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March 2012

THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE

Est. 1976

®

£2.80 www.theamerican.co.uk

MARCH MADNESS

Plus NASCAR & Formula 1 season previews

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

Competitions: Seinfeld tickets, Shadowball tickets, and more Singin’ in the London Rain: Michael Brandon interviewed


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The American is packed full of things to do, places to go, news, music, arts, great features, an exclusive cartoon, Coffee Break quizzes, restaurant reviews, business, politics, cars and American sports – all specially selected for Americans in the UK. It’s the perfect read every month. The glossy travel-size format makes The American even more attractive and easy to carry and keep. Subscribe now and we will send The American to you every month. It’s only £20.00 for one year (13 issues) in the UK – that’s a great 40% discount plus one extra issue absolutely free. If you subscribe for two years (26 issues) it costs just £37.00 – 45% off plus two free issues. Simply complete and mail the form to Blue Edge Publishing, Old Byre House, East Knoyle, Salisbury, SP3 6AW, or call us on +44 (0)1747 830520 with your credit or debit card details handy. We look forward to welcoming you to The American’s community – Sabrina Sully, Subscriptions Manager

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The American ®

Issue 707 – March 2012 PUBLISHED BY SP MEDIA FOR

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Old Byre House, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK Telephone all departments: +44 (0)1747 830520 Publisher: Michael Burland editor@theamerican.co.uk Please contact us with your news or article ideas Design and Production: Richard L Gale Advertising & Promotions: Sabrina Sully, Commercial Director advertising@theamerican.co.uk Subscriptions: theamerican@blueedge.co.uk Correspondents: Virginia E. Schultz, Food & Drink virginia@theamerican.co.uk Mary Bailey, Social mary@theamerican.co.uk Estelle Lovatt, Arts estelle@theamerican.co.uk Alison Holmes, Politics alison@theamerican.co.uk Jarlath O’Connell, Theater jarlath@theamerican.co.uk Richard L. Gale, Sports Editor richard@theamerican.co.uk Josh Modaberi, Sports josh@theamerican.co.uk Jeremy Lanaway, Hockey jeremy@theamerican.co.uk

©2012 Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Printed by Advent Colour Ltd., 19 East Portway Industrial Estate, Andover, SP10 3LU www.advent-colour.co.uk ISSN 2045-5968 Cover: Murray State – battling towards ‘the big dance’ (photo © Joe Murphy/ Murray State Athletics). Inset: Michael Brandon in Singin’ In The Rain (photo © Manuel Harlan)

Welcome I

t’s March. And that means Super Tuesday. Every day we get more information about the candidates. And every day it can get more confusing. You know what they say: data is not information, information is not knowledge, and knowledge is not wisdom. With candidates swapping rankings, others dropping out, and winners of caucuses and primaries turning out to have lost, what we need is wisdom from one who knows all about how elections work. Luckily The American can bring you such a wise head – Sir Robert Worcester, the American founder of MORI, makes all this confusion clear in his regular campaign analysis. March also means Spring. We’re celebrating it with the best food and drink to enjoy, shows to see, places to go, and sports to watch – after all, it’s March Madness too. Read about them all in this issue. Enjoy your magazine,

Michael Burland, Editor editor@theamerican.co.uk

SOME OF THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS

PR director Jeannine Wheeler is the only American in a busy office, constantly learning new and amusing ways to compare the two ‘languages’ which can get her into a ‘spot of bother.’

Estelle Lovatt is an arts correspondent, author, producer, presenter and tutor. Enjoy her unique insight as she interviews the most interesting artists.

Jay Webster is a professional sports journalist who this month takes a look at some of the teams who could be going deep into basketball’s March Madness.

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 707 • March 2012

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News Do you and your family have U.S. Social Security Numbers? If not you could be in trouble. Find out how to get one.

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Diary Dates Get out and enjoy what Britain has to offer, from two Saints days to the world’s largest dog show

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Win Seinfeld Tickets He’s back! And we have 5 pairs of tickets to his out-of-London concerts for lucky winners of our competition

12 My Word! You know what they say – two nations divided by a common language. Our new columnist points out some of the fun that can ensue 14 The Hatfields and the McCoys Our British-based American actor is off in the Romanian woods playing cowboys with Kevin Costner. And he calls it work! 18 Arts Choice We interview American-born, London-based Robin Richmond, and find out how David Hockney is using the iPad to create fine art

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The American

22 Wining & Dining The finest chefs, the best restaurants, and the perfect French bakery in London 29 Coffee Break Enjoy our quizzes and cartoon

33 Win Shadowball Tickets Meet the cast of this fascinating jazzsports fusion and support a worthy cause 34 Michael Brandon An interview with the London-born New Yorker who’s starring in Singin’ In The Rain

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36 Reviews Great roles for female actors

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43 Politics Confused? You won’t be after reading our monthly election update 46 Drive Time Jeep’s no longer German owned – now it’s Italian! But don’t worry, the new Grand Cherokee is all-American beef. 48 Sports March Madness, NASCAR, Formula 1, National Signing Day, and the Rams are headed to London... what more could you ask for? 54 Win an ESPN Bag of Goodies Win a sports bag, boot bag, sports towel, water bottle, cap, T-shirt, hoody, and more

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PHOTO: GAGE SKIDMORE

30 Music The sad news on Whitney Houston

56 American Organizations Useful and fun societies for you to join 65 The A-List Quality products and services hand-picked for you 3


The American

British Library News

T

he Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library houses the premier collection of American books, manuscripts, journals and recordings outside the U.S.A. It also runs lectures, like ‘Liberties and Empires: Writing Constitutions in the Atlantic World, 1776-1848’ in which Princeton’s Professor Linda Colley looks at the new written constitutions, which had not previously existed, resulting from the revolutions in America in 1776, France (1789), and Haiti (1791): March 21 at the Institute of Education, Bedford Way, London. Free entry, but rsvp chloe.pieters@sas.ac.uk Eccles Centre Garrison Keillor Fellowship: the Centre is inviting applications for this one-off award of £2,250 for expenses connected with research work at the British Library in London. It is open to post-graduates and post-doctoral scholars normally resident in the UK. Projects can be in any discipline but should relate to the American Mid-West and entail the use of the British Library collections and be completed before September 30th, 2013. The award holder will be expected to be in research residence at the British Library for at least one month. To apply, email a brief 2 page CV and a document explaining the nature of your project and outlining the budget (max. two pages) to eccles-centre@bl.uk by 5pm on Thursday 15 March 2012.

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Honorary Fellowship First for U.S. Pioneer

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21st-century ‘Renaissance man’ from Texas is the first American (and only the second person overall) to have been awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Chester. The honor marks his commitment to fostering a range of professional, cultural and academic activities between the US and UK. Stewart Morris has dedicated his life to serving communities and through his connections with healthcare, particularly in Houston, has forged links with the University resulting in an annual conference, held alternately on each side of the Atlantic, to explore the implications of the current era of health reform and innovation in both countries. It brings together practitioners, administrators and policy makers to highlight key practices in healthcare delivery, the organisation of healthcare services, technical advances and future direction. Through Mr Morris, the University now also enjoys a partnership with the Memorial Hermann, a not-for-profit healthcare system in Houston, which affords staff from the two institutions opportunities for professional exchanges. Mr Morris is founding father, twice past Chairman and member

Stewart Morris (third left) with: (left to right) Professor Mike Thomas of Chester University, John Richards OBE, Deputy Lieutenant of Cheshire, David Coyle of Chester U., and Dan Wolterman, CEO Memorial Hermann Health Care System.

of the Board of Trustees of Houston Baptist University, where, together with his wife Joella, he has established the Stewart Morris Cultural Arts Centre. He also has an interest in preserving history, including the restoration of such significant structures as George Washington’s stables and coach house for which he received the prestigious Paul Carrington Chapter No 5, Sons of the American Revolution George Washington Service Award. Professor Tim Wheeler, the University of Chester’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “Stewart Morris is truly a Renaissance man for our times and his Honorary Fellowship is richly deserved. It honours a glittering career; a philanthropic passion, which corresponds with our own mission of public service as an institution; and his dedication to providing mutual benefits for the University and its partners in the United States.” Mr Morris said: “I am humbled by the honor, especially since this designation is given to so few.”


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Our entire team, trained within the Big 4 global accountancy firms, includes dual handling experts who are familiar with all aspects of the complex interaction between US & UK taxes. We would be happy to meet you in person for a no obligation initial consultation to review your particular situation free of charge. Please contact us to discuss your needs. Xerxes Associates LLP Tel: +44(0)207 411 9026 Fax: +44(0)207 411 9051 www.xerxesllp.com

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The American Embassy Contacts

Passport and Citizenship unit, email londonpassports@state.gov Special Consular Services unit, email SCSLondon@state.gov Federal Benefits Unit, email FBU.London@ssa.gov To telephone any of these departments, or for recorded information 24 hours/day, seven days/week, call [44] (0)20-7499-9000

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ll U.S. citizens, permanent residents and temporary residents who work in the States should have a Social Security Number. If, as an expatriate, you or a child of yours find yourselves without an SSN, here’s what to do. N.B. All forms mentioned, and more information, can be downloaded from the London U.S. Embassy website, london.usembassy.gov. All documents sent to the Embassy must be originals, photocopies are not acceptable. Applying on behalf of a child under the age of 12? To apply for an SSN for a child under age 12, you will need to complete an Application for a Social Security Card, Form SS-5-FS . You will have to provide the following documents. The completed application and documents should be mailed to the Embassy. 1. Proof of the child’s birth:  U.S. birth certificate, or Consular Report of Birth Abroad  If the child was born in the U.S. you must also submit proof that you or the child has resided outside of the U.S. for a significant period of time to explain why a Social Security number has not been issued in the past. Proof of foreign residency can include medical, school and employment records.  If the child was born in the U.S., Form SSA- L706 must also be completed, signed and submitted.

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EMBASSY NEWS

www.usembassy.org.uk

Applying for a Social Security Number 2. Proof of the child’s U.S. Citizenship: U.S. birth certificate, or Consular Report of Birth Abroad 3. Proof of the child’s identity: U.S. or UK Passport, must be current and signed 4. Proof of the identity of the parent signing the application: U.S. or UK Passport, must be current and signed Applying for a Social Security number for yourself OR a child over the age of 12? Anyone over the age of 12 must present themselves in person at a U.S. Embassy, Consulate or designated U.S. Military installation. To arrange a visit to your local Embassy or Consulate please see http://london.usembassy. gov/cons_new/acs/fbu/appointments. html You must also complete an Application for a Social Security Card, Form SS-5-FS and provide the following documents. 1. Proof of birth:  U.S. birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or birth certificate other than the documents mentioned above.  If you or the child was born in the U.S. you must also submit proof

that you or the child has resided outside of the U.S. for a significant period of time to explain why a Social Security number has not been issued in the past.  If you or the child was born in the U.S., Form SSA- L706 must also be completed, signed and submitted along with the application and other documentation. 2. Proof of U.S. Citizenship:  US birth certificate  Consular Report of Birth Abroad  Naturalization or Citizenship Certificate 3. Proof of identity: U.S. or UK Passport, must be current and signed 4. Proof of the identity of the parent signing the application, if applicable - a parent can sign the form for a child up to age 18; a child can sign the form above age 12.  U.S. or UK Passport, must be current and signed Next month we will look at the situation for foreign nationals who want to work in the U.S.A.; Americans who have lost their Social Security Card or forgotten their Social Security number; married or divorced and need to change their name on Social Security records; and those who have never been been assigned a Social Security Number. H


Letters

The American

Open Letter to Americans in Britain:

Save Washington’s Ancestral Home

‘P

ilgrimage’ isn’t a word often used these days but, back in the 1920s, those involved in saving Sulgrave Manor to be a symbol of friendship between the British and American peoples had no concerns about deploying it. Sulgrave Manor was to be “a place of pilgrimage” for all American visitors to Britain. And so it was for a goodly while. Groups of American visiting bishops, lawyers, alumni included it in their itineraries; most independent travellers found their way into the depths of the English countryside; it was a favoured place for GIs on R&R during World War II. All the American visitors seemed to share in the sentiments of Mrs Joseph R. Lamar, the doughty President of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America who wrote in 1923 “We share with England all her history before the American Revolution. Shakespeare is ours, as well as England’s; Oxford and Westminster are ours. They are – until the signing of the Declaration of Independence – a part of our common heritage. But Sulgrave Manor is wholly ours; the name that lends it lustre is our own; and the place should be our care for all time to come”. It is the Washington name, of course, to which Mrs Lamar refers. Sulgrave Manor was built by Lawrence Washington, the five times great grandfather of your First President and lived in by generations of the family for 120 years. It was John, the great grandson of the builder, who began a new life in Virginia

in 1657 and who built the house in which his great grandson, George, was born and acquired the land on which Mount Vernon was built. The Dames have lived up to their President’s words ever since – they still raise money tirelessly to help support the Manor. So too, do the Daughters of the American Revolution. So too, do some individual American UK residents who volunteer their time and energies to help the Manor. So too, does The American, whose editor has featured us regularly. It is, however, dear American cousin, not enough. However hard we work and however much care we take to spend every penny wisely – and, believe me, we do both – we cannot generate enough money to take proper care of this building and its contents any longer. The years since the recession have brought us to crisis point. In these straitened times, we need your help. Donations, of course, are most welcome and we are happy to work out sponsorship deals with companies. How about “adopting” a room or a piece of furniture, helping to take care of it for future generations? Or become a Patron with additional access privileges allowing you to build a special relationship with the house? Or support our fundraising events in London? Or bring your family to visit us during the spring or summer? Or suggest us as a trip for the groups of which you are members? Or choose us

Above: Mrs Lamar in 1925 presenting the record of donors to the Endowment Appeal

for your wedding or family celebration venue? Whether you give us money or pay us for services provided, it all helps. Thank you to all of you who have already helped in these ways. We are working still to ensure the survival of this symbol of the links of blood, history, language, philosophy and culture between us. Without your help it may become just another visitor attraction with nothing to distinguish it from all the others. Wendy Barnes Director, Sulgrave Manor wendy.barnes@sulgravemanor.org.uk If you can help by making a donation, please go to www.justgiving.com/sulgravemanor/donate , or text SMGW14 followed by a space and the amount of your donation and send it to 70070 or send a cheque (made out to The Sulgrave Manor Board) to Sulgrave Manor, Sulgrave, Banbury OX17 2SD. The US Friends of Sulgrave Manor can accept tax deductible donations from US citizens – details on website. Please phone 01295 760205 for group or venue bookings/enquiries. The website, www.sulgravemanor.org.uk is full of information on the Manor and all aspects of its work. Requests for further information are welcome.H

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The American

Diary Dates

Your Guide To The Month Ahead

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

cinematic biography also features interviews with Vogue editor Anna Wintour, alongside designers such as Michael Kors.

Urban Classic The Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, Greater London EC2Y 8DS www.barbican.org.uk MARCH 3

Race Retro

St David’s Day

Stoneleigh Park, Coventry www.raceretro.com info@livepromotions.co.uk 01775 768661

Various www.cardiff.gov.uk/stdavidsday MARCH 1

FEBRUARY 24-26

In celebration of the patron saint of Wales, St David, special events will be taking place throughout the country, including the Annual St David’s Day Parade in Cardiff, and the St David’s Day Gala at St David’s Hall. Look out for events in all major Welsh towns, and if you’re in London, the London Welsh Centre will be running a special St David’s Open Day.

Europe’s Premier Show focusing on Historic Motorsport, Historic Racing and Historic Rallying. A three day event with classic cars and motorcycles.

Bath Literature Festival Various, Bath www.bathlitfest.org.uk 01225 463362 PHOTO: PATMCD

MARCH 2-11

One of the UK’s best known festivals for stimulating debate, lively conversation and fascinating authors’ insights. The Festival seeks to make you think whilst it entertains, with unique events pairing like–minded authors, dynamic debates on topical issues, and specially commissioned work by leading contemporary writers.

Bill Cunningham: New York The Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, Greater London EC2Y 8DS www.barbican.org.uk MARCH 3

This documentary from director Richard Press examines the work of visionary photographer Bill Cunningham and his unconditional love of fashion. The

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N-Dubz leading producer Fazer and top UK urban artists Ms Dynamite, Skepta and Devlin share the stage for one night only with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, in a unique mash-up of musical cultures featuring breakthrough anthems, massive hits and exciting new material.

Andrew Bird + Dosh The Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, Greater London EC2Y 8DS www.barbican.org.uk MARCH 5

A rare UK appearance from the Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist and lyricist, to celebrate the release of his much anticipated new album. With his 2005 record Mysterious Production of Eggs recently named one of the 100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums of All Time on Amazon.com, now get ready for this casual musical genius’ first studio effort in over two years.

Crufts National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham B40 1NT www.crufts.org.uk MARCH 8-11

28,000 dogs from the UK and overseas are set to enter the greatest dog show in the world. As well as the Best in Show competition, visitors to the event will have the opportunity to meet and greet over 200 breeds of dogs as


The American

SEINFELD RETURNS!

WIN TICKETS FOR SEINFELD’S FIRST EVER UK SHOWS OUTSIDE LONDON Following his critically acclaimed, sold out show at London’s O2 Arena last year, America’s premier comedian, Jerry Seinfeld, is returning to the UK in May to play his first ever shows outside London, in Birmingham and Manchester. Hailed as “the master stand-up comic of his generation” and “the best comedian of our time” in a Washington Post article by Tom Shales, Seinfeld has an uncanny ability to joke about the little things in life that relate to audiences everywhere.

‘A masterclass in delivery, control and timing’ The Observer ‘It’s a joy’ The Independent ‘Seinfeld is just a naturally brilliant performer, who only gets better’ The Guardian The concert dates are Friday May 11th at Birmingham NIA, and Saturday May 12th at Manchester MEN Arena, tickets priced at £47.50 & £40 (subject to booking fee) are available from www.livenation.co.uk The American has 5 pairs of tickets to give away to readers. Winners can choose which of the two shows they go to. Simply answer the following question to enter: Who co-created and co-wrote Jerry Seinfeld’s eponymous sitcom? ANSWER A) Alan Alda B) Woody Allen C) Larry David

HOW TO ENTER: Email your answer and your contact details (name, address and daytime telephone number) to theamerican@blueedge.co.uk with SEINFELD COMPETITION in the subject line; or send a postcard to: SEINFELD COMPETITION, The American, Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK; to arrive by mid-day March 31, 2012. You must be 18 years old or over to enter this competition. Only one entry per person per draw. The editor’s decision is final. No cash alternative. Tickets are for the May 11th or May 12th performance and are not transferable. You are responsible for any travel, accommodation and other expenses.

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The American

well as watching many other canine competitions including agility, flyball and obedience. With many dog charities in attendance and over 500 trade stands selling everything and anything for the dog, it is the ultimate family day out for any dog lover.

Classical Spectacular Royal Albert Hall, London www.royalalberthall.com 020 7589 8212 MARCH 15-18

The Classical Spectacular returns with more music, lights, lasers and special effects. See the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra play all the classics including: Bizet, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Handel, Verdi, Wagner and others, with thundering cannons and indoor fireworks.

The Master and Margarita The Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, Greater London EC2Y 8DS www.barbican.org.uk MARCH 15 TO APRIL 7

American Museum in Britain Claverton Manor, Bath BA2 7BD www.americanmuseum.org info@americanmuseum.org 01225 460503 MARCH 10 TO DECEMBER 18

The Museum reopens on Saturday March 10. 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, plus two new major exhibitions for 2012:

The Compassionate Eye: Birds and Beasts from the American Museum’s Print Collection MARCH 10 TO JULY 1

By Way of These Eyes: The Hyland Collection of American Photography JULY 14 TO OCTOBER 28

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Complicite return to the Barbican with a new English language adaptation of The Master and Margarita. Mikhail Bulgakov ‘s rich, magical realist novel with its intertwining storylines pits the power of evil against the power of compassion. The Devil pays a visit to Stalinist Moscow in the guise of a professor of black magic and wreaks havoc in the city, exposing the hypocrisy, greed and corruption of its citizens.

Lecture: Liberties and Empires: Writing Constitutions in the Atlantic World, 1776-1848 Institute of Education, Bedford Way, London WC1, Room 728, level, 7 www.bl.uk/eccles/events.html MARCH 21

Before 1786, no independent state possessed a single document which it termed a constitution. But in the wake of the 1776 revolution of Thirteen Colonies, and other revolutions in the years following, written constitutions proliferated. Yet the degree to which

the explosion of new constitutions after 1776 was a trans-national and a trans-continental phenomenon can easily be obscured by exceptionalist and purely national historical narratives. In this lecture, Professor Linda Colley considers the evidence for a more complex and multi-lateral history of constitutions in the Atlantic World between 1776 and 1848, and discusses their profound connections with empire as well as nationalism. 5.30pm to 7.30pm. Free, RSVP chloe.pieters@ sas.ac.uk

Late Night Jazz – Ladies Sing the Blues Elgar Room, Royal Albert Hall, London www.royalalberthall.com 020 7589 8212 MARCH 21

A brand new show featuring Gill Manly, Sarah Moule and Shireen Francis. Their exuberant mix of close harmonies and duets calls to mind the great vocal groups such as Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, while their stunning solo work shows why they have all established themselves as jazz singers of the first order.

Sport Relief Various, across the UK www.sportrelief.com MARCH 23-25

Events will be taking place across the UK to raise money for Sport Relief, the charity which works to change people’s lives around the world., especially children’s. Local Sport Relief Miles will be taking place across the country, as well as many other fun sport related activities. See the Sport Relief website for more details on how to register and organise sponsorship for the Sport Relief Mile.


Bath in Fashion Bath, UK www.bathinfashion.co.uk MARCH 25-31

The third Bath in Fashion is gearing up for an action packed week in March, with plenty of events, fashion shows, talks and workshops that will appeal to fashionistas young and old. Two of the most exciting events include Manolo Blahnik in conversation with Iain R Webb – both leading fashion experts and commentators – and a fascinating talk by Matteo Alessi, the great grandson of Giovanni Alessi who established his business in 1921.

Feist Royal Albert Hall, London www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/feist 020 7589 8212 MARCH 25

The Canadian singer-songwriter returns to the Hall, following the release of her critically acclaimed new album Metals. The BRIT and Grammynominated singer has won multiple Juno awards and recieved widespread acclaim with her song, and biggest hit to date, ‘1234’. Support comes from Portland-based singer-songwriter M Ward.

World Pooh Sticks Championships Days Lock, Little Wittenham, Nr Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 4RB www.pooh-sticks.com MARCH 25

When Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin first dropped a handful of sticks from a bridge into a stream and rushed to the other side to see which came under first, who would have imagined this would start an annual tradition? In the World Pooh Sticks Championships, organised by the Rotary Club of Oxford

St Patrick’s Day Everywhere www.st-patricks-day.com MARCH 17

Events will take place across the UK and around the world to mark the celebration of Ireland’s Patron Saint.

Spires, individuals and teams drop different coloured sticks from each of the two bridges at the lock in aid of Rotary charities.

Rorschach President: How Barack Obama Personifies the Anxieties and Aspirations of America Conference Centre, the British Library, London WC1 www.bl.uk dwbryant2012@bl.uk MARCH 26

Gary Younge is an author, broadcaster and award-winning columnist for The Guardian, based in Chicago. He has written three books: Who Are We – and Should it Matter in the 21st Century?, Stranger in a Strange Land: Encounters in the Disunited States and No Place Like Home: a Black Briton’s Journey through the American South. He has made several radio and television documentaries on subjects ranging from the Tea Party to hip hop culture. In 2009 he won the James Cameron Award for the

St Patrick’s Day parades will take place in major Irish cities including Dublin, Cork and Limerick, in UK cities including London, Birmingham, Belfast and Edinburgh, and also across the United States. Don’t forget to call in at an Irish pub during the day, and enjoy a pint of Guinness to celebrate!

‘combined moral vision and professional integrity’ of his coverage of the Obama campaign. 7pm preceded by reception from 6.15pm. Free, but attendance is by prior reservation ONLY.

Kew’s Mayan Chocolate Adventure Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AB www.kew.org MARCH 31 TO APRIL 15

Kew up for Easter 2012 and take a journey through ancient Mayan culture and the creation of chocolate, with fun filled family days, adventurous trails and, of course, delicious chocolate on offer. Join in the Easter Egg Hunt (Sunday 8 April 2012), and seek out Buzzie Bee, Snap, Trap and Venus. These friendly characters from Climbers and Creepers, Kew’s indoor play area, will be hidden around the Gardens, waiting for youngsters to pick up the tokens needed to collect a delicious Easter chocolate treat from the Easter Bunny. H

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The American

My Word! “Kate’s Dad was my Fag” (It’s not what you think!) In the first of a new series of articles, Jeannine Wheeler explores the differences between ‘American English’ and ‘English English’

J

ust such a headline would probably never have been written in the United States: ‘I remember that Michael Middleton chap … He was my Fag at Boarding School!’, reported The Daily Mail just a week before last year’s Royal Wedding. Before you call the Hate Crime Police, take heed that the word ‘fag’ in the UK has several different meanings, the least of which is a derogatory term for a homosexual male. In addition to its most common usage here in the UK – that of a cigarette – a fag in the UK conjures up one of the most elitist traditions of the 19th century: that of the cloistered world of the British boarding school. In a British boarding school, an entering classman became ‘the fag’ to an upperclassman – performing such ‘duties’ as shining shoes, polishing uniforms, sweeping the study, making cocoa and all-around fetching; generally, a personal servant to the most senior boys. It was thought that fagging was good for overall morale because it taught pupils about service and responsibility to the larger institution. Any lag in fagging could, and often did, result in harsh discipline and corporal punishment. Although the tradition was phased out in the 1970s and ’80s, it recently came back into

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the news when a retired academic conjured up the memory of Kate Middleton’s father as having been a considerably good fag at his Bristol boarding school in the 1960s. “During the course of my last year,” reminisces retired academic Stephen Bell in The Daily Mail, “Michael Middleton was my fag. He would do all the jobs I called upon him to do. I remember him to be very co-operative and a very nice chap.” Other famous fag partners include Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Louis Theroux, the latter of whom was Mr. Clegg’s boarding school ‘chief fetcher’ in the 1980s. In fact, documentary maker Theroux says he remembers most vividly waking the coalition leader every morning with a newspaper – not literally I think, although he did say Mr. Clegg was a heavy sleeper. They attended the elite Westminster School in London (currently $49,000 per annum). Perhaps one of the most curious jobs of a fag was recounted by famed

Fagging in English public (private!) schools, as lampooned in this cartoon originally published in Punch magazine in 1855. Old Gent: “And pray who is your friend with the coffee pot?” Small Boy: “That? Oh! He’s my fag – he gets me my breakfast and such like, but I always leave him some crumpets – and never bully him!”

children’s author Roald Dahl, who says as a fag at Repton in the English Midlands, he was responsible for warming toilet seats for older boys – presumably with his own bum, but he may have employed more creative methods. As fagging fell out of favor, it’s not hard to imagine how underclassmen might have felt that their early investment in an institutional system would never bear fruit once they reached the age of receivership – much like many of us feel about the inevitable collapse of the US Social Security System. But then again, that’s an entirely different story. H


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The American

HATFIELDSMCCOYS

the J

ust when I thought I was retired and nobody had told me, along came a peach of a job: a Western! To be shot in Romania, but still, nothing is more fun for an actor than riding and shooting and butching around with other guys all dressed up as cowboys, and getting paid for it! To make things better, it was packed with Hollywood stars; most of whom I knew from my old days. There was Tom Berenger, a guy who I partied with at Corbin Bernsen’s house back in the ’80s (Corbin was my neighbor and seemed to know everyone). There was Kevin Costner, a guy I used to go head to head with in the ’70s for parts, before he became a huge star. Also, Powers Booth, Mare Winningham and Bill Paxton. I had never worked with Bill, but admired his work greatly over the last decade or so. The first day on set he came over and introduced himself, asking: “Are you the Sheriff or not?” I admitted I was. He immediately started chatting with me like we were long lost friends. It was refresh-

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and the

In this month’s Actor’s Corner, James Carroll Jordan’s plays Sheriff in Romania ...when Bill Paxton lets him.

ing to have one of the stars open up so completely so quickly; that usually doesn’t happen. He was a fine actor and very funny off camera. He was also a danger to work with. We had one scene together where he – playing the head of the McCoy’s – was yelling at me. During the whole scene he was drawing on my Sheriff ’s desk blotting paper, while still threatening and raging at me. At the end of one of his speeches, he turned the drawing my way. I looked down. It was a very rude (yet artfully rendered) picture of a ladies unmentionable zone. Of course, I forgot everything I was to say next and started laughing. I heard a loud “Cut!!” and sure enough, in stormed Kevin Reynolds, our usually mild mannered director, with thunder in his eyes: “What’s going on James? Forgot your lines?” I regained my equilibrium, and

looked over at Bill. He was looking all innocent and when I looked to my desk, I saw that the naughty picture had disappeared! I said: “Sorry Kevin, I just had a brain drain. Let’s try it again, okay?” And that was just my first day filming! I recall at lunch Paxton asked to join me. He had the ugliest, yellowest teeth I had ever seen. I didn’t think I could eat looking at them. I had to ask: “Bill ... You a heavy smoker or something?” He looked flummoxed, and said no. I pointed out that I had never seen such yellow teeth on a major Hollywood movie star (except English ones, of course), and I wasn’t sure I could stomach eating with him. He gave a laugh and with his finger rubbed away on his teeth and all the yellow came off. Make-up! Forty years in the biz and you still learn something new. Go figure.


The American

It was a real friendly set, I have to say. They had been filming for three months, and were all heartily sick of Romania, so perhaps everyone was so nice to me because I was a new face and a welcome diversion. For me it was like coming home; we were working at Castle Studios outside Bucharest where I had filmed High Plains Invaders (a Western with alien invaders, but not the Daniel Craig one) three or four years earlier. Same sets, same production crews, even the same stodgy food. I was pleased to see they used another building for my Sheriff ’s office, but it was definitely the same Sheriff ’s badge. I hadn’t run across Kevin Costner during my first week of shooting as he was away in Los Angeles doing something or other business-wise – he had money in the project and was one of its Executive Producers. Everyone I spoke to said he was a real nice guy and I would just love him. When we finally did meet, I found they were right. He’s a nice guy and very friendly. At the same time I found him extremely focused on his work. Tunnel vision, that’s what he had. Over my years as an actor, I have noticed that the truly big stars all have it to some degree or another. They all seem to have the ability to block out everything but what counts for them, their career and the current project they are working on. That’s probably why I didn’t last long as a star. I had little tunnel vision; I had party-vision. Plus the little three year taste of fame left a sour taste in my mouth and so I never really had any regrets about coming over to England and plying my trade rather than

staying in L.A., playing Hollywood Hardball to succeed. As well as a really focused guy, Kevin Costner is also a director. It seemed we were getting behind with the schedule so he started directing some of the scenes. He and Kevin Reynolds were old mates (Reynolds directed Water World and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves), so no one seemed to have any problems with this. I think some of the English actors were bemused at first, but when they had experienced Kevin Costner’s easy touch, they didn’t mind. The first time I met Costner he was lining up shots for a “shooting contest” scene. He puzzled and mulled over angles and locations for hours (I found out later that he wasn’t even shooting that day). As I went up and introduced myself, he still had the graciousness to stop and greet me in a very friendly way. He was taller than I had expected. I’m about six feet, and he had at least two inches on me. He also had a much sleeker tummy, much to my chagrin (since filming, I have lost nine pounds). I was slightly disappointed that he didn’t direct one of

my scenes, but we did have one humdinger of a scene together. About twenty Hatfields, riding and running like a bunch of lobo wolves, overtake my posse and prisoners, and take them from us at gun point. As they catch us at a crossroad, the mighty Hatfield clan fan out, blocking our progress and just sit on their horses, glaring, guns drawn, and looking menacing. It was great! The scene was charged with tension and drama and I milked it for all I was worth. We had a few problems holding our marks because most of us were mounted on very raw Romanian horses. The local wranglers unwisely mixed stallions with mares in the scene which added quite a bit of spice to everything. Kevin was cool as a cucumber during the scene, as were Berenger and Powers Booth. I wanted to try my fast draw and change history and the script, but I had to stick to the dialogue and keep my gun holstered. Kevin Reynolds lives in Seattle which explains his lack of frivolity. I showed him how fast I was but he was unimpressed. The only problem we had was daylight. I got two extra days

James Carroll Jordan with fellow thespian Kevin Costner, who is also exec. producing the mini-series

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Above: James Carroll Jordan takes to his steed Right: Tom Berenger with James

shooting because they kept starting that scene very close to dusk. Not that I minded – I was on a daily rate. Christmas came early for the Jordan family for a change. It’s during these long stretches of waiting around for angle changes and lighting that we actors get time to B.S. and swap stories and lies. Powers Booth was a great raconteur as was Tom Berenger. With 75 years of acting between them, they had all the stories you could ask for. I had fun winding up Tom, though. I reminded him of a film he did in the rainforest of South America sometime back where he went native and practically naked, wearing only a leaf over his manhood. When my wife Jan and I watched the film together she got all hot and bothered about him (to my deep irritation) so I finally decided to lie to her and said: “Just look closer at the size of that leaf would ya, Jan? Miniscule! Probably a Bay leaf or something. Ha!” I don’t think it put her off, though. When I related my story to Tom, he replied: “I seem to recall that it was actually a large banana leaf.”

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I also had fun with Tom when we got dropped off at our five-star hotel. As we got out of the car, two overly made-up questionable women approached us, waving business cards, asking: “Vood you like sexy-time massage from pretty girl in room big fellas?” (After all, Romania was where Borat was shot). Before Tom could say anything, I put my arm through his, glared at the madam and said: “He’s mine, Bitch! Back off ! We’re an item!” I took her card and then dragged Tom through the revolving doors. It took him a second or so to grasp what I had just done and said. The look on his face was priceless. Eventually he blurted: “What the #$%& did you just say, Jordan?” I just grinned at him and said: “Well, I’ve still got their card, if you’re really interested.” He said: “No thanks, but Jeez… I can’t believe you did that!” Then he started laughing, thank God. Phew… I always seem to have my fun on

location. Though I have to admit the Romanian hookers were gorgeous, but Tom and I are both happily married men (three times each to prove it). In fact I seem to remember him telling me he has a fresh one, which might make it his fourth (some of us never learn). Aside from the shooting and hanging around the set and riding through the woods playing cowboy, one of the best things about this particular shoot was Thanksgiving. Living in England for the past two decades, it seems I never really got to celebrate Thanksgiving. The English don’t understand it, and there used to be no American football on network TV to speak of over the holidays, so I found myself never celebrating it. Luckily for me, Leslie Greif (the other ex-producer) and Kevin Costner decided to lay on a spread for all the cast at the hotel for Thanksgiving. It was fantastic! They even had a Dallas Cowboys game on a giant television set. We had turkey, roast beef, all the trimmings, and wine from Transylvania! What a night to remember. And what a show to remember as well. It is a three part mini-series that will be out around Labor Day Weekend in the States. I’m not sure when it will open here, or in what format. But I do hope you get a chance to catch it, because it is a fantastic period drama, filmed and acted with love and a huge budget. Hope you enjoy it. I’m the only Sheriff in it, so you can’t miss me! H


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Art s choice The American

by Michael Burland and Estelle Lovatt

David Shrigley: Brain Activity Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX

Vilhelm Hammershøi, Self-portrait, 1891, Oil on canvas, 54 x 42 cm PRIVATE COLLECTION

TO MAY 13

The first major exhibition in the UK by David Shrigley, who has been descibed as “probably the funniest gallery-type artist who ever lived”. Shrigley works in drawing, animation, painting, photography, taxidermy and sculpture, which probably can’t be claimed by another artist. His pared down drawings and

animations make witty, wry observations on familiar social subjects and everyday situations. Deliberately amateurish and crude, they have an immediate and accessible appeal, while offering insightful commentary on the absurdities of life, death and everything in between. Since graduating from the Glasgow School of Art in 1991 he has produced more than 7,000 works on paper. This exhibition features some 240 works, including 117 drawings never before seen in the UK. Pictured is one of his taxidermy works, a Jack Russell holding up a sign reading ‘I’m Dead’. Coinciding with the exhibition, Southbank Centre will present the London premiere of Pass the Spoon (May 5 & 6, 7.30pm, Queen Elizabeth Hall), a ‘sort-of opera’ by David Shrigley, composer David Fennessy and director Nicholas Bone, featuring singing vegetables, a giant butcher, an ambitious banana and a panic-stricken pair of celebrity chefs. You can safely say that Shrigley has a better sense of humour than the usual po-faced Young British Artist. – MB

David Shrigley, I’m Dead (2010), Installation PHOTO: LINDA NYLIND

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Hammershøi and Europe The National Gallery of Denmark, Sølvgade 48-50, DK-1307 Copenhagen TO MAY 20

We like to keep an eye on what’s happening in the arts in Europe as so many American readers travel to the continent while based in Britain. Hammershøi is one of the most important and distinctive figures in the history of Danish art, deservedly becoming known to a wider audience. Until now his European sources of inspiration have remained undiscovered. Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916) has been regarded by many as an isolated figure within the European art scene, but the new exhibition puts him in context, the first time that a major selection of his works are shown side by side with masterpieces by some of the greatest European artists of his day including Whistler, Carrière, Gauguin, Seurat, Khnopff, Munch and Bonnard. Karsten Ohrt, director of the National Gallery in Denmark, said: “Hammershøi was not alone in the world. Our exhibition aims to demonstrate that several other artists of the time took similar approaches to depicting phenomena, such as atmosphere and existence, rather than narratives.” – MB


The American

Charles Dickens: Life & Legacy National Portrait Gallery TO APRIL 22

Turner Inspired: In the Light of Claude Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery

Above: JMW Turner, Landscape: Composition of Tivoli, 1817 PRIVATE COLLECTION, COURTESY OF THE OWNER, PHOTO ROBERT CHAPMAN

14 MARCH TO 5 JUNE

Joseph Mallord William Turner was arguably (and I would certainly argue it) Britain’s finest ever painter. Predating the French impressionists, Turner’s daring new free painting technique and radical approach created a revolution in painting at the beginning of the 19th century. But he did not spring fully-formed from the ether. He too was influenced by previous greats, and one of them was Claude. Claude Lorrain (originally Claude Gellée, and traditionally known simply as Claude) was born around 1604 and died in 1682, nearly a century before JMW Turner was born. The National Gallery’s spring exhibition is the first major presentation of Claude’s influence on Turner. The greatest inspiration Claude gave to Turner was his mastery of light on canvas. Turner was instantly entranced by Claude’s work (he was said to have been ‘awkward, agitated and burst into tears’ on seeing Claude’s Seaport with the Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba) and he absorbed all he could from the Italian old master, for example utilising Claude’s

Claude, A Sunset or Landscape with Argus Guarding Io, 1674

Also at the NPG, this small but fascinating glimpse into the life of Charles Dickens, which celebrates the bicentenary of his birth. Portraits of the author, his family and influential contemporaries chart the progress of his life and examine the enduring legacy of the characters he created. The fifteen works in this case display include photographs, drawings and engravings ranging from the early period of the writer’s career to posthumous images of his characters. Dickens’ visits to America are marked in the display by portraits of the poets Edgar Allan Poe, whom Dickens met, and Henry Longfellow, who became a lasting friend. A photograph by Jeremiah Gurney & Son records a reading tour undertaken by Dickens on his second visit to America, in 1867. Charles Dickens: Life & Legacy is part of Dickens 2012, the international campaign to mark the 200th anniversary of the writer’s birth: www.dickens2012.org – MB

BY KIND PERMISSION OF VISCOUNT COKE AND THE TRUSTEES OF THE HOLKHAM ESTATE / BRIDGEMAN ART LIBRARY, LONDON

techniques as displayed in his paintings of the Roman Campagna in his own pictures of the Thames Valley. What Turner took from Claude, above all, was the combination of natural detail and ethereal effect and his ability to depict light in landscape, which Turner took to new heights in his later work. The exhibition brings together works by Claude and Turner, in a rich variety of media including oils, mezzotints, etchings, watercolours and gouache, with leaves from Turner’s sketchbooks that are rarely on public display. – MB

Charles Dickens by Herbert Watkins April 29, 1858 © NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY, LONDON

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The American

Artist in Focus:

A Bigger Picture

DAVID HOCKNEY L

os Angeles, California, enabled England’s greatest contemporary artist, David Hockney, to create his swimming pool paintings. Now he’s back in his home county of Yorkshire capturing the English countryside. ‘David Hockney: A Bigger Picture’ shows you how both the old masters and the modern professional artists inform Hockney’s eye. From Claude Lorrain and Matisse to Leonardo and Picasso, Hockney’s landscapes are treated to a mix of the old with the new, informed by his interests in photography and current trends of digital media – the iPad. Steve Jobs would’ve been proud of Hockney’s application of iPad mark-making and colour, as in ‘Yosemite Valley’, beginning as small iPad images blown up on a highquality printer and butted up together

David Hockney: A Bigger Picture Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD. Until 9 April.

to reach the dizzying height of 12 foot. Talk about ‘supersize me’! Imagine their size increase from original iPad sketch to a picture as solid as Picasso’s Cubist landscape, re-worked whilst rethinking Cézanne. Their ratio relating to proportions of the Golden Section arranged Dureresque-like in a grid layout, traceable back to Hockney’s photomontage Cubist photograph collages. Since interviewing Hockney at his ‘Drawing Retrospective’, Royal Academy, 1995, through to today reviewing ‘David Hockney: A Bigger Picture’ exhibition for BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio 2’s flagship arts programme, The New Arts Show with Claudia Winkleman, I see the iPad as a “replacement” for a sketchbook. ‘Drawing ‘ on his iPad - his mark controlled and well thought out, mimicking the immediacy of cave art, Hockney drags his thumb over the screen, mixing a Fauvist blush of Matisse-Derrain colour showing winter is not colourless; it’s an American rainbow of edibles from ‘Froot Loops’ green, ‘jellybean’ blue, ’Gatorade’ orange, ‘candyfloss’ pink... mindful that spring, unlike winter and summer, is transitory and must be painted with an exigency appealing to an Impressionist’s brush, working at great speed, leaving not much time for subtle colour mixing. Hockney transcribes Claude Lorrain’s ‘Sermon on the Mount’, not The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011-12 April iPad drawing printed on paper 144.1 x 108 cm; one of a 52-part work Courtesy of the artist © DAVID HOCKNEY

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because of its religious message, but because he’s fascinated with how Claude depicts spatial effects as the architect of classical landscape. All in all, ‘David Hockney: A Bigger Picture’, makes you see landscapes as you’ve never seen them before, using/pushing all new media as an art form, not a mechanical science. The catalogue (T&H, hardback, £60) is a great investment. But who chose the front cover? And why? Don’t ignore the qualities of your iPhone either – don’t think of it as only something to make calls on; the ‘Hockney’ in you doesn’t need anything more sophisticated to make great original up-to-date works of art. All you need is your iPad, or iPhone, and an excellent art school with practicingartist-tutors. Hampstead School of Art principal Isabel H Langtry recalls how, “one evening in the mid 1990’s, while having supper with friends I asked about the constant whirr of machine noise, ‘Oh its just David faxing a drawing over.’ The ‘drawing’ turned out to be twenty A4 pages of a drawing Hockney had cut up and sent through piece by piece for our friend to enjoy. Fax art was born. When I heard that David Hockney had now moved from the fax, to the iPhone, I thought, ‘great he’s just about to inspire a whole new generation to use the brushes application on the iPad’. Interest in this way of working is now huge at the Hampstead School of Art in London. Hockney loves looking and drawing and has said that his work in all media has allowed him to see and feel nature much more clearly, a sentiment shared by us. iPad art is born and doing very well.” – EL


Still Point TurningWolrd

The American

The

of the

Artist in Focus:

ROBIN RICHMOND

A

merican-born Robin Richmond was brought up in Rome. She moved to London in 1969 to study art and art history. As an artist, teacher, writer, illustrator, critic and broadcaster she divides her time between London and France. With her artwork in public and private collections, Robin Richmond, is seriously collectable. When I visited her in her north London studio, I see – (to quote her from her current exhibition ‘The Still Point of the Turning World’ catalogue statement) – that her artwork is “not in any way a literal transcription of a place. It is more an evocation of a feeling, a kind of an emotional weather map where physical and mental space collide, where the ‘world is at our feet as fragile as our clay’ ... I have ... become nomadic once more. Taking a sabbatical from my London life ... I have crossed the Atlantic from Cornwall to Montauk to Southern France ... and ... Italy.... Scandinavia ....the Amazonian rainforest .... the High Andes...” (March 2012). So, what to see in her canvases? Are they of the landscape alone? The empty landscape? Or the sky stretched wide across the sea? No. But either way, it wouldn’t matter anyhow. But what they are is somewhere between abstraction and figuration, an outlook that is occupied with soul; yours, the viewers.

Curwen & New Academy Gallery, 34 Windmill Street, London W1T 2JR. Until March 31, thereafter by appointment: Tel: 020 7323 4700 – Email: gallery@curwengallery.com So amidst the blues, greens, lilacs, oranges, reds, yellows .... all in the plural you’ll have noticed - because there is more than one tone of colour employed; this is a soup of hues. As lyrical as wordless poems, they are mystical jottings of paint that complete meaning, canvas to canvas, edge to edge, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”; the landscape as much a part of us, as we are of it. I remember writing about Robin Richmond before, in relation to a previous exhibition of hers, but looking back at my review, my thoughts are still as crystalline. For Richmond is a skilled painter that only gets better. Following the lineage of Michelangelo’s technically efficient fresco application and the Romanticism of Turner’s seascapes, (to paraphrase what I said about her previous solo exhibition) she consciously provides us with a canvas that provides us with the “ideal space” for us to contemplate the serene as “we make a journey from the real to the ideal and back to the real, without even being aware of it...The joy is that we are taken along... again and again, discovering new and exciting pleasure along the way. The richness of this experience is enhanced because we have the present and the past, ourselves and ... the artist. So intriguing and gratifying... they radiate a calm

Robin Richmond, As Fragile As Our Clay; Rome, from the studio window, 2011, oil, cesein and acrylic on linen © THE ARTIST

beauty... capturing the subtle effects of light.” They are not just made of oil paint on linen. They look like they’re only made up of oil paint but, acrylic and casein is used in addition. And sand. And gold leaf. On a gesso panel to boot. There is no border line. No horizon line either. There is only the line you draw in shaping the experience you get as you take on ‘Dr Livingstone’, by exploring her ‘edge’; there being no end to the experience, even if the canvas frame itself were to line the end – the edge - of the canvas image because it all transcends beyond the canvas edge, remaining in your memory, a metaphysical treasure. Mixed in with the paint, her canvas has seriousness and solemnity. A mix between Cézanne and Pollock. Monet meets Caravaggio. They are, surprisingly, extremely sexy too, and you’ll be tempted to run your fingertips over the channels of paint just like the desire to trace a lover’s contours. – EL H

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The American

Reviews by Virginia E. Schultz

W

hen I first came to London, a decent baguette or hard crusted sourdough was impossible to find. Unlike France or Italy, regional bread traditions had been forgotten, and even in the best hotels, the rolls and bread served were often uneatable without smothering with butter and jam. How times have changed! Today, most of us in the UK can boast of a bakery with not only lovely bread but a few that make croissants as good as in France. Still, I couldn’t help but be pleased when I learned Poilane Bakery was opening in London. Like their Right Bank Poilane in Paris, Cuisine de Bar has a bright, contemporary look with brick and stone walls decorated with bread sculptures and shelves lined with the breads and jams on sale. One can sit at a long table with friends and strangers or if you prefer, find privacy at 1940s-type school desks and chairs. There is an oblong counter where young men and women prepare tartines, open sandwiches, or, a favourite, a salad of chicken, marinated artichoke, smoked salmon, cream cheese or hummus and char grilled vegetables (£11.00). Two other favourite dishes are the baked egg with smoked salmon, cream cheese and herbs (£7.95) and tomato &

CUISINE de BAR

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mozzarella tartine, toasted sourdough bread, tomatoes, melted mozzarella and fresh basil.(£8.00). Poilane’s began in 1932 when Pierre Poilane started a baking business using stone ground flour, natural fermentation and a wood-fired oven. When his son Lionel took over in 1970, he continued the traditional methods; the main deviation from his father’s original formula was machine kneading, which saved hours of work by hand. Their most famous bread is a round, two kilogram sourdough bread called pain Poilane. The sourdough starter is a secret of their success and the recipe has not changed since Pierre opened that first bakery. When Lionel was killed after his helicopter crashed, his daughter Apollonia, a graduate of Harvard University, took over the enterprise. An attractive young woman with the charm and slender figure French women are known for, she is continuing the artisanal family business which she hopes someday will be taken over by a fourth generation.

39 Cadogan Gardens, London, SW3 2TB Tel. 0202 263 6019 A sister, an artist, is also involved, although in a more minor capacity. My friend Arlette Shenkan and I sometimes meet at Cuisine de Bar on a Friday or Saturday morning for our weekly chat. Arlette usually has the Michel Cluizel 72% Kayambe hot chocolate (£3.50) while I have a cappuccino (£2.25). If I’m on my own after a walk in Battersea Park – especially if it’s cold and rainy – I might have hot porridge served with dried cranberries, toasted coconuts and honey (£4.75) or a toasted brioche with butter, honey or one of their jams (£3.50/4.00) and Tamayura green tea (£3.00) for revitalization. It’s a great place to stop whether for breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea or supper, and my only complaint is too often I leave with more bread than I need. (One note, all their bread is baked at their Elizabeth Street bakery.)


The American

MASSIMO RESTAURANT & OYSTER BAR

M

y friend D was staying at The Corinthia – one of several five star hotels to open in London last year – and asked me to join her for dinner at its Italian restaurant, Massimo. Stepping inside the Victorian building I stared at the beautiful Baccarat chandelier with its tiny globes, and the mosaic floor by the bar, before we slipped into a space at the bar which was crowded with city types and an older couple celebrating their wedding anniversary. This fabulous restaurant, designed by David Collins, is the kind of place where you must have a Martini or at least a glass of vintage Champagne. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda would have been comfortable dining there, although I’m not sure management would approve of some of their wilder antics.

10 Northumberland Avenue, London WC2N 5AE, 0207 998 5555, www.massimo-restaurant.co.uk

As it was an ‘R’ month, we enjoyed a variety of delicious oysters before making our way to the restaurant. Italian Massimo Riccioli, the chef patron, was not there that evening, which was a disappointment. I had eaten at La Rosetta in Rome, the restaurant he took over from his parents in 1982, and recall his gracious greeting of regular customers and tourists like myself as if we were friends he invited to dinner. It was obvious he worked closely with the Collins design studio because everything from the leather brown and blue seating linking the tables and the wide aisles is designed not only to please the customers visually but to make it easier for the waiters to move

through the room even during the busiest evenings. A whiskey size glass of foamed pumpkin soup and a bread crumbed mussel arrived almost as soon as we sat down. We decided to share a pasta dish, Linguine Carmelo style – Carmelo is Massimo’s father – a dish with clams, prawns, squid, mussels, and fresh tomatoes, in a spicy sauce which was delicious. Now here comes my first complaint: not the food, but the waiting time. It’s been years since I felt I was being served after everyone else because I was a woman, but after seeing the couple on one side and the three men on the other who arrived a good fifteen minutes after us have their main courses served while we waited, I was about to get out my suffragette flag and wave it. Fortunately, just as we were about to ask for the bill and leave, D’s Diver’s Scallops with fried leeks and broccoli (actually a starter) was set before her alongside my wonderful Crab Risotto. The waiter, having sensed our displeasure, used his Italian charm, apologized and


The American

explained every dish is personally made for each customer, hence the delay. His charm won us over and I didn’t mention the men beside us were having the same dishes as we were. Ah, Italian men! For dessert, and on the waiter’s recommendation, D had the Vecchio Sampen, marsala zabalone with a soft biscuit blended with alcohol and I, not a great lover of desserts, had a rather tingling to the tongue crème brulée which was passable. We had the cheapest Italian wine on the menu, all great, but including the Martinis, our bill for the evening came to slightly over £90.00 pounds a head. I will return, but next time it will be for a three course lunch with wine for £28 unless it’s for a special occasion. I might add, I took a tour of the ESPA life spa in the hotel, which stretches over 30,000 square feet with 15 treatment rooms, a hydrotherapy room, a thirty foot lap and a twenty-four hour gym. The gargantuan spa is fantastic, but a necessity if you have the means to dine regularly in Massimo or their second restaurant, The Northall, which is a bit old fashioned but equally as charming, I’ve been told. More on that another time.

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IL CONVIVIO I

l Convivio comes from the Italian poet Dante, and translates as a meeting over food and drink of antiestablishment philosophers. Sitting in the conservatory sipping a lovely Prosecco (£6.50 per glass) I spotted no one who appeared anti anything; most of the people surrounding us were well-dressed residents of Belgravia who, from the way they were greeted, often dined there – a good sign, as the friend with me commented. As my friend studied the menu, I gazed wistfully through the eightpage wine list from every region of Italy. Wines by the glass and the bottle are for the most part reasonably priced, although there was one Barolo Sperss ’89 Gaga from Piedmont (£450) I was fortunate to taste a few years ago, on the list. If your budget permits, enjoy. My friend started with Beef Carpaccio di Vitellone tinged with basil-infused virgin olive oil (£12.50) while I had the warm Piemontese goat’s cheese with beetroot and avocado salad (£8.50). There was a time one seldom found beetroot on a menu and now it seems to be everywhere. The two of us decided on pasta as a starter and here I was the winner. Granted, the Risotto with asparagus and marinated salmon (£10.50/£14.50) was delicious, but it’s the black spaghetti or Spaghetti Neri with Lobster

143 Ebury Street, London SW1W 9QN Tel. 020 7730 4099 ilconvivio@etruscarerestaurants.com and spring onions (£16.50/£20.00) I’ll return for. Now came the first disappointment, the Tagliata di Manzo, the 28-day matured rib of beef with courgette flower and barolo jus (£24.00). According to the diner next to us whom we had been chatting with, it can be juicy perfection one evening and slightly dry another and my friend had the off night. However, my guinea fowl (Petto di Faraona) with sweet potato mash and tarragon jus (£16.00) was an absolute pleasure eating. With our dishes we had sautéed spinach (Spinaci Saltati, £3.50) and my favourite since I was ten, Zucchine Fritte (deep fried courgettes) (£4.50). In fact, on business trips to Italy with my husband, I usually ordered this dish with a glass of Sancerre rose’. I am not a lover of most Italian desserts, but few countries make better ice cream and the homemade Gelati Matecati (£5.90) proved it, especially the strawberry, which was like spring in a goblet. My friend’s peach tartlet (Crostatina alle Peshe) (£7.00) came under the heading of ‘Okay’, but after he began to continually dip into my ice cream, I asked our waiter to bring a selection just for him.


ITALIAN RESTAURANT

SPECIAL ENTERTAINMENT

Sunday Lunch – Three Courses £24.50

Ian Gallagher presents Classic Sinatra* on Friday 9 March, £49.50 Mothering Sunday Lunch 18 March, 3 Courses – £36.00 Tenors Unlimited* on Friday 30 March, £75 Ian Gallagher as Michael Buble* on Friday 18 May, £49.50 *Includes three course dinner Creative dishes made from the freshest ingredients

48 High Street, Cobham, Surrey KT11 3EF

For bookings 01932 862121 or visit

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

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

SPECIAL OFFER 01932 862121

www.lacapanna.co.uk

– David Billington, Hello Magazine

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The American

TOM AIKENS I

f chefs had nine lives, Tom Aikens must be on his sixth. One thing hasn’t died and that’s his talent as a chef, and if he isn’t awarded a Michelin star I shall toss away my little red book. Our dinner that evening, actress Maxine Howe declared, was the finest she enjoyed since she arrived in London more years ago than I shall reveal. From start to finish, including service, I can’t think of a complaint, and for some reason that rather scares me. Turkish designer Hakan Ezer has replaced the former New York 1930s feel of the restaurant with mismatched oak tables, Scandinavian-style chairs and wide oak floors that fit the more casual dining style of today. Printed on the wall in bold lettering are epigrams about food, from Miss Piggy to Socrates – fun to read, plus an antidote for any couple who have run out of conversation. My favourite was the one that read: “Cooking is like love, it should be entered with abandon or not at all.” Great bread, great food: the two go together like peaches and cream and thunder and lightning. Aikens proved it with a selection of warm rolls that arrived in a burlap bag warmed by hot cherry stones. The menu, which came in an envelope, offers a choice of six (£55.00), eight (£75.00) or ten (£95.00) course tasters or a la carte three course. Maxine and I decided on a la

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carte (£40.00 for two, £50.00 for three) with one or two dishes added. As we were being seduced by the delicious warm bread, a selection of canapés arrived, including a potato croquette that brought back memories of life in Holland when neither of us had a strand of gray hair. I started with the roast langoustine with herb mayonnaise and sprinkled black olive crumb, but it was the Venison Tartar with grated walnuts that Maxine enjoyed that I’d have next time. It was light in taste and flavour without the gamey flavour I had feared. I debated between the Herb Coated Sea Bass and Romney Lamb with ewe’s cheese, anchovy and garlic, but after being assured that the taste of anchovy was subtle, I had the lamb. Once again, it was Maxine who was the winner with her Braised Beef Short Rib, bone marrow and herb puree. This is comfort food for a cold winter’s night and I envied her as she scraped her plate clean with the bread. For vegetables we had braised and poached leeks and beetroot fondant with Regent’s Park honey and blackberries. The beetroot (or red beets as we Americans call them), was especially lovely with the honey, and something I shall add next time I serve beets. For dessert, Maxine had the Pistachio Brick while I finally chose a

43 Elystan Street, London SW2 3NT Tel. 020 7584 2003 Email: info@tomaikens.co.uk winner, the Confit Butternut: butternut praline, butternut cake and butternut ice cream. It was sheer eating pleasure. I might add, our delightful young sommelier chose the wines for each course and he was spot on every time.

TOM AIKENS EASY COOKBOOK

Too often cookbooks arrive in the mail calling the recipes simple, uncomplicated and a dozen other adjectives. As I try at least one recipe before I review, I too often find the recipes are anything but effortless or straightforward. This cookbook is one of the exceptions and there are only a few recipes that appear complicated or demand ingredients that mean a trip to a special grocery store or supermarket. A vegetarian friend staying overnight raved over the Pasta Salad with Green Vegetables (Page 186) and her husband had her copy the Fig Tarte Fine (Page 258) I made for dessert. Bubble and Squeak with Bacon I had no idea what bubble and squeak was until I came to England. Why it’s been given this name, I don’t know. It is, however, a great supper dish or to have for Sunday brunch.


The American

4 large potatoes (Maris Piper, King Edward or Desiree) 70g butter 8 smoked bacon rashers cut into thin strips (I used American bacon easily bought at most supermarkets) 1 onion thinly sliced 1 tsp thyme leaves 250g cabbage, shredded 6 spring onions, thinly sliced 150ml vegetable oil Sea salt and freshly ground pepper (You will need 6-8 ring moulds about 5cm in diameter and 2-3cm deep). 1. Put the potatoes in a pan of cold water and bring to a rapid simmer. Take the pan off the heat and leave the potatoes to cool in the water for 30 minutes. Peel off the skins and either grate the potatoes on a coarse cheese grater or dice them. 2. Meanwhile, place a casserole over a low to medium heat and add the butter. When the butter is melted, add the bacon and onion. Cook gently for ten minutes with a little salt, pepper and the thyme. Add the cabbage and 3 tablespoons of water, put the lid on the casserole and cook for 5 minutes until the cabbage has wilted down. Add the sliced spring onions and season. Cook for another minute, then add cabbage to the potato and mix well. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. 3. Put a large, non-stick frying pan or a roasting tin over medium heat and add the oil. Place the moulds in the pan and pack the potato mixture into them. Place the pan straight into the oven for about ten minutes. Using a large palette knife, turn the bubble and squeak over and cook for another 8-10 minutes. Keep checking that they don’t get too brown. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Angelus I

’m often asked “What is your favourite restaurant?” I hate to answer because too often a restaurant to which I give a fantastic review changes chefs and the menu, and soon things aren’t the same, as two friends recently complained to me about a restaurant I had enjoyed in the past. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen to Angelus, thanks to Thierry Thomasin, but after ten years as chief sommelier at Le Gavroche and five as general manager of Aubergine, he knew what he wanted when he opened his own place in Bayswater. From outside, Angelus looks much like the pub it once was, but on entering it’s as if you suddenly found yourself in Paris circa 1910, with dark wood panelling, leather banquettes and a large Art Nouveau style mirror dominating one wall. Continue into the lounge at the back for a glass of Champagne and to review the menu, and you can’t make up your mind if it’s a courtesan’s waiting room or just Thierry’s sense of humour. I like it. The food is mainly country French, but with a Frenchman owning it, it’s what one should expect. A perfect example is the starter of Pan Fried Frog’s Legs and Snails with roasted garlic and parsley velouté (£12.00) and what has become the restaurant’s signature dish, Foie Gras crème brûlée ‘Angelus’, caramelised almonds and toasted bread (£12.00). Maxine Howe, who was with me that evening, loved the Foie Gras, but (perhaps it was because the chef was new) I was disappointed with the crème brûlée. Main course dishes usually show off the chef’s style and the Pan Roasted Stuffed Quail with bacon, duck fat roast potatoes, and braised peas with lettuce (£26.00) was excel-

4 Bathurst Street, London W2 2SD Tel. 020 7402 0083 www.angelusrestaurant.co.uk lent, Maxine assured me. After contemplating the Roast Rump of Lamb which the man at the table next to us raved about, I decided on Roast Creedy Carver Chicken with smoked mash potatoes, broccoli and almond velouté (24.00). I’ll be honest, I prefer plain buttery mashed potatoes to smoked, especially when the chicken is as delicious as I had that evening. There were lovely sweets to round out the meal and I can highly recommend the warm Pineapple Soufflé, Coconut Custard and Passion Fruit Sorbet (£11.00). Nor did Maxine have any complaints about the Chocolate, Cherry and Almond Cake with cherry ice cream (£11.00). Thierry wants you to experiment, to taste and enjoy the wine and is there to answer any questions you might have. His Champagne ‘Angelium’ Blanc de Noir, Thierry Tomasin is to take home and sip on my balcony overlooking the Thames. As for the Domaine Coste 2010 ViognierGrenache, try it and you’ll see why Maxine had a second glass. The Allegria 2008, Syrah (80%), Mourvedre (20%), was also lovely and the wines we enjoyed with our dessert were like sweet whisperings to our palate. H

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Cellar Talk By Virginia E. Schultz

Supermarket Wines

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wenty years ago, buying wines in a supermarket was almost impossible except for a few of the better wines. Unfortunately, in order to be seen, they were often placed under bright lights, a problem if there too long. Most of us buy at least some of our wines in a supermarket rather than a wine shop for convenience, but there is often no one to discuss the wine I want to try for the first time, and the description on the label tells little more than the name of the grape or the location where the wine comes from. Of course, in food markets such as Partridges, or in department store wine shops one can still find a sales person to discuss wine, but too often they aren’t located near the grocery section and I, like many people with busy lives, don’t take the time to stop there. It’s one of the reasons I keep Ned Haley’s The Best Wines in the Supermarkets 2012 in my car for easy reference. Unfortunately, too often the wines he rates are either out of stock or not available. Most of the time the book is dependable, although last year I bought two wines I found overrated in the 2011 edition, and one almost undrinkable. It could be because they

The Paul Cluver wine estate

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weren’t stored properly, a problem seldom found in a wine or spirit store. Another problem buying wine in a supermarket is there are very few American wines. Price, of course, has something to do with it, but there are wine buyers – as well as a public – who refuse to accept American wines simply because they’re from the States. I call this the Madonna effect because like Madonna, who gets a bad press simply because she’s Madonna, American wines are underappreciated because they’re American. (I use this as a comparison as I’ve just seen W.E. which I found fantastic and would highly recommend despite negative comments from a few film critics). Asda is probably the most difficult supermarket to shop for wine, although they have several brand wines such as Asda Cotes du Rhone 2010 (£3.83), which a friend offered with the pot au feu she must have spent half the day cooking. Pot au feu is a French stew which chef Raymond Blanc calls the “quintessence of French family cuisine”. Whether he still offers it in his restaurant, Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons’, I don’t know, but if he does, forget anything else on the

WINES OF THE MONTH PAUL CLUVER WEISSER RIESLING NOBLE LATE HARVEST 2009 £12.79 Our dessert, fig tart with a pecan crust, was delicious on its own, but when my friend’s husband brought out this South African Riesling, it received raves from all five of us. Too many people turn up their noses at dessert wines but one thing I noticed is that it’s usually the loudest complainers who asked for a second glass. VIVO NOVA TINTO 2008 £8.99 Cliff Richard’s Algarve Syrah’s roasty flavours matched well with the spicy Louisiana barbecue ribs I had at a friend’s recently. Everyone must have agreed because six of us downed two bottles and our host was ready to open a third. She purchased the wine in Waitrose. SOPRASSO AMARONE DELLA VALIPOLICELLA £13.99 I once had an Italian/American boyfriend who would stick up his aristocratic nose at Valipolicella wine. Italians, I was informed, do not appreciate this wine which probably shows my plebeian taste, because I do, and with plain ol’ spaghetti and meatballs, on a cold rainy night, it’s perfect. I purchased this at Co-op. menu and have it. The dish is often served with coarse salt, Dijon mustard and gherkins, which is one of the reasons one doesn’t want an expensive wine. H


The American

Coffee Break COFFEE BREAK QUIZ

Steve McQueen in Bullitt – but who was his leading lady?

1 W  hat is the difference between a British soldier’s salute and that of a Royal Navy sailor or any member of the U.S. Military? 2 I n 2009, how did Michaele and Tareq Salahi upset Barack Obama? 3 I f you had distrix what condition would you have? 4 I n what movie did Sinatra sing My Kind of Town? 5 W  hat are the three Abrahamic faiths? 6 W  ho is the author of the Twilight Saga books?

11 W  hich part of the human body contains the most bones?

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12 A  nd where are the bones named (in Latin) the malleus, incus, and stapes? 13 F or what is Joseph Stiglitz famous? 14 F rom the Greek, what does the girl’s name Irene mean? 15 M  arduk was the creator of the world to what ancient people?

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16 P  ogonophobia is a fear of what?

Answers to Coffee Break Quiz & Sudoku answers on page 65

COURTESY WARNER BROS.

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7 W  ho played the female lead role in the Steve McQueen movie Bullitt? 8 W  ho played the male lead opposite Julie Andrews in the film Mary Poppins (Chim Chim Cher-ee!)? 9 I n the film Alien, which actor’s character is host to an alien, which bursts out of his chest? 10 W  ho (apocryphally) said “The station will leave the train at 4:15”?

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The American

MUSIC Whitney Houston

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Can You Write At 331/3 RPM?

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re you an expert on music? Want to write a book? Bloomsbury, the established British publisher, is seeking submissions from prospective authors for the 331/3 book series. You may have seen books in the series before – it was previously published by Continuum, which was acquired by Bloomsbury last year. Each volume in the 331/3 series focuses on one popular music album (a wide field including rock, hip hop, folk, etc.) from the last several decades and explores it in depth. It’s an interesting project, especially as digital music has supposedly led to people being interested only in individual songs, not complete albums. The series started in September 2003 and has so far racked up 85 titles, including a wide variety of approaches on albums by artists as varied as The Kinks, James Brown, Bob Dylan, Prince, The Pixies, Public Enemy, The Beastie Boys, Celine Dion, The Beatles and The Velvet Underground. For further information about the series and the call for new proposals, visit http://33third.blogspot. com/2012/01/call-for-proposals-for33-13-series.html or www.facebook. com/33.3books.

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he world of music is mourning the death of Whitney Houston, who died on the eve of the Grammy Awards at the age of 48. At the time of writing, the cause of death was unknown, although there have been unconfirmed reports of a ‘48-hour drug and alcohol binge’ Houston was pronounced dead on the afternoon of Saturday, February 11th after being found in her room on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hilton, Beverly Hills, reportedly in the bath. A police spokesperson said there were “no obvious signs of any criminal intent.” In recent years, Houston’s personal life had overshadowed her prodigious musical talent, with stories of drug and alcohol abuse, erratic behaviour and her difficult marriage to Bobby Brown. In interviews Houston admitted using cocaine, marijuana and pills, boasting that she did not use crack cocaine because she could afford better drugs. While her lifestyle had taken its toll on her voice – in recent performances caught online her voice is hoarse, her previously extraordinary range gone, far from the amazing instrument it was – Houston will be remembered not for the loss of her talent but for the music she made and, even more so, for the legacy she leaves to R&B and soul. Her

PHOTO MARK KETTENHOFEN

trademark style influenced first Mariah Carey, and via her, a whole generation of X-Factor and Idol contestants. Those wannabees will never reach the heights of the original, Whitney Houston. Bobbi Kristina Brown, Whitney Houston’s daughter, was rushed to hospital twice after her mother’s death. The 18 year old was also staying at the Beverly Hilton. A family friend was reported to have said “It was just extreme stress. She’s devastated. She and her mom were best friends.” On hearing of Houston’s death, Carey Tweeted “Heartbroken and in tears over the shocking death of my friend, the incomparable Ms. Whitney Houston,” and “She will never be forgotten as one of the greatest voices to ever grace the earth.”


TIC WI KE N TS

The American

PHOTO: CLIVE BARDA

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IN TICKETS to a special performance of SHADOWBALL, a unique and fascinating combination of baseball and jazz, based on the inspirational achievements of black athletes in the Negro Leagues during the 1930s and ’40s and their pioneering jazz compatriots. Produced by the Hackney Music Development Trust (HMDT), it is a compelling new jazz opera, created by virtuoso pianist Julian Joseph and acclaimed writer Mike Phillips, and performed at the Hackney Empire by The Julian Joseph Quintet and Jazz singer of the Year Cleveland Watkiss along with local schoolchildren. The evening is a fundraiser for HMDT. Working with world class artists and experts, HMDT increases access to high quality musical experiences by commissioning new performance works, developing resources, creating enduring partnerships, and sustaining an extensive outreach program. Shadowball aims to inspire children, particularly from ethnic minorities, to aspire to achieve, develop confidence, learn to work as a team, develop vocal, dance, theatrical, performance and sporting skills, improve academic achievement and learn about the issue of racism and prejudice.

SHADOWBALL March 15th show: Deadline for entries: March 12th!

THE PRIZE: two £50 tickets (which include drinks with the artists). To win, just answer the following question: The Hackney Empire was built in 1901. What was it originally used as: A) An Opera House B) A Music Hall C) A Sports Hall

To buy £10, £15 and £25 tickets, contact the Box Office on: 020 8985 2424 www.hackneyempire.co.uk £50 ticket including drinks reception available from 020 8820 7410 www.hmdt.org.uk

HOW TO ENTER: Email your answer and your contact details (name, address and daytime telephone number) to theamerican@blueedge.co.uk with SHADOWBALL COMPETITION in the subject line; to arrive by mid-day March 12, 2012. You must be 18 years old or over to enter this competition. Only one entry per person per draw. The editor’s decision is final. No cash alternative. You are responsible for any travel, accommodation and other expenses.

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Nanci Griffith

LIVE AND KICKING Chris Rea

Chris Rea

The man who argued with his record company and gave up a lucrative career making hugely successful middle-class-dinner-partyfriendly soft rock albums in favour of the blues he loves. Respect! See this master of the slide guitar on March 20th Bournemouth International Centre (BIC); 21st Oxford, New Theatre; 22nd Brighton Centre; 24th Harrogate International Centre; 25th Manchester Apollo; 26th Sheffield City Hall; 28th Edinburgh, Usher Hall; 29th Glasgow, Clyde Auditorium; 31st Newcastle Arena; April 1st Birmingham, N.I.A Academy; 2nd Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall; 4th Plymouth Pavilions; 5th London, Hammersmith Apollo.

The Dubliners

2012 is a major landmark year for The Dubliners. It marks the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the band in O’Donoghues Pub on Merrion Row in Dublin’s fair city. Raise a glass to the Irish folk legends as they celebrate with a special show at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on March 13th.

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Nanci Griffith

After suffering breast cancer, thyroid cancer and five years of writer’s block, Nanci Griffith has had hard times recently, but she’s thankfully back on form. See her on tour: February 24th & 26th Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival; 27th Drogheda, Ireland, TLT Theatre; 28th Navan, Ireland, Solstice Arts Centre; 29th Ennis, Ireland, Glor; March 2nd Galway, Ireland, Town Hall Theatre; 3rd Kilkenny, Ireland, Watergate Theatre; 4th Cork, Ireland, Everyman Palace; 6th Wexford, Ireland, Opera House; 7th Waterford, Ireland, Theatre Royal; 8th Dublin, Ireland, The Helix; 10th Glasgow, SCO Concert Hall; 11th Salford, The Lowry; 12th Birmingham, Town Hall; 14th London, SBE; 15th Bristol, Colston Halls; 16th Milton Keynes, The Stables; 18th Swansea, Grand Theatre; 19th Bexhill On Sea, De La Warr Pavilion; 21st Scunthorpe, Baths Hall; 22nd Gateshead, The Sage; 23rd York, Barbican.

Madonna

‘One to book ahead for’ – or rather ‘one to contact the touts for,’ as Madge is only planning two concerts in Britain and one in Ireland, despite this being heavily billed as her largest world tour ever and tickets were sold out within minutes. If you really must pay waaaaay over the odds, the dates are: July 17th London, Hyde Park; 21st Edinburgh, Murrayfield; 24th Dublin, Aviva Stadium.

Gretchen Peters

Somewhere between country and singer-songwriter, Gretchen Peters is the real thing. Beautifully sung, totally believable, she’ll be performing songs from her new album Hello Cruel World. Her extensive gigs in the UK and Ireland this year are: March 1st

Gateshead, The Sage; 2nd Stockton on Tees, The Arc; 3rd Bury, The Met; 4th Glasgow, The Arches; 5th Buxton Opera House; 7th Bilston, Robin 2; 8th York, Fibbers; 9th Galway, Ireland, Kelly’s; 10th; Roscrea, Ireland, Damer Court Hotel; 12th Kilworth, Ireland, Village Arts Centre; 13th Dublin, Ireland, Whelan’s; 14th Limavady, Northern Ireland, Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre; 15th Belfast, Errigle Inn; 16th Aberdare, Coliseum; 18th Leamington Spa, The Assembly; 19th Norwich Arts Centre; 20th London, Bush Hall; 21st Exeter, The Phoenix; (from 23rd to 31st they play in Germany and the Netherlands); April 2nd Brighton, Komedia; 3rd Bury St. Edmunds, The Apex; 4th Milton Keynes, The Stables; 5th Nottingham, The Glee Club.


The American

Avery Sunshine

Avery Sunshine emerged from the rich gospel soil to become well versed in soul, house, classical and hip hop, but doesn’t, it seems, think of herself primarily as a singer. The Chester, PA, native says, “I am a self-proclaimed therapist! I want to start the conversation that will lead to individual healing and in turn will affect our collective healing. Let’s get people talking about their experiences so that we can learn from them, grow from them and more importantly, move on from them.” She wants everyone to “Get your shine on! Whatever it may be,” using the gifts that God has given you. The singer, songwriter and pianist was seen last year on BBC TV’s Later With Jools Holland and will be performing songs from her forthcoming self-titled new album, live on March 8th at London, Union Chapel; 9th Manchester, Band on the Wall. Roseanne Cash

Sounds From A Room including Andrew Bird, David Byrne, Laurie Anderson Artsy – but not necessarily fartsy! Sounds from a Room is a year long programme of music with interesting – and in a few cases hugely famous – musicians taking up residence in, and performing live from A Room for London, a one-bedroom, temporary architectural installation in the form of a riverboat perched on top of the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and overlooking the River Thames in London. This intimate temporary new venue is currently Laurie Anderson broadcasting a series of live ‘bedroom gigs’. Each musician’s performance is streamed live on www.aroomforlondon.co.uk and relayed onto screens at Southbank Centre. Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist and lyricist Andrew Bird has already done his bit. David Byrne stayed in February, using the space to record a special soundwork for podcast which you can access on the website. Byrne said: “My decision to be involved with A Room for London stems from my relationship with Artangel, though there might have been a great temptation to squat in a house filled with poisonous crystals or one with strange twins, a view of the Thames seems a lot more sensible, more comfortable and private. I have some pretty good ideas about what I’ll do up there, but I suspect there’ll be room to react to the boat itself and the surroundings – so there’ll be some improvising as well.” This month (March) Laurie Anderson – the visual and performance artist and musician, known for her collaborations with Lou Reed and her surprise hit single ‘O Superman’ – will become resident in A Room for London, exploring the city and its secrets to produce a new sound piece. You can see her performance live on March 25th at 5 to 6pm in the Spirit Level Blue Room, Royal Festival Hall via a large screen. Intriguing.

Roseanne Cash

She just can’t get away from that surname – and she doesn’t want to. Johnny Cash’s daughter has taken the route of following her daddy’s footsteps, but doing it in her own way. She and many of the family celebrated what would have been Johnny’s 80th birthday on February 26th in Dyess, Arkansas, where he grew up. They launched the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home Project, a scheme aimed

at preserving his childhood home as a museum, then played at a birthday tribute concert. After a couple of dates in the States, Roseanne will be heading to Europe for a short tour performing as a duo with John Leventhal. Dates: March 22nd Barcelona, Spain, Teatre Zorrilla; 24th Isle of Skye, Celtic Connections festival; 26th Gateshead, The Sage; 27th Pocklington Pocklington Arts Centre; 30th London, Union Chapel. H

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The American

Singin’ in the London Rain Michael Brandon and Sandra Dickinson in SIngin In The Rain PHOTO © MANUEL HARLAN

Michael, you live in London now, but you started life in Brooklyn - a tough neighborhood? When you grow up in Brooklyn, everywhere else is a small town! You can handle anything, it doesn’t matter whether it’s Italian cab drivers or Russian gangsters, it’s in your blood just by breathing the air. You can accept people from all sorts of religions and backgrounds and races. There were gangs and fights, traditional Brooklyn stuff. My father had his own garage and gas station in Queens, where Jerry Springer comes from – in fact Jerry did the reverse to me, he was born here in Britain and then went to New York. School was hard, I had what was called triple session. There weren’t enough books, tables or rooms for all the kids so the school day was broken into three sections. We’d go to school for two hours and when you finished you left the books for the next kid. When we moved to Valley Stream, Long Island, they put a pile of books on my desk and I thought I had to pass them

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Michael Brandon is enjoying his role in the classic musical Singin’ in the Rain. The tough New Yorker ladies’ man is now a happily married dual-citizen Londoner. He tells Michael Burland how it all happened out, but they said ‘No, they’re yours’. So yeah, it was rough, it was tough, it was scary, but that’s just the way it was. But you must have been smart, didn’t you get a scholarship to go to college? That’s street-smart. You gain a whole world of life experience and how to deal with life... survival. You catch on, stay sharp, and learn. Then I wanted to do law. I guess that was from television: you know, ‘I object!’ But it wasn’t like that, it was boring, and I realized I was headed in the wrong direction. I went into the beauty supply business. One day I had a date, and I explained to her, over a glass of Ambassador, that I felt lost. She said I should be an actor or a comedian.

She was right, that was what I wanted to be. I tried to use the scholarship to get into an acting school, but I had to audition – for The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Trouble was, I’d never acted. They wanted me to do some acting before I knew how? They said ‘That’s how we see if you have the ability’. I’d never even seen a play. That’s a pretty fancy place to audition for if you’ve never seen a play! Yeah, and after that I went to The Actor’s Studio. My date was right about being a comedian too – I still want to be one. When I was in Jerry Springer the Opera, the electronic keyboards would go out sometimes and stopped the show so I would tell jokes, ad-libbing


The American

for ten minutes. The director suggested we write a stand up act for me. We never did get to that, but I’d love to do it someday. You should, you’ve done everything else: movies, TV, radio, theatre, musicals... do you sing in the musicals? No. My wife thinks it’s hysterical because every month I get offered a musical – Footloose, Dirty Dancing, La Cage – because I was nominated for Best Actor in a Musical for ‘Jerry’, but I didn’t sing in it! Were you ever scared about going on stage? I think the most important thing that makes us human is that we can make changes in our lives. You can embrace your fear and go for it. People tell me I should write a book about all the crazy things that have happened in my life. I am thinking about it at the moment. Years ago, after I did Dempsey & Makepeace, everybody wanted a ‘kiss and tell’ book, but I think it’s much more than that, its about a journey. ‘Off-ramps’ could be the title, because on the way here you took a lot of them. What else are you doing now? I’m also doing Episodes, with Matt LeBlanc and two wonderful English actors, Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan. It just got nominated for Golden Globes. It’s really good writing. If the writing’s good it doesn’t matter what the format is. I like movies, I like TV, but the theater is where you get in deep and it’s fun. That’s why I’m doing Singin’ in the Rain – it’s fun. What part are you playing in Singin’ in the Rain? I’m R F Simpson, the studio boss. He’s the guy with the vision, the guy that makes the movies, and he’s kind of a father to everybody in the studio.

I remember Kim Novak telling me stories about working for Harry Cohn, the President of Columbia Pictures. Harry threatened her once, he said ‘if you continue this way, you will never work again, and you are the highest paid actress in the world right now, you’re doing a million dollars a picture.’ Kim said she didn’t make anything near that, and Harry said ‘No, I do!’ The studio head was the boss. When I started I was pursuing one of the last of the studio contracts. My agent had a contract for me on the table. I thought ‘Wow, this is Hollywood’, but she opened the door, put the contract in the corridor, closed the door, and told me ‘You’re better than this, you’re the kind of actor who’ll do better on your own, you don’t want to be told what to do all the time’. She was right. How would you describe yourself in terms of nationality? I’m a transatlantic guy! I live in London. And I’m British now, I have dual citizenship. Funny thing, my grandfather lived in London for three years, he had some factories. When he was 100 years old, living in LA, he asked me if I was still living in London. I said yeah, and he said ‘You should look up my brother’. ‘You waited ‘til you were 100 years old to tell me you had a brother?! ‘ I asked where the brother lived. He thought about it for a long time, and he said ‘Notting Hill’. He’d never mentioned it before, I was renting a house in Kensington at the time, I could walk there. I asked him when they’d last spoken and he said, ‘Let me think... 1911!’ But I feel like a citizen of the world. I felt this comfortable when I lived in Italy and France for a year and I lived in London in the 1970s. You made Dempsey & Makepeace here, and met your co-star Glynis Barber.

Michael Brandon and Glynis Barber in the roles they’re perhaps best known for – Dempsey & Makepeace

And we’ve been married 23 years. But to start with I would go back after each series, do a film or a television series in America then come back and do another year of Dempsey & Makepeace. For three years that happened, and then one day I didn’t go back. I just found there was more to life than weather! Finally, do you notice any differences when you go back to America? New York is in sync with its citizens, you’re proud to be a New Yorker. I thought that Boris [Johnson, London’s Mayor] was trying to change London, make it more in sync with Londoners instead of squeezing them for everything they’ve got left. It’s so expensive to park, so difficult to get anywhere. Make it easier! I have to pay to park in front of my house and the permit only goes for three blocks, so I can’t even go to my local shops. It can take me an hour to drive six miles. Six miles an hour? You can walk as fast! And there are cones everywhere. In New York, when they’re doing street work, they do it at night. They cut holes in the street, then in the morning they put thick metal plates over the holes, the traffic moves, then they go back at night. I admire that. H

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Snowdrops

By A.D. Miller Atlantic Books, PB, 288 pages, £7.99 This is a first novel and fairly short in length. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize 2011, and I can see why. Miller is a storyteller and has written a page turner. It is a story of corruption in modern Russia, and not as gruesome as its title suggests; snowdrops are what Russians call the dead bodies that appear out of the snow as it thaws in the spring. Indeed, Miller’s style is quite gentle. Our hero, or anti-hero, is a young English lawyer sent to Russia by the company he works for. He becomes bored with the routine expatriate life and wants to explore the ‘real’ Russia. This makes him a splendid target for two Russian girls who pick him up at an underground station and see him as an asset in their illegal property dealings, and indeed with anything that makes money for them. He falls in love with one of them, Masha, who shows him the Moscow of sleazy cafes, bars and brothels and introduces him to people the like of which he has never known. By the middle of the book, when the dizzy pace of his new life has slowed down a little, he begins to realise his degradation but by then it is too late. He is fascinated by the woman and the city. Of course he is betrayed and his money stolen, and everything falls apart. His eventual return to London seems like coming out of a prison: how can he have behaved like that? Yet many of us can identify with the nostalgia he has for somewhere strange and cold and why our hero ends his book with the words: ‘I miss Masha, I miss Moscow’. I hope Miller writes another and wonder what subject he will choose. - MAB

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BOOK REVIEWS

Reviewed by Mary Bailey, Virginia E. Schultz and Ian Kerr

McQueen’s Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon Matt Stone MVP/Motorbooks, 184 pages, £14.99

The title gives the game away. As McQueen’s son Chad writes in the foreword, some two dozen books have been written about his father’s life and career. Until this, none have focussed on the cars and bikes owned by Steve McQueen; the ones he worked into his films and raced. Steve McQueen is, of course, famous for his riding and driving in films such as The Great Escape, Bullitt, The Thomas Crown Affair and Le Mans. In this book, the author explains how McQueen’s love of speed and his acting ability combined to be the focus of his life. The chapters devoted to his competition careers, on four wheels and two, provide ample evidence that he was an accomplished driver and rider, as did the film On Any Sunday. Indeed he represented the US team in enduro riding and won many desert races. According to Stone, McQueen owned 120 motorcycles at one time, stored in a large hangar beside his Boeing Stearman biplane! The book is high quality and has some stunning behind the scenes and

candid shots. Now in softback format, this Motorbooks imprint has been revised and updated from the original hardback, published in 2007. - IK

Biodynamics In Wine

Beverley Blanning MW The International Wine and Food Society, paperback, 58 pages, £7.50 Biodynamics is a holistic system of agriculture based on a series of lectures given by Austrian Rudolf Steiner in 1924 to farmers concerned about the effects of modern farming methods on their land and crops. Today, interest in biodynamics has never been greater, and the use of chemicals in grape growing adopted since the 1950s is beginning to raise concerns among winemakers, like farmers, about the long term effects on land and crops. In this seven chapter, 58 page print book, Steiner’s original ideas and the arguments for and against biodynamics are carefully explained. One cannot help but wonder after reading this book, the effects of the way we grow food and feed the animals we eat are having on us, our children and grandchildren. Copies can be obtained from The International Wine and Food Society at 020 7827 5732, www.iwfs.org - VS


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THEATER PREVIEWS

Horrible Histories Live on Stage Garrick Theatre, London

Got kids? Want to take them to something they’ll love (because of all the blood, battles, murder and mayhem), that you can justify as A Good Thing (thanks to a lot of ‘proper’ history) and that you can enjoy too (because, well, it’s funny!)? This latest portion of the stage version of the books and TV show is all about the history of Barmy Britain – a world première, no less. It’s history with the nasty bits left in, they say, and it explores stories from Roman, Tudor, Stuart, Georgian, Victorian and World War I periods and features famous characters such as Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Guy Fawkes, Florence Nightingale and General Earl Haig. Find out how to impress your guests with roast dormouse; take a peak inside Georgian Crime School; dare to dance the Tyburn jig and find out what a baby farmer did. It’s all at the Garrick Theatre, booking to September. For ages 6+.

American Season Theatre Royal Bath

From March 1, the beautiful Theatre Royal in the historic city of Bath is hosting a major season of works by American playwrights. The first group of three, all UK premières, will be staged in the theatre’s smaller Ustinov Studio space. Red Light Winter by Adam Rapp was originally produced by Chicago’s legendary Steppenwolf Theater and had a successful Off-Broadway run. It won an Obie Award and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. It’s a funny, edgy, adult piece in which two thirty-something New Yorkers, former college room mates, go to Amsterdam to rekindle their friendship but find themselves thrown into a bizarre love triangle with a beautiful young prostitute. The romance they find in Europe is overshadowed by the truth they discover back home, the consequences of which will alter their lives forever. It runs until March 31st. In Howard Korder’s In A Garden (April 4th to May 5th) an ambitious young American architect is summoned to a fictitious Middle Eastern country in 1989, where the Minister of Culture commissions him to build a structure which will remind him of an idyllic childhood memory, his father’s garden. Dream turns to nightmare as months turn into years, a cat and mouse game ensues and the architect’s attempts to fulfil the brief are constantly rejected. Korder has also won an Obie and been Pulitzernominated In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) by Sarah Ruhl (May 10th to June 9th), is another adult-themed play, based on a true story. In a spa town in New York in the late 19th century, the well-to-do citizens are getting excited by the new electricity supply

lighting their homes. A young doctor is obsessed with the marvels of technology and has invented an electric device, set up in his operating theatre, to treat female hysteria. His patients are thrilled and keen to return for further treatment, but his wife feels cut out and forced to take matters into her own hands. Funny, touching and entertaining, it was nominated for three 2010 Tony Awards.

Summer Season Changes

Sir Peter Hall ran the last eight summer seasons, with over 30 productions including transfers to the West End and Broadway. 2012 sees a change, with three classic plays spanning the centuries, directed by three leading directors: Sheridan’s The School for Scandal, directed by Jamie Lloyd; Terry Johnson’s Hysteria, directed by the author and starring Antony Sher; and Shakespeare’s The Tempest, directed by Adrian Noble. They will run from July 5th to September 8th.

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It a Lovely Day to be Caught in the Rain’ and ‘Top Hat White Tie and Tails’, ten more of his numbers have been added including ‘Let’s Face the Music and Dance’.

The Taming of the Shrew

Royal Shakespeare Company’s UK Tour

Peter McGovern, David Haig as the king and Ryan Saunders in The Madness of George III ©ROBERT DAY

Top Hat

The Madness of George III

Following a 17 week UK tour – and seventy seven years after its movie release – Top Hat premières in the West End, previewing from April 19th and booking until January 26th, 2013. If you can’t wait, you can see it in March as it’s still on a pre-West End tour, at the New Victoria Theatre Woking, 13th to 17th, and Bristol Hippodrome, 21st to 31st. Directed by Matthew White and choreographed by Bill Deamer, Tom Chambers and new musicals sensation Summer Strallen take the lead roles, played in the movie by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. With music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, it’s based on the RKO motion picture. You’ll recognize the plot. Jerry Travers (Chambers), famous American tap dancer, arrives in London to appear in his first West End show, meets the irresistible Dale Tremont (Strallen), and follows her across Europe trying to win her heart. Top Hat is one of the greatest of dance musicals and now you can experience it live, with a cast of 31 and a fifteen-strong live band. In addition to Berlin’s classics from the movie like ‘Cheek to Cheek’, ‘Isn’t

Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1 Following a sell out season at the Theatre Royal Bath as part of last year’s Peter Hall Company summer season and an extensive UK tour, Alan Bennett’s masterpiece – famously retitled The Madness of King George for the film in case American audiences thought it was a sequel in a series of movies of which they’d missed the first two – is now in the West End. It’s already on, but it ends on March 31st, so get some tickets and revel in this vivid portrait of English history, with all Bennett’s trademark wit, humor and pathos. It’s an epic production with a huge cast, and David Haig makes a magnificent George III. In spite of many accomplishments – he founded the Royal Academy of Arts, was a passionate advocate of science, literature and music and fathered fifteen children – he is best remembered today as the king who lost America, and by his bouts of unbridled lunacy, caused by a disease that was little understood in his day.

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Aldwych Theatre, Aldwych, London WC2B 4DF

Following her acclaimed production of Julius Caesar in 2009/10, Lucy Bailey directs Shakespeare’s romantic comedy exploring love, sexual politics and the art of illusion. The cast includes Lisa Dillon and David Caves as the sparring lovers Katharina and Petruchio. A quality production, which you can catch at a theatre near you – no need for a trek to the capital! It’s ended at Stratford-upon-Avon but can still be seen at Newcastle Theatre Royal from February 23rd to March 3rd; Milton Keynes Theatre, March 6th to 10th; Nottingham Theatre Royal, March 13th to 17th; Richmond-uponThames Rose Theatre, March 20th to 24th and Bath Theatre Royal, 27th to 31st.

David Caves as Petruchio and Lisa Dillon as Katharina in The Taming of the Shrew


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Julian Joseph’s jazz opera incorporates baseball and aids needy kids

Shadowball

Hackney Empire, 291 Mare Street, London E8 1EJ This groundbreaking project by Hackney Music Development Trust focuses on the achievements of black athletes in the Negro Baseball Leagues during the 1930s and 40s and their pioneering jazz compatriots whose skill, pride and dignity in the face of adversity inspires in young people, particularly those from ethnic minorities, the determination to achieve their dreams. It features a new jazz opera by Julian Joseph and Mike Phillips ( Joseph’s Jazz Quintet will be performing) and involves 200 local schoolchildren who have been playing baseball and studying the themes and historical context of the opera in preparation for rehearsing and performing the piece. Major League Baseball supports HMDT’s Shadowball programme. You can win tickets to see the show and meet the cast – see page 31.

PHOTO: CLIVE BARDA

Royal Court Young Writers Festival The Royal Court Theatre’s Young Writers Festival, which has launched the writing careers of some of the UK’s best new playwrights since 1973, takes over the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court from February 23rd to April 14th. This year’s festival is the biggest in its history, featuring two full productions of new plays, four staged readings and ten short plays, all by authors under 25 years old, plus a series of free workshops, talks and ‘afterdark’ late night events in the bar. Alongside the free events programme, a pay-what-you-like-night will be available for two of the plays, Goodbye to All That, which looks at the enduring nature of love and asks if it’s ever too late to start again, and Vera Vera Vera, which examines violence, neglect and apathy in the wake of a young soldier’s death in Afghanistan.

Laurie Metcalf and David Suchet, together in O’Neill’s A Long Day’s Journey Into Night PHOTO: SHEILA ROCK

A Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Apollo Theatre, 31 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1 7EZ Eugene O’Neill’s Pulitzer prizewinning masterpiece tours the UK before arriving in London’s West End in April. One of the greatest 20th century American plays, it stars David Suchet , American actress Laurie Metcalf (Rosanne, Desperate Housewives, The Big Bang Theory and Toy Story) and Kyle Soller (also American, he won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Outstanding Newcomer in 2011). The tour dates are: February 22nd to March 3rd Richmond Theatre; March 5th to 10th Nottingham, Theatre Royal; March 12th to 17th Milton Keynes Theatre; March 19th to 24th Bath, Theatre Royal; March 26th to 31st Glasgow, Theatre Royal. The London run is at the Apollo Theatre from April 2nd to August 18th.

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Master Class By Terrence McNally • Vaudeville Theatre, Strand, London WC2 • Reviewed by Jarlath O’Connell

T

errence McNally’s Master Class is a great wallow in the legend that is Maria Callas and though redeemed by great performances, including an outstanding one from Tyne Daly, it remains, for me, a cardboard cut-out of a play. Last seen in London in 1997 with Patti Lupone, Daly has managed to erase the memory of that performance (no easy task), with an arresting and vivid portrait of the Greek diva. Callas’ 20-year career transformed the public’s ideas about the role of the dramatic opera singer. Having been jilted by Aristotle Onassis in 1969 after a 10-year affair, when he dumped her for Jackie Kennedy, she retreated to a life of seclusion in Paris where she died, many said of a broken heart, in 1977 at the age of just 53. The springboard for this play is a series of master classes she gave in 1971 at the Julliard School in New

York. The format lends itself to the theatrical with its series of constant interruptions from the diva, reminding the unfortunate students, somewhat unconvincingly, that “this is not about me”. This is the key problem for the play. A master class, by its very nature, is designed to be an ego trip and McNally can’t resist the opportunity to embellish this by throwing in lots of bitchy put-downs. This goes against the grain of trying to understand the woman behind the legend and it all ends up rather pat and pleased with itself. Laced with knowing in-jokes about the world of opera (you have to know who Renata Scotto was!) these serve merely to flatter the audience’s ego, when the time could have been better spent trying to deliver some real insight into the character. At the same time it fails to convince in its presentation of the world of opera and opera singers. Would one of the aspiring students, for example, seriously say to Callas “I’m not an actress I’m

Tyne Daly : ‘astonishing’ as Maria Callas, with Naomi O’Connell as Sharon Graham PHOTO: JOHAN PERSSON

THEATER REVIEWS just a singer”, and would a tenor, about to present ‘Recondita armonia’ for her, really not be aware of its dramatic context? These people study for years! The play reminds us of the years of diligent study required to make it to the first rank and of the personal sacrifices required along the way, but it sometimes smells like a piece about opera for those who don’t like opera. Daly is astonishing, however, in capturing the passion and intelligence of Callas and she has the speaking voice spot-on. While her sweeping generalisations about art might appear trite, there are moments, such as her deconstruction of the lyrics of Amina’s aria from La Sonnambula, when the play touches on the essence of the operatic experience and the power it can wield. Each of the pieces presented by the pupils prompts a flashback to her earlier life and in one she wittily replays the relationship she had with the crude and bombastic Onassis. Both Jeremy Cohen as the pianist and Garrett Sorensen as the tenor have come over from Broadway and Sorensen’s glorious tenor voice does bring the house down. Able support is provided too from Dianne Pilkington, as the awkward Greek-Italian student Sophia, and rising star Naomi O’Connell, as the feisty Sharon. She bravely accuses Callas of being jealous of her and of recklessly destroying her own voice, and she even survives. Solidly directly by Stephen Wadsworth, who has a distinguished career in the classical theatre and opera, it is a well-polished piece of entertainment, but sadly, in terms of insight, it rarely rises above the level of caricature.


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Bernarda Alba The House of

By Federico Garcia Lorca • In a new version by Emily Mann • Almeida Theatre, London • Reviewed by Jarlath O’Connell

he Almeida’s decision to shift the action of Lorca’s great play from 1930s Andalusia to Iran was presumably prompted by engaging a director of Iranian origin, Bijan Sheibani, and the Californian-based Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo. The strikingly glamorous Aghdashloo was Oscar nominated a few years back for the movie House of Sand and Fog with Ben Kingsley. Since then she has won an Emmy for House of Saddam and built up a successful career in US TV. Her background is in Farsi language theatre with her director husband. The Iranian setting is a clever idea as the parallels, of course, are very strong. Both are societies enslaved by religious fundamentalism. In Spain, widows could lock themselves and their daughters indoors for years on end, and in both societies there was strict segregation of the sexes. Such separation often set the seeds for

seething resentments to grow among sisters, as they competed to secure the dream husband, who would be their ticket out of there. Designer Bunny Christie has fashioned a stunning mausoleum-like set, the high windows further amplifying the cell-like feel and claustrophobia of the piece. Jon Clark’s remarkable lighting punctuates each scene with a camera flash, echoing Lorca’s own take on this play, that “these three acts are intended as a photographic document”. This is high realism. The striking image of the townswomen in their burqas arriving at the house for the brief wake establishes a strong visual motif. Bernarda warns her five daughters that these will be the last visitors for, “In our eight years of mourning, not even the wind from the street will enter this house”.

Central to the success of the play is the casting of the tyrannical Bernarda, who must possess a stillness capable of striking fear into any soul. Most famously played in the UK by Glenda Jackson on the London stage in 1986 (and later televised), it is one of the great roles for women and here one suspects it suffers rather from star casting. Aghdashloo embellishes her widow’s weeds with rather too much glamour. The cut of her fine clothes, the large brooch, the exquisite hair and make up do not signify a fundamentalist matriarch who is battling the passions and setting a good example for her daughters. The purr of her husky voice has little authority and at key moments she ends up sounding petulant rather than fearsome. If these choices are an attempt to make Bernarda sympathetic, they’re a mistake.

PHOTO: JOHAN PERSSON

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There is not much to sympathise with after all. The rest of the cast is also very uneven, with no consistent tone to the line readings. Their plight is not helped by a leaden translation by Emily Mann, which destroys the naturalism of the dialogue at key points. Jane Bertish, however, shines as Darya, Bernarda’s confident housekeeper and contemporary. Only she can get away with talking back. Their withheld mutual self loathing adds another rich layer to this amazing portrait of tyranny in microcosm. The play is brilliant at portraying the human cost of patriarchy and in delineating the shifting alliances that result from it. We witness the youngest daughter dicing with death as she sneaks off for late night trysts with the man designated to be the husband for her older (and plainer) sister. Likewise, the visits from the crazy grandmother, locked up in the attic by Bernarda, remind us that these unfortunate daughters could be trapped forever at the spinster’s sewing machine. It is a stunning play, here given a rather uneven production. H

Sarah Solemani (Maryam) in The House of Bernarda Alba PHOTO: JOHAN PERSSON

Sam Worthington as Perseus in mythological monster movie Wrath of the Titans © 2012 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND LEGENDARY PICTURES FUNDING, LLC

MARCH MOVIES The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists RATING TBC The creators of Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run, Aardman, team up with Sony pictures to present the jaunty tale of a Pirate Captain whose name is … Pirate Captain … as he sets about trying to win the illustrious ‘Pirate of the Year’ award. With voiceovers by the likes of Hugh Grant, David Tennant, Lenny Henry and Brian Blessed, The Pirates! will be jam packed with all the laughs, cutlasses, and peg legs you could ask for!

This Means War

12A

Two CIA operatives, played by Tom Hardy and Chris Pine, unwittingly fall for the same woman, played by Reese Witherspoon, and use their skills as secret agents to engage in an intrepid battle to win her heart and sabotage one another in the process.

The Raven

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In a fictionalised twist on the final days of the literary great Edgar Allen Poe, the author, played by John Cusack, finds himself in pursuit of a serial killer whose murders mimic scenes from his stories. As the killer brings these classic stories to a grizzly reality, Poe must battle to prevent the love of his life from being lost forevermore.

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Wrath of the Titans

RATING TBC

10 years after the defeat of the Kraken in Clash of the Titans, Perseus’ aspirations for a quiet life are disrupted by the escalating struggle for supremacy between the gods and the Titans. Starring Sam Worthington, Ralph Fiennes, and Liam Neeson, Wrath of the Titans (above) sees Perseus embark upon an epic quest to rescue Zeus and once again save mankind.

Blank City

RATING TBC

Released in America in 2010, Blank City comes to the UK to tell the tale of an economically deprived New York City which became the backdrop for a new wave of independent films in the ’70s. This documentary reveals the filmakers who turned the streets into impromptu movie sets, and how their work helped establish the independent film genre.

Semper Fi: Always Faithful

PG

Semper Fi is the story of Jerry Ensminger, a devoted Marine Corps Master Sgt, who challenged the corps he loyally served after discovering that the military hushed up toxic contamination at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, which possibly affected thousands of people and caused the death of his 9-year old daughter from leukemia. Available on iTunes, and premiering in the UK at Prince Charles Cinema, London on March 8th. H


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US ELECTION 2012 T

his Presidential election year, many people, including me, thought that Romney would walk it and by now be well on his way to the Republican nomination, if not to the White House. We all, well nearly all, thought so because he looked the best possibility to win against the President, Barack Obama. We knew from the national ‘match up’ polls which showed him neck and neck with the President, that the moderate candidate most likely to regain the White House for the Republican Party following its win-back of the Congress in the Congressional contest in 2008 was Romney.

We now know that when it was announced Romney had won the Iowa caucus by a handful of votes over Rick Santorum and was on his way, that actually Santorum had won. In New England’s New Hampshire Romney then did win handily, but in the deep Southern state of South Carolina, Newt Gingrich swamped him, to the surprise of pundits and pollsters alike. If Romney had won in South Carolina, he’d have been well nigh unbeatable. But politics, especially in the confusion of caucuses such as Iowa, open primaries such as New Hampshire where any registered adult can vote, and closed primaries

PHOTOS: GAGE SKIDMORE

Sir Robert Worcester can’t wait for Super Tuesday. Here’s his run-down of where the Republican candidates stand as the race heats up

(Up:) Santorum won Iowa (eventually), and after spending the rest of January in the wilderness, bounced back in the February Caucuses... (Down) at the expense of Newt Gingrich. However, Super Tuesday is yet to come.

TABLE 1

2012 Republican Delegate Race (1,144 needed to win) State Total

Delegates Romney Santorum Gingrich

Paul

2,286

98

44

32

20

Delegate Allocation

Open/Closed Closed

Iowa

Jan 3

28*

6

7

0

0

Non-Binding Caucus

New Hampshire

Jan 10

12*

7

0

0

3

Proportional Primary

South Carolina

Jan 21

25

2

0

23

0

Winner Take All Primary

Florida

Jan 31

50

50

0

0

0

Winner Take All Primary

Closed

Nevada

Feb 4

28

14

3

6

5

Proportional Caucus1

Closed

Open 1

Open

Minnesota

Feb 7

40*

2

17

1

4

Non-Binding Caucus

Open

Colorado

Feb 7

36*

9

17

2

1

Non-Binding Caucus

Closed

Missouri

Feb 7

***

***

**

***

Non-Binding Primary

Closed

Maine

Feb 4-11

24*

8

0

0

7

Non-Binding Caucus

Closed

Non-binding * Delegates supporting other candidates make up the difference ** Not entered *** No delegates won Missouri delegates to be chosen March 17

1

Date

Source: RCP

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South Carolina was a big win, but Newt Gingrich faded thereafter GAGE SKIDMORE

TABLE 2: Professor Helmut Norpoth’s Forecast

Candidate Choices

Vote Forecast

Obama – Romney

53.2 - 46.8

Obama – Paul

56.0 - 43.1

Obama – Gingrich

57.1 - 42.9

Obama – Santorum

57.1 - 42.9

(registered Republicans only) are difficult to read. If that’s not enough complication, some primaries are binding on the state’s delegates to the convention and some are not – allowing delegates to the Republican Convention to ignore their states voters’ wishes (at their peril). Some are proportional, splitting the state’s vote and others, most of them, are ‘winner take all’. The weakest of all in terms of counting delegate votes are the non-binding caucuses, which are sometimes likened to ‘straw polls’, and you wonder why voters bother. As Table 1 (previous page) shows, there is a long way to go from now

until the Republican Convention. After Maine’s closed (non-binding) primary where Ron Paul nearly pulled off an upset, there’s a respite, with Michigan (closed ‘hybrid’) and Arizona (closed winner-take-all) primaries, both on February 28, then to the West coast for Washington state on March 3rd and then the big one, March 6, ‘Super Tuesday’, which may settle it. That’s when Georgia (76 delegates), Ohio (66), Tennessee (58), Virginia (49), Oklahoma (43), Massachusetts (41), Idaho (32), North Dakota (28), Alaska (27), and Vermont (17) all vote in primaries, in one day these ten states choose nearly a third of the 1,144 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination. With the 98 Mitt Romney has so far in the bag, he’s still a long way from home, despite thinking just a month ago that he had the ‘big mo’, and was coasting to an easy nomination. In the run up to the primaries, Romney, still thought by most pundits to have the odds overwhelmingly in his favour to be the Republican candidate for President, was struggling to put together a coalition of support across

sufficient demographic classifications, and would have to fight a brilliant campaign to succeed to the nomination, never mind the White House. Still, in my view, the winner of the Republican nomination looks set to be Mitt Romney... the loser at the General Election, Mitt Romney. The polls say so, the money says so, and most pundits, including me, say so. But in this roller-coaster election so far, we’ve all been already proved wrong in at least one primary or caucus. There is an argument being made by some anti-Obama voices that the Presidency will swing on two principal factors: turnout, and the Latino vote. In 2008, overall turnout was 63.6%, virtually unchanged from 2004 despite universal forecasts that as interest in the election was higher, so turnout would be. It wasn’t. In 2004, US turnout was 63.8% .2 It was, at 64% in America, slightly lower than the 61% turnout for the 2010 British General Election. I recall that in the early days of the 2008 race it was alleged that ‘Latinos will never vote for a black man’. In the event, they did. In 2004, the white Democratic candidate John Kerry got 44% of Hispanic voters' support against former Texas Governor and Spanish speaker George W. Bush. In 2008, two-thirds of  Hispanics voted for black Barack Obama.3 As these two factors interrelate, even if only half of the 9% of voters who were Latinos who voted for Obama last time voted, but turnout among Latinos dropped significantly,  it would only account for a difference in the overall result of 1%-2%, if that.

‘Worcester, R., “Explaining where, and by whom, a black, liberal, intellectual was elected to be the US president”, in Journal of Public Affairs, 9: 143-148 (2009). To obtain a digital copy, email rmworcester@yahoo.com 3 Lopez, M. and Taylor, P., Dissecting the 2008 Electorate: Most Diverse in U.S. History, Pew Hispanic Center, April 30, 2009. 2

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Voter Models and Predictions There are some interesting attempts by economitricians to use historic voting records, pollsters’ data on the state of the parties and economic optimism, demographics (and perhaps tea leaves) to forecast six months and more ahead, the outcome of the election to be held on November 6th. I’ve been in touch with a couple of my friends in this game, and for the record, here are their forecasts. Professor Helmut Norpoth, State University of New York “The outcome of the New Hampshire Primary predicts that President Barack Obama will win a second term in the November election, defeating Mitt Romney or any other Republican challenger by a comfortable margin. (http://primarymodel.com/)

This forecast (see Table 2, opposite) comes from a statistical model of presidential elections (The PRIMARY MODEL) that uses primary performance as a major predictor of the presidential vote in the general election. In addition, the model relies on a cycle in presidential elections and adjusts for the partisan shift during the New Deal era. The model covers elections as far back as 1912, when presidential primaries were first used in large numbers. Since 1952, however, only the New Hampshire Primary is included.” Dr Cliff Young, Sr. Vice President, Ipsos MORI Crisp and to the point, Dr Young’s answer when I asked “What’s your magic formula telling you now?” was: “Obama 73 percent!”

GAGE SKIDMORE

Still, in my view, the winner of the Republican nomination looks set to be Mitt Romney... the loser at the General Election, Mitt Romney

The closest rival keeps changing, but Mitt Romney remains the frontrunner

With Rick Santorum’s recent wins in the caucuses in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri, he’s regained second place in the ‘likely winner’ stakes, as shown in Table 3, replacing the fading Newt Gingrich. However, we can all look forward now to Super Tuesday, March 6th, when if history is our guide, it will likely become clear who will run against President Obama. I can hardly wait. H Sir Robert Worcester is the Founder of MORI. Follow him for updates on Twitter: @RobertWorcester.

TABLE 3: National Republican Standing (RCP 12.2.12)

Rank

Candidate

1

0

Mitt Romney

3

2

+1

Rick Santorum

Former Gov., Massachusetts Senator, Pennsylvania

2

3

-1

Newt Gingrich Ron Paul

Early Nov

End Nov

Mid Jan

Mid Feb

1

2

2

1

N/R

8

7

9

3

1

4

5

4

RCP %

Change last month

End Sept

3

4

-1

Position

Nov 6

Dec 12

Jan 24

Feb 12

22

21

29

31

2

4

14

24

Former Speaker

12

33

24

20

Congressman, Texas

8

10

14

14

Average of recent polls (2.2-2.10) which included polls from FOX News ,Gallup, Reuters/Ipsos, and Rasmussen (further details on their web sites) N/R Not Rated in www.realclearpolitics.com

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DRIVETIME ROAD TEST

Jeep Cherokee GRAND

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t may look like a mild evolution, but the latest iteration of the Jeep Grand Cherokee is almost entirely new, from the platform to the body panels, the engine to the driving dynamics. Even the company is in a different form: after a messy divorce, DaimlerChrysler is no more and Chrysler ( Jeep’s American parent) is now 51% owned by Fiat – something of a surprise for those who can remember the terrible state the Italian concern was in a few short decades ago. Shelve those ‘Fix It Again Tony’ jibes. Despite the change in ownership, the new Grand Cherokee is built on the platform that will also host the forthcoming Mercedes ML and GL SUVs – such is the lead time in car development. This is a good thing: the previous model Grand Cherokee was an impressive device but nobody would call it a great drive, given its imprecise handling characteristics. Has that been remedied in the new car? We set out to find out. Instantly you notice one improvement over its predecessor: structural rigidity, which has been improved by 146% over the old model. Amazingly, this has been achieved without any extra weight. In fact, despite a raft of extra gadgets, the new Grand

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Cherokee is both larger and lighter. It’s 15ft 10in long and 6ft 5in wide and weighs in at just under 5,000 pounds. Clever engineering. And it works - on the road it feels tauter, more like a regular car, staying on track better and feeling more directly connected to the steering wheel. The Fiat influence is most strongly felt in the drive train. The new 3.0-litre CRD V6 engine has been co-developed by VM Motori and Fiat Powertrain, and puts out a strong 237bhp and stronger 406 lb ft of torque. Torque is what you want in a vehicle like the GC, and that’s more than adequate for virtually all drivers in virtually all situations. Drive goes to all four wheels through a five-speed autobox. Considering the size, weight and capabilities, fuel consumption of 34.0mpg is reasonable while CO2 emissions of 218g/km are competitive in the class though still expensive in road tax terms. Ah yes, capabilities. At the risk of upsetting the manufacturers’ sales departments (who want to sell as many cars as possible to whomever) if you think of SUVs as family runarounds, school-run buses or highrise executive limos, a couple of words of

advice: please don’t. It’s like owning a big dog in a small apartment. And it offends the sensibilities (well mine, anyway). When you have something as brilliant off-road as the Grand Cherokee, buy one to use it properly. This is one of the few mid-size SUVs (as they are in the States, although they’re large 4x4 over here) left with real off-road ability. Towering ground clearance, proper low-range gears and a Quadra-Trac four-wheel drive system with traction control and five terrain modes including Mud, Rock and Sand make it a doddle to drive away from the blacktop and a genuine rival to Land Rover’s Discovery and Range Rover. With air suspension – standard on the higherspec Overland, an option on the base Limited – you can vary the ride height according to conditions. Back on the road, body control is good with both the air and steel suspension set-ups, though the GC Limited rolls on sharper curves on its standard higher profile 265/60 18 inch tires. (Why would you not choose the big 20in 265/50 low profile option? Apart from cost, they’re better off road – it depends on how much dirt track driving you’ll


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be doing.) And you will find yourself taking those bends at a reasonable pace: the new engine is smoother than the outgoing one and - once you spin the turbo up – fast enough, though it needs a serious kickdown to make the autobox deliver gear changes. If the performance is not enough – and you own a Texas oilfield – you can wait for the manic SRT8 version, available later this year, the fastest production Jeep ever. That’s how it works. How does it look and feel? Much as you’d expect, with identifiably American styling (slightly squarer and more ‘Jeep-like’ than the last GC) and, of course, the company’s trademark ‘seven bar’ grille in good, thick chrome. In trim quality terms the interior is not quite up there with European rivals like the Disco and Audi’s Q5/7, but it makes up for that with rugged good looks and a standard kit list as long as Shaquille O’Neal’s arm – see below. Front and rear passengers enjoy masses of space and comfortable leather seats. The Overland has reclining and ventilated rear seats for extra luxury. All Jeeps now come with a threeyear/60,000 mile warranty, and the new car has passed the Euro NCAP safety tests with a four-star rating, so you can buy with confidence.

Version List Price 3.0 CRD V6 Limited £37,995 3.0 CRD V6 Overland £44,995 SRT8 £58,995

MPG 34.0 mpg 34.0 mpg 20.0 mpg

There’s plenty of room in the trunk, 782-litres of luggage space, with an extra pair of storage bins underneath the floor, either side of the spare wheel. And it’s worth noting that it’s a real, full-size spare – a space saver or can of mousse won’t help much if you get a puncture on the trail. Dropping the back seats gives a cavernous 1,554-litres – a little less than the Discovery. It’s not the only change in the range: the Cherokee, new just three years ago, has been dropped in the UK (though it’s still available in the States as the Liberty), the Patriot (which we liked) and Compass (which we didn’t, as much) have both been replaced by a much better new Mercedes-engined Compass and the three-row, seven-seat Jeep is no more. Jeep have trimmed the GC range too. At the moment only two versions are available: the Limited, priced at £36,795, and the highly-specced Overland which costs £43,995. The Overland is worth the extra £7,200. The Limited does have keyless entry, active head restraints, Elec-

0-62 8.2 s 8.2 s 5.1 s

Insurance Group 34 36 tba

tronic Stability Control, laminated front door glass, Bi-Xenon HID ‘Smartbeam’ headlamps, rain sensitive wipers, dual zone aircon, 6.5in touch screen display, 30GB hard drive, Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist, Bluetooth with voice command, iPod and USB connectivity, rear back-up camera, leather trim, heated front and rear seats, 8-way driver and passenger seat memory and tire pressure monitor (among much more) but it doesn’t come with the Overland’s satnav, rear parking camera, panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, QuadraLift air suspension, blind-spot and rear cross path detection, forward collision warning, more leather and wood, power liftgate, heated steering wheel (surprisingly good if you’ve not had it before) and ‘CommandView’ panoramic sunroof. So does the 2012 Grand Cherokee make a case for itself as a highly capable American SUV that can live with its European foes on the roads, trails and driveways of the UK? Yes, in spades! H

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NASCAR 2012 With the Daytona 500 heralding the start of Oval Season, Richard L Gale picks 12 racers to watch in 2012

E

very sport has its dominant force – Tiger Woods in golf, Roger Federer in tennis, Michael Schumacher in Formula One – eclipsing all around them, stringing championships like pearls. Eventually, though, all streaks end. For Jimmie Johnson the streak ended at five straight, dropping from first to sixth in 2011. The good news is that NASCAR is less age-conscious than many sports. Slamming into the thirtysomething wall of a tennis player or an NFL running back isn’t so much of a problem when you have the right car, the right crew. As Tony Stewart proved, 40 is no barrier. And as Jimmie Johnson may prove in 2012, when you have Hendrick Motorsports and crew chief Chad Knaus behind you, winning races is the norm. And Johnson is still a boyish 37. Carl Edwards finished in the top ten 26 times in 2011, top five 19 times, but only had one points win, at Las Vegas in March (though he also won the All-Star Race). If winnings matter rather than winning, Edwards walked it, but losing by zero points should light a fire under him not to settle in 2012. It’s more likely 2011 inspires the first of many titles for Edwards than it becomes the nearest he’ll ever get. Kevin Harvick’s few lead laps and zero poles last year means a leap of faith to place him in the top 3, and yet that’s exactly where he was at the end of 2011. Harvick is one of the most consistent drivers out there, and managed to lead at the end of the final lap four times last year. He’s a major threat.

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Tony Stewart had a fairytale ending in 2011 to steal the Sprint Cup away from Carl Edwards and everybody else on a tie-break. However, that tie-break was wins – five of the last ten, three of the last four, and of course bringing it home at Homestead. Stewart was barely getting it started at season end, so treating Stewart’s championship as some ‘last hurrah’ would be a mistake. When the music stopped, former champion Kurt Busch found himself sitting in a Finch, but Kasey Kahne, blazing a trail late in 2011, starts 2012 with Hendrick Motorsports. Kahne’s 8 top five finishes are guaranteed to increase, and a top five finish in the standings is realistic. Perhaps only the adjustment to new surroundings will prevent Kahne from making a title run before 2013. Rookie of the year in 2000, and champion in 2003 – it’s been a while for Matt Kenseth, but he was thereabouts all year in 2011, with 20 top tens and three victories. He’ll be in the Chase again this season, but it’s about time Kenseth made his mark as a Superspeedway winner. Consistency over 2 miles might well put him over the top. It was as hard to get excited about Denny Hamlin’s 2012 performances as it was with his Fed-Ex livery. Mailing it in? Maybe. But here is something to get excited about: Hamlin’s shortertrack prowess is now paired with crew chief Darian Grubb, who helped Tony Stewart to the title last year, and was part of Johnson’s success at Hendrick.

Brad Kaselowski didn’t finish in the top ten that often last year, but when he did, they were good ones, including three wins and 10 top fives. He upstaged Kyle Busch to become Penske’s top driver, and only a fizzle at Phoenix stopped Kaselowski from competing for the Cup at Homestead. Consistency will turn the 28 year old into a champion one day. The destiny of champion was one pinned on Dale Earnhardt Jr. once, but winning the Cup is tough in the era of Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart. Now 37, there’s still time for young Dale, but it’s hard to see how he breaks through a logjam of potential champs, and with just three wins in the past seven years, his 7th place last year starts to look more like an aberration than greatness still to come. Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch, while worlds apart as drivers, share the same problem: they don’t show up when the playoffs start. Gordon is a multiple champ, but never during the Chase era. Busch has never won a Chase race. Maybe when Busch is Gordon’s age, he’ll find the calm to figure it all out. Picking Juan Pablo Montoya as a dark horse is an annual event, we know, but the addition of former Hendrick engineer Chris Heroy could be fruitful; Heroy is experienced not just in Sprint Cup, but has some openwheel background. After something of a revolving door as crew chief to Montoya, Heroy could be the one who connects with the Columbian driver. Others: Greg Biffle is an annual consideration, but he’s 42 years old, shuffled out of the top ten, but after a winless 2011, we need to see the 42-year old show some spark again ... Finally, Danica Patrick will be racing in Nationwide plus 10 Sprint Cups this year. Too much attention and too many expectations will be on her, but we’ll be watching for 2013. H


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The American

Six Appeal Six Champions

Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) dominated 2011, winning 11 of 19 races, and claiming all but four poles for back-toback titles. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso look the friskiest of the chasing pack, but Hamilton finished behind team-mate and fellow-Brit Jenson Button last year, while Alonso slipped to fourth. Button claimed the world championship during Brawn’s fairy-tale 2009 season, but he quietly finished second in 2011, albeit distantly. That Brawn team – since rebadged as Mercedes – boasts seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, but the 43-year old hasn’t claimed a title since 2004. The X-factor is the return of lightning-quick Raikkonen, the 2007 champion. He will race for Lotus – not amongst the elite teams – but together, they could steal some podium finishes. As with Schumacher, he’s unlikely to pose a championship threat, but the combination of champions – plus uncrowned Aussie Mark Webber (Red Bull) trying to join the club – suggests a wide spread of points, and hopefully a close season.

© GETTY IMAGES

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Red Bull Advantage Blown?

In 2011, off-throttle blown-diffusers took advantage of warm gases from the exhaust (even when the driver isn’t on the throttle), creating downforce. F1’s regulatory body made rule changes to exhaust positioning in the offseason, and ‘engine mapping’ regulations mean a closer relationship between what the driver does to his pedal and how the throttle behaves. We won’t get too deeply into the techspecs in this small F1 space, but let’s just say Red Bull had this technology in spades, so removing it helps close the gap between Vettel and the field.

TV’s Split Formula

After being batted between the BBC and ITV for a decade, Sky Sports will launch a dedicated F1channel for 2012 (an extra expense for fans unless they already enjoy Sky HD), and until the 2018 season, BBC will have only half of the races live, with a highlights package for the others.

© GETTY IMAGES

The return of flying Finn Kimi Raikkonen means 6 past champions amongst Formula One’s 24 drivers. Here’s 6 topics to look for in 2012 A McLaren Rivalry

The only team fielding two former World Champions, McLaren pairs the hare of Lewis Hamilton with the tortoise of Jenson Button. The mature and patient decisions of Button upstaged the gung-ho and incident-prone Hamilton last season, and almost did so in 2010. So far the atmosphere has been full of bonhomie, but can it last? Stateside motor sports could become an attractive option for Hamilton.

Battle for the Big Seats

Long before the end of the season, drivers will be jostling for 2013 seats. Hamilton’s in the last year of his McLaren contract, Webber may have tired of playing second-fiddle to Vettel, and Ferrari may seek a new no.2. Those are desirable drives for the next generation: keep an eye on the performances of second-year men Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo (driving for Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s sister team) and Paul DiResta (in F1, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be a Brit with Italian heritage).

The Return to America

Germany’s Sebastian Vettel (left, and in his Red Bull above) has back-to-back championships and is looking for a third

On November 18, F1 racing will return to the USA for the first time in five years as the penultimate race of the season takes place at the counter-clockwise 3.4 mile Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Inspired by Silverstone (UK) and Hockenheim (Germany), the circuit designs suggest one of the fastest, most exciting circuits out there. H


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Would a Super Bowl in London be cool, or sub-zero, wonders Richard L Gale. Maybe a Pro Bowl?

I

t’s several degrees below, my fingers are so cold I can barely type, and Jim Irsay says NFL owners are contemplating London as a future Super Bowl venue? Sure. When you-know-where freezes over. Or just as likely when London thaws. Britain’s capital will look highly viable in the summer when the Olympics land, but in the depths of Winter (which is, last time I checked, when Super Bowls get played), the frozen twigs of North-west Europe would make a strange backdrop to an American sporting institution. I can’t help feeling that discussion of London as a Super Bowl venue got thrown back into the discussion by Irsay just to get us all off the Manning issue. Seriously, how would Super Bowl week play out in England at that time of year? I know Texas got hit with an unexpected ice storm in 2011, but that was unprecedented. Bitter breezes in February in London are guaranteed. Pro-London reasoning goes something like this: If people are shelling out $5000 a ticket to see the Super Bowl Stateside, they’ll think nothing of paying another $1000+ to travel, while normal folks without the disposable income stay home and watch it on TV as usual. But knowing people are willing to pay $6000+ to sit in the stands at the Super Bowl, why wouldn’t the NFL just put up ticket prices to suit and keep the game in America? I know, I’m supposed to be headover-heels at the idea of the big game so close, and if that means the chance of a press pass to an epic of Patriots-

Giants proportions, then I’m front of the queue with elbows set to ‘maximum’. But right now, I’m looking out of the window and thinking ‘Where else would I rather be than right there, right now, in a sub-zero open-air stadium, debating Rob Gronkowski’s ankle?’ Well, a cosy office sounds nice. I enjoyed Super Bowl week, following Senior Bowl practice, checking out the twists and turns of National Signing Day. I’d certainly have enjoyed it more visiting Indy and dropping in on the Sun King Brewery, and adding a couple of inches to my waistline at St Elmo’s Steak House, especially on the sports department’s legendary (okay, mythical) expense account. I’m not sure London’s pubs quite have the gastronomic reputation to match, despite the gems Virginia tracks down in our Wining & Dining section. The reputation is still warm beer and tasteless pub grub. Still, if NFL owners want to put America’s greatest sporting spectacle on my doorstep, I won’t complain. Apparently we can stretch to a bacon sandwich and a can of coke until the press corps food hall opens. I can always watch the game through the glass.

The other big London-related NFL story this past month – and the only one with its feet on the ground – was the announcement that the St. Louis (nee Cleveland via Los Angeles) Rams would be vacationing in London the next three years as a ‘home team’, leading to temporary and slightly daft speculation that they might become the London franchise. Though the ‘visiting’ Patriots will inevitably attract more support in 2012, it will still be fascinating to see the London Lambs grow some horns over the next three years. We should also be thankful that such a special relationship continues between the NFL and the city of London. The league clearly thinks a great deal of Britain’s capital. If they’re scrabbling around for ideas of how to involve London until such time as Virgin Galactic makes a London franchise practical, how about a Pro Bowl in London? Commissioner Roger Goodell seemed as frustrated with the half-hearted efforts in Hawai’i this season as I did (at last, something we can agree on), but rather than cancel the whole deal, why not bring the all-star game to Wembley? We’d LOVE to have those stars over here. H London-bound: Chris Long of the St. Louis Rams PHOTO BY G. NEWMAN LOWRANCE/ ST. LOUIS RAMS

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Time to Dance With March Madness almost here, Jay Webster looks at some of the teams that could be catching our eye

W

hen the calendar turns to March, it means one thing to most fans of American sports: the National Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Division I Basketball Championship ... or March Madness (or if you prefer, the ‘Big Dance’). The recipe is simple: 68 teams, six rounds. Win and move on, lose and you go home. It’s that simplicity and symmetry, and the fact so many teams get a shot at the title, which makes it so compelling. The fact that the best teams have to take the court and defeat the lower seeded teams leaves the door open to the possibility of massive upsets – thus the element of Madness, and an atmosphere no other sporting tournament can match. So who will make an impact on this year’s tournament? Here’s a rundown of some of the teams and players who figure to leave their mark in March, and possibly even on April 2nd, in the National Championship Game at the Superdome in New Orleans.

Kentucky Wildcats

It appears that any team with their eye on a National Championship this year will have to go through Bluegrass Country. The Wildcats are loaded with young talent. They have topped the rankings for much of the second half of the season with three freshmen and two sophomores leading the way. Head coach John Calipari has a history of luring top talent to his school for the

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mandatory year players must wait to enter the draft, then molding them into collegiate contenders before they jump to the riches of the NBA. Five Wildcats average double figures in scoring, with super freshman Anthony Davis leading the way. The 6-10 forward uses his height and enormous wingspan to patrol the paint, and is considered the top defensive player in the country. Davis, who shattered Shaquille O’Neal’s SEC single-season record for blocks by a freshman, is expected to be one of the top picks in the next NBA draft, as well as an impact player when March Madness rolls around. The Wildcats may have three first-year players in the starting lineup, but Calipari also has a couple of key veterans to rely on in guard Darius Miller and forward Terrance Jones, who remain from last year’s Final Four squad. With their depth, explosive offensive prowess and shutdown capabilities on the defensive end, the Cats look likely to nab a top seed and make another run at a Final Four appearance.

Left: Likely on his final NCAA tour, Buckeyes’ star Jared Sullinger OHIO STATE ATHLETICS

Ohio State Buckeyes

Led by Player-of-the-Year candidate Jared Sullinger, The Buckeyes look certain to be in the mix come tournament time. The 6-9 sophomore passed up the NBA Draft after an impressive freshman campaign, opting for another chance at March glory. Sullinger is a wide body who matches up well against bigger players and has no problems putting the team on his shoulders. He averages over 17 points and nine rebounds per contest. He doesn’t have to carry the whole load however, as senior William Buford and sophomore Deshaun Thomas are also capable of putting up points, and sophomore point


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Murray State Racers/ St. Mary’s Gaels

guard Aaron Craft is a tenacious defender who can wreak havoc in the opponent’s backcourt. The Buckeyes struggled at times on the road in the Big Ten, but a Sweet 16 run a year ago gave Sullinger and crew a taste of what it will take come dancing time this year.

Syracuse Orange

Many observers feel Coach Jim Boeheim’s Orange squad is nearly as talented as the Syracuse team that won it all back in 2003. And while Carmelo Anthony led the way nine years ago, this team doesn’t feature a marquee player. Instead, they feature depth and balance, with a stable of players who can be relied on to score. This is a situation Coach Boeheim – who became the third-winningest coach of all time during the season – actually prefers. “If you have more than one guy who can score and be a go-to guy, that’s important and I think that’s what we have,” he said. Inside, the Orange have relied on the presence of a 7-0 center from Brazil, the fabulously-named Fab Melo. While averaging fewer than 10 points per game, the sophomore leads the team in rebounding and blocked shots, and he is a difference maker defensively in the paint. Melo’s importance to the team was illustrated in late January when he served a three-game suspension and the team lost its first game of the season, falling 67-58 to Notre Dame. Kris Joseph and C.J. Fair team up with Melo to form a formidable frontcourt, while guards Brandon Triche, Dion Waiters and Scoop Jardine offer plenty for opposing teams to handle in the backcourt. The Orange also spent time atop the polls during the regular season, and there are some who still feel this is the best team in the country.

March Madness

If the traditional powerhouses leave you cold, or you have a soft spot for the little guy, the Murray State Racers and Saint Mary’s Gaels could be your dark horses in this year’s tournament. The Ohio Valley Conference’s Racers, led by 6-0 junior guard Isaiah Canaan, were the final undefeated team in Division I basketball in the regular season. The Gaels, meanwhile, did their damage in the West Coast Conference. Only time will tell if these underdogs have what it takes to play with the top teams on the big stage. JOE MURPHY/MURRAY STATE ATHLETICS

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Left: North Carolina’s John Henson, one of a host of future NBA stars on the Tar Heels roster © UNC ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

Missouri Tigers

The Tigers barely managed to crack the Top 25 in the preseason rankings, but surprised almost everyone by climbing as high as No. 2 in the nation. Led by senior guard Marcus Denmon, the Tigers come at teams hard and fast, with speed and determination. If they can continue their hot shooting, particularly from behind the arc, this team could be one to be reckoned with.

North Carolina Tar Heels

The Jayhawks are led by another Player-of-the-Year candidate in Thomas Robinson. The 6-10 junior combines with senior guard Tyshawn Taylor to make up one of the best inside-outside threats in the country. The ‘Rock Chalk, Jayhawks’ will go as far as Robinson’s broad shoulders will carry them. March is always a magical time for sports fans, and this year should be no different, with a host of intrigue, storylines, subplots and drama to play out. Not to mention some thrilling basketball. H

Win ESPN Goodies

Roy Williams’ Tar Heels were considered by many to be favorites when the season began, as they returned most of the key players from a team Those wonderful people at ESPN have donated a Sports Bag bulging that advanced to the Elite Eight last with workout merchandise for the good year. John Henson, Tyler Zeller and readers of The American – hurrah! (which Harrison Barnes lead a superstar means we can’t keep them ourselves – boo!). lineup that is one of the most potent scoring teams in the To lay claim to a Sports Bag, Boot Bag, Sports country. But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the Tar Towel, Water Bottle, Cap, T-Shirt, Hoody, Heels, as they lost two of Thermal Top, Stress Toys, Football Socks and three games early in the more, just answer the question on the right season to fall from the No. and then email your answer, contact details 1 ranking, and then went (name, address & daytime phone number) to on to suffer the indignity theamerican@blueedge.co.uk with ESPN of a 90-57 blowout loss to COMPETITION in the subject line; or send a Florida State in Janupost card to: ESPN COMPETITION, The American, ary. On paper, this team Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, seems to have too much Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK; to arrive by mid-day talent not to make an April 1. You must be 18 years old or over to enter this competition. Only impact on the tournament, but their hiccoughs in the one entry per person per draw. regular season have many The editor’s decision is final. No cash alternative. people wondering if they have the grit to live up to their potential come tourney time.

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Kansas Jayhawks

QUESTION: There are now British and American versions of ‘PTI’ on ESPN and ESPN America, but what do the letters ‘PTI’ stand for? a) Pardon The Introduction b) Pardon The Interruption c) Pardon The Interception


PHOTO: ALAN BONE

The American

Obituaries:s

Joe Paterno; Angelo Dundee

T

he sports community has been mourning the loss of two iconic Italian-Americans. Brooklyn-born football coaching legend Joe Paterno died January 22 following complications arising from treatment for lung cancer. He was 85. Coach Paterno was Penn State’s head football coach from 1966 to 2011, the longest tenure of any Division 1/FBS coach. In his final game in charge of the Nittany Lions he attained his 409th win, breaking Eddie Robinson’s Div. 1 record, and winning two national championships. Amongst many tributes following his death, former President George H. W. Bush said Paterno was ‘respected not only on the field of play but in life generally’.

North American Sports in the UK A Round-up of the Domestic Leagues

BASKETBALL: The Newcastle Eagles and surprising Worcester Wolves still top the table, but the Plymouth Raiders could be the BBL team to watch in March. After concentrating on their Cup run (and ultimately falling short against the Eagles), the Raiders have the chance for another go at the Eagles this month, with a catch-up schedule of eight Championship games in a little over four weeks. Presently lying fourth in the league despite playing six games less than present no.2 Worcester, Plymouth could become Newcastle’s chief rival by month-end. The Eagles and Raiders will also face each other in the BBL Trophy. Visit www.BBL.org.uk for more information.

GRIDIRON FOOTBALL: The British University American Football League begins its playoffs during March. Colleges expected to make the cut include Southampton, Hertfordshire, UWE, Loughborough, and Birmingham. Visit www.BUAFL.net for more. BASEBALL: Spring training is underway for baseball and software clubs in the UK. Visit www.theamerican.co.uk for more.

PHOTO: GARY BAKER

ICE HOCKEY: The Guildford Flames (pictured) and Belfast Giants extended leads over their respective competitions during February, with the Giants leading the Elite League, and the Flames still atop the English Premier Ice Hockey League. The Manchester Phoenix, on the heels of the Flames during January, now find themselves glancing over their shoulders at the Slough Jets, while the Sheffield Steelers and Nottingham Panthers make a late bid to chase down the Giants.

Angelo Mirena – better known as Angelo Dundee – was neither a boxer nor a promoter, but was an icon of 20th century boxing, and the most famous cornerman in the business. Philadelphia-born Dundee’s first world champion partnership was with Carmen Basilio, but he found his greatest fame as cornerman for Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) with whom he remained a close friend, before enjoying further success with Sugar Ray Leonard. Tales of Dundee loosening the ropes during ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’ (which he denied) and ripping a time-wasting tear in Ali’s glove against Henry Cooper (which he later admitted), only enhanced the Dundee legend.

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The American

Next Generation S

tanford’s 2012 class is one for fans to salivate over, with RB Barry Sanders Jr (son of the 1988 Heismanwinner) joined by blue chip tackles Kyle Murphy and Andrus Peat, and four other 4-star linemen, making theirs one of the all-time offensive line hauls. Add a defensive class that includes DE Aziz Shittu (rated by scouting services as a 4/5-star), and top-five prospects at CB and OLB, and the Cardinal guaranteed themselves not just life after Luck, but the top Pac-10 class. It was enough to make Jameis Winston, the top QB prospect and longtime Florida State commit, pause a couple of days before finally signing with the Seminoles. FSU also secured 5-star DT Eddie Goldman, plus LB Reggie Northrup and DBs Ron Darby and Colin Blake, regarded as 4-star recruits. However, they missed on stud DE Dante Fowler Jr, who flipped to the Florida Gators. Both the Gators and ‘Noles saw one get away when top in-state CB Tracy Howard signed with Miami, a stunning result for the NCAA investigation-hit Hurricanes. Alabama made their first big signing of the day at 8.30am with DT Korren Kirven, but not long after, saw former Tide commit RB Justin Taylor sign with Kentucky. Missouri’s switch to the SEC may have factored into landing the nation’s top offensive recruit, WR Dorial Green-Beckham, thought headed for Arkansas. The days leading up to National Signing Day had seen some highprofile flips and commits. UCLA netted

DT Ellis MCarthy and athlete Devin Fuller, neither of whom had been tied to UCLA before Jim Mora Jr’s arrival as Bruins head coach; Alabama snatched 5-star RB T.J. Yeldon from bitter rival Auburn; QB Gunner Kiel, having once commited to Indiana, switched again, from LSU to Notre Dame. On the day itself, there was worse news for LSU, as LB Torshiro Davis (Shreveport Woodlawn) flipped to Texas. Texas quietly had another great recruiting class (Scout.com’s pick No.1, though most of their work was done before NSD), but the surprise top-3 class was Urban Meyer’s at Ohio State. Meyer, appointed only two months previously, was very active pre-NSD, but made some Big 10 noise on the day with stealing OT Kyle Dodson from former Lineman U, Wisconsin. However, the biggest surprise on the day may have been WR Deaontay Greenberry, seemingly sealed and delivered to Notre Dame, deciding to sign with Houston. Another WR, Jordan Payton, created some late NSD waves when he signed with UCLA. He had looked likely to become part of an on-the-up haul for Washington, and had originally been touted for USC. Southern Cal had a fine signing

SHAWN HUBBARD

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day, including two fives and a four from the state of Florida alone. Florida Assistant Coach D.J. Durkin was selected by Rivals.com as their recruiter of the year, while Scout/Fox SportsNet chose Lance Anderson of Stanford (who also gets our nod, and so earns his head in a bubble, thus:)

Below: Daryl Waud catches a touchdown to help the World team defeat Team USA – for the first time – in the 2012 International Bowl in Austin Texas. The World team won 35-29, despite a late rally from Team USA. The game, for under-19 players, again coincided with National Signing Day. While DE/TE Waud (#99) will play at Western University, safety Ryan Reid (#25), is headed for Baylor.

DON FERIA/ STANFORDPHOTO.COM

National Signing Day heralded the next wave of NCAA Football stars. Richard L Gale identifies some of the winners


The American

Suppliers of quality products and services hand-picked for you ACCOUNTANCY & TAX BDO LLP The UK member firm of the world’s fifth largest accountancy organisation. 55 Baker Street, London W1U 7EU 020 7486 5888 info@bdo.co.uk www.bdo.uk.com Jaffe & Co., incorp. American Tax International Comprehensive tax preparation and compliance service for U.S. expatriates in the UK and Europe. America House, 54 Hendon Lane, London N3 1TT 0800 085 1537 or 020 8346 5237 www.americantaxonline.com Xerxes Associates LLP Fixed Fee US & UK Individual Tax Compliance, Consulting & Planning. Tel: +44(0)207 411 9026 Fax: +44(0)207 411 9051 www.xerxesllp.com

GROCERY Panzer’s Family-run deli in St. John’s Wood, established over 50 years. 13-19 Circus Road, St John’s Wood, London NW8 6PB 020 7722 8596 www.panzers.co.uk Lidgate Butchers Organic meats from a 150 year old business now run by the the fifth generation of the same family. 110 Holland Park Avenue, London W11 4UA Tel. 0207 727 8243 www.lidgates.com

LEGAL Kingsley Napley LLP Family lawyers with particular experience in dealing with cases involving Americans living here and abroad. 020 7814 1200 www.kingsleynapley.co.uk

ANTIQUES & COLLECTABLES

MEDICAL & DENTAL

Stephen T Taylor Your American stamp dealer in Britain since 1995. 5 Glenbuck Road, Surbiton, Surrey KT6 6BS 020 8390 9357 info@stephentaylor.co.uk www.stephentaylor.co.uk

The American Women’s Health Centre (AWHC) OB GYN Based in the West End of London, at the heart of medical excellence in Britain. Third Floor, 214 Great Portland Street, London W1W 5QN 020 7390 8433 info@AWHC.co.uk www.awhc.co.uk

CLEANING SERVICES Shine Cleaning Inc. Ltd Successful for over 20 years in the US - now over here in Britain. All kinds of cleaning: Residential, Commercial, Medical, One-off or Contract. 0800 206 2212 OR 078 2753 7215 www.shinecleaninginc.co.uk

EDUCATION Florida State University in UK Over 50 years of experience in international education. 99 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LA 020 7813 3223 www.international.fsu.edu

Coffee Break Answers

1 A British soldier salutes with the palm of the hand facing forwards. Americans’ and British sailors’ palms face down 2 They gatecrashed his first state dinner and were photographed shaking his hand 3 Hair: it’s split ends 4 Robin and the 7 Hoods 5 Judaism, Christianity and Islam 6 Stephanie Meyer 7 Jacqueline Bissett 8 Dick van Dyke 9 John Hurt (he played Kane) 10 Albert Einstein 11 The feet 12 The middle ear (in English they are the hammer, anvil, and stirrup) 13 He is an economist 14 Peace 15 Babylonians 16 Beards

Competition Winner

The winner of the tickets to the National Theatre’s Travelling Light was Todd Bachinski of London SW10

RESTAURANTS La Capanna The Finest Italian Food served in the loveliest of Surrey’s settings. 48 High Street, Cobham, Surrey KT11 3EF 01932 862 121 www.lacapanna.co.uk

To find out whether you’re eligible to advertise your products and services here, and for rates, call Sabrina Sully on +44 (0)1747 830520. You’ll reach Americans living in and visiting the UK as well as Britons who like American culture and products.

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The American March 2012  

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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