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December 2010


Est. 1976




Winter Wonderland Holiday time in Britain

Martyn Joseph – the Welsh Springsteen Alexander Hanson goes Wilde in London

The American

No taxation without representation! Since 1600 The East India Company has been involved in many pivotal historical events. At The Boston Tea Party you threw our tea off our ships. 237 years later we still recall our most famous customer complaint, we even have a Boston Tea Party tea blend! This Christmas we are offering American readers tax free purchases on our fine food gifts, to avoid any further revolutionary activity, both online and in our Mayfair store.

To exercise your righT To a 17.5% discounT, use The code ‘BosTonTP’ on checkouT aT offer ends decemBer 31st 2010.

alTernaTively visiT our mayfair sTore and menTion The code ‘BosTonTP’ To our sTaff aT The Till.


7-8 Conduit Street London W1S 2XF

The American ®

Issue 692 – December 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 Please contact us with your news or article ideas Advertising & Promotions: Sabrina Sully, Commercial Director +44 (0)1747 830520 Subscriptions enquiries: Phone +44 (0)1747 830328, email Correspondents: Mary Bailey, Social Richard Gale, Sports Editor Alison Holmes, Politics Riki Evans Johnson, European Jeremy Lanaway, Hockey Estelle Lovatt, Arts Dom Mills, Motorsports Jarlath O’Connell, Theater Virginia E. Schultz, Food & Drink

©2010 Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Printed by Advent Colour Ltd., 19 East Portway Industrial Estate, Andover, SP10 3LU ISSN 2045-5968 Main cover image: Christmas in Longleat forest (photo: Sabrina Sully)

Welcome B

y the time you read this you’ll probably be deep into preparations for your mid-winter celebrations. Most people in Britain, even the non-religious, celebrate Christmas as the joyous, sharing time that it is. If you’re new to the UK and you are not of the Christian faith, don’t worry – just join in. Through history people have held festivals around the winter solstice that mark birth and rebirth. So wherever you hail from, have a very happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Beiwe, Saturnalia, Zagmuk, Lucia, Chronia, Şeva Zistanê, Sacaea, Deygān, Brumalia, Maidyarem, Montol, Choimus, Mummer’s Day, Yaldā, Sanghamitta Day, Dōngzhì, Meán Geimhridh, Karachun, Rozhanitsa, Koleda, Sviatki, Midvinterblót, Lohri, Makara Sankranti, Dazh Boh, Modranicht, Wren Day, Maruaroa o Takurua, Lenæa, Shab-e Chelleh, Perchta, Sol Invictus, Modresnach, Inti Raymi, Mōdraniht, Soyal, Junkanoo, We Tripantu, John Canoe, Dzon’ku ‘Nu, Goru, Hogmanay, Ziemassvētki, Kwansolhaneidmas … or Christmas. Apologies if we’ve missed any out! Enjoy your magazine,

Michael Burland, Editor


Lucy Thomas is a lawyer with deep experience of transatlantic marriage and divorce law. Her article this month could help you if you’re planning to marry.

Jackie Bugnion grew up in Ohio, earned a BA in Economics from Cornell and an MBA from Harvard. A resident of Switzerland, she is a Director of American Citizens Abroad.

Josh Chetwynd played professional baseball in the USA, Britain and Sweden then became MLB pundit on Five and BBC Radio 5 Live. He writes on baseball for ESPN.

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


The American

In This Issue... The American • Issue 692 • December 2010



News Kevin Spacey has been honored with a CBE, while the Playboy Bunnies are set to make a comeback in London


Diary Dates Enjoy the Christmas and Holiday season with these great events

12 Surviving the Office Party Enjoy the office ‘do’, without compromising your career 13 Christmas in the UK Like our two cultures “separated by a common language” you may find the British Christmas subtly different to the American 14 Objections to FATCA Is the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act going to affect your banking arrangements? Chances are, yes!

25 34

16 Prenup Update A recent court decision has changed how prenuptial agreements are viewed in the UK 18 Confederate Sea Power How the South counted on the British during the Civil War 19 High Schoolers Cheat Well yeah! But it’s how they think about it that may come as a shock

8 16


The American

20 Arts Choice Whistler and Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes feature in some glorious art exhibitions this month. Plus beautiful art books and a game perfect for Christmas 25 Reader Offer Mapping America: Exploring the Continent – a special offer on a special book 26 Wining and Dining Virginia revisits some favorite restaurants and looks at classic Bordeaux vintages

13 34

32 Coffee Break Exercise your mind, your memory and your laughter muscles



34 Music Martyn Joseph, “the Welsh Springsteen”, talks to The American 39 Reviews Stars on the London stage – we interview Jonathan Groff, Estelle Parsons and Alexander Hanson 46 Politics Why British politicians should stop Nudging, American ones concentrate on the job not the campaign trail, and what Einstein would have to say about it 50 Sports Pictorial highlights from the NFL’s visit to Wembley, the MLB year in review, and the NHL hits hard against headshots.

46 50

56 American Organizations American-oriented groups you’ll want to join in Britain 64 Drive Time Broken down on a British road? Here’s what to do


Dillon Van Auken (right) with ORBIS medic Dr. Hunter Cherwek

Kevin Spacey Awarded Honorary CBE


he Prince of Wales presented an honorary CBE to Kevin Spacey November 3rd. The award is for his services to drama; honorary awards are made to foreign nationals in recognition of exceptional service to the UK. For the last seven years the 51-year-old has been the artistic director of the Old Vic theatre in London. He is also an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, Prince Charles’ charity. Spacey received his award at a private ceremony in Clarence House, the Prince’s home in Central London. He said, “I was hugely, hugely delighted that Prince Charles has awarded me the CBE, which the Queen has so generously given to me for my services to theatre. He was just extraordinarily generous about the work we’ve done at the Old Vic over these past seven seasons that I’ve dedicated myself to the revival of this brilliant, wonderful theatre and for all the belief that I have that arts and culture are a hugely important part of our lives.” As he spoke, the actor was briefly interrupted as a number of guards in ceremonial dress marched behind him. He added: “Frankly for me to be standing here today in front of Clarence House having a rather British scene happen directly behind me makes me feel very happy and proud to call London my home.”


US Expat Student’s Humanitarian Trips


illon Van Auken, a student from ACS Cobham International School, recently returned from two humanitarian trips to Vietnam and Namibia. Dillon spent four weeks in Namibia, along with twenty-two students from ACS Cobham, helping build facilities and bring support to children in need in three Namibian schools. They also enjoyed some wellearned leisure time visiting Etosha National Park, Fish River Canyon, and Livingstone Island. Dillon was President of the Namibia trip and helped organise fundraising events to make the project possible. Two weeks after returning from Namibia, Dillon flew with two more ACS students to Da Nang, Vietnam

to take part in a programme on-board the world’s only Flying Eye Hospital, part of a sponsored internship offered by ACS and ORBIS, a sight-saving charity. On-board a DC-10 aircraft converted into a teaching hospital they witnessed ORBIS’s medical team exchanging knowledge and improving skills amongst local doctors, nurses and technicians, observed surgery and provided post-operative support. Dillon commented, “This summer has been an amazing experience for me, I am honoured that I have been able to travel to both Namibia and Vietnam in the space of just a couple of months and have the opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of those that I have met.”

Sterling and Euro Cash Machine at BLVC


ravel company Thomas Cook has installed an ATM cash machine at the Britain and London Visitor Centre (BLVC) in Regent Street, the first stop for many travellers arriving in London. It will offer Sterling and Euros, so you can pick up your holiday money at the same time as getting information about tourist sites in Britain, booking theatre tickets or finding accommodation during your stay in the UK. The service charges no ATM fees and claims to offer great exchange rates on Euros, handy if you’re travelling to Eurozone destinations. Thomas Cook’s Ian Derbyshire said, “Thomas Cook has been offering travel money solutions since 1874 and the installation of this cash machine at the Britain and London Visitor Centre is a big step forward for us.” The BLVC is open seven days a week (except 25th and 26th December and 1st January) and is at 1 Regent Street, London, SW1Y 4XT. The introduction of the ATM at the Visit Britain Visitor Centre is part of a roll-out programme, which will see a number of cash machines being installed at Thomas Cook stores across the UK.

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Jane Goodall, one of the speakers at the fundraiser for great apes JEEKC

Jane Goodall, David Attenborough Offer Hope 4 Apes

Bunnies ahoy!



ir David Attenborough, the world famous naturalist and broadcaster, is hosting a fundraising evening in London’s West End to publicise the plight of the great apes. Speakers will include ape conservationists Dr Jane Goodall DBE, Ian Redmond OBE, Chanee (Auréelien Brulée), Dr Birute Galdikas and Dr Jo Thompson and funds raised will support ape conservation projects. All the ape species being discussed are either endangered or critically endangered. Jane Goodall said “It is 50 years since I began researching the Chimpanzees of Gombe and in that time apes right across Africa have become threatened by so many factors. Hope4Apes will give an insight to the current situation and show us all how our actions impact their world on a daily basis.” The evening will begin with an introduction from Sir David and a short film, followed by the speakers and ending with a question and answer discussion chaired by conservationist Mark Carwardine. Hope 4 Apes takes place at The Lyceum, Wellington Street, London on Monday 6th December at 7pm. Tickets (£25 and £34) can be booked at 0844 412 1742 or online at


Hugh Hefner with Bunnies at the Chicago Playboy Club in 1960

he Playboy Club is set to make a return to London early in 2011. The new venue will feature everything you would expect from Playboy: a restaurant, cocktail bar, members lounge, table games and high-limit salon privé gaming rooms, and it will be located, they say, “in the exclusive Mayfair area of London”. (Where else? – ed) “When we first opened the Playboy Club in London it was one of my favourite times for the brand,” said Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, adding, “I look forward to our return to London and again sharing the notions that are celebrated in the magazine, the concept of good food and drink, pretty girls, and exciting entertainment.” The 17,000 square foot venue, spread over two floors, will incorporate influences from the original that opened in 1966 and attracted stars of the Swinging Sixties like Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Joan Collins, Jack Nicholson and Muhammad Ali. A joint venture with London Clubs International, a British gambling company, it will see the return of Playboy Bunnies to Europe, as hostesses, croupiers and cocktail waitresses.

United We Sleep United Airlines have announced new international first and business class cabins. They say that their new seats, as opposed to other so-called “flat” seats, actually lie at an angle when fully reclined and lie “truly, wonderfully, 180° flat. Flat, flat, flat. So you can sleep, sleep, sleep.” The new premium cabins also offer personal 15” widescreen video monitors with access to 150 hours of on-demand movies and TV shows, and on select flights, Apple iPod and iPhone connectivity, so you can play your own iTunes video content on the monitor (a special cord is required).

The American

Arne Duncan and Michael Gove visit a school in a deprived area of London

Education Secretary Arne Duncan Visits London U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney, East London, Wednesday November 3rd along with British Education Secretary, Michael Gove. Mr Duncan was on a visit to Europe to meet with education officials and discuss the Obama Administration’s education reform agenda.

FVAP Updated Toll-Free Phone/ Fax Numbers The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) continually checks and updates its list of toll-free phone and fax numbers for use by U.S. citizens residing overseas. Military, their family members and overseas citizens may use these numbers to call FVAP toll-free and to transmit their voted ballot free of charge. The toll-free fax number from the UK is 08-000280262. The FVAP website currently lists the UK toll-free fax number as ‘number not working’. The complete lists of toll-free numbers are available on the FVAP website at http:// html and tollfreefax.html. Please note that the following toll-free numbers have changed: Fax Numbers: Chile: 123-0-020-5870


Phone Numbers: Bahrain: 80-0965 Chile: 123-0-020-5839 Germany: 0800-1013824 Greece: 00800-12-5879 Overseas voters in a country that does not have a toll-free number can contact FVAP directly at +1-703-5881584 or DSN (312) 425-1584. They may also fax their election materials directly to FVAP at +1-703-693-5527 or DSN (312) 223-5527. (NOTE: These numbers are not toll-free.) If you are unable to reach FVAP using the posted numbers from your location, please let FVAP know by email at and they promise to work to fix it.

Military Attaché Honors British Civil War Warrior A senior military officer from the U.S. Embassy has honored the memory of a young Londoner, Thomas Barzetti, who sailed to America to fight for the Union side in the American Civil War. Barzetti had travelled in secret to the USA and enlisted under a false name to hide his involvement from his family. Lt Colonel John Wallace, Assistant Military Attaché, laid a wreath in memory of Barzetti as well as the more than 600,000 soldiers who died in the conflict. Barzetti took part in many battles but was severely wounded at

the second battle of Bull Run in 1863. Discharged from service, he returned to London where he died, aged 78, in 1914. A Stars and Stripes American flag was laid by the graveside in Highgate Cemetary, London as part of the ceremony, and will later form part of a special display at the cemetery. The date was exactly one hundred years to the day of the founding of the London Branch of American Civil War Veterans. It is estimated that perhaps more than one thousand British men travelled to the USA and took part in the tragic conflict. Lt Col Wallace and other guests also visited the grave of Samuel Lucas, owner and proprietor of the London Morning Star, a major daily newspaper of the time which was alone in supporting the Union cause. Also buried at Highgate is Richard Booth, half-brother of John Wilkes Booth – the assassin of President Lincoln. H


Embassy News

How to contact American Citizen Services; Passport and Citizenship unit, email Special Consular Services unit, email Federal Benefits Unit, email To telephone any of these departments, or for recorded information 24 hours/day, seven days/week, call [44] (0)20-7499-9000 and follow the prompts. Or write to American Citizen Services, U.S. Embassy, 55/56 Upper Brook Street, London W1A 2LQ.


The American

Diary Dates

Your Guide To The Month Ahead

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

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland Hyde Park, London Hyde Park is magically transformed into an enchanted Winter Wonderland with London’s largest ice rink. There’s a host of new children’s attractions including a new musical adventure from the creators of The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom!, Santa’s in his HQ in Santa Land from 10am to 6pm every day to 4th January (so kids can come and say thank you!) including Boxing Day. A visit to Santa is absolutely FREE with gifts for lucky children who meet him. Rides include the North Pole Slide, Christmas Jumper, Balloon Ride, an Elves’ Workshop and the Santa Land Express, a train that travels round the area with its own station, bridge and level crossing. There are big top circus shows at Cirque D’Hiver, food & drink and an Angels Christmas Market www.hydeparkwinterwonderland. com November 19 to January 04


Christmas Past: 400 Years Of Seasonal Traditions In English Homes Geffrye Museum, 136 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, London E2 Christmas Past offers visitors a fascinating insight into how Christmas has been celebrated in English middle-class homes from 1600 to the present day. Each year, authentic festive decorations transform the museum’s eleven period rooms, creating a vivid and evocative picture of how earlier generations celebrated Christmas. The rooms provide the perfect setting for visitors to explore the origins of some of the rich and colourful traditions of Christmases past, from feasting, dancing and kissing under the mistletoe to playing parlour games, hanging up stockings, sending cards, decorating the tree and throwing cocktail parties. Festive food will be served in the restaurant and visitors can hunt for original gifts, decorations, cards and books in the shop. November 23 to January 2 Monty Python’s Spamalot Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham “The Holy Grail of Musical Theatre” (Eric Idle), Monty Python’s Spamalot plays a special four week season at the Alexandra Theatre Birmingham this Christmas. Actor and television presenter Matthew Kelly will star as Arthur, King of the Britons, in this silliest of musicals “lovingly ripped off ” from the original Python movie. December 7 to January 1

English National Ballet: Wayne Eagling’s The Nutcracker London Coliseum, St. Martin’s Lane, London WC2 English National Ballet celebrates Christmas at the Coliseum and its 60th Birthday year in style with a sumptuous new production of The Nutcracker, choreographed by Artistic Director Wayne Eagling (December 10 to 30, 2010) followed by a revival of Rudolf Nureyev’s award–winning production of Romeo & Juliet (January 5 to 15, 2011). December 10 to January 15 Christmas at Warwick Castle Warwick Castle, Midlands Christmas storytelling, carol singing, crafts, Fairy Godmother and Santa’s Grotto, a 50 ft helter-skelter, Victorian Side Show characters, breakfast with Santa, Christmas Lunches, Party Nights, Medieval Banquet, and Candlelit Tours. 0870 442 2375 December 11 to January 2 The Winter Magic of Blair Castle and Atholl Estates Blair Atholl, Perthshire, PH18 5TH Christmas Choral and Carol concert in the Castle’s magnificent ballroom. December 12 London International Horse Show Olympia, London W14 8UX Competitions, thrilling displays and non–stop Christmas entertainment. December 14 to 20 Raymond Gubbay Christmas Festival The Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS A series of holiday spectaculars including Christmas Swingtime; a Christmas Gala; Candlelight Christmas; Hayley Westenra’s Christmas Wishes; Carols and Classics – The Tradition of Christmas; Movie Music; Gershwin; Musicals; a Viennese New Year’s Eve Gala

and the Glenn Miller Orchestra. December 18 to January 3 Midwinter sun in an ancient tomb Maeshowe, north–east Orkney, Scotland At one of Europe’s finest prehistoric monuments, older than the Egyptian pyramids, the sun shines down the entrance passage at sunset on midwinter’s day, dramatically illuminating the back wall of the main chamber for a few minutes. December 21 Tom Bawcock’s Eve Mousehole, Cornwall A festival held in celebration of the efforts of one Tom Bawcock to lift a famine from the village. During this festival Star Gazy pie (fish, egg and potato pie with protruding fish heads) is eaten. December 23 The Kirkwall Ba’ Game Kirkwall, Orkney Islands On Christmas Eve, shopkeepers along Kirkwall’s winding streets barricade doors and windows in preparation for the next day’s traditional Ba’ game, a mad game of mass football played with a ba’, a hand-made cork-filled leather ball. Some 400 boys and men of the town are designated ‘Uppies’ and ‘Doonies’, an affiliation that originally depended upon the place of birth. The aim of the game is to carry the ba’ to their own territories at the opposite ends of Kirkwall. The Ba’ is awarded after the game to a player in the winning side who has been a notable participant over a number of years. December 25 Boxing Day Walrus Dip Pembrey Country Park, near Llanelli, Carmarthenshire Whether the weather is mild or icy, hardy swimmers come dressed as

anything from bananas to fish and walruses, wedding couples to cowboys and Indians. Spectate, or (brrr!) take part. December 26 New Year’s Eve / Hogmanay Across the UK New Year’s Eve is a massive celebration in Britain, with public and private parties everywhere. Particularly in Scotland, where it is called Hogmanay. Listed as one of the ’top 100 things to do before you die’, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party brings Princes Street and the Gardens alive with festivities, around 100,000 revellers gathering to bring in 2011 in style. One of the world’s biggest outdoor parties, it includes candle-lit concerts, ceilidhs and rock-bands. December 31 Flaming Barrels Allendale, Northumberland The custom of men welcoming in the New Year by carrying pans of blazing tar on their heads is still kept alive in Allendale, Northumberland on New Year’s Eve. The unique Pagan ceremony is held at midnight with a colourful procession through the town to the Baal fire. A team of local barrel carriers, dressed in fancy costumes, balance flaming whiskey barrels filled with hot tar on their heads through the streets to the town centre. The barrels can weigh as much as 30lbs (15kg). The procession is timed to reach an unlit bonfire shortly before midnight, then each man in turn tosses his flaming ‘headgear’ on to the bonfire, setting it ablaze. On the stroke of midnight, all join hands and dance around the fire, singing Auld Lang Syne. December 31 Stonehaven Fireballing Festival Old Market Cross, Stonehaven, Kincardineshire, Scotland Thousands gather at the Old Market Cross in the fishing port of Stonehaven

Carols By Candlelight in aid of NSPCC Southwark Cathedral, London A magical occasion in aid of the NSPCC Child’s Voice Appeal. The children’s charity invites you for Carols By Candlelight at Southwark Cathedral. Guests will be treated to a concert of Christmas carols, choir and musical performances. There will be readings by celebrity friends of the NSPCC, including Sir David Frost OBE, Esther Rantzen CBE, John Hurt CBE, and Frederick Forsyth CBE. A very special guest and Patron of ChildLine, HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO will give a reading and attend the exclusive sparkling reception. The evening will feature the musical talents of the Choir of Selwyn College Cambridge, guest conductor Nicholas Cleobury, organist David Goode, and soloists Jessie Buckley from TV’s I’d Do Anything and Ashley Riches. Following the concert, you are invited to have a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine in the festive marquee. Alternatively join them for an exclusive sparkling reception in the Retro-Choir of the Cathedral, where you can mingle with the special guests. 7.30pm. Tickets £25 to £65. contact Sarah Metcalfe on 020 7825 2978 December 7


The American

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 U.S. decorative arts, with permanent exhibitions, Quilting Bees, kids’ activities and special events. SPECIAL EVENTS Christmas at Claverton: Homespun Holidays, our annual Christmas Displays. November 26 to Sunday 19 December, Tuesday to Sunday 12.00 to 4.30 pm. Fab@50: The American Museum in Britain’s 50th Anniversary Christie’s, 8 King Street, St James’s, London SW1 The Museum celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2011 with a series of blockbuster events and exhibitions on both sides of the Atlantic. This display at Christie’s showcases the best of the sumptuous collections. Ranging from the 18th to the early 20th centuries, these exuberant works of art and craft are visually bold, technically assured and often proudly patriotic. Treasures include elegantly carved furniture, boldly coloured costume, folk art, and some of the Museum’s world– famous American quilts. Particularly flamboyant is the quilt that was made in Hawaii, the 50th state to join the USA, appropriate for the Museum’s Fab@50 celebrations. January 7 to 14


for this fiery festival to welcome in the New Year. A traditional pipe band signals the start of the proceedings and at the stroke of midnight, fireballs are lit and participants whirl the baskets of fire around their heads as they march to the old cannon in the High Street and back to the harbour. This New Year festival has been celebrated for hundreds of years to literally burn the bad spirits of the past year and welcome in the new. The fireballs are baskets made of wire netting, stuffed with driftwood, pine cones and twigs and attached to a length of wire with a handle at the end. Before they are lit they are doused in paraffin. December 31 Winter Wassail with the Gabrieli Consort & Players Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, London Winter Wassail alludes to the ancient custom of coming together to drink from the wassail bowl at the turn of the year. Gabrieli Consort & Players will present an entertaining programme of seasonal pieces inspired by words from Shakespeare, Hardy and Chaucer, to evoke medieval, Elizabethan and Victorian eras. Wrap up warm! 020 7401 9919 January 1 to 3 Christmas Markets Across the UK and Europe Christmas markets are fun and a great way to get all your festive requirements as well as presents. Among the best in Britain are in Bath, Bournemouth, Canterbury, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland in London, Leeds, Portsmouth and Waterperry in Oxfordshire. Check the website below for dates and details. They have Christmas markets from across Europe listed too. to December 24

Yes, Prime Minister Gielgud Theatre, London Prime Minister Jim Hacker and Cabinet Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby face a country in financial meltdown. The only prospect of salvation comes from morally dubious allies leading to deliciously comic consequences. Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, the original writers of the classic BBC TV series Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister have reunited for this anniversary production. A great spoof on the British political system, brought bang up to date. Age 16+ to January 15 The Gruffalo Garrick Theatre, London Return of the hugely popular children’s classic for 2010 Christmas season. to January 16 La Soirée South Bank Big Top, Upper Ground, London SE1, behind the National Theatre A fabulous line–up of world–renowned artists in a delicious and twisted take on cabaret and variety in the exquisite new South Bank Big Top, a beautiful space fashioned from hand carved wood, polished mirrors, velvet, crystal and coloured leadlight. to January 30 Christmas Adventure at Stockeld Park Stockeld Park, nr Wetherby, Yorkshire A unique blend of outdoor adventure, magical illuminations and festive nostalgia, set in 2,000 acres of beautiful countryside. The only attraction of its type in the north east of England. Skate on the outdoor rink, experience the awesome interactive Enchanted Forest, ski on the 1.2km Nordic ski trail, or get lost in the new hedge Snowflake Maze. to January 30 H

The American




The American

Surviving THE OFFICE PARTY Now we know what academics think about at this time of year! Martin M. Antony, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Psychology at Ryerson University explains how to survive and help your career survive at that most fraught of office events – the Christmas party


ffice parties are opportunities to meet people, mingle and make small talk. Holiday parties can also be an opportunity to advance your career. Handled badly though, they could potentially limit it too. Here are a few tips in making those first steps:

Making Conversation

1. Reach out to someone. Smile. Make eye contact. Be approachable. Be open to conversation. 2. Give compliments. Offer someone else a compliment, but make sure you are honest and don’t overdo it. If you receive one in return and feel uncomfortable, just say “Thank you.” Don’t discount the praise by telling the person all the reasons why you don’t deserve it. 3. Join an ongoing conversation. At a party, it is perfectly appropriate to join an ongoing conversation. People often walk about, moving in and out of different conversations. See if you can join in with a group of people who are discussing something that interests you. 4. Have some topics of conversation prepared, but make sure to actually listen to the other person rather than rehearsing what you’ll say next. 5. Ask questions. Be curious and intrigued about other people and their lives and interests.


6. Be positive. People respond better to positive statements than negative. 7. Use active listening skills. Reflect back that you are understanding what the other person is saying. Paraphrase what they say, ask for clarification and provide feedback. 8. Try to talk about things other than work. Take the opportunity to get to know people on a personal level. 9. Include your guest in conversations if s/he is shy or doesn’t know anyone. Try bringing them into the conversation by finding common interests. Stick to neutral topics, and avoid religion and politics.

Limiting Moves

1. Not attending the office party is bad form. You want to look like a team player. Your absence will be noted and could come back to haunt you at review time. Consider it an official work function. 2. Research the dress code before you go. Ask the organizer or someone who went last year. When in doubt, err on the conservative/formal side. Avoid showing too much skin. 3. When you’re the guest at the office party, remember you are a reflection of your host. Complement them, don’t upstage them and don’t embarrass them.

4. Alcohol and office parties can be a bad mix. Pace yourself. Eat food and alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones in order to maintain control.

Advancement Moves

1. Shake hands with your boss and other senior managers and wish them a happy holiday season. Make sure that your boss sees you at the holiday party, and also remembers speaking with you. When it comes time for promotions, your boss is likely to pick a pleasant individual who seems happy to be at the company. 2. Office parties are opportunities to cultivate new relationships, but you need more than one conversation. Use the party as a starting point and follow up with colleagues after the party with additional social events. 3. Remember to say goodnight and thank you to the most senior person in attendance, the party organizer and your boss, before you leave. H Martin M. Antony, Ph.D. is the author of Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook and 10 Simple Solutions to Shyness: How to Overcome Shyness, Social Anxiety, and Fear of Public Speaking.

British holiday traditions may vary from yours back in the States. Sabrina Sully shows how it’s done here

Christmas in the UK


o matter what religion (if any) they belong to, pretty much everyone in Britain celebrates the traditions of Christmas. After the Christmas cards have been sent, people put up their Christmas decorations in the house. These usually include holly, ivy and a bunch of mistletoe (for kissing under!) and a real or artificial Christmas tree, traditions brought over from Germany by Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert. They used to go up only on Christmas Eve, but now any time from the beginning of December is acceptable – a great deal earlier in the stores. Most people are given a vacation over the Christmas period and stay with their family on Christmas Day, the main day for celebrations in Britain. Extended family come to stay, and other members of the family and close friends are contacted on Christmas morning to wish them greetings. Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day are national holidays (January 2 as well in Scotland), but many companies close or just have a skeleton staff between Christmas and New Year. This year as December 25th and 26th fall on a Saturday and Sunday, the national holidays are Monday and Tuesday 26th & 27th and the New Year’s holiday will be on Monday January 3rd (and Tuesday 4th in Scotland). There is no public transport on

Christmas Day, and a reduced service on Boxing Day – also this year on the Monday and Tuesday. Most London attractions and shops and many restaurants are closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Nearly all organizations, except hospitals and shelters for the homeless, are closed on Christmas Day. Some public houses and smaller stores selling food may open for a few hours in the middle of the day. Crisis at Christmas, a national charity, runs special shelters for the homeless at Christmas, relying on volunteers. This is a friendly and rewarding way to spend Christmas if you’re going to be on your own. British children open their presents from Father Christmas – also known as Santa Claus – in their Christmas stockings, usually as soon as they awake. Otherwise it depends upon family tradition as to whether presents are exchanged in the morning, whilst lunch is cooking, or in the afternoon after the Queen’s Christmas speech to the nation. Many, even those who don’t normally attend church, will go to either Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve (both Catholic and Church of England), or the Christmas morning service. Every family seems to have their own traditions for the ingredients and order for the perfect Christmas. Christmas dinner is mostly held at

Above: The Christmas trees enjoyed by Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and the Royal children at Windsor Castle in 1850

lunchtime, a large meal of roast turkey, various bread and sausage meat stuffings (cooked in and out of the turkey), cranberry sauce, sausagemeat (cooked in the turkey), roast potatoes, parsnips, and vegetables. The pudding is a Christmas pudding, a rich, heavy, pudding basin-cooked dessert, full of dried fruit, nuts, and traditionally with silver tokens hidden in it, to bring luck and wealth during the coming year. These are sometimes old coinage of silver threepences or sixpences, so if it is a homemade pudding, be careful with every bite! The puddings are delivered to the table flaming with heated brandy, a sprig of holly in the top, and dusted with caster sugar. Slices are served with cream or brandy butter, occasionally custard, depending on family tradition. These puddings were traditionally made in November, with members of the family having a stir to make a wish, so that it was allowed to mature in the bowl, although many people buy them these days and zap them in the microwave for a few minutes, saving the hours boiling them wrapped in a cloth! After the main meal comes the Queen’s speech on television at 3pm, followed by a cup of tea and a slice


The American

of Christmas cake and/or Yule Log. Some people go out for a walk before tea, for obvious reasons! The Christmas cake, an extremely rich fruitcake cooked slowly for hours, is also made early, so that it can be ‘fed’ with brandy every week to keep it moist, before marzipanning and icing shortly before Christmas. The Yule Log is a chocolate roulade, iced in chocolate frosting, dusted with icing sugar, and traditionally a little (sometimes plastic) holly leaf spray and a robin – the Christmas bird – on top! Individual mince pies, made with a rich mixture of dried fruits and suet, can be eaten at any time throughout the holidays, at any excuse. Family games are still sometimes played – charades, Monopoly, Cluedo, etc. – in the early evening, before a light supper, often of cold ham, turkey and salads. Crackers are pulled at lunch, or with supper. The paper hats are put on, mottos and jokes read and laughed at, and cracker gifts marveled over. With most people staying at home on Christmas Day, the roads and streets are very quiet. However, Boxing Day is a day for going out and

being sociable, to special Boxing Day horse race meets, to watch the local Hunt at the Boxing Day Meet or for long walks, often somewhere special like the coast or National Parks. Or you could be invited to a drinks party or visit relatives, in-laws or old friends. All this spells a lot of traffic on the roads. Boxing Day is also when the British phenomenon of Pantomimes starts, and continues through to early January in theatres large and small, up and down the country. The leading man is played by a girl and the comic older female, or Dame, is a man. Pantos are based on old fairy tales. They’re meant for all the family, full of innuendo, singalong songs and topical references. They can be an acquired taste for Americans! After Boxing Day, life is a more normal holiday. There are often parties on New Year’s Day, and a re-run of Christmas lunch on New Year’s Day, traditionally serving a goose instead of a turkey. If you’re in Scotland, there are big celebrations at New Year, and First Footing (dating back to Viking invasions). The first to set foot in a house after midnight on New Year’s Day should be a tall, dark stranger, and not fair like the Vikings were, who could bring good luck by bringing a lump of coal, whisky and traditional fruit cake known as black bun. The decorations come down on 12th Night, the 12th day after Christmas (January 6th) – it’s bad luck to leave them up. Local councils often do a special Christmas tree disposal service, and shops or charities have special used Christmas Card collection boxes for recycling. And that’s it for another year! H Mince pies – you are recommended to eat these at any opportunity BECK



he U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) passed into law in March 2010. In the words of IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman, “This is the most important development in international information reporting in a generation. It is a big step forward in our efforts to reduce tax evasion by creating transparency and accountability in the offshore financial markets.” FATCA requires foreign financial institutions (FFI) to become the paying agent and informer for the IRS starting January 1, 2013. FFIs have two years to decide if they will sign an agreement with the IRS and develop computerized information systems to meet IRS reporting requirements. If a FFI decides not to enter into an agreement with the IRS, the United States will impose a withholding tax of 30% on all U.S. source income, including the gross value of any sale of U.S. assets. The definition of FFI under FATCA is the broadest possible, including banks, life insurance companies, hedge funds, mutual funds and trusts, covering all assets owned abroad by American persons, not just U.S. securities. Foreign banking associations are concerned about the impact of FATCA. The European Banking Association and the Institute of International Bankers wrote in a joint letter of November 25, 2009 to the House Ways and Means Select Measures Subcommittee, “The Bill’s approaches to resolving these issues raise serious concerns regarding the practicality, feasibility, costs and burdens of implementation as well as their potential impact on capital flows into the United States.” These concerns were recently reiterated in an article in Le Temps “FATCA: Goodbye America” by Charles Hermann, Grégoire Winckler and Nicolas Candolfi of the Financial Services Tax, KPMG, Geneva and Zurich. They note, under FATCA, FFIs which sign up with the IRS

The American

and become “participating FFIs” will be required to consider each client as an American person unless the client can prove the contrary. This goes way beyond usual banking procedures and affects all accounts, even those which have no investments in U.S. securities. Furthermore, the agreement with the IRS requires FFIs to ignore domestic privacy laws which would not otherwise allow the FFI to furnish the information, putting FFIs into a precarious legal position in their own countries. It also carries very heavy financial penalties for failure to report accurately.

financial institutions will have to decide whether they become a participating FFI. Most large banks will be obliged to sign up with the IRS due to multiple international transactions with the United States. However, to reduce perceived legal risks and administrative burden, some of these banks may decide to stop all client relationships with American persons – U.S. citizens, holders of Green cards, foreign companies with 10% or more U.S. ownership. Smaller banks may decide not to become a participating FFI. The logical consequence will be that they will stop

Objections to FATCA Jackie Bugnion, Director of American Citizens Abroad, explains the organization’s view of new financial legislation that will affect all American expats According to the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce, “FATCA has become a monster causing havoc of the world economy, through which all participants will lose, including Americans.” The Chamber estimates that the cost of implementation will be enormous for approximately 200,000 financial services providers and many other industries around the world. “The predicted tax revenues (for the IRS) of approximately $850 million annually are countered by enormous implementation costs, not to mention the resulting operating costs. A provisional and very rough estimate shows average introduction costs of approximately $5-10 million per FFI, which if introduced by all FFI’s results in global costs of $1,0002,000 billion. This represents approximately the yearly gross domestic product of Brazil or India.” Over the next two years, foreign

all business activity and U.S. investments in client portfolios. The KPMG tax advisors state that it is highly probably that many smaller institutions will decide to opt out. Hence, FATCA will lead to a two-tier banking structure worldwide with one tier carefully avoiding any relationship with the U.S. American Citizens Abroad, an association based in Geneva which defends the interests of U.S. citizens residing abroad, is deeply disturbed by FATCA. ACA has written a letter to the U.S. Treasury outlining its objections and has already accumulated a significant file of case studies where American citizens residing overseas have been forced to close their bank accounts in foreign countries because of FATCA. We believe that U.S. arrogance to impose its laws unilaterally on the rest of the world risks creating a serious backlash against the interests of the

IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman

U.S. American citizens have become pariahs in the international banking world due to FATCA. Americans residing overseas are paying a heavy price in compliance costs. Banks are forcing Americans to place their investment accounts in specialized SEC registered subsidiaries, but generally require a minimum of $1 million for such accounts and annual fees are 1% of assets or more. Americans with fewer assets are simply being pushed out of foreign financial institutions. In addition, FATCA requires any American citizen with $50,000 of assets in foreign financial institutions to report all accounts and balances on a new form to be filed with the IRS 1040. This will increase the cost of filing compliance with the IRS. ACA will closely watch over the next two years as banks adjust their client polices to FATCA requirements. We fear that current accounts of American citizens may also be closed or subject to very high banking fees due to FATCA, penalizing the community of Americans residing overseas and creating a roadblock for foreign trade of American companies at a time when the U.S. desperately needs to increase exports. H


The American

For Richer For Poorer... Following the Radmacher/Granatino case, Lucy Thomas of law firm Kingsley Napley explains the latest in the prenup legal minefield


he Supreme Court has ‘spoken’ for the first time in a family law case and handed down a landmark judgement for prenuptial agreements (prenups). From now on they are likely to be more readily upheld here in England and, in legal terms, have far more ‘weight’ than before. To recap, Katrin Radmacher and her husband Nicholas Granatino (then a French banker now an academic) entered into a prenuptial agreement in Germany 3 months prior to their marriage


in London in 1998. They agreed that neither of them would make any claim on the other’s wealth (beyond making provision for any children they might have) on divorce. The marriage broke down after 8 years and they divorced in London in 2006. Nicholas was awarded £5.5 million. (Katrin’s wealth was put at somewhere between £50 and £100 million). Katrin appealed and the Court of Appeal reduced the award giving him maintenance and a temporary housing fund (to cover his needs as father to their 2 children).

He appealed but last month the Supreme Court rejected the appeal stating that the lower award should stand because of the existence of the prenup. Does this mean that prenups are now enforceable in England? Not absolutely and those contemplating marriage and possibly a prenup, should still act with caution. But similarly those being asked to sign a prenup (to limit their claims on divorce) should do so believing that the agreement will be upheld. There is therefore something of a contradiction stemming from the fact that the court remains the final arbiter in the event of a divorce. This is a central tenet of English law which sets England apart from Europe (and many U.S. states) and is unaffected by last month’s judgement. Judges retain their discretion to decide whether a prenup should be upheld. But, what is ‘new’ is that prenuptial agreements, in the right circumstances and where they are properly prepared will now carry very much more weight than they did previously. An ‘unless test’ will be applied and a prenup will likely be upheld unless it would be unfair to do so. That does indeed herald a new dawn. It remains that these agreements must be entered into freely, without undue pressure and with the intention that they will be binding. If they are, then more likely than not (and provided children are catered for) they will be upheld.

They won’t be binding in every case but we are now closer to the approach of the U.S., California in particular, where it is extremely difficult to set aside a proper prenup except in very limited cases. “The court should give effect to a nuptial agreement that is freely entered into by each party with a full appreciation of its implications unless in the circumstances prevailing it would not be fair to hold the parties to their agreement.” (United States Supreme Court – 20 October 2010)

For international couples, the judges specifically picked up on what they described as “foreign elements” in the case. This was a European couple with a European prenup which would have been upheld from the outset had they presented it to either of their ‘home’ courts – France or Germany. The court found, from the context in which they married, that this couple clearly intended the document to bind them legally (and indeed it would have done in Europe). Any prenup involving a couple with international links should state that they intend it to be binding and “have legal effect”. It could also refer to the approach of their ‘home state’ to emphasise the point. Prenups should be tailored to each particular couple. It is often better not to look too far into the future and predict every eventuality. Let the agreement cover the relatively short term and then seek to review it. Also try to avoid obvious unfairness. This can be tricky if the starting point (as it usually is) is to protect one parties’ wealth from claims in the future but if the financially weaker

party has their most basic needs met it will make it easy for the judge to uphold. Full disclosure of your respective financial circumstances and independent legal advice remain ideal and, as always, try to deal with this well in advance of your wedding – months rather than weeks. Time and again we see couples negotiating prenups close to their wedding which creates enormous stresses for them at a time when they should be celebrating and looking forward to their big day. Attending your lawyer’s office en route to a dress fitting or discussion with your caterer is far from fun. Katrin Radmacher heralded the judgement as a triumph for romance and marriage as couples can now enter a prenup with the relative certainty of knowing it will be upheld and so, apparently, know that their beloved is marrying them for love and not financial gain. Is that right or is the decision to seek a prenup driven more by the desire to protect wealth? Prenups are invariably designed to protect one party rather than the other which, however carefully it is handled, can create tension within a relationship. If you are considering a prenup or have been asked to sign one, be prepared for an emotional and tough process. Negotiations can often lead to discussions of “how much I am worth” and financial expectations generally. Your lawyer will want you to talk about your plans for the future which can, for example, prompt discussions about children (whether or not to have them and if so where they should live, go to school etc). These are things which may never have been raised before. Wider family relations can also be affected if prospective parents in-law do not approve of the approach being taken. Consider also the view

of your minister or celebrant if you are intending to have a religious ceremony, the mere existence of a prenup may be problematic for them. All of these are good reasons for couples to plan and discuss their prenup well in advance. It has been suggested that there was a ‘gender’ point in the judgement in that the only judge on the panel who disagreed with the majority decision to uphold the prenup was a woman. Supreme Court Justice Lady Hale argued that if English law on prenups is to change then this should be done by government rather than by judges. Whether gender politics were at play or not the fact that the question is raised goes to the core of what prenups represent, an insurance policy for the wealthy. Although the English courts may still be out of kilter with the approach of other countries when it comes to prenuptial agreements there is no doubt that the judgement in Radmacher and Granatino demonstrates a change and it will now be even more difficult to ask a court to disregard a prenup. There appears to be new ‘respect’ for individual autonomy in marital matters allowing couples to govern their own destiny, create certainty and limit the damage (emotional and financial) of divorce. To that extent, there is a new legal landscape. H


The American

Confederate Sea Power Aided by Brits The South counted on British naval power in their bid to win independence, explains Len Riedel


n July 1862, Confederate States President Jefferson Davis wrote to his wife Varina that while Richmond had been saved by Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and Lee was saddened that Union General George McClellan and his army had not been destroyed, Davis noted his only discontent was the loss of the Naval Shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia. Gosport Naval Shipyard in Hampton Roads and the Chesapeake Bay was one of the United States’ most important ship building facilities, very much akin to Birkenhead in Mersey. Naval vessels of all kinds were built and repaired there - indeed when the state of Virginia seceded from the Union in April 1861 the shipyard was partially destroyed but a sunk hulk of the frigate U.S.S. Merrimac was raised and became the famous warship that fought in March 1862 against the Monitor. The loss of this facility deprived the fledgling Confederacy of a means of international commerce and naval power. Without a navy or the ability to build one, Confederate agents set out for Europe Lairds shipbuilding yard, where the C.S.S. Alabama was built CHARLES PRIESTLEY


and England looking for vendors who would provide warships and merchantmen. Britain had an ample supply of both and merchants in London and Liverpool actively worked contacts to put vessels into Confederate hands. The output was prodigious and the vessels such as C.S.S. Florida, C.S.S. Alabama and C.S.S. Shenandoah destroyed millions of pounds worth of merchantmen and supplies. C.S.S. Alabama met her fate a few miles off the coast of France at the port of Cherbourg in one of the most famous of all engagements. The C.S.S. Shenandoah nearly destroyed the Yankee fishing fleets in the Bering Sea near modern day Alaska. Indeed Shenandoah was the last Confederate territory to strike its colors. Having heard word of the demise of the Confederacy, Shenandoah and its skipper made their way back to England where they struck their colors. Confederate agents saw the future and in addition to the merchant raiders they sought ships of war. The advent of ironclad, sea going vessels promised to provide an equalizer against wooden blockading vessels off the American coast. Arrangements

The grave of James Dunwoody Bulloch, the Confederacy’s agent in Britain soliciting the construction of warships and merchantmen, is in Toxteth, Liverpool CHARLES PRIESTLEY

were made to purchase ironclad rams from the Laird Shipbuilders. Lincoln’s diplomats got wind of those plans and successfully pressed a case for non intervention on the Queen and Prince Albert with the result that only one ram, CSS Stonewall made it to sea and it was never accepted by the Confederate government. After the war it was sailed to Havana and cut into scrap. England is full of reminders of America’s Civil War and a carefully planned trip to Liverpool, Manchester and Mersey will provide many opportunities to examine that connection. For further information or assistance, contact or visit H


ost high-school students say they have cheated on tests and homework – and in some alarming cases say they don’t consider certain types of cheating out of line – according to a recent American study. The survey was conducted by Kenneth Kiewra, professor of educational psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, UNL alumna Kelly Honz and Ya-Shu Yang of the

Survey: High Schoolers Cheat

University of Connecticut. It gauged the prevalence and perceptions of cheating among students. It found cheating is widespread, but that many students don’t think that their academic dishonesty is wrong. It also identified patterns that may help teachers stop it. “Students generally understand what constitutes cheating, but they do it anyway,” said Kiewra. “They cheat on tests, homework assignments and when writing reports. In some cases, though, students simply don’t grasp that some dishonest acts are cheating.” Researchers assembled the data from an anonymous survey of 100 members of the junior class of a large midwestern high school. Students were asked to share their beliefs and experiences with cheating as it pertained to tests, homework and report writing. The results suggested that in some ways, students had clear views of what constituted cheating… not that it stopped them from doing it. For example, 89% said glancing at someone else’s answers during a test was cheating, but 87% said they’d done that at least once. Also, 94% said providing answers to someone

(...but don’t see it as cheating)

during a test was cheating – but 74 percent admitted to doing it. Other behaviors weren’t as cutand-dried in students’ minds. Surprisingly, only 47% said that providing test questions to a fellow student who had yet to take a test was academically dishonest, and nearly seven out of 10 admitted to doing so. “The results suggest that students’ attitudes are tied to effort. Cheating that still required students to put forth some effort was viewed as less dishonest than cheating that required little effort,” Kiewra said. For example, divulging test answers was likely perceived more dishonestly (84%) than divulging test questions (47%) because receiving test questions still requires some effort to uncover the answer, he said. In general, attitudes on what constitutes cheating when it comes to homework and reports were less pronounced than in the case of cheating on tests. The study showed: lS  ixty-two percent said doing

individual take-home tests with a partner was cheating (51% said they’d done so);

l J ust 23% said doing individual

homework with a partner was dishonest (91% had done so); and

lO  nly 39% said writing a report

based on the movie instead of reading the book wasn’t cheating (53% had done so).

Professor Kiewra said, “The results suggest that out-of-class misdeeds are viewed less harshly than in-class cheating – a dynamic that is likely caused by teacher monitoring in class, and, therefore, a greater risk of getting caught. By understanding students’ cheating beliefs and actions across different settings, educators might better learn about how students think about cheating. “Based on our findings, teachers should spell out for students what constitutes cheating. If a third of students are taking credit for ideas of others, then it’s time to make cheating actions clear. Teachers also need to be more vigilant about policing and sanctioning cheating because just knowing what cheating is, is not enough. Students will do it anyway, if they can get away with it.” H


The American

Arts Choice

By Estelle Lovatt, Paris Brownlie and Michael Burland The Land Between Us: place, power and dislocation Whitworth Art Gallery, The University of Manchester until January 23, 2011 James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834 –1903) - American-born and British-based - is included in The Land Between Us: place, power and dislocation, a Whitworth gallery exhibition exploring today’s notions of landscape and identity by juxtaposing historic and contemporary works of art. Whistler, noted for his fabulous painting, ‘Whistler’s Mother’ and the tribulations of the infamous ‘Ruskin trial’ in the High Courts of Justice, exhibits an etching, ‘The Unsafe Tenement’, 1858. The exhibition includes artwork by Olafur Eliasson and Rachel Whiteread, together with 53 Turner watercolours. - EL

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, The Unsafe Tenement, 1858 COURTESY WHITWORTH ART GALLERY


Hanoi: Spirit of a City

The Museum of East Asian Art, Bennett Street, Bath • to December 12 Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi, is celebrating its 1000th anniversary. To mark the occasion, the MEAA has a photographic exhibition exploring the streets of Hanoi in the early 1980s,

Street Seller

Boat Women on Pilgrimage to Chùa Hương (Perfume Pagoda)

capturing everyday scenes and evocative imagery. During this period Vietnam was recovering from the recently ended 20 year war and the preceding French-Indochina War (between 1946 and 1954) and SinoIndochina War (1979). Although still locked in a series of conflicts with Cambodia, which did not end until 1989, everyday life continued. The photographs were taken by Sir John Ramsden, who was stationed in Vietnam with the British Diplomatic Services, as a personal project. - MB

Never The Same River (Possible Futures, Probable Pasts) Selected by Simon Starling Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road, London NW3 December 10 to February 20, 2011 Simon Starling, the 2005 winner of the Turner Prize, curates an interesting exhibition of apparently disparate works that are connected by the ideas and methods used by Starling in his own work. The choice, if not the genesis of the works, is inspired by the writings of Jorges-Luis Borges and George Kubler. In other words, while the works may not be linked in any obvious way, they are in his head – maybe not conceptual artworks, but a true conceptual collection. - MB


The American

Self Portrait, Francesco Clemente, 1993, watercolour on Indian paper © THE ARTIST

Picasso to Julie Mehretu: Modern drawings from the British Museum Collection British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1 to April 25, 2011 The British Museum has an unparalleled collection of graphic art from across the world, and actively collects modern and contemporary works today. Collected over the past 35 years, this exhibition showcases many of the great artists of the 20th century, starting with Picasso’s study for his masterpiece Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, the painting that shook the art world in 1907. It also features works by E L Kirchner, Otto Dix, Matisse, Magritte, David Smith and Louise Bourgeois and major contemporary artists, including Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter and William Kentridge. The exhibition concludes with Julie Mehretu, the Ethiopianborn artist who is one of the stars of the international contemporary art scene with acclaimed solo exhibitions at the Guggenheim in New York and across the world. - EL

Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes 1909-1929 V&A South Kensington, Cromwell Road, London SW7 • Until January 9, 2011


his exhibition explores the origin and legacy of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes 100 years after its first performance. Diaghilev imaginatively combined dance, music and art to create ‘total theatre’, the ultimate impresario. He had artistic vision himself but managed others so they delivered what he wanted, creating an environment where great artists could meet, spark, inspire and work together across disciplines, the first truly combined-arts projects. Imagine how you might combine such towering artistic personalities as Picasso and Prokofiev, Erik Satie, Matisse, Stravinsky and Coco Chanel together with dancers and choreographers such as Nijinsky and Pavlova, Nijinska, Fokine and Massine, Ceccetti, Markova and Anton Dolin. Not forgetting the young George Balanchine, who, after Diaghilev’s death in 1929, went on to found the School of American Ballet, and later the New York City Ballet. Diaghilev’s dramatic performances transformed dance, reawakening interest in ballet across Europe and America. Museum exhibitions have become

Above: Stage backcloth for the Wedding Scene in The Firebird, After Natalia Goncharova, 1926 © ADAGP, PARIS AND DACS, LONDON 2010

Costume for Chinese Conjurer in Parade, After Pablo Picasso, 1917 © V&A IMAGES

astonishing experiences. In this case Tim Hatley, a top production designer in theatre, dance, opera and film has collaborated with Drinkall Dean, creative designers whose work extends across retail, residential, open spaces as well as exhibitions and museums. Together they have created and built an utterly compelling experience. No one display intrudes on another, the audio visual elements are truly excellent, and Howard Goodall’s narration is informative yet elegantly concise. The exhibits are perfectly illustrative, from the expected memorabilia to the stunning costumes and sets, the battered touring trunks and cases, the worn out shoes of Karsarvina herself, alongside vivid and challenging colours of Picasso, Goncharova and Léon Bakst. The culmination is the Ballets Russes collection of costumes by Yves Saint Laurent. I had died and gone to heaven. - PB


The American

Arts News Shepard Fairey Loses ‘Hope’

Bruce Munro, Water-Towers, as it will look at Salisbury Cathedral

Light Showers and Water-Towers Salisbury Cathedral late November to late February 2011 Bruce Munro is installing two largescale illuminated artworks, one inside the magnificent 750 year-old Salisbury Cathedral, the other for a large space within the adjoining Cloisters. Already installed is Light Showers, a cascade of 2,000 points of light made from optic fibres ending in clear tear-drop shaped diffusers, an ethereal explosion of light. Water-Towers, to be installed in the cloisters in early January 2011, will be a maze of huge towers made of stacked recycled water bottles. The towers will be illuminated with fibre optics powered by energy-conserving LED lamps, and will change colour synchronized to choral music. “I hope WaterTowers will make people smile” says Munro. “It’s an exercise in making something positive from unwanted materials.” - MB


Shepard Fairey, aged 40, the artist whose blue-and-red Barack Obama poster became the main rallying image during the ‘Hope and Change’ election strategy of 2008, says he sympathises with the people who have lost faith in the Democrat leader. Stating his frustration with the president, Shepard explained that when he thought of his idea for the poster, he was aiming to find one likeness that personified the things he was concerned about the most; from health care to labour. Since making the picture, from an Associated Press photo of Obama, Fairey said, it’s simple to understand why younger voters are displeased with Obama and the Democrats; health care reform was watered down, Tea Party activists have been buoyed up, and Guantanamo Bay is still open.

David Owen Morgan, Fair?, illustration “based on Cliff from Arlington VA’s photograph and Shepard Fairey’s Obama illustration, Hope” © THE ARTIST

However, Fairey still backs Obama, and says he would use his art to help with the president’s re-election in 2012. But, he couldn’t draw the same Hope poster, as the strength and soul of the Obama campaign hasn’t transmitted in to the Obama presidency. - EL

Jeff Koons, RA American artist Jeff Koons has been elected an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy, England’s most prestigious academy of art. Koons, born in York, Pennsylvania, 1955, blends Pop and Conceptual art together, creating his own unique iconography, often controversial, but always engaging, referencing celebrity, media, commerce, race, gender and sex. - EL Jeff Koons, pictured last year in New York, is now an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy in London DAVID SHANKBONE

The American

Art Gifts There are some fabulous books – and a game – that we can recommend for any art lover this Christmas/holiday Street Seen: The Psychological Gesture in American Photography, 1940-59 Lisa Hostetler Looking at six major photographers’ work during and immediately post WWII counters the claim that photojournalism was the only noteworthy photographic goings-on at the time. ‘Street Seen’ reveals what an inimitable and crucial moment in American photographic history it was, as our understanding of photography in the middle of the 20th century broadened, and photography was just starting to get a reputation for being a fine art in the contemporary art world. Indeed don’t forget, the Second World War led in a new era of artistic expression in America that conquered and influenced the entire art world: Abstract Expressionism. It was in response to the war’s shocking realities – depicted in the media through photographs – that creative photographers broke the conventional rules of photographic technique to evoke the personal touch/experience, encapsulating the aesthetic achievements of the camera, previously considered a mechanical science. From Louis Faurer’s cars, crowds and buildings in Times Square to Robert Frank’s American ideal resonat-

ing of everyday mid-century American life, this volume explores the truth in how the camera can capture/reveal a person’s identity rather than merely being seen as a tool for illustrating a story. Taking you back in time, this is a beautiful book. - EL PRESTEL, £35

The Boy Who Bit Picasso Antony Penrose American photographer Lee Miller, her husband British Surrealist artist Ronald Penrose, and their son Antony, used to spend much time with Picasso and his children. As a result, author Antony has written this book. His recollections are almost an introduction to Picasso, and his artwork in a full range of media from painting to drawing, sculpture and pottery. This is almost autobiographical, in that it narrates the true story of Tony, as a little boy, lucky enough to have a close childhood friendship with the great artist. They spent many hours together at their family home, Farley Farm, Chiddingly, Sussex (where Picasso drew their bull), and in Picasso’s own house and studio in France. Although Tony “couldn’t speak French or Spanish, it didn’t matter at all because we didn’t need a language for our games “. They had a lot of fun. Penrose’s memories include pretend bullfights on the floor with Picasso, whose fragrance was of “cologne and

French tobacco.” They played together in Picasso’s messy studio - where the boy was amazed at how the master artist changed his son’s toy car into a monkey’s head; a basket into a goat’s tummy; china plates into paintings, and real shoes were incorporated in a sculpture. Picasso gave Antony one of his drawings – he is ever thankful. Other strong memories are of Françoise Gilot giving him delicious chocolate to eat, and meeting the artist Braque and Esmeralda – Picasso’s goat who slept by his bedroom door! Then there is the time Antony got a bit “overexcited and naughtily bit Picasso”; and what the artist did in return… The sixty-five illustrations include some of Picasso’s most interesting and engaging artworks as well as archive photography by Antony’s mother Lee Miller herself. One delightful passage recalls how, “When Picasso first met my mother, he thought she was so beautiful he painted her picture. My friends were very rude about the painting. They thought she looked so ugly she was scary! But actually it was a very good painting.” This charismatic little children’s book serves as a super beginning point to introduce a youngster to Picasso, through the stories of a child. Stimulating and creative, this book will charm and inspire young art fans aged four plus. - EL Thames & Hudson, £8.95


American Auto Legends: Classics of Style and Design Michael Furman/Tracy Powell

Elizabeth Taylor in full Cartier bling, pictured in Martin Chapman’s Cartier and America

Cartier and America Martin Chapman

A fulsome book that portrays Cartier’s enduring designs worn by some of America’s most celebrated figures; this publication is as rich in photographic material as it is in the priceless gems it honours. Since the House of Cartier opened on Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, over one hundred years ago, it has made jewelry into a fine art, with brooches, bracelets, tiaras, timepieces, scent bottles, clocks and handbags. Conquering America after its European birth in 1847 with Art Deco craftsmanship and the seal of approval from Hollywood stars and heiresses, Cartier’s originality remains unsurpassed. The stunning colour photographs show up-close Gloria Swanson’s bracelets, Douglas Fairbanks’s watch, the Duchess of Windsor’s panther brooch and Grace Kelly’s 10.47 carat diamond engagement ring as well as items owned by Marion Davies, Vivien Leigh, Barbara Hutton and Elizabeth Taylor. There is even a model ‘Replica of Apollo 11 lunar module, 1969’ in gold. A book that’ll allow you to dream a little. - EL  PRESTEL, £19.99


Superbly illustrated with over fifty of the most extraordinary American cars ever created, this authoritative book will excite all car aficionados, plus those simply into fantastic design. With eye-catching visuals and full mechanical glossary, this is a highly informative book. There is a concise introduction to the history of the US auto industry, with the models appearing chronologically. From early 1900 horseless carriages to the opulent transport of the 1920s and ’30s, the finned wonders of the ’50s, the ‘muscle’ cars of the 1960s, to the smooth, mega, more ecologically aware cost-effective motors of the early 21st century. As few coun-

tries are so strongly branded and celebrated with the car as America, this book shows American cars to be as iconic as Hollywood movie stars. Indeed the national, cultural and social history of America is stalwartly related to its automobile industry, from Buick to Chevrolet, Ford, Lincoln and Studebaker. A classy, classic book about classy, classic cars. - EL MERRELL publishing, £29.95

BrainBox art game Being an art critic is probably what keeps me on the lookout for anything to do with art. Constantly. And being a mother too, I’m always searching for things inspiring and educational for the younger gallery-goer to encourage them to appreciate art too. I’ve found it, in the form of a game. Fantastic to play, BrainBox features world famous artworks, presented in an easy to understand, simple fact-filled way, that is fun for all ages from five to ninety-five. With significant information about each artist and masterpiece – including Constable, Monet and Seurat - this beautifully-illustrated, well researched game is pure enjoyment to play. Indeed learning about art has surely never been so entertaining. And your brain gets a ten minute gym-like workout. Players have 10 seconds to study a well-known painting (on a card) then they’re asked questions about it (on the back of the card). For example, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, questions ‘Is the vase yellow or green?’, ‘Are there more than ten flowers shown?’, ‘Was this painted using oils or watercolours?’. If they answer correctly they keep the card, if not it is replaced in the box. The player with the most cards after 10 minutes wins the game! - EL The Green Board Game Co. Ltd., from the National Gallery, London (and others), £10.

The American

Man with a Blue Scarf – On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud


Martin Gayford Seven years ago, between December 2003 – July 2004, Lucien Freud, having painted portraits from HM the Queen of England to model and actress Jerry Hall, painted art critic Martin Gayford in the portait Man with a Blue Scarf. Although the portrait, which took hundreds of hours, was a great success, Gayford was shocked that Freud didn’t have a system for painting portraits. Starting wherever, Freud made it all up as he went along. Gayford’s experiences are set in the form of a diary. Sitting by sitting, there are some revealing insights into the master at work. Already into his ninth decade, Freud still so full of nervous energy, stands working for up to ten hours a day. He thinks of himself as a poor draughtsman, admiring Raphael, Leonardo and Sickert. The 83 year old Freud talks about Picasso, who he knew, Greta Garbo, Charles Saatchi, Henry Moore and painting Andrew Parker Bowles (exhusband of Camilla, now the Duchess of Cornwall) and others. American musician Ray Charles was much admired by Freud, who saw him play in London. Of his Jewishness, Lucien tells Martin a story about two Jews in New York talking about what a marvelous place America was, what a sense of liberty and freedom from prejudice. Then one says, ‘But I’m still afraid of the dogs!’“The point is,” as the artist recollects, “that, as my father once told me, in the old days in Europe it was quite common for dogs to be set on Jews.” But what would Lucien’s grandfather, psychoanalyst Sigmund, say about the fact that he sometimes takes three baths a day? - EL Thames & Hudson, £18.95

40% off beautiful American map book – the perfect Christmas gift


apping America: Exploring the Continent is the latest book from Black Dog Publishing. To celebrate its release, Black Dog have got together with The American to offer our readers a 40% discount on the book. Mapping America: Exploring the Continent is a beautifully illustrated survey of America’s cartographic landscape, featuring an array of maps that document its development, from early engravings, to the latest satellite technology. Following on from Mapping New York, Mapping England and Mapping London, Mapping America takes a similar approach in its presentation, thematically arranging a vivid collection of historic, demographic, cultural and artistic maps to aid the reader on their journey. Featuring four centuries of maps that depict the changing landscape of North America, Mapping America charts the continent through numerous landmark events and uprisings, including land cessations, border disputes, the Civil War and more recent concerns, such as the environment and terrorism. Not just for cartography enthusiasts but anyone who enjoys the inherent adventure of maps, Mapping America will appeal to the general reader, as well as specialists in the area, and will be a great gift for Christmas. The hardback book’s format is 11.5 x 9.5 inches. It has 240 pages with 320 colour and black & white illustrations. It usually costs £24.95 in the UK ($45.00 in the U.S.) but you can get 40% off by quoting The American with your order. To order at the discounted price, simply email with your delivery address and she will place the order. Write in the subject line: Mapping America, The American offer.


The American

By Virginia E Schultz


jorn van der Horst was the chef when I first dined at The Greenhouse and being someone who doesn’t like change, my nose twitched a bit when Antonin Bonnet replaced him in 2006. Ah, but I shouldn’t have worried, I soon discovered. I don’t have a favourite restaurant in London but The Greenhouse would rank near the top if I did. It is the restaurant where one goes to celebrate one’s birthday, or a wedding anniversary as my daughter and her husband did recently. It is also a restaurant where I enjoy going on my own. Bonnet is a classic modernist chef whose flavours are clear and focused and well deserves his two Michelin stars.


THE GREENHOUSE My friend Nigel (not his real name) becomes fussier and fussier with each passing year and when he was in London recently and asked where I’d like to dine and I suggested The Greenhouse his forehead furrowed and he said something about being there in 1979 or maybe even earlier. Probably, I agreed as it opened in 1977 and a number of well known chefs, including, Brian Turner, Gary Rhodes and Paul Merrett have headed the kitchen. We drank champagne as we gazed at the menu. I decided on the pan-friend duck foie gras with Victoria plums, prune and Armagnac puree and toasted hazelnuts but Nigel’s eyes lit up when he saw the Limousin veal sweetbread with wild garlic caramel and glazed leek. When he finished the sweetbreads, he said they were as good as his grandmother used to make, which for him is a three star rating. As I had fish when I dined there a few weeks before I decided on the Limousin milk-fed veal, carrot puree, wild sorrel and liquorice jus which was a mistake, not because there was anything wrong with the dish, the veal was tender and perfectly cooked, but because I dislike any-

thing with even the hint of liquorice. Nigel murmured “Too bad” and continued happily eating the Kent saddle of Lamb and spiky artichokes with Sicilian lemon cream and never bothered to offer me a taste. Oh, yes, he said when I asked, it was perfect! As Nigel, fortunately, was still hungry, we had a selection of cheeses - a supplement of £10 per person is added - that arrived at perfect temperature and could compete with any trolley in London. For dessert Nigel had Snix, chocolate, salted caramel and peanuts, Bonnet’s signature dessert, which I can vouch is lovely. And my Sicilian Pachino melon sorbet apple granite and lovely cup of coffee took away that last hint of liquorice. During the meal, we drank an Italian wine, 2005 Nero d’Avola, £30 a bottle. The Greenhouse has one of the finest wine lists in the UK, featuring over 2,500 wines, and has won the Wine Spectator Grand Award every year since 2005. I might add, our waiter must be used to handling grumpy old men because Nigel didn’t complain once during the meal. Tasting Menu £85 per person; Vegetarian Menu £70 per person; 3 course menu £70 per person.

27a Hays Mews, London W1J 5NY 020 7499 3331

The American


elly Pateras, my French gourmand friend who runs a luncheon/dinner group here in London ordered her steak “bleu” and after she took her first bite whispered in her lovely French accent, “Perfect!” Now, this may be an odd way to start a review, but it was the first time in the fifteen years we’ve dined out together and she’s ordered steak, it came exactly as she wanted. But, let’s start from the beginning. The first time I dined at Christopher’s was shortly after it opened in the early 1990’s. My late husband had just returned from two months travelling throughout Asia and we went there for what he called his American steak fix. While living in Chicago, Illinois we had often dined in the Palm Restaurant and had been told by friends that Christopher’s had been modelled after it. We must have enjoyed the evening because a few days later we took an American friend there for his birthday. After that I returned for lunch and dinner a number of times and it was only in the past few years I hadn’t eaten there for no other reason than there are now any number of restaurants in London specializing in American beef, including a branch of the Palm. The restaurant, located in a white marble Grade II corner-building, has only a subtle sign out front and can be easily missed if you’re not watching carefully. Built as a paper maché factory in the first half of the nineteenth century, the ornate Victorian facade both in and out was added in 1870 when the site became the first licensed casino. The restaurant, via a long winding staircase to the second floor, is located in the room where the gaming tables were once located. Legend has it that the most sophisticated bordello in London was on the floors above.


American Bar & Grill However, the afternoon Nelly and I dined there we found no evidence of any beautiful ladies of the night or even a hint of their ghosts. Most of the diners were businessmen and two couples who appeared to be tourists. Although Christopher was recently sold to Ambar Paul, chairman of the engineering company, Caparo Group, little seemed to have changed since the last time I was there. Starters begin in the £6 to £12 range, everything from Caesar salad to

carpaccio of beef. Nelly started with quail eggs, asparagus and asked for the dressing to be put on the side. The eggs were soft and runny as expected and the asparagus perfectly cooked. As the lunch menu had three selections for each course, I decided to have that instead of à la carte: available Monday to Friday, 12 noon to 3pm, 2 courses cost £17.95, 3 courses £22.95. My starter of smoked tomato soup with a goats cheese fritter was


The American

interesting, one I wouldn’t hesitate to order again. If you’re not a meat eater, there is a selection of fish dishes as well as vegetable options. Nelly had the grilled 14 oz New York strip steak I mentioned. I debated between the seared tuna steak served with salad or Garganelli Pasta with Spinach Ricotta, Tomato and Canellini beans. The pasta won out, but lacked the lovely flavours I expected. However, my dessert of Pineapple Tarte Tatin served with coconut ice cream was delicious as was Nelly’s poached summer fruits served with a pear sorbet. If I was disappointed in anything it was the list of American wines shown on the wine menu. There were none by the glass and of the few brands available there was only one I was familiar with. Prices of the other wines offered were reasonably priced, however, with several excellent ones in the £20 to £30 bottle range. Next time I shall stop in the Martini Bar on the ground floor for a cocktail before lunch. An hour long class is held in the Martini Bar monthly and costs £18 which includes your choice of a Martini or cocktail at the end of the class (plus plenty of sips and tasting along the way). You will also receive 25 percent off your full bill if you have dinner in the restaurant that evening. I might add, I stopped at Christopher’s a few days later with several friends before going onto the theatre and we all had cocktails in the Martini Bar which were fantastic.

18 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7DD 0871 971 6391


Maison Blanc (St. John’s Wood)


aymond Blanc’s hotel and restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton, near Oxford, is the only UK country house hotel to achieve two Michelin Stars and having dined there four times since it opened in 1984, I can say it deserves this honour. Over the years I’ve also often stopped at a Maison Blanc bakery/patisserie for a croissant and a coffee. My lunch, however, at the St. John’s Wood shop was a disappointment. It wasn’t that my friend Marjorie Wallace and I didn’t enjoy lunch but, as my father would say after looking at my report card, “I expected better.” Let’s start with the positive: the service was impeccable, the staff going out of their way to be helpful. However the “Salon de Thé” needed a coat of paint on the walls, floors varnished and tables and chairs that didn’t look as if they were bought at a second hand sale. Lunch was a mixture of ups and downs. Marjorie’s spinach and goat’s cheese quiche (£4.50) didn’t have enough cheese, and my Bacon Club (£6.20), a “French BLT”, was delicious except the brioche was burnt around the edges. The smoked salmon, crayfish and avocado salad (£7.50) had the most delicious dill and lemon dressing,

but, sadly, the spinach was limp. Wine at £4.25/£11.95 for a Fortant de France Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon was very reasonable. Now comes complete and absolute praise. Few shops in London make better bread or pastries than Maison Blanc. The Larieux (£3.65), a chocolate sponge with dark and milk chocolate mousse, and the Millefeuille (£3.85), layers of puff pastry with crème patisserie were worth every ounce I gained. And the cherry and pistachio crumble tart (£4.60), St Michel aux fruit rouges (£3.75) and Concerto (£4.15) I took home with me would be worth the walk to St. John’s Wood from my Battersea apartment! As for the bread, thank goodness I only bought a small loaf because I ate most of it on my balcony sipping a glass of wine. St. John’s Wood, around the corner from Lord’s, the home of English Cricket, was the first London shop to have a Salon de Thé and I’ll return... but to buy, not linger, not until they do a little refreshing with paint and brush.

37 St. John’s Wood High Street, London NW8 7NJ, 0207 586 1982, www.


pen only to members of Les Ambassadeurs Club until recently, The Milroy now allows non-members at lunch time (12 pm to 3 pm: the only time non-members may dine). Built in 1810, it stands on the site of one of Henry VIII’s hunting lodges and has belonged over the years to a number of England’s most prestigious families including the Marquis Conyngham and the Rothschilds. In the 1870’s Leopold de Rothschild remodelled 5 Hamilton Place in the style of fin-de siècle Louis XV and the current owners worked closely with English Heritage to preserve the unique interiors. It has been home to various ventures including The Millroy Nightclub, a regular haunt of Princess Margaret, it is said. Joining me for a glass of champagne in The Library Bar before we went to lunch was my friend Ruth Westcott. Rothschild had commissioned the world famous Florentine wood carver Chevalier Rinaldo Barbetti to create this magnificent room and staircase. Within the intricate carvings are wry epigrams in Latin and Greek and you could have an afternoon of frustration and fun trying to translate them. With my basic Latin I gave up after about five minutes. The Milroy Restaurant is on the

second floor and is reached by possibly the most beautiful staircase in England. When my husband was a member of Les Ambassadeurs in the eighties, this area of the house held the gambling rooms and one of the first James Bond movies filmed a scene there. Decorated in shades of lime white, taupe and cream it still has many of the original features including an internal marble colonnade which leads onto terraces with views over Hyde Park. The dining chairs decorated in coffee and lime velvet were designed by William Yeoward. Ruth and I were seated at one of the small tables lining the walls and immediately started to catch up on what had happened since we last saw each other at her daughter’s wedding. As soon as I saw Portland King Crab with lemon mayonnaise, mango and avocado (£11.50), my eyes went no further. Ruth after some thought decided the Smoked Salmon with lemon and dill (£11.50) was the perfect first course. For her main course, Ruth had the Baked Mediterranean Vegetable Open Tart (£14.50) while I, after some hem and hawing with myself, decided on the Grilled Cornish Bass (£28.00) which turned out to be the best I’ve had in months. It was simply grilled with-

out any frills and flourishes, nor over cooked which has become one of my pet peeves lately. Side orders are extra at £3.50 each and we shared the Les Ambassadeurs salad which was more than enough for two. By this time, neither of us needed food, but the crème brulée figs and blueberry compote on the luncheon menu sounded interesting and it was. There is a luncheon menu, two courses £20.00, three courses £25.00, which on the day we were there included pheasant wrapped in English cured ham and Lamb Shank. The Milroy has an exceptionally beautiful private dining room for eight that is decorated with hand painted scenic paper and wonderful damask curtains at the windows. After lunch, Ludovic Bargbant, our delightful restaurant manager, gave us a tour of the gambling rooms downstairs. I, being naturally nosey, opened the door to one of the rooms where a corporation was showing slides and lecturing. After a shush from Ruth, I made a hasty retreat.

THE MILROY 5 Hamilton Place, London W1J 7ED, 0207 317 6108,


The American

Cellar Talk By Virginia E. Schultz

Chateaux et Comtes


ordeaux 1961 is regarded as one of the greatest vintages of the 20th century. A number of wines such as Chateau Latour still obtain prices that make most of us gasp even though they are now approaching fifty years old. I was fortunate several years ago to drink a 1961 Chateau Latour Grand Vin at a Christmas dinner party here in England. My friend who was returning to the States decided he didn’t want to take the chance on shipping that case and invited ten of us who enjoy fine wine to dinner that evening. The first two bottles were possibly the best red wine I’ve ever tasted, before or since, but from then on it was all downhill. His wine

WINE OF THE MONTH TAITTINGER Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blanc 1998 Some combinations are made in Heaven and this champagne served with Lobster and roasted corn fritter I had at The Palm Restaurant almost made me want to say forget the other courses. In fact, I liked it so much I thought of bringing the one bottle I have to the Christmas dinner my daughter is giving, but then I thought of cranberry sauce and plum pudding and decided a less expensive champagne is more practical.

had been stored in one of the stone bin wine cellars built in the nineteenth century for large houses in Belgravia and he had constantly checked the temperature of his cellar. One exceptionally hot summer he refused to take a vacation with his wife because he feared air conditioning might be needed and the help wouldn’t be aware of the problem. There had been no problem with any of the wine he stored there in the past and the expert he brought in said it could have happened when the wine was shipped from France to England. I thought of that recently when I heard the top 2009 Bordeaux wines, if you could find them, could only be found on the market at exceptionally high prices. Now I’m not saying Bordeaux isn’t the gold standard for fine wines and if I’m still around in 2029, I’d be delighted if I was invited to taste this wine. It would probably be an Asian friend offering it, for fewer English and Americans have purchased premium cru Bordeaux at these high prices. Once upon a time fewer people drank wine and those who enjoyed the finest had cellars to keep it in. Friends who went to Oxford or Cambridge twenty or thirty years ago have told me

The ‘Tour’ of the Château La Tour vineyards, still producing fabulous (and fabulously expensive) wines BENJAMIN ZINGG

this was where they first tasted fine Bordeaux, but I doubt that in another twenty years students will have the pleasure of tasting the equivalent of the 1959 Chateau-Larose that one Oxford graduate friend still raves about. Now I’m not against investing in 2009 as several friends have, and I’d be the last to say a $10,000 investment in 2009 isn’t as good or even better than investing that same amount in stock in this volatile financial climate. But, at the same time I want to enjoy wine and unless I had a wine cellar in my house, as I did years ago, I’ll purchase wine from other regions in France or enjoy wonderful Italian and New World wines at far saner prices. Or else I’ll check one of the wine auctions which not only offer the grand cru which gets most of the media attention, but excellent vintages that can be purchased at prices that won’t break your bank account. H

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The American

Coffee Break COFFEE BREAK QUIZ 1 Which Christmas carol has the line “Joyful and triumphant”? 2 What is the name of the Spanish soup served cold? 3 In which country did the indoor decorated Christmas tree originate? 4 From which country did the dish chilli con carne originate? 5 Which musical features the song ‘The Farmer and the Cowman’? 6 Which Christmas Carol has the line “Tis the season to be jolly”?

7 Which soft drinks company was the first to use Santa Claus in an advertisement? 8 In which sport is the Stableford scoring system used? a) golf b) archery c) showjumping 9 What colour Christmas did Elvis Presley sing of? 10 Which land animal has the highest blood pressure? 11 What was the name of Scrooge’s dead partner in Dicken’s story A Christmas Carol?

12 What is the guardian angel of George Bailey called in “It’s a Wonderful Life”? a) Jonathan b) Gabriel c) Clarence 13 Which president was the first to decorate the White House Christmas tree? 14 In Tchaikovsky’s ballet ‘The Nutcracker’, often performed at this time of year, who is the main enemy of the Nutcracker’s toy soldiers? 15 Which country did the gingerbread house come from? 16 What Christmas food is made from “marsh-whorts”? 17 Which popular bird was named after what was wrongly thought to be its country of origin?

Answers below The Johnsons Competition Winners Tickets to see the musical Fela! were won by Gillian Tembo of Coventry.

Quiz Answers: 1. O Come, All Ye Faithfull; 2. Gazpacho; 3. Germany; 4. USA; 5. Oklahoma; 6. Deck the Halls; 7. Coca-Cola; 8. a) Golf; 9. Blue; 10. Giraffe; 11. Jacob Marley; 12. c) Clarence; 13. Either Franklin Pierce -14th President (disputed) or Benjamin Harrison - 23rd President; 14. The King of the Mice; 15. Germany; 16. Cranberry Sauce; 17. Turkey: they are native to the USA.


The American

It happened one... December 1st: 1990 – The Channel Tunnel UK and French sections meet 40 metres beneath the seabed. 2nd: 1942 – Manhattan Project: A team led by Enrico Fermi initiates the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. 3rd: 1929 – Great Depression: US President Hoover announces to the U.S. Congress that the worst effects of the recent stock market crash are behind the nation and the American people have regained faith in the economy. 4th: 1881 – The first edition of the Los Angeles Times is published. 5th: In London, James Christie holds his first sale. 6th: 1877 – The first edition of the Washington Post is published. 7th: 1972 – Apollo 17, the last Apollo moon mission, is launched. The crew takes the photograph known as The Blue Marble as they leave the Earth. 8th: 1991 – The Russian, Belarus and Ukraine leaders sign an agreement dissolving the Soviet Union and establishing the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States). 9th: 1872 – In Louisiana, P. B. S. Pinchback becomes the first serving AfricanAmerican governor of a U.S. State. 10th: 1901 – The first Nobel Prizes are awarded. 11th: 1941 – World War II: Germany and Italy declare war on the United States, following the Americans’ declaration of war on Japan in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The United States, in turn, declares war on Germany and Italy.

12th: 1862 – USS Cairo sinks on the Yazoo River – the first armored ship to be sunk by an electrically detonated mine. 13th: 1636 – The Massachusetts Bay Colony organizes three militia regiments to defend the colony against the Pequot Indians, recognized today as the founding of the US National Guard. 14th: 1972 – Eugene Cernan is the last person to walk on the moon. 15th: 1891 – James Naismith introduces the first version of basketball, with thirteen rules, a peach basket nailed to either end of his school’s gymnasium, and two teams of nine players. 16th: 1773 –The original Tea Party – Members of the Sons of Liberty disguised as Mohawks dump crates of tea into Boston harbor as a protest against the Tea Act. 17th: 1989 – The Simpson’s first episode “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” airs in the United States. 18th: 1777 – The First Thanksgiving United States marks its October victory over General John Burgoyne in the Battle of Saratoga. 19th: 1924 – The last Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost is sold in London, England. 20th: 1606 – Three ships of the Virginia Company load with settlers and set sail to establish Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. 21st: 1968 – Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, is launched from the Kennedy Space Center. The crew become the first humans to leave Earth’s gravity.

The Blue Marble – the famous photograph taken by the crew of Apollo 17 NASA

22nd: 1944 – World War II: Battle of the Bulge – German troops demand the surrender of U.S. troops, prompting the famous one word reply by General Anthony McAuliffe: “Nuts! 23rd: 1947 – The transistor is first demonstrated at Bell Laboratories. 24th: 1826 – The Eggnog Riot begins at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point. 25th: 1990 – The first successful trial run of the system which would become the World Wide Web. 26th: 1933 – FM radio is patented. 27th: 1932 – Radio City Music Hall opened in New York City. 28th: 1958 – “Greatest Game Ever Played” – the Baltimore Colts defeat the New York Giants in the first ever NFL sudden death overtime game at New York’s Yankee Stadium. 29th: 1940 – In The Second Great Fire of London, the Luftwaffe fire-bombs London, killing almost 200 civilians. 30th: 1953 – The first ever NTSC color television sets go on sale for about USD $1,175 each from RCA. 31st: 1904 – The first New Year’s Eve celebration is held in Times Square (then known as Longacre Square) in New York, New York. H





A Rumer Going Round Town New British singing sensation Rumer, whose singles Slow and Aretha have been enjoying mega rotation on radio recently, is playing some dates in December and January. The smooooth voiced singer has impressed many, including Burt Bacharach, who flew her over to California to work with him. Her voice is at times uncannily like Karen Carpenter’s, while having a smoky jazz lilt of its own. Rumer, born Sarah Joyce, has sung under the name of Sarah Prentice but changed her name in homage to author Rumer Godden. Rumer is supporting Jools Holland on his UK tour, including two dates at London’s legendary Royal Albert Hall on November 26th and 27th then headlining at Birmingham’s Glee Club December 13th and London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 17th. Rumer’s Glasgow and Manchester dates have had to be rescheduled to January (see her website www. for details)


War of the Worlds Coming to a Town Near You

Save The 100 Club

Jeff Wayne’s classic musical extravaganza The War of the Worlds is on the road again. The show is returning to major arenas around the UK and Europe starting this month and rolling on into 2011. It stars Jason Donovan, the former Neighbours soap actor and now a highly regarded musical theatre performer, ex-Atomic Kitten singer Liz McClarnon, Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s Chris Thompson alongside Ivor Novello award-winning composer and the show’s producer Jeff Wayne. Not forgetting the 3-ton 35-foot tall Martian Fighting Machine which fires real flame Heat Rays at the audience and incinerates a member of the cast on stage right in front of the audience’s eyes! Jeff Wayne has reworked the 11 production with a range of new ingredients, including an ensemble of specialty performers who will add a new dimension to HG Wells’ visionary story. The dates are: December 2nd Newcastle Arena; 3rd Glasgow SECC; 4th Sheffield Arena; 5th Manchester MEN Arena; 7th Liverpool Arena; 8th Nottingham Arena; 9th Birmingham NIA; 10th & 11th Bournemouth BIC; 12th London O2; 14th & 15th Cardiff CIA; 16th & 17th Brighton Centre; 18th Wembley Arena

London’s famous 100 Club is under threat of closure. Rolling Stones guitarists Ronnie Wood and Mick Taylor are among a stellar roster of musicians who will play live onstage at December 1st at the club. The 100 Club boasts historic appearances by stars from Glenn Miller and Louis Armstrong in the ’40s, Howlin’ Wolf and BB King in the ’50s, The Stones, The Who & The Kinks in the ’60s, The Clash & The Sex Pistols in the ’70s, Siouxsie and the Banshees and a host of African artists in the ’80s and Oasis and Travis in the ’90s. It’s the smaller venue of choice of The White Stripes and The Kings Of Leon. The iconic venue is threatened with closure as its rates bill (business taxes) has rocketed to around £48,000 a year and the annual rent to £166,000. “In 1985, when I took over, the rent was barely £11,000 In the US the rents are frozen at certain venues that have a bit of heritage. Here it’s a total free-for-all,” said the owner, Jeff Horton. California-born New Blues guitarist Stephen Dale Petit, who lives in London, is organising the benefit gig to raise awareness and support for the club. “The first gig I went to in the UK was Alexis Korner at The 100 Club. There is no other venue like it on earth

– when you walk downstairs it’s like entering a magic portal. I always feel honoured to perform there, and this show is going to be extra special,” he said. Petit, featured in The American last month, will donate the proceeds from his new single, the appropriately titled Need Your Love So Bad, to the Save The 100 Club campaign.

Paloma Faith: Down at the End of Lonely Street Britain’s most stylish pop newcomer reveals she can cut it as a torch singer in a gala concert with the 42-piece Guy Barker Orchestra at the Barbican Centre, December 10. The platinum selling singer and songwriter adds a dash of classic New York ’20s style to her own songs and an engaging, offbeat personality. The show will include Black Coffee, Cry Me A River, Let’s Get Lost, Lover Man, Wild Is The Wind, I’d Rather Be An Old Man’s Sweetheart Than A Young Man’s Fool, Heartbreak Hotel among her own hits, in lush new arrangements. Paloma describes the evening as “a celebration of loss and loneliness” and says, “I can’t wait to perform at The Barbican, it’s steeped in British musical heritage. I’m so excited.”


The American

MUSIC NEWS Elton John: Today’s Songwriters Are Pretty Awful Sir Elton John has made a scathing attack on modern pop singers. In a surprise outburst he said, “Songwriters today are pretty awful, which is why everything sounds the same. Contemporary pop isn’t very inspiring.” He criticized shows like the XFactor and Britain’s Got Talent and revealed that he turned down the offer of judging on American Idol. “TV vaults you to superstardom and then you have to back it up. I was in a band at 17, became a songwriter with Bernie Taupin and wasn’t successful until we’d had six years of hard graft and disappointment,” said Elton John. Nathan Graves, the founder of record company Imperial Music, agreed with Sir Elton. “Elton’s dead right. The mass market fascination with talent show creations is coming to the natural end of its life cycle. I think even Simon Cowell is sick of Simon Cowell,” said Mr Graves, who worked with Elton when he was an executive at Universal Music. “The market is desperate to hear people who have genuine talent,” said Mr Graves, who launched the career of crossover jazzer Jamie Cullum.

“Artists who have grafted hard for hard-earned recognition are making a big come-back.” Suzi Quatro, the rock singer from Detroit who had huge success in Britain in the 1970s, backed Sir Elton, saying “Success should be grafted for. It is NOT the way it is done. You have to pay your dues and then, and only then, can you possible develop the skills both to entertain and to survive success.”

Silent Two Minutes Forget Silent Night, this year’s hit record could just be a silent single. Released in November in time for Remembrance Sunday, November 11th, 2 Minute Silence is consisting of a silent two minute video featuring celebrities who have donated their time to veterans charity The Royal British Legion. All proceeds will go to helping Serving and ex-Service members of the Armed Forces community. Prime Minister David Cameron, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke (pictured, left) and record producer Mark Ronson and sports stars appear along with ex-service personnel, including Corporal Simon Brown, who was shot in the face by a sniper in Iraq, who said, “The Legion, for me has been a massive support. When I got home after Iraq, they offered me a lifeline and gave me the confidence to go out there and be part of society.” H


The American

Lonely Like America Martyn Joseph, the singer songwriter who has been called the ‘Welsh Springsteen’ talks on his Welshness, his political songwriting and his new album

I’m in Cardiff at the moment, because I’ve taken a couple of nights off to work with some children on a project called ‘Broken Peace’, which commemorates The Tonypandy Riots, violent confrontations between coal miners and police that took place in and around the Rhondda valley in 1910 after year long miners strike. Churchill ordered the troops in. For the people of the Rhondda valley it was a terrible, bloody, unforgettable episode. I was asked to write something. Trying

to write six songs about them was quite a challenge, but I’m delighted to lead such a fantastic project – the idea is for the schoolchildren to get involved and understand what happened in their community 100 years ago. It’s slap bang in the middle of a UK tour, so my head’s all over the place! But I’m very excited and the kids are wonderful. This tour I’m playing in all sorts of venues. Sometimes you can play in

exquisite theatres and people can be a bit formal. Some of the smaller places are really nice to play. I’ve had some of my greatest nights in village halls! I’m always keen to get out to places I haven’t played before. I live in Cardiff, I’ve lived here all my life. I’ve travelled an awful lot, the guitar has been my ticket to do that for almost 30 years now. I suppose because I’ve been able to travel I’ve been content to stay in the place I was brought up in. My Welshness became more important to me from about my 30s – I turned 50 last year. When you’re younger, you don’t really care so much, you’re trying to leave that place because you have dreams and ideals, but when you start to question yourself, or become a parent, you’re looking for clues. That certainly happened to me, and I began to discover more about Welsh history, which I certainly didn’t learn in school. As a

“In North America they understand me a lot better because the American definition of folk music is a lot wider than the British” 36

The American

some extent she’s right, because out of context it’s the most politicised song on the album, whereas the album is the least politicised album I’ve released for some time. Under Lemonade Skies represents it better, but Lonely like America is the pole all the other songs dance round. It’s the main song on the record. It’s a bittersweet critique of the United States – on previous albums I’ve probably not been quite so gracious, what with the Iraq war, and all the rest of it. The Bush thing was haytime for folk singers! I try not to say the obvious. If you find one person’s story, you’re telling a thousand people’s stories. So, instead of just Bush-bashing, for example, I try and open up the whole thing for discussion. I see the best and the worst of everything in that great land of America, and I love it dearly. Lonely like America (which is a co-write, so I can’t take full credit for it) is alluding to the great literary giants and cinematic films that portrayed the sense of the pioneer. But at its heart there’s a loneliness, a sense of America having lost its way. Where is that original dream, that original spirit? For a moment there we were all thinking the tide had turned,

but it’s all got a bit lost, a bit murky again. I think it’s a kind song, it’s not meant to be America-bashing in any way. A true patriot loves their country but sees its good and its bad points. My influences as a writer and as a singer are primarily North American. Britain in many ways leads the trends in terms of sounds, but when you think of Motown and the Blues, America is really the base of it all. I was always attracted to writers like Dylan and Springsteen, Woody Guthrie, and Paul Robeson, that great American son who was such a friend to Wales. These were people who were not afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves and bleed for me. The job of a great song is to make you feel you’re not alone in the world and American songwriters do that better than British. I’ll probably be canned by a lot of people in the UK for saying that, but I honestly think there is a cool, a reserve in the British psyche that will only let them go so far, whereas when I listen Springsteen, I hear more of the soul. Even in American society, that imbalance sometimes goes too far. But I’m much more attracted to American music than British. H

writer it became very important to me and is now reflected in quite a bit of the music I play. There’s an inherent passion, it’s a small nation with a big history. I think there’s a certain melancholy in the Welsh, certainly among its artists. If you look at Dylan Thomas, Richard Burton, these are people that had incredible talent and yet self-destructed. Even the great Anthony Hopkins is an alcoholic. Bands like the Manic Street Preachers have a certain angst to them, a crying out. I once had a review that said I made Leonard Cohen look like Julie Andrews! There is a certain inherent Celtic-ness there. The place you’re from shapes you. If I was born in Hawaii I’m sure my songs would be a lot happier! Record companies always try to categorise artists. If I’m sitting by somebody on a plane and they ask me what I do, I say I’m a songwriter. If they ask what style, I usually say its kind of Springsteen but without the band. I was signed with Sony in the early 90’s and they said ‘this guy really connects with people, but what is he?’ I guess what I do is edgy folk, the new wave of folk. I think in North America they understand me a lot better because the American definition of folk music is a lot wider than the British. The first time I played the Calgary Folk Festival in Canada, Elvis Costello was playing. In Britain folk can mean the fiddle, the Aran sweater and the finger in the ear, but it is changing now. I spend a lot of time in America and there’s certainly a lot of references to America in the new album, Under Lemonade Skies. One song is called The Hummingbirds of Georgia!. Originally the album was going to be called after another song, Lonely like America, but my wife said it “sounded like another miserable Martyn Joseph title!” To





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The American

Alvin Ailey Dance Theater Sadlers Wells, London and on tour


f you don’t come out of Alvin Ailey humming “Rocka my soul in the bosom of Abraham” then you’re already dead. The company, currently on an eight city UK tour, have deemed it compulsory to present Ailey’s signature piece Revelations at the end of each show. Send ’em out humming. Created in 1960 and set to a rousing series of glorious spirituals, it put the company on the map and defined their raison d’etre. Multiple viewings are always redeemed however by the sheer quality of the Ailey dancers. Now fairly frequent visitors to the UK, there is no excuse not to have seen Revelations at least once. The dancers possess that great American virtue of knowing how to ‘sell it’. Even when serving up lesser pieces, you can’t help but be blown away by their sheer performing instincts.

Taking two packed programmes around the country, their London shows began with George Faison’s Suite Otis where the dancers, clad in paintedon trousers of the loudest pink satin, transport us to the ’60s and the great music of Otis Redding. It reminds one that what Ailey did was to infuse the classically based tradition of contemporary dance with a great dose of soul. With the exception of one sassy argumentative duo, this piece sadly fails to ignite and ends up a bit too ‘Broadway’. Redding’s plaintive cry of Try a Little Tenderness, for example, is danced at a frenetic pace and curiously misses the point of that great song. Robert Battle, who is about to take over as Artistic Director from the renowned Judith Jamison, created The Hunt. Danced to a deafening per-


cussive beat (bring ear plugs) six bare chested men in floor-length red-lined black skirts (very ersatz Gaultier) play out a series of overwrought scenes of aggression, frustration and submission. In the end, it’s a masonic ritual that outstays its welcome. Ronald K Brown’s Dancing Spirit, however is a gloriously free-form melange of jazz, latin and funk and is danced to everything from Wynton Marsalis to Radiohead. It ends up being utterly intoxicating. The total expression of joy which only an ensemble of this calibre can produce. Perhaps the highlight of the two programmes is Battle’s piece In/side a solo for the amazing Samuel Lee Roberts. Clad in just his shorts, this was an emotionally naked piece, set to Nina Simone’s wrenching ballad Wild Is The Wind. Here, that combination of perfect technique (lightning spins), natural

Linda Celeste Sims and Glenn Allen Sims in Revelations. PHOTO: ANDREW ECC


The American

feline grace and an ability to interpret powerful emotions all come together, to create a miniature masterpiece. It echoes I want to be ready, another astonishing male solo danced by the great Clifton Brown, as part of Revelations. Programme Two features Jamison’s own Hymn, a rather sentimental splicing together of audio vignettes by those who worked with Ailey, recalling the great man. Voiced by the great Anna Deaveare Smith (Nancy McNally of The West Wing fame) it breaks the first rule of dance: let the dance do the talking. Nonetheless it serves as a great potted history of the man and the company and it has an exquisite final tableau. Anointed, a brand new piece by Christopher L Huggins, just like Dancing Spirit, was more what I’d call ‘Look Ma I’m dancin’. The choreography may not engage the brain too much but its simplicity allows these amazing dancers to shine. A life-affirming hymn to the power of pure dance. During August they play Nottingham, Birmingham, Plymouth, Cardiff Bradford, Edinburgh and Newcastle. Don’t miss ’em’. Linda Celeste Sims in George_ Faison’s Suite Otis. PHOTO: STEVE VACCARIELLO


Fascinating Aida The Pheasantry, Kings Road, Chelsea, London


ascinating Aida are a superb female satirical cabaret trio, a cross between Tom Lehrer and Absolutely Fabulous, who bring the high art of pastiche and parody, grounded in great musicianship, to the cabaret, concert hall or corporate event. Their trademark verbal dexterity and lightning wit are enhanced by Dillie Keane’s deceptively simple but inspired piano accompaniment. Her tunes may hark back to Gilbert and Sullivan or Noel Coward in style, but the content is always bang up to date, a skill honed on the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Stop the Week’ where her weekly devilishly satirical ditties had a broad sweep, dissecting the news or the latest fads and fashions. Following a critically acclaimed run at 59E59 in New York from January to February, nominated for two Drama Desk Awards, they wowed the Edinburgh Festival and are now making stately progress with their Silver Jubilee Tour. They’ve had more farewell concerts than Sinatra, and this writer has been to two of them. Like one of their comic ancestors, Joyce Grenfell, they combine sharp intelligence with a generosity of spirit about our human foibles which is totally disarming. Dillie set up the troupe in 1983 and was joined a year later by the striking Adele Anderson, who became her writing partner and

whose Brecht-Weill parody ‘Lieder’ is probably their masterpiece. The glamorous Liza Pulman, whose beautiful soprano voice combines with the essential perfect comic timing, joined in 2004. At the Pheasantry, the new cabaret room on the Kings Rd, they welcomed us to an evening of song and dough balls (it’s run by Pizza Express) and opened with a stunner called ‘I’m Bored’, which Dillie couldn’t be bothered finishing. Despite the presence of a well-heeled Chelsea audience they were fearless with their rendition of ‘Charity begins in public’ demolishing the fad for charity balls and an inspired patter song to explain the financial crisis entitled ‘The Markets’. ‘Mobility is the enemy of beauty’ returned them to a familiar subject of old, the beauty industry, and reminded one of their classic ode to the perils of plastic surgery, ‘My Shattered Illusions’, since covered by Patti LuPone and Bette Midler. Dillie’s brilliance at crafting a song is what sets FA apart, whether it’s a calypso about climate change or a high energy gospel number about the ubiquity of a certain supermarket chain, ‘Jesus saves but Tesco saves even more’. The show ends with their latest hit ‘Cheap Flights’, balm to the ears of anyone who has ever suffered the indignities of Ryanair or Easyjet.

The American

Flashdance – the musical Book by Tom Hedley and Robert Cary, Music by Robbie Roth, Lyrics by Robert Cary


and Robbie Roth

Flashdance Book by Tom Hedley and Robert Cary, Music by Robbie Roth, Lyrics by Robert Cary and Robbie Roth


ou from Pittsburgh? How many spot welders have YOU met who look like Jennifer Beals? That was my thinking back in 1984 on seeing the movie Flashdance the day it opened and it still troubles me today. That fairytale of grimy Pittsburgh conquered the world. It told the story of the beautiful Alex, welder by day and “flashdancer” by night, who dreams of getting in to the fancy schmancy dance academy which is located, as you’d expect, on the other side of the tracks. Adrian Lyne’s film of Tom Hedley’s original screenplay purported to be a hymn to blue-collar life but Lyne, ever the adman, couldn’t resist polishing each frame until it glistened. It ended up about as blue collar as Busby Berkeley. But here’s the rub, the stage version, and I never thought I’d say this about a West End musical, is if anything, too gritty. Lyne’s movie fashioned a new MTV aesthetic and signature moments from it such as the backlit water splashing over Alex seated on a chair or the gravity defying audition between the sunbeams of that dance studio, became

iconic images of the ’80s. The film also started the fad for leg warmers, for which it should never be forgiven. Victoria Hamilton-Barritt has the moves and the looks for Alex and is a commanding stage presence but is a trifle too brassy. It is a fairytale after all. Too often she throws away lines of dialogue, which properly delivered, would have given her character a softer edge. Matt Willis, formerly of pop group Busted, makes a really confident West End debut as her love interest, Nick. He is the scion of the steel mill owning family and his well-intentioned intervention with the dance school, on Alex’s behalf, nearly tears them apart. For writer and executive producer Tom Hedley this has been a long labour of love and he has succeeded in crafting a solid piece of popular entertainment, which deserves to be a hit. A revised book has strengthened the story and they’ve integrated the five hit songs from the movie (including “Gloria” and “Maniac”) with 15 new numbers. Up and coming director Nikolai Foster, in his West End debut, infuses

the show with a youthful energy and Morgan Large’s impressive designs perfectly balance the urban grit with the garishness of the nightclub scene. Howard Harrison’s slick lighting and Sue Blane’s hideous ’80s clothes (truly the decade that taste forgot) are both top notch. Arlene Phillips choreography too is a triumph. She manages to take what little there was in the film and embellish those ’80s phrasings with more modern hip-hop moves. Among her fresh-faced young ensemble of dancers, who can handle everything from hip hop to ballet, the superb breakdancer Daniel Uppal particularly stands out. But what about “What a Feeling”? If you check out the original you’ll realise it was quite short and as a simple solo piece of choreography to camera, it owed more to the film editor’s art than to Jennifer Beal’s or her alleged body double’s dancing abilities. It being so slight, on stage, Arlene quite sensibly lets it morph into a lively group number. After all, in the theatre, you can’t sort it out in the editing. H


The American

The Yanks of Deathtrap From ‘Actors Corner’, James Carroll Jordan interviews two fellow Americans starring in a hit show in London


took my wife Jan to the theatre the other night. Oftentimes I get very uncomfortable watching two hours of theatre. The seats are too small and my bottom gets numb. Plus the fact that I am not up on the stage galls me. But from the very beginning of the show, Deathtrap (on at the Noel Coward Theatre until January 22nd) made me forget all that. It was absolutely fascinating and engrossing. It is billed as a comedy-thriller and it sure lives up to that description. Deathtrap stars Simon Russell Beale, Jonathan Groff, Clair Skinner, Terry Beaver and last but definitely not least Estelle Parsons. Be assured, there isn’t a flawed performance in the bunch. In fact the three superlative performances, Beale, Groff and Parsons, are only so because Ira Levin wrote their parts more completely. I won’t give away the plot in case you didn’t seen the movie or the four year Estelle Parsons


run of the play in New York back in the seventies. Being in the business I can be a bit jaded and it takes a lot to interest me. My wife is the same; her favorite thing in the theatre is fall asleep on my shoulder (fine as long as she doesn’t snore!). Well, that night at Deathtrap, we both loved it! When I arrived at the stage door to interview Estelle and Jonathan for The American I had to fight my way through a gaggle of young teenage female fans, there for a glimpse of Jonathan. Ahhh, youth! From his looks and obvious talent, he will be dealing with that sort of thing for years to come. At twenty five he could be excused for having a big head, but he was down to earth, uncomplicated, unaffected and completely and utterly all American. I asked Jonathan about getting the part and was surprised to find he had to fly back from LA to New York to read for the part. He pointed out that the boots that he wears in the show were the same pair that he bought for the interview in New York. Why was he here in London instead of treading the boards in some musical (of which he has done quite a few on Broadway) or doing a film in Hollywood? He said he was just lucky to get the part and very grateful to be able to play it in the West End. Amazingly, in her ninth decade and with the talent she is overflowing with, Estelle has never played in the West End before. And she almost

wasn’t in the cast. Anna Massey had to drop out for her to have the chance at Helga the eccentric clairvoyant. As soon as she walked on stage you knew you were in for some fun. She seemed to just take over as she flowed in using a thick German/Balkan accent and mesmerized us with her outlandish predictions and uncanny observations. She was the much needed comic relief to a rather dark piece. Her energy was phenomenal for a lady of her years. In fact it was phenomenal for any age. I should be so lucky to have that kind of juice when I am on stage. Knowing she taught drama at Colombia and Yale, earned an Oscar for her role in Bonnie and Clyde, was a hugely successful director and actress of the New York theatre, and served for five years as the Artistic Director for the Actors Studio, I was slightly daunted when I began the interview, but Estelle was completely charming, sharp-witted, funny and very accessible. I felt like I was talking to my mother. From dealing with highly serious English actors for the past two decades, she and Jonathan were a breath of fresh air for me. I asked her if she knew Brando since she was a working actress back in the fifties. She said she never ran into him, but knew Montgomery Clift well. I asked Estelle if it was more difficult to retain lines now that she was in her eighties. She replied, “Not a bit”. Seeing the look of anxiety in my face (I suffer with the problem of line retention more the older I get) she kindly added, “In my sixties I went through a period where I wondered about that but I’m now 82 and I don’t

The American

Jonathan Groff has a bad day at the hands of Simon Russell Beale in Deathtrap HUGO GLENDINNING

have any trouble at all. I went into “August” with three weeks rehearsal and remembered them all. I guess it’s an individual matter. I hear that Angela has an ear piece and they feed her lines that way. And I remember Annie Bancroft could never remember lines. People would try to help her and tell her that this word would remind you of that word. We weren’t old then, we were young, in our thirties. She still had trouble, but it’s probably psychological. It depends on how you work.” She threw this dog a bone and I gratefully accepted it. I asked Estelle and Jonathan when they realized that Deathtrap would work so well. Estelle said “First it was when I saw the show in the seventies and then when I saw who was in my current cast”. Jonathan said it was when he had worked a few days with Matthew Warchus the director. He said he had never worked with a director who was so

easy to work with. He added, “It’s interesting because Matthew has this style where he doesn’t speak a lot. He just sort of lets us go and do our own thing then gradually shaves it off as you get closer and closer and picks and chooses what he wants. I’ve never worked with anyone like that and I really enjoyed it.” My wife has a problem kissing me because of my beard. Did Jonathan have any problem with the kissing scene because of Simon Russell Beale’s beard? “Well Simon’s beard is actually long enough that it’s not prickly. It kinda feels like head hair… if it was a little bit shorter it would be scratchy, but it wasn’t” Estelle added: “My husband had a mustache and after thirty years of pushing it on me he finally cut it off. I hated that thing!” I asked Jonathan, with his busy film and television career does he find it difficult to take the time to do

a play? Estelle cheekily interrupted and asked: “Do you have a busy film and television career Jonathan? “ Jonathan let out a huge guffaw and said, “As long as it seems like I do, that’s okay…” I asked Estelle and Jonathan what differences they had found between working in London and New York? Jonathan: “The job is the same, going to the theatre and doing a play is the same wherever you go, but the unique thing about this is getting to be a tourist every day, getting to peek into the city, see the sights and having friends come over and go on walking tours. It’s one of the major reasons I did the play. And go to Paris for the day!” I laughed, “From LA you can get to Tijuana but that’s it.” Estelle added: “There’s even a train that takes you nightclubbing in Paris and brings you back the same night.” Ah, the beauty of living and working in London. H


The American

An Ideal Husband Hi Alexander - welcome home! Thank you. I don’t feel like my feet have touched the ground. I did my last performance of A Little Night Music on a Sunday, got straight on a plane, arrived at Heathrow Monday mid-day and went into rehearsal Tuesday morning. I managed to say hello to my kids and that’s it! I’m still barely unpacked. You’re in An Ideal Husband with your wife, Samantha Bond. That’s unusual for you isn’t it? Yes, it’s the first time we’ve worked together. We were both a little bit antsy, then we thought ‘come on, we’ve been married for 21 years, we can deal with this’. It’s been delightful, because she keeps telling me how to do it right, which is always the way!

Alexander Hanson has just flown in from Broadway to play in Oscar Wilde’s satire in the West End Do you work away from each other much? It’s not that bad, but this last year I was on Broadway for 11 months. Sam managed to come over quite a bit, but it’s the longest we’ve ever been apart. For the first ten years of our kids’ lives we had a live-in nanny, who was fantastic, our very own Mary Poppins. We were young actors and we needed to be available. When she left, we made a conscious decision that only one of us could be in the theatre, the other could do television. Since the kids have been able to function under their own steam we’ve dallied with both of us working away. They’re 17 and 19 now

so they’re thrilled to have us out of the house, to be honest. How are you finding An Ideal Husband? It’s interesting, wonderfully written, very complicated stuff and the language is something to get your teeth and lips round. It’s a Wildean dark comedy, a thriller at times, but it’s also got some wonderful comic lines and turns in it. It’s brought back so often because of all the machinations of Government Ministers in it, although it was written in 1895. We see behind the scenes of a public figure’s fall - his desperation and the fallout of what he has done with his wife and his best friend. It’s very acutely observed, as always with Wilde. Haven’t you done the play before? Yes... it was one of my first jobs. When I left drama school I spent 6 months as an Acting Assistant Manager and one of the plays was An Ideal Husband. I was a boy of 25 playing a very unlikely Phipps the Butler. A couple of years later I did it at the Chichester Festival Theatre, and I played a couple of small parts. It’s rather thrilling now to really get my teeth into one of the main roles. Give it another 30 years and you can go back to playing Phipps..... [laughs] Exactly... The same thing happened with Night Music - 20 years ago I played Henrik, the son of the character I played recently. My uncle said I should wait a few years then I can play Madame Armfeldt!


I’ve learnt most about acting in the straight theatre. That’s what I enjoy most, unless you’re doing a Sondheim –they’re so beautifully written, they have the best of both worlds What was it like working with Catherine Zeta Jones in Night Music? A complete thrill. There’s this huge movie star, and you’re completely tongue-tied when you first meet them because all you’ve ever done is seen them on the telly or read about them in the gossip columns. And she was a complete honey. Very Welsh... and she made life very easy for me. Then there was the great Angela Lansbury, a complete Broadway legend, a film legend, a TV legend! It is extraordinary, she’s 84 years old, but actors don’t know what else to do. It’s a very addictive thing to get laughs, to be applauded and lauded – rightfully so in Angela’s case, she was quite wonderful and also a very gracious human being. Very sweet, no airs and graces, and very down to earth. It was a delight, to be able to say that I’ve worked with Catherine Zeta Jones and Angela Lansbury, and then Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch who took over their roles. Did you get the feel of living in New York during that 11 months? Yes, I did. It’s quite intense, you’re doing eight shows a week, 6 days a week, with only one day off. It’s fun, and a privilege to earn a living from something you love, but it’s hard work, and because you’re singing a lot you can’t go out on the razz too much. You’re eating well, resting well, sleeping well, trying to keep fit, Skypeing your family at home, while trying to see a bit of New York. Also, it was a very long show and the company would

then go home, so it was tricky to go out and play if you wanted to. It was a nice introduction to New York and I’d love to go back and take up from where I left off. I’d love to spend some time in Manhattan without the pressure of a show at night, too, just to go out and explore. You’ve had success in musicals and straight plays. Have you deliberately developed both areas? I wanted to be a straight actor altough I’ve always loved singing. But in the early days you’re an unknown quantity and if you’re offered a musical, you do it. Often you get people who sing well but can’t act well, or vice versa. I’m not the greatest actor in the world, and I’m not the greatest singer, but I had enough of each to keep the producers interested. I’ve learnt most about acting in the straight theatre, and that’s really what I enjoy most, unless you’re doing a Sondheim. They’re so beautifully written, they have the best of both worlds. You’ve been in some of huge musicals. What was We Will Rock You like? It was quite something. I’m very fond of Ben [Elton], but that show is really all about the Queen songs, and the book is very thin. I did the workshop

for it, and thought ‘I’m not doing that’, then they came chasing. I knew Robert de Niro was one of the producers, and I thought, if I do it he’ll have to give me 30 seconds of his time, because I was one of the principals. And he did… I think it was about 28 seconds, but it was enough! It was a hoot to do, because it’s the nearest you’re going to get to a rock concert, as an actor. You were born in Norway and lived there for four years. Did that affect the way you react to the English language? That’s a very good question. Sometimes when I’m rehearsing I feel I have to translate English into ‘my own English’ in my head. And do you find a difference between audiences on Broadway and in the West End? Yes, but it keeps changing. American audiences are much more vocal than in London. At times I thought ‘oh they really get it’, sometimes I felt you had to lay it on with a trowel. What I loved was the way Americans cherish their actors. Without encroaching on my space, they’d say [New York accent] ‘Hey, I saw you last night and I just want to say you were really terrific, thank you’, and then walk off. I can’t wait to go back. H


The American

TINA and the Nudgers No, it’s not a new pop group. Alan Miller looks at how individuals and society relate in the age of TINA: There Is No Alternative


ecent events in France have seized the headlines and some have suggested we are witnessing a prerevolutionary moment. Hardly. What is so surprising about the events is how, despite superficially appearing radical with the potential to be explosive violently, it is actually a representation of the lack of ideas and inspiration that young people have in France currently. Paris ’68 was very different. Freedom and equality, anti-imperialism and demands for national self-determination for former colonial societies all informed the struggles in which young people were involved alongside workers, on the streets and campuses. What do we see today? An argument against increasing the pension age by two years. Pensions? There are issues about an aging population and the questions that throws up about how to organize society, but it is bizarre that the most pressing issue for these young people is something that will happen decades in their future. This is not something that has developed out of a desire to see any significant change in society. Nor does it come from the ranks of youth, which is historically where social change arises as young people believe that everything is possible. Not so, unfortunately, now. It appears that the elders in French society have no idea how to win the arguments about resources or how we organize them in society. In the age of TINA (‘There Is No


Alternative’ to the market), the idea of a finite cake is popular. This is merely one idea… and a wrong one. Resources are not finite, they are determined by all sorts of things, especially innovation, technology and development - we had no notion of gas at one stage in history, or nuclear energy, and there is far more we can invent and innovate. The older generation in France have lost the ability to challenge this and offer an alternative. The young are not putting forward demands for a new society, rebelling against an old order, instead they are asking to retain things the way they are. There are of course arguments to be made for retaining gains won in society, but in France it appears that the older generation are relying on the youth to keep the status quo. Adults need to argue and fight for what they believe in. We should stop pretending young people are dangerous irresponsible “hoodies” or valiant revolutionaries about to change the world. Under years of New Labour, we saw ever increasing encroachment on our personal lives, behavior policing, and attempts at “behavioral modification”. The end of ideology and political contestation ended with even the ruling elite unable to motivate their agenda politically and put forth arguments to win hearts and minds. The Tories criticized this, however David Cameron now has a “Behavioural Insight Team” inside Downing Street! A Behavioural Insight Team. Not a

“transport improvement team”. Not a “build a million more houses because there’s a dire shortage” team. Not a “transform the health provision” team nor an “improve productivity for all society” team, but a truly Orwellian group that has been established to get into our deepest psychological recesses then prod us – or nudge us in this brave new world speak. Under Blair there was a bossy interventionism by the state, which while seeming to accept Thatcherite ideas actually increased state encroachment in people’s lives and focused on individual behavior. Gone were any aspirations to improve the world – under TINA imagination is stymied and limited – instead the emphasis was on lecturing us about how to be good parents, stop smoking, reduce our drinking and eat better food. Now, the ‘Nudgers’ have gone even further, employing the ideas of subliminal messaging that was so heavily criticized in a previous era when introduced in advertising. While it pretends to be about choices, the real problem is that the rulers of society no longer view citizens as autonomous responsible adults. We have come to be regarded as mad, bad and dangerous. As the elite have become further removed from ordinary people they have become even more patronizing – viewing us as dumb, ignorant, backward. Worse even than this is that the view that adults are in need of ‘support’ and ‘help’, like children or

The American

victims, in need of cover from state bureaucrats. The Nudgers believe – like many others who have popularized the view that humans are “hardwired” for things – that we do not make rational conscious decisions but instead are beast-like and automatically respond to stimuli. This is a terrible retreat from the Enlightenment idea of Rational Humanity, which assumed humans are rational beings that have agency and can consciously shape the world around them. For sure that is what we are – but The Nudgers don’t believe so. We should challenge the Politics of Nudge, or rather Mind Politics at every step of the way. Modern political democracy is made up of the public arena, where ideas should be presented, discussed and fought over. We should expect politicians to be engaged in the push and pull of presenting their views and battling over them to win majority support; not subliminally prodding us with messages about how we should alter our lifestyles and behavior. Indeed, the political body should be shaped by society and the people – not the other way round. All the talk of ‘happiness’ in the recent past and Nudging now can sound pretty harmless, a bit like a Malcolm Gladwell book that wears off fairly quickly, novel and gimmicky but of no real substance, even if well written. The problem is, however, it represents a consolidation of the view that citizens are not to be won over to anything, that we are

child-like and need “re-positioning”. How shocking that so soon into their administration, the ConservativeLiberal alliance – and many think tanks – should take an even more Stalinistlike outlook than their heavy-handed predecessors. We have seen the illiberal writing on the wall for a while with rulers telling us they “know what is best” as though we were naughty toddlers. Now, however, the temperature is rising and even more insidious. In New York we see such things as aiming to ban smoking in public parks and preventing those with food stamps to purchase sodas and sugary foods, while in the UK the mind controllers are ratcheting up their game with their “choice architects”, as though “Sustainable Development” were not a bad enough oxymoron. Anyone committed to the idea that we are not silly kids who need to be admonished and nudged around by bureaucrats who have no clue how to do their real job (fixing unemployment, improving education and housing, handling the tricky issue of an aging population) should reject the New Age of Nudging and instead call for an open public space for debate and criticism.

French students are protesting about pensions when there are bigger fish to fry, says Alan Miller VALÉRY-XAVIER LENTZ

This is where the recent events in France and Britain’s Nudgers collide. In France, the older generation, tired and exhausted with no new ideas, give a nod and wink to the youth who take to the streets, who make a noise but want to preserve the status quo as they too lack any new ideas. In Britain, the Nudgers have an equally contemptuous view of us all and think they should simply appropriate our minds and hold on to the status quo that way. It’s far worse than a bad Sci Fi movie and we need to challenge it every step of the way. Speak your mind, and when you get a Nudge – Nudge back a whole lot harder. H

Alan Miller is Director of The NY Salon in New York ( ) and co-founder of London’s Old Truman Brewery cultural center. He sits on the London Regional Council of the Arts Council England.


The American

Recycling, California-style S

omeone famous once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result.” Although most people think it was Albert Einstein, there is no published proof, while the Alcoholics Anonymous hand book says, “Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results”. It may have been author Rita Mae Brown in her 1983 book Sudden Death… Whoever originated it, there is interest as to whether Arnold Schwarzenegger or Meg Whitman used it first in recent Californian political circles. Lest you think this may be a momentary slip of the silver-tongued, this topical teapot tempest over ownership covers a whole host of other pithy phrases such as ‘rebuild California’, ‘it’s all about leadership’ and ‘I met a payroll’. There seems no end to Meg’s plagiaristic tendencies – according to her recent (and winning) opponent for the gubernatorial race, Jerry Brown. In fact, there is no doubt that Arnie used these immortal lines before Meg, and that her speechwriter was asleep at the keyboard if they thought no one would notice their rather boring echo of old campaign rhetoric. As a former speechwriter myself, a more interesting, but generally ignored observation, is that with all the money Meg, the former CEO of eBay, was spending, you


Whatever could Einstein, Schwarzenegger and Meg Whitman have in common? Alison Holmes reveals all. would have thought she could at least count on first-run material. Clearly you can always find a buyer for old rope – or perhaps it has something to do with the California penchant for recycling? The real point, however, is not who said what when, or who sounds like who, but that this incident provides yet another reminder of the inevitable passage of time in America. Just as the baseball season must end with the World Series and Halloween must have stories about doctored sweeties, campaigns must inevitably sink to their lowest ebb over the course of the last ten days. When the candidates spend all their time addressing the other’s ‘lies’ and all of their money on negative spot ads, it is officially time to get out your waders and a clothes peg for your nose because you are about to be at least hip deep in political effluent. Undoubtedly a material more productive in the agricultural context, it is nonetheless handy at campaign time, its pervasiveness only proving its perceived effectiveness. Thus, all high minded ideals of democracy are stowed safely above the high muck mark, minders, spinners, hacks and candidates themselves get out their biggest shovels

and pitch their way to the finish line. In some ways, California provides a fascinating perspective on the upcoming mid-term elections as a whole. As the largest economy in the United States – over 10% of the entire nation’s GDP and the eighth largest economy in the world – this should perhaps not be too surprising. All the problems of the nation and the world can be found in California, among them the fact that its growth rate slowed to 0.4% in 2008 after having grown 3.1% in 2006 and 1.8% in 2007 producing a corresponding unemployment rate of 4.9% in 2006, 5.4% in 2007, rising to 7.2% and 12% in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Thus, the mantra of ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ (and the closely associated rant of taxes, corruption and immigration) has not left the lips of any candidate in California or those of any candidate at any level across the country. Indeed the political pogrom of austerity is met with a cry that is the same from the west coast of America right across the US to London, Paris and Berlin – even Brussels. ‘Where will the jobs come from, who will get them and what about those who can’t find work? What kind of welfare can they expect? Who is entitled to support and for how long?’ It seems

The American

“Insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result” MEG WHITMAN PHOTO: MAX MORSE

the cure for the economic recovery may still gather the momentum to kill the patient. Yet, and as important as these issues are, there is another aspect of the campaign that merits some attention. These are the issues of campaign culture. Specifically, women on the campaign trail. Once upon a time, Hillary Rodham Clinton was the pioneer, the joke butt, the heroine, the fall gal and the guinea pig for every possible approach on ‘how to be a woman in politics’. Her ubiquitous pants suits – very masculine – to her ever-changing hairstyles – very feminine. Her refusal to bake cookies – very anti-feminine – to her acceptance of wearing a veil in Middle Eastern countries – very religiously aware. The pitfalls and pratfalls of the woman on the campaign trail have all been tried and tested – only to be tried and tested all over again in the current California races. One of Jerry Brown’s aides was famously overheard calling Meg Whitman a ‘whore’ on a policy issue in which he contended she has ‘sold herself to the highest bidder’. A candidate for a local District Attorney claims that, if elected to be the first woman to hold the post she will ‘punish the men who harm women and children’, and, in the ultimate girl on girl action at the Senatorial level, Barbara Boxer, a Senator since 1993, faces Carly Fiorina, formerly CEO

of Hewlett-Packard and currently fighting breast cancer in breast cancer awareness month. This is not to make light of the fight for equality or to disparage in any way the years of struggle and sacrifice made by those who have gone before. The object is more to point out today’s complicated double standards that women must deal with and/or master in addition to the existing double standards that have long been a part of political warfare. That women must suffer the humiliation of their appearance being as important as their policies, the shame of inappropriate comments and lewd suggestions from their colleagues and inflexibility towards their responsibilities as primary care-givers is appalling. It is without excuse and must be condemned wherever it is found. However, consider the new taboos in the political realm. Why shouldn’t a candidate be called a ‘whore’ if they are willing to sell themselves – be they male or female? Is a hard Republican line on crime

more palatable or any more innocent in a woman’s mouth and in the name of protecting women from men? And why can’t we ask if a candidate with cancer is best placed to take on the onerous task of representing their state? Politics has never been a profession for the faint of heart. It requires determination and energy as well as keen skills of negotiation and compromise, principles and integrity. There is a second cry of this election and ultimately, it may be even more important than the first. The cry is for politicians to be faithful to their ideals and more committed to serving in the job they seek than the campaign trail. Democracy, it seems, has fallen to a particular kind of infection. Its cure must be chosen with extra care. H Alison Holmes is The American’s political Transatlantic Columnist and the Pierre Keller Fellow of Transatlantic Studies at Yale University.


The American

A Near-perfect Season W

hether you call it the year of the pitcher or the season when the San Francisco Giants broke the thirdlongest championship drought, 2010 was a thoroughly memorable one for Major League Baseball. It’s true that it all started on the mound. Hitters posted one of the lowest league-wide batting averages in decades. Individual pitching gems seemed as common as double plays. The Philadelphia Phillies’ Roy Halladay threw just the second no-hitter in post-season history. During the regular season there were no less than five other no-hitters or perfect games. If you throw in the perfect game that should

Roy Halladay threw the second no-hitter in postseason history in this, “the year of the pitcher”. Inset: Jose Bautista came from out of nowhere to hit more home runs this season than anyone else. IMAGES © GETTY IMAGES


Josh Chetwynd reviews the 2010 MLB year: the surprises, the successes and the sportsmanship have been by Detroit Tigers’ Armando Galarraga (he lost it on umpire Jim Joyce’s bad call in what should have been the final out of the masterpiece), there would have been seven no-hitter/ perfect games in 2010 – matching the record set in 1991. But even with these superlative pitching efforts, there was still room for hitters to put up awe-inspiring performances. Though none ultimately succeeded, Albert Pujols (St. Louis Cardinals), Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado

Rockies) and Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds) were all in the hunt to become the first triple crown winner (leading the league in batting average, home runs and runs batted in) since 1967. The Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista came out of nowhere to assert himself as the baseball’s biggest home run hitter. He banged 54 homers – 12 more than his closest competitor. How surprising was his feat? His previous career-high for home runs was 16. Rookies also made their mark.

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Texas Rangers closer Neftali Feliz set a rookie record for saves with 40. Giants’ catcher Buster Posey became just the fifth rookie backstop to lead his team to a championship – along the way he set a rookie post-season record for hits with 17. And so many other new names broke onto the big league scene with gusto. The Atlanta Braves’ Jason Heyward, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Jaime Garcia and the Detroit Tigers’ Austin Jackson, just to name a few … and, oh yes, there was the debut of Stephen Strasburg. The Washington Nationals’ mega-prospect struck out 14 in his first outing and shined briefly before needing elbow surgery. Even with all the Strasburg hype, the most electric arm we’ve possibly ever seen in the history of baseball was attached to the Reds’ Aroldis Chapman. The Cuban lefthander threw a fastball clocked at 105.1 miles per hour. It was the fastest pitch ever recorded. In the end, it was the unexpected that really defined a season. There were so many teams that defied expectations – starting with the World Series participants, the Giants and the Texas Rangers. While experts thought that the Giants’ pitching staff would make them competitive, nobody believed they’d have enough hitting to back it up. The Giants won it all with a patchwork offense that had a litany of outcasts. For example, outfielders Pat Burrell and Cody Ross had both been released by teams earlier in the year. The team’s top hitter Aubrey Huff only signed with San Francisco after he couldn’t find a lucrative job with any other club in the off-season. Analysts believed that the Rangers had a chance to make the playoffs, but nobody gave the club much of a hope of making their first World Series in the organization’s nearly five decades-old history. Their potent batting lineup and a surprisingly strong pitching staff – bolstered by the mid-

season acquisition of Cliff Lee – proved all the pundits wrong. Although the San Diego Padres narrowly missed out on the playoffs, their 90-win season came as a shock. With the second-lowest payroll in baseball ($37.8 million), they rode a great young pitching rotation and pulled together just enough offence to compete. On the other side of the ledger, the Seattle Mariners became the type of losers nobody could have anticipated. Despite adding Cliff Lee (ultimately sending him to the Rangers) and Chone Figgins to a decent nucleus the Mariners lost an American League worst 101 games. If you wanted the human touch to your unexpected moments, those were there in 2010 as well. Outfielder Daniel Nava was such a baseball outcast that the Boston Red Sox were able to initially purchase his contract from an independent league for $1 in 2008. What did he do when he finally got a Major

the new season

Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce, in a display of good sportsmanship, shake hands at the ESPYs this year after Joyce missed a call that cost the pitcher a perfect game. IMAGE © GETTY IMAGES

League chance this season? He became just the second player in history to hit a grand slam on the first pitch he saw. But the personal story that had the greatest resonance was that of Armando Galarraga and his failed perfect game. Jim Joyce, the umpire who made the incorrect call, knew he got it wrong after the game and sought out Galarraga. In this era of prima donna athletes, the Tigers’ pitcher warmly greeted Joyce and effectively gave him a pass for his mistake. Baseball was lucky to have such a clear moment of sportsmanship and, ultimately, amid the incredible individual and team performances, that bit of human drama is the moment that should truly define the 2010 season. H

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The American

Above: The 49ers rode running back Frank Gore for most of the first half. Below: Joe Nedney’s 34-yard fieldgoal was the only scoring of the first half.

49ers find new life in London Wembley was worth the trip for the San Francisco 49ers, reports Richard L Gale. Photos by Gary Baker


Above: The 49ers pass rush harried and handled Broncos passer Kyle Orton throughout the game. Below: With the Broncos defense worn down by Gore, Troy Smith began to fling it.


triding from the sidelines, Mike Singletary couldn’t stifle a smile – quite possibly his first of the season. Any win, anywhere in the world, would do. Fielding a different kind of Smith – former Heisman-winner Troy rather than perennially underwhelming Alex – the San Francisco 49ers weren’t much concerned with entertaining the crowd during their first 45 minutes at Wembley. Instead, for much of the game, the 49ers gave the crowd and the Broncos a heavy dose of running back Frank Gore. Gore would carry for a career-high 29 times – 22 of those in the first three quarters – grinding out 118 yards. It wasn’t pretty to watch, and with the scoreline 3-0 to the Niners at the half, and 7-3 Broncos after three periods, nobody was going mistake these squads for the vintages of Rice and Elway (both legends on-hand for the coin toss). The teams entered the game with 3 wins combined, and tied in the fourth quarter, there was a sense that a draw might fit the occasion well. In truth, however, Denver’s Kyle Orton had been putting up betterthan-Elway yardage, his 369 yards from this encounter putting him on course for a 5,000-yard season. The 49ers sent their pass rush after Orton, logging 4 sacks (2 by defensive end Justin Smith). It was a resolute game plan from the 49ers, but for spectators, the game looked a lot like what many had feared – two misfiring teams from the

basement of their divisions failing to be inspired by the jetlag. From the 49ers’ perspective, this Gore-bore (there wasn’t a journalist in the press area that wasn’t contemplating that headline over a mid-game hotdog) was all part of the plan. Keep the game close, keep the ball safe, and wear down the Broncos. The Broncos had contributed plenty to that theory themselves by trying to make the six time-zone, mile-in-altitude adjustment to London with just two days to spare. For the most part, the crowd didn’t seem to mind. An annual pilgrimage for NFL fans rather than a gathering of the 49ers devout, a rainbow alliance of replica jerseys broke out ‘the wave’, and waited for something happen. Then, in the fourth quarter, everything happened – the best stretch of action in the league amongst the early games. The Broncos kicked a fieldgoal, Troy Smith lobbed into double coverage for a 38-yard completion to Delanie Walke, setting up his own 1 yard score, and threw an unlikely 28-yard TD to Michael Crabtree before Gore found paydirt for a 24-10 bulge – three 49ers touchdowns in the space of eight minutes. The Broncos made a late response when Orton’s touchdown pass to Brandon Lloyd cut the lead to a single drive, but after a potential tying touchdown was called back with less than a minute to play, 49ers cornerback Shawntae Spencer picked off Orton to secure a 24-16 win.

The American

London Still on NFL’s Radar

My Chemical Romance provided pre-game entertainment

The 49ers cheerleading unit, Goldrush

Few in America noticed the game, but the 49ers may look back on their visit as a turning point. The decision to go with Troy Smith had been made in London, and the 49ers would return to Candlestick to unleash him on division rivals St. Louis two weeks later. Then again, few in America will recall that Buccaneers passer Josh Freeman took over the reigns for the first time during his London visit, and few were aware at the time that the Giants, winners of a soggy Wembley

49ers and Broncos fans: now united in the horror of 2-6 records

slopfest three years ago against Miami would go on to win the Super Bowl that year. Maybe this is what we should expect now: a behind the scenes, ‘redbutton’ game – exclusive content. That’s why 83,000+ NFL fans keep going, even when the teams seem headed nowhere but back home fast: because you never know what to expect from Wembley. What we got, in the end, was a game. What the 49ers got was perhaps new life and a getout-of-jail card for coach Singletary. H

Weather, travel fatigue and time difference: any NFL team based in London would certainly have a home field advantage. Against the dream: logistics, travel costs, the home team’s own travel fatigue, and the willingness of players to relocate abroad. None the less... “I think the idea of a franchise here is realistic” maintained NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell before this year’s game. “We believe playing multiple games will demonstrate that there is a strong foundation for American football. Fans want to see it, there are partners that will support it. … And when you can get to that point, I think you’ve given yourself a great deal of confidence that a franchise here would be successful.” Realistic or not, while the NFL investigates the viability of overseas franchises, the by-product seems to be a continued interest in multiple game in the UK. Hooray to that.


The American

NHL Headshot rule leads to headscratching by Jeremy Lanaway


Shane Doan, given an costly suspension, isn’t the only team captain caught on the bad side of the league’s hard line attitude to hard knocks.  NORM HALL


t’s barely four weeks into the 2010-11 NHL season, and it seems a game doesn’t go by without a suspension of one kind or another. The latest perpetrator is San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton, suspended two games for an open-ice hit on St Louis Blues forward David Perron. Perron was skating up-ice with his head down when Thornton, emerging from the penalty box, caught him with a solid bodycheck that sent him to the deck. The hit cost Thornton US$77,419.36 in forfeited salary. Thornton pleaded his case at the NHL front office, but his appeal was rejected. Even the most steadfast proponents of the NHL’s new Rule 48.1 (‘Illegal Check to the Head’), which was inserted into the rulebook last summer, would find it hard to argue that the call was legit. It’s true that hockey moves at split-second speed, and even the most experienced officials make mistakes, but video review of Thornton’s hit shows that the only guilty party in the play was Perron, who made the mistake of skating through the neutral zone with his head down. His lapse in situational awareness put him on the business end of an unfortunate bone-cruncher – unfortunate, but part of the game. Thornton can’t be faulted for the fact that Perron is half a head shorter, putting his skull in the line of fire. He was just doing what hockey players are supposed to do – or what they were supposed to do before the NHL’s recent focus on headshots muddied the waters of an otherwise pure game. Sharks GM Doug Wilson voiced the anger of Thornton, his teammates, and Sharks fans alike: ‘We strongly disagree

The American

with the two-game suspension handed down by the NHL today to Joe Thornton. What is most distressing is that we feel the suspension is not consistent to the recent reviews by the league following similar collisions resulting in players leaving the penalty box and establishing their place on the ice, including Willie Mitchell on Jonathan Toews. In Joe’s case, it was clearly not a predatory-type hit with an intent to injure, shown by the fact that the player returned to the ice for his next shift, so it is clear that the contact to the head was minimal. We put a lot of time and effort into helping define the NHL’s new rule on headshots, but we feel strongly that this suspension is not a reflection of the rule’s true intent.’

So what is the rule’s true intent? Rule 48.1 defines a punishable hit to the head thus: ‘a lateral or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principle point of contact is not permitted’. The rule was implemented in the off-season in an attempt to curtail the spate of concussion-related injuries in the postlockout era of the NHL, but instead of crystallising the issue for referees, it has only smeared the already-grey area of headshots. The source of the problem lies in one word in the rule’s phrasing – ‘targeted’. It’s easy to identify a blindside hit, but it’s nearly impossible to ascertain intent, and as a result, players are serving suspensions for clean, hard hits that were once immortalised in Don Cherry’s famous line of videos, Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Hockey. Thornton is just the latest in a long list of notable suspensions that have been handed down in recent games. Philadelphia Flyers forward Danny Briere sat out three games for a questionable crosscheck to the head of New York Islanders centreman Frans

Nielsen in a faceoff scuffle, forfeiting US$237,804.87, and Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan was slapped with a three-game, US$73,387.11 suspension for a blindside hit to the head of Anaheim Ducks forward Dan Sexton. The league’s attempts to rid the sport of head injuries by vilifying high hits are bringing more negative publicity to a season that has seen NHL VP of hockey operations Colin Campbell dish out ten major suspensions and six hefty fines in just five weeks of play. To sully the waters further, Flyers enforcer – and repeat offender – Dan Carcillo didn’t even receive a phone call from the NHL for his obviously high (and late) hit on New York Rangers Ruslan Fedotenko, which sent the Russian to the ice in what looked like an injurious position. Luckily, Fedotenko wasn’t injured by Carcillo’s flying elbow — but then again, neither was Perron in the Thornton incident. Carcillo admitted that he was more than a little surprised not to be summoned for a conference call with Campbell. ‘After the hit, I thought I was going to be in a little bit of trouble,’ Carcillo said. ‘There was no call on the play, but by looking at the replay, it’s not so flattering. But if [Fedotenko] wasn’t falling down or whatever, it just would have been a normal hit. I didn’t mean to take a run at him or anything. It was an awkward position and it happened pretty quick. He was kind of falling down. I don’t know if he ducked or what he did, but it was a weird, weird hit.’ Fedotenko, a former Flyer himself, announced after the game that the referee had explained his non-call by telling him that he shouldn’t have ducked on the play. The referee made it clear that if he hadn’t ducked to avoid the hit, he wouldn’t have been hit in the head. Makes sense, right? So why didn’t the referee tell Perron that he should’ve had his head up when

crossing through the neutral zone and skating blindly into Thornton’s sights. How can one referee blame the hitter and another blame the hit-ee on similar hits? It’s the lack of consistency that’s rendering the rule ineffectual. The blindside headshot suspensions come on top of a host of other black-mark infractions that have blighted the season in the early going, including a throat-slashing gesture by Chicago Blackhawks forward Nick Boyton, a malicious slash by Montreal Canadiens forward Mike Cammalleri, an obscene gesture by Islanders defenceman James Wisniewski, the grabbing of a fan by Vancouver Canucks pugilist Rick Rypien, and an attempted headbutt by New Jersey Devils forward Travis Zajac. The NHL’s mandate is to clean up the sport, but their efforts seem to be having the opposite effect. It started with the implementation of the instigator rule, which removed players’ ability to regulate themselves through eye-for-an-eye justice, and has devolved to the inherently flawed Rule 48.1. Nobody wants to see headshots, but hockey is a fast, hard-hitting game, and due to the disparity in player size, shoulder-to-head contact through clean checks is unavoidable. Forcing referees to determine intent is unfair, not only to the players whose intentions are being judged, but also to the referees who have less than a second to make an impossible decision, and finally to the fans, who are left scratching their head about what is and what isn’t a part of hockey. H Jeremy isn’t alone in questioning headshot rules in contact sports. Visit to read Richard L Gale’s comments on the NFL’s headshot crackdown


Millionth Range Rover Aids Fallen Heroes Land Rover’s iconic Range Rover reached a milestone in November, when the one millionth vehicle, an ‘ultimate black’ Range Rover Autobiography rolled off the Solihull production line in the factory where three generations of the car have been built since June 1970. The one millionth Range Rover was driven to London where it was handed over to TV Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, who took delivery on behalf of the armed forces charity Help for Heroes, of which he is a patron. The vehicle will be auctioned this month to raise funds to help wounded service people and their families.

Think Bike in Bus Lanes! We’ve received an email from Ben Plowden, Director Better Routes and Places, Transport for London, who makes a very good point: “I am writing to remind you to take extra care to look out for motorcycles when turning across bus lanes. This is because motorcycles can use most bus lanes on London’s ‘Red Routes’ for a new trial period ending 23 January 2012.” For expats, driving in London can be fraught at the best of times (driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, roundabouts, no turning on red, white van men…) so please do take heed and watch out for bikers filtering up the left side of your car. For more information visit motorcyclesinbuslanes


Don’t Let A Breakdown Take You Down


o you think the British winter is a bit... lightweight? Well last year a lot of people, even (especially?) the British had a surprise when they were snowed in on otherwise easy motorways. David Williams from road safety and breakdown cover organisation GEM Motoring Assist has some ideas on how to survive the freeze. (You can get this and more advice at “Last year, thousands of drivers were unprepared for the season’s first snowfall in December. With the threat happening so early, even more are likely to be caught out! Poor weather, decreased visibility and bad road conditions during winter not only increase the risk of accidents but also contribute to a rise in breakdown situations, which in turn are more hazardous in dark and wintry conditions. “Always fully service your car before the winter draws in and don’t forget to keep your boot filled with emergency supplies. Essentials for winter journeys include warm clothing, a blanket, a small shovel, a torch, a warning triangle, a reflective or fluorescent jacket or tabard, a bottle of water and some cash. Remember to check the weather at your destination, give yourself plenty

of time to get there, clear your car of all ice, snow and debris before setting off and don’t take the journey if it is not necessary and may be dangerous. And of course make sure you have your breakdown membership details handy in case of any trouble.” 1. Consider you own safety first – if possible get your vehicle off the road and ensure all passengers are safe and be careful of ice 2. Do not stand between your vehicle and oncoming traffic and wear a fluorescent tabard or jacket as visibility may be reduced 3. If you are on a motorway, get out of the car and wait for help to arrive – this is why you will need your blankets and gloves! On smaller roads remain in the vehicle 4. Warn other road users – switch on your hazard warning lights if you are causing an obstruction and put a warning triangle behind you, but never use a triangle on a motorway 5. Call for help using your mobile phone and give clear details of your location, number of passengers and cause of breakdown H

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The American December 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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