ chapter reminds us of the reason for the upgrade, there are short sections highlighting winners such as Boris Becker and John McEnroe, and pages are regularly dedicated to memorable matches from past decades – Agassi’s first grand slam victory in a five-set triumph over Ivanisevic, Pete Sampras’ 7th, Nadal’s defeat of Federer. While not quite ‘lavish’, the book is nonetheless a leisurely, satisfying and quality production ...not unlike the old place itself! Vision Sports Publishing, £25

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The American

one of 12 ‘Russians’ to be found in the top 10 (as Serena Williams once suggested). Others include Nadia Petrova, last year’s semi-finalist Elena Dementieva, Belarussian Victoria Azarenka. Maria Sharapova spent June proving that she too is back in form, getting to the late stages of the French Open and Aegon Classic. With her matchfitness returned, it wouldn’t be a surprise now to see her go as deep into the draw at Wimbledon. However, it isn’t all Eastern Europeans. Both Li Na – who ousted Sharapova in Birmingham – and Jie Zheng (a semifinalist at Wimbledon last year) could put China in the picture. Roger Federer returns to ‘favorite’ status in the men’s tournament, with Juan Martin Del Potro perhaps a shade ahead of Novak Djokovic. Federer is chasing a Sampras-beating 15th grand slam while Rafael Nadal may be ailing. However, unless Nadal works a miracle recovery, it could be the two Andys – Murray and Roddick – challenging Federer. Or, indeed, each other.

Last year’s gentlemen’s champion faces recovery from knee injury if he is to loft the cup again PHOTO: AELTC

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Sideline

The UFL may not be the next big thing in pro football, writes Richard L Gale, but it hopes to be the next small thing

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hat” a friend or mine asked, “is the point of a football league with only four teams?” My answer: “To exist.” This fall, the NFL will be joined by a second professional football league. Roger Goodell’s gang would be forgiven if they didn’t pay too much attention to the six week season of the UFL (United Football League) playing out on Versus. Beyond watching the NFL waiver wire, the UFL probably won’t be worrying too much about what the NFL is up to either. Just existing alongside the NFL will be enough for year one. If the UFL kicks off successfully in October of this year, it will have accomplished something that several other leagues have failed to do in 2009. With the Arena League still mothballed until 2010, the AllAmerican Football League having conducted a draft in 2008 without ever taking the field, and a rebooted USFL still looking at Spring 2010, the UFL will arguably have beaten their real competition to the prize of being the first choice for NFL wannabes and not-quites who don’t want to go north of the border. Unlike the old XFL and many other leagues, the UFL isn’t much interested in innovating, at least on the field. Their selling point is their NFL-like product, a point aimed not just at football fans, but football players, boasting four NFL-calibre

head coaches – Jim Fassel, Jim Haslet, Dennis Green and Ted Cottrell – with the experience to prepare players for easy insertion into the NFL when an opportunity presents itself. Neither the Arena League nor Canadian Football League can offer an environment that replicates the NFL format. And of course, with only 6 games to play (at least this year), potential players have the opportunity to showcase themselves without wearing themselves thin. All of which much may still sound a little ambitious for a league that failed even to relay a live feed of one of its own press conferences just four months before it is proposing to begin play. So far the league has appointed Commissioner Michael Huyghue’s and Rick Mueller (former New Orleans Saints personnel guru) as VP, and worked out some NFL surplus such as Quinn Gray and Jermaine Wiggins. It helps capture my attention that the league founder is William Hambrecht, an investment


The American

July Sports Highlight:

Tiger at Turnberry

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banker whose work with Apple, Adobe and Amazon mark him out as one smart cookie. All the same, when Bill Hambrecht talks about ‘disruptive business models’ and delivering 80 per cent of market needs at 20 per cent cost, I can’t help but wonder if, as it relates to sports instead of technology, this equates to ‘doing things on the cheap’. Are we talking about bargain basement football here? I think perhaps we are. And I think perhaps that’s the right way to go at a time when the world economy is such a shambles. Hambrecht says he is confident that the UFL will be profitable in year three (which may just coincide with an NFL lockout if negotiations between the league and players’ union continue along their present path – coincidence?). Don’t be surprised if four teams double to eight by then. The UFL may never rival the NFL, and it seems to me that the fledgling league is ready to accept that, just as the NFL would have no problem with the UFL being a halfway house for Michael Vick and some of its other problem children. For both Vick’s football career and the UFL, the first step is to exist.

Six of the Best

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ictured above: a thing of beauty. It is, of course, the bejeweled reward to Steelers players for winning that Super Bowl thing half a year ago. The rings were delivered this past month, just as the Pittsburgh Penguins stole a little of their thunder by winning the Stanley Cup (yes, I have been wearing black and gold a little more than usual this year), but the city’s football players can sit quietly enjoying what is, I am convinced, the most beautiful Super Bowl ring manufacturers Jostens have ever produced. Six brilliant cut diamonds surround the team logo, each signifying a Steelers Super Bowl victory. Their logo is made from yellow, red and blue hypocycloids (it says here), with a football-shaped design including 32 diamonds (NFL teams) while 14 diamonds at the tips of the football motif represent 14 Division titles for Pittsburgh. The sides feature 6 Lombardi Trophies rising from Heinz Field, and the Super Bowl score: “Pittsburgh 27” and “Arizona 23” (to date Arizona’s only mention on any Super Bowl ring).

iger Woods was back, but he wasn’t BACK – not until the Memorial Tournament. Plenty of folk had been surprised when Woods hadn’t leaped straight back to winning every tournament he entered. When he shot a 74 on the Friday at the Memorial, some casual golf fans were caught looking at French Open tennis instead. And then, almost one year after the US Open, Tiger Woods came back. On Saturday he closed the gap, and on Sunday he pounced, climbing from four back to land a final round 65. This wasn’t just Tiger back amongst the leaders, exerting pressure, hitting fairways consistently (at last), and making easy putts, but providing legendary storyline finishes. It had been a legendary finish at last year’s US Open too, where he triumphed despite obvious discomfort from a knee that would soon require further surgery, ending his 2008 season. As we go to press, Woods is preparing to defend that title, and this coming month Tiger will arrive in Britain for the Open Championship at Turnberry, Ayrshire. Woods is a three time winner at the British Open, including ’05 and ’06. Since then, Padraig Harrington has won it back-to-back. Of course, last year, Woods was under the knife rather than on the fairway. It should be a tantalising battle in a supremely picturesque setting. The Open Championship, 16-19 July • BBC TV

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The American

Tail End

Paw Talk, or My Life as a Dog in London. Canine correspondent faces feline fiasco

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oxy is gone from the balcony along with her mate. I cannot tell a lie, it wasn’t me who got rid of them, it was Fiona. As much as I wanted them to leave, I felt guilty at making them homeless. “If She-Who-Must-Be-ObeyedUsually spots them you might find yourself homeless,” Fiona warned. “I can’t believe you let them stay.” “What can I do? Anyway, it’s just a temporary arrangement. At least, I hope so.” Fiona licks the last remains of the line caught organic fish from the antique Crown Derby plate She-WhoMust-Be-Obeyed-Usually served her before she replies. “I’ll get rid of them for you.” “For goodness sake, Fiona, you can’t attack them,” I point out. “One, there are two of them. And two, they’re bigger than you.” Giving me her Cheshire cat smile, she lets out a long piercing screech that would have made a wild lion in the jungle proud. Both foxes leap to their four feet, jump from the balcony and are racing down the walk in front of our flat as if they were being chased by gun fire. But, before I can thank her, Fiona’s mistress is grabbing Fiona as if she fears she’s about to be eaten alive. “You awful little white dog,” she screams at me. “You’ve hurt my poor sweet innocent little darling pussy cat.” Fiona gets that Cheshire smile on her face and licks a claw. “I’m

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Rebel’s nemesis – Reb can handle any dog and even London’s urban foxes, but Fiona the Persian princess is just too much RUDOLPH A FURTADO

sure Rebel didn’t hurt mean to hurt...” Fiona’s mistress doesn’t let She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed-Usually finish. “Never, ever will I bring my gentle little darling into this flat again,” she vows. “Never.” Never! Ever! Oh...pure happiness. Fiona will never darken my doorstep again. The joy of it almost makes me roll over on my back in sheer ecstasy. “Never, ever,” Fiona’s mistress repeats. “Look how my poor darling is shaking with fear.” Fiona stares at me as if she is in shock, but I am so exhilarated with the bliss of knowing I will no longer have to tolerate her taking over my life that I don’t care. Then, suddenly. Fiona leaps from the arms of her mistress and races to me and for a moment I fear I’m going to be attacked with her pink

painted claws. Instead, she starts purring and rubbing me as if I was covered with catnip. ‘Oh, look at that,” Fiona’s mistress says. “She’s forgiven Rebel.” Fiona purrs louder. “It’s okay, lovely,” her mistress says. “I won’t take you away from your little friend. In fact, next week, when I go on a little weekend holiday with Lady Max, I’ll take Rebel with us. Won’t you like that, Rebel?” The purr is now almost a low roar. “Oh, that would be so kind of you,” She-Who-Must-Be-ObeyedUsually tells her. “I know Rebel will love going away with the three of you.” Love going away with Lady Max and Fiona together! For two full days. What did I do to deserve this? ★


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Are you missing Are you missing an old friend? an old friend?

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wish they were here? wish they were here? Funny howyou you don’t whatgot you’ve got till Funny how don’t knowknow what you’ve till it’s gone. Hereit’s yougone. are relocated in the Here you theSitting jolly under old UK and where’s youryou. bike? jolly old UKare andrelocated where’s yourin bike? a tarp back home missing Funny how you don’t know whathome you’ve missing got till it’s gone. Sitting under a tarp back you.Here you are relocated in the

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The Claridon of companies are respected the services, militaryGroup and civilian. Claridon’s personal travel service throughout is just as renowned The Claridon Group of companies are throughout the world for their logistics offering a true firstlogistics class experience forrespected themilitary discerning businessman or biker. world for their services, and civilian. Claridon’s services, military and civilian. Claridon’s personal travel service is just as renowned personal travel is justfor as renowned offering a or true first offering a true first service class experience the discerning businessman biker. Whatever you need to ship to the UK, from just one suitcase to the whole contents of class experience for Claridon the discerning your home you can trust to deliver a businessman five star service. or biker. Whatever you need to ship to the UK, from just one suitcase to the whole contents of Whatever youcan need ship totodeliver the UK, just one suitcase to your home you trust to Claridon a fivefrom star service.

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The American July 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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