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November 2010

THE ESSENTIAL MONTHLY FOR ALL AMERICANS

Est. 1976

®

£2.80 www.theamerican.co.uk

Stephen Dale Petit

Bringing the Blues to Britain

WHAT’S ON • SPORTS RESTAURANT REVIEWS ARTS • POLITICS

Actor Michael Landes interviewed Bonfire Night: So who’s this Fawkes guy?


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The American ®

Issue 691 – November 2010 PUBLISHED BY SP MEDIA FOR

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

Publisher: Michael Burland +44 (0)1747 830328 editor@theamerican.co.uk Please contact us with your news or article ideas Advertising & Promotions: Sabrina Sully, Commercial Director +44 (0)1747 830520 sabrina.sully@blueedge.co.uk Subscriptions enquiries: Phone +44 (0)1747 830328, email theamerican@blueedge.co.uk Correspondents: Mary Bailey, Social mary@theamerican.co.uk Richard Gale, Sports Editor richard@theamerican.co.uk Alison Holmes, Politics alison@theamerican.co.uk Riki Evans Johnson, European riki@theamerican.co.uk Jeremy Lanaway, Hockey jeremy@theamerican.co.uk Estelle Lovatt, Arts estelle@theamerican.co.uk Dom Mills, Motorsports dom@theamerican.co.uk Jarlath O’Connell, Theater jarlath@theamerican.co.uk Virginia E. Schultz, Food & Drink virginia@theamerican.co.uk

©2010 Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Printed by Advent Colour Ltd., 19 East Portway Industrial Estate, Andover, SP10 3LU www.advent-colour.co.uk ISSN 2045-5968 Main cover image: Stephen Dale Petit; Circular image: Michael Landes (photo by Simon Annand)

Welcome I

t’s Thanksgiving, time to remember the Native Americans who helped the European settlers through a dreadful winter, enabling them to survive, thrive and eventually create what we now call the United States of America. The best known of them was Tisquantum, known as Squanto. The image we have is of naïve tribespeople walking out of the forest with corn and turkey to give to the foreigners whom they neither knew nor could understand. Things were, as ever, more complicated. Squanto had been captured by an English sea captain in 1605, taught English and trained to be a translator, returned to his home area by Captain John Smith, kidnapped by another Englishman, escaped to London, lived there for several years, sailed to Newfoundland, returned to England, sailed back home found that his tribe had been decimated by a plague and finally settled with the white colonists at his former village. That’s when he helped them through that difficult winter, despite having been so misused. Food for thought? Enjoy your magazine,

Michael Burland, Editor editor@theamerican.co.uk

SOME OF THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS

James Carroll Jordan is an American actor currently living and working in London. He has some personal insights into what it’s like behind the scenes in the acting world.

Ruth van Reken is an author who has written about the modern phenomenon of Third Culture Kids – those who grow up outside their parent’s cultures.

Sir Robert Worcester, born in Kansas City ,is one of the most knowledgeable and influential psephologists in the world and founder of the MORI research organisation.

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.

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The American

In This Issue... The American • Issue 691 • November 2010

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News Whatever it might feel like, London isn’t the most expensive place for an expat to live – it’s Luanda, Angola!

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Diary Dates Out and about in Britain this month, why not go see the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run?

13 Bonfire Night Here’s our guide to a peculiarly British event.

SIMON ANNAND

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14 Friendship, Fun and Fundraising The best way for expats to meet people and do good at the same time is to join a social club

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15 Did America Bring Down the British Empire? Pt. 2 Our recent article suggesting the US deliberately undermined the British Empire sparks a feisty response 18 Lessons from the TCK Petri Dish With our modern lifestyles, many of our kids are growing up in different cultures to mom and dad’s 19 Arts Choice Classic to contemporary, ancient to modern, there are some fabulous arts exhibitions and events this month

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The American

24 Wining and Dining If you’re looking for somewhere to eat out at Thanksgiving The American can help. Also three fantastic restaurants reviewed 30 Coffee Break Exercise your mind, your memory and your laughter muscles 32 Music Stephen Dale Petit is an American musician who’s reinventing the blues here in London. He talks to The American

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36 Reviews An interview with Michael Landes, James Carroll Jordan on what it’s like to act in a British TV show, and the hottest plays reviewed

44 PHOTO: JON GARDINER, DUKE PHOTOGRAPHY

44 Politics How did expatriate Americans get the vote? Sir Robert Worcester explains. And Alan Miller compares the Tea Party in the U.S. with Labour’s leadership contest 48 Drive Time What’s happened to Saab after its takeover? Is the new 9-5 a real Saab? These questions and more answered 51 Sports Hoops and more hoops! It’s time to tip off the NCAA and NBA seasons.

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56 American Organizations Useful and social groups for you to join 64 Tail End What did the Romans ever do for us? Apart from defining the size of the Space Shuttle’s booster rockets, that is

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An artists impression of how the Royal Festival Hall’s unique organ will look after restoration – with your help? HAYES DAVIDSON NICK ROCHOWSKI

Royal Festival Hall Organ Fundraiser The Southbank Centre in London has launched a fundraising campaign, ‘Pull Out All The Stops’ (www.pulloutallthestops.org), to complete the refurbishment and reinstallation of the historic Royal Festival Hall organ. One third of the magnificent instrument has been worked on and the campaign will enable expert craftsmen to bring the remaining two thirds of the organ back to its former glory and reinstall it into the heart of the Grade 1 listed auditorium. You can sponsor one of the organ’s 7,866 pipes which range from one foot to 32 feet long and from £30 to £10,000. The total cost of the project is £2.3 million and the Heritage Lottery Fund has donated £950,000, so Southbank Centre now needs to raise another £1.35 million. Alan Bishop, Southbank’s CEO, said, “Our organ is a unique and wonderful musical instrument, an iconoclastic design, and crucial to our ability to perform major works by Saint-Saëns, Strauss and Fauré.” Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Resident Orchestra at Southbank Centre, added, “Having an organ at the Southbank Centre makes a crucial difference to the scope of the repertoire that we can cover and of all international cultural centres, Southbank Centre deserves an organ that is world class!”

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Surprise winner of the Most Expensive Place for an Expat to Live competition: Luanda, Angola! ERIK CLEVES KRISTENSEN

London Cheaper Than Africa For Expats

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he latest survey from human resources consulting firm Mercer has come up with some surprising conclusions about the cost of living as an expatriate in cities around the world. Cities in Africa are becoming increasingly expensive for expats. Three of them score in the top ten – Luanda in Angola is now the world’s most expensive city for expats, while Ndjamena in Chad is the third most costly and Libreville in Gabon features in seventh place. Mercer says this change shows the growing importance of Africa as an economic region to global companies. Nathalie Constantin-Métral, a senior researcher at the firm who compiles the ranking each year, said that while many people assume that cities in the

developing world are cheap, this “isn’t necessarily true for expatriates working there. To entice talented staff to these cities, multinationals need to provide the same standard of living and benefits that these employees and their families would experience at home. In some African cities, the cost of this can be extraordinarily high – particularly the cost of good, secure accommodation.” Tokyo is the second most expensive city, while London is joint 17th. Moscow is the fourth most expensive city followed by Geneva in fifth. Karachi is ranked as the world’s least expensive city. For foreigners going to live in the United States, New York is a reasonable 27th and Los Angeles a positively cheap 55th.

Secure Flight Program Update As we’ve reported before, the U.S. Government introduced the Secure Flight program in August 2009, a scheme run by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which requires airlines to collect Secure Flight Passenger Data. From November 1, all passengers must include the Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD) in their reservation at least 72 hours prior to departure. It includes full name, date of birth, gender and redress number. You will be unable to purchase any ticket on or after September 15, regardless of travel date, or to travel on or after November 1 or later, regardless of purchase date. If you have queries, contact your airline before traveling.


To change the world, change one life. Each day you serve to make the world safe. Working together, we can make it thrive. Support Global Impact and its 55 U.S.-based international charities through the Combined Federal Campaign-Overseas. Member charities include:

• Africare • Lutheran World Relief • Episcopal Relief & Development • Salvation Army World Service Office

Real Needs. Real Results. www.charity.org

CFC PartiCiPant


Peanuts Moleskines – Good Grief! What has Snoopy got in common with Ernest Hemingway? Moleskine notebooks, that’s what. The 60th anniversary of Charles M Schulz’s world famous comic strip is being celebrated with a special limited edition collection of the iconic notebooks, as used by Matisse, van Gogh and, of course, ‘Papa’ Hemingway. Charlie Brown, Lucy and Snoopy are featured on the exclusive cover art, interior art and packaging, and the notebooks are available in a variety of sizes and rule types. All the Limited Edition notebooks are embossed with Peanuts 60th Anniversary. The covers of the pocket notebooks portray scenes where two of the Peanuts characters talk to each other, emulating the strips. The large notebooks feature close up shots of Snoopy and Charlie Brown on the paper bands and a side profile embossed in white on the notebook itself. The inside cover of each notebook features inspiring quotes from the characters, and the famous Moleskine ‘In case of loss’ section has been customised as Snoopy’s house, with the text presented in Schulz’s recognisable writing. There’s a Peanuts family tree and a set of special Peanuts stickers incorporating the classic Peanuts ‘thought bubble’ inside the expandable pocket.

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Civil War Plaque Unveiled in Liverpool

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plaque commemorating an historic episode in Liverpool’s pivotal involvement in the American Civil War was unveiled October 6th. The plaque is sited on Charleston House, Rumford Place, Liverpool. Charleston, State Capital of South Carolina, was the headquarters of the Confederate United States Navy. During that war, the Confederate States Navy Purchasing Agent in Liverpool was Savannah-born James Dunwoody Bulloch (1823-1901). His office was nearby, also on Rumford Place. Bulloch and his brother, Irvine, were uncles of Theodore Roosevelt (26th President of the United States) and cousins of Confederate States President, Jefferson Davis. The plaque was unveiled by Miss Barbara Elliot, great grand-daughter of James Dunwoody Bulloch, whilst visiting Liverpool from her home in Perth, Western Australia.

Civil War Tour Features European Sites

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he Yankees are coming! As part of the cornerstone activities of the American Civil War Sesquicentennial (2011-2015), the Blue and Gray Education Society has crafted a program which will examine the basic premise of the rebellious Southern Confederacy that their “Second American Revolution” could and would be successful because of critical European interests and their willingness to intervene. A tour starts in Liverpool the evening of April 10, 2011 and winds its way with a combination of lectures and touring through Birkenhead, Manchester, London, Portsmouth, Cherbourg and ending in Paris on April 21st. “There are profound issues that students of the Civil War must

understand if they are to truly understand this great event,” says Executive Director, Len Riedel “we’ve tied them all together in this fast paced, informative program.” Using some of Europe’s finest scholars such as Charles Priestley, Jerry Williams and Pascale Chapron, participants will wrestle with issues such as slavery, King Cotton, international diplomacy, international commerce and funding. Generous time will be given to the infamous Laird Rams and Confederate raiders. Riedel boasts, “This is a one of a kind program.” Registration is open at www. blueandgrayeducation.org and readers can get more information by emailing Riedel at blueandgrayeducation@ yahoo.com.


The American

Dr Jenner goes to Washington

Embassy News

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bronze statue of Dr Edward Jenner (1749-1823) was unveiled September 28 by health ministers from across the Americas in its new home at the Pan American Health Organization in Washington DC, marking the 30th anniversary of the eradication of smallpox. Jenner pioneered vaccination against smallpox in 1796. His work is hailed as the greatest medical breakthrough of all time saving millions of lives. In Jenner’s day one in three children’s deaths was due to smallpox and in the 20th century it killed 300 million worldwide. Famous smallpox sufferers include Mozart, Beethoven, Queen Elizabeth I, Joseph Stalin, and President Abraham Lincoln. To date, it is the only disease to ever be eradicated. The statue is on long-term loan from the Edward Jenner Museum in Berkeley, UK. It is a smaller replica of an original statue standing outside the Tokyo National Museum in Japan. Jenner was also honoured in May 2010 on his birthday with a statue unveiling ceremony in Geneva at the World Health Organization’s headquarters. Museum Director, Sarah Parker said, “We are delighted that Edward Jenner this year is once again being honoured internationally. Sadly Jenner is better known around the world for his significant contribution to world health than he is in his own country. This year is such an important anniversary year; I am delighted that Jenner has finally gone global!” The bronze statue of Edward Jenner marking his discovery of ‘the greatest medical breakthrough of all time’

Dating Scams Target US Civilians, Use US Soldiers’ IDs The US Embassy in London has been inundated by calls from American citizens back in the States who are concerned that their loved ones are penniless and in trouble in the capital of the UK. The only trouble involved is that these ‘loved ones’ are in fact fraudsters who have used the internet to scam their victims. The gangs of fraudsters are believed to come from West African countries including Nigeria and Ghana. They create fictitious personal profiles on online dating websites and build a relationship with the ‘mark’. After a while, emails arrive from the ‘loved one’ complete with a hard luck story – sometimes they are supposedly stuck in hospital without money for medical treatment, other times they are stranded in London or at Heathrow airport – and a request to send money, often thousands of pounds, immediately. US Consul General Derwood Staeben said: “We do not know where the scam artists are based but London is a major tourist destination for Americans and Heathrow is a major travel hub, so the requests for financial assistance might seem more credible if the alleged friend

or loved one is in the UK.” It’s not just Americans who are falling foul of these gangs. The UK’s Serious and Organised Crime Agency is investigating many cases in which scammers hijack the identities of real American soldiers – sometimes including those killed in action – to make the dating profiles seem real. They have even used photos from the social media profiles of real soldiers or military websites. Mr Staeben told the BBC that this kind of dating fraud is increasing rapidly. “When I arrived at my post two years ago, there were two or three a week. We’ve had more than 10 in the last five days,” he said. “In the last 10 months, here at the embassy, we’ve logged around 450 phone calls and just shy of 2,000 emails.” H

AMERICAN EMBASSY IN THE UK 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

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The American

Diary Dates

Your Guide To The Month Ahead

© SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Get your event listed free in The American – call the editor on +44 (0)1747 830520, or email details to editor@theamerican.co.uk

NFL: San Francisco 49ers v Denver Broncos Wembley Stadium, London HA9 0WS The only International Series game played in the UK in 2010. Enjoy London’s first-ever NFL fan rally the day before (30th) in Trafalgar Square. On the day itself, enjoy the pre-game Tailgate Party (access open to all game ticket holders, no need to apply in advance) in the shadow of the Wembley arch. Includes appearances from former football stars, cheerleaders, live music, authentic American food and drink. Visitors can show off their football skills in interactive games: throw like a quarterback, run like a running back or kick like a ...kicker. The 49ers Hall of Fame includes the trophies from their five Super Bowl wins and you can have your photo taken with the Vince Lombardi trophy. My Chemical Romance provide pre-game entertainment. www.nfluk.com October 31

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Blackpool Illuminations Blackpool, Lancashire Billed as the “greatest free show on earth”, this spectacular light show started in 1879 and has since grown into a luminous extravaganza using over a million lamps along six miles of seafront in this Lancashire town famous for its Pleasure Beach, promenade trams and Blackpool Tower. www.blackpool-illuminations.net September 03 to November 07 The Meeting UK Tour Days before his brutal assassination in 1965, Malcolm X returns to America from a successful trip to England. Separated from his family and with a death warrant on his head, he risks the scorn of his followers to meet with the man whose philosophy he has so fiercely opposed: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Meeting probes what would have happened between the two black leaders if they had met before they died. Cornell S. John plays Malcolm X, Ray Shell is Martin Luther King Jr. See website for dates and venues. www.collectiveartistes.co.uk to November 06 Viktoria Mullova with the LSO various, London Viktoria Mullova, one of today’s great violinists, is the London Symphony Orchestra’s UBS Soundscapes: Artist Portrait in 2010. She will perform three violin concertos with the Orchestra; 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. She will be the LSO’s Artist in Conversation, with practical demonstrations. Mullova defected from the USSR to the U.S. and now lives in London. See the website for full event details. lso.co.uk to December 21 Damian Ortega The Curve, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS Over the period of a month, Mexican artist Damian Ortega created new works in response to aspects of the daily news, taking inspiration from news items, photographic stories or graphics from local, national or international press which he translated into a sculpture, installation, proposition or prototype for a future project. They are exhibited in The Curve exhibition space. www.barbican.org.uk/artgallery to January 16, 2011 British Art Show various: Nottingham, London, Glasgow, Plymouth The British Art Show, an ambitious and influential exhibition of contemporary British art, is organised by Hayward Touring Exhibitions and takes place every five years. The 39 selected artists have been chosen on the grounds of their significant recent contribution to contemporary art. www.southbankcentre.co.uk October 23 to January, 2011 Nottingham, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham Castle Museum, New Art Exchange. February 16 to April 17 London, Hayward Gallery. May 28 to August 21 Glasgow, Centre for Contemporary Art, Gallery of Modern Art, Tramway. September 17 to December 4 Plymouth, Peninsula Arts, Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, Royal William Yard.


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The American

Dylan Thomas Festival Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea, South Wales Wales’ most famous poet, Dylan Thomas, is celebrated each year in the “ugly lovely town” of his birth, Swansea, in South Wales. This year’s theme is the number of Thomases who have made a significant contribution to the

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. NOVEMBER The museum is closed from Nov 1 but reopens on 26th for its annual Christmas at Claverton events, a wonderful event to start the festive season, and get the family into the spirit of things. The children will be awe inspired by the stunning decorations, and they may even learn something of American history – even if they don’t realise it at the time!

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

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literature of Wales and beyond. As well as Dylan himself, events will focus on R.S. Thomas, Edward Thomas, Wynford Vaughan Thomas, Gwyn Thomas and John Ormond Thomas. www.dylanthomas.com October 27 to November 09 London Children’s Film Festival various, London The pick of the best new international children’s films alongside special events, previews and workshops, the LCFF is a unique opportunity for young Londoners to delight in little-seen celluloid treats from around the world and be creative at the same time. www.barbican.org.uk/lcff October 30 to November 07 Wicked! 2010 St Pancras International, London A host of WICKED! and Halloween– themed events throughout the station including live performances from cast members, face-painting, workshops and activities. All proceeds go to the Woodland Trust’s Heartwood Forest Appeal, currently planting the largest new native forest in England. www.WickedDay.co.uk October 31 Christmas Fairs and Festivals various The UK has many, many Christmas fairs, often in a historic Victorian style (the classic Dickensian Christmas) with street entertainment, live music, food stalls and carols. Go to the Visit Britain tourist office website to find one near you. www.visitbritain.org November 1 to December 24 Day of the Dead British Museum, London WC1 Performance, processions, storytelling, displays and much more to celebrate the annual Mexican festival where families gather to remember the dead. www.britishmuseum.org 020 7323 8000 November 1

The Nutcracker Norwich, Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds Northern Ballet, one of the UK’s 4 national ballet companies, present this classic Christmas treat. Norwich Nov 2 to 6, Sheffield Nov 9 to 13, Manchester Nov 23 to 27, Leeds Nov 30 to Dec 12. northernballet.com 0113 220 8000 November 2 to December 12 Christine Keeler: my life in pictures The Mayor Gallery, 22a Cork Street, Piccadilly, London W1 70 images, most never before seen, reveal the public and private face of ‘Scandal’ model Christine Keeler. Her simultaneous affairs with British War Minister John Profumo and Russian naval attaché Eugene Ivanov created the crucial threat to national security that brought down Macmillan’s Tory government in 1963. www.mayorgallery.com 020 7734 3558 November 3 to December 17 Book signing: Lincoln and Darwin: Shared Visions of Race, Science, and Religion Chertsey Bookshop, 95-99 Guildford Street, Chertsey, Surrey James Lander has taught History at TASIS England American School for 26 years, and has just had a book published by Southern Illinois University Press (SIUP) entitled Lincoln and Darwin: Shared Visions of Race, Science, and Religion. You can meet the author at this book-signing. 7pm. 056 0049 8505 November 4 Guy Fawkes / Bonfire Night Across the UK On and around 5 November, there are thousands of events, in every town, commemorating with bonfires and fireworks the ‘Gunpowder Plot’ of 1605, in which a group of disaffected Catholics tried – and failed – to blow up parliament, King James I, and the aristocracy. Despite its origins, Bonfire


The American

Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Aldeburgh, Suffolk This year the Festival welcomes writers from America (incl. Marie Howe and Dorianne Laux), Ireland, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sweden and the UK. www.thepoetrytrust.org November 5 to 7 Brighton to London Future Car Challenge A new motoring contest run by the Royal Automobile Club for Electric, Hybrid and Low-Emission Internal Combustion Engine passenger cars to use the lowest energy on a 60 mile route from Madeira Drive, Brighton to Pall Mall & Regent Street, London. Held the day before the RAC’s world famous London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, but in the reverse direction. www.futurecarchallenge.com November 6 Junior League of London’s Boutique de Noel Kensington Town Hall, Hornton Street, London W8 7NX Now in its 31st year, the Junior League of London is proud to open its doors to the public for London’s leading holiday shopping bazaar. The Boutique de Noel opens with a Premier Shopping Evening on November 10th, featuring complimentary champagne and wine with canapés, Christmas carollers, a live as well as a silent auction and a raffle plus a fashion show (6pm to 10pm, £35, £20 for each subsequent ticket). This is followed by a full Shopping Day on November 11th, with speciality vendors, live music, food and a chance to visit Father Christmas (10am to 8pm, £5, group Rates are available). All proceeds will benefit the League’s antipoverty programmes. It’s shopping for a good cause.

www.jll.org.uk www.britishlegion.org.uk November 11 Bath Mozart Festival various, Bath Each year the Mozartfest celebrates the maestro’s music, and that of his contemporaries with performances by some of the world’s finest musicians. www.bathmozartfest.org.uk 01225 463 362 November 12 to 20 First Annual Bath Art Affair 30+ Commercial and Public Galleries, Bath With one of the greatest concentrations of galleries outside London, Bath hosts a festival of exhibitions, live music, demonstrations, talks and wine tasting. With work by Barbara Rae, Elizabeth Frink, Paula Rego, Banksy, Damien Hirst, Don McCullin, Sir Peter Blake and Henry Moore, as well as that of new artists from both the UK and abroad. www.bathgalleriesgroup.com November 12 to November 21, 2011 16th Encounters International Film Festival various, Bristol Britain’s biggest competitive international short film festival, including animation. With appearances from the UK’s best film making talent including a special event with Lord of the Rings star Andy Serkis. www.encounters-festival.org.uk November 16 to 21 Christmas Past: 400 Years Of Seasonal Traditions In English Homes Geffrye Museum,136 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, London E2 A fascinating insight into how Christmas has been celebrated in English middle– class homes from 1600 to the present day. With various adult and children’s workshops and events. www.geffrye-museum.org.uk 020 7739 9893 November 23 to January 2, 2011

JONS PICS

Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night, is celebrated by Britons of all traditions. Look in local press for details. www.enjoyengland.com November 5 to 6

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run The world’s longest running motoring event attracts entrants from all over the globe and for the owners of these highly valuable Veteran cars it’s a rare opportunity to take their extraordinary automobiles on the 60-mile run from Hyde Park in central London to the seafront on the Sussex resort of Brighton. Spectating along the route is absolutely free of charge and can be viewed from the roadside. (No seating is provided.) The first cars leave Hyde Park at Sunrise (7.04am) and then leave in pairs until 8:40am. They arrive at Preston Park in Brighton from 10.05am until approx. 4.30pm www.lbvcr.com November 07

American Thanksgiving Dinner for Franklin House Butchers’ Hall, 87 Bartholomew Close, London EC1 An appropriate benefit for Franklin House. From 1757-75 it was home to Dr Benjamin Franklin, scientist, diplomat, philosopher, inventor, and US Founding Father, and became the first de facto

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The American

US embassy during a pivotal time in Anglo-American history. Rescued from dereliction, the Grade I heritage treasure opened to the public on Franklin’s 300th birthday in 2006. www.benjaminfranklinhouse.org 0207 839 2006 November 25 Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul’s Cathedral St. Paul’s Cathedral, London The Thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s has become a tradition among American visitors, expatriates, and their British friends. Ambassador Louis Susman invites you to attend the service, which is free and open to all. It’s a non-denominational, American-style service, organized by the American Church in London. Photography in the Cathedral is not permitted. Mobile

phones should be switched off. Given the high level of security, it is important to arrive at the Cathedral early. The doors open at 9:45 a.m. Please plan to arrive no later than 10:30 a.m. Entry will be via the west end of the Cathedral. Closest Tube stop: St. Paul’s (Central line).11am. www.stpauls.co.uk November 25 Thanksgiving at Plymouth Plymouth, Devon Meet at Plymouth’s Guildhall at 10.30am for the USA Stars and Stripes Flag Raising and thence to the Mayflower Steps on Plymouth’s Historic Barbican for a ceremony with guest of honour Bill Dooris, US Naval Attaché at the United States Embassy in London. www.thanksgivingplymouth.com November 25

The Advent Procession – From Darkness to Light Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury Beginning with the cathedral in total darkness and silence as the Advent Candle is lit at the West End. The service is a mix of music and readings during which two great processions move around the entire building which is, by the end, illuminated by almost 1300 candles. Arrive early for seasonal refreshments in the Cloisters. www.salisburycathedral.org.uk November 26 to 28 Advent Procession Peterborough Cathedral, Cambridgeshire PE1 1XS Music and readings for the season of Advent sung by Peterborough Cathedral Choir. www.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk November 28 to November 29 The Royal Shakespeare Company – London Performances The Roundhouse, London The RSC returns to London’s Roundhouse in November to present a ten-week repertoire of eight plays by Shakespeare – six full–scale productions (Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, The Winter’s Tale, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, King Lear) and two (Hamlet, The Comedy of Errors) specially adapted for children and families. One company of 44 actors playing 228 roles. www.roundhouse.org.uk 0844 482 8008 November 30 to February 5, 2011

The Lord Mayor’s Show 2010 Mansion House, City of London, EC4 Dating back eight centuries, the annual parade now features over 140 decorated floats, performers, and the Lord Mayor in his gilded State Coach. A Royal Air Force flypast before the parade leaves Mansion House at 11am, wending past St Paul’s Cathedral and The Old Bailey to Victoria Embankment, then back to Mansion House for 4pm. Fantastic firework display finale at 5pm on the Thames between Blackfriars and Waterloo bridges. www.lordmayorsshow.org November 13

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St Andrew’s Day various On November 30th the world celebrates St Andrew’s Day, Scotland’s national day. There will be parties galore in Scotland, events around the world, and you could even host your own party. You don’t have wear a kilt to join the celebrations! www.scotland.org November 30


Why the Brits Burn a Guy on a Bonfire “Please to remember the 5th November, gunpowder, treason and plot” says an old rhyme. It’s a special day celebrated only in Britain. Mary Bailey tells all

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n 1605 Britain’s Protestants and Catholics were at war. Henry VIII had parted from Rome 60 years before to enable him to remarry and have a legitimate male heir, upsetting the whole of Europe. Perhaps he need not have bothered as his daughter Elizabeth later reigned as a very great monarch. Her heir was James I (Mary Queen of Scots’ son), who reigned as a moderate Protestant. There were, however some very stalwart Catholics, determined to regain power and have a sovereign of their own faith. They were charmingly direct in those days, no committees or political advisors, no consultants or spins. The head plotter, Catesby decided on a simple plan. The obvious thing to do was to blow up the King as he opened Parliament, and of course the Houses of Parliament as

well, and then put in his own people. He had a team of 13 (which might have given him a hint!). One was Guy Fawkes, or Guido as he was sometimes called, having served as a mercenary in Spain. Firewood and gunpowder was collected and stored in the unused undercroft of the Palace of Westminster, but the plotters had friends whom they warned not to attend Parliament on 5th November as they might get hurt. Suspicions grew and the King’s men decided to search the place. There was poor old Guy sitting on the firewood below which lay the gunpowder. The silly man had matches in his pockets and was immediately sent off to the Tower of London, where traitors were incarcerated. King James was informed and gave his permission for Fawkes to be tortured (just part of the day’s paperwork in those days). Guy gave everything away but most of the plotters had been killed fleeing and were already buried. It was decided to dig them up and put their heads on spikes where they could be seen by the people, as a warning. There was no television and not much theatre in those days and people seemed to enjoy this entertainment. Guy Fawkes was found guilty of treason, crime against the sovereign, and faced death by being hung, drawn and quartered. They meant this literally and it was a very unpleasant way to go.

So we are not caught out again, each year on the eve before the opening of Parliament the dungeons are searched. Celebrations take place on 5th November each year, in local parks and on village greens, with huge firework displays and general fun. On top of a massive bonfire is the Guy – usually an effigy of Fawkes, sometimes the Pope, but it may be a local hate figure or an unpopular Prime Minister. You might find kids on street corners displaying their effigy and calling “Penny for the guy!” These days you can bet they’re after more than a penny. There are so many safety rules and regulations now, it’s easier to go to an organized event. Go along if you have the chance. It used to be cosier with more fireworks and bonfires in private gardens for the children. Usually Granny would make the traditional Bonfire Toffee, after which if you had any teeth or fillings left you would eat sausages and mashed potato. Meanwhile the males of the family would quarrel about the positioning of the fireworks. Just five days before Bonfire Night is Halloween, more universal and more commercial. But remember Halloween’s devils and ogres are mythological creatures to be blown away on All Saints Day whereas Guy’s people were gentlemen of their time who nearly changed the course of history in these islands. H

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The American

Friendship, Fun and Fundraising Christine Tyler, president of the Northwood Area Women’s Club highlights the important role played by social clubs in the success of an overseas posting.

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oving to a foreign country can be stressful. One way to overcome the difficulties is to meet with others in the same situation, as Elizabeth, a member of The Northwood Area Women’s Club, explains: “Come the fall it will be 10 years since I moved to Britain and I still recall that first winter all too well. I could not believe how dark, dreary and miserable it was. My husband worked long hours and travelled away, the older children were at school and I was left at home with my young baby. It was a very isolating experience without any of my family or friends to visit. Fortunately, I came across a brochure for the Northwood Area Women’s Club (NAWC) that the previous tenant had left. I decided to go along to a meeting and give it

It’s not all charity fundraisers – NAWC members enjoy a trip to the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Lille, France

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a try. I had a very warm welcome and was delighted to meet some women from my own country who had been through a similar experience. The following week I went on a club outing. It was so much fun and I quickly realised I was among friends. Now 10 years later my life has been enriched by acquaintances from all over the world and more importantly I have developed and established lifelong friendships which are still going strong today. I always refer to NAWC as my life saver!” Another NAWC member, Cindy , agrees: “During my 2 year stay in the U.K I had a wonderful time all due to my membership of NAWC. It has been a gateway to meeting ladies of many nationalities living in the Northwood area. I have learnt new skills through the varied interest groups. The talks, many outings and countryside walks have given me a greater insight into many aspects of London and the local area that I would not have discovered by myself. I so appreciated the kindness shown to me.” Moving home is always a stressful experience. However, moving home to a new country on either a temporary or permanent basis is likely to be both an exciting and daunting experience, especially where a different culture and language is involved. The whole sense of belonging is lost and integrating into daily life in a new country is challeng-

ing. Those from the US will certainly miss the traditional “welcome culture” where new arrivals are met by a smiling neighbour bearing a casserole! It is all too easy to live in England and not even know your neighbour. The absence of family and friends is keenly felt and it is an especially isolating experience for wives when their husbands are at work and the children are at school. Research confirms that the success of an overseas relocation is closely linked to the happiness of all the family. The top factors identified to ease transition include: ●

Making new friends including some from the home country or nationality Getting involved with or joining groups.

By enjoying the country, the culture and the people an international move can be a life affirming experience. Comments from people who have joined clubs confirm the vital role that they play in helping to ensure that it is a great experience. You can find a social group to join near you in The American’s Organizations directory at the back of the magazine. They include women’s clubs, churches, schools, charities, political groups, alumni associations, sports societies and more. H


The American

Did America Bring Down The British Empire? Part II A reply by Jeery Haden to the article by Carol Gould in our April 2010 issue

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arol Gould’s article suggesting that America did bring down the British Empire [The American, Issue 688] was very intriguing but too brief. The suggested examples of U.S. subversion, i.e. The Suez Crisis, partition of India, Noraid, Oil, or Palestine, are correctly dismissed as they do not coalesce with the argument nor harmonise with the historical thread. To address the matter takes a lot longer, and a lot of context. The suggested examples do not hold any real substance and are principally post-World War II when dismantlement of the British Empire was already underway. It seems peculiar, if not bizarre, to compare the regard in which Jefferson Davis and Mohammed Ali Jinna are held. Davis was elected to lead a confederation of already seceded States. Jinna was Indian, but determined that Muslims should not have to live with their Hindu neighbours. The result was Partition, mass migration, a singular bloodbath, and succeeding animosity and disputes that have sputtered on for 50 years, e.g. Kashmir. By 1956 the British Empire was under dismantlement, therefore the U.S. stance over the Suez Crisis is not material. Note that it was a joint action of Israel, Britain, and France, only some 8 years after the implied conflict against Britain to establish an independent Israel. A Jewish Homeland was not alien to Britain. After World War I came the Balfour Declaration on

the matter, linked to the allocation by The League of Nations of the Palestine mandate. By 1945, Britain was broke and exhausted. If the Empire was too heavy a burden, the first territories under British governance to go would be Mandates and Protectorates. Britain successfully petitioned the new United Nations for release from the Palestinian Mandate. British troops and authorities came under fire, but it was a longrunning cross-fire between Jewish and Arab factions. In the vacuum of British withdrawal the conflict came to a head with the establishment of the state of Israel. Coveting oil within British territories by the U.S. seems an unlikely issue. There was a self-confidence in U.S. oil reserves until after World War II, and other than the Middle-East, oil reserves in places like Africa were largely unknown. By 1979, Eire had been independent for over 50 years. The troubles of Northern Ireland have several roots, one being resistance to inclusion within Eire, particularly violent intimidation to be so included. Noraid was seated in the misguided sentimentality of a minority of U.S. citizens. There are three avenues to follow with this argument that America King George III (in a painting by Sir William Beechey) - the bringing down of the British Empire started on his watch, with the American War of Independence

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The American

The last British Imperial war – detail from a contemporary painting of the Boer War by Frank Dodd RI.

brought down the British Empire. These are: a myth, an historical context, and a reality check on the demise of Empire. There is an unsupported suggestion that in beating out mutual support, aid, strategy, etc. in World War II, FDR impressed upon Sir Winston Churchill an unwritten agreement, that after eventual victory, the British Empire should be dismantled. This was something that Churchill would have had personal difficulty in accepting. He was, after all, a child of Imperial Britain. However, Britain’s position was perilous in the extreme. War is expensive, so Britain was/would be broke with, or without, Empire. Churchill was desperate, with no other real bargaining assets. He was also a realist, being cognizant of pre-war factors whereby the end of Empire was evident. The agreed war aim to champion Democracy was something that would not fit easily with the existence of colonialism with its diverse subject peoples and cultures, especially in the eyes of a nation that had freed itself from such subjection by 1783. This comes close to the idea of America bringing down the British Empire, but it is based on supposition and speculation, and ignores historical events, etc. heralding the demise of Empire to which no American policy or national interest visibly

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Personal antagonisms, prejudices, desires, or idealisms may have existed, but national interests virtually bound the two nations in mutual respect and alliance. contributed, actively, or peripherally. The view of historical context provides an alternative perspective to the argument being addressed, in following the (simple) thread of history. This means going right back to 1776/1783. Previously, the British Empire was North America – the 13 Colonies. There were some other odd bits and pieces – Gibraltar, Cape Province, Bermuda, Jamaica, and some other Caribbean islands. India was the sole province of a private trading Company until the mid-19th century. Add Canada after the Seven Years War (French and Indian War to Americans) which was fought largely in North America to protect the “Empire”. With the American War of Independence occurs the actual “bringing down of the British Empire”. No wonder George III cried after receiving John Adams as the first U.S. Ambassador to Britain, because he

personified the loss of Empire. Events, exploration, and needs, led to the slow growth of the British Empire of modern perception. Loyalists migrated to Canada. Convicts had to be found a new destination – Sierra Leone was considered but was to be a dubious sanctuary for ex-13 Colony slaves on transfer from Canada – with Australia being the winning candidate. Subsequently, often in actively suppressing the Slave Trade, other territories were gathered up. The necessity of absorbing India from the East India Company, plus various conflicts, corresponded to the growth of Imperialism, resulting in the Empire that was recognisable by the 20th century. In this sequence of growth and historical developments, it is not at all obvious that America actively undermined, or gratuitously contributed to the demise of the British Empire. Personal antagonisms, prejudices, desires, or idealisms, may have existed, but national interests, etc. virtually bound the two nations in mutual respect and alliance. The 1812/14 War and British bias for the Confederacy or taking over Hawaii are exceptions to a longer string of co-operation: the British Royal Navy patrolling to enforce the 1823 “Monroe Doctrine”, the U.S. establishment of Liberia for freed slaves in emulation of Sierra Leone, the settlement in 1846 of the 49th Parallel border between Canada and the U.S., the 1884 Washington Conference settling international acceptance of the prominence of Greenwich Mean Time for navigational purposes, the U.S. entering World War I as an ally, the Washington Treaties of 1921/22 limiting armaments in the Pacific, and finally, the Lend-Lease arrangements


before being thrown together as allies in World War II. Finally the reality check. Apart from no obviously visible destabilising activity on the part of the U.S., the British Empire had in some ways become the victim of its own success. It is fashionable to deride the Empire’s history and existence, to focus on unsavoury incidents, policies, or practices; however, there is much to laud: the suppression of slavery, establishment of law and order, a spread of education, the construction of railways, canals, and roads, across vast tracts, etc. In these things the end of the Imperial era becomes visible. The Boer War was the last Imperial war, and it did not go wholly well for Britain. Imperial might had begun to slip. Dominion status involving domestic selfgovernment indicated a maturity and lessening of colonial dependency. Irish independence (rejecting Dominion status) fractured the unity of Britain itself – and introduces the one observable anti-British U.S. element in the presence of Eamon De Valera in Irish affairs. The inter-war Round-table conferences leading to determining Dominion status for India by 1929 and by 1935 the British Parliament accepting a federal self-government for India. Cultural and political movements arose, as epitomised in Mahatma Gandhi. The Empire was not going to be eternal, as the Victorians envisaged. World War II was a watershed. Empire would end with no U.S. encouragement, and it is amazing how swiftly, even easily, this occurred. There were the Mau-Mau in Kenya, more cross-fire in Cyprus , and the suppression of Communist guerrillas in Malaya, but mainly the conversion was effected peacefully. H

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The American

Lessons from the TCK Petri Dish Ruth E. Van Reken explains how third culture kids are rising to the top of American society

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y now, many expatriate parents know that they are raising third culture kids (TCKs) – children who spend a significant period of time during developmental years living outside their parents’ passport culture(s). They may not know, however, that in 1984 sociologist Ted Ward called TCKs “the prototype citizens of the future.” Twenty five years ago that seemed like a bold statement to make. Back then, few could imagine any particular global significance rising from the experience of children who had left their home, or first culture, to live in a host, or second culture, but in the end, grew up in a third culture formed and shared by others also living an expatriate lifestyle. That is no longer the case. For one thing, many adult TCKs (ATCKs) are now becoming more visible as they rise to positions of power and influence in all strata of society. In the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign both of the candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama, were ATCKs. Several well-known TV journalists such as Christiane Amanpour and writers like Pico Iyer also grew up as TCKs. But seeing TCKs as prototypes for the future meant more than simply expecting ATCKs to be in global leadership one day. Across our world today, a TCK-like experience of growing up among many cultures is becoming

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the norm for children everywhere, whether they be children from bicultural, biracial, immigrant, refugee families, or grow up in any other crosscultural experience. That means understanding the dynamics of the TCK experience takes on more importance than ever before. Not only do we need to understand it for the traditional reasons – to help TCKs learn how to build with the gifts a global childhood offers and grow from the challenges – but we can consider the TCK experience as a Petri dish of sorts. We can take lessons learned from what we have studied in this context and look with greater understanding at the experience of many others in our globalizing. For example, if we consider how TCKs often function as cultural bridges, have we seen that potential gift in these other types of cross-cultural kids (CCKs)? What intercultural skills do the children of minorities develop as they negotiate two different cultural worlds each day while going from home to school and back? How does the hidden immigrant experience TCKs know during repatriation – when they look and speak like others in their passport culture but don’t see the world through a similar lens – compare to immigrant children who return to visit grandma in the homeland each summer? In both cases, because the children appear to

President Barack Obama, probably the most high profile TCK in the world WHITE HOUSE/PETE SOUZA)

be the same as others, no one gives them the same understanding for cultural miscues or ignorance of different values as would be given an obvious immigrant. But the TCK Petri dish also shows us we may need new language and models to discuss the changing realities of culture and identity in our globalizing world. What would have happened in the 2008 U.S. presidential race if political pundits had stopped focusing on the traditional ways of defining identity by race and looked instead at their hidden diversity – “a diversity of experience that shapes a person’s life and world view but is not readily apparent on the outside, unlike the usual diversity markers such as race, ethnicity, nationality, etc.?” Perhaps, in the end, if we learn from the TCK Petri dish that to see culture as a shared experience as well as shared nationality, race, or ethnicity, we will find new ways past the usual barriers that have so easily divided us in the past. H Third Culture Kids, by David C. Pollock and Ruth van Renken, is published by Nicholas Brealey Publishing, paperback, 320 pages, £12.99


The American

Arts Choice By Estelle Lovatt and Michael Burland

Gauguin Tate Modern

September 30 to January 16, 2011 For the first time in the UK in over half a century, Tate Modern presents an exhibition dedicated to Gauguin, whose exotic images of Tahitian women landscapes of Brittany are some of the most popular images in Modern art. The post-impressionist genius travelled the world, sailing the South Seas, and living in Peru, Martinique, and Paris among other places. and as well as paintings of life in France and the Pacific islands the exhibition focuses on the myths that Gauguin weaved around himself, painting himself as Christ or the devil. – EL

Childish Things: Fantasy and Ferocity in Recent Art

November 13 to January 9, 2011 The post-dada/surrealist era used toys and childhood as themes in art. Inspired by this, some British and American artists in the 1980s and early 1990s used similar ideas to explore child development and the cultural conditioning of children through art. The exhibition sets up ‘conversations’ between the individual objects on display in order to explore an interconnected set of themes, placing Jeff Koons’ kitsch objects next to Mike Kelley’s and Louise Bourgeois’ more sinister items hinting at – or

Jeff Koons, Bear and Policeman, 1988 KUNSTMUSEUM WOLFSBURG. PHOTOGRAPH: HELGE MUNDT

showing overtly – abusive parentchild relations. Some are disturbing, for example Paul McCarthy’s monstrous cuddly toys with sexual parts. The show, which at first sight is playful and fun ultimately focuses on a much darker place. – EL

Lincoln Seligman

Belgravia Gallery, 45 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4JL November 23 to December 2, then The Dollar Street Gallery, Cirencester December 4 to 24 Lincoln Seligman, a lawyer in the 1970s, turned artist and his sculptures and giant suspended mobiles have been commissioned for large atrium spaces in prestige buildings around the world, including the world’s largest glass sculpture which hangs Lincoln Seligman, Gloucestershire Landscape, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 10 in.

Paul Gauguin, Tehamana Has Many Ancestors (Merahi metua no Tehamana)

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in Swire’s Festival Walk building in Hong Kong. Seligman has shifted direction again, more subtly this time, and now concentrates on painting. This exhibition is a kind of travelogue of his travels around the world, notably Bhutan, Hong Kong, India, Sri Lanka, New York, South Carolina as well as Europe and Britain. The 60 paintings in the show are for sale, with prices from £1,200 to £20,000. – MB

If the Light Goes Out: Home from Guantanamo

Photographs and text by Edmund Clark Flowers, Kingsland Road, London E2. to November 13 This photographic exhibition is a study of a particular place, at a particular time in American history. The images contrast three places: the naval base at Guantanamo, home to the American service community; the camps within the base where the detainees are held; and the homes where former detainees rebuild their lives. The contrast between them highlights the confinement and disorientation of the detainees’ experiences as the viewer ‘jump cuts’ from prison camp to domestic life outside Right: Edmund Clark, Guantanemo, Camps 1

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Sir James Guthrie_Hard at It 1883 COURTESY KELVINGROVE ART GALLERY AND MUSEUM

the naval base, Guantanamo. It brings to mind themes of a wider America, traumatised after 9/11, determined on protection at all costs. Photographer Clark was awarded the 2009 British Journal of Photography International Award for ‘Guantanamo: If The Light Goes Out.’ His work is included in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. – EL

Pioneering Painters: The Glasgow Boys 1880-1900

The Sackler Wing of Galleries, Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD October 30 to January 23, 2011

In October 2010 the Royal Academy of Arts will present the first exhibition in London for over 40 years to celebrate the Glasgow Boys, the loosely knit group of young painters who created a stir at home and abroad in the final decades of the nineteenth century. The 80 plus oil paintings, watercolours and pastels are by such artists as Guthrie, Lavery, Melville, Crawhall, Walton, Henry and Hornel. Together they presented a new art, which had a major impact at home and abroad in the closing decades of the nineteenth century. Their subject matter is mainly Scottish rural life. – MB

Poussin to Seurat: French Drawings from the National Gallery of Scotland Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1 to December 19

Over the last thirty years the National Gallery of Scotland has built a collection of French drawings, unparalleled in the UK, that also rivals its French paintings. As these purchases started when many of the artists were unfashionable, they picked many up at bargain basement


prices (canny Scots!). This exhibition, at London’s Wallace Collection, includes works by Poussin, Boucher, Ingres, Corot, Pissarro and Seurat, and by artist-writers like Eugène Fromentin and George Sand. One is a preparatory drawing for one of the greatest paintings in the Wallace Collection, Poussin’s Dance to the Music of Time, on display for only the second time since it was seen in the artist’s studio in 1640. The subjects covered range from the courtly art of Fontainebleau in the sixteenth century to the more down-to-earth imagery of the Realists and Impressionists in the nineteenth century. One striking but very human image is of a pregnant Jewish woman from Algeria wearing an extraordinary metal, cone-shaped headdress. The exhibition will later be shown in Edinburgh. – MB

Louis Roguin, A Jewish Lady from Algiers COURTESY OF NATIONAL GALLERY OF SCOTLAND

George Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle, The Baths of Caracalla, Rome, ?1886, Oil on canvas, 76 x 165 cm © UK GOVERNMENT ART COLLECTION

The Pre-Raphaelites and Italy

The Ashmolean, University of Oxford Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2PH to December 5 The magnificent drawings by Edward Burne-Jones for the mosaics of the American Church in Rome are united for the first time in Britain. BurneJones’s work was always indebted to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood’s love of pattern and innate sense of design. But his artistic curiosity extended far beyond, even to Byzantine mosaics, and his designs for Rome’s American Church preoccupied him between 1881 and his death. Although they gave him particular pleasure, he never actually saw the mosaics themselves. They are widely regarded as the greatest of all Pre-Raphaelite decorative schemes – the fulfilment of the artist’s dream of doing “big things [in] vast spaces and for common people to see.” This exhibition brings together

over 140 pictures, some of which will be displayed in Britain for the first time, challenging what we know about the influence of Italy – its culture, landscape, and history – on one of Britain’s most significant and enduringly popular art movements, the PRB, in the 1850s, from the influence of the movement’s champion, John Ruskin – one of Italy’s most dedicated tourists - to their illustrations of early Italian art and literature, the exhibition explores the idea of Italy itself - a place which captured the imagination of a whole generation of British men and women and which was the source of such varied artistic responses. The most prominent Pre-Raphaelite painters, such as William Holman Hunt and John Brett, are represented. – EL

Edward Burne-Jones, study for Apse Mosaic at the American Church in Rome, Watercolour and gouache on paper, 52 x 137.2 cm © AMERICAN CHURCH IN ROME

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The American

Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Champions, 2010 COURTESY TIMOTHY TAYLOR GALLERY

Jessica Jackson Hutchins

Timothy Taylor Gallery, 15 Carlos Place London W1. Until November 6.From October 13 – November 6

Gwyneth Paltrow photographed as Madonna, by Mary McCartney

From Where I Stand: Photographs by Mary McCartney

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE to February 13, 2011 This, the first solo display of work by Mary McCartney at the National Portrait Gallery, celebrates the publication of her first book, From Where I Stand. The 12 selected portraits include figures from the worlds of art, film, fashion and music – singer PJ Harvey, Helen Mirren, Gwyneth Paltrow as Madonna, Sam TaylorWood and the Chapman Brothers, Tracey Emin as Frida Kahlo, Vivienne Westwood and Lily Cole – alongside portraits of McCartney’s family (intimate portraits of Stella and Linda McCartney will also be exhibited). Mary McCartney: From Where I Stand is published by Thames & Hudson at £19.95. The hardback book includes 250 photographs in colour and black and white. Mary McCartney’s work will also be exhibited at Michael Hoppen Gallery, Chelsea from October 22 to 20 November. – MB

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This is the first exhibition outside the US by Portland based artist Jessica Jackson Hutchins. Born Chicago in 1972, Hutchins gained her MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999. She has exhibited extensively in America, from New York to Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Washington, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Santa Barbara, California. Earlier this year she won great critical attention for her contribution to the 2010 Whitney Biennial, and two simultaneous New York exhibitions. Here, she presents new works including several large-scale and medium-scale sculptures, works on paper, and large-scale mono-prints. A curious combination of physical gusto tempered by great fragility, the artworks act as containers for a wide range of themes; popular and personal, sad and humorous, but always grounded in the ‘messy’ business of human relationships. She concentrates on specifically humanist subject matter, drawing material from a wide range of sources, from occult beliefs, to sports stars and musical heroes, Picasso’s Blue Period and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Eclectic and wide-ranging, Hutchins uses her own or found furniture - a process which further underlines the strongly anthropomorphic quality in her work. Wedding Present, 2010, is made from two green armchairs, an actual wedding present given to her parents, upon which sits a ceramic

vessel. Human in its scabrous physicality, it dents the cushions with its actual weight. Upon the chair’s velvety sides Hutchins’ expressive daubs of plaster and ink suggest a landscape. Her canny use of everyday personal objects and materials hint at the great dramas of love and family, whether as tragedy or farce, yet Hutchins keeps her references oblique and mysterious, allowing formal qualities free rein to create their own abstract and tactile languages. Often turning household objects into print making surfaces, Hutchins will present a series of prints made from her own grand piano lid. These dramatic large prints have surfaces etched with feathery delicate lines, graffiti-style sexual imagery and obscure texts, combined with textiles, petals, ceramic cups and vases, a poignant rendering of the interplay between popular music, sex and romance. Hutchins frequently sources imagery of sporting heroes and other figureheads of popular culture where narratives of human endeavour, triumph and tribulation abound. Champions, 2010, (pictured) is a large-scale ceramic inspired by the image of an ice skating couple, transformed formally and visually into a totemic figure of movement and grace, while the glaze that covers the surface somehow speaks of slow time – it looks like ancient stratified rocks or the marbled surface of a distant planet. – EL


The American

Cross Purposes:

Shock and Contemplation in Images of the Crucifiction Ben Uri Gallery, 108a Boundary Road, London, NW8 0RH To November 28

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his would never happen in New York or Jerusalem,” said Benjamin Perl, Jewish tycoon and a patron of the Ben Uri gallery, about their current show, Cross Purposes: Shock and Contemplation in Images of the Crucifixion’. “From all the subjects from our heritage, why choose this?” he asked. Exactly what is a Jewish art gallery doing putting on a show of Crucifixions? Is the Crucifixion – the Jewish faith’s low point – a suitable theme for a Jewish museum? David Glasser, chairman of the gallery, answers, “This exhibition is not about religion per se. It is a show of 20th-century art, and the way that a motif, such as the crucifixion, can be treated in so many different ways.” He added that he has had approaches to show the exhibition in New York. The Crucifixion, the symbol for the

Marc Chagall, Apocalypse en Lilas, Capriccio, 1945, Gouache, ink and pencil COURTESY THE LONDON JEWISH MUSEUM OF ART

Christian church, has been central in motivating, goading and encouraging the provocation of the Christian persecution of Jews for over 2,000 years. And yet here it is, that the Ben Uri can answer straightforwardly that the man on the cross was Jewish. Glasser and the curator of this show, Nathaniel Hepburn, consider the Crucifixion a legitimate issue for twentiethcentury artists who may have endured or observed the Holocaust, Stalin, the two World Wars and anti-Semitism per se. It has gained supporters including The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams who said, “This is a powerful collection of images ... from the point of view of every variety of belief, doubt or unbelief: a deeply moving and questioning exhibition.” Retired bishop of the Church of England, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, said “This is one of the most remarkable exhibition of paintings on a religious theme for many years and it deserves to be widely recognised as such.” Commanding images of the Crucifixion by important artists of the 20th and 21st century – several of the 21 artists represented in the exhibition are exceptionally accomplished, others inconspicuous. From Chagall to Tracey Emin this is an extremely challenging exhibition. Stanley Spencer, Craigie Aitchison, Lee Miller, Maggie Hambling, Samuel Bak, Graham Sutherland and Emmanuel Levy included. Censure and analysis has come from both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. The crucifixion has moved from being a wholly Christian image to one appropriated by popular culture, used by artists of chalk-and-cheese religions,

Emmanuel Levy, Crucifixion, 1942, Oil on canvas COURTESY THE LONDON JEWISH MUSEUM OF ART

or of none. As the church’s effect diminishes in our society, the image of the Crucifixion is still potent in the way it substantiates a person’s agony. Remaining a central tenet of Christian theology, it’s about time we accept its depiction as part of the grammar of Western art. Glasser hopes Jewish and nonJewish come away from the show with the recognition that, “as behavioural barriers lessen, taboos likewise, and in less than a century what was considered as the most sacred and holy of images – the Crucifixion – has evolved into a universal and generic motif.” The Crucifixion story, indeed Christianity itself, is robust enough to survive as we address common artistic threads through religion(s), seeing that, really, Jewish and Christian art aren’t detached from one another. What we have here is art history, not anti-Semitism or something inappropriate for a Jewish venue. A must-go-see show. And if you haven’t seen All Saints’ Church, Tudeley, with its stained glass windows decorated by Chagall, do. – EL

23


The American

Dining Out at

JW Steakhouse Dining reviews by Virginia E Schultz

W

hen I was young, my father built a wood burning fireplace in our garden and as a treat he’d roast marshmallows and place them burnt and melting on a graham cracker with a Hershey bar. When my grandparents came we had steak, which meant a half hour wait while my grandfather and father discussed the best way to grill it. While the debate went on my father made ‘angels on horseback’ for my sister, brother and I, wrapping the bacon around hot dogs rather than the usual oysters. I’ve been recalling that time because in the past two years there have been a number of restaurants opening in London specializing in grilling steak American style. There is nothing I enjoy more than an English Sunday lunch with prime rib of beef, but the English method of dropping a steak in a hot pan, frying it quickly, then sticking into an oven to warm is next to eating shoe leather and I find it a pleasure to eat at Gaucho’s (Argentinian), Goodman’s (Russian) or The Palm (American) to name three restaurants where I have enjoyed steak and why I

24

looked forward to dining at JW Steakhouse. Paul Hallet, JW’s chef, hand selects, ages and carves the restaurant’s signature cuts before sending them to the 650 C Montague Legend Grill...a super grill that seals on the outside in seconds and keeps the inside bloody rare if that’s the way you like. As Nelly Pateras and I studied the menu and blackboard to decide which steak we desired, we sipped luscious drinks, an ice cold Bourbon sour and a Mint Julep. I knew immediately what I wanted as a starter: Maryland lump crab cakes (£14.00), as good as I’ve had in years and I’d go back just for them despite the price. The crab cakes had large pieces of crab loosely pushed together, seasoned with Old Bay Seasoning and just enough hot sauce to give a bite and for one brief moment I was sitting in an outdoor café in Annapolis, Maryland with my husband on a lovely Fall day. Nelly preferred the smoked salmon (£12.00) with only slices of lemon on the side, please. We could have either American or Angus steak. The “Tomahawk” 32 oz Aberdeen rib eye (£42.00) served on the bone, sounded like a meal for Henry VIII and my slender French friend settled on the 16 ounce bone-in Kansas City strip (£36.00) ...bleu, the way the French like it. It was as massive as expected and quite tasty, but less bleu than Nelly prefers. Since she was having steak, I chose the Welsh lamb chops with mint sauce (£21.00) which would

have made Catherine Zeta Jones proud. Sweet potatoes with marshmallows is a dish I avoid except at Thanksgiving and I shall make no further comment than to say if it’s your thing, order it. Nelly ignored the giant potato with three toppings – three cheeses, sour cream and bacon – and I took one taste before I quit this cholesterol pleasure. The frites were good, although nothing special, and the fresh, crispy salad came with a lovely lemon vinaigrette I wish they’d bottle and sell. For dessert, I tried the cheese cake with graham cracker crust (£8.00) and Nelly the fruit salad (£8.00). The cheese cake was disappointing and when our very congenial waitress saw me only take a bite before I pushed the dish aside exchanged it for warm brownies with vanilla ice cream. They were quite good and Nelly helped me finish the dish – which made me wonder as I’ve done in the past: how do French women stay so thin? I might add, we needed a wheelchair for access to the restaurant and the doorman at the rear entrance to the Grosvenor House and another member of staff not only supplied one but pushed the chair to the restaurant via two small lifts and later back to my car.

Grosvenor House Hotel, 86-90 Park Lane, London W1K 7TN 020 7399 8460 www.jwsteakhouse.co.uk


The American

T

his is the second Tom’s Kitchen to be opened in London by Michelinstar Chef Tom Aikens. As head chef at Pied à Terre in 1996, age just 26, he retained the restaurant’s two Michelin stars and became the youngest British chef to receive the award. In this second brassiere, he will be offering a similar menu to the one in Tom’s Kitchen Chelsea and Tom’s Terrace. The new Tom’s Kitchen is located on grounds of the house built in 1547 for Edward Seymour, the eldest brother of Jane Seymour who became Henry VIII’s third queen. Seymour became Regent, ruling England during the childhood of King Edward VI. His grand London home was demolished in 1775 to create the grand building we view today. The brassiere is a string of connecting rooms with high walls tinted in soft gray and furnished with solid oak furniture. a few leather banquettes and a bar. The large modern paintings combined with the long, elegant Georgian windows and antique mirrors give an interesting touch to what otherwise might look like the mess hall in some private school. The restaurant is the perfect venue for tourists as well as those of us who attend the many happenings that go on at Somerset House which include ice skating, open air concerts and art exhibitions. (Check Somerset House’s website www.somersethouse.org.uk for more information). My friend, Caroline Kennedy, who was on a visit from Costa Rica, came with me that evening. Caroline doesn’t eat meat and the “launch” menu gave her at least one or two choices from the various courses offered. Her Gazpacho came cool and thick with the natural sugariness of the tomato that is too often lost and my Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Parfait matched

Tom’s Kitchen well with the chutney and the lightly sweet brioche. Buttered leaf spinach, carrots with lemon and herbs, oversize truffle chips with Parmesan Rocket and Parmesan salad were offered and almost upstaged Caroline’s Tomato and Basil Risotto. No one enjoys spring lamb more than I do but my Daylesford 7 hour Confit Lamb with balsamic onions and mash came a close second and a dish I’d order again. The brassiere is not elevated gourmandise, but I wouldn’t hesitate to take any of my so-called gourmand friends there for lunch or dinner. Of the three puddings (dessert) offered, Caroline decided on the Apple Tarte Fine while I chose one of my favourites, Eton Mess with Chantilly Cream. It was served with blackberries rather than strawberries and was very disappointing. I might suggest Aikens check the National Gallery recipe book

for a far better recipe. Caroline enjoyed her tarte, especially the cinnamon ice cream that had just enough of the tropical spice not to take over the richness of the ice cream. The Seresin Sauvignon Blanc New Zealand and Saint Severin Merlot from southern France were perfect companions for our various dishes. As it was a launch party, I don’t know the cost of the meal, but if it’s similar to Tom’s Kitchen Chelsea it isn’t going to be cheap so be prepared. One warning: it is a long stroll across the grounds lit up at night with tumbling waterfalls to the restaurant and I’d advise anyone who has a problem to either bring a wheelchair or inquire if the restaurant has one to transfer them there.

Somerset House, Strand London WC2R 1LA 0207 845 4646 www.tomskitchen.co.uk

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The American

Searcy’s Club

at The Gherkin

“M

agnificent!, Speechless!, I could just sit here and look out at the view all day,” I gasped as I sat on the 38th floor in the Member’s Room in Searcy’s Club at The Gherkin and stared at London spreading out below; the Thames glistening in the afternoon sun, twisting and turning through the city to my left, and a new building being constructed on my right which will be the highest structure in London. The only thing missing was a view of The Gherkin itself. The original clubs were established in the West End of London in the eighteenth century and even today that area of St. James’s is referred to as “clubland’.

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Those gentlemen’s clubs, as they were known, such as White’s and Boodle’s, had mainly aristocrats as members and provided a place for gambling which was illegal outside member’s only establishments. Of course, in the United States the term “gentlemen’s club” became an euphemism for strip clubs which I’m sure the unforgettable and charming Peter Stringfellow would not hesitate to use even in London. Even today some private clubs refuse membership to women or only allow them to be members under certain conditions. When my husband died fifteen years ago, the RAC wouldn’t allow me to continue as a member, although this has now been changed. I was on the Board of the American Women’s Club in the 1980’s when we became members of the American Club which was located in a beautiful Regency building (now closed) on Piccadilly and the bitterness of a few of the older male members against we women took me aback. But this was not my reception at Searcy’s – The Gherkin and as I sat in a leather chair in Norman Foster’s landmark sipping a glass of Pommery Brut

Royal NV staring out the wall to wall windows I seriously considered asking if it was possible to become a member if for no other reason than to be able to gaze at one of the world’s most wonderful cities to my heart’s desire. The list of buildings designed by Foster and Partners is legend, but in my mind few are as interesting than The Gherkin. Searcy’s has been a catering company since 1847 and I’ve been to more than one event in the capital where they’ve been involved as has Jennifer Atterbury who was with me that afternoon. We were having lunch on the floor above and the 360 degree view from where we sat in the dining room was exceptional and it was difficult to concentrate on my lunch. All I can say is my salad course as a starter was excellent, the lettuce crisp, the dressing spicy sweet and sour and my filet steak grilled to medium rare perfection as I asked. Coffee was excellent, service impeccable and for any businessman or woman wanting to entertain a client or needing to get away on their own for a few hours to concentrate or relax this is the perfect place to escape to. Membership is £750 per annum. There are private dining rooms for entertaining and a concierge to help with special requests. Special events are held during the year for members, including a few for us females. And if you become a member do ask to see the ten commandments of Searc’ys The Gherkin, every one of which I agree with, including number 9 which states Groucho Marx was wrong.

30 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 8EP, 020 7071 7213, 40/30@searcys.co.uk


The American

Thanksgiving Restaurants Formula 1 World Champion turned biodynamic farmer with some of his girls

Buffalo Ice Cream By Virginia E. Schultz

I

love ice cream. Unfortunately, I am allergic to cow’s milk. Not so seriously I don’t eat ice cream, but I know the consequences after eating it. That’s why I wanted to try the buffalo ice cream made by Laverstoke Park Farm, a biodynamic enterprise owned by Jody Scheckter, the former Ferrari Formula One world champion. We’re not talking about the North American bison, for which buffalo is the inaccurate but popular name. Although belonging to the same family, Bovidae, these buffalo are only native to Africa and Asia. They produce less than half the milk of traditional dairy cows and though not lactose free, buffalo milk is often used as a substitute for those with allergy problems related to cow’s milk. Laverstoke’s ice cream comes from the Asian buffalo living on Scheckter’s 2,500 acre biodynamic farm near Winchester, Hampshire. I first came interested in biodynamic farming when writing about wine made from grapes grown biodynamically. In biodynamics, all the different components of the farm are seen as a greater whole and the farmer recognizes the subtle rhythms associated with the sun, moon and planets. Special manure and herb based preparations are applied to the fields and compost to enhance and stimulate the microbiological health in the soil. There are those who claim that using these principles produces food with individual quality, which like wine, can be described as having the terroir of the farm or the sense where it was grown. My friend Arlette Shenkan and I tried the buffalo ice cream at Selfridges. Our guide was Hugo Scheckter, Jody’s son, who is attending George Washington University in Washington, D.C.. The ice cream parlor sells ice cream, milk shakes, sundaes and even waffles, all made from buffalo milk. (Other stores, including Whole Food and Sainsbury will be suppliers as well). There are eight flavors, with coconut and ginger to be added soon. Our two favorite were the coffee and strawberry-cream. I least liked natural, with liquorice coming in a close second. Our verdict…delicious. Is there a difference ? Yes, but mildly, notably in the aftertaste of the Natural and Vanilla. Not distasteful, more a distinctive taste of the buffalo milk which I quite liked. The strawberry cream was a touch of garden party and Ascot and this along with the coffee will be in my refrigerator. Take note : I can’t guarantee that buffalo milk and ice cream will not affect any one with allergies to milk as it is not lactose free, but in my case, I showed no sign of my usual allergies when I wakened the next morning.

A selection of UK restaurants promising a more-or-less authentic Thanksgiving experience this November 25th. Palm, the first overseas branch of the high-end American chain, had a very successful Thanksgiving special last year. This year they are opening early at 4 pm. They’re not taking reservations larger than 12 and the table is yours for 2 hours, to share Thanksgiving with as many as possible. Belying its name Le Café Anglais is offering a sophisticated take on American proceedings, with Oysters Rockefeller and pickled squash among its starters and roast halibut with clams as an alternative to turkey. Bodean’s, with branches across London, are adding NFL football to the Thanksgiving menu. Games start at 5.30pm, but the family Thanksgiving set menu (good value at £19.95) will make you feel at home all day. Christopher’s American Bar and Grill has an interesting take on the festivities, for example Louisiana Oyster Tempura with celeriac remoulade and Southern katsup to start and Missouri Roast Rump of Lamb, avocado tamale and confit of butter nut squash as a main. PJ’s has the expected turkey, but veggies can rest easy – Pumpkin and ricotta cheese Ravioli with Parmesan cream sounds delicious. Newly launched JW Steakhouse has a set Thanksgiving menu with turkey accompanied by apricot stuffing, cranberry and bread sauce or one of their signature roasted Aberdeen Angus rib eye steaks – pescatarians can feast on grilled halibut. All these are in London; restaurants outside the capital haven’t bothered to tell The American about their Thanksgiving plans. One exception can be found back where it all began – The Watering Hole in Plymouth, Devon, yards from the Mayflower Steps, where the local people, commemorate their Transatlantic heritage. The pub/restaurant offers a Thanksgiving menu from noon until 9.30pm.

27


The American

Cellar Talk By Virginia E. Schultz

Thanksgiving Tipples

“W

hat is the best wine to serve at Thanksgiving?” is a question I’ve been asked over the years. The problem is, I have no answer other than to say, please, don’t serve your favourite and high priced French or New World wines to your guests and family because even the connoisseur at your table won’t be able to appreciate it. The problem isn’t the turkey, but everything served with it. Sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, stuffing, turn dry wines sour and sweet wines bland. If you want to impress that cousin of yours who brags about his latest trip to Bordeaux tasting the high rating 2009, do it another time because that top rated Robert Voerzio Barolo Brunate 1997 that you’ve saved in your cellar for a special occasion will be dismissed after one taste as just another Italian wine. Remember, those

early settlers who started this tradition probably drank cider with their wild and far stronger tasting turkey than the butterball turkey we serve today. Then there’s the other problem, one I didn’t have when I made my first Thanksgiving dinner for a group of student friends at Penn State. None of them were on any particular diet and the one vegetarian I knew simply pushed aside the turkey and ate the vegetables I served. Allergies were never mentioned and I didn’t hesitate to serve my favourite peanut butter pie alongside the pumpkin soufflé that fell flat before I got it to the table. Of course, my cornbread was made without flour and the gravy thickened with cornmeal because that’s the way my grandmother made it which probably, unknowingly, kept anyone with an allergy from becoming ill. So, what wine to recommend with the Thanksgiving meal? Instead of that expensive Bordeaux or Barolo, I’ll have a Zinfandel or a big powerful American or Australian chardonnay. In memory of those forefathers of ours, I might also include an English cider which matches up well except with some of the more creamy dishes.

H The perfect match for Thanksgiving turkey ? Perhaps a traditional cider, made in a press like this. MAN VYI

RECIPE OF THE MONTH Vegetable Frittata Here’s a starter for anyone who’s serving dinner to friends with allergies.

2 tablespoons olive oil 1 medium shallot, minced finely 12 large eggs 3 tablespoons coconut milk 4 ounces goat cheese 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped 1 cup of canned corn 1 cup fresh peas 1/3 asparagus, blanched salt and pepper to taste Heat the oil in an oven-safe skillet. Add the shallot and sauté until golden. Whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, salt and pepper, then add to the skillet and cook gently, scraping the bottom so the ingredients don’t stick. Stir in milk, cheese and vegetables and cook for about a minute. Slide the skillet under the broiler and broil until the frittata has risen, around 3 to 4 minutes. Remove, let stand for about 5 minutes and then serve. We drank Trimbach Pinot Gris Alsace Reserve Personnelle 2005 with this. An American Pinot Gris would have gone just as well. H

WINE OF THE MONTH At Chelsea Clinton’s wedding two sparkling wines, 2007 Blanc de Blanc and a sparkling rosé from Kluge Winery in Charlottesville, Virginia were presented, to the applause of the guests. I’ve tasted the sparkling rosé 2007 with a starter of caviar and a dessert of strawberry and rhubarb pie. The caviar was perfect with it and the tart, which wasn’t particularly sweet, far better than I expected.


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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”

01932 862121

– David Billington, Hello Magazine


The American

Coffee Break COFFEE BREAK QUIZ 1 Where will you always find Batman? 2 Where is Unthanksgiving Day held? a) Alcatraz b) San Quentin c) Guantanamo Bay 3 Who celebrates Unthanksgiving Day? a) prisoners b) Native Americans c) terrorists 4 Name another country that celebrates a Thanksgiving Day nationally? 5 What was the first song ever recorded?

6 What is gossamer? 7 Donald Duck’s middle name was a) Hubert b) Montmorency c) Fauntleroy? 8 During the Depression, Hoover’s unpopularity led to renaming of the Hoover Dam to what? a) Rock Dam b) Pebble Dam c) Boulder Dam 9 What is the link between Katherine Hepburn, Winston Churchill, Shakespeare, Woody Allen, John Glenn, Van Gogh, Rod Laver, Queen Elizabeth I and Lenin?

10 Which drink is named after those who once owned large tracks of land in the eastern part of North America? 11 Which are the four most populous world cities that end with the letter ‘i’ ? 12 Name the top three animals responsible for the most human deaths in the USA each year, excluding humans, mosquitoes, and animals causing road crashes? 13 What is the green film caused by oxidation on bronze called? 14 What is the reverse of a cosmic black hole called? 15 In 1947, what were fruit flies the first to do?

Answers below The Johnsons

Quiz Answers: 1. In Turkey: it’s a city!; 2. a) Alcatraz Island, San Francisco Bay; 3. b)Native Americans, celebrating their ancestors and their survival after the coming of Europeans; 4. Canada (2nd Monday in October) or Grenada since 1983 (October 25th) to celebrate the US deposition of their Prime Minister; 5. Mary had a little lamb, by Thomas Edison; 6. spider silk; 7. c) Fauntleroy; 8. c) Boulder Dam (1933-1947); 9. Red hair; 10. Bourbon; 11. Delhi, Karachi, Mumbai and Shanghai; 12. 1) bees, 2) dogs 3) horses; 13. Verdigris or patina;14. A white hole; 15. Go into space.

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The American

It happened one... November November 1, 1800 – US President John Adams becomes the first President of the United States to live in the Executive Mansion (the White House). November 2, 1947 – In California, Howard Hughes performs the maiden (and only) flight of his Spruce Goose; the largest fixed-wing aircraft ever built. November 3, 1911 – Driving the Chevy to the Levee becomes possible when Chevrolet officially enters the automobile market in competition with the Ford Model T. November 4, 2008 – Barack Obama becomes the first African-American to be elected President of the United States. November 5, 1895 – the first U.S. patent for an automobile is granted, to George B. Selden. November 6, 1789 – Pope Pius VI appoints Father John Carroll as the first Catholic bishop in the U.S.A. November 7, 1908 – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are reportedly killed in San Vicente, Bolivia. November 8, 1895 – While experimenting with electricity, Wilhelm Röntgen discovers the X-ray. November 9, 1913 – The Great Lakes Storm (aka “the Big Blow”, “White Hurricane”, “Freshwater Fury”), a blizzard with hurricane-force winds raging from November 7 to 10, destroys 19 ships and kills more than 250 people on this day. November 10, 1775 – The United States Marine Corps is founded at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia by Samuel Nicholas.

November 11, 1889 – Washington is admitted as the 42nd U.S. State. November 12, 1990 – Tim Berners-Lee publishes a formal proposal for the World Wide Web. November 13, 1985 – Xavier Suarez is sworn in as Miami, Florida’s first Cuban-born mayor.

Concorde’s last flight, over Bristol, seven years ago this month

November 14, 1910 – Aviator Eugene Ely performs the first take off from a ship in Hampton Roads, Virginia, taking off from a makeshift deck on the USS Birmingham in a Curtiss pusher.

November 22, 1718 – Off the coast of North Carolina, British pirate Edward Teach (aka “Blackbeard”) is killed in battle with a boarding party led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard.

November 15, 1859 – The first modern revival of the Olympic Games takes place in Athens, Greece.

November 23, 1859 – Billy The Kid, American outlaw, is born (d. 1881)

November 16, 1938 – LSD is first synthesized by Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland. November 17, 1820 – Captain Nathaniel Palmer becomes the first American to see Antarctica (the Palmer Peninsula is later named after him). November 18, (A date double): 326 – Old St. Peter’s Basilica is consecrated, 1626 – St. Peter’s Basilica is consecrated. November 19, 1994 – in the UK, the first National Lottery draw is held. November 20, 2008 – After critical failures in the US financial system began to build up after mid-September, the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaches its lowest level since 1997. November 21, 1980 – A deadly fire breaks out at the MGM Grand Hotel in Paradise, Nevada (now Bally’s Las Vegas). 87 people are killed and more than 650 are injured in the worst disaster in Nevada history.

ADRIAN PINGSTONE

November 24, 1932 – In Washington, D.C., the FBI Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory (better known as the FBI Crime Lab) officially opens. November 25, 1867 – Alfred Nobel patents dynamite. November 26, 2003 – Concorde makes its final flight, over Bristol, England. November 27, 2001 – A hydrogen atmosphere is discovered on the extrasolar planet Osiris by the Hubble Space Telescope, the first atmosphere detected on an extrasolar planet. November 28, 1660 – At Gresham College, 12 men, including Christopher Wren, Robert Boyle, John Wilkins, and Sir Robert Moray decide to found what is later known as the Royal Society. November 29, 1910 – The man to curse or praise – Ernest E. Sirrine is granted the first US patent for inventing the traffic lights system. November 30, 1974 – The fossil known as Lucy is discovered in Ethiopia. H

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ASHLEY MAILE

The American

Frank Zappa At The Roundhouse

A

celebration of the life and music of the great man, over the long weekend of November 5th to 7th, marking the 70th anniversary of Zappa’s birth. “Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is the Best” said Zappa, and you’ll get lots of all of them at this series of events. Most unusually, Frank’s wife Gail makes a rare appearance to introduce the celebrations and talk about the challenges of being married to one of the 20th century’s most prolific and influential composers. The London Contemporary Orchestra will perform the music from The Yellow Shark, the last album to be released before Zappa’s death in 1993. Dweezil and his band ‘Zappa Plays Zappa’ will perform selections from his father’s music from the late ’60s to early ’90s, and will be joined on stage by several members of the Mothers of Invention and Frank’s other backing bands. In a twist, Frank himself will perform with the band via synchronized audio/video technology. On the Sunday, London Sinfonietta and guests will perform the UK premiere of The Adventures of Greggery Peccary, one of Zappa’s epic classical pieces. Also talks, films and exhibitions. See www.roundhouse. org.uk for full details.

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MUSIC

LIVE AND KICKING

The Gaslight Anthem Currently ripping up Europe, touring their new album American Slang, are Gaslight Anthem. Once their continental jaunt is over they’ll be here, and The American will be there to see the exciting new band air their anthems with attitude. You can too, on November 16th at Nottingham, Rock City; 17th Leeds Academy; 18th Newcastle Academy; 19th Edinburgh Picture House; 20th Manchester Apollo; 21st Dublin Olympia, Ireland; and Belfast, Ulster Hall.

John Hiatt & the Combo Announce Special London Show Legendary songwriter John Hiatt is gracing a London stage – yep, just the one! Fresh from a string of US and European shows in support of his new album The Open Road Hiatt will play at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire November 15th. Hiatt’s one of those artists who starts to play and you think,

John Hiatt

OMG, he wrote that classic, and that one… and on and on, songs covered by artists including Bob Dylan, Rosanne Cash, Willie Nelson, Jewel and Bonnie Raitt.

Wilko Johnson Another legend, but this time from the Delta – the Thames Delta, that is. You may have seen the widely regarded documentary Oil City Confidential, a paean to both the garage rock band Dr Feelgood, who were loved by audiences and other bands including the early New York punk elite, and their hometown, Canvey Island in Essex. Wilko was the original guitarist. He left after personality clashes with the band’s mercurial, tough-guy singer, the late Lee Brilleaux, but Wilko carried the torch of their choppy, dirty-water blues. In short, do yourself a favour and go see. November 3rd Pontadawe Arts Centre; 4th Islington O2 Academy; 11th Birkenhead Pacific Rd; 12th Bilston The


The American

The Re-rebirth of The Blues The world doesn’t need another blues album that has nothing new to say, Stephen Dale Petit tells Michael Burland Wilko Johnson

Robin; 13th Holmfirth Picturedrome; 14th Nottingham Rescue Rooms; 19th Glasgow ABC2; 20th Manchester Academy; 21st Gateshead The Sage.

Paul Weller The changing man will be waking up the nation on an arena tour this month and next: November 16th, 17th, 18th; 19th; 20th Dublin Olympia Theatre; 23rd, 24th Brighton Centre; 26th Birmingham NEC/ LG Arena; 27th Cardiff International Arena; 28th Bournemouth International Centre; 30th Sheffield Arena; December 1st Newcastle-uponTyne Metro Radio Arena; 3rd Manchester MEN Arena; 4th Glasgow SECC; 5th Aberdeen AECC; 7th Blackpool Empress Ballroom; 8th Liverpool Echo Arena; 10th London Wembley Arena.

Paul Weller

T

he blues as an art form influenced – many would say gave birth to – popular music as we know it. And then, at least as performed by the black musicians who invented it, it more or less disappeared. During the 1960s the ones who kept the faith could hardly get work in the US but found to their surprise that a new breed of young guns across the Atlantic had idolised them and learnt from them. The likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Champion Jack Dupree found a new audience in Britain. Buddy Guy, among others, credits Eric Clapton (as well as Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and the rest of the skinny white boys who were soaking up and reinventing their roots music) for saving their music and their careers. Blues is always there as an influence, but as a mainstream form it comes and goes in the public view. After a fallow spell it is beginning to enjoy a resurgence in England. But this time there’s a twist. (No, not The Twist!) One of the leading exponents of the new electric blues in the UK is a skinny white guy – from the USA. Stephen Dale Petit’s raw, powerful electric is fueled by his musical antecedents from both sides of the pond, he told The American. Born in California, he was whisked from the West coast before he was a year old to live in Germany – his father was a fighter jet pilot. He went back to

the States aged six. He was given his first guitar at the age of eight, an acoustic that was followed soon after by his first electric guitar – a Gibson SG Special, no less, bought by his dad, to the chagrin of his mother who would have liked him to be a sensitive singer-songwriter. Was that route ever likely? “Naah!” he laughs. He formed his first band within two weeks. To this day he’s a Gibson man through and through (mostly

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The American

custom-built Firebirds and Les Pauls, guitar-fact fans!). Petit’s new album The Crave shows up some of his wider influences. California is a cover of the Tupac Shakur/Dr Dre track California Love, but as he says the song is coming full circle: “That riff started on a Joe Cocker record, Woman to Woman. A rap band called Zapp sampled that, then a couple of people from Zapp were involved with the Dr Dre production. I just thought it was a stonking, killer groove and I liked the idea of bringing it back full circle. All roads lead back to the blues, and to spiritual music – what you’d call gospel – which often had the same songs, just with different lyrics.” He’s no slavish copier of old traditions, aiming at his own version of the blues. Certainly his cover of Robert Johnson’s Cross Road Blues is different, with unexpected, epic strings. Who did the arrangement, I asked. Chris Elliott, who’s worked with Mark Ronson on Amy Winehouse’s Rehab and Back To Black among many others. (Incidentally Petit’s accent is extraordinarily like Ronson’s – perhaps not so surprising given both of their transatlantic backgrounds.) The idea was to come up with a fresh approach to a song that is generally played in a traditional Robert Johnson style, or the Cream way, Petit says, but even Robert Johnson didn’t restrict himself to a particular form of the blues. He played Broadway show tunes, what would now be called vaudeville numbers. Only later, when the music collectors in the 1950s went to the south, was blues pigeonholed into a particular sound. “The world doesn’t need another blues album that has nothing new to say”, says Petit. He has no interest in preaching to the converted. His first album, Guitarama, was more straightahead blues. This time around he wanted to make something accessible

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to non-blues fans while still being true to his passion for blues music. It works. Aside from the hip hop roots of California, the album’s opener, Three Gunslingers, is in the early ’70s British electric blues tradition, Let There Be More Light has country elements while Gun Song has a Howlin’ Wolf vibe, all with a distinct, hard edge. Petit gets his influences from the original American bluesmen - he played with two of the Kings – Albert and BB – but also from the British blues players. It was the Brits that hooked him into the blues, he says, from The Beatles, The Stones and The Animals through Hendrix – he includes Jimi in the British sphere as Hendrix would not have happened in the States. They led him back to Chuck Berry, who was on Chess records, which also recorded Muddy Waters and so on. The influences they quoted led him back to Son House and Charlie Patton. But he also saw The Clash, who were influenced by the MC5 and Iggy Pop, who in turn went back to the blues. Many people think of the blues as “down in the dumps, woke up this morning, my woman left last week, my dog won’t speak to me, I ain’t got a job and the water’s been cut off” kind of music” says Petit, “and that’s part of it. The blues was a music forged in

horrific conditions, in a certain time in American history so I won’t trivialise that for a second, but it was also always Saturday night music: let’s have a party, ain’t it great to be alive, and damn the rest of it. Petit came to London in the early 1990s, drawn by the music, and made a few pounds busking. It’s said he ‘fell in with‘ Eric Clapton, Dave Gilmour, Ringo Starr and Joe Strummer. Is that just music biz myth? Not exactly he says. He went to an Eric Burdon gig as a kind of pilgrimage. Someone he knew invited him backstage where he met Phil May, singer from The Pretty Things, who hit it off with him and invited him to sit in with a friends’ band. Imagine Petit’s surprise when he turned up on stage at the small club, plugged his guitar in, looked up and saw Dave Gilmour standing next to him. “May hadn’t mentioned who his friends were!” Petit deadpans. “Blues is a magic music”, says Petit. “It’s the motherlode”. By getting immersed in it you can make your own, contemporary blues. And what five words, I wondered, would Stephen Dale Petit choose to describe his own version? He takes the question seriously: “Fresh, provocative, powerful, intense… and touching.” H


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David Vann

Legend Of A Suicide David Vann

David Vann’s debut novel Legend of a Suicide has already been described as an American classic. Few young writers could have had a more impressive background than Vann since he was first a student at Stanford and later in grad school at Cornell. And after reading this fascinating yet troubling first novel, I could understand why. Roy is still a teenager when his father, a dentist and some time fisherman, puts a .44 magnum to his head and kills himself on his boat. For the rest of his life Roy is haunted by that moment and the circumstances that brought his father to this tragic end. He describes his parents’ bitter and unhappy marriage on Adak Island, Alaska that eventually ends in divorce with anger and sympathy. Perhaps because Vann was born on Adak, he is able to describe this primitive yet stimulating world with an intensity and knowledge that have failed other writers. Roy’s need for revenge against the father he loved and hated is shocking yet poignant. Although not an easy read, this stunning and disturbing novel gripped me to the last page. – VS Penguin, 240 pages, paperback, £7.99

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Book Reviews by Virginia E. Schultz and Sabrina Sully Addicted to Wedding Cake: The Journey of Divorce Keith Churchouse

With one in three marriages in the UK ending in divorce, most of us have witnessed the problems and heartbreak friends have gone through, whether they left their spouse or the reverse. Although the age group with the highest divorce rate is people in their late twenties, the average age of a man at divorce in 2008 was 43.9 and for a woman 41.4. For those Americans living in the UK, it is often more difficult as they are not only far from home and family but are unfamiliar with how the divorce system works. Addicted to Wedding Cake provides a candid and discerning insight into the problems one will have to face in England or Wales, no matter their nationality. Now happy in his third marriage, leading financial advisor and “divorce financial neutral” Keith Churchouse, explains the problems occurring from the social effects to the intrusion in one’s life during the process. After reading Addicted to Wedding Cake and learning of all the trials and tribulations in money, time and emotional stress one has to go through, I’ve

come to the conclusion except under certain circumstances it would be easier to work out the problems in a marriage than to take the arduous and too often emotive journey that ends in divorce. – VS Churchouse Consultants, paperback,180 pages, £9.75

Heart Of The Matter Emily Griffin

Tessa Russo has given up her job to stay at home with her two children. Married to Nick, a prominent pediatric surgeon, she enjoys caring for her family. Then the night of their wedding anniversary, Nick is called out on an emergency and everything changes. Valerie Anderson is a hard working single mother of six year old Charlie, who has never known his father. One night on a sleepover the little boy has an accident and has to go to the hospital. An attraction sparks between two people that can’t be explained and under any other circumstances would have ended before anything happened. Nick was in love with his wife and he wasn’t the kind of man to be unfaithful. Yet, in the weeks before and after Charlie’s operation, everything


The American

suddenly changes for all three. In alternating viewpoints, Griffin tells the story of three good, honest people caught in a triangle of betrayal and duplicity that makes each of them question themselves about love and dependability. All three know no matter what the outcome nothing will ever be the same. True love, Tessa learns, is not always happily ever after and forgiveness may not always be possible. Griffin digs deeply and truthfully into the dilemma of many women, married or single. For Tessa and Valerie, there are unknown consequences that, depending on which road is followed, could change not only their own lives, but everyone they love. It is an unputtable down book that kept me involved until the unknown end. – VS St. Martin’s Griffin, paperback, 400 pages, £9.68

Chocolate Unwrapped Sarah Jane Evans

Sara Jane Evans’ passion for chocolate has led her to tasting chocolate made by chocolate producers around the world. In Chocolate Unwrapped she gives the 3000 year old history of chocolate and brings up to date its effect on society, politics and economics. At the end of the book is a directory of over eighty of the finest producers starting at Akesson’s, a French chocolate developed by a Swede, Bertil Akesson, and ending with Zotter’s, a chocolate bar made in Austria. She tells the origin of the chocolate, its history and where it is made, and gives tasting notes as well. Her description of the various chocolate bars is scrutinized and analyzed as seriously as any made by a wine expert tasting premier cru wine. – VS Pavilion Books, hardback, £16.99

Saints of New York

RJ Ellory

RJ Ellory

Although a bit cold to start with, Saints of New York soon develops into a fast moving detective novel set in, you guessed in, NYC. It’s gritty and realistic and flows like a good Hollywood thriller. The lead character, Frank Parrish, a NYPD Detective, is excellently developed. In fact – the sign of a good book for me – I kept wondering how Parrish was doing after I’d finished the book. Parrish has a broken marriage (he’s married to his job), a driving license suspension, a pay hold-back, a probable ulcer (or worse) and an alcohol problem. His partner has just been killed on an op. He’s strayed over the procedural line once too often - one more infraction and he’s out - and Parrish is grudgingly attending therapy as part of a deal to allow him to keep working. On top of all this he’s dealing with his father’s gold-plated reputation as a top cop. The bodies he deals with every day are mostly low-lifes, for whom a violent death was just a matter of time. Most are unsolvable. But when the bodies of a brother and sister turn up Parrish can’t get it out of his head that the girl didn’t deserve to die. He goes the extra mile to solve her murder with long hours, a lot of shoe leather and the hunches of a born detective. My big surprise was finding, after I’d finished the book, that Saints of New York, like the author’s other books, all set in the US, was written by an Englishman who lives in the UK. Ellory had an unconventional path to authorship. Orphaned at the age of seven, grandparents dead by his teens, Ellory was jailed for poaching at age seventeen. A foray into music ended when his drummer died, he married and divorced young, and when he decided to start writing he found that no publisher in

the UK or the USA could get their heads round publishing books set in the US written by an Englishman. Three agents came and went (one became an author, another moved abroad) and after 22 unpublished novels Ellory gave up writing. After eight years he realised that writing was all he had ever wanted to do and started again. A good thing too, for fans of quality crime fiction. – SS Orion Books, hardback £18.99, paperback £12.99.

Witch Craft:

Wicked Assesories, Spellbinding Jewelry, Creepy-cute Toys, and more! Margaret McGuire and Alicia Kachmar Something for Halloween – and there’s just time to buy a copy. An American book now available over here, this is a great little how-to book that literally combines Witch with Craft. Crafters both experienced and novice will be delighted by ideas for Freaky Finger Food, a Cupcake Graveyard, a Vampire Bite Necklace and, for later in the year, Snow Globes. – SS Quirk Books, hardcover, 96 pages, £9.99

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The American

Andrew Scott, Lisa Dillon, and Tom Burke are a perfect delight in Noel Coward’s gem of a play

Design for Living

By Noel Coward • Old Vic Theatre London

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oward’s gem of a play is here given a lavish production by the veteran director Anthony Page. It is designed on a gloriously grand scale by Lez Brotherston and stars a trio of up and comers who are a perfect delight. The plot – Gilda loves Otto, Otto loves Leo, Leo loves Gilda – which offended public decency in the ’30s still actually has some potency today as it explores the landscape of open relationships, where there are casualties no matter what the moral climate. This bohemian trio – painter Otto (Tom Burke), playwright Leo (Andrew Scott) and decorator Gilda (Lisa Dillon) - feel smugly set apart from the herd and Coward uses them to mock bourgeois morality, whether it be from the stiff upper classes, such as Gilda’s dull but reliable stooge of a husband, Ernest (Angus Wright), or from the lower orders, the stern housemaid Mrs ’odge (Maggie McCarthy), who drops her aitches as often as her frowns. “Hodge is my maiden name, I took it back in disgust” she says in disdain about a past husband. This is a Rolls-Royce (or perhaps a

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Reviewed by Jarlath O’Connell

Bentley) of a production. You can wallow in art deco furniture, plush fabrics and gorgeous gowns and the New York penthouse set for Act 4 is pure Fred ‘n Ginger. Along the way you will be tickled by Coward’s sparkling wit and his uncanny ability to run dialogue on a separate track from the emotion of a scene. With Coward the realism is in the emotion and the dialogue is a slipstream of flippancy running overhead. Here the first Act is taken at a deadening pace and one dreads a long haul – the play has a ridiculous running time of over three hours with two unnecessarily long intervals – until Act Two redeems itself and culminates in a perfectly paced drunk scene as the boys become slowly sozzled, finishing off the contents of the drinks cabinet. Unlike in 1933 the boys do kiss passionately, but here it is staged by Page with a nonchalance which is perfectly judged. Here too Andrew Scott comes into his own. Like some wiry sprite he is stunningly watchable and he has the instincts of every great actor to take a

character and inhabit it totally. There is beautiful detailing in every movement and expression and it is testament to his skill that a character from the ’30s comes across as so totally modern. When he is off stage the energy just seeps from the play. It’s a groundbreaking performance for this Dubliner who already has an Oliver Award to his name and he is certainly destined for greatness. Dillon’s Gilda is less arch and more humane than is usual and is all the better for it. She is supremely glamorous and executes Gilda’s mad, fanciful, arias with great finesse. Baker gets crowded out in this company, but he perfectly captures Otto’s smug self-regard. Coward devilishly pokes fun at the press (Leo’s hilarious grilling by an Evening Standard reporter), the cult celebrity, the art world and rich Americans and as with Private Lives the play has a beautiful symmetry to its construction. What amazes though is that this “measured skirmishing”, as Gilda puts it, still can delight so much to this day.


The Talented Mr Ripley By Phyllis Nagy from the novel by Patricia Highsmith. The Royal Derngate & Northampton Theatre • Reviewed by Jay Webb

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omedy is the most difficult theatrical genre, but black comedy is supra-hard. In addition to nuanced delivery, timing, scrupulous casting, timing, subtle reactions [have I mentioned timing?], it has to be really sick to grab the attention. The bodycount is still secondary to an imaginative plot with witty, attention-grabbing dialogue. Phyllis Nagy’s take on Patricia Highsmith’s successful ‘Ripley’ novels keeps many of Highsmith’s best lines and set pieces – too many – and as in Anthony Minghella’s 2006 film version, this 2 hour 30 minute production with one break wearies with repetition. That Tom Ripley is a psychopath is made amply evident early in Act 1. My daughter, who loved the first half, was wriggling around in her seat during Act 2, as was half the audience. After a £3m restoration the Royal Derngate is marvelous, as is the stage design and back projection work by Chris McGill and Tim Baxter of Dusthouse that convey the sea and underwater effects expertly; I felt seasick. Anna Watson’s lighting design makes the show work with particularly subtle use of pins and back lighting against Hannah Clark’s minimalist sets. I wish that Philip d’Orleans had put the same effort into the fight scenes that Georgina Lamb applied to her excellent choreography. ‘Stomping’ a downed victim seldom convinces because the

stomper has to pull the blow, unbalancing him, as happened when Ripley kicked one of his victims. Richard Todd, in a film I once produced, told a young actor to really strike him as pulled and ‘passed’ punches always look absurd and he’d rather have a bruise than fail to convince (but then Dickie was a WWII commando). Here the wrestling fight was balletic but utterly unconvincing. A real psychopath, and I’ve known a few, would frighten a cage fighter. Tom Ripley didn’t. Patricia Highsmith began her writing career on comic books. Her first novel, Strangers on a Train, was bought by Alfred Hitchcock who turned it into one of his most unconvincing films. Highsmith, as Graham Greene observed, created a world “claustrophobic and irrational”...dooming the reader to “live to the story’s end with another of her wanted men.” Which works on the page but is hard to do on stage or film. Her psychopaths are attractive charming liars without care nor conscience, much as Highsmith described herself when she stalked a woman she fancied, saying ‘I felt quite close to murder...murder is a kind of making love, a kind of possessing.” Ripley however seeks the good life, not love which he can’t comprehend, albeit he knows how to batten off those who care for him. Sam Heughan as wealthy young Greenleaf befriends Ripley convinc-

Sam Heughan, convincing as Ricky Greenleaf ROBERT DAY

ingly as does Michelle Ryan as the utterly credible ditzy girl friend. She also plays an enchanting whore with élan. The secondary characters are well cast and some such as Giles Cooper even seem to enjoy their roles. Which Kyle Soller as Ripley does not. His performance in this hellish role is uneven and the all-important timing sometimes happens, sometimes not. He’s as good looking as Matt Damon in the film version, but whereas Damon came over as bewildered, Soller was uncertain and uncomfortable. I couldn’t believe him from five minutes in, when his character claims five different professions in Ms Nagy’s clumsy way of establishing Ripley’s charming but inept lying skills. There are 100 ways to tell lies; Soller’s Ripley has but one, bright-eyed assertion. Since he lies remorselessly, this delivery lost its enchantment early in Act One. An usher told us that they’d been working on the play right up to the night we attended. Like Raymond Chandler, the director Raz Shaw did not, I feel, quite know what to do with it. A big blue pencil would have helped nicely.

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The American

The Silver Tassie By Sean O’Casey • Druid Theatre Company on tour at The Lowry, Salford • Reviewed by Jarlath O’Connell

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alway’s famous Druid Theatre has brought O’Casey’s great but difficult play The Silver Tassie to The Lowry in Salford and to the Oxford Playhouse, added onto a wider Irish tour. Written in 1929 and famously rejected by Yeats for the Abbey, it represented a departure for O’Casey. His trademark playful human comedy of Act One gives way to an expressionist Act Two which is mostly sung. British composer Elliott Davies has added some highly effective music to O’Casey’s lyrics. The play continues to impress us today with both its radical staging (it anticipates Oh What a Lovely War by some 25 years), as well as its powerful anti-war message. The play has had a checkered per-

40

formance history with key productions having taken place in Germany, France and Russia, where audiences were often more receptive to its radical style. It was also turned into an opera by Mark Anthony Turnage. In this new production the great Garry Hynes, the first woman to win a Tony for directing, has managed to dust down this forgotten antique and reveal it to be a treasure. Set in Dublin at the height of the First World War, it follows the fortunes of two soldiers, Gaelic footballing hero Harry and violent husband Teddy and unlike in many other representations of the Great War, we also meet their sweethearts, wives, mothers and the old men left behind. Act One is the aftermath of a sporting win as the men go off to war, Act Two the horror of the trenches, Act Three a desolate hospital ward and Act Four a local celebration, shortly after Armistice Day, when the crippled Harry realises that the dance will go on without him. Rage at the mindless destruction of war and its forgotten and traumatised survivors informs every sinew of the play. O’Casey presented stock figures here whose greed and grasping stood in marked contrast to the myth making of the time and he railed against what

Above: Christopher Doyle, Adam Welsh and Elliot Harper evoke the horror of the trenches PHOTO: ROBERT DAY

he saw as blind and stupid patriotism. Wheelchair bound Harry gets cruelly cast aside by his girlfriend for an able bodied man and Teddy the wife beater ends up blinded. Some poetic justice here, as his wife revels in her newfound power over her former abuser. As always with O’Casey, humour is never far from the surface and this production is laced with great Dublin wit. The comedy double act of old men Sylvester and Simon recall an Irish Laurel and Hardy, and Hynes has cast two veterans of the Dublin stage, John Olohan and Eamonn Morrissey (pictured, left), whose comic timing is a joy. They skewer pomposity, piety and cant wherever they find it but they are also wrapped in their own self absorption and vanity. Francis O’Connor’s startling recreation of the trenches, with the stage dominated by a tank gun and the evocative tenement room and hospital ward, greatly enhance the production which expertly walks a fine line between realism and expressionism. This production deserves a UK tour.


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The American Interview:

Michael Landes H

i Michael, as we’re doing this interview by phone, where are you at the moment? At home in London: I’m renting a flat while I’m acting in The House of Games. In the States I live in LA. And you were born in Brooklyn? Yes, we keep an apartment in New York. It’s my favorite city. My wife and I lived in there for a long time but my kids are at school now and I’ve embraced Los Angeles. A lot of the decisions in our industry still get made in L.A. I would love to move back to New York later, but we’re there for now. Of course, this isn’t the first time you’ve been over here, you’ve been on the London stage before, haven’t you? That’s right, I first came over when I did When Harry Met Sally at the Haymarket, then I did a handful of great little television appearances – a series called Love Soup for David Renwick, he’s a great writer who did One Foot in the Grave and Jonathan Creek, then last year I did Material Girl on BBC. And I did a film, The Last Days of Lehman Brothers. You’re building quite a career on this side of the Atlantic, as well as in Hollywood? Well, my father-in-law, Harry Benson, is Scottish, he’s a famous photojournalist who got a CBE last year. He’s the greatest, he’s my pal. Because my wife has a British passport, it gives me the opportunity to come over here and work. I don’t claim to do a British accent but I love the theater, and there’s some great TV being made

here and a lot of great films too. Any excuse to come over here is a real treat for me. They used to say here that British TV was the best in the world, but there’s so much good drama and comedy coming out of America. How do you see that? America makes a lot more television and Britain probably gets the best of that, but the British might make some stuff that’s not so good that Americans don’t get to see. There’s immense talent here. Have you seen Roger and Val on the BBC, with Dawn French and Alfred Molina? I know and love Alfred Molina. It’s wonderful, it’s just two people sitting in their flat but the acting is remarkable, like watching a two-hander play. I’m going to bring it back to the States on DVD. Although Wendy, your wife, is half Scottish, she was brought up in America wasn’t she? Yes, she was raised in New York but she went to RADA, the drama school here, and Harry is back here 5 or 6 times a year. He’s just photographed the Queen in Scotland. He’s 80 but he’s constantly coming over – he’s an animal! Have you visited to Scotland? I’ve not been up to Scotland and I’m mad at myself for not doing so. I want to go and see Scotland with Harry, he’s really popular up there. John Hannah, the Scottish actor, is a real good friend of mine, who I met on a Miss Marple. He’s got two kids who’re my kids’ age so I have a soft spot for Scotland. Usually when I’m over here

doing television or a movie I go back to my family, we’ve got two little kids. They come here every time I’m over doing work. They mimic the English accent… they go “Mummaaaay”, instead of Mom. How much time do you spend on stage, TV and films? I trained to do stage work, but Hollywood is a financially driven business, so it’s harder to get to do theater. The stage is the actor’s medium, whereas television is a writer’s medium and film is a director’s medium. The stage is the best place… it’s very indulgent. You can spend six weeks on the material, asking questions and exploring the different avenues. Television’s a very fast medium and with movies unless you’re screenwriting a movie and dictating where it’s going to go, you get hired fairly quickly before it starts filming, so it’s hard to dig as deep. Are you finding that British audiences differ from American ones? You know everybody always says that American audiences are louder or British ones are more reserved, but When Harry Met Sally was a comedy and audiences here enjoyed it and House of Games gets a lot of big laughs. I think when people love the

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The American

theater, they love the theater. I can’t tell a huge difference between here and there. I love that there’s such a theater community in Britain. There might be more of a feeling of husbands being dragged out to the theater more in America! Are you enjoying playing at the Almeida – it’s quite a small theater isn’t it? Yes, it’s about 350 seats. I love it. There’s 4 or 5 theaters in the world that I would love to have the opportunity to work at and the Almeida is one of them. It has a good feel for audiences too, it’s very intimate and you’re real close to the audience. You’re a well know face here now. Are you getting any reaction from the British public? The people that do notice are very nice. I love it when you finish a play and go to on the tube or a bus and there are the people with the programs. It’s very cool. In Hollywood, you get in your car and you’re separate from everybody else Tell me more about The House of Games? It’s by Davis Mamet who’s a genius. It’s it’s very fast-paced. It’s about a psychologist who’s had a best-selling novel. I’m in a group of conmen who target her and make her our ‘mark’. We’re going to convince her to write a book. Within the con we all have roles – mine is to seduce the mark. We bring her into our world, there’s a thriller aspect, there’s a romantic aspect. The cast is amazing. Nancy Carroll, the lead woman, is absolutely brilliant and I’m so lucky to be on stage with her. She was in After The Dance at the National, and she was remarkable. The play shows how similar actors and conmen can be. H

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On The Hustle

American actor James Carroll Jordan tells what it’s like to join the cast of the hit BBC show Hustle

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ello, from ‘An American Actors’ Corner’ in Surrey. So far with my articles I have taken you from the world of regional theatre in my article From Northampton To The National to the West End where I gave you a glimpse into the workings of big time theatre in London in At The National to the office of one of the Kings of English Theatre with A Chat With Nicholas Hytner (the Creative Director of the National Theatre). Since my articles follow the rather eclectic wanderings of my career, I now take you On The Hustle, a fly on the wall view of filming an episode of that fast paced and very funny drama from Kudos Film and Television and the BBC. You know, the one with Robert Vaughn in it. My first experience with the progam was when they asked me to sit in for Robert Vaughn in a script reading of two episodes here in London. I had never seen Hustle at that time or even heard of it. When one does mostly theatre, on an eight show a week schedule, and only watches TV shows with himself in them, one doesn’t get a very broad view of what is going on! But my first job after my stint at the National came (I think) from that reading. I have to tell you that parts for Americans in English television are few and far between and I was very lucky to get one so quickly. There was a beaut of a part of an American casino owner in the Hustle script and I got very excited when I read it. Alas as it is all too often the case, it was already on offer to another even more

famous American than myself, Michael Brandon. Of course he accepted the part. As beggars can’t be choosers, I accepted the smaller part with the philosophical view of “A bird in the hand….” and I’m glad I took it because it was a lot of fun and I met a great bunch of people. First was my old mate Robbie Jarvis who plays the regular part of the bar-tender Eddie in the show. Robbie and I go way back; to Liverpool when I played Mortimer in Arsenic and Old Lace in the late eighties and a few years later in London at the Piccadilly Theatre when I did Only The Lonely, a Bill Kenwright rock show about Roy Orbison. Robbie was one of the actor/ musicians in the show, playing a number of parts from a Beatle to Bruce Springsteen doing Born in the USA. I remember after two years of doing the show and almost going deaf from acting in front of a bank of big noisy guitar amps, asking him how he kept from going deaf. He answered, in his Scouse accent, “We use ear plugs you plonker!” You learn something every day! Well, Robbie had put on a little weight and lost a bit of hair, but then so had I, so we didn’t talk about that. Instead we caught up on old times and swapped stories and showed pictures of our kids to each other. It was nice, because in my business it is rare that you ever see people you work with again once the gig is over. On to Hustle. I really can’t tell you anything about the particular show I did as that would give things away


The American

Left to right: Robert Glenister, Matt di Angelo, Adrian Lester, Kelly Adams and Robert Vaughn

and make the producers very angry with me. But I can tell you about the actors and others I met and worked with in it. I liked the hook Hustle had that made it different to other shows I have done like Taggart or Ellington in the UK or Murder She Wrote and McCloud in America. It’s about a bunch of con-men, plus one very beautiful woman, who con other con men - or other people who need to be conned such as shady businesspeople. I only read through two episodes and acted in one other, but find myself hooked on the show and going through my computer digging up old episodes. There are only a half dozen regulars on the show, but every week they take on different characters in pursuit of their current “con” like other people change our clothes. Between the six of them I must have heard twenty different accents as they plowed through their scripts at a brisk pace. The leading lady of Hustle, Kelly Adams played an ‘Essex girl’ secretary in one show, a posh business woman in another then the voice of a sat navigator in the one I did. The other actors with the exception of Robert Vaughn (who

spoke with a plain old American accent the whole time) did the same with the various parts they played. And it’s not only with accents they vary things, but different characterizations. In one of the readings Adrian Lester camped up one of his characters (a high powered clothes designer) so much that everyone had a real hard time keeping a straight face doing scenes with him. The only one that always kept his cool is Vaughn. Nothing throws that old-timer. The other fine con-men are Robert Glenister who plays Ash Morgan, and Matt di Angelo who is Hustle’s good looking “Joey Tribiani a la Friends” type. My part was involved with flashbacks to another era (1860’s America) where I got to do what I love most in acting; dress up in western clothes. I played a shady Sheriff and that’s all I can say about it until after the episode shows early next year. But I played him well and had a ball doing it. My only problem was a technical one. See I used my own cowboy boots in the show for my first days shooting, then when I came back up to Birmingham (they shoot most of the shows there)

I found I had left them home so I had to use any old pair of boots that wardrobe could find. Unfortunately they were too tight and gave me hell all day. I found myself mincing around like John Wayne for the whole show. You all of course know that old Hollywood story of how he developed his famous walk. He had boots that were too tight in Riders of the Purple Sage or some such show and even though he found more comfortable boots for other movies, he kept the walk. I shall never forget the very good advice Wayne gave me early in my career in the early seventies when I was lucky enough to have lunch with him in LA. I asked him how he went about his acting and he said: “I keep it simple kid. I don’t act….. I re-act.” If you think about it, it is the best advice you could get as an actor. I’ve been trying to do that ever since. I am sorry I couldn’t have let you in on the plot of the Hustle I did, you will just have to watch it yourself. Let’s hope I get an interesting gig soon so I can share that with you too. Perhaps a movie with Jack Nicholson… or better yet Angelina Jolie… Yes, that would do! H

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The American

A Short History of

Democrats Abroad Sir Robert Worcester recollects the early days of the organization, and tells how Americans living abroad got the vote

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he Editor has invited me to reflect on the early days of Democrats Abroad, now more than forty years old. I arrived in Britain in 1969, bright-eyed and bushy tailed, to found MORI, the market research and polling firm. Within a couple of months I found Toby Hyde, who had founded an embryonic organisation of American Democrats in London. We met at his flat in Chester Square – most people walked! It was very social, with Toby and his wife Pauline, Susan and Bill Blackburn, myself and my late American wife Joann.

I found to my astonishment that I was still expected to pay American taxes, but I had lost the vote! Only American civil servants and the military kept their vote. Some congressman had felt we did not deserve to have the vote, however the Internal Revenue Service were convinced that we were American citizens and we had to pay taxes. We recalled that there was this statement that every American schoolchild knows – “No taxation without representation”. After a year or two Susan Blackburn, the Vice President of Democrats Abroad sadly died very young, and I was elected to that role. I then formed with my opposite number in Republicans Abroad a group called Tax Equity for Americans Abroad (TEAA) in 1971. We were assisted by Robert Leaf of Burson-Marsteller, the public relations and communications firm.

Bob’s assistant Dermot McNulty played a key role in the development of TEAA. I then proceeded to carry a tea bag around in my right hand pocket: every chance I got I would pull it out as I was telling of the outrage that we’d lost the vote yet we still had to pay taxes. I later had my photo in Time Magazine, holding that tea bag! We then enlisted the help of the late Senator Claiborne Pell, from Rhode Island, and subsequently the late Hubert Humphrey. Humphrey was especially popular in Britain. They were very sympathetic, but we got blocked in a sub-committee of the House Administration Committee by a Congressman from Albany, Georgia, and by Congressman Frank Thompson from New Jersey. I had lived in Frank Thompson’s district before I moved to Princeton. Democrats Abroad in the UK had been very successful in raising money for the McGovern Presidential campaign. We raised more money per capita than any place in the world, and we began to get recognition from the Democratic National Committee in the person of its Chairman, Robert Strauss and his executive director, Robert Keef, Jr. They made trips over Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill thought you should get the franchise - President Gerald Ford signed it into law. USNWR


The American

here, supported us and we all became good friends. So, we were then given the right of votes in the 1974 Mid-term Convention in Kansas City – the only time they’ve ever had a mid-term. Because we were friendly with the members of the National Committee we were seated immediately under the podium, at the back of the Georgia delegation. The Georgia Congressman got the full court press from us, from Jimmy Carter, from everyone and he agreed to get out of the way. We then saw Thompy – Frank Thompson, Jr. – who got us an appointment the next day to see Tip O’Neill, the Speaker of the House. Five of us, all Democrats, went to see him and I, as spokesman, said, “Mr Speaker, we don’t think it’s fair that we have to pay taxes but we don’t have the vote.” He said, “You don’t have the vote? Why not?” I explained, he said it was outrageous, then I pulled the tea bag out of my pocket and said, “Yes it is, and if you don’t give us the vote we’re gonna come and dump tea in your harbor!” He laughed, and said he was sure there was something they could do about it. In short, the Overseas Citizens Voting Rights Act was signed into law by Gerald Ford on January 6th, 1977. And that’s how Americans abroad got the vote! You will be able to read more about Toby Hyde and indeed Hubert Humphrey, including some new interesting things I didn’t know about at the time, in his widow’s book. The no-holds-barred recollection of an exciting life entitled “Nothing to Hyde” by Pauline Hyde is to be published soon. Of course the tax situation is still not perfect. For example, the £30,000 that one has to pay for the privilege

Hubert Humphrey, friend to Britain

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s a Senator, Hubert Humphrey had taken considerable interest in the “Special Relationship”. His energy and enthusiasm for things British and particularly Westminster politics held him in high esteem in Britain. The day we learned of Hubert Humphrey’s death I was having lunch at the Reform Club as was Roy Hattersley, a Cabinet Minster who had been Minister of State in the Foreign Office with Prime Minister Jim Callaghan. Senator, later Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who helped He came over and asked if the Embassy was smooth the way for our voting doing anything about a memorial service for rights LIBRARY OF CONGRESS the former Vice President and if so would I let him know. The Embassy said they had no plans but would be happy if Democrats Aboard were to organise one. I rang Toby Hyde, Chairman of Democrats Abroad, who agreed, and then rang my old friend Tom McNally, then the PM’s Political Advisor at Number 10 and now Minister of State and Deputy Leader in the Lords for the Coalition Government. I asked him if the Prime Minister would be willing to read the lesson. Tom had a word with the PM and rang me back. Mr Callaghan said that he would close the Cabinet early and encourage them to attend the service. Some twenty Members of Cabinet, the then Leader of the Opposition, Margaret Thatcher, and the Leader of the Liberals Jeremy Thorpe all attended and the PM read the lesson. The American Church was packed.

of being non-domiciled in the UK, and expect for estate duty if you’re here over seventeen years. All the coverage in the media about ‘nondoms’ never mentions that if you’re American you’re paying US income tax, but if you’re Canadian and a non-dom here you’re whistlin’, you don’t pay Canadian tax. Uruguayans don’t. Mozambique doesn’t even know their citizen who lives here. Only 90 percent at most of income tax comes under the Dual Taxation Treaty. And if I lived in New York State and I was paying 10 or 11 percent New York City and New York State sales taxes, they would be deductible from my American income tax. Is VAT? No way! Same for property taxes. Add that to the £30,000 non-dom

fee and it hurts. The American is the only publication I can think of that would be sympathetic to the bleat from Americans living here that we are the nearly the only country in the world which taxes on the basis of citizenship rather than residence. but under the current financial stringencies I don’t see anything good, and I can certainly see things that are going to be bad. In the UK the higher tax bracket has already gone up from 40 to 50 percent. I’m not feeling too sorry for myself, but if I was a middle ranking junior professor at the London School of Economics and they wanted to take £30,000 out of my pay, which might be £60,000 to £80,000, it would force me to up stakes and go back to the States. H

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The American

Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea Alan Miller compares and contrasts the Tea Party phenomenon in the U.S. and the Labour Party leadership contest in the UK

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he US news has been dominated recently by the “Tea Party” movement. What was initially a response to apparent government overreach – the Stimulus Plan, bank bailouts and President Obama’s healthcare plan – has gained momentum resulting in candidates winning positions in Republican primaries

across the US. Big news particularly was Carl “Mad as Hell” Paladino winning GOP nomination for Governor of New York versus Andrew Cuomo, and Christine O’Donnell defeating Mike Castle in Delaware. Far more surprising than the wins, which in many ways represent an anti-vote to the incumbents rather than a positive vote for something in particular, is how the Democrats and those in power are obsessing about what is really Republican disarray. How did this ‘Party That Is Not A Party’ come to create such a fuss in Washington and the national media? Mainly white and older, there are many different individuals who have assumed the title of “Tea Party” without having to sign up to any core principles, party structure, leadership or objectives. It becomes a general dislike of certain things. That’s fair enough and oppositional discourse is to be encouraged in a healthy democracy. Yet this phenomenon has been elevated far beyond its realm by the continued chattering of everyone from Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and Rachel Maddow to Bill Tea Party Protesters at Hartford, Connecticut in 2009 SAGE ROSS

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Clinton warning about the potential for oppositional ideas to turn into violence at the anniversary of the Oklahoma bombing and even a New York Times story that Obama’s considered a TV campaign to tie the Republican Party to the Tea Party. Perhaps these tiny, isolated groups of individuals would not have had such an impact had Democrats and others ignored them and promoted their own ideas. However this problem affects not just the United States. Historic political organizations are plummeting in popularity, membership and support internationally. It was clear that Obama’s “hope” and “change” were empty rhetorical devices as they were not backed by clear political ideas and broader principles linked to organizational and societal change. He advocated anti-Beltway ideas: the Tea Partiers are in many ways the bastard children of such sentiments. Calling people “stupid”, “bigots” or “tea baggers” does not convince anybody of the strength of your own ideas. While we can expect liberal comedians to poke fun and go for the lowest common denominator we should expect higher standards from those supposedly engaged in the battle of ideas and hearts and minds. Sadly they are incapable of fighting an intellectual war because they too are devoid of inspiring ideas and, like their counterparts, simply want to technically govern, bureaucratically steering the apparatus, insulting one another over the bogged down middle ground rather than putting forward anything new. Simply tagging all your opponents as racists because one or two in a crowd shout comments does nothing to win anyone over to your position, or address the dissatisfaction that various groups and individuals clearly feel. It does


The American

demonstrate the isolation and fear of the elite and inability for them to excite citizens with their own message – a long fall from the Obama Phenomenon that seems a distant memory now. Mocking, patronizing and jeering is very telling. While this is certainly no Boston Tea Party the aristocratic attitude of those in power and the media has resulted in the very thing they are most scared of. As with the recent Swedish election upset where one of the oldest and most successful Social Democratic Parties lost to the more conservative Swedish Party, and the surprise election of Ed Miliband over his older brother in the UK Labour Party, this highlights the unraveling, chaotic nature of mainstream organizations and demonstrates what the end of ideology and politics (for the time being) really means. As with the exaggerated claims about the Tea Party ‘movement’ in the US, we were witness to a ridiculous fracas in the UK media with delirious commentators daubing Miliband junior as “Red Ed”. As I flew in to London the big discussion gripping the nation – well, the pundits – was how tricky a dynamic it was having such sibling rivalry and what the implications for their personal lives might be. How rad! This, new social movements are certainly not made of. The striking similarity between the Labour Party leadership contest and the Tea Party movement is the dichotomy and mismatch between reality and what is presented and reported to us. New Labour, which dominated British politics in the Nineties and Noughties under Tony Blair, implementing Thatcherite ideals in his ‘Third Way’, has become utterly exhausted. Ed’s surprise win came about despite David’s stronger

support among Labour Party leadership. Ed made it through by a tiny percentage being underwritten more by Trade Unions than Members of Parliament. However, despite former Labour leader Neil Kinnock’s strange appearance on stage, we should not be hypnotized into believing this is some kind of reinvention of Trade Unionism from the ’70s or ’80s. That is long dead, buried by the Thatcher/ Reagan moment, and what we have left is an emptied out, low membership and even lower participation rump of old style leaders pushing against the emptied out, fast declining popularity and membership of New Labour. ‘New Labour’ which defined itself against the old style of Labour politics, has not suddenly been transformed into a vehicle for working class alternative ideas. Rather, as with Obama, (although with far less excitement and participation) the mere statement of being young and not having been involved in politics too much, seems to have narrowly won the day. We are left wondering what exactly it is that Mr Miliband actually stands for. What were the ideas he campaigned on? What is his position on the major social issues that face British people today, such as unemployment, schooling, health and the economy? We do not know, largely because this was not a political election, where one has to present a set of credible ideas to be contested. Rather, it was the playing out of different interest groups in an exhausted organization. We should remember, only very recently Gordon Brown was also feted as a savior who would give Labour a make over and revitalize the heart and soul of the Party. How silly and decrepit that now seems. So, from a Tea Party that has no cohesive ideas or principles or

New Labour leader Ed Miliband CHRISTIAN GUTHIER

unity in belief, aside that they are not happy about “life” right now, to a contest that elects a political leader on the basis that he has never led in any meaningful way before, what we are witnessing is the ascendancy of anti-politics. One thing is evident: just how susceptible to any criticism today’s leaders are. All the more reason to put forward a critique that can genuinely engage citizens and offer an intellectual insight in to where we are now. That is the precursor for any true change involving citizens making the world a different place. That is part of the purpose of The Battle of Ideas at which I will be speaking (October 30-31, Royal College of Art, London, www.battleofideas.org.uk). Let’s get the battle started! H Alan Miller is Director of The NY Salon in New York www.nysalon.org and Co-Founder of London’s Truman Brewery and Vibe Bar www.vibe-bar.co.uk. He is on the London Regional Council, Arts Council England.

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Above: Don’t get caught out SABRINA SULLY

Jason Plato wins the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship

Tips For Winter Driving

Chevy Driver Wins Touring Cars

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ilverline Chevrolet driver Jason Plato won the British Touring Car Drivers’ Championship October 10th, in Chevrolet’s first official season in the series. Driving his Cruze at Brands Hatch, Plato clinched the championship in the very last meeting of the season with a lap record, a pole position, and two superb victories. It was no done deal. Before the weekend any one of four drivers could have taken the title. Mechanical failures took two of them out of play, while Matt Neal fought hard in his Honda, but could not deny Plato his trophy. The wins brought Plato’s number of BTCC wins to 60, equalling Andy Rouse’s record. “It’s the perfect end to an amazing season”, said Jason. “It took us a while to get going but by the end of the season we had a car that was unbeatable, thanks in no small part to the hard work and dedication of my team. We knew we could do it, and we did!” “To come to the series and win the title in our first ever season is a remarkable achievement,” said Chevrolet UK Managing Director, Mark Terry. “We’ve contributed our very own UK chapter to Chevrolet’s amazing motorsport history.”

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t’s not Montana or Colorado, but it’s still easy to get caught out by Britain’s winter weather. The RAC has some wise words:

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If the forecast or conditions are really bad, only drive if it is absolutely necessary On long journeys keep your car well ventilated to prevent drowsiness and take regular breaks Plan your journey in advance Keep a roadmap in the car Let friends or family know where you are travelling and when you expect to arrive Keep a fully-charged mobile phone with you in case of a breakdown (plus a spare battery or an emergency charger – Ed)

Your vehicle ●

Check your battery’s condition: connections should be tight and corrosion-free. Smear the terminals with a protective barrier of petroleum jelly. Batteries tend to become unserviceable once they are more than three years old. If yours falls into this category, get it professionally checked to reduce the risk of a winter breakdown Check tyre pressure (including the spare), tyre tread depth (the UK legal minimum for cars is 1.6mm, but bigger tread depth provides

more grip in the snow), oil, screen wash, coolant levels and that lights are functioning correctly Screen wash should be of proper concentration to prevent freezing in winter Anti-freeze should be added to your vehicle’s cooling system Check front and rear wiper blades for wear or splitting. Check windscreen washers ensuring that they are adjusted correctly Before setting out on a journey, remove ice and snow from your vehicles windows and lights. Do not drive with a small hole cut through the ice on your windscreen - The Highway Code states that it is illegal to drive with poor visibility. Ensure you de-mist the windows properly before you drive off Do not use hot water from a kettle to clear your windows, as this may crack the glass Carry a key de-icer with you to un-freeze frozen locks Make sure you have enough fuel for your journey. Drivers use more fuel when driving in heavy traffic and stop/start conditions Watch out for gritting lorries, snow ploughs and also pedestrians who may be walking on the road rather than the pavement and adjust your speed accordingly H


The American

Saab 9-5 Vector 2.0TID T

his is not so much a review of an individual model, more a health check-up of the whole Saab brand. The 9-5 is probably the most important model Saab built since it started making cars. As you may know, under the ownership of General Motors, the Swedish company had been under-funded and had launched no brand new models for years. GM tried to sell the brand, but no-one was buying. Thankfully for the Scandinavian firm – and car fans worldwide – it was bought by Spyker Cars, the Dutch supercar manufacturer, at the last minute. The 9-5 is a key car because although it was designed under the old management and it’s based on GM/Vauxhall underpinnings, it represents the rebirth of the Saab ideal as much as a new car. The new 9-5 was launched in 2009 and is making its way to the UK model by model. First impressions are good. The 9-5 looks like a Saab – important, when you need a

particular reason to buy one rather than going for the default setting of a midrange Merc, BM, Audi or (increasingly) Jaguar. It’s not odd, not too far way from the mainstream, but enough to give it a point of difference, as the marketing men say; take a look at the aircraft cockpit-style glasshouse. It does look better in the metal than the photos. The dark blue metallic our test car came in was particularly handsome, although I thought it a little dull to start with and it took a little while to grow on me. Overall, put it this way: It’s Saablike, in the way recent GM-owned models weren’t. Settling into the driver’s seat, you’ll find that the cockpit is designed around you in traditional Saab style. The car seems to hug you, although you have plenty of room to move and operate the beast, the dials and controls pointing toward you. The shiny black centre console and main instrument display work well together

(although again they look better in real life than in pictures – better get to a dealer to check it out) and the recessed main instruments even include an altimeter, harking back to Saab’s aircraft-building heritage. There’s even an optional fighter-pilot style head-up display in the windscreen. Everything’s illuminated in Saab’s signature green lights – Audi’s red may be more spectacular, but you wouldn’t want another colour in a Saab. There’s keyless ignition, with a start/stop button situated between the front seats, next to the gear shift, just where Saab used to place the ignition key. It’s a small point, but again it reinforces the brand identity – the point of buying a Saab. Space inside is impressive, especially for rear passengers and for your shopping and baggage in the trunk. Unfortunately some of the build quality of the interior is not up to the standards of German – and British – rivals. Some of the plastics feel a little

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The American

brittle, comparatively, but nothing rattled or broke. Infotainment (dontcha hate that word) options include a large (8 inch) colour touch screen which controls a great-sounding Harman Kardon 5.1 channel surround sound audio system and the satellite navigation system. There is a hard disk for map data and MP3 files – 10GB, enough for the longest journey – and you can connect iPods, laptops and other devices via the USB and mini-jack connectors. That’s what it’s like to look at and sit in. Now, wottlitdoo mister? Well, it’s OK, rather than spectacular. There’s only one diesel engine to start with, the 2.0 TiD diesel which allies a 0-60 sprint of 10.3 seconds to low CO2 emissions of 139g/km and economy of more than an official 53.2mpg combined. What did we get in a week of ‘real life combined’ motoring? A reasonable 46.2mpg

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Having said that, one of my kids (who gets to be driven in many different sorts of cars) said she thought it was really sporty, for a big car. A new twin turbo 2.0TTiD with 190bhp will be available soon, which might perk things up, plus there are some turbocharged petrol engines including the 220bhp 2.0T if you’re not a fan of oil-burners. Unfortunately the six-speed manual gearbox (which I’d go for over the automatic for reasons of economy, as economy drops to 41.5mpg, and CO2 emissions shoot up to 179g/km) is on the notchy side. It never fluffs a gear change but it prefers it when you take your time. All these figures are with the standard front wheel drive, although the 9-5 can be had with Saab’s excellent XWD four wheel drive system, as tested by us in the Saab 9-3X. Ask yourself, do you really need 4WD? If not, stick with 2WD. One trait that takes you straight back to the 1980s is turbo-lag – the delay between putting your foot down and the engine picking up. When you pull away from a standstill, nothing much happens… still nothing… then woops, 258lb ft of torque comes in with a rush at around 1750rpm. Keep

it spinning above that and you won’t stand the risk of stalling, as I did. You get used to it, but it’s not ideal. The ride is frustrating. The ambience of the car is sporting but luxurious and when pressing on it feels just that. At very low speeds, and when coasting, the whole thing turns jittery. The 9-5 doesn’t move the executive saloon class on in any way. It falls behind its rivals in a few areas, although at £26,495 for the cheapest 9-5 (an extra £1540 for the autobox) it’s good value. Overall it reclaims Saab’s place in the market and would be an enjoyable, classy choice for the driver looking outside the mainstream. Now, let’s see what Spyker wants to do with Saab! H

We like: Distinctive looks inside and out; fuel economy; sporty steering; space in rear; price We don’t like: Notchy gearbox (manual); crashy ride; some cabin materials


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The American

Looking out for Number One History tells us that first overall picks make a huge impact in the NBA. Seek out the big stories for the coming season, and you can’t move for them...

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ention Greg Oden and Blake Griffin in the same breath (and let’s face it, a few people are) and it’s tempting to think of first overall picks in the NFL context: overpaid, overhyped, and over before they’ve started. But glance a little further back, and a pattern of instant improvement becomes apparent. Think of Houston’s 15-game improvement when Yao Ming arrived, Cleveland’s 18-game betterment with LeBron James, Milwaukee’s 10-game advance when Bogut showed up, the 20 extra wins Toronto chalked up when Andrea Bargnani landed, and – a little further back – San Antonio’s 36-game leap when they plugged in A.I. Add Griffin and this year’s overall no.1 John Wall to the conversation, and by an astonishing coincidence, you have a shortlist of players who shape pre-season reckonings. Wall’s athleticism is expected to transform the Washington Wizards, and be a franchise defining player for the next decade. On the other hand, the same was said of the LA Clippers’ Blake Griffin this time last year, but one complicated knee injury later and Griffin still qualifies as a ‘rookie’’. With the Lakers looking for a three-peat, the other Staples Center residents will be hoping Griffin delivers them a little postseason action too.

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SOUTHEAST MIAMI – LeBron James wants a championship, Dwyane Wade has a championship, Chris Bosh is the glue you need when a whole starting five arrives in town together. An instant juggernaut is expected. Anything less than the finals would seem like underachievement. ORLANDO – Magic to Heat: “Show me”. Dwight Howard (15-game improvement when he was drafted, by the way) and Orlando will defend a division title by staying much the same – retaining JJ Redick was their big offseason move. WASHINGTON – If rookie John Wall is as advertised, Andray Blatche everything Wall can make him, and Gilbert Arenas doesn’t do anything distracting for long enough, the Wizards are headed for the playoffs. Adding Kirk Hinrich and Trevor Booker doesn’t hurt. ATLANTA – This division just got even tougher for the Hawks, landing Shaq would have been helpful, but they can still sneak into the playoffs on the back of almost-allstar talent. CHARLOTTE – Another .500 or better record seems unlikely, and Tyrus Thomas and Stephen Jackson together sounds ...interesting. ATLANTIC BOSTON – After the Miami Heat’s shopping spree, the Celtics should graciously step aside, yes? Let’s remind ourselves: Paul Pierce, KG, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Jermaine O’Neal at center, and when they go to the bench, Shaquille O’Neal, Glen Davis and Delonte West. Yuh, like they’re going to just roll over! NEW YORK – No LeBron, but they can console themselves with Amar’e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton, and blue-collar productivity that could very well result in postseason play. PHILADELPHIA – When it comes to rebounding and defense, Philly will excell, but playoff hopes require some offense too, and

it isn’t clear this roster has that. TORONTO – Andrea Bargnani had a less that stellar ‘09-’10, and injuries to Chris Bosh coincided. Now points machine Bosh is gone completely. If Toronto’s arrow is up this season, Bargnani needs to look like a no.1 again. NEW JERSEY – Somebody has to come last. Of course, if Devin Harris is healthy, Derrick Favors climbs a steep learning curve, and Carmelo Anthony find his way to New Jersey, the Nets are right back in the wildcard race. CENTRAL MILWAUKEE – Drew Gooden and Corey Maggette arrive in time to join the cartoonish contrast of Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings. If John Salmons logs a whole season like the half he played last year, the Bucks have to considered a dark horse for a postseason run. If nothing else, they’re going to be very watchable. CHICAGO – Gotta love the team: Luol Deng, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and now Carlos Boozer. Tom Thibodeau’s first gig as a head coach should be a good one, and the way is clear for a division title. CLEVELAND – Gone: LeBron James. Gone: Shaquille O’Neal. Gone: Delonte West. The Cavs are feeling spurned and they’re feeling underappreciated. But those chips on their shoulders can’t carry the Cavs through a season. They won’t miss the playoffs by much, but they will miss. INDIANA – Too much relies on players being fit, physical and focused to take Indiana seriously as a playoff contender, but if the stars did align, Roy Hibbert, Tyler Hansborough and Danny Granger could upset a few teams along the way. DETROIT – Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton missed time, and Charlie Villanueva didn’t really happen. Ben Wallace arrives at center, but it’s hard to see what the shape of the team is going to become with so many slightly creaky veterans.


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NORTHWEST UTAH – Carols Boozer is gone, but we’re picking the Jazz to take the division by a whisker on the basis of offseason acquisitions including Al Jefferson to center, the return of Raja Bell at guard, and the drafting of forward Gordon Hayward. All subtle forms of make-over that keep Utah on the up. OKLAHOMA CITY– The Thunder will challenge for the division title this season. Kevin Durant earnt the MVP at the World Championships, and is the touchstone star amongst a youth movement that’s about to explode. DENVER – It’s real simple: Carmelo Anthony stays for a while, they make the playoffs. He goes before the snow’s on the ground, they miss. That said, if he’s still there at season’s end, the mix of Melo, Martin, Nene, Billups, and an exciting bench means they’d be dangerous in the playoffs. PORTLAND – ...all of which means saying the Blazers miss the playoffs, which isn’t easy when you consider they won 50 games in an injury-plagued season last year. If the injuries stay away this time (and

© NED DISHMAN-NBA PHOTOS

SOUTHWEST SAN ANTONIO – If the Spurs retain their division title, it’ll be through their rotation at forward, where Tim Duncan is now partnered by Richard Jefferson, with DeJuan Blair and former 1st round pick Tiago Splitter in reserve. With Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker at Guard, and George Hill on the bench, the depth is unbeatable. DALLAS – After what we said about Detroit, it may seem strange to consider Dirk Nowitski and Jason Kidd reasons to have the Mavs jump the Spurs, but if Tyson Chandler can supplant Brendan Haywood at center, the Mavericks will be rejuvenated (we said consider jumping the Spurs. It ended there). MEMPHIS – A shade under .500 last season, the offseason saw almost no roster changes, thanks to throwing $84m at Rudy Gay. Continuity alone could see them sneak into postseason this time. HOUSTON – Yao Ming has been living up to Tony Kornheiser’s ‘stickman’ jibes, and the Rockets bought some insurance in the form of better-than-journeyman Brad Miller. If guards Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin catch fire, they’ll be in the hunt. NEW ORLEANS – The good news is that Chris Paul is still here. The bad news is 37 wins earns you 5th place in this division.

Can overall no.1 John Wall make an impact on the Wizards’ record? Undoubtedly, though the Heat and Magic won’t be worrying about Washington ...yet.

Greg Oden is fit), the pay-off for last year is tremendous start-experienced depth. Nothing is more uncomfortable than picking Portland 4th. MINNESOTA – There’s occasional signs of improvement. And there’s Darko Milicic. Nope, we’re not buying improvement either. PACIFIC LA LAKERS – Enough already with the ‘no.1’ talk – former no.13 pick Kobe Bryant is going after the three-peat and the other guys like Pau Gasol and Ron Artest aren’t bad either. Andrew Bynum could miss the best part of a month, but Lamar Odom will step right in. Coach Phil Jackson has everybody motivated with retirement talk. PHOENIX – Some changes here: Hedo Turkoglu and Josh Childress arrive, and Steve Nash is the

assist king, but with Amar’e Stoudamire gone things will feel strange. The Suns will be closer to the pack than the Lakers, but they’re still a playoff team. LA CLIPPERS – Expect health and expect the postseason. Blake Griffin will be ‘rookie’ of the year, Baron Davis will reap the statistical benefit, and forward Ryan Gomes will be a key contributor. The only thing that can stop them making the playoffs is themselves. GOLDEN STATE – The arrival of 20PPG forward David Lee could be the start of something good, and together with Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, this could be a formiddable offense. Defense? What’s that? SACRAMENTO – Talk of the franchise leaving Sacramento can only be a distraction. Winning would be the tonic, but there won’t be much of that. H

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The American

Devil of a Job

The Duke Blue Devils are a popular choice to repeat as National Champions. However, keeping atop the rebounding ACC will be a challenge in itself

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ur preseason rankings may have Duke ahead of a clutch of Big 10 teams, with no other ACC team in the top 10, but the Blue Devils should face a week-in-week-out challenge from within its own conference this season. Maryland matched their 13-3 conference record last season, Georgia Tech played them close in the regular and post season, Clemson beat them big mid-season, but North Carolina, NC State and Virginia Tech are all on the rise after missing out on the Big Dance last season. 1. Duke Picking Duke to repeat for the first time since 90-92 requires not worrying too much about Kyle Singler’s offseason knee op, or 3 departing starters. Coach K still has veteran SG Nolan Smith, Miles and Mason Plumlee, and adds Liberty transfer Seth (brother of Stephen) Curry and blue chip rookie Kyrie Irving. 2. Michigan State Tom Izzo had a fine recruitment class including Center Adreian Payne and Guard Keith Appling. He likely won’t depend on them too much: most of last year’s team returns, plus PG Kalin Lewis who missed out on a postseason run that almost went the distance. This year, a championship is in their sights. 3. Ohio State What returns – Dallas Lauderdale, David Lighty, William Buford and Jon Dieber can’t easily make up for the loss of PG Evan Turner and PJ Hill, but a wealth of

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freshman talent including forwards Jared Sullinger and DeShaun Thomas could make OSU a dangerous opponent in the early months of 2011.

4. Purdue Robbie Hummel returns from injury, and E’Twuan Moore and JajJuan Johnson are back for senior seasons that see them in the thick of a Big 10 firefight. Terone Johnson is the best of a less impressive next generation, so the time is now. 5. Syracuse Syracuse benefits from great year-onyear recruiting, as senior Rick Jaskson steps in for Wesley Johnson (one of three departing starters) and 7-foot Fabricio de Melo (aka Fab Melo) and Dion Waiters look likely to pick up significant freshman minutes. 6. Kansas Some more ballin’ brothers – Marcus and Markieff Morris – are back, but success this season depends on faces unseen last year, such as Mario Little and athletic freshman G Josh Selby. If the chemistry is there early enough, they’re Big 12 favorites. 7. Illinois As if the Spartans, Buckeyes and Boilermakers won’t make this year’s Big 10 epic enough, Illinois returns pretty much everybody. Some solid, if not blue chip recruits mean the Illini have depth to match up consistently all season. 8. Memphis If college basketball has became the exclusive domain of teenagers, the Tigers

should do fine. Despite the returnees Will Coleman and Wes Witherspoon, it’s the scoring potential of freshmen Will Barton, Joe Johnson, plus wingman Jelan Kendrick that makes Memphis C-USA bullies.

9. Florida The Gators may lack a headline star, but freshman C/F Patric Young may become that. With forwards Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus both amongst the SEC’s best, they remain the pick in the conference. 10. Villanova Scottie Reynolds has moved on to the pros, but Corey Fisher or Maalik Wayns mean PG remains a team strength. A host of super-sophs should contribute to what could be an Elite-8 challenge. 11. Kansas State Guard Jacob Pullen is the centerpiece, and experience is their strength, but the Wildcats didn’t recruit any superstars, and they didn’t come close to beating Kansas in three tries last year. A dose of reality? 12. Texas Longhorn gridiron fans might take solace in a hoops team on the upswing. There’s a shortage of star seniors, but freshmen G Cory Joseph and F Tristan Thompson could help Texas sneak up on K-State. 13. North Carolina Despite a trip to the NIT, the arrival of 5-star F Harrison Barnes underlines UNC’s sustained relevance. However, the Wear brothers transfered, and Will Graves was dismissed. Let’s not over-estimate them.


PHOTO: JON GARDINER, DUKE PHOTOGRAPHY

The American

14. Kentucky Why pick a team of freshmen this high? Because UK went 35-3 last year relying heavily on freshmen. This rank still relies on C/F Enes Kanter being declared eligible after a pro stop in Turkey. 15. Tennessee Freshman Tobias Harris will score soon and often and provide an alternate point of focus to star guard Scotty Hopson. The sooner the Vols concentrate on hoops instead of recruiting issues, the better. 17. Georgetown We’re not picking the Hoyas to contend for Big East glory, but we are expecting more than 10-8 in conference play. With PG Chris Wright back and C/F Nate Lubick incoming, 3rd place is credible. 16. Pittsburgh One of those few teams that return most of their squad from last season, they lack stars, but team cohesion should mean they remain in contention for third place in BIg East. More than that is a stretch. 18. Washington Picking Washington to make a run for Pac-10 glory is hard with do-everything

Quincy Pondexter gone, but G Isaiah Thomas and Fs Darnell Gant and Justin Holliday give the Huskies experience.

19. Gonzaga The Bulldogs lost the WCC title game to St Mary’s, and did little after that, but with Robert Sacre, Steven Gray and Elias Harris back, they’re favorites to top the WCC and book a Big Dance ticket again. 20. Butler Much of the team returns – though not F Gordon Hayward. C Matt Howard and G Shelvin Mack mean Butler will be 18-0 (or close) again in Horizon League play. 21. North Carolina State 5-star recruits CJ Leslie, Ryan Harrow, and senior F Tracy Smith are reasons the Wolfpack are as likely as the Tar Heels to leap up from 5-11 and shock the ACC. 22. Virginia Tech J.T. Thompson’s surgery has ex-Gator F Allan Chaney stepping in, but Malcolm Delaney’s scoring and Jeff Allen’s rebounding are keys to tourny hopes. 23. Arizona They managed only a 16-15 record last season, but if C Derrick Williams and his

fellow sophs look less wide-eyed on the road, the Wildcats could surprise.

24. Temple The Atlantic 10 will be a wild ride again this year, and the Owls have the defense to not only clout the conference, but cause some upsets outside of it. 25. Baylor With star LaceDarius Dunn suspended, everybody’s cooling on the Bears. There’s freshman talent (C Perry Jones), but is the season doomed already? Nos. 26-32 26. Seton Hall - Jeremy Hazell (20.4ppg) 27. Wisconsin - Experience abounds 28. Florida State - 10-6 in ACC last season 29. Georgia - SEC East hard to escape 30. BYU - feat. Jimmer Fredette (22.1ppg) 31. Vanderbilt - SEC could squeeze them 32. Xavier - Recruited well ..and two more for the road We can’t squeeze in all 68 tournament entrants, but we’ll ‘go halves’ and offer these two outsiders: Mike Holmes follows ex-Gamecock Chad Gray to bolster Coastal Carolina’s Big South grip, while our Patriot League pick is – who else? – American! H

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Tail End How the

Romans decided the size of the Space Shuttle A fun bit of “history” sent in by one of our regular subscribers

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he US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4’ 8½”. That’s an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Because that’s the way they built them in England, and English expatriates designed the US railroads. Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used. Why did ‘they’ use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they had used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing. Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts. And who built those old rutted roads? Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (including England ) for their legions. Those roads have been used ever since. And the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore the United States standard railroad gauge

of 4’ 8½” is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification/procedure/process and wonder ‘What horse’s ass came up with this?’, you may be exactly right. Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses. Or two horses’ asses. Now, the twist to the story... When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains, and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses’ behinds. So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse’s ass. And you thought being a horse’s ass wasn’t important? H


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The American November 2010  

The American has been published in Britain since 1976. It is the only monthly magazine / website / community for Americans visiting and livi...

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