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December 2011

The TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE

Est. 1976

®

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! s y a d li o H y p p Ha MUSIC • REVIEWS EATING OUT• SPORT WHAT’S ON • Politics Arts CHOICE

ROBERT LINDSAY The Lion In Winter Interviewed The Occupy Protests: Why and What Next? Christmas in Britain

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August 2011

the trAnSAtL

Antic MAGAZin

Est. 1976

e

October 2011

THE TRANSATL

ANTIC MAGAZIN

E

Est. 1976

®

£2.80 ®

o.uk www.theamerican.c September 2011

£2.80

THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE

www.theamerican.c o.uk

Est. 1976

November 2011

THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE

Est. 1976

®

£2.80

®

ARTS CHOICE WHAT’S ON • POLITIC S MUSIC • REVIEWS EATINg OUT • SPORT

£2.80

www.theamerican.co.uk

S WHAT’S ON • POliTic RT SPO • T OU EATiNG iEWS ARTS • MUSic • REV

Idina Menzel

Arts CHOICE Eating OUt • SPORt Interview WHat’S On • POliticS MUSic • REViEWS

tennant & tate Much Ado Reviewed

ies that Fashion: The accessor will make your summer Jordan oll Carr Travel: James cruises the Med

ALSO: Bruce

JOeL ruBin On

GhOSt the MuS

icAL

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FOOTBALL ISSUE College and NFL Season Previews

NFL at Wembley! Bucs v Bears Previewe d Storm Large swapping red hot rock for Pink Mart ini

Osbourne House - Queen Victoria’s favorite home WIN A Copy of Fun new book about the stars’ Cars

Missing America?

GOING STATESIDE Is Nostalgia What It Used To Be?

Eating OUt • SPORt WHat’S On • POliticS MUSic • REViEWS aRtS cHOicE The 2012 Election starts here Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback review

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The American ®

Issue 704 – December 2011 Published by SP Media for

Blue Edge Publishing Ltd.

Old Byre House, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK Telephone all departments +44 (0)1747 830520 Publisher: Michael Burland editor@theamerican.co.uk

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Welcome We couldn’t help but take a serious look at some serious matters in this issue – the Occupy protests seen from two very different angles, the ongoing 2012 presidential race, some serious news – but neither have we forgotten that this is the most meaningful and happy time of the year for most of us. We’ve got some great ideas for where to go, what to do, which shows to see, where to eat and even what to read at this special time. Whatever your tradition we wish all of our readers a peaceful and fulfilling time over the next month. Happy Holidays and Happy Christmas. Enjoy your magazine,

Correspondents: Mary Bailey, Social mary@theamerican.co.uk Richard Gale, Sports Editor richard@theamerican.co.uk Alison Holmes, Politics alison@theamerican.co.uk Jeremy Lanaway, Hockey jeremy@theamerican.co.uk Estelle Lovatt, Arts estelle@theamerican.co.uk Josh Modaberi, Sports josh@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., www.advent-colour.co.uk ISSN 2045-5968 Cover:(Main) Robert Lindsay, Photo: Catherine Ashmore; (Inset left) Natural History Museum Ice Rink; (Inset right) Occupy Wall Street, Photo: David Shankbone

Michael Burland, Editor editor@theamerican.co.uk

Some Of This Month’s Contributors

Alan Miller Director of The NY Salon in New York City, co-founder of London’s Truman Brewery and The Vibe Bar and sits on England’s Arts Council. He is, in these difficult days, that rare thing – an optimist.

Dr. Alison Holmes, an Okie now based in California. She is an international relations scholar, an Associate Fellow, Rothermere American Institute Oxford University and a Churchill Memorial Trust History Fellow.

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

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

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The American

In This Issue... The American • Issue 704 • December 2011

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4 News Cheerful charity news plus a British soldier honored by U.S. Marines 7

Diary Dates A hand-picked selection of the finest festive events and attractions that Britain has to offer

11 Christmas ‘Over Here’ Some ‘must-do’ holiday season activities to try while you’re in Britain

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13 Enjoying Skábma and Pamamaskó The world has some very funny and descriptive words to describe the Yuletide season 16 Fashion Tips and trends for the festive season along with the pick of last minute gift ideas aimed at our gentlemen friends 19 Art How paintings have influenced the movies – and vice versa 22 Wining and Dining Restaurant reviews, and recipes from the great chefs

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28 Cellar Talk Christmas in Savannah: a heartwarming trip down a southern memory lane complete with an everything-warming hot drink 29 Coffee Break A quiz, a Sudoku puzzle and a cartoon... time to put the kettle on and relax

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30 Music Blues maestro Keb’ Mo’ talks to The American about some big changes in his life

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34 Interview: Robert Lindsay As stage and screen favorite, Robert Lindsay stars in the West End production of The Lion in Winter, he talks to The American 37 Book Reviews What makes a better present than a well-chosen book? Here’s The American’s selection of Christmas specials

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40 Theater Reviews Lee Blessing’s great Cold War play A Walk in the Woods is subtly updated 42 Politics The Occupy movement is a major political happening, but what does it stand for? Sir Robert Worcester also continues his indepth look at the ongoing presidential race 48 Drive Time Feeling Superior: Riding trail bikes and Harleys round the coast of the Great Lake

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51 Sports The state of play in the NHL’s ‘toolong schedule’ 57 American Organizations Useful and fun societies for you to join

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Roger Daltrey meets young cancer patients at the UCLA unit

Rupert Frere, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011

The American

Lance Corporal Stephen Lewis receives his Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal

Who Icons Launch U.S. Teen Cancer Program Rock legends Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who admit they owe much of their success to teenagers. Unlike some, they repay that debt. The singer and guitarist have announced the launch of the UCLA Daltrey/Townshend Teen & Young Adult Cancer Program, which will help young cancer patients at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. The new program, also supported by Robert Plant, is the first of its kind in the United States and builds on the successful efforts of Daltrey’s Teenage Cancer Trust, which has helped fund 19 special teen cancer units in the UK. The belief is that young people shouldn’t stop enjoying life just because they have cancer. The program’s special hospital unit will be a comforting environment where young people with cancer are treated together, staying in patient rooms located around a common lounge so they can provide emotional support for each other. Roger Daltrey said, “At a time when your body is changing, your social life is everything and you’re still trying to figure out who you are, getting cancer can seem like an impossible blow to take”. The public can support the program via Who Cares, a fundraising initiative for fans of the Who.

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US Marines honor British Paratrooper In an unusual move, a British paratrooper has been awarded an American military honour for ‘his decision, actions and calm leadership in the face of chaos’ while serving alongside US Marines in Afghanistan. Lance Corporal Stephen Lewis, of the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment received his (US) Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal from Major Timothy Wernimont, United States Marine Corps during a ceremony at Colchester’s Merville Barracks 31 October 2011. The 33 year old was recognised for his actions during a 10 man joint patrol with US Marines on March 28 this year, which was sent out to investigate suspicious activity at a compound in the Nahr-e Saraj (South) area of Helmand province. An improvised explosive device (IED) detonated and injured five of the troops, including the patrol commander. LCpl Lewis took control of the situation, providing first aid for the casualties and organising their evacuation by helicopter, while at the same time ensuring the patrol was protected against further attack. The citation reads: “LCpl Lewis’ initiative, perseverance and total dedication to duty reflected credit upon himself and 2nd Battalion The

Parachute Regiment and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Marine Corps.” LCpl Lewis, from Gateshead in the North East of England, said, “I’m very proud to receive this medal and see it as recognition of all that we did together with the Marines in Helmand. When the IED exploded I just did what was needed without thinking. We train very hard so we know what to do in these situations and I just did my job, as did others out on the ground that day. It was very rewarding to be working alongside the Marines. They are a very professional outfit and it was interesting to see how troops from a different country operate.” Major Wernimont, from the US Marines’ 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, added, “This medal is given to our Marines when they have done something extraordinary or above and beyond expectation. It is without question that LCpl Lewis has met these criteria.” LCpl Lewis is pictured on the right, wearing the Paras’ famous maroon beret that won them their nickname of the ‘Red Devils’, bestowed on them in World War II by terror-struck German troops during ferocious fighting in North Africa.


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Worldwide Travel Alert Iran Plot The Department of State is alerting U.S. citizens of the potential for anti-U.S. actions following the disruption of a plot, linked to Iran, to commit a significant terrorist act in the United States. This Travel Alert expires on January 11, 2012. As you may have heard in the news media an Iranian-born U.S. citizen, working on behalf of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard is suspected of conspiring to assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States. U.S. citizens residing and traveling abroad should review the Department’s Worldwide caution and other travel information when making decisions concerning their travel plans and activities while abroad. U.S. citizens are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) online or directly at the U.S. Embassy so that the embassy can contact them in case of emergency. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

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JLL volunteers collate holiday hampers

Christmas Charity Hampers The Junior League of London needs your help – as long as you are reading this before December 3. The women’s volunteer organisation, the majority of whose members are American expats, collects donations for and assembles 1,000 gift baskets for families and individuals in need each Christmas in the Kensington and Westminster areas. You can find out more information and even watch a video about their work at: www.jll.org.uk/jll/npo.jsp?pg=projects&article=512. The hamper assembly day is on Saturday, 3 December in Wandsworth. To help with this, or (if you’re reading this after December 4th) any of the JLL’s activities, contact them via the website.

10,500 Cheers for Charity A record £10,500 was raised for Berkshire and Surrey charities at the American Women of Berkshire and Surrey’s 28th Holiday Craft and Gift Fayre November 4, 30% more than the previous best total and almost double the £5,475 from last year. The historic

Pavilion ballroom complex at Ascot Racecourse drew a record 1,000 people and the quality of crafts and gifts on offer resulted in record donations from vendors who donated 10% of their sales. Contact the group at www.awbs. org.uk


The American

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 Until December 24

Christmas Markets Across the UK and Europe Christmas markets are fun and a great way to get all your festive requirements as well as presents. Among the best in Britain are in Bath, Bournemouth, Canterbury, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland in London, Leeds, Portsmouth and Waterperry, Oxfordshire. Check the website for dates and details. www.christmasmarkets.com/UK

Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, London

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland Hyde Park, London

December 1 to January 31, 2012

Across the UK

Pantomime is the traditional winter family favorite, a theatrical extravaganza based on fairy stories and folk tales, often starring TV soap actors and comedians, with songs, slapstick, corny jokes and audience participation (It’s behind you... Oh no it isn’t... Oh yes it is!). The ‘principal boy’ is played by a girl and the ‘dame’ is a man! Your local theater is bound to have a panto. A must. www.bigpantoguide.co.uk

December 1 to January 2, 2012

Christmas and New Year at Shakespeare’s Globe

November 18 to January 3, 2012

Panto!

music and readings during which two great processions move around the entire building which is, by the end, illuminated by almost 1300 candles. Arrive early for seasonal refreshments in the Cloisters. www.salisburycathedral.org.uk

Hyde Park is magically transformed into an enchanted Winter Wonderland with London’s largest ice rink. Attractions include Santa’s Grotto, Zippo’s Traditional and Extreme Circuses, a free visit to Santa with gifts for lucky children who meet him, rides, big wheel, Santa Land Express Train and a Christmas market. www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com November 25 to November 27

The Advent Procession - From Darkness to Light Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury Beginning with the cathedral in total darkness and silence as the Advent Candle is lit. The service is a mix of

Concert for Winter on December 8th at 1pm (tickets are free, but must be booked in advance by emailing community@shakespearesglobe.com). Frost Fair exhibition (Dec 1st to Jan 2nd) showcasing traditional London winters from Elizabethan Frost Fairs to Victorian Christmases. In the Activity Weekend (Dec 17th and 18th, included in the price of a standard exhibition ticket) families can enjoy a range of activities including live sword fighting demonstrations, Elizabethan costume dressing and printing demonstrations using a full–size recreation of a 17th Century printing press. www.shakespearesglobe.com December 5

Carols By Candlelight Southwark Cathedral, London High calibre musical, choir and solo performances by renowned musicians, and readings by celebrities including Sir David Frost and Baroness Benjamin. Ticket packages include Green tickets, £25 (guests enjoy mulled wine and mince pies in the festive marquee before the concert at 6pm) and Red tickets, £70 (guests are invited to the

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green reception and the post-concert red reception with champagne and canapés with the celebrities and performers). Service starts 7.30pm. All money raised will go ChildLine, the UK’s helpline for children. www.nspcc.org.uk sarah.metcalfe@nspcc.org.uk 020 7825 2978 December 9 to December 11

The Sixteen: Hodie Christus natus est various

Continuing the Barbican’s season of English–language oratorios, the Academy of Ancient Music performs possibly the most famous of all oratorios, Handel’s Messiah. The Messiah has become a Christmas institution and in this period performance, the Academy of Ancient Music is joined by Sarah Fox, Anna Stephany, Andrew Kennedy and Stephan Loges, with Richard Egarr conducting. www.barbican.org.uk December 21 to December 22

Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury

Sing carols with one of the world’s greatest early music ensembles: Harry Christophers and The Sixteen, his a cappela group. Dec 7th Reading Town Hall, 9th Queen Elizabeth Hall, 11th Birmingham Town Hall. www.the-sixteen.org.uk

The Christmas Procession is the Cathedral’s carol service with readings interspersed between carols. Here the focus of the procession is the Christmas Crib which shows the story of the birth of Jesus. 7pm (doors open 6pm). www.salisburycathedral.org.uk

December 10 to December 22

December 21

The Lazy Elf

Midwinter sun in an ancient tomb

Arts Theatre, London, WC2H 7JB

Maeshowe, north–east Orkney, Scotland

Christmas show: Larry, an extremely lazy elf (played by BBC children’s TV star Ben Hanson) would rather have a nap than make toys for all the boys and girls. www.thelazyelf.com

At one of the finest architectural achievements of prehistoric Europe, older than the Egyptian pyramids. At sunset on midwinter’s day ( the winter solstice) the sun shines down the length of the entrance passage and dramatically illuminates the back wall of the main chamber for a few minutes. www.maeshowe.co.uk

December 13 to December 19

London International Horse Show Olympia, London W14 8UX A packed programme of equestrian competition, thrilling displays and non–stop Christmas entertainment. Olympia is the host to the UK’s only FEI World Cup Qualifiers for both dressage and jumping. www.olympiahorseshow.com

Handel’s Messiah by the Academy of Ancient Music Barbican Hall, Barbican Centre, London

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December 23

Tom Bawcock’s Eve Mousehole, Cornwall A festival held in celebration of the efforts of one Tom Bawcock to lift a famine from the village. During this festival Star Gazy pie (a mixed fish, egg and potato pie with protruding fish heads) is eaten. Probably derived from a pre–Christian midwinter festival. www.information-britain.co.uk

November 29 to January 8, 2012

American Museum in Britain Claverton Manor, Bath BA2 7BD Housed in Georgian splendor at Claverton Manor in Bath, the American Museum in Britain remains the only museum outside the US to showcase the nation’s decorative arts. There are permanent exhibitions, workshops, Quilting Bees every Tuesday, kids’ activities and special events: NOV/ DECEMBER We reopen for Christmas at Claverton, from November 25th until December 18th. Celebrate the twelve days of Christmas and discover how early American settlers spent the long winter months. In a Massachusetts tavern, Mrs. Conkey is preparing a feast of partridge and pear pies for her guests. As she waits for her ball guests to arrive, the owner of a Baltimore home puts the finishing touches to her swan mask. My true love has left a trail of golden hearts throughout the period rooms. Can you find them all? The Christmas shops will be open throughout this period, selling a range of original Christmas gifts and decorations. For courses phone 01225 823014. www.americanmuseum.org www.geffrye-museum.org.uk 020 7739 9893


The American

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The American

The Kirkwall Ba’ Game

concerts, ceilidhs and rock–bands. www.edinburghshogmanay.org/

Kirkwall, Orkney Islands

December 31

December 25

Every Christmas and New Year’s Day shopkeepers along Kirkwall’s winding streets barricade doors and windows in preparation for the next day’s traditional Ba’ game. It is a game of mass football played with a ba’, a hand–made cork–filled leather ball. Some 400 boys and men of the town are designated ‘Uppies’ and ‘Doonies’, an affiliation that originally depended upon the place of birth. The aim of the game is to carry the ba’ to their own territories at the opposite ends of Kirkwall. The Ba’ is awarded after the game to a player in the winning side who has been a notable participant over a number of years. www.bagame.com December 26

Boxing Day Walrus Dip Pembrey Country Park, near Llanelli, Carmarthenshire Swimmers come dressed as anything from bananas to fish and walruses, wedding couples to cowboys and Indians. Spectate, or (brrr!) take part. www.visit.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/ December 31

New Year’s Eve / Hogmanay Across the UK New Year’s Eve is a massive celebration in Britain, with public and private parties everywhere. Particularly in Scotland, where it is called Hogmanay. Listed as ‘one of the top 100 things to do before you die’, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party brings Princes Street and the Gardens alive with festivities, around 100,000 revellers gathering to bring in 2009 in style. One of the world’s biggest outdoor parties, it includes candle–lit

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Flaming Barrels

length of wire with a handle at the end. Before they are lit they are doused in paraffin. www.stonehavenfireballs.co.uk

Allendale, Northumberland The custom of men welcoming in the New Year by carrying pans of blazing tar on their heads is still kept alive in Allendale, Northumberland on New Year’s Eve. The unique Pagan ceremony is held at midnight with a colourful procession through the town to the Baal fire. A team of local barrel carriers dressed in fancy costumes, balance flaming whiskey barrels filled with hot tar on their heads through the streets to the town centre. The barrels can weigh as much as 30lbs (15kg). The procession is timed to reach an unlit bonfire shortly before midnight, then each man in turn tosses his flaming ‘headgear’ on to the bonfire, setting it ablaze. On the stroke of midnight, all join hands and dance around the fire, singing Auld Lang Syne. www.northern-pennines.co.uk December 31

Stonehaven Fireballing Festival Old Market Cross, Stonehaven, Kincardineshire, Scotland Thousands gather at the Old Market Cross in the fishing port of Stonehaven for this fiery festival to welcome in the New Year. A traditional pipe band signals the start of the proceedings and at the stroke of midnight, fireballs are lit and participants whirl the baskets of fire around their heads as they march to the old cannon in the High Street and back to the harbour. This New Year festival has been celebrated for hundreds of years to literally burn the bad spirits of the past year and welcome in the new. The fireballs are baskets made of wire netting, stuffed with driftwood, pine cones and twigs and attached to a

December 2 to December 4

The British Military Tournament Earls Court, London A spectacular show themed around the special relationship between the UK and the U.S.A, telling the 250 year military history between the nations from the American War of Independence to Afghanistan, with performances of military precision, re–enactments and state of the art audiovisual in one of the most spectacular and largest theatrical productions of its kind. Features over 700 participants, active combat servicepeople, musicians from the Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force and US Army, and skilled historical American Civil War re-enactors, horses and military vehicles, the legendary Field Gun Run, the Musical Drive of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, stunts from the White Helmets (Army Motorcycle Display Team), the US Army Drill Team and the US Army Europe Band & Chorus and much more. In aid of military charities. www.britishmilitarytournament.com 0870 903 9033 10


The American

Christmas 'Over Here' Holiday activities are a little different in Britain compared to back home in the States. Mary Bailey discovers some 'must-do' activities in and around London this holiday

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ike many Americans, you and your family may be going home for Christmas but many also stay in Britain over the holidays for a variety of reasons - perhaps it is work, or maybe you have just arrived. In any event, here are a few ideas for activities to get you in the festive mood. First, London is not one of those very Christmassy cities that dresses up for the occasion, not like Venice, Rome or Vienna, but it has quite a lot going for it at this time of year. There are carol concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, part of Raymond Gubbay’s Christmas Festival, and they are terrific. Telephone the Albert Hall 020 7838 3109 to select the concert that suits you. (Dates through December, www.royalalberthall.com) There are masses of guided London walks and they are really good. As well as the more serious, there are frivolous ones, such as Jack the Ripper and Harry Potter walks. There’s also a Ghost Bus. Flash up London Walks on your Google and you will be inundated. You can also book that way. The famous Norwegian Christmas tree: every Christmas since 1947 the

people of Oslo have sent Britain an enormous spruce tree in gratitude for the help the UK gave them in World War II. On the first Thursday of December it is delivered to Trafalgar Square where it beams forth until Twelfth Night, to the delight of the Mayor of Westminster and thousands of onlookers. Various choirs sing round it each night and it is fun to attend and belt out the carols with them for a while. It is all in aid of various charities. Before that you may like to be sustained by an English afternoon tea. This wonderful tradition is obviously taken in the afternoon and consists of scones, clotted cream and jam, sandwiches and cakes of all kinds. It is delicious and probably terribly bad for you and your waistline but who cares... you don’t eat it every day. It has come back into fashion recently and, at the best restaurants and cafés, you must book. For the full effect, try to get a table between 4 and 5pm if you can get that time. The Ritz do it very well, the Savoy and all kinds of restaurants too, but I would recommend Brown’s Hotel where I used to be taken after the pantomime by my godmother.

Very English! Google Browns Hotel and then go to The English Tea Room. And talking of pantomime... Yes, you should go. Maybe just once, depending on how much you like it, but it is part of the classic British Christmas holiday. I cannot describe a pantomime beyond saying it is a fairy tale with extras. Men take women’s roles and vice versa. As a guideline, tradition dictates that the good characters enter on one side of the stage, while the baddies, such as King Rat, enter from the other. Good actors are often happy to appear in panto and there are several around. Richmond Theatre in South London is doing Cinderella and that promises to be very good. Book soon. The American Church in Tottenham Court Road has a Christmas Eve service at 7pm, where you can enjoy a Christmas that feels like home. And for another kind of warm feeling, volunteer to help Crisis at Christmas (www.crisis.org.uk), a great charity that makes Christmas a better time for homeless people.Some places that are rather crowded in summer are delightful in winter and I think the London

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Zoo's penguins - more welcoming to the sparser crowds in winter

The pantomime dame, a great British tradition

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Zoo in Regent’s Park is one of them. The penguins have a lovely lake and are in very good mood in the cooler weather, and some animals bored by summer visitors seem more welcoming to the sparser crowds. There is plenty of food and hot coffee to keep you warm. The Royal Zoological Society does amazing conservation research there too, unseen by the public. Children can adopt an animal for a year, but be careful. My boys chose a baby shark and called it Cynthia - I had expected something a bit more warm and cuddly. Phone the zoo for details of winter openings on 020 7722 3333. The best way of getting to the Zoo is by a boat trip from Camden Lock (try www.londonwaterbus. com). It is a lovely trip though Regents Park and the river taxi uses its own entrance to the zoo. Also, Camden Lock is great fun at Christmas with its fascinating, bohemian stalls, clothes, strange foods and restaurants. Covent Garden is another festive Christmassy place to visit with lots of music and street performers among the shops. Nearby is St Martins Theatre where the play The Mousetrap is showing after a continuous run of over 50 years. Its a great old whodunnit. Agatha Christie, who wrote it,

gave the rights to her grandson, thinking it would only run about 8 months. Lucky boy! The London Duck Tour is a World War II amphibian craft that’s been converted to give people a land-based tour of Central London’s main tourist attractions, Big Ben, The Palace of Westminster and so on, before plunging into the Thames from its own launch pad for the river part of the tour. It maybe a bit gimmicky but children like it - and so did I! It starts from York Road, just behind the London Eye. Costs vary a bit but it should not be more than £18 per adult and less for variations! Another thing to do, of course, is to get out of town! Britain’s countryside hotels do Christmas very well. Do choose one of the most expensive you can afford, phone them and ask for their programme and attitude to children and animals if that’s important to you. The Cotswolds or Sussex are good areas and not too far to go in these very short days if you’re Londonbased. Their Tourist Offices will give advice. Shopping: do not forget the less obvious places. There are surprising bargains with modestly priced antiques. Drive, or take the train, the 50 miles to Brighton and take a morning going through ‘the Lanes’ or try the London markets. Also the museums and art galleries have lovely shops with gorgeous items. It’s usually a bit quieter than the normal shops and the coffee is better!. Ice skating is everywhere, you really cannot miss it. In and around London, the Natural History Museum, the Tower of London, Somerset House and Hampton Court Palace all have excellent Christmas daily programmes. It certainly is a ‘funny old world’ but let us hope for a peaceful pause and a VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS!


EnjoyingSkábma &Pamamaskó

The American

Adam Jacot de Boinod loves words, the more unusual the better, and he searches the world’s languages for the most evocative. Here he addresses the topic of Christmas and the New Year. All over the world the advent of the festive season is eagerly awaited, whether for the singing of carols, the trimming of the tree or the cheering prospect of a white Christmas. Here’s how people around the world see it in their own words… skábma (Sami, Northern Scandinavia) the darkest part of winter tewtle (Yorkshire dialect, UK) to snow just a few flakes cloggins (Cumberland dialect) balls of snow on the feet

Enjoy your office party, but avoid the Tantenverführer!

devil’s blanket (Newfoundland) snowfall which hinders habitual work sluppra (Shetland Isles dialect) halfmelted snow barvinter (Swedish) a snowless winter Then comes the ‘decking of the halls’… téliesít (Hungarian) to convert a house for winter use hederated (UK 1661) adorned with ivy beschneien (German) to cover with artificial snow The wind-down from work starts in earnest with the annual office party: Just beware of the Tantenverführer (German) a young man of suspiciously good manners you suspect of devious motives (literally, aunt seducer) and el pupo (Spanish), someone who likes to touch women inappropriately (literally, octopus) or worse still an okuri-okami (Japanese) a man who feigns thoughtfulness by offering to see a girl home only to try and molest her once he gets in the door (literally, a see-you-home wolf). Doubtless, they run the risk of dragging the pudding (UK c1870) getting the sack just before Christmas. In Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, your age is measured not in years but in how many Christmases you’ve lived through: you’re not twenty, you’re twenti krismas. Rather less charmingly,

the Japanese expression to describe single women over 25 years old is kurisumasu keiki - leftover Christmas cake. For some, it’s the expectation of a good old get together … pamamaskó (Tagalog, Philippines) the act of visiting during Christmas gezellig (Dutch) an atmosphere of cosiness, of being with good friends, and spending time together laughing and having fun; the kind of moments that create memories And the customary shopping sprees … emax (Latin) fond of buying ipatapata (Lozi, Niger-Congo) to try hard to find money with which to make an urgent purchase All leading to present-giving, and the question of whether it’s better to give … cowichan (British Columbia, Canada) a vividly patterned striped jumper tsutsumu (Japanese) the art of wrapping things up nicely in an attractive and appropriate way crawmassing (Lincolnshire dialect) going round begging gifts at Christmas square stocking (US slang) Christmas boxes dispatched to British troops on

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active service overseas uunguta (Yamana, Chile) to give much more to one than to others refiler (French) to give something you no longer want as a present syentecezya (Mambwe, Zambia) to give somebody a gift and shortly afterwards to take it back

to know his relatives kal (Chewa, SE Africa) the jealous strife between wives of a polygamous husband kaelling (Danish) a woman who stands on the steps of her house yelling obscenities at her kids

or to receive … wiin-gana (Yamana, Chile) to refuse a gift arimuhunán (Tagalog, Philippines) something worth taking although unneeded ta’arof (Persian) a situation when a person turns something down that they actually want, so as not to cause the offerer inconvenience gift (Turkish) to go away what else did you get for Christmas? (Australian slang) a derisory retort to a motorist sounding his horn at another (as though playing with a new toy) For many it’s one guaranteed occasion for a happy family get-together … If only they knew it, these FSU students had found some kram snø in Tallahassee, sitike (Apache, USA) in-laws who are FL, 1958. formally committed to help during Courtesey State Library and Archives of Florida crises biras (Malay) the relationship between At least there’s the fêted Christmas two brothers’ wives or two sisters’ meal … husbands bubbly jock (Scottish dialect) a turkey todamane (Tulu, India) entertaining bonx (Essex dialect) to beat up batter a son-in-law or mother-in-law for the for pudding first time engastration (UK 1814) the act of bruja (Spanish, South America) a stuffing one bird into another mother-in-law (literally, a witch) beiriú spóla (Irish) the time required bol (Mayan, Mexico) foolish in-laws for boiling a Christmas joint or the time taken to singe a goose with a lighted Though its dangers are all too comstraw mon … kavavangaheti (Tsonga, South Africa) rikonmiminenzo (Japanese) the a dead animal so large that people divorce-promotion generation cannot finish its meat (such as a hippo, cintizi yantu (Mambwe, Zambia) a elephant or whale) hard-hearted person who pretends not

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Whatever you put on your table, you can be fairly sure that someone will hoover it up … smell-feast (UK 1519) one who haunts good tables, a greedy sponger cosherer (UK 1634) someone who feasts or lives upon the industry of others slapsauce (UK 1573) a person who enjoys eating fine food, a glutton hodger (US current slang) a guest who eats all of the host’s food and drinks all of the host’s drinks Perhaps the best you can hope for is reasonable table manners … dooadge (Yorkshire dialect) to handle food in a messy way (often said of children) mimp (UK 1861) to play with one’s food pingle (Suffolk dialect) to move food about on the plate for want of an appetite yaffle (UK 1788) to eat or drink especially noisily or greedily snock (Newfoundland 1969) to make a snapping noise or biting movement especially with the jaws of a hobbyhorse in Christmas mumming Washed down with … supernaculum (UK 1592) the finest wine, which is so good it is drunk to the last drop, referring to the custom of turning over a drained glass and letting the last drop of wine fall onto the thumbnail (from the Latin ‘upon the nail’) vspryskivat’ (Russian) to drink in celebration of the holiday (literally, to besprinkle) to smash the teapot (UK late 19C) to abandon one’s pledge of abstinence (the symbolic rejection of tea as one’s sole liquid stimulant)


The American

crambazzled (Yorkshire dialect) prematurely aged through drink and a dissolute life Before the effects of too much good cheer … dlanyaa (Tsonga, South Africa) to lie on one’s back with one’s legs apart gorged with food parecer arena fumigada (El Salvador and Mexican Spanish) to be suffering from the effects of too much partying or drinking (literally, to seem like a fumigated spider) natafelen (Dutch) staying seated at the dinner table when the meal is over to enjoy some conversation and other people’s company yule-hole (Scots dialect b1911) the last hole to which a man could stretch his belt at a Christmas feast vomitarium (Latin) the room where a guest threw up in order to empty his stomach for more feasting And an excuse for fun and games … dynke (Norwegian) the act of dunking someone’s face in snow Handschuhschneeballwerfer (German) somebody who wears gloves to throw snow balls kram snø (Norwegian) snow which is sticky (excellent for making snow-balls and snowmen)

hozzy nozzy (Rutland dialect) not quite drunk as full as a fairy’s phone book (Australian slang late 1900s) drunk maudlinism (Dickens: Pickwick Papers 1837) the stage of drunkenness characterised by the shedding of tears and effusive displays of affection vice admiral of the narrow seas (UK slang b1811) a drunken man that pees under the table into his companions’ shoes admiral of the narrow seas (UK early 17C) a drunkard who vomits over his neighbour at table Before struggling back home … voiture-balai (French) the last train or bus (literally, ‘broom vehicle’ as it sweeps up the latecomers) barrer (UK c1870) to convey a drunk home on a barrow take a sheep-bed (Wiltshire dialect) to lie down like a sheep to sleep in a grass-field, till one is sober (of a labourer who has drunk too much) To prepare for a repeat performance on New Year’s Eve …

brocade (French) a firework star that burns long, so that it leaves downdrooping trails of light as it falls giao-thua (Vietnamese) the transition hour between the old year and the new year on New Year’s Eve odjikdiwini-gijigad (Ojibway, North America) kissing-day, New Year’s Day Julgransplundring (Swedish) the removal of all the decorations from the Christmas tree Adam Jacot de Boinod was a researcher on the first series of the BBC television programme QI and, in looking for anything ‘quite interesting’, he stumbled across an Albanian-English dictionary only to find 27 ways both for describing moustaches and for eyebrows. His curiosity for vocabulary was lit! He spent five years rummaging through as many dictionaries of the world as he could find in an attempt to share all that raised his eyebrow be it amusing, telling, bizarre or culturally informative. He is the author of The Meaning of Tingo published by Penguin Press (£6.99)

All in preparation for further jollity … garlic (UK 17C) a lively jig buff-ball (UK 1880) a party where everyone dances naked adam and eve ball (UK 1920s) an early dancing party to which the guests are invited until 12 o’clock only scolion (UK 1603) a song sung in turn by the guests at a banquet griddle (b1851) to sing in the streets And it can only be hoped that conviviality doesn’t lead to overindulgence …

The family Christmas dinner, with the traditional centerpiece... a bubbly jock

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ashion F FASHION Holiday TIME

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hether one celebrates Christmas and New Year at an expensive event or at home, it’s still dressing up time! For me, this means something old and something new; my six-yearold velvet black Carolina Herrera jacket with a pencil skirt from ASOS (£35), perhaps. I also like River Island's ankle length skirt (£50) and H&M's lovely blazer (£24.99). Or borrow a tuxedo jacket from the husband or boyfriend and roll up the sleeves. A tux is also perfect with the glittering trousers from Ports 1961 and the turtle neck sweater from Esprit. Everyone should have a black sweater in their closet, whether V or turtle neck. A black top would be fabulous with the copper coloured ankle length

by Thea Sharkriss

pants by SportsMax I drooled over in the new MaxMara store on Paris’s avenue Montaigne. Boots perfect for walking, or at least strolling, are Clarks with their two and a half inch heels. They’d look great with wool trousers or jeans and Celine's new balloon or cocoon shape coats. Katherine Hooker, a favourite designer of the Duchess of Cambridge, started out as an interior designer creating sets for photo shoots. My first buy this year was her fingerless gloves, which were popular among the girls at my daughter’s school. I’d love to have Hooker's hacking jacket to wear to a hunt breakfast I’m going to. I’m not riding, but I shall sip my coffee with brandy! But for the shooting dinner party that evening, I’m buying the animal print LK Bennett (Above) Katherine Hooker Hacking Jacket. Prices start from £530

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Port 1961’s Jet Mix Trousers $990

dress (£195) that looks good despite the few extra curves I now have. Animal prints are in, but don’t match it with bag, shoes, hat, coat etc. or you’ll end up looking tarty.

I haven’t always liked Donna Karan, but this winter's pebble coloured wool cowl blanket coat would be perfect with Levi jeans or any of the suits and dresses in her winter collection. A must have are the long gloves she shows with her various outfits - I see myself slowly slipping them off when I attend a formal birthday dinner at The Bristol in Paris for a friend born on Christmas Day. I also love Karan's one-shoulder dress in auburn and the belted clutch coat in the same colour. For pure sexiness, however, nothing beats Ralph Lauren’s Black Label, and if one has the figure, the Loden green velvet Carlita gown (£1,670) is one of the most elegant and sexiest in anyone’s collection. And for the children? The £4,000 dress at Harrods (yes, three noughts) would look fabulous on my four year old twin granddaughters! Everyone – Armani, Boden, Burberry, Gucci, Hackett, Lauren etc. - is showing children’s clothing this year. Gapkids cords at £17.95 would fit my budget more than the £60 jeans from Kenzo kids, still, it’s not for me to tell anyone how to spend their money. And Paul Smith's classic green wool coat with velvet collar and pocket trim (£164), the same style worn by my three children as well as myself as a child, is still a favourite. The memory of my children in their navy blue coats as they joined the other children at the altar on Christmas Day lingers, and for that memory alone those coats were worth every cent I couldn’t afford at the time.


ashi get Inspired by the new PAN AM TV series and go elegant this winter

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The American

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Stuck for gift ideas? Kirsty Haville rounds up some perfect stocking fillers and last-minute gift suggestions

every girl’s must-have BAG

Ladies purse (handbag) with removable shoulder chain from Holly and Ruby. Wild Child (pictured) is just one of the handmade and original handbags from their collection. Prices around £80 Visit www.hollyandruby.co.uk

the perfect accessory for any party outfit - we love the detail and each one is original!

A MORROCAN HEAVEN AT THE DOLPHIN SQUARE SPA

Spa-goers can now get a taste of authentic tradition with a contem porary twist. This Christmas, treat your loved ones to this opulant experience wit h the Spa in Dolphin Square. Vouche rs starting at £50 www.dolphinsquare.co. uk/spa Reservations: 020 7798 676 7 Email: thespa@dolphinsqu are.co.uk

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WRAP UP WARM £98 www.topshop.co.uk

TRENDS TIPS

s the stars and their stylists do battle over this season’s most covetable pieces, here at The American we keep a close eye on who is wearing what – but most importantly, how we, like the celebs, can take those fresh-on-thecatwalk-trends and make them our own.This season, as with summer, hats are big on-trend-accessories – berets and beanies, cloches and caps, trilbies and trappers – hats in every size, shape and style are the ultimate topping this season. We look to Burberry Prorsum, Dries Van Noten and Loewe for our outerwear inspiration this year, bringing us the cocoon and balloon shaped coat, as seen by Marni (graphic print coat, £1,264) and Aubin and Wills ‘Dingleton’ oversized tweed coat (£375 at Net-a-Porter). Hating the term ‘wardrobe essential’ (and to risk sounding like your mother – this! however, e v o l we when did hypothermia become fun?), but using it S W noneE N N FASHIO the-less, ill w e w This month thes the lo C e th be visiting winter , EC N e at th Show Live r wrapfo t u o k o lo Birmingham pdates in up du the pics an y’s issue! ar u n 18 Ja

by Kirsty Haville

garment is in the form of fur –choose either a stole, cape, sheep-skin, or dip-dyed faux fur – these can be picked up at either end of the budget scale, from H&M at £39.99 to Michael Kors at £255. This winter’s fashion not only looks good, but it feels divine too! My personal favourite this winter is the maxi coat, seen on the catwalk by Missoni, Chloe, Monsieur Mouret, Rodarte and Haider Ackerman. Wear your fur looking natural or dyed in fabulous jewel-colours; a great example of this can be found for a steal at Topshop for an average of £90 and will be sure to wow! For effortless day-time-wintercool, team together a pleated maxi skirt with chunky knitwear, accessorise with a vintage leather belt, oversized clutch bag, and dramatic lipstick in dark berry shades. This is a look coming straight from Milan, where Missoni’s collection oozed beautiful loose silhouettes, mixing maxi-skirts and dresses with oversized men’s sweaters and jackets. Feminine lace-knitwear was teamed with baggy, low-slung trousers and shorts. For a day in the office we have moved away from the bright colours of summer, which in no case means we have to submit to gloomy blacks and greys; opt for soft hues including lavender, cantaloupe and spindrift – thinking of crisp winter mornings and autumnal skies. Throw on a pair of mannish silk or cotton belted pants, as seen at Paul Smith for £335, and a plain blouse in delicate sheer, as seen and coveted at Reiss for £79. For that special night out it has to be

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either a luxe velvet statement piece, such as a one-shoulder-dress in mustard yellow, or a beaded mesh top and statement waterfall-jacket. It is ‘time to shine’ this winter – in metallic pants, jackets and tops, as seen on all the hottest catwalks – think shimmering leathers and denims in shades of copper, bronze, gold and silver, giving winter a warm modern feel for winter and perfect for the party season. H

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Art s Art sChoice

The American

By Estelle Lovatt

How Paintings Influence Movies - And Vice Versa

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rtists influence the movies. Caravaggio, Hopper, Munch ... even before moving pictures Claude Lorrain and Hogarth worked in pairs, creating one image flowing into the next, like a storyboard, with one canvas hanging beside another. In turn, acknowledge the influence film has had on artists. These days David Hockney, with all his original thinking, makes use of today’s world by using all its different media, from film to iPad to Photoshop, because modern technology changes both the way we see and how an artist can depict the world. In his book A Bigger Message; Conversations with David Hockney (published by Thames & Hudson, £18.95), Martin Gayford explores the nature of Hockney’s creativity thus: “...looking at the wide-angle, high-definition films Hockney had shot... these films have become a ruling obsession... a novel kind of art. The conception was quite like that of the Polaroid collages that Hockney made in the 1980s, except that this was a mosaic not of still but of moving images, and each of those screens was extraordinarily dense in detail. The subject was, in every case, moving...” How one image moves and flows in to the next still is seen in Claude Lorrain’s work in The Enchanted Landscape, at the Ashmolean, Oxford, until January 8, 2012. This 17th-century

Baroque master was interested in scenography, just as a movie set designer is, making Claude responsible for the look of his production. His large canvas presents the landscape as theatrical scenery; the panorama is his true subject. Reports go that he employed other artists to paint the people for him, telling patrons that he’d sold them the landscape only and that the figures were gratis. The ten minute sound and light film

cinema. Martin’s (1789-1854) canvas was almost prophetic, in its prototype prediction of many cinematic effects

Claude Lorrain, Dido and Aeneas at Carthage, 1676, Oil on canvas, 1200 x 1492 mm Kunsthalle, Hamburg

John Martin, The Great Day of His Wrath, 1851-3 Courtesy: Tate

that accompanies Tate Britain’s, John Martin’s The Last Judgement triptych, in John Martin: Apocalypse, at Tate Britain, London SW1 until January 15, 2012 shows how Martin continues to provide inspiration today to film makers and directors, unifying CinemaScope anamorphic digital fantasy projection onto today’s 3D

in production today, and in the planning phase of now. Martin’s visions - still forceful, even by today’s standards - look like scenes from a Hollywood blockbuster. Larger than life, these Romantic nineteenth century canvases of spectacular biblical catastrophes also enabled the Bible to reach an extremely large audience through their huge, magnificent, spectacular vision that, like a backdrop, captures the full drama of the epic movie that must simply be seen to be believed.

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published by Dorling Kindersley, provides an in-depth fascinating overview and analysis of Degas’ techniques. Incidentally, it seems that the current vogue for panoramic length vision extends to book format itself: New York: a three-dimensional expanding city skyline, by Walker Books, is a 1.5 metre cut-paper pull-out of New York’s most well-known locations - including the Guggenheim. Enjoy it as a book and work of art. After I saw the Degas exhibition I said to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great

canvases. Afshin (Ash) Naghouni works BIG. Larger-than-life, zooming-in, close-up, to produce a super-sized canvas in a neo-figurative style that captures the appeal of the intimate moments in a woman’s life; a modern day Vermeer. Showing parts of the female figure nude, Ash Naghouni teases you in his dolly-shot canvas whilst considering whether it is that Muslim women are oppressed and exploited while western women are liberated. Or is it vice versa? To paraphrase, repeat some-

if we had a contemporary Degas, as much inspired by photography and the movies?” I’ve found him in RS (Steve) Mitchell. Inspired by movies (Mitchell’s day job is as a backdrop scene painter in the film industry) just as Degas was, he transcribes the big screen to a BIG canvas. His skill in painting panoramic, cinematic-wide, horizontal scenes invite you to move your head, left-to-right, to scan and animate the action. Standing in front of a Mitchell canvas, as you can at Time Lapse, at Celia Lendis Contemporary, Moreton-In-Marsh, Gloucestershire, you become part of the action with the scene moving all around you; engrossed in the same way that a good film pulls you in and grabs you. Its all-encompassing, Cinemascope, frieze-like framing, transports you to a different world; Mitchell’s world, where huge breathtaking filmatic views become gargantuan awe-inspiring

thing enough times and it becomes your reality. “Most of what we deem as real is an enhanced version of reality”, says Naghouni. “I continually remind the viewer that there is a darker, more sinister concept embedded within [my canvas] which at first glance seems visually pleasing - harmless even - but then it challenges you to discern what, if anything, is real...as we become what we wear and what we wear becomes even more important than the person we are as we dissolve under the veneer of it all...” Performing a cosmetic nipand-tuck to his canvas - not just to the face, but to the canvas itself as he sews canvas to canvas, as in That Favourite Top, Naghouni fades the figure away, back through a horizontal cut literally a slash in the linen, making it appear as though this giant Attack of the 50 foot Woman is born out of the picture surface. (www.afshinnaghouni.com ) It all works from the other side of

(Above) Edgar Degas, Dancers, c. 1899, pastel on tracing paper laid down on board, 588 x 463 mm

Courtesy Princeton University Art Museum

(Right) RS (Steve) Mitchell, Scenics (2011), oil on linen, 115 x 315 cm

British-American photographer Eadweard Muybridge was a great influence on Edgar Degas. Walking with Principal Ballerina Darcey Bussell through the Royal Academy exhibition Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement (Royal Academy, London W1, until December 11) helped me focus on Degas as an artist of the dance. His preoccupation was with movement or, more precisely, the pauses of breaths, inbetween movements. “Degas knew so much about dancer’s techniques,” said Ms Bussell, “How they transferred their weight [even]. He brought a respect to the art of ballet by him being totally obsessed with watching dancers move. And he’s got it right! There are not many mistakes, bar the odd sickle foot.” Degas traces the ballerina in movement in the context of advances that he himself had witnessed in the invention of photography and early film. Great Paintings: the worlds masterpieces explored and explained,

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the canvas too, through the camera lens, in the portraits of artists by legendary photographer John Hedgecoe (1932-2010) in John Hedgecoe: The Face of the Artist, Sainsbury Centre, Norwich NR4, until December 4. Taking portraits for over fifty years, Hedgecoe met Francis Bacon, Henry Moore, Lynn Chadwick, Elisabeth Frink, Sir Peter Blake, Sir Terry Frost, Dame Barbara Hepworth, Eduardo Paolozzi, Sir Stanley Spencer, Graham Sutherland and David Hockney. His portrait of the Queen taken in 1966 still graces British postage stamps. In 13 Art Inventions Children Should Know by Florian Heine (published by Prestel) there’s an interesting bit about pictures made without paint or paintbrush - the photograph! - explaining the important breakthrough in art from the very first photograph ever taken to how photography is employed by artists as a visual aid. (Incidentally it’s for you too, not to be limited to just our children!)

The American

post-Buuel in the classic films Le Chien Andolou and L’age d’or. One of my favourites, The Snack Bar (1930), divides Hopper and Hitchcock with its containment of atypical abstract tension, as conflict meets somewhere in between the barman slicing the ham and the female cus(Left) John Hedgecoe, Francis Bacon, 1969 © 2011 John Hedgecoe/TopFoto

(Below) Edward Burra, Snack Bar, 1930, Oil on canvas Tate © Estate of the Artist courtesy of Lefevre Fine Art Ltd, London

Edward Burra, at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until February 19, 2012, shows Burra to be a filmobsessed (and much underrated, in my opinion) artist. After seeing movies, Burra delighted in expressing his love for all things Hollywood. From painting Mae West to designing the title drawings and set for the film A Piece of Cake (1948) following Dali’s designs for Hitchcock’s dream sequence in Spellbound, all

Choice tomer eating. Is he comically cutting whilst admiring her? Or is he, Hannibal Lecter-fashion, plotting to carve her up as well? His American paintings were fulfilled by visiting the States several times. Images of life in Harlem, Boston and New York makes Burra possibly one of the best non-American portrayers of the American Dream. (Ash) Naghouni, That Favorite Top

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The American

THE RIB ROOM B A R & R E S TA U R A N T Jumeirah Carlton Tower, on Cadogan Place, London SW1X 9PY l www.jumeirah.com

Reviewed by Virginia E. Schultz

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’ve often enjoyed tea at the Carlton Tower during the past few years, but it was close to ten years since I crossed the threshold into The Rib Room Bar and Restaurant. At one time it had been my husband’s favourite place to enjoy steak, but it seemed to have gone into a kind of doldrums which was reflected in the food, and sometimes even the service, and friends staying there would usually choose somewhere else to enjoy dinner. What a pleasure it was to discover that had changed when Maxine Howe and I went to dinner there a few nights ago. Firstly, extensive refurbishment by designer Martin Brudnizki has taken away that faded, tired, 1970’s look, but more importantly, Head Chef Ian Rudge is using his Michelin-star fingers to satisfy customers who have more than one place to dine in London nowadays if they are seeking a great steak. Of course, before dinner we stopped to have cocktails, and sitting in the cocktail lounge watching the beautiful people walk by in their designer outfits hinting at the late 1920’s, early '30s, reminded me of the tales told by my grandfather of his visits to England before World War II. Maxine had a Martini and I had a Manhattan - you can see the mood we were in. Shades of the past continued, and I thought seriously of starting with the Prawn Cocktail (£13.00), but then I noticed the Orkney scallops with butternut squash and apple glazed bacon (£16.00) and couldn’t turn it down... and how glad I was I didn’t. However, the delicately pink smoked Loomswood duck breast, quail egg,

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and beetroot (£12.00) chosen by Maxine was the winner. As Maxine was having the Aubrey dry aged rib eye (9oz) (£29.00) I settled on the Cornish lamb cutlets (£28.00). With the grill we

The Rib Room's private dining room (top) and bar (bottom)

had slow cooked tomatoes, Portobello mushrooms and steak fries which, sadly, were disappointing. Fries need to be fried twice to be crispy and these were too mash potato-like. However, both the rib eye and lamb cutlets were beautifully executed and about as good as I’ve had anywhere in London. Rib Room’s female sommelier, Louise Gordon, knows her wine, and every selection for our various dishes was perfect. Even if you prefer to order yourself, talk to Louise just for

her fascinating tidbits of information about the grape, region or producer. The Godello, Mara Martin, Monterrei, from Spain she suggested with the duck salad was lovely, but it was the New Zealand’s Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc which I had with my scallops that I want to have in my cellar (well, closet). California’s Parducci Petit Sirah wasn’t one I might have chosen for the rib eye, but again she was absolutely right. I’m one of those people who loves dessert wine and although I liked the Sauternes Chateau Suduiraut, Premier Cru Classe from France which Maxine had with her white chocolate and cardamom cream, (£8.50), it was the Australian D’Aremberg, The Noble Prankster, I sipped with the Macerated oranges, vanilla ice cream and praline sauce that's had me looking for the same wine ever since. By the by, my dessert was heavenly and the perfect ending after lamb or steak. Several days later, I joined a friend staying at the hotel for her birthday lunch. At £25 for three courses, it’s one of the best buys in town. My roasted Suffolk pheasant was cooked just the way I liked and she continued to rave about her slow-cooked belly of lamb for the next two days, and the selection of five farmhouse cheeses from Alsop & Walker we had instead of dessert was the perfect finale.

OPENING HOURS Lunch: Monday to Friday: 12pm to 3pm; Saturday, Sunday & Holidays: 12.30pm to 3.00pm Dinner: Monday to Saturday: 6.30pm to 11pm; Sunday & Holidays: 6.30pm to 10.30pm


Chef Lukas Pfaff gave Virginia a special pasta-making tutorial

PASTA MAKING @

SARTORIA 20 Savile Row, London W1S 3PR www.sartoria-restaurant.co.uk l 020 7534 7000

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n the heart of London’s Savile Row lies Sartoria. I hadn’t been since a friend had his tuxedo fitted by one of the tailors a short distance from the restaurant. As he had been dieting for a month before the fitting, I found it amusing when he overindulged on the delicious wine and pasta we enjoyed. Having had a brand new unused pasta machine in my cupboard for almost two years, I quickly accepted the invitation to attend a pasta making class at the restaurant. What I learned was that small hand machines like mine are difficult to use, and if you wish to make pasta without eggs, which I prefer, I need an electric machine that includes attachments for the various types of pasta - as well as, in my case, a larger kitchen to put it in. But the enjoyment of watching Chef Lukas Pfaff demonstrate pasta making, and then preparing and cooking the very simple tomato sauce recipe he gave us was so great, I’d do it again. He advised it was better to buy the best dried pasta on the market (preferably Italian) and skip the ready made supermarket kind.

Sartoria's Dining Room

The American

Here are two of Sartoria's lovely pasta recipes. CASARECCE PESTO AL’BASILICO

SPAGHETTI ALLA CHITTARA

Casarecce Pasta: 800g 00 flour 200g semolina 450g whole beaten free range eggs Combine the first three ingredients and extrude the Casarecce

Chittara Pasta:

Pesto Sauce: (I never tasted better) 3 bunches of fresh basil ¼ bunch of flat leaf parsley 90g of toasted pine nuts 120g grated pecorino 220g extra virgin olive oil 2 cloves of garlic Flaky salt (Save some water pasta was cooked in as well). Put in garlic, salt and some olive oil into a large pestle and grind with mortar until a smooth pulp, then gradually add the herbs, pine nuts and olive oil bit by bit until you have a coarse yet uniform consistency. Add the cheese at the end and fold in with rubber spatula, transfer to bowl and cover the top with olive oil to prevent oxidation. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, salt generously, cook Casarecce for 3 minutes, strain, put into a large bowl containing the pesto, mix with some extra cheese, half a ladle of the water which the pasta was cooked in and freshly ground pepper. Now, pour yourself a glass of Italian wine and enjoy.

350g Italian mineral water (aqua panna is perfect) 1 kg semolina Combine the ingredients and make the Chittara shape with a bronze die, dust with semolina and set aside.

Sauce: 500 tiny tomatoes (datterino) halved 2 or 3 hand torn basil leaves 3 Calabrian chillis or red ones if you can find them, finely sliced Extra virgin olive 150g grated parmesan cheese 1 clove of finely sliced garlic Put in a pan a generous slug of olive oil over medium high heat, then take the basil and tomatoes in your hands, and holding over the pan, squeeze hard letting the juices flow into the pan, then drop in tomatoes and basil. It should give a lovely sizzling sound. Add the garlic and chilli and cook until tomatoes are slightly softened until you have a light and fresh tomato sauce. Drop Chittara into a pan of well salted water, cook for 4/5 minutes, drain, saving a ladle of cooking water . Add to the sauce. Continue cooking sauce over medium heat for 2 minutes until the pasta has absorbed the sauce. Serve immediately with grated parmesan.

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The American

EIGHT OVER EIGHT 392 King’s Road, London SW3 5UZ l www.rickerrestaurants.com/eightovereight l 0207 349 9934

I

’ve been to Eight Over Eight three times in the past four months. Once with my four year old twin grandchildren, another time with a media group, and last night with two friends from the States, and not once was I disappointed. Now, I’m not talking Michelin star dining, but delicious pan Asian food served to you by someone who appears to be enjoying their work. This can be especially difficult in London when it comes to children, and that includes those restaurants who claim to be child friendly. At Eight Over Eight, colouring books and crayons were immediately provided for my grandchildren and edamame, the Oriental form of peanuts, were brought a few minutes later. Eight Over Eight, which reopened after a fire forced it to close a year and a half ago, has not changed that much from the first time I was there, and the upside down coolie hat lampshades

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are still featured in the décor. But the noise between the bar and dining room has lessened, and last night my friend and I were able to carry on a conversation even though we were sitting next to the panelled screen that divides the two rooms. When I went with my family, the five of us were seated at one of the banquettes which I would suggest to anyone dining there with young children. I’m not particularly fond of tuna tartare, but my friends assured me it was excellent, and my dumplings remained as tasty as they were the first time I had them. The sea bass sashimi with yuzu and truffle oil was wonderful and, like the dumplings, I’d order the dish again. At main course time, most of their best dishes are longer cooked and their five spice chicken is a definite '”wow', as is the rack of ribs with black pepper sauce. Skip the rib eye steak, however. My friend ordered his medium rare

and it looked as if the chef barely whispered it over the fire. We sent it back and this time it appeared too well cooked. The waiter was more than willing to change the steak, but it would mean another ten minute wait and my friend declined. My daughter’s Westie had no complaint, however, and contentedly chewed away for a good half hour. There was a short list of westernized desserts. Nevertheless, the apple tarte with ice cream finished off the meal beautifully for my friends. I stuck to a delicious fruit sorbet. The clientele were the beautiful and elegant of Chelsea, and I have no doubt that if my daughter, who lived in China and speaks Chinese and some Japanese, tried to speak the language, she’d have drawn a blank face. The food is what I call Australian/Asian fusion. No knocking that, since some of the top chefs in the world right now are Australian. I like it, and from the


The American

BOOK REVIEW THE EASTERN & ORIENTAL COOKBOOK By Will Ricker with Dani Hains Illustrated by William Meppem

laughter around the tables, so do most people, including my four year old grandson who voiced his approval by informing me he wanted to go there again. Will Ricker, who owns Eight Over Eight as well as a number of other restaurants in London, seems to know what his clients want no matter their ages.

OPENING HOURS Mon-Sat: 12 noon to 3pm (Saturday 4pm) Mon-Sun: 6 to 11pm (Sun -10.30pm)

print some may find difficult to read, but the illustrations are wonderfully descriptive and three of the recipes I tried so far are worth any extra effort. Below is a recipe for edamame taken from Ricker’s cookbook. Edamame are young green soybeans in the pod, and are usually eaten as a snack. I often buy them at the market to nibble on with a drink in the evening.

Australian born Will Ricker opened his first restaurant, Cicada, in 1996, and soon e&o, Great Eastern Dining Room, Eight over Eight and XO RECIPE followed. His restaurants Will Ricker’s Edamame are casual Serves 4 dining using a blend of flavours 450 g frozen or fresh edamame bean pods from China, Japan 2 teaspoon light soy sauce and Thailand in the 2 teaspoon mirin (a sweet white wine used in dishes offered. The Japanese cooking) recipes are easy to Large pinch of sea salt follow, although some of the ingreBring a large pan of salted water to the boil. dients may mean a Add the edamame and simmer about 5 minutes, trip to Chinatown, or until just cooked. Drain and then refresh under as I learned when I cold water. Drain again very thoroughly and tip into made the lamb shank serving bowl. mussaman. Mix the soy sauce with the mirin then toss One warning: through the edamame. Sprinkle liberally with sea the black backsalt and serve warm or at room temperature. ground with white

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The American

The WOLSELEY 160 Piccadilly, London W1H 9EB l 020 7499 6996 l www.thewolseley.com

I

n every major city there seems to be at least one charismatic restaurant that is on first name terms with the high and mighty. It has nothing to do with food, although there is usually a dish everyone will rave about even if it hasn’t tantalized their taste buds for months. For some it is a testimony they have arrived, after being greeted by name as they step off Piccadilly, going in to breakfast at The Wolseley. They will find themselves entering the building that was originally commissioned in 1921 by Wolseley Motors Limited as a car showroom. William Curtis Green, the designer, had been inspired by a bank he saw in Boston which featured Venetian and Florentine detailing with marble pillars, arches and stairways in the interior which would impress those buyers of Wolseley’s luxury motorcars. The company became bankrupt five years later and it was acquired by Barclays Bank who re-employed the architect, Green, to create a new interior as well as design furniture in Japanese lacquer. The bank closed in 1999, and after a major restoration in 2003 the building was re-opened by restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King as a

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restaurant and shop. Because of its location in St. James, it soon became a popular place for banking and business executives and from what I saw the morning I had breakfast there, that hasn’t changed. No matter the credit crunch, The Wolseley’s loyal following continues and the few tourists eating there are still walking out with well known restaurant critic AA Gill’s’s book Breakfast at The Wolseley tucked under their arm. The Wolseley reminds me of those nineteenth century cafés of Paris, although one won’t find absinthe on the wine list and there aren’t any dancing girls kicking their legs high. For some executives, a daily dose of English fry up or porridge is a necessity which possibly goes back to their boarding school days. When I was looking for a boarding school for my youngest daughter the one thing I noticed was the scent of toast on entering, and that smell seems to linger in the air at The Wolseley. Paul, my Texas friend dining with me that morning, had the full English breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans, tomato, and black pudding while I ordered scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. His companion,

after debating between kedgeree and Eggs Benedict for ten minutes, finally decided on grilled kipper with mustard butter. As we waited for breakfast, we nibbled on pastry and French baguettes, all delicious. It is not a quiet place to dine and the noise of voices echoed throughout the room, which may be one of the attractions because no one could possibly overhear any secret deal being made. Reservations for breakfast are almost impossible to get and my best advice is to just stop by. One can also have lunch and dinner or afternoon tea as I did recently with Christopher Robinson, whom I call a modern day William Curtis Green. There is a choice of teas as well as finger sandwiches and pastries, and to lift your spirits, perhaps a glass of Pommery Brut Champagne.

OPENING HOURS Breakfast: Mon to Fri: 7 to 11.30am. Sat & Sun: 8 to 11.30am Lunch: Mon to Fri: Noon to 3pm. Sat & Sun: noon to 3.30pm Tea: Mon to Fri: 3 to 6.30pm Sat & Sun: 3.30 to 6.30pm Dinner: Mon to Sat: 7pm to midnight Sun: 7 to 11pm


The American

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Cellar Talk

The American

By Virginia E. Schultz

Christmas in Savannah

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t was an invitation to go Christmas carolling with a friend in Savannah, Georgia that made me decide to spend a weekend in this beautiful southern city with my three very young children. A cousin of hers was having the carolling party and we were taken to the cousin’s 1849 Greek Revival house by horse and carriage. As we drove through the busy streets in historic Savannah it was almost as if we stepped back in time. There may be little snow in the South in December, but there is no area in the States more festive during the Christmas holidays than below the Mason-Dixon line. Candles glowed in every window, wreaths hung on the doors and we heard Christmas carols echoing from car radios as we clipclopped by. We arrived at the house to find the huge dining room table laden with food. We had a choice of fruit juice, bourbon-spiked apple cider or eggnog to drink. I decided on the eggnog, rich and creamy and loaded with more calories than I could count. To eat, there was shrimp gumbo, slimly sliced baked ham marinated in Madeira with a peach jam glaze, roast duck shot, hung and prepared by our host, sweet potatoes with a marshmallow topping, and a baked corn casserole. Desserts were a peanut butter cream tart, a Georgia specialty, and Lane Cake, another southern dessert, filled with bourbon, coconut, pecans, cherries, raisins and candied orange peel supposedly named for Emma Rylander

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RECIPE Bourbon-Spiked Apple Cider

Lane of Clayton, Alabama, that had been made three days before and iced that morning. Our hostess then handed us a menu of carols with the words we’d be singing. There must have been thirty of us, including children, carolling through the streets together. It was an age pre-electronic gadgets and no one was contacting friends by a push of a button. The only sound was our laughing and talking to each other between the carols. We happily returned to the house to enjoy the cakes and to sip a dark malty Madeira laid down by our host’s great-grandfather a hundred years before.

WINE OF THE MONTH D’Oliveiras 1910 Sercial Madeira Around £250 a bottle. Madeira was popular with Thomas Jefferson, who used to toast the Declaration of Independence with it, but it is now, sadly, too often known as a cheap cooking ingredient. The above Madeira was found by my host at Waitrose last year and was sweet, nutty, complex and absolutely delicious. One rainy night recently, six of us finished the bottle. Fortunately this tipple, which was once loved by Oxbridge dons, is now coming back into fashion, but, please, please, avoid the cheaper brands - even for cooking. One doesn’t have to spend that much though, as there are wonderful Madeiras in the £15 to £25 range. H

(Makes about 14 cups) 2 64 ounce bottles of non alcoholic cider ½ cup orange juice 4 cinnamon sticks, broken in half 2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 4 whole cloves ¼ cup ground allspice 1 ½ cup bourbon Mix all ingredients except bourbon in large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer until reduced to 12 cups, about 30 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove cinnamon and cloves. Now add bourbon and mix. Ladle into cups. (Can be made the day before, but don’t add bourbon. Cool to room temperature, then cover and chill. The next day, bring to simmer again and add the bourbon).


The American

Coffee Break

SUDOKU

Coffee Break Quiz 1 S t Stephen’s Day falls on which date? 2 I n which film, from 1942, was the song White Christmas first performed? 3 A  huge Christmas tree is erected in Trafalgar Square, London, each year. Which country gives it to the British people, and why?

4 N  ame the eight reindeer from the Christmas poem ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ (aka A Visit from St Nicholas)? 5 T he character Jack Skellington appears in which 1993 Tim Burton film? 6 W  hat colour are the berries of the mistletoe?

© James O Jenkins

7 I n the seasonal movie It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), what is the name of George Bailey’s guardian angel? 8 W  hat Christmas item was invented by London baker Tom Smith in 1847? 9 Where did St Nicholas come from? 10 Who wrote How the Grinch Stole Christmas? 11 F rom which country does the poinsettia plant, traditionally displayed at Christmas, originate? 12 How many points does every snowflake have? Who gives a marvelous Christmas tree to the British every year?

Answers to Coffee Break Quiz & Sudoku on page 58

13 W  hat is the name of the cake traditionally eaten in Italy at Christmas? 14 I n Charles Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol, who was Scrooge’s dead business partner? 15 A  lso in A Christmas Carol, what’s the name of Tiny Tim’s father, who worked for Scrooge? 16 W  hat did ‘’my true love’ bring me on each of the days in the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas?

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The American

Keb' Mo' The blues maestro tells The American about life changes, and not wanting to go to artistic jail It’s been five years since your last studio album, Suitcase, but you’ve been busy with a house move, a new family and a new record label – what have you been up to? Since my last album I’ve been working on a movie and a couple TV shows. I got married and had a child and we decided to move somewhere a little less crowded and Nashville is such a great place for music. As for my label, with the industry the way it is I thought it was important to have my own label. It’s important for the artist to be more hands on in the making and marketing of music, and that’s why I started Yolabelle International. Your new album, The Reflection, will surprise a lot of Keb’ Mo fans, who might expect traditional electric blues or solo acoustic playing. Why the new direction? I just like expressing myself in different ways. Your website says The Reflection is influenced by pre-disco R&B, American folk and gospel, rock and blues, and closer to African–American “folk soul” singer/songwriters like Bill Withers and Bobby Womack. I’d say there’s a lot of jazz in there too. How much do genres and categories mean to you? To me genres and categories are

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like artistic jail. Will you carry on the new style, or can we expect ‘traditional’ Keb’ Mo to reappear? You just have to wait and see... and so will I. You worked for a while for A&M Records – was that useful in getting a record deal? I had a publishing deal with A&M Records. My first record deal with Casablanca records, as Kevin Moore, did spring from that job. Did you ever consider staying on that side of the business, or was it always the plan to forge your own musical career? I was hired as a staff writer at A&M records so I’ve always considered myself to be on the creative side of the business. You’re a multi-talented multi-instrumentalist – what made you settle on traditional blues guitar? I never settled on traditional blues guitar. I just added it to what I do. On your eponymous debut album you cut two Robert Johnson songs. How important is Johnson to today’s music? I don’t really study trends so I can only speak on his influence in my music which I can say has been hugely important. Who are your biggest influences in writing, playing and singing? I’m influenced by anyone who writes a great song. If I were to give you a list it would be too long to publish. My favorite guitar player is David T. Walker and my favorite vocalist would be Charlie Wilson from the Gap Band.

You’re playing in England with Aaron Neville. How did you get to know Aaron? Although we’ve played a lot of gigs I can’t say that I really know him. I would like to be able to change that though. You’ve played in the UK a lot. What are British audiences like – do they know and appreciate the blues as much as American ones? British audiences are like any other audiences and they love the blues. Which is the best venue to play in Britain? Wherever I’m playing is the best place to play. I’m fortunate to be able to do what I love and to be able to play music in front of a live audience. So in my mind the place is irrelevant. When will you be touring in Britain again? Hopefully soon. No dates at the moment but we’re working on it.


The American

The Saw Doctors

Alexander O’Neal Do you need reminding? Natchez, Mississippi-born O’Neal moved to Minneapolis when he was 20 and Alexander O'Neal soon joined Flyte Tyme, a band that included Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Monte Moir. Signed by Prince, they changed their name to The Time. A pretty big gig, but a disagreement with Prince led to O’Neal leaving the band. It took a while for O’Neal to find his own style, and after forming a rock band and singing backup for other solo vocalists he finally released his self-titled début album in 1985. Three of the singles reached the top twenty of the R&B Chart and presaged a run of huge R&B hits including ‘Fake’, ‘Criticize’, ‘Saturday Love’ and ‘Never Knew Love Like This’. See him at his only British date this year at the Assembly Hall, Islington Town Hall, Upper Street, London on December 10th.

MUSIC

LIVE AND KICKING Nicole Scherzinger

Nicole Scherzinger

Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger has announced three UK live performance dates for February 2012. We’re flagging them in an earlier issue than normal as tickets will be sure to sell like hot tamales. Expect the spectacular – a big, big show including hits like ‘Don’t Hold Your Breath’ and songs from her début album Killer Love. Dates: February 19th London, Hammersmith Apollo; 22nd Manchester Apollo; 23rd Birmingham Academy.

The Saw Doctors

Status Quo

Ed Sheeran Young, talented and with an immediately identifiable voice – dontcha just hate him? - 20-year-old singer songwriter Ed Sheeran is playing a short series of live shows in early 2012 to follow a sold-out 18-date tour in October. Sheeran was signed to Asylum Records (part of Atlantic Records) only this year, but had already gained a loyal following by touring relentlessly and selling tens of thousands of copies of self released EPs through his website, digital stores and out of his backpack at gigs. His UK dates in January 2012 are on 10th at Edinburgh, Picture House; 13th Manchester Academy; 17th Wolverhampton Civic Hall and 20th Brixton, O2 Academy.

Status Quo

The epitome of good time, matey, British rock ‘The Quo’ are a bankable Christmas night out, especially with support acts Roy (The Move and Wizzard) Wood and Kim (‘Kids in America’) Wilde. December 3rd Birmingham Arena; 4th Sheffield Arena; 6th Liverpool Arena; 7th Nottingham Arena;

9th Brighton Central; 10th Cardiff Arena; 11th London O2 Arena; 13th Bournemouth BIC; 14th Plymouth Pavilions; 16th Newcastle Arena; 17th Glasgow SEC.

Alexander O’Neal The Saw Doctors

See these Irish folk-rock legends if you possibly can for their unique mythologizing about the ould country, November 25th Leeds Academy; 26th Edinburgh, Picture House; 29th Liverpool Philharmonic Hall; December 1st Aberystwyth Arts Centre; 2nd London O2; 3rd Shepherd’s Bush Empire; 5th Bristol Colston Hall; 6th Exeter Lemon Grove; 7th Port Talbot Princess Royal; 9th Oxford Academy; 10th Salisbury City Hall; 11th Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall; 13th Leicester Academy; 14th Sheffield Plug; 17th Manchester Apollo.

Nicole Scherzinger

Ed Sheeran Ed Sheeran

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The American

ALBUMS theof MONTH A couple of new, releases with a different take on the holiday season, plus some compilations that’ll make the perfect present for the music fan in your life.

Joey + Rory A Farmhouse Christmas Sugar Hill Records If the first names, and the cover shot of the twosome in dungarees in front of a snowy family farmhouse, give you the feeling that you’re in for a cosy, domestic duo singing fireside country, you won’t be wrong. But instead of corny cornpoke schmaltz there’s a wealth of good songs sung and played by J+R Feek, written by some fine writers. Merle Haggard duets on his ‘If We Make It Through December’ – not written as a Christmas song, but it sits admirably alongside ‘Blue Christmas’, ‘Away In A Manger’ and Rory’s own ‘It’s Christmas Time’. There’s a strong vein of humor too, with the saucy Garth Brooks/Kent Blazy tune I Know ‘What Santa’s Getting For Christmas’ and the tale of bad behavior at Yuletide ‘What The Hell (It’s The Holidays)’. Ideal to put on as you unwrap the presents this year.

Pink Martini Joy To The World Wrasse Records Slick, clever, multilingual, wry and super-talented as ever, Pink Martini bring you their

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‘non-denominational and inclusive holiday album’, which manages to sounds crisp and modern as well as warm and timeless. The eclectic fourteen song collection includes ‘White Christmas’ sung by both PM’s regular diva China Forbes (in English) and Saori Yuki, Japan’s Streisand (in Japanese) and the ‘Carol of the Bells’ but with its original Ukranian words. ‘Santa Baby’ sits happily beside the Hebrew prayer ‘Elohai, N’tzor’, sung dead straight, while ‘We Three Kings’ is recast in an Afrobeat style and Auld Lang Syne is a ukelele-driven samba. Other languages that make an appearance include German, Chinese, Arabic, French and Ladino, but it all sounds like Pink Martini. Pour one and enjoy.

The Memphis Jukebox Various Artists

Vee-Tone Records An article in Record Collector in 2010 detailed contents of a fantastic collection of early R&B singles, many from tiny independent record labels, owned by Gary Pepper. What makes the collection special – apart from the range and quality of these rockin’ tunes, is the fact that the records were given to Pepper by his friend, one Elvis Aaron Presley. The King must have loved them, as he’d kept the vinyl for decades, so it’s a surprise that he gave them away. Included here on Volume Three of the series are Piano Red’s ‘She Knocks Me Out’, Chuck Berry’s Little

Queenie and ‘Dusty Road’ by John Lee Hooker. Fats Domino, Charlie Rich and James Brown are present and correct and there are some great cuts by lesser known artists like Red Prysock, the Spiders and Cleveland Crochet. A couple of killer bonus tracks are by The Killer, whose ‘Breathless’ And ‘Down the Line’ are reproduced directly here from Elvis’ own jukebox copy, complete with scratches and pops – it’s the nearest you’ll get to listening to them in Graceland with The King.

Heroes And Sweethearts Various Artists USM in association with the RAF Museum This double CD album has been out for a while but there is a great deal of sentimentality for World War II, as well as sadness for the people who were lost in the period, and this British collection includes the stars of the time from both sides of the Atlantic: Vera Lynn (if you don’t know her name you’ll know, ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’), Glenn Miller, Sinatra, the Andrews Sisters, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman and the Mills Brothers among many more. Sheer nostalgia. All


The american women’s health centre London www.awhc.co.uk

The American

OB GYN

DICKINSON B COWAN 214 great portland street london w1w 5qn Appointments: 020 7390 8433 (Phone) 0844 800 3006 (UK only) 020 7383 4162 (Fax) Dickinson B. Cowan www.doctorcowan.co.uk

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The American

Robert Lindsay The Lion Roars

Robert Lindsay is back on the London stage and The American's Michael Burland joined the multi-talented actor on his way to rehearsals for The Lion in Winter, the “ totally American play” about medieval English royalty that's also about the ultimate awful family Christmas gathering

T

he American: Robert, you’re back in the West End with The Lion in Winter. How did you get involved with that – it’s a Trevor Nunn Production, isn’t it? Robert Lindsay: I was doing Onassis at The Novello this time last year and Trevor came to see it. He raved about it, absolutely loved it, and next thing I knew there was an offer to come and do two plays with him at The Haymarket. I had to tell Trevor that I wasn’t

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available, because I’d agreed to do a production of Camelot, which they’re resurrecting for the West End. But then the theatre we were due to go in to do Camelot became unavailable. As things go in this crazy business I suddenly became free, because they wanted to move me into next year to do Camelot, which I couldn’t do because I was already committed then. Isn’t it complicated? So I rang Trevor up and said “I’m free!”. He said he’d wanted to

do The Lion in Winter for years because he loved Katherine Hepburn in it, and would I do it? Well, I became friendly with Katherine Hepburn, because she enjoyed Me and My Girl when I was in it in New York and she took me under her wing. I spent time with her in New York, and I always thought she was the definitive Eleanor of Aquitaine: she was spirited, she was a big spokeswoman on Women’s Rights, and she was proabortion, which is not that popular


The American in New York! She’s very politically minded, she’s very strong as a woman, and I thought, my God, that’s exactly what Eleanor of Aquitaine was like, the woman who rode bare-breasted through to Damascus, she was quite a character... Are the play and the film as much about Eleanor as the king? In many ways it’s more about her, because it’s about her visit to the Castle on Christmas Eve. The king, Henry II, had locked her up but lets her out for Christmas, and coinciding with this release is his conference with King Philip II of France to discuss Henry’s heir, and the marriage of Alais, the young girl who’s Henry’s mistress. It’s all incredibly complex, and why he decided to have a big meeting then I don’t know! Mind you, they didn’t celebrate Christmas then, that’s what makes James Goldman’s play so great, he’s made it family orientated, a family Christmas, which makes it very, very funny. When was it written? In the 1950’s. It was done on Broadway, not very successfully as the press didn’t like it, and it didn’t do very well. Goldman smarted about it for a long time. The movie was made in 1968, so it had been written ten to twelve years before. Apparently Goldman refused to have it done in London, but his widow, Bobby Goldman, is working with us on this production, she’s here, keeping her eye on her husband’s play. So you don’t mess around with it too much? To be honest, we were very concerned before she arrived, but I think she’s pleased with the casting, and she’s been very, very generous. The 50s were a political time in the States, by the time the film was made the political situation was very different, and now another 40 years later, we’ve got another

political situation. Does the play and the way that you’re approaching it reflect that at all? Yeah, it does, in fact when Gaddaffi was murdered recently we thought ‘My God, how apposite!’ It’s about someone running something that other people want, about partition and land ownership, and in the middle of all this is a human being who wants to be loved, and applauded and appreciated. In many ways it represents any dynastic family, whether it be tyrants, or royal families, or politicians; what do they do on Christmas Day, how do they behave? Do you think they have an ordinary family Christmas? We don’t know, do we? We always wonder about the powers that be, whether they have family Christmases and family rows, tantrums and people moaning because they got the wrong presents, and fighting because they don’t like the latest girlfriend... Well of course they do! I’m sure it happens to every family no matter how wealthy or powerful they are. You’ve got a political background yourself, is that right? I certainly have.. had, I don’t know whether I have anymore. Like most people of my age and background I’ve given up with politics. I’m just sick and tired of all the corruption going on, I don’t believe anyone anymore. In fact Jo [Lumley] and I were talking about it the other day. I think you’ve got to make up your own mind about the way things should be done now. I wonder if that’s a generational thing? In the 1970s a lot of senior British Civil Servants took early retirement because they didn’t like the way that the new politicians of the day were acting. I wonder if that happens to everybody round about that age? I think you’re right, there’s definitely a sense of time passing, a sense

of nostalgia, and a sense of things being done badly by younger people. Maybe when we are younger, we’re convinced that we’re in the right, and everybody else is wrong, but when you get older you realise that things are a bit more complicated than that? It’s funny you know, I’m playing the same role as I did when I was in my late 30’s. I played Henry II in Becket at the Haymarket, with Derek Jacobi and now I’m playing him in my late 50’s/60’s. It really is very strange, when we did Becket, Henry really was a dreadful villain, manipulative. Now I’m seeing a man who is like King Lear, trying to hold his lands together and give it to the right heir. The Lion in Winter, although about the Middle Ages in England, has so many American connections. It’s a totally American play. It’s got so many American references in it. And there are definitely Americanisms within James Goldman’s writing! We’ve been very strict and removed some American words, American phrases, little nuances that are too American for a London audience. It would be interesting taking it back home, as it were, to Broadway, with English actors? Yeah, but there was a totally British cast in the movie of course, apart from Katherine, and she must have had English connections – or maybe Irish? Peter O’Toole was in it, and Anthony Hopkins making his film debut as King John. Have you ever worked with Trevor Nunn before? No, we almost did in the 70s, but this is the first time and I’m really enjoying it. What’s he like to work with as a director? He knows what he wants, let’s put it

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The American

Complete with beard specially grown for the part: Robert Lindsay is Henry II

that way! He’s always clear about what he wants, which is comforting when you’re not sure. It’s nice to have someone in the driving seat who knows exactly what he wants. But I think every director and actor knows that theatre is a collaborative exercise. It’s not like a movie, or even telly, theatre is incredibly collaborative, and Trevor is very, very attentive to what me and Joanna have to say about the production and our performances. What’s it like to work with Joanna Lumley, who plays Eleanor? Jo is an extremely gifted actress. I’d almost forgotten, because Jo’s got so many fingers in so many pies, you think of her as a national icon, but the reality is when you work with her you realise how committed she is to words and getting emotions across to an audience. She’s spot on for this play. She understands it, and she’s really

Photo: Catherine Ashmore

Rows, tantrums, moaning and fighting... the Plantagenets enjoy a typical family Christmas

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“ I love Broadway, there is a real sense of a community there... When a new show goes on on Broadway, the company that's leaving comes onto the stage and presents to the new company a 'Coat of Many Colors'... That was one of the most moving things I'd ever experienced”.

committed to playing it. Joanna’s a very different actress to Katherine Hepburn... or is she? That’s a really interesting parallel, because Katherine very much thought of herself as a bit of a saint in America. She was an extremely influential lady. Jo, as we can see by her support of the Gurkhas [she led a successful campaign to get a better deal for Nepalese soldiers who had fought for Britain. - Ed] is an extremely influential woman too. They both get their ways by being very wily, very feminine, very clever, very educated, and they’re very, very classy. Everything a man could want.. and then they start ruling you! Now you mention it I think there is a good parallel with Katherine Hepburn, they’re both very political, and both refuse to be pushed around by studios, they’ve got their own minds.

You’ve starred on Broadway, do you find American audiences different to British ones? Oh my God yes! It’s difficult to explain, but there’s this generosity of spirit, and they’re far more outgoing. I’ve done musicals there, but I’ve never done a straight play on Broadway, which would be interesting. I was asked to do The Entertainer, which I’d done at the Old Vic, there, but I think both me and Pam Ferris felt we’d done it enough. I love Broadway, there is a real sense of a community there. Do you know about the coat, when a new show goes on on Broadway? When a new show goes on on Broadway, the company that’s leaving comes onto the stage and presents to the new company a ‘Coat of Many Colors’ made up of badges and motifs from every show that’s been there. That was one of the most moving things I’d ever experienced.

Robert Lindsay with Joanna Lumley in rehearsals for The Lion in Winter at the Theatre Royal Haymarket


The American

The American

BOOK REVIEWS

Reviewed by Sabrina Sully, Virginia E. Schultz, Ian Kerr and Michael Burland

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t's present-buying time (except for you hyper-organized types who had them all picked, purchased and packaged during the January sales). What makes a better present than a well-chosen book? It's personal – the choice is crucial as it shows the giver's knowledge of the recipient, and you can write a nice inscription inside to be read and remembered over the years – and it’s permanent – which is more than one can say for the latest gadget. This year's smart phone is old hat by Thanksgiving, but the right book can stay with you forever. Here's The American's selection of some of the best.

HISTORICAL FICTION

The Tyrant series & The Long War series by Christian Cameron

thon (2011). Cameron has changed his writing style for this to the first person, but don’t let this put you off, these are just as gripping, haunting and pageturning, so another treat in store.

Orion Books, hardcover/paperback

Stuck for a present for that difficultto-buy-for man or teenage boy? This isn’t strictly a review of these books – there are too many to dissect each in detail – but it is a discovery of a great author, who is simultaneously writing two historical fiction series which could just solve your present problems. And if they like the first one, your problems are solved for a few Christmases yet, as Christian Cameron seems to write one a year in both series! The Tyrant series is set in the time of Alexander the Great and concerns the history of the Euxine area and the inter-relations between the Greeks and Scythians. Between them Alexander the Great’s generals have divided the known world, and kept it in a constant state of war. There are four books so far: Tyrant (2008), Tyrant: Storm of Arrows (2009) Tyrant: Funeral Games (2010) Tyrant: King of the Bosporus (2011), with two further planned, Besieger of Cities (2012) and Force of Kings (2013). The Long War series is set in the turbulent period of the Persian Wars, 499 – 449 BC. The two so far are Killer of Men (2010), followed by Mara-

research is evident in his writing. I’m absolutely delighted to have found this author, whose earlier Alan Craik espionage thriller series were written with his father under the nom de plume of Gordon Kent. I’m now off to read these while I await the next new books in these series! – SS

THRILLERS

Saints of New York RJ Ellory Orion Books, hardcover, £12.99

History? Sounds dry? Not at all. This author is primarily a great novelist: these are page-turners, with great narrative, good characterisation, and each book brings the whole period to life. The detail of the period is amazing: they’re classic historical novels at their best, with no jarring modernisms, or corniness. The author is a military historian and a US Navy vet, where he served as both an aviator and an intelligence officer. He’s working on a Masters in Classics, and his enthusiasm for this period and meticulous

I still wonder how NYPD Detective Frank Parrish is getting along, yet I read this book over a year ago – so it’s not brand new, but it had to be included in this ‘best of the best’ list! This is a great American detective thriller which has something of the style of Raymond Chandler. Chandler, born in Chicago and the quintessential American crime thriller writer, lived in England from age twelve to 24 and funnily enough award-winning RJ Ellory is British born, although you’d never know from his books,which are all set in America. Another page turner, gritty at times, but superbly written with believable characters and driving plots. Look out for any book by this

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BOOK REVIEWS author. His ninth book, Bad Signs, was published in June 2011. – SS

TRAVEL (OR IS IT ART?)

that you are ‘there’, they will make you feel what it feels like to be there. - MB

NOVELS

Sojourner

MUSIC

The Angel’s Game Carlos Ruiz Zafon Phoenix Fiction, Paperback, £7.99

If you like Dickens, a touch of Gothic, mystery and magic, and haven’t discovered Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafon yet, do. His first book for adults, The Shadow of the Wind, is set in Barcelona just after the Spanish Civil War, and starts with a search for a mysterious author. I found it unforget-

table, totally haunting and evocative, and un-put-downable, This second book revisits that great, mysterious place, the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Again in Barcelona, a young author takes a dilapidated grand house in which to live and write, but the house gradually pervades this character, as he writes a commissioned book that he’s told will make his fortune. Either would make a terrific present - I think I loved The Shadow of the Wind more, but it’s difficult to choose, both are compelling. His next book The Prisoner of Heaven, will be printed in English in June 2012. - SS

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Ross Halfin Genesis Publications, signed limited edition book of 650 copies worldwide available in two bindings, £145 and £325 (leather) www.genesis-publications.com, +44 (0)1483 540970

Many will know Halfin as one of rock music’s great photographers, but he has another side to his work – travel. He professes to hate flying – his family never traveled and his first long-haul trip was to Chicago. He still finds it incredible that we can be up there among the clouds, and never watches the movies, preferring to stare at the sky. It hasn’t stopped him, on the evidence of this fine book, traveling just about everywhere on the planet. Perhaps this different take on what most consider a humdrum activity gives Halfin his unique view of life on the ground. Whatever, this book – with a foreword by Jimmy Page and an introduction by Rolling Stone magazine founder Baron Wolman – is a an absorbing, provoking collection of what Halfin calls “a selection of random photographs that I like”. You will too. The rough, grainy black and white images and great, sweeping color landscapes won’t just make you feel Dubai Skyline, one of the images in Sojourner, by Ross Halfin Photo: courtesy Genesis Publications

Faces, 1969-75 Genesis Publications Limited to 1,975 numbered copies worldwide, £345 and (leather-bound) hardcover £545 www.genesispublications.com, +44 (0)1483 540970

Genesis have done it again, with this photographic history of the most good-time band ever to have trod the boards. The Stones? Aerosmith? Too many bad vibes among the good. The Faces were, as keyboardist Ian McLagan says in the book, “a funny bunch. We all liked to drink, play music and have a laugh.” Ah, but what music – driving rock and roll leavened by

Photo taken by Ian McLagan, May, 1970, Ann Arbour, Detroit, Michigan, USA © Tom Wright, courtesy Genesis Publications

sensitively played and sung folk and ballads, preformed by, under all the jollity, some of the most inventive and talented musicians in rock. Want to find the tears behind the laughter, the grim realities of life in the grinding music biz? You won’t find them here. This collection of large format photos and quotes from the band evokes a time when it was possible to have a good career while having a good time. The saddest part is the break-up. As Mac says, “I first read about it in the


The American

papers. ‘Rod Stewart says Faces have broken up.’ And I thought, ‘That’s funny, I don’t know about that. Aren’t I in the Faces?” This is the ‘official limited edition’, signed by band members Ronnie Wood, Ian McLagan and Kenney Jones (not, you’ll note, Rod ‘miseryguts’ Stewart who’s also missing out in the rather wonderful occasional Faces gigs with ‘new Face’ Mick Hucknall). The perfect gift for ageing rockers or anyone of any age who loves the Faces. - MB

MOTORCYLING Franklin’s Indians Panther Publishing

advanced design concepts. This history is written by four authors, including Harry V. Sucher, whose name has been synonymous with the chronicling of Indian’s often turbulent history. The lavishly illustrated book sheds light not only on the sport at the turn of the last century, but also the development of the internal combustion engine after the first world war and life in general during the twenties and early thirties, making it an interesting read on all counts. - IK

EROTIC Days of the Cougar Liz Earls Taschen, hardcover, £24.99

Hardcover, £34

This year the Isle of Man TT celebrated the centenary of the Mountain Course and in 1911 the first three places in the prestigious Senior race

were taken by American motorcycles – Indians. The second place rider, Irishman Charles B. Franklin, became a great, integral, and lasting name in the history of the marque. Of the motorcycles he went on to design at ‘The Wigwam’ (the Indian factory) the Scout and Chief are two of the best known and best loved of classic motorcycles. Franklin became Chief Design Engineer and he was responsible for many

Anyone easily shocked should not read this book. Seriously. First of all, for those who do not know, a cougar is an older woman who becomes involved with younger men. But in the case of Liz Earls, she not only did that, she quit her straight job at age 40 and photographed and documented her

affairs, then put them into this book. If you’re a woman you’ll either read it with a twinkle in your eye or else you’ll think she’s a word I cannot repeat in this review. - VS

UNCATEGORIZABLE Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone: The Essential Writing of Hunter S.

Thompson Edited with an introduction by Jann S. Wenner Penguin, hardcover, £25

Wenner was Hunter S. Thompson’s editor at Rolling Stone, the magazine which gave the inventor of gonzo journalism semi-controlled free reign to write some of the most inspired, visceral, hilarious, desperate, incisive, maniacal prose ever committed to print. In any other hands (and many have subsequently tried) the idea of putting the writer at the heart of a news story, filling him full of legal and illegal drugs washed down with flagons of tequila and rum and seeing what would happen would end up a mess – ophysically, psycholically, journalistically and most importantly literally (as in the quality of the writing). Thompson was a one-off in many ways. A night out with him could be terrifying, but the peoole he worked with love him still. His ripping-apart of the rich, the idle, the powerful, even the presidential (Nixon), who abused their positions is never agit-prop, rather it is exposing the iniquities in our system that more ‘professional’ approchaes often fail to do. This lightly edited colleciton contains favorites like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the series of The Campaign Trail reports, A Dog Took My Place and a host of excellent surprises. As Johnny Depp’s movie of Thompson’s The Rum Diary hits the theaters, this is a mustread for... anyone.

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The American

A

in Walk the Woods

By Lee Blessing l Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn, London Reviewed by Jarlath O'Connell orth London’s Tricycle Theatre is deservedly acclaimed as a powerhouse of political drama. Under Artistic Director Nicholas Kent, they’ve given us a series of powerful ‘tribunal plays’ which have been used as a starting point, verbatim transcripts of such important hearings as the Scott armsto-Iraq Inquiry, The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, the Bloody Sunday Inquiry and more recently Guantanamo, which transferred not only to the West End and New York but played at Capitol Hill and across the US. Similarly, The Great Game: Afghanistan also went on a US tour and even played at the Pentagon. One of the co-authors of The Great Game series was the American, Lee Blessing, who also contributes to next year’s nuclear bomb season at the Tricycle. As a prelude to that, we first get to see a welcome revival of his great Cold War play A Walk in the Woods. The woods in question are outside Geneva, the time is 1982, and this twohander is loosely based on real events as it dramatises the stand off between American and Soviet arms negotiators. Instead of conference table fireworks, however, we observe the two as they stroll in the woods and breathe some fresh air, away from the claustrophobia of the negotiating chamber. In the original text both were male, with the Soviet played by Sir Alec Guinness in his West End swansong. For this revival, which started life at The Northern Stage Theatre in Vermont, Blessing has allowed the gender of the American to be changed to a woman. This is a nod perhaps to Madeline Albright, Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton, who have all since

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THEATER REVIEWS distinguished themselves in US foreign policy. The change works well and indeed gives the piece an extra edge. Miriam Cyr is totally compelling. Ever so suave in his pristine bespoke suits, Andrey is as slippery Steven Crossley is urbane and charming – but as an otter. We eventually learn slippery as an otter – as Andrey Botvinnik, Myrthat his world-weary pragmatism is iam Cyr is totally compelling as Joan Honeyman the result of bitter experience. He concedes that for his masters back in Moscow, his role has been “to look for peace and purposefully never find it”. She too despairs of a US President who at one stage “looked me straight in the eye and said don’t try so hard”. Blessing’s play is perfectly succinct and beautifully crafted, and an object lesson in investing dramatic moment into what could be some very dry and episodic encounters. The developing relationship between the two is also perfectly calibrated and, while Andrey gets all the best lines, Joan reminds us of the deadening effect of this real politik on the participants involved. We have to remember that these talks went on for years. Of course the world has changed considerably since then, with the Soviet and American empires no longer enjoying their global dominance, but this is no period piece. In the month that we have stalemate over the Euro and frustration everywhere at the impotence of politicians, this is a sober reminder that so often, great affairs of state can get reduced to a simple face-off between two people across a table. And what could be more dramatic than that? n Kento stram i r T : tos Pho

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Photo: Kevin Wilson PR

The American

John Leguizamo – Ghetto Klown Charing Cross Theatre, London l Reviewed by Jarlath O'Connell

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o write a single autobiographical one-man show might be thought of as vanity, to write five must surely be considered egomania. With someone of lesser ability this might be true, but when you possess the raw talent and boundless energy of this pint-sized New York Latino, it certainly isn’t a problem. Theatrical to his very core, and with a singular talent for mimicry, Leguizamo can hold an audience in the palm of his hand. In this vivid account of the colourful characters in his life, no other actors are needed. With the slightest gesture or vocal inflection he can conjure up a whole personality. Toned and trim, with an expressive face, rubbery limbs and a dancer’s grace, he belies his 46 years as he breakdances, boogies and salsas across the stage. Never resting for a second, he is like a teenager on Red Bull. Think Robin Williams crossed with the manic British comic Lee Evans, and you begin to come somewhere near the phenomenon that is Leguizamo. He created an Off-Broadway sensation with his first solo show, Mambo Mouth, which won an Obie and his second show, Spic-O-Rama, enjoyed extended sold-out runs in Chicago and

THEATER REVIEWS New York. This was followed by Freak (Tony Award nomination), which, after its Broadway run in 1998, was aired on HBO, directed by Spike Lee, and won Leguizamo an Emmy Award. He then returned to Broadway in 2001 with the show Sexaholix…a Love Story (Tony nomination), and that raw exploration of his sex life coincided with a nervous breakdown and general burn out. All the while, however, he was in growing demand for TV and film work and the show gloriously satirises the Latino typecasting he endured, playing pimps and drug dealers in shows and movies like Miami Vice and Carlito’s Way. Because the earlier shows focused more on his youth, here he takes us quickly from this tough childhood in Queens, to his discovering the acting bug, to starting to play performance art spaces with his then girlfriend (the very tall Kat), to his ascent into regular TV and film roles. He thought he had made it when he secured his very own ‘Latino’ sketch show House of Buggin, but it flopped badly. That brought the gravy train for his family and pals on his payroll to a sharp end but it also forced him to reassess and start again

with his theatre writing. With a personality far too big for any writer, Leguizamo (like Robin Williams) needs his own material and what is really refreshing here is how, despite the occasional soft-centred stories about reconciling with his father, or finding the right balance between life and work, he avoids easy sentiment. His portrayals of his disappointed and envious father, or his grasping mother, or his beloved grandad, or Ray, his brash buddy from the old neighbourhood, may be mercilessly accurate but there is no cruelty in them, and they have the ring of truth. He is similarly generous to Hollywood types whom he encountered such as Al Pacino or Brian De Palma, but it is action hero Steven Seagal who drove him over the line. Seagal’s sheer mediocrity and easy success inspired Leguizamo to forge his own path and believe that his story was also worth telling. He writes in the programme note that doing a live autobiography before one is dead maybe an act of self-destruction, or maybe an act of shedding an old skin. In any case, he has the talent to do it better than anyone else.

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The American Barack and Hillary in New Hampshire, 2008. What will its primary, and the Iowa caucus, bring in 2012?

US ELECTION 2012 THE STATE OF PLAY Sir Robert Worcester continues his running analysis of the presidential candidates

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ach month over the next year I will be summarising, here in the magazine and on The American’s website, where the American presidential election is as it heads toward Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Inevitably, given magazine deadlines, the print version will be behind the Internet’s 24/7 ability to give you the latest news about the Presidential election. Instant updates are available via the Internet, most biased, but a few dead straight. www. realclearpolitics.com must be primus inter pares to which I owe a huge obligation now and certainly in 2008, the last time we had the excitement and wide-spread interest in the American election and its outcome throughout the world. I recommend it to you to update my stats and references if you want to pick up the thread and update my poll references. Other useful sites include www.

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fivethirtyeight.com, politics.betfair. com, www.politicalbetting.com, www.electoral-vote.com and others, plus the media sites of course, led by www.nyt.com. I promise to do my best as a political scientist, a practising pollster in Britain and practicing political consultant in several other countries, to call it as I see it, unbiased and independent, while stating for the record that I have in the past been active in Democrats Abroad (as DA (UK) vice president, back in the 70s, and a member of the delegation for the Carter Convention in 1976). I founded MORI in 1969, and for 18 years did the private polling for the Labour Party. I have since worked for the Tories under Margaret Thatcher, the Liberal Democrats, even the Referendum Party (once only, and then fired my client) and other fringe parties, and for candidates for Mayor of London campaigns, first Jeffrey

Archer then Ken Livingstone. For more background to follow the election, please refer to November’s article in The American, pps. 45-47. Apologies for some typos (mainly a technical error showing poll findings to two meaningless decimal points. It won’t happen again!). But once again, I hear the Editor saying [“Get on with it, Bob!”] So, I will.

The 2012 American Election Campaign The latest polls (at the time of writing) have the presidential race in a dead heat. This doesn’t mean much, writing as I am exactly a year away from Election Day. Lots can, and will, happen. Polls will go up, and down. Candidates will enter and exit, scandals erupt and there will be ‘events, dear boy, events’ which shift the public mood. While we know the President


The American

will lead the Democratic ticket, the Republicans are scratching around with putative alternatives to Mitt Romney, the former governor of Michigan, who’s been in first or second place against all comers. Early on, even before her supporters rumbled her, he dispatched Sarah Palin, saw off Christie and Pawlenty, and watched Bachmann rise and fall. None of the others, other than Cain (who so far has weathered the Photo Gage Skidmore

Herman Cain, who so far has weathered the sex allegations levelled against him, is the only GOP candidate to have caught the public's fancy

sex allegations levelled against him), seem to have caught the public’s fancy as yet. Meanwhile, the relentless parade

“Polls will go up, and down. Candidates will enter and exit, scandals erupt and there will be ‘events, dear boy, events’ which shift the public mood” of Republican Presidential Debates has moved from state to state: in November, Michigan, South Carolina, and the national debate on the 22nd. Scheduled in December are Arizona (1st), and Iowa no less than three times (10th,15th and 18th) before the Christmas break. Just after Christmas the Iowa Caucus on January 3rd kicks off the primary season, immediately followed by the New Hampshire primary on the 10th, a real one rather than a caucus. Iowa has a history of sorting out the men from the boys (so to speak). These are followed by South Carolina (20th) and Florida (31st) by which time we’ll have lost at least half of the runners we see now. ‘Trial heats’, or ‘matchups’ in the American political vernacular, are picked up by pundits and public alike as important metrics in tracking candidates’ trajectories in these early days. Ipsos, a French firm - Ipsos MORI in Britain and Ireland - has a strong team in Washington looking after their polling for Reuters. In early November Ipsos saw Obama’s approval rating rise slightly from a month earlier. They also found a

two percent positive swing thinking the country is headed in the right direction. At the same time, however, they found Romney gaining ground, moving a point ahead of the President, 44% to 43% among self-reported registered voters (many of whom won’t, in the end, vote), a 3.5% swing from Obama to Romney in the past two months. The President led Cain by 46% to 41% and Perry by 47% to 41%. The real start to the race takes place in the first ten days in January, first at the Iowa caucus By the way, for those who are sceptical of polls, check their record: the final RCP average of the eveof-poll ‘forecasts’ was a 7.3% win for Obama over McCain against a 7.6% forecast. Sir Robert Worcester may be better known to you as Bob Worcester, one of the most knowledgeable and influential psephologists in the world. A Kansas City native, he is the founder of the MORI polling and research organisation and the best known pollster in the UK. Twitter @RobertWorcester.

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The American

Occu p y

Any w he r e v i l l e Alison Holmes wonders if the 'Occupy' protesters really understand what they are protesting about

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rcata is a town of slightly over 17,000 souls. It lies on the foggiest stretch of California coastline just over 250 miles north of San Francisco and 100 miles south of the Oregon border in the heart of Redwood, wine (and marijuana) country. It has all the trappings of a quaint small town – a Victorian town museum, a weekly farmer’s market and a central plaza over which the benevolent, fallen, President McKinley stands watch. It is also home to Humboldt State University – formerly a normal college for the training of teachers; now part of the California State system. As well as a tolerance for the ‘crazy weed’, the town is known for

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banning chain stores, nuclear weapons and GMOs, and the first city in the United States to elect a majority Green council. However, ‘twas not always thus; its history is steeped in exploitation of both nature and fellow man, building itself on the over-harvesting of gold, lumber and fish, and off the backs of local native tribes and imported Chinese labour (later unceremoniously expelled en masse by what one can only assume was a less progressive council). Given its evolution, it is probably not surprising that Arcata is now also home to an ‘Occupy’ or ‘#ows’ camp. Towns up and down California, across to Colorado and Michigan, all the way to Massachu-

setts and, of course, New York, have joined together as ‘the 99%’. Their stated goal is to ‘take back control’ from the 1% who have apparently been stashing all our money under their collective, and now well-stuffed, mattresses. The movement has been variously heralded as the left-wing answer to the Tea Party, the new keepers of the flame from the ‘gilded age’ of the 1920s and ‘30s, or even a savvier ‘60’s New Age. The fact such commentators seem to overlook is that these groups have appeared not only in blue states or along seams of a lurking progressive tendency. No, the veritable forest of little dots that mark the hundreds, even thousands of ‘occupying forces’ thickly cover places with names like Missoula Montana, Salmon Idaho, Dubuque Iowa, Tuscaloosa Alabama, Ambridge Pennsylvania and Bartlesville Oklahoma. I choose this last location not at random, but because it was my childhood home. Bartlesville provides neither middle-America ballast, nor an answering echo to Arcata, but the two towns do share a number of traits. Bartlesville is also a small place, built on the exploitation of buffalo, black gold and native Americans, but instead of reaching towards the populist tendencies of Oklahoma native sons Woodie Guthrie and Will Rogers, it has grown into the reddest state in the Union support-


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ing the religion-doting, gun-toting, protectionist right of the political spectrum. What are these upright citizens doing amongst the detritus of a sit-in or the argy-bargy of a demo? And that’s where it gets interesting. We are used to the cosmopolitan cities providing the national voice (at least on telly) on the big issues. We are not shocked that New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle all have camps of over 200 people – though we might be mildly intrigued that Denver has consistently had the largest number of protesters. It is the steady stream of numbers in places that most people have only heard of in Mark Twain novels or seen in Norman Rockwell paintings that should be capturing more of the public attention and popular imagination. It is not the size of the individual groups that should be daunting, but the persistence of their presence in places the ‘meedja’ only think of as ‘sleepy’. There is an underlying sense of dogged determination that could not have been predicted by demographics, politics or social class and usually only heard by the keenest ear tuned to the voice of the ‘silent majority’. Unfortunately, the diversity of their base may ultimately be the cause of their demise. What they gain by grass roots appeal and egalitarian structure, they lose in impact and focus. General angst and a groupthink fear are not issues that policy wonks can cogitate on or that any politician could ever make anything other than a pipe-dream promise about. Worst of all, there is no solution for what ails these groups because it is the human condition of American modernity. The lifestyle choices of most Americans today are unsustainable. It

is now abundantly clear that things generally considered to be the ‘rights’ of the 99% cannot be delivered in perpetuity – if they were ever really delivered at all. The problem, and the reality, is that, on campuses like Humboldt State and in small towns across America, a grim dawn is spreading its fingers across their landscape and bringing light to a day for which they are utterly unprepared. The rising generation has no work ethic because they have never been allowed to ‘fail’ (it’s just cruel to make a child think they are a ‘loser’). They have little application to task and consider discipline of any kind taboo (such strictures don’t allow a child to fully express themselves). Perhaps most seriously for what could be the coming watershed moment, they have little sense of what a real democracy is because they have not been taught that civil society is based on compromise of interest and rational debate. Notions of the common good and public service have been overtaken by a culture that rewards winning – and winning fast. Going around the rules is not just tolerated, but positively encouraged (only ‘chumps’ follow the rules). They have learned from the time they could speak that they can demand an exception to any rule – and regularly do. The #ows movement – at least in this small microcosm of the world – claims that the 99% will ‘overcome’ by demanding what they want – occupying the ‘enemy’ until the ‘powers that be’ succumb – and refusing to accept governance until they ‘win’. Further, that such behaviour is ‘democracy in action’. My deepest fear is that they find themselves to be the logical, if now orphaned children of the instant gratification culture that created the 1% they so deplore.

Wall Street photos: David Shankbone

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The American

7 Billion Humans?

Hurray!

Surrounded by 'Occupy' protestors proclaiming doom and gloom about our overcrowded planet, contrarian Alan Miller says we should be more positive

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hat a fantastic time to be alive! Humans have reached and gone past the 7 billion mark. Hurray! This, of course, is not the response of most people, particularly commentators. Generally, the sentiment has been one of doom and gloom.

Thomas Malthus, whose theory that there was a limit to the number of people that the world could support “was proven wrong long ago”

The old Reverend Thomas Malthus, whose pessimistic, technical outlook aligning poverty and disaster to the expanding population was proven wrong long ago, is fashionable again. Those, such as Paul Ehrlich who promised a population “bomb”, were equally wrong but still the sense of disaster permeates society’s outlook. That’s because it has nothing to do with reality – and you cannot simply say “look at the science” (like many environmentalists do) – for this is

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about how we see ourselves and the world in the Twenty First Century. Sadly, the view is often that more humans equals further problems. Resources are seen as finite, a kind of boat that is being “filled up” by humans, as one speaker commented at a panel I recently attended. But, what the limited resources/full boat/ full country concept fails to acknowledge is the brilliance of humans and our capacity to innovate, invent and transform the world around us. Everything from electricity to nuclear energy, air travel to medicine and more reflects the capacity for humans to work together, develop solutions and find new opportunities. However, our ability to dream, imagine and aspire can get impacted by the narrow, parochial, nasty view that we are a parasite on “mother earth”, some kind of termite that needs curbing. Much of the commentary goes along the lines that “Malthus was wrong, but there must be some kind of ultimate limit”. (A bit like “I’m not a racist, but…”). No. There is no limit. Only to our imaginations and expectations. Roll on the next 7 billion fellow humans who can all contribute to creating a beautiful, inspiring and transformative new world. If only the Occupy Wall Streeters and their fellow Occupiers had the ambition of transforming our world and shaping the future using

ideas. Sadly, the dominant outlook is that being leaderless is somehow radical. Having no set of principles or ideas that people have to subscribe to or be won over by is a failure, not an advantage. Just like the “Not in my name” anti-war protesters, the slogan “We are the 99%” completely dodges having to win anybody over to anything. So, like a quasi-religious get-together, people have a sit-in style event where they feel better somehow about themselves being worthy, but no political action or set of demands or goals are put forward. No wonder it is so popular with so many different commentators – it can easily be seen as a general “we don’t like the world much” right now, a bit like a petulant teenager, yet lacking the ability to do anything about it. Many have mocked the Tea Party-ers – and I have written about similar problems they shared – but at least they attempted to affect the political process by standing candidates, hitting Town Hall meetings and pressurising groups. Both OWS and the Tea Party-ers reflect the collapse and exhaustion of mainstream Democrats and Republicans respectively, yet the glee with which some have met the OWS and other Occupiers is fascinating. The biggest problem with the Occupiers, is their glee at being leaderless. 'Leadership' is reduced to the


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Danica May Camacho, nominated as the 7 billionth human (to be alive at the same time)

idea of arrogant, egotistical individuals who simply want power. The idea is lost that political leadership comes about through clear presentation of ideas, strategy and organization to achieve certain goals and objectives. It has become a popular sentiment that you cannot trust anyone (adults with children, young people on dates, fellow citizens generally) but particularly politicians and public figures. Always on the take, corrupt, looking for aggrandizement and personal benefit, never it seems with a more noble or idealistic view. Personal greed and ambition are allconsuming, too powerful and addictive. Humans, well, we are just out of control, victims to these sinister, dark demons. Strangely enough, these things that have such a lack of substance have been propelled by the reaction of the mainstream, rather than anything within themselves. Democrats, paralyzed by fear about what ordinary (mainly white) working Americans may say or do, obsessed about the Tea Party movement when they were fairly insignificant, boosting their morale, their profile and subsequently their size. Fearing racist, violent mobs, they revealed their contempt for ordinary people, particularly when they suggested they were crazy. The media has been equally patronizing, calling them

Tea Baggers and suggesting they are whackos. Of course, if you claim to be “the 99%” there is hardly anyone left to challenge. But what is the challenge to the so-called 1%? The irony is that many of those employed in Wall Street are actually working Americans compared to seemingly more affluent Occupiers. Regardless of that (I don’t care where people come from, it's what they say and do that matters in politics) where is the outline about what is wrong with the so-called 1%? What should we do? Is it the market and capitalism that is at fault? Or just a component of it? If it's really only 1%, why not put forward a series of points to re-dress the balance and get things on track? Would this involve a more interventionist government or local state legislation? A more “mixed economy” like Scandinavia pursued post-war? Abolishing the market? Or just its more “nasty” elements? We are left guessing… Marching, demonstrating, walking, tenting – these actions in and of themselves are not profound or meaningful without the content that informs them. They become vacuous and meaningless – like mainstream politics today. The bastard children of the lackluster political culture sadly will be no antidote or cure to it. We need ideas, raging, battling, fighting

to win and convince other people of the power and importance of our own ideas versus theirs. I have just been on a two month tour across Europe, where the Battle of Ideas Festival in London, an annual event consisting of over 350 international speakers has been expanding to cities including Lisbon, Oslo, Berlin, Zurich, Budapest, Venice, Warsaw and Athens. Young people were contesting, in ' Battle Satellites', complex and difficult ideas about who we are and where we should go from here. Most of the public debates ended up as discussions about what we think about our fellow humans, from assisted suicide to immigration, tourism to the economy, art to bioethics and beyond. The slogan for The Battle of Ideas, coined by director Claire Fox is “let battle commence”. This is not spin. Without the clash of ideas and passion of belief and conviction, we will not get to the heart of the paralysis that invades every area of our thoughts and lives today. We need to get in the trenches and fight hard to win as many as possible to the intellectual and practical challenges that today presents us with. With more than seven billion people and more arriving, we should all be engaged in shaping that debate. To the battle lines!

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The American

Feeling Superior Why Americans heading home to do a serious bike tour should consider skipping north of the border. Words and pictures by Ian Kerr

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ue to the extremes of weather that Canada produces, it is sometimes easy to forget that when the lower part is not covered in snow it has some superb biking roads that combine good riding along with spectacular scenery. Not only this, but it is liberally spread with lots of historical sites and buildings, so you can experience the great outdoors with a healthy dose of culture to go with it. To get some idea of what is on offer to the motorcyclist I headed across the ‘pond’ to the north of Ontario and started my journey at Thunder Bay, which nestles on the shores of Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake. Here I picked

Comfy as a feather bed... Ian enjoys a well-deserved rest

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up a Kawasaki KLR 650 trail, or ‘Dualsport’ bike, from Excalibur Motorcycles for a quick tour of the north (Canadian) side of the lake. Roughly the size of Ireland with a shore line roughly equal in miles, Lake Superior forms part of the boundary between Canada and the USA, and a complete circumnavigation normally takes two weeks at a reasonably relaxed pace. Despite having just a week to cover the northern route, I spent a day soaking up the local culture and exploring many of the offroad trails, which included a disused section of the old Trans-Canadian railway. Before leaving for Sault Ste Marie on the border with Michigan, a run out along the ‘Sleeping Giant’ peninsula gave me another chance to test the dual capabilities of the bike and get a different view and perspective on Thunder Bay. A brief stop in Red Rock in a spectacular lake cabin once owned by the local Paper Mill saw me tackle the longest leg of my trip, to Wawa and a look at the gold mining industry. Although the

Trans-Canadian Highway 17 follows the lake’s shoreline, giving you continued spectacular views, it was easy to dive off into the small towns like Rossport and Marathon for a closer look at the shoreline, or into the many small parks just off the highway. Overnight in Wawa was once again spent with views to die for after a spectacular off-road ride to the Rock Island Lodge, right on the lake’s edge, from where they run many waterbased courses. A relatively short hop via a quick look at the Pictographs in the Provincial Park saw me arrive at my destination in Sault Ste Marie. In the 1920s this was the landing point of an Englishman, Graham Oates, and it was here he started his ride from Aurora to Ariel on his unusual sidecar outfit adapted to run on railway tracks. Sault Ste Marie is also home to the Bushplane Museum, where the history of forest fire fighting can be seen. The following day was spent on the Agawa Canyon train seeing some of the most spectacular rugged scenery anywhere in the world, before taking a short flight down to Kingston to catch up on Canadian history. A change to a ‘full dress’ Harley from the local dealer, Motosport Plus, gave me lots of luggage-carrying capacity for the next leg of my tour, starting with a look at the very impressive Rideau Canal and its lock system. An overnight stop in Merrickville saw my route to Wellington in Prince


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Edward County heading through many Scottish and English-named towns like Perth and Brighton, showing the historical links between the Canada and the UK. With ‘Kingston Classic Rock’ blaring out from the speakers and the sun shining, the Harley dresser’s footboards constantly kissed the tarmac as I explored some excellent roads along the route to the very English-looking farming community around Wellington and my overnight stop. The next day, after a run back up the coast along Lake Ontario, I crossed via the ferries over Cape Vincent into the US for a short hop down to Sockets Harbour in New York State. A look around this historic port was followed by an excellent couple of hours in Clayton and the superb antique boat museum, before crossing back into Canada over the Morristown road bridge. My last day was spent exploring the 1000 Islands Parkway by means of the many small ferries that connect the islands, before handing the bike back and flying home. Although something of a whistlestop tour, it showed that Canada has a lot to offer not only the tourist, but the motorcyclist as well, with various types of machines being available depending on your needs. My thanks must go to David Grist at HC Travel in Britain (www.hctravel.com) who provides a one-stop shop and made it all happen so smoothly via Stephen Burnett in Canada. He can do the same for you with tailor-made tours organised to suit your particular needs, including the full Lake Superior loop. After what I have just seen, I would say Ontario should be high on your list of places to see, and I know I will definitely go back for more of the same and to finish the loop!

Anxious to get going... but where's the rider?

Serious horsepower!

The wide blue yonder – bike trips don't come with much better views than this

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Anglo-American

British University Football Bursts into Action

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Round-up Eagles, Riders, Raiders and Wolves Headed for BBL Cup

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ecember sees the British Basketball League host its Cup Semi Finals with an unexpected lineup, as perennial contenders the Newcastle Eagles and Leicester Riders are joined by the Plymouth Raiders and surprise qualifiers the Worcester Wolves. The Riders dominated the Cheshire Jets 95-74 in their quarter final, while the Eagles, after trailing 55-60, prevailed over a Glasgow Rocks side missing injured guard EJ Harrison, 78-75. Former Sheffield Shark Paul Williams and a 33-point third quarter keyed Plymouth’s 85-83 squeaker over Sheffield, but Worcester now look to be a legitimate threat this year, with their 91-62 drubbing of the Mersey Tigers, and their 2-0 start in Champonship play. The Wolves will play the Raiders in

Above: Newcastle’s Fab Flournoy in action against the Glasgow Rocks Photo courtesy of Newcastle Eagles

their home-and-away series, while the Eagles face the Riders. On the Championship table, all four teams were unbeaten at press time, while the league’s new doormat appears to be Guildford. The Heat have started out 0-5, but have announced the signing of former Plymouth Raider Drew Lasker, who replaces released fellow American Brandon Shingles. Find out more at www.BBL.org.uk

British Ice Hockey leagues: Belfast buoyant, Phoenix falter

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he Belfast Giants again look the team to beat in the Elite Ice Hockey League, despite the departure of Derek Leblanc. The Giants quickly moved to add Aaron Clarke, an All-Star in the New Jersey-based ECHL. Meanwhile in the English Premier League, Slough and Sheffield have started strong, but with a game in hand, the Guildford Flames are threatening again. Last year, the Flames came up just a game short behind the Manchester Phoenix, who were resting mid-table at press time. www.britishicehockey.co.uk

he 2011-2012 BUAFL season kicked off in November, with 4,000 fans attending the annual night game ‘xpLosION’, as the University of Birmingham Lions defeated the Nottingham Trent Renegades, 25-6. Elsewhere, the Canterbury Chargers continued last year’s defensive progress, shutting out the Anglia Ruskin Phantoms 32-0 in their opener, while the defending champions Portsmouth Destroyers blanked the Brunel Burners 20-0. Other lop-sided scorelines from the first week of play included Hertfordshire Hurricanes winning 57-0 over the KCL Regents, and the Derby Braves defeating the Staffordshire Stallions 49-6. Thrillers were to be found, however, as the UEA Pirates squeezed out the Brighton Tsunami 20-14 in overtime, and in the unlikely shootout of the week, the traditionally defensive Southampton Stags edged the run-oriented BNU Buccaneers 54-48. In week two action, BNU again fell to a high-quality opponent, as the Destroyers beat them 26-16, while Glasgow, 16-0 winners over Edinburgh Napier in week one, found Edinburgh’s other team, the Predators a tougher foe, losing 14-2. The British University American Football League season continues into the spring, and more information on its many member teams – plus the latest results – may be found at www.buafl.net photo courtesy of Birmingham Lions

Left: Guildford forward Nathan Rempel. Photo by Alan Bone

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Photos by Gary Baker

Words by Richard L Gale

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he Buccaneers were cheered loudly, their opponents a little louder, and the cheerleaders loudest of all. Matt Forte put up numbers to warm the hearts of his fantasy owners, and Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman mounted a fourth quarter rally that fell just short, 24-18. All then, was as advertised when the NFL made its mid-season jaunt to Wembley. For British fans, that meant the first visit by the Bears in over 25 years, and memories of their legendary mid-’80s defense echoed down the ages, as linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher each logged an interception and two passes defensed. Corner D.J. Moore sealed the deal in the final minute as Freeman threw his fourth pick, disappointing the Glazer family, who were already reeling from Manchester United’s 6-1 Left (descending order): NFL fans implosion against gather at Trafalgar Manchester City Square; NFL Commissioner earlier that Roger Goodell whips the crowd same afternoon. into a frenzy; Sky’s Neil Reynolds

chats with Bears coach Lovie Smith; pirates, GooGoo Dolls, flags, and a grey squirrel (another North American interloper!); Captain Fear is ready for his close-up; more flags and a giant inflatable bear ...and finally, football. Earnest Graham left the game – and indeed the season – early in the game leaving Kregg Lumpkin (pictured) to lead Tampa Bay’s backfield with a mere 15 yards. Above: Bucs passerJosh Freeman.

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This page: Chris Conte (#47) was the first of four Bears to intercept Josh Freeman during the game; Lance Briggs (#55) became the second; Matt Forte (#22) was once again the workhorse, logging 145 yards on 25 carries; Bears QB Jay Cutler (#6) had an unspectacular day, with two interceptions of his own, but his 226 yards on 32 attempts ably balanced a backfield that ran 32 times for 178 yards; Despite Freeman’s two fourth-quarter touchdowns, for much of the game, die-hard Buccaneers fans could content themselves with the tireless distraction of the Buccaneers’ cheerleading squad (nicknamed, underwhelmingly, the ’Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders’).

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The American

By Jeremy Lanaway

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id the NHL relocate to Bizarro World? How else to explain the fact that one third of the way through November, the league’s topfive club is populated by the Dallas Stars, the Edmonton Oilers, and – wait for it – the Toronto Maple Leafs? Sure, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins are in the mix, but what about these other suddenly-and-unexpectedly overachieving teams? When did reality flip? But that’s what makes the NHL’s too-long schedule endurable in the fall, isn’t it? Any team can win, on any given night. All bets are off, the slate is clean, the page has been turned onto a new chapter, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Tired clichés aside, the Stars are holding the top spot in the NHL – with fourteen wins and twenty-two points – because they’re scoring more goals than their opponents. Go figure. In fact, their 3.07 goalsper-game average is second only to the Philadelphia Flyers’ 4.0 and the Penguins 3.77. Who would’ve thunk it? ‘Last year they missed the playoffs by one point, so this year they’ve got something to prove,’ explained Stars first-year coach Glen Gulutzan, speaking to his team’s early-season success. ‘So for me as a new coach, it’s been easy going into that locker room when you’ve got twenty hungry guys.’

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The surprise has been sprung, in large part, by the unforeseen output by Stars left-wingers Jamie Brenn and Loui Eriksson. The 22-year-old Brenn, who’s tallied five goals and thirteen assists in fourteen games and is quickly becoming the future of the franchise, is on pace to blow last season’s points total of 59 out of the water. Eriksson is a bit longer in the tooth, at the ripe old age of 26, and his eight goals and eight assists are less surprising than Brenn’s output, considering the fact that he amassed seventy-three last year, but he’s also on pace to raise the bar several notches on his career-best. ‘We’re getting to know each other better and better as the games go on,’ Eriksson said in regards to his youthful linemate. ‘He’s such a good player to play with.’ The Oilers are focusing on the other end of the ice. Sitting in third place in the league with twenty points, the team is continuing to benefit from the NHL’s stingiest goals-against average, giving up a measly 1.5 red-lamps per game. Come again? Let’s take a moment to put this stat into perspective. Last year, the Oilers finished the season twentyeighth in goals-against – in other words, third from last. Six months later, they’ve climbed over twentyseven teams to sit atop the ladder. Needless to say, this begs only one question, or rather one word – how?

The answer – at least the simple answer – is Nikolai Khabibulin. The 38-year-old Russian netminder is providing evidence to the enduring adage that goalies age like red wine. After serving two less-than-vintage seasons in Edmonton, Khabibulin has finally cemented the team’s starting position, earning himself a 0.98 goals-against-average (third in the NHL) and a 0.964 save percentage (also third) in the process. And he’s done all this while backstopping a young-gun, offensive-zone-minded group of forwards. ‘Any way you want to say it, it’s important to have good goaltending,’ said Khabibulin, addressing his team’s recent defensive shutdown. ‘A lot of times, the difference is one goal and we’ve been in some of those games already.’ Sitting in fifth place in the NHL with nineteen points, the Maple Leafs must’ve gotten the same memo touting an offence-first strategy that the Stars received. Too bad they didn’t get the other memo about defensive-zone responsibilities. They’re playing Jekyll-and-Hyde hockey – strong in the opponent’s zone and weak in their own. Their 2.88 goals-per-game average is good enough to lift them to seventh spot in the NHL, while their 3.41 goalsagainst average is poor enough to plummet them to 28th. Deserving of credit for the Maple Leafs’ unlikely success in the


The American

Forward Loui Eriksson (right) has found a new level of play, while fellow Star Jamie Brenn is having a break-out season. Image © Dallas Stars.

offensive zone are linemates Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul. After a few seasons of failing to live up to the hype – who can forget the image of Kessel getting picked last in the peer-chosen squad selection at last year’s All Star Game? – Kessel is finally getting it done. He currently leads the league with eleven goals and eleven assists in fifteen games, and his offensive output is bearing fruit for Lupul, who sits in eighth with eight goals and nine assists. ‘Phil’s matured,’ Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien commented on his former player. ‘He’s a lot stronger hanging on to the puck than he ever was. He shoots the puck and he’s finding ways to get shots off. Every game he has a lot of opportunities, so he’s becoming a better player with age.’ Good starts are, well, good, but good finishes are even better, and it remains to be seen if the Stars, the Oilers, and the Maple Leafs have what it’ll take to retain their lofty view over their competition come season’s end. As the saying goes, there’s still plenty of hockey to be played, and as these three teams have shown in the first fifth of the season, anything is possible. H

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60-60 shootouts have their place. Hopefully that isn’t the NFL, writes Richard L Gale

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’m not sure who coined the phrase ‘basketball on grass’. There was Joe Tiller/Drew Brees-era Purdue, but it probably predates them. In the college setting, it has exciting connotations, of wide-open passing, scoreboards afire, every tick of the clock the opportunity for another highlight-reel play. And that’s great ...in college. But whenever I’m presented with the ‘greatest quarterback of the modern NFL-era’ debate, the first name I scratch off the shortlist is Dan Marino. “But look at the stats! Marino was a football god” gushes somebody in aqua and teal. Maybe I remember that 51-45 game between the Dolphins and Jets differently. With the Steel Curtain down at the dry cleaners during the ‘80s, the AFC was a haven for high-scoring offenses. And do you remember how the AFC used to do in Super Bowls in those days? About as well as those run’n’shoot passers did when they arrived in the NFL. Professional football should include defense. Yet while we were all fretting over whether the 2012 season was even going to happen, the NFL’s rules committee edged us just a little closer to professional flag football with their ‘hitting a defenseless player’ nonsense. True football fans love defense. And they love hits, though we also prefer players to get up unscathed afterwards, like cartoon rodents unfazed by repeated beatings with a frying pan. We want to see hits, hear hits, feel hits (albeit from a safe distance). When precisely were football fans polled as to whether we turned

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against contact sports? Who asked for this latest rule of the trend towards enforced ‘basketball on grass’? I don’t remember offensive players specifically asking, defenders certainly didn’t, and no fan I’ve met ever did. Does the average NFL fan (real ones, not ones worried about the fantasy remifications) honestly object to a quarterback blowing snot bubbles once in a while, or a wide receiver getting knocked silly as he goes over the middle. Sure, we nod appropriately when the subject of player safety is raised, but football fans still make an ‘ooooh’ noise when somebody gets blindsided, the same way motor-sport fans still love to see cars get totaled, the same way mixed martial arts is gouging great chunks out of boxing’s traditional audience. The NFL’s rule about defenders not hitting a defenseless receiver is farcical. What’s the defender meant to do, wait until the offensive player ‘makes a football move’ (such as dodging aside and scoring a touchdown)? How do referees apply this at the goal line? Worst of all, how do we explain this rule to overseas sports fans we want to initiate into NFL

viewership? Brits used to watching rugby find the donning of armour and helmets unmanly enough without declaring such a person ‘defenseless’. Truth be told, LSU-Alabama’s kick-fest entertained me no more than the MAC’s Tuesday-night shootouts, because in college football, a sparsity of great defensive players is the norm, not the exception. In the NFL, I expect to see good hard tackling. I hope all defenders give this rule the respect it deserves and continue to drill, wreck and stagger their opponents the way the Ravens and Steelers do when they face each other. Otherwise, Dan Marino’s stats could become laughably mundane within ten years. H

Left: Terence Owens and Toledo triumphed 66-63 over Western Michigan just one week after losing 63-60 to Northern Illinois. Barn-burners are welcome on a Tuesday night – especially with the NBA out of action – but do they belong on Sundays? Photo courtesy of the University of Toledo


The American December 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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