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December 2009

THE ESSENTIAL MONTHLY FOR ALL AMERICANS

Est. 1976

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

Happy Holidays The festive season in the UK

Win Theater Tickets To see ENRON and more

Something to Mull Christmas Drink Recipes


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The American Issue 680 – December 2009 Published by Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Old Byre House, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK Publisher: Michael Burland +44 (0)1747 830328 theamerican@blueedge.co.uk Please contact us with your news or article ideas Advertising & Promotions: Sabrina Sully, Commercial Director +44 (0)1747 830520 sabrina.theamerican@blueedge.co.uk Subscriptions enquiries: Phone +44 (0)1747 830328, email theamerican@blueedge.co.uk Correspondents: Virginia Schultz, Wining & Dining virginias@blueedge.co.uk Mary Bailey, Social maryb@blueedge.co.uk Cece Mills, Arts cecem@blueedge.co.uk Jarlath O’Connell, Theater jarlatho@blueedge.co.uk Richard Gale, Sports Editor richardg@blueedge.co.uk Dom Mills, Motorsports domm@blueedge.co.uk Jeremy Lanaway, Hockey jeremyl@blueedge.co.uk Riki Evans Johnson, European rikie@blueedge.co.uk

Welcome L

ife got serious during 2009. We have suffered the fallout of the financial crash, swine flu, foreign wars, and climate change is going to roast or freeze us, depending on which scientists you believe. However, there is always another side to life. In this issue, we have lots of ideas for what to do over the holidays, reviews of stunning shows, an in-depth look at the fall of the Berlin Wall and an interview with the irrepressible Thomas Lauderdale of Pink Martini. There are competitions to win fabulous 3D books of historic America, entry to a great comedy show and the hottest tickets in town – Enron – and a whole lot more. By ‘we’ I mean Americans in the US, American expats in the UK, Americans in Europe, and even quite a few British, because our readers and subscribers now include all those people. (May I humbly suggest that a subscription to The American would make a great present for a loved one – or even yourself!) From all the staff and contributors of The American, a very Happy Holidays to all our readers. Enjoy your magazine and website,

Michael Burland, Editor

SOME OF THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS

©2009 Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Printed by Advent Colour Ltd., 19 East Portway Industrial Estate, Andover, SP10 3LU www.advent-colour.co.uk Main cover image: Ice skating at Hampton Court Palace. Inset: Mulled wine is just one of the festive treats to be found in this month’s Cellar Talk.

Lucy Thomas is a lawyer with deep experience of transatlantic divorces. Her article could help if you are in marital disharmony.

Col. Iain Standen is an expert on the battles of the American Civil War. He reviews an important new Civil War book.

Dr. Alison Holmes, Pierre Keller Fellow of Transatlantic Studies at Yale University, looks at the fall of Communism and what happened next.

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

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PHOTO: CATHERINE ASHMORE

The American

In This Issue... TheAmerican•Issue680•December2009

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News  ildenhallhostsamockAfghanmission,Americanstudentshelp M aschoolinAfrica,andaBritishcomedianhitsHollywood– WINticketstoherLondongig.

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Diary Dates ThereissomuchtodoinBritaininDecember.

12 Music  HighlightsoftheBMICountryAwardsincludedaBMIIconAwardfor KrisKristofferson.AndTheFacesreform,foronenightonly! 19 Profle: Maxine Howe  TheLondonbasedAmericanactressonherlifeandloves.

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19 Avoid Winter Slips with our Winter Tips  SurvivetheworstthattheUKcanthrowatyouinthecoldestmonths. 20 Holiday Fun in Britain  AselectionofHolidaySeasonevents,speciallychosenforyou. 22 Destroying the World’s Heritage  Historicalartifactsareunderthreat.Whocansavethem? 24 Coffee Break  Takefivewithourfunpages.

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Cut Out to Do


The American

26 Wining & Dining  VirginiaESchultz’srestaurantreviews, icludetheMeatandWineCo,plussome greatholidaydrinksrecipes. 31 Arts  CeceMillsandEstelleLovattroundupthe bestexhibitionsandgiveyouthelowdown onthenewsintheartsscene.

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38 Reviews  JarlathO’ConnellreviewsnewLondonproductionsofMotherCourageandTurandot. WINapairofticketstoseeEnronasit transferstotheWestEnd.WINasetof incredible3DbooksofoldAmerica.

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44 Law  Weallhopeitwillneverhappentous, butifyourmarriagebreaksdownwhat woulddivorceBritish-stylemeantoryou? LucyThomasexplains.

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© GARY BAKER

48 Drive Time  It’sdifferentdrivingintheUKthanback home.Staysafeinthewinter.

© JANN FORGET

46 Politics  Twentyyearsafterthefallofthe BerlinWall,howhastheworkdsituation changed?

50 Sports  DomMillsreviewstheFormula1season, JeremyLanawaysays‘getwellsoon’toAlex Ovechkin,plusanNFLWembleygallery.

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56 American organizations  Yourcomprehensiveguideandaprofile ofDemocratsAbroad. 64 Paw Talk  Rebelhastroublemakingcookiesfor Santa’sreindeer. 3


The American American Legion Christmas Luncheon London Post 1, The American Legion, has its annual Christmas Luncheon on Tuesday, 8 December 2009, at the Victory Services Club (VSC) in London. Get in touch with Adjutant Wheeling as soon as possible on +44-(0)1353-722775 or by email at LondonPost1.AmericanLegion@ virgin.net. The cost is £25.00 per person for members and guests. (Widows of the Post need not pay). Carl Wheeling says, “Our Christmas luncheon event is always enjoyable having good company, excellent food and an interesting speaker. All and all, it’s definitely great value for the money.”

Remembrance Day Services Across the UK, on Remembrance Sunday (November 8th) and Armistice Day (the 11th) millions of people of many nationalities stopped to pay their respects to the men and women who died in the two World Wars and later actions. One that was attended by American representatives was at Imperial War Museum Duxford, near Cambridge. On Remembrance Sunday a twominute silence was observed across the Museum at 11.00am, followed by acandle-lighting ceremony in the American Air Museum, to honour the US Forces who fought and died in the Second World War and contemporary conflicts. A packed audience attended the Remembrance Service, where wreaths were laid by representatives of Imperial War Museum Duxford, the 3rd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment, United States Air Force in Europe, Airborne Assault Museum and other organisations. Children were encourage to make their own poppy and attach it, with a message, to the poppy wall in the Museum’s AirSpace.

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Embassy News www.usembassy.org.uk

Sale of London Embassy

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he Embassy has more details about the sale of the world-famous Embassy building in Central London. The U.S. State Department has entered into an agreement to sell the Chancery in London, located in Grosvenor Square. The sale is to Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company headquartered in Doha, Qatar. The agreement was signed for the United States by the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Louis B. Susman. With the signing of this contract the United States takes another step towards relocating to a new state-ofthe-art embassy which will enhance the urban fabric of London and demonstrate exceptional American architecture. The construction of the new U.S. Embassy in the Nine Elms area of Wandsworth will provide a modern, open and secure American diplomatic facility in London. In early 2010, the State Department will announce a winner of the design competition for the new U.S. Embassy in London. Actual groundbreaking will depend on many factors, but it is hoped that construction will begin in 2012 or 2013 with the project completed by 2016 or 2017. The United States will continue to occupy the chancery in Grosvenor Square until the relocation is complete.

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

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he Embassy would like to remind everyone that notary services are provided by appointment only, to American and non-American citizens who need to have documents notarized for use in the United States. Appointments cannot be made by telephone. Due to government regulations, the Embassy cannot notarize, legalize or authenticate the following: U.S. State-issued documents for use in other countries (e.g. U.S. birth, marriage, death certificates); W-7 Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs); Medallion Signature Guarantees (PDF, 50Kb, updated 03/09); U.S. academic credentials; Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support); Certified copies (“true copies”) of original non-U.S. documents (i.e., UK passports).


The American

Churchill Lecture

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he 2009 English-Speaking Union Churchill Lecture will take place at Guildhall, London. The guest speaker is Her Excellency Madam Fu Ying, Chinese Ambassador to the Court of St James, who will speak on The Changing Relationship between China and the World. The event will be followed by a wine and canapé reception. Tickets: £30 for ESU members, £45 for non-members, VIP ticket £100 including preferential seating and champagne reception. The ESU has the right to celebrate the anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s birth with a suitable event. Churchill played an active part in the ESU and for a time was its Chairman. After his death, Lady Spencer Churchill approved such an event whch, since 1974, has taken the form of an annual lecture.

Cornell: Half US Children Will Use Food Stamps

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shock report from Cornell University claims that nearly half of all American children will eat meals paid for by food stamps at some point, nearly a quarter for five or more years. The figures are even worse for African-American children and those who live in single-parent households, 90 percent of whom will need food stamps. “Children in poverty are significantly more likely to experience a range of health problems, including low birth weight, lead poisoning, asthma, mental health disorders, delayed immunization, dental problems and accidental death,” writes Hirschl. “Poverty during childhood is also associated with a host of health, economic and social problems later in life.” It also adds $22 billion per year in health care costs.

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MSgt. Patricia Vandergrift fits an honorary commander with body armor USAF/SRA THOMAS TROWER

Honorary Commanders Survive ‘Deployment’

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ocal dignitaries and their guests experienced the lighter side of military deployments at RAF Mildenhall, on October 29. The ‘honorary commanders’ enjoyed a day of deployment training, equipment issue and demonstrations, a field lunch, and a shuttle on a special operations MC-130H airplane to a mock Afghan deployment zone. “We wanted to make the experience as real as possible,” said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace, RAF Mildenhall community relations. “The honorary commanders witnessed a variety of war-related procedures, ate what our Airmen eat while deployed and even asked the Airmen volunteers to step up their role playing to stress the honorary commanders out during their simulated flight and deployment training.” As the students prepared, Staff Sgt. Ed Bourgeois, 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron told them, “You have been tasked to deploy into the heart of Afghanistan as part of a secret, special civilian oversight team, to review the progress of the International Security Assistance Force’s reconstruction efforts in the country. This is a dangerous mission.” The visitors were kitted out with body armor, gas masks and chemical

warfare clothing, received an intelligence briefing, then taxied in the MC-130H across the flightline to ‘Camp Kabul’. “Welcome to Camp Kabul. You are now in the heart of Taliban territory and things could heat up around here at a moment’s notice,” announced Senior Airman Christopher Sherfinski, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron. “It is my staff ’s job to get you guys prepared for your outsidethe-wire mission.” A fast lunch break gave the visitors an opportunity to try MREs, vacuum-sealed, individual field rations used in combat. They finished their day by receiving chemical warfare and military working dog demonstrations and learning the fundamentals of Self Aid and Buddy Care. A crash course in improvised explosive devices showed the leaders what deployed servicemembers face on a daily basis. “We hope today allowed our honorary commanders and their guests a hands-on chance to experience a bit of what our Airmen go through when they deploy,” said Sergeant Wallace. “The association between base commanders and their honorary commanders is vital to foster and maintain healthy British-American relationships.”


The American

United Introduces Three New Countries to Global Network

U Wanted: Fairies

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he Rose Theatre in Kingston, Surrey, is offering local young budding actresses an exciting opportunity to perform alongside Dame Judi Dench in their production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Directed by Sir Peter Hall, the production will be set in Elizabethan England and has Judi Dench (pictured above) playing the role of the Fairy Queen Titania. The Rose Theatre is looking for girls aged 7 to 12 to play fairies, in nonspeaking roles. The children must attend school in the Royal Borough of Kingston. Application forms to audition are available from www.rosetheatrekingston.org or from the Stage Door by calling 020 8546 6983. The girls will have a maximum of two minutes to show off and display their best talent – whether it be singing, reciting a poem, dancing or whatever special talent they possess. They must also be able to listen, focus and be still. There are 50 audition places available and these will be allocated to the first applications received. Auditions will be held on Sunday December 13 between 11.30am and 4pm at the Rose Theatre, Kingston. Rehearsals are from January 25 to February 1 and the production will run from February 9 to March 20.

Help Save the BFPO

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ebra Stevens, the wife of a serving commissioned officer in the British armed forces, is asking for help in saving the British Forces Post Office, parts of which are under threat of closure. She writes: Please sign this petition. Though we all understand that defence cuts are to be made, this is an area which affects the families in particular. The BFPO system is the mechanism whereby post is received by our serving soldiers and their families abroad at a postal address recognised as being part of this country, no matter where in the world they are serving, even in war zones.

Amongst other things this disenfranchises them if they are postal voters; some credit card providers will not send cards abroad whereas they will to a BFPO address; it may affect their ability to let their house whilst posted abroad, or away from home; it may take away tax advantages. Open University students who have a BFPO address will be charged higher fees; it will potentially affect children of serving soldiers when they go to University, as they may not be eligible for student loans and will be charged higher fees as they live abroad.” The petition is online at http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/SaveBFPO/sign

nited Airlines is used by many readers of The American to fly around the world as well as between the UK and USA, so they will be interested to hear that the airline has announced its first-ever service from Africa in 2010, one daily, same-plane service from Accra and Lagos to Washington D.C. The airline also will extend its existing daily Kuwait to Washington DC flight to include Bahrain, and will offer a new non-stop flight between Brussels and Chicago. Introduction of all of the new services is subject to government approval. “Our first-ever non-stop service to Africa will offer customers convenient and comfortable travel opportunities to visit two of the fastest-growing ities in the continent,” says Kevin Knight, senior vice president of planning. “In addition, our new services to Bahrain and Brussels will open more international routes to our customers throughout Europe and the Middle East.” The Brussels flights offer convenient onward connections on Brussels Airlines – which joins the Star Alliance on December 9 – to points in Europe and Africa. The Chicago-Brussels services are timed to offer convenient connections at Chicago O’Hare to and from dozens of cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico.




The American

ACS egham students help to improve the facilities at Bingwa School in Kenya

British Comic Gina Yashere Wows US TV

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ina Yashere has been a big name in UK comedy for years. Her cheeky observations have wowed audiences here – and now she’s taking the US by storm. She has become the first Briton to appear on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam. As a result Gina has found herself the toast of the Hollywood Hills and is now based Stateside. Now she’s returning to Deptford! After a string of sell-out shows at The Albany over the years, she returns on Thursday 10 & Friday 11 December. Gina hails from London via Nigeria, her unique humor coming from being both cultural insider and outsider. Following an early career as an elevator engineer, she made her comedy debut at The Edinburgh Festival in 1995. Her show at the Albany takes a funny look at the differences she has observed between Britain and America.

WIN TICKETS

WANT TO SEE GINA’S SHOW AT THE ALBANY ON DECEMBER 10? Email your contact details to theamerican@blueedge.co.uk with GINA in the subject line. One lucky reader will be picked at random at mid-day, December 7th.

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American Students Help Rebuild Kenyan School

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our American expatriates from ACS Egham International School travelled to Kenya in November as part of a long-term sponsorship project with The Bingwa School in Kenya, Africa. ACS Egham sent 14 students, including American expatriates Andrew Irving, Sarah Brown, Will French and Kelsey Kreatchman, along with two staff to take part in project work aimed at creating a sustainable learning environment and better quality of life for the children at Bingwa School. The Bingwa School is located just outside of Nanyuki. It is run be headmaster Peter Maina and educates over 650 children aged six to fifteen years. Class sizes range from between 40 and 60 children per classroom and there are a number of buildings constructed from wood and corrugated iron that are in desperate need of repairs. Andrew Irving commented, “We’ve made an impact on a huge community which is probably a reward most people don’t get the chance of having” The reciprocal partnership between ACS Egham and Bingwa School is aimed at not only improving the learning environment and facilities for the pupils at Bingwa, but also providing

ACS Egham students with moral, spiritual, social and cultural development. The ACS students raised in excess of £5,500 in order to take part in the trip, through a variety of fundraising activities including cake sales, car-boot sales, movie nights, a sponsored marathon run by the two participating teachers Lyndal Tonkies and Bill Roach and a fundraising dinner at Jagz in Ascot. Lyndal, a teacher at ACS Egham who organised the trip with Bill, explained how the project actually fits into the students studies. “We have been working with various members of staff across the school to develop a plan for incorporating the project into the whole school community. The International Baccalaureate (IB) particularly encourages interdisciplinary learning and so this year we have developed an interdisciplinary theme across the school on the issue of ‘poverty in education’ – a subject that the students on the Kenya trip have had first hand experience of and can share with their peers.” Lyndal, Bill and the ACS students also managed to take part in some recreational activities whilst out in Kenya including climbing Mount Kenya, white water rafting and taking part in a safari.


The American

Diary Dates

Your Guide To The Month Ahead

Get your event listed in The American – call the editor on +44 (0)14 830520, or email details to editor@theamerican.co.uk The Advent Procession – From Darkness to Light Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury Begins with the cathedral in total darkness and silence as the Advent Candle is lit at the West End. The service is a mix of music and readings during which two great processions move around the entire building which is, by the end, illuminated by almost 1300 candles. Arrive early for seasonal refreshments in the Cloisters. www.salisburycathedral.org.uk November 28-29 Christmas at Sulgrave Manor Sulgrave Manor, Manor Road, Sulgrave, Nr. Banbury, Oxfordshire OX17 2SD The Birthplace of George Washington’s Ancestors hosts a Christmas Market on Nov 28; a Baroque Concert on Dec 5; Yuletide with the Lord or Lady of the Manor telling of the customs and traditions of Christmas past on Dec 13; and Wyndebagge the Piper ‘wassailing’ the orchard for a good crop next year on Dec 27. www.sulgravemanor.org.uk November 28 to December 27 The Purcell Singers conducted by Mark Ford St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge, London SW1 A concert of American Choral Music: Copland In The Beginning and Four Motets; Whitacre When David Heard and Sleep; Barber Reincarnations and Angnus Dei; Lauridsen Ave Maria, Les Chansons des Roses and

O Magnum Mysterium. Tickets also available on the door. www.ticketweb.co.uk 0844–477–1000 November 28 British Heart Foundation Santa Jogs Get into the Christmas spirit and give yourself a work out at the same time at one of the BHF’s Santa Jogs. Suitable for people of all ages and abilities, varying from 2K to 5K in distance, participants can run, jog or walk the course. All adults receive a free Santa Suit and children are invited to join their parents in fancy dress. Entry £10 adults, £5 under-14s. www.bhf.org.uk/santajogs 0845 130 8663 November 29: Swansea Waterfront,; Victoria Park, Newbury; and Calverley Grounds, Tunbridge Wells. December 6: Lowry Plaza, Salford Quays; Bute Park, Cardiff; Eastrop Park, Basingstoke; Willen Lake, Milton Keynes; and Clarence Dock, Leeds. December 13: Prospect Park, Reading. Franklin the Spy Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, London WC2N 5NF The late C18th was a turbulent time, with the American War of Independence and the French Revolution. Espionage was common, and countless prominent figures were accused of spying for other nations – including Franklin himself. 6.30pm £5/£3.50 www.benjaminfranklinhouse.org info@benjaminfranklinhouse.org December 3

Traditional Christmas Market at Waterperry Gardens Waterperry, Near Wheatley, Oxfordshire OX33 1JZ Oxfordshire artists bring a creative touch to the festivities at Waterperry, selling their unique, affordable gift ideas in a traditional setting. There’ll also be demonstrations of how to make imaginative Christmas wreaths and table decorations, Waterperry– grown Christmas trees on sale and festive food and drink from the Pear Tree Teashop. Local butcher Mr Finn’s will be at the market, along with Rumsey’s Chocolates. Face painting, free visits to Santa for the under 10s and the ornamental gardens will be open. The antidote to commercial Christmas celebrations and the perfect festive day out for all the family. www.waterperrygardens.co.uk events@waterperrygardens.co.uk 01844 339226 November 28-29

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The American

Unicorn Theatre 147 Tooley Street, Southwark, London SE1 2HZ A giant revolving boat is the setting for the Unicorn’s Cinderella this Christmas. This madcap take on the classic fairytale promises magic tricks, live music and plenty of butterflies! Have fun with the whole family by joining a Family Day. www.unicorntheatre.com boxoffice@unicorntheatre.com 020 7645 0560 December 6 to January 24

Nostalgic 1940s Christmas at IWM Duxford Imperial War Museum, RAF Duxford, Cambridgeshire Travel back in time with us to the 1940s and make merry with a vintage–inspired seasonal treat. At the heart of the historic airfield sits Wing Co Joe’s, IWM Duxford’s Grade II listed restaurant, which will be transformed into a fabulous ‘40s venue for Christmas, complete with Home Front decorations and wartime–inspired seasonal menu by Digby Trout Restaurants. Christmas on the Home Front is evoked with comforting winter fare — Winter Vegetable Soup made with Dig for Victory home–grown vegetables; Traditional Turkey Dinner; ‘Mock Turkey’ Roast, with a food ration twist, and Wartime Christmas Pudding. So, ladies, put on your best ‘40s tea dress, paint on those stocking seams, grab that RAF fly boy and enjoy a Christmas celebration with a difference. duxford.iwm.org.uk duxfordconferences@digbytrout. co.uk. Digby Trout: 01223 497 501 November 30 to January 15

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Christmas in New York – in London Prince of Wales Theatre, Covent Street, London W1 Christmas in New York is the West End’s annual celebration of seasonal songs and classic carols, evoking a magical time of year in a much loved city. www.christmasinnewyork.co.uk 0844 482 5110 December 6 The Great American Seasonal Songbook New End Theatre, 27 New End, Hampstead, London NW3 1JD World renowned singer songwriter, David Martin, who penned Barry Manilow’s classic ‘Can’t Smile Without You’ will sing with Louisa Parry songs by Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Rogers & Hammerstein, Rogers & Hart and others. www.newendtheatre.co.uk 0870 033 2733 December 8 to January 10 Fulbright Commission: BFSA AGM and Annual Lecture The University of Notre Dame, 1 Suffolk Street, London SW1 4HG Guest Speaker: Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, on ‘Taking Liberties: The cost of insecurities’. AGM 6.30pm; Lecture 7pm; Wine reception 8pm; BFSA members are free, Guests £15.00. You must register with the BFSA office. bfsa@fulbright.co.uk 020 7405 6750 December 9, 2009

MGLive! Silverstone Circuit, Northamptonshire NN12 8TN A range of new features make this the biggest and best MG event. www.mglive.com 01235 555552 December 10-12 Christmas at Warwick Castle Warwick Castle, Midlands Christmas storytelling, carol singing, Christmas crafts to learn, the Fairy Godmother and Santa’s Grotto, Breakfast with Santa, Christmas Lunches, Christmas Party Nights, New Year’s Eve Mediaeval Banquet, and Candlelit Tours. www.warwick–castle.com 0870 442 2375 December 12 to January 3 The Christmas Procession – From Darkness to Light Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury The Christmas Procession is the Cathedral’s carol service with readings interspersed between carols. Here the focus of the procession is the Christmas Crib which shows the story of the birth of Jesus. www.salisburycathedral.org.uk December 21-22 Midwinter sun in an ancient tomb Maeshowe, Orkney, Scotland At one of the finest architectural achievements of prehistoric Europe, older than the Egyptian pyramids. At sunset on midwinter’s day (21 December, the winter solstice) the sun shines down the length of the entrance passage and dramatically illuminates the back wall of the main chamber for a few minutes. www.maeshowe.co.uk December 21 Tom Bawcock’s Eve Mousehole, Cornwall A festival held in celebration of the efforts of one Tom Bawcock to lift a famine from the village. During this festival Star Gazy pie (a mixed fish, egg


and potato pie with protruding fish heads) is eaten. Probably derived from a pre–Christian midwinter festival. www.information–britain.co.uk December 23 Uppies And Doonies: The Ba’ Kirkwall, Orkney Islands A mad mass game of ‘football’. The aim of the game is for teams to carry the ba’ to their own territories at the opposite ends of Kirkwall. www.bagame.com December 25 Boxing Day Walrus Dip Pembrey Country Park, near Llanelli, Carmarthenshire A great spectator activity. In the past, swimmers have come dressed as anything from bananas to fish to walruses. www.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/eng/ index.asp December 26 New Year’s Eve / Hogmanay Across the UK New Year’s Eve is a massive celebration in Britain, with public and private parties everywhere. Particularly in Scotland, where it is called Hogmanay. Listed as one of the ‘Top 100 things

Peter & the Wolf Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London SE1 8XX A Polish/British film version of Prokofiev’s classic morality tale for children, Peter & the Wolf, returns to the Royal Festival Hall for six shows. Featuring live performance by the Philharmonia Orchestra and a newly–commissioned script by Artist in Residence Simon Armitage, Peter & the Wolf Live on Stage is one of the musical and theatrical highlights of Southbank Centre’s 2009 Christmas season for all the family. www.southbankcentre.co.uk December 28 to December 30

to do before you die’, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party brings Princes Street and the Gardens alive with festivities, around 100,000 revellers gathering to bring in 2009 in style. One of the world’s biggest outdoor parties it includes candle–lit concerts, ceilidhs and rock–bands. www.edinburghfestivals.co.uk December 31 Flaming Barrels Allendale, Northumberland The custom of men welcoming in the New Year by carrying pans of blazing tar on their heads is still kept alive in Allendale, Northumberland on New Year’s Eve www.northern–pennines.co.uk December 31 Stonehaven Fireballing Festival Old Market Cross, Stonehaven, Kincardineshire, Scotland Thousands gather at the Old Market Cross in the fishing port of Stonehaven for this fiery festival to welcome in the New Year. Participants whirl baskets of fire around their heads as they march to the High Street and back to the harbour. www.stonehavenfireballs.co.uk December 31

The American Museum in Britain American Museum in Britain Claverton Manor, Bath BA2 7BD 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:

THIS MoNTH DeCeMBer 1-13 Flights of Fancy exhibition; DeCeMBer 13 Special event, Holiday Homecoming 12pm – 4.30pm Carolling and Father Christmas, mulled wine and holiday shopping, see how a gingerbread house is made and hear special guest Annabel Claridge reading from the new book in her Bo the Poodle series, Iron Horses. Through the month there are Workshops on creating folk art Christmas trees for the mantel piece using traditional techniques; Stencilled Christmas Tree Skirt using folk art motifs inspired by the Museum’s Stencilled Bedroom; a Let Love Reign Wall Hanging, the perfect gift for someone you love; please bring your basic sewing kit. Cost: £50.00 for members, £55.00 for non–members. The Museum is closed from December 14 to until March 13 2010

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

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The

Interview

Pour Yourself A Pink Martini Pink Martini’s leader Thomas M Lauderdale talks to Michael Burland about their new album Splendor In The Grass, multilingual music and why modern pop is really bleak. Pink Martini is a great name, but, how can I put this, it sounds quite camp. It does! It takes me back to happy times. In our first performances I was wearing cocktail dresses… it was really campy. Then we started traveling and recording and it became a much more serious thing, but you couldn’t change the name suddenly. I don’t even know what I would call it if we wanted to change the name.

answer song, ‘But Now I’m Back’. And in the song, ‘Splendor In The Grass’, you have Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 don’t you? We do! It was originally in three [waltz time] and in B flat [he plays it] but we lowered it to A and played in four – my piano teacher’s going to kill me. The nice thing is that hardcore classical musicians who hear these songs really love them.

Many tracks on Pink Martini’s albums sound like old ’40s tunes, or ’50s numbers from Argentina, but are actually your originals. Where do you all get the inspiration from? Jeez, where does it come from? It comes from all over, from everything that’s surrounding us. It comes our record collections, the things we do, things we’re thinking about. There are a lot of classical music references on this album. For example, there are two songs on the album, ‘And Then You’re Gone’ and ‘But Now I’m Back’, which came from a piece by Franz Schubert. The music was sitting on my piano one day – it’s the piece that goes [plays Schubert’s Fantasy in F Minor for Piano Four-Hands]. Suddenly Alex Marashian was humming along, then he added the phrase “And then you’re gone”. It seemed so funny.

‘Splendor In The Grass’ starts off like a Jackie de Shannon song from the 60s. That’s fantastic! I love Jackie de Shannon.

It is, especially when you add the swing rhythm and then come back with the

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You’re all pretty young, but a lot of your musical references come from before you were born. How did you all get such a love for this sort of music? It’s better! More melodic. Modern pop music is really bleak. What’s so great about American pop music pre’64 is that everything is gorgeous and timeless. A lot of our goal is to recreate music which has that sort of feel, yet is modern. The band comes from a lot of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Did that lead to all the languages you sing in? I’m surprised that nobody else has done this kind of band in recent years. Connie Francis used to release albums in all kinds of languages. Apart from the Native Americans, Americans are all

from other places. It makes sense that we would perform in diverse languages. You do a lot of work with the Oregon Symphony and other orchestras. Is Pink Martini the main event for you? It’s the main thing. It’s amazing, I can’t believe that it actually works. To be an independent band of this size, traveling in Europe and across the States, it seems preposterous that it could work out. Where are you most popular around the world? We spend a lot of time in France. Greece and Turkey we’re doing really well. Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, not so much Germany. Italy, Australia. We went to Damascus, Syria and we went to the Lebanon once. In the United States we’re popular wherever we go. NPR, National Public Radio, has been a real champion of the band. And the UK’s starting to catch on. How were you received in Syria? Did you feel there was a political element to it? An American band traveling across the Middle East? Absolutely! It went really well. It’s great being an American band performing songs in Arabic. Things got weird once George Bush got elected though. Were you politically active at college? At college I mostly threw parties.


The American

Thomas, pictured under China’s legs on the couch

I would like to get more active in politics, but I would first have to write the ‘tell all’ book! My kids love Splendor In The Grass, but the song that confused them is the cover of ‘Piensa en Mi’ sung by Chavela Vargas. You have to know her story to appreciate it. [Vargas, a legendary Mexican ranchera singer, was once the guntoting, whiskey drinking lover of artist Frida Kahlo.] She was a huge inspiration for Pedro Almodóvar and he uses a lot of her music in his films – he co-ordinated the Carnegie Hall concert she did seven or eight years ago. The music from his films has very much impacted the band. Chavela’s now ninety, and in very poor health. We couldn’t get a piano and the rest of the band into her house so we recorded her vocals with her two guitarists. In the studio we took out the guitars. I listened and tried to breathe with her. We then put in our music. She’s never done anything with this kind of orchestration. It’s a huge contrast, classical instruments with her voice.

‘New Amsterdam’ on the album was written by Moondog. Do you like collecting interesting people He was an interesting person. One of his first albums, in 1956, was with Julie Andrews and Martin Green – a children’s album of nursery rhymes with percussion by Moondog [real name Louis Hardin]. He was classically trained, blind, lived on the streets of New York. He would stand at Columbus Circle dressed as a Viking. A lot of New Yorkers remember seeing him, but wouldn’t know he was a serious composer. ‘New Amsterdam’ is the most beautiful song ever written about New York city. I love the simplicity of the text. I never thought I would be sympathetic to saxophones, but the piece was written for nine saxophones, a bass drum and a men’s choir. You have another funny song on the album, Bitty Boppy Betty, about the cross-dressing politician. That almost didn’t make it onto the album, but Ian Ashbridge of Wrasse Records insisted. It’s not the kind of tune I would ever have thought we

would have performed, maybe because it was too gay. The message of the song is “Life’s a lot richer / with a healthy mixture / not to mention lot’s more fun!”. I was surprised that you included ‘Sing’ – and you have Emilio Delgado, Luis from Sesame Street, to sing it along with your vocalist China Forbes It was my friendship with Luis that led to the recording of this song. I thought it would be great to have him sing a duet on this album. China suggested ‘Sing’ and I said, what, the Carpenters song? I then found out it was written for Sesame Street. It’s sung in two languages. Does language change perception of a song? Prior to this band I never paid attention to lyrics, ever. It was only when I started to write songs that I suddenly started to think about lyrics, how they were the way into a song. For me melody was most important. A review of Pink Martini’s recent London show will appear in The American soon.

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The American

BMI Country Awards N

ashville was out on the town on November 10, at the BMI Country Awards. Many gongs were given and the young artists won their fair share, but it was a grizzled veteran who stole the show as Kris Kristofferson was honored as a BMI Icon. Kristofferson, 73, sat looking uncomfortable while luminaries such as Willie Nelson, Vince Gill and Patty Griffin paid him tributes and sang his songs. Willie Nelson complimented his old friend, saying, “There’s no better songwriter alive than Kris Kristofferson. Everything he writes is a standard and we’re all just going to have to live with that!” “You want the honest truth? I’m very honored. But I’m really uncomfortLeft (top to bottom): Willie Nelson delivers a heart-wrenching rendition of “Lovin’ Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)” during his tribute to Kris Kristofferson Peyton Hoge / BMI

Kris Kristofferson and longtime friend Jess Colter at the 2009 BMI Country Awards, Nashville © Erika Goldring / BMI

Bobby Pinson (left), BMI Country Songwriter of the Year, shows off the new Martin D-42 guitar he won John Russell / BMI

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Vince Gill, Patty Griffin, and Willie Nelson perform “Me and Bobby McGee” together in a soulful tribute to newly crowned BMI Icon Kris Kristofferson © Erika Goldring / BMI

able with everybody saying something praiseworthy, and I feel stupid,” Kristofferson said. “I told Willie this is going to be really hard on me. He said, ‘That’s why I’m going like it so much, because you’re going to hate it.’ But I’m awfully grateful that what I love to do means enough to other people that I’m able to do it.” He shed a quiet tear as Patty Griffin sang his classic, Help Me Make it Through the Night. As for the youngsters, Taylor Swift won a back-to-back song of the year award for ‘Love Story’. “I just want to say to every songwriter and every loved-one of a songwriter, thank you, because you are the reason I wanted to try Nashville. You are all my heroes,” she said. The songwriter of the year award went to Bobby Pinson, who has had four smashes in the last year with the Toby Keith song She Never Cried in Front of Me, All I Want to Do and Already Gone (recorded by Sugarland) and Josh Gracin’s We Weren’t Crazy.


D.Matthews 1.4 American:Layout 1 13/11/2009 10:37 Page

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ALBuMS THEOF MoNTH

he wrote the songs: We Feel Alone, You Still Hurt Me, I Don’t Feel It Anymore… The sadness is uplifting. And it, too, is beautiful.

Smokey Robinson

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun Robso It’s Christmas. What do you give the man who has everything? The name of Smokey Robinson. Smokey is known as one of the greatest singers and songwriters in the whole of musical history (not to say one of the canniest businessmen, helping to run and grow Motown). But that was all a long time ago, right? Wrong! At an age when most people are retiring, you might expect a new Smokey record to be a leisurely affair, retreads of past glories. Wrong again! Time Flies… is made up of new tunes, all bar one written or co-written by the man, and it’s produced by him too. He’s joined by a few carefully selected guests – India.Arie, Joss Stone and Carlos Santana to create a timeless classic virtually as good as anything he’s done. An exaggeration? Listen, and let songs like the ridiculously beautiful title track, ‘That Place’ with its Curtis Mayfield-like plaintive tone, the lone cover of Norah Jones’ Don’t Know Why, or the sinuously funky Santana track Please Don’t Take Your Live sink in.

Lyle Lovett Natural Forces Humphead

“I’m subject to the natural forces / Home is where my horse is.” The most country album Lovett has recorded for a while, Natural Forces’ theme is Texas, with seven songs written by Texan songwriters like Townes Van Zandt and Eric Taylor, and four Lovett originals.

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Spiral Stairs The Real Feel Domino

The album’s recorded with Lyle’s Large Band so you know to expect tight, powerful performances. Fast and funny (Farmer Brown/Chicken Reel and Pantry) or slow and emotional (Whooping Crane, Loretta). Natural Forces stands up with any of Lovett’s albums.

William Fitzsimmons The Sparrow And The Crow Naim Edge

If you read The American’s interview with Fitzsimmons I July, you will recall a sensitive singer-songwriter who grew up in an unusual home, became a counsellor, wrote Goodnight, an album about his blind parent’s traumatic divorce, recorded it in a darkened room, became so introverted that his own marriage broke up. And the album was beautiful. The Sparrow And The Crow takes up where the last album left off – literally as it opens with Goodnight’s closing song. But it strips away all metaphor and allusion, laying bare the feelings he experienced as

Scott Kannberg IS Spiral Stairs. That is, the former founder member of Pavement is now known to friends, fans and family by his stage name. This is not an affectation but an affirmation that his music is a fundamental part of his personality. Few albums sound like the real deal, but one that qualifies is The Real Feel. Pedal steel and banjo creep among the guitars creating a moody, dark, soulful Americana/blues behind Spiral’s fractured vocals.

Benjy Ferree

Come Back to the Five and Dime, Bobby Dee Bobby Dee Domino Coming to ‘Bobby Dee’ with no prior knowledge, it’s an exciting, odd album of powerful garagey songs, kids’ choirs, violin, doo wop, a child’s voiceover, multiple harmonies by Ferree. When you know that it’s based on the tragic life and sad, lonely death of child actor Bobby Driscoll, it becomes more morbid. Driscoll was the Peter Pan that grew up. He voiced Peter in the 1953 Disney animation and acted in the studio’s Pecos Bill, Song of the South and Treasure Island. When he hit teenage and became less cute, he was dropped, then dropped out. Moving to New York he joined Andy Warhol’s Factory scene, became addicted to heroin and died young, a lonely junkie’s death.


The American

LIVE AND KICKING

± Three Guys Walk Into A Bar… F

ive Guys Walk Into A Bar was the brilliant box set of The Faces, the cheeky chappies that were the greatest goodtime rock and roll band ever. On their day they were a match for the Stones or Zeppelin, but a whole lot more fun. At the Royal Albert Hall on October 25th, the three remaining musicians of the band reformed – for one night, and a couple or three songs, only. The reason? A charity gig (named Helping The Heart Of Music) held in aid of the PRS for Music Members Benevolent Fund – an unwieldy title but a good cause, helping musicians and their families that have fallen on hard times. Ronnie Lane, the Faces’ bass player, died of Multiple Sclerosis in 1997. I’m guessing that singer Rod Stewart was asked to appear but declined. If so, it was his loss. Ronnie Wood, drummer Kenney Jones and keyboard player Ian McLagan made the extraordinary decision to get back together to play (after a mere 37 years) to support the PRS charity which helped their old mate ‘Plonk’ Lane and his wife Katy in his latter years. For Helping the Heart Of Music, which celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the Benevolent Fund , Bill Wyman replaced Ronnie Lane and his band, Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, provide backing throughout the show for the ‘special friends’ who came along to help out. They included Jan (Focus) Akkerman, Melanie (Spice Girls) C, Paul (Mike & The Mechanics/Ace) Carrack, Kiki Dee, Chris

(Squeeze) Difford, Andy Fairweather Low, Georgie Fame, Mick (Simply Red) Hucknall, Mike (Level 42) Lindup and Rick Wakeman. The Faces’ set list was short and sweet and not a little shaky (not that anyone minded): Cindy Incidentally, Ooh La La and Stay With Me. Rod Stewart was replaced by Carrack, Fairweather-Lowe and a spectacular turn by Mick Hucknall on the uproarious Stay With Me. The whole evening was musically gorgeous and well received but the crowd was there to see the Faces and the boys obliged. The encore was a ramshackle but joyous reprise of Stay With Me, the rest of the cast joining in. For this writer the musical highlight of the year was Ronnie Wood playing slide on his old Tony Zemaitis metal-fronted Les Paul, in his element on one of his greatest songs. Never has the Albert Hall felt more like a boozy bar – the perfect tribute to the perfect rock and roll band. Now, how about a proper tour lads?

Nickelback Back

The multi-million album selling Canucks are playing just two gigs in the UK next year, at Liverpool Arena on January 17th and London’s Wembley Arena on 19th. The dates were planned after the huge success of their tour earlier this year in support of the release of their album Dark Horse.

Passion Pit

Passion Pit return to the UK for their biggest headline tour to date in March 2010, following their recent sell-out tour of the UK. A new single Little Secrets, taken from their highly acclaimed debut album Manners, is released on December 14th Tour dates are March 3rd Bristol Academy; 4th Leeds Met University; 5th Manchester Academy; 6th Glasgow ABC; 8th Norwich UEA; 9th Nottingham Rock City; 11th London Forum; 13th Dublin Olympia.

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The American

Bad Lieutenant Joins Pet Shop Boys In a move that has surprised many, Bad Lieutenant, the new project of New Order’s Bernard Sumner, will be special guests on the UK leg of the Pet Shop Boys “Pandemonium” tour. The PSB’s show is reportedly visually stunning, a multi-media performance including an evolving cubist stage set, projections, stunning choreography and extraordinary costumes. Pet Shop Boys have just returned from a very successful and critically acclaimed tour of the Americas. Bad Lieutenant – Bernard Sumner, Phil Cunningham and Jake Evans – have recently completed their debut album “Never Cry Another Tear” which features musicians including Alex James (Blur) and Stephen Morris (New Order and Joy Division). Morris will play on the tour. The UK dates are: December 17th Glasgow SECC; 18th Birmingham NIA; 20th Manchester Evening News Arena; 21st O2 Arena.

Being Humans

Toyah Willcox (above), doyen of English ’80s post-punk, is back with an extraordinary new band, producing the best music she has done for decades. The band features Toyah, Bill Rieflin (REM) and Chris Wong with a special guest appearance from the legendary Robert Fripp, AKA Mr Toyah. Their first single “These Boots Are Made For Walkin” has just been released along with their debut album “We Are The Humans”. They will perform three headline UK dates next year at Leamington Spa Assembly on February 22nd, Cambridge Junction on 23rd and The Scala, London on 24th. The shows are the first time in 20 years that Toyah has shared a UK stage with Fripp (their band, Sunday All Over The World, played a handful of UK dates in 1989).

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Owl City

Owl City is Adam Young, a young man from the small town of Owatonna, Minnesota, who has become a MySpace phenomenon with more than 50 million plays. Unbelievably (at least to those of a pre-internet generation) he sold 25,000 albums and 200,000 digital tracks in the United States before he received any radio play or did any touring. His music is electronica, but unlike most keyboard/computer music it is warm and human. “Ocean Eyes is filled with appealing dreamy electro-pop” says Rolling Stone, which sums it up neatly. Experience it yourself on February 17th at Brighton, Komedia; 18th London, Islington Academy; 19th Oxford, Academy 2; 20th Newcastle, Academy 2; 21st Birmingham Academy 2; 22nd Manchester, Academy 3.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

You cain’t keep a Southern boy down. No matter what tragedies befall them – most famously the 1977 air crash that killed Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines and most recently the deaths of founding member/keyboardist Billy Powell and bassist Ean Evans – Lynyrd Skynyrd, the band, somehow survives and thrives. The band released their comeback album God & Guns, their first on Roadrunner/Loud & Proud, in September and sales have soared. Skynyrd are definitely back with a vengeance! Now the Southern rock icons have announced a UK run: March 4th Birmingham LG Arena; 5th Cardiff International Arena; 6th London Hammersmith Apollo; 8th Manchester Apollo; 9th Glasgow Clyde Auditorium.


PR Compiled by Virginia E. Schultz

E oFIL

MAXINE HoWE

T

he American actress Maxine Howe is a name that will be familiar to readers of The American. She appears often in off-West End productions in London. Also she often accompanies our food and wine correspondent Virginia Schultz on her wonderful restaurant reviews.

Avoid Winter Slips With our Winter Tips George Clooney who (in my fantasy) I have been flirting with throughout dinner. Does it get better than this?!

Married, single or significant other? Widowed, single for several years now.

If you had lived before, who do you think you were? Fantasy time again. Bette Davis!

Children/grandchildren? One terrific artistic daughter, Robin. Two adorable, fun grandsons, Sam age ten, and Will, eight.

What is your most treasured possession... Not a human being? The photograph album of my daughter Robin’s spectacular wedding!

Of the plays and films you’ve been in, which part was your favourite? Theatre roles every time! Most satisfying: Amanda, the desperate mother in The Glass Menagerie, and Arthur Miller’s mother in The American Clock.

When you need to relax, what music do you listen to? The Warsaw Concerto, the Swedish Raphsody, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Romantic and powerful music, some of which I can still play.

Who influenced you the most in your career? My mother, who always felt she had another Shirley Temple on her hands and moulded me in that moppet’s image. I was performing monologues before I could read! A path I did not pressure my own daughter into taking.

Name three favorite films. Cinema Paradiso, All About Eve, A Man And A Woman.

If you were portrayed in a film, who would you like to play you? A tough question. The much younger me resembled Elizabeth Taylor, but the personality exhibited brash Ethel Merman qualities. Now , I’d like to have the parts Kathy Bates gets. Favorite restaurant and five guests, living or dead, you’d invite to join you: A great cruise ship somewhere in the warm Indian Ocean. I have reserved a large table outside in the moonlight for my guests: Woody Allen, Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, my brother Gil (a musical composer), his wife Cynnie, and

What is your greatest extravagance? Travelling to exotic places, and being with family and friends. What is your biggest regret? Not having written a brilliant novel or play, or played piano on the concert stage. What is your motto in life? There’s a new day dawning, so I damn well better make the most of it! Favorite sandwich? Nostalgia and childhood wins here so put me in a New York Jewish deli, and I’ll have a hot pastrami sandwich on rye, a side order of coleslaw, potato salad, with a sour pickle and cold celery tonic. Can I add some black coffee and my Hungarian grandmother’s apple strudel? H

Winter is the season for falls, slips, and other dangers, especially for senior citizens says Dr. Evelyn Granieri, director of the Division of Geriatrics at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She offers the following tips: l Get a flu shot. Vulnerable people can get vaccinated free by the NHS. l Choose comfortable shoes with anti-slip soles. If you use a cane, replace the rubber tip. l Check your smoke alarms . And don’t forget your carbon-monoxide alarms. l Keep your room warm. Set your thermostat to at least 65 degrees to prevent hypothermia. Also stops your home’s water pipes freezing. l Check your lighting. Make sure there are no great contrasts between rooms, older people have difficulty adjusting to changes in light. Use night lights, and tape loose extension cords to the floor. l Exercise indoors. Avoid strenuous outdoor activities. If you must, warm up with stretches and take frequent breaks. l Check your rugs. Are they wrinkled or torn? Could they trip you up? Tape them underneath to avoid sliding. l Maintain hydration. Drink four or five glasses of fluid every day, even in winter. Wear protective creams and lotions to keep skin hydrated. l Get a programmable phone with emergency numbers entered or get a personal emergency response. H

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The American

Holiday Fun in Britain The Christmas holiday season is very much a family time in the UK but around the festive season there are often odd days to fill or the need to get everyone out of the house for a few hours. Luckily there is masses going on, says Mary Bailey. Here are just few ideas to get you going. London Walks

Every day. These walks are really excellent and all within London, concentrating on subject matters from architecture to Jack the Ripper. A ghost walk could be entertaining. Guides are excellent and you can go in a group, which is fun. They’re free or low priced. Just Google London Walks on your PC and a wealth of options will appear.

Carols round the Christmas Tree, Trafalgar Square

Hampton Court Palace Carols and Skating Henry VIII’s favorite palace has carols on December 20th and 23rd at 6pm. Warm clothes and a torch are needed. The background is tremendous. Tickets £7 for adults, £3.50 for children. There is an ice rink there too.

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rnli.org.uk or phone 020 7620 7400. The events are on November 29th (Stirling University Campus; Knowsley Safari Park, Merseyside; Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry, Ireland; Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire; Moors Valley Country Park, Dorset) and December 6th (Dean Castle Country Park, Kilmarnock; Margam Country Park, Port Talbot, Wales; Hampstead Heath, London)

Winter Racing Festival

Horse racing is always fun and of course it is ‘over the sticks’ (jump racing) at this time of year, Kempton Park are giving a Winter Festival on December 26th and 27th. Various ways of watching, my favourite is eating lunch in a warm restaurant overlooking the course but enthusiasts watch from the rails. Phone for details 0844 579 3008, www.kempton.co.uk

Each year since the end of the Second World War the people of Norway have sent one of their tall pines as a gesture of thanks and friendship. Choirs and individuals from here and abroad gather to sing round it every evening from December 8th to 19th. Pause for a little while and join in. It’s very Christmassy!

Shakespeare’s Globe

The Reindeer Run

For a super day out by real steam train we recommend one of the Twelve Days of Christmas by Steam Dreams. You travel by steam to say, Ely or Chichester for carol service and shopping and then your magnificent steam train brings you home with dinner on board. Programs are so varied we advise you go to www. Steamdreams. com to learn all about it

At eight venues across the UK, you can take part in a 5k or 10k run, with hot drink and mince pies afterwards… and there’s more good news, antlers are provided. Friends, take cameras! Children subject to age. It’s all to raise funds for the RNLI, the charity that runs all the lifeboats around Britain’s coasts (and a whole lot more). For details go to www.

For the first time ever Shakespeare’s Globe theatre will be open December 22nd to January 3rd for a production of Christmas Cracker, a family feast of Christmas Cheer. 11am. 2pm and 5.30pm, £20 to £5, phone 020 7401 9919. The Globe advise early booking.

Steaming out for the day


The American

Celebration of Christmas Carol Concert St Peter’s Church, Eaton Square, London Mince Pies and Wine at 6pm, carols and readings by a number of celebrities. It’s at 7pm. Tickets, in aid of the Blue Cross, are £18. December 10th. Telephone 020 7932 4071, www.stpetereatonsquare.co.uk

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park Huge and central is the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park from 21st November until 3rd January. Has largest London ice rink, Christmas Circus, heated cafes and much more. Free entrance, but ticketing for skating, observation wheel and circus. 0844 847 1771 www. hydeparkwinterwonderland.com

The Covent Garden Market Christmas Pudding Race Covent Garden is fun all over Christmas but on December 5th this obstacle relay race for teams carrying a Christmas Pudding on a tray really gets you in the mood Starts at 11am. Telephone Louise on 01923 256849. You might like to get up a ‘Team USA’ or be leisurely – or cowardly – and just watch.

The Messiah

The Messiah by Candlelight performed by the Mozart Festival Orchestra in full period costume. 4th December 7.30pm at The Festival Hall Tickets 0844 847 9910, www.southbankcentre.co.uk

Mistletoe Ball

If you feel generous towards your friends, a table at the Mistletoe Ball at the Dorchester solves the problem. In aid of Cancer Research UK it is always extremely well done and £1440 for a table of twelve is actually very good value. December 4th. Telephone Corinne Sherry 01932 865560, www.themistletoeball.co.uk There are services and concerts all over London, many in aid of charity. Also, consider a stay at a country hotel in the Cotswolds, the Surrey- Sussex border or Kent. Whatever you do we hope you enjoy it and have a really happy time. H

Panto!

The pantomime is one of the strange British customs that hasn’t exported to other cultures. It is all very old and based on fairy tales and myths such as Jack and the Beanstalk and the lovely Red Riding Hood where a wolf is found disguised as grannie. The more horrific the better because right, in the end, always triumphs and the Principal Boy (a female actress) will marry the Princess (another female) while ‘his’ mother, the traditional Pantomime Dame (a male actor!) looks on tears. Traditionally one half of the stage belongs to the angels and one to the devil, and characters enter accordingly. It is all great fun and you will soon get the hang of it. Well maybe you will! Check your local press for a selection, but one that Americans will love is Aladdin at the New Wimbledon Theatre which stars UK based American comedian Ruby Wax, and Baywatch star Pamela Anderson making her UK stage debut as the Genie of the Lamp! www.ambassadortickets. com/New-Wimbledon-Theatre.

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The American

DESTROYING the  World’s Heritage Historical artefacts are under threat as conservation courses close and conservators lose their jobs, warns Sharon Manitta

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ow that’s a pretty tabloid title for an article but I’m afraid it is all too accurate. I should declare that I have a personal relationship with this subject. I did three years of postgraduate study in the care of historic textiles and have a deep respect for the highly-trained and appallingly underpaid and under-appreciated conservators who are fighting to save the world’s cultural/man made heritage. What is causing the destruction? One reason is the loss of training courses. Two of the world’s main conservation courses have been shut, others have reduced the length of

training. If no one is being trained, who will have the expertise to care for the objects that make up our collective cultural history? Many Americans have come to Britain over the years to do postgraduate (in American-speak, graduate) studies in conservation. Britain was the only place some specialisms were taught. I was one of those Yanks. I was fortunate to be accepted at the Textile Conservation Centre when it was a three-year course at The Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. It was a sciencebased course that was rigorous on the ethics of conservation as well as Before and after: Nelson’s chair was saved for posterity by trained conservators

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covering the many aspects of training involved in being a textile conservator. The training was not glorified needlework but material science and problem solving. Think forensics (as in CSI) rather than arts and crafts. I also interned at the Victoria and Albert Museum. At the end of the 1990s, The TCC had to relocate, which ended its relationship with the Courtauld and started a new association with the University of Southampton. The course was reduced to two years (still postgraduate) and the TCC raised money for a new building on the university’s Winchester campus. Now the course has closed, as have many more including one run by the V&A and the Royal College of Art. One reason is that in the world of universities as businesses they are not cost-efficient. Teacher to student ratios in conservation classes run between 5 and 8 to 1. Universities want courses where they can cram 300 people in a lecture theatre. Where is the outrage that there will be no one to care for historic objects as they fall apart in our museums, homes and churches? Of course, since conservators don’t go in for affairs with football players or have massive breast implants, their work goes unnoticed by the media – or at best is reported wildly incorrectly. Conservators work behind the scenes and few people know they exist.


The American

Even more frustratingly, conservators don’t like to “toot their own horn”. I once spoke to a stone conservator to see what sort of work he was doing. “Nothing people would find interesting” was his reply. What was he working on? The Great Wall of China! How many of you have heard of Heirakonpolis? It is the predynastic mother load of Egyptian culture. It has had some coverage in the media but who knows about Richard Jaeschke, the American archaeological conservator (trained in the UK) who has done outstanding work over the years (thanks to the site’s British-based hard-working American Director and fundraiser Dr. Renee Friedman)? Museums are under funded and it is often easier to get rid of “invisible” conservators than other staff. This is a false economy since objects continue to deteriorate in museum stores if the conservators aren’t there to care for them. If the objects fall apart, there are no displays, there is no historical research and there is no basis for educational outreach. What purpose would be left for a museum with no objects? You may have noticed that I have mentioned various types of conservators – textile conservators, archaeological conservators and stone conservators to name three specialisms. There are many more and each requires not only a lot of training and work experience as well to be competent in their field. Conservation covers more than the repair of an object. Analysis and testing are important and can discover more information about the object. We can even be called in by the police to see if antiques are genuine. I had the privilege of doing conservation work for HMS Victory. By the way – did you know that

HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship. His cabin, which contained his chair mentioned in the article, is at the top of the transom (rear of the ship). Did you know 22 Americans served on board Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar. Ballista

there were 22 American sailors on board Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar? My first project was to organize the documentation of the vast foretopsail of the ship. But before any funds could be used for this meticulous (and fascinating work), it had to be proven that the sail was, in fact, at the Battle of Trafalgar. The ship has been rebuilt many times over the years and little is left from the 1805 period. The curator, Peter Goodwin (who had rescued the sail from the dockyard’s gym!) and I were fortunate enough to find records of the repairs done to the sail before Victory left for Spain. These repairs matched up exactly to those on the sail so we could confirm that the sail was genuine. Staying with HMS Victory, Admiral Nelson’s leather chair from the ship (now at the Royal Naval Museum) has just undergone a challenging conservation treatment at the Leather Conservation Centre in Northampton. If there hadn’t been a conservator to undertake this work,

it might have gone to an upholsterer who would have just removed all the damaged leather and put on new leather. Historical information would be lost and, the piece would no longer be authentic. Conservation training instils in you the ethics of retaining the original parts of the object and not replacing it with what you think should be there. This would be changing history. I remember the (unconfirmed) story from Mt. Vernon that took place early in the 1900s. If it is true, I know such practice wouldn’t happen today. Legend goes – someone looked at Martha Washington’s cape and saw that the lining looked shabby so they took it out threw it away and it was replaced with a new lining. Some years later, the outside was becoming very shabby so a new outer material was added. Was this still Martha Washington’s cape? Can we let our cultural heritage fall apart? Can we afford to ignore this crisis? H

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The American

Coffee Break CoFFEE BREAK QuIz 1 What fashion did Union General Ambrose Burnside start during the Civil War? 2 Which tennis player was sued by his fan club, and why? 3 Ben Franklin invented something which Britain tried first in 1916. What? 4 Over 90% of the worlds total population of what animal has disappeared since 1970? 5 Why did the United States government open Abraham Lincoln’s coffin in 1887 and 1901?

12 Alabama became the first American state to recognise Christmas as an official holiday. In which year? 13 Which “Singing Cowboy” had his biggest hit record with the original recording of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”?

6 Marilyn Monroe was the model for which Disney character?

14 Christmas Island is surrounded by which ocean?

7 What did William Young of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, invent for people’s comfort in 1800?

15 In which modern US state was the Battle of Little Bighorn fought?

8 The Marie Celeste sailed from which port? 9 Which USA record producer played maracas on the Rolling Stones 1st album? 10 What was Frank and Jesse James’ father’s job? 11 To which Indian tribe did Chief Sitting Bull belong?

16 What is sciophobia the fear of? 17 What does digamy mean? 18 How many states of the USA have a Pacific coast? 19 In a standard set of playing cards which is the only king without a moustache? 20 Which European country began the tradition of exchanging gifts at Christmas time?

Answers below The Johnsons

Coffee Break Quiz Answers: 1. Sideburns; 2. Jimmy Connors; for defamation by his fan club founder; 3. Daylight Saving Time; 4. Rhinoceros; 5. To check his body was still there; 6. Tinker Bell; 7. Specific left & right shoes; 8. New York; 9. Phil Spector; 10. Minister; 11. Sioux; 12 1836; 13. Gene Autry; 14. Indian Ocean; 15. Montana; 16. Shadows; 17. A second legal marriage after the death or divorce of the first husband or wife. Also called deuterogamy; 18. 5 (California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii); 19. The king of Hearts; 20. Italy.

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The American

It happened one... December December 1, 1955 – Rosa Parks refuses to give her bus seat to a white man and is arrested for violating the city’s racial segregation laws, leading to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

December 2, 1823 – Monroe Doctrine: US President James Monroe delivers a speech establishing American neutrality in future European conflicts. December 3, 1818 – Illinois becomes the 21st US State.

December 4, 1918 – U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sails for the World War I peace talks in Versailles, becoming the first serving US president to travel to Europe. December 5, 1933 – Prohibition in the United States ends.

December 6, 1877 – The first edition of the Washington Post is published. December 7, 1930 – W1XAV in Boston, Massachusetts broadcasts a radio show, The Fox Trappers, including the first television commercial in the US, for I.J. Fox Furriers. December 8, 1993 – President Bill Clinton signs The North American Free Trade Agreement into law.

December 9, 1888 – Statistician Herman Hollerith (later a founder of IBM) installs his ‘computing device’ at the US War Department. December 10, 1906 – U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt wins the Nobel Peace Prize, the first American to win a Nobel.

December 11, 2008 – Bernard Madoff is arrested and charged with securities fraud in a $50 billion Ponzi scheme.

December 12, 1870 – Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina becomes the first black US Congressman.

December 13, 1972 – Apollo 17: Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt make the final Moonwalk. December 14, 1947 – NASCAR is founded in Daytona Beach, Florida.

December 15, 1791 – The United States Bill of Rights becomes law when ratified by the Virginia General Assembly. December 16, 1893 – Antonín Dvořák’s “From The New World” Symphony is premières at Carnegie Hall.

December 17, 1969 – The USAF closes its ‘Blue Book’ study of UFOs, concluding that sighters were hysterics, hoaxers, publicity seekers, psychopaths, or misidentifying conventional objects. December 18, 1932 – The Chicago Bears defeat the Portsmouth Spartans 9-0 in the first ever NFL Championship Game. Because of a blizzard, the game was moved from Wrigley Field to the Chicago Stadium. December 19, 1606 – The Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery depart England carrying settlers who found, at Jamestown, Virginia, the first of the thirteen colonies that became the United States. December 20, 1996 – NeXT merges with Apple Computer, starting the path to Mac OS X.

December 21, 1937 – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length animated film ever, premieres.

December 22, 1989 – Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate re-opens after nearly 30 years, ending the division of East and West Germany. December 23, 1913 – The Federal Reserve Act is signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, creating the Federal Reserve.

rosa Parks with Martin Luther Ling Jr.

December 24, 1968 – Apollo 8’s crew become the first humans to orbit the Moon. They transmit the famous Christmas Eve Broadcast, one of the most watched programs in history.

December 25, 1818 – The first performance of “Silent Night” takes place in the church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria. December 26, 1862 – The largest masshanging in US history takes place in Mankato, Minnesota, 38 Native Americans die. December 27, 1845 – Ether anesthetic is used for childbirth for the first time by Dr. Crawford Williamson Long in Jefferson, Georgia.

December 28, 1912 – The first municipally owned streetcars take to the streets in San Francisco, California. December 29, 1851 – The first American YMCA opens in Boston, Massachusetts.

December 30, 1924 – Edwin Hubble announces the existence of other galaxies.

December 31, 1879 – Thomas Edison introduces incandescent lighting to the public. H

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The American

THE MEAT AND WINE CoMPANY Dining reviews by Virginia E Schultz

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he first time I ate at The Meat and Wine Company was at a ‘Call My Bluff ’ evening. Teams played against each other to guess which of two wines was being described. It was one of the fun evenings the restaurants presents periodically, from barbecues to wine tasting. Talking to a number of people there this was the reason they returned to the restaurant time and again. The Meat and Wine Company has restaurants all over the world but this, located in the Westfield Shopping Centre, West London, is the first UK venture for the South African chain. Designed by New York’s Jorge Castillo, the two floor interior is an innovative combination of modernity and South African culture. One can have a quick bite and a cocktail at “Puza”, the bar on the first floor designed in the shape of a spear, or enjoy lunch or dinner on the second. Maxine Howe and I were warmly welcomed on the ground floor by a beautiful South and were zapped upstairs by elevator. The restaurant in shades of amber and brown is vast, but designed so there are pockets of smaller areas. At the one end is a towering wall of New World wines,

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especially South African. Meat, as one expects from the name, is the main offering, although the menu also offers chicken, fish and vegetarian dishes. There’s a special children’s menu. To start, Maxine and I had Boerewors, a traditional beef sausage grilled and served with a barbecue sauce. At the recommendation of our waitress, we decided to taste Biltong, a spicy cured meat that is a favourite dish in South Africa. We both enjoyed it, although as Maxine said, it would have gone better with one of the many types of beer on the menu rather than wine. A must-taste, however. There is kangaroo on the menu, but lacking the courage to try it we decided to share Springbok, (£17.00) and Australian rib eye (£12.00/£18.00). While we waited for our meat, a half rack of pork ribs (£15.00) appeared on the table which, we couldn’t refuse: yummy! Although Maxine prefers her steak rare, she agreed to my preference medium rare, which is exactly the way it came. It was tender and tasty but we

both preferred the springbok served with red wine and currant sauce. It’s was delicious, but not as gamey as British venison. We were offered a selection of sauces and we decided on blue cheese and vodka (£2.00) and creamy mushroom (£2.00); my advice is to save your money. For dessert Maxine had Madiba Charity Malva Pudding (£6.50 with £1.00 going to the Nelson Mandela Children fund). It’s Mandela’s favourite pudding, and Maxine could understand why. My Cappuccino Brulee infused with biscotti, vanilla ice cream and topped with Amarula foam (£6.50) was also good. If you’re not so hungry, burger and chips is £9.95 and Pan Fried Prawns with peri peri sauce £19.00. Side dishes are extra. The onion rings (£2.00) were fantastic, the creamed spinach (£3.50) was creamy, but my hand-cut potato wedges needed to be cooked longer. Service was excellent and there was a friendliness in the atmosphere that is enjoyable as a couple, for a someone on their own or with children.

Westfield Shopping Centre, Ariel Way, London W12, 020 8749 5914 www.themeatandwineco.com, reservationsuk@themeatandwineco.coma


The American

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psleys, in The Conservatory at The Lanesborough Hotel, has been relaunched as a Heinz Beck restaurant. Beck is a German who did what some thought impossible when his restaurant La Pergola in Rome snatched 3 Michelin stars. Heinz has taken the challenge to run a kitchen outside of Italy very seriously and recruited as his executive chef, Massimiliano Blasone, a possessor of one Michelin star, who was until recently the executive chef at the Castello Banif in Tuscany. The spacious, luxurious dining room with its magnificent crystal chandelier has been redesigned by Tihany Design, a company responsible for some of the world’s most famous restaurants including Le Cirque, Jean-Georges, Per Se in New York and The French Laundry in California. It speaks of opulence and money. A room that size needs grandeur, explained interior designer Jennifer Atterbury, and if she was to criticise anything it would be the lighting. One doesn’t want to dine in bright light or semi darkness and finding the right combination is the one thing that too often fails in restaurant design. The charming maître d’ led us to our table. There were couples dining on each side, but the tables were perfectly spaced which, along with the plush carpeting, eliminated unnecessary sound so we were able to talk in almost normal voices. Champagne arrived, crisp and perfectly cool along with nibbles to chew on. Warm breads, baked on the premises, and delicious thin flat bread soon followed. The lobster, aubergine and tomato (£23.00) was a sure fire starter. It readied Jennifer for the first course of prawn and fine herb risotto (£16.50) and me, the artichoke tortellini on tomatoes sprinkled with mint oil and a dash of parmesan (£14.00). The tortellini almost made me burst into O sole mio, it was so good. Jennifer, however, was

Dining Out at

APSLEYS

The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner, London SW11 72A 020 7259 5599, www.lanesborough.com somewhat disappointed in the risotto. There is a fine line between how long to cook and when to take risotto from the burner and this, sadly, had a slightly extended stay which dried out the rice ever so slightly. Jennifer couldn’t argue, however, with the irreproachable flavours of the warm halibut with roasted pepper, avocado and crab (£22.00) and I was even more pleased with the lamb crepinette nestled on aubergine and spinach (£30.00). Service balanced formality and familiarity with exceptional grace. We managed to be persuaded to taste a few selected Italian cheeses. I won’t say move over French, but I certainly would try them again. The creamy cheesecake on delightfully thin crust accompanied by lemon ice cream was lovely, but it was the crisp chocolate dome of pine

nut ice cream painted with gold leaf that we’d return for. Our sommelier not only advised us on what best to drink with our various courses, but chose wines we could savor without having to thumb our way home. Apsleys have a contraption which prevents wines from deteriorating after the bottle is open, so top – and extremely expensive – wines are from time to time offered by the glass. Yes, it can be expensive, but it is far less than a bottle and gives the customer an opportunity to try a wine they ordinarily couldn’t afford. By the by, the sommelier later gave us a tour of the wine rooms as well as a glimpse into a special smoking room in the hotel cellar, open until 1am, where men – and a few women – can indulge in fine cigars and port.

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The American

Dining Out at the

SPREAD EAGLE N

ow I don’t want to criticise English food critics. Even when I disagree with them I can’t help but admire their ability to write. One thing, however, many have in common, is their dislike of anything American, especially ‘Yanks’ who own restaurants in England. Unfortunately, Frank Dowling, an American who owns a number of restaurants in Greenwich including The Spread Eagle, does not take criticism gladly and via telephone came after one in what I can only describe as gangbuster style. Translated that means there were a great many ****s and ****s used. So, when actress Maxine Howe, a fellow American, and I came to review The Spread Eagle I felt some trepidation. No need to worry. We were greeted charmingly. The interior design in this former coaching inn is, yes, in a oldeworlde style with many of the original features, including a cast iron spiral staircase, a wood panelled anteroom on the first floor, mahogany panelled walls, corniced ceilings, antique marble fireplaces, chandeliers and oak floors. There is also a fascinating art collection

lining the walls by artists and illustrators who were inspired by Greenwich’s history and people. Maxine, a romantic as well as an actress, imagined herself in a long gown and huge feathered hat, dining with some famous actor from the past. However, we were there to eat so I concentrated on the menu created by Head Chef Rory Lumsden whose cooking style is described as contemporary modern French. I started with caramelized onion tart glazed with goats cheese. There are few starters that have a wow factor, but this came as close as I’ve had in a long time. Maxine’s parsley soup with a poached egg was also excellent. A fellow critic once told me that to test whether or not a restaurant meets high standards one should order chicken or salmon rather than the chef’s specialty, so Maxine had the guinea fowl with creamed kale. Anyone who loves fowl should definitely have this dish for it was roasted to perfection. The delicious creamed kale, and it really was cream, was light years away from a dodgy similar dish

I had in a one star Michelin restaurant recently. I chose fillet of salmon with Hollandaise sauce and vegetables. Unfortunately I was disappointed as the salmon was cooked slightly too long and it reminded me of salmon I’ve had in the States far too often. I like my salmon slightly moist in the centre and this, sadly, wasn’t. The Hollandaise sauce too let me down, but the vegetables couldn’t have been more perfect. Loving rhubarb as I do, I couldn’t resist the rhubarb cheesecake and it was as lovely as one could desire. Maxine had the chocolate tart with pistachio ice cream which was even more seductive than it read, especially the pistachio ice cream. The largely French wine list had a number of good, inexpensive choices and the bar offers cocktails of every kind. It is in the medium price range with specials at lunch and dinner and there are wine tasting dinners from time to time as well. I’m not certain if one would describe The Spread Eagle as a bistro or a gastro pub, but whatever the name, I shall return. H

1-2 Stockwell Street, Greenwich, London SE 10 9JB, 020 8853 2333 www.spreadeagle.org 28


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.

Book Your Christmas Party Now

48 High Street, Cobham, Surrey

With riverside Italian Garden for al fresco dining

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

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

01932 862121

FULLY AIR CONDITIONED • PRIVATE CAR PARK

– David Billington, Hello Magazine


The American

Cellar Talk Libations by Virginia E. Schultz

Christmas Traditions

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here are different traditions for celebrating Christmas all over the world. For my half-Swedish granddaughters, Christmas sweeps into Florida on the wings of Saint Lucia in early December, the legendary saint known as the “queen of light” who is usually depicted with a halo of glimmering candles circling her head. Christmas for my friends in France begins with decorating the tree in the morning of December 24th and then ends with a meal with fois gras and goose. This meal known as Revillion varies from region to region and showcases local specialities. England has many traditions which were popularized during Queen Victoria’s reign in the nineteenth century. From Christmas cards to Christmas crackers, carol singing and fruit cake, they soon spread across the world. In the United States, Christmas can vary according to family traditions. One thing is certain, every child will be at his parent’s bedside at the crack of dawn begging to see what Santa Claus brought the night before. On a visit to Nantucket, a lovely small island in New England, I headed for the harbour with my husband to watch Santa Claus come in by boat. Afterwards, we enjoyed scallops and bacon chowder in a lovely eighteenth century restaurant. Dinner at Mount Vernon, when George and Martha Washington were hosts, was served in three

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courses and on two tablecloths. One cloth was removed during each course and the fruits, nuts and wine served at the end of the meal were placed on a bare table. In 1789, Senator William Maclay from Pennsylvania reported that at the end of the meal the President filled his glass with wine and toasted everyone by name around the table.

HOLIDAY DRINKS Cranberry Cocktail I served this at an American wine tasting which will appear in the January and February issue of The American. It was, I might add, enjoyed by all. 1 jigger of Sweet Vya Vermouth 1 jigger of Extra Dry Vya Vermouth 1 Cup of Cranberry juice A slice of lime Mix ingredients thoroughly, I used my electric mixer, and serve in cocktail glasses with a slice of lime. It is one of the most popular cocktails I think I’ve served. Mulled Spiced Wine (Glogg) A Swedish friend gave me this recipe 2 bottles of dry red wine 2 bottles of ruby port 12 whole cloves 2½ tsps cardamom seeds ¾ tsp whole allspice berries 2 tablespoons grated orange peel 2 cinnamon sticks broken in half 2 cups of sugar 2/3 cup of raisins ¾ cup of blanched almonds

Mix first eight ingredients in a sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring to simmer, do not boil, stirring in sugar. Reduce heat to low, cook thirty minutes. Strain into heat proof pitcher and add raisins. Place a few almonds in each cup and pour glogg over them and serve warm. Baltimore Eggnog According to The Bon Vivant’s Companion, from which this was adapted, this eggnog is an excellent drink for debilitated persons, a nourishing diet for consumptives and will not cause a headache. 16 Eggs Separated 1 cup of brandy or rum ¾ cup of sugar 1 cup Madeira 2/3 of a whole nutmeg, freshly grated 3 quarts half and half Beat egg yolks until thick and creamy, then thoroughly beat in the sugar a little at a time. Beat in the nutmeg, then mix in the brandy and Madeira. Beat egg whites until they stand in peaks, then fold into the mixture. Stir in the half and half and serve in a chilled punch bowl.

WINE OF THE MONTH Drappier Millesime Exception 02   Pale gold, with a soft mousse and hint of pecan that will delight the most discriminating guests during the holidays. Drappier Champagne was Charles de Gaulle’s favorite fizz and I can see why.


The American

CECE’S Choice

Cece Mills picks her Arts and Exhibitions for December and continues her alphabetical look at art forms. ‘Look, it’s my misery that I have to paint this kind of painting, it’s your misery that you have to love it, and the price of the misery is thirteen hundred and fifty dollars.’ – Mark Rothko

First – a Christmas shopping opportunity if you find yourself ‘up north’…

Fifiefofum Art Gallery Fifiefofum, Westside Farm, Newton, Near Corbridge, Northumberland, NE43 7TW. www.fifiefofum.com Fifiefofum is an award winning Art Gallery and Creativity Centre situated near Corbridge in Northumberland. Founded by artist Sue Moffitt

and her photographer husband Roy Sturgeon, the gallery showcases and sells works of art on behalf of artists working across a range of media including acrylics, oils, watercolours, glass, wood, ceramics, prints, textiles and sculpture. As one of the UK’s leading art galleries, Fifiefofum hosts exhibitions throughout the year. Can you sense a Christmas shopping expedition coming on? While the gallery is now recognised as one of the best in the north east, Sue’s passion for the characters she paints remains. She is passionate about cows. It’s not that she doesn’t explore other subjects including the hares, swans and other wildlife that share the woods and fields around the gallery, but the challenge of cows, of all breeds, and the flow of commissions for her oil paintings, ensure that cow portraits remain a key feature at the gallery. Recently cows have taken Sue and Roy to North Carolina for the High Point Market, a truly enormous biannual fair showcasing art and interiors. This follows a successful exhibition of limited edition prints in Atlanta earlier in the year, and begun an export of cows to the US. One might say ‘back’ to the USA as many of the blood-lines in her brother’s herd originated in America. Sue Moffit’s portait of Polly and Sue Fifiefofum-Sue Moffit

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The American

Henry rosen (left) and Harvey Stemmer (centre) were arrested for bribing basketball players, January 25, 1945 © WEEGEE/ INTERNATIONAL CENTER OF PHOTOGRAPHY/ GETTY IMAGES COURTESY MICHAEL HOPPEN GALLERY

‘It’s a crime to take pictures this good….’ An exhibition of early photographs by Weegee the Famous Michael Hoppen Gallery, London SW3 To January 10th, 2010 You might think I am a bit obsessed by photographic exhibitions this month, but this and ‘Beatles to Bowie’ are both must-see ones. The American’s readers will no doubt be well aware of the Famous Weegee, who was always there when there was something to photograph in New York in the 1930s and ’40s. His fabulously sharp eye, verging on the voyeuristic, really captured New York at that time; not just the rich and famous, but the down and out as well. Weegee grew up in New York, coming originally from what is now the Ukraine. He was one of seven children of Jewish parents who left Europe in 1910 for the relative safety of the USA. His name? Well it comes from ouija, as in ouija boards, because of his sixth sense in sniffing out a story and incredibly managing to arrive at the scene of a crime minutes after it happened. His real name was Usher, then Arthur Fellig. By the way, if you are a fan, all the prints in the exhibition are for sale and are original prints made by Weegee during his lifetime.

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Max is rushing in the mornings bagels to a restaurant on 2nd Ave for the Morning trade c. 1940, Silver Gelatin print 11 x 14 inches © WEEGEE/ INTERNATIONAL CENTER OF PHOTOGRAPHY/ GETTY IMAGES COURTESY MICHAEL HOPPEN GALLERY

After the opera...at Sammy’s Nightclub on the Bowery, c. 1944, silver gelatin print © WEEGEE/ INTERNATIONAL CENTER OF PHOTOGRAPHY/ GETTY IMAGES COURTESY MICHAEL HOPPEN GALLERY


The American

Maggi Hambling, rearing Wave, August, oil on canvas 2009 © THE ARTIST

The Sea: L S Lowry and Maggi Hambling The Lowry, Salford Quays, Manchester To January 31st, 2010 I am a huge fan of Maggi Hambling, one of Britain’s most wonderful contemporary artists. Here, her enormously evocative sea pictures are powerful and turbulent, contrasting with Lowry’s, which are calm and peaceful and devoid of his signature pin men. Both have a fascination for the North Sea and this exhibition illustrates this. I cannot resist reproducing quotes from the artists: ‘It’s the battle of life – the turbulence of the sea – and life’s pretty turbulent, isn’t it?’ – LS Lowry ‘But this raging beast is as demanding as a lover and I am still challenged and seduced.’ – Maggi Hambling

robert Whitaker, The Beatles, 1964

Beatles to Bowie: The ’60s Exposed National Portrait Gallery, London To January 24th, 2010 A cracking exhibition exploring 1960s pop legends who shaped the era and made these legends icons for

ROBERT WHITAKER ARCHIVE

ever. Featuring over 150 photographs of groups such as The Shadows and The Who, and individual legends Cliff Richard, Adam Faith and David Bowie, not to mention the inevitable stars of the show, The Beatles and rivals The Rolling Stones. Magical works by David Bailey and others.

Ed Ruscha: Fifty Years of Painting Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London To January 10th, 2010 Ruscha is a pioneering American artist and this exhibition spans his ed ruscha, Standard Station COURTESY PRIVATE COLLECTION, © ED RUSCHA 2009, PHOTOGRAPHY: PAUL RUSCHA

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The American

ARTFORMS A-Z whole career with a selection of 78 huge paintings, some on display for the first time. He combines his interest in the American West landscape and culture, in printed matter and words, as well as graphic design to produce unusual and arresting works.

lithographs LOOKING AT:

O

ellsworth Kelly, untitled 1957, Ink on paper, 11 x 8½ inches PRIVATE COLLECTION, © ELLSWORTH KELLY

Ellsworth Kelly Drawings 1954 – 1962 Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art To February 21st, 2010 Yet another American star being exhibited over here! Now 86, Ellsworth Kelly was born in Newburgh, New York, in 1923. He first became famous for his minimal abstraction in the 1950s and has had numerous exhibitions all over the world. He still lives and works in New York, although spent many years living and working in Paris. This exhibition of his drawings were all executed between 1954 and 1962, which marks the dawning of his particular style.

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dilon Redon must be the most significant and experimental of all artists to explore the fascination of the lithograph. He was always interested in light, in black and white, in light and darkness, so this medium, which produces a monochrome image, suited his purposes perfectly. Redon’s lithographs were known as his ‘noirs’, or ‘black things’ since they were essentially black. Very luckily for us all, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is showing an exhibition of his work entitled ‘Lumiere’ in the Charrington Print Room (Gallery 16) until January 10th, so you could go and have a look at the lithograph expert’s work. The Fitzwilliam Museum has one of the world’s greatest print collections, mainly due to the generosity of one John Charrington, a rich coalmerchant of the area. He endowed the museum with its print room as well as giving it his vast collection of prints. A form of printing, Lithography comes from the Greek word for stone – lithos – and so it is not difficult to imagine how the process evolved. A stone (limestone) or metal plate with a very smooth surface was used as the basis on which to create the design to print. Then oil, fat, and gum arabic were used to create the design – in this case the oil would reject the ink and thus formed the unprinted area of the image, while the rest of the

surface would accept the ink and become the image. This differs from other forms of printing involving etching the surface to make grooves to hold the ink, or cutting out of areas such as lino or woodcuts, to make proud areas to hold the ink. Invented in 1796 by Alois Senefelder in Bohemia, the process of lithography is still widely in use today in the printing of virtually all newspapers, books, posters and numerous sorts of packaging. H

odilon redon, Profil de Lumiere, lithograph © FITZWILLIAM MUSEUM


The American

The American

Art News

The Wall Street 100 Riflemaker Dairy, 7 Wakefield Street, London WC1 To December 5th, 2009

By Estelle Lovatt

Book Review: Imagining Jewish Art: Encounters with the Masters in Chagall, Guston, and Kitaj Aaron Rosen

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r Aaron Rosen is Research Fellow in Jewish History and Culture at the University of Oxford. In this book, written between America and England, Rosen explores Jewish identity through the artworks of Chagall (who sought exile in America) and the great American artists Guston and Kitaj. As an art critic, two questions bug me; is there such a thing as Jewish art? What does Jewish art look like? Following the Second Commandment – ‘you shall not make a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth’, fully aware of violating God’s Commandment with the worship of false gods by means of religious statues or pictures, I understand that Jewish artists didn’t have the freedom to create art. For lovers of American art, Jewish art, history or theology, Dr Rosen has approached the subject comprehensively. He discovers how Jewishness is to be found in the most unlikely places. Or perhaps not, noting how modern Jewish artists explore their Jewish identity inspired by an artistic past which is, by and large, not Jewish. Look at some of the greatest works of Western art through Jewish eyes and we witness Grunewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece

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r. B. Kitaj. Amerika (Baseball). 1983–84. oil on Canvas. 152.4 × 152.4 cm. Private collection, New York. © THE ARTIST, PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MARLBOROUGH FINE ART (LONDON) LT

re-imagined by Chagall; Uccello and Piero della Francesca in Guston; and Velazquez and Cezanne studiously reworked by Kitaj. Making an exceptional input to the exchange of ideas and channel of communication between religion and the fine art, Dr Rosen processes how any type of Jewish art may serve deep-seated Jewish ideas of family, tradition, and homeland. Not only a Jewish phenomenon, but an American singularity too. Dr. Rosen communicates his ideas succinctly, in an accessible manner. Recognizing and illuminating the Jewish interest of these three, dissimilar, artists, and how Jewish art sponges from Christian art, Rosen bypasses past scholars, critics, and curators who have sought the nature of Jewish art in Bible illustrations and portraits of rabbis, but failed to come up with the answer. Legenda: Oxford, 2009 £45.00 ($89.50 US) Hardback 140pp

The Wall Street 100 is one hundred large paraffin wax portraits featuring Barack Obama, Bernard Madoff, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Rev Martin Luther King Jr and Alan Greenspan amongst others, each selected for their perceived level of global economic power. The works are by artist José-María Cano (b. Madrid 1959), internationally known for this ongoing series of paintings which he began in 2007 and from which he frequently adds and takes away as the power and significance of his subjects change. Each portrait is based on a newspaper cutting of the particular individual from the Wall Street Journal and illustrates the common themes of capitalism, wealth and power that appear across Cano’s work. He uses the technique of encaustic – painting in heated wax – to translate iconic images, or segments of text, from the media. The Wall Street 100 series, shown in Moscow, Madrid and Prague, comes to London for the first time.

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The American

Jacob Epstein, Torso in Metal from the ‘The Rock Drill’, 1913-14, Bronze, 70.5 x 58.4 x 44.5 cm © The estate of Sir Jacob Photo ©Tate, London

Wild Thing: Epstein, Gaudier-Brzeska, Gill Royal Academy of Arts, London W1 To January 24th, 2010

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bronze bust by Sir Jacob Epstein, of former prime minister Winston Churchill, was loaned to George W Bush from the Government Art Collection after the 9/11 attacks as a signal of the strong transatlantic relationship, and enjoyed pride of place in the Oval Office during President Bush’s tenure as one of his favourite sculptures in the White House. Today, with Epstein admired in the most powerful office in the world, how different his reputation is compared with the start of the 20th century.

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This exhibition takes its name from the young American poet Ezra Pound, who met Henri GaudierBrzeska by one of his avant-garde sculptures in 1913, but couldn’t pronounce his name. As the sculptor exclaimed ‘C’est Moi!’ the friendship began. Pound likened him to ‘a wellmade young wolf or some soft-moving, bright-eyed wild thing.’ The last two words summing up Epstein and Gill too. I had the great opportunity to enjoy lunch plus a guided tour of Epstein’s London with exhibition curator Dr Richard Cork, and discuss the merits of these remarkable sculptors with him. Cork tells the fascinating story about how “it all started here, in London at the start of the

20th century, when Jacob Epstein, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Eric Gill shocked viewers with their sexually explicit, bold works. All three of these outstanding young sculptors arrived in Britain between 1905 and 1915, and the radical impact of their work transformed British sculpture [from their shared dissatisfaction with academic ideals]. Of course the trio are very different artists, but together, before the First World War, they totally revolutionised modern sculpture, to look beyond classical art, as Gill declared Epstein was “to rescue sculpture from the grave.” Epstein, born in New York of Polish, Orthodox-Jewish parentage, came to London with a letter from Rodin saying he was a remarkable student. When Epstein unveiled his new sculpture, Rock Drill, just before World War I, British art suddenly became modern. ‘Perched near the top of the tripod which held the drill, a tense figure operating the drill as if it were a machine gun, a prophetic symbol of war’ (David Bomberg). Epstein may have decided to make this immensely daring tour-de-force while watching men with machines cutting stone in a quarry, relaying how ‘My ardour for machinery (short-lived) expended itself upon the purchase of an actual drill, second-hand, and upon this I made and mounted a machine-like robot, visored, menacing, and carrying within itself its progeny, protectively ensconced. Here is the armed, sinister figure of today and tomorrow.’ All goes to show, Epstein’s influence, and ability to foreshadow even great American culture - from comics to Hollywood movies - with his sinister robot power. Together, Epstein, Gill and Gaudier-Brzeska make an outstanding, magnificent, RA display.


The American

Annie Kevans ‘Ship of Fools’ FAS Contemporary Art, 148 New Bond Street, London W1S 2JT tc@faslondon.com To December 23rd, 2009

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aking the allegory ‘Ship of Fools’ as the title for her latest series of paintings, artist Annie Kevans tackles the shifting perception of mental illness and its link with accomplishment and success. Kevans explains, ‘My paintings reflect my interests in power, manipulation and the role of the individual in inherited belief systems.” Towards the end of the Middle Ages, Europeans dealt with their mad by handing them over to mariners, sailing them to foreign ports where they became someone else’s problem. The term ‘Ship of Fools’ has long since been used in Western art and literature to describe society without direction or heading for disaster. ‘Ship of Fools’ has been used to title paintings, songs and films including a film starring Vivien Leigh, who was herself given electroconvulsive therapy for manic depression. Kevans reveals, “I believe that a person’s identity as is not preset but is a shifting temporary construction.” The list of the great and the good with varying degrees of mental illnesses is endless and surprising; American examples include Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Kirsten Dunst, Jackson Pollock, Drew Barrymore, Beyonce Knowles and Mark Twain. One in four people experience some kind of mental health problem, yet it is still stigmatised and this is the conceptual inspiration behind this exhibition. As in much of Kevans’ work, the idea of truth versus fiction features in the series. She makes clear, how, “It is important for me to examine the duality of truth and falsehood

throughout my work, which I do by creating ‘portraits’ which may or may not be based on real documentation.” She delves as far as America in the 1920s to include the strange fantasy world of Opal Whiteley; a young woman from Oregon, claiming to be the kidnapped daughter of the Duke Henri Prince of Orleans, a descendant of the French royal family. Another of her claims was that she could communicate with animals and trees. Her childhood diary was a bestseller in America and the public thought it was proof that her story was true, until she was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and admitted to hospital, where she died. H

Annie Kevans, Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson

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t a e r G tmas Chrisiveaway G

WIN! 3D Books of Historic America Stereoscope photography was the television of 150 years ago. Imagine how exciting it was to be able to see people and places in 3 dimensions for the first time. Voyageur Press’s fabulous Stereoscope books (available through MBI in the UK) open up to display a lost world come to life. Each book, edited by Greg Dinkins, president of the New York Stereoscopic Society, includes a brief, colorful history of stereoscope photography, which started in the 1850s and remained popular until the Great Depression of the 1930s. There are books on Native Americans & the Wild West, New York, Washington DC, Gettysburg and Minnesota. Each book has 45 stereo images complete with detailed historical captions. A built-in stereo viewer takes you right into the pictures. At £12.99 they would make great Christmas presents for a loved one (or yourself!). But two lucky readers of The American can get the whole lot, worth £64.95, just by emailing theamerican.co.uk with their contact details (including a daytime telephone number and postal address). Write 3D GIVeAWAY in the subject line.

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The American Civil War by John Keegan

Reviewed by Colonel Iain Standen, a serving British Army officer and in his spare time a qualified battlefield guide who has led battlefield tours and military staff rides in Europe and America.

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n this new history of the American Civil War, Sir John Keegan postulates that its many unique features make it an unusual, or in his words, a ‘mysterious’ war. Mysterious in the way in which it started, in its human geography and in the manner the population on both sides fought so fiercely. He highlights the defining characteristic of the war, the frequency with which battles took place. There were between 250 and 300 named battles during the four years of the War. On average this amounts to a battle a week, a figure that has not been matched in any other war. The book’s twenty-three chapters cover the background to the war, the causes, and a detailed military history which quite properly balances equally the stories of both the Eastern and Western theatres of the war – a feat not always achieved in other such histories. There are also thematic chapters picking up subjects such as Civil War Generalship, Black Soldiers and the Home Fronts. Keegan makes much of the influ-

ence of geography on the conduct of the war. His clear and understandable exposition of its impact is excellent. Indeed it is difficult to recollect another historian who has covered this so well. Likewise his clear explanations of the strategies employed and the planning for war are good. Combined with some useful insights into the political and military leadership on both sides, it provides the reader with a clear understanding of the overall conduct of the War. Keegan’s very readable style makes this a very accessible history and a good introduction for a newcomer to the American Civil War. However, for a reader with some background knowledge there is probably just not enough new material and while the study of battles and wars requires good maps to illustrate the action, there are too few here. Hutchinson, 2009, 416pp Hardback, ISBN 9780091794835 Go to www.theamerican.co.uk to see more selected book reviews


The American

WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS TO SEE

HHHHH Guardian, Sunday Telegraph, City AM, Time Out, Evening Standard, Daily Telegraph, The Times

There was a warning and its name was Enron. One of the most infamous scandals in financial history becomes a unique theatrical event in ‘rupert Goold’s brilliant production’ (Guardian). Mixing classical tragedy with savage comedy, it reviews the tumultuous 1990s and casts new light on the current financial situation. In what promises to be ‘an outstanding evening’ (ES), Enron is ‘the exhilarating answer to a $60bn question’ (Times).

“Are you kidding me? Did we take advantage? Yes, we took advantage. And the only difference between me and the people judging me is they weren’t smart enough to do what we did.” Inspired by real-life events and using music, dance and video, ENRON is directed by Headlong Theatre’s Artistic Director Rupert Goold whose recent credits include the award-winning Macbeth and Six Characters in Search of an Author, King Lear, No Man’s Land and Oliver! Terms and conditions: Winning tickets valid Monday – Thursday performances from 1 – 25 February 2010. Winning tickets will be held at the box office for collection. Enron will run from 16 January! Early booking is strongly advised. Call the box office on 0844 482 5140 enrontheplay.com Nöel Coward Theatre, St Martins Lane, WC2N 4Au

JuST ANSWer THIS QueSTIoN For A CHANCe To WIN A PAIr oF TICKeTS To See ENRON QueSTIoN Who was the founder and head of the company, enron? A: B: C:

Kenneth Jay Kenneth Kay Kenneth Lay

HoW To eNTer Send your answer with your contact details: name, address, daytime telephone number and email address (optional) to reach us by mid-day, Friday January 8th, 2010. Email it to theamerican@blueedge.co.uk with eNroN CoMPeTITIoN in the subject line. Or send a postcard to: eNroN CoMPeTITIoN, The American, old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, east Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, uK. 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.

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The American

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hey say you should never meet your heroes. Chances are, these idols will only disappoint you and tumble from the high pedestal on which you’ve placed them for so long. These were the kind of thoughts echoing through my mind as I prepared to encounter an actor who had entertained and inspired me more than any other over the last 25 years, Hollywood’s comeback king… Mickey Rourke.

photo: Stephen Gee

Meeting Mickey Rourke A self destructive tendency of Shakespearian proportion had derailed a career that seemed so promising after early films like 9½ Weeks and Angel Heart and he languished in the movie wilderness until a remarkable performance in The Wrestler reminded the world of his talent and put Mickey back in the big time. It also sent him onto the Hollywood awards circuit – which is where our paths would finally cross. As a Los Angeles based journalist and Q&A moderator who interviews the actors in the running for the major film awards at private events for awards voters, I was excited and nervous to find myself interviewing the unpredictable enigma on stage after the BAFTA-LA screening of The Wrestler. The charismatic star didn’t disappoint. Tall and solid, he moved with a tough guy swagger and shook hands with sausage-like fingers. He showed up with a little dog – Loki, a 17-yearold Chihuahua who had become his constant companion – and a large entourage which included action star Jason Statham, model Lisa

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Hollywood journalist Sandro Monetti met the enigmatic actor-turned-wrestler. Here’s what happened next. Snowdon and wrestling legend Rowdy Roddy Piper. Mickey was flamboyantly dressed, as usual. I was too – which prompted my hero to greet me with the words, “Have you been raiding my closet?” When I introduced him on stage the large crowd got to its feet, giving a deafening ovation to show huge appreciation and sweet affection for a star who is only now getting the recognition his immense talent deserves. The once down and out actor related a comeback tale to me so compelling that I knew it had to be told in a book. It became clear as we spoke that the role he plays in The Wrestler, Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a once great icon now seemingly past his prime and beaten down by life but looking for a return to the big time, had many parallels with Rourke’s own rollercoaster life. It was hard to see where the character begins and the man playing him ends. I was inspired to spend the following six months researching and

writing Mickey Rourke: Wrestling with Demons. Friends of the star were happy to share with me a host of stories, from the time he set his home on fire trying to cook his own dinner to the occasion when the tough guy actor and former boxer cried his eyes out while getting his ears pierced. A leading Hollywood psychologist helped me understand how and why he had messed up his relationships and wrecked his career. From his nightmare childhood, broken marriages, personal tragedies and suicidal low points to his againstall-odds, inspirational return from the cinematic scrapheap, the book follows the extraordinary journey of an extraordinary man. I’m so glad I met him and hope to have done justice to this compelling figure. Sometimes it’s great to meet your hero. Mickey Rourke: Wrestling with Demons by Sandro Monetti, published by JR Books, is out now in the UK. £18.99


The American

Mother Courage and Her Children By Bertolt Brecht in a translation by Tony Kushner National Theatre, London.

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oor old Brecht hasn’t been getting good press of late. Through the nineties and the noughties it became clear he had had more than a little help with the writing of his plays (his estate now only gets a portion of the royalties with the majority going to the estates of his former lover/collaborators). Also, with Communism dead and everyone ‘maxing out’ their credit cards, his works seemed to have as much relevance as Viennese operetta. But, my, haven’t things changed. With capitalism in convulsions but surviving, and wars ongoing in Afghanistan and Iraq, a reassessment of his greatest play is, at the very least, timely. The image of Mother Courage dragging her cart from battlefield to battlefield, seeking to profit from constant warfare and sacrificing her own children in the process is a key image from 20th century drama. His signature ‘distancing effects’, constantly reminding the audience they are watching a play, were radical in their time but are now easily assimilated into modern staging techniques. The challenge for any director taking on Brecht therefore is how to make the plays work for a modern audience. How do you approach the politics? How can the staging communicate the play’s universalist message without causing a riot amongst the academics and, without being too vulgar about it, how can you keep the audience from slitting their wrists?

Anthony Luvera

Here Deborah Warner has three great assets to help her – Fiona Shaw, Duke Special and Tony Kushner. Fiona Shaw has now matured into a grande dame of our theatre and has the presence, the wit and the vigour to humanise this ambivalent character without diluting the play’s seriousness of purpose. Warner also has the service of Duke Special, a bohemian (dare I say it, Weimar-like) singer/songwriter from Belfast who was found by Shaw performing in LA. Looking, and sounding like a cross between Mick Hucknall and Tom Waits, he has written a complete song cycle for the production, and his

THEATER REVIEWS By Jarlath O’CONNELL plaintive melodies are expertly played by a great band of musicians. Check out www.dukespecial.com. This is the rock concert Mother Courage and Shaw relishes her moments to grab the mic and do a rock star turn. Tom Pye’s clever designs resolve the staging problems admirably and make full use of the Olivier’s barn like stage. He even incorporates audio captions recorded by a frail Gore Vidal (The Daily Telegraph critic must have had a cardiac). Ruth Myers’

Martin Marquez as The Cook and Fiona Shaw as Mother Courage with Duke Special Anthony Luvera

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Turandot

By Giacomo Puccini English National Opera at the Coliseum, London

I Fiona Shaw stars as a witty and vigorous Mother Courage ANTHONY LUVERA

costumes too, avoid locating the play in any period and attest to its timelessness. The production also benefits from Tony Kushner’s excellent translation, relieving it of that overly reverential tone which so often kills Brecht stone dead. First presented in Central Park with Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline, Warner has dared here to take this version of the play off in new directions and in doing so has produced a totally compelling evening of theatre. It will come as a welcome relief to the hordes of young people who no doubt will be dragged to it kicking and screaming, by their teachers. My first Mother Courage was Glenda Jackson at the Mermaid in a staging which foregrounded the ‘distancing effects’. It sent me running for the hills and welcoming Ms Jackson’s subsequent change of career (she’s now a politician). This is one to check out, particularly for a new generation discovering Brecht for the first time. He may be of his time but his plays are timeless.

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know, I know… you shouldn’t worry about the plot in opera, it is, after all, about stirring the emotions through sublime music, but when it comes to Turandot, you can’t help but chuckle. The plot is this: vindictive Chinese princess, with all the allure of Cruella de Ville, will only marry the man who correctly answers her three riddles and those who fail are summarily executed. But, it gets better. The one who succeeds, the Prince of Tartary, then decides to set his own challenge to her: “bring me my name before sunrise and at sunrise, I will die”. She then commands that “none shall sleep” that night. You betcha. The opera also has three ministers called Ping, Pong and Pang and as the plot rolls on we are treated to bloodthirsty executions, torture, suicide and two thoroughly dislikeable lead characters, one psychotic and one a bore.

And the Establishment complains about the Grand Theft Auto game! Turandot has survived its plot however to become a firm favourite of opera fans worldwide and really can only work if it is pitched at a level of high camp that draws out the emotional texture of the music and is given a production of epic scale and beauty to fully transport the audience. The selling point of this production is that the ENO has employed the hottest theatre director in town, Rupert Goold, to dip his toe in opera. Having had an amazing run in the theatre with Enron, Patrick Stewart’s Macbeth, No Man’s Land and King Lear he has spectacularly crash landed here. Anthony Minghella’s Madame Butterfly had a similar experience at the ENO two years ago. A modern dress production, it all takes place in a giant red Chinese res-


The American

taurant and Ping, Pong and Pang are reinvented as cleaver wielding chefs. It is all stretching the libretto beyond breaking point. Miriam Beuther’s designs certainly have the necessary scale and some wonderfully perverse detail (human bodies hung like pheasants) but it merely contributes to the confusion. Central to the production is Goold’s creation of an invented character who “thinks” the story, a sort of distancing effect. Sitting grimly in the corner of this dodgy “Chinese” one wants to point him in the direction of the Michelin Guide and encourage him to get out now. But, of course, this device is a cop-out by Goold, who has reneged in his primary duty as an opera director, which is to make the audience believe in this make believe world. In the case of Turandot we need to empathise with the emotions if not swallow the plot twists. Once that sensitive link with the audience is severed the whole thing becomes a garish irrelevance and just when you wonder who will parade through the doors next, in come three Elvis impersonators, a Chelsea Pensioner and an Orthodox

ALL Images: Catherine Ashmore

Jew. Flights of fantasy are perfectly fine in opera but surely they have to possess some internal logic. The three leads battle the ‘concept’ to varying degrees of success. Gwyn Hughes Jones delivers a solid ‘Nessun Dorma’ as Calaf (a particularly dull part) and Amanda Echalaz is emotionally engaging as the unfortunate slave Liu, who has to sing while being tortured with kitchen bleach. In the lead, German soprano Kirsten Black is passable but she is saddled with a costume of such awfulness to make her resemble a Bride at C&A rather than an Imperial Princess. She is what my American cousins would generously call “homely”.

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The American

When the

Special Relationship Matters

“reside” here as they are considered, for all purposes, to remain resident in the US. For them, establishing jurisdiction may be more difficult depending on their circumstances).

Should you divorce in England?

Solicitor Lucy Thomas of internationally recognised London law firm Kingsley Napley looks at the implications of English divorce in a US context

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or many US citizens living in the UK, temporarily or otherwise, separation and divorce is on the increase. The English divorce process may seem bewildering and perhaps utterly ‘foreign’ but knowing what to consider in the early stages should help.

“Divorce capital of the world”?

In 2007, England’s most senior family judge referred to London in these terms. Far-reaching changes have occurred in English family law in recent years. Prior to 2000 homemakers (typically wives) were often awarded only sufficient money to provide them with a house and maintenance (alimony) payments. Now, an equal division of what a couple have built up during their relationship is the norm. Concepts of ‘sharing’ and ‘fairness’ are very much in vogue, resulting in high value settlements. In 2008 Heather Mills received £24.3m

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after only 4 years of marriage to Paul McCartney. In 2006 Beverley Charman received £48m, which stands as the largest settlement (imposed by an English court) to date.

Can you divorce in England?

To divorce in England one party needs to fall into a number of specific categories which centre on whether they live here or are ‘domiciled’ here (a legal concept peculiar to England and more relevant where one spouse is English). Broadly speaking however issuing in England requires at least one party to live here for a period of time even if their presence is temporary. If a US citizen is here on a short term contract (e.g. 1 or 2 years), the English court could well have jurisdiction. The location of the marriage is of no relevance, nor is it necessary to hold a UK passport. (US diplomatic staff and military staff present in England do not technically

It may be that, even if England has jurisdiction to deal with a divorce, one of the US states could also claim jurisdiction. This is something any US citizen living here, even temporarily, should consider. Anyone considering divorce should make enquiries at the earliest stage as to the likely financial outcome both here and at ‘home’. The difference of approach between England and US states varies enormously. Take a couple who have been married for 15 or more years, both in their late 40s, with children. In England the wife might receive maintenance for herself, potentially for the rest of her life, and half of the value of the wealth they have built up together. Courts in California and New York could take a similar approach but, a Texan Court would limit a wife to three years’ maintenance at most. Our approach to spousal maintenance sets us apart, if not from the rest of the world then certainly from most of Europe. English divorce law is discretionary; judges here have wide powers to make financial awards following a divorce in a way which could differ greatly from the US. It is therefore important for your English lawyer to have a network of contacts so that enquiries are made quickly. Time can often be of the essence.


The American

Prenuptial agreements – effects

Furthermore, for many Americans, the approach of the court to prenuptial and postnuptial agreements could be a salient point. Although prenuptial agreements may be taken into account by the English court, they are not automatically enforceable. The law is changing but such change is slow and there are no guarantees. If you have a prenuptial agreement and are keen for it to be enforced, then a US court in a home state may be the ‘safer’ forum.

Points to remember

For American couples living in England, and couples where one is English and one American, any separation or divorce needs to be handled carefully and any settlement or agreement reached should be carefully ‘tested’ in

a US context both at the outset and as any negotiation progresses. Key considerations include:

structured to ensure it is enforceable and tax efficient in the US as well as England.

l Ensuring a financial settlement

l Capital Gains Tax. Where

‘works’ if one of the parties decides to return home. Consider the possibility of having to enforce an English Court Order in a US court in the future. It may be sensible for a US lawyer to ‘check’ any proposed Order to make the process of enforcement easier down the line. l Income Tax. In

terms of maintenance if a payer (e.g. the husband) pays income tax in the US and the wife receives alimony payments on US soil the wife would be liable to pay income tax on the alimony. In England, maintenance is received tax free. Any agreement needs to be

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

US citizens retain their passports and so are obliged to file a US tax return (even if they reside outside of the US), should they sell or transfer assets in England, they could be liable for a Capital Gains Tax liability in the US. For an English couple, their matrimonial home is exempt from Capital Gains Tax and so can be sold and transferred tax free. In the US, however, that would be a taxable transaction. A US wife who may have lived in England for many years but continues to file tax returns in the US could sell her half interest in the matrimonial home and then be liable for a significant tax burden in the US. H

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The American

Mr. Gorbachev,  tear down this wall! “G

eneral Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” This, of course, is Ronald Reagan’s plea at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987 – a full two years before the ‘year of great change’ as it has come to be known. Much is being made of the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall but, like much of history, every big story would not have been possible if not for countless stories that came before. ‘1989’ now stands as shorthand not only for the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, but also a fundamental change in the relationship between great powers. Even as the wall came

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Alison Holmes remembers the crumbling of the Berlin Wall and looks at what has happened since. down exactly 200 years after the building of the symbolic gate of unity that ironically formed the heart of a wall of division, there was a sense of a shift in the tectonic plates of international relations. Finally, it was felt, the era of the balance of power was over. This was the beginning of a new era, a benevolent, unipolar, world. If the UK had once acted as Greece to the US’s Rome – to borrow Harold Macmillan’s phrase for transatlantic affairs – the US had reached its Roman zenith of power and left its Greece far far behind. But should 1989 be considered more accurately as the end of some-

thing outdated? Frances Fukuyama certainly felt it was, and that these events in Europe amounted to nothing less than the “End of History”. Liberal Democracy was the ‘last man standing’ on the ideological field of battle and was duly declared victorious. The rest of Time, so the argument went, would be spent organizing ourselves in a more peaceful, productive (and capitalist) manner. Of course, some astute observers were also keenly aware that shortly before these European velvet revolutions, was the massacre in Tiananmen Square and shortly after, the execution of the Ceausescus in Romania. These did not bode well for an endless age of peace and prosperity. What are we to make of cycles of Time and of History? What role do governments and leaders play in the major events? Certainly the three lions of the Cold War who gathered recently in Berlin were convinced of their own role, and also that of the people themselves in the changes that were wrought that year. 1,800 hundred people gathered to listen to Helmut Kohl, George Bush Sr. and Mikhail Gorbachev reminisce on their struggles and differences during the difficult and volatile days


The American

Brandenburg Gate on December 1, 1989. The structure is already freely accessible from the East, however, the crossing to the Western side will not be officially open until December 22nd. F LEE CORKRAN

in the run up to the opening of the border and the days that followed, particularly through the process of reunification of Germany. It was, they concluded, a victory of the people over an illegitimate master and a blow for freedom against tyranny. However, it would seem that those in the east – the very people these leaders were praising for bravery and courage – are not as convinced of the success of the brave new world they ushered in. The ‘shotgun’ process of reunification had serious implications for the welfare system of East Germany. They were given the deutschmark and their freedom, but many feel, it was at the cost of their jobs and a system of support. All the while, their savings were disappearing with their currency. Some even suggest that the reunification of Germany was a mistake, that the people of the east would have been better off left under Soviet rule, or that at least they were better cared for under the old system. It is impossible to consider the ‘road not taken’, though the game of counter-factual often proves enlightening. What if the people of Leipzig and of Berlin had stayed home? What if Hungary had not

opened the border, or the Poles and the Czechs not added their weight to the movement by engaging in their own struggle? What if East Germany’s hard-line leader of the day, Erich Honecker, had not lifted travel restrictions? Or indeed, what if Gorbachev had not told Honecker that he would not use troops to help him stop the gathering storm or, in a phrase probably more significant and certainly more ominous than Reagan’s, told him that, ‘Life punishes those who delay’? The great events of November 1989 were shaped by hundreds and thousands of decisions in Europe and beyond as world leaders and their peoples took risks – or failed to grasp opportunities. It is hard to say when an idea’s time has come, or indeed what the unintended consequences of one’s decisions will be. Certainly, it seems obvious that Angela Merkel would not be Germany’s first woman Chancellor if it had not been for that fateful night of 1989. Yet, as she said herself on the night of her re-election , she seeks to represent ‘all Germans’ while remaining the only East German in her Cabinet. This is a clear allusion to the fact that many Germans still feel the presence of the

wall or at least still feel a divide of wealth if not of citizenship. Liberal Democracy did not win once and for all on that night or in that year. Otherwise what should we make of the fact that less than a year later the world had to deal with its first major encounter with a man they would come to revile? How does the European ‘year of great change’ explain Saddam Hussein and the first Gulf War – and the whole series of stories in a completely different part of the world that led to that big event? Perhaps the only thing we learn is that the inevitable consequence of hindsight is the pain of self-awareness of our ignorance. Every great story has countless stories that came before – and even the greatest of stories is not the only story in the world. Meanwhile, in Berlin, the three still-proud lions appeared, even though no longer the leaders of their prides. One in a wheel chair, one with a cane, and one with a Nobel peace prize for something he actually did. Now that’s a lesson learned. H Dr. Alison Holmes is Pierre Keller Fellow in Transatlantic Relations at Yale University

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British Roads Can Be Treacherous D

riving in the a foreign country, especially one that drives on the ‘wrong’ side of the road like the UK, is hard enough at the best of times. But add to that ever-changing weather caused by Britain’s unique position between wet Atlantic weather systems and cold continental air masses, and you have to be prepared for anything, at any time. The IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) is Britain’s premier advanced driver training organisation. They stress the need for all drivers, particularly ones new to the UK, to be aware of the hazards brought about by changing road conditions.

❆ The sun is lower in the sky at sunrise and sunset at this time of year. This can have a dangerous blinding effect, particularly when you are commuting to and from work.

❆ Fallen leaves accumulate near roadside gutters and can block roadside drains causing localised deep water and wet leaves on the road surface, increasing the danger of skidding.

❆ The colder temperatures of autumn can to give rise to fog, a particular problem on fast-moving roads such as motorways but severely reduced visibility brings danger for drivers on all roads – particularly at junctions and those British roundabouts. Use fog lights sparingly; switch them on only when visibility is below 100 metres. Leaving them on after fog has disappeared is an offence and a danger to other motorists. Fog can cause moisture on the windscreen; use wipers to clear the exterior and keep the interior clean. Set your lighting and windscreen controls before setting off to avoid distraction while travelling.

❆ Darker mornings and early evenings mean that it is harder to spot surface water. Pockets of water are less easy to see and can cause a sharp, unexpected jolt on the steering wheel when hit.

❆ Sharp braking can be dangerous when visibility is poor. Be prepared to slow down to enable your car to stop within the distance you can see to be clear and give following drivers more time react.

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❆ In snow or ice, slow down and keep well back from the vehicle in front. When roads are slippery it can take ten times longer to stop so look a long way ahead.. Use low gears to help keep traction, especially on hills, and use gears to restrain speed on downhill sections to avoid the need to brake. The road in front of vehicles clearing snow is likely to be worse than the road behind. Don’t pass these vehicles. ❆ Check the windscreen washer is topped up with washer fluid and the wiper blades are clean. You need a clear view out of all windows, not just the windshield. Turn on headlights to see and be seen. Pack an emergency kit (warm outdoor clothes, a reflective jacket, a torch, and a fully charged mobile phone). ❆ Finally, if the weather is bad, drive only if it is necessary. Check the weather forecast before heading off. Take it slow and allow extra time for the journey, even if it is the usual work or school run – familiar, short journeys could be just as problematic as long ones. H


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year ago, Honda announced its withdrawal from the top echelon of motorsport following a torrid season. Brawn GP and their number one driver Jenson Button rose from the ashes to win both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships in stunning fashion. Formula One has had its detractors recently with many complaining of boring races with few overtaking moves, the same teams dominating year in year out and industrial espionage scandals. Over the past twenty years you could argue the case, but scratch the surface of the halcyon

Ross Brawn and Jenson Button celebrate their unlikely championship stories

Brawn’s Fairytale Year Dom Mills rounds up the 2009 Formula 1 season days of the ’60s and ’70s and you’ll see that underhand tactics to achieve an edge over your rivals have always been there. Bad news always sells more copy than good, but there is plenty of good too. When Ross Brawn and Nick Fry announced their plans to keep the team racing, both Ferrari and Mercedes

quickly offered their help to ensure the team would not die. Of course it was a fairytale for a new team to claim both championships at its first attempt but you can ironically point to Honda’s disastrous 2008 as the key to Brawn GP’s success. Honda’s car was so bad that management decided to minimise its development in order

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©CliveMason/GettyImages

Champions past and future? Lewis Hamilton (R) won in 2008 – could Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel (L) be next?

to concentrate on the 2009 car. A raft of technical changes coming into the sport would effectively wipe the slate clean as far as the designers were concerned. Ross Brawn is the most technically astute and innovative designer in the black art of interpreting the rules of the sport and his design of the double rear diffuser was a world beater. Even after the eleventh hour deal that created Brawn GP, time was against them to make the grid in Australia. But the car was lightning fast straight out of the box and, with Button at the wheel, went on to claim four pole positions and six wins from the first seven races. Button began his F1 career at the beginning of the decade with Williams and despite some early form he seemed to be drifting into the journeyman category following an unsuccessful move to Renault and then to BAR. His one previous career win came way back in 2006, and Honda’s demise might have meant the end


The American

of Button’s career; such is the fickle nature of the sport. Maybe Sebastian Vettel will look back on that fact over the coming months and think of what might have been. It is unfortunate for Vettel and his Red Bull team that Brawn prevailed, as their season was in many ways as miraculous as Brawn’s. Formed in 2005, Red Bull had yet to win a race before this year and finished seventh out of ten teams in 2008. Unlike his new team, Vettel was already a race winner, so his rise was less of a surprise, yet this year saw a new maturity in his driving and on his day he was untouchable. His moment will come as long as Red Bull continue to provide a competitive car. Departing champion Lewis Hamilton proved that he is very much a racer as he dragged his dog of a car around for the early part of the year. He scored the most points of any driver in the second half of the season. He will be back stronger next year. The most common question raised over the last few races was: did Button deserve to be Champion? He and his team started to flounder around the middle third of the season and the pit began to murmur that Button couldn’t handle the pressure. Perhaps some of this is true but the car did start to lose some of their early season advantage and Brawn didn’t have the budget of Ferrari or McLaren to maintain that edge. You could also point to the fact that Vettel did not score big points either whilst Button struggled; was he choking too? For me Button drove fantastically well considering the pressure he was under; he knew what he had to do to win from his dominant position and let’s not forget that he did win the most races in 2009. His brave and determined run through the pack in Brazil put it all to rest; a true champion’s drive that hailed back to those halcyon days we so cherish. H

PHOTO: EDWARD MOSS.

Grassroots Gridiron

The Patriots and Buccaneers may have left the country, but the football action is just getting started at UK colleges

I

t may not have been the biggest scoreline as the Birmingham Lions defeated the Loughborough Aces 9-0, but amid the fireworks of ‘xpLosION’, Tristan Varney’s pass to Andy Watson sealed the opening game of a league that’s getting bigger by the year. The British Universities American Football League kicked off its season November 7, and the BUAFL now boasts 56 university teams, including reigning champions Birmingham, and emerging power Oxford. While BUAFL can’t yet boast the attendance of Oxford v Cambridge rugby battles, the trickle-down effect of the NFL’s visits to these shores is in evidence. The 8-game BUAFL regular season and playoffs last until March, with the National Championship game in May. For more information, visit www.BuAFL.net.

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nother institution looking to the future of the game is Filton College, Bristol, which this past month hosted Global Bowl Bristol, a transatlantic challenge against Kent School of Connecticut to coincide with the visit of the New England Patriots. The US side won 27-6, with Marcel Pitre scoring three times. Filton runs a unique sports program that includes football training as part of studies for 15 to 19 year olds. A similar event is expected for next season, details to be finalized once the visiting NFL teams have been announced. For more information, visit www.globalfootball.com.

Filton running back Warren Thompson scores the home team’s touchdown in their 27-6 loss to Kent School of Connecticut. PHOTO: PETE TILEY

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Images of Left: It wasn’t just Brits and ex-pats packing Wembley with 84,254 fans. Devoted US fans also made the trip across the pond to support their teams. Top: Martha, Katie, Trisha, and Mary Kate from Boston, attending their first international game. Middle: Gloria & Jo (Tampa) and Sue & Eugen (Ruskin) wrapped a few days holiday around their game. Bottom: Some of the many neutral fans at the NFL tailgate ...or are they just very early for when the Eagles visit London?

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Below and inset: The win column remained unaffected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the game may be remembered by Bucs fans as the debut of rookie Josh Freeman (no.5), as he relieved Josh Johnson (no.11). Johnson threw the lone Tampa Bay touchdown, but Freeman looked comfortable and would upset Green Bay 38-28, throwing 3 touchdown passes, upon returning Stateside.


Wembley

The American

Photography by Gary Baker

Right and below: The Patriots scored touchdowns in all four quarters, Tom Brady going 23 of 32 for 308 yards and 3 TDs. His first went to Wes Welker (below) who would lead the game in receptions with 10 catches for 107 yards. Brady also threw TDs to Sam Aiken and Ben Watson. “I think it’s a privilege to come over here and get to enjoy this type of experience” commented Brady after the game. “It will probably never happen again for us, so we’ll retire 1-0 internationally.”

Side column (top): Safety Brandon Meriweather’s 39 yard interception return of a Josh Johnson pass opened the scoring for the Patriots. Johnson would be intercepted three times in the game. Side column (bottom): Tampa Bay’s cheerleaders stayed upbeat despite their teams’ eleventh straight loss.

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The American

Photo © Mitchell Layton/Washington Capitals

With Capitals star Alex Ovechkin ‘week-to-week’, Jeremy Lanaway says:

GET WELL SOON, ALEX! T

he first day of November arrived with more darkness than the last day of October, thanks to the winter shift of Daylight Savings Time, but for hockey poolsters far and wide, the real darkness came later in the day when a mid-ice collision left Washington Capitals super-sniper Alexander Ovechkin grimacing from an upper body strain, forcing him to leave the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the midway mark. The Capitals ended up losing in overtime, but their real loss was having to hang

54

number eight in a locker for the next four, five, maybe even six games. It may not sound like much, but when you consider that Ovechkin had previously missed only five games in the entirety of his NHL career, which began in 2005, and his team had won only one of those five games sans the Russian superstar, the magnitude of his injury starts to become clear. The fact is that it’s impossible to overstate Ovechkin’s impact, not only on his team, but also on the NHL and the game of hockey.

Ovechkin is the most popular player in hockey pools and fantasy drafts for a reason. Since getting picked first overall in the 2004 Entry Draft, the swift-skating left-winger has monopolised the league’s top honours, winning the Calder Trophy for being the rookie of the year (2006), the Rocket Richard Trophy for scoring the most goals (2008, 2009), the Art Ross Trophy for scoring the most points (2008), the Hart Trophy for being the most valuable player (2008, 2009), and the Lester


The American

B. Pearson Award for being the most outstanding player as voted on by the players themselves (2008, 2009). He’s the first player in history to win these last four awards, and the first player to win them all in the same season. The Capitals aren’t the only ones missing Alexander the Great. For the NHL, having its marquee player sidelined with an injury is a worrying business. Few players in the history of the league have captured the imagination of hockey fans the way Ovechkin does. Wayne Gretzky, arguably the best player ever to lace up skates, did it when he agreed to the biggest trade in hockey history, moving from snowy Edmonton to sunny Los Angeles, broadening hockey’s horizons like no player had ever done before, and then Mario Lemieux did it in Pittsburgh, breaking a number of scoring records despite having to battle Hodgkin’s disease. In recent history, Sidney Crosby has brought the magic of hockey to a whole new generation of fans, but in a quiet, always-proper way, which brings us to Ovechkin, who has the rare ability to charm even the opposition’s fans, with his seemingly endless repertoire of highlightreel goals, his crooked, mischievous grin, his boundless spirit both on and off the ice, and most importantly, his obvious love for the game. He isn’t just a hockey player. He’s a symbol of the game of hockey, and everything it can be. It’s an honour – and a responsibility – that has been bestowed upon only a handful of hockey’s elite. However, being the face of hockey isn’t always easy, as evidenced by the maelstrom of criticism that Ovechkin received last year following his fiftieth-goal celebration, when he laid his stick on the ice, bowed down, and pretended to bask in the stick’s radiating heat. For many hockey fans and insiders, his show of excite-

“Some of the stuff he does is unbelievable. If he celebrates the way he does, that’s fine. If you score goals the way he does, you can do that.” – Jason Blake ment, which he admitted had been premeditated, was ill-conceived at best, and arrogant at worst, but for Ovechkin, the antic was all in good fun, like everything else he does. ‘It’s good for our league; it’s good for our fans,’ explained Ovechkin, in his ever-improving English. ‘Some players are like robots. They score goals and it’s no emotion, nothing. You have to show emotion if you’re an emotional guy. Show it. You don’t have to think about if somebody doesn’t like it.’ Ovechkin clearly didn’t think about whether or not Gretzky would mind being winked at after he scored the game-winning goal against Team Canada at the Torino Olympics. He scored the goal, leapt into the air in his trademark explosion of joy, and tossed a wink at The Great One standing behind the Canuck bench. The incident ruffled feathers, but as with his ‘hot stick dance’ in celebration of goal-fifty last season, the hubbub soon faded, and now the wink is just another nugget of hockey lore courtesy of Ovechkin. Besides, it’s hard to stay miffed at someone who’s always smiling, and it’s equally difficult to withhold respect for a player who commands it with every shot, every pass, every hit, and every stride.

‘As a player, you’re totally amazed,’ said Toronto Leafs forward Jason Blake. ‘Some of the stuff he does is unbelievable. If he celebrates the way he does, that’s fine. If you score goals the way he does, you can do that.’ Ovechkin’s passion for the game also translates into hard currency for companies flogging clothing, hats, jerseys, hockey sticks, video games – anything related to the superstar and hockey. The endorsement offers didn’t come as readily in the early days of Ovechkin’s career, owing to the fact that the number of English words in his vocabulary could be counted on one hand, but now he has more than he knows what to do with. ‘There’s a market for Alex,’ Bob Stellick, a Toronto sports marketer, stated. ‘His reputation and recognition have increased dramatically. His enthusiasm and love for the game are what separate him from other players.’ Now that he’s out, the Capitals, the NHL, and hockey fans can only cross their fingers and hope that Ovechkin won’t remain on the shelf for long. His team, in the process of effecting a renaissance in the nation’s capital, needs him to continue scoring (at the time of writing, he was tied for first in goals scored, despite having played only fourteen games, compared to the eighteen of titlesharer, Anze Kopitar, and Ovechkin was second in overall points with 23). The Capitals are surviving in his absence, winning two of their four games without their top player, but how long they can hold on remains uncertain. And the NHL can’t wait for number eight to return to the ice, because every game Ovechkin plays translates into public interest – and fiscal return – for the league. So get well soon, Alex – the game needs you! H

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Rebel’s Dog Biscuits 1¼ cups of all purpose flour 1¼ cups whole wheat flour 1¼ cups of cornmeal 1¼ cups old fashioned rolled oats ¼ cup toasted wheat germ ¼ packed light brown sugar 1 large egg 1 tbs baking powder 1 ½ tsp salt ¾ cup of unsalted butter cut into tablespoon size pieces 1 cup plus 1 tbs water ¾ cup chopped fresh parsley ¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves Pulse flour, wheat flour, cornmeal, rolled oats, wheat germ baking powder and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with pea size lumps. Add 1 cup of water until coarse dense dough forms. Knead on a lightly floured surface in parsley and mint until well distributed and form a ball. Halve dough, form into two balls and flatten each with a 6 inch disk. Chill for twenty min. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two large baking sheets. Take out 1 disc of dough and roll into a round (2/3 inch thick) on a well floured surface. Cut out as many biscuits as possible and arrange about ¼ inch apart on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and use other baking sheet. Whisk together 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of water. Brush biscuits with this egg wash. Bake about 17 minutes, switch sheets around in oven, and bake another 17 minutes until golden brown. Turn off oven and dry biscuits in it overnight. Layer this between sheets of wax or parchment in air tight container at room temperature. Makes about 5 dozen cookies and keeps about a month.

64

Tail End

Paw Talk, or My Life as a Dog in London by Rebel. Dear Santa Claus’s Reindeer, You will have to forgive me this year, but you will not find my special reindeer cookies waiting for you under the tree. I had the batter all made and ready to roll into antler shaped cookies when, well, let’s start from the beginning. I was busy helping She-WhoMust-Be-Obeyed-Usually bake Christmas cookies for all my animal friends when Fiona is dropped off at our flat for the day. She arrives wearing a bright green apron matching her eyes and a white scarf with a fake emerald dipping down over her forehead like she’s the Queen of Sheba. Of course, she doesn’t lift one highly polished claw to help until the end when she pours the entire bottle of fish oil into the cookie batter before I have a chance to divide it. “Fiona, you ruined the cookie batter,” I yelp. “That fish oil is only for the cat cookies, not for dogs or reindeer.” She sniffs. “Then they don’t know what tastes good.“ Like it or not, I have no choice except to make new cookie batter. So, I get a bag of flour from the cupboard, which is about half my weight, drag it with my teeth across the kitchen floor, then take some books She-WhoMust-Be-Obeyed-Usually bought as Christmas presents for friends, pile them one by one on top of each other to make steps, and drag the bag of flour, which strangely had become lighter, up the books and finally onto the counter.

“Of course, it’s lighter,” Fiona meows. “You tore the bag and most of the flour is all over the kitchen floor.” I lean over the counter and see a trail of flour from the cupboard, up the books, and onto the counter where I’m standing. “I think you’re in trouble, Rebel,” Fiona says when we hear the sound of a door opening and heels tapping across the wooden floor. “Rebel...Fiona.” She-Who-MustBe-Obeyed-Usually screams. “Look at the mess you made for me.” Startled, Fiona falls back into the bowl of cookie batter, spilling it all over the counter where I’m standing, causing me to slip off the edge, down onto the books one by one, followed bumpity bump by Fiona who has grabbed a box of eggs, and seconds later I land on the floor with Fiona on top of me. “Oh my...” Fiona whispers as the box of eggs opens. “Oh my...” I echo in horror as the eggs, now in full flight, smash on SheWho-Must-Be-Obeyed-Usually’s brand new black leather boots she just bought at Harrods. Which is why, Donder, Blixen, Rudolph and the rest of you, you aren’t getting my specially made reindeer cookies this year. However, SheWho-Must-Be-Obeyed-Usually has put out carrots and hay for all of you and coffee and pecan pie for Santa. A Very Merry Christmas from your friend, Rebel. And the same from me too – Fiona.


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The American December 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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