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April 2012

THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE

Est. 1976

®

£2.80 www.theamerican.co.uk

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

LAURIE METCALF The great American actress interviewed

Win Jeff Dunham prize package including London tickets The Boys of Summer are back: Major League Baseball preview


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The American ®

Issue 708 – April 2012 PUBLISHED BY SP MEDIA FOR

Blue Edge Publishing Ltd.

Old Byre House, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK Telephone all departments: +44 (0)1747 830520 Publisher: Michael Burland editor@theamerican.co.uk 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 Laurie Metcalf (photo by Sheila Rock). Circular Inset: Albert Pujols (photo © Angels Baseball). Square Inset: Jeff Dunham

Welcome Y

ou’re an American citizen, you file and pay taxes, you’re registered to vote and exercise your franchise regularly. Your kids are also citizens, so when they come of age they’ll automatically have the right to vote too, right? Wrong. Or rather, not necessarily. Unlike death and taxes, this right to vote is not certain and it varies from state to state. To make sure your family enjoys one of the major benefits of being a citizen of the United States of America, read the feature starting on page 12. It’s essential reading, but there’s a lot of fun among the serious articles this month too.We’ve managed to bag for you not one but two great Competitions and a Reader Offer – a ticket and goodies pack from Jeff Dunham, a sports bag full of prizes from ESPN, and free entry to The Decorative Fair. If you don’t already see The American every month, why not take out a subscription and we’ll send a regular copy to you or your business. Why not recommend The American to friends or relatives who are missing out? Enjoy your magazine,

Michael Burland, Editor editor@theamerican.co.uk

SOME OF THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS

Dr. Alison Holmes is The American’s political ‘Transatlantic Columnist’, an Associate Fellow of Oxford University and an Okie now based in California via London and Yale.

Estelle Lovatt is an author, arts correspondent, radio producer, presenter and tutor on arts courses. A British citizen, she is married to American journalist Charlie Woolf.

Jay B. Webster is a professional sports journalist based in Dublin, Ireland. This month he previews all six MLB divisions evaluating each and every team’s chances

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 708 • April 2012

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News Essential info on the IRS, SSNs, Emergency Numbers.... and President Clinton becoming an official Wonk

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Diary Dates Spring brings out the best in Britain. Enjoy our selection of events

PHOTO JOHAN PERSSON

12 Can Junior Vote? U.S. citizens who have never lived in the United States can be denied their right to vote, but help is at hand in our useful feature 15 How Many Votes for Charisma? There’s another election coming soon, and the London Mayoral race depends just as much on charisma as the American Presidential campaign

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16 The Cricket-playing American Civil War Hero The first player of the definitive English game to die while on active service during wartime was, it turns out, a ‘Yank’ 18 My Word! Would you want your MP running a surgery? Actually it’s a good idea! 20 Arts Choice Modernists vie with Old Masters in the arts world this month – and a sculpture causes a furore in Sarah Palin’s home town

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The American

24 Wining & Dining London’s new super-chef is an American

31 Coffee Break Rest your feet, exercise your gray cells 32 Music Enjoy some great gigs

MANUEL HARLAN

30 A Pint-Sized Problem Problems for American cooks in Britain

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34 Reviews Two books to make you feel proud to be American, and the hottest shows on the London stage reviewed

42 Interview: Laurie Metcalf A great American actress in one of the great American plays

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44 Politics The campaign grinds on, and on

50 Sports Jay B. Webster previews the MLB season; Jeremy Lanaway previews the NHL postseason; and Herts Baseball pitcher Robbie Unsell is our Expat Profile

© NEW YORK YANKEES

49 Drive Time The world’s oldest motorsports track is here in the UK... arguably

PHOTO COURTESY OF CITY YEAR BOSTON

37 Competition: Jeff Dunham A fantastic prize package – tickets, DVD and a talking Jeff Dunham puppet doll!

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54 Win an ESPN Bag of Goodies Fun stuff from your favorite TV station 57 American Organizations Useful and fun groups for you to join 65 The A-List Quality products and services 3


The American

IRS Email Scam Warning

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everal readers have told us that they have received an email seemingly from the Internal Revenue Service, instructing them to complete a form allowing them to receive interest without tax being deducted. The U.S. Embassy in London has confirmed to The American that this email is a scam: “The email was not issued by the IRS. A form W-8Ben is presented to the payer of interest or dividends and not to the IRS. Normally, an e-mail of this type would come from a broker, not the IRS.” The Subject line reads: IRS NEWYEAR UPDATE, and it states that it is from IRS <auto.reply@irs.gov>. It says “If a valid and up to date completed W-8BEN FORM together with a copy of your international passport is not received from you after 7 days from the day of the receipt of this letter you will be listed as undocumented, resulting in the standard rate of tax of 30% being applied on any dividend or interest income received on your investment.” If you receive a similar email, you should not reply to it or open the attachment.

A genuine W-8BEN form

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Smart, passionate, focused and engaged – the winner of the AU’s new Wonk Of The Year Award COURTESY AMERICAN UNIVERSITY

Bill Clinton Named AU’s Inaugural Wonk of the Year

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merican University’s Kennedy Political Union (KPU – a student organization named for the Kennedy family) has voted former President Clinton its inaugural Wonk of the Year. He was presented with his award prior to making a speech, ‘Embracing our Common Humanity’, which he delivered to the AU community January 27. The new award recognizes someone who embodies the attributes of a Wonk, which they define as someone smart, passionate, focused and engaged, who uses their knowledge and influence to create meaningful change on the most important issues and challenges facing our world. “In the end, there’s one true policy wonk – President Clinton. He’s known as the policy wonk because he’s so knowledgeable about policy and was able to use that in a variety of ways to impact the country and the world,” said KPU director Alex Kreger. A 1992 Baltimore Sun reference to then candidate Clinton and running mate Al Gore as a “double-wonk ticket” cemented Clinton’s wonk status. AU recognizes President Clinton for: creating, through his Clinton

Foundation, a network through which great minds can connect with others passionate about creating change; prompting others to take on the world’s toughest challenges; and improving the lives of more than 400 million people in 180 countries.

Emergency 112

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t’s an emergency. You’re in Europe. Dial 911! Oh no, that’s in the States. Er... 110? That’s the German Police – but the Missing Children service in Belgium and Fire emergencies in Norway. 113 is the State Police in Italy and Luxembourg but Medical in Norway. 114 is Police in Denmark and Sweden but gas leaks in Georgia (former USSR). In France you’d call 115 for homeless issues, but 17 for Police, 15 for Ambulance and 18 for Fire. The UK has 999 for all the main emergency services. It’s confusing for the locals, let alone expats who may be traveling between European countries on business or vacation. Thankfully there’s a number that you can use in every EU member state, for all emergency calls: 112, which works alongside the various national numbers, which will not change.


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Buying & Selling USA Stamps, Covers & Postal History Philatex Stamp & Cover Show Royal Horticultural Hall, Greycoat St, London SW1P 2QD, April 19-21 Stephen T. Taylor 5 Glenbuck Road Surbiton, Surrey KT6 6BS Phone: 020 8390 9357 Fax: 020 8390 2235 info@stephentaylor.co.uk www.stephentaylor.co.uk Your American Dealer in Britain

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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

EMBASSY NEWS

www.usembassy.org.uk

Applying for a Social Security Number (Part 2)

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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 you are a foreign national who wants to work in the U.S.A.; an American who has lost your Social Security Card or forgotten your Social Security number; you’ve been married or divorced and need to change your name on Social Security records; or you have never been been assigned a Social Security Number, read on. 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. I have obtained a U.S. Visa that allows me to work in the U.S. Can I apply for a Social Security Card before I travel to the U.S.? If you have obtained a U.S. Visa that allows you to work in the U.S. you must apply for a Social Security Card after you enter the U.S. You may apply at the nearest Social Security Office. You can obtain the address of the nearest Social Security Office at http://socialsecurity. gov under the heading “Find A Social Security Office”. You will need to com-

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plete an Application for a Social Security Card, Form SS-5-FS, and provide the original documents listed on it.

I have married or divorced and need to change my name on my Social Security records, how do I do that?

I have lost or misplaced my Social Security Card; do I need to replace the card?

Complete an Application for a Social Security Card, Form SS-5-FS, and provide the following documents:

A Social Security Card itself is not needed. Knowing your number is what is important. All employers, financial institutions, educational institutions, the Internal Revenue Service etc, verify the Social Security Number with the Social Security Administration, regardless of whether or not a Social Security Card is presented. In part the reason for this is the possibility of altered or fraudulent Social Security Cards being presented.

Proof of the name change: Marriage or divorce decree. If the marriage or divorce certificate is over 2 years old or does not contain biographical data such as a date of birth or age, you must also submit proof of identity in your OLD name. If you have no identification in your old name, you must write a statement as to why you do not have such proof of identity and submit proof of identity in your NEW name.

I have an SSN, but do not remember the number. How can I find out my Social Security number?

Proof of identity in Old Name, as required:  Current or expired U.S. or U.K. passport, must be signed  Driving license  Current or expired U.S. military identification

Complete the Request for Verification of a Social Security Number form. The form can be emailed or mailed to the Federal Benefits Unit at the London Embassy who will mail you a verification of your Social Security Number within 3 business days. To ensure your privacy they are unable to disclose the social security number to you by telephone or email.

Proof of identity in New Name, as required:  Current U.S. or U.K. passport, must be signed  Driving license  Current U.S. military identification


No SSN? It is very rare for someone who was born in the U.S. not to have been assigned a Social Security Number. The most common reason for such an occurrence is a child born in the U.S. who moved abroad while very young. You must submit documentation to prove the allegation of absence from the U.S. as the reason a Social Security Number was never assigned. The documentation must be comprehensive and date from the time the person departed the U.S. to the present to provide sufficient evidence. The documentation can include:  school records such as report cards or a letter from the school confirming dates of attendance  travel documents such as current or canceled passports (U.S. or other)  employment records  medical records  proof of registration with a doctor or clinic If you need to apply for an SSN for a child, see the article in last month’s issue (March). H

Renew your passport now!

The Embassy is expecting a busy July and August with thousands of additional U.S. citizens traveling to Britain for the Olympic Games so applicants may encounter delays. Check your passport’s expiry date: if it expires soon, renew ahead of the rush. Don’t forget that many countries require passports to be valid for 3-12 months after the date you enter the country. Most adult passport renewals can be done through the mail – to find out whether you are eligible to renew by mail, see the passport services by mail section on the Embassy website.

Letters

The American

Will Obama Stand?

Sir, I believe Obama was picked to run the first time with a specific job of convincing the American people that after eight years of Bush, policies would change. And America would become a “kinder and gentler��� place. He, and his oligarchic promoters did a good job, and Obama was elected. But once in office he would resort, under cover of that reputation, to continuing the same policies that prevailed under Bush. It has taken a long time for that to become evident, but evident it is becoming as each new day dawns, with each new scandalous act: health care, continuation and expansion of the wars, unqualified support for Israel, collapsing economy and transfer of wealth to the elite.

PHOTO: PETE SOUZA

I think Obama has done an excellent job for the role he was given. However, now that his mask is slipping, I believe he will not be able to pull it off again, and I think his handlers think that too. So here is what happens: the real political power do not want the Tea Party set to win this election, which is possible as Obama loses following. He elects (is chosen) not to run for a second term; a replacement is chosen – maybe Hillary or some other insider – who wins, because all the corporate money will go into a PR job like the last one, convincing everyone that change is again on the way. Bingo! Gene Schulman Fellow, Overseas American Academy

A New Medal for the Olympic Year Sir, In preparation for the 2012 Olympics, I would like to suggest that the powers that be institute a new Diamond Medal, to be awarded for breaking world records and for unprecedented staying power, commitment and dedication. Someone who could win it twice is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. In 2012 she will have been Monarch for 60 years. And in November 2007 she had been a wife for 60 years. How many of us have held down a job for 60 years and combined a career with being a mother? She is always on time, never appears stressed and is always unutterably charming. Some see her as cold, formal, without the ‘people’s princessness’ of Diana. Yet those who get as close as royal protocol admits testify to a friendly and kind woman. Is she the only one in the history of Great Britain – or the world – to achieve this double diamond lifetime? Queen Victoria achieved 64 years on the throne, but with the untimely death of Albert only 21 as wife. George III managed 58 years as monarch but was only 57 years married. Moreover, George lost the American colonies, whereas Elizabeth found the Commonwealth. Jane Aris, Purley-on-Thames

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The American

Diary Dates

Your Guide To The Month Ahead

See our full events listing online at www.theamerican.co.uk

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

Scottish Golf Show

Bath, UK www.bathinfashion.co.uk March 25 to 31

Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, Edinburgh www.thescottishgolfshow.co.uk March 30 to April 1

An action packed week with plenty of events, fashion shows, talks and workshops that will appeal to fashionistas young and old including Manolo Blahnik in conversation with Iain R Webb and a talk by Matteo Alessi, the great grandson of Giovanni Alessi.

With the new golf season underway, the Scottish Golf Show returns after a three year absence to display the latest equipment and accessories for golfers from big brand names. Putting practice areas, new club demonstrations and free lessons from PGA pros are also all available over the three day event.

Rigoletto at the Royal Opera House The Royal Opera House, Covent Gardens, London WC2E 9DD www.roh.org.uk March 30 to April 21

Messiah on Good Friday Royal Albert Hall, London www.royalalberthall.com April 6 The Royal Choral Society presents its renowned Good Friday performance of Handel’s Messiah in its 140th Anniversary Season, featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and a stellar line-up of soloists. Begins at 2:30pm.

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Verdi’s Rigoletto is one of the most well known and enduring operas of history. Telling the tale of a court jester who seeks revenge against his master for the seduction of his daughter, Rigoletto is rightly remembered for its arias, from La donna é mobile to Caro Nome.

Easter at RHS Hyde Hall RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Chelmsford, Essex, CM3 8ET www.rhs.org.uk/Gardens/Hyde-Hall March 31 to April 15 An Easter egg hunt with a difference based on creatures that hatch from eggs, plus kite making, special welly walks and Easter crowns.

Medieval Archery Muster at Corfe Castle Corfe Castle, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5EZ www.nationaltrust.org.uk/corfe-castle 01929 481294 March 31 to April 15 The Wolfshead Bowmen bring the past to life with a medieval encampment, demonstrations of combat with swords, skilled archery displays, talks and havea-go sessions.

Titanic Belfast Festival Titanic Belfast, Queen’s Road, Queen’s Island, Belfast, BT3 9DT www.titanicbelfast.com March 31 to April 22 The Titanic Experience marks the 100th anniversary of the ocean liner’s first journey with interactive displays, nine galleries and live experience centres. A vivid experience of the ship’s life, from its construction to its infamous voyage across the Atlantic and sinking. The Titanic Belfast Festival commemorates the centenary with special events taking place between 31st March and 22nd April.

Easter at RHS Harlow Carr RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Crag Lane, Harrogate, HG3 1QB www.rhs.org.uk/Harlow-Carr-Garden April 1 to April 15 Challenging and fun activities including den building, bush craft and the chance to learn survival skills. For those looking for a chocolatey challenge the Easter bunny will also be at Harlow Carr over the Easter weekend, from April 6 to 9. Children can visit him in his burrow and collect an Easter egg hunt sheet, to help them search for the giant eggs around the garden.


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The American

Easter Fun at Bletchley Park

RHS Rosemoor

Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes www.bletchleypark.org.uk April 4 to 11

RHS Garden Rosemoor, Great Torrington, Devon EX38 8PH www.rhs.org.uk/Gardens/Rosemoor April A host of activities including kitemaking workshops, Easter Daffodil Trail and a family Adventure Walk.

The Mountain Goats with Anonymous 4 Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS www.barbican.org.uk April 2 The Mountain Goats come to London with new songs by founder John Darnielle and a special arrangement with Canada’s acclaimed composer, Owen Pallett. The Bloomington, Indiana born Darnielle will peform alongside New York’s own Anonymous 4.

The 2012 International Jazz Festival returns to Wales with star acts lined up including John Miller (nephew of Glen Miller) and his orchestra, Gabrielle Ducomble, The Pasadena Roof Orchestra, rising U.S. jazz star B D Lenz, and many more.

Peter & the Wolf Live

Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS www.barbican.org.uk April 15

Southbank Centre, London SE1 8XX www.southbankcentre.co.uk April 8 to 9 Narrated by Tony and Olivier nominated actor Mackenzie Crook (The Office, Pirates of the Carribean), the show also incorporates specially commissioned ‘animal’ poetry by Artist in Residence, Simon Armitage.

PHOTO: BILL TYNE

Nothe Fort, Barrack Road, Weymouth, Dorset, DT4 8UF www.nothefort.org.uk April 8 Pirates invade Nothe Fort with treasure hunts, cannon firing, a fancy dress competition and a pirate ghost walk.

WWE Wrestlemania Revenge Tour

Putney Bridge, London, SW6 3UH April 7 The 158th Oxford versus Cambridge Boat Race. The two universities start at Putney Bridge and finish just before Chiswick Bridge, good viewing points can be found at www.theboatrace.org.

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The Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl, Wales www.porthcawl-jazz-festival.com April 13 to 15

Family Fun Wednesdays on April 4 and 11, as well as the Park’s annual Easter Eggstravaganza on Bank Holiday Monday, April 9. Designed for children from age four upwards, Family Fun Wednesdays feature a range of activities, including crafts, spy workshops, and lessons in how to send Morse code.

Easter Pirates at Nothe Fort

The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race

Porthcawl International Jazz Festival

Various, UK www.wwe.com/revengetouruk April 12 to 21 The WWE returns to the UK after the biggest event of the year, Wrestlemania, with the Wrestlemania Revenge Tour. Stopping off at arenas across England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland, see all your favourite wrestling superstars in action as they seek to settle old scores.

The Sinking of the Titanic

Inspired by the story that the ship’s string ensemble continued to play as the ship went down, this special concert marks the 100th anniversary of the tragedy.

Alternative Fashion Week 2012 Spitalfields Traders Market, Crispin Place, Brushfield Street, London, E1 6AA www.alternativearts.co.uk/AFW April 16 to 20 Vibrant, wild and wonderful designs from young, up and coming designers. This is a week of risky, edgy, experimental styles, designed to support new concepts and present imaginative, sustainable ideas for the future of fashion.

London Marathon and Exhibition London www.virginlondonmarathon.com April 18 to 22 The largest ever London Marathon Exhibition will take place at Excel London this year, with a wide variety of products on show for 2012’s budding Marathon runners. The Marathon kicks off on the morning of 22nd April.


READER OFFER Budleigh Jazz Festival

The American

FREE ENTRY TO

Budleigh Public Hall, Budleigh Salterton, Devon www.budleighjazzfestival.org April 20 to 22 Big names include Rhode Island born Scott Hamilton, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Claire Martin, and Alan Barnes.

St George’s Day Various, England April 23 Events will take place across England to celebrate St George’s Day. Across London, the red cross of St George will be flying, with the occasion being marked by the National Gallery, the Royal Air Force Museum, and a concert of English music in Trafalgar Square.

Scottish Ballet: A Streetcar Named Desire Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4TN www.sadlerswells.com April 26 to 28 Tennessee William’s enduring play, in collaboration with U.S. film and theatre director Nancy Meckler, set to a specially commissioned jazz-inspired score.

Sundance Festival – London

April 24 to 29, 2012 Around 140 antiques dealers and specialists in 20th century design gather at The Spring Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair from around the UK and Europe to exhibit an exciting and well-curated selection of stock with the emphasis on pieces for interior – and garden – decoration. Affordable decorative accessories juxtapose fine Georgian furniture. Find unusual and practical, wellpriced antiques for country and town houses. interesting pictures prints and works of art of all periods glass and ceramics textiles and cushions mirrors and lighting are particular specialities

of the Fair unusual antique and vintage garden ornaments

are an important element of the Fair, with statuary, urns and planters, stoneware, architectural elements, seating and smaller decorative items The Fair is a fun, relaxed and informal event, attended by leading UK and international designers such as Michael Smith (decorator to the White House), Colefax & Fowler, Nicky Haslam, Ralph Lauren Home, Candy & Candy and Lady Bamford of Daylesford Farm. Other well-known visitors spotted shopping at the fair include Helena Bonham Carter, Sir Paul Smith, Jemima Khan, Nicole Farhi, Karen Millen and Jeremy Irons.

The O2 Arena, London www.sundance-london.com April 26 to 29

HOW TO GET YOUR FREE TICKETS

The best in independent films. Festival films include Finding North, a documentary about food poverty in America, and Shut Up And Play The Hits, a documentary covering LCD Soundsystem’s final concert. Also a panel discussion on UK and US film making, and how the styles adopted by filmakers from each country have affected films in both nations.

The Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair April 24 to 29, 2012 Battersea Evolution, Battersea Park, London SW11 4NJ www.decorativefair.com

Tickets are usually £10 but readers of The American can get in for free. To get your free tickets email decorativefair@theamerican.co.uk and your ticket will be emailed to you. Each ticket allows free entry for two people, and you can forward the email to friends (or print tickets off for them) so they can go free too.

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The American

Can Junior Vote?

U.S. citizens who have never lived in the United States can be denied their right to vote. But there is a reliable workaround, and help is available, says Tony Paschall

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he line of Sunday brunch customers stretched half a block beyond Breakfast in America, a diner on Paris’s Left Bank. As I walked up and down the line holding a copy of the Voting Assistance Guide with its stars-and-stripes cover, verifying that all the U.S. citizens there were registered to vote, I got familiar responses. A tourist couple from Colorado asked how expatriate Americans vote in U.S. elections. By Internet? No, that’s not possible; for security reasons, they generally vote by mail, I replied, but today some U.S. voters can cast ballots by fax or email. A sleepy-eyed college student grumpily acknowledged she was American – I waited until she had some coffee before troubling her about her voter registration status. A Frenchman asked if I was a government official or representative of the U.S. Embassy. No, I explained. As a Voting Assistance Officer, I am a civilian volunteer, merely trained to assist voters register and provide information. A young man, one of a family who had been chattering in rapidfire French, glanced at my pile of voter registration forms and asked in a perfect American accent, “I’m an American citizen, and 18 today. Can I vote?” “Of course. Happy birthday!” The simple one-page form used by Americans living overseas to register to vote and request absentee ballots is called the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), because it was once printed on postcard stock.

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Today, you can fill it out online or download it from a number of sites designed to help American voters abroad, such as www.OverseasVoteFoundation.org. But like most things bureaucratic, when it bumps up against real life, there are complications. And my young 18-year-old’s story – let’s call him Jack – is typical. I helped him fill out his name and birthdate, then said, “Here you enter the address of the last place you lived in the United States.” Jack looked at his mother in bewilderment. Elections in the United States are administered by the states. And there is no Constitutional guarantee ensuring U.S. citizens the right to vote. The U.S. Constitution has been amended since the country’s founding and now guarantees that you cannot be deprived of your right to vote because of your race or sex, but you may still face other hurdles. One such is a residency requirement. As overseas voters, our right to vote in federal elections is protected by the Uniformed and Overseas Civilians Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). When the act was passed in 1986, Congress determined that Americans living abroad would be entitled to vote in federal elections using the address of their last U.S. domicile, the physical address of the home where they lived immediately before leaving the country, even if they no longer have any ties to that place or any intent to return there in the future. This determines where

your ballot will be counted, which precinct, which congressional district. A U.S. citizen can live overseas, for whatever reason, indefinitely and continue to vote at her last address. “But,” Jack said, “I’ve never lived in the States. What address do I use? Can I even vote?”

Non-Domiciled Citizens

The State Department reports there were over half a million U.S. citizens born abroad in the decade 20002009. The majority probably will return to the U.S. with their parents before they reach voting age. But thousands – like Jack – won’t. Actually, no one knows how many such citizens there are, because Americans abroad are not counted in the U.S. Census, nor are they required to register with the State Department. Current estimates put the number of U.S. citizens living outside the country at about 6.3 million; that’s higher than the population of Missouri, the 17th largest state and almost five times the population of the bellwether state of New Hampshire. In legalese Jack is known as a “non-domiciled citizen.” In plain language this means he could be prevented from voting... even though he is indisputably a U.S. citizen, has a U.S. birth certificate and passport, is required to register with the U.S. Selective Service system, and file and pay U.S. income taxes regardless of where he lives, anywhere in the world, for his entire lifetime.


The American

Currently 22 states and the District of Columbia explicitly allow non-domiciled children of U.S. citizens from their jurisdictions to vote using their parents’ address: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington State, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. For individual states’ provisions go to https://vhd.overseasvotefoundation.org/unified/ index.php?_m=knowledgebase&group=ovf&_a=viewarticle&kb articleid=1217&departmentid=1&nav=0,45

Stories like Jack’s arouse two contradictory reactions: On one hand, Jack is the victim of an injustice, a flagrant violation of what all Americans view as our inalienable right to a voice in our government. A citizen has the right to vote. Period. On the other hand, some view him as a foreigner. He speaks a foreign language like a native, and having grown up overseas, he will probably never master American culture as well as his age-mates in Duluth or Bakersfield, even if he attended international or American schools. Why would someone choose not to live in the United States anyway? This is the attitude that Lucy Laederich, who serves on the Board of Advisors of the Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF), diplomatically calls “resistance.” One solution to this dilemma would be a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote to all American citizens, as proposed by Maryland Senator and constitutional law professor Jamie Raskin and U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. among others. In a globalized age it sounds sensible, but the amendment process is long and complex. Another avenue toward more equitable access to the franchise is through harmonization of state laws. This is the path the Uniform Law Commis-

sion has adopted since 2010, when it approved the final draft of the Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act (UMOVA). One of the Act’s provisions would allow non-domiciled citizens to vote using the address of their U.S. citizen parent(s): U.S. citizens overseas would pass on to their children the right to vote at their address, just as they pass on citizenship. Laederich helped draft UMOVA. It’s advantage, she says, is that as the act is passed in each state’s legislature, it takes effect immediately for citizens of that state. Unfortunately, state legislators can amend the act before passing it. Misconceptions about patriotism get mixed up with the issue of residency. In Utah, for example, UMOVA passed, but the provision guaranteeing the vote to nondomiciled children of Utah residents was eliminated. “American young people living overseas have the same responsibilities as other Americans,” Laederich says, “They should have

the same rights. If the United States will not let its citizens living overseas vote, it should stop taxing them.” In the 38 states not listed above, the law is silent on the question of the voting rights of non-domiciled citizens. So the door is not closed to you if your parents are not from one of the listed states, particularly as local election officials enjoy certain discretionary powers when reviewing applications. Often they’re less “resistant.” If you’re a U.S. citizen who has never lived in the United States, you should not hesitate to file a voter registration application and absentee ballot request. There is no risk involved. Here is what to do...

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The American

First go to www.overseasvotefoundation. org and click Register to Vote. Then: 1) In the “Last U.S. Address” section, enter your parents’ last U.S. address. 2) Toward the end of the process you will be asked for “Additional Information.” There you should include a statement like the following, clearly indicating your parent’s ties to the state: “I am a U.S. citizen who has never lived in the U.S. My (father/mother/legal guardian) (your parent’s/legal guardian’s full name) is eligible to vote in (the state name), and I have used the same voting residence claimed by (him/her) in (the city, state).” 3) If your state is not one of the 22 listed above, it can be helpful if you provide any further information about your ties to the state — other family members living there, etc. And it’s not a bad idea to include a brief statement about why being able to vote is important to you. 4) Print, sign and send the form to the address of your local election office as indicated by the system. But first save a copy of your form for your records. 5) Several weeks after submitting your application, contact your local election official in the U.S. to verify that it was received and accepted. You can find contact information for election bureaus around the U.S. in Overseas Vote Foundation’s Election Official Directory https://www.overseasvotefoundation. org/vote/eod.htm. An increasing number of states give voters online access to their voter databases, so you may be able to check your registration status yourself. Finally, the Federal Voting Assistance program offers toll-free calling to the United States from over 70 countries around the world http://www.fvap.gov/ contact/tollfreephone.html. Dial the number as indicated; you will get an

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operator at the FVAP. Then just ask for your call to be patched through to your county, parish, or township election bureau. If you have any questions, you can always get personal assistance through the OVF Voter Help Desk. 6) If you discover your voter registration application has been refused, get help! Do not hesitate to contact the Overseas Vote Foundation, the Federal Voting Assistance Program, the Voting Officer at your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, or an overseas citizens advocacy group such as American Citizens Abroad or the Association of Americans Resident Overseas.

Assistance Wins the Vote

In a recent poll of civilian Voting Assistant Officers I asked how many non-domiciled citizens whose applications had been refused were never able to vote, despite our help? Not one! But, as Laederich pointed out, we only see the voters we assist.

How many other U.S. citizens living overseas never try to register? How many are there whose applications are refused and simply give up? What about Jack? His mother interjected, “None of my children have ever lived in the United States.” I replied, “No problem. Jack, here on the form you write in your mother’s last U.S. address.” And with that, Jack’s older brothers and sisters decided to file voter registration forms, too. Although their state had not explicitly passed legislation allowing them to vote, at last word their local election official had ruled in their favor, and all of them are now registered U.S. voters. But a citizen’s right to vote should not depend on an election official’s goodwill. The U.S. typically scores miserably among the Western democracies for voter turnout. When Americans living in the country fail by the millions to show up at the polls on election day, we would do well to applaud young U.S citizens abroad who care enough to take advantage of, and preserve, this fundamental American right. H Tony Paschall lives in Paris and is a Voting Assistance Officer, the nonpartisan Overseas Vote Foundation’s Program Manager for Voter Education and Support, and founder of the French nonprofit Union of Overseas Voters. tony@overseasvotefoundation.org and/or voterhelpdesk@overseasvotefoundation.org American Citizens Abroad (ACA): http://www.aca.ch/ Association of Americans Resident Abroad (AARO): http://aaro.org/ Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP): http://fvap.gov Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF): www.overseasvotefoundation.org


The American

CHARISMA?

How Many Votes For

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With the London Mayoral election upcoming, Mary Bailey ponders leaders with that indescribable ‘something’

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came from nowhere but died young, adored by millions of her ‘shirtless ones’. All done by charisma. For John F Kennedy charisma perhaps meant sex appeal and power, but that could not apply to Admiral Nelson, a nondescript little man whose men vied to die for him. And there was Mary Queen of Scots, obviously doomed, yet her prison had to be constantly changed as she charmed her jailors to a dangerous extent. How political party managers must long for a candidate with absolute charisma when even a little helps. Well, in London this time they may have two. People don’t have to be prominent to have this gift: one of our local bus drivers has it; regulars beam on him as they board and ask about his baby or some aspect of his welfare. A friend’s father always had people willing to lend him money, which he wasted and never repaid, and wife and ex-wives taking him out to lunch. Often he was described as a ‘really nice fellow’. Perhaps when we turn to children we gain more insight. A child can possess charisma and cannot have learned it. They have not had time. While charm in adults causes other adults to turn towards them, children are more instinctive and recognise

the dangers of these creatures among them who will grow up like card players with a hand of trumps. They may not take to them at all. If it is not entirely looks, power, money, sex, talent... what’s left? Just this instinct, knowing how, without effort or training, to please, to make people feel good. Memory perhaps helps. The man who comes into a party and says to some woman there, ‘Elspeth, how lovely! It seems ages since we met, you were worried about your little boy’s chicken pox’. He remembers her name, does not mention time but a rather endearing little incident. A second fellow may just say ‘ I think we have met before about 20 years ago’ Nicer but not special. So, if you attend something like a Christening, name giving ceremony, or first birthday and you happen to spot a Good Fairy there, take her aside and ask her to bestow this one gift on the world’s newcomer. Charisma. This baby may need nothing else. H

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t may have escaped your notice – it is, after all, smaller, quieter (and cheaper) than the U.S. Presidential event – but at the beginning of May there’s another election this side of the Atlantic: the election of the Mayor of Greater London; nothing to do with the Lord Mayor of the City of London, whose Show we recently described, but the political figurehead of the capital. This year there are two leading candidates, Boris Johnson for the Conservative Party and Ken Livingstone for the Labour Party. It’s neck and neck at the moment. Despite their considerable differences, the two men have some similarities. For example, rarely for a politician, neither brings his wife, partner or family to the foreground in electioneering. The two men have very different political views but they share a gift: they both have, in the view of most people, charisma. And what is that? What is charm? I do not think we really know. Charisma, like money, is neutral, and can be used for good or bad. Historically we have Adolf Hitler persuading people to do awful things, and Eva (Evita) Peron, the second wife of the dictator Juan Peron of Argentina, who

Left: Courtesy of Madame Tussauds, Boris Johnson is seen redoubling his efforts to convince Londoners he is twice the mayor Ken Livingstone was. Livingstone (below) remains singularly unimpressed.

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The American

The Cricket-playing American Civil War Hero Roger Blake of the American Civil War Round Table UK, discovers that the first cricketer to die while on active service during wartime was not English, but a ‘Yank’

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ecember 18th, 1863 was a typical Virginia winter’s day. Captain Walter. S. Newhall of the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry was a happy man. As he rode his mount along a small stream near the Rappahannock River, in his pocket was written confirmation of his leave of absence – Christmas at home. But tragedy struck when his horse stumbled in the mud throwing Newhall into the stream which was swollen by recent rain. Sadly he drowned, just another casualty of a war that claimed 620,000 lives. Captain Newhall was a remarkable man. Born on October 31, 1841 to a wealthy Philadelphia family, he was the third of ten boys. From an early age he enjoyed outdoor pursuits such as hunting and fishing. He also excelled at sport, everything from athletics to the newfangled game of ‘Town Ball’ or

Baseball as it became known, but his favourite game was Cricket, which at that time was very popular in America. He left school at the age of sixteen, a very average scholar, then worked in an office for a year before developing an interest in chemistry. He obtained a position in the laboratory of Messrs. Booth and Garrett which was more to his liking. But he was happiest on the cricket field.

The Young American

He came to prominence during the 1859 season scoring 549 runs for the Young American Cricket Club including a century (100 runs) against the Philadelphians. He showed so much promise he was selected to play for the U.S.A. against Canada in Toronto in 1859. Scoring 0 and 1 his début was less than auspicious, but he was given another chance the following year in the rematch played at Hoboken, N.J.. He had a better game this time scoring 11 and 27, helping the U.S.A. to a five wicket victory. In October 1859 Newhall was invited to play twice for the Gentlemen of the United States Gettysburg Battlefield PHOTO: COURTESY NARA / TIMOTHY H. O’SULLIVAN

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against the famous England touring side led by the Nottinghamshire professional George Parr. Unfortunately his top score was a disappointing 5 but the Englishmen were mightily impressed with his fielding, usually at backstop, to the extent that when they were a man short through injury they asked him if he would mind fielding for them. Newhall said that he would be honoured to and by all accounts fielded magnificently, a true gentleman cricketer. In 1860 after a game, he was engaged in friendly banter with some leading baseball players when he was challenged to a ball throwing contest. He then proceeded to throw a cricket ball 113 yards. ‘Alright you fellows’ he said ‘I’m going to have my dinner, when you can match that come and see me and I’ll have another go”. He had an undisturbed meal. The Newhall family were among the most prominent cricket playing families in the history of the sport. Six members played for the U.S.A. against Canada, England, Ireland and Australia between 1859 and 1912. In one match between the U.S.A. and Canada at Nice Town Pennsylvania on 13th and 14th September 1880, no less than four Newhall brothers; George, Daniel, Robert and Charles played for the U.S.A., making cricketing history.


The American

When the Civil War started, Newhall turned his attention to sterner stuff, answering the call to arms. He joined Major General Fremont’s bodyguard with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, seeing active service in the Missouri campaigns against General Stirling Price. When his unit was disbanded in December 1861, Newhall transferred to the Army of the Potomac. On January 13, 1862 he joined the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. He was soon in the thick of the action at Williamsburg, Fair Oaks and Malvern Hill. Newhall wrote home that of all the enemy generals ‘Stonewall’ Jackson was the most feared.

Back to Cricket

After Malvern Hill his commanding officer Brig. Gen. William W. Averall asked if he was interested in forming a cricket team. Newhall politely declined saying “It’s very agreeable to have a nice quiet game of cricket but it’s not so amusing to play all day then stand guard all night, or get a good crack on the leg one day then

go on a forty mile scout the next. Cricket and chemistry may work together very well but what soldier ever stopped a ball satisfactorily!” Unfortunately he then caught a fever which required several weeks convalescence at home. On his return he was promoted to Captain. The next few months passed quietly with routine patrols which all changed when Gen. Robert E. Lee and the A.N.V. (Army Of Northern Virginia) invaded Pennsylvania. Newhall was present at Gettysburg where he was acting Assistant Adjutant General on Brig. Gen. Gregg’s staff. The first two days he played little part in the battle but on the third when he was delivering orders on the East Cavalry field on the Hanover Road he got embroiled in a cavalry charge. Attempting to capture a Confederate battle flag he was struck full in the face by the pointed end. Left for dead he was rescued the next day but spent weeks in hospital recuperating. He returned to duty at the end of August badly disfigured. He took part in some minor skirmishes until

his tragic death by drowning on December 18, 1863. Thus Walter S. Newhall, an American from Pennsylvania, became the first international cricketer to die on active service in time of war. During World Wars I and II the cricketer’s almanac Wisden contained hundreds of pages of obituaries of cricketers including forty who had played county cricket. Three England players also fell, Colin Blythe, a slow left arm bowler who played for Kent, fell during WWI. Kenneth Farnes, a right arm fast bowler who played for Essex, and Headley Verity, another left arm spinner who played for Yorkshire, were killed in WWII. They were all the finest type of Englishmen, and Walter S. Newhall truly earned his place in the cricketers’ Valhalla with such exalted company. H The following sources were useful in preparing this brief account of the life and career of Walter S. Newhall: The cricketer who fell in the American Civil War, Kevin E. Boller, 1986; Walter S. Newhall: A Memoir, Sarah Butler Wister, 1864 Cricket in 1843: Pennsylvania University Cricket team in action in New Jersey

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The American

My Word! Politicians ‘doing surgery’?! If you’re invited to meet your local politico while he’s ‘doing his surgery’ you must be in the UK, explains Jeannine Wheeler

“S

o why is it,” I asked the former Member of Parliament (MP), “that MPs are allowed to perform ‘surgery’ in their constituencies – without actually having a medical license?” Lord Dobbs smiled mischievously and answered, “It’s probably because, while we’re at those meetings, we’re so used to being torn to pieces.” We at the Althorp Literary Festival all got the joke. But the former MP and acclaimed best-selling author of political thrillers like House of Cards (dramatized by the BBC and soon to be aired in an American version starring Kevin Spacey) never really answered the question. He is a politician, after all! But it got me thinking: what a curious

Lord Dobbs, former MP and author

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Members of Parliament are keen to meet their constituents, as Dan Rogerson, Liberal Democrat MP for North Cornwall proves on his regular ‘street surgeries’. But don’t worry, no scalpels are involved. PHOTO COURTESY DAN ROGERSON MP

expression this was. Members of Parliament holding ‘surgeries’? They are obviously not carving up patients with scalpels… but what a strange way to use the language. There must be something to it. According to the House of Commons Information Office, this curious expression is believed to have started with Alfred Salter, an MP for Bermondsey West between 1924 and 1945 (no, they don’t have term limits here either). As well as a politician, Salter was a doctor who used his ‘surgery’ as a constituency office. And this was an MP who was particularly concerned about the health of the nation. Dr. Salter represented an area of London on the south bank of the River Thames (now part of the London borough of Southwark). His constituents were largely Port of London dock workers, who had no (or sporadic) access to healthcare. He and his wife Ada worked tirelessly to provide free or reduced health services to the working poor before the establishment of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948.

Today, a ‘political surgery,’ or clinic, describes a series of one-to-one meetings with MPs, where their constituents raise issues of local concern – such as street crime, rubbish removal, healthcare or anything else that might affect them personally. They then hope that their MP will use his or her influence locally or nationally to remove this concern from their list of torments – much like a surgeon might remove a gall or kidney stone. And in the UK, it is possible to have a beer while you conduct your surgery. Clinics are usually held on weekends in local party offices, libraries, church halls or public houses, i.e. pubs or drinking establishments. Hopefully by then, your kidney stone has been removed and you’re free to choose your beer, wine, spirit or alcopop from the local publican (not to be confused with a Republican). As far as I can tell, English pubs are apolitical. H Editor’s note: MPs don’t only accept surgery meetings from people who voted for them, or even from registered voters. They welcome any local residents with problems they might be able to help with. You can find who your MP is at http://findyourmp. parliament.uk/


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Art s choice The American

by Estelle Lovatt

Ten Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration

A Royal Collection touring exhibition: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, to March 25; Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, March 30 to June 10; Belfast, Ulster Museum, June 15 to August 27; Dundee, The McManus Art Gallery & Museum, August 31 to November 4; Hull, Ferens Art Gallery; November 10 to January 20, 2013 This is a small exhibition of works by Da Vinci. Ten drawings only, but they show the extraordinary scope of his interests: painting and sculpture, engineering, botany, mapmaking, hydraulics and anatomy. Through drawing, he attempted to record and understand the world around him, maintaining that an image transmitted knowledge more accurately and concisely than any words he could muster up. His surviving drawings are the main records of his extraordinary achievements and

knowledge. Included is Da Vinci’s beautiful The Head Of Leda, based on the Greek mythology of Leda and the Swan. Leda is depicted with a modest downward glance, which characterises most of the women in Leonardo’s paintings, devoting minute attention to her complicated hairstyle of braided and interwoven plaits. And The Head Of An Old Bearded Man In Profile, probably one of the very last drawings made by him, this rough study of an old decrepit man seen in profile is not literally a self-portrait, but surely one that captures something of Leonardo’s own feelings about his imminent demise. It’s most touching.

Bernard Cohen: Place Games Flowers, 21 Cork Street, London W1S 3LZ Until April 21 Bernard Cohen regularly exhibits internationally. And his work is included in many collections and galleries worldwide, including The Museum of Modern Art, NY. Cohen’s recent exhibition in Flowers, New York was featured in Art in America’s 2011’s Top Ten in Painting. Cohen (b.1933) came to fame during the 1960s. Born in London in 1933, Cohen was appointed Slade Professor of Fine Art and Director of the Slade School, in 1988. Leonardo Da Vinci, The Head Of Leda, c.1505-6 THE ROYAL COLLECTION © HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II

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Bernard Cohen, Place Games, one of a series of six lithographs © THE ARTIST. COURTESY FLOWERS, LONDON

Broadening themes from Cohen’s earlier prints, drawn and cut stencils are elaborately structured within a mesh of complicated built-up layers, achieved through his great artistic intellect and care. His capriciously intricate pictures hold an inimitable place within the tenets of contemporary art. His trademark canvases, vividly coloured, actualize much passion through incredibly abstracted forms, so intricate and concentrated that within interdependent forms and patterns, they make up sequences of highly colourful expanses, only broken by the formality of black outlines which hold the whole pictorial theatre of it together. The drama is evident, from the white painted pottery of the ancient Mimbres people of New Mexico to the Romanesque frescos at Berzela-Ville, the Tiepolo ballroom at the Palazzo Labia, Velazquez’ Las Meninas, Monet’s Nympheas rooms at the Orangerie in Paris, Pollock, and Cohen’s own Orthodox upbringing, which encapsulates the second commandment, ‘Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image’. It leaves behind representations of man, creating a rise of aesthetic accents so gigantically heroic in spiritual feelings, that the dizzying glut of symmetry is not only brilliant, but also harmonious and dynamic. With much truth, Cohen is dreamy.


The American

John Robert Cozens, Lake Nemi, 1780

Above: Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), Composition C (no.III), with Red, Yellow and Blue, 1935, Oil on canvas, 56.2 x 55.1 cm

COURTESY: THE HICKMAN BACON COLLECTION

Turner And His Contemporaries: The Hickman Bacon Watercolour Collection

PRIVATE COLLECTION, ON LOAN TO TATE, © 2012 MONDRIAN/ HOLTZMAN TRUST C/O HCR INTERNATIONAL WASHINGTON DC

Mondrian || Nicholson: In Parallel

Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, Cumbria Until April 14 As part of its fiftieth anniversary, Abbot Hall is exhibiting a selection of works from a collection assembled by one man, Sir Hickman Bacon, almost 100 years ago. It’s probably the most important private holding of British eighteenth and nineteenth century watercolours in the world, making it a most impressive display of the finest watercolours in the world. It includes Turner, Cozens, and Cotman, whose watercolours are strong, dazzling and shimmering with strokes of colour, atmosphere, and exquisite in modulation of luminosity. Near-abstract in their transformation, they raise the humble watercolour to a technical and aesthetic level often considered unimaginable by watercolour students. A little tale for you through the eyes of an art teacher at the Hampstead School of Art, London, who says that watercolours, the hardest of all art mediums to master, always attracts beginners: “Why choose the HSA watercolour class to learn about painting when it’s the most difficult with which to capture the sunny landscape you’re

The Courtauld Gallery, Strand, London Until May 20 JMW Turner, The Sarner See, Evening c. 1842 COURTESY: THE HICKMAN BACON COLLECTION

after!” Pointing in the right direction of another art medium, the teacher says, “it’s best to try this art medium instead!” “Ah yes!” coos the student delighted, and such is the level of satisfaction of tutors when students recognise the good of the paint for its subtle washes of colour and tonal variation, transforming the watercolour from being a ‘coloured-in drawing’ to a far more painterly means of expression in its own right, immense technical prowess elevates watercolour to a level where it competes with oil paint. This is a beautiful exhibition to inspire all watercolourists, whether professional or nervous amateur.

This is a small yet extremely focused show that looks at the influence of creativity and friendship hammering between Mondrian and Ben Nicholson. Although some could describe Mondrian’s coloured geometric compositions as Spiritual to Nicholson’s white relief ‘toilet seat’ structure, this is an exhibition about more than the void of Existentialism, it’s about channelling movement,

Right: Ben Nicholson in his Hampstead studio, c.1935, Photograph by Humphrey Spender © NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY, LONDON

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The American

change and space; the pulse of relief built up within each artist, moving the other. Forget Van Doesburg, as Nicholson said of Mondrian’s studio, “this is the kind of place where saints live and lions come to have thorns taken out of their paw.” And Mondrian complained of Nicholson’s for overlooking a garden with “too many trees”. This is odd, considering when Winifred Nicholson accompanied Mondrian from Paris to London to escape the war he looked out of the train window, exclaiming delights of “Marvellous! Beautiful!” not at the English landscape but at the tall telegraph poles.

This is Sculpture – the DLA Piper Series Tate Liverpool • Until April 11 This exhibition looks at the history of modern and contemporary sculpture, examining the trajectory of artistic innovation in twentieth century art and beyond. How? By taking sculpture in the form of object, instalFrancis Bacon, Three Figures and Portrait, part of the This Is Sculpture exhibition. COURTESY TATE

lation, assemblage and ready-made alongside more surprising forms such as painting, video, photography, language and performance. Key public figures have been invited to co-curate sections. For example artist Michael Craig-Martin, designer Wayne Hemingway and filmmaker Mike Figgis are amongst those who present new ways of seeing and appreciating sculpture. Works range from the surrealist art of Dali and Magritte to Gillian Wearing, through to Francis Bacon representing the human figure, alongside emotive abstracts by Jackson Pollock, artist films and pop art by Ellsworth Kelly and Andy Warhol. Others include Jacob Epstein, Henry Moore, Matisse, Picasso and Cornelia Parker, all of whom challenge the way one looks at the rich history of modern and contemporary sculpture.

Picasso and Modern British Art Tate Britain • To July 15 Only New York was streets ahead in the race to appreciate what Picasso was up to. But it was not only Britain that was slow to take up Modern Art in the early twentieth century. So were Germany, Italy, Paris and even his own beloved Spain.

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Pablo Picasso, Still Life with Mandolin, 1924 © SUCCESSION PICASSO / DACS 2011 © COLLECTION STEDELIJK MUSEUM AMSTERDAM

Picasso is the whole of the Spanish School of Art line rolled into one, so great are his nods and winks to Goya, Velazquez, and the lesserknown nameless treasures painted by Spanish artists that look like they could have come from anywhere here in Europe except Spain. More than that, Picasso is the greatest total sum of all European art from Titian to Matisse, through Cranach, El Greco, Rembrandt, Delacroix, David, Ingres, Courbet, Manet, Degas, Lautrec, Cezanne. From Greek, Iberian and African art to Post-Impressionism and Hokusai’s Japanese erotic art, Picasso has it all; his Three Dancers, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and Guernica (the parallel between Christian iconography and recent history raised) alone make him worthwhile. But what to make of Tate Britain’s Picasso and Modern British Art? As a display its drive and power is narrow, because of all the above. Come on, Picasso is Picasso. OK, there are seven British artists on display alongside him – Duncan


The American

Grant, Wyndham Lewis, Ben Nicholson, Graham Sutherland, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, and David Hockney. I’ll cut to the chase because you just want to know if I think you should go and see this exhibition: yes, go, remembering the Brits didn’t understand what Picasso was trying to do when he first came here – Tate only bought its first Picasso in 1933, a safe still-life of Flowers dated 1901. And it purchased a Cubist in 1949. So much for ‘The Tate Affair’. Whilst Picasso was the world’s greatest and most famous living artist, the Brits argued in Parliament about his possible Communist allegiances, across newspapers and on air from the BBC with a drunken RA President, Sir Alfred Munnings, who accused Picasso of “corrupting art”, turning the air bluer than Picasso’s Blue Period and, as a result discussed with Sir Winston Churchill how attractive the possibility of “kicking Picasso in his -----” would prove. Meanwhile Picasso was shopping with the art critic Clive Bell for the typically English Savile Row suit, bowler hat and umbrella, while residing in The Savoy, and designing set costumes for the Russian ballet The Three Cornered Hat. The people of Old London Town weren’t ready for Picasso. Art critic Roger Fry described Portrait de Clovis Sagot as “a piece of paper on which Mr. Picasso has had the misfortune to upset the ink and tried to dry it with his boots.” Today we will beat Tate’s Picasso retrospective exhibition of 1960 with its attendance numbers of 500,000 visitors in two months... to all those who acknowledge that all you need is ‘brush, canvas, paint and Picasso’ book your ticket, this is going to be a big sell-out exhibition.

Art s news

Warrior Within by Jim Dault and Shala Dobson PHOTOS: HEATHER A. RESZ

by Estelle Lovatt

‘Warrior’ Creates Turmoil in Palin Hometown

S

arah Palin’s hometown, Wasilla, Alaska, is involved in deep awkward debates with regards the erection of a public sculpture. Or is it a vagina? Some people think so. A sculpture that does somewhat look like a vagina has been site-placed in the face of Wasilla High School. And not all are pleased with it. In response, the school’s principal, Amy Spargo, said, “I don’t think there was any prep work on my part to prepare the student body for it. It’s a great concept about thinking about what it really means to be a warrior.” It was created in conjunction with the state’s Percent For Art programme – a public initiative to promote arts and culture that needs 1% of the capital construction costs of public buildings go toward the acquisition and permanent installation of artwork. Local artists, Jim Dault and Shala Dobson, are responsible for this artwork stone that had students laughing so much at its resemblance to a woman’s private parts that it had to be covered up with a tarpaulin sheet the same day. The judgment to wrap up the sculpture was not an action of censorship but a comeback

to worries that the stone and concrete sculpture could get damaged. Hmm, wrapped up now, the sculpture has become another work of art, a la Man Ray and Christo, with touches of Georgia O’Keeffe and Munch’s The Scream thrown in the ring. The $100,000 sculpture, entitled Warrior Within supports two warrior shields encircled by glowing feathers, the hand print representing good deeds and the flame symbolic for the spark of inspiration, the stone being the strong material from which a warrior is made. Having acknowledged objects and protests from both parents and students alike, Spargo says she is not too sure the artwork is really suited for display at a high school, and she’s greatly worried that the hullabaloo will provoke vandals to mutilate it. Palin has not commented publicly, yet. H


The American

Reviews by Virginia E. Schultz

Le Pont de la Tour T

here are some restaurants that hold memories, and as I entered Le Pont de la Tour for the first time in five years, a half dozen went through my mind. In fact, so enthused was I that afternoon that I suggested it to visiting friends a few days later. Like me, they had been there in the past, but with the coming and going of London restaurants, they hadn’t realized the restaurant recently celebrated twenty years. The evening was damp and cold as we made our way down the narrow antique lane to the restaurant, the Thames was shadowed by fog, and we couldn’t see Tower Bridge from the windows inside the restaurant. A deterrent to some, although not to a couple we knew from the past who

were dining there as well that evening. After a short bit of reminiscing, the four of us made our way to a white cloth table, which I appreciated after the number of top (and expensive) restaurants with their wooden tables and kitchen type chairs I experienced in the past few months. Le Pont is an old-fashioned type restaurant, with no-one sitting at the tables punching numbers on their cell phones; the only jeans I saw were worn with the latest Tom Ford designer jacket. After some time studying the menu while sipping champagne, we ordered the Royal Plateau de Fruit de Mer rather than the Plateau de Fruit de Mer which is half the price but doesn’t include lobster. It’s served on a tier type platter and, beside lobster, includes rock oysters, king prawns, clams, crab, cockles, brown shrimp and whelks and winkles. Oh – just thinking of it makes my mouth water! Make no mistake, Executive Chef Tom Cook has a way with seafood and nothing was overcooked and it wasn’t long before we forgot our manners and used our fingers. Thankfully, our rather amused

Butlers Wharf Building, 36d Shad Thames, London SE1 2YE www.lepontdelatour.co.uk Telephone: 020 7403 8403

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waiter offered a finger bowl and a fresh napkin. I could have stopped there, but the two men decided we had to continue. Veal kidney is without a doubt my least favourite food and I didn’t taste it, but was assured it was excellent. Sadly, however, my girlfriend couldn’t say the same of her Roast Pork a la Normandie which she declared must have swum the channel, for it was tough and tasteless. However, the grilled Dover sole two of us had was perfect in every way and almost upstaged our first course. Our vegetables too were deliciously wrought, especially the crisp and tasty fries. In truth, I was ready to quit, and only reluctantly agreed to share a dessert of crème brulee. The pear tart the two men ordered was delicious, but then Chef Cook once worked as a patisserie chef in Paris and I wasn’t surprised. A series of culinary master classes are now being offered at the restaurant and will take place the last Saturday of the month, starting in April and going on to June. It will be a half day experience followed by a three course lunch with wine. Having taken his class on seafood where I finally learned how to shuck an oyster as well as prepare fresh fish for cooking, I can highly recommend it. In fact, I am debating between taking the April class on classic French desserts or the one in May on what is called seasonal luxury where the dishes will be grilled scallops, classic lobster thermidor and Vairhona chocolate moelleux. Cost is £65 to £75.


The American

KARPO W

hen we visited, scaffolding covered the entrance to Karpo, and there was no numbering on the buildings next to it; I was about to give up when Maxine Howe spotted what she thought was the restaurant. Fortunately, with the scaffolding gone, and with the exterior painted, it should make it easier to find now. Karpo’s head chef is American born Daniel Taylor and many of his dishes are inspired by his background. He has previously worked at Bond & Brook as well as with Rowley Leigh from Le Café Anglais, and Jeremy Lee of the Blueprint Café, whom he considers his culinary mentor. Brunch, larder, hot starters, wood fired oven, afternoon bakery etc. reads the menu and it took time to figure out what we wanted. There was shrimp and grits (£13), but I wanted only the grits and they nicely agreed. Having lived in South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and a summer in Louisiana with my late husband, I have an appreciation of southern dishes. While we studied the menu, we nibbled on a plate of addictive bourbon and chilli pecans (£2.50) and delicious cumin cheese straws (£2.50). Maxine decided to have a glass of Prosecco (£4.50) but the only American white

23 Euston Road, St. Pancras, London NW1 2SD, www.karpo.co.uk, 020 7843 2221 wine wasn’t sold by the glass and I had the 2010 Gyotaku Biodynamic Alsace (£5.45), instead. Larder, or first course, was very European and, after living in Holland, Maxine couldn’t turn down smoked eel with Finnish bread and horseradish (£9) and, after some hemming and hawing, decided on beetroots with crème fraiche (£6). As a hot starter, there was no way I could turn down southern fried quail with celeriac slaw. The tiny bird, slightly deboned, had a crunchy spicy coating and was slightly pink just the way I like it. The slaw came under the heading of ‘just okay’, but the Manhattan clam chowder (£7) was delicious and well deserving of its name. From the wood fired oven, Maxine enjoyed the New York strip, shallots and bone marrow (£22), and I the sea bass with chorizo and salsa verde (£19). Sides, of course, had to be Boston baked beans (£3.50) and macaroni and cheese (£4), and grits. ‘Puddings’ (not ‘Dessert’), said the menu, and I was surprised when I didn’t find pecan pie listed. Daniel Mignard, Karpo’s baker, had been praised by friends who ate there previously and his Pink Lady apple tarte tatin (£6.50) proved they were right. Nor did Maxine

have any complaints about her Pink peppercorn meringue with passion fruit yoghurt (£5). With my apple tarte I had honeycomb ice cream whose taste still lingers on my tongue. Lovely. Karpo is part of the Megaro Hotel and there is a hallway from the restaurant to the hotel. A few days later, I had a call from my friend Elsie who was staying in the stylish and reasonably priced hotel (for London) and joined her at Karpo’s for lunch. She adored her fish and chips (£11), but I’m afraid the burger with Gruyère between brown buns (£12) may be healthier, but I prefer the good old fashioned kind, with melted cheese on a white bun. However, I can recommend the rhubarb sorbet or the coconut and lime sorbet (£1.50 one scoop, £3 for three) as the perfect way to end a meal. With its location across from King’s Cross and St. Pancras, Elsie found the hotel ideal and will be staying there again when she returns for Ascot in June. The service was wonderful and if I have any regrets it’s not being able to have a glass of American wine with either my lunch or dinner. I’ll add, Karpo is – aptly – the name of the Greek goddess of the fruits of the earth.

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The American

Alyn Williams at

The Westbury A

fter six years of playing second lead to Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge, and the original Petrus as sous chef, Alyn decided to pack his knives and apron and go on his own. Don’t misunderstand, his talents were recognized, but there was always the shadow of one of London’s top chefs in the background. The Westbury Hotel was crowded the evening we were there, especially in the bar, and Nelly Pateras and I went straight to the dining room. The restaurant has rosewood panelling, hand tufted carpet in beige, chairs covered in cream, and lighting which might be dimmed slightly. There is a glass walled Wine Room surrounded by nearly 600 bottles, most of which Nelly and I couldn’t afford, but had tasted in the past, thanks to friends who could. Now comes my complaint. Unfortunately, the restaurant feels like a lobby in a

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hotel. We were seated at a round table a discreet distance from other diners, but if you’re going with four to six people, ask instead for one of the four large circular booths in each corner of the room. Finished with the negative, now comes the positive: the food. Along with the menu came delicious warm bread which I smeared with lovely caraway butter. The menu is in two parts, the seven course tasting menu for £55 or the three course a la carte for £45. Quite reasonable for this type of restaurant, until you throw in wine. However, I did talk to the sommelier who recommended several bottles of wine from £25 to £45 a bottle, so don’t hesitate to ask for advice. Nelly decided on the tasting menu with matching wines (£115) while I chose a la carte. Once ordered, a variety of nibbles including langoustines served

Conduit Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 2YF www.westburymayfair.com 020 7078 9579 with sausage and lovely crisp rice balls were offered. As her first course, Nelly had the French onion consommé, a crab, gruyère and potato wafer completed with a jug of soup poured over, while I enjoyed the baked charlotte potato with artichoke, truffle and wild garlic that was featured on the vegetarian menu. Nelly then chose the foie gras with a hint of lime and liquorice and served with frozen yoghurt, and I the cod with vegetables and cockles. All delicious. My choice of beef sirloin, however, was disappointing: I ordered medium rare, yet it came medium and the meat was more chewy than tender. The waiter offered to send it back, but I decided it wasn’t as much the cooking as the quality of the beef. Nelly’s Wiltshire pheasant with river crayfish, however, couldn’t have been more perfect. I’m not a dessert lover, but I do love peanut butter, and the chocolate mousse with peanut butter is to have again. Nelly enjoyed her pear granite, and the chocolate truffles (all made in the restaurant) I had with my very delicious coffee were exceptionally lovely. Our R by Ruinart champagne was £13.50 a glass and the glasses I ordered separately ran £7.50 to £13 a glass. But if you want to taste Alyn Williams’ cooking, do as I did a few days later when I dined there with a friend and had the three course lunch at £24.00 with a glass of wine at £7.50 a glass. Perhaps because it was a sunny day, the restaurant appeared more attractive and my friend decided to dine there with her husband and two friends a few days later.


The American

L

iving on my own, there are times when I have no interest in cooking for myself, and the only alternative is ordering in or picking up a ready made meal at the supermarket. The problem is, most ready made meals are either too salty or else without flavour. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I was invited to a tasting of David Oliver’s Classic Venison Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Red Wine, and Rabbit and Flageolet Beans with Courgettes that I learned, yes, Virginia, there are ready made meals that taste like real food. In fact, I was so impressed by the two dishes that I bought their British Beef and Dorset Ale with Potatoes and Vegetables a few days later.

David Oliver Fine Foods David Oliver is actually two men, Scotsman Oliver Shute and the English David Holliday, friends and chefs who wanted to produce good quality British cooking. Cooking you could pass off as your own if you wanted to (actually, that’s my suggestion, not theirs). Having specialised in game and wild food cooking during their careers as professional chefs and seeing how popular it was becoming with the general public, they decided it was time to offer ‘restaurant standard’ dishes to the home cook. The only dish I haven’t tasted is their Guinea Fowl and Puy Lentils with Shallots and Smoked Bacon, which I plan to buy in the next few days. In order to obtain a rich, tasty flavour, David and Oliver use only the finest ingredients and traditional slow cooking. None of the meat in any of the three dishes I had was stringy or chewy, as happened to me more than once when I cooked venison and

rabbit. My favourite was the venison, which I scraped with sourdough bread until the plate was licked clean, as the nursery rhyme says. The rabbit, which I shared with a friend a few days later along with my own homemade noodles, literally fell off the bone. All their meals are complete with meat, carbs and vegetables incorporated with a rich flavorful sauce. I differ, however, with them describing their dishes as “restaurant standard” because it sounds too sophisticated rather than the honest, homey and comforting foods I enjoyed while watching Homeland in my pajamas. Dishes cost from £5.25 to £5.45 and aren’t cheap unless you share with a friend or make two meals out of them, as I did with the venison. Still, it’s a lot cheaper than ordering in a restaurant or gastro pub. The range is available online at www.davidoliverfood.co.uk or at selected Waitrose stores and independent retailers.

The range so far includes: Rabbit and Flageolet Beans with Courgettes, Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary (above); Classic Venison Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Red Wine (my favourite, pictured below); Guinea Fowl and Puy Lentils with Shallots, Smoked Bacon and Carrots; British Beef and Dorset Ale with Potatoes, Vegetables and Thyme.

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The American

Cellar Talk By Virginia E. Schultz

Bordeaux – The Great Vintages

B

ordeaux 1961 is regarded as one of the greatest vintages of the 20th century. A number of wines such as Chateau Latour still obtain prices that make most of us gasp, even though they are now approaching fifty years old. Several years ago, I was fortunate to drink a 1961 Chateau Latour Grand Vin at a Christmas dinner party here in England. My friend, who was returning to the States, decided he didn’t want to take the chance on shipping that case and invited ten of us who enjoy fine wine to dinner that evening. The first two bottles were possibly the best red wine I’ve ever tasted before or since, but from then on it was downhill. His wine had been stored in one of the stone bin wine cellars built in the nineteenth century for large houses in Belgravia and he had constantly checked the temperature of his cellar. One exceptionally hot summer he refused to take a vacation with his wife because he feared air conditioning might be needed and the help wouldn’t be aware of the problem. There had been no problem with any of the wine he stored there in the past and the expert he brought in said it could have happened when the wine was shipped from France to England. I thought of that recently, when I heard the top 2009 Bordeaux wines could only be

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found on the market at exceptionally high prices. Now I’m not saying Bordeaux isn’t the gold standard for fine wines and if I’m still around in 2029, I’d be delighted if I was invited to taste this wine (probably by an Asian friend, as fewer English or Americans have purchased premium cru Bordeaux at the high prices it was going for). Once upon a time fewer people drank wine and those who enjoyed the finest had cellars to keep it in. Friends who went to Oxford or Cambridge 20-30 years ago have told me this was where they first tasted fine Bordeaux, but I doubt that in another twenty years students will have the pleasure of tasting the equivalent of the 1959 ChateauLarose that one Oxford graduate friend still raves about. I’m not against investing in 2009, as several friends have, and I’d be the last to say a $10,000 investment in 2009 isn’t as good or even better than investing that same amount in stocks. But at the same time I want to enjoy wine, and unless I had a wine cellar in my house as I did years ago, I’ll purchase wine from other regions in France or enjoy Italian and New World wines that are making wonderful wine at far saner prices. Or else I’ll check one of the wine auctions which not only

The tower at the Chateau Latour

offer grand cru which gets most of the media attention, but excellent vintages that can be purchased at prices that won’t break your bank account. New World wines, Italian and wines from regions of France outside Bordeaux are what you’ll find me serving mostly at dinner partys nowadays. Many of these can be cellared and possibly will taste better in another five or ten years. Admittedly, it is fun to bring up a special vintage wine from the cellar to serve friends as I did in the past, but in the meantime, it’s goodbye to Medoc Grand Cru Classé, 1855. H

WINES OF THE MONTH C. von Schuber Riesling Qualitatswein Trocken Mosel Maximin Grunhauser 2010 £20.00 Drinking this lovely dry Riesling with its apricot, orange and rich pineapple flavours is a lot easier than saying it, as three English, two French, and one American proved the evening a German friend brought this to a friend’s dinner party. It will be even better in another two years, he assured us, as we opened the second bottle. I sometimes wonder if this is why luscious German Rieslings like this aren’t as popular as they should be because we just can’t remember the name, let along pronounce it. Mouthwatering.


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The American

A Pint Sized Problem

British and U.S. recipes use very different measures, which can be a real problem for American cooks over here. Delora Jones has the answer

©VARIOUS BRENNEMANS

D

o you know how many tablespoons are in an ounce? Two, four? The answer is two, but bear in mind we’re talking about fluid ounces. Fluid ounces measure volume: the physical space a thing occupies: 8 U.S. fluid ounces = 1 U.S. cup, and there are 16 tablespoons in 1 cup, so 1 fl. oz = 2 tablespoons. Dry ounces (aka avoirdupois) measure weight: 1 cup of flour = about 4½ ounces, so the weight of what’s in 1 cup will vary depending upon how heavy or light the ingredient is, but the 1 cup volume is constant: it holds the amount of space that 8 ounces of water takes up. I hope you don’t find this confusing, as I’ve only just begun. The U.S. and UK’s gallons, quarts, pints and cups go by the same name but are different sizes, and to top that, the U.S. has 2 pint sizes: dry pints and fluid pints, whilst the UK has just the one pint size (20 fl. oz.). To cook successfully, you need to be aware of your measures and how to use them correctly, so that you can spot when something looks not quite right, for example when a recipe’s been copied from one country to another, but the measures incorrectly adapted. I have spent most of the past ten

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years ‘Americanizing’ cookery books. These were British publications whose American publishing rights had been bought, and the publisher wanted the book to be ‘Americanized’, i.e. its language and measurements converted to U.S. English and American measures – the English typically weigh ingredients whilst Americans measure in cups so in most cases, grams (weight) had to be converted to cups (volume).

Getting it Down in Writing

Converting weights of ingredients to U.S. volumes meant that when a new ingredient cropped up – like when quinoa and quinoa flakes first started showing in recipes, I had to find that ingredient, weigh the amount called for, and measure it in cups or tablespoons. I’d then put the converted cup (or spoon) amount in the recipe, and at the same time, add this new conversion to a document I worked from – a document which held all the grams-to-cups conversions that I’d measured myself. This document wasn’t made up of all new ingredients – very few of them were; many were ingredients in their various configurations, such as grated, chopped and cubed carrots, or an ingredient’s transformation, such as from dried

wheat grains to cooked. But when this document of conversions had grown to over 100 pages, I thought it would be a good idea to tidy it up and put it in a form that others could use. And, if I was serious about others being able to use it, it would need to be made into a book, and done properly. My new book, Measurements for Cooking, includes not just the cup and gram equivalents of ingredients – it also includes other measurement aids such as quick-reference charts of butter, flour, sugar and icing sugar, and a section (‘Substitutes’) that tells you what to substitute when you don’t have the ingredient called for, for example how to make plain flour into self-raising flour, or how many dried chestnuts to use when your recipe calls for fresh.


The American

Coffee Break COFFEE BREAK QUIZ

Measurements for Cooking is published by Glencoe House Publications, £27.99 (www.glencoehouse.co.uk)

Paying to have a book printed is a big risk; the book has to appeal to more than just yourself, so I printed and handed around a number of working copies, and the feedback most often heard was, ‘Can you include some recipes?’ So there’s now a small section made up of recipes that I cook regularly like Meatloaf, Latkes (potato pancakes) and Seeded Soda Bread (the Peanut Butter Patties recipe is one I don’t make often – they’re just too moreish). And last but not least, there’s a thorough Index, so you can find what you’re looking for (or find it again). A friend, knowing this, said I’d included a recipe for Tansy pudding in the book, but that I’d not find it in the Index, and she was right, it wasn’t there. The Tansy pudding recipe in my book actually appears in a photo of open pages of another book, Cooking the British Way by Joan Clibbon, and although the full recipe is visible in the photograph, she was right – you won’t find it in my Index! H

1 Which controversial basketball player once wore a wedding dress to promote his autobiography? 2 Who reportedly said “Sex is a bad thing, it rumples the clothes?” 3 And which reputed rival of the lady in question 2 said: “I don’t mind being burdened with being glamorous and sexual. Beauty and femininity are ageless and can’t be contrived, and glamour, although the manufacturers won’t like this, cannot be manufactured. Not real glamour; it’s based on femininity”? 4 What composer boasted “I could set a laundry list to music”? 5 Why was the wreckage of the Space Shuttle Challenger buried under 50 tons of concrete? 6 Who said, “it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”?

9 1

7 8

3

5 9

1

9

8

1

6

3 7

3 2

5

6 4 9

1

6

3 9

7 In which play by Shakespeare does Duke Orsino say “If music be the food of love, play on...”? 8 The Wife of Bath is part of which work, by which 14th century English author? 9 Name two more ‘Tales’ from the book in Question 8

12 What major prize did To Kill a Mockingbird win? 13 Which are the only two London Underground lines that are entirely below ground? 14 What is the most common street name in the United Kingdom?

10 Who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird?

15 Where were the world’s first traffic lights?

11 What was the follow-up book to To Kill a Mockingbird?

Answers to Coffee Break Quiz & Sudoku answers on page 65

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The American

Sufjan Stevens Elvis Costello PHOTO :MARCO ANNUNZIATA

Elvis Costello & The Imposters Elvis Costello finishes a U.S. tour in April and heads straight across the Atlantic for a major Euro-jaunt, starting May 9th in Dublin, Ireland at The O2. The UK element of the tour is May 11th Glasgow Clyde Auditorium; 12th Manchester Apollo; 13th Liverpool Empire; 15th Birmingham Symphony Hall; 16th Brighton Centre; 18th Newcastle City Hall; 19th Nottingham Royal Concert Hall; 20th Bournemouth BIC; 22nd London, Colston Hall; 23rd London, Royal Albert Hall; 26th Cambridge, Corn Exchange; 27th Basingstoke, The Anvil; then the band is off to the Continent until mid June. You can then see them on June 30th at the Cornbury Festival, Oxfordshire.

Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams, the alt-country superstar from Jacksonville, North Carolina is in the UK this month for a series of theater dates. April 20th Belfast, Waterfront Auditorium; 22nd Gateshead, Sage; 23rd London Palladium; 25th Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall; 26th Glasgow Royal Concert Hall; 27th Sheffield City Hall; 30th London Palladium.

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LIVE AND KICKING Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner & Nico Muhly

An exceptional collaboration from perhaps three of the most defining creative minds today from New York’s inspirational music scene. Bryce Dessner has sold out arenas with The National, Nico Muhly brought us the soundtrack for the film, The Reader, and Sufjan Stevens is about to embark upon his 2012 tour. Together, the three will present an evening beginning with a unique series of string quartets, most of them UK premieres. April 9th, London, Barbican Centre.

Candi Staton

The Grammy-nominated soul legend, whose hit singles include the immortal Young Hearts Run Free, is over in the UK

Foster The People

Foster The People tickets are selling fast. “America’s hottest band” have added a third London show in April after the previous two shows sold out. See them on April 25th at Manchester Academy then on the 27th, 28th and 29th at London Brixton Academy – the last date is the new one, all the others are sold out.

for two concerts. Staton bridged the gospel and disco eras, originally as part of a schoolgirl singing group, the Jewell Gospel Trio, and later as a solo artist. She is performing at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester on May 2nd and at London’s Islington Assembly Hall on May 4th.

Feist

The Canadian singer-songwriter returns to the Hall, following the release of her critically acclaimed new album Metals. The BRIT and Grammy-nominated singer has won multiple Juno awards and received widespread acclaim with her song, and biggest hit to date, 1234. Support comes from Portland-based singer-songwriter M Ward. March 25th, London, Royal Albert Hall.


The American

PHOTO: WARWICK ARTS CENTRE

Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra

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Patti Austin

Patti Austin

Patti Austin started in the music biz at a precocious age in the 1960s as a sought-after session singer on records and commercial jingles. By the 1980s she had signed to Quincy Jones’ Qwest label, scoring over 20 hits. After ‘Q’, she worked with producers including ‘Jellybean’ Benitez and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and has recorded duets with James Ingram, George Benson, Luther Vandross and Michael Jackson. 57 years after she won her first recording contract she is still performing and she’s in Britain this month at London’s Islington Assembly Hall on April 19.

ools presents the only live music show on British terrestrial television (the BBC’s Later with Jools Holland). The former Squeeze keyboardist attracts an eclectic mix of star performers who play live in a large studio, each act watching the next as they play to each other and an audience. Holland’s own big band, the Rhythm & Blues Orchestra (above), comprises the best players and always attracts star guests for their annual Spring / Summer tour around festivals, racecourses and arenas. This year old Squeeze buddy Chris Difford, Soft Cell’s Marc Almond, Fine Young Cannibal Roland Gift and Grammy nominated Californian jazz singer Gregory Porter will be among them: check the list for Jools Holland PHOTO: WARWICK ARTS CENTRE

which guest singer is at each venue. May 2nd Basingstoke, The Anvil*; 9th Coventry, Warwick Arts Centre*; 10th St Albans, The Alban Arena*; 16th Skegness, Embassy Theatre*; 17th Bridlington, SPA Royal Hall*; 18th Perth Festival of the Arts, Perth Concert Hall****; 19th Preston, Guild Hall****; 23rd Canterbury, Marlowe Theatre*; 24th Croydon, Fairfield Halls*; 31st Tunbridge Wells, Assembly Hall Theatre*; June 1st Southwell Folk Festival, Southwell****; 2nd Aberystwyth Arts Centre tbc; 3rd Malvern Festival, Festival Theatre*; 15th Hampton Court Festival***; 28th Isle of Man, Villa Marina***; 30th Haywards Heath, Borde Hill Gardens***; July 11th Larmer Tree Festival, Tollard Royal**; 13th Guilfest, Guildford**; 18th Rochester Castle**; 21st Bath Racecourse, Sulis Sound Track Family Festival of Music and Sport***; 25th Milton Keynes Theatre*; 26th Liverpool Philharmonic Hall*; 27th Llandudno, Venue Cymru*; 28th Carlisle, The Sands Centre*; August 2nd Wickham Festival (nr Portsmouth)****; 18th Stafford, Shugborough Estate****; Sun 26th Inverness Northern Meeting Park****. Key to guest singers: *Gregory Porter; **Roland Gift; ***Marc Almond; ****Chris Difford.

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we witness only brief encounters, intimate acts without intimate relationships. In the end, I was left wondering whether Bowers really touched their lives any more than the pizza delivery boy or a lift attendant. – RG

Grammar Rules

BOOK REVIEWS

Reviewed by Estelle Lovatt, Dan Byway and Virginia E. Schultz, and Richard L. Gale

The Kingdom Of Childhood By Rebecca Coleman Mira Books £7.99, on sale in the UK May 4 Judy McFarland is an idealist whose dreams of having an enduring marriage with two successful children begin to disappear in her forties as reality steps in. Her husband Ross, locked in his work, and their children, grown up and living lives of their own, leave her feeling lost and alone. With her marriage disintegrating, the story concentrates on her relationship with sixteen year old Zach Patterson who is trying to come to terms with his mother’s extra marital affair. Thrown together while organizing a charity event, Judy begins an affair with Zach that first excites then ultimately corrupts the two of them. In Zach, Judy sees much of Ross as a young man without realizing she is repeating a similar relationship she had with an older man at the same age. It is the story of trust and what happens when one’s most sacred ideals are violated between teacher and student, adult and child, and the strong and vulnerable. The writer weaves between Judy’s childhood with her American family in Bavaria to her present life in Maryland in the 1990s and shows how too often the mistakes from the past

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can be repeated. In her innocence or ignorance Judy not only corrupts her own life but the young man’s as well. Having had a friend when I was sixteen with a similar experience with a teacher we admired and trusted, I was affected by, and even angry with this book at times, even though I couldn’t put it down. – VS Look out for our interview with Rebecca Coleman in The American next month.

Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars By Scotty Bowers (with Lionel Friedberg) Grove Press, 286 pages, £16.99 Scotty Bowers’ salacious memoir lifts the lid on Tinseltown’s secret trysts – those he arranged and those he took part in. There is, predictably, plenty of it. In fact, the frequency is the problem. Bowers relentlessly name-drops (Cole Porter, Noël Coward, Errol Flynn, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn) identifies sexual preference, and peppers each chapter with words that end in —ck. The pattern repeats like the thud, thud, thud of neighboring coitus through a thin wall. Perhaps that’s the intent, but rather than offering a glimpse into the lives of Hollywood’s rich and famous,

By Craig Shrives Kyle Books, 235 pages, £9.99 When you have decided whether this book is about the ‘Rules of Grammar’, or an elaborate way of saying that grammar does indeed rule, you’re all set to learn about those tricky little nuances in the English language. This guide is a useful way to dip in and out of grammar related issues, whether you have queries about conjunctions, are panicking about parentheses, or are troubled by tenses. Although the number of syllables in some of the technical words may be intimidating, the book uses a range of examples to make it easy and enjoyable to learn how to write accurately. Shrives’ efforts to explain confusions between American and British writing conventions is also handy. In American English, for example, the word ‘story’ describes the level of a building, whilst in British English, the letter ’e’ is inserted to create the word ‘storey’ for the same meaning. Shrives also reminds British readers that the word ‘Capitol’ is not a typo of ‘capital’ and reveals that a debate over the phrase ‘comprises of’ almost caused a war of its own between British and American officers in Kabul. Shrives’ guide is excellent when you become stuck in day-to-day writing, and fascinating to read casually. The only problem is the index, which oddly doesn’t link key words with pages, something to be aware of when hurriedly finding how best to overcome those pesky grammatical goblins. – DB


The American

Two books to make you feel proud to be American in 2012 – the year of the Presidential race for the White House

Art for Obama: Designing The Campaign For Change Edited by Shepard Fairey and Jennifer Gross Abrams Image, Price: £14.99 As President Obama is running for his second term in the White House, the art world, like much of America, has fallen for Barack too. Visual art has always gone hand-in-hand with politics. Today, the art world loves Obama – not only for his message of ‘HOPE’, ‘CHANGE’, but his ‘YES WE CAN’ attitude for being anti-war and his stance on healthcare; to being aesthetically most-attractive to look at; to ... Barack and Michelle openly espousing the arts as a policy concern. Don’t forget they had their first date at a gallery. From Shepard Fairey and his Obama portrait poster à la Robert Indiana, to Ron English and the way he depicts Obama’s face over that of Abraham Lincoln’s. The Obama fans amongst you will want the beautiful book, Art For Obama, edited by Shepard Fairey & Jennifer Gross, out on your coffee table. And if you’re not an Obama fan

(Mitt Romney is most appealing too, yes) just think of this terrific book as a part of your bookshelf ‘Americana’ and a necessary part of your American history, to hand down to your grandchildren. Enjoy it, even if you do choose to read it on the underground hidden under your homemade brown paper cover. – EL

The Lincoln Highway: Coast to Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate Michael Wallis (Author), Michael S. Williamson (Photographer) WW Norton, Hardback, 28.99; now in Paperback, £14.99 Celebrating America’s first transcontinental highway, this is more than a travelogue or art book. It’s a rare most-collectable book about America’s first automobile road across its States, the Lincoln Highway, encompassed through informative text and keepsake photographs. The Lincoln Highway was conceived in 1912, began in 1913 and formally dedicated on October 31, 1913 as America’s first national memorial to President Abraham Lincoln, nine years earlier than the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., in 1922. It remains the initial transcontinental auto trail in the USA, bringing

much prosperity to hundreds of cities, towns and villages across its way, making it become known, affectionately, as ‘the Main Street across America.’ With a highway stretching 3,389 miles across 13 states, it connected Broadway with San Francisco, with American families motoring the frontier, through the roads of Gettysburg, Pretty Boy Floyd, Notre Dame, the Great Salt Lake, Wyoming, California and the Gold Rush Trail. It is now undergoing (as Route 66 did twenty years ago) a miraculous revival, as we witness in this great little book which guides us across the spine of America, exploring vintage diners, Art Deco buildings, funky roadside attractions and more, along the route championed by President Eisenhower. Counting the original route and all of the subsequent realignments, there is now a grand total of 5,869 miles. Did you know there is a Lincoln Highway Association (LHA)? It has 1000 members located in 40 states and Washington D.C., and in Canada, England, Germany, Luxembourg, and Scotland and holds annual conferences to maintain it. It even has a national tourist center in Franklin Grove, Illinois, in an historic building built by Harry Isaac Lincoln, a cousin of Abraham Lincoln. – EL

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THEATER PREVIEWS

Monica Mason: A Life With The Royal Ballet Royal Opera House, London Monica Mason has had a unique career with The Royal Ballet. A member of the corps de ballet in 1958, she worked with every Director of the Company, eventually becoming Director herself. This exhibition explores her achievements, illustrated by costumes, photographs and press cuttings.

Danny DeVito in The Sunshine Boys

World Shakespeare Festival

Savoy Theatre, London

Various venues

Danny DeVito joins Richard Griffiths as the ageing vaudevillian team Willie Clark and Al Lewis in Neil Simon’s award-wining comedy, The Sunshine Boys, which previews from 27 April then runs for a strictly limited 12 weeks until July 28. Erstwhile Kings of Comedy, Willie Clark (DeVito) and Al Lewis (Griffiths), aka The Sunshine Boys, haven’t spoken to each other in years. When CBS call for the vaudevillian greats to be reunited for a nostalgic History of Comedy, grudges resurface. Can the legendary double-act overcome their differences for one last show? Neil Simon’s classic comedy of showbiz and friendship was first produced on Broadway in 1972. This is Danny DeVito’s West End stage debut. He won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for his classic portrayal of Louie De Palma in the US hit comedy Taxi, and his extensive film credits include One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a role he also played on stage, Terms of Endearment, Romancing the Stone, The Jewel of the Nile, Junior, Twins, Ruthless People and, of course, his definitive Penguin opposite Michael Keaton’s Batman in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns.

This summer sees the biggest and broadest celebration of England’s national poet and playwright. It runs from April 23 (the bard’s birth- and death-day) until November and it’s part of the London 2012 Festival, itself the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad. It views Shakespeare as ‘the world’s playwright’ and The Royal Shakespeare Company has collaborated with leading arts organisations from around the world. Highlights include What Country Friends is This?, Shakespeare’s ‘shipwreck’ trilogy of The Comedy of Errors (below), The Tempest and Twelfth Night, played by the same company of actors at both Stratford-upon-Avon and the Roundhouse in London. Complemen-

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tary plays by other authors sit with Shakespeare’s works; his Richard III and King John alongside the world première of the National Theatre of Mexico’s A Soldier in Every Son – An Aztec Trilogy by Luis Mario Moncada. Productions come from Brazil and India, there is a pan-African production of Julius Caesar, an Iraqi Romeo and Juliet set in contemporary Baghdad, and an Anglo-American Troilus and Cressida sees a collaboration between the RSC and The Wooster Group. See www.worldshakespearefestival.org.uk for dates and more information.

A Tale of Two Cities Charing Cross Theatre, London In celebration of the bicentenary of that other great English writer, Charles Dickens, comes a new musical version of A Tale of Two Cities, the classic tale of ultimate sacrifice for love, set against the French Revolution and 18th Century London. Its creators are big guns in the world of musicals. Music is by American multi-platinum award-winner David Pomeranz and the book is by Emmy winner Steven David Horwich (who also wrote the lyrics) and David Soames, and musical arrangements by John Cameron. April 5 to May 12.


WIN! JEFF DUNHAM TICKETS

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+ DVD + TOY

THREE SETS TO BE WON Jeff Dunham: The Facts

Jeff Dunham: The Prizes

A true entertainment phenomenon Record-breaking television specials 4 million+ DVD sales Half a BILLION You Tube views Highest rated programming in Comedy Central history New York Times bestseller memoir The most popular comedian on MySpace Over 5.3 million Facebook fans

Three lucky winners of this month’s competition will win: A pair of guest list tickets to Jeff Dunham’s Wembley Arena, London show on April 25th, 2012 PLUS A copy of Jeff ’s ‘Controlled Chaos’ DVD PLUS A Jeff Dunham character talking doll! The dolls are 17” tall and run on two AA batteries (included). Push their hands to hear signature catchphrases! We have the following characters to give away: Peanut, Walter and Achmed the Dead Terrorist. Of the winning entries, selected at random by the editor, the one received first will get first choice of doll.

TO WIN A JEFF DUNHAM PACKAGE Just answer the following question:

Which of Jeff ’s puppets loves beer and NASCAR? A. Walter B. Bubba J C. Achmed the Dead Terrorist

Buy tickets at www.livenation.co.uk

HOW TO ENTER: Email your answer and your contact details (name, address and daytime telephone number) to theamerican@blueedge.co.uk with JEFF DUNHAM COMPETITION in the subject line; or send a postcard to: JEFF DUNHAM COMPETITION, The American, Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK; to arrive by mid-day FRIDAY 20TH APRIL. 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 April 25th performance and are not transferable. You are responsible for any travel, accommodation and other expenses.

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x Royal Ballet star turned musical hoofer Adam Cooper and genuine hoofer Scarlett Strallen shine in this recreation of the movie classic but it begs the question, why keep going back to the movies?

THEATER REVIEWS By Jarlath O’Connell

SingiN’in the Rain

PHOTOS: MANUEL HARLAN

Originally staged at Chichester last summer, this is another vehicle for Cooper and yes, he can sing. Strallen makes you forget Debbie Reynolds and stealing the show whenever she is on, is Katherine Kingsley as the hilarious silent star, with the Brooklyn twang, Lina Lamont.

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Screenplay by Betty Comden & Adolph Green • Songs by Nacio Herb Brown & Arthur Freed

In supporting roles there’s the world of tv past. Sandra Dickinson is solid doubling as the dialect coach Miss Dunsmore and as the Hedda Hopper character Dora Bailey and American star, but now London

resident, Michael Brandon, is suitably brash as the studio boss. Comden and Green’s story is a perfect satire of movie making set in the early days of sound and it’s a wonderful complement to The Artist, which is currently wowing them in cinemas. Whomever you cast they still have the impossible task of trying to banish memories of what is probably the most perfect movie musical ever made. Daniel Crossley has the rubbery bonhomie required for the sidekick part of Cosmo Brown but that was written for and perfected by Donald O’Connor and so is an impossible ask to an actor. While we can forgive producers for betting on a sure thing with this material and you can understand the passion of an artist like Cooper to recreate these great musical numbers, which he loves, you are still starting off at a disadvantage Cooper, who is underpowered when he isn’t dancing, has perfect feline grace and what he may lack in the singing department he more than makes up for with his dancing. Strallen however is the perfect triple threat – she sings, she acts, she dances and all to perfection and she is truly one of the wonders of today’s West End stage. She doesn’t try to do Debbie Reynolds as she doesn’t have to and she has the


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Hay Fever By Noel Coward Noel Coward Theatre, St Martin’s Lane, London

I poise and presence to make her own mark on the role. Her comedy shtick in All I Do with the Girls of the Coconut Grove is a joy. The director Jonathan Church lovingly polishes each musical number and the ensemble gives it everything, yet somehow it all doesn’t ring true. The title number gives the game away. Here they don’t skimp on the rain and as a soaked Cooper carefully aims his splashes with a wonderfully feigned nonchalance, his audience isn’t for a second caught up in the transcendence of that famous moment, instead they’re all worried about getting wet and shift uncomfortably in their seats. Cinema is safely behind a screen and you can press pause, theatre is messy. In the end this production is a facsimile of a show rather than the real thing. It slavishly recreates every moment and because people know what is coming next, the humour isn’t organic and so they don’t laugh. Even Kingsley delivering such eternal lines as Lina’s about being betrothed to a Count and she “cain’t stand him”, leave’s the audience stony faced. Simply put, for it to work, this show needs re-invention so the audience can be surprised and startled by something theatrical rather than lulled into a stupor by the familiar. If I were Cooper I’d aim one of those arcs of water directly at front row centre.

t’s been 5 years since the Albery Theatre was renamed the Noel Coward but this is the first time we’ve been able to see a Coward play on its stage. And what a great start. This production of Coward’s eternal comedy of (bad) manners is scintillating. Lindsay Duncan’s Judith Bliss follows Judi Dench, Geraldine McEwan and Maria Aitken into the West End and she surpasses them all. She has form here of course, having won an Olivier and a Tony for a perfect Private Lives a decade ago. This production plays up the bohemian aspect of the wretched Bliss family and Bunny Christie’s beautifully detailed set, a temple of grey modernism, makes the mad house look like a cross between an art gallery and a garage. Christie’s

costumes are also stunning. Duncan’s billowing golden train for her evening wear reminds us that Judith is never really off stage. As she so rightly puts it, in a rare moment of reflection, “Oh he’s not in love with me he’s in love with my celebrated actressy glamour”. Howard Davies, direction is inspired because he slows it all down. This is daring but it reminds us that it’s a comedy of manners, not a camp farce. Through some exquisite detailing in the ensemble he draws out the vulnerability of the characters and the depth that is there is Coward’s writing, if only people looked. Lazy productions resort to presenting these characters as just brittle and arch, Davies knows better. The story of the four eccentric members of the Bliss family and Lindsay Duncan (Judith Bliss) and Jeremy Northam (Richard Greatham) CATHERINE ASHMORE

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their outlandish behaviour when they each invite a guest to spend the weekend at their country house, is structurally perfect. It is amazing to think that it was written in just three days when he was aged 24. The seductiveness of the wit owes much to that youthful exuberance and is partly why it never really dates. It has great energy. With slicked back hair and round glasses Jeremy Northam makes a welcome return to the West End stage but now, alas, in a character part. As the ‘diplomatist’ Richard Grantham he expertly slides from the “exquisitely non committal” to a quivering wreck desperate for escape. Along the way he displays exquisite comic timing. Olivia Colman manages to make Myra Arundel (“who uses sex like a shrimping net”) sympathetic and Jenny Galloway is solid in every respect as the housekeeper, whose patience is severely tried and barges out of the kitchen barking “what’s it now”. “Prepare various rooms” is one of Judith’s classic requests. As the

“children” Freddie Fox is the epitome of blond, floppy haired preciousness as Simon and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (now there’s a name for Coward) is glorious as the daughter, Sorrel. She perfectly embodies the bright, gawky 19 year old, flitting between boldness and skittishness. Two scenes stand out, the tea scene where they forget completely to serve the guests and the perfect ending, where in their self-absorbed quarrelling, they don’t even notice as their guests furtively make for the front door. Judith’s mantra “the only thing is to keep calm” is of course a lie. In this “featherbed of false emotion” as Myra calls it, she is manipulating every scene and every one. Duncan does it all with such panache you forgive the machinations. You also see where Albee might have got his idea for the ‘Get the Guests’ game in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf or where Jennifer Saunders might have found inspiration for Edina in Absolutely Fabulous. It is comic gold. Olivia Colman (Myra Arundel) and Freddie Fox (Simon Bliss) CATHERINE ASHMORE

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his excellent revival of one of Ayckbourn’s finest plays reminds us how much we take him for granted in the UK. Part of the problem is he is so prolific (he has written 75 plays) and the other is that he has been so successful. He’s a master craftsman who makes it all look too easy. This piece, premièred in his beloved Scarborough in 1974, just after his huge triumph with The Norman Conquests trilogy, hasn’t had a West End revival since it arrived in London in 1975. There was an excellent TV version in 1985 with Tom Courtenay, Maureen Lipman and Julia McKenzie and the BBC should be ashamed of itself for not releasing that on DVD. Ostensibly a play about death and its after effects, Ayckbourn has more accurately described it as a play about the death of love and like his best work, it leaves you teetering between laughter and tears, in a way that only Chekhov might. Ayckbourn’s great trademark of course is his acute social observation. No one is better at the comedy of social embarrassment and what makes this production so fascinating is that by keeping it firmly planted in 1974 (wise decision by the director Jeremy Herrin) he gives us pause to reflect on how social mores and patterns of behaviour


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(L-R) Reece Shearsmith, Kara Tointon, Katherine Parkinson, and David Armand SIMON ANNAND

Samuel L. Jackson as gun-toting Nick Fury in The Avengers PHOTO: ZADE ROSENTHAL @ MARVEL

Absent Friends By Alan Ayckbourn Harold Pinter Theatre, Panton St, London SW1

have changed in England in the interim. Death has never been easy for the English and here it raises its ugly head when Colin, who has lost his fiancée in a drowning accident, is invited over by his married friends for tea, sandwiches and sympathy. Unwittingly his insufferable good cheer (beautifully rendered by Reece Shearsmith) unleashes a torrent of jealousies and infidelities within the group, until it all boils over and we get what every respectable Englishman detests: a ‘scene’. The nervy hostess Diana (Katherine Parkinson) is trapped in a loveless marriage to businessman Paul (Steffan Rhodri excellent as the priggish bully) and sliding towards a breakdown. He, in turn, has recently rogered Evelyn, foxy young wife of his dim business associate John. Kara Tointon (of Strictly Come Dancing fame) displays deft comic timing as the petulant and broody Evelyn, permanently chewing gum. She suffers her twitchy twit of a husband John (David Armand) with barely concealed loathing. The comic highlight however is gawky Marge, whose relentless busyness and devotion to her ridiculous hypochondriac husband Gordon, is comic and tragic in equal measure. Elizabeth Berrington, in a gloriously physical performance, perfectly cap-

tures the stick insect as she is unkindly dubbed. When she isn’t hilariously putting her foot in it, she is left cleaning up other people’s mess. A tragic heroine of the semis. Ayckbourn said about this piece that he wanted to write a play where nothing happens and this indeed is his triumph. It is probably his least plotdriven piece. It takes place in real time and the young director Jeremy Herrin beautifully times the fidgety silences of the front living room. It bodes well that a whole new generation of talented directors like him are coming fresh to these plays. Tom Scutt’s gloriously accurate set and costumes also greatly enhance the mood and remind us that the Seventies were truly the decade that taste forgot. The emotional wasteland of these couples’ lives is perfectly encapsulated in Marge’s gormless last line of the play. As they sit there, silently, each trapped in their personal hell, she intones “There are worse things you can do with your time than sitting peacefully with your friends”. Like the best comedy this is deadly serious and all the more powerful for it.

MOVIES OF THE MONTH

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oise, posturing, internal strife, and ripped shirts abound as superhero super-gathering The Avengers headlines April’s movies, bringing together the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Captain America from their own Marvel franchises. Director Josh Weedon also helms jump-fest The Cabin In The Woods, in which a scooby-doo gang of young adults take on the horrors of the titular domicile. Both are 3D offerings, as is the rereleased Titanic (to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the fatal voyage). A vessel of a different type turns up in Battleship, where Liam Neeson, Alexander (son of Stellan) Skarsgard and Rihanna encounter a mysterious seemingly-alien ship. More special effects are to be found in independent tongue-in-cheek SF flick Iron Sky, as moon-based Nazis attempt to conquer the year 2018. With Lockout (the rescue of the US President’s daughter from an outer space prison) and post-apocalyptic drama The Divide also out there, there’s no shortage of speculative fiction. For something considerably more down to earth, catch Return, in which military mom Linda Cardellini comes back from deployment seeking home but discovering a life she no longer recognizes. Lighthearted offerings include university dating comedy Damsels in Distress and spoof Scary Movie 5. The quality of Strippers vs Werewolves is anyone’s guess, but prepare for fangs, flesh, and Robert Englund.

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PHOTO JOHAN PERSSON

The American

The American Interview:

Laurie Metcalf Roseanne’s sister, Sheldon’s Mom and co-founder of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, now starring in London Laurie, a big welcome back to the British stage! I suppose many people were first aware of you in Rosanne, which was hilarious, but you’ve also worked in many serious plays, especially with Steppenwolf, [the Chicago-based ensemble theater group]. Where did it all start for you? Well, my background is in theater. I was there at the origins of Steppenwolf, one of the original members and we’re in our 37th season now, I think. I keep returning whenever I can, to do more theater, it’s a great home base for me, that’s where my roots are. I still do something every couple of years at Steppenwolf now. It’s hard to schedule things in theater, you need to make commitments very far in advance. I’m in London to do Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and I knew about doing it for about 6 months before we actually started rehearsals. But I did a play called Detroit a year ago at Steppenwolf which is coming to The National Theatre in London in a few months.

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Does it feel weird seeing something that you’ve been in in America coming across here without you? Yeah, but it doesn’t happen very often. But I look forward to seeing it, because it’s the same director that we had, Austin Pendleton, who’s a really good friend. You’re not going to be heckling? No! [laughs] Is theater your first love? Yes, definitely, by far. I feel more comfortable doing it, and I love the instant gratification of being in the room with the live audience. I love the kind of roles that are in theater. I just feel that the parts, for me, have been really interesting in theater. Is it fair to say that you play the more serious parts on stage and comedy roles on screen? Well, I guess when you look down the list at the more recognisable shows

that I’ve done in theater, it might look like they’re mostly dramas, but also, I love comedy. It’s been a great mix, and that’s one of the lucky things, about being able to bounce back and forth. I love finding the comedy in drama and the drama in comedy, that’s always really rewarding, but like you say, I’ve been also lucky to be able to bounce between theater, TV and film. It’s an extraordinary mix, not many actors can say that. How did you get into acting in the first place, was it always something that was in the blood, or did you do it in school? I really don’t know. I came from a small town in southern Illinois, knew no-one in the business, obviously. Never intended to go into acting as a profession at all. I mean, I always looked at it in a practical way, and would think ‘I really love this, but I could never support myself doing it’. Actors like you can earn millions of dollars in a movie or get a long run on a TV show, but you still want to do theater. Are you almost subsidising it, because you’re working for little money? Generally when I think about doing theater, its a win-win situation if I think that I can break even by the end of the run! There’s no money to be made. When we formed the Steppenwolf company, little did we know that so many years later it would still be going with such a great reputation. And it’s what led to other things for me. But I didn’t seek out anything except theater. Do playwrights target Steppenwolf, is it one of the major places to get a new play debuted? I don’t know about that. Martha Lavey, our Artistic Director (at Steppenwolf), is really good about mentoring


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So, leading onto Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night, one of THE great American plays. This London production is nothing to do with Steppenwolf, is it? No, this just fell into my lap out of the blue, and I couldn’t believe it. I was ecstatic to have the chance to work on this. Have you ever done the play before? No, no, I’ve never done O’Neil! But you’ve obviously seen his plays over the years. It is quintessential American, about as pure American Art as you can get. How does it feel to be working in it for the first time? Well, I knew it was going to be a challenge. There’s a reason that it’s resurrected every decade, and that actors flock to it: it’s because the writing is so wonderful, as are the parts. You hit a point in your career where you think, ‘that’s a benchmark, I’ve got to do that role’, you know, it’s one of the handful of parts that all actors gravitate towards. It’s so massive and complex that I knew it would be a challenge, but in a good way. Ninety percent of the fun, the thrill of the hunt for a role, happens in the rehearsal room. I think I underestimated, a little bit, how big a challenge it would be, the scope of it is so enormous and the relationships are so complex. Factor in the addictions that the characters are operating under... you know, I don’t think we’ll stop working on it for the whole length of the run because there’s just too much to dig around

and uncover. It’s thrilling, it’s what you go into the rehearsal rooms for, just a big ol’ surprise of a play like this! Do you think it says something to new generations? I think it has remained very, very accessible, very contemporary. I don’t know whether generational, but it’s amazing how contemporary it seems. The language isn’t stilted. The dynamics of the family are lifted directly from his life. That’s a whole other layer of shock, when you know that some of these really gritty scenes were played out in his house in Connecticut in real life. He stipulated that it was not to be published until 25 years after his death. Because it was so personal.

want to do is sit around and talk about the play. Living off of it! Living in it, but hopefully not in the emotions all the time! [Laughs] Yeah, hopefully! Long Day’s Journey Into Night is at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London from April 3 to August 18.

Your American and British cast includes the great David Suchet (pictured with Laurie, left), what’s it like working with him? It’s the first time I’ve worked with him and we hit it off instantly. I couldn’t ask for a better working partner on the stage. He’s technically so proficient and very alive instinctually on stage. And he’s a theater rat like myself, all we

PHOTO: SHEILA ROCK

playwrights and we have a lot of programs that do that. Lisa D’Amour who wrote Detroit has been commissioned to do three plays for Steppenwolf. But I don’t think more so than other regional theaters, who’re always on the lookout for new playwrights.

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The Kennedy Syndrome

V POLITICAL MISTRUST

Alison Holmes finds that even distrustful Americans want to believe – but how can politicians make it easier for them?

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s it any surprise that candidates everywhere are burnishing their anti-government credentials given the apparently international crisis of faith in those who govern us? Late last year, Gallup found that only 10% of Americans approved of Congress – 86% disapproved. Last month, the Edelman Trust Barometer, covering 25 countries, concluded that government credibility is at an all-time low. Admittedly, as a global public relations firm, Edelman

has more than a passing interest in spreading the idea that would-be clients need their expertise, but who better to ask than the people who rise or fall on their ability to get their clients’ messages to the desired targets? Such polls make a rather depressing read for anyone interested in the future of political discourse. On the other hand, it may actually help to explain a long-standing conundrum of American politics and our so-called ‘royal family’. The Edelman result that stands out at this point in the political cycle is that trust in government has suffered its steepest decline in the 12 year history of the survey – falling 9 points to 43% globally. In 17 of the 25 countries, government as a whole is trusted by less than half of those surveyed to ‘do what’s right’. The United States and the United Kingdom have always been ‘distrusters’, but even from that starting point, it is noteworthy that while there was no precipitous decline in ‘transatlantic’ trust, there was a distinct tilt towards distrust over the past year. Returning to Gallup, the potential glimmer of hope in this darkest hour is that even distrustful Americans want to believe – despite the fact this may require them to hold nearly mutually exclusive views. To demonstrate, Gallup Joe Kennedy III PHOTO COURTESY OF CITY YEAR BOSTON

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found that 45% of people surveyed believe that ‘most people could be trusted most of the time’. However, 50% in the same survey felt that ‘you can’t be too careful’. This sheds an interesting light on the Punch and Judy pantomime of the primary season, but arguably its abiding contribution to political understanding lies elsewhere. This discovery in the American psyche of an abiding distrust, co-habiting the same mental space as a strong desire to continue to trust, might just be what we need to explain the peculiarly American affliction I call the ‘Kennedy Syndrome’. When Patrick Joseph II (Ted’s youngest son) did not run for re-election in 2010, one might have thought that, at least at the national level, the Kennedys were taking an overdue rest. The feeling didn’t linger and the mystery of the Kennedy name as benediction or blasphemy is once again topical with Joe Kennedy III’s recent announcement that he is standing for Massachusetts’ 4th District. In a clear invocation of the ‘divine right of kings’, the seat includes Brookline, the birthplace not only of JFK, but also of III’s own grandfather, Bobby. As far as the Kennedy pilgrimage map goes, it would appear to ‘have his name all over it’. There is no known biological theory that accounts for the strength of genetic code that apparently runs through the veins of the Kennedy clan, but Joe III has them all: the wavy hair in a side part, a toothy grin set in an L-square jaw, the intense – yet dreamy – middle-distance gaze. In a side note, brother Matthew


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emphatically does not share these traits – despite the fact they are twins, making one wonder if the looks come genetically combined with political ambition or if the family brings up those with the looks to believe they are destined to rule? The young III’s campaign website has all the optimism and breathlessness of the graduand. Despite his age (31), we are treated to a list of his college sporting exploits and volunteer activity while in law school as if they were only yesterday. He was a shoe-in for top-notch schools (Stanford and Harvard) and inevitably did the Peace Corps as well as pro bono legal work. All the right notes sing off the page in a resumé composed for politics. However, it is worth pausing for a moment on the notes not struck in his happy little tune because, even if we limit ourselves to the ‘Joe’ branches of the family tree, there is a discordant and yet somehow familiar refrain. Joe III is the son of another political figure, unsurprisingly called ‘Joe II’. ‘Two’ was a congressman and would surely have risen to the state big house (the Governor’s mansion, not prison) if indiscretions had not intervened. At the time Two was running for Governor his brother and business partner, Michael, was found to be in a long and rather (in)delicate story involving the family baby sitter – daughter of a family friend and distinctly underage. The sins of the brother need not have spoiled the grand plan, except that Two had also been seeking to annul his marriage to his first wife (and mother of III and aforementioned twin) after twelve years. The annulment was initially approved by the Catholic Church in the US, though when his ex-wife appealed (she hadn’t been told her husband was trying to expunge their married life) the religious higher ups decided better of it. Two was forced to marry his former

Untrusting of politicians and the status quo? Manhattan protesters during last year's 'Occupy' protests ALAN MILLER

assistant in a civil ceremony. The numerically first Joe II – but known as Joe Junior just to make things confusing – was the first son of Joe Senior. Sadly, Junior’s political ambitions (or the ambitions of his father for him) remain unknown as he was killed in action flying bombers in World War II. All of which brings us back to Joe Senior. ‘Patriarch Joe’ was, until relatively recently, probably the best known Kennedy on this side of the pond, sent to the UK by FDR to be Ambassador in the Court of St James’s – ostensibly to get Kennedy out of the country lest he decide to run against the President. Senior was initially pretty good at the ambassadorial shtick, but was ultimately recalled for ending up on the wrong side of the ‘who should we back – Adolf or Winston?’ question. Suffice to say, neither Senior’s diplomatic faux pas, nor those of his daughter, Jean Kennedy Smith, accused of providing information to nationalists while ambassador to Ireland, were later held against the family by the generous, if slightly desperate, Gordon Brown. Brown, having got off on the wrong foot with President Obama, decided to try and ingratiate himself by means of a rather sloppy

play for the ‘Kennedy Card’ and granted Senior’s young son, Ted, an honorary knighthood and the kudos his father (and sister) never achieved during their diplomatic tenures. Clearly, Edelman has nothing to teach this consummate insider about the dark arts of PR. III has already recognized that the best approach is not a play to entitlement, though he has certainly not eschewed the benefits of his position. As his earnest candidacy video professes, ‘Washington no longer works for America’ and ‘public service is an honor… given in trust… that must be earned each and every day’. If Gallup and Edelman are right, trust has become the elixir of our age, and making us vulnerable to the pitch of the political snake oil salesman. It seems clear that the Kennedys long ago discovered a formula that soothes our abiding distrust – while activating our desire to follow blindly. Rather than continuing to explore our deep collective psyches for inconsistencies, perhaps we should ask the pollsters and the pundits to search instead for an antidote to the ‘Syndrome’ spread by the beguiling Kennedys and their kind. H

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US ELECTION 2012 The GOP still can't decide on a candidate to face the President, but they still want your campaign dollars, observes Sir Robert Worcester

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nless there is a landslide towards leading Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, triggered off by Newt Gingrich dropping out of the race, the last week of July at the time of the Republican Convention will be when the GOP, the Grand Old Party, will decide their candidate to challenge the President’s second (and final) term in office. It certainly won’t happen during March, as even if every one of the delegates elected during March went to Rick Santorum, he would not hit the magic 1,144 number he’d need to win. To date of writing, with results to be updated on The American's website as they roll in, Mitt Romney has over half the delegate votes so far, nearly twice as many as his closest contesteant, Santorum, with Gingrich lagging and Paul nowhere – except on the TV. In the meantime, the Republicans left in the frame seem bent on slanging at each other and spending vast sums of money, mainly on negative TV ads. These and the media attention on the campaign in the press and radio (talk shows mainly) and of course television and the new media, are demeaning American politics, boring a huge swathe of the American public, and breaking into bits the Healey maxim in politics of ‘when you’re in a hole, stop digging’. When they meet in Tampa to elect

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Rick Santorum remains Mitt Romney's closest rival. Despite close finishes in Arizona and Ohio, a narrow victory in Oklahoma, a comfortable win in Tennessee, and a walkover in Kansas, the competition looks like going the distance PHOTO: GAGE SKIDMORE

their candidate, there will be over 2,000 delegates, over 1,000 alternates, and more than twice that total in media covering the outcome, even more media if their candidate has not surfaced at the end of what has become an ABR election, the moderate (by comparison) Mitt Romney unable to ‘seal the deal’ and his opposition unable to find a candidate to beat him. This is why I said last month: “Still, in my view, the winner of the Republican nomination looks set to be Mitt Romney...the loser at the General

Election, Mitt Romney”. I still believe this to be the case. If you are a psephology junkie (like me) you’ll love the most sophisticated graphics I’ve yet seen in political analysis. Using exit poll data by the Edison survey firm, it gives insight into who voted how strongly in Republican primary elections in 11 states, from the Iowa caucus in early January to the Ohio primary on Super Tuesday in the first week of March. Using perceptual mapping and comparing the graphs (much too


The American 2012 Republican Delegate Race at March 10, 2012 (1,144 needed to win) State Total

Date

Delegates Romney Santorum Gingrich 2,286

386

163

Paul

111

61

Delegate Allocation

Open/Closed Closed

Iowa

Jan 3

28*

6

7

0

1

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

Minnesota

Feb 7

40

2

17

1

9

Non-Binding Caucus

Open

Colorado

Feb 7

36

12

17

2

1

Non-Binding Caucus

Closed

Maine

Feb 11

24

9

3

0

7

Non-Binding Caucus

Closed

Michigan

Feb 28

30*

16

14

0

0

Hybrid Primary

Closed

Arizona

Feb 28

29*

29

0

0

0

Winner Take All Primary

Closed

Wyoming

Feb 29

29

10

8

1

6

Non-Binding Caucus

Closed

Washington

Mar 3

43

16

7

0

8

Non-Binding Caucus

Closed

Georgia

Mar 6

76

15

2

47

0

Proportional Primary1

Open

1,3

Open Open

Open 1

2

Ohio

Mar 6

66

35

21

0

0

Proportional Primary

Tennessee

Mar 6

58

13

27

9

0

Proportional Primary1,3

Open

Virginia

Mar 6

49

43

0

0

3

Oklahoma

Mar 6

43

13

14

13

0

Proportional Primary1,3

Closed

Massachusetts

Mar 6

41

38

0

0

0

Proportional Primary1

Open

Idaho

Mar 6

32

32

0

0

0

Proportional Caucus

3

Closed

North Dakota

Mar 6

28

7

11

2

8

Non-Binding Caucus

Closed

Alaska

Mar 6

27

8

7

3

6

Proportional Caucus

Closed

Vermont

Mar 6

17

9

4

0

4

Hybrid Primary2

Open

Hybrid Primary

Open

2,3

Kansas

Mar 10

40

-

40

-

-

Winner Take All Caucus

Closed

No. Marianas

Mar 10

9

-

-

-

-

Non-Binding Caucus

Closed

Virgin Islands

Mar 10

9

-

-

-

-

Non-Binding Caucus

Closed

Guam

Mar 10

9

-

-

-

-

Non-Binding Caucus

Closed

Alabama

Mar 13

50

-

-

-

-

Proportional Primary3

Open

Mississippi

Mar 13

40

-

-

-

-

Proportional Primary

Hawaii

Mar 13

20

-

-

-

-

Proportional Caucus1

Closed

Samoa

Mar 13

9

-

-

-

-

Proportional Caucus

Open

Missouri

Mar 17

52

-

-

-

-

Non-Binding Caucus

Open Open

1

Open

Puerto Rico

Mar 18

23

-

-

-

-

Winner Take All Caucus

Illinois

Mar 20

69

-

-

-

-

Direct Election

Open

Louisiana

Mar 24

46

-

-

-

-

Proportional Primary1

Closed

*States have been penalized half their delegates 1 Delegates are awarded by district and statewide 2  Some delegates awarded by district and statewide, some proportionately, some winner-take-all 3  Election becomes winner-take-all if a candidate meets a certain threshold (usually 50%)

Source: RCP

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Super Tuesday Results Candidates

Votes

Percent

A known unknown: if Newt Gingrich were to say farewell, to what extent would Rick Santorum benefit?

Georgia | 76 delegates (100%) Gingrich 424,976 47.2 Romney 233,297 25.9 Santorum 176,080 19.6 Paul 58,982 6.6

GAGE SKIDMORE

Ohio | 66 delegates (100%) Romney 456,513 37.9 Santorum 446,225 37.1 Gingrich 175,554 14.6 Paul 111,238 9.2 Tennessee | 58 delegates (100%) Santorum 205,012 37.2 Romney 154,911 28.1 Gingrich 132,072 23.9 Paul 49,801 9

Oklahoma | 43 delegates (100%) Santorum 96,759 33.8 Romney 80,291 28 Gingrich 78,686 27.5 Paul 27,572 9.6 Massachusetts | 41 delegates (100%) Romney 265,110 72.2 Santorum 44,255 12 Paul 35,037 9.5 Gingrich 16,990 4.6 Idaho | 32 delegates (100%) Romney 27,514 61.6 Santorum 8,115 18.2 Paul 8,086 18.1 Gingrich 940 2.1 North Dakota | 28 delegates (100%) Santorum 4,510 39.7 Paul 3,186 28.1 Romney 2,691 23.7 Gingrich 962 8.5 Alaska | 27 delegates (100%) Romney 4,285 32.4 Santorum 3,860 29.2 Paul 3,175 24 Gingrich 1,865 14.1 Vermont | 17 delegates (100%) Romney 23,965 39.7 Paul 15,369 25.5 Santorum 14,273 23.7 Gingrich 4,944 8.2 SOURCE: REALCLEARPOLITICS.COM

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PHOTO: GAGE SKIDMORE

Virginia | 49 delegates (100%) Romney 158,051 59.5 Paul 107,470 40.5

complicated to use in a print magazine) you will be able to see contrasting support between Romney and Santorum, one of whom is most likely to be the Republican candidate standing against Barack Obama. You will find Edison’s analysis at: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/03/07/us/politics/howcandidates-fared-with-different-demographic-groups.html. It compares various demographic and attitudinal groupings in each state, using a perceptual mapping graphic in order to compare which group was stronger (and correspondingly weaker) in getting voters’ support. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the single thing that seems to cause the model to portray a centerist position between Santorum and Romney is support for Newt Gingrich, which suggests that current pressure on Gingrich now

running a poor third to Santorum and Romney may be misplaced and there might not be an automatic transfer of support to Santorum if Gingrich stood down. That such geographically and culturally contrasting states as Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire and Ohio have similar patterns should have media planners and campaign strategists looking closely at the assumptions they have been making about how to communicate to prospective primary voters to support the candidates they advise. American elections are a nightmare to understand. Being a Federal country under a Constitution written in 1787 and adopted by all 13 British colonies in 1789, the 10th Amendment to the Constitution provides that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”. Therefore, within specific guidelines such as that giving the right to vote to those who have reached the age of 18, election rules are laid down by state legislation. Further confusion reigns when comparing the political parties’ rules of selecting delegates to their nominating conventions. The Democrats provided for the votes of overseas Americans at their conventions in 1976, but not the Republicans. Now, by 2012, they allow 9 votes each to an interesting mix of people of the Northern Marianas, American Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa. But still they ignore the plea for delegates for other Americans living abroad. Except, of course, for fundraising. H Sir Robert Worcester is the Founder of MORI. Follow him for updates on Twitter: @RobertWorcester.


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DRIVETIME

The Oldest Motorsports Track In The World

… is not in America. Or France. Or even at Britain’s Silverstone or Brands Hatch. If your definition includes being used continuously (apart from wartime) and still being raced on using its original course, the oldest motor racing track in the world is one you’ve probably never heard of: Shelsley Walsh Speed Hill Climb, set in the leafy countryside of Worcestershire, England, which has been staging races since 1905. California’s Milwaukee Mile comes closest to Shelsley Walsh’s record. Based in the grounds of the Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis, Wisconsin, the oval’s claim to be the oldest track is strong, racing being held there since 1903, two years before the English contender opened for business. In fact it pre-dates even that, having been a horse racing track since the 19th Century. But even that august venue has not held races every year. Also dating from 1903, a mile dirt oval track was run on Brunots Island, on the Ohio River south of Pittsburgh (Louis Chevrolet won the AAA

Championship there in 1905) but it closed in 1914. Brooklands in Surrey, England, was Britain’s first purpose built motor racing venue. Its first race was held in June 1907 and the concrete track, with its unique (for the UK) high-speed banking saw many battles between the top drivers and cars of the era, but Brooklands was also a major centre of the aviation industry. The Luftwaffe bombed the aircraft factories mercilessly during World War II, destroying parts of the track, which never reopened for racing. Which leaves Shelsley Walsh. Run by the Midland Automobile Club (arguably the oldest motor club in the world, it’s the oldest still using its original name and was founded whilst Queen Victoria was still on the throne!) it’s a very steep, narrow 1000 yard course which rises 328 feet with an average gradient of 1 in 9 (10.9%), the steepest section being 1 in 6 (16%). It’s a snaky, sneaky course where power is important, but so is accuracy: at just 12 feet wide in places you can’t afford to put a foot wrong.

Another joy of hillclimb tracks like Shelsley Walsh, unlike, say Silverstone or the Milwaukee Mile, is that members of the public can join in the fun, competing with your own car by joining the club. Having competed at Shelsley Walsh in a competition at a car launch, I can heartily recommend the experience. Yes, your editor has stormed up the venerable ribbon of Shelsey Walsh tarmac. I say stormed... my non-winning time, in the excellent new Vauxhall Astra GTC, certainly beat that of the earliest champions, who took a laggardly 80 seconds to get up the hill, but then again they were driving ancient machinery on a dirt track. On its modern blacktop, the current record for the 1000 yards is 22.58 seconds, an incredible average of 90.6mph! Have a go! You can contact the Midland Automobile Club at Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb, Worcester WR6 6RP, telephone 01886 812211. www.shelsley-walsh.co.uk.H Like threading a needle – attacking the twelve-foot wide Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb PHOTO: WINBOAR

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Baseball is Back Jay B. Webster takes you through all six MLB divisions for a preview of the upcoming season and a look at each team’s chances.

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ith an epic, and downright historic, finish to the 2011 season still fresh in baseball fans’ minds, it’s time to start looking at the 2012 campaign. This time of year in baseball circles, as teams get ready for a new season, they say that hope springs eternal. For the 30 Major League Baseball teams, it’s no different this year. Some familiar faces, including Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Jonathon Paplbon, have changed uniforms. Some teams have retooled, while others stood pat. AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST New York Yankees The Bronx Bombers didn’t lose any pieces from the team that won an AL-best 97 games last season, but Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera will all be battling Father Time. Starting pitching was the Yankees Achilles’ heel a season ago, and they made strides toward rectifying that shortcoming by trading for highly touted Michael Pineda and signing Hiroki Kuroda. Barring steep drop-offs in production from A-Rod and Jeter, the Yanks should be hoisting the AL East pennant again come October. Tampa Bay Rays The frugal Rays compete with the deep pockets of the Yankees and Red Sox by developing young talent – particularly pitching – and playing fundamentally sound baseball. They come into this season with arguably the best pitching staff in the American League, led by David Price and 2011 Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson. Rookie Matt Moore is one of the hottest prospects in baseball, and will get a shot at joining the rotation. If things click with the bats, this could be the year Joe Maddon’s youngsters leapfrog the aging Yankees. Boston Red Sox Last year Boston became the first team ever to blow a nine game lead for a playoff spot entering September, losing on the season’s final day to hand the Wild Card to the Rays. The Red Sox subsequently parted ways with manager Terry Francona and general manager Theo Epstein, as

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well as closer Jonathan Papelbon. Bobby Valentine replaces Francona, and it will be interesting to see how a free-wheeling veteran squad adjusts to Valentine’s outspoken, regimented style, after the laid back ways of his predecessor. If the BoSox can get refocused and continue to get the kind of run support they showed over the first five months of last season, the AL East will once again be a three-horse race.

Toronto Blue Jays The Blue Jays have one of the top hitters in the game in Jose Bautista, who followed up his 54-homer season in 2010 with another 43 last year. Canadian native Brett Lawrie became a fan favorite after being called up in August, and Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero are solid atop the rotation. After that, there isn’t really a lot to get excited about north of the border. Baltimore Orioles Other than center fielder Adam Jones and catcher Matt Wieters, it doesn’t look like there will be a lot to cheer about at Camden Yards this season. AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL Detroit Tigers The Tigers ran away with the division last year, and nothing should change this season. When Victor Martinez blew out his knee in an offseason workout, the Tigers put a nine-year, $214 million offer on the table for free agent first baseman Prince Fielder. Needless to say, Fielder jumped at the offer, moving from Milwaukee to Detroit, where his father Cecil

played for six seasons when Prince was a youngster. Fielder will team up with Miguel Cabrera to form perhaps the most formidable one-two punch in baseball. Cabrera is expected to move from first to third base to accommodate Fielder, and while neither player is a renowned defender, they are in the lineup for their lumber, not their leather. The Tigers have some pretty good pitching as well, lead by reigning Cy Young and MVP award winner Justin Verlander, who went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA last year.

Cleveland Indians Center fielder Grady Sizemore, right fielder ShinSoo Choo and catcher Carlos Santana are players worth watching, though Sizemore and Santana are coming off knee injuries. Kansas City Royals The Royals are a young team loaded with unproven talent, who might someday challenge for a playoff spot. Just not this year. This team will be fun to watch, with the likes of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Johnny Giavotella, Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon providing some offensive fireworks. Pitching will be a problem, however, and any strides the offense takes this season, the pitching might just undo. Minnesota Twins If Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau can recover from injuries that hampered them last season, and a pitching rotation that includes Carl Pavano, Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano and Jason Marquis can string together some effective innings, the Twins could stay relevant. If not, they could find themselves where they finished last season, in the cellar. Chicago White Sox When general manager Kenny Williams announced Robin Ventura was to replace Ozzie Guillen as the team’s manager, it raised some eyebrows. The former White Sox third baseman has never managed a


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game, and was basically away from baseball for the past eight years. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have too much to work with in his inaugural season.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST Texas Rangers The AL West race figures to be the most entertaining in baseball. The Rangers lost pitcher C.J Wilson to the rival Angels, but replaced him with highly touted Japanese import Yu Darvish. Fireballer Neftali Feliz moves from the closer role to the starting rotation, joining Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison in one of the deepest starting staffs in baseball. Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Michael Young and Nelson Cruz will continue to be a force in the middle of a batting order that led the Rangers to the World Series last season. Oakland A’s The Athletics made two of the more interesting offseason signings, bringing in Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes and giving Manny Ramirez one last shot. Yes, Manny is back, playing for Billy Beane no less, though he’ll miss the first 50 games due to his latest drug suspension, and it’s questionable whether he’ll be anything more than a distraction. Seattle Mariners The Mariners will be hoping that Chone Figgins and Ichiro Suzuki rebound from subpar seasons, and that first baseman Justin Smoak finally lives up to his potential. The Mariners also acquired Jesus Montero – one of the top prospects in baseball – in a trade with the Yankees. NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST Philadelphia Phillies The Phils led all of baseball with a franchise-record 102 wins last season, and in Philly, it’s all about the pitching. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton return from a starting rotation that posted a 2.86 ERA, the best in the majors since 1985. Jonathon Papelbon was brought in to take over closer duties, but all is not rosy on Broad Street. First baseman Ryan Howard will start the season on the sidelines with an Achilles injury he suffered in their NLDS loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Chase Utley and Placido Polanco have had trouble staying healthy, and three of the four other teams in the East (Braves, Marlins and Nationals) are legitimate playoff contenders.

PHOTO: © ANGELS BASEBALL

Los Angeles Angels The Angels finished ten games behind the Rangers last year, but they dug deep into the pocketbook to add the best hitter in baseball to their lineup by signing Albert Pujols (pictured) to a $250 million contract. They also added C.J. Wilson to a starting rotation that already included Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. Two of the best youngsters in baseball, Mike Trout and Mike Trumbo, round out what figures to be a potent lineup. Aside from Darvish, the Rangers already have all the pieces in place, while the Angels will be putting the pieces together. One thing is for sure, the AL West will be an interesting race.

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somewhat reluctantly moves to third. The new-look Fish also added left hander Mark Buehrle to the rotation, and added Heath Bell to fill the closer role. They also picked up Cubs’ castoff Carlos Zambrano.

Yankees’ leadoff man Derek Jeter is the ground-ball king at age 37, but still tallies runs and remains a solid short stop PHOTO: © NEW YORK YANKEES

Atlanta Braves The Braves suffered a collapse of similar proportion to the Red Sox, getting caught by the Cardinals on the final day of the regular season. But while heads were served on platters in Beantown, the Braves stayed the course. Atlanta has good starting pitching and perhaps the best shutdown bullpen trio in baseball in Eric O’Flaherty, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel. Jason Heyward needs to prove that he is an elite hitter after a disappointing sophomore campaign, but there is no reason to think the Braves won’t make another run at a playoff spot. Washington Nationals The Nats added Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson to their starting rotation, and hope to have a full season of Stephen Strasburg. All eyes will be on 19-year-old phenom Bryce Harper to see if he makes the opening day roster. Even if he doesn’t, he’ll be in the big leagues at some stage this year. Jayson Werth needs to prove he can bounce back from a disastrous first season of his seven-year $126 million contract if the Nationals are to have any chance of being the first Washington team since 1933 to play a post-season game. Miami Marlins You won’t recognize these Marlins. They’ve got a new logo, a shiny new stadium, a new manager in the colorful Ozzie Guillen, and, for a change, were one of the most active teams in free agency. Jose Reyes will play shortstop, while Hanley Ramirez

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New York Mets While the Nationals and Marlins made strides to improve, the Mets didn’t do much of anything. Whether the Mets are able to compete will depend largely on the production they get out of Johan Santana, David Wright, Ike Davis and Jason Bay, all of whom have battled injuries or under-performed over the last two seasons. The Mets shortened Citi Field’s outfield fences this winter, which should help Wright’s and Bray’s power numbers. NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL St. Louis Cardinals The Cards became the first defending champs ever to lose both their leading home run hitter and manager when Pujols left town and Tony La Russa retired. With Dave Duncan leaving to be with his ailing wife, the Cards have a lot of shoes to fill. La Russa will be replaced by Mike Matheny, who will manage his first on Opening Day. The Cardinals will rely on the arms of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright (back from Tommy John surgery) to lead the pitching staff and will depend on production from the aging, yet capable core of Lance Berkman, Matt Holiday and recently-signed Carlos Beltran. Cincinnati Reds With Pujols and Fielder in the AL, Joey Votto becomes the top slugging 1B in the NL Central. Votto is one of the game’s top five hitters, but the Reds will need better production out of right fielder Jay Bruce to protect Votto in the lineup. Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos anchor the rotation, while Ryan Madson and Sean Marshall share closing duties. Milwaukee Brewers The loss of Fielder will leave a gaping hole in the Brewers’ lineup. 3B Aramis Ramirez was brought in to pick up some slack, but pressure will fall on Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, and Fielder’s replacement, Matt Gamel to post good numbers. Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke are solid atop the rotation, while John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez return after being lights out in the late innings over the second half of last season. Oh, and reigning MVP Ryan Braun not being suspended for 50 games is pretty good news.

Pittsburgh Pirates The Pirates seem to be in perpetual rebuilding mode, but they do have talent in the pipeline. They might actually be kind of fun to watch this year. Chicago Cubs The Loveable Losers aren’t going to break The Curse this season. The Theo Epstein era begins on Chicago’s north side, and the Cubs are in full rebuilding mode. Houston Astros “Houston, we have a problem.” The Astros might be the worst team in all of baseball. NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST Arizona Diamondbacks The D-backs went worst-to-first in 2011 under skipper Kirk Gibson. Their division title caught many by surprise, but they won’t be coming out of nowhere this year. They added Trevor Cahill to an already strong rotation that includes Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, and picked up Jason Kubel to beef up an outfield anchored by Justin Upton and Chris Young. San Francisco Giants With Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain taking the mound every fifth day, the Giants are all about the pitching. Unfortunately, the problem has been hitting, as they batted a woeful .242 as a team last year. Buster Posey returns behind the plate after his much-replayed season-ending collision at home plate early last year. The Giants also added Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera to the lineup. If the Giants can find a way to manufacture some runs, they could give Arizona a run for their money. Los Angeles Dodgers When ownership of a team is a bigger story than the team on the field, you know there are problems. The Dodgers have two world-class players in outfielder Matt Kemp and Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. After that, there isn’t too much to write home about. San Diego Padres The Padres weren’t very good last season, ranking last in the NL in home runs and second in strike outs. The addition of left fielder Carlos Quentin and first baseman Yonder Alonso won’t help much this year. H


The American

NHL’S Blast from the Past

The Rangers and the Canucks Look to Revisit 1994 T

eams have been known to play to perfection or come completely unravelled in a span of fifteen games – all that remains of the 2011-12 NHL regular season – so the playoff pecking order is far from finalized, but what kind of hockey scribe would allow this pesky fact to get in the way of a playoff prediction? Especially one that looks to the future by looking to the past? Retro is indeed the style du jour in the Eastern Conference. The New York Rangers are leading the way with 91 points, ten ahead of the Boston Bruins, setting their sights on the illustrious President’s Trophy, as they did in 1994, when they defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games to win their last Stanley Cup. Much of the team’s success can be attributed to netminder Henrik Lundqvist’s league-topping .937 save percentage and eight shutouts. It’s fair to say that Lundqvist is having a career season, with 31 wins under his belt, a pace reminiscent of Mike Richter’s stellar 42-win campaign in 1994. The Ranger’s recent refocusing on defence has reaped rewards, earning the team the second fewest goalsagainst in the league at 2.03 per game. The defensive retooling has been effected by one of the league’s top blueline corps, consisting of Michael Del Zotto, Marc Staal, Steve Eminger, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, and pickup John Scott. The Rangers sit in eleventh place in goals-for, averaging a respectable 2.73 per tilt, but their defence-first approach has taught them that they only need to score one more goal than their opponent, which they’ve done 42 times throughout the

season – second only to the ever-successful Detroit Red Wings. The Canucks would be more than happy to revisit 1994. Losing to the Bruins in Game 7 of the Finals last June was a tough pill to swallow, but could also serve as a potent motivator for a team that has been the bridemaid three times in its 41-year history. If the Canucks pull off the same feat that the Pittsburgh Penguins managed in 2009 and return to the Finals after being runners-up the year before, they’ll be a hard team to beat, especially since their already-deep roster deepened further on trade deadline day with the acquisitions of shutdown centerman Sami Pahlsson, rookie power forward Zack Kassian and rookie puck-moving defenceman Marc-Andre Gragnani. The Canucks are fourth in goals-pergame (3.04) and have the third-best powerplay percentage (20.8), especially impressive considering Daniel and Henrik Sedin’s point-per-game pace, a significant drop for the Art Ross winners, and the fact that last season’s Selke winner Ryan Kesler has only nineteen goals to date – nowhere near last season’s 41. Despite these dips in production, the Canucks are quietly in the running to win the President’s Trophy in back-to-back seasons. Many insiders believe © MSG PHOTOS

By Jeremy Lanaway

that the Canucks are simply pacing themselves, leaving more in the tank for the playoffs to avoid running out of gas as they did last year. Let’s say the Rangers and Canucks do manage to battle their way through their respective conferences for a replay of their classic 1994 matchup. Who wins this time around? If hockey fate has any sense of justice, the Canucks will come out on top, but unfortunately for the Canucks and their fans, justice has no place in sports. The winner will be the team that’s more skilled, committed, durable, disciplined, smart, hungry, mean, and yes, lucky. And the best part of the NHL playoffs is that there will be fourteen other teams fighting to prove that they have what it takes to meet these superlatives. H


The American

ExPat Profile

Robbie Unsell, veterinary student and Herts Baseball pitcher Why do you do what you do? Being in a scientific field satisfies my natural curiosity about things while also allowing myself to enjoy the company of animals. What would have been your second choice? In an ideal world I would be a professional baseball player.

Where were you born? St. Louis, Missouri. Married, Single, or Significant Other? I’ve been with my girlfriend, Sharon, for almost 3 years. Children? Not at the moment, but I’m definitely looking forward to being a dad.

Win More ESPN Goodies

What inspired you to come to the UK? Getting accepted to the Royal Veterinary College was the practical reason for coming over. I guess I was inspired by not really travelling much as a kid, and growing up and going to college in the Midwest. I felt that there was a lot of the world out there that I hadn’t seen yet and I was still young enough to do something about it. What aspect of living in the UK has been most surprising? Driving here has been way more difficult than I could ever imagine. Sure, you have the opposite side of the road, but it’s the roundabouts that are truly crazy. I’m convinced that most people have no idea what they’re doing at a roundabout and it’s a free for all.

We have a second ESPN Sports Bag to give away, packed with extra stuff! Boot Bag, Sports Towel, Water Bottle, Cap, T-Shirt, Hoody, Thermal Top, Stress Toy, Football Socks and more. To enter the draw, answer the question below and then email your answer, contact details (name, address & daytime phone number) to theamerican@blueedge.co.uk with ESPN COMPETITION 2 in the subject line; or send a post card to: ESPN COMPETITION 2, The American, Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK; to arrive by mid-day April 1. 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.

The Question: Throughout the Summer, ESPN America will regularly show the highly popular TWIB. But what do the letters ‘TWIB’ stand for? a) This Week In Baseball b) This Week In Basketball c) This Week In Bowling

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Robbie Unsell in baseball mode for his former team, the Richmond Flames BENTON STEPHENS


The American

What aspect of living in the US have you most missed? I miss a classic American steak or burger. I don’t mean to diss on British steaks, but they’re just not the same. What are the best/worst/funniest things about British People? I would say the best thing I’ve enjoyed about British people is their dry, witty humor. Nothing seems to be off limits, especially themselves, and it just cracks me up. I guess the worst thing is how polite they are. Being from the Midwest I’m no stranger to politeness, but British people are polite to a fault. The funniest thing would have to be the abundant use of the word ‘literally.’ What could the British learn from the Americans ...and vice versa? At least among my British friends, they are never averse to suffering a little bit. Whether it’s their house being excessively cold or putting up with a rude person, they just tend to tolerate it. I think Americans could probably learn to be a bit less wasteful by maybe recycling more or not having the heat/air conditioning on in the house so much. Which person living or dead do you admire most? I’d have to say The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart. What is your most treasured possession (not a human being)? My girlfriend bought me this foot warmer thing that plugs into the wall and heats up your feet. It is absolutely magnificent. What one book would you recommend people to read? I suppose it depends what you want to get out of a book. If I had to pick one book, though, I would probably say The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

Robbie is just one of a host of new faces at Herts Baseball, who could be the team to watch in the National Baseball League this season. As well as pitching standout Robbie, two-time NBL MVP Ryan Bird, and a clutch of ex-Richmond Flames players, Herts recently added New Yorker Jake Michels, and Chilean national team player Cristobal Hiche. Herts are hosting a 20-team Spring League March 17 to April 8. Visit www. hertsbaseball.com for more.

Plymouth’s Jeremy Bell PHOTO © GARY BAKER

Your ‘desert island’ iPod – what would be on it? Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, The Doors, and The Black Keys. What is your favorite restaurant in the UK, and in the USA? Besides any dinner that my girlfriends cooks, I’d have to go with Lussmans in St. Albans and Gentelins, in Alton, IL. What is your favorite sandwich? My girlfriend makes a spectactular Reuben sandwich. What do you think is your best trait...? I’m not that funny myself, but I like to think that I have a pretty good sense of humor. ...and your most irritating habit? My girlfriend hates it when I’m sitting next to her and I either tap my foot on the floor or tap my hand on the table. She also hates that I get so angry when I play video games. Sum yourself up in three words. I had to do this for my Vet school interviews and its always so hard. I’ll go with curious, relaxed, and practical. H

British Basketball News The British Basketball League (BBL) Championship reaches its 20112012 conclusion during April, and while the UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders may have left it a little late to chase down the table-topping Newcastle Eagles, a Raiders defeat of the Eagles in early March sees Newcastle still within easy range of the surprising Worcester Wolves, where coach Paul James is threatening the Eagles-upsetting success he once brought to the Guildford Heat. With two games remaining against each of the Wolves, Eagles and Raiders between mid-March and late April, the Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders, keyed by Birmingham, Alabama-born Ayron Hardy remain in the hunt for the top. More Info: www.BBL.org.uk BBL Championship Table (Top) Team GP W L Pts 1 Newcastle Eagles 22 20 2 40 2 Worcester Wolves 23 18 5 36 3 Plymouth Raiders 20 15 5 30 4 Leicester Riders 19 14 5 28 (Correct to March 15, 2012)

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The American

Augusta National: Made in Yorkshire

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can’t remember a field as exciting as that which takes to the fairways of Augusta National this month – nor the last time Brits were riding so high, with Rory McIlroy the new World No.1, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood right behind him and Justin Rose also in the top 10. Along with Graeme McDowell, that’s five Brits ranked ahead of Tiger Woods (which may say more about Tiger’s continued spell in the wilderness). However, like so many great courses in the U.S., Augusta was designed by famous Brit Alister MacKenzie, a celebrated Scot born in Yorkshire (in England ...and no, I don’t know how that works – must be the same system that makes Rod Stewart Scottish and House of Pain Irish.) May commemorates 80 years since camouflage-inspired coursedesigning legend MacKenzie’s plans for Augusta National came to fruition, so I thought I’d take a moment to remind any admirers of the course to visit examples from MacKenzie’s pre-American period here in the UK. Yorkshire maintains many items from his early portfolio of work, including Bingley St Ives, and Moortown, near Leeds, while Cheshire boasts Hazel Grove (including a lifesize statue of the great man), Derbyshire has Cavendish Golf Club, Buxton, and Scotland witnesses his work at Blairgowie, the Portland Course at Royal Troon, and St Andrews Links (Old Course), to name but a few.

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Richard L Gale dons his Napoleon complex and suggests Brees would be the NFL’s top earner ...if only he were taller

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eight is very much on my mind at the moment... or more precisely around my midriff. With Winter behind us, I now face the reality that I can no longer hide my rotundity under four layers of clothing, and Something Must Be Done. I shall not divulge the precise acreage of my middle age spread, but with the ambition of taking up golf to coincide with the big summer tournaments, I’m hoping to shed 70 lbs between the 2012 and 2013 NFL Combines. That’s very nearly half a kick returner. Not a good time, then, for scrutinizing athletes in vests and making sniffy comments about their weight, musculature and 40 times. Or, indeed, height. As somebody who sees eye-to-eye with runningbacks but needs a stepladder to interview tackles, I’m an innate skeptic of a quarterback’s need to ‘see over’ his offensive line. How many NFL QBs’ eye-level is actually taller than their line? Does 6’0” Drew Brees ‘see over’ the average Saints lineman, 6’5”. Measurables are not the be-all and end-all. Dan Marino 6’4”, John Elway 6’3”, Joe Montana 6’2”. How many rings each? I’m not saying that big lines don’t help and that tall QBs don’t help ‘see over’ them, but when I see Arizona State’s 6’8” Brock Osweiler (7 wins in college) being considered a day two pick in the Draft, and Boise State’s 6’0” Kellen Moore (50 wins) being tabbed for the tail end of day three, it provokes my sense of injustice. Anybody remember Mark McGwire’s li’l bro Dan? The same height as Osweiler he was a first

round pick by the Seattle Seahawks (17 picks ahead of 6’2” Brett Favre). Total NFL touchdowns: two. Two years later, the ‘Hawks were picking again (and missing again) with Rick Mirer. Maybe Osweiler and Moore are extreme examples, but how much more interest would Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins be drawing were he 6’5” 240lbs, rather than 6’3” 205lbs (the same playing weight as Joe Montana, by the way)? Those measurables are loaded with prejudices. Drew Brees was originally drafted by San Diego in the second round. I had him down as the best QB prospect in the draft, worthy of a first. He probably would have been if he’d been bigger. After five years with the Chargers, he was replaced by 6’5” Philip Rivers despite throwing 51 TDs to 22 picks the previous two years. He signed with New Orleans and has since thrown for more yards and TDs than any other passer during the same period. Last year, he blew away Marino’s single season yardage record. He’s clearly elite. Not so, suggests Saints GM Mickey Loomis, who prefers the words ‘very good’ and has failed to sign Brees to a new contract, staking him down with the ‘franchise’ tag. I can’t help but wonder whether, still, Brees’ stature plays into some nagging suspicion that he may be a system passer rather than a true ‘franchise’ quarterbacking great such as Tom Brady or the Mannings. Hasn’t Brees earnt the right to be the big man on campus? Or indeed the NFL’s biggest earner. H


The American

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The American April 2012