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May 2011

THE ESSENTIAL MONTHLY FOR ALL AMERICANS 

Est. 1976

®

£2.80 www.theamerican.co.uk

EATING OUT • SPORT WHAT’S ON • POLITICS MUSIC • REVIEWS ARTS CHOICE

MAY DAY!

Maypoles & Morris Men - What’s It All About? Win Billy F Gibbons’ book & Charlton Heston’s DVD set Important advice if you rent out property abroad


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The American ®

Issue 697 – May 2011 PUBLISHED BY SP MEDIA FOR

Blue Edge Publishing Ltd.

Old Byre House, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK Publisher: Michael Burland +44 (0)1747 830328 editor@theamerican.co.uk Please contact us with your news or article ideas Advertising & Promotions: Sabrina Sully, Commercial Director +44 (0)1747 830520 advertising@theamerican.co.uk Subscriptions enquiries: Phone +44 (0)1747 830328, email theamerican@blueedge.co.uk Correspondents: Mary Bailey, Social mary@theamerican.co.uk Richard Gale, Sports Editor richard@theamerican.co.uk Alison Holmes, Politics alison@theamerican.co.uk Riki Evans Johnson, European riki@theamerican.co.uk Jeremy Lanaway, Hockey jeremy@theamerican.co.uk Estelle Lovatt, Arts estelle@theamerican.co.uk Dom Mills, Motorsports dom@theamerican.co.uk Jarlath O’Connell, Theater jarlath@theamerican.co.uk Virginia E. Schultz, Food & Drink virginia@theamerican.co.uk

©2011 Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Printed by Advent Colour Ltd., 19 East Portway Industrial Estate, Andover, SP10 3LU www.advent-colour.co.uk ISSN 2045-5968 Main cover image: Morris Men at the Worcester May Day festival.

Welcome M

ay’s a wonderful time to explore Britain. There are weird and ancient customs that exist in nooks and crannies all over these islands, some dating back centuries of even millennia. Even some of the locals don’t know about them. Our feature on Folk Festivals will help you find (and maybe join in) some of them. While you’re doing that, do you know which county you’re in? Some of the natives don’t know that either, but don’t blame them, it’s not as easy as it sounds, as you’ll discover in our County Confusion item. Finally, if you’re a U.S. taxpayer who’s renting out a property in another country you must read our article on how not to fall foul of the IRS. Enjoy your magazine,

Michael Burland, Editor editor@theamerican.co.uk

SOME OF THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS

Professor Iwan Morgan is Director of the United States Presidency Centre in the The Institute for the Study of the Americas. She has the skinny on how British experts rate United States presidents in the first ever survey.

Jarlath O’Connell is an Olivier Award judge and The American’s theater reviewer. His pithy and witty theater reviews tell you what’s hot – and what’s not. And this month what’s not may just surprise you.

Chele Willow, an American photographer (and singer in folk and blues band BorderLine Crossing), moved to the UK after living in Lake Tahoe, Hawaii and Las Vegas. Chele took our cover image.

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

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The American

In This Issue... The American • Issue 697 • May 2011

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News Jamie Oliver needs your help in helping American kids eat more healthily. Talking of healthy, if you’re feeling fit you can have a go on the London Olympics white water course

10 Diary Dates A custom Harley show, a bluegrass festival and a Steve Reich premiere – this is Britain! 13 Folk Festival Fun Our cover story finds some strange English customs you can visit 15 Own and Rent Property Abroad If you rent out a property outside the United States, the IRS wants to know. Here’s what to do

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16 Fashion Foundations At the bottom of the most fashionable outfit – and the top – you need good underwear. We have some sound advice from the most highly regarded lingerie emporium in Britain 18 Greening Your Home Eco-hunk James Strawbridge has some good advice on how to make your home more green

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JOHAN PERSSON

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The American

20 County Confusion Bring back the ancient counties of Britain! 22 Art Choice A Dalí takes pride of place in Edinburgh, while Bruce Davidson is honored in London 26 Wining and Dining Great seafood restaurants, plus what makes Scotch whisky special 30 Coffee Break Just what did go on this month in history?

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32 Music Ringo’s back! Tour dates for his All Starr Band plus live and album reviews 36 Reviews It’s a golden age for quality drama on the British stage, but not everything is glistening. We take a critical look at Girl Talk, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Children’s Hour, Flare Path, Cause Célèbre and In a Forest Dark and Deep. 46 Politics We know what has been going wrong around the world, but what do we do about it? Plus the first ever UK survey of U.S. Presidents 50 Drive Time With petrol at £6.80 a gallon, here’s how to drive more cost-effectively

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52 Sports Baseball thriving in the heart of Hertfordshire; TNA Wrestling star Sting talks to Josh Modaberi; and the NFL gets ready for action (well, the draft anyway) 58 American Organizations Useful and fun societies for you to join 3


The American

PHOTO: DAVID LOFTUS

War Artist Mark Neville in Helmand

The British (chefs) are coming!

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ritish chef and good food activist Jamie Oliver is finding it hard trying to fight obesity among American kids. During his appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, Letterman said it was impossible to get Americans to lose weight because, “we are living in a culture dominated by the commerce of selling food which is inherently unhealthy”. The first series of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution focused on Huntingdon, WV. The second series, looking at LA, is airing now on ABC. Oliver says “We’re losing the war against obesity. Our kids are growing up overweight and malnourished from a diet of processed foods”. We have lost cooking skills, so the only options for many are fast food and processed meals. The answer, he says, is “cooking – in homes, schools, factories, offices and restaurants.” The chef’s Jamie Oliver Food Foundation is building a network of community kitchens in U.S. cities, teaching children and adults how to prepare affordable family meals with fresh ingredients and giving them better food choices. Oliver believes “no American child should grow up without the basic skills to feed themselves a healthy diet”. The foundation needs the support and donations of the American community, at home and abroad, to fight obesity and diabetes. Visit www. jamiesfoodrevolution.com

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IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM

War Artist Returns from Front Line British artist Mark Neville has returned from two visits to the badlands of Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Neville, who works in photography and film, was commissioned to record the theater of war in a unique collaboration between the British Army’s 16 Air Assault Brigade, the Imperial War Museum and Colchester, Essex, art organisation firstsite. Glasgow-based Neville’s brief was to throw fresh light on the conflict, working with soldiers engaged in the front line and experiencing directly the landscape of Afghanistan. The result was thousands of photographs and thousands of feet of 16mm movie films, often focusing on the

huge progress that is being made in re-building the Afghan infrastructure and the legacy which the British troops will leave behind. Neville will now use these still and moving images to create a new artwork which explores the nature of contemporary conflict. Colonel Hugo Fletcher, Deputy Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, commented, “For our soldiers, we hope that seeing the work will prove a cathartic experience, providing a record of how they have lived and what they have achieved. For the wider public and future generations it will give an insight into the arduous and challenging operations that British soldiers have conducted.”

KCWC Spring into Style Kensington and Chelsea Women’s Club’s annual Charity Fashion Fayre is on May 4 at Chelsea Old Town Hall – a changed date. KCWC members can enjoy exclusive shopping in the designer market, followed by a catwalk show. From 12 noon to 5pm the Market opens to the public (entrance £3, or 2 for £5), with fashion workshops from 1 to 5pm: learn about hat making and design a fascinator, learn some basic knitting stitches, bring your kids for a sewing lesson, pom-pom making or fashion-workshop, or get advice on the correct make-up for your complexion from Bobbi Brown’s experts. 10% of sales go to the KCWC’s charities, The Haven and United Beneficent Trust.


Prince Charles met survivors of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 The Prince of Wales – later King Edward VII – and his new Princess, photographed by J.J.E Mayell

Prince of Wales to Visit America

THE ROYAL COLLECTION (C) 2011, HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II

t’s a busy time in transatlantic airspace for statesmen over the next weeks. Maybe they need the airmiles. The British government has asked The Prince of Wales to pay a short official visit to the United States from May 3rd to 5th – perhaps acting as a would-be decoy for Kate’n’Wills’ honeymoon after their big day. During the visit Prince Charles will pay a visit to President Obama at the White House. Maybe he’ll take them a slice or two of wedding cake, as the President and First Lady are notably absent from the nuptual invitation list. The Prince’s Washington DC

First Official Royal App If you want a souvenir of the royal wedding, you could do worse than getting something from the groom’s family business. The Royal Collection has announced the launch of the first ever official ‘Royal App’. It’s all about royal weddings of the past, and tells the story of seven of this year’s predecessors, from that of Victoria and Albert in 1840, to the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2005, with images of wedding dresses, jewellery, gifts, wedding cakes and flowers. The app shows how royal weddings have evolved over two centuries from private occasions to international celebrations and media circuses. With the advent of photography, film, television and new technology, anyone can now witness these events. The app follows the launch of the Monarchy’s presence on Facebook and Flickr last year, the Royal Twitter account in 2009 and the Royal Channel on YouTube in 2007. The app, available in eight languages, is available for Apple and Android and is priced at £1.79. It’s the first in a series of Royal Collection Apps to be launched this year.

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© MARVIN NAUMAN

program will also include giving the keynote speech at a conference on sustainable agriculture at Georgetown University and attending an event to support British and American Armed Forces deployed overseas. The Prince of Wales last visited the States in January 2007 when, unlike this trip, he was accompanied by The Duchess of Cornwall. Before that they visited the U.S. in 2005, the first time British royalty had visited the States for 30 years, on which trip Prince Charles met survivors of Hurricane Katrina. The trip comes just three weeks before the President’s State Visit to the UK on May 24th to 26th.

Hot Jobs Map

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oing back home? eBay Classifieds has created a ‘hot jobs map’ of America that shows which States are the best in which to find employment. 190,000 new jobs were reportedly created in February. eBay Classifieds used this information along with data on personal income per capita, unemployment rates, and crime rates in each State to create a map that shows which States have the most buoyant economies in this difficult economic climate: New Hampshire has the lowest crime rates in the country, the 4th lowest unemployment rates, and the 9th

highest personal income per capita, making it the most economically buoyant state in the country. New York City’s median salary, $64,535, is lower than 10 other states’ highest median salaries. Although parts of Maryland are very wealthy, the state has the 7th highest crime rates in the country. Sunnyvale, CA, has the highest median salary of all the U.S.’s highest paying cities, but California’s high unemployment rates means it’s not as economically buoyant as other States. See the map at http://blog.ebayclassifieds.com/2011/03/17/state-of-jobs/


The American

Bath Year of the Museum

Look out for the distinctive rash that can lead to Lyme Disease

A tick, after gorging on someone’s blood – don’t let it be yours

Tick Tock – Be Tick Aware

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t the first sign of warm sun it’s off with the fleeces, scarves and trousers, on with T-shirts, shorts and sandals. But do take care. The number of Lyme disease cases in the UK is on the rise. And the culprit is a tiny insect – the tick. These little bugs are bloodsucking parasites. In their nymph stage (bigger than larvae, smaller than adult) they are the size of a full stop on this page. When feeding and swollen with blood, adults can reach the size of a pea - with their eight legs, adult ticks look like small spiders. They peak in population from April to October, and are found throughout the UK, North America and across Europe. The disease they carry, Lyme disease, causes a range of unpleasant symptoms which may include a circular ‘bulls-eye’ red rash, headaches, a stiff neck, extreme fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and disturbances of sight, hearing, digestive system and sleep. If left untreated it can progress to the joints, the heart and the nervous system.

Avoid being bitten

To reduce the risk of being bitten by an infected tick, UK-registered charity Lyme Disease Action advises parents and their children to take the following precautions:

l Wear

long sleeves and trousers light-coloured clothing so ticks are easier to spot l U  se an insect repellent effective against ticks (look for those containing the chemical DEET) l K  eep to pathways and try to avoid areas of overgrown vegetation l C  heck for ticks regularly l R  emove any ticks found attached as soon as possible l P  ack a tick remover (available from Lyme Disease Action from just £4.99) if out walking l W  ear

Tick removal

Ticks should be removed immediately with a tick removal tool or fine pointed tweezers. Gently pull the tick’s body away from your skin directly outwards, without jerking. Do not try to pull the tick out with your fingers, burn the tick or cover it with creams or chemicals.

The beautiful city of Bath packs a big historical punch into a small geographical footprint, with seventeen museums within a square mile. 2011 is the city’s Year of the Museum, with celebrations including an astronomical star party, a Jane Austen style Regency Costumed Ball, a Harley Davidson Rally, a World Heritage Day, a virtual Museum, Bath in 100 Objects and Museums at Night. Bath is home to the Herschel Museum of Astronomy; Bath Postal Museum which boasts the first recorded posting of a Penny Black and tells the story of Ralph Allen who reformed the postal service then became rich supplying the stone that built Bath; the American Museum in Britain where William Churchill gave his first speech; the Museum of East Asian Art, with the UK’s largest collection of jade; the Holburne Museum; No 1 Royal Crescent; the Roman Baths, one of the best preserved Roman sites with Britain’s only hot springs and the Fashion Museum which topically showcases some of the finest wedding dresses. Launching Bath’s Year of the Museum (from left) Caroline Kay (CEO Bath Preservation Trust), Don Foster MP, Ed Vaizey (Minister for Culture, Communications & Creative Industries), Michael Lee (Curator, MEAA), Pat Dunlop (Commercial Manager, Heritage Services) and Robin Bischert (Chief Executive, Bath Tourism Plus)

Treatment

If you have been bitten by a tick and notice any of the above symptoms, seek medical help straight away. Diagnosed and treated early, Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics. NB tick bites do not itch like mosquito bites, so awareness is important to aid diagnosis.

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The Olympic White Water Canoe Centre. Go on, have a go!

White Water Raft on the Olympic Course

London Olympics Latest

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f you are planning to register to buy Olympic Games tickets for London 2012 from the organizers… too bad. Registrations for the ticket ballot had to be in by April 26th. However, it will still be possible to purchase ticket packages from third party companies. In that case, London’s Metropolitan Police have some words of warning. The Met’s Operation Podium team are working with London 2012 to help ensure that you don’t get scammed when you try to buy an Olympic ticket. l The high demand for tickets gives criminals the opportunity to con you or steal your personal details. It is easy for them to set up fake websites. You need to know who you are buying from and check if the site or seller is legitimate. The official site, www.london2012.com, has genuine information about the Games, including where and how to buy your ticket. l The only secure way to buy a ticket is from www.tickets.london2012.com, your country’s National Olympic Committee or its appointed agent. l If you manage to get a ticket for an event you can’t attend, you can return it to get a refund through the London 2012 official ticket exchange via

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www.tickets.london2012.com or your country’s authorised supplier. Your ticket will then be officially resold. l Don’t buy a ticket from an unauthorised website or tout. You risk being scammed, and not getting the ticket you wanted and paid for. You may pay for tickets that don’t exist, your credit card details may be stolen and used in other crimes and you won’t be able to get into the Games. l There are only three official providers for Games Breaks and Hospitality Packages in the UK - these are: Thomas Cook (www.thomascooklondon2012. com), Prestige Travel (www.prestigeticketing.london2012.com) and Jet Set Travel (www.jetsetsports.com) l Other websites or companies will not be authorised to sell you a ticket as part of a package. Always check the terms and conditions to see exactly what you are being sold; l If you think you have been a victim of crime whilst trying to buy a ticket to the Games or if you find tickets for sale from any unauthorised source at anytime, report it to www.actionfraud.

The Lee Valley White Water Centre that will host the London 2012 Olympic canoe slalom competition opened to the public on 22 April. It is the only brand new London 2012 venue that non-Olympic competitors will be able to use before the Games. The centre will have two separate courses: a 160m Legacy Loop and an Olympic Standard Competition Course which boasts 300m of obstacles, drops and waves, and enough fast-flowing white water to fill a 25-metre swimming pool in less than half a minute. Shaun Dawson, Chief Executive of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, says: ‘The centre is the best of its type anywhere in the world and we’ll be giving people great days out at this brand new, custom-built venue. Almost anyone can have a go at rafting and we’ve already received massive interest from canoeists who want to test their skills on this demanding course.’ The centre is at Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, on the north-east edge of London, five minutes from the M25, and 40 minutes by train from central London. Rafting tickets are priced from £49. It’s open to the public from Wednesdays to Sundays, April 22 to September 30. www.gowhitewater.co.uk

org.uk, London 2012 via brandprotection@london2012.com or your local police force. l For further advice visit http://www. met.police.uk/olympic_and_paralympic_games_policing H


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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 editor@theamerican.co.uk Donington Historic Festival Donington Park, Castle Donington, Derby DE74 2RP www.doningtonhistoric.com 0844 873 7355 APRIL 30 TO MAY 1

Featuring more than 300 iconic historic racing cars this action-packed twoday event has pledged ticket prices that will be well below the usual cost of top–quality historic motorsport weekends. Advance tickets start at just £18 for adults (on the gate), with free entry for accompanied under-16-yearolds. There’s an enormous variety of racing action covering the 1930s to the 1980s including Le Mans sportscars, Porsche 917s and Ferrari GTOs, pre-War Bentleys, Bugattis and Alfa Romeos and far more, with free paddock access

allowing everyone to get up close to these outstanding racing machines. Plus off–track displays and action, Group B rally cars, historic karts, autojumble, memorabilia and club displays.

Truckfest Peterborough East of England Showground, Peterborough MAY 1-2

The UK’s main event (with its regional spinoffs) for lovers of big trucks – lots of activities, live music and personalities.

Simply Ford Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, SO42 7ZN www.beaulieu.co.uk MAY 1

All Ford owners are invited to come to Beaulieu in their vehicle and become

Customising, Culture & Harley-Davidson MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry), Liverpool Road, Castlefield, Manchester M3 4FP www.mosi.org.uk 0161 832 2244 UNTIL SEPTEMBER 11

A magnificent display of historic Harley-Davidson motorcycles, including one from every decade of the last century, as well as spectacular world-class creations from leading international customisers. Over 30 motorcycles on display. Brought to you by Claridon, the logisitcs company, run by a Harley-Davidson fan, which has a specialist Motorcycle Shipping division.

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part of the event. Any model is welcome, from the new Focus RS to the old MK 1 or 2 Escort RS or even a Model T! (we guess American vehicles will be welcome.) FoMoCo will be displaying the Ford Heritage Collection Roadshow celebrating 100 years of Ford in Britain with a number of Ford vehicles including a Model T from the early 1900s,the 150mph Supervan 3 powered by a 650bhp Ford-Cosworth engine, right up to the present day. Admission to the event includes entry to the whole Beaulieu attraction; the National Motor Museum and its latest exhibition, Feats of Endurance, World of Top Gear, Palace House and gardens and Beaulieu Abbey.

Spring Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair The Marquee, Battersea Park, London SW11 4NJ www.decorativefair.com MAY 3-8

New dates in May for the Spring event, the second of the year. The foyer will feature a Zen Garden designed by Robert Barley, incorporating works of art and unusual outdoor ornaments. 140 dealers take part, offering a wonderful choice of unusual antiques and C20th design & art for interior and exterior decoration. Architectural and garden items are always available at the Fair.

The Allergy & Gluten Free Show Olympia 2, Hammersmith Road, London W14 8UX www.allergyshow.co.uk 01442 289 920 MAY 6-8

The latest services, products and treatment developments for those living with food allergies and intolerances, coeliac disease, hay fever, chemical sensitivities, asthma, migraines and skin conditions like eczema.


The American

National Doughnut Week Returns! Nationwide www.thechildrenstrust.org.uk/doughnuts doughnuts@thechildrenstrust.org.uk MAY 7-14

National Doughnut Week returns to help raise money for The Children’s Trust. It’s time for bakers to sign-up to take part, and for the public to do their bit too. Advice on fundraising for bakers and the general public is available via the website or email.

Museums at Night www.museumsatnight.org.uk MAY 13-15

An annual after-hours celebration of arts, history and heritage. Tying in with the European event La Nuit des Musées, hundreds of museums and galleries across the country will be opening their doors at night for gallery gigs, twilight screenings, midnight murder mysteries, all-night sleepovers, torch-lit tours or simply to offer the chance to experience some of the UK’s beautiful, iconic, weird and wonderful cultural venues, historic houses and museums in a new light.

FA Cup Final Wembley Stadium, London www.thefa.com MAY 14-15

The ‘Superbowl of Soccer’. If you can’t get stadium tickets, get down to any pub with a big screen and get stick into the football madness, local style.

18th Spring Autojumble Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, SO42 7ZN beaulieu.co.uk/beaulieu-events/ spring-autojumble MAY 14-15

Over 1,000 stands selling everything motor related, including parts,

accessories, automobilia, literature, tools and clothing, covering all motoring eras, and classic cars for sale at the stately home of the British Motor Museum.

Dad’s Day Out Dunsfold Park, Surrey www.thechildrenstrust.org.uk/dadsdayout MAY 14

An action–packed family event in aid of The Children’s Trust. Exhilarating rides in Ferraris and Lamborghinis at the home of BBC’s Top Gear, hundreds of classic and sports cars, aircraft, a special Roary Zone for young fans of Roary the Racing Car, a fairground, live bands a DJ, and rides in a helicopter, a Routemaster bus and a fire engine.

1st Bath Bluegrass-Americana Festival various venues, Bath 0844 847 5256 MAY 19-22

So far includes Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike, Thunderbridge Bluegrass Boys, Brian Golbey, Ian Calford and The Railmen. Will also include workshops for clawhammer and three-finger style banjo, mandolin, autoharp, fiddle, guitar, high lonesome close-harmony singing and Appalachian clogging.

Spring Air Show Imperial War Museum Buford, Cambridgeshire CB22 4QR www.iwm.org.uk/duxford 01223 835 000 MAY 22

Celebrating the ac*hievements of women in aviation, from technological development to daring aerial aptitude, Buford’s Spring Air Show presents aerial displays by a formidable line-up of female aviators. Airplanes include a

Reverberations: The influence of Steve Reich Barbican Centre, London www.barbican.org.uk MAY 7 -8

The extraordinary musical influence of Steve Reich and his compositions are the focus of this marathon weekend at the Barbican. Following the hugely successful weekend for his 70th birthday in October 2006, the Barbican welcomes back the great pioneer of musical minimalism as special guest on a weekend that explores his influence on generations of musicians as well as his own work. Highlights include performances of all the new music that Steve Reich has written since 2006, including the European premiere of his new string quartet WTC 9/11, written for and performed by the Kronos Quartet, co–commissioned by the Barbican. The other three Reich premieres are the UK premiere of his Mallet Quartet, written for the Amadinda Quartet (with whom Reich has been working for nearly two decades), the Pulitzer Prize winning Double Sextet, commissioned by eighth blackbird, and 2x5, written for two rock quintets and performed by members of Bang on a Can and eighth blackbird. For the first time in the UK both of these final two pieces are performed entirely live, without tape. Also a myriad of composers and bands that have been influenced by Reich.

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The American

Supermarine Seafire, Yak 11, CAP 232, the Grace Spitfire, Stampede, a hang glider display, an intrepid Captain Neville’s Flying Circus exhibition display and the breathtaking Beetling Wing Walkers. 10% Discount and free Child ticket when buying tickets in advance.

American Museum

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2011

American Museum in Britain Claverton Manor, Bath BA2 7BD www.americanmuseum.org  info@ americanmuseum.org  01225 460503

Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London, SW3 www.rhs.org.uk/Shows-Events/ RHS-Chelsea-Flower-Show/2011 0844 338 7505 (+44 121 767 4063 for overseas visitors)

MAY 1-31

The only museum of Americana outside the US, in a breathtaking setting. There are permanent exhibitions including Marilyn: Hollywood Icon (an exhibition of the star’s dresses) and a new Folk Art gallery, Quilting Bees every Tuesday, and special events in MAY: 15th Hungry Town, all the way from Vermont, this multi–instrumental duo brings both substance and style to their folk and roots repertoire; 21st Brian Golbey, early American country music in fiddle, song, and yodelling! in conjunction with the Bath Americana Festival; 27th to June 5th A trio of exhibitions by Bath Spa University students from the history, textile design and sculpture departments – a sculpture exhibition set within the museum’s gardens and arboretum, a collection of mixed media textile work inspired by the museum’s collections and the natural splendour of North America, and a unique take on views of Britain and America at a time of social and cultural change – organised by final–year history students. On 19th, Dr Richard Wendorf, Director of the Museum will give a lecture, Face to Face: Looking at Contemporary Portraits, at the Mall Galleries, The Mall, London.

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MAY 24-28

Chelsea is famous for cutting edge garden design, and with more than 30 gardens on show, there will be plenty to inspire. A new RHS Experience will use interactive displays to show visitors how their garden, however large or small, can transform the urban area, from wildlife gardening to green roofs.

Plenty of opportunity to buy plants and gadgets.

Wedding Celebration Champagne Tea Garden Tour Highgrove House, Doughton, Tetbury, Gloucestershire GL8 8TN www.highgrovegardens.com/events.html MAY 26

A special celebration Champagne tea at Princ Charles’ home to commemorate the Royal Wedding of HRH Prince William and Catherine Middleton. Enjoy a tour of the Gardens followed by a special Champagne Afternoon Tea. Includes the opportunity to purchase Royal Wedding commemorative gifts, a Highgrove Guide Book, Royal Engagement Postcard and Visitor’s Information Leaflet together with your tickets within a presentation box. Maximum of 16 guests per tour which last approximately two hours. H

Monster Jam Pride Park Stadium, Derby www.visitderby.co.uk/festivals-events/ monster-jam 0871 472 1884 MAY 28-29

The American motor sensation comes to Derby in May 2011. Putting the demolition into Derby, Monster Jam, the original, biggest and baddest monster truck show in the world, is set to make its debut at Pride Park stadium.    Monster Jam is one of the biggest and most popular entertainment events in the US running around 250 shows and selling 2.3 million tickets annually. It’s a stunning family show with the coolest monster trucks and Freestyle Motocross, some of the world’s best drivers, sickest tricks and craziest stunts. Come and see the iconic Grave Digger, Maximum Destruction and Madusa,

plus crowd favorites Monster Mutt and El Toro.    Monster Jam is a one-of-a-kind experience. It is here for these shows only – don’t miss out! Pre-Event Monster Jam Pit Party (meet the drivers of the trucks and see the trucks up close) 11.30am to 1pm. Monster Jam starts at 3pm. Tickets £15.50, £20.50 and £24.50. Early bird deal: free pit party pass to buyers (limited to the first 2,000 buyers per show). Pit Party ticket £5 (can only be purchased with a show ticket).


The American

The ladies of the village dance round the Maypole in Offenham, Worcestershire GRENVILLE BURROWS

Folk Festival Fun

Mary Bailey looks at some ancient customs in the merry month of May - and one in July!

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hat we now call the month of May has been a time for celebrations for millennia, since the days of the Roman goddess of flowers and the season of spring Flora, and before. In Old English May was known as ‘the Month of Three Milkings’, as cows would be milked three times a day. Winter was over and the seed had been sown in the ground, leaving people a few days free when they could uproot young tree trunks from the woods, stick them in the ground near habitation and dance themselves silly round them. And why not? How dark the winter must have been, with only fire and primitive flares to provide light. Everything happened

in the daylight hours, short because Britain is over 50 degrees north. In pre-Christian days the date for the spring equinox festival would have been worked out by the priest/astrologers, perhaps very accurately when you think of the extraordinary ‘astronomical calendar’ Stonehenge. 2,000 years ago, in Flora’s day and that of the goddess of growth Mayi, it was of course purely Pagan. As time passed it encompassed Christianity, and became more elaborate still in the Middle Ages when people went into the woods on the first day of May to gather flowers in honour of the goddesses. Even today it is easy to find people dancing round the maypole in

villages and schools around Britain. Morris dancing is the structured version of the May dance. A peculiarly English form of dance, it is believed to have derived from the Moors, the Arabs who conquered Spain and ruled it from the eighth to the fifteenth centuries. The phrase ‘Moorish’ dancing became ‘Morris’ dancing, which is why some of the dancers still paint their faces black. And nowadays, well actually nothing very much has changed. Properly done, Morris and country dancing is quite difficult, but it does not have to be so. You will see that a Maypole has ribbons attached to the top and people – often small children - grab an end and jig around.

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Whitelands College, Roehampton’s May Queens Coral (left) from 2010 and Natasha from 2009.

In Cornwall particularly, and the Cotswolds, residents of the village can be invited by the floral committee to dance. It is very energetic and lasts all day as they troupe through the village, their route interspersed by (usually) alcoholic drinks which are accepted, we are told, to stave off exhaustion. Prominent members of local society join in and costumes of white or purple, with tight knickers and ankle bells may be worn. I remember years ago a temporary American resident spotting a dancer careering around the hobby horse, politely commenting to me ‘ I am sure that is your bank manager, has he gone mad? There are Mayday celebrations at colleges and universities too, as an example, Whitelands College at Roehampton. There they have the investiture of their May Monarch in early May. Nowadays the Monarch can be male or female. They are elected by fellow students in December, but the celebrations are in May when the weather gets better, the days longer and the exams closer. In the words of the eminent Victorian

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artist and critic John Ruskin, who gave time and enthusiasm and was a benefactor to this college, the May Monarch must be the ‘nicest and likeablist person’. At the investiture speeches are made by various dignitaries and the Dean of College asks the Bishop to request the new Monarch to accept the position. Past Monarchs often attend and file in in procession. Some wear their original dresses (which can be a challenge). On the lawn there is tea, a maypole and – of course – Morris Dancing. The ceremony has a lovely atmosphere, I have attended one, full of youth and hope. The position of May Monarch is an honour, the Monarch represents the College, has his/her own charities to help fund and represents Whitelands for the coming year. It gives them lots to do. My own great aunt was May Queen at Whitelands in 1922 and the archivist showed me a photo of her, looking lovely, which indicates the changes that have taken place in garb and presence in less than a century. That generation had problems, the appalling slaughter of men in the First World War for one, but today’s students have no easy task and we salute them. Historic folk celebrations don’t just happen in May. Folklore abounds. At various times of the year pagans, in the form of Druids, gather at Stonehenge, whose history is lost in time. The return of the light is celebrated in the Shetlands, and around Britain there are hundreds of fertility rites, some not fit for these pages. Join the Hobby Horses at Banbury in July

Especially delightful is the Hobby Horse Festival in Banbury, Oxfordshire, which takes place in July (this year on July 3rd). It was revived in 2000, on the 400th anniversary of the destruction of the famous Cross – there is a famous English nursery rhyme “Ride a cock horse, to Banbury Cross, to see a fine lady, upon a white horse”. Locals dress as white horses, visitors as any horse they like. In fact all ‘beasts’ are invited, and visitors come dressed as dragons, fish. When I visited the Hobby Horse Festival there was even an American visitor dressed as a beautiful bee! There are games, a procession of the beasts through the town, plenty of food stalls, the Mayor is present, bands and – you guessed it – Morris Dancing. You may catch, as I did, the four horses of the Apocalypse buying toothpaste in Boots pharmacy… perhaps it’s best not to try to understand it all. H


The American

Own and Rent Property Abroad?

U.S. IRS Tax Rules You Must Follow

By Don D. Nelson, Attorney, CPA

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hen you are renting out your real property in a foreign country, as a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident, you must not only comply with all tax requirements of that foreign country, but you must also report all rental information on your U.S. income tax return. The rules are almost the same as those for rental property located in the U.S., but with some variations. If you own a foreign rental in your individual name, you report all of your rental income and expenses on Schedule E of your Form 1040. All of the allowable expenses are the same as for U.S. property. Expenses you can deduct include management fees, interest, property taxes, utilities, repairs, maintenance, association dues, insurance, depreciation, and other miscellaneous expenses. Unlike property located in the U.S., you must depreciate the property (amount allocatable to the structure) over a 40 year period rather than shorter times sometimes allowed for U.S. property. You can take a credit against your U.S. federal income tax for income taxes paid to the foreign country on your net rental income after deducting all expenses. That credit is limited

to the amount of U.S. Federal tax you paid on that rental income on your tax return. Any unused foreign tax credit can be carried over to future year. Most U.S. states do not allow any credit for income taxes paid foreign countries. Any Value Added Tax (VAT) or occupancy tax collected from the renter should be included in your rental income, but then you can deduct out those taxes so you do not have to pay any tax on those items. The same restrictions and limited allowable deductions for “vacation homes� apply when you have occupied the property yourself part of the time and rented it out to third parties at other times. When the property is sold (if it is held in your individual name ) your net gain is taxed in the US at the applicable lower capital gains rates, and you can claim a credit against your US tax on the sale for the foreign capital gains or income taxes paid on that profit to Mexico. If the property was used for the two years during the previous five years prior to sale as your personal primary residence (you must actually live in it full time during that period), you may

be able to exclude up to $500,000 of the gain from your U.S. income taxes under the exclusion allowed for sales of personal residences. If the property was rented out part of that time, some of the gain on sale will be subject to US income tax. If your foreign real property is held through a foreign corporation, there can be adverse U.S. tax consequences while renting out the property and upon sale on your US tax return. With the proper type of foreign corporation, certain elections can be made with the IRS which will negate almost of these U.S. tax problems. These elections are only made for U.S. tax purposes and do not in any way affect the way your foreign corporation is taxed under the tax laws of its country of location.

Other U.S. Tax Forms that may be required: Form 8865: If you own your foreign rental in a foreign partnership (if you own 10% or more) or LLC you must filed this form each year with your personal tax return to report the details of its income, expenses, etc.

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The American

Forms 3520/3520A: If you own your foreign rental property or personal residence in a foreign trust, you must file both of these forms each year. They are not filed with your personal tax return. One form is due 3/15 after the end of the calendar year and the other is due on the extended due date of your personal tax return. Failure to file these forms can result in extreme penalties. Form 5471: If your foreign real estate is held in a foreign corporation, you must file this form each year if you own 10% or more of the shares (actually or constructively) in the corporation. This form is due on the extended due date of your personal return. The IRS can impose a $10,000 per year penalty for filing this form late or not at all. Form TDF 90-22.1: This form reports your ownership in foreign bank and other financial accounts. It would include any accounts where your property manager or accountant is using to collect rents or pay foreign taxes and rentals. If the highest total of all of your foreign financial and bank accounts when combined together equal or exceed at any time $10,000 U.S. per year, you must file this form to report details of all accounts. It is filed separately from your tax return and is due on June 30th following the end of each calendar year. The due date cannot be extended. The IRS can impose a $10,000 penalty for filing the form late or not at all. Don D. Nelson is a US Attorney and CPA who has specialized in helping Americans living and working in foreign countries with their U.S. Tax planning and compliance for the last 20 years. H

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Fashion Foundations By Virginia E. Schultz

“Bras are a ludicrous invention.” – Germaine Greer

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n the 1960s during the feminists protests, when Germaine Greer made that remark, there were many women who agreed with her. Most of us paid little attention and “bra burning” possibly did more to misrepresent the movement than shock the public. Covering or restraining the breasts dates back to ancient Greece and a wall painting in Crete shows a woman in what is described as a “bikini” who appears to be participating in some kind of athletics. By the twentieth century, however, the emphasis on wearing a bra changed from functionality to fashion. Bras became a multi-billion dollar industry run by multinational corporations, which was what the protest was mostly about. Today, the majority of women in Western society wear bras despite the publicity of models and celebrities going

without them. The truth is, unless you’re young, wear little more than an A cup or have had some kind of operation to make yourself firmer, we don’t feel comfortable having our breasts moving up and down as we go about our daily tasks. Despite all the predictions that bras are on the way out, it is estimated that at least 80 per cent of females in the west still wear them. But, wearing a bra doesn’t mean we’re wearing the right size as Maxine Howe discovered when she, Nelly Pateras and I visited Rigby & Pellar, one of England’s highly respected stores for fitting bras no matter a woman’s size. Eighty per cent of the women walking through their doors have on the wrong size. The biggest mistake women make is wearing the cup too small and big in the back. It may be the reason that the first thing women do after a long and stressful day is kick off their shoes and slip out of their All the underwear shown is Rigby & Peller’s, available at their stores and www. rigbyandpeller.com. This is the Marie Jo Emmanuelle bra £100.95 and bikini briefs, £59.95


Rigby & Peller Kings Road store Maxine, comfortable and relaxed in the right sized bra

bras. Having a bra fitting properly not only makes a difference in the clothing we wear but in our comfort as well. Miguelle, Maxine’s personal fitter at Rigby and Pellar on the King’s Road, didn’t use a tape measure to measure her size. Instead, Miguelle, like all their fitters, has been trained to study a customer’s body shape to access what size is needed. Then, with a smile she left the fitting room and a few minutes later returned with a bra a size smaller than Maxine thought she needed. It fit perfectly. Maxine tried on several types of bras including the T shirt bra which is seam free. Miquelle pointed out that if a bra is sliding up your back you probably need a smaller back size while a bra that is loose suggests your cup size is too large. She also advised that two fingers should be able to fit under the strap of the bra at the shoulder. Rigby & Pellar as well have specially trained fitters working with women who have had a mastectomy. The fitters are trained to understand this difficult time in a woman’s life and to handle the customer with all the sympathy they need. They make certain the bra is fitted to the customer so that the prosthesis stays in place. They do not suggest a

Below: Alondra Underwired padded balcony bra £72.95

pocket as the prosthesis too often falls away from the chest after certain movements. I might add, although Maxine had Nelly taking photographs and me asking questions of Miquelle, she felt no embarrassment and I, who dislike changing Below: Rigby & Peller in front of anyone, made Vintage Underwired an appointment to see plunge bra £72.95, and Miguelle early next week. luxury g-string In fact, I’m going to look £54.95 at a bathing suit as well. Are the bras at Rigby & Peller expensive? The answer is yes. The bras Maxine tried on ran from £45 to almost £70 pounds and the range can go higher. If money is no object, you can have one made especially for you that will cost £250 and up. Certainly not every woman can afford Rigby & Pellar or similar type stores, but if I learned anything at that fitting it’s how important it is to try on bras in several sizes and styles until you find one that not only looks good but feels good. proved to the three of us how much As she was being photographed, better one can look when wearing Maxine put on several different tops the proper bra. You can buy that she brought with her so that Nelly expensive outfit to go to a wedding could photograph her in them. Foror Ascot, but if the bra underneath tunately, the bra we all felt enhanced doesn’t fit properly, it can destroy the her outfits was also her favourite. It look of the dress. H

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The American

Greening Your Home Top Ten Tips for saving the planet – and your money – by James Strawbridge, eco-campaigner, TV presenter and author 1. Energy efficient windows

Heating bills can cost a fortune and fuel prices are only going to increase. One very effective way to reduce your bills and make your house worth more is to replace your old windows with more efficient rated windows. Start by replacing ones in rooms that you use the most and also make sure that you’ve done the basics first. Simple ways to prevent heat being wasted through old draughty windows is to put up thick curtains and remember to close them in the evening. Another tip is to place a radiator reflector behind your radiators. Radiators always seem to be located below a window and as we all know heat rises. To reduce this simply cut a piece of cardboard and line it with tin (aluminum) foil. Hang

this on the wall behind your radiator to push the heat out into the room instead of allowing it to escape up and out the window. Energy efficient windows are a no-brainer! Look for the BFRC energy rating label – that looks just like the energy efficiency labels on all household appliances – and rates the window from ‘A’ (most efficient) to ‘G’. By making the switch to a well rated window you can save money and reduce your carbon footprint in the process. To find your nearest installer of energy efficient windows visit the website – www.bfrc.org

2. Insulate your Loft

Insulation is another way to reduce the amount of heat escaping from your home. I’d recommend doing it yourself to save money but make sure that you install at least 270mm thickness. There are lots of different sorts of insulation out there, but the bottomline is any insulation is good insulation. The embodied energy in rockwool for example will still cancel itself out with with energy savings in the first year! Sheep’s wool is a great option Whether you own your own home or are renting, James Strawbridge has ideas to help live you more sustainably

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because it is a waste product that is being reused and ‘composite’ insulation (the thin stuff that looks like a space blanket) is a great high performance material for small spaces. Key tips when laying insulation are to make sure that you are wearing safety goggles, gloves and overalls. Plus, don’t forget to cover the loft hatch as well, otherwise you will be creating a chimney for all of the heat to escape through!

3. Energy Monitors

Working out how much electricity you currently use in your house is the best way to start reducing it. The best gadget out there is an energy monitor that displays how many KW/hrs (Kilo Watt Hours - that’s the unit your electricity bills are measured in) you use at any moment, how much CO2 you are producing, and how much money you are spending. These devices are now wireless and are easy to install yourself. By knowing how much electricity you use each day you can start switching off appliances more often. (They are available to buy at my online shop www.practicalselfsufficiency.co.uk)

4. Green Electricity Tariff

One of the easiest changes to make in your home or business is to switch to a green electricity tariff. Go online and with the mighty power of your mouse you can seriously reduce your ecological footprint. I’d recommend signing up with either Ecotricity or Good Energy because they both


The American

offer competitive prices and supply energy from renewable sources such as wind turbines.

5. Solar PV

The most hi-tech of green technologies has to be solar power! If you are thinking of generating your own electricity then invest in a Solar PV system (also known as photovoltaics). This technology has improved dramatically recently so the panels are more efficient than ever. In addition, it’s a good time to put them up as the government’s feed-in tariff is still available, which means you can be paid more for the electricity you generate than you buy it in for. As a result the ‘payback’ times have almost halved. Solar panels may require planning permission so check with your local council or solar installer. On listed buildings and conservation zones permission is harder to achieve but there’s always the option of putting them on a lean-to or even a garden shed. Solar PV tends to be a big financial investment but compared to a new car or a bathroom renovation there’s no competition. I like to think of it in terms of ‘future-proofing’ and improving the value of a building. Which house would you choose if you had a choice - one with solar panels on the roof and hardly any bills to pay for the next 25 years - or one with a trendy bathroom suite?

6. Hippos

If your water usage is metered then you can cut usage in minutes every time you flush the loo by making a ‘Hippo’. Simply take a small plastic water bottle and cut the top off. Lift the lid of your cistern, flush the loo and place the cup-shaped bottle into the empty cistern so that it sits on the bottom. Put a small stone in it to keep it upright and replace the lid of the cistern. When the new system fills up it will use less water and you’ll be saving money!

7. Get Organised!

Recycling is something that we have all grown used to and the decision to divide our waste is second nature. However, it is really worth making sure that it doesn’t become a chore. I think that it’s worth buying or making your own recycling bin system that has different sections for different sorts of waste. No-one likes having piles of rubbish near the back door and by organising it, it stops being a problem.

8. Wormery

Composting is another popular ecoactivity. However hundreds of people still have an unsightly heap at the bottom of the garden. There’s nothing wrong with this way of composting but it can be difficult to turn and hard work to maintain. Also, normal compost heaps can take up lots of precious space. The alternative way to compost your uncooked kitchen scraps is to get a wormery. They are compact, don’t smell, and can even be used as a planter for herbs and vegetables. The idea is to provide worms with a great environment to eat all your fruit and veg peelings, tea bags, egg cartons, dust from the vacuum-cleaner, and pretty much anything that hasn’t been cooked. They have also been designed to take up a fraction of the space. I would recommend a stackable model from Bubblehouse Worms because you can also plant in the top of it! www. bubblehouseworms.com

9. Chickens

If you have a decent sized garden then you’ve got to get a couple of hens. Your own free-range eggs are so much tastier than factory farmed ones. Plus, you can save a battery hen from a life where it spends all its time in a space the size of a piece of A4 paper. When you buy a rescue hen they will still be in a fairly poor condition but after a

James and his father Dick Strawbridge, who have together presented great TV series on environmental living have written Practical Self Sufficiency – The Complete Guide to Sustainable Living. Covering everything from installing solar power to making your own cheese, keeping bees to making charcoal, and building a wormery to making natural remedies, it’s laid out in simple clear prose with plenty of photos.  Dorling Kindersley,  hardcover, 304 pages, £20.00

couple of weeks you’ll be getting fresh eggs and they will look healthier and discover their instincts. Watching their first dust-bath or scratching around outside will make you pleased to have chosen them. British Hen Welfare Trust http://www.bhwt.org.uk/

10. Build a cold frame

The problem with growing your own produce is the weather. British winters are cold and our summers can be wet. One of the best ways I have found to grow herbs outside, whatever the weather, is under a cold frame. Build a rectangular wooden frame that stands a foot high and make the back edge higher than the front. Place an old window and hinge it so that it lifts up at the front for easy access. A cold frame like this reuses old materials and lets you extend your growing season considerably! Good luck and enjoy it! H

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The American

County Confusion Robert Hawley demands a return to the days when the English knew which county they live in!

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here can be few pleasures to equal lazily browsing in those splendid shops that sell framed antique prints. Amid the Turneresque views of Gothic ruins and the etchings of historic townscapes lie those especial objects of my searches, the old county maps. These are not going to be much use accompanying you on your summer drive down to the West Country. They don’t even show roads although Saxton’s Atlas of England and Wales (1579) thoughtfully provides sites where rivers might be forded. No, mythological and allegorical figures, sea monsters and passing galleons encased in exquisitely ornamental borders are their strong suit. The seventeenth century mapmaker John Speed has fairytale castles to denote the humblest market towns. Vignettes of county life adorn the edges where cherubim glide past waving the arms of the chief landowners and an elaborate cartouche declares in Latin the subject of the cartographer’s art. Those were the great days of county maps. Indeed, those were the great days of counties. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I can identify any English county by glancing at the map from the far end of the shop. Because they were never changed their distinctive shapes lodged in people’s memories, a national geography that could be learnt by heart. A popular lore grew up around them and their shapes, in the same way that primitive man

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sought pictures in the constellations. Berkshire was like an old boot, Cheshire like a long-handled pan. “Topographically” intones the Shell Guide to Britain, “Buckinghamshire is like a lettuce that has bolted.” Those were the days when the county was the organising principle upon which all activities were based. It was the basis of courts of law, of military regiments, of registers of births, marriages and deaths. Clubs, societies and associations were based upon the unchanging boundaries of the county. Those were the days when the landscape, geology and building materials within those bounds were so familiar that the merest mention of Worcestershire or Westmoreland was all that was required to trigger a thousand mental associations. So strong became the identity of these shires, and the loyalty they inspired in their sons and daughters, that it seemed they were a given, eternal system which could never corrode. How fares this system now? Buy a road atlas of the UK and you will quickly see that you are merely touching the tip of an iceberg of confusion and misunderstanding. The map of Britain was radically altered by local government changes in 1974 (very unpopular) and 1996 (a bit more popular because it undid some of the previous damage, although it created further chaos in other ways.) Anyway, first find out who published the road atlas you have bought, vital

because the different publishers show different maps of Britain’s counties – none of them tallying with the traditional counties. The AA shows the ceremonial counties, unheard of by the majority of the population as they are a littlepublicised sop to those who protested at the cultural vandalism of 1974. Ceremonial counties have Lords Lieutenant to represent the Queen at local events – although some of them have no county councils any more. An example is Greater Manchester which was abolished for admin purposes in 1986 along with all the other councils of the metropolitan counties (our second sort of modern county so far – these ones surround big cities). Bizarrely, Greater Manchester retains ceremonial county status despite having no history; whereas Huntingdonshire has a 1,000 year history yet no status at all. But it gets worse. Other makers of atlases, terrified by the merest suspicion of consistency or logic, opt to show the multiplicity of unitary authorities (third sort, often piffling little towns with aspirations, each now with the powers and status of a county: strange to think that Bolton or Swindon now has the same status as Cornwall or Norfolk!). Unitary authorities are often very jealous of the independence they have been granted (well, they’ve never been important before, have they?) so their councils do not wish to be associated


The American

with the wider concept of the county – although they are, of course, part of a ceremonial county. Surrounding these new unitary authorities are, finally, shire counties, administrative units that often have the names of ancient counties but often quite different boundaries. Despite this their councils frequently act as though the ancient shire whose name they bear never existed at all, and that they alone have the historic right to represent Lancashire, Cheshire or wherever. Many of these shire counties have great gaping holes in the middle of them where a large urban centre has been taken out and given unitary status – often that very county’s historic county town! The Ordnance Survey map shows Nottingham as separate from Nottinghamshire and Leicester no longer in Leicestershire. These modern maps cannot be learned as the antique print versions could because they change every time there is a local government review. And I haven’t even started telling you about postal counties or Euro regions. Weather reports frequently sow more perplexity than precision. What are the residents of the Forest of Bowland to make of the prediction that it is going to rain in Yorkshire but be sunny in Lancashire? Having been administratively shuffled from one to the other they are far from sure where they actually live. Most people try to stick with the old and ignore the new. They know what their county is, even if their own bit might now be some new-fangled, uppity unitary authority. They still follow the same cricket team, they still retain their old allegiance (not easy when your county magically appears and disappears, like Rutland). Where their town has been transferred across a border, though, perplexity triumphs. Simon Jenkins, in his Thousand Best

Churches, despairs and makes up his own counties. Yet in spite of the confusion, in spite of the whims of Whitehall, people still holiday in the Norfolk Broads or Yorkshire Dales; they still head off for Dorset or Devon at the weekend. Somehow, despite it all, something of the counties survives. In fact, away from the crazy world of road atlases, nothing has changed at all. At least, nothing has changed to alter the legal status of what the Ordnance Survey calls the ancient and geographical counties. The government is happy to admit that it could not change them, could not abolish them, even if it wanted to. All that it can alter are administrative jurisdictions. The real counties, mostly created by the Anglo-Saxons, far pre-date the creation of our centralised bureaucracy and are immune to its powers. At the 1996 local government review the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions repeatedly reassured campaigners that the old shires were still intact. All we lack is proper pub-

lic recognition of them, local councils having hoodwinked the populace into believing that the old shires had gone the way of oxgangs, perches and shillings. Perhaps legislation is needed to protect these ancient cultural artefacts from further maulings at the hands of cartographers. In all this chaos, a return to a stable national geography is an urgently pressing priority. H The Association of British Counties (ABC) is dedicated to promoting awareness of the importance of the 92 historic (or traditional) Counties of the UK. It believes that the Counties are an important part of the culture, geography and heritage of Great Britain and contends that Britain needs a fixed popular geography divorced from the ever changing names and areas of local government, one rooted in history, public understanding and commonly held notions of cultural identity. The ABC seeks to re-establish the use of the Counties as the standard geographical reference frame of Britain and to encourage their use as a basis for social, sporting and cultural activities.

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The American

Arts Choice

Abigail Fallis, Dummy Mummy 2

By Michael Burland

COLLECT 2011 – Tracey Emin Tapestry

Lenkiewicz, Still Lives

MAY 6 TO 9

UNTIL MAY 31

This year the contemporary craft fair features Tracey Emin’s first venture into tapestry, . She has collaborated with West Dean Tapestry Studio to create a fabric interpretation of her painting Black Cat, woven by hand over the last six months. This will be the only opportunity to see the piece. After COLLECT it will go on display at Emin’s studio. Emin says, “The Black Cat is one of my favourite paintings. It took me over seven years to complete, not because I was hesitant, but because it’s two completely different paintings. It has bold strong shapes as well as subtle washes of colour. I thought this would be perfect for a tapestry, and I am delighted with the work Caron and Philip have done in translating my work to the woven form.”

This is the most comprehensive exhibition of Robert Lenkiewicz’s work since he died in 2002 at the age of 60. Lenkiewicz used the outsider as the subject for his art: the vagrants and street alcoholics who dossed at his studios, families with mentally handicapped children, the elderly, the dying. “You’re born alone and you die alone,” he said. Lenkiewicz’s solution was a richly creative life which he lived with panache.

Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London SW3 4SQ

Above: Tracey Emin’s painting Black Cat takes shape in a new guise at the hands of weaver Caron Penney STEVE SPELLER

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Royal West of England Academy, Queen’s Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1PX

Below: Robert Lenkiewicz, The Painter with Mary in Newspaper Magi-Fool’s Hats, 1981, 48 x 69 cm, oil on canvas COURTESY ROYAL WEST OF ENGLAND ACADEMY

Women Make Sculpture

Pangolin London, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9AG MAY 19 TO JUNE 18

An exhibition that asks some hard-hitting questions: Why are women still marginalized by the art world? Does gender bring something different to the work itself, or is it just politics? A handful of female sculptors (Barbara Hepworth, Elisabeth Frink, Louise Bourgeois) have achieved huge success, but women are still under-represented in major shows. For International Women’s Day’s centenary year, this


The American

The Lady Liberty weathervane, star of the American Museum’s new Folk Art Gallery

Salvador Dalí, Metamorphosis of Narcissus, 1937, oil on canvas; 82 x 109.2 x 8.5 cm, Tate: Purchased 1979 © TATE, LONDON, 2011. © SALVADOR DALÍ, FUNDACIÓ GALA-SALVADOR DALÍ, DACS, 2011.

show celebrates female achievement in sculpture. A panel discussion on May 23 includes artists exhibiting in the show and guest speakers (tickets from www.kingsplace.co.uk). Artists include: Christie Brown, Ann Christopher, Dorothy Cross, Abigail Fallis, Sue Freeborough, Rose Gibbs, Kate Hobby, Sarah Lucas, Briony Marshall, Charlotte Mayer, Polly Morgan, Eilis O Connell, Almuth Tebbenhoff, Deborah Van Der Beek & Alison Wilding.

Narcissus Reflected

The Fruitmarket Gallery, 45 Market Street, Edinburgh EH11DF UNTIL JUNE 26

An examination of Narcissus himself and the character flaw named after him, seen through the lenses of surrealism and contemporary art. Narcissus, the beautiful youth from Greek mythology, was turned by the gods into a (narcissus) flower as punishment for his self-obsession and inability to love anyone other than his own reflection. Sigmund Freud saw narcissism as an early

stage of the formation the ego, one that should be a passing phase. Artists include: Cecil Beaton, Bill Brandt, Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dalí, Charles Henri Ford, Jess, George Minne, George Platt Lynes, Willard Maas, Paul Nash and Pipilotti Rist. At the center of the show are Dalí’s Metamorphosis of Narcissus (1936), alongside his preparatory sketches and a poem he wrote to accompany it, and San-Franciscan Jess’s Narkissos (1976–91), a huge collage that rarely leaves the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and has never before been outside America. It too is shown with all its preparatory material.

Lady Liberty Weathervane and New Folk Art Gallery American Museum in Britain, Claverton Manor, Bath BA2 7BD

For its 50th anniversary year, the American Museum has opened a new Folk Art Gallery which celebrates the art of the ordinary American (if there is such a thing). Commissioned for the opening is an

eight-foot-high, hollow-bodied functional artwork weathervane of Lady Liberty, triumphantly holding the Stars and Stripes aloft. It has been made by internationally-acclaimed coppersmiths and sculptors Karen and Gordon Green, and joins a group of historic weathervanes already in the Museum’s collection. Like many readers of The American, the Greens are a transatlantic alliance: Karen is an American, working with Liverpool-born Gordon in their studio in Herefordshire. Karen, already a sculptor, was apprenticed for three years to Travis Tuck, one of America’s premier weathervane artists. She met Gordon in Martha’s Vineyard and they set up their first studio there in 1995, specializing in American-style 3D hammered copper weathervanes. Karen says she is “inspired by the masterwork of the colonial craftsman. What’s so exciting about early American design, and what is so evident in the collection at the American Museum in Britain, is the beauty and delight of the work, both its craftsmanship and its bold quirky nature. In a world where almost everything is mass-produced, it is wonderful to be part of a tradition of makers who embrace both function and ornament with such individual charm”.

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The American

Arts Books Reviewed by Estelle Lovatt Arshile Gorky Matthew Gale

TATE PUBLISHING, HARDCOVER, 96 PAGES, £14.99

If you missed Tate Modern’s wonderful Gorky exhibition last year, make sure you get a copy of this. Fully illustrated, with an astutely incisive text by much-admired heavyweight Gale, this book provides new insight into the life and career of one of the twentieth century’s greatest painters, who shook up the New York art scene after World War II. As American art articulated the post-war American spirit (that goget-ahead confidence that is both brag and the envy of the art world) as non-figurative modern art. It is fascinating to see how, for most of the 20th century, American modern art was far behind the European modernist brush of Cezanne, Picasso, Leger and Matisse – until Gorky transcribed their techniques. Painting in the manner of, rather than directly copying from, existing paintings, he bridged the gap between the 1920s Paris School of Art and 1940s New York American Abstract Expressionism (Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko). After fleeing the Armenian massacres for America, Gorky employed his much favoured yellow ochre looking at the spaces in between things as much as the objects themselves. An exquisite draughtsman, drawing from the 19th century Classicalist Ingres, Gorky’s precision of line allied to his range of paint handling techniques make him simply superb. Gorky’s pulsating canvas becomes compelling. Mechanical and bio-

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morphic forms are integrated into abstract compositions that establish a rhythmic division of space, thick under layers of paint showing how he reworked the canvas over many years. Influences of Ucello, Poussin, David, Bosch, Michelangelo and Piero di Cosimo show in his work from The Artist and his Mother to Waterfall. In 1946 a fire in Gorky’s studio destroyed his work. Then, diagnosed with cancer, he required emergency surgery. His marriage suffered and Gorky committed suicide in 1948. Although his career lasted only 25 years, Gorky single-handedly developed his own visual language of animated abstracts, motivated by memories of his childhood in Western Armenia, making Gorky great in both artistic breadth and lyricism.

Camille and the Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt

FRANCES LINCOLN, PAPERBACK, 32 PAGES, £6.99

If your child enjoyed the Royal Academy’s Real Van Gogh exhibition don’t let his/her appreciation of art go wasted. Camille and the Sunflowers tells the story of Vincent van Gogh and his extraordinary paintings. Complete with reproductions of van Gogh’s artwork, from Sunflowers to Starry Night, this beautifully illustrated publication serves as a great introduction to the world of fine art for the younger reader. Celebrating one of the world’s greatest artists, its text is informative and hand-painted imagery most charming.

Lauren Bergman, The Dive, at Modern Fabulists COURTESY VIEW ART GALLERY

Modern Fabulists

View Art Gallery, 159-161 Hotwells Road, Bristol BS8 4RY UNTIL MAY 29

What is a modern fabulists? “A composer of fables, a teller of tales, a liar... an artist”. Some of America and Europe’s most extraordinary contemporary artists have created new pieces celebrating folklore, craft, and storytelling. Pagan imagery mixes with human-animal hybrids, the shocking and the sublime. Artists include Dan Baldwin, Jacob Arden McClure, Dee Dee Cheriel, Karen Akester, David Stein, Derek Weisberg, Hayley Murphy, Kirsty Whiten, Lauren Bergman, Angela Lizon and Scott G Brooks. It’s the debut UK show for Corine Perier, Marco Mazzoni and Scott G Brooks and the first time outside London for Lori Field and Pepa Prieto. American Lauren Bergman’s paintings reflects on the American dream and how it dominates the rest of the world, referring back to a mythical golden age of the American 1950s. Her work is rarely seen outside the US. Anne Faith Nicholls was born in Victoria British


The American

Columbia with a backwards heart. Raised in Seattle she moved south to San Francisco then to Venice, Los Angeles, California, where she lives and works. Her art is inspired by her obsessions with travel, Surrealist art, photography, European and American folk art, antiques, rare art books and much more. The show is curated by Coates and Scarry - Richard Scarry is also director of the Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles.

Arts News New York Art Mural Faces Demolition

On the north side of 35 Cooper Square in New York sits a mural. It adorns a building notable for its history and relationship with the literary and visual arts. The building and a graffiti homage to the city, The Morning After New York by renowned British artist Nick Walker, are about to face the developer’s wrecking ball. 35-39 Cooper Square is one of the oldest houses on the Bowery, reportedly the first house built by Nicholas William Stuyvesant in the 1800s, and now houses the Asian Pub, an NYU student favorite. It was sold for $8.5 million and, according to locals, faces being replaced by highrise blocks. The Bowery Alliance of Neighbors is fighting to save the historic structure. – EL

Nick Walker, The Morning After New York, threatened with destruction

Bruce Davidson Wins Award

Bruce Davidson, one of America’s most distinguished photographers, was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award. at this year’s Sony World Photography Awardson, April 27. An exhibition of Davidson’s work is being shown at The World Photography Festival, Somerset House, London until May 22 and a retrospective show is at Chris Beetles Fine Art Photographs, 8-10 Ryder Street, London SW1Y 6QB from May 4 to 28. – MB

Marsha Hammel, The Divine Miss B and Her Sidemen

Marsha Hammel Musician Paintings

The Cadogan Hotel, 75 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9SG UNTIL JUNE 30

A rare showcase of paintings by American artist Marsha Hammel. Much of Hammel’s work over the last 30 years is of musicians, bands, dances, and also a unique portrait of Oscar Wilde to commemorate his arrest in Room 118 of the very same Cadogan Hotel in 1895.

Led by Martin Luther King Jr., a group of civil rights demonstrators march from Selma to Montgomery to fight for black suffrage. USA. Alabama. Selma. 1965. ©BRUCE DAVIDSON/MAGNUM PHOTOS, COURTESY SONY WORLD PHOTOGRAPHY AWARDS

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The American

Dining Out at

VENOSI Reviewed by Virginia E Schultz

G

oing to Venosi was like stepping back in time. Except that the Italian restaurants of my youth had father in the kitchen and son, head of house. At Venosi, father, Luigi Venosi, formerly of Don Luigi’s in Soho, makes certain all is going well in the dining room while handsome redheaded son, Gino, works away in the open kitchen. And take my word, although Gino may look as if he should be wearing kilts, he very much has dolce vita in his touch when it comes to Mediterranean cooking. At Venosi, Gino strives for the pure and simple flavours he learned at his father’s restaurant as well as in his training in Florence and his aunt’s place in Naples. His Calamari Fritti (£8.95) was crunchy and delicious

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and the Gamberoni Mafiosi, King Prawns served with chilli and a hint of garlic, was excellent, but it was the made-in-house sausages that had me, who really doesn’t like sausage, sighing with delight. Freshly made pasta is made daily and the Linguine all’aragosta, linguine with lobster, fresh tomatoes and chilli sauce (£18.50) – pictured – was as intense as it was light. Pappardelle al ragu di cinghiale, pasta ribbons with wild boar ragu and black truffles (£18.50) too, as Jennifer Atterbury agreed, delectable. Then came the main courses and this was when I felt somewhat let down. I probably wouldn’t be as critical if I didn’t expect better, especially from someone with Gino’s obvious talent. The veal Milanese with spaghetti Napoli was not daring enough in its flavouring. I’m not talking salt, but in those herbs that make you say, yes, yes, this is Italian. Jennifer enjoyed her Filetto al dolcelatte’, beef filet topped with dolce latte cheese and a fantastic brandy sauce, (£29.50), although she felt it was slightly overwhelmed by the cheese.

Gino (left) and Luigi Venosi, supplying la dolce vita to London

Overhearing our conversation, the Italian sitting at the table next to us said I should have ordered the Ossobuco alla Milanese (£22.50), veal shank with saffron risotto, because it was the best he had since his last visit to that fabulous shopping city and his companion nodded in agreement. Perhaps you should take his advice. The wine list is Italian and poring over it was a treat. Luigi’s selection of wines to compliment our various dishes were perfect. As for dessert, do try the Amalfi lemon mousse with basil sugar. Luigi was born on the Amalfi coast and I have the feeling Gino may have “borrowed” the recipe from grandmother’s cookbook. Delicious!

87 Sloane Street, London SW3 3DX, O20 7958 5019, www.venosi.co.uk


The American

Bennett Oyster Bar B and Brasserie ennett recently opened in the same premises where I once dined while piranha fish swam beneath me under a thick glass floor. Most disconcerting, and I wasn’t surprised when I heard the restaurant closed shortly afterwards. Thankfully, the fish beneath one’s feet are gone and it’s the seafood on the menu that attracts diners. I visited Bennett at its launch and after enjoying the offerings I returned for dinner. As we arrived I ordered a Martini, but my friend Jennifer Atterbury enjoyed a special cocktail made just for her (see below). Bennett’s interior is a meeting between English Interiors and Parisian brasserie; copper top tables and bar chandeliers and shades, banquette seating and Belgium bentwood chairs. Opening this month (May) is a botanical garden for al fresco dining and private events, or you can sit in the front of the restaurant with its view of the square. The young Head Chef, Andrew Evans, has worked with Mark Hix, Gordon Ramsay, Marcus Wareing and Simon Bradley. Hix’s more casual attitude toward dining has possibly influenced Andrew most. Jennifer’s beetroot tart, goats curd, radish with fennel and foraged herbs (£7.50) was beautifully fresh and delicious, but it didn’t come with the ribbons and bows that have a dish looking as if it should be on a magazine cover rather than eaten. The same could be said for my lovely-to-the-last-bite razor clams, wild boar, butter bean and caramelized red onion (£9.00). Having returned for oysters, I decided to have all three types shown on the menu. I can’t say if prefer the English West Mersea Island Rock (£1.60),

Jersey Rock (£1.80) or Scottish Loch Ryan Natives (£3.20). Jennifer’s Morecambe Bay potted shrimps (£8.50) took her straight back to her childhood. There was a time I feared the English were falling out of love with seafood, but, fortunately, all that is changing as Bennett is proving. The fish pie (£12.50) was finished for the evening and Jennifer had to settle on steamed steak and oyster pudding (£13.50), sadly a disappointment. However, I had no regrets with rack of black-face lamb with potato pie and herb salad (£18.50). Fortunately, no mint sweetened the lamb and it came cooked to pink perfection. My only complaint about the potato pie was I wished there was more. For dessert you’ll find shades of the sixties; Baked Alaska (£7.00), hot chocolate pudding with caramel ice cream (£7.00) and pear tart tatin and elderflower cream (£7.00) to name three. Do stop at the organic greengrocer’s and bakery and wine shop. I bought purple carrots and potatoes, and two bottles of wine, both of which I tasted first. As the greengrocery closes earlier than the restaurant, they kindly put everything aside until I was ready to leave. There is an enomatic wine dispenser and wines bought in Bennett’s shop served at the table for a small corkage fee. Alternatively the restaurant’s largely French list has a number of good, inexpensive choices. Each we were offered was good enough to want a bottle to take home, which you can, if you wish.

RECIPE

When Bennett’s mixologist Jamie Bancroft suggested he create a special cocktail for my friend Jennifer Atterbury she readily agreed. It was so delicious I had Jamie give me the recipe. Atterbury Sling 35 ml Sipsmith Vodka 15 ml Chase Blackberry 5 ml Chase Raspberry 10 ml lemon juice 10 ml sugar syrup 35 ml cranberry juice 4 to 5 Blackberries Method: Muddle blackberries with the 2 Chase liqueurs Add lemon juice plus all other ingredients Shake with ice Strain over crushed ice Garnish with lemon slice and blackberry

4-9 Battersea Square, London SW11 3RA, 020 7223 5545 www.bennettsbrasserie.com

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The American

Cellar Talk By Virginia E. Schultz

SCOTCH WHISKY

W

hisky exports brought in £109 (approx $174) every second to Scotland and hit a record £3.45 billion ($5.34bn), Scottish papers reported in March. Despite the volume sold falling by two per cent, the increase in revenue came from the demand for more expensive premium whiskies. The USA continued to be the biggest spender, with sales up 19 per cent to $499 million, France coming in second at $421.7 million. The distilling process was originally applied to perfume, then to wine, and finally to cereals in countries where grapes were not plentiful. This spirit was named “aqua vitae” (water of life) and often made in monasteries for medical purposes. With the primitive equipment used and the lack of scientific expertise, the spirits produced at the time were

Johnny Walker in all its colors – green, black, gold, blue or original red – is one of the most famous Scotch whiskies in the world

often extremely potent and, occasionally, even harmful. Legend has it that St. Patrick introduced distilling to Ireland in the 5th century and the secrets were taken to Scotland by the Dairiadict Scots when they arrived in Kintyre around AD500. The Gaelic “usquebaugh”, meaning water of life, phonetically became “usky” and finally “whisky” in English. To be labelled Scotch, the whisky must be produced in Scotland and nowhere else in the world. After Culloden, with the clansman who supported Bonnie Prince Charles defeated, the British were determined to punish the Highlanders and forbid them to transport whisky out of the area. This denied them the lucrative London market. Ironically, the lines the British drew centuries ago is partially responsible for the way Scotch whisky is categorized today. The Scotch Whisky Association officially divides the region into five regions: Lowlands, Highlands, Speyside, Islay and Campbeltown. It was royal intervention in 1831 that brought Scotch whisky to worldwide attention. Until then, all spirits were made in traditional pot stills which make a batch at a time. Column, or continuous, stills made a light and purer spirit, turning Pot stills in the Glenfiddich distillery PHOTO: LAKEWORTHER

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blended whisky into a more palatable drink which became, with the more sophisticated Cognacs and clarets, the favourite of London aristocrats and gentlemen. The arrival of phylloxera, which killed off grape vineyards in the 1870s, helped make Chivas Regal, Cutty Sark, Dewar’s, Famous Grouse, Grant’s, Teacher’s, Usher’s and Johnnie Walker – famous blended Scotch whiskies - into names that a connoisseur could serve to their guests. Blending requires single malts and during the boom years of the 1890’s, 27 new single malt distillers were founded. Considering the popularity of single malt today, it is almost impossible to believe that they were almost unknown in the States until 1963, when William Grant made the then controversial decision to take its Glenfiddich whisky world wide.

DRINK OF THE MONTH Sur De Los Andes (Malbec Winemakers Selection Argentina, 2007), around £9-£10

I drank this Argentine Malbec at friends, the Gillett’s, and its intense flavours matched perfectly with the richness and spiciness of what I can only describe as a 3 star curry dinner cooked by host, Rodney, including the venison which was the most delicious I’ve had since a weekend in Scotland. I suspect it would go well with other hot and spicy dishes such as chilli or barbecue spare ribs. H


La Capanna For the finest Italian dining experience in the most picturesque of settings, perfect for that romantic dinner for two, a family celebration or business entertainment.

Lunch Menu from £12.95 A la Carte Main Courses from £11.50 3 Course Sunday Lunch £27.95 Children’s Menu £15.00

Jane Parker and her Jazz Trio on Friday 20th May By popular request the lovely soprano Miss Kirsty Michele Anderson returns on Friday 10th June.

FOR FULL DETAILS LOOK AT OUR WEBSITE

www.lacapanna.co.uk

Special Spring Offer for 2 and 3 Course Lunch in April and May – Free Dessert or Glass of Wine 48 High Street, Cobham, Surrey

With riverside Italian Garden for al fresco dining

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

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

01932 862121

– David Billington, Hello Magazine

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The American

Coffee Break COFFEE BREAK QUIZ 1 W  hat does a Flesch score measure? 2 I n which part of the United States is the Zinfandel grape chiefly cultivated? 3 W  ho or what is a MacGuffin or McGuffin? 4 W  hich of these is not a surname in the USA: F, J, Q or W? 5 W  hich debonair European-born Hollywood actor, winner of an Honorary Academy Award in 1958, has a name that when translated means ‘Moorish Knight’?

6 W  hich adventurer was selected as the first Time magazine Man of the Year in 1927? 7 W  hich millionaire first introduced a free school milk program in Chicago to combat rickets? a) Al Capone b) Andrew Carnegie c) Ulysses S Grant 8 W  hat is the more common name for the omphalo, a ‘contemplative’ part of the body? 9 W  hat Anglo Saxon word still used by most people, means ‘pledge’?

10 W  hat kind of mixed drink made originally from spirit, sugar, lemon, water, and tea or spices takes its name from the Hindi or Sanskrit word for five? 11 T he original ‘two bits’ (quarter coin) looked like a pie shaped wedge. It was one quarter of what? 12 C  laret wine is produced in the region surrounding which French city? 13 T he name for which vehicle seems to stem from a World War I phrase for a dirty weekend in Paris? 14 B  y what French name is a decollator more usually known? 15 W  hich TV family lived at 1313 Mockingbird Lane? 16 I n Paris, where would you find Franklin D Roosevelt, Victor Hugo and George V? 17 W  ho left his wife his second best bed in his will? a) Pepys b) Lincoln c) Shakespeare 18 H  ow did Michaele and Tareq Salahi upset Barack Obama? 19 W  hat is a geosynchronous satellite?

President Barack Obama greets Michaele and Tareq Salahi – how did they upset him? WHITE HOUSE PHOTO: SAMANTHA APPLETON

20 W  hat everyday drink translates as ‘stained milk’? 21 S t George’s distillery in Roudham, Norfolk is producing what for the first time in over 100 years?



Answers below

Coffee Break Quiz Answers: 1. Gobbledegook - the higher the score the clearer the English; 2. California; 3. A film plot element that distracts the viewer or drives the plot, popularized by Alfred Hitchcock; 4. Q; 5. Maurice Chevalier (French actor); 6. Charles Lindburgh; 7. a) Al Capone; 8. The belly button, or navel; 9. Wed; 10. Punch; 11. Spanish Silver Dollars or Pieces of Eight; 12. Bordeaux; 13. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; 14. Guillotine; 15. The Munsters; 16. On the Metro (stations); 17. c) Shakespeare; 18. They gatecrashed his first state dinner, and were photographed shaking his hand; 19. One that circles the earth so fast and far out that it keeps station over the same place on the Earth’s surface; 20. A Latte macchiato coffee; 21. English single malt whiskey.

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The American

It happened one... May 1st: 1840 – The Penny Black, the first official adhesive postage stamp, is issued in the United Kingdom.

Akron, Ohio, at the home of Henrietta Siberling.

2nd: 1878 – The US stops minting the 20 cent coin, after only one year in circulation.

13th: 1787 – Captain Arthur Phillip leaves Portsmouth, England, with eleven ships of convicts (the “First Fleet”) to establish a penal colony in Australia.

3rd: 1921 – West Virginia imposes the first state sales tax.

14th: 1853 – US inventor Gail Borden patents his process for condensed milk.

4th: 1972 – The Don’t Make A Wave Committee, a fledgling environmental organization founded in Canada in 1971, officially changes its name to “Greenpeace Foundation”.

15th: 1800 – British King George III survives two assassination attempts in one day.

5th: 1865 – The first train robbery in the United States takes place, in North Bend, Ohio (a suburb of Cincinnati). 6th: 1954 – Roger Bannister becomes the first man to run a mile in less than 4 minutes, with a new record of 3mins 59.4 seconds, in Oxford, England. 7th: 1928 - England lowers age of women voters from 30 to 21. 8th: 1984 – the Thames Barrier is officially opened. 9th: 1950 – French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman makes his ‘Schuman Declaration’, precipitating the founding of the EU. 10th: 1869 – The First Transcontinental Railroad, linking the eastern and western United States, is completed at Promontory Summit, Utah. 11th: 1997 – IBM Deep Blue, a chessplaying supercomputer, defeats Garry Kasparov, becoming the first computer to beat a world-champion chess player in a match. 12th: 1935 – Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith (founders of Alcoholics Anonymous) meet for the first time in

16th: 1866 – Philadelphia pharmacist Charles Elmer Hires invents root beer. 17th: 1973 – Watergate scandal - televised Senate hearings begin. 18th: 1980 – Mount St. Helens erupts in Washington, United States, killing 57 people and causing $3 billion in damage. 19th: 1897 – Oscar Wilde is released from Reading Gaol. 20th: 1927 - At 7:40 AM, Lindbergh takes off from NY to cross the Atlantic for Paris. 21st: 1881 - the American Red Cross is founded by Clara Barton, a Civil War nurse from Maryland. 22nd: 1892 - Dr Washington Sheffield of New London, Connecticut, invents the toothpaste tube. 23rd: 1785 - Benjamin Franklin announces his invention of bifocals. 24th: 1883 – the Brooklyn Bridge is opened by President Arthur & Governor Cleveland. 25th: 1900 – Irishman Sir Eyre Massey Shaw, 70, former head of London Metropolitan Fire Brigade, becomes oldest gold medalist in the Olympics for yachting.

George III – survived two assassination attempts on the same day this month in 1800 COURTESY COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG FOUNDATION

26th: 1896 - Dow Jones begins an index of 12 industrial stocks (closing is 40.94). 27th: 1907 – Bubonic plague breaks out in San Francisco. 28th: 1742 – The world’s first indoor swimming pool opens in Goodman’s Fields, London. 29th: 1911 – The first ever Indianapolis 500 is run. 30th: 1868 – ‘Decoration Day’, later to become Memorial Day first observed to commemorate the Civil War fallen. 31st: 1895 – Dr. John Harvey Kellogg files a patent for a ‘flaked cereal’. H

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The American

Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band European Tour Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band return to Europe on their 12th All Starr tour. Joining Ringo will be big name artists Rick Derringer on guitar, Richard Page on bass, Wally Palmar on guitar & harmonica, Edgar (brother of Johnny) Winter on sax and keyboards, Gary Wright on keyboards and Gregg Bissonette on drums. The 27 date tour kicks off in Kiev, Ukraine on 4th June, stopping in Russia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Latvia, Poland, Britain, France, Czech Republic, Italy, Holland and Germany before winding up in Vienna, Austria on 17th July. The British dates are June 17th, London, Hampton Court; 18th Liverpool Empire (a homecoming gig for Ringo); 20th Birmingham Symphony Hall; 22nd Manchester Opera House; 23rd Glasgow, Clyde Auditorium; 24th Bournemouth, BIC.

Seasick Steve

The former hobo is headlining this year’s Streets of London Concert for Homelessness at London’s Camden Electric Ballroom on May 26th. He’ll be appearing at several festivals this summer, but you can see Steve performing material from his new album (out May 30th) up close at this one-off, club show while supporting a worthwhile charity, The Connection at St Martin’s, a day centre near Trafalgar Square.

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MUSIC

LIVE AND KICKING GuilFest

GuilFest bolsters its reputation as a festival with one of the quirkiest line-ups with its 2011 offering. Peter ‘former husband of topless model Jordan’ Andre is rekindling his singing career. Where better than at a festival featuring John ‘Rotten’ Lydon’s post-punk pioneers Public Image Limited, synth-pop duo Erasure, urban act N-Dubz, Ziggy ‘sonof-Bob’ Marley and pop heartthrob James Blunt along with over 200 live acts and DJs on 7 stages, a Theatre Tent, Cosmic Comedy Tent, Farmer Giles’ Barn Dance, 70s disco, and Dance tent. Regarded as one of the UK’s best family festivals, GuilFest also has the Kidzone with children’s theatre, face painting, rides, games, costume making, and a procession across the festival site on Sunday.

John Lydon: Public Image Limited are headlining GuilFest © DUNCAN BRYCELAND / PUBLIC IMAGE LTD.

Barbican Blaze

The London arts centre claims that Blaze will offer “the boldest music from across the globe”. American acts include Ryan Adams (returning after a two year hiatus), Gregg Allman + Tift Merritt, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Madeleine Peyroux, Irma Thomas, check out www.barbican.org.uk/blaze for a classy, eclectic, international line-up that also features South African jazz superstar Hugh Masekela and British folkies The Unthanks.

Brad Paisley

Brad Paisley is coming back in the UK to promote the British release of his new album This Is Country Music. The album is released in the UK this month (May) and the gigs are in August: 17th London, O2 Arena; 19th Dublin, Ireland, Olympia Theatre; 20th Hylands Park, V Fest, Chelmsford, Essex; 21st V Fest, Weston Park, Weston-under-Lizard, Staffordshire.

Mayday Parade

Florida pop-punk quintet Mayday Parade return to the UK for a full headline tour. The band were last here in October 2010 for a coheadline tour with The Maine. After a hectic 2010 in which they toured


incessantly and also released their second studio album ‘Anywhere But Here’ they are looking forward to rocking the UK on May 16th at Milton Keynes, The Pitz; 17th Kingston, The Peel; 18th Leicester, Sub 91; 19th Yeovil, Orange Box; 21st Liverpool, Liverpool Sound City – The Hub; 22nd Cardiff, Solus; 23rd Nottingham, Rescue Rooms; 24th Glasgow, Garage; 25th Manchester, Academy 2; 26th London, Koko; 27th Birmingham, Academy 2; 28th Slamdunk Festival Leeds; 29th Slamdunk Festival Hatfield; 30th Oxford, Academy 2; 31st Norwich, Waterfront; June 1st Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms.

Dennis Locorriere

Best known as the voice of Dr Hook, now a much-loved solo performer, Dennis Locorriere is bringing his show to a town near you. Support is Emily Maguire, the up and comer with a distinctive voice and songs. His most recent album Post Cool was released last year and there’s a new companion live DVD, Post Cool Live, a double CD box set Retrospection featuring Dennis’ two first two solo albums plus rare and previously unreleased recordings, and a book of poetry and cartoons, Whatever’s Burning Now. Busy guy, as proved by the scores of concerts he’s playing – find the April, May June, July, September and October dates at www.dennislocorriere.com.

Joe Brown In Concert Cadogan Hall, London

From the moment Joe Brown came on stage and started to play Darling Corrie and then went on to Cloverleaf Rag, John Hurt and Ain’t No Pleasing You, I knew why this legendary multi-instrumentalist still fills concert halls after 53 years in the business. An audience of all ages swayed and clapped with delight as Brown strummed away on guitar, mandolin and fiddle. This ‘cockney rockabilly’ may have been raised above his uncle’s pub in Plaistow and started his career at Butlin’s, but his music hints of the Mississippi Delta and smoked filled bars in New Orleans. Brown was there before any of us, Keith Richards said, and George Harrison would have agreed: George sang Joe’s Pictures of You on the Beatles’ first radio broadcast and the two became close friends. Joe was best man at George’s second marriage and at the 2002 memorial concert for Harrison Joe performed the moving finale, I’ll See You in My Dreams, on the ukulele because he knew how much the former Beatle loved the “uke”. At Cadogan Hall, Brown switches from Tickle Me to Darktown Strutters

to Bob Dylan classic Well, Well, Well with an ease few musicians can muster. But then, Brown grew up in age when American musicians, because of union laws, weren’t allowed to bring their own bands to the UK and English musicians backed American greats like Johnny Cash. It was, however, listening to the records of the late Eddie Cochran that Joe credits for learning to play rock and roll. Brown would have been in the car crash that killed Cochran if his manager, Larry Parnes, hadn’t pulled him off the tour to promote his own solo career. Brown’s daughter Sam and son Pete have followed in their father’s footsteps. Listening to Pete make Daddy proud at Cadogan Hall left no doubt in my mind he will continue on after his father retires – if Joe ever does. Brown’s schedule of concerts would tire a man half his age, but he rocked and rolled with All Shook Up and Ain’t Too Old as if he was twentyfive, not in his early seventies. But, it was Dreams, the song the audience demanded to hear before Brown left the stage, that brought tears to the eyes of the listeners. One thing for certain, I’ll be at the next concert he does in London.  Virginia Schultz

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The American

ALBUMS THEOF MONTH

Sugarland

Bryan Wright

House on Fire Sugar Hill Records When Waco, TX-born (now LA resident) Brian Wright says “When people ask what I sound like I usually say I’m somewhere between Woody Guthrie and Velvet Underground,” he has a point. His rugged, life-worn voice carries the hopes of the former and hopelessness of the latter in songs that are as striking as any that alt-country has produced in a decade. The acoustic guitars and banjos that form the core of House on Fire suggest it’s country. But the loops and distorted guitars hint at a wider, more cosmopolitan world. The lyrics tell disturbing stories of love, revenge, murder, cancer. The album was recorded with Wright playing nearly all the instruments (with occasional instrumental flourishes and female vocals from friends) rather than with his regular band the Waco Tragedies. It’s deeply authentic American music but not easy to categorize. Maybe because of that House on Fire is the album I keep returning to this month. Trying to figure it out, and getting more out of it for the effort put in. Standouts? All the songs are strong, but, if pushed: Striking Matches, Accordion, Maria Sugercane.

Levon Helm’s on the Inside, Jennifer has either been taking belt-em-out singing lessons, or steroids. As on Alison Krauss’s latest release, it’s the Nettles larynx that dominates this record, but with less success. It’s just too much. The duo seem intent on getting their big-rock country mountain into stadiums, at the expense of subtlety. Tellingly it’s the silly singalong hit single Stuck Like Glue that works best, because they’re not working the song too much. That and the album’s last song, Shine The Light, with a more heartfelt Nettles vocal over simple piano. 

Jeff Beck

Sugarland

Rock’n’roll Party Honoring Les Paul Rhino [CD & DVD]

The Sugarland express just keeps getting faster, the machine getsting more powerful. And what power Jennifer Nettles’ voice now has. Since Sugarland’s last album, 2008’s Love

Ever ornery, when Jeff Beck chose to paid tribute to the great guitarist, songwriter and inventor of most of what we know as music equipment, he sidestepped the obvious. Not for him a massive arena, with spots from all the guitarist famous for playing Les Paul guitars – although Slash,

The Incredible Machine Decca

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Clapton and the rest would have jumped at it. Instead he celebrated what would have been Les’s 95th birthday in the Iridium Jazz Club, NYC, the tiny club Les played in every week well into his nineties. Beck played some of his mentor’s tunes and a selection of classics from the ’50s and ’60s, with Irish rockabilly singer Imelda May and her band with guest appear-ances from erstwhile Stray Cat Brian Setzer, Gary “U.S.” Bonds, and Trombone Shorty. 20 tracks rock and indeed roll along, helping us remember Les Paul with affection and a big grin.  Ramble at the Ryman Emm/Dirt Farmer Music

Take Levon Helm, the Southern heart of The Band, add a heavyweight roster of country and folk artists, and let ‘em rip up the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville’s and you might think they couldn’t go wrong, that you’d end up with a joyful night of American roots music. Happily you’d be right. It’s not often a musician enjoys such love and respect from his peers, at least not until they pass on. Levon gets it all in spades. He enjoys holding Midnight Ramble Sessions at his place in Woodstock, NY, but in September 2008 he headed back south to up the ante at the Ryman. Friends like Sheryl Crow, John Hiatt, Buddy Miller, Sam Bush and Billy Bob Thornton joined his regular band and the concert was filmed in high-definition. The result was a DVD and this CD album. Look out for the songs from Helm’s days in The Band (Ophelia, a funky The Shape I’m In, Rag Mama Rag, The Weight…) but the whole evening works well. 


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The American

BOOK REVIEWS Reviewed by Virginia E Schultz and Estelle Lovatt How To Write Your Life Story in Ten Easy Steps Sophie King HOW TO BOOKS, PAPERBACK, 216 PAGES, £9.99

Recently a friend published a book about her grandmother, using her diary as well as the letters and diaries written by other members of the family about her life in Africa during the nineteenth century. I thought about this recently when my grandson asked me for information on our family and I had to rely on memory of stories told when I was a child. Few people keep diaries anymore and most of our letter writing is email or text messaging. One only has to watch world events the past few months to realize how important these are, but at the same time they are mostly about what is happening around the individual rather than expressing the emotional impact it might be having on themselves or others. King gives a step by step guide to the various ways of telling your life story. As she suggests, it can even help make sense of your own life and bring you closer to your family. No doubt future generations will take for granted going to other planets, but how much more interesting it might be for them if they knew the excitement their grandparents felt when they watched on TV the first man land on the moon.

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She gives advice on how to publish it free on the net or for very little money get a few bound copies for the family. Or, if your story is interesting enough, how to find an agent or publisher who might be interested in publishing and marketing it. As someone said, the sum of what we are started long before we or even our parents were born. - VS

Photographs 1961-1967 Dennis Hopper TASCHEN BOOKS, HARDCOVER, 546 PAGES, £44.99

During the 1960s, actor Dennis Hopper carried his camera everywhere ... on film sets with Paul Newman, attending Any Warhol’s first West Coast show, driving the freeway as well as civil right marches with Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The selection of photographs compiled by Hopper and Tony Shafrazi reflect both the turmoil and optimism of the time as few others have and is a must read for anyone interested in the era both culturally and spiritually. Included are essays by Tony Shafrazi, art pioneer Walter Hopps, and a biography by journalist Jessica Hundley with excerpts from Victor Bockris’s interviews of Hopper’s famous subjects, friends, and family. Hopper, who died May 29, 2010, was not only a talented artist, actor, screenwriter and director, but a photographer who captured the world with the same sensitivity he gave as an actor and screenwriter. I couldn’t put it down - VS

Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home Nigella Lawson CHATTO & WINDUS, HARDBACK, 512 PAGES, £26.00

Nigella seduced America with her cooking. And good looks. England’s domestic goddess, Nigella Lawson, is of the much-loved, easy-to-cookapproach school of cookery. She isn’t bothered by exact measurements or pernickety methods; she’s too busy licking chocolate off the mixing spoon! Yes, food and sensuality haze a bit with Nigella (there are gorgeous photos of her in a slinky red satin dressing gown). But don’t forget, she is actually a great cook. In her new cookery book, Kitchen, she has some American twists, cooking US favourites like barbecued beef mince – otherwise known as your Sloppy Joe. And TexMex cheesy chilli. And San Francisco fish stew. Why not try cooking your Thanksgiving meal Nigella’s way – butternut, rocket and pine nut salad with spiced pumpkin chutney over sweet potato supper; apple and cinnamon or chocolate banana muffins; cinnamon plums with french toast; everday brownies; chocolate chip cookies; all washed down with an Americano or blueberry vodka. Plus, don’t forget July 4th party favourites – pigs in blankets! And, if you’re after some traditional Olde English Fayre, she’s got those recipes covered, too. Enjoy! - EL


Competitions

SECRETS OF WAR The Complete Series Narrated by Charlton Heston

H

ollywood superstar Charlton Heston narrates the award-winning series exploring lesser-known aspects of the twentieth century’s major global conflicts. This 7-disc set features interviews with authors, eyewitnesses and includes rare archive footage and authentic re-enactments. You’ll be facing a tough battle not to buy this informative box set, available from all good retailers on 9th May 2011, rrp £59.99. 26 hour-long films cover subjects such as sabotage and secret communications during the First World War, Nazi Gold, the development of ‘super-guns’, brinkmanship in the Cold War, the intelligence support enabling Israel’s victory in the

B

illy F Gibbons is the head honcho of blues rock supremos ZZ Top. He’s a modern polymath: as well as a musician he is an actor, modern art connoisseur and, of course, a hot rod car and bike customizer. With music journalist and producer Tom Vickers, BFG has written a great book that tells the story of his incredible career alongside the equipment he has used and collected along the way, both stringed and wheeled.

Six Day War, the secret methods of the Viet Cong and the air war over Vietnam, and the use of ‘stealth’ weapons technology and clandestine operations during the Gulf War.

Win the Box Set We have three box sets of Secrets of War for the winners of this competition. Answer this question: Which Charlton Heston film featured a chariot race? A. Ben-Hur B. Planet of the Apes C. The Ten Commandments

HOW TO ENTER: Email your answer and your contact details (name, address and daytime telephone number) to theamerican@blueedge.co.uk with SECRETS COMPETITION in the subject line; or send a postcard to: SECRETS COMPETITION, The American, Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK; to arrive by mid-day May 31st, 2011. You must be 18 years old or over to enter this competition. Only one entry per person per draw. The editor’s decision is final. No cash alternative.

BILLY F GIBBONS Rock + Roll Gearhead

The Eliminator coupe, Cadzzilla and Hogzzilla are all here, plus BFG’s incredible guitar collection, from his legendary ‘53 Les Paul Pearly Gates to the famous furry “Legs” Explorer.

Win Your Copy Now Out now in paperback, published by Voyageur Press at £16.99, this is a must-read for any music-, car-, bike- or guitar-head. The American has three copies to give away. Just answer the following question: Billy F Gibbons’ famous Hogzzilla is a heavily modified version of what make of motorcycle? A. Indian B. Harley-Davidson C. Victory

HOW TO ENTER: Email your answer and your contact details (name, address and daytime telephone number) to theamerican@ blueedge.co.uk with BFG COMPETITION in the subject line; or send a postcard to: BFG COMPETITION, The American, Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK; to arrive by midday May 31, 2011. You must be 18 years old or over to enter this competition. Only one entry per person per draw. The editor’s decision is final. No cash alternative.

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The American

THEATER PREVIEWS It’s a blink compared to the 400 years since the man who have it its name was alive, but in the half century since the Royal Shakespeare Company was born it has changed the way the bard’s plays are performed and enjoyed. To celebrate the RSC’s 50th anniversary the company has rebuilt its home, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, into a modern adaptation of its Elizabethan forebears, complete with a ‘thrust’ stage, in which the stage projects into the audience, allowing them and the actors to share the space of what is known as a one-room theatre. The £112.8m rebuild was not an easy time for the RSC. There was controversy over plans to demolish the exterior of the 1932 building (built on the site of the original 1879 Shakespeare Memorial Theatre). After some negotiation the exterior was retained, while the interior was demolished and completely rebuilt. The new theatre was officially opened on March 4th this year by The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. The first production in the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre will be Macbeth, directed by the RSC’s Artistic Director Michael Boyd and starring Jonathan Slinger in the title role.

A History of the RSC in 50 Objects Until the end of this year, you can visit an exhibition of crucial artefacts from the RSC’s history. Dame Peggy Ashcroft’s costume from the 1963 production of The Wars of The Roses, David Tennant’s from his Hamlet, and Antony Sher’s iconic Richard III from 1984 will be on display together with hats, posters, costume designs and prompt books. They will be shown at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Hall’s Croft and Nash’s House, all in Stratford-upon-Avon. You can also see the items online at www.rsc.org.uk/exhibitions, where they will be uploaded in small batches. If you have seen – or been part of – any RSC productions, you can add your own memories online. You can even visit the Swan Room in the Swan Theatre which has been transformed by artist Shane Waltener into a large ‘birthday cake’. Along with willing members of the public, he has made a ‘frieze’ using sugar craft and graffiti techniques, sugar paste, royal icing and sweets decorating the walls. It’s open until 24 July.

ELLIE KURTTZ

RSC New Theater Marks Half Century

Tennant and Tate For Much Ado The RSC don’t have the monopoly on Shakespeare. Josie Rourke’s new production of the bard’s timeless comedy Much Ado About Nothing is previewing at Wyndham’s Theatre, London, from May 16 and booking until September 3. The big draw for many will be the pairing of David (Dr Who) Tennant and Catherine (Donna) Tate as warring lovers Benedick and Beatrice. In the play’s main sub-plot, the couple’s endless witty sparring threatens to keep them apart forever. Tennant and Tate, who so memorably sparked off each other as the Doctor and his companion seem ideally matched to play the bantering pair.

UK Debut for Einstein on the Beach Unbelievably, Robert Wilson and Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach, An Opera in Four Acts has never been staged in Britain. That changes from May 4 to 13 at the Barbican Theatre, part of the contemporary opera season Present Voices and the London 2012 Festival. The work blended opera, theatre and performance art and made the names of its creators when it debuted in 1976 at the Festival d’Avignon in France, then at the Met in New York. It surprised audiences with its four interconnected acts divided by a series of short scenes but no traditional intervals and its lack of a traditional orchestral – Glass composed the score for synthesizers, woodwinds and voices.


The American

Girl Talk – I Am Woman The Pheasantry Jazz Club, Kings Rd, Chelsea, London SW3 4UT • Reviewed by Jarlath O’Connell

A

bout ten years ago a trio of jazzpop singers in London, all of whom had blossoming solo careers of their own – Barb Jungr, Claire Martin and Mari Wilson – collaborated on a joint show called Girl Talk. This was a celebration of all things girlie, encompassing Bacharach and David, Tamla Motown and even Doris Day. It was post feminism hits the cabaret stage. What they did was take wonderfully hoary old numbers from the 50s and 60s which either celebrated girlhood obsessions with boys and dating (My Guy, Walking Miracle) or affirmations of woman’s subservient role in the scheme of things like Doris Day’s A Woman’s Touch, the hymn to the liberating power of the duster. They delivered them straight, in simple yet perfect arrangements (by their skilled accompanist Adrian York) that drew on their impeccable mastery of close harmony singing, and all with a little added twist of irony. The advent of Germaine Greer of course called time on lyrics such as Wives should also be lovers too (a big hit for Jack Jones), but it is very sobering to think just how recent this all was. It’s like watching Mad Men. Jungr is Britain’s leading chansonnière and has gone on to produce acclaimed albums of Dylan and Brel and Presley and now has regular residencies at the Café Carlyle in New York, the mecca of cabaret, as well as a hectic touring schedule. Nobody can match her forensic skill at taking apart a lyric and transforming the familiar, which is what separates a great cabaret singer from someone who merely sings standards in a frock.

THEATER REVIEWS She is also incredibly daring in her choice of material and her influence is visible here, where they have replaced about 80% of the material. The original CD from Linn Records is worth checking out. Barb is wonderfully complemented by husky soul diva Mari Wilson, who came to attention in the 80s with some great retro hits, not to mention a fab beehive, and a glorious newcomer Gwyneth Herbert. Her tone recalls Peggy Lee but she brings an interesting contemporary edge to the group and her solo turn with Elvis Costello’s The Other Woman is a highlight. Despite stirring renditions of I Enjoy Being a Girl and the eternal I’ve Never Been to Me the revamped show presents some glimmer of consciousness raising with Helen Reddy’s stirring I Am Woman. Where will this all end, I wonder? Sisters are doin’ it for themselves perhaps?

The rest too is gloriously eclectic with everything from the B52’s deranged Give Me Back My Man to disco classics like Young Hearts Run Free or I’m Every Woman to the Rolling Stones Under My Thumb. The girls do also keep the irony in check at times with powerfully emotive performances of Parton’s Jolene and even Streisand’s Woman in Love. The show is packed with wit, frocks, hairdos and make-up and builds to a rousing encore of the Motown classic Needle in a Haystack. Their love of the music and respect for the words comes through, as does their individual artistry. It is no mean feat, with just three voices and a piano, to compete with our treasured memories of these original highly produced pop singles. Husky soul diva Mari Wilson, glorious newcomer Gwyneth Herbert and Britain’s leading chansonnière Barb Jungr STEVE ULLATHORNE

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The Umbrellas T of Cherbourg

Cabaret diva Meow Meow is the true star of the show STEVE TANNER

he innovative Cornwall based theatre company Kneehigh made such a splash with their West End and Broadway transfers of Brief Encounter that they attracted many illustrious fans. Among them was legendary French film composer Michel Legrand, who asked Emma Rice, the artistic director, to have a go at adapting Jacques Demy’s classic 1964 film The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, which Legrand himself had so memorably scored. The result is an inventive delight but one which will divide audiences. It has the trademark fluidity and inventiveness of Kneehigh’s work but fans of the original movie’s lavish visual style may be disappointed that it doesn’t approximate the film’s astonishing colour photography or set design and fans of more traditional musical theatre are likely to moan that the orchestration of Legrand’s subtle jazz score is far too muted for a two hour West End show. The score does lack variety and the refrain of I Will Wait For You comes back like indigestion, which probably explains Legrand’s decision to throw in two other hits: Di-Gue Ding Ding to send us away humming and the torch song Sans Toi. Still, not being a great musical does not mean it isn’t great theatre and there is much to admire in Rice’s wonderfully detailed direction of a cast led by the West End veteran Joanna

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Author: Jacques Demy, Music by Michel Legrand • Directed, adapted, choreographed by Emma Rice • Gielgud Theatre, London • Reviewed by Jarlath O‘Connell Riding. She brings real presence to the role of the matriarch and it is sobering to see the great star of Carousel is now playing “someone’s mother”, as Sondheim put it. Demy broke new ground with the film (which won the Palme D’Or in Cannes in 1964), by marrying the high romanticism of a sung-through musical with the commonplace love story of the Algerian war intruding in the lives of a pair of young lovers in a sleepy French port. Lovers of the film are drawn to its universal themes of settling for what is at hand rather than fixating on adolescent dreams of romance and the story couldn’t be simpler. Boy meets girl, war separates them but not before she has gotten pregnant. She settles for a marriage of convenience to a rich family acquaintance. The highlight of the film is the final bittersweet chance encounter of the lovers in a snowbound petrol station, when both realise they’ve grown up and moved on. The original Genevieve was of course Catherine Deneuve, luminous in mink as she purchased her petrol.

Rice’s most radical step has been to bookend the show with the fishnet-stockinged cabaret diva Meow Meow. Ably abetted by a trio of hunky matelots her 15-minute vaudeville turn playfully introduces us to Cherbourg and the French and she and the chorus then re-appear throughout as minor characters. They also literally move characters around in Rice’s, always exquisite, movement direction. It’s a daring device and it helps to ground the otherwise overwrought romanticism of the central story. In the leads Carly Bawden brings a welcome harder edge to the heroine and American Andrew Durand is strong as Guy. Embittered by the war he quits his job and is saved by the love of a good woman. Cynthia Erivo brings a poignant sadness, and a great voice, to the small but crucial role of Madeline. Lez Brotherston’s designs be they artful neon or clever scale models enhance Rice’s vision for the piece but the true star of the show is Meow Meow, who is there, as she puts it, to “fill eeen zeee oles”.


The American

In a Forest Dark and Deep By Neil LaBute • Vaudeville Theatre, Strand, London Reviewed by Jarlath O‘Connell

A

brother and sister, Bobby and Betty, meet up in a cabin in the woods during a raging thunderstorm. Gradually fusillades of recriminations are unleashed. LaBute’s latest recalls Sam Shepherd, but sadly the machinations of its thriller plot get in the way of any real depth. Of course we are here because Matthew Fox, the star of Lost, who is making his West End debut, plays Bobby and he is ably assisted, as Betty, by the great Olivia Williams, who was recently acclaimed in Polanski’s The Ghost. We’re deep in LaBute territory here, so the men are jerks, but the raw shock of his early work such as The Shape of Things or In the Company of Men has now somewhat dissipated. Red-neck, hard workin’, pick-up drivin’ Bobby balances his misogyny equally with antigay and anti-liberal diatribes which, while droll enough in themselves, now leave a feeling of déjà vu. You wish too that the great moralist, LaBute, would for once give his men a break. What LaBute achieves expertly however is to get to the heart of sibling rivalry, how you can never really bullshit a sibling and how that can make you mad as hell. Betty, the college English lecturer, has called on Bobby to help her clear out this remote cabin, which she had rented out to a student who has left suddenly. She and Bobby are not that close as he frowns on her promiscuous past, but she is desperate. As they clear the books they each pick away at old wounds, the way families do. (Note to Director Labute here: it would have been so less distracting if they convincingly cleared the shelves of books. All those boxes going out to the truck half empty isn’t poetic licence, it’s annoying!). Pretty soon we realise that Betty is being economical with the truth about

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The Children’s Hour By Lillian Hellman • Comedy Theatre, London • Reviewed by Jarlath O’Connell

D

irector Ian Rickson and a busload of producers have thrown everything they’ve got at this. It is beautifully acted, looks great, is packed with stars at the top of their game and is the hottest ticket in town. It’s just a pity that all this effort has been expended on such a fraud of a play. This production is notable for casting movie star Keira Knightley opposite TV star Elizabeth Moss (Peggy from Mad Men, making her West End debut). If that wasn’t enough they’ve also brought over American acting royalty, Ellen Burstyn, as well as Carol Kane, who will never live down the dippy Simka from TV’s Taxi, despite also being an Oscar nominee. Set in an all-girls boarding school in Thirties New England the plot revolves around a vengeful, troubled young girl Mary (Bryony Hannah) who runs home to her grandmother (Burstyn) and announces the two headmistresses in her school, Karen (Knightley) and Mar-

JOHAN PERSSON

why she is clearing the place and the play then becomes one great revelation after another, as layers are peeled away. LaBute skilfully maintains the tension in a tight running time of 105 minutes without an interval. Williams is particularly effective at calibrating Betty’s various levels of deceit but of course the trouble with liars, dramatically, is that you quickly lose interest in anything they say. She also expertly conveys Betty’s middle-aged resentment at her loss of sexual attractiveness, a currency she has traded on for far too long. Fox is solid and intense as the crude Bobby – “I’d never go after a skirt till I’d finished with the last one” he boasts and of course he convinces totally when he describes how he fought them off. His Old West moral code however gets seriously dented when it’s revealed he’s also been a wife beater. The nub of the play is the familiar ‘Culture Wars’ argument: hick vs. liberal. Bobby provokes by dismissing the value of studying English Lit and says the only people he respects are the cops or the guy who clears out his septic tank. By the end though, we are made aware that these two are more alike than they think and a shared moment, dancing manically to an old Pearl Jam favourite is quietly, if ear splittingly, touching. An oblique suggestion of incest is hinted at but not followed through and it becomes clear that Bobby’s revulsion stems in part from his lost illusions about his beloved sister. The play excels as a portrait of sibling psychological warfare; it’s just a shame though that it is hitched to a hokey ‘cabin in the woods’ thriller.

tha (Moss), are having a lesbian affair. That accusation destroys their careers and blows apart Karen’s relationship with her fiancé Joe (Tobias Menzies). Premiered in 1934 it caused an expected furore and sealed Hellman’s liberal reputation. Transformed into a straight ménage-a-trois for the 1936 movie version, it was filmed again in 1961, with Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn this time ducking the L word. MacLaine has spoken (in the documentary The Celluloid Closet) of how aghast she was that noone on the set ever discussed the ramifications of the plot. We’re now in 2011, it’s no less dishonest, yet it still gets revived. Hellman always made clear that the character of Karen was straight and often claimed the theme of the play was not lesbianism at all but rather the effect of a lie. This doesn’t wash. Hellman always wore her liberal credentials on her sleeve and deliberately chose this titillating subject matter. She was happy to court controversy yet never had the courage to represent in this play the situation she purported to care about. It’s the substance of the lie that always matters and shying away from that makes this piece ultimately dishonest. It was her first play and structurally it creaks. The first act is particularly sluggish, the set-ups leaden and the melodramatic ending overcooked, yet,


Keira Knightley and Elizabeth Moss star alongside American acting royalty Ellen Burstyn, and Carol Kane JOHAN PERSSON

despite all this, Rickson has managed to craft a beautiful piece of theatre from it. The leads are utterly convincing, Moss particularly poignant in her coy but determined infatuation. Knightley is perfectly poised as the love object and Carol Kane is reliably daffy (all chiffon scarves) as Martha’s ne’er do well aunt. Martha has little time for her fanciful notions of returning to the stage and it is the girls eavesdropping on their blazing row, where Aunt Lily accuses Martha of being “unnatural”, that sets events in train. Rickson’s direction is wonderfully assured. He shapes little tableaux vivant for the girls to cover a scene change and expertly portrays their bored, petty, scheming. Bryony Hannah’s gawky and boyish Mary steals the show, although it stretches credibility that she would be believed. A tightly coiled spring of frustration, she expertly spins her lie and blackmails her gormless accomplice Rosalie into supporting her tale. It’s a triumphant performance, particularly notable in this exalted company. Burstyn displays true star quality too. In other hands the steely benefactress Mrs Tilford would have just been a battleaxe, instead Burstyn humanises her and you even empathise with her dilemma. This is a Rolls-Royce cast in a Model T play.

Flare Path

JOHAN PERSSON

By Terence Rattigan • Theatre Royal Haymarket, London • Reviewed by Jarlath O’Connell

A

rriving hot on the heels of the National Theatre’s huge success last year with After The Dance (which has just cleaned up at the Olivier Awards), Flare Path is the first in what promises to be a rush of Rattigan revivals, in this his centenary year. Following some stunning revivals of his work in the 90s Rattigan is now firmly back in favour. It wasn’t always the case. In the 1960s after a threedecade run of phenomenal success he found himself out of favour and dismissed by the theatre establishment as the author of middlebrow fare, condemned with faint praise for his “well made plays”. Inspired by his own bomber command experiences, Flare Path premiered in 1942, when it chimed perfectly with the mood of the public. Still embroiled in the war, this story of the brave sacrifice of the men of Bomber Command and their stoic wives was greatly admired by Churchill himself. Later reworked as the movie The Way to the Stars, the action covers one long night in the residents lounge of a hotel close to an RAF bomber base in Lincolnshire,

wonderfully re-created in Stephen Brimson-Lewis’ dowdy set, enhanced by some great projections of the Wellington bombers. The womenfolk wait anxiously for the return of their aircrew husbands and the plot hinges on a love triangle between a young bomber pilot, Teddy (Harry HaddenPaton), his actress wife, Patricia (Sienna Miller), and an ageing Hollywood star, Peter Kyle (James Purefoy). Kyle’s glamorous appearance has shaken up the provincial outpost but it transpires his career is on the skids and he has arrived to convince Patricia to elope with him. Rattigan primly contrasts his selfishness with the nobility of the airmen and Purefoy, born to play matinee idols, succeeds in an underwritten part swinging between dashing romantic lead and selfish brat. Working class characters were never Rattigan’s strong suit and here too they are generally reduced to comic foils, with Sarah Crowden wonderfully contrary as the battle-axe hotelier, Mrs Oakes. Sienna Miller greatly impresses within the limitations of a big ‘star’ role and while there is no doubt she

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will stand by her man, especially when she discovers the extent of his neediness, she agonises beautifully in the process. As her boyish husband Teddy, HaddenPaton paces his role perfectly, making his eventual breakdown scene all the more moving The standout however is Sheridan Smith, who is utterly riveting as Doris the Countess, a chirpy ex barmaid now married to one of the Polish airmen. In the play’s most moving scene Peter translates a letter sent by her husband to be read in the event of his death. Smith is heart-wrenching as she slowly discovers the true extent of her husband’s feelings for her and as her insecurities about him possibly deserting her ebb away. She deserves another Olivier award next year to add to the one she’s just nabbed for her star-making role in Legally Blonde. The unearthing of After the Dance was certainly a theatrical highlight of last year, however this play is no match for it in terms of emotional complexity. At its heart it’s a propaganda piece and is best Harry Hadden-Paton on the way to a breakdown, Sienna Miller agonising beautifully JOHAN PERSSON

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T

Top: Sheridan Smith, utterly riveting as the barmaid who marries a Polish airman. Above: James Purefoy, born to play matinee idols, with the greatly impressive Sienna Miller JOHAN PERSSON

when serving as a poignant reminder of the psychological toll of war and the raw fear felt by these young men going out, night after night, to stare death in the face. Trevor Nunn’s torpid direction of the play doesn’t help things along but nevertheless, while the emotional punch may take some time in coming, when it does finally arrive, this play still has some real power.

he Rattigan Centenary bandwagon continues with a revival of his swansong play, which premiered in the West End in 1977 as he was dying of cancer. Originally written for BBC radio (and it shows) it is not his best but is given a vibrant production here by Thea Sharrock, helped in no small part by a sensational cast led by Ann-Marie Duff, who positively shimmers in the lead role. Duff won a cartload of awards for her Saint Joan and is better known for a gallery of great film and TV work of late. At first sight she and indeed her co-star Niamh Cusack seem curiously miscast, both physically wrong for these haughty women, but their skill as actresses wins through and both are utterly compelling. Cause Célèbre is an odd conjunction of two stories, one relating a notorious true crime story of the 1930s when Alma Rattenbury, an upper middle class Bournemouth housewife, became bored with her crumbling old Niamh Cusack and Simon Chandler play Edith and John Davenport JOHAN PERSSON


The American

Cause Célèbre By Terence Rattigan • Old Vic Theatre London • Reviewed by Jarlath O’Connell husband and began a torrid affair with her 17 year old houseboy, culminating in the husband being battered to death with a mallet. Both were tried at the Old Bailey for the murder (then a capital offence) and the play gets to the nub of did they do it jointly or did he act alone. This is married to a parallel tale of the genteel conservative Edith Davenport (Cusack) who ends up on the jury for Alma’s murder trial. She is ashamed to be going through divorce herself, her husband having strayed because of their own barren sex life. That her teenage son’s hormones are also going into overdrive only adds to her distress. Freddie Fox, (yes, those Foxes), is perfectly floppy haired as Tony and now seems to be cornering the market in such posh young lad parts. Edith is egged on too by her monstrous bourgeois pal, Joan, and Lucy Black delights as this furred and be-jewelled wasp of a character.

Edith pleads with the Judge to be excused from the jury because she feels so prejudiced against Alma but is refused. The core of the play is this clash of values but Rattigan uses it to explore familiar territory – the stifling hypocrisy of society and that very English abhorrence of passion. From the outset the play recalls Tennessee Williams in its celebration of the outsider punished for their wayward passions. The first half is a rather unsubtle plea for tolerance for those outside society’s sexual norms and rather oddly it asks us to sympathise with a murderess, but then in the second act it shifts gear and becomes a routine court room pot-boiler, which wouldn’t look out of place as an episode of Rumpole of the Bailey. Indeed the wonderfully suave Nicholas Jones, as her

Barrister O’Connor, could be a John Mortimer creation and Rattigan has much fun skewering the legal profession for whom these court dramas appear almost as amusing parlour game about role-play. What redeems the production is Duff’s passion. She manages to make the audience love her and the sheer life force on display makes the romance and her desperate attempts to protect her lover totally believable. Again we have a play about society grinding down those who stick out too much. This is a worthy revival, for which we are grateful to Mr Spacey. H

A sensational cast is led by the shimmering Ann-Marie Duff JOHAN PERSSON

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The American

What the “Fukushima” is going on? Stop the doom-mongering, and the ‘democratic bombing’, pleads Alan Miller

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erhaps Newsweek’s Special Double April issue summed it up simplest with the title emblazoned on the front cover: Apocalypse Now. It followed on with a question “What the #@%! Is Next?” presenting a variety of events, the Tsunami, earthquake, ‘nuclear meltdown’, revolutions and economies on the brink as all part of some larger mystical Nature’s Revenge mixed with Divine Retribution for all our sins of daring to live on the land and produce things. In spite of Newsweek’s somewhat more populist positioning (in light of the recent changes there), much of the coverage and debate around the earthquake, Tsunami and subsequent impact on the nuclear plant at Fukushima says more about our anxiousridden times and the tendency to project doomsday scenarios than about what actually happened. The largest earthquake to date in Japan resulted in an enormous Tsunami. However, as many noted, the immediate response of the Japanese was an impressive, stoic one where they embarked on the project of dealing with things. The western media however has paid less attention to the thousands who died and the towns that were destroyed than the “potential for nuclear meltdown”. It speaks volumes as to the West’s narcissism and self obsession that the commentary usually takes the form of what it “means for us”. So, in the

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U.S., there has been continued handwringing about nuclear plants, from New York to California. In Germany, seven nuclear reactors were closed down, the UK ordered a safety review and Günther Oettinger, Europe’s energy commissioner joined the chorus using “apocalypse” as a description adding that “practically everything is out of control”. It is of course fine and sensible to have ongoing checks and rigorous standards at any energy plant – however the continuous hollering about Armageddon-like scenarios completely misses the mark. (It also ignores how dangerous ‘conventional’ energy is with deaths occurring regularly in mining).

Assuming the worst in any situation I have discussed in various articles in The American how society has become intoxicated with assuming the worst in any situation. Thus the discussion about Avian Flu, Mad Cow’s Disease or even mobile cellular phones somehow causing cancer all receive disproportionate and one sided attention. Often this is presented as being “better safe than sorry” as though that were a smart way to handle risk objectively. However, this outlook, known also as the ‘Precautionary Principle’ actually detrimentally impacts both our response to events, and outcomes. The narrative about

the Fukushima reactors is continually placed alongside reference to Chernobyl, for instance - although the two are entirely different in every way. In Chernobyl back in 1986 there was an explosion that led to the core of a reactor being exposed followed by a fire that raged for days spreading radioactive material over Russia and Europe. In Fukushima there were explosions, as shown on TV, but – as UK journalist Rob Lyons points out – they were due to hydrogen gas emissions. While they blew a roof off, they were not ‘nuclear’ in any way. Further, there has been little ability to accurately assess deaths from Chernobyl, exceeding workers at the plant and some local children in the region of 50 or so people. While every life is indeed tragic, the scale is worth reiterating when we are reflecting on potential consequences and attempting to work out strategies and options. While some said it was simply the “Japanese way” to get on with things in an orderly fashion, BBC America continually suggested that the Japanese government was hiding information about levels of radiation and danger. Contrary to this, the alerts that the government made to the world about radiation levels in food, water and surrounding areas has snowballed. As Bill Durodie the expert on risk analysis at Nanyang Technological University, Singa-


The American

An entire house adrift at sea after the Japanese tsunami DYLAN MCCORD, US NAVY

Satellite photo of the Fukushima dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant on March 18th, after being hit by the tsunami and explosionsimage IMAGE: GOOGLE PICASA WEBALBEN

pore explains, we could eat Japanese spinach for one year and it would be equal to levels associated with a CT scan. Durodie further argues, “Drinking the water in Tokyo for a year might expose you to an additional 0.8 millisieverts (mSv) of radiation. But then living in some of the places on earth where the natural background radiation is above the norm could easily expose you to 10 times as much”. Others have pointed out that the current radiation levels are similar to eating a banana or two. However, this has not stopped significant decreases in consumption of Japanese produce. After such a terrible tragedy, handled so admirably, it is shocking that further damage is being done due to our outlook that we are perpetually at risk from everything and that how ever bad you think things are, you can bet they’re really worse. We are living in times where we feel increasingly isolated and separate from one another, with few common universal bonds that seem to connect us and the bigger ideas of the past that united so many, political ideologies of Left and Right, religious views and so forth have largely dissipated. (Yes religious ones too, in spite of the claims that we have a resurgence of religion it is notable that in general attendance and observance globally

has decreased). The precautionary principle ties in with the sense that humans are generally now at risk from everything. Rather than, in previous generations, believing we are history-making agents of change, we now see ourselves as being at the mercy of natural and man-made meltdowns of various kinds. Assuming the worst in every situation informs dreadful policy decisions that exacerbate the problems. We need to remind ourselves that while the tragedy in Japan recently was terrible, the fact that they have engineered buildings that ‘move’, have reliable communications systems and excellent infrastructure means that human ingenuity – and learning from things historically – places us in an ever better situation to control our destinies. Lets stop the doom-mongering in every situation and insist on an evaluation based on facts not fears.

Bombing-in democracy

Finally, the intervention in Libya, championed by France and Britain and led eventually by the USA (after a disorientated and confused response) has at various points been presented as being necessary to “stop the massacre” that would havebeen perpetrated by Ghaddafi. It’s also described as being legitimate as it is far more benevolent and humanitar-

ian than Iraq or Afghanistan, and also because the Arab League endorsed it. This attempt to moralize a bombing campaign is utterly out of step with what freedom and autonomy means. Those who were uncomfortable with Iraq and Afghanistan have rallied around the possibility of resuscitating some sense of a moralizing mission in Libya. With little positive to offer at home, politicians have jumped at the chance to present themselves as the freedom-loving helpers of ordinary people. (Although not of course if they happen to be Syrian, Bahraini, Yemeni or in the Ivory Coast). This is a dangerous moment. Liberty and freedom go hand in hand with sovereignty and independence. Democracy cannot be bombed-in by major nations from above. It takes ordinary people to make their destiny a reality and the cavalier way many have disregarded the principle of national sovereignty is outrageous. The one thing that is certain is that the destiny of ordinary Libyans gets further away from true democracy the more they become dependent on western governments. H Alan Miller is Director of The New York Salon www.nysalon.org in NYC and founder of London’s Old Truman Brewery cultural center and on the London Regional Council of the Arts Council England.

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The American

What British Experts

Really Think

of U.S. Presidents

Professor Iwan Morgan analyzes the results of the first UK Survey of American Presidents

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n 1960, U.S. political scientist Richard Neustadt began his seminal book, Presidential Power, with the observation: “In the United States we like to ‘rate’ a President. We measure him as ‘weak’ or ‘strong’ and call what we are measuring his ‘leadership.’” In the half century since then, presidential rating has become a regular exercise for U.S. scholars. Over the same period, study and research of U.S. history and politics expanded dramatically in UK universities. Until now, however, there has been no UK poll of U.S. presidents. In September/October 2010, the United States Presidency Centre [USPC] of the Institute for the Study of the Americas (University of London) made good this omission by conducting the first ever UK scholarly survey of U.S. presidents. 47 UK specialists on American history and politics were asked to score the presidents from one (“not effective”) to ten (“very effective”) in five categories: (i) vision/agenda-setting – did the president have the clarity of vision to establish overarching goals for his administration and shape the terms of policy discourse? (ii) domestic leadership – did the president display the political skill needed to achieve his domestic objectives and respond effectively to unforeseen developments? (iii) foreign policy leadership – was the president an effective leader in promoting U.S. foreign policy interests and

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national security? (iv) moral authority – did the president uphold the moral authority of his office through his character, values, and conduct? (v) positive historical significance of their legacy – did his legacy have positive benefits for America’s development over time? Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945) was placed first overall, with Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) second and George Washington (1789-1797) third. Roosevelt came first in three categories: vision/agenda-setting; domestic leadership; and foreign policy leadership; Washington came first for moral authority; and Lincoln did so for the positive significance of his legacy. Only one president since 1960 – Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) – made the top ten, coming in at No 8. Most recent presidents held middling positions: Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) at 18, Bill Clinton (1993-2001) 19, George H. W. Bush (1989-1993) at 22, Richard Nixon (1969-1974) at 23, and Gerald Ford (1974-1977) 24. However, George W. Bush (2001-2009) at No 31 came in the bottom ten and was the lowest rated of any since the scandal-hit Warren Harding (1921-1923), placed at No 38. Other than Harding, the bottom five presidents held office just before and after the Civil War (1861-1865): Andrew Johnson (1865-1869) at 36, John Tyler (1841- 1845) 37, Franklin Pierce (18531857) 39, and James Buchanan (1857-

1861), last placed at No 40. Barack Obama (2009 - ) is held in high esteem by British scholars, with an interim assessment that would have put him in eighth place had he been included in the full poll. His total score was higher than for any post-1945 president excepting Harry S. Truman (1945-1953), seventh. The results show interesting differences between UK and U.S. rankings. U.S. polls habitually place Abraham Lincoln first because of his achievements as Civil War leader in restoring the Union and ending slavery. They often put Washington second ahead of FDR because of his significance in establishing the authority of the presidency. UK scholars, by contrast, have elevated FDR to first place in recognition of the challenges he faced during the Great Depression and World War II, his confident and inspirational leadership in these crises, and the enduring significance of his New Deal legacy. It is also likely that Roosevelt’s stock rose because the poll was conducted against the background of the worst economic troubles since the 1930s. Lincoln was a very close second overall in the UK poll. His historical achievement is further highlighted by the presence of very lowly rated presidents before and after him (as in most U.S. surveys). Clearly, the U.S. was fortunate to have a president with his


The American

immense skill, vision, and humanity to maximize the leadership potential of the office at the moment of greatest crisis in American history. There are also significant differences between U.S. and UK rankings of presidents outside the trio of universally-rated greats. Most notably John F. Kennedy (1961-1963), ranked sixth in a detailed C-Span poll of American historians in 2009, but fifteenth by UK academics who seemingly faulted him for the gap between his rhetoric and achievements as president. Bill Clinton (1993- 2001), who has fared well in recent U.S. polls (15th in the C-Span survey), slipped in the UK – mainly because of a very low rating for moral authority but also because his legacy, particularly his economic achievement, looks less robust ten years on from the time he left office. One criticism levelled against U.S. presidential surveys is that participants are driven by liberal bias to rate highly presidents who expanded the role of government. At first sight the UK survey looks to have a similar leaning. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the architect of the modern state, is ranked first. Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) and Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921), the early twentieth century Progressives whose agendas foreshadowed the New Deal, are fifth and sixth. FDR’s legatees, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson (19631969), come seventh and eleventh – Johnson would have been placed much higher in recognition of his civil rights achievements but for the corrosive effect of Vietnam on his foreign policy and moral authority scores. Nevertheless, countering possible charges of bias, the UK survey places some

small government advocates higher than recent U.S. polls. Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) was ranked fourth, Ronald Reagan eighth, and Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) ninth (C-Span 2009 rankings 7th, 10th, and 13th). Of course, complete objectivity in surveys of this kind is impossible. No less than their U.S. counterparts, the views of UK scholars are influenced by not only their own times but also their perceptions of how its leaders have represented America’s best values at home and abroad. The passions of the present have evidently affected the lowly position of George W. Bush and Barack Obama’s high interim score. Memories are still raw regarding Bush’s Iraq war policy and his expansion of the ‘imperial presidency,’ but his position in the bottom ten arguably underestimates the strength of his vision/agenda setting and his success in achieving his domestic objectives. Obama’s score reflects his substantive legislative achievements, his different style of leadership from Bush’s, and what he symbolically represents as the first African American president. Nevertheless, it is well to note with regard to his ultimate (rather than interim) rating that no president in the UK survey top ten failed to win re-election to a second term. Regardless of differences between the UK and U.S. surveys, one significant similarity stands out – the relatively low position of the most recent presidents compared to the earliest ones. Of the five presidents who held office from 1977 to 2009, only Ronald Reagan makes the top ten and no one else makes the top 15 in the UK

Pictured from left: Presidents Franklin D Roosevelt, Bill Clinton, George W Bush and James Buchanan

poll. In contrast, the nation’s first five presidents (who held office from 1789 to 1825) made a much stronger showing. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson placed at 3 and 4 respectively, and the others made the top 15 – John Adams (1797-1801) at 12, James Monroe (1817-1825) at 13, and James Madison (1809-1817) at 14. It might be concluded that the early republic simply possessed a superior political leadership class. The more likely explanation lies elsewhere. The massive political, organizational, and policy challenges of the modern presidency make it a far more difficult job than in the past. Our expectations as to what recent presidents could achieve may well be unrealistic when set against the many obstacles that inhibit their success. Presidential surveys will in all likelihood continue to hold a fascination for scholars on both sides of the Atlantic because of the presidency’s position as the focal point of the U.S. political system. Presidents are expected to be strong leaders and to use their leadership qualities for doing good – so rating them is one way of assessing their performance. This first UK scholars’ survey testifies to the enduring British interest in American politics and history in general and presidents in particular. Professor Iwan Morgan is Director of The Institute for the Study of the Americas’ United States Presidency Centre

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The American

Save the Planet, Drive a Jaguar

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aybe that’s overstating it, but a new 2.2-litre diesel engine will make Jaguar’s brilliant executive saloon (sedan) XF a comparatively eco-friendly choice. The firm’s most efficient engine yet develops 190 PS (euro-horsepower) and 332 lbs ft of torque, making it capable of 52.3 mpg on the combined cycle while emitting 149 g/km of CO2. A prototype development ‘mule’ vehicle has been spotted on British roads fitted with the new four-cylinder 16-valve common rail diesel engine. The engine features a water-cooled turbocharger with low-friction pistons, new injectors and a new crankshaft. One of the most important factors in the impressive efficiency is the car’s intelligent Stop-Start system, which aims to reduce the time spent in the shutdown and start-up phase by using a new crankshaft sensor and fuel rail pressure holding system. This is important in situations like approaching a busy roundabout. In other cars with conventional Stop-Start, the engine shuts down completely before restarting, leading to delays. The new power train will feature in a future XF production car with specifications and an estimated on-sale date being announced at the New York Auto Show.

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Make That Tank Last Longer

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n the U.S. gasoline is averaging around $3.75 a gallon. That hurts. And there is talk of riots if the price hits $4. But if you have just arrived in the UK, be prepared for a shock. That £1.34 price you see at British gas stations is not for gallons – it’s for liters. Converting to Great British Pounds and allowing for U.S. gallons being a little smaller, drivers in the States are paying the equivalent of £2.80 for an Imperial (British) gallon of gas, while over here it is an eye-watering £6.10. It’s time to do something about cutting the costs of motoring. Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist has some ideas to make your tank last longer. Most are simple and easy, yet many people don’t realise just how much of an impact they could have. 1. Ensure your car is well maintained. A poorly tuned engine can use up to 50 per cent more fuel. 2. If possible, travel at times when queues are shortest. Sitting in congestion uses up more fuel. 3. Eliminate short journeys if practical. Walk or cycle to the end of the road to pick up the paper. Not only will you be saving fuel, but getting that extra bit of exercise will make you feel better too. 4. Don’t carry unnecessary weight. Check you have got only the essentials in your boot and take off the roof rack if you don’t need it. 5. Look at the option of car sharing with your friends and family particularly on the school run. It’s more fuel efficient and it helps congestion.

6. The majority of cars run most efficiently at 60mph. Every 5 mph above that loses 6 per cent of your fuel economy. 7. Make sure you know where you are going before you set off. An estimated 350,000 tonnes of fuel is wasted every year by people getting lost in their cars. 8. Driving smoothly is much more efficient. Hard accelerating and sudden braking could use up to 40 per cent more fuel. 9. Consider changing your car to a smaller, greener car. Assess whether you could benefit from a change of vehicle. 10. Consider whether it is absolutely necessary to take the car. The bus or train is much more efficient and can often be quicker, especially during rush hour traffic.


The American

Indy 500 Hits 100

I Former F1 World Champion Jenson Button with F1 in Schools 2010 World Champions Unitus Racing

American Kids Get Into F1

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ichigan International Speedway will host the USA F1 in Schools National Finals from May 11th to 13th. The prestigious global event aims to enthuse school age children in the fast and furious sport of Formula 1. The national final draws together winning teams from regional events, who compete for the chance to represent their country at the World Finals to be held later this year in an international F1-linked location. Previous World Finals have been held in Australia, UK, Malaysia and Singapore, with up to 30 teams travelling to the event for the chance to win engineering scholarships to City University, London and the Bernie Ecclestone World Champions trophy. In 2004 Team Turbo from Bloomsburg High School, Pennsylvania were the first F1 in Schools World Champions to be crowned. In 2010 the USA triumphed again when UNITUS RACING, a team of students from James Madison Middle School, Virginia and Southeast High School, Florida, were crowned champions. With the building of a new race track in Austin, TX and a F1 GP fixture on the 2012 calendar, F1 in Schools looks set for further success and expansion in the U.S.

SpART Attack

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an Cook of Popbang Colour creates auto-art using model cars as his brushes. Last year he created the one-off Chevrolet SpART, a moving showcase of his work. But would-be car thieves attempting to steal the Chevy Spark damaged the artwork. While the damage was mostly cosmetic, said Ian, “I was gutted. My SpART looked very silly indeed with two plain blue doors, so there really was only one thing I could do – strip the whole thing off and start again!” “I’ve a few ideas,” he said. “But I’m also open to suggestions from those who follow my work. Anything goes, quite literally, so no matter how bizarre your idea might be, I want to

hear about it. The best ideas may well see themselves applied to the car in one way or another – but they have to be a bit wacky, and support the youth appeal and funkiness of the Spark as well as represent both what Popbang and Chevrolet stand for. Either that, or I might just throw a bucket of paint over it!” Submit your ideas via the Popbang or Chevrolet UK Facebook web pages.

t’s the centenary of what is probably the most famous motor race in the world – in years, if not in actual races. The Indianapolis 500 was not held during World Wars I (1917-18) or II (1942-45), so the 100th running of the event will not be until 2016. What is actually the 95th Indianapolis 500 will be run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 29th, during a packed Memorial Day weekend celebration. There will be a classic and antique car show and contest called 100th anniversary Indy 500 Celebration of Automobiles, featuring cars made between 1911 and 1961 and linked to the race or to the city of Indianapolis. The annual Carb Day concert will be held on Friday May 27th, headlined by metal band Staind with special guests Papa Roach. On the morning of the 500, a special auto stunt will be performed in the infield by a stunt driver from Team Hot Wheels. And Donald Trump will be the celebrity driver of the Chevrolet Camaro SS pace car. Hope it’s the tintop, or it could be a very bad hair day for Don. At the time of going to press it was not certain if the race would be available to view on British TV sets – Sky Sports has not renewed its three year deal to screen IndyCar races – it could be time to take out an American TV package!

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The American

Sideline

Richard L Gale’s take on the NFL Lockout and the imminent NFL Draft

S

o far, the NFL lockout has looked a little like a masterclass in argument clichés. It began with the ‘childish argument’ style: quite a lot of whining, with the occasional “well, you’re a big poopie-head” thrown in for good measure. At least that was the maturity level as it seemed to me when (reportedly) Panthers owner Jerry Richardson said to Peyton Manning ‘What do you know about player safety?’ . You don’t solve labor disputes that way. Next up, we had ‘parental proxy argument’ style: both parties in the same building, but not talking to each other directly. “Tell your mother we don’t have endless cashflow”

Jake Locker © MAX WAUGH/ UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON

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... “Well you tell your father it isn’t just about the money.” (By the way, it IS about the money). That led to an Eastenders ‘soap-style’ argument, all huffs and slammed doors and snaredrums, with both sides retreating, much as both probably intended as soon as one of them could find an appropriate enough moment to storm out. And now Judge Susan Nelson (their new marriage guidance councellor) has sent both parties back into the house to try and talk it out again. Daily reports suggest progress is slow. Very slow, like two people sitting with their arms folded, occasionally mumbling “Well you started it”. The question is: is anybody ever going to finish it? Because that’s all we really care about. The millionaire-billionaire sulk-fest leaves me cold. I’m not going to trawl through the daily leaks and hints as to what issues are considered ‘core’ (money) and which are just windowdressing added to give them negotiation room at such time as everybody involved seems inclined to genuinely start the process (the length of the regular season). And I honestly believe the process has not begun yet. Up until now, both sides have been waiting for somebody – somebody legal – to throw the first good punch. Judge Nelson understandably refuses to do that.

At some point the hardline businessmen and the professional athletes – both of whom, by definition believe that winning is the only option – are going to have to compromise. Yup, this could be a long one.

Quarterback Conundrum

In the meantime, the NFL draft is upon us, and thanks to a 6'3" former ‘field game’ player from Eton and St Andrews due to be grabbed between the first and second rounds, most of us in England have an extra day off at just right moment. ESPN America will have live coverage of Rounds 1-3, and – in a stunning first – BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra will also carry coverage of the first round, bringing it to a DAB radio or Freeview set near you. This year’s draft, more than most, is likely to be shaped by its quarterbacks – not so much because of their blue chip quality, but because of the range of perceived flaws they possess at a moment when plenty of franchises are looking for something just a little better. Amongst the passers to watch for during rounds 1-3: Blaine Gabbert (Missouri) As the scouts went through their process (falling in love with measurables, ignoring game tape), Gabbert’s risen to the top. However, calmly going through his reads wasn’t a strength, and thrown into an early start role, Gabbert could be a turnover machine. If he and his team show patience, he could be the best in the longer-term.


The American

Cam Newton (Auburn) So big, so strong, so athletic that there’s simply never been anything like him before. He’s a football legend in the making ...and he knows it, which may be the only reason he doesn’t succeed. Has he the character you need going into an offseason with so much guaranteed downtime? Jake Locker (Washington) Talks and behaves off the field like a franchise QB. Looks like one, with the arm strength of one. Never consistently played like one, though. With just the right coach, Locker (pictured opposite) could well succeed. As most coaches think they are the right coach, he’s attracted a lot of interest. Colin Kaepernick (Nevada) A hot pick for going ‘earlier than expected’, Kaepernick’s blend of athleticism, leadership, height and football smarts could see him sneak into the late first round. Andy Dalton (TCU) Shorter than an English prince, and usually dressed in the same colours as the American one. Might wear purple again, with the Vikings in the market. Dalton has leadership, experience and a track record of winning, but may not have an NFL arm. A career backup? Ryan Mallet (Arkansas) 6’ 7” with a powerful arm, but pretty slow to move. Actually very slow. Did I mention he’s 6’7”? Yessir, Mr Davis, he can really throw the deep ball. (6’7”). Others: Ricky Stanzi (Iowa). Good motion, decent size, nice leadership; Christian Ponder (FSU). Oft-injured, but always looked comfortable, with intangibles. Either of these two could reward teams with steadier play than the bigger names above. H

Tennis:

Is Djokovic poised for No.1 run? Can Novak match Nadal now clay season is here?

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ith Rafael Nadal landing his 7th Monte-Carlo title in a row, it is temping to think of Rafa as untouchable, now that Roger Federer’s dominance appears to be in decline, and Andy Murray’s momentary rise to world no.2 in 2009 looks increasingly like an aberration. Federer was given a final go-round as champ while Rafa took an injury pause, but with the French, Wimbledon and US Open titles in the past twelve months, the Spaniard enters the clay court season – effectively his home surface – looking as unstoppable as ever. Just not as unstoppable as Novak Djokavic. Much as Rafa’s celebratory indentations are all over that MonteCarlo trophy, it is Djokovic who is the lone unbeaten player on the men’s tour this year, 24-0 at press-time, starting the year by claiming the Australian Open title, then following up wih the Dubai Championship, Pacific Life Open and Sony Ericsson. By comparison, Monte-Carlo was Nadal’s first title of the year, out in the quarters in Australia, before losing – to Djokovic – in the finals of both the Pacific Life and Sony Ericsson. As The American went to press, Nadal was in no danger of immediately losing his top ranking, 3000 points ahead of Djokavic, and about to play the Barcelona Open, an event at which he last lost a match when he was just 16 years old. Plus, of course, this is clay; Djokavic has only played

Impressive on hard court, yet to make an impact on clay, but what will the tennis landscape look like next time he steps out on grass? © GETTY IMAGES / GETTY IMAGES PUBLICITY

on hard court so far this season – his favored surface – while he has won no clay court tournament in the past 12 months. Last year, even beating Fernando Verdasco on clay proved too much for Djokovic. Still, Djokovic is on a charge. Federer is no longer the challenge for Djokovic, who he owned last year, Novak already having beaten Federer three times in 2011. Andy Murray has fallen back into a chasing pack with Robin Solderling and David Ferrer, and the highest-placed US man is now Mardy Fish ...so what is else is there to do but contemplate the gap between Djokovic and Nadal? Djokovic’s run may be nothing more than something sports writers and bookmakers worry about, but if, somewhere from here to the French Open, he manages a clay court title, tennis fans are going to be taking the Djoker a lot more seriously. H

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The American

Herts and Diamonds America’s pastime is no further afield than Hemel Hempstead, writes Bruce Dullea

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or any American in the UK looking to participate in our national pastime, the place to seek out is Hemel Hempstead, the home of the Herts Baseball Club. The British Baseball Federation has been in existence for quite a while, but many clubs throughout the country have had difficulty attracting members and promoting the sport. HBC has been a notable exception. Since they were founded in 1996, their growth and contributions to the sport in the UK have been phenomenal. Much of this success can be attributed to club President Aspi Dimitrov. “Over the years Herts Baseball Club has been aiming to bring the MLB experience to its members, both the adult and the Little League teams”, states Dimitrov. “This year we are even closer to delivering this with the addition of the Herts Baseball TV Channel which will enhance our media coverage even further. The Herts Baseball Shop will be unveiled shortly and our members will be able to buy official merchandise just like the MLB shop. The investment in the ballpark facilities has enabled the Club to turn it into an entertainment venue on game days. The club will be making new investments to make further ballpark improvements. A key to the club’s long-term plans for growth and success will be the Little League and the club is already starting to benefit from the many talented players coming through the youth teams and making their debuts for the Herts senior teams and the Great

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Britain National Teams”, The growth and progress attained by the club is very noteworthy. Their Little League was launched in 2007. In 2008 the Falcons (their top club) were promoted to the National League, the top tiered league in the country. They have been able to attract a great deal of media attention, they have a very impressive website, strong sponsorship, and have two of the best playing fields in the country. Their growth and success can in part be attributed to TV, newspaper, and radio coverage which has been very positive in terms of expanding the sport in England. They have the top facilities of any organization in the country, and hosted the 2010 finals at their ballpark in Hemel Hempstead. The organization has also been very international in nature, and includes Americans, Brits, Bulgarians, Japanese, Sri Lankans, South Africans, and Australians. The club has three different teams which enable the opportunity to play at varying levels. This does not include their Little League program that has developed many youngsters interested in learning about the game and improving their skills. The Falcons first season in the National League was very challenging, primarily because they were competing against ex-college and professional players. They were two seasons removed from the AA league (the third tier of British Baseball) and were competing with essentially the same squad. There were questions

about their ability to compete, but these were laid to rest as they finished their inaugural campaign with a .500 record, which was very successful. 2010 was a bit more daunting. There were some internal obstacles, and many of their top players were split between the top two clubs (Falcons and Eagles) so they struggled and finished with a 9-19 record. The good news is that the club now seems to have alleviated these issues. 2011 will have a “back to the future” dynamic, as long time club member an ex-Falcons Manager Lee Manning was voted to return to lead the club. Manning has been involved with the time since their inception in 1996 as a 14 year old, and is very excited about the team’s prospects. “Everyone is relaxed and excited about the season. The atmosphere has been great, and we’re really looking forward to it”, stated Manning. The key to any club’s success is pitching, and Darrin Ward will be the team’s ace. He is a former Great Britain National player, and was the team’s MVP in 2009. One of the primary reasons that the Falcons struggled in 2010 was that Ward spent the season with the Eagles, the clubs AAA team. Now that he has returned, the pitching staff will be much stronger. The Falcons pitching will also be deep, and will include Nic Goetz, Louis Hare, and Petar Kikel. Goetz and Hare are both control specialists, and Kikel has a good fastball, and pitched extremely well throughout


The American

Above: Louis Hare will be part of the Herts Falcons pitching staff as they look to reach the playoffs.

2010. He led the team in wins (4), and his best outing was a complete game 1-0 shutout over the power hitting Richmond Flames. The defence will be strong, both throughout the infield and outfield. The player that Manning is very high on is center fielder Mahendra Prasad, who has exceptional speed. Manning states, “I have never seen a center fielder play shallower than Mahendra, and there are very few balls that go over his head that he is unable to get to”. Prasad is a former member of the Sri Lankan National Baseball team. The top hitter on the club is second baseman Kimoyoshi Saionji. This is his seventh year with the Falcons, and in 2010 he hit .317, and was tied for the club lead in home runs (2), and led in RBI (16). It was his dramatic home run off of Richmond ace Cody Cain that capped a 1-0 victory and was probably the highlight of the 2010 season. Several of the other newcomers that Manning is high on are Troy Linton, Jim Arnott, and Liam Green. Linton will play the middle infield, and is good defensively and is a good contact hitter. Arnott is in his second season playing, but has shown the ability to get on base and has good speed and power. He is also a pitch-

Top, inset: Leicester Blue Sox key man Xiaoqian Hu is rumored to have signed with the Nottingham Rebels. ALL IMAGES © HERTS BASEBALL CLUB

Richmond lifted the National Baseball League (NBL) trophy last year? Who will it be in 2011?

ing prospect and will spend time with the Hawks (AA club) working on that. Green is a 15 year old prospect who is the captain of the Herts little league club and is being groomed as the future catcher for the Falcons. Aspi Dimitrov will play in the outfield, and other members of the 2011 Falcons will be outfielder Jamie Munn, OF Rod Naghar, OF Jonathan Lewys, and IF Perrie Sherman. To long time followers of British Baseball, the Herts Baseball Club’s growth and contributions to the sport in the UK have been simply outstanding, and unsurpassed by any other club. They should be truly commended. For any Americans spending time in the UK, it is certainly a slice of home. With all the publicity and interest in soccer, rugby, and cricket, it is very refreshing that us Yanks can “take me out to the ballgame” over here. H Find out more: www.hertsbaseball.com and www.baseballsoftballuk.com


Nathan Rempel’s stickwork didn’t secure Guildford the EPIHL league title, but he later sent the fifth goal home as the Flames won the Playoffs. PHOTO BY ALAN BONE

British sports leagues go down to the wire British Ice Hockey: The Guildford Flames have won the English Premier League Playoff Championship with a 5-3 defeat of the Milton Keynes Lightning, despite losing the League title to the Manchester Phoenix by a single game. In the rival Elite Ice Hockey League, the Sheffield Steelers edged out the Cardiff Devils claiming the league title on the final day of the season courtesy only of a tie-breaker over Cardiff. British Basketball League: The Mersey Tigers finished one game ahead of the Newcastle Eagles, who had been looking for a fourth league title in a row. In a final week head-to-head matchup, the Tigers triumphed 80-75, adding the Championship to the BBL Trophy they won in March. Both the Eagles and Tigers are through to the semi-finals of the Playoffs, with the final on Saturday 30 April at the Birmingham NIA. British University American Football: The Portsmouth Destroyers won the BUAFL National Title in only their fifth season with a 20-19 win over the more storied defending champs, the Birmingham Lions, after the Lions failed on a 2-point conversion with less than two minutes left in the championship game.

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What’s the Buzz? Sting – probably the highest-profile wrestler of modern times not to have appeared for WWE – talks to Josh Modaberi

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ting has been in the wrestling business for over 25 years, starting out in 1985, and he doesn’t show any signs of calling it a day soon as he is currently the TNA (Total Nonstop Action) Heavyweight Champion. The wrestler, whose real name is Steve Borden, is one of the most popular wrestlers of his generation and is a 14-time world champion. Sting is probably the most well-known wrestler to have never competed in WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). The 52-year-old is remembered most for his time in WCW (World Championship Wrestling) and has many fond memories of his 14 years with the company until they were bought up by WWE. “To sum up the highlight for me during those WCW days, it would have to be all those years leading up to Monday Nitro,” Sting tells me. “We were always the second best wrestling organisation and never quite as good or big until we landed Monday Nitro. “After a while we eventually became the number one wrestling organisation. It was good after a decade long battle to become the number one wrestling company in the world. “Then to take it world wide, that was a pretty good feeling, and I had some of the best matches of my career in WCW with the match against Hulk Hogan at Starcade 97 being my favourite match.”

There are many similarities between WCW and the company Sting wrestles in now: TNA. Last year, two old acquaintances of the Stinger, Hogan and Eric Bishoff, joined TNA. “I had some concerns, from knowing them and what happened in WCW,” the Californian grappler said. “Towards the end at WCW there were too many people who had hidden agendas. When TNA decided to bring in Hogan and Bishoff, two of the big powerhouse names, to make WCW a huge success, and then you throw me into the mix as well it is either going to be really good thing or it could be a disaster.” Sting recaptured his latest world title in 88 seconds against Jeff Hardy, but doesn’t feel the swiftness of the victory will tarnish his championship reign. “There is no other way of saying it, there is a scare there,” Sting continued. “You had pay per view companies, wrestling fans who paid to see something and they didn’t get to see a match. “To cut a long story short it just sucks and I can’t try and pretend it doesn’t. I was sick it happened the way it did, but it is something that had to happen the way it did. Now the only thing to do is move ahead. “I do believe Jeff will come back here. He is too big a superstar not to have around. I have always wanted to have that match with Jeff Hardy and


The American

have always wanted to tag with Jeff. I’m routing for him and hope he gets better soon.” As the world champion, Sting knows better than most the amount of people that will want a shot at the gold around his waist. With a number of Brits plying their trade in TNA he doesn’t feel it will be long before a British star is crowned champion. “We are seeing more and more British wrestlers coming over here,” Sting revealed. “It is only a matter of time. There are at least three Brits here that are absolutely outstanding, any one of them will be worthy champions.” Episodes of TNA’s flagship programme Impact! have been taken on the road to some big arenas this year and Sting feels it is something we can see more of in the years to come as the company looks to expand out of the Impact Zone. “I think you are going to see more episodes of Impact! being taken on the road,” Said the Stinger. “It’s what we did with WCW and it only helped us. There are wrestling fans all over the United States that would love to see the big live events, the television events. “It is going to grow our brand and company and cause more people to watch us on television and that is what we need. Especially the younger guys like Soma Joe, AJ Styles and Eric Young to become household names.” As well as seeing TNA stage episodes of Impact! and PPVs in big arenas across the US, Sting feels it won’t be long before they film an Impact or PPV in the UK. “For me personally, it is something I would like to see happen,” said the 52-year-old. “I would love to be a part of it and think it would

be good for everybody. It would be good for TNA, great for England and good for wrestling fans all over. It is something I actually believe will happen.” Having never competed for Vince McMahon’s company, Sting reveals he has held talks with the WWE Chairman and on occasions has been close to putting pen to paper. “Vince has approached me several times with regards to joining the WWE,” Sting continues. “I was close every single time and was probably closer than ever the last go around at the start of the year. In January it was very very close. “However I have always chosen to stay put. All those years throughout the nineties, especially the early 2000s, I always believed Vince McMahon wanted me more to undercut WCW than to have me as a talent. Whether that is true or not I don’t know, but those are the reasons. I came close but never did do it.” And with such a great career and many stand out matches to choose from, Sting talks about his dream match that he would like to have before hanging up his boots. “With regards to in TNA, I would like to do something with The Pope D’Angelo Dinero,” Sting said. “It’s funny actually, because there are a lot of the younger guys come up to me and say ‘I just

want to wrestle you one time before you retire’. “As far as a match with someone from outside TNA goes, I would love to step into the squared circle with The Undertaker.” H Catch TNA iMPACT! every Tuesday night at 10pm on Challenge TV on Sky channel 125, Freeview channel 46 and Virgin Media channel 139.

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The American May 2011  

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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