THE ESSENTIAL MONTHLY FOR ALL AMERICANS
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RESTAURANT REVIEWS SPORTS • POLITICS MUSIC • ARTS
Pearly Kings and Queens, the Sally B’s 65th birthday, and three major leagues in the UK
to the hit musical Fela!
Metro Bank founder interviewed
The American ®
Issue 690 – October 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: Mary Bailey, Social firstname.lastname@example.org Richard Gale, Sports Editor email@example.com Alison Holmes, Politics firstname.lastname@example.org Riki Evans Johnson, European email@example.com Jeremy Lanaway, Hockey firstname.lastname@example.org Estelle Lovatt, Arts email@example.com Dom Mills, Motorsports firstname.lastname@example.org Jarlath O’Connell, Theater email@example.com Virginia E. Schultz, Food & Drink firstname.lastname@example.org ©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: Lynda Murphy, Pearly Queen (image courtesy of Pearly Kings and Queens Association). Inset: Vernon W Hill, II of Metro Bank.
t’s time for the seasons to change as the clocks go back one hour this month – Spring forward, Fall back, as the old saying goes. This year in the UK this annual event takes place on October 31st. You can expect a lot of confusion, but after various differing rules a European Union directive has synchronised all its member States who now change the clocks on the last Sunday in October. The U.S. has Daylight Saving Time until the first Sunday in November, so remember you’ll be an extra hour different to the folks back home until November 7th. Before then there’s a whole lot to see and do in Britain, and we’ve tried to bring you the best. There’s so much that we’ve not had space to write about Halloween – a similar experience to the American version. It happens on October 31st too. So enjoy your month, and… Enjoy your magazine,
Michael Burland, Editor email@example.com
SOME OF THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS
Estelle Lovatt is an arts correspondent, author, radio producer and presenter and tutor on arts courses. A Brit, she is married to American journalist Charlie Woolf.
Chip Deffaa is a prolific author, jazz historian, playwright, songwriter and director who is a George M Cohan obsessive. He writes for us about his new play, now in London
Alison Holmes has recently moved from Yale University to North California, but still brings her acute political scalpel to bear upon transatlantic politics
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 690 • October 2010
News American airmen are cleaning up a British school, while the IRS wants you to clean up their systems – it’s all in The American’s news pages
Fela! Competition Win the chance to see one of London’s hot tickets. Fela!
Diary Dates The best of where to go and what to see in Britain, selected for you
12 Never In The Field Of Human Conﬂict The American visits Churchill’s underground wartime headquarters 13 Gavin Creel Competition The new musical theater star comes to Britain - win tickets to one of his concerts
14 A Day In The Life Of A New MP The British way of politics is very diﬀerent to the American – here’s an insider’s view 16 The Banker Who Plans To Shake Up Britain Vernon W. Hill, II, thinks that his new Metro Bank will succeed by being good to his customers – radical stuﬀ for the UK! 18 Arts Choice An eclectic choice, from a new sculpture for the UK’s oldest public gallery to a swimming pool full of cola
24 Wining and Dining A sparkling new restaurant set in a classic British setting, one in a Turkish bathhouse, another that gives a twist to Chinese food and a new Mexican eatery, plus one of America’s most controversial winemakers 30 Coﬀee Break Exercise your mind, your memory and your laughter muscles 32 Music Gordon Haskell, the guy from Harry’s Bar, became an overnight sensation after four decades, then disappeared to a Greek Island – just what happened? Plus the best upcoming gigs 36 Reviews Clybourne Park and The Railway Children. And George M Cohan comes to London!
42 Interview: Tom Hedley Tom Hedley, the man who invented the Flashdance phenomenon 44 Politics Do we get the government we deserve? Or even the one we vote for? 48 Drive Time Bamburgh Castle is one of the UK’s most beautiful views, says Chevrolet 49 Sports Jeremy Lanaway previews the NHL season, and the NFL headlines three October visits to the UK by major league US sports
56 American Organizations Useful and social groups for you to join 64 Tail End If it’s been one of those days, here’s something to help the stressed 3
Staff Sgt. Reggie Patterson, 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron, paints a window sill at Beck Row Primary School, near RAF Mildenhall US AIR FORCE/TECH. SGT. KEVIN WALLACE
Get Travel Insurance Claims In Quick
ave you had difficulty traveling or on a holiday? 2010 has been troubled by the Icelandic volcano ash cloud, hurricanes, strikes and any number of other problems. If you’ve suffered delays or losses, you should get in touch with your travel insurance provider as soon as possible, according to advice from consumer champion organization Which? Holiday. Many insurers place time limits on when people can submit claims – some policies require claims to be submitted within a month of returning home. In the case of the volcanic ash cloud, many travel insurers agreed to consider claims from people on a case-by-case basis, but often the amount of time people had in which to submit claims was not extended. Rochelle Turner, Head of Research for Which? Holiday, says: “Don’t put off submitting an insurance claim until you have unpacked your suitcase – do it straight away. Pick up the phone and speak to your insurer as soon as you can. Even if you haven’t got all the information needed to make a claim now, let them know that you plan to submit one in the next few days.” For more information on making a claim visit which.co.uk/volcano
The Icelandic ash cloud that ruined so many people’s travel plans this year DAVID KARNÅ
Mildenhall Airmen Clean Up At School
en Team Mildenhall volunteers weathered harsh (typical British summer?) downpours when they volunteered to clean up local Beck Row Primary School, August 26. Sweeping, cleaning and painting were the order of the day, but the participants stressed the intangible impacts too. Community relations between Anglo and American citizens in East Anglia have been exceptional for more than 75 years and activities like the cleanup will help them carry on into the future. “We have a very active friendship group here (similar to an American Parent-Teacher Association), and the group is primarily made up of American parents,” said Angie Hamilton, Beck Row’s acting head
teacher, explaining her amazement at such overwhelming American support for a school with 25 percent U.S. children. “It’s ironic, our American parents seem to organize almost all of our events, but mostly English parents actually attend the events,” she continued. “What we need to do now is get all families to mix together, and we have lots of events planned to help facilitate that challenge.” “I’ve been assigned or on temporary duty to quite a few foreign countries and know how important relationships are,” said Tech. Sgt. Richard Routh, 100th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, who volunteered for the cleanup. “I’m new here and honored to be out here helping out.”
Republicans Abroad October Events
epublicans Abroad’s European Regional Meeting will be held October 1, 2 and 3 in Berlin, Germany. Attending will be James Gilmore, former Governor of Virginia and former United States Ambassador to the EU C. Boyden Gray. In Britain, the group holds a Monthly Pub Night on the first Wednesday of every month. The next one will be on October 6. For more information about these events and more, email vicechairman@ republicansabroad-uk.org or go to www.republicansabroad-uk.org
31 OCTOBER 2010 WEMBLEY STADIUM 5PM BRONCOS VS 49ERS For Hospitality Packages please visit www.nfluk.com or call Club Wembley on 0844 980 0038 Quote ref: The American
Marymount International Welcomes New Head
arymount International School London has a new Headmistress, Sarah Gallagher. Ms Gallagher, who is married to an American and has two teenage daughters of dual citizenship, comes to the school with a background of teaching and educational administration in the UK, Italy and the United States. Of Irish origin, Ms Gallagher is a true “internationalist.” She spent over 10 years in the US, studying and teaching Classics at SUNY Buffalo and Purdue University. Ms Gallagher says that the role of the school is in furthering girls’ international education, and international seems to be the keyword. An independent girls’ day and boarding school, Marymount has American roots and is part of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary network of schools. It has a community of students and staff from around the world. The board, staff and parents of Marymount have already commented on Ms Gallagher’s “dynamic style of leadership, exuberance of passion, and commitment to educating the whole child”. In addition to being a strong academic foundation – with a number of IB Diploma results in the top 5% of the world every year – Marymount stresses that its girls leave high school passionate about learning and dedicated to making a difference in the world. This year’s University acceptance list includes Stanford and University of Pennsylvania as well as Oxford and Imperial College in the UK.
A Clearance Sale With A Diﬀerence
f you’ve just moved to Britain and you’re looking for some furniture to fill your new home, or you’re moving back home and want a souvenir to remind you of your time in Olde England, Sotheby’s may have just the thing. The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire are having an attic clearance sale. But it might be a little different from the yard sales you’re used to. The items on sale come from the many great houses that have featured in the
Devonshire family’s extraordinary history over 16 generations: Chatsworth, Chiswick House, Hardwick Hall, Lismore Castle, Compton Place and Bolton Abbey, not forgetting the palatial Devonshire House on Piccadilly, London, home to the legendary Georgiana, 5th Duchess of Devonshire. That’s not to say that the objects will be out of reach. Some have a sale estimate of just £20, though they range up to £200,000. They include architectural items, books, carriages and cars, ceramics and glass, collectables, furniture, furniture, sculpture, statuary, jewelry, old master, British and oriental artworks, silver and plate, rugs, textiles, tapestries and wine. The Duke says the family is not running short of ready cash: the expansive attics were stuffed to the brim and they simply need to make some space. Over 1,000 lots will be on view in marquees in the grounds of Chatsworth from October 1 and the sale runs from October 5 to 7.
The American AMERICAN EMBASSY IN THE UK
Embassy News Ambassador and Mrs. Susman Commemorate 9/11
n the morning of September 11, on the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York City, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon, Ambassador and Mrs. Susman placed a wreath at a memorial which honors British victims. Sixty-seven Britons were among the people who died in the attacks in 2001. The memorial is close to the U.S. Embassy in Grosvenor Square, London.
FVAP Now Answers Your Questions 24/7 The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) aims to help American living abroad – both military and civilian – to vote in elections back home. Now you can contact FVAP 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It has opened a call center that makes voting information accessible to voters living in other time zones and ensures that all issues are addressed. FVAP’s existing service has been augmented by teaming with the Navy’s Global Distance 24 hour Support Center to respond immediately to emails, calls, faxes and online chat from military members, their families and overseas voters worldwide. As always, FVAP subject matter experts are available during regular business hours to handle issues of greater complexity.
Voters can call 1-800-438-VOTE, email firstname.lastname@example.org or choose the online chat option at www.fvap. gov to access voting assistance and information. Toll-free numbers from 67 countries to reach the call center are available at www.fvap.gov/contact/ tollfreephone.html. From the UK, dial 08-0002-88056. From Ireland it’s 1-800-312340, and from France 0800917-304.
The IRS Wants To Hear From You The IRS is soliciting comments about an existing final regulation, concerning the availability of the gift and estate tax marital deduction when the donee spouse or the surviving spouse is not a United States citizen. The regulation provides guidance to individuals or fiduciaries: (1) For making a qualified domestic trust election on the estate tax return of a decedent whose surviving spouse is not a United States citizen in order that the estate may obtain the marital deduction, and (2) for filing the annual returns that such an election may require. Written comments should be sent to Gerald Shields, Internal Revenue Service, room 6129, 1111 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20224, by October 22, 2010. For additional information or copies of the regulations contact Joel Goldberger at +1 (202) 927–9368, or Joel.P.Goldberger@ irs.gov.
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
New Fee For Visa Waiver Program Travelers Since the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) was implemented, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has had discretion to charge a fee to cover the administering of the program. This fee was implemented on September 8, 2010. The fee of $4.00 covers the costs incurred by the DHS, Customs and Border Protection of providing and administering the ESTA system and is in addition to the mandatory $10.00 travel promotion fee established by the Travel Promotion Act of 2009. The total fee for a new or renewed ESTA will be $14.00. Further information is available from the CBP website esta.cbp.dhs.gov.
Air Force Legal Website US Armed Forces personnel (active, reserves, retirees and dependents) who need a will, power of attorney or have a legal question can now get advice at https://aflegalassistance.law. af.mil. Because it is a public site, you can access the site’s features from your home computer without a common access card. H
Your Guide To The Month Ahead
Get your event listed free in The American – call the editor on +44 (0)1747 830520, or email details to email@example.com USA College Day Kensington Town Hall, Hornton Street, London W8 7NX Hosted by the US–UK Fulbright Commission in partnership with Richmond, the American International University in London, USA College Day is Europe’s largest US university fair. Now in its 33rd year it offers the unique opportunity to meet with over 100 American universities in London. Attracting over 3,000 visitors each year, this event is not to be missed by anyone considering undergraduate study in the USA! www.fulbright.co.uk September 25
Orchestra’s UBS Soundscapes: Artist Portrait in 2010. She will perform three violin concertos; a recital of Beethoven and Schubert with fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout; her new musical project with the Matthew Barley Ensemble, The Peasant Girl; the gypsy–rooted Hungarian folk music of Bartok and Kodaly with pianist Julian Joseph; and special arrangements by Matthew Barley of music by influential American jazz band Weather Report. Mullova defected from the USSR to the U.S. and now lives in London. See the website for full event details. lso.co.uk September 30 to December 21
Viktoria Mullova with the LSO various, London Viktoria Mullova, one of today’s great violinists, is the London Symphony
Horse of the Year Show NEC, Birmingham B40 1NT The world’s most famous horse show, with Show Jumping, Showing, Dressage,
Civil War Plaque Unveiling Charleston House, Rumford Place, Liverpool A plaque commemorating the links between the American Civil War (War Between The States) and the great English seaport will be unveiled by a direct descendent of Commander James Dunwoody Bulloch (the Confederate States’ chief foreign agent in Great Britain during the war and an uncle of President Theodore Roosevelt) who will be flying from Australia for the event. Other dignitaries and re–enactors are expected. 11.30 am. firstname.lastname@example.org October 6
Liverpool Playhouse, Williamson Square, Liverpool, L1 1EL
Autumn Air Show: Celebrating Sally B’s 65th Birthday Imperial War Museum Duxford, Cambridgeshire CB22 4QR The Autumn Air Show celebrates the 65th birthday of the glorious B–17 Flying Fortress Sally B. The last remaining airworthy B–17 in the UK, she is a favourite with Duxford visitors. Alongside a superb modern and historic aircraft, this legendary bomber is a flying memorial to the 30,000 US airmen who lost their lives in Europe during the Second World War. www.iwm.org.uk/duxford 01223 835 000 October 10
Kim Cattrall joins a prominent ensemble cast, including former RSC actors, when she plays Cleopatra opposite Jeffery Kissoon as Antony this autumn. This Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse production will be directed by Janet Suzman who revisits Shakespeare’s epic tragedy of passion and power 37 years after her own career–defining performance as the Queen of Egypt. www.everymanplayhouse.com October 08 to November 13
World Conker Championships New Lodge Fields, Armston Road, Polebrook, Oundle PE8 5LL The game of conkers has been a popular pastime of British schoolchildren for decades. The rules are simple. Each player is given a conker attached to a piece of string and takes turns in trying to break their opponent’s nut using a swinging motion. 10.30am to 3pm www.worldconkerchampionships.com October 10
Kim Cattrall in Antony And Cleopatra
Entertainment and Displays. www.hoys.co.uk 01582 711 411 October 06 to October 10
Win Tickets Discover the extravagant, decadent and rebellious world of Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Featuring many of his most captivating songs and Bill T. Jones’ visionary staging, FELA! – an original new creation – comes via Broadway to the National Theatre.
From 6 November
‘There should be dancing in the streets. There has never been anything like this.’ – Ben Brantley, New York Times
‘An ecstatic phenomenon.’ – Time Out, New York
– Entertainment Weekly
The American has tickets for this fabulous show waiting for a lucky reader. Just answer this question for the chance to win a pair. In which country was Fela Anikulapo-Kuti born? ANSWER A Ghana B Nigeria C Niger HOW TO ENTER: Send your answer with your contact details: name, address, daytime telephone number and email address (optional) to reach us by mid-day, October 29, 2010. Email it to email@example.com with FELA COMPETITION in the subject line. Or send a postcard to: FELA COMPETITION, The American, Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK. Prize consists of one pair of tickets. No cash alternative. You must be 18 years old or over to enter this competition. Only one entry per person per draw. The editor’s decision is final.
Tickets are valid for Monday to Friday performances from 6 to 25 November, excluding Saturdays. Subject to availability. Promoter reserves the right to substitute prize for that of equal or greater value if necessary.
To book tickets to see FELA! call 0207 452 3000 or visit felalondon.com • Tickets from £10 • No booking fee
Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Competition Carrbridge, Inverness–shire. Scottish Highlands The annual World Porridge Making Championships is followed with interest by connoisseurs of Scotland’s national dish. The title is awarded to the competitor producing the best traditional porridge, made from oatmeal [pinhead, coarse, medium or fine]. The event includes a pipe band, cookery
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. OCTOBER 3rd: Bath Spa Band, 2pm. Bath’s favourite brass band plays a special selection of American music including Sousa marches and Benny Goodman arrangements. 28th and 31st Kids’ Halloween activities.
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
demonstrations and product tastings. www.goldenspurtle.com October 10 Harvest Festival of the Pearly Kings and Queens St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, London The Cockney Pearly Kings and Queens gather in London for a harvest thanksgiving festival, dressed in their traditional costumes of suits, dresses and hats. The elaborate outfits can have as many as 30,000 buttons sewn onto them and weigh as much as 70lb. The festival begins with a procession of the Pearly princesses who take fruit and vegetable produce to the church as thanks offerings. From 10am. www.pearlysociety.co.uk October 10 BFI London Film Festival British Film Institute, London and other locations The Times BFI London Film Festival showcases the best new films from around the world, discussions, masterclasses and other events. www.bfi.org.uk/lﬀ/ October 13 to October 28
Autumn City Lunches English-Speaking Union, 37 Charles Street, London W1J 5ED A Reflection on the Election: Following the success of the General Election themed Spring City Lunches, the Autumn City Lunches focus on how the events of the General Election and the resulting coalition government are affecting Great Britain five months later. The lunches are intimate, with a maximum of 40 guests, to enable Q&A sessions during coffee. October 13th Quentin Letts, the Daily Mail’s Parliamentary Sketch Writer; 27th Sophie Loussouarn, an expert on British politics and economics who lectures at the Sorbonne in Paris and has written a textbook on British institutions called Definitely British Absolutely American; November 3rd Michael Crick, a journalist, biographer, and broadcaster. www.esu.org 020 7529 1550 October 13 to November 03 Falmouth Oyster Festival Falmouth, Cornwall Oyster catching, cooking and celebrating with live music, sea shanties,
John Lennon Tribute Season various, Liverpool The Beatle would have been 70 this month and it’s 30 years since his untimely death. His home town is hosting a diverse selection of cultural events with of six live music shows, four art exhibitions (including Astrid Kirchherr – A Retrospective, on the first professional photographer to photograph The Beatles), a unique international poetry competition, two lecture series and three tours of the city. At the Beatles Story attraction, Lennon’s son Julian will unveil a John Lennon Peace Monument, an 18 foot high artwork celebrating Lennon’s life and the messages of peace he stood
for, gifted by USA organisation Global Peace Initiative (Oct 9). Music stars of all eras will unite in a charity concert at the Echo Arena to perform versions of Lennon’s most famous songs (Dec 9). www.VisitLiverpool.com October 09 to December 09
an oyster shucking competition, a Falmouth Working Boat race, children’s shell painting, and Cornish crafts. www.falmouthoysterfestival.co.uk October 14 to October 17 Ely Apple Festival The Parish Green, Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire A celebration of the great English apple with a variety of apple related food, drink and wares on sale. The event also features a wide range of apple games, competitions and activities. 10am to 4pm visitely.eastcambs.gov.uk/ October 16 The Back Pain Show Olympia, London W14 8UX The live event for the millions of all ages affected by back pain in the UK, as well as the healthcare professionals that treat them. Now in its fifth year, the show will be packed full of thousands of products, therapies, treatments and free seminars, designed to assist visitors to find solutions to their back pain. www.backpainshow.co.uk October 22 to October 23 Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD The world’s most prestigious showcase of wildlife photography is back with the latest winning entries from its annual international competition. This year’s exhibition also includes the results of an exciting new award, Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year, which celebrates six pictures that tell a memorable story. www.nhm.ac.uk/wildphoto 020 7942 5000 October 22 to March 11, 2011 Inside Out Festival various, London This arts festival with a distinct twist offers talks, debates, exhibitions and
performances. It celebrates the exciting and often unexpected contribution made by London universities to the cultural life of the capital. This year festival-goers will be able to hear from some of the most inspiring and experimental thinkers, writers and artists of the day and get creative themselves. www.insideoutfestival.org.uk October 25 to October 31 After Hours Natural History Museum Enjoy a visit to the Natural History Museum after hours. It’s London’s most unique Friday night out. Relax to the sounds of jazz, Latin and world music at our champagne and cocktail bar serving tapas-style food in the stunning Central Hall. To 10.30pm. Entry is free, although you need to buy tickets to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year. www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/ special-events/after-hours/index.html 020 7942 5000 October 29
Eden Marathon Eden Project, Bodelva, St. Austell, Cornwall, PL24 2SG Following a successful debut last year, the Eden Project Marathon returns with a full 26 mile marathon, a half marathon and a one-mile fun run. The challenging big races start in front of the iconic Biomes before touring the landscape of the clay country and returning to finish at Eden. They are designed to give runners a taste of the evolving landscape. The fun run takes a route through the Rainforest and Mediterranean Biomes, giving runners the opportunity to see the world in a mile. In true Cornish style, runners can enjoy a pint of Sharp’s ale and a pasty when they cross the finish line, and there’s a pasta party the night before, where participants can stock up on carbohydrates in the dramatically lit Biomes. www.edenproject.com October 10
Kate Cledwyn: Mirrored City 3 Bedfordbury Gallery, Covent Garden, London WC2N 4BP
Kate Cledwyn, Towering 102 x 76.5cm
Kate Cledwyn’s recent work celebrates London’s architecture and the people that live in the City. The limited edition colour and black and white photographic works are printed on various media to heighten the architect’s original design. Aluminium and acrylic emphasise the buildings’ strength and beauty and others are printed on canvas to indulge the surprising textural qualities. The ‘Conflict’ of town and country is the subject of the pictured work, where the tubular City building and the lush greenery of the trees lining the street vie for attention in the glass walls of a building opposite. Kate’s work will also be in a group show at The Lennox Gallery, 77 Moore Park Road, London SW6 from November 1. www.katecledwyn.com October 12 to October 17
Never in the Field of Human Conﬂict...
Mary Bailey visits Churchill’s War Rooms on the Seventieth Anniversary of the Battle of Britain
eventy years ago, from the fields of southern England, groups of very young men got into their flying machines and went up to fight the enemy invading Britain’s skies. The idea of the Nazi regime was to destroy Britain’s airfields and mutilate its air force, thus making the invasion and conquest of this land easier. The German forces were greater, half Europe was under their hoof. Britain was alone except for the support of its people and territories overseas, and in those days they were a very long way away. But the Royal Air Force’s fighter pilots, although exhausted, never gave up. One day they waited and the day’s attack never came; the Germans changed tack, deciding to fight on the Eastern Front against the USSR while attacking Britain’s cities instead. They never invaded. The Battle of Britain had been won by Churchill’s ‘few’.
Winston S Churchill was the UK’s Prime Minister and war leader dutring World War II. Churchill’s War Rooms, his ‘bunker’, are open to the public (cwr.iwm.org.uk). They are well worth a visit. It seems now incredible that a war was conducted with such primitive equipment and probably pretty odd ventilation. The anniversary of the Battle of Britain this year was held on August 20 at the War Rooms. Guests took tea in one of the War Rooms off King Charles Street in Central London, with several members of the Churchill family and Vera Lynn, the English wartime singer known as ‘The Forces’ Sweetheart’, who looked marvellous at the age of 93. The Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Westminster thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We then went back above ground to Horse Guards Road for speeches (and champagne). Actor Robert
Hardy, who has famously played Winston, read extracts from Churchill’s speech and at 4pm there was a memorial fly past. A Hurricane and a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight roared overhead. A full-size model Spitfire on the ground seemed so small that a pilot might have almost ‘worn it’. There are not many of the ‘few’ alive today but there were some there, looking older but fit. One wondered about their thoughts. In one magic moment, a younger man went up to one of them and said, “You were one of them.. thank you.” The reply came, “Not at all, not at all’”. During the Second World War people all over Britain gathered round their ‘radiograms to hear’ Churchill’s speeches. On mainland Europe they crouched in cellars and attics to hear his forbidden voice giving hope to the conquered. He was the right man at the right time in the right place. So many of many nations, including the U.K. and U.S.A., died in that dreadful war, but it was just, and we did win after the pilots of the Battle of Britain turned back the Nazi tide. Now we can remember Churchill’s words about them: “Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.” H Left: Wartime singing star Vera Lynn with some of the famous ‘few’, the fighter pilots who won the Battle of Britain
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Old Country Military & History Tours Inc. ‘Operation Overlord & D Day’ 2- 6 July & 8 –12 October 2010 ‘An introduction to the Western Front – World War 1’ 25 – 30 September 2010
10% discount for the readers of The American For a brochure on all our tours please contact the address below or visit our web site to download the 2010 brochure.
PO Box 98, Shaftesbury, Dorset SP7 9WA Tel 01747 828719 email email@example.com www.oldcountrytours.com
Live in Brighton, London and Manchester “A born showman. Creel’s ultra-hip stage presence and sleek sexiness barely contain the kind of star quality that other singers can only dream of possessing. His ‘watchability’ factor is stratospheric!” – Show Business Weekly Gavin Creel is a Singer-Songwriter, a twice-Tony Nominated Actor and a Teacher, who’s starred in Hair and Mary Poppins. Now here’s your chance to see one of Broadway and The West End’s top performers singing live as he performs songs including some from his album, GoodTimeNation and recent EP Quiet. Answer this question for the chance to win a pair of tickets to Gavin’s concerts on October 19th at Brighton Komedia; 20th London Jazz Café or 21st Manchester Def Institute: Which character did Gavin Creel play in HAIR? ANSWER A Berger B Woof C Claude HOW TO ENTER: Send your answer with your contact details: name, address, daytime telephone number and email address (optional) to reach us by mid-day October 13, 2010. Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with CREEL COMPETITION in the subject line. Or send a postcard to: CREEL COMPETITION, The American, Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK. Prize consists of 1 pair tickets to one of the Gavin Creel shows. No cash alternative. 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.
A Day in the Life of a New MP Heather Wheeler MP tells Mary Bailey what it’s like to become a Member of Parliament for the first time
eather became an MP on held on Thursday May 6 this year, at her third attempt. She had tried to win a seat in the Coventry area twice, increasing the vote of her Party but never gaining enough votes to win. This time she made it, in her own county, with a margin of 7,128 votes over her nearest rival, and she became Conservative Member of Parliament for the Constituency of South Derbyshire. Heather’s result came in at 2.20am on the Friday following the vote (they can count all night at the Town Hall) but she did not have much time to celebrate as she was due to report at the Palace of Westminster at 10.30am on the following Monday. The new MP, happily married with a grown up daughter, travelled to London the night before in a slightly dazed condition None of the 100 plus new MPs had an office for the first three weeks – people who had not been re-elected had to vacate their rooms first – but newcomers were provided with desktop facilities, a laptop and an email address. Then they had to find their way around a building full of winding corridors, strange little annexes and committee rooms. Heather admits it is very difficult
to appear competent and authoritative when you are trying to find the loo or somewhere to grab a cup of coffee, however the staff, particularly the Ushers, are courteous and helpful, acting as unofficial guides. There is overall an atmosphere of great politeness about the Palace of Westminster, but it’s quite rigid about time. If, for example, you are to speak at a committee meeting at 2pm, if you arrive three minutes late you have had it! The early formalities included an oath of allegiance to the Queen, a maiden speech and finding out how to actually ‘take your seat’. Heather described it thus: “Except for the Government, who take the front bench along with the Father of the House [the MP with the longest unbroken service] and the leading Opposition members who take seats opposite (a sword length’s distance away) it is a free for all. MPs may go in at 8am and book a seat by putting their name in the little slot by a chair. The MP must, however, be present at Prayers, usually at 10.30am, before business begins. The seat is then theirs for the day. The most frightening item for the newcomers is the maiden (first) speech. By tradition it cannot be
interrupted, which makes it in a way more frightening and poor Heather had to sit six hours in the chamber before being called by the Speaker of the House. Her area is half rural but also includes commercial areas and large enterprises such as Toyota cars. Heather is canvassing for an infants’ free school and a much needed new secondary school. She also mentioned in her speech her gratitude to helpers and so on The next speaker will usually say nice things about the newcomer’s efforts, whatever they think, and this was easy in Heather’s case. This is part of the quirky courtesy of the House. Help is given with overnight accommodation where needed and Heather now has a small flat nearby. She may take a taxi but often walks to it at the end of the day with other Members who have ‘digs’ in the same direction. Bags of mail are delivered to individual MPs four times a day
and Heather gets about 100 emails a day An MP is not a delegate but a representative so everyone in the constituency is entitled to their attention. I asked Heather about clothes. The women often choose lightweight suits (pockets for keys and tickets etc) in light or bright colours to contrast with the men. Heather has done some shopping! Usually she arrives home in Derbyshire late on a Thursday night to a welcoming husband (who is Leader of the Council there) and masses to do. Friday and Saturday there is work in the constituency An hour or two at her surgery where anyone can come and talk to her, then local events, often with a meal,
arranged by activists to keep in touch with members and raise money for Party funds. These used to be called ‘the rubber chicken runs’ but now amateur cooks are really good. Then, of course there are local schools, hospitals and factories to visit. The MP’s interests in the constituency are often looked after by a paid, trained Agent and it is in his or her office that masses of work is done, the MP’s local diary kept and any local excitements reported on and opinions canvassed. Heather can vote as she likes but it is usual to follow the Party line. The Party Whips are there to remind them to do this! Heather will have to have secretarial help, which is allowed for but which she arranges herself.
The House of Commons is now back from summer recess, when Members work in their constituencies, attend conferences and so on and perhaps have a holiday. Heather has lived in Derbyshire for 21 years and has not much to learn about the area she represents and is obviously fond of. I asked her, after her short experience did she yet know whether she would like to go further in politics. She gave a true politician’s answer: “If the opportunity arose it would be a privilege, but just to have arrived here as I am is wonderful”. She has indeed arrived. Maybe putting the world right starts with finding your way to a cup of coffee. At any rate, South Derbyshire is in good hands. H
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Profile: Vernon Hill The American likes to meet Americans who are doing interesting things this side of the pond, and they don’t come much more interesting than the project Vernon W. Hill II has embarked on
our may know Hill from Commerce Bancorp, the successful New Jerseybased operation he sold to TorontoDominion Bank in 2007. Now, in the guise of Metro Bank, he is taking on the might of the British High Street banks with the first new high street bank here for a hundred years. When I met Hill at Metro’s London headquarters above their ‘store’ (not branch!) I steered the conversation toward him, his background, what makes him tick. He, a consummate interviewee, steered it back to business time and again. I soon realized that Hill is his bank, and his business is him. One of the things that differentiates Hill from British bankers is that he doesn’t use the word. He prefers
entrepreneur to banker. “Change in business comes from people outside the business,” he explained, “When I started Commerce, we thought about it in a different, reverse kind of way. They called us the non-bank bank, and there was a lot of truth in that.” Even while running Commerce, Hill ran other businesses in areas outside finance too, from Burger King franchises to becoming Chairman of insurance firm Petplan in the States. Metro Bank, although tiny at the moment, is attracting a lot of media interest, not least because it has a different way of behaving and treating its customers than anything else in Britain. Was Commerce seen in the same way when it started in the US?, I asked. “I’ve done four new banks in America. I believe the value of a bank is in its core deposit base, and that customers come to you for the service experience, not just the best rate. The branch is the focus of the relationship – we have online and telephone too, but the branch is the cornerstone. I started Commerce in ’73 with $1.5 million when I was 26. I was learning how to do it, while doing other things at the same time. We grew fairly slowly from one branch, with nine people. In 1990 our assets were about $2billion, then we grew very rapidly. By 2000, our assets were around $8bn, and from 10 offices we went to about 150 but we were A very American welcome to the new British bank
still a suburban bank. Then we went to Manhattan in 2001. We were opening the day of September 11th - I was flying over the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center was on fire. We eventually opened a week or two later and we grew dramatically in the Metro New York market. We went from $8bn to $50bn assets and from 150 to 450 offices with 15,000 employees, all based on the same model of service. American large banks are similar to British large banks – not as bad, but in the same vein. Remember that there are about 8,000 banks in America, Britain basically has only four. The US has regional and community banks, serving defined communities, and that’s all been lost in Britain. Some say we took the community bank model – you’re part of the community, the customers know you and you know them - and learned to grow it to a big scale. We grew about 24 to 25% a year forever.” I wondered how Hill viewed the British banking customer. Were they dissatisfied with their banks here? “Oh yeah, the dissatisfaction numbers of British banks are mind boggling. You see it most clearly when Americans move to Britain and try to open an account. They tell me stories of it taking months. Metro can open an account, for a Brit or an American, in a few minutes and they walk out with their credit or debit card and their cheques. We have much better IT systems – even the smallest American bank in Mississippi has better IT than the biggest British
bank and we’re tied in to the American databases. You can’t deliver service unless you believe in service, you build your business for service, and have the IT to support it. With our systems we can do the anti-money laundering and credit checks while you’re opening the account, that’s why it takes fifteen minutes or less.” One thing I hear a lot is that US expatriates are finding that local banks don’t want their business because of increasingly onerous demands from the IRS. “That may be mostly for the high net worth, private wealth management area,” Hill said. “They’re trying to get to money laundering. But we can help any American who walks into our stores.” Metro’s playbook trashes British banks’ procedures as far as customer ease-of-use is concerned. Their promotional material trumpets “Open 7 days, early & late” and they’re open every day of the year bar Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. One of Hill’s favorite claims is that they’re about to “eliminate every stupid rule in the banking business… and there are a zillion of ’em!”. “This is not very hard. It’s Retail 1.0.1. applied to banking. When people ask which companies I’d compare Metro Bank to I say Apple – they redefined the computer and cellphone businesses, and their customers are fans. You never met an Apple user who didn’t try to convince you to switch to Apple. That’s what happened to us in America. You can’t grow at the rates we did without your customers joining, not leaving, and bringing in their friends.” This enhanced user experience includes free doggie biscuits and water for customers’ dogs (approved, no doubt, by the Hills’ Yorkshire terrier Duffy, who was present and correct at our meeting), lollies for kids (and adults), free coin conversion machines,
Vernon and Shirley Hill, with Sir Duffield, aka Duffy
the use of a toilet for customers and more importantly no physical barriers between customers and staff. Has the British public been reluctant to embrace this new name appearing alongside the big four names? Not at all, said Hill. “We’ve opened more new accounts in the first month than we expected in the first year,” he explained proudly. “It’s now not a question of, will they switch?, it’s how fast they switch. And we’re looking at the SME (small and medium sized business) segment, which is even more under-served here than the consumer segment. We expect 50% of our business to be from SMEs, as it was in America. And what’s different with us is that you get a banker who knows you, not a computer or a call center. He can handle your £1m commercial loan, your residential mortgage, you kid’s car loan – an old fashioned banker. We’re aiming for 200 locations with 8,000 to 10,000 people by year 10.” Why the UK? Why not another start-up in the States? The answer is, he said, that the differential between their community based approach and the potential competition is wider
in Britain than anyplace in America. “Metro is an entrepreneurial investment in Britain,” he stressed. “I could have invested anywhere in the world. I like Britain because in many ways it’s similar to America. There’s the language, and the American banking system was designed after the British system.” A major catalyst in the choice was Brit banker Anthony Thomson. Thomson, who has worked in UK financial services for 27 years and is now Metro’s Chairman, badgered Hill for ten years with the idea of exporting his service-led banking model to the UK. Aiming the conversation back to the personal, I asked how long Hill is spending in Britain – about a week a month – and what, apart from driving Metro Bank forward he enjoys doing here. “I play a little golf… but mostly I just work,” he laughs. “My wife is here with me,” he added, “she does our architecture, design and branding. Britain is a free, open society and we like it here.” And is there anything he doesn’t like – apart from the banking system? “It is true,” he laughed again, “I like eating in places that serve American steaks!” H
Arts Choice By Estelle Lovatt and Michael Burland
Artist-in-residence, Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Road, London, W14 8LZ, 020 7602 3316 October 4 to December 2 Accomplished figurative painter and portraitist Aris Raissis has his artworks in many collections throughout the world, including America. Working on a series of portrait commissions, he likes “to work with different mediums ranging from oil paint, gouache, paste, pencil and charcoal.” You can watch this master at work by going to the former studio-house of the great Victorian English artist, Frederic, Lord Leighton, for it is here that Raissis takes up his post of artist-in-residence. “Recently I engaged myself in working in a similar manner to Lord Leighton. I was born and lived in Egypt, and, influenced by the locals, painted weather beaten faces with richly coloured kaftans and turbans of different shapes and size. Clothing from the Middle East is somewhat liberating and expressive.” It is within the centre of this beautiful historic house (just reopened after a £1.6m refurbishment and restoration plan), in the grand ‘Arab Hall’, that you will find Aris at his easel. The ‘Arab Hall’, provides much insight, understanding and appreciation of nineteenth century ‘Orientalism’. It is this, the ‘Orientalist’, that challenges Raissis as he explores the psychology of what it means to represent eastern
subject matter; all the time conscious of his own Egyptian heritage (Aris was born in Cairo in 1962 and is of Greek origin). Simply, an Aris canvas equals quality. You know you are going to get something quite magnificent. He tackles his canvas with much skill and know-how, as, “Painting is a procedure; a discipline. Aiming to capture a simple moment in time, creating an image that will glow. The dramatic effect of chiaroscuro holding the viewer’s interest.” Aris will be delivering a series of talks on the techniques of the Old Masters, through to the Victorian era. “I want to share my findings with others. Having always admired Caravaggio and Rembrandt for their dramatic interpretation of the play of light on the human figure, I’m interested, fascinated, by expression and the structure of the human figure. Focusing on the Old Masters and their ability to portray the human form with so many different styles and techniques, helped me realise that the ability to ‘see’ is the most important aspect when about to create; to reason and sort out a given form in space, to ‘see’ runs in conjunction with the ability to ‘feel’.” Similar to their use of cloth as a device, he too enjoys painting long
Aris Raissis, The Lemon Seller, Oil, 20 x 16in. COURTESY W.H. PATTERSON
flowing creases of moving garments that, he observes, “helps compliment the simplistic portrayal of the figure [whether painting a bearded Middle Eastern man or a local peasant girl]. As well as in setups where groups of figures interact.” A master competent in his craft, this is a technically brilliant artist. Taking students under his tutelage, on a one-to-one basis, as a private tutor he is one of the best around for teaching the techniques of the Old Masters. “Art in my opinion is a science. I believe that there are methods that must be followed in order to create. Building one’s technical knowledge helps the artist learn to gain confidence. Paint application is variable and the student must find his routine, so he learns to tackle the image with confidence. This is what I help him do.” Raissis’s work is displayed at W.H. Patterson Gallery (London), 19 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4BB. He is available for portrait commissions; call the Gallery, 020 7629 4119, or Aris Raissis himself, 07956 312 708. For one-to-one tutelage, contact the artist directly. - EL
Malcolm Crowthers: Portraits 1980-2010 Seven Dials Club, 42 Earlham Street, Covent Garden September 24 to October 31
Malcolm Crowthers’ portraits are acerbic, whimsical and penetrating. He often picks up on the sitter’s personality in unexpected ways. A former archbishop who had featured at the centre of a gay rights storm is portrayed with a teacup, given to him to relax him – the black and white image only enhanced with a pink tint to the teacup at a later stage, while Abba’s songwriters are pictured on a giant chess board. Some of these portraits taken over the past 30 years were private commissions and have never before been seen in public. - MB
Malcolm Crowthers’ Fayard Nicholas – the man who taught Fred Astaire to dance
Sold Out: American Pop Art from the 1970s to the 1980s Olyvia Fine Art, 17 Ryder Street, St. James’s London SW1Y 6PY to November 20
This comprehensive collection of paintings, silk-screens and wall sculptures highlights how Pop Art evolved after its birth in the swinging sixties with works by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Tom Wesselmann, Keith Haring and Frank Stella. - MB
JT Burke, Big Opening Number, mixed media, photograph
© JT BURKE
JT Burke Beautiful Again
The Grant Bradley Gallery, Number 1 St Peter’s Court, Bedminster Parade, Bristol BS3 4AQ to October 4 Californian-born American artist JT Burke takes costume jewellery and creates magic. He told me, how, back home in the US, he will “scour swap meets, flea markets and yard sales, for unwanted costume jewellery.” A tinkerer by nature, Burke takes the jewellery, and photographs it in high detail to give these cast-off jewels a new lease of life. He says, “Using old costume jewellery as building blocks, I create visions of a remanufactured utopia. I find these discarded pieces, and conjure them into new images of life in ebullient and glorified forms. They dance and soar in front of me in harmonic expressions of trinket afterlife joy. A big, blingy bijou Shangri-La. The Myth of Paradise realized. My goal in creating Beautiful Again was to re-examine the concept of Paradise. I use costume jewellery as the building blocks of my images specifically to allude to
its man-made nature. Even though made up of inanimate objects, they do mimic life. Paradise gives us hope for something meaningful beyond this mortal life. It’s a beautiful myth. So beautiful (as in Beautiful Ball of Life), that even knowing it’s a myth only slightly diminishes its value. I perpetuate the myth. There is no paradise, it’s a manmade creation – manmade beauty.” Beginning as a commercial photographer, cinematographer and graphic designer, has given Jeff his skill and mastery of using the camera as an art form. He say, “ Although I no longer consider myself a photographer, I use photography as a tool. The work I do is much more akin to painting, and I am working to develop a painter’s discipline.” Inspired by great artists from Picasso to Dali, Jeff Koons and even “Dr. Suess!” - EL
Sam and Friends: Kermit the Frog goes home
Permanent exhibition National Mall, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. Kate Cledwyn, Conflict 52 x 76 cm
he Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Washington, has accepted 10 characters from Sam and Friends (launched on local D.C. station WRC-TV, 1955). The show evolved into The Muppets (1976 to 1981) which reached 235 million viewers in over 100 countries. The show featured Kermit the Frog, who was, at first, more lizard-like, made with ping pong ball eyes and green felt from a coat once worn by Jim Henson’s mother. Brent D. Glass, director of the museum, said, “Jim Henson embodied the innovation and ingenuity that is inherent in American culture. Beyond the entertainment value Henson’s creations provided, his work helped educate and inform his audiences, an influence that continues today.” The display opens this Autumn and includes Pierre the French Rat, Henson’s oldest ongoing puppet, first drawn in 1954 as part of a comic strip for his high school yearbook. You can also see Yorick, a purple papier-mâché skull who was the forerunner to Cookie Monster,
Mushmellon, who bears a resemblance to Oscar the Grouch, plus Sam, the main character who didn’t talk but lip-synced to music and comedy records of the time. Henson saw huge possibilities for puppets on TV and invented the word Muppet in the mid-1950s. A mix of puppet and marionette, Henson said he picked it only because he thought it sounded nice. The series won three Emmys and was turned into feature-films like The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper and The Muppets Take Manhattan. Jane Henson, Henson’s wife, said, proudly, “It is wonderful that Sam and Friends should find themselves back here in Washington, D.C., where they first appeared. And now they get to greet old friends and meet new ones at the newly renovated and exciting National Museum of American History.” For further information about Jim Henson’s life and work, visit www. jimhensonlegacy.org - EL COURTESY NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY
3 Bedfordbury Gallery, Covent Garden WC2N 4BP October 12 to 17 This solo exhibition by art photographer Kate Cledwyn is inspired by the constantly evolving architecture of the City of London. The limited edition photographic works are printed on various media – aluminum, acrylic, canvas - to enhance the architect’s original designs and ideas. The repetitions and reflections evoke other, natural images, insects or tribal masks, while showing the minutiae of London life. Kate’s work will also be in a group show at The Lennox Gallery, 77 Moore Park Road, London SW6 from 1st November, 2010. - MB
British Art Show
various: Nottingham, London, Glasgow, Plymouth www.southbankcentre.co.uk October 23, 2010 to December 4, 2011 The five-yearly British Art Show, widely recognised as the most ambitious and influential exhibition of contemporary British art, is organised by Hayward Touring Exhibitions. It tours to four different cities across the UK. The 39 selected artists have been chosen on the grounds of their significant recent contribution to contemporary art. October 23rd to January 9th, 2011 Nottingham, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham Castle Museum, New Art Exchange. February 16th to April 17th London, Hayward Gallery. May 28th to August 21st Glasgow, Centre
for Contemporary Art, Gallery of Modern Art, Tramway. September 17th to December 4th Plymouth, Peninsula Arts, Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, Royal William Yard. - MB
The Gulf War 1990–1991: Photographs by John Keane
Imperial War Museum North, WaterWay, The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, Trafford Park, Manchester M17 1TZ 18 to February 27, 2011 “It’s only really after the event that things began to sink in. Because at the time when I was there I was too busy dealing with the immediacy of what was happening in front of me,’ says John Keane. Marking twenty years since the first Gulf War 1990– 1991, this small, powerful group of photographs is an eye-witness record of the build up and aftermath of the conflict. They include images of burning oil wells, the destruction on the Basra Road, an abandoned shopping trolley containing Iraqi RPG 7 rocket warheads, and the devastation at Kuwait airport. They were also an inspiration for Keane’s paintings of the Gulf War, commissioned by the Imperial War Museum. - MB
John Keane: The burnt out remains of the British Airways B747 which landed at Kuwait International Airport during the invasion and whose passengers and crew were taken hostage by the Iraqis.
Rolf Harris: A Life in Art
UK tour, see www.rolfharris.com for details
elebrating 65 years behind the easel, Rolf Harris unveils new artworks on a nationwide tour of his paintings, drawings and lithographs. Rolf told me “I’m having the time of my life! This exhibition is absolutely thrilling; to see all the paintings framed and hung around the walls is magical. It’s just amazing. Just thrilling.” He tells me the story behind some of my favourites on display. ‘Fishing Felucca – Hot Day – Egypt’ depicts a “bunch of guys who have been fishing, wishing they were back on land!” , a blue-green composition of water, turning to the implication of a burning heat of brilliant red-orange sunlight unseen high above, and reflected down on to a girl’s red sunhat; the tonal contrasts between sunlight and shadow work like a dream. And the land-scape ‘Machu Pichu’ is all about “getting the perspective right.” He feels absolutely fantastic to see his paintings up on the wall. “It’s a delight!”. Rolf’s unique status was highlighted in 2005, when the BBC commissioned his portrait of The Queen, for her 80th birthday. The event was made into a television documentary. “What an honour” he recalls. “We were chatting like two old friends. I think she liked it. Being asked to paint The Queen was thrilling. Portraying her as a real person. It’s been
Rolf Harris, Fishing Felluca © ROLF HARRIS
criticised because of the shape but it’s nice, I feel it works.” Rolf has been awarded the CBE and has won many accolades both for his artwork and for his contribution to the entertainment industry, Glastonbury stages included! Indeed in 1992 he was named the world’s most famous artist. Even now, this octogenarian does not stop. He has spent the last few months working on a major coffeetable art book, also entitled A Life in Art, published by DeMontfort Fine Art. It catalogues his celebrated career as an artist. Publisher Jonathan Kearns commented, “In a world where the cult of celebrity so often means ten minutes of fame, this book is a fascinating reminder that Rolf has been a household name for fifty years. It represents both a showcase for artistic excellence, and a tribute to the man who has done so much to bring art into the mainstream in this country, reinforcing the impact that Rolf has had on modern culture as an educator, an entertainer, and of course as a major artist in his own right.” In spite of having marked his 80th birthday, Rolf is still “up every day at six, always working out how to paint things, and it’s straight to the studio, painting, painting, painting!” There is a big demand for Rolf Harris’ work. Champion of the canvas, his collections always sell out every time. - EL
Walking the Dog
Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London, SE21 7AD to January 1, 2050 South London’s cultural oasis celebrates its 200th anniversary next year. To celebrate early, it is showing off its first ever acquisition of a piece of contemporary sculpture. Walking the Dog is by leading British sculptor Peter Randall-Page. He spent time at the Gallery, drawing and taking photographs, getting to know the building and the surrounding landscape. The Gallery’s three founders, Mr and Mrs Nöel Desenfans and Sir Francis Bourgeois, are echoed in the three boulders. Randall-Page was particularly inspired by the ‘running dog’ pattern that the designer Sir John Soane used as a decorative feature on the outside of the Gallery, which he carved into the curved surfaces of the boulders. - MB Peter Randall-Page, Walking the Dog COURTESY DULWICH PICTURE GALLERY
Arts News by Estelle Lovatt Dots For Jesus
Purportedly, only a third of Americans believe President Barack Obama is a Christian. Now, in Los Angeles, a Jewish artist has issued an open invitation to the White House, for Obama to get his ‘dot’, and share how Jesus has made an optimistic difference and constructive input in to his life, giving the President an opportunity to explain his belief in Jesus Christ; the chance to offer testimony of his faith in Jesus, proving something about himself at the same time. ‘The People’s Portrait of Christ’, is an interactive work of art made from one million dots. One dot equals one person, all coming together to form the image of Christ. Artist David Ilan (born in Israel; raised in Los Angeles), is making what many identify with, as “the ultimate portrait of Christ.” Since Ilan is Jewish, he says he’s in an objective enough position to conduct the Christian/Muslim debate over Obama’s faith. It’s made using only hand-drawn dots, each representing one Christian believer. Every contributor is asked to add a message to their dot answering the artist’s question: “Why Jesus?” Ilan sees himself as representative of all nonChristians who are uneducated about Jesus Christ. The artist says, “The project gives President Obama a unique opportunity to set the record straight about his religious beliefs. One million other Christians are doing the same thing, so the President isn’t being singled out because of the contro-
Artist David Ilan has invited President Obama to get a ‘Dot For Jesus’
versy.” Amongst those who have reserved their dots, are Jason Schulz, Hollywood producer. You too are invited to be part of the most ambitious portrait of Jesus, ever, to try to connect the bridge between believers and non-believers who ask, “Why Jesus?” To get your dot, that will form the image of Christ, visit www.DotsForJesus.com
Pop Art… Literally
An artist fills a swimming pool with homemade pop. American artist Mike Bouchet started making cola in 2004. And he has just made this concept a reality. On July 4th, in Twentynine Palms, California, Bouchet filled a swimming pool with 100,000 liters of homemade diet cola. Then the LA gallery, The Box, exhibited an assortment of his other cola-based works, including the film Cola Fountain. As they say, ‘only in America!’.
Who needs a jacuzzi – 100,000 liters of home-made cola should provide enough bubbles in Mike Bouchet’s installation
“Don’t give yourself airs, Scarlett” S o said Rhett Butler, but Scarlett’s Gone With the Wind dresses are in very bad shape, and need repairs, desperately. The wonderful dresses worn by Vivien Leigh in the multiple Oscar-winning Civil War drama are on display at The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin, as they aim to raise $30,000 in order to restore five of the now torn gowns from the 1939 film. The Ransom Center plans an exhibit to mark the movie’s 75th anniversary in 2014, but at present the costumes are too delicate to go on show. According to Jill Morena, the center’s collection assistant for costumes and personal effects, “There are areas where the fabric has been worn through, fragile seams and other problems. These dresses have been under a lot of stress.” The Ransom Center obtained the costumes – including O’Hara’s green curtain dress (symbolic of O’Hara’s determination to survive), green velvet gown, burgundy ball gown, blue velvet night gown and her wedding dress — in the mid-1980s. They had already been through years and years of travelling displays in theatres and had been on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Morena added, “Film costumes weren’t meant to last. They are only meant to last through the duration of filming. You won’t find them to be as finished as if you bought something off the rack.” These costumes, amongst the most famous in Hollywood history, played a key role in one of the most popular films ever made; Gone With the Wind won eight Academy Awards. Designer Walter Plunkett was most modest when talking about these grand creations. “I don’t think it was my best work or even the biggest thing I did. But that picture, of course, will go on forever, and that green dress, because it makes a story point, is probably the most famous costume in the history of motion pictures.” Money raised will be used to repair the dresses, buy protective housing and custom mannequins for the 2014 exhibition which then plans to travel. Donations can be made on the Ransom Center website www.hrc.utexas. edu/ Probably the most famous costume in the history of motion pictures
Hope Lawsuit Latest Photographer Mannie Garcia, who snapped the portrait that Shepard Fairey’s Barack Obama “HOPE” picture was derived from, ditched his allegation that he owns the copyright to the photograph, instead of The Associated Press. The AP also abandoned its claim against him. Garcia, 56, said he owned the copyright to the image after artist Fairey prosecuted the news cooperative last year, saying his handiwork did not infringe AP copyrights. In a countersuit, the AP said the unaccredited, unrewarded and unpaid use of its picture debased copyright laws and jeopardized honourable journalism. Garcia’s lawyer, Warren Zinn, said his client was pleased to drop the legal proceedings - which resulted from a photograph Garcia took in 2006 of the then-Senator Obama at the National Press Club in Washington. “As litigation can, it’s taken a toll on him personally and professionally. He thought he’d be better suited to focus his efforts on what he knows, taking photographs like the Obama image,” he said. Claudia Ray, an AP lawyer, said the news cooperative had no immediate comment. H
Bond & Brook B
ond & Brook is the first restaurant project taken from conception to opening by A Private View Ltd., the partnership between restaurant critic Fay Maschler and journalist and broadcaster Simon Davis with ‘rhubarb’, a catering group, as the operators. My first impression of the gleaming silver and white restaurant designed by Made Thought and architects D-raw, located on the second floor of the elegant family owned department store, Fenwick, was one of approval. It was far more relaxing in Bond and Brook than in the artificial lit basement restaurants in two of London’s three star hotels operated by two Michelin star chefs where I dined a few weeks before. Perhaps it’s because I’m a fire sign, but at lunch I prefer eating in a room filled with God-given light than in a man-made simulated glow. However, as visually appealing as a restaurant is, it is the chef who attracts the diners as those two crowded restaurants proved.
Dining reviews by Virginia E. Schultz
The Bond and Brook menu started with a daily-changing list of bonnes bouches, but they were small portions and our waiter suggested we might want to order two or even three. However, as it was lunch, and at the price of each, my guest, Marjorie Wallace, and I decided one was appropriate. My two tiny crab cakes with lentils and sauce were gently Thai flavoured and delicious, but the wild mushrooms were not in a tart, instead an undercooked pastry shell that was difficult to cut let alone eat. The main plates looked interesting and I debated between Chicken A La King, Steak Frites or the Cheese Soufflé and finally settled on the latter. Marjorie, however, decided she’d have the newly arrived grouse which turned out to be lick-the-plate mouth-watering as either of us had in a restaurant specializing in game. Although the cheese soufflé was tasty, it was more of a starter and I had to fight temptation not to ask
if I might have the grouse and still regret I didn’t. Nothing seduces me like cold and creamy citrus and I couldn’t say no to the Lemon Chiffon Pie with blueberries. It proved as lovely as I could desire, but Marjorie’s Cherry and Almond Tart was thick, heavy and tasteless. American born chef, Daniel Taylor, who formerly worked for Rowley Leigh at Le Café Anglais, has a subtle and irresistible touch in much of his cooking, but definitely needs a pastry chef. At the suggestion of our delightful waiter, we each had a glass of Chateau St. Marguerite Rosé Special Cuvee 2009 from Provence. It was simply the best rosé I’ve had all summer. The coffee was excellent as were the selection of scrumptious sweets we enjoyed with it.
Fenwick Department Store, 63 New Bond Street, Mayfair, London W1A 3BS, 020 7629 0273, www.fenwick.co.uk
Cantina Laredo M
exico may be in what we call Latin America, but its people and culture are different from other Latin countries, the only thing in common is the Spanish language (except for Portugese-speaking Brazil). The Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans, to name three of the peoples who settled in Mexico, Central American and South America, not only spoke their own languages, but their traditions and customs were as diverse as England is to Italy or Russia. Even in Mexico, the foods from one area to another are different, although recently they have become more blurred. The most important staple of Aztec cuisine was corn, usually eaten as tortillas, tamales or gruel. Their diet included turkeys, various fowl, gophers, iguanas, fish, shrimp, insects, squash, tomatoes and cacao. Cacao was the drink of rulers, warriors and nobles and flavoured with chilli peppers, honey and spices. Mexico introduced us to corn, chocolate and tomatoes while the Spanish added rice, beef and pork to their diet. One could call it an exchange of cuisines. Cantina Laredo is not the big, splashing Tex-Mex restaurant most of
us are used to. Still, the calm interior would have been more interesting if a few modern Mexican paintings were hanging on the walls, Jennifer Atterbury, an interior designer, and I decided. Food, however, was the thing and while checking the menu, Jennifer had the Casa Rita Margarita (£7.50) while I sipped a tequila, Cuervos Reserva de la Familia (£8.50) which was aged in oak barrels for more than three years, hence its dark colour. Things looked up when a thick guacamole, like the guacamole Mexican friends offered rather than the smooth tasteless stuff most restaurants serve, was made for us at our table. Ceviche is more Peruvian than Mexican, but it’s one of my favourites and after one taste I was glad I was tempted by the mouth-watering ceviche, made with tiger prawns, scallops and white fish marinated in lime juice and spices. Mexican food is more than burritos, nachos and enchiladas stuffed with cheese which is why I was disappointed. Jennifer’s Camaron Poblano Asado (£18.75), flank steak wrapped around a poblano pepper filled with tiger prawns, mushrooms, Monterey jack cheese and
served with chimichuri sauce and rice was good, but nothing special. Nor was my Tampico (£12.75), grilled chicken breast with tiger prawns, spinach, poblano sauce and Monterey Jack Cheese. They were yummy, but similar to what I’ve eaten in up-market Tex-Mex restaurants in Houston. I described to Jennifer the roasted poblano stuffed with mashed potatoes, chile verde surrounded by spicy sautéed chicken I enjoyed in Mexico City and the salmon and chrysanthemum enchiladas I devoured in Puerto Vallarta. Sadly, Cantina Laredo is sticking to what sells rather than offering these more sophisticated Mexican dishes. Yes, Jennifer’s dessert, Mexican Apple Pie served with Mexican brandy butter and cinnamon ice cream was lovely, but more theatrical than Mexican. The flan was excellent and had the kind of caramel sauce my friend Antonia used to make. Our waiter was extremely helpful and ready to answer any question we might have. Prices are higher than one might like, but I could say the same for most restaurants in London. Would I return? Yes. Would I like if they offered more interesting dishes? A definite yes. Perhaps they could do a special evening with turkey; serving it with much improved Mexican wine or the many tequilas they have in their cellar. Just hinting, of course.
10 Upper St. Martin’s Lane, London WC2 H 9FB 0207 420 0630 www.cantinalaredo.co.uk, Bookings not taken
Goldfish City T
he sign outside was not particularly attractive, but once Nelly Pateras and I entered all changed with leather seating, linen table coverings, painted glass panelling (complete with goldfish) and a wall inscribed with a Chinese poem. Having enjoyed fantastic dinners at Goldfish‘s flagship restaurant in Hampstead, I was looking forward to the evening. Unlike Hampstead where some celebrity artist, actor or writer may be sitting next to you, Goldfish City caters more to city types, which was obvious in the striped suited males seated across from us. Dim sum should only be eaten at lunch, but we are Westerners and our very attentive head waiter, who recognized me, was far too polite to mention it. A basket of Dim Sum - deep fried soft shell crab, fried calamari and the chef’s special pumpkin soup – was brought to us without a raised eyebrow. Frankly, I could have stopped right there and repeated the order. Head chef Kevin Chow was formerly with Four Seasons and Grand Hyatt hotels and it is obvious he knows what his clientele want. On my first ever date, I went to a Chinese restaurant, but we didn’t have the kind of food I enjoyed that evening. At Goldfish City we found Wasabi prawns served on a wooden platter deep fried and smoothed with
avocado and wasabi, wok fried beef with a barbecue sauce that should be bottled and I cannot forget the mocha ribs which were almost better than I had in Goldfish Hampstead. Warning, not everyone likes ribs cooked in coffee with a hint of almond, but do try it once. Sadly, however, the chicken breast black bean sauce was overcooked which was a shame – neither of us did more than take a bite. Fortunately, the steamed fillet of Chilean sea bass with its sliver of ginger was so milky and full of gentle flavour I almost asked for a second helping. The broccoli with wild mushrooms and splattered with oyster sauce was also delicious and the mango sorbet was the perfect dessert to end the evening. Evenings are quiet as one expects in this area of London. At lunch there is more of a buzz as I found out when I went with a friend a few weeks later. But, whether you go at lunch or in the evening, service is flawless and any questions asked are answered politely and with a smile. This is Chinese fusion food with a touch of difference. But whenever you go, just make sure you have the pumpkin soup, sea bass and mocha ribs.
46 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7AY 020 7726 0308 www.restaurantprivilege.com/ goldfish-city/home.html
t was Maxine Howe, my actress friend, who spotted it first. We had passed the church, a lovely 19th century building where the elegant and sophisticated once worshipped, and suddenly just a few steps around the corner, there it was: a small, brightly coloured tiled Turkish bathhouse with a small crescent dome on top in which Victorian workers and perhaps a few curious gentlemen in top hats once washed off the dirt and dust of horse-and-carriage London. We entered, hesitantly and laughing, and made our way down narrow stairs and suddenly at the bottom we stepped into 19th century Paris complete with red velvet, chandeliers, pillars and the tinkling sound of a piano and a slightly out of tune singer entertaining the guests gathered there that evening. The Phantom of the Opera wasn’t standing at the bar, nor dancers from the Moulin Rouge singing tra la boom di aye and showing off frilly dresses and laced underwear, but you felt as if you shut your eyes they might just suddenly appear.
The Bathhouse We were greeted warmly and seated at a small table near the piano that was lit by a large flickering candle and presented with a menu, all wax and sealed, and a thick antique book holding the list of wines. We started with champagne, deliciously cold, and continued to smile, it’s that kind of restaurant, and listened to the vocalist singing of lost loves and unfaithful men in a slightly uneven tone as we studied the menu. I decided on crab and smoked haddock fish cakes (£6.50), Maxine the whitebait (£5.50) and both were as tasty as we’ve had in Michelin starred restaurants. The sourdough bread was warm, something that doesn’t happen as often as it should, and the tables perfectly placed and oh, I forgot the large bird cage at the far end of the room where, sadly, there was no long legged girl swinging inside. Our main courses, me, free range chicken with smoked pancetta (£14.50), Maxine, pork belly with marrow risotto and crackling (£15.50) were delicious and left (barely) enough room for our Eton Mess with summer berry dessert (£4.50).
While eating, we were joined by Jimmy Tardy, the handsome French manager, who couldn’t have been more delightful. Like all the best restaurant managers past and present in London, he is there overseeing everything and everyone from almost opening to closing. Which means a heavy work load on Friday and Saturday nights when The Bathhouse turns into a nightclub with entertainment. Ah, shades of my parent’s life when nightclubbing was part of life, I mused, and recalled my mother beautifully gowned for a night of dining and dancing. Perhaps the nightclubbers of today aren’t as elegantly attired, but from what Tardy told us, they do enjoy themselves, often until the early hours of morning. Hamburger is on the menu as well as pizza and Maxine and I plan to return for lunch with friends in the near future. The food was good, service excellent and though the restaurant hints of a past that is possibly more imagination than reality, the atmosphere is so delightful one can’t help but have fun. What more could one want?
7-8 Bishopsgate Churchyard, London EC2M 3TJ 020 7920 9207
Cellar Talk By Virginia E. Schultz
Helen Turley – The No Compromise Winemaker
he first time I heard of the winemaker, Helen Turley, was when I was taking a course on “Moby Dick” at St. John’s College while living in Annapolis, Maryland. Moby Dick can be heavy going as anyone knows who’s read it and afterwards I usually went to a nearby coffee shop to review the notes I took in class. One evening, while sitting in a booth, a woman asked if she could join me. She was a professor at St. John’s and mentioned she’d recently returned from Napa Valley where she’d run into Turley who had been a student at St. John’s the same time she was. Noting my interest in wine, she invited me to a tasting she was giving of various wines made by Turley. The Olive Hill Cabernet 1985 we tasted that evening scored 94 points on the Wine Spectator 100 point scale. On my notes I wrote “Deliciously Elegant!!!”
A Howell Mountain Chardonnay 1989 I found “overpowering but the pineappley finish is interesting.” All in all, I enjoyed the wines and my interest in Turley began. On the cover of the July 31st issue of Wine Spectator magazine there is a picture of Turley with the question “Who is America’s Greatest Winemaker? in large letters next to her photo. The article inside doesn’t exactly describe her as that, but it does leave the impression she is, which has caused controversy among a number of wine writers as well as the public. Most of the criticism is the word greatest. Steve Heimoff , one of my favourite wine writers, strongly objects to that word, and I take his criticism more seriously than many other male wine writers and enthusiasts whose prejudice against females in the wine industry is obvious. As Heimhoff , the West Coast editor of Wine Enthusiast, points out, calling anyone the greatest, even if the magazine only means in California, is an insult to other hardworking winemakers. Turley has been criticized, sometimes justly, for popularizing high alcohol, fat, low acid wines. Frankly, I prefer her pinot noir wine to chardonnay which for me is too often overwhelming. A few months ago at a dinner party I served Marcassin Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Three Sisters Vineyard
2005 and Jadot Vosne-Romanee 2005 to friends. All were wine lovers, but not experts and when I asked which they preferred, the Jadot won by a majority of five to two. Even though it was a fellow connoisseur and myself who selected the Marcassin, I doubt if Turley would have cared. The lady has been quoted as saying, “Clients are a means to the end. I don’t have the capacity to compromise.” In her thirty year career as a winemaker, Turley, 64, and at six foot two in height, does not suffer fools gladly. She admits she’s a recluse, doesn’t use a computer and only talks on the phone when necessary. Unusual for California, Turley and her husband John Wetlaufer hold back their releases for five years and it is the 2005 vintage now available. That is if you can find it as the wines are sold mostly by mailing list. After 2010, they will only produce wine from their vineyard and production will be at 2,500 cases. H
COFFEE OF THE MONTH Jamaica Blue Mountain After a lovely dinner with wonderful wine, a cup of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is the perfect ending. I mean real Jamaica Blue Mountain, not a blend, which must be grown in one of several parishes in Jamaica and higher than 3000 feet above sea level. Market hype as well as rarity are responsible for its high price ($50.00 and up) which is the reason no one but myself has tasted my last pound of Clifton Mount. Ah, heavenly!
OI C E • CH TY AD LI 9 CIRCUOSDRNOW8 6PB 13-1 ’S WO N JOH
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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.
A la Carte Menu – Individually Priced 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
BOOK NOW FOR CHRISTMAS
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 are Chiroptera? a) toe rings b) bats c) Egyptian house spirits 2 Which one of these revolving weather systems is the smallest: hurricane, typhoon, tropical cyclone, tornado? 3 What is Phasmophobia? 4 Where is Transylvania?
7 What does Linus wait for on Halloween in the Charlie Brown stories? 8 Which well known horror writer wrote the story on which the Shawshank Redemption was based? 9 Who wrote Dracula?
5 Who wrote the famous 1855 poem The Charge of the Light Brigade?
10 What colour of a single 7-color rainbow is on the inside of the rainbow’s arc?
6 What football team is named after the subject of Edgar Allen Poe’s quintessential Halloween poem?
11 What were all girls from 1953 to 1979, and thereafter alternating boys and girls?
12 Who had a hit single which began and ended with Vincent Price? 13 Who wrote Frankenstein? 14 What is Stygiophobia? 15 What were gargoyles for? 16 What is measured in Oktas? a) pizza b) Hot Dog buns c) cloud cover 17 Who is the famous daughter of Psycho star Janet Leigh? 18 What is the common name for the phenomenon of strange light flickering over peat bogs?
Answers below The Johnsons Competition Winners DVDs of the movie Company K were won by Peter Gasgoyne-Lockwood of Dorset, Ellen Davidson of London W5 and Todd Bachinski of London SW10
Coffee Break Quiz Answers: 1. b) bats; 2. Tornado; 3. Fear of ghosts; 4. Central Romania; 5. Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-92); 6. c) Baltimore Ravens; 7. The Great Pumpkin; 8. Stephen King; 9. Bram Stoker; 10. Violet; 11. Names of tropical storms or hurricanes; 12. Michael Jackson (Thriller); 13. Mary Shelley; 14. Fear of hell; 15. rains spouts; 16. c) cloud cover; 17. Jamie Lee Curtis; 18. Jack o’ Lantern.
It happened one... October October 1, 1811 – The first steamboat to sail the Mississippi River arrives in New Orleans, Louisiana. October 2, 1959 – The Twilight Zone premieres on CBS television. October 3, 1955 – The Mickey Mouse Club debuts on ABC.
October 4, 1883 – First run of the Orient Express. October 5, 1970 – The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is founded.
October 6, 1683 – William Penn brings the first German immigrants, 13 families, to the colony of Pennsylvania. October 7, 2001 – The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan starts with an air assault and covert operations on the ground.
October 8, 2001 – President George W. Bush announces the establishment of the Office of Homeland Security. October 9, 2001 – Second mailing of anthrax letters from Trenton, New Jersey in the 2001 anthrax attack.
October 10, 1780 – The Great Hurricane of 1780 kills 20,000-30,000 in the Caribbean. October 11, 1890 – In Washington, DC, the Daughters of the American Revolution is founded.
October 12, 1823 – Charles Macintosh, of Scotland, sells the first raincoat.
October 13, 1967 – The first game in the history of the American Basketball Association is played as the Anaheim Amigos lose to the Oakland Oaks 134129 in Oakland, California. (The ABA ceased to exist with the ABA–NBA merger in 1976).
Mobster Al Capone is finally convicted… of income tax evasion.
October 14, 1773 – Several of the British East India Company’s tea ships are set ablaze in the lesser-known ‘Annapolis Tea Party’, Maryland.
October 15, 1815 – Napoleon I of France begins his exile on Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean. October 16, 1923 – The Walt Disney Company is founded by Walt Disney and his brother, Roy Disney. October 17, 1931 – Al Capone is convicted of income tax evasion.
October 18, 1767 – Mason-Dixon line, survey separating Maryland from Pennsylvania is completed.
October 19, 1959 – The first discothèque opens, the Scotch-Club in Aachen, Germany. October 20, 1968 – Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy marries Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis.
October 21, 1967 – More than 100,000 war protesters gather peacefully at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to protest the Vietnam War, followed by a march to The Pentagon and clashes with soldiers and US Marshals leading to 647 arrests.
October 22, 1836 – Sam Houston is inaugurated as the first President of the Republic of Texas. October 23, 1929 – The first North
American transcontinental air service begins between New York City and Los Angeles, California. October 24, 1861 – The First Transcontinental Telegraph line across the U.S. is completed, spelling the end for the 18-month-old Pony Express. October 25, 1854 – The Battle of Balaklava during the Crimean War (Charge of the Light Brigade). October 26, 1861 – The Pony Express officially ceases operations. October 27, 1810 – United States annexes the former Spanish colony of West Florida. October 28, 1538 – The first university in the New World, the Universidad Santo Tomás de Aquino, is established (Dominican Republic). October 29, 1929 – The New York Stock Exchange crashes in what will be called the Crash of ‘29 or “Black Tuesday”, ending the Great Bull Market of the 1920s and beginning the Great Depression. October 30, 1938 – Orson Welles broadcasts his radio play in the US of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, causing panic. October 31, 1926 – Harry Houdini dies of gangrene and peritonitis that developed after his appendix ruptured. H
LIVE AND KICKING
Berkfinger and MC Bad Genius
Philadelphia Grand Jury
They’re not from Philadelphia, in fact they originated in Sydney, Australia, and as far as I know they’ve never served on a Grand Jury. But if you’re looking for the best fun, get out to see the Philly Jays (as aficionados know them) blitz a small club. Can you remember the sheer snotty exuberance of first-wave 70s punk, before it all got commoditized? Blend that with the humor of Wreckless Eric, the wry worldview of Eels and an anarchic show that sees them join the audience for a couple of numbers and swap instruments seemingly at random. The American happened upon the band – singer/guitarist Berkfinger, bassist MC Bad Genius and 54 year-old African American drummer Calvin, who has played with hard bop saxophonist Sonny Stitt – by accident. They’ve completed the first half of their UK tour, but you can still catch them. September 24th Liverpool, Stanley Theatre; 25th Oxford, Jericho Tavern; 29th Bath, Moles; 30th Portsmouth, The Cellars; October 1st Manchester, Night & Day; 2nd Middlesbrough, Empire; 3rd Sheffield, Plug; 7th Leeds, Cockpit.
Alice Cooper’s Halloween Night of Fear
After more than 40 years, Alice Cooper is still bringing Shock Rock to the masses, and this time he’s invited some of them onto the stage to push the boundaries of acceptability and decency with him! On October 31 and November 1 Alice is performing his Halloween Night of Fear show at The Roundhouse, the venerable venue, once a railway locomotive shed, in North London. Support acts will be by the ‘alternative performer’ Jim Rose (of the infamous Jim Rose Circus, which has great rock credentials as it became famous at Lollapalooza) and Zodiac Mindwarp and The Love Reaction, but the line-up will be completed by a roster of sideshow and freak acts who uploaded submissions to Alice’s website and were then selected by a panel of judges including Alice himself at a weird variant of The X Factor held at The London Dungeon.
The Jim Jones Review
Raw, piano-based rock and roll at its more feral. Think Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard crossed with The Birthday Party, and The Gun Club. Awesome, and playing in an intimate venue near you on September 29th at Leicester, O2 Academy; 30th Exeter,
Cavern Club; October 6th Brighton, Komedia; 7th Bristol, Thekla; 8th Harlow, The Square; 9th Southend-On-Sea, Chinnerys; 12th Oxford, O2 Academy; 14th Leeds, Brudenell Social Club; 15th Manchester, Sound Control; 16th Edinburgh, Electric Circus; Glasgow, King Tuts; 20th Birmingham, O2 Academy; 21st London, Scala.
Hayley, Zac, Taylor, Jeremy and Josh, the young rockers from Franklin, Tennessee, are back to tour the UK, Dates are as follows: November 6th Dublin O2; 9th Nottingham Trent FM Arena; 10th Liverpool, Echo Arena; 11th Sheffield Arena; 13th & 15th London O2 Arena; 16th Birmingham LG Arena; 18th Metro Radio Arena; 20th Aberdeen AECC.
Fresh from a critically and commercially successful album and single, festival appearances and a tour supporting The Script, the folk rock chick who hails from Rock Island, Illinois starts her first UK headline tour this month. Dates are October 26th Glasgow, Oran Mor; 27th Manchester, Academy 3; 28th Bristol, Thekla; 30th Norwich, Waterfront; 31st Birmingham, Academy 2 and November 1st London, Heaven. Following great demand for tickets, a further tour has been added in December: 10th Northumbria University; 11th Leicester O2 Academy; 13th London, Shepherds Bush Empire; 14th Oxford Academy; 15th Liverpool O2 Academy 2; 17th Cambridge Junction; 18th Sheffield Leadmill; 19th Brighton Concorde 2.
Hot Hot Heat
Immediately following a massive US tour, HHH will fly in to Britain to play tracks from their new album Future Breeds before heading to Germany. October 20th Glasgow, Stereo; 21st Manchester Academy 3; 22nd, Birmingham Academy 3; 24th Brighton, Coalition; 25th London Relentless
Garage; 27th Munich, 59 to 1; 28th Stuttgart, Schocken; 30th Bremen, Tower; November 1st Hannover, Musikzentrum; 2nd Osnabruck, Kleine Freiheit; 3rd Offenbach, Hafen 2.
Avenged Sevenfold / Stone Sour
Co-headlining a UK tour with Stone Sour in October and November, SoCal’s Avenged Sevenfold last played the UK in 2008 and released their fifth album Nightmare July 26. Guitarist Zacky Vengeance advised, “We will be returning to the UK this Fall. You have been warned”. Stone Sour’s front-man (Slipknot’s Corey Taylor) added, “This tour with Avenged Sevenfold is going to be great! We were looking for something different and exciting to do with our next UK tour and it just made perfect sense. The shows are going to be amazing and the fans are going to lose their minds. Here we GO!” Dates are: October 26th Glasgow, SECC; 27th Manchester Academy; 28th Birmingham NIA; 30th Hammersmith Apollo; November 2nd Newcastle 02 Academy; 3rd Leeds 02 Academy; 4th Manchester Academy; 6th Plymouth Pavilion; 7th Brighton Centre. Hot Hot Heat
Gorillaz’ Plastic Beach is setting off around the world. After 20 shows in North America (including their first ever show at Madison Square Garden) the virtual band begot from the fertile imaginations of Blur’s Damon Albarn and cartoonist Jamie Hewlett will play 10 nights across Europe before heading south to Asia and Australasia. The live show features artworks and video animation with the Gorillaz live band including Damon Albarn, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon (The Clash), brass sections and a full string ensemble. Among artists that have performed in previous shows are De la Soul, Bobby Womack, Booty Brown and Mos Def. The European leg of the tour is November 11th, Dublin O2; 12th Manchester MEN Arena; 14th London O2 Arena; 15th Amsterdam HMH; 16th London O2 Arena; 17th Birmingham NIA; 18th Brighton Centre; 21st Berlin Velodrom; 22nd Antwerp Lotto; 23th Paris Zenith.
From Harry’s Bar to a Greek Island –
Gordon Haskell Hionides T
alking to Gordon Haskell Hionides about his new album, One Day Soon, on the phone is zen-like. Time slows down and you concentrate on the ebb and flow of the conversation, like waves on a beach. The buzz of the office and the hectic pace of life in the UK seem to fade… Gordon, after the album Harry’s Bar and the single How Wonderful You Are were massive hits in 2002, you’ve been off the radar. Where are you now? I’m living in Greece, I’ve had a couple of swims so far today. What made you want to live in Greece? I was born in Dorset, went to London in 1966, eventually ended up back in Dorset, then came to Greece three years ago. The England that I knew was no longer the England that I saw out of my window. Too many cameras, too many people watching me… I’m a bit shy. This island (Skopelos, in the Aegean) is amazing for the clarity of your mind. It’s has a beautiful turquoise sea, and I’ve got the most staggering view so even if you have a lazy day, you could never say you were wasting a minute because you’re looking at all this. I work better, in a nutshell, so this is my permanent base, but I will come back to play. I didn’t expect to write again, the oppression in England was actually drying me up, writer’s block if you like. It was only by getting away and standing back, that I was able to write.
You’ve changed your name from Gordon Haskell, added the Hionides – what’s your family background? My father was a Greek American. He went to Oxford University, wrote the Greek-American dictionary and ended up in Athens as Professor of History at the American College. He fought for the Greek Air Force, the RAF, and finally the American Air Force. A wonderful man. He didn’t marry my mother. She was from Dorset, a war widow, suffering incredible trauma after losing her husband in Peenemunde in the V2 rocket bombing raid. She had two children by him, and a Wing Commander’s pension. Harry, my father, was a penniless genius. There was no contest financially, if she’d married him she would have lost the pension and the children would have starved. War stories. All these side issues go into your writing. War affects so many people for years afterwards. Sometimes I think my father was a spy. He worked for the New York Times, suddenly turned up in the Argentine, then happened to mention that he’d talked to Maclean (one of the Cambridge Five, British Communists who spied for the USSR). I blossomed when I came here and I have to credit my Greekness to it, so I’ve tagged my real surname onto my stage name, or born name, as a sign that I feel whole now, I’ve reached the end of my journey and I’ve found who I am. One Day Soon is the best work that I’ve ever done, so it’s rather appropriate. In Greece you always use your
father’s name in any situation, whether you’re born out of wedlock or not, which is rather nice. You’ve left, or refused to join, more great bands than most people. How come? Most people would have seen a good future with those bands, but I have no regrets, I’ve got my own career and doing it my way if you like. I knew that in 1970 when I quit a huge international group like King Crimson, I could have been one of those that got rich playing stadiums. Whilst a lot of the press is derogatory, to me I stuck by my principles. I did what I wanted to do and moved on. Robert Fripp didn’t get on with you musically, although you were schoolmates. Is it true it’s because you liked classics like Nat King Cole and Ray Charles songs? Absolutely true... But I made it up with him when I wrote my autobiography. I’ve spent a long time working out the psyche of people in an attempt to understand mankind. I spent 30 years trying to work out Robert Fripp. And when I did come to write the book, I understood him more. We weren’t that different, just opposite ends of the spectrum. We were both as intransigent in our own way. He had as many demons as anybody. We all do when we’re 22, 23, we all think we know it all. I’m delighted that I did what I did and that he’s had a great career. I have
nothing in common with him whatsoever, so I don’t keep in touch with him, but I do understand where he’s coming from. That’s half the battle really, you can put it to bed. Commentators say you were “on the fringes of the English music scene”. They use that all the time in America. But I’ve learnt to turn things upside down. I see a writer as a spy, and to be a good writer, like a good spy, you cannot be a celebrity like David Bowie, because nobody behaves normally around Bowie. When you’re anonymous you see human beings behave as they really are. So I’m delighted to be on the fringes. Actually it’s exactly where I want to be. When ‘How Wonderful You Are’ was huge, how did you feel? I felt it was right, but within four weeks, the entire environment around me turned very, very dark, from something that felt good and beautiful. It was the beginning of my study of human beings. It attracted the very worst of human nature: greed, manipulation, all these dark qualities that we see in politics. I found the success a double-edged sword. I was playing in pubs, working six nights a week, being a real musician, and then suddenly I couldn’t. I’d actually lost something. I’d gained about half a million pounds, then the government swiped about £200,000 from me. It’s a whirlwind of madness around you, how people change when they think they see a celebrity. Suddenly you’re very much alone and it’s very unpleasant, but enlightening at the same time. I looked at the tax and thought “am I going to contribute to the Treasury to wage war in Iraq?” That was the fundamental reason why I stopped work. I know it’s crazy but to me it’s not. I could have earned the govern-
When you’re anonymous you see human beings behave as they really are. So I’m delighted to be on the fringes. 35
ment £200,000 a year, but I chose not to. I don’t advise that as a way of life because you end up poor again, but that’s me. I could have stayed in King Crimson… perhaps I like being poor, perhaps I like the struggle, but I’ve never been any different. The new album has soul elements, funk, blues, and The Fear Has Gone is a modern standard, but the thing that ties it altogether is the voice. It sound very strong, smoother, very much in control. Has the voice become your main instrument rather than the guitar or bass? This is the first time I’ve played bass for many years, and I have to say it was the most enjoyable experience since 1967. I’d been playing guitar and hiring the crème de la crème of London musicians, and that was a mistake because my character was being stifled. If you had been at the sessions you would have laughed, because I’ve always worked in great studios with expensive equipment but I did this record in my mate’s coalhouse in Gillingham, Dorset, with a less than expensive micro-
I did this record in my mate’s coalhouse. We had to move the bicycle to get into the vocal booth ... the worst conditions I’ve ever had, and we’ve made the best album. phone. We had to move the bicycle to get into the vocal booth! It’s the worst conditions I’ve ever had in my entire life to record, and we’ve made the best album. Whether you sing with more passion because of that, or whether it was just because I was so happy to be working with my very good friend Bob Kennedy, the co-producer/player on this. There were no strangers around, nothing held back. We’re all a bit funny with strangers, no matter how experienced you are. It does remind me of meeting the guys from Mussel Shoals and Memphis in the 1960s, they were recording in these old sheds. Sun, Motown, they were never glamorous were they? It all got rather glamorous once the money started flowing. It sounds very assured and together. The lyrics seem to be more about you personally rather than the people that you’ve met along the way... Well, I think that they can be taken two ways, if you take a song like Some Sins, I see it as the perfect song to play on 9/11: Some sins never are forgotten, everyone will say to let it go. But it was actually inspired by the treatment I had in 2002, so you can use your own bad experiences and apply them to the Holocaust or 9/11. The one thing it’s got in common, they’re all human beings and human beings are all capable of the most gross acts, it doesn’t matter whether you’re Jewish, black, English. My soon-to-be wife (I’ve finally found the right one) worked with children in Nursery school and she’s convinced you see it in a child
that’s going to be evil! It would do away with racism, if we really mastered that thing about human nature, that there’s these flaws, we’d get above all that racial crap. What you’re doing, to do the music thing on your own terms at your own pace, is very brave. Do you see it like that? Bob Kennedy said it’s a brave album. Sometimes when I’m going to sleep, I wonder if I’ve gone too far, especially with some of the lyrics. But I’m in touch with Michael Mansfield QC, the radical lawyer – he had a book out last year, which I read and it impressed me so much, he said none of us should ever sit back and think there is nothing we can do, and it kind of spurs me on. He’s let me use an excerpt from the book on the cover of the album, and if I was wildly inaccurate in the lyrics I don’t think he would have come on board. This is my attempt to try and do something before I die. In that way it’s brave. Will we be seeing you in Britain soon? I’ll be coming over to do some gigs. It’s going to be slow at the beginning, but I want to play the venues that I used to. It will be like the old days and I’ll be comfortable. H As The American went to press Gordon has confirmed these dates: October 26th London, The Half Moon, Putney; 27th Wavendon, The Stables; and November 8th London, The 606 Club, Chelsea
The Railway Children Waterloo Station, London • Reviewed by Michael Burland and his daughter Fleur
amian Cruden’s production of The Railway Children has been popular with audiences as well as critically acclaimed – not always the case with big-budget productions on the London stage. But then this is not on a regular stage (more of which later). It’s been a favourite story for generations, from readers of the original E. Nesbit book, first serialised in 1905, through four TV series, a feature film, and a made-for-television film. The Waterbury family, Mother and her three children, Roberta (Bobbie), Peter and Phyllis, move to a small house near a railway track when Father, a diplomat, is imprisoned after being falsely accused of selling state secrets to the dastardly Russians.
No-one tells the kids why Father is missing. The children play by the railway line, waving to the passengers and befriending Mr Perks the station porter and an Old Gentleman who regularly takes the same train. They help save everyone after a landslide. The Old Gentleman helps prove Father’s innocence and the family is reunited. For many, the classic adaptation was the 1970 movie. It’s unfair to mention the film though. The live version is a different animal. For a start, it is that rare thing, a commercial success that is not a musical. It also has the largest leading character seen for years, a genuine steam locomotive.
And to accommodate it, the ‘stage’ is the disused track of Waterloo Station’s Eurostar service, with a specially-built 1000 seat auditorium either side of the track. In this unusual setting the technical aspects had to be spot-on and the design (by Joanna Scotcher), lighting (Richard G. Jones) and sound (Craig Vear) were perfect. Over to 12 year old Fleur… When we walked in there was a mysterious atmosphere about the place, because there was smoke everywhere (but not so much that you couldn’t see the stage/track). This was a very good start to the production, because it made you believe. There were some actors walking up and down the stage, waving at the
Clybourne Park SIMON ANNAND
audience, and also trying to make a Mexican-wave! The actors spoke clearly throughout the play. Also, they spoke loud, so that even the people at the back of the audience could hear them. Their spatial awareness was particularly pleasing, they used all of the space they had. I especially liked the children. Phyllis was played extraordinarily well by Louisa Clein, because even though she is quite a bit older than the eight year old she was playing, she remembered all her lines, and managed to look, and sound like an eight year old. Peter was acted by Nicholas Bishop, who did a very good job of keeping everyone entertained. Sarah Quintrell was Bobbie. She was very emotional – and very good at playing a big sister. When Father came back, through a cloud of steam from the train, it was very emotional. Lots of people in the audience were crying. The train was a real old steam train from the National Railway Museum, which pulled the Old Gentleman’s carriage from the original classic film. It came in and out, and made you feel you were actually there. The landslide was cleverly shown by a huge pile of boxes that collapsed onto the stage – just before the interval. Everyone in the audience jumped. The Railway Children is absolutely amazing!
he Royal Court’s season is off to a cracking start with this new play from Chicago’s Bruce Norris, which premiered at Playwright’s Horizon in New York in April. It is the sharpest and certainly the funniest piece of new American writing seen on the London stage for some time. The play examines the property market and middle class hypocrisies and demonstrates that while racism may have altered significantly over the past half century, it hasn’t altogether disappeared. But, don’t be in fear of a lecture. The play’s great redeeming quality is its humour and it has certainly been a while since the Royal Court has heard such loud gales of laughter or sharp intakes of breath from audiences. In Act One we’re in 1959 where Russ and Bev are selling their desirable property for a knock down price, enabling the first black family to move into
By Bruce Norris • Royal Court Theatre, London Reviewed by Jarlath O‘Connell
the neighbourhood. This alarms the cosy white neighbours of this Chicago suburb, who fear for their property values and see it all as rather the thin end of the wedge. They try and stop the sale. Act Two is the same house 50 years later when the property is changing hands once more, this time being purchased by young white professional couple, Lindsey and Steve, whose plan is to raze the house and start again. The intervening years have seen the property go derelict, however increased gentrification means the neighbourhood is now on the “up”. As the arguments over the purchase rage, the couple are met with objections from a local community group who are intent on preserving something of the heritage of the black community who strove, against great odds, to set up
home there 50 years before. Norris, a former actor, has created some beautifully delineated characters here and director Dominic Cooke expertly handles a great ensemble cast who play different characters in each Act. Martin Freeman, of The Office fame, stands out as the racist neighbour in the first and as the hapless purchaser in part two. As usual Sophie Thomson steals the show with two great comic portraits, one as an archetypal ditzy ’50s housewife and another as a tough nosed property lawyer. The rather stately pace of the first act gives way to a rising pitch of hysteria in the second as the sale looks like going awry. Central to the success of the production is Robert Innes-Hopkins’ perfectly realised set, at first the pristine suburban dream house, then a shockingly dilapidated ruin. Its sad decay crystallizes the arguments in the play but Norris studiously avoids conclusions. Instead he gets under all our skins with an acerbic wit and a great mastery of plot and comic timing. The second act, where 6 characters spend the whole time attempting and failing to begin a business meeting, could be from Ionesco. Norris’ ear for dialogue too is wonderfully attuned to the nonsense of modern life and
he cleverly contrasts the language used to describe essentially the same situations in 1959 as in 2009. His point being that the language may change but the underlying tensions remain. Another stand out is Lorna Brown as the subservient but fiercely intelligent housemaid in the first and then as the scathingly articulate activist in the second. These two portraits alone speak volumes for the journey which black American women have travelled since 1959. Norris doesn’t sentimentalise and while we laugh at how they endure the patronising nonsense of their employers in Act one and the
Previous page: Steffan Rhodri (Russ) and Sophie Thompson (Bev). Top: Sam Spruell (Tom), Lucian Msamati (Kevin), Lorna Brown (Lena), Sarah Goldberg (Lindsey), Martin Freeman (Steve) and Sophie Thompson (Kathy). Above: Lucian Msamati (Albert), Lorna Brown (Francine) and Martin Freeman as the racist neighbor IMAGES: JOHAN PERSSON
overweening middle class guilt of the white couple in Act two, they remain fully rounded characters. Clybourne Park is provocative, uncomfortable and hilariously funny all at the same time. Theatre at its best.
George M. Cohan & Me... Music journalist and author Chip Deffaa has written and directed five plays about the Broadway legend including George M. Cohan Tonight!, on in London this month. He tells The American about his obsession.
hey called him “the Man Who Owns Broadway” – and not just because he owned or controlled seven theatres. In his day, George M. Cohan (18781942) dominated American theatre to an extent never duplicated by any other individual. Born into a poor family, and with virtually no formal education, he rose to the top of his field as an entertainer, songwriter, playwright, director, and producer. He wrote or co-wrote some 50 shows, produced or co-produced around 80 shows, and pretty much invented the Broadway musical. Oh, there already were “extravaganzas” featuring assorted variety acts, presented in grand style, and
Cohan’s music was integrated into his plots more than had ever been seen on Broadway
European operettas, often dealing with the royalty of mythical countries. But Cohan’s well-constructed, thoroughly American musical comedies like Little Johnny Jones and Forty-five Minutes from Broadway replaced them. They were new and different and gave Broadway its pace, its beat, its snap and made Broadway, not Europe, the pace-setter for musical theatre. Master theatre critic George Jean Nathan marvelled that Cohan’s musicals were “as carefully constructed as the plays of Euripedes,” showing how revolutionary Cohan’s work seemed. Because he was writing the book, music, and lyrics for his shows – as well as starring in, directing and producing them – he could create shows that were more integrated than musicals had been before. From this point on the plots mattered. He wanted audiences hanging onto every word of the script until the final curtain. With many extravaganzas or operettas, Cohan said, audience members could, and often did, leave early and not feel they’d missed much. Irving Berlin, Oscar Hammerstein and others would take musicals farther, but they all built on Cohan’s foundation and acknowledged their debt. After Cohan’s death in 1942, Berlin and Hammerstein led a campaign that resulted in the placement of Cohan’s statue on Broadway (at 46th Street). It remains the only statue of an actor on Broadway. Cohan has been a source of endless
inspiration for me since boyhood. I was nine when I first saw James Cagney’s Oscar-winning portrayal of Cohan in the film Yankee Doodle Dandy. I wrote a 10-page report on Cohan for school – the beginning of a life-long fascination. As I grew older, I sought old Cohan photos, writings, and recordings. I amassed a sheet-music collection that included hundreds of Cohan songs. I met people who’d known him and researched his life every way I could. I’ve written books, plays and articles dealing with everything from David Cassidy to Bessie Smith, to F. Scott Fitzgerald. But recurringly I’ve been drawn back to Cohan. I’ve written and directed six different shows about Cohan and my one-man show, George M. Cohan Tonight! which is on in London*, has been produced in numerous American cities and places as far flung as Seoul since its Off-Broadway debut in New York. Often, if you research someone thoroughly, you find flaws that lower your opinion of them. Cohan had his flaws, as all people do, but the more I researched him, the more my admiration grew. And I’ve learned things from Cohan’s work methods that have certainly helped me. Cohan believed in putting a show into rehearsal as quickly as possible. If he had an act written, sometimes just a few scenes, he’d go straight into rehearsal, trusting he’d finish the script before opening night. Boy! that’s a great way to work.
When I decided to write my first Cohan show, I secured a theatre on 42nd Street, spent one afternoon auditioning, found the actor to play Cohan, began writing the script and we opened three weeks later, the last lines written just before our first performance. Our opening-night audience (including Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick) loved the show; a representative of Samuel French Inc. also came – and offered to publish the script. Cohan believed in getting scripts before live audiences as quickly as possible; the audience will teach you what works (he’s right). He believed that when you started writing a script, don’t watch the clock; stay up all night if need be, but get it down on paper. I now love writing through the night. Cohan said you have to listen to your actors. He often got lines, bits of business, ideas for future scenes, from actors while rehearsing early scenes of plays. I can look at scripts I’ve written for The Seven Little Foys or Song-and-Dance Kids, and identify lines that started out as ad libs by talented actors like Peter Charney and Jack Saleeby. Cohan also said that if an actor has trouble remembering certain lines, ask yourself if you need those lines – Cut! Cohan wrote without outlines, from beginning to end. Sometimes songs followed in quick succession. But he wasn’t afraid to let a book scene last 20 minutes. In Forty-five Minutes from Broadway, a three-act musical, he had no songs at all in the second act. I found that knowledge liberating, too! He said if need be, run numbers right through the applause; don’t permit audiences to applaud if it interferes with the pacing you’re trying to establish. Again, invaluable advice! Cohan believed that audiences need to cry sometimes, no less than
they need to laugh. He is best remembered for his high-spirited numbers, but he was not afraid to mix in, when needed, moments of quiet reflection, like his bittersweet Life’s a Funny Proposition After All. He loved that song, and tried in vain to get Warner Brothers to include it in the film about his life, Yankee Doodle Dandy. They declined, preferring to stress his upbeat songs. But I’ve included that quiet, little-known song in George M. Cohan Tonight! and it’s a real high point of the night. Cohan didn’t lead a perfect life. His actors saw more of him than his family. His children sometimes felt they had to make an appointment to really talk with him. (I winced a little when I read a letter from his son, asking his father if he could have a little time to talk.) His work often seemed a higher priority for him than his marriage. He married twice, and was married throughout his adult professional career, but he wrote a treatment for the proposed film of his life in which, perhaps wishful thinking on his part, he did not get married at all until he retired. However he was generous to a fault and he was extraordinarily well-loved. Walter Huston, who played Cohan’s father in Yankee Doodle Dandy, had worked for Cohan as an actor in New York. He spoke for many actors when he wrote him, from the film set, that Cohan “was still my favourite guy.” Cohan believed you needed to create something every day. He was always working on the next project. I even have in my collection bits and pieces of the unfinished musical he writing at the time he died. I’ve learned a lot – and am still learning from – George M. Cohan. H George M. Cohan Tonight! plays at The New Players Theatre from 21 Sept to 16 Oct 2010. Box Office: www.ticketweb.co.uk / 08444 77 1000
David Herzog onstage as George M Cohan (top) and with author Chip Deffaa (bottom)
Cohan, the maestro
George M. Cohan Tonight! plays at The New Players Theatre from 21 Sept to 16 Oct 2010. Box Office: www. ticketweb.co.uk / 08444 77 1000
Flashdancing Victoria Hamilton-Barritt as Alex, in the new production of Tom Hedley’s Flashdance
Tom Hedley tells The American about life and work on both sides of the Atlantic, and bringing his most famous creation to the London stage
was born in England, in Sevenoaks, Kent. My family moved to Canada, and at school the children beat me up at recess because they couldn’t bear the accent. Not only that, I was humiliated because my mother cut the crusts off my sandwiches and put little salt and pepper shakers in the bag – I never lived that down. I changed my accent as quickly as I could! My mother, who’s still alive and lives in Canada, still sounds completely English. My father was Canadian, in the military, so we travelled a lot. He fought in WWII, the 1st Canadian Division and I have a letter of his from the King at Buckingham Palace, welcoming him “to our shores”. He died relatively young, when I was writing Flashdance the movie. His parents were English, and most of my cousins are still here in London, so I have family here. At a very young age, I won an essay contest, and my teacher took me aside and said “you’re a natural writer”. He worked with me, and I began to think maybe I could become a writer. But my father said you couldn’t make any money writing. He was just thinking what a hard life it would be, even though I got most of my reading interests from him. So I went into journalism, thinking it was a skill I could get a job at. I became an editor very quickly, and was then picked up by Esquire at a very young age. Harold Hayes was my mentor, he was tough but brilliant. It was the late ’60s and he didn’t really approve of the hippies, so I was the one covering the counter-culture. He was one of those editors, the best ones, who was his own ‘average reader’. He didn’t go along with demographic studies, if he didn’t ‘feel’ the piece, he would reject it. At one period we discovered we were only using 15% of the pieces we were assigned. In those days you didn’t
pay anything to writers, but you gave them a lot of expenses, so they could afford to live while working on a story for months on end. A large part of my career was luck, the times intersected beautifully with my interests. Later in Canada they made ‘tax-dodge films’ and they were desperate for Canadians to write them, so I found myself writing movies. I didn’t plan any of these careers, they just seemed to happen. I was drawn to do something new, something fresh, that was what defined you. My father was always nervous about me changing my careers, he said ‘that’s ridiculous, you’re throwing away your health insurance’, but I was unmarried, and I just wanted to be pushed forward. Once you have a taste for mixing your careers it doesn’t go away. I did three Canadian films in the space of a year and a half. They all got reviewed in one issue of Variety at the Cannes Film Festival, so suddenly Hollywood took notice. Agents flew into the Toronto Film Festival to meet with me, and asked what I was working on. I told them about Flashdance, they vied for my attention, and before I knew it I had an office on the lot at Paramount! Flashdance started off with a friend of mine, Robert Markell, an artist in Toronto. Although an abstract impressionist painter, he did not want to get rid of the female figure, even in his abstracts there is a female figure. He told me the life models were working class girls – they all wanted to be graphic artists, or in fashion, not plumbers or electricians like their parents. There was a place where a lot of the girls danced, creating their own ‘tableaux vivants’. In fact these clubs were all over the place. They really were the first MTV girls, who wanted to make something dramatic out of themselves. Madonna was like them, except she was in New York. Flashdance came from
many different girls and many different influences. When I conceived the story many people asked if I’d followed Fame, but I didn’t. I really wanted to do a musical where they didn’t sing to the camera, so it didn’t feel like a musical. I hate the bit in Fame where they jumped on a yellow cab and started singing, it broke the magic, the realism. In a sense videos were a bit like that, and I found myself thinking the first Rocky was really a Frank Capra disco film because it was a fable that was quite musical in its structure! The first person I asked to direct Flashdance was Bob Fosse. Fosse loved the character but he said, “This will never, never make a movie, not a chance, but if you ever get around to putting it on the stage, come back and see me.” The movie got made eventually and they’ve been asking me to do a stage version for years. There have been many imitations – Billy Elliott, Dirty Dancing, Footloose – but this was the original. I was reluctant to do it, but I realised if I didn’t do it myself I wouldn’t be pleased with it. It’s very exciting because I’ve been able to deepen the piece. Stage demands a real involvement with character development and story. You want it to be the big, fabulous entertainment that the movie was, but you also want it to connect with the characters. It’s the first stage production I’ve done, but after years of writing screenplays I understood how dramatic writing really works. I was just anxious to put this on the stage in a way that wasn’t like the movie, a real play, a real musical experience, which I think I’ve achieved. I wanted a young team. I hired a brilliant young director named Nikolai Foster, who’s one of the best emerging directors in the UK. I also chose the composer, a young Canadian called Robbie Roth. With these guys, even
though it’s set in 1983 it feels like it is taking place right now. I was trying to avoid a stroll down memory lane, because jukebox musicals that just take you back to the Good Ole Days can be quite dead – they work, but they’re not ultimately satisfying. I feel very good about the team. I’m just trying to let them do their thing at the same time making sure it works as a whole. I think it could be better than the movie. The stakes get higher and higher as you move towards the opening in the West End. We put a lab production together in Plymouth and toured a bit, we got very good reviews with that, and it inspired us to go forward. It will get re-cast for the Broadway show, then we open in Toronto. Meanwhile we have an Italian language production that’s in rehearsals already. It opens in Milan on December 10th then tours Italy for six or seven months. It’s already translated into all the Scandinavian languages, and it goes on a massive tour there for a couple of years. But we need to succeed here, and if we do, we go to Broadway. It’s a tougher audience on Broadway, and if we succeed there, we’ll be very happy. H
The Government We Deserve? O
ne of the more intriguing questions in modern democratic societies is the question of whether people get ‘the government they deserve’ or ‘the government they vote for’? For example, in the recent British General Election one could argue that voter disaffection with the system and a nationwide distrust of politicians produced the current coalition of the parties that the punter considered to be the least worst option. More positively, some look to the election of President Obama as evidence of the ability of the voter to overcome the odds in a system which favours the incumbent and the wealthy. Never far from such discussions is the perennial problem of voter turnout, which varies from country to country and location in the electoral cycle, but generally measures at somewhere only barely above dismal in most industrialised democratic countries. As the old saw goes, ‘If they can’t be bothered to vote – they deserve the government they get’. However, the question remains as whether or not that is the same as getting the government they deserve? These points are all relevant as the United States midterm elections heave into view. They are understandably being viewed as a major test of the policy agenda of the Democrats in power and will, simultaneously, repose the question of what the people ‘deserve’. Even for the optimists of 2008 the way ahead doesn’t look rosy for the Democrats and the loss of one, possibly
Alison Holmes, Pierre Keller Fellow of Transatlantic Studies at Yale University, considers whether we get what we vote for The original tea party – Boston, 1773
even both Houses is not beyond the realm of possibility. Certainly the loss of Edward Kennedy’s seat of over fifty years to the Republicans in a handy win earlier in the year is seen by many as a harbinger of the danger to come. The main – for many the only – issue is the current economic recovery or lack thereof. Commentators and economic crystal ball gazers are not holding out much hope of anything other than at least a second slip if not a double dip recession. Unemployment figures bear this out with the latest magic number being the unemployment rate of 9.6%. Looking at these numbers in any depth will add no comfort to the crack campaign team in the White House in that
four key states in the mid-term fights, namely Michigan, Nevada, California and Florida, are also leading or tipping into the top ten of unemployment figures. Michigan has the unenviable position of being number one with the full 9.6%, California at number three with 8.4%, Nevada at seven with 8% and Florida just over the top ten line at number 11 with 7.3% of its population currently unemployed. It is no small wonder then, with domestic and economic issues providing nothing but electoral misery that President Obama has resorted to a classic political ploy. It was surely a clear case of ‘quick, look away from issues at home’ in terms of his announcement on
August 31 that ‘the American combat mission in Iraq has ended’. He stuck to this rather awkward, but interesting legalistic configuration of language almost too admirably – leading one to at least suspect that we may only find out the real reasoning for this tortured prose in the months to come. Certainly, the generous(?) nod in the direction of the former President Bush with an acknowledgment of his patriotism adds to the room for cynicism and leads to the conclusion that whatever the seriousness of the announcement, it was ultimately orchestrated by his campaign gurus to achieve two things: to help shore up loyal Democrats who are finding themselves fighting a rising tide of disappointment and uncertainty and to make an appeal to Republican voters who remain to be convinced that the Democratic administration ever truly had the interests of the troops at heart given their (wobbly) opposition to the war. Meanwhile, the Republicans are working hard to maximise their advantage despite their own internal turmoil. It is ironic and perhaps a sign of the times that a movement which draws its name, ‘the Tea Party,’ from history (albeit incorrectly) is making some headway. It has no coherent mission or defined policy message – unless smaller government could be considered a clear political philosophy. However, the power of providing focus to the floating angst and pervasive uncertainty of the times cannot be underestimated. This was the lesson that some took from the poll ratings which Tea Partiers managed to generate in places like Arizona, even if they were not able to sustain the lead or steal the prize of John McCain’s seat. Midterms are essentially an exercise in electoral navel gazing. As important as the war in Iraq has been in terms of differentiating the political parties, the fact remains that, at this point in the
more likely to be in the mid to high 40s electoral cycle, it is not at the forefront for midterm elections and into the 60s of most people’s minds. They are still for Presidential years. The cause and losing their jobs, their homes, their saveffect of the relatively sudden drop ings and their health care. The radicalcan be pondered endlessly, but it was ness of Obama sounded idealistic and the early 1970s that proved the break hopeful with a message of change, but in voter confidence and political trust there has not been enough change (at and instigated a breach in political civic least enough positive change) to reasduty and created what turned out to be sure the voters in places like Michigan a permanent democratic deficit. that their vote was not a big mistake. What kind of governments do It is politically incorrect to suggest that people deserve? Do they get what they the question of troops coming home deserve or just what they vote for? or ‘ending their combat mission’ is not There are reasons to suspect that both the biggest political achievement of questions are simultaneously frivolous this administration, but it is not the and frighteningly important to the question of a midterm election. The future of any democratic country. question of a midterm election is, what The answer, it would seem, remains government do people deserve? a bit of both. H All of which leads back to the question of voter turnout. Over the coming weeks and months a great deal of time will be spent discussing this issue and what it will mean to specific contests in particular states in November. And it is undoubtedly true that turnout will make the difference in some seats. However, even a cursory glance at the numbers over time tells a different, and rather more depressing story. The magic number here is 37% – the approximate turnout for midterm elections since the early 1960s. Again, as with the unemployment figures, added depth adds little joy in terms of the democratic process. Regardless of political times and tides, or the fortunes of political leaders and their parties, the midterm turnout has been stuck firmly around 37, while turnout in presidential years is stuck somewhere in the mid-50s. To find a higher number one must go back to A Tea Party another decade of placard at the turmoil and uncerTaxpayer March tainty, namely the on Washington, 1960s. In those heady September 2009 DB KING days the turnout was
Freedom to Pray … and Drink PATRICK CORREIA
Two silly obsessions, one Stateside, the other in Britain, demonstrate our increasingly intolerant outlook as a western society, says Alan Miller.
n the US, Park 51 - the Islamic cultural center proposed to be developed close to Ground Zero – has caused an international furore. Having been a fairly obscure local zoning issue, Sarah Palin blogged about the “Ground Zero Mosque” with outrage and Newt Gingrich pushed the issue to conservatives, arguing that it was highly insulting to have The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission permit such an affront. Mayor Bloomberg weighed in, arguing for religious freedom, as did President Obama. And Pastor Terry Jones was driven to thoughts of burning the Quran. While those arguing for religious freedom are formally correct, it does seem as though the real argument is far more worrying. Under the point about religious freedom (and as it happens no one was saying that mosques should be banned) many in the ‘liberal’ camp are revealing contemptuous ideas about ordinary people in America. It is increasingly popular to use the term “bigot” for people that don’t share a multicultural outlook. Namecalling does little to win anyone over, indeed the effect is to shut down debate and stigmatize people. Those “stupid” ignorant, bigoted people…
a bit like what the Democrats kept doing when they were mystified as to why they couldn’t win an election prior to Obama’s victory. In this mindset, it is not that there is a universal sense that freedom should be across the board, more that certain types of people or organizations should be entitled to the benefit of freedom. The enlightened outlook of Voltaire – to paraphrase, “I shall defend to the death your right to say something I disapprove of” – is jettisoned and reposed to “We shall defend your right to say things that are inoffensive”. The ‘tolerance’ of the PC (Politically Correct) crowd is useless as it always argues along the lines of ‘respect’ and ‘sensitivity’, and the minute these cherished ideas are challenged the outrage demands clamping down. This is precisely why the conservatives are using the term ‘insensitive’ to oppose the 13 storey Islamic center, and why Charles Krauthammer argues that Ground Zero is ‘hallowed ground’. Other opponents say it is “politically motivated” and thus should not be allowed the kind of freedom religious institutions enjoy. Ironically, rather than arguing for universal freedom, regardless of who it is for or why – the
only kind of freedom that is real in fact – those defending Park 51 do so on the basis that the center will somehow be a “bridge to cultural harmony” which will promote moderation, non violence and…yes, of course, diversity. The New York Times called the centre a ‘monument to tolerance’. What if it were not interested in “tolerance”? Should it then be prevented from permission to open there? Why exactly? Similar debates have been raging in Europe of course, where some governments have moved to ban Muslim women wearing the burqa, minarets have been banned and shrill voices are heard about whether the wearing the hijab, niqab and indeed certain practices of Islam itself represents a challenge to Western values. What is happening here is really the petrified outlook of an ossified elite in society that has become so obsessed on the one hand with “terror” and radical Islam – and petrified at the same time of being accused of being racist and Islamophobic. We need to encourage true disagreement in civil discourse, the way the old Enlightenment protagonists enjoyed it. Nothing should be beyond intellectual debate – and at the same time we all are free to say
that we think religion is silly mumbo jumbo if we so think. Aside from a society that is entirely unsure about what it stands for, so strange to see “Uncle Sam” vacillating so nervously, the other travesty is that so little has been built around Ground Zero in nine years. Come on, let’s dream, invest, design, construct and build ourselves a new world and stop getting caught up with trivialities. Trivial though, the new UK Government “consultation document” Re-balancing the Licensing Act is not. In opposition the Conservatives railed at New Labour’s ever increasing encroachment on individual lives. Now in power they and the Liberal Dems seem hellbent on taking the autocratic ideas even further. This is why ideas are so important – they can be contagious; and what we think matters and has consequences. So, the current vogue for drinkers (as well as smokers and, well, eaters too…) has resulted in a government that has very little to say about overcoming poverty, improving the housing stock, inspiring education investment or tackling unemployment, is aiming to – yup you guessed it – curb our drinking. Hey, why not. After all, it’s a whole lot easier than coming up with any real substantive changes in society. Also, one can bleat on about alco-pop drinking bingers who are a menace to society. However, at the very heart of the consultation – and I had it in italics because it seems to have been pushed through at lightning speed with very minimal consultation – it is presented as being about residents and communities, however in actual fact what it prescribes is further control by the state, through the police and authorities and local councils being able to dispense with due process and simply say no to granting or renewing licenses when they so choose.
I should declare I have an interest here of course, as an owner of The Vibe Bar in London. It is worth noting, without getting side tracked, that much of that area in London has seen a huge spike in business and activity as a consequence of mixed use and night time activity (part of our outlook in launching The Old Truman Brewery). However, my concerns are not parochial. They stem from certain key measures that aim to eradicate processes that form checks and balances. So, currently, if one does not receive a license or an extension in hours, there is an appeal process. It is very costly and time consuming, however it exists. The proposal aims to get rid of this. It also aims to promote the idea that councils can simply turn licenses down if they deem granting it will detrimentally impact people’s health somehow. Excuse me? Yes, that’s right. We may not know what the outcome of you having a few drinks with your friends at night after a hard day of work may be – but hey, who cares, it might be detrimental to your health. So it goes on, aiming to get rid of temporary license extensions and others – all in the name of “community” and “residents” – yet in reality aiming to strengthen the authorities ability to decide what we do in our free time. Alcohol licensing historically has been subject to ongoing control – mainly for ordinary people of course, which is why in private members clubs and hotels those rules do not apply in the same way that the Great
Unwashed have to observe them – however we all have an interest in challenging this draconian proposal. It is about time bureaucrats stopped treating adult civilians like naughty children who aren’t allowed sweets. Otherwise we are going to find our freedoms are continually eroded on dodgy grounds about what is healthy, hygienic or happiness-inducing for us. I invite all readers of The American to come along to The Battle of Ideas in London on 30 & 31 October at The Royal College of Art to discuss, argue and…even have a drink. Cheers! H Alan Miller is Director of The New York Salon (www.nysalon.org ) and cofounder of London’s Old Truman Brewery. He sits on the London Regional Council of The Arts Council England and will be speaking at The Battle of Ideas in London, 30 & 31 October 2010 http://www.battleofideas.org.uk/
The burkha – the next target for proscription? TODD HUFFMAN
Britain’s Most Beautiful Views A
survey by car company Chevrolet has come up with a list of the best views in the UK. Do you agree? In a nationwide poll to celebrate the best of scenic Britain, Lake Buttermere has been voted Britain’s most beautiful view. One in five (18%) Brits believe the small but perfectly formed Lake Buttermere in Cumbria is the nation’s top view, closely followed by neighbouring Lake Derwentwater which received eleven per cent of the vote. Chevrolet’s survey was conducted online by Fly Research in July, during a time when more people are taking driving holidays in UK, and the ‘staycation’ trend continues. To celebrate the spectacular views the car company has created a four metre wide gilt frame which turns the natural environment into “scenic art”. You can drive into parking spaces in front of the frame so you can enjoy the best aspect of each scene from the comfort of your car.
The nation’s top ten views are: 1. Lake Buttermere, Cumbria (18%) A picture perfect lake surrounded by rolling mountains and fertile dairy pastures 2. Derwentwater, Cumbria (11%) Cumbria’s third largest lake which is also home to four islands 3. Seven Sisters, Sussex (9%) A series of white cliffs in East Sussex facing out into the English Channel
4. St Ives, Cornwall (7%) Formerly a busy fishing port in the Middle Ages, now a busy Cornish town 5. Stonehenge, Wiltshire (6%) A world heritage site whose large monolithic stones are instantly recognisable 6. Holkham Beach, Norfolk (6%) Located within a nature reserve the large beach is covered in golden sand 7. Swaledale, Yorkshire (6%) One of the most remote dales which hosts sparkling streams and lush meadows 8. Wastwater, Cumbria (5%) England’s deepest lake, surrounded by England’s highest mountains 9. Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland (5%) The castle stands 180 foot above the North Sea and unspoilt beaches 10. Loch Coruisk, Isle of Skye (4%) The Loch’s dramatic landscape can only be reached by boat or a long hike. Les Turton from Chevrolet UK, comments: “We don’t need to fork out on flights to find scenic locations. It is really great that more and more people are appreciating and acknowledging everything that this country has to offer us. There is a wealth of beauty on offer to everyone within the UK and we only need to hit the road to find it.” H
ALL IMAGES © GARY BAKER
Team GB qualify for EuroBasket 2011 ...with more than a few Stateside connections
t’s been a good end-of-summer for British basketball, with both the men’s and women’s teams qualifying for the EuroBasket 2011 Finals (and in the process making a great case for Team GB’s inclusion in the 2012 Olympics). The men won their first five qualification games – all against Eastern European foes, and six of eight, losing only to Macedonia and the Ukraine, even without the injured Ben Gordon (pictured with Luol Deng, top of page). Meanwhile the women went four of six, including a sweep of Germany. As our captions suggest, an infusion of transatlantic backgrounds is serving the Brits (and adopted Brits) well...
Above: US-born Flinder Boyd and Nate Reinking. Boyd’s parents were Brits. Reinking (a Brit by marriage) has played every game in the GB program’s four years. Above: Britain’s Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls). Below: Ukraine’s Timberwolves-allocated Oleksiy Pecherov [perhaps not taken from his best side – ed.]
Above: Azania Stewart (born Wood Green, London), a 6’ 4” center, also plays for the University of Florida. Left: Kim Butler (born Tacoma, USA) has enjoyed success both at Oregon State and Panionios (Greece).
With a deadline looming, Richard L Gale found himself away from the TV for the NFL’s opening Sunday. Unthinkable? Not exactly...
ecently, I somewhat belatedly read Bill Bryson’s autobiographical Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, which recalls life in 1950s Des Moines. He describes the advent of television, the Sunday nothingness that went before, the innocence of an age when following sports meant listening to (mid-day) baseball games on the radio or reading print. I didn’t grow up in Des Moines, nor did I grow up during the ’50s and ’60s, but instead in Cornwall in the ’70s and ’80s, yet Bryson’s recollections still struck a nerve. It took an extra twenty years for the affluent technology of ’50s America to be reflected in the English West Country, but some major changes took place in our house at the start of the ’80s. For one thing, my parents surrendered (later than most) to colour TV and a VCR – happily
coinciding with the first appearance of American football on UK screens, courtesy of Channel 4. Back in the ’70s my life had been one of scabby knees earnt playing in the streets like the other kids, and American sports culture was represented by the occasional Globetrotters special on TV (in black and white, of course). At the dawn of the ’80s home computer games, American football, and Dungeons & Dragons all arrived in a rush, to provide Sunday salvation from the Autumn drizzle. I never went out again. A lot of other kids my age didn’t go out again either, something for which our 40-something waistlines now bear testament. Yet, somewhat counter-culturally, I discovered radio. For the first few years my growing love for football was answered by week-old highlights on Channel 4, but rumor circulated that if you twiddled the radio just so and listened more acutely than the Bionic Man, you could hear games live on AFN. I did, and I realized that I was missing more football than I knew – a college form of the game. College football’s structure seemed impenetrably complex, but then this was a D&D player we’re talking about: complexity was a bonus. And that was when I truly became addicted. Not through television, but through the imagination
required to picture players and plays you can’t see, through the mythology of radio. By the time the NFL (and much later MLB and the NBA) arrived on our screens TV had already become a little too slick. For the real joy of American sports coverage, you needed to experience the likes of Myron Cope or Harry Carey. I missed out on Howard Cosell, but I wasn’t too late to catch them. I’m elated that the NFL has returned to Channel 4, again fronted by the witty Gary Imlach, plus the insightful Mike Carlson. I feel spoilt beyond measure that ESPN’s coverage now includes Monday Night Football and NFL Countdown, and I am reassured by the fact that Sky will again serve up not only Sunday games but those occasional Thursday night offerings that for two decades were ignored by TV, even at Thanksgiving. Nonetheless, when that first Sunday of this season came, I spurned the Giants and Seahawks and, chasing this very print deadline, settled down at my computer with good ol’ fashioned internet radio, drinking in the emotional highs and lows with Bob Larney, ‘the voice of the Colts’, as Indie went down to the Texans. How could it be any better? The answer, of course, is a live, meaningful NFL game right here in England, with live national TV and radio coverage. British gridiron fans should never take it for granted that all our dreams came true. H
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Trick or Treat? The San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos are spending Hallowe’en in Wembley. Losing in London could prove a nightmare for either team’s playoff aspirations
o far in the series, the NFL has certainly brought variety to London: the eventual Super Bowl-winning Giants in a murky encounter with dismal Miami; a shootout between the Saints and Chargers; and a blatant mismatch between the Patriots and Buccaneers. This year, London plays host to a battle of the mid-packs who, while not obviously tantalizing, have been rich on storylines these past few months. London now hosts what could be an intriguing clash of on-the-rise teams.
The Quarterbacks: Starters For Now
At press time (after week one) neither team could cite QB as an area of strength. Instead, San Francisco has embattled former first round pick Alex Smith still failing to look the part, and the only reason he isn’t in the midst of a quarterback controversy may be because his backup, David Carr, has done even less in three NFL stops. The Broncos have exciting depth behind starter Kyle Orton – ex-Notre Dame star Brady Quinn and ex-Florida icon Tim Tebow – but while Orton has spent most of his career regarded as a stop-gap solution, he has a habit of winning. Both situations point to Smith and Orton remaining the starters when they visit London, although the potentially-inspiring talent of dual-threat rookie Tebow could take the field for set pieces, especially if the Broncos’ ground game is looking sluggish at midseason. Denver’s Kyle Orton has never suffered a losing season as a starter, with a career record of 29-20 in six seasons. His 3,802 yards and 21 scoring throws last year were both career highs. © ERIC LARS BAKKE / DENVER BRONCOS
The Broncos don’t lack start-quality backs, just fit ones. Knowshon Moreno’s statistics were tagged by some to explode in his second year, but was hampered by a hamstring in preseason. LenDale White, brought in from Tennessee, is on IR. Ex-Patriot Laurence Maroney (set to make his second appearance at Wembley) brought his thigh injury to the Broncos in time to be inactive for week two, but could factor in by the time Denver visits. For the Broncos to go from gimpy to good, a lot relies on the line, and at press time that was still shuffling. By comparison, San Francisco has a franchise back in Frank Gore. The six-year veteran has posted 1000-yard seasons the past four years (with a high of 1,695 in 2006), is regularly
worth 400 yards receiving, and is coming off a career-high 13 combined TDs in 2009. With exEagles stalwart Brian Westbrook (a combined 14 scores last year) spelling him, this should be a strength, but the offensive’s inability to dominate the line of scrimmage week one in Seattle challenges this as an advantage for the 49ers. But if the 49ers are going to win on English turf, it needs to be.
Single Issue Politics
The week one visit to Seattle was a disaster for the 49ers, both on the field and perhaps internally. Head coach Mike Singletary, who takes most things head-on, exited the loss defending his quarterback and responding to rumors about player frustrations with coordinator Jimmy Raye’s inability to get plays down to the field in time. “I don’t want to spend the time trying to find a rat” Singletary commented after an apparent leak to Yahoo! Sports. The last thing Singletary needs in a season when the 49ers were expected to break through, is a breakout of internal politics instead. By comparison, Denver head coach Josh McDaniels seems to have dealt (literally) with potential disruptions over the past two years, first trading QB Jay Cutler, and this offseason WR Brandon Marshall. The latter was a massive loss, yet by London, Denver’s Eddie Royal could be emerging as one of the league’s catching leaders. If their other first round rookie, Demaryius Thomas can shake off a nagging foot injury, receiver could still be a strength.
Denver Have It Covered
The 49ers receivers have it all to prove. Michael Crabtree clearly has all-pro talent, and with Ted Ginn Jr (another Wembley veteran with the Dolphins) taking over as kick returner, Josh Morgan could be the answer on the other side. The team paid TE Vernon Davis big money after he responded to coach Singletary calling him out in 2008 with a 78-catch season in 2009. However, overcoming the Denver secondary will be tough. Despite the injury loss of 2009 NFL sack leader LB Elvis Dumervil, and the up-front pressure he brought, the secondary is where the money men are for the Broncos.
Four of the top eight salaries on the team start at DB, including corners Champ Bailey and Andre Goodman, and safeties Brian Dawkins and Renaldo Hill, boasting 48 NFL campaigns between them. On the evidence to date, San Francisco’s Alex Smith won’t be picking Denver apart unless the 49ers offense finds cohesion in a spectacular way over the next few weeks.
Going The Distance
If the 49ers didn’t knit together well during the flight to Seattle, would a long-haul to London unravel them completely? Wembley should be a lot less hostile than raucous Qwest Field. Rather than an intimidating ‘12th man’, the crowd predominantly will be a collection of neutrals ready to celebrate plays by either side. In theory, the 49ers – making their record-tying ninth international appearance (and third at Wembley) wil be the ‘home’ side. Though it’s possible that the 49ers could be looking to level their record at the mid-way point of the season (while the Broncos bring an equally saggy win-loss with them), both teams have a schedule that allows second-half recovery in weak divisions. But it must start in London. H
Above: Frank Gore needs to take runs to the second level against Denver if the 49ers are to win © SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Below: If Alex Smith doesn’t nail down his role as a starter this season, things could get very uncomfortable both for himself and coach Singletary © SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Gazing into the
Crystal Ball Jeremy Lanaway makes six picks for the 2010-11 NHL Season PHOTO © CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
ctober brings falling leaves and rising anticipation in the hockey world – the month in which the 201011 NHL season will get underway. It doesn’t matter if you’re still savouring bragging rights in the Windy City, where Lord Stanley’s coveted Cup currently resides, or if you’re nursing your wounds in Edmonton, trying to forget the Oilers’ thirtieth-place finish last season; the best part about the coming opening day is that every team in the league gets a clean slate. Nobody has won, and nobody has lost. The season is truly up for grabs. However, clean slate or not, the fact of the matter is that a handful of teams are already enjoying favouritism – at least on paper. For whatever
reason – off-season acquisitions, bench boss changes, salary cap manipulations – six teams have put themselves ahead of the pack, earning favourable pre-season predictions. Of course, the expectations are limited to theory, but with the preseason still running its course, and without any official points in the bank, theory is the only currency on the market.
EASTERN CONFERENCE Boston Bruins Many experts are pencilling the Bruins in as top contenders in the Eastern Conference. They didn’t make any tidal waves in the offseason via big-name trades or pickups, but they
managed to hold on to most of their key components, including veteran leaders Mark Recchi and Marc Savard, who are expected to inject the squad with a dose of much-needed self-made redemption to erase last season’s humiliation of becoming the first NHL team in history to lose a playoff series after being up three games to none. The team will rely heavily on youthful netminder Tuukka Rask, who usurped Tim Thomas last season to become the team’s number-one goalie, finishing tops in the NHL in both goals-against average (1.97) and save percentage (.931) in the process, but it remains to be seen if Rask has what it takes to repeat his career year, or if he’ll turn out to be just another one-hit wonder. Pittsburgh Penguins The Penguins finished eighth in the league last season with 101 points, and then succumbed to the dreaded ‘Cup Hangover’ by falling in the second round of the playoffs. The team is laden with talent, though, so it’s a safe bet to expect them to be in the running come April, 2011. The team shed some age in the summer, releasing veterans Bill Guerin and Sergei Gonchar, but they filled the void on the blue-line with rough-and-tumble defender Paul Martin, who will add a dollop of meanness to the Penguins’ bench. Can the Penguins repeat their magical run from 2009? If captain Sidney Crosby has any say in the matter, they’ll certainly be in a good position to try. Washington Capitals Last season’s deflating departure from the first round of the playoffs will surely function as a motivator for Alexander Ovechkin and his Capitals as they navigate the 2010-11 schedule. You can chalk up the first-round loss to the Montreal Canadiens as a byproduct of immaturity, but you can bet
that last season’s President’s Trophywinning team won’t make the same mistake twice. Management didn’t ink any marquee players in the offseason, but it didn’t have to – the Capitals are already bulging at the seams with talent. The only question mark is sitting between the pipes, but if Semyon Varlamov can find his game, like he did two seasons ago, and then keep it, the Capitals are going to give themselves a chance to win their first-ever Cup.
WESTERN CONFERENCE Chicago Blackhawks Last season’s Stanley Cup champions made more changes to their roster than any other team in the NHL, including a number of notable subtractions in the form of goalies Antti Niemi and Christobal Huet, and skaters Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager, Kris Versteeg, Adam Burish, and John Madden. Having nine players slashed from their Cup-winning roster may be a tough pill to swallow for fans, but the Blackhawks offered a glass of water to help ease it down through three off-season signings: stay-at-home defenceman John Scott, get-under-your-skin forward Fernando Pisani, and big-name goalie Marty Turco. Fans might be entertaining pipedreams about their team becoming the first dynasty in the NHL in recent history, but eighty-two regular-season tilts and sixteen wins in the playoffs might not prove to be enough games to allow the Blackhawks to shake the hangover. Just ask Crosby and the Penguins. Phoenix Coyotes The Yotes were the feel-good story last season, winning fifty regular-season games and finishing with 107 points. They had home-ice advantage in their first playoffs series since 2002, and
even though they didn’t get to cut the rug to many tunes in the big dance, they definitely managed to reverse their once-losing image around the league. The summer brought a key addition to the roster, winger Ray Whitney, whose thirty-eight years and 869 career points are expected to bolster the Coyotes’ leadership group. The club also sharpened their offensive prong at last season’s trade deadline, acquiring forward Wojtek Wolski from the Colorado Avalanche, a pickup that’s sure to bear fruit in the games to come. Was last season a flash in the proverbial pan? Or will the Coyotes prove that hockey deserves a home in the desert? It depends on which team shows up for each game — the one that finished on the fourth rung of the NHL ladder last season, or the one that ran hockey legend Wayne Gretzky out of the sport. Los Angeles Kings The word-of-the-day in the Pacific Division is youth, and the Kings are a broken record when it comes to uttering it. They finished sixth in the West last season, earning their first playoff berth since 2001, proving that they’re ready to take the big stage. GM Dean Lombardi toyed with the idea of signing off-season hot ticket Ilya Kovalchuk, but then proved that he was committed to his youngsters by refusing to front the hefty price tag attached to the prized Russian. In the end, the Kings signed forward Alexei Ponikarovsky and shut-down defenceman Willie Mitchell, but it’s their patience and commitment to the process that will likely bring them success next spring. If sniper Anze Kopitar and pipe-minder Jonathan Quick can repeat the success of last season, and preferably expand upon it, the team will likely finish in the top ten, maybe even the top five. The future, as they say, is bright for the Kings of California. H
PHOTO © BOSTON BRUINS
Sports Diary: October Boston Bruins in Northern Ireland Odyssey Arena, Belfast NHL and Elite Ice Hockey League talents face off for the first time when the Boston Bruins play the Belfast Giants Selects (an All–Star Team made up of the best of the current Belfast Giants and the top Players throughout the UK’s Elite League, on Oct 2nd. The Elite Ice Hockey League continues through to March. belfastgiants.com/bruinstickets and eliteleague.co.uk October 2 NBA Europe Live at the O2 O2 Arena, London The mighty LA Lakers visit London for an exhibition warm-up against the Minnesota Timberwolves this coming month, the fourth consecutive year the NBA has dropped in the UK. The game is the first international trip for reigning NBA champs LA since a visit to Paris in 1991. www.theo2.co.uk October 4 BBL Championship Tips Oﬀ Various venues The Newcastle Eagles will again be the defending champions as the British Basketball League’s championship gets underway this month. Teams from Glasgow, Essex, Guildford, Mersey, Sheffield, Cheshire, Plymouth, Milton Keynes, Leicester, Worcester and Worthing will be chasing Fab Flournoy’s squad once again. www.bbl.org.uk
A prayer for the stressed
We’re not sure where this originated, but we’ve stolen this from our production department’s wall. It helps!
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of those I had to kill today because they got on my nerves. And also, help me to be careful of the toes I step on today as they may be connected to the feet I may have to kiss tomorrow. Help me always to give 100% at work … 12% on Monday 23% on Tuesday 40% on Wednesday 20% on Thursday and 5% on Friday And help me to remember … when I am having a bad day and it seems that people are trying to wind me up, it takes 42 muscles to frown, 28 to smile and only 4 to extend my arm and smack someone in the mouth! 64
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Published on Dec 1, 2010
The American has been published in Britain since 1976. It is the only monthly magazine / website / community for Americans visiting and livi...