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The American Issue 676 – August 2009 Published by Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Old Byre House, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK Publisher: Michael Burland +44 (0)1747 830328 Please contact us with your news or article ideas Advertising & Promotions: Sabrina Sully, Commercial Director +44 (0)1747 830520 Subscriptions enquiries: Phone +44 (0)1747 830328, email Correspondents: Virginia Schultz, Wining & Dining Mary Bailey, Social Cece Mills, Arts Jarlath O’Connell, Theater Richard Gale, Sports Editor Dom Mills, Motorsports Jeremy Lanaway, Hockey Riki Evans Johnson, European ©2009 Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Printed by Advent Colour Ltd., 19 East Portway Industrial Estate, Andover, SP10 3LU Main cover image: Michael Jackson at his last rehearsal (© Kevin Mazur/AEG/ Getty Images). Inset: Ken Hom. Black Stone Cherry photo by John Scarpati.

Welcome T

here’s a literary theme to The American this month, with interviews and profiles of famous authors and book reviews. Why? It’s summer holiday time, and there’s nothing better than settling down on a beach or even in your back yard with a drink, a good read and a few free hours. I hope you enjoy Mary Bailey’s chat with new best-selling author Jason Pinter and Virginia Schultz’s profile of the veteran cookery writer Ken Hom. Let’s pray for some summer sun! Our classic cartoon The Johnsons has a fresh new look. Austin May, a USAF Master Sergeant based at RAF Mildenhall takes over drawing duties from Dan Eales who penned the cartoon for many years – many thanks to Dan. Alan Ferrett still writes the strip, bringing you the adventures of former football legend turned bodyguard Rocco Johnson, ex-supermodel Tammy-Lee and the family in their new home in Britain. Austin is also the creator of the hilarious air force cartoon Air Force Blues – check it out at Enjoy your magazine.

Michael Burland, Editor


After settling in East Anglia, marrying a Brit, taking joint nationality and becoming a local councillor, Riki Evans Johnson moved to Spain! She writes about life as an expat in Europe.

Alison Holmes PhD, the Pierre Keller Fellow of Transatlantic Studies at Yale University, takes a look at the background of the new American Ambassador to the UK.

James Hickman is the American managing director of one of Britain’s leading foreign exchange companies. This month he looks at how to get the best rates if you’re traveling back to the US.

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


The American

In This Issue... The American • Issue 676 • August 2009


News USAF helicopters in a dramatic long-distance rescue, a new scheme for young Americans to intern in Britain, and an ancient game returns

11 Diary Dates The most interesting, satisfying and just plain weird events in Britain


14 Music Michael Jackson’s last days. Plus live concerts, album reviews and the chance to win tickets to see hot new band Black Stone Cherry


19 Jason Pinter The thriller writer that’s knocking them dead in the sales charts meets The American’s Mary Bailey 20 Spitfire Girls Carol Gould tells how the Battle of Britain might have been lost without the American and British ‘gals’ that delivered the warplanes 21 Ken Hom A profile of the man who made Chinese cooking popular in the US and UK – and he gives us his scrumptious Mango Chicken recipe (page 30)


22 Life With Lola Our expatriate expat, Riki Evans Johnson, has moved to the Costas, and meets interesting ‘Americanos en Espana’

38 23


The American

23 The Exchange Rate Gamble James Hickman explains how to protect you dollars from the ravages of exchange rate fluctuations 24 Coffee Break Take a break and have some fun 26 Wining & Dining Doyen of food and wine critics Virginia E Schultz reviews the restaurants

19 46 64

33 Arts Let Cece Mills guide you round the best arts exhibitions in the UK, including the upcoming Edinburgh International Festival 38 Reviews Jarlath O’Connell reviews, Sister Act, Stoppard’s Arcadia, Forbidden Broadway and the NT Live HD transmission of Phèdre



45 Politics The new American Ambassador arrives soon. We take a look at Louis Susman’s background 46 Drive Time Michael Burland drives the Nissan Qashqai+2. Ian Kerr attends the inaugural ‘Electric TT’ on the Isle of Man. Michael isn’t jealous... honest 51 Sports The headlines and grades from the NBA Draft, more basketball in London, ...and the UFL in Europe?

26 14

56 American Organizations Your comprehensive guide and a profile of The Fulbright Commission 64 Paw Talk Rebel, our canine correspondent, is not enjoying her French holiday 3

The American

The person that Sedgwick, Cumbria, would most like to visit them

A Presidential Scarecrow, with Respect Dear Editor, My wife and I are expatriate Americans living in the small village of Sedgwick, just outside the Lake District border in northern england. On 4th July weekend our village held its bi-annual scarecrow festival, with scarecrows being created by the villagers depicting various themes, including those persons whom we would most like to visit us. Our neighbours, Angela and Mike Browning (pictured), chose President Barack Obama to honour in this manner on this auspicious American date. Ira Fishman, Sedgwick, Cumbria

Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Old Byre House, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK



Portree, Isle of Skye ROGeR HAGUe

News and views from American expats

You CAN sail ‘Over the sea to Skye’ Dear Editor, I read Maureen Gray’s most interesting article on the lovely Isle of Skye, and it conveyed the atmosphere very well. However, she suggests it is no longer possible to “sail over the sea” to this wonderful island, suggesting that the only way to get there is via the Skye Bridge. My friend and I went to Skye in October 2007 – we are both non-drivers, so the bridge was useless. May I suggest another way: First, take the train from Glasgow to Mallaig. It is itself arguably the most beautiful 5-hour train journey in the British Isles and worth the trip for its own value. At Fort William you might wish to change to the steam train for the final half hour or so to Mallaig. From Mallaig, take the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Armadale in southern Skye. On that trip you indeed capture the magic of seeing Skye appear out of the mist. Perhaps not a sailing vessel per se, but close

enough! You can get the ‘CalMac’ timetable, with many fascinating ferry journeys, by telephoning 08705 650000. There is always a scheduled bus (Rapsons, 0876 082 608) waiting for the ferry. There is a lovely hotel facing the sea in Portree which I can recommend: Rosedale Hotel (01478 613131). Book half board, as the evening meal is excellent. The Skye Tourist Office (01478 612 892) can help non-drivers find out about means of transport on the island, and if you are a driver, then to hire a car. I hope someone may find this information of interest and useful. I do so agree with Maureen Gray that Skye is absolutely magnificent (and we also had good weather!). Yours sincerely, Dr. Alan Berson, London W1 Have you visited anywhere special in the UK? Why not write and tell us about it? (Address left)

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The American

Democrats Abroad July 4th


emocrats Abroad UK held an Independence Day picnic on – guess – Saturday, the 4th of July. Over 600 people attended the event, at Portman Square Garden in central London. They had a fun afternoon with, as the invitation promised, food, games and good company.

American Civil War Round Table Meeting


he American Civil war Round Table, UK, is meeting on Saturday 8 August at 12.30 at the Civil Service Club, 13 –25 Great Scotland Yard, London Sw1A 2HJ. The speaker is Lt. Col. Joseph whitehorne US Army (rtd) who served as a staff historian in the United States and europe. Since retiring in 1989, he has been a professor of history at Lord Fairfax Community College and historical consultant to the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at James Madison University. He is the author or co-author of numerous military history articles and 16 books, many of which deal with the war of 1812 and Civil war topics. Col whitehorne is speaking on ‘engagements at Auburn VA October 1863’, in which the Confederate General Jeb Stuart’s cavalry corps fought Union General George G. Meade’s army. For further information contact Peter Lockwood on 01747 828719 or


Little Ben came out of big brother’s shadow as it chimed for one day only

Meet ‘Little Ben’


f you found yourself near London’s famous Victoria station and thought you could hear the chimes of Big Ben just around the corner, don’t worry, you’re not going mad. In fact you should think yourself lucky. You heard something unique. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Big Ben’s first chime, the famous clock-tower’s lesser known brother popularly known as “Little Ben” was installed with “bongs” as loud as Big Ben itself. The 30ft cast iron miniature replica of one of the world’s most iconic landmarks is situated in the heart of Westminster at the intersection of Vauxhall Bridge Road and Victoria Street. For one day only on Friday July 10, Little Ben’s new-found “mega-chime” sounded on the hour, every hour from 7am to 7pm. The replica was first erected in 1892, removed in 1964 and subsequently re-erected in 1981 when French oil firm Elf Aquitaine sponsored it. Sally Chatterjee, Chief Executive

of the Visit London tourist office, said “Perhaps one of London’s best kept secrets, it’s high time ‘Little Ben’ came out from the shadows and was given a voice. This unique event will highlight the abundance of hidden gems which makes London such a compelling city to visit.” Others include the London Stone, a piece of limestone situated by Cannon Street, once thought to be the guardian of the city, and the point from which all distances from London were measured; Cleopatra’s Needle, a gift given to the UK by Egypt to recognize Nelson’s victory over the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile in 1798; and the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree, a gift from Norway in gratitude for Britain’s support during the SecondWorld War. The construction of the Big Ben clock tower was completed in 1859 and the clock first started on May 31, 1859, closely followed by the first sound of Big Ben striking the hour on July 11, 1859.

The American

London drops in the cost charts



or the first time in four hundred years, a game of “Paille Maille” has been played by Londoners and visitors in the very place that King Charles II enjoyed it, a place now known after the game itself - in the shadow of the Queen’s London residence, Buckingham Palace. Paille Maille was a favorite game of Charles II and the area in which he played it became named Pall Mall and The Mall, now two world famous London streets. The name originated from the Italian pallamaglio, which literally means “ball-mallet” The recreation of Paille Maille is part of a series of “Story of London” events this summer celebrating the past, present and future of London. Mayor of London Boris Johnson commented, “This is a rare opportunity for Londoners to take to the streets and have a go at a quintessentially English game of ‘Paille Maille’, an earlier version of the game fondly known as croquet.” London historian Ed Glinert, said, “The history behind London’s street names is fascinating and continues to intrigue visitors from across the world. From Pall Mall’s royal sporting heritage to Piccadilly’s tailoring association, London

is renowned as one of the most historical places in the world and this activity illustrates exactly why.” After the game of Paille Maille finished, the turf was moved to a new home in Soho Square, which has recently undergone a revamp, including the restoration of an historic Tudor style lodge.

New Chairman for Republicans Abroad


homas Grant, a Senior Research Fellow of Cambridge University’s Wolfson College, has been elected Chairman of the UK chapter of Republicans Abroad. “Being Republican has special meaning now,” said Dr. Grant. “The Republican Party has a long and distinguished history as a force for democracy and economic freedom. I am humbled to be a part of that tradition as the party enters an era of renewal and recommitment to these longstanding and fundamental American values.” The American will be interviewing Dr Grant soon. A new Executive Committee has also been appointed. See for more details.


Paille Maille at Pall Mall

onsultancy firm Mercer’s latest Cost of Living Survey has some surprises for American expats. Among them, London has become a lot cheaper to live in. Don’t believe it? Read on. Of a total of 143 cities examined, London ranks 16th most expensive for overall cost of living, a drop of 13 places in a year. Of course, London has not suddenly become ‘cheap as chips’. The survey measures the cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment, and compares them in US dollars. “The decline of rental prices, coupled with the fall in the value of the British pound against the dollar, have caused London to plummet in the rankings,” said Nathalie Constantin-Métral of Mercer. If you are considering moving, there are some other significant movements in the chart. Tokyo takes top spot, becoming the world’s most expensive city for expatriates, knocking Moscow down to third place. NYC, the baseline city, rates 100 points while Tokyo scores 143.7 points. Osaka is second, up nine. Geneva climbs four places to fourth position and Hong Kong moves up one to reach fifth. Johannesburg has replaced Asunción, Paraguay as the least expensive city.

The American

BUNAC interns enjoy some free time in London

A sailor, from the cargo ship Pascha, is hoisted aboard an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter

Intern in Britain

USAF in Mid Atlantic Rescue


o you know any young people who would like to intern in the UK? BUNAC’s new Intern in Britain program offers the opportunity to work as an intern in the UK for up to 6 months. The scheme, exclusively available for US participants through BUNAC (, replaces the Blue Card work in Britain program which allowed tens of thousands of US students to take any job in the UK for up to six months. Under new UK rules, participants must arrange a position before applying for a visa. Applications are handled in BUNAC’s office in Connecticut (203-264-0901 and in the UK participants are supported by BUNAC in London (020 7251-3472) throughout their stay. The Program Fee is $695 ($750 from October 1st, 2009) plus a Visa Fee of £125 (approximately $190). Applicants must be aged 18 or over, hold a valid US passport or Green Card, currently reside in the USA, be a full-time degree or diploma level student, or a graduate who can begin the internship no more than 12 months beyond the end of study, hold an acceptable internship offer in the UK for up to 6 months, have a minimum of $1500 support funds and adequate medical and accident insurance and pay for their own travel.




nited States Air Force helicopters rescued a sailor suffering severe abdominal pain on a cargo ship. The two-day mission June 2627 saw the search and rescue team airlift the patient to medical personnel in Shannon, Ireland. The United Kingdom’s Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre had called for assistance from US forces because UK search and rescue agencies have no aerial refueling capability, necessary as the ship was 700 miles out in the East Atlantic when the Mayday call was made. Lt. Col. Mark Ahrens, the rescuemission commander from the 56th Rescue Squadron, said “Although the United Kingdom’s search and rescue teams are phenomenal, we have aerial refueling capability, which allows us to travel much farther out into the ocean and get to the patient much faster.” The USAF team comprised of a KC-135 Stratotanker and MC-130P Combat Shadow, and the two HH60G Pave Hawk helicopters with pararescuemen from the 56th Rescue Squadron at RAF Lakenheath and the 321st Special Tactics Squadron at RAF Mildenhall. “We received unparalleled support from both tankers,” said Lt. Col. Ahrens. “Without them we couldn’t have gotten out there as

quickly as we did.” The weather was significantly worse than predicted, and after the first refueling, the lead helicopter had an in-flight emergency when its refueling probe wouldn’t stop venting. “We had to put it down some place, so we landed in Dublin, Ireland,” Lt. Col. Ahrens said. “Master Sgt. Kevin Marlatt, the flight engineer, was able to repair the probe and the mission continued.” The helicopters coordinated with an RAF Nimrod aircraft which oversaw the rescue mission. They had the ship, the Pascha, turn into the wind to keep the ship stable. “It’s safer to be moving into the wind, because you don’t have to worry about crosswinds,” said Master Sgt. Todd Swartz, a pararescue specialist. “The helicopters aren’t really hovering, but maintaining a constant, forward movement.” Two pararescue specialists were hoisted down to the ship. The patient was on the main deck, near the back of the ship. “When we got to the patient he was ambulatory,” Sgt. Swartz said. “He was pretty much waiting for us. We interviewed him, performed a patient assessment, took his vitals, status of health and then put him in the litter to move him out.” The team headed for Shannon with the patient who is in a stable condition.

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Embassy News

Dr Buzz Aldrin, astronaut and one of the two original moon walkers, and his wife joined Mr & Mrs LeBaron for the presentation of the colors and the anthems. PHOTO: RICHARD LewIS

July 4th reception brings memories of Lincoln


ichard LeBaron, the US Chargé d’Affaires, hosted a reception at Winfield House, London July 2, to celebrate the Independence of the United States of America. He noted in his speech that there was a Lincoln theme to this year’s reception and that the event was “enriched knowing that this year also marks the bicentennial of the birth of this great American”. Here is an extract from Mr LeBaron’s speech. “As we celebrate the birth of American democracy we also reflect on the legacy of the man who guided this democracy through the greatest crisis it ever faced. He made sure the country, the union, the democracy not only survived, but that we adhered more fully to the promise of the founders that “all men are created equal.” We can measure the depth of the challenge Lincoln faced if we consider just two of the July Fourths he marked as President during our Civil War. On July 4, 1861 Lincoln had been in office barely four months. Fort Sumter had fallen, and Lincoln had called Congress into extraordinary


session. On that day he gave a long speech detailing his early and controversial actions to preserve the Union. Soon after, Congress authorized the President to raise half a million men for war. Two years later, on July 4, 1863, the monumental battle at Gettysburg was ending with a Union victory. That, and the fall of Vicksburg on the same day, led to Lincoln’s celebrated impromptu Independence Day speech from a balcony of the White House. His brief remarks foreshadowed the Gettysburg Address later that year - probably the greatest speech ever given by an American President. Two years later, the war had ended but Lincoln’s life had also been ended by assassination. His legacy of course lives on... In the midst of a horrendous blood-drenched struggle, he recast the American ideal and set us on the path that made the election of Barack Obama possible. As you might imagine, there is a cottage industry in the United States devoted to the parallels between President Lincoln and President

Obama - both from Illinois, both starting political life in Springfield, and so on. But there is also a Lincoln connection with London. Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln, was the American Minister to London from 1889 to 1893. He was known for his calm, courteous manner. And he is said to have hosted spectacular July 4th receptions at his residence in South Kensington. The press reported that carriages full of guests blocked Cromwell Road for hours. Perhaps the most important parallel between Lincoln and Obama is the way in which they confront the challenges before them: with humanity, a sense of calm, and a desire to call forth the “better angels of our nature.”

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The US Embassy in London is now on Facebook. They would love you to become a fan and have the latest news accessible in your Facebook News Feed! The full URL is http://www. ★

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 The Story of The Supremes From the Mary Wilson collection Assembly Rooms, Bath More than 50 outfits worn by the Motown legends in this year’s 50th anniversary of Motown Records. The exhibition also features music, album covers, photographs, archive footage and a specially commissioned video interview. On July 26, Mary Wilson talks about her extraordinary career and the

heyday of Motown with broadcaster and writer Paul Gambaccini (4pm). 01225 477173 to August 31 Bristol Harbour Festival Explore–At–Bristol Bristol’s liveliest and largest Harbourside event 0117 922 3719 to August 02

Edinburgh Military Tattoo Castle Esplanade, Edinburgh A must if you’re in Scotland – or a good reason to visit there – the Tattoo celebrates 60 of music and spectacle set against the world famous backdrop of Edinburgh Castle with military bands and artists from around the world, massed Highland Dancers, a tribute to the 250th birthday of the country’s national bard, Robert Burns, and the haunting sound of the Lone Piper. 0131 225 1188 August 07 to August 29

The Grapes of Wrath Chichester Festival Theatre, Chichester, W. Sussex Adapted by Frank Galati from John Steinbeck’s shattering novel, The Grapes of Wrath, is a cry for equality and humanity, and a hymn to the fortitude of man. A family of Oklahoman sharecroppers lose everything when their farm is repossessed after a devastating drought and are driven from their home to make the exhausting Westward trek to California. 01243 781312 to August 28 The BBC Proms The annual showcase of live music and performances at the Royal Albert Hall. Since 1895 the Proms have presented the best in live music. This year 76 concerts culminate in the Last Night of the Proms on September 12th, in the Albert Hall itself and also at Proms in the Park events in London. The Discovery of Spain: Goya to Picasso National Gallery of Scotland, The Mound, Edinburgh, EH2 2EL Outstanding examples of Spanish art, including works by Velazquez, El Greco, Murillo and Zurbaran form a dramatic centerpiece for this exhibition which also features paintings by major British artists who were captivated by the experience of travelling through Spain. 0131 6246 6200 to October 11 Cosmos & Culture: how astronomy has shaped our world Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2DD A new exhibition tracing the history of astronomy and exploring how people around the world have studied the universe over the centuries and examine the role astronomy has


The American

The Wind In The Willows Waterperry House, Wheatley, Oxford OX33 1JZ A brand new production using Waterperry’s ornamental gardens as a backdrop for the wonderful children’s story by Kenneth Grahame. 01844 339226 August 13

Race the Train Talyllyn Railway, Tywyn, Wales Race the Train takes place alongside the route taken by the Talyllyn Railway on its journey to Abergynolwyn and back using a mixture of public roads, lanes, unmetalled roads, tracks and agricultural land. In the 14.75 miles and 10km races, the route ascends and descends steep hills on narrow footpaths. August 15 played in people’s lives. It celebrates the International Year of Astronomy. July also marks 400 years of telescopic astronomy, since Thomas Harriot made the first ever drawing of the moon through a telescope. Harriot’s original moon map of 1610, will be on display in the exhibition. Free. 0870 870 4868 July 23 to December 31, 2010

Sebastian Dale: Art Installation Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, London WC2N 5NF Private View August 6, come along and see an innovative new installation within the historical spaces of Benjamin Franklin House. Running every evening from 6-9 pm. FREE. August 06 to August 12

Young Film Academy´s Make A Film In A Day Workshop St. Mary Of Angels Catholic Church, Notting Hill, London W2 5DJ Make a Film in a Day courses. For those aged 8-13 who want an action-packed taste of what it’s all about, there are James Bond and Harry Potter themes to choose from. August 3rd Make a James Bond Film in a Day (ages 8-13), 4th Make a Harry Potter Film in a Day, £95, prices include a DVD copy of the completed film . Run by the Young Film Foundation,, 0207 387 4341 August 3-4

Windsor Beer & Jazz Festival Alexandra Gardens, Windsor, Berkshire Five days and nights of brews and blues on the banks of the Thames, with views of the Castle. There’s a great line-up of established names including James Taylor Quartet and Jonny Boston along with rising stars of traditional jazz, funk, Latin and blues and a huge range of real ales and summer brews from Britain’s finest breweries plus the ‘Festival Soul Foods’ area. 020 8241 9818 August 12 to August 16


Shrewsbury Flower Show Shrewsbury In the Guinness Book of Records as Britain’s top show to be held continuously at the same location for more than a century, the show’s success is based on a triple formula of floral spectacle, music from three military bands and 12 hours of nonstop arena entertainment including top choirs and Grade A show jumping. 01743 234058 August 14 to August 15 World Pipe Band Championship Glasgow Green, Greendyke Street, Glasgow The World Pipe Band Championships have been associated with Glasgow since 1948 and are a celebration of the very best of Scottish music, culture and dance. The event will see over 8,000 pipers and drummers from across the globe competing at Glasgow Green for the coveted title of World Champions 2009. 0141 564 4242 August 15 Worthing Birdman Worthing Pier, Sussex A flight competition for humanpowered flying machines held in this picturesque seaside resort on England’s south coast. Many flyers take part to raise money for charities, others aim for the distance prizes. £30,000 is offered for the furthest flight in excess of the challenge distance of 100

meters. The event attracts international contestants including Americans. August 22 to August 23 Victorian Festival Llandrindod Wells, Wales Llandrindod was a thriving spa resort in the Victorian era The festival has horses and carriages, Victorian window displays, townspeople and some visitors sport appropriate costumes. The proceedings close with a moving torchlight procession and fireworks display over the lake. August 22 to August 30 Cumberland Wrestling Show Field, Grasmere, Cumbria Major one-day event featuring traditional Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, hound trails, fell races, including Rydal round, track race, cycling races, children’s sport in separate arena. August 24 Cowal Highland Gathering Dunoon, Argyll, Scotland The world’s largest and most spectacular Highland Games started in 1894. Cowal attracts more than 3500 competitors – many from Scottish Communities–in–exile as far flung as British Columbia, Canada, the United States and New Zealand. 01369 703206 August 27 to August 29 Notting Hill Carnival Notting Hill, London London’s West Indian community celebrates summer with two days of parades, dancing, food and plenty of festival fun. All are welcome to watch the floats and performers with feathered costumes in the biggest street carnival in the UK. The first day is Childrens Day, with a shorter parade route so little feet can keep up. This day is normally a little bit

less hectic then the main carnival event. Steel bands, hip-hop beats, reggae favourites and modern dance hits supply the sounds, blasting out through some serious sound systems. August 30 to August 31 World Bog Snorkelling Championships Waen Rhydd peat bog, Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, mid Wales The area is spectacularly scenic and the site is an area of Special Scientific Interest with much rare and protected plant and animal life. Perfect for swimming two lengths of a 60 yard trench in a peat bog with flippers and snorkel – no recognized swimming stroke may be used and lifting the head is allowed purely for orientation! August 31 World Gravy Wrestling Championships Rose & Bowl Inn, Bacup, Rossendale, Lancashire Part of the Pennine Lancashire Festival of Food & Culture. Teams slip and slide about in luke-warm gravy. Team members win points for pinning the opposition down in the gravy. August 31 Braemar Gathering Braemar, Aberdeenshire, Scotland There have been Gatherings at Braemar since the days of King Malcolm Canmore, nine hundred years ago. The Gathering as we know it, with Highland Dancing, Piping, Tossing the Caber, Putting the Stone, and much more, has been run at Braemar since 1832. There are Highland Games across the country – for more details see– and–do/events/highlandgames/ info@ 013397 41098 September 05

The American Museum in Britain The American Museum in Britain is home to a unique collection, in a breathtaking setting, at the only museum of Americana outside the US. There are permanent exhibitions, Quilting Bees every Tuesday, and special events:


AUGUST: 1st, 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th Kids Stuff: Summer Trail; 6th Kids Stuff: Name Plaques; 8th Hooked Rug Workshop; 9th Sunday @ Claverton concert: Markus Rill – moving lyrics set to atmospheric folk, stark country, and driving rock’n’roll music; 10th and each Monday to 21 September American Classics 6 session course exploring 19th century America through classic literature and film; 13th Lecture ‘American Folk Art and its British Roots’; 13th Kids Stuff: Peg Characters; 15th Workshop: Shaker Box Making, 2-day course; 16th Lecture ‘Living with 21st Century Shakers’; 20th Kids Stuff: Hawaiian Leis; 20th Demonstration: ‘Wildfowl Decoys’; 22nd Workshop: Reproduction Hitchcock Chair; 23rd Hawaii 5-0 Aloha! Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 50th state – hula dance lessons, Hawaiian music, Hawaiian food and fun; 27th Kids Stuff: Picture Frames; 29th Outdoor Film Screening: Calamity Jane, the classic Doris Day musical.

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


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Michael Jackson:

Farewell, King of Pop Chart Rules Deny Jackson No 1 Slot


he death of the King of Pop has seen a explosion of album sales surpassing even the similar phenomenons after the demise of Elvis Presley and John Lennon. But it has also shown up some strange anomalies in the way that the uS music sales charts operate. The re-releases of the original recordings are ineligible for inclusion in Billboard magazine’s main Hot 100 singles and Top 200 album charts because of their age, according to industry bible Music Week magazine. Jackson recordings have dominated record sales in America with four of the top ten selling singles and six out of the ten biggest selling albums in the week after his death. With a total of 15% of all sales, they totaled so many that they temporarily A happy and confident Jackson at his last rehearsal © KEVIn MAzur/AEG/GETTy IMAGES


reversed the downward annual trend of album sales. Official estimates reckon that 1.1m Jackson albums were sold in America that week. Although not allowed in the regular charts, ‘old’ records are included in Billboard’s ‘catalog’ pop album chart in which Jackson occupied all of the top 12 positions. The Number Ones album shifted more than 348,500 copies in the week. This made it the biggest catalog category seller but it also had biggest sales overall. In other words it would have been number one in the main chart if eligible. In the second week after Jackson’s death, Ones topped

the category list again, with Thriller in second place. Jackson albums, either solo or with the Jackson 5, filled all the Top 10 places, a record for any artist.

Warhol Portrait Withdrawn


he Vered Gallery, in East Hampton, new york State, removed an Andy Warhol portrait of Michael Jackson from its art auction held July 12. The silk-screen on canvas painting shows a smiling Jackson in a red jacket which dates from his ‘Thriller’ period. The pre-sale estimates ranged from $1 – $10 million. As The American went to press, Gallery co-owner Janet Lehr announced that the portrait is for sale again. Because of renewed interest in Jackson memorabilia caused by his death, Ms Lehr said that it was anyone’s guess how much the painting might now fetch. Prospective buyers must register with the gallery to bid and the auction closes August 18.

Last Days With His Children


nternational real estate developer Mohamed Hadid spent several days with Michael Jackson during the weeks before he died. Mr Hadid has spoken out about Jackson’s health and state of mind during the last few weeks before his untimely death. now in an effort to show a side of Jackson that the public did not get to see – his role as a loving father whose children brought him tremendous joy – Hadid has released

The American

photos of Jackson with his children. Hadid said, on July 1, “Michael and his kids were just over for dinner three weeks ago. Our families got together regularly as our kids are about the same age, and we even spent last Thanksgiving together. He was healthy and strong and very excited about starting his new tour in London. His death comes as a complete shock to us. There was no indication whatsoever that he might not be healthy. He was an extremely kind and generous person and will be missed, but my family and kids will continue to be there for his children and family during this

difficult time and beyond.” He added that he played host to Michael Jackson and his family for several days and nights, as they spent a long Thanksgiving weekend at Hadid’s home. They enjoyed family dinners, breakfasts and lunches together, shared stories, laughed and told jokes, and watched some of their favorite old movies together in Hadid’s 60-seat opera house-style home theater. “Michael loved spending quality time with his children,” recalled Mr. Hadid. “This is when he was the happiest,” he added. The 22,000-square foot mansion rented by Jackson for $100,000 a

Mohamed Hadid spent time with Michael Jackson and his children including a long Thanksgiving weekend

Technicians at the last rehearsal spoke of it being magical and stunning. © Kevin Mazur/AEG/Getty Images

month in Holmby Hills, located in the Westwood district of Los Angeles, California, was designed and built by Mr Hadid, who lived in it himself before selling it to an investor.

Moonwalk cameraman photographed last Jackson rehearsal


he photographer who first snapped Michael Jackson’ performing the legendary moonwalk was also present at the star’s last show rehearsal at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles June 23. Kevin Mazur, Celebrity Photographer and founder of said, “I am devastated by the sudden loss of the ‘King of Pop’ who I have photographed numerous times since the Victory Tour in the 80’s. “When he hit the stage at rehearsal, I was thrilled that the magical Michael Jackson was BACK!!! I felt the same adrenaline rush as when I photographed him the 1st time moonwalking. “I was so looking forward to shooting the London O2 Arena performances with the amazing production that Kenny Ortega and AEG put together with Michael for his fans.” H


The American


Rob Thomas Emblem/Atlantic/WEA Former Matchbox 20 vocalist Rob Thomas is used to success. By his standards Cradlesong may be slightly disappointing as it debuted at number three, falling short of the number one of his first solo album, Something To Be in 2005. But on many ways it is a more varied and assured piece. Strangely it combines the personal with the impersonal. The former – impassioned vocals and that distinctive voice that reached a worldwide audience with Thomas’ collaboration with Santana, the Thomas-penned, triple-Grammy winning Smooth, recently named the Number 1 rock song of all time by Billboard magazine. By impersonal I mean a couple of oddly derivative songs [Give Me The Meltdown is INXS’s Suicide Blonde by any other other name and Fire on the


Mountain lifts part of Steve Earle’s Copperhead Road] and the occasional filler track [Mockingbird, you know who we mean]. Veteran producer and record company exec Matt Serletic gives the album a radio-friendly mix that will appeal to a wide audience but feels too ‘middling’ to these ears. But then, I like The Cramps! There are plenty of musical high spots. Her Diamonds’ opening bars are over a simple drumstickon-tabletop riff that lend the lyrics a pleasing simplicity. Wonderful opens with a big band flourish and a great brass arrangement by that man Serletic, who knows how to give a song dynamics. And the title song melds a variety of unusual stringed instruments – bouzouki, oud, Portuguese guitar – and a Hammond B3 organ to lift the song to a special place. Thomas’ characterful voice and attractive personality rise above all, and the album has seldom left my car’s CD player, which says a lot.

The Dandy Warhols Are Sound The Dandy Warhols EMI

Not a new recording, nor really a remix, but the original mix that never happened... The band’s fourth album, Welcome to the Monkey House, was mostly produced by Courtney Taylor-Taylor with Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, plus one song produced by TaylorTaylor and Tony Visconti, and it was mixed by Jeremy Wheatley. The band were not happy with the result [that’s what happens when you get

Punky, defaced cover of the band’s favored mix shows what The Dandy Warhols thought of the original album’s production

a Durannie involved, I guess] and they pushed for a version mixed by Russell Elevado, a recording engineer and producer who had worked with D’Angelo, The Roots, Common, Alicia Keys and Al Green (for whose album Lay It Down Elevado won two Grammies) among others. Elevado uses analog recording techniques, down to using analog tape, and he achieves a trademark vintage sound. Capitol Records nixed the Elevado mix and Welcome to the Monkey House was released against the band’s wishes. As lead Dandy Courtney Taylor-Taylor puts it, “There are two different approaches to mixing. One is very slick and clean, and Welcome To The Monkey House fits more into that category. ‘ARE Sound’, however, has a sneakier profile. It seems very lo-fi and earthy, but the fact is, it’s extremely precise.” Now out in the form the band always wanted, The Dandy Warhols Are Sound is indeed a better proposition, more intriguing and timeless despite its old-tech sound. It was released on July 14, 2009 and comes in various forms: two delux packages (limited edition ‘Are Sound’ Army Bag, T-Shirt, CD or signed copy of the album on 180 gram vinyl, premium DRM-free MP3 or Apple Lossless digital and 2 bonus live tracks), signed vinyl + digital, CD + digital or just digital versions.

The American



Black Stone Cherry, the tough but melodic southern rock band formed in Edmonton, Kentucky, are back! After last year’s successful tour supporting Def Leppard and Whitesnake the up and coming band headline their own European tour in October. They will be playing songs from their well-received self-titled debut album and their new album Folklore & Superstition.


Black Stone Cherry’s drummer is the son of one member of a Grammy Award-winning country rock band, and the nephew of another member of the same group. Is that band... A The Kentucky Headhunters B The Eagles C The Flying Burrito Brothers Send your answer with your name, address, daytime telephone number and email address (optional) to reach us by mid-day, Tuesday September 1, 2009.


● use the form at ● Or email theamerican@blueedge. with BLACK STONE CHERRY COMPETITION in the subject line. ● Or send a postcard to: BLACK STONE CHERRY COMPETITION, The American, Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK. Tickets are for the Thursday October 15, 2009 performance at the Hammersmith Apollo. you must be 18 years old or over to enter this competition. Only one entry per person per draw. The editor’s decision is final. Tickets are available from priced at £17.00 each (subject to booking fee). Prize tickets are non transferable.


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gnore the massive corporate festivals! Here’s a quick rush through some smaller, more intimate gigs for you this month. Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus of Dreams from Sleepy Hollow, ny, play the The rhythm Festival, Clapham, Bedfordshire on August 21st and 23rd, followed by the Town Hall, Hessle, yorkshire on the 24th. Hampshire’s lovely Stokes Bay Festival, July 29th to August 2nd, features a strong Celtic folk lineup including Lunasa, Blazin’ Fiddles, The Saw Doctors and The Proclaimers. And Brian Wilson plays the London roundhouse September 3rd, the first time he has played to a standing audience in London. But the big live music news this month is surely the 40th anniversary of Monty Python. The ruby Jubilee will be celebrated with performances of An Evening Without Monty Python at Hollywood’s ricardo Montalbán Theatre and the Town Hall new york, a new book, Monty Python Live! and a new 6 part documentary series, Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer’s Cut) to be transmitted in the uK in October. But most of all, London will host, for one night only on Friday October 23rd, the European premiere of Eric Idle and John Du Prez’s not The Messiah at the royal Albert Hall.

Not The Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy)

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Starring Eric Idle as a ‘baritonish’ soloist with guest appearances from Pythons Palin, Jones and Gilliam with Carol Cleveland and neil Innes, Not The Messiah is a comedic oratorio based on Monty Python’s Life of Brian movie, with a full orchestra, massed choir, bagpipers and classical soloists, all hosted by Michael Palin as Mrs. Betty Parkinson. Commissioned by the Toronto Luminato Festival in 2007, it has been performed in Australia and new zealand, at the Wolf Trap with the Washington Symphony, in Houston with the Houston Symphony, and to 19,000 people at The Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic and fireworks. Idle (pictured above) said: “It is rare you get to be silly on a mass scale”. H

The American

Jason Pinter and The Stolen Mary Bailey meets a new American writer making a splash in the crime thriller world


was delighted when Mira Publishing invited me to lunch to meet Jason Pinter, a relatively new thriller writer who is making big waves. He is young, still in his twenties, and lives in New York with his lovely wife and also the dog Wilson. I do not think Wilson is mentioned in Jason’s generous thanks and acknowledgments but, after talking to the writer, I am sure Wilson did his bit. A New Yorker, graduating from Wesleyan University, he decided in his junior year that he wanted to become a writer. He took an intern-

ship in a boutique literary agency in New York, where among other work he helped authors hone their manuscripts and proposals. He says he has not enough time for private reading but his list of favourite authors (alive and dead) rather questions this and gives an indication about the man himself. One of his first books, The Mark, has been optioned by Hollywood and is likely to become a big film and he has already received a number of awards. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America and a founder member of Killer Year. Jason takes trouble, with his acknowledgments and with the time and thought that went into his conversation with us over lunch, it is not surprising that his plots are immaculate. They are, of course, also very modern as he follows the maxim, write what you know about. I read The Stolen in a deckchair in my garden on a hot afternoon. (Work is not always like this, even working for a considerate editor). The plot is different and fast paced. I like thrillers for the simple reason that there is usually a beginning, a middle and an end to the story. The Stolen does not disappoint. The hero is a pleasantly normal young detective called Henry Parker

who features through the Pinter books. A young boy of six, Daniel Linwood disappears from his home, his parents and siblings and cannot be found. Five years later there is a ring at the door and there he is ...back. The family are not rich, this is not a ransom situation. Daniel has no memory at all of the time he spent away. His mother is overjoyed to have him back, maybe he will one day remember ‌maybe. Meantime Parker discovers that other children have disappeared in much the same way; will they come back, what is going on? Eventually he gets on the case and there are swift developments. We are given one clue (possibly more that I have missed) and we rattle on to the solution, which is a wonderful twist not to be given away. The Stolen is a real page turner, the pace of the book builds, even the sentences seem to get shorter as the violence and suspense increase. So do go for this one. One interesting thing is that Jason in his foreword asks us to let his book make us think how far we would go for someone we love. In the book Parker is asked something very similar. Perhaps we readers, even those who are older and have children, may not know either. A very clever Mr. Pinter. H


The American

Spitfire Girls Carol Gould tells the story of the brave women who made the Battle of Britain possible


n the early 1930s Pauline Gower and Dorothy Spicer started a very popular ‘Air joy-ride service’ . As war loomed, Pauline Gower persisted enough to convince the Air Ministry to allow eight women into the first wartime ferry pool. (Ironically, Dorothy was killed in an air crash after the war. Pauline died in 1947 at the age of 36 giving birth to twin sons.) Amy Johnson became an ATA pilot in 1940, as did her husband Jim Mollison, but she was lost in the Thames estuary on an ATA mission. At the outset of World War II, the British Overseas Airways Corporation (the precursor to British Airways) had lost a large proportion of its pilots to the RAF. The war effort needed aircraft to be transported from factories to airbases. Recruitment drives specified male pilots between the ages of 28 and 50 with a minimum of 250 hours’ flying experience, but some women pilots applied. The Civil Air Guard recruitment drive resulted in 34,000 applicants. Initially, 4,000 enrolled, and by July 1939, 10,000 were under training, including some 900 women. The Director-General for Civil Aviation said it was in order to recruit twelve women pilots. 1940 saw the Air Ministry bringing in the USA/Canada connection - ‘Atfero’, the Transatlantic Ferry of planes. In this period of time, long before the United


States officially entered the War, many North American men (one veteran tells me 200) came over to serve in Air Transport Auxiliary. They encountered considerable anti-American feeling; ATA pilot Lettice Curtis herself referred to Americans as a ‘bad smell.’ (After reading Giles Whittell’s 2007 book I realised why Lettice was so brusque with me when I interviewed her in 1988!) American women arrived in 1942. Jacqui Cochran-Odhum and her husband seemed to antagonise many Britons. Both were immensely wealthy and moved in the highest military/political circles in the U.S. The British had to keep good relations with them despite their inner fury over the “Odhums’ arrogance”. Jacqui drove a Rolls-Royce, stayed at the Savoy and wore fur coats. However, her ‘gals’ weren’t like this at all: they were happy to ‘muck in’ under the spartan ATA conditions. Lettice, though not a fan of Americans, did find the ‘gals’ enormously exuberant, self-sufficient and practical, noting that “American women were much more self-confident than their English counterparts.’ Jacqui Cochran-

Odhum was very generous to her pilots and as a group they added zest to the lives of the British women on base. One of the Americans, Pearl Anderson, was seated next to Lord Trenchard at dinner and enthused, “You call me Foil and I’ll call you Lawdie!” Problems arose: instructors had trouble with the American trainee pilots. Some were older than their teachers, and there were the inevitable problems with language and misinterpretation, compounded by the superior attitude of the British men; fights often erupted. One afternoon Charles Dutton, a ‘particularly English pilot’, (Lettice’s expression) tried to excuse an error made by the American instructor Charles Smith: “Remember, he’s just an American.” Smithy drew himself up to his full five foot nine, eyeball to eyeball to Dutton’s six foot three, and boomed, “What do you mean, just an American?” The men and women of Air Transport Auxiliary were selfless and brave; had it not been for ATA it is possible the Battle of Britain – and England – could have been lost. H

Carol Gould is the author of ‘Spitfire Girls’, (Random HouseArrow £5.99), and ‘Don’t tread on Me: anti-Americanism Abroad’ (Encounter Books in the US and the Social Affairs Unit in the UK, £13.95) both published in 2009.

The American



Compiled by Virginia E. Schultz


can only imagine what this Tucson born American must have thought when he received an Honorary OBE from Her Majesty the Queen in 2009 for services to the culinary arts. Ken Hom has other honorary degrees as well including one from Oxford. Certainly he has come a long way since his mother sent him to school with a flask of hot rice and stir-fried vegetables because he found American food inedible. Fortunately, that love of food never left and at the University of California where he was studying art history and French history, he began giving cooking lessons to help pay his tuition. Those lessons proved so popular he was asked to teach at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Ken feels the turning point in his career was when the New York Times published a major profile on him. From there he landed his first TV series, Ken Hom’s Chinese Cookery, also the title of his book that many, myself included, still regard as the “bible”. Since then Ken has written over 20 books, presented several television series including his latest, “The Noodle Road”, and recently opened his first restaurant “Maison Chin”, in Bangkok to rave reviews. With all this, plus his humanitarian work, we were lucky he found the time to answer a few questions. What is the name of your latest cookbook? Ken Hom’s Chinese Cookery 25th Anniversary Edition, which is published by BBC Books.

Of the cookbooks you have written, which do you suggest would be the most helpful as an introduction to chinese cooking? “Chinese Cookery” because it has so much of the basic information for a good introduction into the cuisine. Your first job and what influenced you the most in your career? Working for my Uncle Paul in his restaurant in Chicago. He has influenced me the most, as he has taught me to work hard. What in your opinion are the three most important cuisines in the world?. Chinese, French & Italian... in that order. Favorite restaurant and five guests, living or dead, you’d invite to join you there: The “Dai Tai Fung“ Restaurant in Taipei. I would invite Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Louis XIV, Zhou Enlai, former prime minister of China under Mao, and Sun Yat Sen, the founder of modern China. Which person living or dead do you admire the most? Nelson Mandela If you had lived before, who do you think you were? A dancer. What is your most treasured possession...Not a human being? My wok. When you need to relax, what music do you listen to? I love any and all types of music... except country & western.

Who are your favorite writers? Jonathan Fenby, Caroline Morehead, James Patterson Name three favorite films. Godfather I and II and the first Star Wars. What is your greatest extravagance? Wine. What is your biggest regret? Not to have known my father. If someone played you in a film, which actor would you want it to be? Jet Li. Do you consider Paris your permanent home or do you plan to live in another country in the future? I see my future in Thailand. What is your motto in life? Relax, Chill out, Don’t Worry, Be Happy. Favorite sandwich? Pain Bagnat. A crusty sandwich filled with fresh tomatoes, anchovies, garlic, olive oil, soft boiled eggs, salt and freshly ground black pepper and tons of fresh basil. H


The American

Riki Evans Johnson, our expatriate expat, now living in southern Spain meets other interesting American expats and finds out what took them there.

Cristóbal y Arturo – Life with Lola C

hristopher, or Christobál as he is known locally, journeyed with his friend, Arthur (aka Arturo, left in the picture above) from Seattle to settle in the hillside pueblo of Torrox and took the Spanish culture by storm. I met Christopher at the well-known Torrox Plaza for a café con leche and an entertaining chat. With all Christopher’s talents, I didn’t know where to start! Riki: Of all the great cities of the world – why Torrox Pueblo? Christopher: Growing up on the Mexican border of Texas and living in Southern California, I travelled through Spain knowing much of Spanish culture. Meeting Arthur in Seattle, we packed up and headed for Andalusia. Torrox had all the elements we were looking for, its pueblo style and vast history. On the road, we received a phone call that a house was for sale in the pueblo and, sight unseen, we bought it.

restauranteur. Have you melded that experience here? There was a lack of choice in foods on the Costa, which prompted us to start our dining enterprise – Casa Cebadillas, themed evenings of private dining for 8-10 guests in an authentic Andalusian village house. Originally Mexican, from my years as owner of a 4* Mexican restaurant and two other Seattle restaurants, and Arthur’s years as a chef with major hotels, we branched out to provide a wide range of gourmet dining including a Polynesian Luau, a Moroccan feast, and an old-time Texas BBQ. Arthur has another enterprise, a holiday letting agency, Marinpropertyservices.

California to Torrox – comfort to rustic – There must be advantages? Living here is a ‘back to basics’ lifestyle which we wanted, away from the materialism of our ‘former’ life, but we didn’t give up all creature comforts!

How did your radio show ‘Life with Lola’ (Radio Sol de Almijara-RSA) start and what is behind the tagline? We became involved with promoting the existing American Club on the Costa del Sol and were asked by RSA to discuss the club and its charity events. Later we were asked if we would present a show and ‘Life with Lola’ grew from there. The programme is experiences and lifestyle, lots of laughs and interviews with talented local personalities.

You have a full background from corporate human resources to

So who is ‘Lola’? The day Arthur and I moved into


the house, a neighbour, Lola, called down to us in Spanish from her roof terrace and a young boy ran down the staircase with a jar of tomatoes. We thought it was a ‘welcome wagon’ gesture and said ‘Thank you’. It turned out she was asking if we could open the jar for her! The neighbourly relations continued from there. A large portion of your time is spent as the President of the newly-formed American International Club. Arthur and I joined the original American Club of the Costa del Sol. After a few years, we felt that the club needed to become more international, and broke away to form the American International Club, whereby membership could be given to all international persons in the area. It’s reached over 150 members. We run regular events to raise money for Spanish charities, giving back to the Spanish community for their support of our efforts. Finally, what is your overall view of your Spanish lifestyle? The Spanish are genuine and friendly, easily accepting outsiders into their community. Back in the States, one would never look at someone on the street eye-to-eye, but here, eye contact is automatic, and brings an immediate ‘Hola!’ H

The American

The Exchange Rate Gamble You can’t stop exchange rates fluctuating, but you can insulate yourself from the worst effects, writes James Hickman


ver the past 24 months, we have seen wild swings in the rate between Sterling and the US Dollar. In 2007 we saw the $2 pound which meant Americans living and working in the UK had incredible spending power when they returned home. Many people – Americans and Britons – chose to holiday in the States, while many Americans weighed up whether or not to return home for good. By selling their home here in Britain, many reasoned, they could buy a much bigger home in the US where property prices were already starting to wobble. By the end of 2008 the landscape had changed drastically and the rate dropped below $1.40 for the first time in many years. Suddenly, American ex-pats were practically exiled by the exchange rate. There is nothing you can do to stop the exchange rate swinging wildly. It is determined by a complex number of factors that includes the countries’ central banks’ base exchange rate, economic data and consumer confidence. This makes it difficult for Americans living abroad to budget, especially if they plan on returning home. Even a short break to the US to visit family and friends can prove cripplingly expensive if

it coincides with a dip in Sterling’s value against the dollar. However, there are measures you can take to insulate yourself. If you know you are going to need US dollars on a regular basis, many UK high street banks offer dollar accounts. You can transfer funds at any time and while you may not get the best rate of exchange, you can top up the account with dollars when the rate is in your favour. The funds can stay there indefinitely until you need them and many banks will also issue you with a chequebook. Be careful of high fees associated with these accounts, though, and be aware that many US banks still insist on waiting six weeks or more until they credit the recipient’s account with a cheque issued from a foreign bank. If you are going to the US on a short trip, consider buying US Travellers cheques or a pre-paid US dollar card. The latter are effectively a 21st century answer to travellers cheques. Cardholders can ‘load’ the card with US dollars via a secure website when the exchange rate is good and use the card like a debit card. Many are issued with a Mastercard or Visa logo, allowing you to use it in a variety of shops and restaurants throughout the US and most

will allow you to withdraw cash from ATMs. Once again, check the small print with these cards to determine what fees, if any, the issuer levies for each transaction. Finally, if you are anticipating a large expenditure in the US, consider taking out a forward contract. A forward contract fixes the exchange rate at the time it is taken out, usually in return for a ten per cent deposit. The remaining 90 per cent is due by the forward date, usually within year from the date of contract. This allows you to ‘lock in’ a rate but beware that forward contracts are only really appropriate if you are looking to exchange large sums. Most banks and foreign exchange brokers require a minimum spend of £5,000. If you are not sure when you will need the money, forward contracts are not very flexible although you can specify that you would like the option to call in the contract at some point during the last three months of the term. Once the contract is called in, the full balance must be paid off. H James Hickman is the American MD of Caxton FX, one of Britain’s leading foreign exchange companies, which offers some of the services mentioned.


The American

Coffee Break COFFEE BREAK QUIZ 1 In which country do the following tribes or races originate?

a Maoris b Basques c Sherpas d Aztecs e Tamils f Picts g Aborigines h Gauls i Incas j Magyars

2 Which landlocked country is bordered by Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia? 3 Armenia shares it’s borders with four other countries. Name them. 4 Which country’s name literally means “Land of Silver”? 5 Which city in France attracts 5 million visitors a year and has more hotels than any French city outside Paris? 6 What is the most populated city north of the Arctic Circle?

This month, we’re looking for people and places 7 Which country of the EU has the largest continuous forest/woodland? 8 What collectively are the Pallatine, Capitoline, Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, Caelian and Aventine 9 Cebuano, Fula, Gujarati and Kannada are all examples of what? 10 What name have sailors given the winds found between the following latitudes? a. between 40 degrees South and 50 degrees South, b. between 50 degrees South and 60 degrees South, c. below 60 degrees South

Answers below The Johnsons.

Coffee Break Quiz Answers: 1a New Zealand, b Spain, c Nepal, d Mexico, e Sri Lanka, f Scotland, g Australia, h France, i Peru, j Hungary. 2 Hungary [again!]. 3 Turkey (to the west), Georgia (north), Azerbaijan (east) and Iran (south). 4 Argentina. 5 Lourdes . 6 Murmansk. 7 Strangely, France - but only because French Guyana is officially part of France. 8 The seven hills of Rome. 9 Languages: Philippines, Cameroon and Nigeria, Gujarati and Kannada respectively. 10 a. Roaring Forties, b. Furious Fifties, c. Shrieking Sixties.


The American

It happened one... August August 1, 1907 – First Scout camp opens on Brownsea Island.

August 2, 1939 – Albert Einstein and Leó Szilárd write a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt, urging him to begin the project to develop a nuclear weapon. August 3, 1527 – First known letter is sent from North America by John Rut from St. John’s, Newfoundland.

August 4, 1693 – Dom Perignon credited with the invention of Champagne (although we all know the English invented it first, don’t we?). August 5, 1861 – American Civil War: In order to help pay for the war effort, the United States government levies the first income tax

August 6, 1914 – Denis Patrick Dowd Jr. enlists in the French Foreign Legion, becoming the first American to fight in World War I.

August 7, 1782 – George Washington orders the creation of the Badge of Military Merit to honor soldiers wounded in battle. It is later renamed to the more poetic Purple Heart. August 8, 1786 – Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe is climbed for the first time by Jacques Balmat and Dr MichelGabriel Paccard. August 9, 1483 – Opening of the Sistine Chapel

August 10, 1977 – “Son of Sam”, 24-year-old postal employee David Berkowitz is arrested for a series of murders in New York City.

August 11, 1965 – The Watts riots begin in the Watts area of Los Angeles, California.

August 12, 1977 – The first free flight of the Space Shuttle Enterprise. August 13, 1997 – South Park’s first episode is aired. August 14, 1908 – The first beauty contest is held in Folkestone, England.

The Great Moon Hoax


August 15, 1965 – The Beatles play to nearly 60,000 fans at Shea Stadium in New York City.

August 24, 1875 – Captain Matthew Webb became first person to swim English Channel

August 17, 1807 – Robert Fulton’s first American steamboat leaves New York City for Albany on the Hudson River, inaugurating the first commercial steamboat service in the world.

August 26, 1968 – The Democratic National Convention opens in Chicago, Illinois.

August 16, 1858 – U.S. President James Buchanan inaugurates the new transatlantic telegraph cable by exchanging greetings with the United Kingdom.

August 18, 1969 – Jimi Hendrix plays the unofficial last day of Woodstock.

August 19, 1745 – Jacobite Rising, Prince Charles Edward Stuart lands from a French warship in Glenfinnan, raises his standard and marches on London – the start of the Second Jacobite Rebellion known as “the 45”. August 20, 1920 – The first commercial radio station, 8MK (WWJ), begins operations in Detroit, Michigan.

August 25, 1835 – The New York Sun perpetrates the Great Moon Hoax, a series of articles about the supposed discovery of life on the Moon, falsely attributed to Sir John Herschel, the best-known astronomer of his time.

August 27, 1883 – Krakatoa, an Indonesian volcano erupts, killing 1,000 people. Its shock waves travel around the Earth seven times and tsunamis over 320ft high kill 36,000 people worldwide. It was distinctly heard on the island of Rodrigues near Mauritius, 3000 miles (5,000 km) away. August 28, 2008 – Barack Obama accepts the nomination of the Democratic Party to be the party’s candidate for President.

August 21, 1831 – Nat Turner leads black slaves and free blacks in a rebellion.

August 29, 708 – Copper coins are minted in Japan for the first time (Traditional Japanese date: August 10, 708).

August 23, 1305 – William Wallace, Scottish patriot, is executed for high treason by Edward I of England.

August 31, 1422 – Henry VI becomes King of England at the age of 9 months. ★

August 22, 1642 – Charles I calls the English Parliament traitors. The English Civil War begins.

August 30, 1800 – Gabriel Prosser leads a slave rebellion in Richmond, Virginia


The American

Dining out at

Reviewed by Mary Bailey


hen I was invited to review this French/Japanese restaurant I was sure it would be special as it has been named The Good Food Guide readers’ favourite restaurant in London. I was not disappointed. L’Etranger is run by a brilliant young manager and head sommelier, Matthew Mawtus, the 2007 waiter of the year while at Gordon Ramsey at Claridges. Also they have just launched an on-line wine cellar next door, which is open until 5pm. Here collectors and enthusiasts can study rare and low priced wines which are arguably some of the best value quality wines that London has to offer. Whether you want something to celebrate a birthday, to add to your own collection of rare wines, or to get

L’Etranger Restaurant and Les Vins de L’Etranger, 36 Gloucester Road, London SW 7. Tel 020 7584 1118


L’ETRANGER valuable advice from their experts on something more modest but good, this is definitely somewhere to know. My companion and I had a table booked at 7.30 on a Wednesday evening and found the place filling up at this early time. I arrived late because of traffic, limping with a sprained ankle and bad tempered. The staff were more than capable of dealing with this and I was soon at our table where my escort had been placed with a gin and tonic and an enormous menu to read while he was waiting. The staff are superb, knowledgeable but with that extra warmth that comes only with people who really enjoy their work. The menu is long and rather confusing but the lighting is good, soft over all but spot clear to read the menu ,which prevented me peering at it in a way that advertises to everyone that I have forgotten my reading specs. The modern French food combined with touches of the east was very tempting. For starters Guy chose from the garden menu, roasted squash and ginger soup with toasted sunflower seeds which he found delicious. I went a little east for tuna spring rolls with mint and tamarind sauce. Very nice and a mile away from the usual everyday spring rolls. My next choice was the shoulder of lamb which was very good, I was pleased because lamb

can be risky depending on what it has been fed on, this beast had obviously been a gourmet! For non meat eaters there was a very good fish choice and for the veggies items like butternut squash and asparagus risotto topped with French Parmesan cheese flakes sound inventive and good. Temptation is everywhere, tuna tartare with Sevruga caviar, Irish iced oysters, shallot vinegar, yuzu jelly, cucumber and wasabi granite. We asked the sommelier to choose something that would fit nicely with our main course meats. I suggested a South American wine and very soon Guy was tasting a superb Argentinian tinto Malbec, Alberto 2007 which we were assured was from one of the very best vineyards, Bodega Noemia. Our advice is to let them do the work of choosing if you feel lazy or ask for the wine list beforehand. Menus tend to fade when it comes to dessert but not here. Turning away from Death by Chocolate I chose fondue with fresh fruits, brownies and honeycomb, then we shared a selection of five cheeses. A very nice extra touch is that L’Etranger offers home made macaroons to take away. This restaurant fully deserves its prize. I hope it keeps up the standard and is a joy to visit for sometime to come.

The American

Afternoon Tea at

THE RUBENS “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

By Virginia E Schultz

– Henry James, American born novelist and naturalized British citizen.


hate to upset my English friends, but afternoon tea was started by the French! In the writings of Madame de Sévigné (1626 to 1696), this prolific letter writer discusses the number of cups of tea drunk by her aristocratic friends and mentions that the Marquise de la Sablière took her tea with milk as it was to her taste, a custom the English eventually adopted. Tea was first introduced to France in 1636. It wasn’t until 1840 that Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, needing something to eat between noon-time lunch and dinner served at the fashionable hour of eight o’clock, began the habit of having a pot of tea and bread and butter in the late afternoon. She invited friends to join her and this social pause soon became a fashionable event. Upper class and aristocratic women would change into long gowns, gloves and hats for afternoon tea which was usually served in the drawing room between four and five o’clock. By the nineteenth century, no well brought up English woman would be considered socially acceptable unless she knew how to make and present Afternoon Tea.

Today “taking tea” may not be the social event it was in the past, but it is still one of the quintessential English social experiences I introduce friends to when they are visiting London. There are a number of hotels offering afternoon tea, but one of my favorites is the Palace Lounge in The Rubens Hotel, which was built in 1811. Recently redecorated, the hotel manages to be modern without losing its Edwardian elegance. In the past three months, I’ve enjoyed the Traditional Afternoon Tea (£19.50), the strawberry afternoon tea which included a glass of demi-sec Champagne and strawberry chocolate fondue (£29.00) and, on my own one awful rainy day, the Devonshire Cream Tea (£14.50) with the most delicious scones topped with clotted cream and strawberry jam I’ve tasted in ages. It is also a delightful place to take a friend for a birthday tea which includes a personalised birthday cake (£24.50) as I once saw four young women doing the day I was having tea on my own. Traditional afternoon tea consists of a selection of crustless sandwiches, scones served with clotted cream and

jam and tiny cakes and pastries. Traditionally, only bone china is used. I have a collection of tea cups that go back to the eighteenth century and in the afternoon when I’m enjoying a cup of tea, I find myself wondering about the conversations that circled my various cups in the past. There are a number of different teas offered at The Rubens. The Rooibos/ Red Bush from South Africa is wonderful when you need a lift of spirit, Darjeeling, sometimes described as the Champagne of tea is possibly my every day favorite, or for sheer pleasure, the tea known as Sheer Pleasure is the perfect tea to sip while gazing out the picture window and watching the world go by in Buckingham Palace Mews on the opposite side of the street. And when do you add milk to your tea? According to my friend and English expert on manners, it is after the tea is in the cup in order to get the correct amount.

Palace Lounge, The Rubens Hotel, 39 Buckingham Palace Road, London 020 7834 6600


The American

National Dining Rooms Reviewed by Virginia E Schultz


ne of my favourite museum restaurants is Tate Britain with its magnificent mural by Rex Whistler. I can’t tell you if the food is good, bad or indifferent because I’m usually gazing at some scene I missed the last time. With the National Dining Rooms located in the National Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing I was hopeful, especially after visiting the wonderful Coret to Monet exhibition which ends September 20th. Luis Melendez’s ‘Still Life with Oranges and Walnuts’ or Paul Gauguin’s ‘Bowl of Fruit and Tankard Before A Window’ would be wonderful to gaze at while enjoying lunch, I decided, as I went from the exhibition on the lower floor to the restaurant on the second.


Unfortunately, I found a restaurant with one huge modern painting I can’t remember and a room that looked like the breakfast bistro in an Alpine hotel. Although my friend Arlette Shanken and I were seated at a window with a view of Trafalgar Square and could see an ant-sized creature on the fourth plinth doing their thing, there was little else to draw our attention. Still, I thought, the kitchen is under the direction of Oliver Peyton who, although Irish, is a champion of British food and whose Cornish menu in June was praised by a friend. “Not the cafeteria type food found in too many museums, concert halls and opera houses”, she assured me, “and their bread is wonderful as well”. July focused on Gloucestershire’s finest produce. Executive Chef Simon Duff, who trained under Marco Pierre White, and Peyton have created a monthly menu with two selections in starter, main and pudding. As a starter, I had Grilled Bibury Farm Trout with Sorrel, Fennel and Savoy Cabbage Salad while Arlette enjoyed Coln Valley Smoked Eel with Honey Toasted Spelt, Beetroot and Lambs Lettuce. The fennel and sorrel emphasized the freshness of the trout and the Cabbage Salad worked nicely with the fish. Spelt, a wheat grain, is a kind of British risotto and its honey sweetness paired well with the eel. At home, I often use it as an alternative to couscous or rice. For the mains, I chose Gloucester Old Spot Pig with Broad Bean and Wet Garlic Mash and Arlette the

Meadows Lamb Rack and Braised Shoulder with Carmelized Baby Turnips. The pig tasted like it was supposed to, with a sweet bacon richness, but then it wasn’t any old pig but a Gloucester Old Spot Pig. It was far tastier than a similar dish I had in a Michelin star restaurant recently. Desserts are finely wrought and beautifully presented. Arlette’s Gloucester Cherry Batter Pudding with Jess’s Ladies Organic Crème Fraiche was lovely, but the don’t miss pudding was the Eton Mess I devoured. Old Etonians claim this pudding was originally made with bananas, but the seasonal raspberries were even better than the strawberries I had with the same pudding a few weeks before. The Double Gloucester Potted Cheese with Fruit Chutney I tried out of curiosity, however, was too rich and salty. But the bread was as delicious as my friend told me! Wine is not over priced. by the bottle or glass. Arlette had a California Merlot and I a Viognier from Spain, quite reasonable at £4.50 and £5.00 a glass. In August, the menu highlights Devon produce. The county of the month menu is £22.50 for two courses, £27.50 for three. The restaurant menu looks interesting and certainly something to look at in the future. If they’d only put some interesting paintings on the walls. Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2 020 7747 2525

The American




ears ago when I first came to London, I was taken to a restaurant called Brasserie St. Quentin that was named after the restaurant critic, Quentin Crewe. Vaguely I recall a rather faded Parisian décor that reminded me of restaurants in the foreign films I watched as a college student. The restaurant was uncompromisingly French in a way only a restaurant outside of France can be, but God forbid you complained to those who went there regularly as I learned when I criticised the food and almost lost a friend as a result. Walking into Brompton Bar and Grill, which is located on the same site, I must admit any resemblance to that former wilted Gallic interior had disappeared and been replaced by what might be described as contemporary art deco. Framed cartoons are spread across pale gray walls and silver bowl type lamps dangle above each white cloth table. The furniture is functional, captain style chairs and a long leather banquette stretching along one wall and there is a kind of New York via Paris feel that would make it a perfect place for a rendezvous between Carla and Michelle the next time they’re in London. The

Reviewed by Virginia E Schultz interior designer Jennifer Atterbury was with me and she nodded in agreement. A lot of other Londoners agree, because every table was taken the evening we were there. François O’Neill, the son of Hugh O’Neill (aka Lord Rathcavin) and Quentin Crewe’s cousin, is now running the restaurant. The executive chef is Gary Durrant, formerly of Claridges and The Savoy and as the name indicates, grilling is a very important part of what is served. However, this is not some glorified steak house, although my sirloin steak, (£22.00), cooked medium rare, was sheer bliss. If meat is not in your diet, you could have instead Brompton Fish Stew (£14.00) or my favourite meal at any time of day and night, Eggs Benedict (£7.00). Jennifer had the Lamb rump with lemon, garlic and mint (£17.50) and we shared the chips that came with my steak and the yummiest Dauphinoise potatoes (£4.00). Ah, diet, wherefore art thou? Chef Durrant’s food is best described as Modern British and considering the area the restaurant is located in, almost affordable. For a starter, I had six Malden Rock Oys-

ters (£12.00) and Jennifer, Beetroot, grilled goat’s cheese and lambs lettuce (£7.50). We also shared a bacon and egg croquette (£5.00/£7.50). Dessert was essential and at £3.50 for three delicious sorbets the perfect way to end a meal. That is, if you didn’t also order the Sticky Toffee Pudding with Clotted Cream Ice Cream (£6.50). Wine is reasonably priced. Jennifer and I had the Prosecco Frizzante (£6.00) to start with and then a glass of Amalaya Malbec 2007 (£5.00), but we could have had a glass of Macabeo Las Corazas 2008 white wine at three fifty a glass or ten pounds a bottle or if you prefer red, a Sangiovese 2008 at the same price. There is a daily changing lunch at £14.50 for two courses and £17.50 for three and weekends there is a brunch. Did Jennifer and I like the restaurant? Very much. In fact, we hope to return and visit the enlarged basement bar which is offering regular jazz and blues nights.

243 Brompton Road, London SW3 020 7589 8005


The American

The American Recipe:

Ken Hom’s Mango Chicken Serves 4

Ingredients: 1 lb boneless chicken breasts, skinned and cut into 1 inch pieces 1 egg white 1 teaspoon sesame oil 1 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons cornflour Freshly ground black pepper to taste 1 pint groundnut (peanut) oil or water 1 ½ tablespoons groundnut (peanut) oil 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic 1 ½ tablespoons Shaoxing rice or dry Sherry 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon sesame oil 2 mangoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces To garnish: 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander



ix the chicken with the egg white, sesame oil, salt, cornflour and pepper in a bowl. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Heat a wok or large frying pan until it is very hot. Add the oil and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, remove the wok from the heat. Immediately add chicken pieces, stirring vigorously to prevent from sticking. After about 2 minutes when the chicken turns white, quickly drain the chicken and all the oil in a stainless steel colander set in a bowl. Discard the oil. This is if you use water instead of oil: Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Remove the saucepan from the heat

and immediately add the chicken pieces, stirring vigorously to prevent from sticking. After about two minutes when the chicken pieces turn white, quickly drain the chicken and all the water in a stainless steel colander set in a bowl. Discard the water Heat 1 ½ tablespoons of oil in the wok or pan. Add the ginger and garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add the Shaoxing rice wine or dry Sherry, salt, sesame oil and mangoes. Stir-fry gently for 2 minutes or until the mangoes are heated through. Add the drained chicken and stir gently to mix well. Garnish with the coriander, turn onto a warm serving platter and serve at once.

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.

Free bottle of wine (Mon. –Fri.) on presentation of this advertisement

48 High Street, Cobham, Surrey

With riverside Italian Garden for al fresco dining

Book your table online on our website: 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


– David Billington, Hello Magazine

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The American

Cellar Talk Libations by Virginia E. Schultz

Barbecue, English Style


ummer in England can mean different things to different people. It can be a picnic in the park, relaxing with a watermelon Margarita on a deck chair on one’s balcony, eating ice cream on the beach or a barbecue in the back yard. When I first visited England in the seventies, no one except a few stray Australians and Americans entertained in what we Americans fondly call the back yard. A few of my British friends might have had a garden party with champagne and tidbits, but that was formal, not shorts or jean entertaining and children were not seen or heard. How things have changed, I thought, when a friend invited me to a barbecue at her house in Hampstead recently. There was blackberry lemonade for children and adults who didn’t want anything alcoholic while white and rosé wine as well as cold cans of beer were tucked among supermarket-bought ice in several red buckets. Red wine in boxes, yes, boxes, placed on trays of ice under an umbrella, were surrounded by colourful plastic wine glasses and tumblers. And then there was the barbecue cooked by my host with a bit of help from his teenage grandson and granddaughter. For the barbecue he was offering thick rib pork chops and bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks. The rib chop is from the part of the loin nearer the shoulder and has slightly more fat which is less likely to dry out in this day and age of lean


pork, he explained. He seared the pork chops for about eight minutes before putting them on a cooler section of the barbecue grill and covered them with a disposable pie plate. Because of the variety of thickness and density of the bone making chicken more difficult to cook, he had baked the thighs and drumsticks for about ten minutes in the oven before placing them on the barbecue. When the chicken was almost done, he placed lime halves, cut sides down, uncovered on the barbecue and at the same time heated a maple syrup barbecue sauce on the grill. Once heated, the pork chops and chicken were placed in the sauce to coat before being placed on a large platter and surrounded by the char grilled lime halves. Along with the chicken and pork, there were a variety of salads and desserts brought by the guests. I brought a typical American potato salad made with cider vinegar, mayonnaise, sweet onions, hard boiled eggs, celery and a touch of mustard.

WINE OF THE MONTH: COVEY RUN Riesling Columbia Valley Late Harvest Reserve 2007      Inexpensive Lightly sweet, with a hint of peaches and slightly floral flavours.  Was perfect with the Mango Chicken I served and best of all, this Riesling from the State of Washington didn’t break the bank.

FROZEN WATERMELON MARGARITAS A three pound watermelon 1 cup white Tequila ½ cup fresh lime juice (about 4 limes) ½ cup sugar or to taste Remove rind from watermelon and cut fruit into 1 inch pieces to measure 5 cups. Freeze in a plastic bag for at least 3 hours or up to a week. In a 5 to 6 cup blender blend frozen watermelon until thick and smooth. Makes about 6 Margaritas. Frozen watermelon takes the place of ice. I blend in the seeds as well. BLACKBERRY LEMONADE About six lemons 4 cups of water 1 cup sugar ½ cup of blackberries. Garnish with lemon slices. Remove zest from 4 lemons and squeeze enough juice to measure 1 cup. Boil two cups of water with sugar, stirring until dissolved, and then add zest, lemon juice and remaining two cups of water and cool. In a blender or food processor, puree blackberries and stir into lemonade. Put through a sieve into a pitcher and chill until very cold. Serve in tall glasses garnished with lemon slices. Makes about 6 cups.

The American


Cece Mills picks her Arts and Exhibitions for August and continues her alphabetical look at art forms. ‘My mother said to me, “If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.” Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.’ – Pablo Picasso

Edwina Bridgeman’s apple tree art evokes strong emotions

Orchard by Edwina Bridgeman Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton, Devon Until 29th August I like the idea of basing a body of work on the apple tree. Orchards are home not only to the production of apples which in itself is the beginning of many good things such as cider, but also to insects, birds, plants and lichens, and memories, emotions and, yes, magic. Oh, and

big history too – Adam and Eve and all that. Edwina Bridgeman approaches the apple tree in new ways. Her installations of three full sized apple trees made out of all sorts of different materials, some particularly treasured by her, are surrounded by a grazing sheep, wildlife and mystery.

There is an opportunity for you to sit and write your own reflections or memories concerning orchards or apple picking or drinking cider, or cooking apple cake, which Bridgeman then intends to use to make a replacement work as the exhibition tours the country.

Art News


id you happen to experience the British conceptual artist Jeremy Deller’s ‘exhibition’ It Is What It Is, of the shell of a burnt out car at the New Museum in New York in March? The car had been involved in a bomb attack in Baghdad in which 35 people died, and formed the focus of Deller’s project to find out what people knew, or thought, about the Iraq war. Deller, Jonathan Harvey, a US soldier who served in Iraq, and Esam Pasha, an Iraqi artist, took the car for a three week tour of the US. The idea was to provoke the public along their route into dialogue with the team, using the car as a prompt. There was no political agenda, just a need to find out what Americans thought about the Iraq war. The tour ended in Los Angeles and the car was then exhibited in the Hammer Museum. As artist Pasha said, ‘was this journey a work of art? I believe art is all about reaching out to people.’


The American

Shopping at the Omega The Courtauld Institute, London Until 20th September


eaturing the designs of the Omega Workshop from 1913 to 1919, this essentially artist based Store had the appeal that present day Open Studios try to promote. Omega Workshops founder Roger Fry wanted to promote the individuality of the artist’s work as opposed to the dull, conveyor-belt method of production favoured by London’s new fangled department stores of the day, like Selfridges. This Aladdin’s Cave of goods was in Fitzroy Square and prospective clients were often to be seen being shown around by Fry himself. The premises were so unlike a shop that the casual passer-by would not even know what lay within. But here, in the Omega Workshops, was the shop, gallery and workspace for Fry’s group of ‘artist decorators’.

The Blue Drawing Room


Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace 26th July to 30th September

An Omega Workshop signboard


Buckingham Palace is officially the London residence of British Sovereigns, and has been since 1837. It serves as the administrative headquarters of the Monarch. The 19 State Rooms are open each year while the Queen is at Balmoral, Scotland. These rooms are used to receive and entertain guests of State. They are choc a bloc full of lovely paintings, sculptures, china and porcelain, furniture and artefacts. There is also an exhibition this summer called Queen and Commonwealth: The Royal Tour, which shows dresses, jewellery, gifts presented to the Queen by members of her Commonwealth, and lots of photographs.

The American

Cece’s choice of the annual Arts extravaganza at the 2009 Edinburgh Festival 14th August to 6th September Venues all over the city

Greg Creek – Edinburgh Drawing: Chatter Shapes The Dean Gallery Continuous Greg Creek’s work – drawings and watercolours – are largely of architectural, subject matter describing the elegant Georgian architecture of Edinburgh and teh Scottish capital’s famous landmarks. It is interspersed with his freer and more emotional doodles, sketches, notes and dreams which not only add a very personal view to the city panorama, but also sets us on a nice journey of exploration. We weave through historical and anthropological aspects of the city, both real and fictional.

The Last Witch Royal Lyceum Theatre 23rd to 29th August This haunting play has been written specially for the Festival by Rona Munro, one of Scotland’s leading playwrights. It illustrates the tight knit Scottish village, the fear that can build up through gossip and misinformation, and the destructive forces that ensue. It is the story of Janet Horne, Scotland’s last witch. The year is 1727. In the far north of Scotland, in the small village of Dornoch. Janet seemed to be in control of the weather and the sea, and could cure animals of almost any affliction. Hotly denying any accusations of witchcraft, she was sentenced to death, her own neighbours and friends giving testimony against her. She was burned in her home town.

Above: The Staatsoper Stuttgart Choir in a new take on Bach’s six sacred cantatas © THILO NASS

Actus Tragicus Edinburgh Festival Theatre 4th and 5th September A complex and original idea featuring the well known Staatsoper Stuttgart Choir, each playing an individual character within a crosssection of a four-storey building - a fabulous set. The action is all about the boring dullness of everyday life and the repetition of human behaviour and routine. The message seems to be that the only way out is death. Cheerful! However, Bach’s music promises a future and something more positive. Here, six sacred cantatas form one theatrical whole, in a complex triumph for the singers.


The American

H Egg hunting, St Kilda style © CHRISTIAN MATHIEU

St Kilda Edinburgh Festival Theatre 15th, 16th and 17th August Another interesting aspect of Scottish life. St Kilda is Scotland’s most westerly island where the cliffs are taller than the Empire State Building. All the more astonishing to think that the inhabitants of St Kilda have long made their living climbing these fearsome cliffs to gather eggs from the nesting seabirds. These people, known as the ‘birdmen’ of St Kilda, have plied their dangerous trade for over 3,000 years and it is their story that is told here. Haunting Gaelic music and songs, contemporary music and film, as well as acrobatics, transport us to the island and its way of life. The spectacular Gelabert dancers © OUTUMURO


Gelabert Azzopardi Companyia de Dansa Edinburgh Festival Theatre 21st, 22nd and 23rd August Two pieces are performed here by the spectacularly athletic and beautiful Gelabert dancers. The first, Sense Fi with music by Pascal Comelade, continues on the theme explored in Actus Tragicus (see previous page), that of the uncertainty of the world and our destinies. The second piece called Conquassabit, with music by George Frideric Handel, is all about the opposing forces of the hurricane, with the furious action followed by the calm of the eye of the storm. The contrast between destruction and peace is emphasised by Handel’s music, both vocal and instrumental.

olograms – are basically threedimensional appearing static images. Very clever. Discovered in 1947 by the Hungarian physicist Gabor Denes (who got the Nobel Prize for his work), holography is very much used by the art world today. Generally the art of creating holograms is considered a blend of science and art. Salvador Dali was thought to be one of the first artists to use holography in his art.


ieroglyphics – were a form of writing system used in ancient Egypt and can best be described as artistic symbols. However, there are three different kinds of markings. First there is the phonetic glyph which was probably the nearest thing to an alphabet that existed. Then logographs, the symbols that represented a group of words or something specific (think logos of present day companies); and finally something called determinatives, which effectively made the logograph more understandable. Thus the writing becomes symbolic, figurative and phonetic all at once. I wonder how many readers used to write letters in ‘code’ where, instead of words, you drew pictures. Well that is basically the essence of Hieroglyphs.

The American


Heraldry, Holograms and Hieroglyphics H

eraldy – is hardly an art form, but I believe that anything that involves the skill of design, the use of symbols, and colour must all be part and parcel of the arts. Heraldic motifs are still in use today as a form of identification – branding I suppose we might call it now. Military bodies continue to design new heraldic blazons as they grow and develop, while institutions and companies invent new brands in the form of heraldry. So what is it? The term Heraldry covers the makers, the study of and the St Giles Cathedral Coats of Arms, Edinburgh

Trinity Hall Cambridge Coat of Arms CECE MILLS

granting of coats of arms, or badges of office. It all began when those poor knights went into battle covered from top to toe in metal and no one had a hope in hell of knowing whether they were friend or foe. Actually even in Roman times ancient warriors decorated their shields with symbols or motifs to identify themselves. Coats of Arms to identify families were not only used on armour and shields, but on tombs, sealing wax impressions, on documents and on banners from the family home rooftops. There are various rules and guides for creating Coats of Arms in Heraldry. The shape of the shield is important,


and the way it is divided is too. What I find most interesting is the symbolism in the different animals used in heraldry; for example the elephant means courage and strength, while the hare or rabbit means one who enjoys a peaceable and retired life. Colours too mean different things. Red is military fortitude, while blue is loyalty and truth. Combined with a suitable motto describing the motivation or significance of the company or family, the heraldic emblem is complete! ★


The American

The Qadi and the Fortune Teller Nabil Saleh


leather-bound diary from 1843 written by a Muslim judge in Ottoman Beirut is found hidden in the wall of a house in the late 1970’s. The judge, Sheikh Abu Khalid, is known as a decent man and a fair and impartial arbiter, a difficult thing to be during this tumultuous time between the Ottoman Empire and the European powers. In a series of vignettes the diary reveals the political intrigues he unwillingly has to deal with that become further heightened after the visit of a dragoman, a ‘fixer’, of the British Consulate who comes seeking his help. Personal problems intervene when his closest childhood friend asks for the hand of his very unwilling daughter. The consequences of these dramatic happenings shatter his dream of a pair of red slippers and end in consequences he is not able to control. It is a story of modern liberalism and its materialistic values versus traditionalism that might have been written about Lebanon today. Like one of my favourite books, The Kite Runner, it chronicles the story of people in the Middle East who are not that different in their problems and needs from those of us in the West. Author Nabil is a practicing lawyer in Beirut and London since 1957.He is an expert on Islamic law and the author of numerous articles and law books. Previous novels include Outremer and Open House. VS Interlink Publishing Group £13.30/ $13.95 in US


By Mary Bailey, Virginia E Schultz, Michael T Burland, Ian Kerr

Curry: Classic and Contemporary

The Queen’s Margarine



Vivek Singh

love Indian food and over the years have attempted to make various dishes I’ve enjoyed in restaurants. I’ve tried different Indian cookbooks, some of which supposedly have easy recipes, but invariably come back to books by expert chefs such as Vivek Singh, Executive Chef of the Cinnamon Club and Cinnamon Kitchen restaurants in London. This classic and contemporary cookbook features over a hundred recipes from all over India. I enjoyed the description of the curry and the hints on how it can be served. The ingredient lists are long, but the explanations on preparation are easy to follow. Singh’ss pork vindaloo, one of the best known Indian recipes, was praised by two of my guests, including a friend who lived in India for a number of years as was the lamb curry with white spices I made. The spices in both recipes are available in many of the supermarkets in the UK. There is a glossary describing the spices and another giving American terms which most of us living in England are familiar with, but would be helpful if you are giving the cookbook as a gift to friends in the States. VS Absolute Press, £20/$40

Wendy Perriam

endy’s Perriam’s imagination is different from most people’s as are the characters in this, her sixth short story collection. At the same time they are real, although I’m not sure I would want them living next door. Wives and husbands cheat on each other, loners ache for more than their lonely lives offer, and women dream of a world that passed by them before they realized it. Quirky, funny, and idiosyncratic her characters might be, yet their eccentric and unpredictable behaviour fascinates from beginning to end. They may not always succeed in what they attempt, but still they carry on no matter the obstacles in their way. A lovely bouquet of tulips, a pair of Eurostar tickets, a small white dog, bring meaning to lonely lives and magic happens unexpectedly. As the blurb on the cover of her book states, the mundane goes hand in hand with the miraculous...and even the Queen eats margarine. It’s a shame some imaginative television producer doesn’t turn her short stories into an hour’s drama on TV. What a change that would be from the humdrum tedious productions that are common place today. And what an opportunity for an actor. VS Robert Hale Ltd. £18.99

The American

The Supper Club Sophie King


ored with dinner parties? Too broke to eat out this month? Revolutionise your social life with the latest vogue... mystery supper clubs! So begins Sophie King’s latest novel “The Supper Club”. Once a month, Lucy, a young widow with three children, and her friends take turns having a supper party. Nothing, of course, goes the way Lucy planned. Mike, her live-in, slightly younger boyfriend, invites his close friend Anthony and his new former-model girlfriend: Anthony had been married to her best friend, Maggie but left her and their children for the model. In the supper club are Lucy’s sister,

Jenny, with whom she’s always had a turbulent relationship, and Chrissie, the over devoted mother to baby George, who finds one of the guests is a former boyfriend whom she had hoped never to see again. There is also Lucy’s dead hero husband whom she can’t forget. Her mother-in-law deciding to visit, and her sister playing true confessions, make life even more perplexing. The dinner parties are like musical chairs where someone falls into more trouble than they anticipated. In the end, they muddle successfully through each disaster, with laugh out loud moments that will keep you entertained to the end. A delightful, warm-hearted book by the author of The School Run and Moms @ Home. VS Hodder & Stoughton Ltd. £6.99

Attention Please

Manifesto Club photo book


he Manifesto Club is a pressure group that campaigns against what they call the “hyperregulation of everyday life”. One very obvious face of what they see as the nanny state is the tidal wave of overcautious and ridiculous safety signs in public spaces across the UK. This simple book collates a selection of them collected from the public. Apart from the examples shown, they also found a sign on an outdoor bench reading ‘Caution: seats may become wet’, another advising ‘Use the escalators safely’ and ‘All memorials have the potential to harm’ – in a cemetery! Amusing and food for thought. MTB

The American Motorcycle Girls 1900 -1950 Christine Sommer Simmons


offee table’ books can be glossy tomes, superficially flicked through to fill the odd five minutes. Or they can combine superb photography that educates as well as entertains, a work of art in themselves. This latest book from the American Parker House Publishing is in the second category. It oozes quality and has you studying each large page of stock art paper before moving on to another of the 240 pages. Christine Sommer Simmons’ own high-profile motorcycling background means she has known exactly what to look for as she has trawled through numerous photo collections and period magazines. Having picked her 350 photos and period adverts, she researched their origins to give a snapshot (sic) of the women shown. The superb images show that many were as attractive as they were talented riders. A large number achieved impressive records, riding very long distances on roads that were there long before the freeway came to town and more akin to Wild West horse tracks. As Karen Davidson, great grand-daughter of Harley Davidson co-founder William Davidson, points out in her foreword, today’s modern female riders owe a debt to the many women whose stories are told in this book who blazed the trail and made society realise that motorcycling was for everyone!. IK £35.00, ISBN 978 0 9817270 5 9


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By Racine in a translation by Ted Hughes An NT Live HD transmission to cinemas from the National Theatre, 25 June 2009 “Nothing that’s grim, nothing that’s Greek. She plays Medea later this week”.


ondheim’s dig at Greek tragedy in his song “Comedy tonight” sums up many people’s reticence about this form. High drama, lots of wailing and bemoaning one’s fate. It requires very careful handling if it is to succeed. Currently at the National Theatre, Helen Mirren has sold out a run in Racine’s Phèdre, the story of the Greek queen’s incestuous love for her stepson, Hippolytus (Dominic Cooper), and the chaos that this unleashes. Dame Helen could probably sell out reading the phone book but the revelation of this production is how she brings Greek drama alive for a new generation. Here, the star of TV cop drama Prime Suspect brings a modern sensibility to this great classic and achieves this without ever undermining the form. Purists might complain that Racine should only ever be in French but Ted Hughes’ wonderfully muscular translation puts paid to these arguments. Greek tragedy eschews any subtext and it goes straight to the heart of the matter. In England, where our drama practically drowns in subtext, this presents a particular challenge for a modern audience. Nicholas Hytner’s great achievement here is to


unite a crack cast with a stunningly simple design and brings great clarity to this piece holding the audience rapt for 2 hours without an interval. There was no coughing. What made the absence of coughing even more significant was that I was watching this performance not in the Lyttleton but rather at Clapham Picturehouse. Like audiences in 170 cinemas around the world, I was participating in the first NT Live HD transmission of a play direct from the stage of the National Theatre. Having been a great fan of the live HD transmissions from the Metropolitan Opera in New York for the past two seasons, I wondered if the NT could pull it off. HD is a much-abused term and many socalled live relays aren’t live and are badly filmed. Thankfully NT Live producer David Sabel and his crew ably demonstrated the potential of this form and gave the audience the best seat in the house and all the seats in the house at the same time. The productions remain pieces of theatre but they are observed in a totally new way, using unobtrusive state of the art cameras. The trademarks of good HD include more use of wide shots, less unnecessary cutting and a generally less frenetic approach than for broadcast television. You don’t

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Dominic Cooper as Hippolytus, Helen Mirren as Phèdre PHOTOS: CATHERINE ASHMORE

need to grab the audience’s attention, they are captive in a cinema and the images are huge. This production too had a quality of stillness to it, which enhanced the moments of intense drama when they occurred. The HD filming never compromised this. The pristine images on a large screen were a joy to behold and Bob Crowley’s glorious set, Paule Constable’s inspired lighting and Adam Cork’s disturbing sound design, all enhanced the effect. Helen Mirren made one sympathise for this troubled and troubling character and Margaret Tyzack, as usual, triumphed as the scheming Oenone. Making a particular mark though in her NT debut, was young Irish actress, Ruth Negga, as the downtrodden but fiery Aricia. She’s one to watch. NT Live will continue with All’s Well That Ends Well (1 October), Mark Ravenhill’s adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Nation (30 Jan) and Alan Bennett’s new play The Habit of Art. Watch out for them at your local cinema.

Sister Act

Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Glenn Slater Book by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner London Palladium, Argyll St, London W1


t’s big, it’s glitzy it’s got a great star turn and you come out humming. What more do you need? The West End and Broadway’s trend for dressing up hit movies as mega stage spectaculars, with or without the original songs, continues unabated. Here the Whoopi Goldberg vehicle from 1992 gets translated from the ’90s back to 1978 (cue funky disco) and re-located from Reno to Philadelphia (cue evil dude straight out of Shaft as the bad guy). Telling the story of a dodgy lounge singer, Deloris Van Cartier (is that a klassy name or what?), who witnesses a gangland murder and ends up having to hide out in a convent. Barely tolerated by the Mother Superior she is put in charge of the moribund church choir and before long she turns them from tone deaf drears into a sassy soul combo, which unfortunately starts attracting the punters and the press and so ends up blowing her cover. Along the way people learn life-lessons, good triumphs over evil and sassy trumps frumpy. Well, we all knew that? Fans of Whoopi might consider Sister Act without her rather akin to Hamlet without the Prince, but they would be mistaken. Whoopi is clever. Foregoing 8 shows a week at the Palladium (what megastar would stick that?) she instead produces the show and cleverly transfers the burden to a dazzlingly talented young newcomer called Patina Miller. Originating at the Pasadena Playhouse, this is a class act given high production values, slick direction, witty choreography and a sparkling script from Cheri and Bill Steinkellner. The Steinkellners, veterans of great sitcoms like Cheers, Benson and Family Ties, know how to craft a gag and move the plot right along. “Here, we love God and our fellow man” says the Mother Superior. “Oooooh how I’d LOVE a man”


Arcadia By Tom Stoppard • Duke of York’s Theatre

moans Deloris. It is the ‘feelgood’ show of the summer and a transfer back across the pond must now be on the cards. Blessed with a natural stage presence, powerful voice, sharp comic timing and great “moves” Miller succeeds brilliantly in carrying this big show. Sheila Hancock provides able support as the frosty Mother Superior and brings a softer edge to the part than Maggie Smith did. Claire Greenway delights as the bubbly and plump Sister Mary Patrick and Julia Sutton brings a touch of Ruth Gordon crossed with Jimmy Cagney to the scary veteran of the cloister, Sister Mary Lazarus. The revelation of the piece however is Alan Menken’s music and Glenn Slater’s lyrics. Bravely replacing the original Motown hits (which were so intrinsic to its success) they instead present a loving pastiche of ’70s disco and soul/funk – and it works. None of the songs disappoint. They channel everything from Isaac Hayes to Barry White, the Stylistics and up to Whitney. Ako Mitchell in an amazing solo “turn” as the jilted love interest Eddie, gives an astonishing vocal performance where he out-Luther’s Mr Vandross. In “How I Got My Calling”, where the Sisters tell their back story, Menken gives this song a more conventional musical theatre treatment and here you can detect the obvious influence of Jerry Herman, that master of the hummable tune. In fact if you listen to Beauty and the Beast or any of his great Disney scores, for which he won a record 8 Oscars, you can hear the legacy of Herman’s Broadway style. So Sister Act follows a tried and tested path – and succeeds.



t’s wanting to know that makes us matter, otherwise we are going out the way we came in”, says literary historian Hannah Jarvis in Arcadia. Nothing better sums up Tom Stoppard or his plays. Often accused of being “too clever by half” (and only in England is this a sin), Arcadia is probably his masterpiece, where heart and head combine. Sixteen years after its premiere at the National Theatre and its success on Broadway, it is given its first sparkling revival by David Leveaux. Blessed with a bright and talented young cast Dan Stevens (from The Line of Beauty) as the tutor Septimus, Ed Stoppard as Valentine and Jessie Cave as the precocious Thomasina, combined with experienced older hands Neil Pearson (Bernard) and Samantha Bond (Hannah), Leveaux reminds us that this is one of Tom Stoppard’s best. Any play which attempts to tackle the “nervous breakdown of the romantic imagination” (as Hannah calls it) and along the way touches on chaos theory and the evolution of the British garden, is not going to be mistaken for a Whitehall farce. But Stoppard also knows about plot

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and character and his saving grace, as always, is humour. OK, these characters are smarter than the rest of us, but I’ve never understood why this is a bad thing. British culture has always steered clear of science (probably something to do with how the science-arts chasm opens up for British school kids at such a young age) but the poetry that underlies mathematics is ripe for exploring. As Valentine puts it “what goes on in a cup of coffee when the cream goes in is a great mystery”. Stoppard’s bravery in taking on chaos theory, garden design and literary sleuthing and seamlessly integrating them into a dramatic whole is astonishing. Only someone who wasn’t an academic would have had the chutzpah to do it. But it is not all intellectualising, Bernard is no fusty academic and Neil Pearson brings his deadpan comic timing to the part. Bernard is a rampaging egomaniac and what would have once been termed a bounder or a cad. The plot revolves around he and Hannah reluctantly collaborating to piece together what precisely took place in Sidley Park in March 1810 when Lord Byron was staying with the Coverly family

just before he hurriedly fled the country. Why did he flee? Along the way Stoppard throws some well aimed jibes at academia and the book reviewing industry, showing it to be just as cut throat as any East End fish market. As they discover whether a duel actually took place between Byron and his pompous and untalented rival Chater they make literary research appear as sexy as the latest hit TV cop show. In a play bursting with ideas Stoppard presents the evolution of the English garden as representing the decline from thinking to feeling, from classicism to gothic romanticism. The uncovering of the story of the hermit (an important plot device) who died on the estate too becomes a perfect metaphor for the banishment of the age of the enlightenment. In a play about design Hildegarde Bechtler had quite a challenge before her and her grand yet simple set wonderfully overlays the past and the present. A perfect symbol for this play. In a practically perfect cast Nancy Carroll stands out however as 19th century aristocrat Lady Croom. She brings hauteur to new heights and one trembles at the thought of her Lady Bracknell, who must surely be to come! H


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By Gerard Alessandrini Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre


Forbidden  Broadway

f you can’t get tickets for all those heavy summer sell-outs (Gandalf and Captain Picard’s Vladimir and Estragon, Jude Law’s Hamlet or Gillian Anderson’s Nora) you could do a lot worse than drown your sorrows at Forbidden Broadway, a glorious spoof of the current, and the more permanent, residents of the Great White Way. First seen Off-Broadway in 1992 this regularly updated collection of spoof sketches has spawned great cast albums which, when they’re good, can destroy forever your memory of the original. At the Menier for the summer you can catch up on the latest version from New York and creator Gerard Alessandrini has added some West End material for the local audiences. These include glorious send ups of Elaine Paige’s radio show, the gargantuan King and I at the Albert Hall, Hannah Waddingham and, of course, Susan Boyle. For musical parody to succeed you need to be as least as talented as the original, both musically and lyrically and Mr Alessandrini certainly is. You also need a very versatile cast and the Menier has got one. Anna Jane Casey, Sophie-Louise Dann, Steven Kynman and Christopher Ragland (bravely


standing in for an indisposed Alasdair Harvey), work like demons and execute more costume changes than the combined cast of Priscilla. Cameron Mackintosh’s obsession with merchandising (‘My Souvenir Things’) gets skewered as does recent trends such as puppets replacing humans and the over use of back projections ‘Soon projections will take over’ to the tune of ‘June is Bustin Out all Over’. The Lion King, “African baloney but it gets a lot of Tonys” and how its physical demands torture the cast, is sharply observed and there is a gloriously surreal take on Daniel Radcliffe’s star turn in Equus, ‘Let Me Enter Naked’. There is a gloriously witty demolition of Les Miserables. From ‘At the end of the play we’re another year older’ through to ‘Ten Years More’ it skewers the pomposity of that show and its over use of that Revolve. Anna Jane Casey adds the devilish ‘On My Phone’, where as a bored Fantine, she spends her hours between entrances texting her fellow actors in neighbouring theatres. The highlight though, and now considered a Forbidden Broadway classic, is the parody of the much recorded ‘Bring Him Home’, which begins:

God its high This song’s too high Pity me Change the key The show is ruthless about the great behemoths of Broadway and the West End (Les Mis, Phantom, Lion King, Billy Elliot, Mary Poppins) and shows where the heart and the art has got lost in the hype. “We’ve become a theme park ride, you can smell the formaldehyde”, they sing. Sadly, all too true. The only dud note in the show is an extended Sondheim sequence “The State of My Art” which makes clear the creator’s manifesto but whose sentimentality undermines all that has gone before it. Stick to the gags guys. H

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Susman Ambassadorship Confirmed Alison Holmes looks at the background of the next Ambassador to London


he new Ambassador to the Court of St James’s has been confirmed as 71 year old Louis Susman. Born in St Louis, Mr Susman is mid-western to the backbone. His family owned a cloth company but the young Susman was destined for other things. After attending the University of Michigan, he returned home for law school and worked in the corporate sector. Susman later moved to Chicago to work for Salomon Brothers where he touched on British politics by serving on the leadership committee of the American Ireland Fund. He continued to work for Citigroup from which he retired as vice-chairman last February. Known as ‘the bundler’ or ‘the Hoover’, Mr Susman’s political credibility is not built on issue prowess, but his role as a back-room, money man. He won a place on the Democratic National Committee in 1972 and stayed 10 years but more importantly emerged as a key fundraiser for the first US Senate campaign of Thomas Eagleton of Missouri. He went on to raise funds for the presidential campaigns of Ted Kennedy, Dick Gephardt, Bill Bradley and finally John Kerry’s in 2004 – losers all. Despite this track record, Democratic candidates in need of money in 2006/7 all wooed Susman, his financial skills required even if his

predictive skills were questionable. To his credit he chose Obama early, and this time he chose a winner. In return, and to Obama’s credit, the Administration avoided the political pratfall of choosing as Ambassador political glitterati in the form of Caroline Kennedy (whose family members did not cover themselves in glory in the UK or Ireland during their time as Ambassador) and the hefty appeal of Oprah Winfrey. One worrying aspect is that Susman’s appointment fits an emerging pattern in transatlantic affairs. The UK is proceeding with thought and care towards the President. The President, by contrast, has sometimes lacked the political touch he is otherwise famous for. From DVDs that don’t work, to the casual arm around ‘Her Maj’, it is worth asking, if he were in another country and didn’t take off his shoes in a mosque or his wife left her head uncovered, what would be made of their disregard for tradition? ‘Endearing’ and ‘refreshing’ might not be the conclusion. Mr Susman does not have a background in foreign affairs, British links or significant diplomatic interests. He may be pilloried by the British press for that, and by Americans in the UK and the US for not fulfilling their ‘image’ of a diplomat. However, it will help him that the role of Ambassador


n Mr Susman’s statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he notes that, “There has been unfounded speculation in some quarters of late that our relationship with Britain is somehow not as robust as it once was... I want to be very clear: In war and in peace, in prosperity and in times of economic hardship, America has no better friend – and no more dependable ally – than the United Kingdom. However, we must not be complacent about nurturing this relationship with our most important ally, whose partnership is so critical in confronting the many challenges that we jointly face. Therefore, one of my foremost priorities, if confirmed, will be to ensure that these deeply ingrained linkages with the United Kingdom not only continue to thrive, but are strengthened even further.”

in the 21st century is effectively up for grabs. With personal communications technology and media saturation no country requires their Ambassador to represent their interests in a traditional sense. This leaves the way open for Ambassadors, particularly Ambassadors with the ear of the President, to make their own role. H


Goodwood Festival Battles the Crunch I Napier Railton at full throttle

Jesse James rocks Goodwood

Peter Fonda takes it easy No caption required - you know who this is, and so did the crowds 46

n these credit crunched days, surely the expense and profligacy of motor sports is the last thing people would want to be associated with? Try telling that to over 152,000 fans who crowded to the grounds of the beautiful stately home to see more than 120 star racing drivers and riders showing off fabulous racing cars and bikes from every era. American sensibilities were well catered for, as Jay Leno and Peter Fonda drove up the house’s driveway, which acts as the hillclimb course for the duration of the weekend. Fonda rode a replica of the ‘Captain America’ chopper from the Easy Rider movie up the hill throughout the Festival weekend. West Coast Chopper boss – now cult television presenter – Jesse James was as crazy as ever in his 950bhp Baja-style Trophy Truck, and the Sussex countryside reverberated to the massed bellows of a group of NASCAR stock car racers brought over specially for the event. The Cartier ‘Style et Luxe’ concours competition featured some of the most elegant and beautifully presented cars ever made, while

World Land Speed Record Holder Wing Commander Andy Green drives Jaguar’s XFR Bonneville special up the hill

elsewhere three centenaries were celebrated this year. Audi’s featured an amazing sculptural feature outside Goodwood House and a selection of historic racing cars including Auto Unions, quattros and Le Mans racers. Bugatti and Morgan marked their 100th year too, and the original Mini had its fiftieth birthday. Too much goes on at the Festival for any magazine article. Suffice to say, book now for next year and for the Goodwood Revival (Sep 18-20) to see classic cars and bikes in action on Goodwood’s own racing circuit.

World’s Oldest Working ‘Car’

T Tesla Does The Electric Boogie in London


ith the electric theme in this month’s Drive Time (see Ian Kerr’s Electric TT article), it’s timely that Tesla Motors has opened a European flagship store in the heart of London’s exclusive Knightsbridge. The Silicon Valley firm, which sells what they describe as the world’s only highway-capable electric vehicle, has taken a 5,000 square-foot showroom on Cheval Place, walking distance from Harrods. The Roadster sportscar gets the equivalent of 256 miles per gallon, travels more than 240 miles on a single charge and produces zero tailpipe emissions. European Deliveries of the £94,000 Signature Edition

Roadster model begin this summer, with the option to upgrade to a more powerful Sport model. A right hand drive variant goes on sale in the UK during the first quarter of 2010. Tesla is also taking reservations for the Model S sedan, available late 2011, which promises unrivalled passenger and cargo space and a range of 300 miles per charge. Teslas qualify for incentives in some European countries and cities, including waivers of luxury tax, reductions in VAT, free parking and free charging. In London, Teslas are exempt from the congestion charge, which can add up to a saving of £2,000 a year for commuters.

Pre-owned Chryslers to come with warning notice?


S consumer groups are pushing for legislation to force Chrysler to attach warning notices to its vehicles advising that under its Chapter 11 filing, it has shed its liability for any defective vehicles produced before May 30th this year. Industry experts believe that over 30 million used Chryslers in the US have lost liability protection previously offered under state laws. Chrysler spokesman Michael Palese said “In Chrysler’s bankruptcy, the ability to form a new company free from the product liability burden of the old company was essential to the new company’s survival. This is not an issue involving an identified potential safety issue with these vehicles, nor do petitioners claim to have uncovered a systemic defect that requires disclosure.” The US Fair Trade Commission has not decided if it will take the case forward.

he Grenville steam carriage is believed to be the oldest selfpropelled passenger-carrying road vehicle still working. and at the age of 119 it has moved to a new home, the national Motor Museum at Beaulieu. Designed about 1875 by robert neville Grenville of Glastonbury, it was built over fifteen years by Greville and his lifelong friend George Jackson Churchward (later Chief Mechanical engineer of the Great Western railway). The engine was a single-cylinder type mounted on the boiler, later replaced with a twin-cylinder engine. There is seating for four passengers plus the driver, the steersman and the fireman who is responsible for firing the boiler - he has a small seat in the engine compartment. On the flat, the carriage can reach just under 20mph. Grenville used the carriage for a few years but in 1898 he adapted it for use as a stationary engine driving a cider mill. around the same period, the internal combustion engined motor car appeared, together with lighter, efficient steam cars from america. It seems likely that Grenville lost interest in his revolutionary steam carriage. STOP PRESS: The Adrian Flux Classic (formerly the Classic Car & Bike Show) which had been cancelled is relocating to Beaulieu on 2nd August. 01590 612345, www.


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Sparks Interest

he 2009 Isle of Man TT will go down in the record books as one of the most historic and exciting in the event’s 102 year history, with race and lap records falling in just about every race and John McGuiness raising the outright lap record to just short of 132mph, despite slowing for a pit stop! However, it was one of the slowest races that attracted high media attention and one which featured prominently both American riders and machines. It was a race with an eye to the future, the first running of the TTX GP for electric motorcycles. While at the beginning of week there was a Missionaries – Stanford University’s Mission team made the history books by leading the field away Ian Kerr


Ian Kerr was at the inaugural alternative fuel event that might change the face of motorcycle racing

great deal of scepticism, by the end of Friday’s inaugural race there was admiration and a belief that those present had witnessed the dawn of the future of racing. With top speeds being clocked in excess of 100 mph and the winner’s lap time smashing the 1966 record for 50cc bikes, it was not a boring lap by any means. It was a quiet lap, though, with many feeling the lack of noise detracted from the proceedings. However, way back at the very first TT in 1907 who knows what those watching thought then. Would the Internal Combustion Engine ever catch on?

This year’s event represents a significant step in the transition away from carbon based fuels and will be a permanent fixture at the TT. It may be opened up to other non polluting means of propulsion and even vehicles with more wheels, who knows where the trail will lead in an effort to go ‘green’? Originally the race was to include all clean emission machines and alternative fuels. It ended up being for electric vehicles only, but still seems to have captured the imagination of people around the world. 22 bikes from seven countries entered, albeit only thirteen started. There were quite a number of US teams entered, the Mission Motors Team led by Forrest North from Stanford University, was number one. Ridden by experienced TT veteran and fellow American Thomas Montano it may not have won, but by being first away from the start, made the history books in a first position anyway! Then there was the fabulous and futuristic looking Motoczysz out of Portland, Oregon, best known for their C1 990 ground breaking race bike, who actually unveiled their entry at the TT just prior to the very first practice lap. This was ridden by Mark Miller, another US rider who had been doing very well in the racing during the week getting several

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replicas (TT trophies) for his efforts. Killacycle best known in the US for their electric drag bike were listed in the programme, but did not turn up in the end. However, Team Brammo based in Ashland, Oregon was one of the first to enter the inaugural event and ran two bikes one in each of the two classes, getting third with Mark Buckley in the Pro Class. They used a modified version of their Enertia motorcycle which is already commercially available in the US. Barefoot Motors again out of Ashland ridden by Chris Petty got a second place in the Open Class, while Electric Motorsport from the Bay Area of San Francisco, a green transport company and US licensed motorcycle manufacturer, won the same class with a 68mph average lap. This firm have already delivered over 200 electric motorcycles to customers in the June this year alone and their entry was a modified version of their GPR-S production model. So it was that at 10.30am Friday June 12th, 2009 the grid formed up full of machines connected to generators – in most cases for the bikes, but in some for tyre warmers as well. Spectators on the packed grid included members of the Indian High Commission present to see the Anglo Indian AGNI entry head away on the historic 37.73 mile lap. With the clock showing exactly 10.45, in almost ideal racing conditions, American Thomas Montano made history as he accelerated down the Glencrutchery Road on the Mission Motors entry followed by 12 other machines. At the first timing point at Glen Helen pre-race favorite Rob Barber on the AGNI was

leading Thomas Schoenfelder on the German XXL racing team entry, followed by James McBride on Ramsey Isle of Man’s entry, the Man TTx bike, then Roy Richardson on the first of the Brammo machines. Montano was sixth. Disappointment, though, for the Team Motoczysz machine ridden by Miller, as mechanical problems forced a retirement before reaching the first timing checkpoint. Barber had established a 1 minute 32 second lead at the halfway point from the German entry which he retained to the finish. Schoenfelder however did have the honour of setting the fastest speed ever recorded by an electric-powered bike at the Sulby speed trap – 106.5mph. Barber eventually took the chequered flag with a lap time of 25mins 53.5secs, an average speed of 87.434mph, to win the Pro Class. Schoenfelder held onto second place, more than three minutes down, with Mark Buckley on the Team Brammo

Last away but first home in Open Class, Mark Buckley on the American Brammo machine Ian Kerr

entry coming home third. As the Pro Class top three celebrated in a finish area full of jubilation and confusion, the Open Class continued to battle it out on the TT course. There was drama at the end of their lap when the leading Team Barefoot Motors Racing machine of Chris Petty slowed as he approached the finish line. Chris Heath on the Team Electric Motorsport entry seized the opportunity and took the lead, as a result taking the class win by more than 35 seconds. Manxman John Crellin, riding the Team Tork machine came home third to end the historic event full of Pioneers all! H Not any normal bike: Miller on the Portland, Oregon-based MotoCzysz Ian Kerr


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he 7 seater version of the car that nissan conceived as an urban SUV is now over a year old. Many american families in the UK have multiple kids, and those kids have friends, so is this crossover car the answer? The Qashqai+2 should work well on British streets. It was designed and engineered by nissan in europe and it’s built at nissan’s facility in Sunderland, north-east england. To make it large enough for the extra row of seats the wheelbase was extended by 5.3 inches, the car is 8.3 inches longer overall and it’s 1½ inches taller. Inside that equates to a spacious, airy feeling. The +2 extra ‘bums on seats’ are facilitated by a fold-flat bench. as a 6 ft 1 inch adult I wouldn’t want to spend too long back there, but the seats are comfortable for the intended users, kids, who queue up to go in back. There’s still enough room for four school bags, but not enough for two large collie dogs (the standard units of measurement round our house). Second row occupants get increased knee room over the five seater and the centre part of their backrests folds forward to act as a handy multi-func-


Qatch a

Qashqai+2 tion armrest with cupholders, a lidded storage box and a power outlet. Two new engines joined the line up in January 2009, a 1.6 liter petrol and a 1.5 diesel that offer combined cycle consumptions of 40.4 and 49.6mpg and VeD ‘car tax’ of £145 and £120 respectively. However, we drove the more muscular 2 litre diesel which performed effortlessly in city streets, on motorways and around rural roads. With a six speed automatic gearbox, 152bhp and 236 lb ft of torque, it claims 35.8mpg and the VeD will set you back £215. Whether the extra oomph is worth an extra £7,000 – the car we tested is £25,149, the entry-level 2WD 1.6 petrol is £18,495 (less credit crunch discounts – is up to you, but the 2 liter dCi feels more capable than the ‘little one’s. The optional, switchable four wheel drive system adds to the feeling of security – I drove one earlier in the year and it handles a light (or in english terms catastrophic) half inch fall of snow with aplomb, but make no mistake this is not a serious off-roader. Buy

nissan’s X-Trail if you need to go off the track occasionally or the boss Patrol for real dirt work. as ever, nissan’s ergonomics and gadgets are spot-on. I’ve loved the Birdview sat nav since it came out around nine years ago and this one was simple and easy to use with its 7 inch colour screen, and DVD mapping, never getting confused (unlike one in an X-Trail I drove last year – a rogue model?). There is an under floor storage compartment in the load area and kids love too the optional panoramic glass roof. When The american tested the original fiver seat Qashqai one of our drivers had serious misgiving about rear visibility, with a big blind spot that she thought could be dangerous when reversing. The seven seat Q+2 didn’t suffer nearly as much from this trait – it must be the extra length giving a better angle of view. altogether, the Q+2 is a great practical all-rounder for anyone with the regular need for more than five seats. H

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ESPN America to cease August 3

B Luol Deng lined up for Great Britain when they played the Czech Republic last year


NBA Stars expected for ‘Game On At The O2’


asketball fans awaiting October’s Bulls-Jazz matchup at London’s O2 Arena have an opportunity to enjoy some NBA calibre talent early this August. Game On At The 02 is a four nations tournament matching the best of UK, Turkish, Israeli and Polish talent. With Britain’s Luol Deng and Ben Gordon rumored to be lining up for Britain, the erstwhile Bulls will be playing their first of two events at the Thameside destination, which will host the 2012 Olympic tournament. Fans of the Toronto Raptors should find plenty of interest too, with Pops Mensah-Bonsu (Britain), and major free agent acquisition Hedo Turkoglu on the list of internationals potentially headed to the London tournament. The three-day event takes place August 14-16. For more information, visit

UFL looks at Europe


he possibility of the Stateside United Football League expanding into Europe was raised this past month by Commissioner Michael Huyghue. During a whistlestop tour of European cities including London, Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, Barcelona, Madrid and Rome, Huyghue described foreign expansion for the UFL as ‘very likely for year two or three’. The UFL begins play in the USA this October.

Guildford Heat announce McKnight as player-coach


he Guildford Heat have appointed American Chad McKnight as player-coach for the 2009/10 season. The BBL side parted with coach Paul James after his contract expired last season. 6'8" forward McKnight played with Guildford in 2006/07 and 2008/09 either side of a season with Leicester.

ritish and ex-pat fans of us sports are about to find ‘the home of American sports’ replaced by a new soccer-oriented incarnation of esPN. from August 3, esPN America (formerly NAsN) will be replaced by a broader sports channel, after the Disney-owned sports broadcasting company bought up the rights to show english Premier league games previously owned by setanta, who went into administration this past month. some us sports content is expected to remain on the new channel. The American’s Sports Editor, Richard L Gale comments: Clearly this development is a blow for UK-based fans of US sports – especially those whose interest in soccer is minimal. At press time, little solid information about future coverage was available. However, with 46 EPL games from the former Setanta rights, and Premiership games frequently being Sunday or mid-week events, scheduling clashes with baseball or the imminent college football season are not perhaps as pronounced as they may appear. It is also worth noting the speed with which ESPN was forced to move in order to secure the games surrendered by Setanta. It seems highly unlikely that in the longer-term ESPN will abandon US coverage it already has the rights to show. It may well be that the rebranding of Sky 417 to a less American offering is merely a stop-game measure while ESPN negotiates a new slot for an American sportsoriented channel, possibly before the end of the year. We shall see.


The American


Blake Griffin and Rick Rubio were the draftees of note, but the headline trade was a player almost as old as both of them combined. Richard L Gale grades the moves for NBA draft day. ATLANTA HAWKS


Jeff Teague (19, PG), Sergiy Gladyr (49, SG) Teague will contribute on offense soon, and fits an uptempo Hawks team, though he’s an unfinished product and would have been a single-digit selection had he stayed in school for another year. Advantage Hawks, but Gladyr was perhaps a little too down-the-road as their second selection. BOSTON CELTICS


Lester Hudson (58, SG) No 1st rounder (= Kevin Garnett), but TennesseeMartin product Hudson showed the tools against smaller schools, and fulfills need as a back-up point guard. Couldn’t have done much more. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS


Gerald Henderson (12, G-F), Derrick Brown (40, SF) Without taking anyone flashy, the Bobcats had a really nice draft. Henderson can really defend, and with Brown’s versatility Charlotte took two players that will tighten match-ups and keep games close. Ultimately, they represent playoff foundations.





Danny Green should see some minutes as a rookie, but what about that 30th pick – Derrick Brown? Sam Young? DeJuan Blair? No, Christian Eyenga, perhaps the 3rd best player on DKV Joventut. He has the athleticism to justify the pick one day, but the Cavs’ time is now. However, the show-stopping underpriced deal to land Shaquille O’Neal covers for that. LeBron and Shaq are practically a dream team on their own, as long as Shaq keeps not noticing he’s 37 years old. Enjoy this moment, Cavs fans, because this window could be very small.

I guess they wanted a forward, then. Not one of these is a sure thing – couldn’t they have packaged them into one solid guy? Also drafted Chase Budinger, but shopped him to Houston.



Drafting, then parting with center BJ Mullins for Beaubois is questionable. And later a team that was only 4 games short of the division title ends up resigning Jason Kidd to bridge the era-gap. Drafted Calathes, but he’s headed for Greece... it’s been a busy time in Dallas, but achieving what? DENVER NUGGETS


Stephen Curry (7, PG) Despite speculation Curry might be for sale, he’s staying put for now (– the Warriors may be another matter!). A one-player draft, but Curry’s shooting skills and fluid play fit need like a glove.


Rodrique Beaubois (25, PG, from Thunder), Nick Calathes (45, G, from T-Wolves), Ahmad Nivins (56, F)


James Johnson (16, PF), Taj Gibson (26, PF)

Ty Lawson (18, PG, via trade from T-wolves)

The Bulls didn’t land star appeal, although they probably tried for Tyler Hansbrough. They consoled themselves with the tough James Johnson, but why Gibson and not DeJuan Blair?

Needed PG. Got PG. Did the right thing trading a future 1st for speedy Lawson, who was undervalued in a sea of point guards. Great timing to get some crossover with Chauncey Billups.



Austin Daye (15, SF), DaJuan Summers (35, SF, from T-wolves), Jonas Jerebko (39, SF)



Jermaine Taylor (32, G, from Wizards), Sergio Llull (34, F, from Thunder), Chase Budinger (44, F, from Pistons) Spent a lot of money on other people’s picks, but Taylor brings points, Llull has European pro experience, and Houston mugged Detroit in getting PF Budinger. Good day for a team with no picks! INDIANA PACERS 


Christian Eyenga (30, SG), Danny Green (46, F), Emir Preldzic (57, F, from Suns)


Tyler Hansbrough (13, F), A.J. Price (52, G) Some felt Hansbrough didn’t warrant the 13th pick, but he wouldn’t have lasted much longer, and he’s a known commodity who will be at least significant off the bench for the next decade. But put both picks together, and this looks a little dull.

The American



Blake Griffin (1, PF) The now and future king, Blake Griffin: Real deal. They don’t get an A grade just for failing to not take Griffin. Thinking about adding Iverson? Unnecessary deal. Clippers need some of Lakers’ wins, not just their some of their publicity. LOS ANGELES LAKERS 


Chinemelu Elonu (59, F) Traded away two top-42 picks to gain cash and futures, theoretically so they could resign Ariza and Odom. Nice theory, but right now they have Elonu instead of Toney Douglas and no Odom. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES


Hasheem Thabeet (2, C), DeMarre Carroll (27, F), Sam Young (36, F) Memphis got their center, then added two can’tmiss contributors. Don’t expect game one impact, but 1x Big + 2x Tough equals a high grade. MIAMI HEAT 


Patrick Beverley (42, from Lakers), Robert Dozier (60, via Cavaliers) Both picks are athletic workers, Beverley a strong two-way player, and they didn’t overpay. But neither is likely to be a factor this year. Net gain of an extra 2nd for next year after some shuffling. MILWAUKEE BUCKS 


Brandon Jennings (10, PG), Jodie Meeks (41, SG) Traded SF Richard Jefferson, and probably should have take a forward rather than Meeks. Jennings’ speed is tempered by unproven range accuracy right now, but his potential is sky-high. NEW JERSEY NETS 


Terrence Williams (11, SG) Objective 1: Cap space. They traded Vince Carter. Objective 2: Damage limitation. Williams is as solid a plug-and-play as they could have taken, with an all-round game that will translate early.

The NBA trade of the day sent Shaquille O’Neal to join Lebron James in Cleveland © NBA Photos

The American

Photo Courtesy of the Minnesota Timberwolves/NBAE



Snap judgement on the T-Wolves draft was that they’d simply gone mad, with more guards than Buckingham Palace. First 18 year old Spanish phenom Rubio, then Flynn, then Lawson, Ellington, Calathes... But there is some method: Flynn and Ellington answer point and shooting guard needs, while Lawson and Calathes were traded, reinvesting the picks, plus a little cash on the side. Rubio was the headliner. The most talented PG in the draft, worries that he might stay in Spain saw him slide. Now, with Flynn already aboard, the T-Wolves have exclusive rights to negotiate with Rubio (who notably did show up for the draft, see above), or trade his rights – which are still worth more than a 5th, surely; as a worst-case scenario, he’s a sound investment. I’d call it devilishly clever if they hadn’t lost Randy Foye and Mike Miller to get to that 5th pick in the first place. No, not mad. Just very eccentric. GRADE: C+

Darren Collison (21, PG), Marcus Thornton (43, PG, from Heat) Needed a 4, and took two 1s. Collinson’s a good player, but didn’t remotely match need. Thornton brings points, which is good, but they spent two 2nds next year to get him. Doesn’t seem smart.


With Stephen Curry gone, the Knicks took the best PF in Hill. Douglas is a combo guard who ups the defense, and Darko Milicic arrived by trade. They didn’t get exactly what they wanted, but Knicks fans may not realize yet how good a day they had. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER


James Harden (3, SG), B.J. Mullens (24, C, from Mavs), Robert Vaden (54, G from Spurs) The 1st SG taken and the 2nd C looks on paper like a nice slice of talent. But I also wonder if Harden doesn’t lack fire, if Mullens is a little sloppy. The grade is a compromise between head and heart.


Ricky Rubio (5, PG), Jonny Flynn (6, PG), Wayne Ellington (28, SG), Henk Norel (47, F)



Jordan Hill (8, PF), Toney Douglas (29, SG)



No selections Blockbuster move: adding Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson, losing Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston and Tony Battie. Lee and Anderson being even, that’s Carter for Alston and Battie. Nice. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS 


Jrue Holiday (17, PG) A bit of a gamble. If Holiday checks out fit, he has bags of potential, but he’s such a projection, he might turn out to be an illusion.

end just added some bodies and bit-part players rather than a star. Mills’ speed could surprise. SACRAMENTO KINGS

Evans is an okay top 10 pick, but why not Rubio? They needed a PG, they went SF. Why be impatient with talent when you’re a 5th place team? These selections improve the Kings physicality at least. SAN ANTONIO SPURS 


Earl Clark (14, SF), Taylor Griffin (48, SF) If big, adaptable Clark doesn’t really have problems getting motivated... if Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic make up for Shaq’s physical presence... if Griffin was worth a pick ...this draft was great. But I suspect the reality is they took a calculated risk on Clark, cut some costs, and lost their eldest player. Which may still be a smart day’s work. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS


Victor Claver (22, PF), Jeff Pendergraph (31, PF), Dante Cunningham (33, SF), Patrick Mills (55, PG) The Blazers did some draft shuffling, but in the


DeJuan Blair (37, PF), Jack McClinton (51, SG), Nando De Colo (53, G) Blair is a year one starter for a second round pick, McClinton is worth a roster spot, while Nando de Colo could be another steal. The Spurs also acquired Richard Jefferson in a one-sided deal. No first round pick and they still aced the occasion. Sometimes it’s like the other teams don’t care. TORONTO RAPTORS 


DeMar DeRozan (9, SG) I promise I won’t over-use the word ‘upside’, but DeRozan is a bunch of it. Only problem is, he can’t shoot straight from the 3 point line. Shooting guard was a need, but until they’ve knocked the rough edges from DeRozan, maybe it still is. UTAH JAZZ 



Tyreke Evans (4, SG), Omri Casspi (23, SF), Jon Brockman (38, PF, from Blazers)


Eric Maynor (20, PG), Goran Suton (50, C-PF) You have Deron Williams, but you need the next gen. You also need PF depth. The Jazz made the draft look simple in a way the Wolves and Mavs didn’t, landing in Maynor the best player in temperament and talent to fit their needs. Maybe could have done a little better than Suton. WASHINGTON WIZARDS


No selections Traded the No. 5 pick for Randy Foye and Mike Miller gaining veterans who could contribute to their 2009/10 objectives. Fair call, but a backward glance at Rubio would be understandable. H

The American


August means training camps and preseason football. Richard L Gale decides he needs some training too


his evening I was cold-called. He wasn’t selling anything, he claimed, just wanted to ask me: if I had £1500 to spend, would I use it on (a) a conservatory, (b) double glazing, (c) a greenhouse, (d) ... well, I can’t quite remember what (d) was, but his motives were transparent, and I was already glazing over. I asked him if ‘a holiday’ was an option. It wasn’t. Did I want a conservatory instead? In fact, my instant thought had been a specific kind of holiday ...and as you’ve stumbled into the sports section, there’s no prize for anticipating the word ‘football’ about now. But this isn’t about gameday tickets; when it comes to watching sports, I’m happy with red button options, and I’ve never enjoyed myself in the stadium much more than I have back on the couch, five time zones away, because it isn’t the full football experience. Tailgating – now that’s football. That’s what I keep missing. At this point, you may be rolling your eyes at the whole beery, dreary, fat-bores-with-pick-up-trucks vibe of tailgating, rather than the clean living, all-American collegiate ideal that the image up there portrays – but that would be because you’ve been there, done that. But I haven’t, you see, and that eats at me as ravenously as the way I’d devour a plate of grilled Bratwurst (I imagine). Middle class English upbringing doesn’t include tailgating. We didn’t even have tail gates – station wagons

were called ‘estates’ and food wasn’t allowed on the upholstery. And so I’ve been harboring a terrible secret, a secret so shameful that it calls my very manliness into question: I’m 40 years old and I’ve never barbequed. Never.

Wet weekends

There are mitigating circumstances. For example, I was raised in Cornwall, where the drizzle was so dense and frequent that I once failed a school art assignment to sit at our bedroom windows and draw the view – our village simply didn’t have a view that week. Wet weather kept me indoors, so I discovered NFL coverage instead of going out and discovering fire. I can recall owning several barbeques as I grew older, each bought some rare glorious summer day, but each was destined to rust away in a damp shed. Now we have plenty of summer days, which is why Mrs Football – from sunnier climes than I – bought a barbeque last year in the mistaken belief that I would succumb to some primal male instinct to petrol-bomb some beefburgers. But I haven’t, and I feel no jealousy when I see the little garden alcoves other husbands build to house their sausage incinerators. I glanced at our latest, unused barbeque earlier today, resigning myself to some approaching effort to sufficiently cremate chicken drumsticks. The process will take five

times as long and be ten times as messy as grilling them indoors, yet as I looked at that barbeque, I realized what disappoints me most about British barbeques: they’re too small, too fixed ...and they don’t come with a pick-up. If only I’d been raised on US parking lots instead of English patios, maybe I’d feel different. So what would I do with £1500 right now? Two tickets to the US, rental on a Chevy Silverado, a serious BBQ and as much pig and cow as the rest of the money can buy.

Man up!

Enough is enough – it’s time to man up and get grillin’. This month, in practice for when live college football season returns to our screens (‘when’, y’hear me, ESPN? – not ‘if ’!), I’m going to clear the front lot of cars, set up my puny barbeque (plus all of my neighbor’s – he’s been a father for 17 years, so his garage is loaded with them) and we’re going to burn a whole farmyard out there. willing, of course. Failing that, we’ll be over my other neighbor’s house having a cup of tea. Apparently he’s getting a new conservatory. H


The American

Tail End

Paw Talk, or My Life as a Dog in London by Rebel.


ave a wonderful time in France,” She-Who-Must-BeObeyed-Usually,” calls out as we drive away in Fiona’s mistress’s ancient Land Rover heading for a vacation in the south of France. Lady Max is in the passenger seat, Irwin, the chauffeur behind the wheel, Fiona’s mistress, Cookie, as her friends call her for obvious reasons, in the rear seat with Fiona in her gold cage in the middle and me squeezed tightly between the cage and the window. Fortunately, Fiona and my papers are in order and the custom officer waves us through. I’m asleep by the time the train reaches France, dreaming happily of a handsome French dog I hope to meet when Cookie decides we must lunch at a nearby Michelin starred restaurant. The French, being civilized people, allow Fiona and me to dine in the restaurant. With visions of kidneys on toast, sweetbreads delicately fried in butter and the remains of Lady Max’s steak going through my head I am feeling quite content until I hear Lady Max exclaim, “Oh, I left Rebel’s dog food on the table at her flat.” . “Rebel can share Fiona’s lunch,” Cookie tells her and seconds later shoves a silver plate with cod fish tails cooked in oyster and clam sauce under the table. I’m a dog. I bark. I hate fish. I’m a carnivore like my wolf ancestors. In her cage, Fiona gives me her Cheshire cat grin. “The fish is quite lovely,” she purrs. “If you don’t like it, I’ll eat it.” I hear Lady Max order a


first course of liver pâté then duck à l’orange. Thankfully Fiona slips out of her cage and eats the fish. At least I’m thankful until Lady Max looks under the table and tells me “Good, you enjoyed the fish, Rebel, or I would have shared my lunch with you.” My empty stomach now rumbling, we return to the Land Rover where Cookie offers chocolate chip cookies to Lady Max and Irwin and gives Fiona and me dried fish skins to chew on. Now starving, I choke down the fish skins… which I bring up five minutes later. Cookie becomes become hysterical and Irwin has to pull into a parking lot of a fast food restaurant. While he’s cleaning up my mess, I spot two huge scroungey looking dogs eating out of a large container of left over food. “There’s plenty for all of us,” the dirtiest of the two calls out in French and of course, I do. Ten minutes later,

I leave my filthy friends and return to the car just as Irwin finishes and seconds later we take off once more... My stomach filled with hamburger and sausage I am almost asleep when Fiona lets out a hysterical meow. “Rebel, a tiny little bug flew off your fur onto me.” I remember one of the scruffy dogs scratching himself while we ate. “Don’t worry, Fi,” I tell her. “SheWho-Must-Be-Obeyed-Usually had Dr. Ram give me an injection against fleas and ticks.” Fiona shudders at the word injection. Of course, protecting me doesn’t mean Fiona is protected, I note, as two more fleas do a leap-frog from my white fur onto hers. Lady Max remarks in that dramatic actress way, “I am so looking forward to the calm and peace of the next week.” So am I, I decide, as I watch a flea burrowing itself under Fiona’s fur. At least calm for me. H

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The American August 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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