THE ESSENTIAL MONTHLY FOR ALL AMERICANS
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WHAT’S ON GUIDES RESTAURANT REVIEWS SPORTS • POLITICS MUSIC • ARTS
Playing Arabs, a famous Belgian detective, and now an American in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons
Win Comedy Tickets Rob Scheider / Penn & Teller
Ashes to Crashes...
...or aviation’s over-reaction?
Let’s Hike or Bike for
children T O R A I S E F U N D S T O H E L P D I S A D V A N TA G E D A N D S I C K C H I L D R E N
Great Wall of HIKE or China Challenge BIKE YOU CHOOSE –
Join the Great Wall of China Hike OR the Great Wall of China Bike Ride
14-22 May 2011
Every step taken and every turn of the pedal will help four special children’s charities improve the lives of sick and disadvantaged children and young people.
The itineraries are different but both teams will meet for a magnificent end of challenge celebration in Beijing
Barnardo’s is a registered charity, No.216250 and SCO37605
Dreams Come True is a registered charity, No.800248
Kith & Kids is a registered charity, No.1080972
For more information and to register
www.actionforcharity.co.uk telephone: 0845 408 2698 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
MedEquip4Kids is a registered charity, No.1102830
To take part you need to pay a registration fee of £250 and raise minimum funds of £3,200 for the charities.
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Issue 686 – June 2010 Published by Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Old Byre House, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK Publisher: Michael Burland +44 (0)1747 830328 email@example.com Please contact us with your news or article ideas Advertising & Promotions: Sabrina Sully, Commercial Director +44 (0)1747 830520 firstname.lastname@example.org Subscriptions enquiries: Phone +44 (0)1747 830328, email email@example.com Correspondents: Virginia Schultz, Wining & Dining firstname.lastname@example.org Mary Bailey, Social email@example.com Estelle Lovatt, Arts firstname.lastname@example.org Jarlath O’Connell, Theater email@example.com Richard Gale, Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Dom Mills, Motorsports email@example.com Jeremy Lanaway, Hockey firstname.lastname@example.org Riki Evans Johnson, European email@example.com ©2010 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: David Suchet (photo by Sheila Rock); inset: Eyjafjallajökull, the Icelandic Volcano (photo by Boaworm).
he last US Presidential election threw up some shocks, but not to be outdone the UK has come up with some surprises of its own. As one political pundit had it on the morning after the election night had it, Britain’s voters have spoken, but it isn’t clear what they have said. Labour – specifically Gordon Brown – has been ousted. David Cameron, with no ministerial experience, is Prime Minister. The UK has its first coalition government since the 1930s. The Liberal Democrats, the smallest of the three big parties, is supping at the top table of politics, increasing its popular vote while losing seats, and having a huge influence on policies and constitutional change. What will it all mean for the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom – and for American expats? You won’t be surprised to hear that’s not clear yet either, but you can be sure The American will keep a close eye on the changes that, for sure, are gonna come. In the meantime, the British summer Season is here – the perfect time to explore some of the great events, exhibitions and venues that you’ll find in this issue. Enjoy your magazine,
Michael Burland, Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
SOME OF THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS
Dr. Alison Holmes, Pierre Keller Fellow of Transatlantic Studies at Yale University, is The American’s ‘Transatlantic Correspondent’
Dr. Carolyn Norris-Atkins is an American expatriate who teaches high school Journalism at an international school in Surrey
Estelle Lovatt is an arts correspondent, tutor, author and radio presenter. She is married to American journalist Charlie Woolf
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 or any loss arising from reliance on it. The views and comments of contributors are not necessarily those of the publishers.
In This Issue... The American • Issue 686 • June 2010
News Drink a toast from a Tudor wine fountain, and win a prize by writing about the United States
10 Diary Dates Bikers and beauties, there’s something for everyone in our selection of the best events in Britain
12 The True Cost of Oil Remembering the Gulf in happier days, and taking a look at the current disaster 14 Finding Your Way in the UK Making new friends and a new life in a new country can be stressful to say the least. We have some great strategies
PHOTO: MARC MORRISON
16 The Filthy Thirteen The real Dirty Dozen were just as mad and mucky as the movie version, but a little less criminal 18 Polo – the Original Sport of Kings Britain took an ancient eastern sport and turned it into an international sensation
20 Arts Street artists are at threat in NYC, John Cage’s art is touring the UK, and this work, inspired by Johnny Depp, is on display this month
PHOTO: OSU ATHLETICS
30 Coﬀee Break Quiz, fun facts and The Johnsons cartoon 32 Music Our pick of the best gigs and albums 35 Win Live Comedy Tickets See Penn & Teller or Rob Schneider for free, courtesy of The American and Live Nation
36 Interview: David Suchet The great actor exercises his ‘little grey cells’ acting in an Arthur Miller masterpiece
HAM POLO CLUB
24 Wining & Dining The favorite haunts of Admiral Nelson, Lillie Langtry and Oscar Wilde
PHOTO: JOHAN PERSSON
39 Interview: PC Cast Why PC Cast love creating new worlds 40 Theater Reviews The guys from ABBA, the toﬀs from Posh, the hippies from Hair, war victims from the Congo, Tom Stoppard and Debbie Reynolds! 46 Politics All three parties lost in the UK election – but maybe British politics won 50 Drive Time Remembering D-Day - a two-wheeled trip round the Normandy battleﬁelds 51 Sports Where to catch the UK tennis tournaments, the diﬀerence between football and... er... ’football’, and our grades for the NFL Draft
56 American Organizations Your comprehensive guide and a proﬁle of Friends of Benjamin Franklin House 64 Paw Talk Rebel’s continuing dream of Hollywood 3
Ben Westwood wearing a Free Leonard Peltier’ T shirt
Malcolm McLaren Deathbed Wish: Free Leonard Peltier Malcolm McLaren, the former Sex Pistols manager, died on April 8, shortly after uttering the words “Free Leonard Peltier,“ it has been alleged. McLaren’s former partner, the fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood, has been a campaigner on behalf of Leonard Peltier and the American Indian Movement (AIM) for many years. Her son, Ben Westwood, said McLaren was wearing a ‘Free Leonard Peltier’ T shirt - designed by Vivienne – when he died. “He smiled at me, clenched his fist and said ‘Free Leonard Peltier’,” said Mr Westwood. “He had a sense of humour to the end.” Peltier, a Native American of Lakota lineage, was a member of the AIM, a Native American activist organization created in the US in 1968 to address issues including poverty on reservations, housing and historical treaty issues. Peltier was convicted of the murders of two FBI agents during a shoot out near Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on June 26, 1975. He is currently serving two life sentences. In 2009, Peltier was refused parole, allegedly because he still protests his innocence. His next scheduled hearing will be in 2024. His supporters claim he is a political prisoner and his case has become a cause célèbre.
Henry VIII’s wine fountain flows again
fully working recreation of a Tudor wine fountain as used by King Henry VIII has been unveiled at Hampton Court Palace, Henry’s favorite residence. Inspired by the discovery of the remains of a 16th century ‘conduit’, or fountain, during an archaeological dig at Hampton Court in 2008, the new edifice is based on research into wine fountains that were used during celebrations by Henry VIII. Standing over 13 feet tall, it is constructed from authentic materials including timber, lead, bronze and gold-leaf. A major source for the fountain’s
design is the Field of the Cloth of Gold painting, which is displayed at Hampton Court Palace. It was made for Henry and depicts his meeting with the French King, Francis I, at Guines, near Calais, in 1520. The new wine fountain, set up on the site of its 500 year old predecessor, in the Palace’s largest inner courtyard known as Base Court, will run with red and chilled white wine on weekends and bank holidays throughout the summer, enabling visitors to raise a glass to Henry VIII and his magnificent Tudor palace.
New Principal for TASIS
ASIS The American School in England, an international school in Thorpe, Surrey with many American students, has a new Headmaster. Michael V McBrien starts his new role July 1st. Mr McBrien holds a master’s degree in Education from Colorado State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Counseling, Psychology, and Communication from the University of Northern Colorado. He has 24 years of experience in education and has worked as an administrator at the University of California, Berkeley, and at Babson College, as well as Frontier Academy, in Colorado. He is currently Head of Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, an independent, co-educational college preparatory, day and boarding school.
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Josh Paul of Friendship Farms plants trees at Spangler’s Spring, Gettysburg NPS PHOTO BY K. LAWHON
Gettysburg Battlefield Goes Green US Student Makes Materialism Documentary Nina Van Volkinburg, a 16 old American expat student at ACS Egham International School, has made a documentary to raise awareness of materialism and poverty, as part of her International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme course. Fashion fan Nina’s initial idea was to create a fashion magazine highlighting the latest trends and designers, sell the magazine and donate the proceeds to a charity donating clothing to the less fortunate. As she researched the project, she discovered some shocking facts, including that almost 100 million people in the world are considered homeless. Nina was so appalled she decided, instead of a magazine, to produce a documentary highlighting how materialistic wants are unimportant in comparison to other people’s needs such as food, water and shelter. “I have learnt a huge amount from my personal project. At the beginning, I was too interested in fashion and materialistic wants and now I realise that although they are nice, they don’t really matter. I have matured and changed in a positive way and have learnt about life, the world, people and how one person, at any age, can make a difference in the world.”
he site of the Battle of Gettysburg is going back in time. The battlefield is being transformed back into something the soldiers of the opposing armies would recognize, thanks to a donation of trees and funds from the Apache Foundation to the Gettysburg Foundation. Contractors at Gettysburg National Military Park are replanting two more historic orchards, and more than 3,000 native hardwood trees will be planted in areas that were wooded during the epic battle in July 1863, but are open ground today. Since 2000, the park has replanted 110 acres of orchards at 35 historic
sites on the battlefield site. Almost every farm of any size in 1863 Gettysburg had an orchard. These played many roles during the battle - cover from observation or from fire for both troops and artillery batteries, concealment during movement, obstructions to observation or clear fields of fire, and places to gather to rest or seek medical assistance. The wooded areas that will be replanted include nearly five acres at Culp’s Hill near Spangler’s Spring and other areas, as well as one-third of an acre at the Philip Snyder farm along Emmitsburg Road.
Essay Prizes in United States
he Institute for the Study of the Americas is inviting entries for its United States Studies Essay Prizes. Choose one of the following topics: ‘What does the battle to enact healthcare reform signify about the state of politics in Obama’s America?’ or ‘Has Barack Obama transformed America’s standing in the world, or is he ‘Bush lite’?’ Entries should be no more than 1,000 words, or four sides of A4 using doublespaced text. The entry deadline is Monday 14 June 2010. The Prizes will be awarded at an ISA event in early July to mark the anniversary of American independence. The winners will receive a monetary prize of £250, £150 or £100, as well as publication of their essay in the online newsletter of the School of Advanced Study. To be eligible, an entrant must be an undergraduate student in any discipline in the UK or equivalent if overseas. There is no nationality or residency requirement associated with the prizes. For more details, please go to www.americas.sas.ac.uk/postgraduate_study.htm. The Institute for the Study of the Americas is at Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU, telephone 020 7862 8870, website www.americas.sas.ac.uk, email email@example.com
AMERICAN EMBASSY IN THE UK
Embassy News Rabbi Marvin Hier, Mrs. Margie Susman, Sir Ben Kingsley and Ambassador Louis Susman at the premier of Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny. RICHARD LEWIS
Simon Wiesenthal Center Premiers Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny at U.S. Embassy London The U.S. Embassy, London held the European premier of a new documentary, Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny, May 10. Ambassador and Mrs. Susman hosted the event alongside the Founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Marvin Hier. The film was funded by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the State Department’s Office of Holocaust Issues. The documentary highlights Churchill’s opposition to Adolf Hitler, and his support for Jews threatened by the Nazis. President Franklin D Roosevelt appears with Churchill and the film underscores the importance of the special relationship during World War II. Guests included Winston Churchill’s granddaughter and great grandson, his biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, and Oscar winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley, who narrated the film, and who was awarded the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Distinguished Service Award.
Democracy Plebiscite for Puerto Rico House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released a statement after the passage of the Puerto Rico Democracy Act, an extract of which is published here: “All people deserve the right to determine their own future through democratic means. All people deserve equal representation in the government that makes their laws. Those are among our nation’s core principles, and they are put to the test by our relationship with Puerto Rico - the territory that, more than a century ago, marked America’s transition from a former colony to a colonial power. “The people of Puerto Rico are
subject to our laws. They hold American citizenship. They have fought bravely in every American war since World War I. Yet they have no vote in presidential elections, no representation in the Senate, and only a single representative with limited voting rights in the House despite having a population equal to or greater than almost half of our states. “This legislation, the Puerto Rico Democracy Act, takes the question of Puerto Rico’s status to its voters in at least one plebiscite. Resident Commissioner Pierluisi has taken careful steps to ensure that the plebiscite asks questions that are truly representative of the diversity of Puerto Ricans’ views on their status. The voters will be able to choose either to keep their current status or to change it. If they choose
Switchboard: +44 (0)20 7499 9000 Visa Information (£1.20/min): Mon-Fri 8am – 8pm, Sat 10am – 4pm 09042 450100 Passport Unit (American Citizen Services): +44 (0)20 7894 0563 24hr assistance for genuine emergencies: +44 (0)20 7499 9000 www.usembassy.org.uk the former, they will have the option of revisiting the question every eight years. If they choose the latter, a second plebiscite will ask whether Puerto Rico ought to become independent, a sovereign nation in free association with the United States, or a state, on equal footing with the existing 50 states. “In my view, the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States has been the by-product of a bygone era. Today, we have recognized that America’s principles of self-determination and democracy hold true for the voters of Puerto Rico.” Andy Sundberg, of expat group American Citizens Abroad, commented, “The successful passage of this legislation was due in great part to the initiative and diligence of the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, who serves in the U.S. House of Representatives and has the right to introduce legislation. Imagine how different our lives, as Americans living overseas in the private sector, would be if we too had the same opportunity to have our own voice(s) in the U.S. Congress.” H
Your Guide To The Month Ahead
Get your event listed in The American – call the editor on +44 (0)1747 830520, or email details to firstname.lastname@example.org Vibrant Beauty Show Hilton Cobham Hotel, Seven Hills Road South, Cobham KT11 1EW Surrey, home to many American expats, plays host to its first ever dedicated beauty and wellbeing show. The Vibrant Beauty Show showcases the very best in body care and healthy living, beauty treatments, skin care procedures, fitness regimes and new products. Visitors can seek advice, browse for new experiences or gifts, meet experts who reveal their best beauty secrets, get special offers, take home a goodie bag and, above all, enjoy a truly unique and self-indulgent day out in a beautiful location. The first 200 guests to arrive will be treated to an exclusive cocktail and all visitors will be entered into a prize draw to win a fantastic break at the Brooklands Hotel and Spa. Danielle Walton of organizers IronButterfly Events says, “We’ve chosen an intimate setting to help us create a tranquil yet exciting event, which is as much about the overall experience as it is about the products and services on show. Visitors will be encouraged to meander around the stands, spoil themselves with samples and demonstrations and to really ‘make a day of it’. They’ll leave feeling refreshed, revitalised and full of ideas for improving their beauty regimes and personal wellbeing.” www.thevibrantbeautyshow.com 0790 592 0092 July 3, 10am to 5pm
Bath International Music Festival A range of high quality events including orchestral, chamber and contemporary classical music, contemporary jazz and world music in various city venues. A free Party in the City features The Wilders, a Kansas City 4-piece hill-billy band who will be playing in the Pavilion after the fireworks, from 10.15pm on May 28th. www.bathmusicfest.org.uk May 26 to June 6 Nigel Kennedy’s Polish Weekend Southbank Centre, London SE1 A celebration of Polish culture, including jazz, rock, klezmer and classical music, dance, food and free events curated by cultural icon and violin virtuoso, Nigel Kennedy. In a nod to his classical roots, Kennedy leads the UK debut of his own newly founded Orchestra of Life and Chopin Super Group. www.southbankcentre.co.uk May 29 to May 31 Motorsport at the Palace Crystal Palace, South London Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the legendary machines which powered the likes of Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart and Stirling Moss to victory. www.motorsportatthepalace.co.uk May 30 to May 31 Forties Family Festival Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes MK3 6EB One of the Park’s most popular events returns on May Bank Holiday weekend, Due to popular demand it has been extended to two days. Among other things, it will feature wartime
re–enactors bringing the atmosphere of 1940’s Britain back to life. www.bletchleypark.org.uk 01908 640404 May 30 to May 31 London International Fine Art Fair 2010 Olympia Grand Hall, London This year’s fair marks the first partnership between new American owners David and Lee Ann Lester of International Fine Arts Expositions (IFAE) and UK’s Clarion Events Limited. It was formerly known as the Olympia International Fine Art & Antiques Fair. It returns dedicated to the wonderful world of fine art and antiques. It’s a fantastic opportunity for art and antique lovers, collectors, investors, curators and interior designers to view and buy from over 150 of the most prestigious British and International galleries. The enhanced Fair will be presented in an elegant setting, featuring art of all periods with an exciting programme of daily events and lectures, concierge services and eclectic dining. www.lifaf.com June 4 to June 13 Beaulieu Steam Revival Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, SO42 7ZN A reprise of the steam events that were so popular during the early years of the Beaulieu attraction, in the grounds of the National Motor Museum, set in the beautiful New Forest. www.beaulieuevents.co.uk 01590 612345 June 5
EXPAT NEED? CHECK ASSIGNEE SELECTED? CHECK TAX ADVISER? CHECK One of the less appealing things about sending your people overseas is that you, or they, suddenly have to become experts on the local tax system or risk falling foul of the law, incurring extra costs - or both. With BDO however, you and your people can benefit from coordinated tax advice. Advance planning will save you time and money and our specialist tax advisers are well equipped to ease the burden. Through BDO, the worldâ€™s fifth largest accountancy network, our Expatriate teams can provide you with assistance all over the world. To find out more about the tax service that travels with you, please contact Andrew Bailey on +44 (0)20 7893 2946 or email@example.com BDOâ€™s Expatriate Tax service is run by our Human Capital team, which also provides a full range of expertise in employment tax, reward planning and pensions. www.bdo.co.uk BDO LLP and BDO Northern Ireland are both separately authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority to conduct investment business.
The American Museum in Britain Claverton Manor, Bath BA2 7BD Housed in Georgian splendour at Claverton Manor in Bath, the American Museum in Britain remains the only museum outside the US to showcase the nation’s decorative arts. There are permanent exhibitions, Quilting Bees every Tuesday, kids’ activities and special events: June 4th to 20th: Exhibition Wilderness 10, annual sculpture exhibition within the grounds by Bath Spa University students June 5th: Bath Banjo Festival June 12th: Shaker Chair Making course June 20th: The Oxford Chapter of the Harley Davidson Group visit with approximately 50 bikes and the Museum’s house band; 25th Friends Summer Drinks Party
Open 12.00-5.00pm. Closed Mondays except Bank Holidays and month of August Claverton Manor near Bath. 01225 460503 firstname.lastname@example.org www.americanmuseum.org
Epsom Derby Day Epsom Downs, Surrey One of the most outstanding race meetings in the world. Epsom is the spiritual home of flat racing and has been the venue for over 200 years of the greatest flat race in the world. Derby Day has a worldwide TV audience in excess of 600 million, but nothing compares to being there! Ladies’ Day is on the Friday. www.epsomderby.co.uk 0844 579 3004 June 5 Brooklands Double Twelve Brooklands Museum, Weybridge, Surrey A unique competition, as well as highspeed demonstrations on the MercedesBenz World handling circuits. Over 100 pre war cars take part in a competitive sprint, the Brooklands Speed Trials, on Saturday 5th. 144 cars (12 in each of 12 classes) will also be invited to compete in the combined Double Twelve Driving Tests and Concours competition. www.brooklandsmuseum.com June 5 to June 6 Mad Hatters Milliner’s Show The Hurlingham Club, Ranelagh Gardens, London SW6 3PR The Mad Hatters Show, in aid of The Children’s Trust charity, has a change of venue, the famous Hurlingham Club. Tickets £90 include a champagne reception, delicious canapes with wine and a stunning show of the latest creations by UK based designers and milliners. www.hurlinghamclub.org.uk June 9 Wisley Music Festival RHS Wisley Gardens, Surrey A blend of fabulous music, fun atmosphere and fantastic firework finale. This year the headliner is legendary soprano, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, on 10 June. Also, tribute acts of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, The Beatles, and the Bee Gees.
www.rhs.org.uk, 0871 230 1095 June 10 to June 12 Aldeburgh Festival Aldeburgh, Suﬀolk First held in 1948, the festival continues its tradition of showcasing acknowledged masterpieces alongside new contemporary works in this beautiful seaside town. Highlights this year include: John Eliot Gardiner conducting The Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists in Bach’s B minor Mass; Pierre Boulez conducting Ensemble Intercontemporain in the world premiere of Elliott Carter’s What are Years?; featured composer George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill and Berio’s Recital 1; Oliver Knussen conducting the Britten–Pears Orchestra. www.aldeburgh.co.uk boxoﬃce@aldeburgh.co.uk 01728 687110 June 11 to June 27 Man Versus Horse Marathon Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys (the smallest town in Britain) Riders compete against runners to be the first to finish the 22 mile course over farm tracks, footpaths, forestry roads and moorland. In 2004, for the first time in the history of the race, a man crossed the finish line before the first horse and claimed the £25,000 prize. www.green-events.co.uk June 12 Le Mans: 24 Heures du Mans Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans, France Head south, over (or under) the English Channel, to the 78th Le Mans 24 Hours, the greatest 24 hour race in motorsport, and a grid made up of Peugeot, Audi, Aston Martin, BMW, Corvette, Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, Ford and Jaguar. www.lemans.org June 12 to June 13 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD The Royal Academy’s annual Summer
Exhibition is the world’s largest open submission contemporary art exhibition. For 2010, the exhibition continues the tradition of showcasing work by both emerging and established artists in all media including painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, architecture and film. This year’s theme is ‘Raw’. www.royalacademy.org.uk/ exhibitions/summer-exhibition June 14 to August 22 Royal Ascot Ascot Racecourse, Ascot, SL5 7JX A highlight of the British ‘Season’. The world famous quintessential English horse race meeting at Ascot, dating from the early 18th century, is particularly renowned for Ladies’ Day, a unique occasion and setting to flaunt the most spectacular hats! www.ascot.co.uk 0870 727 1234 June 15 to June 19 Longleat International Horse Trials Longleat, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 The grace of dressage, the fearsome obstacles of the cross-country and the discipline of the show-jumping... and all
within the splendid Capability Brown landscaped grounds of Longleat House. While you’re there, visit the house, the Safari Park, the mazes and many other attractions. www.longleathorsetrials.com 01404 841331 June 18 to June 20 Hemsby Viking Festival Hemsby, nr Great Yarmouth, Norfolk Viking-themed festivities include a Viking history re-enactment group who fight battles and create a Viking village, ABBA tribute acts, a Scandinavian market with craft, clothes, gift and food stalls, plus Scandinavian folk music. Hemsby, like many villages on the Norfolk coast, was settled by Viking invaders around 800 A.D. June 18 to June 20 Nettle Eating Contest The Bottle Inn, Marshwood, Dorset 50 challengers are given two foot long stalks of stinging nettles and have one hour to eat as many leaves as possible. It stems (ha!) from a contest between two farmers as to who had the longest stinging nettles. One brought in a nettle over 15 foot long and said if
anyone had a longer one, he would eat his. They had. He did. 01297 678254 June 19 World Egg Throwing Competition On the B1394 between Helpringham and Swaton, Lincolnshire, NG34 0RF Contestants construct gravity-powered egg-hurling devices which team members must catch unbroken or be struck by - eggs can travel at up to 120 mph! Also Russian Egg Roulette in which participants select from five hard boiled eggs and one raw egg – and smash them on their foreheads. Held at the Swaton Vintage Day. swatonvintageday.sslpowered.com, 0115 988 8539 June 27 Henley Royal Regatta Henley-on-Thames Annual international rowing regatta. Stewards Enclosure for members and their guests (no children under 10). Regatta Enclosure for general public, accompanied children under 14 free. www.hrr.co.uk 01491 572153 June 30 to July 04
Beaulieu Motorcycle Muster Ride-in-Day Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, SO42 7ZN A new event for Beaulieu, the Muster Day features a public ride-in and display, and breathtaking stunt displays from two major acts – three times British Solo Trials Champion Steve Colley, and the Extreme Globe Riders who perform skilful and fearless rides in the ‘wall of death’ style globe, reaching over 5G as two cross each other, at speeds of over 70 mph. There will be trade stands selling biking accessories, parts, gear and clothing. Ticket price includes entry to all Beaulieu’s attractions; the National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, James Bond and Secret Army exhibitions, Palace House and Beaulieu Abbey ruins. www.beaulieuevents.co.uk 01590 612345 June 27
The True Cost of Oil
Virginia E. Schultz remembers the Gulf region in happier days, and worries about the BP oil spill
Above: U.S. Environmental Services’ workers move an oil containment boom onto a supply boat in Venice, La., April 29 PATRICK KELLEY
Was Deepwater Horizon an accident that was always going to happen – there are 4,000 oil rigs off the Gulf Coast
he Gulf Coast of the United States is the area at risk from the oil spill caused by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig. It is usually referred to as the Gulf South or South Coast by those who live and work there, and the States along this coast, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, are known as the Gulf States. This area is made up of numerous inlets, bays and lagoons and intersected by many rivers, including the Mississippi. Much of the land along the Gulf Coast was and is marshland and provides breeding grounds and nurseries for ocean life that support the fishing and shrimp industries. People from the rest of the States and all over the world come there to sight-see and holiday. The hurricanes that sometimes strike can be dangerous and life threatening, but for most of the year blue skies prevail except for an odd rain shower, usually in the late afternoon. My late husband was a pioneer in the offshore pipeline field and over the years I went with him to look over this area. With the discovery of oil and gas deposits along this coast, combined with easy access to shipping, this is the heart of the U. S. Petrochemical industry with approximately 4,000 oil platforms – the reason for his visits. Still, we always took time to enjoy the area because of its beauty, recreational activity and cultural heritage of Native
Americans, Africans, Spanish, French, British, and Acadians who have made this part of the States their home there for centuries. While my husband joined friends in fishing or shooting I went off on my own to view ancient towns and plantations that had changed little over the past two hundred years. Once, a friend and I discovered an antebellum mansion built in the early part of the nineteenth century that was covered with huge tangled vines and whose shutters swung creepily back and forth in the wind. Putting on boots in fear of snakes or dangerous insects, we entered what we believed was an empty house only to find two old women, one black, one white, who might have stepped out of a Tennessee William play. Fortunately, they greeted us with the natural warmth southerners have and offered us tea and something to eat. We were served tea in lovely old cracked porcelain cups and ate what I thought were tuna sandwiches, but that my friend assured me later had been alligator. On the kitchen door I noticed some kind of wild cat skin hanging and I was told that was to prevent evil spirits entering the house. There was also New Orleans before Katrina. I remember enjoying Mardi Gras with friends on crowded Canal Street as the floats went by and eating in restaurants that were as good as any in Europe. Funerals there were celebrated by family and friends as happily as if the occupant in the flowercovered coffin were still alive. And, oh the music, a combination of Africa and Europe that turned into blues and jazz that entertained us at tiny bars where everyone mixed despite race, religion or occupation even when the South was segregated. During those visits along this Gulf coast, I’d question my husband about
President Barack Obama, speaking at the Coast Guard Station, Venice LA, May 2 PATRICK KELLEY
the safeguards being put in against the possibility of a spill or the breakdown of a pipeline and his answer was it could never be guaranteed 95 per cent safe even if every safeguard known were added. Nor could a small company like his suggest incorporating extra safeguards that might cut down on damage in case of some kind of accident, whether it be hurricane or man-caused, because it would add more expense to his proposal and he’d never get the job to build the pipeline. It is easy, of course, to point a finger at the oil companies and blame them for being greedy when the truth is we consumers as well as the government are just as much to blame. Too high gas and oil prices are a constant complaint among my friends when I visit the States and the government isn’t much better. In 2005, the House Resources Committee, presided over by Richard Pombo (R. Calif.), drafted a budget reconciliation proposal to sell off 15 national park
areas for commercial or energy development and put up paid advertisements on park shuttle buses. The staffers also proposed turning Theodore Roosevelt Island in the Potomac River into a commercial center with condominiums and office buildings. Fortunately, most of Congress objected and Pombo’s staff immediately brushed the criticism off by saying it was just a “joke”. President Obama, speaking at Venice, Louisiana, said, “Let me be clear: BP is responsible for this leak; BP will be paying the bill. But as President of the United States, I’m going to spare no effort to respond to this crisis for as long as it continues. And we will spare no resource to clean up whatever damage is caused. And while there will be time to fully investigate what happened on that rig and hold responsible parties accountable, our focus now is on a fully coordinated, relentless response effort to stop the leak and prevent more damage to the Gulf.” He added, “This is one of the richest and most beautiful ecosystems on the planet, and for centuries its residents have enjoyed and made a living off the fish that swim in these waters and the wildlife that inhabit these shores. This is also the heartbeat of the region’s economic life. And we’re going to do everything in our power to protect our natural resources, compensate those who have been harmed, rebuild what has been damaged, and help this region persevere like it has done so many times before.” I don’t want to write that this oil spill is a lesson we needed because there are too many people, animals, plant life and fish, fowl, insects, etc. that have been affected. What I feel now is a sadness for all the beauty and joy I once enjoyed and I offer a prayer that somehow it isn’t as bad as is feared. H
hen I moved to England four years ago, the tasks at the top of my to-do list were the immediate, practical ones: Learn the ropes at my new job, set up a bank account, and figure out how to get to London on the train. In the months that followed, I tackled a few more milestones: Get married, purchase a home, and obtain a UK driver’s license. Once I had achieved the big stuff,
Finding Your Way in the UK Dr. Carolyn Norris-Atkins has some great tips on integrating into British life though, I realized that I hadn’t fully integrated into the UK. Sure, I had a house in a Harry Potter-esque neighborhood and I drove on the left side of the road, but I had not really found my place in British life. I found myself reminiscing about the “welcome wagon” culture in the United States, where a smiling, casserole-bearing neighbor greets new arrivals, and I realized that I did not even know my neighbors’ names. Recognizing that I am settled in England for the long run, it was important to me to feel that I really belonged. Integrating oneself into daily life in a new country can be challenging, and I began to give a lot of thought to how I could best go about it. Here’s what I have found to be especially helpful:
Go Where the Locals Go
While it may be tempting to stick to familiar, tourist-friendly haunts instead of trying establishments favored by Brits, consider stepping outside of your comfort zone and into theirs. Consider which pubs the locals in your area frequent, and in which market they do their weekend shop. Instead of opting for lunch in a large, impersonal chain restaurant, why not give your village café a try? Every time I walk into my local café, the woman behind the counter greets me with an enthusiastic, “Hello, love!” And it was in this café that I heard about a neighborhood book club, which leads me to my next tip…
Join a Club or Class
Joining a local club or class will not only allow you to pursue an interest, but to meet like-minded Brits, as well. Most towns offer adult education courses in everything from watercolor painting to knitting to languages, and local leisure centres and community halls hold classes like yoga and Pilates. The book club that I learned of in the café was a fantastic way to meet some dynamic, interesting people in my village who I would not have known otherwise.
Volunteer Your Time
What better way to become a part of your community than by being of service to it? By offering your time and talents, you will connect to your new home country on a deeper level, all while making a difference. Village bulletin boards are a fantastic source for announcements of volunteer days. Mine recently advertised a playground clean-up at a local school.
Go to Church
If faith is an important part of your life, find a place of worship that suits you. Most villages – and districts of towns and cities - have several from which to choose, and you will likely find a strong sense of community and connection amongst the members. Along with weekly services, opportunities abound for interest groups, social events, and volunteer projects. Whether you plan to live in the UK for a year or indefinitely, making an effort to become a part of your new community is well worth it. Looking back, I am certainly glad that I have gotten to know my adopted country in a more personal, meaningful way. H
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Paint Your Own Picasso Join the Jewish Community Centre for London for a hands-on exploration of the man and his art. As the major Picasso exhibition ‘Peace and Freedom’ opens at Tate, Liverpool, join art critic Estelle Lovatt (BBC Radio 2’s The Arts Show with Claudia Winkleman, Art of England magazine and The American) as she gives a short illustrated talk about Picasso and his work – not only as a great artist, but also as a political activist, peace campaigner and, more surprisingly, a friend of Israel. Then let yourself go on the canvas and paint your own Cubist masterpiece after Picasso, with the help of knowledgeable arts supremo Adam Hahn. Sunday June 6th, 2:30pm Candid Arts, 3 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ £35 includes canvas and all materials
Book at www.jcclondon.org.uk/Arts_Craft_Room.html
The Filthy Thirteen The hard living, hard fighting renegades who fought on D-Day and inspired The Dirty Dozen
ans of the 1967 movie The Dirty Dozen, and the novel by E. M. Nathanson, may not know that it was inspired by a real group of paratroopers who fought ferociously in some of the worst battles of Word War II. The Filthy Thirteen, as they were known, were part of the 101st Airborne Division. They were chosen and trained to destroy enemy targets behind the lines and acted as Pathfinders, parachuted in ahead of the main force to guide it in to the battlefield. Most of them were expected to be killed on these dangerous missions – and most of them were. The Thirteen became famous when a photograph appeared in Stars and Stripes magazine showing two of the group’s members wearing Native American Indian-style Mohawk hairstyles and applying war paint to each others’ faces. The inspiration for this came from one of the men, Jake McNiece, who was part Choctaw. The belief that the Filthy Thirteen was the inspiration for the book and
The survivors of the Filthy Thirteen met some awe-struck kids at the American Veterans Center in 2008 PHOTO: AMERICAN VETERANS CENTER
movie was supported by Barbara Maloney, the daughter of John ‘Jack’ Agnew, one of the members of the unit, who told the American Valor Quarterly that her father felt that “30% of the movie’s content was historically correct”, but he was adamant they were not criminals. The real men were not convicts. They did, however, earn their soubriquet. While training for D-Day in England, they only washed and shaved once a week and never cleaned their uniforms. They habitually fought and drank and several spent time in the stockade on more than one occasion. Jake McNiece was always in trouble with the Army authorities, mostly because of his firmly held belief that any activities not directly connected with killing the enemy were irrelevant. Undoubtedly a brave soldier, McNiece completed four combat jumps including D-Day and Operation Market Garden. His unit fought during the Battle of the Bulge and the 101st was one of the first divisions to liberate a German concentration camp. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the Filthy Thirteen were assigned to take a bridge over the Douve River in France, At the age of 90, McNiece was the guest speaker at veteran’s organization meeting in Enid, in his home State of Oklahoma. The local newspaper, Enid News, reported that he described The Filthy Thirteen as “undisciplined in every way.” The name, he said, was
The famous Picture Post photo that publicized the Filthy Thirteen
born when the unit had to “live in tents on dirt floors at the bottom of a mountain”. But their unruly behavior sealed the name. McNiece was unambiguous about his role in World War II. “War’s hell, that’s the way it is. It was a war that needed to be done and needed to be done quickly and effectively.” He later added that it meant killing men and, if necessary, women and children. It was all about accomplishing a mission. When he was asked, at the Enid meeting, how he stayed alive so long and survived his many battles during the war, McNiece said it was because God didn’t know where to put him. The audience hooted as he said, “God didn’t want to stick me in heaven or hell, in fear of me messing it up.” In 2008 the four surviving members of the Filthy Thirteen, Jake McNiece, Jack Agnew, Robert Cone, and Jack Womer, met for the first time since D-Day at the American Veterans Center’s Annual Conference. McNiece explained how he had got into the Thirteen: “I had been working as a firefighter so I was exempt from
the draft. By 1942, however, I felt like I needed to get into the service.” After getting into a fight and almost killing an old enemy, he decided to avoid the police by enlisting “where they couldn’t touch me”. He tried to volunteer for the new, experimental paratrooper force. “Just begging for people to be stupid enough to jump out of a perfectly good airplane,” as McNiece put it. After the fight, he had lost a lot of hair and his face was scarred and although he was just 23, the recruiting sergeant thought he was over-age to join – the paratroopers had an age limit of 28. The sergeant told him “Your face and your head looks like its been used as practice for hand grenade tossing and wore out three bodies already.” He did not settle easily into Army life. McNiece told the Conference audience, “They had a thing there they called retreat. It was observed by all military men everywhere. But I didn’t go to it. They reported me absent and unaccounted for, and told the sergeant to talk to me and get me straightened out, but I told him, ‘Well, I am a conscientious objector to standing retreat. My Dad was Irish; and of course, he is Catholic. My mother was Choctaw Indian, and she was a nature worshipper. I adopted her religion. It would just absolutely destroy every scruple of my religion to go out there and salute a handmade flag. We only pay respect to the sun, the moon, the stars, bugs, ants, spiders, things like that.’ “He was kind of shocked. He never had heard of it. I told him, “Look, if you get me over there, I will kill every Kraut I can find and everything standing close to him,” I said, “but I am not going to take part in retreat.” Still refusing, the problem went right up to the company commander.
“He said, ‘McNiece, I don’t think you have any religion. We have eight million men in the military service, and you’re the only one who has ever projected something like this.’ I said, ‘Well, we are a very small group.’” Eventually McNiece stood retreat, then went straight into town, drank and got into a fight with the Military Police. “I never did have to stand retreat again,” he laughed. Although members of the unit were often hauled off to the stockade after some fight or misdemeanor, Jack Agnew said, “We weren’t murderers or anything, we just didn’t do everything we were supposed to do in some ways and did a whole lot more than they wanted us to do in other ways. We were always in trouble, thanks to Jake. I never went to town with him because I knew I would end up in jail. He was always our acting sergeant until he went to town. Then his stripes came off, and soon we got into some kind of trouble.” Agnew explained how the ‘red Indian’ image arose. “The thing that everybody seems to identify with us are the Mohawks and the war paint. Well, the Mohawks came about after Jake had given us a book about the First World War, which talked a bit about lice. We figured that the less hair we had, the less we had to worry about it, so we used the razors in our first aid pack to shave our heads prior to jumping into Normandy. As far as the war paint goes, when the 82nd went into Italy, our Navy
shot down quite a few of our own planes. So this time they put recognition stripes on the planes around the wings and fuselage. While everybody thinks we used red paint on our faces, we actually just used the black and white paint right off the plane while it was still wet. We started making Indian signs all over, here and there and everywhere.” Many stories about the Filthy Thirteen sound as if they could have been made up for the film, including the time they were found poaching the deer from the stately home they were based at, and the time that Jack Womer, camouflaged in a haystack during training manoeuvres, found himself being relieved on by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, but they’re true. You can find them, and more, in The Filthy Thirteen by Richard Kilblane and Jake McNiece, published by Casemate Publishers. H
The Original Sport of Kings Mary Bailey looks at the origins, and the modern appeal, of this exciting sport
Polo was taken to the USA by John Gordon Bennet Junior, who had seen it played at Hurlingham during a visit to England. It went to the Argentine care of British and Irish ranchers and so on worldwide. With its flexible rules, horses, teams of four and use of varying terrain (from grass through hard indoor surface and now even water) one can see why it was popular early on. In deserted tea planting country, drunken planters on bicycles also played the game! Today more than 77 countries play polo. You are very likely to see Royals playing – Prince Charles
PHOTOS ON THIS PAGE: HAM POLO CLUB
olo is perhaps the oldest team game in the world. Originally it was not very organised, having many varying rules. It is believed to have first been played in China and Persia over 2,000 ago, with the first recorded game taking place in 600BC. In the 4th century AD the King of Persia learned to play when he was just seven years old. In comparatively modern times, the 16th century Shah Abbas the Great built a polo ground at Impala. The Mongols took it east but then polo was rather lost in the mists of time until the British arrived in India and spread it world wide.
played for many years until his back ‘gave out a bit’. Where can you watch it in the UK? The best polo in the world is played at Cowdray, for the Gold Cup – see our article by Cowdray Park’s Liz Higgins for more. Nearer London there is the Ham Polo Club, near Richmond, Surrey, with a match to watch each Sunday in the season. This is an inexpensive, family friendly club and a good place to learn to play polo – everything is provided for £95 per hour, individuals and £75 if you take a group. Polo ponies are strong and although there is no limit to height they are still called ‘ponies’. They are treated very well, and only allowed to play two seven minute chukkas each afternoon, with a rest in between. The riders play a great deal more and injuries are not unknown. In between chukkas the crowd go on the turf to stamp and flatten it down which is the only exercise required except laying out a picnic, opening a bottle of bubbly and raising a glass. I have not mentioned woman players. Yes, women can play polo. However, we more cowardly representatives of the sex sip champagne in pretty frocks and gaze at the handsome players!
Cowdray Park Liz Higgins explains the history of the mecca of polo
isitors to the historic market town of Midhurst in West Sussex are sometimes baﬄed by the yellow paintwork on many of the buildings, which matches the banners of one of the most stylish sporting events of the English ‘Season’, the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup, played for the British Open Polo Championship. The cottages and houses are owned by the Cowdray Estate, and, in the early part of the last century, the 1st and 2nd Viscounts Cowdray were Liberal politicians and the painted houses reflected the colour of their political leanings. The colour remains on Estate buildings to this day – the paint is called “Gold Cup”. The Cowdray Estate has been prime polo territory for a hundred years and is where, in 1956, the most coveted trophy in polo was launched - the Cowdray Park Gold Cup. Midhurst comes alive at the start of the polo season, April through September, when grooms and players fly in from all over the world. There are around 450 matches annually, a far cry from the single week of competitions when the club was formed by the Hon. Harold Pearson. Harold, son of the Victorian industrialist and engineer Sir Weetman Dickinson Pearson who became the first Viscount Cowdray in 1917, learned to play polo at Oxford. With his brothers and family friends, he played at Cowdray and at the Hurlingham, Roehampton and Ranelagh clubs in London with ponies often transported by rail. Cowdray’s own tournament came to life alongside the festival of horseracing at nearby Good-
wood and as many as 5,000 spectators regularly attended during the 1930s. World War II saw polo come to an abrupt halt. Players were called up and ponies put out to grass. The pitches at Hurlingham, Roehampton and Cowdray were ploughed into fields to assist the war effort. The polo-obsessed 3rd Viscount, John Cowdray, survived the war and despite losing an arm in the battle for Dunkirk he pursued a renaissance of the sport he loved. He imported 50 ponies by ship from the Argentine and in 1947 he was organising tournaments once again, although due to a shortage of players the matches were often three-a-side. In the early ‘50s spectators at Cowdray could spy Princess Elizabeth watching her dashing husband Prince Philip play. In 1953, the year of her coronation, Lord Cowdray arranged an international tournament of six teams to play for the Coronation Cup – England, the USA, Brazil, Chile, Spain and Argentina, who beat the hosts in the final. The Duke of Edinburgh, with John Cowdray’s help, formed his own polo club in Windsor Great Park and the Coronation Cup moved to Windsor. John Cowdray launched his own tournament and the Cowdray Park Gold Cup was born. In the 1970s there was a decline in the number of amateur ‘gentlemen’ players and a rise in the number of professionals. Another generation of the Royal family appeared at Cowdray
What they all want to win – the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup CHRIS JELF
when Prince Charles played with Les Diables Bleus. A shy, attractive young woman called Lady Diana Spencer accompanied him in 1980. John Cowdray, the Father of British Polo, died in 1995. He had made Cowdray Park a worldwide Mecca for polo enthusiasts, raised awareness of the sport and set many young players on the path to success as professional players. Today, Cowdray Park plays more polo than any other club in the UK with ten perfectly tended pitches and a full programme of tournaments including the annual international test match and the four weeks of the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup. In 2010 the Gold Cup tournament opens on 23rd June with the world’s best players in action in 40 matches. At the final on Sunday July 18th, a shopping village selling all kinds of country goodies, mini funfair, bars and food outlets complement the world class sport to offer a fantastic day out. For tickets, call 01730 814110. H
Queen and Country
National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE • to July 18 Official war artist and Turner Prizewinner Steve McQueen has created a large cabinet containing a series of postage stamp-style sheets each showing portraits of British soldiers who were killed in the Iraq war between 2003 and 2009 (McQueen went to Iraq in 2003). Their montage of the Queen’s head on the stamps against the dead soldiers’ faces, arranged in precise rows and columns like military cemeteries, are profoundly moving.
By Estelle Lovatt and Michael Burland
Rachel Harrison: Conquest of the Useless
Whitechapel Gallery, 77 – 82 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX • Until June 20 Another debut major UK solo exhibition for an American artist. Rachel Harrison combines found objects, paint, photography, and moving images to create large-scale installations. The title, ‘Conquest of the Useless’, references Werner Herzog’s memories of his spectacular movie Fitzcarraldo, the tale of a would-be rubber baron whose dream of building an opera hall in the Amazonian jungle leads him to attempt to drag a steamship over a Peruvian mountain.
Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road, London NW3 6DG June 11 to August 29 Rachel Harrison, Johnny Depp WHITECHAPEL GALLERY
Yorkshire Sculpture Park • May 29, 2010 to January 2011 The ever-interesting YSP hosts a retrospective tracing the evolution of British artist and sculptor David Nash’s 40 year career. Nash works around the world and several of the pieces to be shown in the Underground Gallery were made in California. Rather than the usual chisels, Nash creates his sculptures using chain saws and a blowtorch – but not in any way you have seen before. Nash will hold Masterclass Drawing classes from June 9 to 13 (at £355 per person, call 01924 832528 to book) and there’s An Evening with David Nash at Wakefield Theatre Royal on June 11 (box office 01924 211311).
The first solo exhibition in a UK public gallery for New York based artist Jim Hodges includes works spanning two decades alongside a site-specific installation. Hodges work explores love, loss, beauty, nature and relationships, often in an explicitly autobiographical way. Everyday and precious materials – gold leaf and silver chain, paper napkins and artificial flowers – mix to fragile, beautiful effect.
Jim Hodges, Arranged, 1996, folded book with metal paper clips, 33 x 16.5 x 26cm. COURTESY HEIDI L. STEIGER
John Cage, 10 Stones, 1989, Colour soap ground aquatint and spit bite aquatint on smoked paper © THE JOHN CAGE TRUST
John Cage: Every Day is a Good Day
BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, then on tour June 18, 2010 to June 5, 2011 Allan Drummond, The Long Road, 2005, modern reproduction of watercolor and ink on paper, 15 1/4 x 22 3/8 in. COURTESY ALLAN DRUMMOND AND INSTITUTE FOR HOLOCAUST EDUCATION, OMAHA, NE
Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, 9603 Woods Dr., Skokie, IL Duration of the summer+ If you cannot get enough of Curious George, and you are in Illinois, a new exhibit on Curious George creators Margret and H.A. Rey is well worth a visit. ‘The Wartime Escape: Margret and H.A. Rey’s Journey from France’ tells the story of their incredible journey to escape the Nazi invasion of Paris at the start of World War II. More than three generations of Americans have grown up reading the stories of the irrepressible little brown monkey known as Curious George, but few know how the Jewish couple stashed a few precious belongings in their knapsacks and the baskets of their bicycles and fled Paris in June 1940, starting a five month odyssey by bike, train, and boat that would eventually bring them to American shores. Young people can learn about the Holocaust in an accessible way through Curious George.
Beginning in the pre-war years, The Wartime Escape explores the Reys’ early creative collaborations and traces the story of George himself. The monkey emerged as a character in one of the Reys’ pre-World War II stories. The manuscript and illustrations that would become Curious George were among the few personal possessions the Reys managed to keep when they fled Paris, along with thousands of other refugees. Escaping via Spain and Portugal, then across the Atlantic to Brazil, the Reys finally reached the United States in October 1940. A month later, they received a contract from Houghton Mifflin for ‘The Adventures of Fifi’, later re-titled ‘The Adventures of Curious George’. The rest is history. The exhibition features 27 prints by artist Allan Drummond and is based, in part, on the 2005 publication, The Journey that Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey, written by Louise Borden and illustrated by Allan Drummond (Houghton Mifflin Company, New York).
Yes, the avant-garde composer – you will know his ‘silent’ musical piece 4’33”! This new exhibition (conceived by artist Jeremy Millar in collaboration with Hayward Touring, BALTIC Centre and the John Cage Trust) is the first major show of the visual art of the American. Cage worked closely with artists throughout his career, collaborating with Robert Rauschenberg, friends with Jasper Johns and Marcel Duchamp, and a major influence on the Fluxus artists of the ’60s and ’70s. Cage also wrote and painted and from his mid-sixties produced over 600 prints and 260 drawings and watercolours, which used the chance-determined procedures he used in his music. This exhibition uses chance too – the artworks will be hung using a computer-generated random number programme, at odd heights and in groupings that no curator would ordinarily choose. After the BALTIC, the exhibition tours to Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge (September 25 to November 14); Huddersfield Art Gallery (November 20 to January 9, 2011); Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery (February 19 to April 3, 2011), Glasgow and De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea (April 16 to June 5, 2011).
N.C. Wyeth, Untitled (Marines landing on the beach), 1944, oil on hardboard BANK OF AMERICA COLLECTION
The Wyeth Family – Three Generations of American Art The Wyeth family is probably the greatest dynasty of American artists. NC Wyeth (1882-1945) is best known for his lush, lavish oil paintings that illustrated the books Treasure Island, The Boy’s King Arthur and Robinson Crusoe. Henriette Wyeth (1907-1997) was NC’s first child and became one of the great women painters of the 20th century. She married Peter Hurd, one of NC’s students, and they moved to New Mexico. Henriette is known for her portraits of First Lady Pat Nixon, actress Helen Hayes and author Paul Horgan, Peter for his watercolors, temperas and lithographs depicting New Mexican landscape. Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009), NC’s youngest son, is the best known artist in the family, popularly regarded as America’s finest realist painter, although not all critics agreed with the public about his magical watercolours and tempera paintings. James Browning ‘Jaime’ Wyeth (1946-) is Andrew Wyeth’s son and he carries on the family tradition. All are represented at this ‘family affair’ – a fascinating show.
Oscar Tuazon, Untitled, 2010, Installation view, Kunsthalle Bern, Wooden beams, steel and concrete, Variable dimensions COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND BALICE HERTLING, PARIS; FORTESCUE AVENUE / JONATHAN VINER, LONDON; MACCARONE, NEW YORK AND STANDARD (OSLO), OSLO . PHOTO: DOMINIQUE ULDRY
Institute of Contemporary Arts, 12 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH June 4 to August 15 Oscar Tuazon, the American artist, writer and curator, creates large sculptures and installations made of natural and industrial materials. Although they may fall into the ‘minimalist’ category they have more emotional effect than many soulless minimalist works. At the ICA, Tua-
Adam Ball, Then it Shone, in the Unnatural Selection exhibition
zon build site-specific pieces that will fill and penetrate the Lower Gallery and Concourse.
Londonewcastle Project Space, 28 Redchurch Street, London E2 7DP May 28 to June 13 “Were I called upon to define, very briefly, the term art, I should call it the reproduction of what the senses perceive in nature through the veil of the soul,” wrote Edgar Allan Poe, and this quote has been chosen to sum up the contents of this exhibition. The contemporary British artists, all of whom have been collected by well known individuals, on show here are Adam Ball, Caroline List, Freya Douglas-Morris, Fiona Macdonald, Sam Jury and Christopher Stevens. Adam Ball has had successful solo and group exhibitions in the States, in New York, Dallas and Miami as well as Germany, Italy and the UK.
Arts News NYC limits art in popular parks I n New York’s Union Square and Manhattan’s famous parks, pedestrians walk every day past artists selling their sculptures, paintings and photographs. Now city officials say the vendors have grown out of control and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration wants to minimize the outdoor gallery by up to 80 percent. If they succeed, many artists will lose a place to show their artwork (which starts at only $10 for an oil landscape!), well-liked by tourists in a city known worldwide for its appreciation of art. Bloomberg’s administration says street art has outgrown its space in the city’s most popular parks, dominating sidewalks and interfering with pedestrian traffic. This may stem from the Obama presidency; since the start of his U.S presidential election campaign,
Obama-promoting graffiti and street art reached through New York City, and well-known artists including Shepard Fairey have advocated ’street art’. Twenty-five million people visit Central Park a year. Officials say there are more than 300 vendors in the parks. More than 50 vendors set up in Union Square – 100 on weekends – but under the proposed regulations just 18 would be allowed. In Battery Park, where tourists line up for a ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty, nine would be allowed (down from about 50), and five on the High Line. “It’s about balance,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “They can still vend their stuff, they just can’t do it in uncontrolled droves where park visitors are forced to walk through a gauntlet of vendors.”
Presently, vendors do not need city permits to sell “expressive art,” which includes writings and photographs, paintings and sculpture. To change that, the city will have to provide evidence that vendors create a serious problem, for example overcrowding an intersection of access/exit. Vendors say the rules violate their First Amendment pledge of free expression, and they have a precedent. In 1996, when Rudy Giuliani’s administration wanted sidewalk artists to require permits, a federal appeals court sided with the artists, confirming they were protected by the First Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the city’s appeal as it wasn’t clear that its claims about overcrowding were a worry to tourists. In expectation of the current clash, vendors in the parks are displaying yellow signs saying “Stop Harassing the Artists” and “Artist Power” and an old-West style poster, reading “Wanted: Killer of NYC Artists’ Rights.” – EL
Artists at work in Union Square, NYC – but for how long? IMAGE: KITTYLITTERED
WINING & DINING
he Talbot Inn in Ripley is a 15th century coaching inn close to the A3 and M25. Ripley was named in H. G. Wells’ novels The War of the Worlds and The Wheels of Chance and is the birthplace of Eric Clapton. Before the automobile, The Talbot was an important stopover for changing horses on carriages travelling between London and Portsmouth and Admiral Lord Nelson and Emma, Lady Hamilton were known to stay there. The first time I had dinner at Talbot Inn was a few months ago with interior designer Jennifer Atterbury who knew the Inn in the past. Although she wasn’t quite happy with the redecoration, she agreed the service was impeccable. Ian Richards was then head chef and the food offered that evening was as good as I’ve enjoyed in some of the better restaurants in London. The bread was deliciously warm, Jennifer’s first course of mushroom risotto perfectly cooked and my main course of Wiltshire pork set on mashed potatoes and her duck breast were gastro pub fare at its superior best. Richards has left since and Gavin Chilcot has taken over. If he’s able to meet Richard’s high standards I can’t say, but there are indications he’s trying to. During the year the Inn offers a number of activities for guests and there are numerous places to visit during your stay. Nearby MercedesBenz World not only has a collection of vintage cars dating back to the beginning of the last century, but
Dining out at the
Reviewed by Virginia E Schultz
you can test drive their latest models. Wisley Gardens, located along the A3, with its huge diverse plant collection is fascinating, even for those not interested in gardening. There are also a number of theatres putting on productions at far better prices than in London, including one of my favourites, the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in nearby Millbrook. Approximately twenty-five miles from London, The Talbot is a great place to escape to when one needs to get away from the clatter and clutter of London. The rooms are decorated with antique-style furniture and the beds are comfortable. Don’t expect interior designer rooms as seen in magazines like Interior or House Beautiful, but then neither are the prices. I do agree with Jennifer, however, that they should have done more to retain the old-
fashioned feel of the dining rooms. Dogs are very much welcomed. Recently, my friend, actress Maxine Howe, and I attended comedy night at Talbot Inn and since we were staying the evening, I took along my Westie. In our room, she was greeted with a small dog house to sleep in, a huge bowl of dog food, biscuits and list of places where I could walk her. The comedy night, which included a buffet afterwards, was amusing. Naughty, but nice was the way Maxine described the comic afterwards. I don’t like to compare a buffet with the dinner I had at the Inn previously, but neither could we complain. The fish pie with mashed potatoes was excellent as was the sticky toffee pudding we enjoyed for dessert. Although fish pie is a relatively easy dish to prepare, too many gastro pubs serve what seems to come from some freezer in a supermarket and this definitely didn’t. As for the sticky toffee pudding, we liked it so much I asked for the recipe.
High Street, Ripley, Surrey GU23 6BB 01483 225188
Talbot Inn’s Sticky Toﬀee Pudding 200 ml water 8 eggs 350 gms chopped dates 3 tsps baking powder 250 gms butter 3 tsp bicarbonate of soda 250 gms brown sugar 300 gms white flour Boil water and dates together. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and whisk together. Puree the dates mix in a blender, whisk in the butter, sugar and egg mixture. Fold in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into the date mix. Pour into a greased pan and bake in the oven at 170° c for 25 to 30 minutes. Butterscotch sauce: Reduce a small amount of water with 100 gm caster sugar until it starts to brown. Remove from heat and fold in double cream little by little until a glossy dark brown sticky consistency. Cut a slice of the date sponge and smother with this butterscotch sauce. Serve.
Steak and Grill
pur Steak and Grill has a number of restaurants in London as well as Scotland and Ireland. They advertise that “Families are the heart of Spur Steak and Grill” and with many of them located in shopping centres and/or near a cinema, they are the perfect place to take children, as parking is usually easy to find. The restaurant on the second floor of the Wandsworth mall was quiet when I entered with my daughter Kristina, Bascia and my twin grandchildren, Georgia and Robert, but it was early. The not quite two and half year olds decided to investigate the small specially built play area immediately. The “kid’s” menu was the usual chicken nuggets, fish fingers, burgers, hot dogs, and pizza with, of course, chips. The menu noted that chips and onion rings could be replaced with a fresh side salad or two hot vegetables of the day, but when my daughter asked if we could have some vegetables for the twins to nibble on there was confusion in the kitchen and a plate of string beans finally arrived ten minutes after the potato skins (£4.95) and nachos (£4.15) I ordered at the same time. We asked that the children be served first which they were. However, ten minutes went by and our adult order hadn’t arrived. I reminded the waiter we were hungry too. Somehow, he had been under the impression our food wasn’t to come until the twins were finished
We weren’t Michelin star dining and I am not going to criticize Bascia‘s steak (£12.95) or my daughter’s chicken Caesar salad (£9.95). My chicken enchilada with Mexican salsa, sour cream, guacamole, shredded lettuce, tomato and cheese (£10.95) was quite tasty. However, the 4 oz hamburger we ordered for the twins looked like six ounces, the adult size, and the plate of chicken nuggets was more than an average eight year old could eat. All “kid’s” meals cost £4.25 for one or £6.95 for a combo. It was obvious our waiter wasn’t used to serving children. He was helpful, but not once did he acknowledge the twins and he forgot to give us the activity pack usually offered to children on arrival. The twins were well behaved, and with only three adults beside us I couldn’t help wonder how he would react if he had to serve several families. What bothered me was that the manager didn’t seem to notice his discomfort.
Southside Shopping Centre, Wandsworth SW18 4TF 020 8874 0831
Dining out at
Langtry’s Restaurant L
illie Langtry was a British born actress who later became an American citizen. Her fame came as much from the men in her life, including the future King of England, Edward VII, as her talent as an actress. The Cadogan Hotel was once Langtry’s private home and even after she sold the house she would stay there (in Room 109) when in London. What could be more appropriate than to take my actor friend, James Jordan, who is presently starring in two American plays at The National, there for dinner? Before going to the restaurant, James and I had a glass of champagne in the oak panelled bar and drawing room which features stained glass windows. It is a relaxing room with hints of its past in the decor and one could imagine Oscar Wilde enjoying a glass of his favourite tipple, Perrier Jouet, with his companion while staying in the hotel. Finding the restaurant after our drink was somewhat disconcerting as it meant taking several twists and turns down a long corridor. Entering was like stepping back into time for it is elegance with a capital E. No clacking of heels as I walked across the thick carpet and sat down at a white cloth covered table next to a beautiful mar-
ble fireplace. The designer had tossed simplicity aside which was rather pleasant after all the bare modernism of so many restaurants I’ve been to lately. A romantic place for James to take his beautiful actress wife, Jan, I suggested. The setting might be Edwardian high society, but the menu created by head chef, Oliver Lesnik, is modern British classic featuring Aberdeen Angus beef and Gressingham duck. Thankfully, the Brits now appreciate their food heritage and the cheese offered us that evening included wonderful British varieties as well as the expected French. Lesnik has searched these islands for his ingredients and it shows. The prawns I started with, in their tasty mousse sauce, still tasted of the sea and James thoroughly enjoyed his smoked salmon. I then had smoked pork belly that was as much meat as fat, and delicious. James’ lavender roast MacDuff beef fillet with chips he ate down to the last scraping on his plate. The only complaint I had were our desserts... which are better forgotten than written about... Set menus with wine are offered during the week as well as champagne lunch at the weekend (£35 per person). Throughout the coming year,
the restaurant plans to offer dishes and drinks related to this bygone era. To quote Oscar Wilde, “After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s relatives.” Close to Knightsbridge shopping, it is the perfect place to stop for lunch, dinner, tea or a cocktail or glass of champagne in the bar. Having enjoyed dinner that evening, I was delighted to return a few days later to attend the anniversary celebration tribute of Oscar Wilde’s arrest at the Cadogan in 1895 for gross indecency. The charity event included an auction with proceeds going to the Elton John Foundation. It was held in conjunction with Beige magazine and the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association. That evening my friend Maxine was with me and the two of us spent part of the evening on a sofa drinking champagne and trying to identify a number of the distinguished guests attending. Following his arrest, in his favourite suite, Room 118, Oscar wrote from prison asking his partner to pay his PJ (Perrier Jouet) bill at the Cadogan. Whether he did or didn’t, I couldn’t find anyone who knew.
The Cadogan Hotel, 21 Pont Street, London SW1X 9SG, 020 7235 7141
t was ten years since I last visited Harry’s Bar, but I found my mind drifting back even further to the time when I arrived in Venice via the Orient Express with my late husband. It had been a wonderful train trip and we had dressed in 1930 outfits, perfect for an Agatha Christie film, as we sipped champagne and listened to the pianist playing Gershwin and Porter. This time I was returning with a good friend who like myself is widowed. It was not a romantic interlude, although walking through the fog-covered city, our only guides the street lights, he and I reminisced as old friends. For one brief moment we stopped, not certain we wanted to dine at Harry’s Bar. Some recollections, no matter how wonderful, can never be repeated and are best left alone. My first introduction to Harry’s Bar was in high school when I read Ernest Hemingway’s Across the River and into the Trees. My Hemingway-loving English teacher, who visited Harry’s Bar after World War II, had the class listen to a scratched audio recording he made there – voices whispered and plates and glasses clattered and clinked. At the time, I preferred Scott Fitzgerald to Hemingway, but the story of the martini-drinking Colonel Cantwell and his ill-fated and beautiful contessa fascinated me and I dreamed one day of visiting Venice and dining at Harry’s. I started that evening with a Bellini which Guiseppe Cipriani, the bartender at Harry’s Bar in the 1940’s concocted to match the warm glow of Giovanni Bellini’s paintings. My friend preferred Hemingway’s favourite drink, the Montgomery (15 parts gin to one part vermouth) named in honor of the British general who, it was said, would only attack the Germans if his troops outnumbered them fifteen to one. My friend then ordered Dom Perignon and
Harry’s Bar Dining out at
caviar because it was what he enjoyed the last time he was there. We then had Carpaccio, paper-thin slices of raw filet mignon dappled with mayonnaise and mustard. The dish was created for the Countess Amalia Nani Mocenigo who was forbidden to eat cooked meat by her physician, and named after the Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio, known for painting in reds. Dining in Harry’s Bar is a bit like eating history. Venice was a city-state of financial power, merchants and navigators for seven hundred years and it was here spices, herbs and exotic fruits were distributed throughout Europe. First among these was rice which became one of the elements of local culinary traditions. It is served in a hundred different ways in this region. My friend had Scampi Amrocaine (in a tomato, herb and wine sauce) which was even more flavourful than he remembered while I enjoyed a rich and creamy risotto with wild mushrooms. It was hard to decide on
dessert, for the selection of cakes and tarts brought for us to review looked as if they should be on the cover of a magazine. Finally, temptation won and we ordered the wickedest looking chocolate cake. It tasted even more delicious. For those whose budgets are tight but still want to see Harry’s Bar, go during lunch and order just one course or a sandwich. To say Harry’s Bar is expensive is an understatement, but for anyone who plans to propose to the woman of their dreams or enjoy a last hurrah, this is the city to visit before it eventually surrenders to the sea. Hopefully it doesn’t happen in my lifetime, but I have no doubt when Venice finally succumbs, the last diners at Harry’s Bar will raise their glass of Bellini in a final toast and say ‘Salute’ as they float away in a gondola.
1323 San Marco, Venice, Italy, +39 (0)41 528 5777 email@example.com
Cellar Talk By Virginia E. Schultz
South African Wine
he 2010 FIFA World Cup competition starts on June 11 in South Africa, the first time the top tournament of what most of the world calls football and we name soccer has been hosted by an African nation. With 204 teams it matches the 2008 Summer Olympics as the sports event with the most competing nations. I mention this because many of the South African restaurants in the UK, especially London, will be celebrating this occasion and it will be the perfect time to visit. The food is sometimes called ‘rainbow cuisine’ as it has a variety of origins from the indigenous people of South Africa to the waves of immigrants from India and Europe. And, of course, served with the meal will be South African wines. Surprisingly, South African wine dates back to 1659 and Constantia was at one time considered one of the greatest wines in the world. The world gradually lost interest in South African wines and the boycott of South African products in protest against Apartheid only increased its isolation. It wasn’t until the late 1980s, when Apartheid ended, that their export market once again opened. The wine regions of South Africa are spread over the Western and Northern Cape regions. In this wide expanse is a vast range of microclimate and vineyard soil types which includes inland mountain chains and
The Simonsig vineyard – one of the most beautiful wine locations in the world.
valleys. The majority of production takes place in the Cape Province, particularly in the southwest corner near Cape Town, the home of Constantia, Stellenbosch and Paarl. Today Old World winemaking traditions and New are closely linked and flying winemakers from France, Spain, and California have brought new styles and techniques. Once South African wines may have been described as “dikvoet” or thick foot, but those being made nowadays are softer and fruitier. Recently a Dutch friend, who spent many years living in South Africa, invited a group of us to lunch. South Africans love their braais (barbecues) which included biltong (strips of dried meat in various flavours), duck and Boerwors, a spicy sausage. I had read of MR Mvemve Raats De Compostella Stellenbosch, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdog, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but it wasn’t until that afternoon I realized what the praise was all about. It is expensive, around £40 a bottle, but the 2005 deserved the 90-93 rating given by Wine Spectator. Although not in the same category, Simonsig Pinotage Stellenbosch 2003 (around £10), with its cherry and notes of spice on finish was a perfect companion to both the biltong and Boerwors. Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault. With its varied climate, South Africa’s white wines are benefiting
from more selective areas than in the past. The Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch 2006 (around £10) was gooseberry rich and perfect with the barbecued duck breasts. We finished the evening with a Late Bottled Vintage Port that was lovely, but with a minimum alcohol level between 16 and 22 per cent, I sipped only a small glass. H
DRINK OF THE MONTH Casa Rita Margarita (As served in Cantina Laredo, a new Mexican restaurant opening in June) Equipment: Cutting board, knife, cocktail shaker, lemon/lime squeezer, mixing cup and two serving glasses. Ingredients: 100 ml Patron Reposado Tequila or any Tequila desired. 50 ml Cointreau 75 ml Fresh Lime Juice (Lemon is optional) Simple syrup (see below) Ice (As desired) 1. (For syrup.) Add sugar to a mixing cup, then add 40 ml of hot water. Stir until sugar has dissolved. 2. Squeeze fresh lime juice, making sure all pips are removed. Keep half a lime for garnish. 3. Add Tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and syrup into a cocktail shaker. Add ice as desired. 4. Shake, shake, shake. 5. Strain and serve over fresh ice. Garnish with a lime wedge.
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La Capanna For the finest Italian dining experience in the most picturesque of settings, perfect for that romantic dinner for two, a family celebration or business entertainment.
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
We offer corporate clients a 10% discount
We specialize in Wedding feasts with a difference 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”
– David Billington, Hello Magazine
Coﬀee Break COFFEE BREAK QUIZ 1 What is the world’s oldest known continuously inhabited city?
7 Which two oceans does the Panama Canal link?
2 What did Jean Henri Durant promulgate and co-found in 1863?
8 Who wrote “A Short History of Nearly Everything” and “Notes from a Small Island”?
3 Which country has a Film Festival but no cinemas? 4 Why is the White House white? 5 Is the boiling point of sea water the same, higher or lower than that of pure water? 6 How many strings does a violin have?
9 What is thanatology the scientific study of? a) servants b) police stations c) death 10 Which vowel isn’t on the top line of a standard keyboard? 11 Who was the Greek goddess of Victory? 12 Who is said to rule in a Plutocracy?
13 Which edible product, it is claimed, was first introduced to France after their victory over the English at Port Mahon? 14 Which artist painted The Potato Eaters? 15 The Hallelujah Chorus comes from which musical work, often performed at Christmas? 16 Queen Elizabeth II has met eleven of the last twelve US Presidents during their term in office. Which didn’t she meet? 17 What is a ‘dendroglyph’? 18 Which famous structure was built for the 1889 World Fair? 19 Which island, named after a Dutch explorer, is often said to have the cleanest air in the world?
Answers below The Johnsons
Coffee Break Quiz Answers: 1. Damascus; 2. The Red Cross; 3. Saudi Arabia; 4. Originally whitewashed to hide fire damage after the British burnt it in 1814, in retaliation for the burning and looting of York (now Toronto); 5. Higher, because it contains salt; 6. Four; 7. Pacific & Atlantic; 8. Bill Bryson; 9. c. Death and dying; 10. A; 11. Nike; 12. The wealthy; 13. Mayonnaise; 14. Vincent Van Gogh, in 1885; 15. The Messiah, by Handel; 16. Lyndon B Johnson – she didn’t visit the US from 1957-76, and he didn’t come here. She would have met him at JFK’s funeral, but was pregnant with Prince Edward, so couldn’t fly; 17. Symbols carved into tree trunks by primitive peoples; 18. The Eiffel Tower, Paris; 19. Tasmania (Abel Tasman discovered it, as well as New Zealand & Fiji)
June 1, 1660 – Mary Dyer is hanged for defying a law banning Quakers from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
June 12, 1939 – The Baseball Hall of Fame opens in Cooperstown, New York.
June 2, 1835 – P. T. Barnum and his circus start their first tour of the US.
June 13, 1927 – Aviator Charles Lindbergh receives a ticker-tape parade down 5th Avenue in New York City.
June 3, 1937 – The Duke of Windsor marries American divorcee Wallis Simpson. June 4, 1989 – The Tiananmen Square protests are violently ended in Beijing by the People’s Liberation Army. June 5, 1956 – Elvis Presley introduces his new single, “Hound Dog”, on The Milton Berle Show, scandalizing the audience with his suggestive hip movements. June 6, 1889 – The Great Seattle Fire destroys the entirety of downtown Seattle, Washington. June 7, 1866 – 1,800 Fenian raiders are repelled back to the United States after they loot and plunder around Saint-Armand and Frelighsburg, Quebec. June 8, 1783 – The volcano Laki, in Iceland, begins an eight-month eruption which kills over 9,000 people and starts a seven-year famine. June 9, 1968 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson declares a national day of mourning following the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. June 10, 1944 – In baseball, 15-year old Joe Nuxhall of the Cincinnati Reds becomes the youngest player ever in a major-league game. June 11, 2001 – Timothy McVeigh is executed for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing.
June 14, 1789 – Whiskey distilled from maize is first produced by American clergyman the Rev Elijah Craig. It is named Bourbon because Rev Craig lived in Bourbon County, Kentucky. June 15, 1667 – The first human blood transfusion is administered by Dr. Jean-Baptiste Denys. June 16, 1967 – The three-day Monterey International Pop Music Festival begins in Monterey, California. June 17, 1885 – The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York Harbor.
© LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
It happened one... June
the Washington Senators, Boston Red Sox pitcher Ernie Shore retires 26 batters in a row after replacing Babe Ruth, who had been ejected for punching the umpire. June 24, 1497 – John Cabot lands in North America at Newfoundland; the first European exploration of the region since the Vikings.
June 18, 1873 – Susan B. Anthony is fined $100 for attempting to vote in the 1872 presidential election.
June 25, 2009 – Pop star Michael Jackson is pronounced dead after paramedics found him in a coma at his Bel-Air mansion.
June 19, 1865 – Over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves in Galveston, Texas, United States, are finally informed of their freedom. The anniversary is still officially celebrated in Texas and 13 other contiguous states as Juneteenth.
June 26, 1917 – The first U.S. troops arrive in France to fight alongside Britain, France, Italy, and Russia against Germany, and Austria-Hungary in World War I.
June 20, 1631 – The sack of Baltimore: the Irish village of Baltimore is attacked by Algerian pirates.
June 27, 1693 – 1st woman’s magazine “Ladies’ Mercury” published (London) June 28, 1894 – Labor Day becomes an official US holiday.
June 21, 1945 – World War II: The Battle of Okinawa ends. June 22, 1783 – A poisonous cloud from the Laki volcanic eruption in Iceland reaches Le Havre in France. June 23, 1917 – In a game against
June 29, 1613 – The Globe Theatre in London, England burns to the ground. June 30, 1864 – President Abraham Lincoln grants Yosemite Valley to California for “public use, resort and recreation”. H
Rufus Wainwright – melting down
Richard Thompson’s Meltdown Meltdown is a most eclectic festival of music and arts, held at the various venues of the Southbank Centre in London. The organizers always choose a fascinating curator, who selects an equally interesting line up of artists. This year it’s the turn of English folk & folk-rock singer/guitarist/songwriting maestro Richard Thompson, who found fame in the early years of Fairport Convention before a distinguished solo career. His Meltdown events include A Celebration of [recently, sadly, deceased] Kate McGarrigle featuring Nick Cave, Kate’s son and daughter Rufus and Martha Wainwright, and Emmylou Harris; the Philharmonia Orchestra; Krystle Warren; Seasick Steve; ‘Six Strings’: folk guitarists John Etheridge, Martin & Simpson; soulful Scottish singer Paolo Nutini; the interesting Field Music; RT’s son Teddy Thompson; The [cricket obsessed] Duckworth Lewis Method; soul diva Bettye ‘Let Me Down Easy‘ LaVette; a recording of cult Radio 4 comedy game show I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, Van Dyke Parks & Clare and the Reasons, Loudon Wainwright III & Richard Thompson – Loud and Rich; Elvis Costello Solo and a myriad of film screenings, free bandstand events and spoken word. Gulp! See meltdown.southbankcentre.co.uk/
LIVE AND KICKING
Willie’s back in town
Willie Nelson’s new album, the epically, simplistically titled Country Music has been released in the UK. It is produced by Grammy and recent Oscar winner, T Bone Burnett, the first time Willie and T Bone have worked together. Willie will continue touring this summer, and will be performing songs from his new album. The 77 year old country outlaw is back on the road again – is he ever off it? – and you can catch him on June 3rd in Dublin, Ireland, O2; 4th Killarney, Ireland, INEC; 5th Castlebar, Ireland, Royal Theatre; 7th Dundee, Cario Hall; 8th & 9th Glasgow, Clyde Auditorium; 10th Manchester Apollo; 11th London Hammersmith Apollo. The tour moves on to Europe – Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and France, but fans get another chance to see Willie at the Glastonbury Festival June 15th.
Rag Mama Rag
Country blues is an oft neglected genre. Most of what we know as blues, R&B, rock and roll and rock can trace its roots to the acoustic blues of the 20s and 30s, but a few diehards still keep the faith and play the original stuff, among them LA-born Keb’ Mo’, who plays in the UK from time to time, and DC-native Michael Roach who now lives in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and specialises in the ‘Piedmont’ East Coast style of blues. To these you can add a British couple, Ashley and Debbie Dow, who base themselves in a sunny, wine growing region of France but seem to be constantly on the road. Make no mistake about their roots, they play the real stuff and Ashley’s slide playing is
Rag Mama Rag, country blues like it use’ta be
especially stunning. See them on tour in intimate venues around Southern England from June 11th to 29th – you could take a masterclass from Ashley at three of the venues – or even in France during the rest of the summer. There are too many to list in full but check out rag-mama-rag.com for details.
John Otway – Regrets, He’s Had A Few
No Reasonable Doubt – he’s here
Jay-Z Plays 3 – includes July 4
The rapper who rocked Glastonbury to the Hip-Hop beat won Best International Male Solo Artist award at this year’s Brit Awards, The Blueprint III has gone multi platinum and become his biggest-selling album in the UK to date, three singles from the album have sold over a million each, oh, and he hangs with the Pres. Now he’s over here for three dates: June 7th, Manchester MEN Arena; 9th Birmingham LG Arena and July 4th London Hyde Park for the Wireless festival. Happy Independence Day!
John Otway is British music’s greatest noble failure – read that any way you like. He probably wouldn’t have it any other way. Coming close to success in the punk atmosphere of the late ’70s with the manic singles Really Free and Beware of the Flowers Cause I’m Sure They’re Going to Get You Yeah, performed with the redoubtable Wild Willy Barrett he always somehow aimed for the stars but missed. Still out there (and read that any way you like too) he’s currently on a tour that combines solo gigs that are never less than entertaining and shambolic in equal measure, with book signings and promotions for his new tome entitled I Did It Otway (Regrets I’ve Had A Few), the tale of a series of events that led him to believe he could hire his own plane and take his fans with him on a world tour. It’s a glorious celebration of an heroic rise and fall chronicling “the misadventures of a microstar”. Oh, and he’s at the Glastonbury Festival on June 27th. www.johnotway.com
The Hard Rock Is Calling Not, rather confusingly, a festival of hard/heavy rock, but (named after the music-themed quality burger joint) three days of classic pop and rock artists right in the heart of London – Hyde Park. I need say no more than list the headliners: On Friday 25 June it’s Pearl Jam (supported by Ben Harper, Wolfmother and more). Saturday 26th it is Stevie Wonder, a rare treat over in the UK (with Jamiroquai, James Morrison and Corinne Bailey Rae). And on Sunday 27th Sir Paul McCartney (no support listed yet).
Juliette Lewis brings her new band, The New Romantiques
It’s a summer of European festivals for the lovely loose cannon that is Juliette Lewis, but her sole UK festival will be on the Isle of Wight, June 11th. But she has also opted to play two surprisingly small headline gigs in the South East of England, June 29th at Colchester Arts Centre and 30th at London Borderline.
Patti Smith Snakes Back Into London The Serpentine Sessions follows the massive concerts of Hard Rock Calling with a bill of the hottest indie and folk artists. Also taking place in the beautiful surroundings of Hyde Park, but with a limited capacity of just 3,000 per night, the headliners are Grizzly Bear, Patti Smith and her band and Laura Marling on June 28th, June 29th and July 1st. Grizzly Bear have quietly built a reputation for intense performances, especially of the songs on their second album Veckatimest. Patti Smith is one of the most influential female rock and rollers of all time. This is a rare opportunity to catch her with her full band, including Lenny Kaye. Finally, Laura Marling has grown to be one of Britain’s greatest new-folk artists.
ALBUMS THEOF MONTH
here’s a whole lot of good releasin’ goin’ on, so here’s some of the best albums that have hit The American’s quaintly olde worlde CD player in recent weeks, three American classics and an English gem. No apologies for the high ratings – we’ve chosen some goodies this month
Merle Haggard I Am What I Am Vanguard
Who’da thought that Merle Haggard, one of the defining voices of country music, and one of the rowdiest of the old time roughnecks, would settle down as a ‘gentleman of a certain age’. Well not quite. He’s still got a spring in his step, and a twinkle in his eye, and I wouldn’t want to cross this 72 year old who has had his share of thrills and spills in a feisty 50 year career that’s led from San Quentin con to Country Hall of Famer. But this collection of songs is reflective and retrospective, looking back at phases of Merle’s life. The voice may not be quite as strong as it once was, but the sentiments are. He recalls the high spots of love and friendship, and the way that time claws them all back, on I’ve Seen It Go Away, revisits his childhood on Oil Tanker Train (his favorite song on the album), relives his rowdier days on Mexican Bands, and duets joyously with his wife Theresa on the high-stepping Live And Love Always. The closing title track is a personal manifesto – “no longer a fugitive… I do what I do ‘cos I do give a damn”.
Robert Earl Keen
The Rose Hotel Lost Highway/Humphead Lone Star State wit runs like deep blue veins through Keen’s songs (for example Billie Bob Thornton guesting on the drunken bar-room 10,000 Walk Into A Bar). It’s not a comedy record, but he recognizes that humor is as essential a part of life as tragedy. Even ordinary life can have its own magic and dignity. He’s a storyteller of the old school, and while the gritty country boy is ever present he could cross over to mainstream radio as his songs are true-life tales that anyone can feel the truth of. A couple of well-chosen covers – Townes Van Zant’s Flying Shoes and Greg Brown’s Laughing River, duetting with Brown – top things off nicely.
Have you heard Patty Griffin being lazily described as a “secular gospel singer”? Well now you can hear her singing actual gospel songs, actually recorded in her neighborhood church, and it’s anything but lazy. Produced by Buddy Miller, it’s a work of reverence, but also fun – Move Up has a great call and response bounce to it. There are many facets of religion here. The classic Wade In The Water, with its spooky guitar and slap bass, is swamp rock that’s got God. Virgen de Guadelupe is sung in Spanish with a delightful, straightforward, innocent feel. And I Smell A Rat lopes along funkily. But the simple songs sung straight, like Hank William’s House of Gold, that opens the album, are as impressive in their own way. Musically there’s a similar overall feel to Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’s Raising Sand – and that is praise (the Lord) indeed.
The American will continue to push Sefa Steer’s records until they are played on every radio station and iPod in the universe. Actually, that’s never going to happen. Her quiet, intense, acutely English songs are too off the popular radar for most. Not in a self consciously weird or unmusical way like many indie artists. Her signature harp playing is pure musicality, accenting the cuttingly personal lyrics perfectly. The title? “’Change is good, change is good’ is something I mutter to myself when everything is going wrong. But I like how the repetition reveals panic,” she says. Just so. Half way through the recording process, her essential, beloved harp was stolen in the middle of the night. Necessity being the mother, etc., several of the songs were constructed using old analog synths and drum machines. Try it. You might just love it.
Downtown Church EMI Catalogue/Credential Recordings
Change is Good Change is Good Static Caravan
Y D E COM ION! S O L P EX
Rob ider Schne
First Ever London Stand-Up Shows Hot on the heels of his recent sold out US tour (his first for 17 years), Rob Schneider brings his hilarious show to the UK for the very first time, performing 2 very special stand up shows on July 4th and 5th as part of the E4 Udderbelly event at the Southbank Centre, London. Rob has starred in Saturday Night Live and movies including Eight Crazy Nights, Little Nicky, The Hot Chick, the Deuce Bigalow movies and, out this summer, Grown Ups. Robs’ London dates are bound to be one of the hottest comedy tickets around this year, so make sure you don’t miss out! Tickets are onsale now priced at £22.50 (subject to booking fee) and are available from www.livenation.co.uk. But you can win a free pair, courtesy of The American.
WIN ROB SCHNEIDER and PENN & TELLER TICKETS ller e T & Penn
Live and direct from Las Vegas – First UK dates in 16 years Comic Magicians, or ‘Evil Geniuses’? You decide! Penn & Teller return to the UK to play 5 special nights at London’s Hammersmith Apollo, July 14th to 18th. For 35 years Penn & Teller have defied labels – and at times physics – by redefining the genre of magic and inventing their own very distinct niche in comedy with sold out runs on Broadway, world tours, Emmy-winning TV specials and hundreds of outrageous TV appearances from Saturday Night Live, Letterman, Leno, and Friends to The Simpsons. Five-times ‘Las Vegas Magicians of the Year,’ their 10-year run at The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino makes them one of the longest running and most-loved shows in Vegas history. Don’t miss your chance to see one of the funniest and most unique magic shows! Tickets are £42.50 / £36.00 / £29.50 (subject to booking fee) and are available from www.livenation.co.uk, but you can win a pair.
Question Complete the title of one of Penn & Teller’s books. Is it: Penn & Teller’s How to Play in… ANSWER A Public B Peoria C Traﬃc
How to Enter For your chance to win a pair of tickets to see Rob Schneider or Penn & Teller, send your answer with your name, address, daytime telephone number and email address (optional) to reach us by FRIDAY, JUNE 28TH, 2010. Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with COMEDY COMPETITION in the subject line. Or send a postcard to: COMEDY 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.
David Suchet spoke to The American’s Michael Burland about his career and the new production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons in which he stars with Zoe Wanamaker
avid, thanks for taking time out of rehearsals. Before we talk about All My Sons, could I mention ‘The P Word’ – Poirot. You’ve been playing him for 21 years now, but there is some news about a new series, isn’t there? I started turning over on the set in 1988, but we haven’t been doing it every single year. There was a point that the production company decided to scrap it, then I had four years out.
By public demand, so I’m told, I was brought back. If we do another series, which will encompass the last six stories, we won’t be doing that for a year. We don’t know if we’re doing it because of the financial situation. I never take it for granted, but I’m holding my breath. All the programs so far have been based on Agatha Christie’s books. Will anyone write new Poirot stories? I’ve only ever filmed Poirot stories written by Agatha Christie. I don’t think it’s any secret that in the final book he pops his clogs. There are some people who wish I wouldn’t make that one and go on to make other Poirot stories, but I’ve been doing it so long that I think I should make the last six and… let him go. Maybe somebody else should take him over. You are the definitive Poirot and it’s been a huge success all over the world. Do people take you as Poirot? Yes, inevitably so. I’m told that the series is watched worldwide by 500 to 700 million people. If that’s the case, then that’s what I’m going to be known for.
PHOTO: SHEILA ROCK
In America too? Yes, but you don’t get 10 to 12 million people watching me in Poirot over there, and I’ve done a lot of American films, so some Americans remember me from movies like Executive Decision, or A Perfect Murder with Michael Douglas.
You have done theatre, film and TV. Do you think of yourself as majoring in any of those? No, I see myself as a character actor in all the mediums. A character actor, not a leading man? I suppose I’m a leading character actor! But with the emphasis on the characters.
And you haven’t been typecast? I haven’t, and that’s the greatest present that the business has given to me. I suppose Poirot is a disguise himself – with the moustache, the padding, the walk and the voice, I don’t look like him. People have accepted that he’s a character, and that David Suchet plays lots of other things. Early on, weren’t you worried about being typecast as Arab terrorists? That was a far greater threat than Poirot! You get typecast when you’re seen playing characters looking like yourself and although I was made up a bit darker, it was still me. Early on I tried to disguise myself in parts, but I was in danger of always playing the same role. Rather like in the old Hollywood movies – Frank Capra used a stable of actors and they all play the same roles in every film. Traditionally, British actors have played the bad guys in Hollywood movies. Is that changing? I don’t think it will change. We have some wonderful lead actors and some wonderful character actors, and the character actors will always be cast as the villain. It’s happened from day one, from Charles Laughton. We’re the ones they love to hate – and the ones who can do it better [laughs], perhaps because of our theatrical heritage. When I was playing them, I convinced myself that bad guys never know they’re bad. How are the All My Sons rehearsals going? It’s a very exciting period. We’re just coming to the end of the second week of four. Now we’re starting to pick the play apart and get underneath the skin of it. We’re learning what an extraordinary piece of theatre this really is. It’s a wonderful American play, one of the
top 10 of all 20th century American drama. Miller wrote several plays beforehand, but it seems that if this one didn’t go he probably wouldn’t have continued writing. Have you done any Miller before? Only one, The Crucible, at the Gateway theatre in Chester in 1969. I’m really excited – I‘m finding it very challenging – and that’s so good! We’re playing in American accents and I have a wonderful dialog coach. My character is Joe Keller. His family came from Germany and he would probably have been born in New York and then moved to the Mid West. He’s very nouveau riche – a peasant, even if he wears a suit. He’s ambiguous – is Joe a good guy or a bad guy? He’s typical of the universal man, who puts family before everything and doesn’t see the consequences, on a larger scale, of his actions. He’ll do something bad that he sees as totally justifiable until he’s made to see the bigger picture. During the war he sells damaged engine parts. Yes, and I get my partner to cover it up, he goes to jail and I lie my way out. I’m in denial. It’s an extraordinary piece of writing. It makes audiences think about what actions they might have taken that have wider implications. Do you think the play has any resonance with Afghanistan and Iraq? Yes. When one thinks of Joe’s faulty engine cylinders, and the cover up, one can’t help thinking about insufficient protection for our troops, vehicles that aren’t up to it, helicopters and so on. One reads in the newspapers that the powers that be are accused of knowing they’re not up to it.
Have you worked with Zoe Wanamaker before? Yes, for the first time in 1978, I think. She was Bianca in The Taming Of The Shrew at Stratford, then we were in Once In A Lifetime, and she plays Ariadne Oliver in my Poirot series. We don’t socialise that much, but we are ‘ongoing fellow travellers’. Howard Davies, who’s directing this production, did All My Sons in 2000 at the National, with Julie Walters. Is this one very different? It’s ten years later and he’s directing in a way that’s totally fresh for all of us. I think for the audience it will change, and they will find certain things resonating within them now, as we are in a war situation. Are there any other Miller roles you’d like to tackle? You haven’t played Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman yet.
There are very few roles left that I want to play, but Willy Loman is on my list!
Prospero? Yes, there could be a Prospero! We’ll put you down for that, then! You’ve played real characters like Robert Maxwell and Sigmund Freud, both to great acclaim. Is it a relief to play fictional characters? It’s so different . With the original characters, actors and writers have a responsibility to try and get it right, especially ones who have family still alive. It would have been wrong to have played Maxwell as a complete, 100% ‘baddie’ from beginning to end. You try and create a fully rounded character. The same with Freud – you have to play him as someone who was totally convinced of what he was doing, not as a nutter! He may not be fashionable now,
PHOTO: SHEILA ROCK
And what about other roles – maybe Shakespearean? That’s very interesting – I don’t know what Shakespearean roles there are left for me. There was some talk of the possibility of me doing Falstaff recently, but that just doesn’t appeal, I don’t know why. It’s one of the greatest roles in Shakespeare, but I can’t get my head around it. I’m too old for the Coriolanuses and Macbeths and that sort of thing. Macbeth is a young ambitious man trying to get into a kingly position – he kills the old man. I’d love to play him, and perhaps there’s no reason why I couldn’t, but it would be too close to wonderful Pat Stewart’s version 18 months ago. I’m too young for Lear. I
don’t know where to go with that one.
but he was the pioneer. It’s like air flight, we look at those early films of people trying to fly and deride them, but if they hadn’t we wouldn’t be up in the air now. One doesn’t have that responsibility playing fictional characters , where one has a responsibility primarily to the playwright. You’ve worked on stage in America a lot. Is it different to the UK? There’s a huge difference in American audiences’ responses. It’s far more open. They’re far warmer and more willing to show their appreciation of what you do. It’s a joy to play there, but it’s more challenging to get an English audience to appreciate you. Would you move to LA or New York for the right part or are you committed to staying in England? I was given the opportunity to move there way back in 1984, when I did The Falcon and The Snowman. I was offered a big American agent. I’d just had my daughter and we sat round the table in London and decided we wanted bring up our children here. I might have had a bigger film career there, but it’s a decision I don’t regret. Now both my children are grown – my son got married ten days ago, and my daughter last September – we’re freer, and I can spend more time in America. Who knows what might happen? I don’t think I’d ever give up my British citizenship and when I go there it’s always as an Englishman, to come home. All My Sons will be running hopefully until October, then I won’t be doing theatre immediately after this. If Poirot goes, it won’t be until next Spring, so that’ll give me from end of October to April or May so I’ll be looking for something nice and juicy. I’d like to do a movie in that time – hopefully a nice American one! H
PC Cast – Divine Intervention Michael Burland talks to PC Cast, the author of several series of best-selling fantasy novels. You write such a variety of books. Which series came first? Divine by Mistake was first, if you don’t count the book which I wrote in First Grade, Robby the Blue Whale (which hasn’t been published – I need to talk to my publishers about that!). It was originally called Goddess by Mistake and published by a small regional press in Oklahoma. When I sold it to Luna, Harlequin Mills & Boon’s fantasy line, we changed the title. Then came Divine by Choice and Divine by Blood. Are they written for different ages? The House of Night ‘vampyre’ books are written for 16 plus, but I have 13 year olds and 63 year olds at book events. I also have a big straight male readership now, which is hilarious – I have a couple of strong gay characters in the book, so I already had a gay following. The Divine books, and my Goddess Summoning series, are totally adult, mostly female but a lot of guys like them once they get past ‘I think I’m reading a girl’s book’ because I’m strong on my battle scenes. I was in the Air Force for six years, and a lot of my friends are veterans. In Divine by Mistake there is a terrible post-battle scene. When I was teaching, one of my Principals was a Vietnam Vet and I asked him what it was like two or three days after a battle. He took me through the smells, sights, sounds, everything. A third of the way in, he said ‘look’ – all the hairs on his arms and the back of his neck were standing on end. My partner, a Scot, was fight director for Braveheart and Gladiator, and it means a lot to me to have accurate battle scenes.
House of Night, your newest series is about vampyres. Where did that idea come from? My agent! In the summer of 2004, we were drinking at a Romance Writer’s Convention, and she slurrily said three words that changed my life, ‘Vampyre Finishing School’. I taught High School for 15 years, so the books sound like American teenagers. My daughter helps. We don’t co-write, but she tweaks things or comments ‘this is too mature’ or ‘this is right-on, Mom’. I depend on her. She also does editing on her own, for St Martins, and writes herself. You like everything to be realistic? Yes. You can go to the places I discuss in Tulsa. Fantasy is better if it’s based on reality, when you add the paranormal aspects your audience is right there with you. What do you get out of creating fantasy worlds?
They’re exactly the books that I want to read. What I like most is great fantasy with wonderful worldbuilding and lots of sex. You mentioned Tulsa. You’re a born and bred mid-west gal, Illinois and Oklahoma, aren’t you? That’s me! I settled down in Tulsa, but I spend time in the Cayman Islands and the Highlands of Scotland. I really like the Trossachs, Rob Roy’s area, and my man is Chieftain of Clan Wallace, so I love the Stirling area. One of our most romantic moments happened at the Wallace monument, looking out over Stirling Castle, in a full moon. So writing has not only given you other worlds that you can inhabit, but you can go anywhere on this planet? I can go anywhere I want for work. I’ve made sure there are lots of House of Night schools all over the world. Uncle Sam please note, last year when I went to the Amalfi coast, Pompeii and Capri, it was absolutely crucial to the research! H
THEATER REVIEWS BY JARLATH O’CONNELL
oby Stephens is the one reason to see this revival of Tom Stoppard’s 1982 hit. He’s gone from being a clever technical actor, albeit one with great comic timing, to allowing us to finally get under the skin of character, even if, as here, he is playing a glib playwright. Stephens commands the stage, as a star should, and no doubt the genes do help a little (he’s the son of Maggie Smith and Robert Stephens). This is the play that Stoppard avoiders usually say is the only one they like, because unlike his more cerebral works this one, they claim, has heart. I couldn’t disagree more. Last staged at the Donmar in 1999 with Stephen Dillane and Jennifer Ehle (that production went on to conquer Broadway and the Tonys) it is here given a solid revival by Anna Mackmin, but one that reveals just how slight the piece is. It’s sitcom for the kind of people who wouldn’t be
The Real Thing By Tom Stoppard • Old Vic Theatre, London
caught dead watching sitcoms, flattering the audience like some obsequious court jester. The play concerns the love triangle of playwright Henry (Stephens), wife Charlotte (Fenella Woolgar) and his affair with leading lady Annie (Hattie Morahan), who is championing the writings of a Glaswegian class warrior who is in prison for setting fire to the wreaths on the Cenotaph. We also witness the pain of Annie’s unfortunate abandoned spouse Max (Barnaby Kay). At one stage Henry’s precocious teenage daughter Debbie (Louise Calf) berates Henry for his latest play (a scene from which is presented as a prologue) because it is a story about a love triangle and “did she do IT or not”, which the teenager, quite rightly, dismisses as boring. In that play Henry’s alter ego dismisses his wife’s feeble attempt at covering up a weekend tryst with a lover, by pretending she was in Amsterdam and so producing a fake gift of Rembrandt place mats, as evidence of “taking adultery out of the moral arena and making it a matter of style”. Sadly, this is precisely what Stoppard fails to do here and like the play within a play this comes across as a lifeless exercise. There is no real self-exposure. It feels as if Stoppard was coerced into writing about ‘emotion’. Ironically,
Henry’s alter ego in the play complains, “I don’t know how to write about love”. The play flatters its middle class audience by sniggering at radical politics and poking fun at cultural pretensions such as Henry’s agonising over having to eschew his beloved pop music in favour of pious classical pieces when selecting his 8 records for Desert Island Discs. All very droll, but it never questions why he is so shallow in the first place as to require this affirmation. Woolgar shines as the wife and makes one wonder why Henry would pass her over for the twee, blonde Annie, who makes winsome into gruesome. Morahan, the weakest in the cast, presents Annie as if she was an understudy in Noises Off and by the end you don’t really care who she is wooing. Tom Austen, in his professional debut, impresses greatly as Billy, the ardent young actor, for whom she betrays Henry. Jude Law had better watch out. Henry’s great moment of pain when Annie deserts him, despite Stephen’s best efforts, left me cold and if you don’t believe the love interest then it doesn’t hang together. After this Stoppard went on to create probably his two masterpieces Arcadia and The Invention of Love. Let’s hope he continues to steer clear of sitcom.
Kristina – the Musical in Concert Music by Benny Andersson, Lyrics by Bjorn Ulvaeus and Herbert Kretzmer • Royal Albert Hall, London
enny and Bjorn (do I really need to say ‘from ABBA’?) brought their beloved musical Kristina to the Royal Albert Hall for one night in April. They spent five years labouring on it and it was unveiled in Sweden in 1995 to immediate and huge acclaim. It has broken all records for attendance and album sales there and has played for 4 years in Stockholm. Last September a version with an English translation by Herbert Kretzmer (of Les Mis fame) was first staged in concert at Carnegie Hall. This is now out on double CD and it’s the version they presented at the Albert Hall. It is a glorious show and why it hasn’t been staged in the West End or Broadway, considering the pedigree of all involved, is perplexing. It has the epic sweep of Les Miserables or Porgy and Bess and a really strong book based on a series of four novels by
Vilhelm Moberg detailing a family’s poverty-driven migration from Sweden to Minnesota in the 1850s. In the early ’70s the books were also made into two successful Oscar nominated films The Emigrants and The New Land, starring Liv Ullman. Andersson’s score is exquisite. Sometimes lush, sometimes plaintive but always engaging and totally seductive, it resembles Rodgers and Hammerstein at their height. For this concert it was enhanced greatly by a cast and chorus of 30 as well as a 50-piece symphony orchestra, under the baton of the legendary Broadway arranger and musical director Paul Gemignani. The plot revolves around the journey to America of Kristina (Helen Sjoholm) and husband Karl-Oskar (British pop tenor Russell Watson) escaping famine in rural Sweden. Along the way Karl-Oskar quarrels with his younger brother Robert (the amazing Kevin Odekirk) whose head is full of dreams of hitting gold in California and Kristina develops an initially reluctant friendship with
fellow emigrant Ulrika (Louise Pitre, a scene stealer), who left behind a life as a prostitute. Kristina battles starvation, scurvy and numerous miscarriages and all the time wishes she was back home. Musical comedy, it ain’t. What it does have though is a solid book, strong characters and music and lyrics of such poignancy they engage the listener with the plight of these unfortunate and pious people. The emotion is all in the music, just as in opera, and this cast attacked with great relish. With the characters’ constant claims to faith and their belief in the American Dream it is actually a quintessentially American piece, if dampened now and again by a little melancholy – well, it is Swedish after all. Sjoholm, appropriately enough, dominated the concert with her stunning portrayal of Kristina. A heavenly voice matched with a great dramatic ability and stage presence, it will be another tragedy if she loses out to Anglo Americans when it gets to Broadway or the West End. Her great ‘eleven o’clock number’ “You Have to Be There” surpasses “I Dreamed A Dream” as one of the great belter show tunes of the past thirty years (and it has already been recorded brilliantly by Alice Ripley). It too is about a crisis of faith. The other great discovery of the show is the young American tenor Kevin Odekirk. His “Gold Can Turn to Sand” provoked a mid show standing ovation. Sadly, the only weak spot in the cast was Russell Watson. His diction was poor and while he has a voice trained to make lovely sounds it lacks the necessary interpretative ability essential for a musical theatre performer.
Posh By Laura Wade • Royal Court Theatre, London
Jolyon Coy (Toby Maitland), Leo Bill (Alistair Ryle), Kit Harington (Ed Montgomery), Tom Mison (James Leighton-Masters), Joshua McGuire (Guy Bellingfield), Richard Goulding (George Balfour), Harry Hadden-Paton (Harry Villiers), James Norton (Miles Richards), David Dawson (Hugo Fraser-Tyrwhitt), Henry Lloyd-Hughes (Dimitri Mitropoulos)
et’s get through the rest of the evening in a civilised manner” says the wary pub landlord to the unruly bunch of toffs who have taken over his private dining room for an evening of debauchery. But what precisely constitutes “civilised” behaviour? This bunch of young bloods, decked out in their ridiculous faux regimental regalia may be au fait with every arcane aspect of dining etiquette but you couldn’t exactly call them civilised. Laura Wade’s play has opened at the Royal Court with impeccable timing and lots of hoopla in the press. The subject matter is an Oxford University undergraduate dining club called the Riot Club, clearly modelled on the (in)famous Bullingdon Club, whose membership has included David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson. Having had their dubious youthful japes exposed in the press (with incriminating photographs) the trio have since been denying like Judases. Wade uses the club dinner, where the group gorge themselves on a “10 bird roast”, get totally “chateau’d”, get a “prozzer” in and end up ritually wreck-
PHOTOS: JOHAN PERSSON
ing the place, as a metaphor for this group’s twisted sense of entitlement. Their defence is that they always “pay their own way” as if that’s an excuse. Their intention is self-preservation against what they see as the deluge of mediocrity emanating from the lower orders. A dying breed, they whinge hilariously about the odious National Trust for letting oiks roam free on their stately homes, thus upsetting mother.
Poor old Mum, she can’t abide the flat in Knightsbridge either – “too many Arabs”. Wade’s point was presumably to shock us, however the performance I attended was packed to the rafters with what appeared to be the same braying toffs represented on stage. They all lapped it up, finding the obnoxiousness, the brutishness and the snobbery a right old wheeze. This
echoes what happened in the ’80s with Caryl Churchill’s play Serious Money, where the City boys decamped to Sloane Square for a jolly old time. With a running time of nearly three hours it is not just the boys who outstay their welcome. The first act alone is an hour and a half of just setup. With ten indistinguishable boys, do we need this? For a play about a riot it is also curiously lacking in dramatic momentum. The destruction of the room is sluggishly directed by Lyndsey Turner and Anthony Wards’ realistically awful set doesn’t quite get thrashed enough. A perky cast of newcomers give it all they’ve got but, with no real conflict between the characters (at least for the first two hours) and no light and shade in the characterisations, it all becomes like shooting fish in a barrel. It comes alive with the odious Alistair (Leo Bill), who unleashes his full venom on the lower orders whom he claims have caused the debt crisis! Even the prostitutes want paid holidays nowadays, he wails. It’s about as funny as a Daily Mail editorial. In the climax of the play it is he who leads the brutal beating of the landlord, whose waitress daughter they have also assaulted. As the landlord lies unconscious, the panic stricken group decides to make Alistair the fallguy. If he takes it on the chin and faces the inevitable criminal charges, the rest can escape unscathed with reputations and future careers intact. It is all about self-preservation of the tribe. In an epilogue Alistair visits a gentlemen’s club to meet the grandee father of one of his mates, also a proud Riot Club alumnus. He reassures Alistair that he will be looked after. The Riot Club we are told is about “marking you out as the right kind of chap”. If you must go, take Jocasta and Sebastian. They will find it “a riot”.
Debbie Reynolds: Alive and Fabulous Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave, London
’m Princess Leia’s mother, which must make me some kinda Queen,” says Debbie Reynolds. Debbie is basically a ditzy chick. She reminds you of a kooky, fun lovin’, practical joker of a teenage girl, yet she is 78. Now in her anecdotage (as Dame Edna once put it), when she parades downstage delivering an awful re-write of I’m Still Here, you expect to be in for an evening of wistful reminiscences. Instead, you get a knockabout standup routine, where the gags, accompanied by an overdone cymbal crash, count for more than the music. That is just as well. Even at her peak she was a dancer and comedienne first and a singer third. On top of having a limited voice she also has a tendency to slur her words. Intentionally or not she does the act “sozzled”, which of course cleverly gives her licence to be less than perfect. She was not helped on opening night by ropey sound qualty, unforgivable when her audience contains more than its fair share of hearing aids, that rapidly required adjusting. Her solution to the music selection was to generally opt for the dreaded medleys as well of course as her one big hit Tammy. The medleys included hits from the ’40s and a Judy Garland tribute where she also told tales of being round at Judy’s after work and putting the kids to bed. Well-supported by two regular collaborators on piano and drums, Debbie’s sound was also enhanced by a (mercifully subtle) backing track. Shirley Jones take note. The musical highlight though was her jamming with a bass player for a zippy rendition of Just in Time.
The evening also included a kind of zany DVD voice-over commentary section. Here she talked over or sang along to clips from all her great movies and you realised just what great talent there was up there. We also got a tribute to her Grandpa (she was raised by grandparents) with an unexpected cover of the Judds’ Tell me bout the good old days. Mimicry is Reynolds’ other forte and we got passable Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West and even Barry Fitzgerald. There was also an affectionate recalling of a scatty telephone conversation with a senile Jimmy Stewart – “Are we thru tawkin?” he squalks. Disappearing off stage she returned with a blonde wig, a little black dress and a fake nose to do a lengthy Barbra Streisand send up – the ’60s version. It ends up more Jimmy Durante but the audience lap it up. Her impressions are all generous and fun loving but more party pieces than the sort of forensic take-off you’d expect from a professional impersonator. In the end Debbie Reynolds personifies scatty affability and being such a well-trained pro she knows how to work a room. Each time she has been taken for a ride by an ex husband she has picked herself up and taken a show on the road to earn some money back. “Some people think I’m Connie Francis” she jibes “we both married the same jerk”. At the end she coyly asks, “I am certainly alive, do you think I may have been fabulous?” We do, Debbie. We do.
ameron Mackintosh’s idea to import this great hit from New York’s Public Theatre was inspired. You will never see Hair better directed or better performed. The staging is so good, however, it does ultimately lay bare the threadbare nature of the piece. Everyone of course can wail “Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeet the sunshine” not to mention the nonsense of Good Morning Starshine (where words presumably failed the stoned lyricists) and anyone who has ever been in a hotel elevator can hum The Age of Aquarius. These are great pop tunes but they don’t really develop in the way musical theatre songs need to. The book is a flimsy affair and lacks a basic story arc, which would make one really engage with the characters’ plight. Instead it’s a sequence of tableaux and while the leads wring all they can from the script, the audience is not really let in to feel anything; rather we are continually hit over the head by incessant joie de vivre. It’s like being threatened to Cheer Up…or else! When a show starts with an up-tempo smash like Age of Aquarius it’s got nowhere else to go. A law of
Music by Galt MacDermot Book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni Gielgud Theatre, London diminishing returns soon sets in, as you can’t just pile on highlight after highlight. The cast can’t be faulted for this of course and in the end it is their amazing energy which makes this show really soar. The ensemble playing is glorious. They are like liquid, constantly slithering off the stage and literally walking over and caressing the audience. Gavin Creel brings a great solidity to the part of Claude, the central protagonist, torn between his straight-laced parents who expect him to do his duty in Vietnam and his new tribe of hippie friends. He’s in love with Sheila who is in love with Berger, the uncrowned leader of the tribe. Berger has everybody in love with him including himself, and Claude. Will Swenson as Berger combines a feline grace with the swagger of Mick Jagger and the bravado of a stripper. He perfectly encapsulates the charismatic appeal of such alpha males but we also see that he is a user, just out for what he can get. Director Diane Paulus wisely opts to tone down any Iraq/Afghanistan allusions. The two situations are, after all, markedly different with today’s army being a voluntary one, but the piece
remains a universally relevant anti war statement. This show always treads a fine line between being a great period piece (which it is) and falling into easy nostalgia. This is best illustrated by the curtain call. The show ends on a beautifully poignant note (which I won’t spoil) but in line with current musical theatre custom in London we are then unfortunately led into a protracted audience participation dance and sing-a-long, which completely destroys the mood. While this is a great production, today’s audience for Hair needs more context for it to work. It can’t of course have the resonance it had in 1968 but still it’s important to remember that for these kids the counterculture wasn’t merely a lifestyle choice. For very many it was a lifesaving option. Without any sense of the anger that fed this movement the show degenerates into mere fashion statement, especially true when you invite ageing hippies up for a jig about. I noticed the ushers put in place a special guardrail on the steps up to the stage, just for the curtain call singalong. I guess the children of the Age of Aquarius in the audience now require help with stairs.
Ruined by Lynn Nottage • Almeida Theatre, London
uined’ is how this group of Congolese women describe themselves. Victims of appalling gang rapes they too are the spoils of that interminable war. Not only are they suffering from heinous injuries, but also they then are shunned by their families and forced to leave home. Without the status which marriage bestows, their future is grim and many turn to prostitution. This amazing new play was commissioned by the Goodman Theatre of Chicago in a co-production with the Manhattan Theatre Club. Deservedly it won every award going last year, including the Pulitzer Prize. Mama Nadi (Jenny Jules) is the matriarch of a bar-bordello deep in the Congolese jungle. Like Mother Courage she avoids politics, welcomes everyone so long as they have the cash and leave their bullets behind the bar. Fiercely proud of her business, she rules over her girls like a strict Mother Hen. “When things are good everybody gets some when things are bad Mama eats first”, she warns. Jules shines in this great part. She may be a user but she retorts, “you come in here to take your pleasure
and then you want to judge me”. This is no hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold story however and it doesn’t shirk from harsh realities of the situation. Mama does have a point when she maintains that these women are safer with her. Her travelling salesman friend Christian (Lucian Msamati, in a beautifully modulated performance) brings her the luxuries she requires to keep her clientele of soldiers and miners entertained, but one day he turns up with two “ruined” girls in tow. Simple farm worker Salima and her bright young niece Sophie are given great full-blooded performances by Michelle Asante and Pippa Bennett-Warner. Sophie has been so damaged by the soldiers that her duties in the bar are confined to just cleaning and singing. The songs she sings are by Nottage and Dominic Kanza. Played on stage with simple guitar and percussion they wonderfully enhance the mood of the piece, as does Robert Jones’ stunning set. The huge gaudy shack (on a great revolve) is hemmed in by dense, claustrophobic jungle vegetation. The play is full of memorable characters. Steve Toussaint impresses as
Commander Osembenga, leader of the government army. A giant of a man he appears like a Masai warrior but decked out in lurid yellow Adidas. Kehinde Fadipe also throws some gloriously lithe dance moves as the main girl Josephine. Inevitably Mama Nadi gets caught in the crossfire. Nottage builds the suspense expertly here. Salima’s husband, who had rejected her, turns up looking for her but Mama denies all knowledge, with tragic consequences. Sophie, who is entrusted with the accounts, dips her finger in the till, gets punished but so impresses Mama with her daring that Mama decides to help her escape to a better life with Mr Harari (Silas Carson) - the only white man around, a dashing, dubious Lebanese metals trader. We learn that key to this war is the battle for control of the tin and coltan markets – raw materials in all our mobile phones. The play encompass so much – sexual politics, history, the morality of war - while telling a great tale with compelling characters. Director Indhu Rubasingham has moulded great performances from this ensemble and it is unusual to see a modern American play which is not about America. H
Not Past The Post? Has the UK’s two party ‘first past the post’ system finally bitten the dust? Alison Holmes looks at the future of the British electoral system
ell, the UK finally has a government, and we even know who the ministers will be, but it is still difficult to get a clear view of what has occurred to the British constitution given that events continue to change by the hour. Even the BBC has declared words such as ‘extraordinary’ and ‘historic’ as over-used – but they are no less true for that. As of this writing, there is now a coalition government in place. The people declared a hung parliament and despite Tory predictions, the sky did not fall in. A Liberal/Conservative deal was done with relative speed and again contrary to right-leaning Map illustrating parliamentary seats varied by population ©2010 BENJAMIN HENNIG, SASI RESEARCH GROUP, UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD.
Key: Labour • Conservatives • Liberals Green • PC •SNP
press, markets around the world did not crash. The two parties are coming to the end of their first few days in office and no one has reported any harm or absence of the ravens in the Tower of London thus we can assume the Monarchy is still safe. As day broke on the morning after the night before, the new Prime Minister, Conservative David ‘Dave’ Cameron (left, above) and his Deputy Prime Minister, Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg (center), greeted each other like old friends. Their joint press conference had all the freshness of new love. Meanwhile, across Westminster, the recriminations began for the Labour Party, as well as the inevitable leadership contest that follows defeat. Given the ‘extraordinary-ness’ of events since last Thursday, it almost seems unfair to use the benefit of hindsight to comment on the campaign itself, but two things continue to stand out. The first was the inability of Gordon Brown (right, above, in a Conservative advert) to make headway until the final death throes of the campaign when it was all but too late. More broadly, the other overriding feature proved to be the leader debates. ‘Cleggmania’ swept the country, confirming just how little attention was previously paid to the Liberal Democrats including its consistent declarations that if the people saw the party and heard its policies, it would be a more powerful force in
British politics. The debates provided proof of that prediction and put the ‘third party’ of British politics ahead of the Government for most of the four weeks – though still not putting the party over the top when it came to crosses in boxes. As for the rest of the campaign, much was made of the ‘spin’ vs ‘spine’ and the image-makers passing on their black arts to the leaders by teaching them to address questioners personally, look at the voter at home through the television lens and distance themselves from the other two parties. Much was made of the Institute of Fiscal Studies report on party manifestoes and finally the Scottish Nationalist’s suit against the BBC for not including them in the ‘big event’ of the election. Looking at these latter three features one could be forgiven for beginning to wonder if journalists are, in fact, goldfish. They seemed to have neither individual nor collective memory of campaign trends or electioneering innovations and reported each aspect as if it arrived fresh on the campaign trail like electoral dew only to disappear between elections. Perhaps it is more a case that, like policemen, the political class is getting younger every day. They are not deliberately reporting old news
CARDIFF UNIVERSITY TELEVISION
as new, they just weren’t there when leaders began to get professional training for public appearances, or the IFS produced its detailed assessments of party manifestoes and smaller and nationalist parties made their cases to the BBC. Unbeknownst to them – t’was ever thus. Even before the ‘historic’ decision on coalition, this election was always going to give the system a serious judder. UK politics had, for too long, continued the pretence that it is a two party system. Continental European parties fail to see how their sisters in the United Kingdom could tolerate a first past the post system when the rest of the European Union had long ago abandoned such politics for a ‘bigger tent’ approach. Inside the UK, policy wonks – and Liberals – long argued the benefits of changing the system to one that more accurately reflected the choice of the voter rather than ‘winner takes all’ politics. The merchants of the status quo – including David Cameron – spent hours proclaiming the danger of hung parliaments, its economic disaster, its undermining effect on the social fabric and its drain on the mandate. They conveniently forgot that a mandate and a majority of seats are two different things although the election result may have clarified this for them.
These larger factors also played heavily into the election’s other features. The overwhelming amount of comment on the debating style of the leaders was seen as symbolic of their approach to change and reform of the system. Their ‘openness’, or lack thereof, to the questioners in the audience was seen as a signal of their willingness to share power and ‘listen to the people’ not only individually, but collectively. The IFS’s proclamation that the parties were not ‘coming clean’ with the electorate proved difficult for the parties to overcome and dominated the final debate. All this further undermined the electorate’s confidence in politicians to protect them from financial as well as physical danger, despite the fact it is hard to imagine the leaders being any more clear that there are economic troubles ahead. Finally, the Scottish Nationalist challenge to the leaders’ debate fed the fear which the Conservatives were stoking that the country would be held hostage by a man not even standing in the Westminster election yet who plans to pay for his party’s policies by scrapping a programme not within his remit. Despite the deluge of media and public attention, the public finally turned their attention to the kafuffle in their midst. They tuned in to scenes
of frenzied activity and began to sift through the accumulated debris of the previous weeks. It is usually at this point that one party tends to break out to the finish line. But that was then. This is now. There were no pictures of activists parading their leader into Downing Street or parties on the south bank as in 1997, as it became obvious that the Tories missed some of their highest targets held by Liberal Democrats, and the Labour Party actually managed to hold and even increase its vote in Scotland. At the end of a long night, the voters had decisively declared ‘a plague on all your houses’ – a vote of no confidence in any single party. This election was not different in kind and none of the tactics or tools were new per se, but it has changed politics forever. The walls of Westminster have become those of Jericho. Political soldiers have been circling and blowing their trumpets of change consistently for years. The demise of the political system has been predicted many times before, but it would appear this time the walls have truly come tumbling down. H Dr. Alison Holmes, our political ‘Transatlantic Columnist’, is the Pierre Keller Fellow of Transatlantic Studies at Yale University.
Living in Fearful Times Risk is a normal part of life, says Alan Miller
he world experienced paralysis recently as a consequence of The Volcano. Downing flights internationally – and then having them halted for several days – what we witnessed was in many ways the ascendancy of the Precautionary Principle. The notion that, although we do not know what the outcome will be, we will automatically assume that it will be negative. I am not a scientist or aeronautical engineer of any kind and I absolutely believe that we should have experts to advise us on key aspects of safety, in travel and other areas of life. However there is a world of difference between rigorous risk assessment and a Risk Averse environment where we artificially enlarge the problems of risk and things we are uncertain about. Our response to The Volcano was not simply about the dangers of volcanic ash and the potential impact or not on flight engines, it also corresponded with our accelerating morbidity about natural events and “natural disasters”. In many ways Armageddon-time never seems to be far from our minds when situations present themselves to us, particularly when it is to do with the weather. As Rob Lyons from UK publication Spiked points out, much of the response to The Volcano was influenced by two separate incidents, one in 1982 when a British Airways aircraft over Indonesia dropped several thousand feet after the engines cut out and another in 1989 when KLM Flight 867 over Alaska had a similar experience. Luckily the pilots were able to restart
the engines in both cases. Everybody thankfully landed safely and it was believed the effect of the ash in the engines caused a reaction. As with any set of circumstances, one needs to assess the similarities and differences. For instance in the KLM incident it was only 150 miles from the volcano in question. London is of course 1,200 miles from the volcano in the Eyjafjallajökull glacier. Some pundits in the British press seemed to rejoice at the notion of a halt to planes in the sky. We have seen that air travel, particularly when taken by ordinary people on trips for Stag Nights to Prague or Las Vegas, has infuriated environmentalists and those sympathetic to Green Ideas. In some
quarters The Volcano was presented as testament to Nature’s Revenge. While one may scoff at those that believed The Volcano represented the end of the world, the underlying sense that things are out of control, getting worse, that we have gone too far and will be punished is increasingly part of our sociological and cultural fabric. What was remarkable was that after such a long shut down, the re-scheduling of flights came with little by way of explanation or insight. Instead, it seemed to be just a mad (extremely expensive and disruptive) moment. Unfortunately, the decisionmaking process and quality of firm
action by leaders in business and politics these days is extremely poor. While we absolutely should run safety tests and checks and be advised by experts, in the end, the decisions leaders make are commercial and political – and thus they need to weigh everything up and then give a lead. The time taken vacillating and being unclear demonstrates just how far the impact of Risk Culture has penetrated. This Precautionary Principle can be seen playing out in a variety of areas of our lives. In so many discussions our heightened preoccupation with risk and danger is having a detrimental impact on our decision making processes. Whether it is weighing up the real health risks to society of Avian Flu or Swine Flu, or assessing the impact of BSE (Mad Cow Disease) and CJD and how we should respond to such situations, we are increasingly taking a position that has as a starting point the conviction that things are somewhat
out of our control and likely to spiral even further quickly. Not just in health issues is this the case however, as we have massively transformed our notions of risk in situations such as terror and child care too. So, the constant obsession with terrorism does little to actually prevent anything, however it does a great deal to increase our fears and of course allows for the increased regulation of citizens by authorities. So too with the outrageous new vetting procedures in the UK for anyone coming in to contact with young people, be it volunteers, or even parents driving children and their friends to a sports activity. The dramatic shift in our outlook is such that humans, who always had a certain amount of risk in their lives to consider, now understand ourselves increasingly as being at risk from the world. When we have a view of humans as no longer autonomous shapers of our destiny, managing risk and issues that arise through our experimentation with the world, but rather creatures that are “at risk” the focus becomes narrow and parochial. Thus it is that campaigns are increasingly launched under such emotive terms as
A NASA radar image shows that the Eyjafjallajökull volcano actually IS a scary skull beast! PHOTO: NASA
“Better Safe Than Sorry” or “If it saves one person’s life…” and “Something must be done” which only serve to reinforce a world where legislators rule increasingly about what we do and how we do it. From food, smoking and drinking bans to further estranging adults and children from one another, to the over compensation and reaction to natural events, we need to take a step back, a deep breath and consider how we want to live our lives and deal with the world we live in. When fear and caution become the dominating issues, we are paralysed. So let us use the recent response to The Volcano as an example – and then counterpose against it the reaction of New Yorkers to the recent Time Square car bomb. Quite rightly and inspiringly, New Yorkers are getting on with life as normal. They have demonstrated backbone and a sensible response to the few crazy people who want to terrify us. Let us not end up helping those that would reorganize our lives around fear and terror by doing it to ourselves. H Alan Miller is Director of The NY Salon (www.nysalon.org ) in NYC and cofounder of London’s media arts center the Old Truman Brewery and sits on the board of the London Regional Council of the Arts Council England.
Normandy Landings – by Bike! A
s this issue of The American celebrates the 64th anniversary of the D-Day landings (6th June 1944) I thought it an appropriate time to visit the beaches and other historical sites in Normandy, France, that featured in that momentous historical occasion. I chose Bike Normandy as my guides in order to combine some classic motorcycling roads with my three day trip to Northern France. To maximise my time there I once again used Brittany Ferries’ excellent night service from Portsmouth to Caen allowing me a fresh start and a fast boat back from Cherbourg to make full use of the three days. Brits John and Jeanette Eggleton’s base is “Le Champ Massé” situated in eleven acres on the side of “Hill 262”, part of the Falaise Gap, the scene of some of the final battles of Normandy during World War ll. Accommodation is in-house and consists of five twin ensuite rooms, garaging and drying room and the price (£259.00) includes breakfast and two four course meals and all drinks. It is just under 2 hours from all the adjacent ports so they pick you up from wherever you choose to land. John points out that on this three day
trip there is no set agenda or locations and routes can be varied according to client’s wishes, port of arrival and even weather. Riding pace is set at the client’s own ability so there is no pressure and any groups are well matched as far as possible for comfort and safety. We crammed a lot into the three days – here are some of the main sites we visited. An obvious choice was Pegasus Bridge which crosses the Caen Canal at Bénouville, the only bridge that the allies kept open to allow troops to cross on D-Day in 1944. The original bridge is preserved in a museum next to the point at where the new bridge carries traffic and this includes a full scale
By Ian Kerr
mock-up of one of the Horsa gliders that made its capture possible. Then there is the seaside town of Arromanches to see the remains of the floating harbour that was towed from ‘Blighty’ (Britain) to give our brave boys a fighting chance as they came up the beaches. The American Cemetery behind the famous Omaha beach where the US forces landed is of course a must. The cemetery with its perfect lines (in any direction) of 10,000 white crosses, along with the historical explanation of what went on has got to be one of the most sobering sights anywhere in the world. The sound of the single bugle is poignant to say the very least! There is much more and all I can do is suggest if you like motorcycling, history, five star cooking and accommodation and want a long weekend on some of the best motorcycling roads in Europe, contact Bike Normandy (www. bikenormandy.com). They speak fluent French, know all the best routes and what is best to see and make the whole thing a most relaxing and pleasurable experience! H
Not Just Wimbledon I
f it’s June, it’s time for tennis in England, but before you reserve the comfiest chair for those Wimbledon weeks, consider taking a seat close enough to smell the grass. Before the tour beds down in SW19, there’s three other tournaments here in the UK, offering inexpensive (in some cases, ridiculously cheap) opportunities to catch the tennis stars up close. Some of the biggest names in international tennis will be on show (and not just for show, these are ranking tournaments) in London, Eastbourne and Birmingham. Here’s the low-down on where to catch the action:
Aegon Championships, London
Men’s tournament Dates: June 7-13 Location: Queen’s Club, London W14 9EQ Reigning Champ: Andy Murray Confirmed to attend: Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, Andy Murray, Juan Martin Del Potro. Getting there: Public transport advisable: Baron’s Court Underground or bus routes 9, 10, 27, 28, 74, 190, 295, or 391. Tickets: £16 (Mon-Fri) to £95 per day
Aegon Classic, Birmingham
Ladies’ tournament Dates: June 7-13 Location: Edgbaston Priory Club, Birmingham B15 2UZ Reigning Champ: Magdalena Rybarikova Confirmed to attend: , Magdalena
Rybarikova, Maria Sharapova, Yanina Wickmayer, Elena Baltacha, Tamarine Tanasugarn, Vania King, Jill Craybas. Getting there: From M6, J6 for A38(M), then use the center lane through three tunnels and set of traffic lights; at the next lights turn right into Priory Road, then right after 50 meters. Tickets: £10 (Mon) to £27 per day
PHOTO ©GETTY IMAGES FOR THE LTA
The weeks between the French Open and Wimbledon are no mid-year vacation for tennis. Three pro tournaments right here in the UK provide some clay-to-grass adjustment
Aegon International, Eastbourne
Combined tournament Dates: June 13-19 Location: Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, Sussex BN21 4JJ Reigning Singles Champs: Dmitry Tursunov, Caroline Wozniacki Confirmed to attend: Caroline Wozniacki, Elena Dementieva, Kim Clijsters, Shahar Peer, Melanie Oudin; John Isner, Sam Querrey, James Blake. Getting there: By car via A22 (London), A259 (Hastings) and A27 (Brighton); NCP parking with special bus service; By train to Eastbourne Railway Station from London Victoria (80 mins), with 15 mins further on foot (7 mins by bus). Tickets: £6 (Mon-Tues) to £40 per day
The Championships (Wimbledon)
Grand Slam Event Dates: June 21 to July 4 Location: London SW19 5AE Reigning Singles Champs: Roger Federer, Serena Williams Expected to attend: Everybody! Getting there: Parking costs £25, so public transport advisable. District line (underground) to Wimbledon Station;
They may not trouble the rankings much, Andy Murray aside, but for British players such as Anne Keothavong (above), Wimbledon remains a magical venue.
then use London General shuttle bus service to The Championships. Tickets: Center, No.1 and No.2 courts (£41 to £104 depending on the day) extremely limited at the turnstiles. However, access to the grounds (and other courts) costs downward of £20. Websites: www.lta.org.uk and www.wimbledon.org
NFL Class of 2010
The grades are in for the 2010 NFL Draft. It was an unusually good week for the 49ers, Raiders, Oklahoma Sooners ...and the NFL itself, writes Richard L Gale
t’s been a busy time for a certain type of geek insomniac... specifically my type, who considers all-night general election coverage a sofaworthy sports event. I’m not alone – one friend of mine is both a draft addict and campaign manager, with alliegances to both the Raiders and the Labour Party (it’s been a rough ride for him recently). I get the same buzz from elections as I do from an NFL draft, the ingredients being much the same: a multitude of names, a blur of statistics, and no guarantee that at the end of it all we can be sure who’s really won. The NFL certainly did, with their new Thursday night start beating both the NBA and NHL playoffs for TV ratings. As for rating the teams, here’s our post-draft grades for 2010. Eric Berry, the first safety off the board, arrives in Kansas City UT SPORTS INFORMATION
San Francisco 49ers
They didn’t nail a corner, but stole North Carolina DT Cam Thomas (R5), and can use all 6 players picked ... They dealt up for franchise back Ryan Matthews of Fresno St., LB Donald Butler (R3) is an upgrade, and QB Jonathan Crompton and TE Dedrick Epps replace departing depth ... DE Brandon Lang (Troy) and WR Jeremy Williams (Tulane) were fine post-draftees.
New England Patriots Grade A– Yeah, they’re good at this personnel thing ... Traded up (UP?!!) for complete TE Rob Gronkowski in R2 ... Added former Gators DE Jermaine Cunningham and LB Brandon Spikes in the same round ... Took a third Gator, TE Aaron Hernandez in R4, turning weakness into strength ... Added swift WR Taylor Price as well as veteran Torry Holt during the week ... Nabbed R1 CB Devin McCourty and top punter Zoltan Mesko.
Carson Palmer’s humdrum numbers should be boosted by top TE Jermaine Gresham (R1, Okla.), reliable possession WR Jordan Shipley (R3, Texas) and WR Dezmon Briscoe (R6, Kansas) ... Both DE Carlos Dunlap (R2, Florida) and Briscoe have character issues, but then this is the Bengals ... CB Brandon Ghee (R3) and DT Geno Atkins (R4) were solid picks.
The O-line gets a makeover, with C/G Maurkice Pouncey (R1, Florida), OT Chris Scott (R5, Tenn.) and promising un-draftees including LSU’s Ciron Black ... Limas Sweed isn’t happening, so they picked a couple of WRs ... R2 DE Jason Worilds had ‘Steeler’ written all over him ... Good value in R5 CB Crezdon Butler and R6 RB Jonathan Dwyer ... Traded for Byron Leftwich and tried to shop Ben Roethlisberger.
The Raiders had an unusually fine draft ... Traded away ILB Kirk Morrison, replaced with Alabama’s Rolando McClain ... OT need matched by Jared Veldheer (R3, Hillsdale) and steal Bruce Campbell (R4, Maryland) ... R2 DT Lamarr Houston also matches need ... Traded for QB Jason Campbell, who wasn’t the answer in Washington, but is an upgrade here ... Later selections were special teams look-sees.
San Diego Chargers
“We hit people in the mouth”. Coach Mike Singletary’s offense is ready to hit even harder, with Round 1 line studs Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati, hard-running Anthony Dixon (R6, Miss St.) and blocking TE Nate Byham (R6, Pitt) ... Defenders S Taylor Mays and LB Navorro Bowman were undervalued in R2/3 ... Nice call not replacing QB Alex Smith yet, though WVU’s Jarrett Brown is an interesting post-draft invitee.
A stellar start for Coach Carroll ... R1 picks S Earl Thomas and OT Russell Okung are sure things ... Line guru Alex Gibbs also gets ex-Broncos OG Ben Hamilton pre-draft and USC’s Jeff Byers post-draft ... Trades netted RBs Leon Washington and LenDale White ... R2 WR Golden Tate is a future starter ... EJ Wilson (N. Carolina), Dexter Davis (Arizona St.) are DE options.
Denver Broncos Grade B+ Josh McDaniels continues the roster overhaul ... Two new WRs: Demaryius Thomas (R1, Georgia Tech) and Erik Decker (R3 Minnesota), both 6’3” ... picked three 300lbers to bulk up their line ... QB Tim Tebow will be a locker room winner, but is he a starter? ... Broncos worked the phones well to gain picks, but also attracted a host of worthy undrafted free agents. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs are rebuilding defense from DT out, with dominating Gerald McCoy (Oklahoma, R1) and disrupter
Brian Price (UCLA, R2) ... LB Dekoda Watson will also help rush defense ... Also drafted LB Cody Grimm, son of Russ ... WRs Arrelious Benn (R2, Illinois) and Mike Williams (R4, Syracuse) may help or hinder QB Josh Freeman in 2010, but are talented ... Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead was a notable post-draft signee.
Is Cedric Griﬃn’s ACL injury worrying Vikes? They signed FA corner Lito Sheppard before the draft and Virginia’s 6’2” Chris Cook in R1 ... Bruising rusher Toby Gerhart arrrives to spell Adrian Peterson ... That selection involved a trade down they translated into USC DE Everson Griffen and Penn St. TE Mickey Shuler.
OKLAHOMA UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS DEPARTMENT
Carolina obsessed on QB, taking Jimmy Clausen (R2, Notre Dame), Tony Pike (R6, Cincy) and Armanti Edwards (R3, Appalachian St). Poor Matt Moore! ... if Edwards is a WR, he joins Brandon LaFell (LSU) and David Gettis (Baylor) in an offensive revolution ... D-line needs were matched only by DE Greg Hardy (Ole Miss), a boom/bust pick.
The 29th-ranked pass defense gains Florida CB Joe Haden and Oregon safety TJ Ward ... They forewent big-name QBs early, but plucked Colt McCoy in R3, whose skill set fits their West Coast offense ... RB Montario Hardesty could log good debut stats with Jamal Lewis gone ... Late picks S Larry Asante and WR Carlton Mitchell could also figure in 2010.
Nine defensive players include DEs Brandon Graham (R1, Michigan) and Dan Te’o-Nesheim (R3, Wash.), S Nate Allen (R2, South Florida) and CB Trevard Lindley (R4, Kentucky) ... 6’3” WR Riley Cooper was a canny R5 pick ... RB Charles Scott (R6, LSU) has a good chance to contribute ...13 selections, yet no O-line help?
Having lost Kyle Vanden Bosch, they added solid Georgia Tech DE Derrick Morgan ... R3 LB Rennie Curran is a tackling machine ... Late likeables: R6 safety Myron Rolle (FSU, Oxford), undervalued for being a Rhodes scholar; and undrafted RB LaGarrette Blount, replacing the traded LenDale White.
St. Louis Rams
I Grade B+
It’s a long way back from where the Rams are right now, but they began the journey by selecting not just franchise passer Sam Bradford of Oklahoma (above), but some tools to help him: OT Rodger Saffold of Indiana and highly productive WR Mardy Gilyard of Cincinnati ... They also made six selections on defense, including need-matching CB Jerome Murphy, and three DEs, though none is a sure thing, and George Selvie of South Florida (R7) may be an OLB ... As good a draft as you’d expect from ‘first overall’.
NEBRASKA ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT
I Grade B–
Frightening DT Ndamukong Suh (above) was added to a much improved D-line, and he should terrorize from the start ... The Lions traded back into Round 1 for explosive Cal back Jahvid Best ... DB Amari Spievey will help a defense placed 30th in ball-hawking ... A team with a lot of needs landed a small class of 6 players, investing a lot in hoping Best’s cutting ability brings back the Barry Sanders days.
New York Jets Grade B Offseason moves meant a brief draft, and they missed at safety ... However, Kyle Wilson (R1, Boise St) may be the top corner in the draft, USC’s agile Joe McKnight replaces RB Leon Washington, and FB John Conner (R5, Kentucky) could be the next Tony Richardson ... They invited several un-draftees of note.
Kansas City Chiefs Grade B– High marks for picks including stud safety Eric Berry, CB Javier Arenas, versatile Harvin-like (or just Harvinlite?) Dexter McCluster, and blockers OG Jon Asamoah and TE Tony Moeaki ... However, pass defense was KC’s only decent phase, and they passed on OT Russell Okung to take Berry – bad news for QB Matt Cassell.
Baltimore Ravens Grade B– No R1 pick, but R2 OLB Sergio Kindle should have gone earlier, and he and DT Terrence ‘Mount’ Cody really fit here (if ‘fit’ is the right term for Alabama’s 350lber) ... Did they need two mid-round receiving TEs (Ed Dickson, Oregon and Dennis Pitta, BYU)? ... Corner needs matched only by free agent signings.
Arizona Cardinals Grade B– Arizona’s LBs needed help, and sideline-to-sideline fast Daryl Washington (R2, TCU) and run-soaking DT Dan Williams (R1, Tenn.) do that ... QB John Skelton
(Fordham) and WR Andre Roberts (Citadel) have intriguing upside, but big-name departures (Warner, Dansby, Boldin, Rolle) have been answered with small-school picks that may have minimal impact.
Losing FA Dunta Robinson, they took R1 CB Kareem Jackson as a safe solution ... That left them behind the draft plot at RB, landing Auburn’s Ben Tate at pick 58 ... Aside from tiny return specialist Trindon Holliday, the rest of their draft was depth and rotation ... OT Adam Ulatoski was a nice post-draft signing.
New Orleans Saints
The champs needed defense, and while they drafted only CB Patrick Robinson (R1, FSU) and underpriced DT Al Woods (R4, LSU), a raft of nice undrafted free agents include LB Jason Beauchamp (UNLV) and S/LB Harry Coleman (LSU) ... Offensive picks including OT Charles Brown (R2, USC) look like contributors.
Top three picks all defensive: TCU DE Jerry Hughes, Iowa LB Pat Angerer, and USC CB Kevin Thomas (since injured), all of whom suit the Colts ... Three R7 selections revisited those positions ... post-draft additions included RBs Javarrin James (brother of Edgerrin) and return specialist Brandon James (no relation).
Chicago Bears Grade BOffseason trades meant the Bears started at pick 75 with Florida FS Major Wright ... With Northwestern DE Corey Wootton, Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour and J’Marcus Webb, a sizeable small-school tackle, the Bears worked a part-time draft for fill-in talent ... Combining 2009 picks Johnny Knox and Juaquin Iglesias and 2010 undrafted WR acquisition Freddie Barnes (Bowling Green), the Bears have an intriguing undercurrent of developing receiving talent.
The O-line got a big boost from OT Trent Williams (Oklahoma, pick 4), as well as R7 picks C Erik Cook and OT Selvish Capers. However, D-line needs were overlooked, LB Perry Riley (R4, LSU) the lone defensive pick. WIth Jason Campbell traded, Washington picked up Penn State QB Darryl Clark as a free agent.
New York Giants
DE Jason Pierre-Paul (South Florida) and NT Linval Joseph (East Carolina) are the next generation on the D-line. Both could be pretty raw, Pierre-Paul a oneyear wonder out of JuCo, and may lack the moves to trouble veteran OTs... Despite signing FA Antrel Rolle, they added LSU safety Chad Jones. He and MLB Phillip Dillard could see early action ... OG Mitch Petrus and P Matt Dodge were the only non-defensive picks.
The Fins countered their 22nd-ranked defense with 7 of 8 picks ... DL Jared Odrick (R1, Penn St.) and OLB Koa Misi (R2, Utah) arrive, with LB depth added by draft and trade ... Some selections seemed a shade out of position, Odrick a 3-technique DE/DT (they needed NT) and Reshad Jones an undervalued FS (they needed SS) .... None the less, this haul represents some hard-graft, day-long players.
Dallas’ War Room was high-fiving after trading up for free-falling WR Dez Bryant, but as versatile as LB Sean Lee (R2, Penn St.) may be, they greatly ignored need, taking RT Sam Young (R6, Notre Dame) after releasing all-pro LT Flozell Adams, and failing to land a safety.
Green Bay Packers
With Favre-era OTs Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton re-signed, Iowa’s Bryan Bulaga heralds a new age ... S Morgan Burnett was a nice pick 71, but needs at CB and OLB went unanswered while they drafted DL Mike Neal and TE Andrew Quarless, neither of which related to positional needs ... An uninspired crop.
OLB Sean Weatherspoon (R1, Missouri) is versatile but no elite pass rusher – this team was 26th in sacks ... Why DT Corey Peters (R3, Kentucky) – is there something wrong with 2009 pick Peria Jerry? ... On the plus side, OL depth was added in mid rounds and CB Dominique Franks (R5, Oklahoma) was a steal.
The usual spotty effort ... Seemed hamstrung by retooling for the 3-4 alignment, taking DT Torell Troup (R2, Central Florida) overvalue, DE Alex Carrington (R3, Arkansas St), plus two DE/LB converts in R6. That left needs at WR, OT and QB untouched until Day 3 ... RB CJ Spiller (R1) brings electrifying speed, however.
Needing S and OLB, the Jags were so desperate at DL they spent 4 of 6 picks there. They overpaid for Cal DE Tyson Alualu at pick 10 instead of trading down. More DEs in R5, plus DT D’Anthony Smith (R3, La Tech) meant a trade for productive ex-Raider LB Kirk Morrison was their only non-DL acquisition before R6. H
Soccer or Football? Americans love the “beautiful game” no matter the name, writes Andrew Malandrino
he world’s biggest football tournament begins in South Africa this month, June 2010. This quadrennial event often makes people wonder why many in the United States call the world’s most popular sport soccer, rather than football. In fact, soccer is the word used in several countries around the world including Canada, Australia, Japan and World Cup host South Africa:
Canada has the Canadian Soccer Association. Australia’s national team nickname is the Socceroos. South Africa’s top league is the Premier Soccer League. Japan has the Japan Soccer Association, as it’s known in Japanese, although it’s translated as Football Association in English.
Despite common perceptions, the word soccer is not American at all.The term comes from Great Britain, where “association football” was the common label starting in 1863. England, widely credited with inventing the game, formed its Football Association (FA) to govern the game and institutionalize rules. Association football distinguished itself from rugby football, another popular sport, through its use of dribbling with the feet. At the time, a game of rugby football was called “rugger.” To differentiate between the two, association football became known as “soccer,” an abbreviation of “as-soc-iation.” As large numbers of immigrants
from Great Britain arrived in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they brought the soccer nickname with them. The label was useful once American gridiron football gained popularity. Today, the U.S. Soccer Federation governs the game in the United States. This name, however, was changed from “U.S. Soccer Football Association” in 1974. That name itself was changed in 1945 from “U.S. Football Association,” which the organization was named at its birth in 1913. Confused? Who wouldn’t be. But no matter the name, Americans love the game - in fact, the U.S. organization was among the earliest to affiliate with the game’s international governing body, FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or International Federation of Association Football). And U.S. fans are already excited that the 2010 event in South Africa will be the sixth straight World Cup appearance for the U.S. Men’s National Team. The team will face England, Algeria and Slovenia in the first round, which begins June 12. You can read an article about the US growth of soccer online at www. america.gov/st/peopleplace-english/2008/July/200807101910230pnati vel0.6496851.html H Andrew Malandrino is a writer at the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. http://www.america.gov
Paw Talk, or My Life as a Dog in London by Rebel. Rebel’s continuing adventure in Tinseltown!
ollywood, Hollywood, here I am,” I sang to myself as Lady Max and I drove in a large limousine to the studio to start filming “Desperate Dog”. She was not in a good mood and there was a moment that morning, as we sat on the balcony of our four star hotel, she drinking coffee and eating croissants, me enjoying my organic free range chicken, when she peered over the balustrade to the gardens of our hotel thirty floors below and then at me, I felt somewhat nervous. Fortunately, the publicity man from the studio knocked at our hotel suite. I felt sorry for Lady Max. Here she was in the land of her dreams expecting to star in a film called “Desperate Dolls” and instead she was acting as my dog walker. As we arrived at the studio, I was taken to be bathed and groomed. There was a woman to wash me, a man to groom me, and a handsome six foot four guard to protect me. When my bodyguard looked at five foot two Lady Max and said, “I’m George, ma’mmm, and I’m here to help as I know how devoted you are to Rebel,” I thought she’d faint. “Oh, thank you, sir,” she replied in a phoney English accent
(she is a born and bred New Englander even though she’s lived in London for over half her life.) The first scene to be shot was of me on a hot, sandy beach where I landed after falling from my master’s yacht during a hurricane. The storm shot, Steven the director told Lady Max, would be filmed a few days later as they were waiting for the weather to turn nasty. I began to feel nervous. She-Who-MustBe-Obeyed-Usually loves to sail and I’ve been with her aboard sail boats. Believe me, a small boat in the middle of the North Sea as it is tossed around by wind and rain is not fun. I became even more nervous when she told Lady Max they couldn’t start shooting until Lotus and Fiona arrive. Lotus? Fiona? They were in the film as well? It couldn’t be them! Fiona’s mistress would never let her come alone to the States. And the movie is called “Desperate Dog” – nobody mentioned Persian cats starring in it. Hopefully, Steven added, Rebel will appear frightened when they appear. Lady Max smiles, her eyes gleaming like burning pieces of coal, sending cold
shivers down my spine. “That won’t be a problem,” she assures the director. “Although you may have to shoot the scene several times…” Suddenly, I heard a voice meow, “Hello, Rebel”. It was my nemesis Fiona, with her cousin Lotus “Isn’t it wonderful, we get to chase you without anyone stopping us.” I leapt from George’s arms and ran. A mistake! Seconds later Fiona and Lotus were after me. Cameras fell, lights exploded, people screamed as I was chased around the studio by two white Persian cats. Suddenly, I come to a door, but it won’t open... “Rebel, what’s wrong, pet? You’ve been having a nightmare, little one.” I opened my eyes. She-Who-Must-BeObeyed-Usually smiled down at me. “It must be that venison Lady Max gave you for dinner,” she said as she picked me up and cuddled me. Looking around, I saw I wasn’t in Hollywood, but in our flat on the Thames in London, with no sign of Fiona or Lotus. “Come on, a walk in Hyde Park will make you feel better,” she said. “You’ll like that.” Like it? I can’t think of anything I’d rather do. H
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