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Interview: Motown the Musical Interview: Mr Speaker on Mr Speaker



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The American ®

Issue 750 March - April 2016 PUBLISHED BY SP MEDIA FOR

Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Old Byre House, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK Tel: +44 (0)1747 830520

Departments: News, Article ideas, Press releases: Advertising & Promotions: Subscriptions: The Team: Michael Burland, Content Director Sabrina Sully, Content Director & Community Contact Daniel Byway, Content Executive Virginia E Schultz, Food & Drink (USA) Michael M Sandwick, Food & Drink (UK) Alison Holmes, Politics Jarlath O’Connell, Theater

©2016 Blue Edge Publishing Ltd. Printed by Bishops Printers Ltd., ISSN 2045-5968 Main Cover: Donald Trump, Photo Gage Skidmore; Circular Inset: Charles Randolph-Wright, photo; Square Inset: Mr Speaker Bercow, courtesy Houses of Parliament



t is with mixed emotions that I welcome you to this issue. I write with pride and excitement, because this is the 750th edition of The American. The current team cannot claim any credit for actually inventing the publication. It started way back in 1976, the brilliant idea of Sir Ray Tindle, newspaperman extraordinaire, who realized that there was a vibrant community of people in this country who didn’t have a paper written for - and by - them: you guys - the Americans who choose to come to Britain and oftentimes make it their home. Sir Ray made it happen. We hope that we have continued his inspired idea by evolving The American into a truly 21st century resource. It’s your magazine, so please contribute in any way you want - read it in print or online, write for us, come and meet us at events, or sign up for our newsletters and competitions (email me and I’ll ‘make it so’). I also write with great sadness, as we have lost a great contributor and part of the family. Mary Bailey was a big part of The American for over fifteen years. In February she died after a short illness. Those of you who knew her or read her wonderful travel and social articles will know that she was a funny, witty, warm, and perspicacious writer and person, and a great supporter of The American. We all miss her. Enjoy your magazine, M  ichael Burland, Content Director

Among this issue’s contributors

Sam Beresford A warm welcome to Sam, our new writer who brings a fresh eye to bear on the players of our favorite American sports, this time the NFL Honors

Nancy Paustian CPA Nancy joins us in this issue to offer timely advice on a subject of great importance to expat Americans with families: Child Tax Credits

Sir Robert Worcester The presidential race has never been more full of ‘the fog of war’ - cut through it with Sir Robert’s latest piece to see what the numbers are saying

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

The American


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in this issue... Competition: Hand to God Tickets Shakespeare 400 Celebrations FINANCE: the advice you need In Defense of PowerPoint Property: the new Embassy quarter Benjamin Franklin in London Competition: Benjamin Franklin Book

The American

32 34 53

Miss Patricia and Miss Jane Austen

61 66 74

Competition: Show Boat Tickets ELECTION: 8 pages to help you decide American Sports: News, Golf, NFL Signings, Coaches & Honors

Mr Speaker, UK-style Interview:Charles Randolph-Wright, the Motown The Musical man 58 Interview: author Tracy Chevalier

American Citizens Abroad news

1 Welcome 2 A-List: Products & Services 6 News 4


8 Diary Dates 42 Arts Choice 46 Food & Drink

62 Theater Reviews 81 US Social Groups 88 Coffee Break Fun


If you’re travelling on business or visiting friends and family, Heathrow Express is the fastest and most convenient way to travel. Our service offers comfortable seats, plenty of luggage space, complimentary wi-fi plus kids under 15 years travel free. Your trip starts when you step onboard. For more information visit: *Journey time is 15 minutes from Terminals 2 & 3, with an additional 6 minutes from Terminal 5, or additional 4 minutes via the free transfer service from Terminal 4.

NEWS Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor Winner Buried in London



aster’s Mate Maurice Wagg, an Englishman who served aboard USS Rhode Island, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor after the Civil War. Yet for 89 years he lay in an unmarked common grave at the East London Cemetery, West Ham. This unusual story began in Christchurch, Hampshire where Wagg was born. In December 1861, aged 22, he enlisted in the United States Navy, perhaps to seek adventure. For their valor while his

ship was attempting to rescue the ironclad warship USS Monitor, he and six more of the Rhode Island’s crew were awarded the Medal of Honor. In January 1865, serving on the USS Tristram Shand, Wagg received a serious shoulder wound at the capture of Fort Fisher. One witness recalled him leading an attack on one of the Confederate strong points, planting a flag on it, and capturing 40 prisoners. Following a campaign by Michael Hammerson, a US Veterans Administration Marker Stone has been dedicated. The group which assembled at the cemetery for the dedication included Captain Mark Rudesill, the United States Naval

Attaché to the UK, who maintained the United States Embassy’s old tradition of honoring their Civil War veterans buried in England. Doug Fidler of Tennessee, representing the Sons of Union Veterans, timed his visit to his wife’s family in Britain to coincide with the ceremony and steered the thirteen people who gathered for the dedication through the SUV ritual. The group also included descendents of other British veterans of the Civil War. Mr Hammerson described Maurice Wagg as “An indisputably brave and well-liked man, who nevertheless proved to be as prone to the frailties of human nature as anyone.”

Hendrix London Flat Opens


imi Hendrix became a true star in London. He lived in Brook Street, Mayfair, next door to the house in which George Frideric Handel had lived two and a half centuries before, and following a £2.4 million refurbishment his apartment is open to the public. The main living room has been restored exactly as it was when Hendrix lived there. Exhibits include his Epiphone acoustic guitar, bought in New York and brought to London. According to Hendrix’s girlfriend Kathy Etchingham, “Jimi used it for everything he composed in this country... including his own version of Dylan’s ‘All Along the Watchtower.’”


The American



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Selected for you

More events in more detail online at

American Museum in Britain Claverton Manor, Bath BA2 7BD

The only museum outside the USA to showcase America’s arts reopens on March 19. This year’s exhibitions: An American Toy Story explores the huge impact that movie-licensing had on toy production and the way we play. Vintage treasures and modern classics spanning over 100 years, on together for the first time. Jeremiah! Inspired Interiors (April 19 to July 1), a retrospective of Jeremiah Goodman’s signature room portraits. Revered for his rare ability to infuse rooms with warmth and personality, his paintings interpret and inspire, conveying how a space is experienced through the eyes of an artist. Still vital and energetic at 93, Goodman has opened up his archives to the Museum and made available a number of his favorite paintings, for this his first European retrospective. Plus Yarn Bomb trails, Quilting Bees, Toddler groups, Music Concerts, Eco Week activities (April 5 to 8), Art Talks, Craft Courses, Classic American Dance classes.


The American

British Library Eccles Centre Events British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB through the year The Eccles Centre for American Studies hosts talks and events with a Transatlantic flavor: March 4th, Olivia Laing (Eccles BL Writer in Residence) book launch and signing); 10th Alexander Butterfield, the subject of Bob Woodward’s latest book The President’s Last Man; April 14th to 16th Henry James conference. Handel & Hendrix in London to August 31 Handel House Museum look back at 1723, the year which the composer moved into his Brook Street House in an exhibition which plots Handel’s life to illustrate Georgian London and Handel’s place within the city’s social scene. Jimi Hendrix’s flat (next door) is now open to the public. Dallas Seitz: The American Story IMT Gallery, 210 Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 9NQ to March 6 A new perspective to the American story of the 20th Century. A response to the 1959 exhibition Glimpses of the USA by Charles and Ray Eame, Seitz’s exhibition utilises photographs to dissasemble and reassemble key symbols of the American story from the past 100 years, particularly around the Cold War years.

Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival Belfast, Northern Ireland March 2 to 6 A festival celebrating song writing and the Sister City link between Belfast and Nashville, including US artist Stephen Bishop. A TV special, being recorded at the Empire Music Hall March 4th will be broadcast into 60 Million US homes. StAnza Poetry Festival St Andrews, Scotland KY16 March 2 to 6 Scotland’s annual celebration of international poetry incorporates workshops, masterclasses and readings from global poets, including several from the USA. Mother’s Day March 6 A day for all children to show appreciation to their Mothers - unlike in the US, in Britain this day falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent, so have your cards and gifts at the ready for March 6th! Crufts NEC, Birmingham B40 1NT March 10 to 13 The world famous celebration of dogs where canines compete to win the accolade of Best in Show. Others compete in agility and obedience tests. Glasgow Comedy Festival Glasgow, Scotland G4 March 10 to 27 A top line-up of comedians including American Reginald D Hunter, Omid Djalili and Shappi Khorsandi. On March 26, America Stands Up returns to introduce a showcase of upcoming US comedy talent.

C2C: Country to Country London, The O2; Glasgow, Clyde Auditorium; Dublin 3 Arena. March 11 to 12 C2C, in association with the CMA, has become Europe’s largest country music festival after just two years. Over the same weekend the artists switch venues each day. They include Little Big Town, Eric Church, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Dwight Yoakam, Chris Stapleton &Sam Hunt. Also Bluebird Cafe and after-show performances. Beefsteak Bacchanalia at The Fat Bear Upstairs at the Rising Sun Pub, 61 Carter Lane, London EC4V 5DY March 12 An extravagant, indulgent affair involving mountains of the finest beef sliced and then dipped into melted butter and other sauces and eaten with fingers, alongside copious quantities of excellent wine. No crockery, no cutlery, no pretension – just a judgement-free few hours of decadent dining.

Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival March 18 to 20 International musicians bring an eclectic mix of styles to the city. There will be many American influences, with US stars from Larry Carlton to Maceo Parker performing, plus workshops and events.

Oxford Vs Cambridge Boat Race River Thames, London March 27 Oxford and Cambridge Universities participate in the latest chapter of a 160 year old rivalry. See website for more details on the best places to watch the race.

Bristol Festival of Ideas: David Rieff The Watershed, Bristol, Avon BS1 5RR March 23 American David Rieff discusses the notion of ‘Forgetting History’. Ranging across some of the defining conflicts of modern times – the Irish Troubles and the Easter Uprising, the white settlement of Australia, the US Civil War, the Balkan wars, the Holocaust and 9/11 – Rieff examines the uses and abuses of historical memory.

Shakespeare Week March 14 to 20 Celebrated in schools, museums, theaters, historic sites, cinemas and libraries, Shakespeare Week inspires children and their families with Shakespeare’s stories, language and heritage.

The Passion of Jesus Trafalgar Square, London March 25 A full scale re-enactment of The Passion of Jesus, performed for free in the shadow of the National Gallery, is brought to life by a cast of over 100, along with horses, doves and donkeys. The Wintershall Players will also be performing the Life of Christ at the Wintershall Estate in Surrey from June 21-26 and the Wintershall Nativity from December 14-18. Contains a realistic interpretation of the crucifixion. Parental guidance is advised.

USA Grad School Day The American School in London, 1 Waverly Place, London NW8 0NP March 17 The Fulbright Commission’s semi-annual event advises prospective students on how to successfully navigate the US university postgraduate admissions process.

Annual Oyster Gathering Flushing Quay, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 March 25 to 27 Join the local oyster men os they gather Oysters in Cornwall! Seafood markets, specialist chefs and trips onto the water are al part of this festival to celebrate fishery on the river Fal.

Hello Norma Jeane Park Theatre, Finsbury Park, London 020 7870 6876

to March 19 It’s Spring 2003 and Essex grandmother Lynnie has escaped from her nursing home and fled 8000 miles across the Atlantic to Hollywood, Los Angeles, where she plans to reveal to the world her deepest secret – that she is Marilyn Monroe, alive and well after faking her death decades before. As her gay grandson Joe turns up to take her home, he finds himself embroiled in his grandmother’s scheme, questioning his sanity as he wonders whether he really can be the grandson of Marilyn Monroe. But is Lynnie really Marilyn? Or just a crazy old lady wanting to avoid ending her days alone inside a nursing home? There’s only one way that the truth will be revealed in this funny drama that is full of surprises.

The American


World Coal Carrying Championships Gawthorpe, Huddersfield, Yorkshire HD5 March 28 Hardy souls from the young to the old compete in races carrying bags of coal.


One dead father, One messed up family, One girl who just wants to help, One school bully who always gets his own way, One man of the church offering comfort, And one hand puppet who is completely out of control. He’s shocking, dangerous and taking no prisoners. All hell is breaking out at the Vaudeville theatre as this hilarious and provocative new comedy lands direct from Broadway, where the New York Times hailed it “flatout hilarious” and the New Yorker called it “Sesame Street meets The Exorcist”. We have two pairs of tickets for readers to win. Just answer this question: Harry Melling appeared as Dudley Dursely In which series of films? A – The Hunger Games B – Harry Potter C – Lord of the Rings How to Enter: Email your answer and contact details to with the competition name HAND TO GOD in the subject line; or post your answer and contact details to: HAND TO GOD, The American, Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK; to arrive by April 29. Tickets valid Monday to Thursday exc w/c March 28 and April 4. Only one entry per person per draw. The editor’s decision is final. No cash alternative. You are responsible for any travel, accomodation or other expenses. 10

The American

London Harness Horse Parade South of England Centre, Ardingly, West Sussex RH17 6TL March 28 Dating back to 1904, and originally intended to promote the welfare of London’s working horses, the parade is an opportunity to see Horses, Donkeys, Ponies and carriages.

Ely Eel Festival Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 April 29 to May 2 A full programme of events from artisan markets offering specialist foods, to the ‘World Eel Throwing Competition’! Beltane Fire Festival Calton Hill, Edinburgh EH7 5AA April 30 Inspired by the ancient Gaelic festival of Beltane, the modern version features fire, drums and theater as the city of Edinburgh ushers in the Summer.

Oxford Literary Festival April 2 to 10 US highlights in the American Literature and Culture programme include biographer Paula Byrne discussing her new book on Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy, the sister of JFK, and her time in England. Who Do You Think You Are? Live NEC, Birmingham April 7 to 9 A must for those who wish to study and find out more about their ancestry. Highland Haggis Festival Spean Bridge, Scottish Highlands April 16 to 17 The first festival to celebrate Scotland’s iconic national dish and showcase its versatility, in the heart of the Outdoor Capital of the UK. London Marathon April 24 A mainstay of British springtime, and sees both professional and fun-runners weave their way through the capital on their way to the finish line.

Flowing Hair Silver Dollar: the world’s most valuable coin La Galleria, 5b Pall Mall, 30 Royal Opera Arcade, London SW1Y 4UY February 15 to 21

The Amon Carter Flowing Hair Silver Dollar, valued at $10 Million, is believed to be the very first dollar ever struck by the US Mint, representing the very beginning of what has become the world’s most important currency. It portrays Liberty, with flowing hair, surrounded by 15 stars representing the 15 States of the USA at the time. The coin is coming to London as part of a landmark European tour and will be shown with an original copy of the American Declaration of Independence, printed in Boston in July 1776, which is worth approximately $4 million.

WADDESDON MANOR Once the country home of the Rothschilds this Renaissance-style ch창teau houses one of the finest collections of French 18th century decorative arts in the world. The Victorian garden has a parterre, aviary, seasonal displays, walks, fountains and statuary and with shops and restaurants, Waddesdon makes a memorable day out for everyone.





For opening times and group rates 01296 653209 Near Aylesbury Buckinghamshire HP18 0JH









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Shakespeare’s 400 Celebrations



his year the world celebrates 400 years of William Shakespeare’s legacy, especially on April 23, the date on which he was born and died. Four centuries after the Bard of Avon’s death, Shakespeare’s England, the tourist organization for Stratford-uponAvon and the surrounding area where Shakespeare was born, raised, lived and died, is gearing up for some special new exhibitions and events.

They include a new immersive theatrical experience at the Royal Shakespeare Company; a reimagining of Shakespeare’s final home, New Place, and Shakespeare’s Schoolroom will open for the first time to the general public. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has transformed New Place, the site of Shakespeare’s family home in Stratford-uponAvon for the last 19 years of his adult life, to create a new heritage landmark where visitors can discover Shakespeare at the height of his success. Visitors will be able to walk in Shakespeare’s footsteps through a new threshold on the site of his gatehouse and trace the footprint of his family home in a contemporary landscape setting. Commissioned artworks and displays evoke a sense of family life and the 26 major works written during Shakespeare’s ownership of 12

The American

New Place. A new exhibition throws light on Shakespeare the family man, homeowner and successful entrepreneur, featuring rare and important artefacts relating to his life at New Place, many of them on display for the first time. The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)’s season includes productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Cymbeline, Doctor Faustus, Don Quixote and The Alchemist. A major new exhibition, The Play’s The Thing, opens in June in The Swan Theatre front of house areas. It celebrates the magic of Shakespeare on stage and reveal the secrets and stories from 100 years of theatre-making in Stratford-upon-Avon. The Other Place is the RSC’s research and development hub, and home to the Company’s new studio theatre, rehearsal rooms and costume store and café bar. It reopens in April and a new discovery tour takes visitors on a journey From Page to Stage, from the first day of rehearsals to the first performance, with an opportunity to look inside the RSC’s store of 30,000 costumes for the very first time. As part of the annual Birthday Celebrations on April 23, the RSC offers a fun-packed day of free outdoor events for all the family, including a breath taking show by acrobatic company, Mimbre, inspired by Shakespeare’s stories. The day ends with a spectacular free firework display.

A major restoration project has made the ambitious vision of the Trustees of King Edward VI School, the school which William Shakespeare attended in Stratford-uponAvon, possible. Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall will open as a heritage attraction of international significance in April. Visitors can experience the place, not far from his Birthplace, where Shakespeare was educated and inspired to become the world’s greatest playwright, and to learn of the extraordinary history of the building and the civic history of the town. Built between 1418 - 20, the Guildhall, described by historian and broadcaster, Michael Wood, as ‘one of the most atmospheric, magical and important buildings in the whole of Britain’, was last renovated in the 1890s. The restored building has new interactive displays, filmed performances, a Tudor lesson and an 18th century classroom to bring Shakespeare’s story to life. With over 400 years of involvement in the social and religious aspects of the town, including Shakespeare’s father’s leading role in the council – there are plenty of stories to uncover. The RSC has commissioned a brand new self-guided tour to mark the anniversary. Shakespeare Steps invites people to follow in the footsteps of the world’s most famous playwright. The free self-guided tour, which involves eight locations, runs alongside

Stratford’s historic spine. At each stop visitors can follow footsteps and speech bubbles painted on pavements that work as instructions for acting out mini dramas. The tour launched on January 30, and a free map is also available to guide visitors, give them historical background and features a treasure hunt challenge for children. Shakespeare Steps starts at Shakespeare’s Birthplace and other locations include Shakespeare’s New Place, Guildhall, and Holy Trinity Church before finishing at the RST. Visit Stratford-upon-Avon for the annual Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations on April 23 & 24 for a weekend of pageantry, pomp and performance and joining the crowds lining the streets as actors, foreign diplomats, civic dignitaries and local children join a 1,000-strong grand Birthday Procession through the streets on the Saturday. Starting at the Town Hall the procession will wind its way through the town to Shakespeare’s Birthplace and return passing his School before arriving at the altar of Holy Trinity Church. Visit the Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare was baptised and buried and where you can see the graves of Shakespeare, his wife Anne Hathaway and other family members. From April to August the Church is hanging seven specially commissioned paintings from its central pillars, each inspired by one part of

From left: Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare was baptised and buried; Shakespeare’s bust in Holy Trinity Church; Shakespeare’s schoolroom PHOTOS COURTESY SHAKESPEARE’S ENGLAND

Shakespeare’s famous ‘Seven Ages of Man’ soliloquy. Stratford born artist Jonathan Waller, who has work in collections at both the Tate Gallery and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, has created the mixed media pictures. The Collegiate Church of St Mary in Warwick has a major exhibition featuring the Shakespeare First Folio (1623) and a first edition of the King James Bible (1611).“Shakespeare 400: History, Heritage & Faith” will provide visitors with the rare opportunity of seeing these two iconic texts, twin pillars of Western civilization, on display together. The exhibition runs from April 16 to June 30. Dame Judi Dench opens the exhibition on April 21 at 8pm and will share her passion for Shakespeare and the importance of her Christian faith. (Tickets for this gala event are £17.50/£12.50). Master Shakespeare has come back through time to provide tours of his beloved home town of Stratford-upon-Avon. ‘William’ will guide visitors along the beautiful streets and through wonderful old buildings whilst relating tales of his life and works. From birth to grave, he will take visitors through the history of the town. Tours take place every Saturday at 2pm from Tudor

World in Sheep Street and pass his birthplace, daughter’s houses, his old school, his theatre and finally his last resting place at Holy Trinity Church. The cost is £5 for adults, £4 concs, £3 children, £13 family ticket (2 adults & 2 children), 5 and unders are free! Playbox Theatre is celebrating the anniversary with a series of events including productions, special events, live music from Tudor England, films and interactive projects. Shakespeare has been central to the work at Playbox Theatre since its inception in 1986 with their productions being seen in the UK, USA, Europe and Japan. In 2008 they created a unique training and performance programme for young people wishing to develop their skills in classical theatre; Shakespeare Young Company is now in its 7th year and recently presented 4 projects in Santa Monica. Playbox Theatre will present California, Games + Thrones, an interactive retelling of Shakespeare’s Henry VI which opens in Warwick on April 23. More information on Shakespeare’s England can be found at and Twitter @ShakespearesEng

The American



19-24 April 2016 Battersea Park, London


020 7616 9327

New US Bank Account For Expats A

merican Citizens Abroad (ACA), an advocacy organization for Americans overseas, has come up with a solution for expats who are finding it difficult to arrange a US bank account in their new country. Here’s what Charles Bruce, ACA’s Legal Counsel, and Mike Larsen, Chairman of ACA’s UK Chapter say about it. For Americans living overseas, several wonderful things have happened over the last few years. For example: Global Entry at US airports makes it easy to come through the immigration & customs line. Cloud computing means you don’t have to load up a lot of stuff on your devices. Skype means you can have a US phone number from anywhere. US sports live on TV! In HD! A nagging problem, however, has been the difficulty of getting or maintaining a US financial account even though you’re a US citizen. You don’t live in the US and you don’t have a US address - not really; and you don’t like using your brother-in-law’s address in California, which might not be proper or legal. Now there’s a simple solution. The ACA/SDFCU Account developed by American Citizens Abroad, Inc. (ACA), in cooperation with the US State Department Federal Credit Union (SDFCU). ACA has teamed up with the SDFCU to provide accounts for Americans residing abroad. These are the same accounts used by Americans working at US embas-

sies as well as many other people living around the world. You can reside full-time or part-time abroad and still qualify as long as you are a member of ACA. Crucially, you don’t need an address in the US.

What is a credit union?

A credit union is a not-for-profit organization that is organized to provide financial services to its members. There are nearly 100 million members of federal credit unions in the United States. SDFCU has over 67,000 members worldwide. What makes SDFCU the perfect “partner” for ACA’s members is that it is used to dealing with account holders around the world, from developed countries like Germany, France and Switzerland to less-developed countries, all around the world.

What financial services does a credit union provide? Credit unions provide all the normal services that a local American bank provides including checking and savings accounts, credit and debit cards, money market services, loans, and online banking.

The ACA/SDFCU account

The ACA/SDFCU account is simple to open and maintain. Everything can be done online. This is a financial account where cash can be deposited. Cash can earn interest. Balances and activity can be checked online. Do you want

to obtain a loan? This is possible and the rates are about as favorable as you can find anywhere. Do you want to have a credit or debit card associated with your account? Visa cards, credit and debit, are available. SDFCU is particularly sophisticated in this regard, with the most up-to-date EMV secure, chip-enabled cards.

Is money in a ACA/SDFCU account as safe as it is in a bank?

Yes. Member deposits and savings are federally insured to at least $250,000 and backed by the United States Government. The SDFCU, like other federally chartered credit unions in the US, is regulated and supervised by the National Credit Union Administration, an independent federal agency. For those with longer-term savings and retirement goals, it is easy to maintain an IRA or other taxadvantaged deferred compensation accounts alongside your ACA/ SDFCU financial account. Complete information is available online, 24/7.

Financial counselling?

If you’d like, SDFCU offers the opportunity to work with a certified financial counselor. This is a free service. Alternatively, you can appoint your own investment advisor using a limited power of attorney. SDFCU and ACA have arrived at an approved version of this document.

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Below: the SDFCU’s explanation of how credit unions work

suffice. You must be a US citizen, and you must be a member of ACA, which costs only $70 per year - $55 per year if you’re over 65. You need not be a resident of a foreign country, just a member of ACA. ACA has many members who reside in the US. It is okay if the member used to reside abroad; splits his or her time between the US or elsewhere or just has an affinity for overseas American issues. Active membership is the key.

Importantly this is not a foreign account; it’s a US account

You will not need to include an SDFCU account on your Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR/FinCEN Form 1124) or Form 8938. Your SDFCU account is US dollar denominated.

SDFCU is not part of the State Department It is 100% owned by its members/account owners - including you if you join. Moreover, the SDFCU, while including in its name the term “federal”, is not run by the Government or limited to Government employees. Simply put, it has opted to organize itself under federal credit union regulations instead of state banking laws.

How can you open an account?

To open an account you will need to provide the usual due diligence information that you would need to open an account anywhere in the US. A photo ID (best would be your American passport) and something showing your residence, like a recent utility bill or bank statement with your name and address, should


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As an account holder, your private details and financial information are not disclosed to ACA

ACA is introducing you to SDFCU through your ACA membership. You alone, deal with the details of opening and maintaining your account directly with SDFCU. The only information that ACA transmits to SDFCU is a confirmation of your status as an active ACA member. Moreover, SDFCU does not transmit any information about a SDFCU member/

account holder to any third party, including any branch of the US Government, except dividends received (the equivalent of interest received on a bank account) are reported to both the IRS and the member/ account holder. “Dividends” on a credit union account are treated the same as interest. Unlike with FATCA reporting on a US account holder’s account with a foreign bank or other financial institution, there is no reporting of balances or activity.

American Citizens Abroad, Inc., and its sister organization, American Citizens Abroad Global Foundation, represent and advocate for the estimated 6 to 8 million Americans living outside the US. Many if not most of them, at one time or another, have experienced problems with their banking relationships. One of the most common and most annoying problems is that of maintaining a US bank account. In the wake of changes in US and foreign securities law and similar regulations and new tax rules, including the Patriot Act many US banks have been pushing away Americans who reside abroad. This seems a little bit crazy, but it’s an unfortunate fact of life. ACA, a tax-exempt section 501(c) (4) advocacy organization, has worked for over 18 months to make this new type of account available for its members. If you want to open a ACA/SDFCU account, please go to the ACA website If you are not already a member of ACA, click the button to join. If you are a member, or after you have joined, click another button to begin opening the account. Follow the instructions, and please do read all the helpful informational materials. Good luck!



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Arising Basis Taxation Calculating taxes in both GBP and USD. By Andrea Solana


s an American living in the UK, almost nothing related to your financial affairs is easy. The consequences of seemingly simple decisions – such as how to pay for a new home or purchase a mutual fund - may create unnecessary tax charges and complexities. There are a number of key milestones that occur, from the time you arrive in the UK to the time you potentially approach and eventually reach retirement. Many of these changes will impact the appropriate wealth management strategies for American expats. Understanding how rules will change for you over time will allow you to plan ahead and make prudent financial decisions. In this edition we will discuss some of the issues individuals find themselves faced with once they’ve moved from Remittance basis to Arising basis taxation. As we’ve discussed in prior editions, the move from Remittance basis taxation, where you are only subject to UK income tax on your UK earnings and any offshore earnings that you bring into the UK, to Arising basis taxation, where you are subject to tax in the UK on worldwide earn-


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ings, usually occurs after 7 years of residency for non-domiciled individuals. This generally requires you to look at offshore earnings and asset structure in a slightly different light. First, the different tax years in the US and UK require account statements to outline taxable investment income to be reported across different timeframes. Additionally, for US tax purposes, investment income is required to be broken down into more classifications than is needed for UK purposes (i.e. dividend income is classified as either qualified or ordinary and capital gains are classified as short or long term) so it is often beneficial to translate US tax reports (otherwise known as 1099s) into a UK statement of activity that reports income during the UK tax year as opposed to translating in the other direction. Second, depending on the nature and source of the income being reported, different exchange rates may be relevant. For some income, an average exchange rate will be used while other income will be converted on specific dates. Understanding the requirements, especially in your first year of filing on the

Arising basis, is important. Third, the UK has various allowances available each tax year for different types of earnings. Of particular benefit for individuals is the annual capital gains tax allowance whereby the first £11,100 (for the 2015/16 tax year) is exempt from tax regardless of overall income levels. It becomes an important year end planning item to review whether you have fully utilised your available allowances each year. Any unused allowance at the end of a tax year is lost and unable to be carried forward. Utilising this allowance can potentially save a little more than £3,000 in UK tax for a higher rate or additional rate payer. And, with respect to capital gains, it becomes important to review your unrealised positions in both GBP and USD terms. Depending on the timeframe of ownership, movements in the exchange rate can very possibly result in drastically different gains or losses in either GBP or USD terms. Understanding the gain or loss position in local currency is important and may help you minimise any unnecessary costs or tax charges in the future. Fourth, due to the differing tax years, it is important to pay attention to matching foreign taxes paid in the US to when income will be recognised as taxable in the UK. In the first year that US or other offshore income is being taxed in the UK, you should assess whether the additional taxable income being recognised in the UK compared to the prior year will result in the need to pre-pay UK taxes before the end of the calendar year to match up with the US tax year. This will ensure that when the income is taxed in the US you will have the corresponding foreign tax credit to

offset the US tax liability. The bottom line - you will avoid potentially being subject to double tax or having to amend your already filed tax return in the future. Your US-UK tax adviser can help you determine whether this would be beneficial for your individual situation. Lastly, if you didn’t plan the investment structure of US or other offshore assets before moving onto the Arising basis, it is important to review your holdings as soon as possible to ensure you understand whether changes need to be made to remain as tax-efficient as possible in the UK. Owning US collective investments such as mutual funds or exchange traded funds (without UK reporting status) can bring about similar treatment in the UK to the PFIC regime in the US. Any

offshore collective investments that do not have UK reporting status will attract offshore income gains (OIG) taxation as opposed to capital gain treatment. A higher or additional rate taxpayer will find themselves paying 40% or 45% income tax on gains as opposed to 28%. Additionally, OIG assets can potentially bring about two layers of taxation at death. OIG assets are deemed to be sold at death with income tax being assessed. Then, to the extent that you are also deemed domicile for UK inheritance tax purposes, the assets (less an income tax paid) are also includable in your UK estate. So, whilst making these changes after already crossing over to the Arising basis is usually not ideal, it is better to address this sooner rather later to avoid any surprises.

Andrea Solana is Head of Advanced Planning at MASECO Private Wealth. Andrea graduated from University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce with a degree in Finance and Management, completed her MBA at Imperial College London and holds her US Series 65 license. If you would like a full copy of MASECO’s 39 Steps to Smart Living in the UK please visit MASECO Private Wealth is not a qualified tax adviser and you should seek separate advice on your tax position with a suitably qualified tax adviser. MASECO LLP trading as MASECO Private Wealth is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax advice.

April – A Taxing Month by Sam Ashley


s US taxpayers in the UK will already know April brings with it not only the prospect of April showers but also Tax Day, the first deadline for submitting your US income tax returns. This year due to Emancipation Day (a public holiday in D.C.) falling on April 15 and the following weekend Tax Day is April 18, 2016. There is of course an automatic extension of time to file your income tax returns through to June 15, 2016 but you will be charged interest on any tax due from April 18, 2016. If you are unable to file your tax return by April 18, you should consider paying any tax that you estimate to be due to the IRS by the deadline to avoid additional interest being charged by the IRS. You could also submit form 4868 to the IRS to extend your deadline all the way to October 15, 2016 if you think you will need more time. April also brings the end of the 2015/16 UK tax year and the start of the 2016/17 tax year. For various reasons dating back to 1582 the new tax year starts on April 6. The history of the rather odd timing of the UK tax year can be found here: http:// tax-compliance/why-does-the-uk-


The American

tax-year-start-on-6-april-each-year/ While you are pulling your records of 2015 together to file your US income tax return you may also want to consider the end of the UK tax year and what you could do in the UK to assist with your US income taxes in the future. There are some year-end actions you can take before the close of the UK tax year which could help reduce your overall tax liabilities. We have set out a number of these below but you should of course seek professional advice before instigating the planning for yourself.

Using your ISA Allowances

You can invest up to £15,240 into an ISA for the 2015/16 tax year. This limit must be used by April 5, 2016, the allowance does not roll over in to future years. There is also a Junior ISA allowance of £4,080 for the younger members of your family. An ISA will allow your investment to grow and pay no UK income tax or capital gains arising within that fund. That said, unfortunately the US does not recognize the tax exempt status of the ISA and will seek to tax the income earned in the fund. If you are tempted by opening a stock and shares ISA you must be

cautious of the investments that you enter into via the ISA. In the last edition of The American we explained the pitfalls of investing into non US Funds and Stocks and Shares ISAs. As an US taxpayer you should look to hold direct stock in companies via your ISA rather than collective investment funds as they will be subject to the US Passive Foreign Investment Company (PFIC) rules.

Using your UK Pension Allowance

If you have excess foreign tax credits and you are already a member of a UK pension plan you may want to ensure that you have maximised your pension contributions in recent years. By making a contribution to your UK pension plan you will be lowering your UK tax liability. If you have excess foreign tax credits available from earlier years these can be used to offset the reduced tax on your UK returns. It is worth remembering that excess foreign tax credits expire after 10 years so there is real benefit in finding ways to utilise these. In addition to maximising the current year contribution you can also make a catch up payment if you have not made the maximum contribution in each of the 3 previous UK tax years.

You should also remember that from the 2016/17 UK tax year the amount you are able to put into your pension will be restricted if you have income exceeding £150,000. If your income exceeds £210,000 the maximum you will be able to put in to your pension will be £10,000. We should also mention that the lifetime allowance for pension contributions will be reduced to £1,000,000 effective from April 6, 2016.

for 2015 is $5,500 ($6,500 if you are age 50 or over).

Don’t forget your US IRA account

An early FBAR reminder

While we are discussing pensions, it is important to remember that you have until April 15, 2016 to make a contribution to your IRA account that may be deductible on your 2015 US income tax return. The maximum allowable contribution

Charitable Contributions

If you are planning to make any charitable contributions it may be worth ensuring those charities are dual qualified. Donating to a charity which is not dual qualified may result in your contribution not being tax deductible on your return in either the UK or US. Finally don’t forget your Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FinCEN Form 114) more commonly known as the FBAR. This is due by June 30, 2016 with no extensions to that deadline available. You are required to file if the aggregate bal-

ance of your non US bank accounts exceeded $10,000 at any time during 2015. Please note that for 2016 returns the filing deadline of your FBAR will move to be in line with your 2016 US tax return.

Sam Ashley is Senior Manager at Tax Advisory Partnership 14 Devonshire Square, London, EC2M 4TY. T. 020 7655 6959 Tax Advisory Partnership provides a broad range of UK and US tax services to private clients both in the UK and abroad. Please contact us at +44 207 655 6959 for an initial consultation or email and we will contact you at the earliest opportunity.

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Unwelcome Surprises!

As a US expat, will your Social Security be reduced? David Costello investigates


veryone loves a surprise. However, retirement income planning, unsurprisingly, is a place where most people want to limit or remove the element of surprise. We have heard from a number of our fellow overseas Americans that, as they have turned to Social Security, expecting to receive the figure stated on their most recent Social Security statement, the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) has jumped out from behind the metaphorical couch and shouted ‘Surprise!’ This article will attempt to demystify this little known provision. To start, let’s cover some basics. Social Security is formally known as the Old-Age, Survivor and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. It is funded through payroll deduction; the Social Security tax of 12.4% split equally between you and your employer. This tax is imposed on the first $118,500 of income and is indexed for inflation. Once you have 40 quarters of contributions (10 years), you are entitled to a benefit. The calculation


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is determined using your lifetime earnings. The calculation has a few steps, but it is important to know that it is based on your 35 highestearning years. It’s your responsibility to ensure your records are correct. Good idea to check your statement online regularly. In addition to the Income Tax Treaty between the US and UK, there is also a ‘Totalization’ Agreement to ensure there is no double taxation with regard to Social Security programs. The highlights include: you do not have to contribute to both programs; and, if you left the US and became a UK tax-payer before earning the 40 quarters mentioned above, you can use your UK contributions to the state pension to count toward your US Social Security. Be weary, though, and hold your “Brilliant!” as your US benefit will be reduced by your UK benefit. I find the Social Security department really helpful; their website is full of publications that distill complicated issues into layman’s terms. Now, back to the unwelcome

party guest, WEP. Here is how Social Security describes the provision: “The Windfall Elimination Provision may affect how we calculate your retirement or disability benefit. If you work for an employer who does not withhold Social Security taxes from your salary, such as a government agency or an employer in another country, any pension you get from that work may reduce your Social Security benefits.” Who let WEP into the party anyway? Answer: Congress did in 1983. WEP has been hiding behind the couch for a long time! Again from the Social Security publication on the Windfall Elimination Provision: “Before 1983, people whose primary job wasn’t covered by Social Security had their Social Security benefits calculated as if they were longterm, low-wage workers. They had the advantage of receiving a Social Security benefit representing a higher percentage of their earnings, plus a pension from a job for which they didn’t pay Social Security taxes. Congress passed the Windfall Elimination Provision to remove that advantage.”

There is some reprieve from the WEP, but (sorry to bear bad news) you most likely will not qualify. The Windfall Elimination Provision doesn’t apply if: You are a federal worker first hired after December 31, 1983; You were employed on December 31, 1983, by a non-profit organization that did not withhold Social Security taxes from your pay at first but then began withholding Social Security taxes from your pay; Your only pension is for railroad employment; The only work you performed for which you did not pay Social Security taxes was before 1957; or You have 30 or more years of substantial earnings under Social Security.

It is worth checking to see if you qualify for an exemption. Do not be intimidated by the term substantial earnings. In 2015, this was $22,050. It is more difficult to attain the 30-years paid into the program, particularly if you left the US to come to the UK and immediately started paying to the UK State Pension. Some further relief from WEP is that it does not apply to widow or widower benefits. For that, we need to discuss another surprise party guest, the Government Pension Offset (GPO) but that is an article for a later date. In closing, we at Tanager are not Social Security experts! Every case is different; however, as fellow Americans living overseas, we are happy to

discuss your situation in an attempt to point you in the right direction.

David Costello is a Partner at Tanager Wealth Management LLP. Tanager Wealth Management LLP is is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK and is an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Tanager Wealth Management LLP does not provide tax advice. You should seek specialist tax advice from a suitably qualified tax professional.

What do Tanager Wealth Management clients have in common?

Peace of Mind

020 7871 8440 @tanagerwealth Tanager Wealth Management LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Tanager Wealth Management LLP is an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Registered In England and Wales No.OC377053. Registered Office: The White House, Mill Road, Goring on Thames, RG8 9DD

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08/07/2015 The American




f you are an American expat living in the United Kingdom with qualifying children, claiming the Foreign Tax Credit instead of the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion may be the better option to maximize your tax savings. While you are able to exclude up to $100,800 of your earned income in 2015 by claiming the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, you will forgo a possible refundable tax credit by doing so. Furthermore, the Foreign Tax Credit may not only benefit you in the current year but potentially in future years with a Foreign Tax Credit carryover since the UK tax rate is generally higher than the US tax rate. The Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the refundable Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) allow for a combined tax credit of up to $1,000 per child. Using the Foreign Tax Credit qualifies you to be eligible for both the CTC and ACTC. Alternatively, beginning in 2015, taxpayers who claim the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion or Foreign Housing Exclusion on Form 2555 are ineligible to claim the ACTC, leaving a potential tax refund on the table. Unless you have income that is not subject to UK tax, the Foreign Tax Credit will typically reduce your tax liability to $0 and also make you eligible for a refundable ACTC, as long as your income is under the phase-out limits.

General rules for claiming

In order to claim the child tax credits, your child must meet the following tests: 1. Is claimed as a dependent on your return; 2. Was under age 17 at the end of 2015; 3. Was a US citizen, a US national, or a US resident alien who lived with you


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Child Tax Credits for more than 6 months of the year, and 4. Has a valid tax identification number (SSN or ITIN) Your CTC may be reduced if either of the following applies: 1. If your tax liability is less than the credit, the credit is limited to your tax amount, but you may be able to claim the ACTC (see below). 2. Your modified adjusted gross income is more than the allowed amount based on your filing status. a. Married filing jointly – $110,000 b. Single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er) – $75,000 c. Married filing separately – $55,000.

The ACTC is for certain individuals who get less than the full amount of the CTC. The ACTC may give you a refund even if you do not owe any tax or have any US tax withholdings. The amount of the ACTC is generally the smaller of: 1. The amount of CTC remaining after reducing regular tax and AMT to zero, or 2. 15% of the taxpayer’s earned income in excess of the ACTC earned income threshold of $3,000.


Michael is a US citizen and is married to a UK citizen. They have two sons under the ages of 17. Their


tax credits on his tax return.

Are you Eligible for Child Tax Credits when Living Abroad? By Nancy Paustian, CPA, H&R Block Expat Tax Service

sons are US citizens and have Social Security Numbers. Michael’s filing status on his annual US tax return is Married Filing Separately. Example 1:  Michael’s adjusted gross income is $100,000.  His tax liability is $16,400.  He uses the Foreign Tax Credit to reduce his tax liability to $0.  Since Michael’s adjusted gross income is greater than the $55,000 phase-out amount, the $2,000 CTC must be reduced to $0.  Since Michael’s CTC is $0, he is not eligible to receive the ACTC.  Michael will not receive any child

tax credits on his tax return. Example 2:  Michael’s adjusted gross income is $85,000.  His tax liability is $12,400  He uses the Foreign Tax Credit to reduce his tax liability to $0.  Since Michael’s adjusted gross income is greater than the $55,000 phase-out amount, the $2,000 CTC must be reduced to $500.  Since Michael does not have a tax liability due to the Foreign Tax Credit, he will not be able to claim the CTC but will receive an ACTC refund of $500.  Michael will not receive any child

Example 3:  Michael’s adjusted gross income is $50,000.  His tax liability is $4,300.  He uses the Foreign Tax Credit to reduce his tax liability to $0.  Since Michael’s adjusted gross income is less than the $55,000 phase-out amount, the CTC is $2,000.  Since Michael does not have a tax liability due to the Foreign Tax Credit, he will not be able to claim the CTC but will receive an ACTC refund of $2,000. Example 4:  Michael’s adjusted gross income is $50,000.  He uses the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion to reduce his taxable income to $0.  His tax liability is $0.  Since Michael’s tax liability is $0, he will not be able to claim the CTC.  Since Michael claimed the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, he is not eligible for the ACTC.  Michael will not receive any child tax credits on his tax return. If you have filed using the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion and would have been entitled to the ACTC had you filed using the Foreign Tax Credit, there is an opportunity to amend up to your prior three years of tax returns to claim a possible refund.

H&R Block Expat Tax Services is a highly specialized team of tax attorneys, CPAs and enrolled agents whose singular focus is expat tax preparation for Americans abroad. Remember that due to the complexity of US tax reporting for expats and its highly factspecific nature, this article is general in nature. The American


Pitiful Powerpoint W

hy does everyone hate PowerPoint so much? Here’s my theory: people rarely see PowerPoint used as it’s meant to be used.You may know that organisations like Amazon don’t allow PowerPoint presentations at company meetings. You’ve also probably suffered through numerous tedious, PowerPoint-centred meetings and events featuring barely legible slides yourself. So if you harbor ill will toward PowerPoint, I don’t blame you. Of course, none of this is PowerPoint’s fault. Its real problems lie with us, its users, and they start with the widespread fear of public speaking. If you’re not a confident speaker, PowerPoint can be a useful crutch: just dump all of the information you want to convey on your slides. Heck, even write complete sentences and read them aloud if you need to. You’ll get through your presentation in one piece, albeit at the cost of boring or even alienating your audience. But it doesn’t have to be a crutch. If I were presenting instead of writing just now, above is the sort of slide I’d show you at this point. A good, text-only PowerPoint slide should have a catchy title, minimal text, and


The American

a design which reinforces your company’s branding (an oft-overlooked benefit of PowerPoint). Such slides shouldn’t be methodically read: they should only signpost what I’m about to say, or mirror the quick notes you might write down to remember what I’ve said later on. And that is my first key to PowerPoint success: Don’t narrate - illustrate. At their best, presentations can be almost cinematic, flowing from image to image with text taking on a heightened importance precisely through its sparseness. Instead, too many presenters use text on PowerPoint slides as a movie uses subtitles. Don’t try to tell a story with words; instead, focus on illustrating the story you’ll tell with your own voice, and add as many images (and as little text) as possible to supplement the words you’ll speak. If you want someone to listen to the words coming out of your mouth, why distract them with other words they’ll be tempted to read? Of course, not everyone is comfortable speaking to minimalistic slides without a script. But that leads to my second key to PowerPoint success: Prepare! The more time you can spend rehearsing a presentation,

by Darren Kilfara

the better it will be received by your audience. One shortcut to dramatically increasing the effectiveness of your presentations: take your standard word-heavy and image-light slides, create a second version of those slides with less text and more imagery, and practice using the old presentation as speaker’s notes for the new version. You’ll be surprised at how quickly this method will help you connect better with your audience! Ultimately, a good craftsman doesn’t blame his or her tools. PowerPoint is like a well-honed, perfectly fletched arrow: it can strike with great force, but good archery skills are still required for it to hit any target. If you’ve only ever seen pitiful PowerPointing, you have my deepest sympathies - but this is an area where you really can be the change you want to see in the world. Darren Kilfara is The American’s golf correspondent and an author. He’s also the founder and head of Spectacle Communications, a communications consultancy focused on making your corporate content look and sound great - for more information, visit

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Key Growth Areas For Overseas Investors

Embassy Gardens at Dusk


ong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia have dominated the international buyer profile in London over the last eight years. John Morley, founder and managing director of Johns&Co, the specialist agent for the premium new homes and luxury real estate markets, says he expects this trend to continue over the next year but believes the UK will also see a rise in the number of buyers coming from mainland China. Chinese buyers have always understood the US market – the US economy is one they aspire to and there are huge American manufacturing companies throughout the country, providing education opportunities which have typically been lacking here in the UK. However, over the last decade, a number of prevalent British developers have made a continuous effort to host exhibitions and conferences in China, which are beginning to bear fruit and Chinese buyers now have a good understanding of the market here. After the stock market jitters in China last year, people are looking to diversify their assets as less money is pumped into the local


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stock market. Property remains a superb investment and is great way to capitalise on your money.

New US Embassy

Now is the last opportunity to buy off plan in Phase One of Embassy Gardens, right next to the new US Embassy, with completions due to start taking place in summer this year. For savvy investors looking to purchase, units are up to 30 per cent lower than some of the new launches taking place in the area and the healthy capital growth of around 25 per cent over the last four years reaffirms confidence by proving what a safe investment property here is. These properties have also proved a popular rental option, with JOHNS&CO having let over 100 apartments in the last five months, all achieving high rents. Tenants in particular are attracted by the superb amenities on offer onsite at the development. Residents have exclusive use of the swimming pool and gym complex, the cinema suite and the Eg:le members club as well as the added benefit of a 24 hour security and concierge service.

Furthermore, New Union Square will form a principle hub offering shops, cafes and restaurants in the heart of the development providing space to socialise and relax and all a stone’s throw from the stunning new American Embassy building. The wealth of facilities and amenities are helping to establish a new community here, creating a wonderful atmosphere for tenants and buyers to enjoy. JOHNS&CO Nine Elms is the preferred letting and re-sales agent at Embassy Gardens and is the only agent with an office onsite. JOHNS&CO agents have seen an enthusiastic response from both London and international buyers looking to buy and rent, offering superbly appointed new homes in London’s new geopolitical heartland. Properties are available to buy and to rent through JOHNS&CO Nine Elms with prices starting at £535,000 or £425 per week. JOHNS&CO 8 Ponton Road, Embassy Gardens, Nine Elms, London SW8 5BA , +44 (0)20 7481 0600, embassy-gardens-sw8/


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Benjamin Franklin in London By George Goodwin


enjamin Franklin is well known to Americans for many things. He was the American patriot who helped to draft the Declaration of Independence. He was the envoy to France who proved crucial in winning the war against Britain. He was a scientist, acclaimed for the study of electricity that won him the 18th century equivalent of the Nobel Prize. He invented the lightning conductor and is also credited (wrongly) with inventing bifocals and (rightly) with creating a new musical instrument called the glass armonica — recently heard providing eerie music in the Harry Potter films. He was a businessman, printer and newspaper proprietor. He was a journalist and writer, and he remains, with his host of aphorisms, the most quoted of all Americans. There have been hundreds of books and articles written about Franklin, but none, until Benjamin Franklin in London: The British Life of America’s Founding Father, that has concentrated on his near two decades in London and focused on how, during four fifths of his long life, he not only considered himself to be British but campaigned for a Great British empire of North America. Born in Boston in 1706 and settling in Philadelphia in 1723, Franklin first lived in London from 1724 to ‘26 as a teenage printing apprentice. In 1757 he travelled from Philadelphia to London once again, but this time as a representative of the Assembly of Pennsylvania, though that gives


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no idea of his true public persona. It would be wrong to say that he was the first great transatlantic personality — that was Pocahontas — but he was most certainly the greatest of his day. In the late 1740s and early 1750s he had thrown himself into scientific research, published his results as Experiments and Observations on Electricity and won the world’s greatest scientific award together with Fellowship of the Royal Society. He was famous across Europe, with the great philosopher Immanuel Kant describing him as ‘The Prometheus of Modern Times’, and this son of a poor tallow chandler was eagerly embraced by a British aristocracy in thrall to a scientific craze. Franklin made his home in London’s Craven Street, south of the Strand at its western end. Here, with just a brief return to America (1762-4), he would enjoy the life of an English gentleman right up to early 1775. This house, the only one that remains of all those in which Franklin lived — on both sides of the Atlantic — still stands today and has just celebrated its 10th anniversary as the Benjamin Franklin House museum and education centre ( Dr Franklin was a man of influence, as was shown almost exactly 250 years ago, on 13 February 1766, when he gave the crucial testimony to the House of Commons that persuaded them to repeal the Stamp Act, the cause of the first major breakdown

in Anglo-Colonial relations. However, just a year later, he began to fear that a number of anti-American British politicians would drive Britain and America apart through a clumsy attempt to tax the Colonies without consent. He was, though, never in any doubt as to which would be the material loser if it came to a breach: it would be Britain. Franklin could comprehend something those politicians could not, which was the potential of America; he saw, in his own words, ‘an immense Territory, favoured by Nature with all Advantages of Climate, Soil, great navigable Rivers and Lakes etc., [that] must become a great Country, populous and mighty’. Its vast spaces and healthy climate would favour a population which he predicted, with uncanny precision, would double every quarter century. Yet in the years before 1775 he did not want those riches for America alone, but as part of a Great British empire of North America. It was a long-held dream. In 1754 he had written ‘I look on the Colonies as so many counties gained to Great Britain’ and that remained his view. All but a few warmed to Franklin. He dined with Kings, had access to successive Prime Ministers and was friends with philosophers and great men of science such as David Hume and Joseph Priestley, as well as being on excellent terms with the rascally James Boswell and infamous Francis Dashwood of the Hellfire Club. As London and Britain welcomed him, so

David Martin, Benjamin Franklin, 1767, painted in London

he appreciated his British life, writing in 1763, ‘that little Island enjoy[s] in almost every Neighbourhood more sensible, virtuous and elegant Minds than we can collect in ranging 100 Leagues of our vast Forests. But, ’tis said, the Arts delight to travel Westward. You have effectually defended us in this glorious [Seven Years’] War, and in time you will improve us’. Yet that time was not to be provided, because of the cost of that war, which nearly doubled Britain’s national debt. Successive British governments believed that the colonists should contribute to the cost of their army in America, which was reasonable in itself. But they did so by levying illegal taxes, which was not. Franklin may have been able to get the Stamp Act repealed, but he could do nothing against further taxes — including those on tea. He became a major figure of the opposition, British as well as American. He realized that only a change of British government would bring an end to the crisis, because each British action and colonial reaction hardened opinion on both sides, yet this was something that even the brilliant Dr Franklin was unable to achieve. He had considered retiring to Britain and a life among his friends of many years. But in 1775 he was forced to flee to escape arrest, and it was only then, at the age of nearly seventy, that he chose the role that would bring him his greatest fame of all – that of American Founding Father. George Goodwin is the author of Benjamin Franklin in London: The British Life of America’s Founding Father, published this month in cloth and e-book in the UK and USA. http://www. George is arranging a series of talks and book groups for American societies and groups of individuals – further details from


a signed copy of the book and 2 free entry tickets to the Benjamin Franklin House Museum Just answer to this question: Benjamin Franklin was born in (a) Philadelphia (b) New York (c) Boston How to Enter: Email your answer and contact details to with BENJAMIN FRANKLIN in the subject line; or post to: BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, The American, Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK; to arrive by mid-day May 2nd. Only one entry per person per draw. The editor’s decision is final. No cash alternative. You are responsible for any travel, accomodation or other expenses.

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Miss Plain Janes & Patricia Automobiles T

o our surprise, after living in the UK for a decade, it turns out England is actually bigger than London! London is like a spider spinning a giant web, and train lines burst out in radial strands that lead positively everywhere - hedge-lined roads hide places like Pease Pottage, or Middle Wallop, (located just above Nether Wallop). Those lush scenes in Jane Austen movies aren’t sets. That is merely the actual appearance of the English countryside. I told a British friend we had gone to Chawton, rhyming it with Jaw-ton, but he couldn’t understand me. I tried again. He finally got it: ‘Oh! Chooaton!’ He did that thing where posh Brits speak through a hole in their lips the size of an iphone camera dot. Chawton House was Jane Austen’s home during her productive writing days. Why are pilgrimages to the homes of the famous popular? Reading their


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words lets us share in their thoughts, so perhaps their homes might have shaped those words along with their lives. You can take a train to Alton, adding a walk to Chawton House, but we went all American and took our own wheels. To our delight, the A3 progresses in a straightish direction, unlike most British roads which resemble a three-year-old’s squiggles on the map. We passed through Selborne, with such a slow speed limit that you can visit their working pottery and find your driver still creeping along when you come out…hop back in to pass ‘Gracious Street’. It was that kind of day. At a glance, Chawton seems an odd choice for a single lady in need of a gentleman in possession of a fortune in want of a wife. Pastoral it is, but it doesn’t appear to offer lively opportunities to ‘meet people’ - today’s happy euphemism for a cracking sex life. But country living offered quiet concentration for

writers. Beatrix Potter, content with squirrel friendships, may have been better suited than Miss Austen to this lifestyle. Austen-not-Texas kept herself busy though, cranking out six romantic novels before her early death of something or other, undiagnosed at age 41. That’s six novels more than most of us! But in fairness, she spent her life as a Lady in Waiting and had spare time on her inky hands. Who’s more romantic than someone short of romance? She wore out quill pens on a tabletop the size of a pie, to the shame of the rest of us, who believe that if we spend enough, our latest laptop will support the talent app we need. Her novels reflected the humility of modest circumstance. She was dependent upon the largesse of a more fortunate sibling - a brother whose timely adoption by a wealthy relative created a caretaker-heir for three homes, each as luxurious as

Jane Austen gazes at her country retreat, Chawton House where she waited ...and waited PHOTO © CHAWTON HOUSE

Downton Abbey. This lucky brother discovered a spare ‘cottage’ in his package deal (what we Americans would call a 4-bedroom family home) in which to house his mother, sisters and a cook, for their lifetimes. Jane got no points on any film deals either, although in 1996, one of her brother’s descendants said he wouldn’t mind a cheque, as his job as a mechanic was dead boring. However, with one of these mansions right down the road, Jane also participated in a life of luxury, albeit only as a guest at The Big House, where she and her sister were too elevated in social status to help with the washing up. (This reminds me of the time a friend called us Yuppies. Then he apologetically amended: ‘I mean, without the money.’) The self-guided tour includes a snoopy-feeling view of Jane’s tiny bedroom, shared with her Beloved Sister Cassandra. Everyone always calls her that. Tactful notices refuted

sexual suggestions one never dreamed of making in the first place, stating that they had been close as children, and simply continued the habit of sleeping together as adults, since no husbands were around to take up bed space (or to shed hairs, as Mr Patricia is in the habit of doing. When I am murdered, inspectors will wonder why I was sleeping with a German Shepherd beneath the sheets.) Plainly, the first question raised in a home with so little privacy is where ladies had orgasms in the 18th century. I had a landlady once who perfected two syllables in the word “Pull-EASE!” in her cut-glass accent. Alas, Jane seems to have spent her brief life waiting for Mr Right. She finally agreed to marry one hopeful applicant, but after a late night whispering with Cassandra about his shortcomings, she rescinded her acceptance in the morning and sent for her spinster certificate instead.

From that time on, she wrote about other young ladies playing The Waiting Game, patiently refining techniques on the pianoforte and embroidery hoops, the mantraps of her day. Certainly, her stitchery demonstrated fine eyesight, if that’s what they were looking for. I believe the enduring appeal of her novels is that The Waiting Game is actually eternal, as well as seeming like it. Now one has to live with German Shepherds for YEARS before a gentleman must be informed not only that it’s time to marry, but also that he must be first to think of it. Jane is proudly claimed as a citizen wherever she lived …even in Winchester where she only dallied for a very few weeks with medical treatments which failed her. Winchester is thrilled to possess her body, a bit ironic when one considers the low value placed on it by marriageable gentlemen when it was in prime condition.

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Right: Mr Speaker Bercow entertains Mr President © UK PARLIAMENT/ CATHERINE BEBBINGTON

Mr Speaker by Mr Speaker The Rt Hon John Bercow MP, The Speaker of the House of Commons, tells The American about his historic job, what it means in the 21st Century, and how it’s different to the American version


hat is the role and history of the Speaker? The role of Speaker dates back officially to 1377, when Sir Thomas Hungerford was appointed to preside over the “Bad Parliament” during the reign of Edward III. Whilst he is the first person to be mentioned in the Parliamentary archives as holding a position roughly recognisable as a precursor to the modern Speakership, equivalent presiding officers had existed since 1258, when Peter de Montfort is said to have presided over the so-called “Mad Parliament” held at Oxford that year. Sir Thomas Hungerford’s appointment was due largely to the influence of Edward III’s second son, John of Gaunt, and the Speaker was correctly considered a stooge of the monarchy for the next four hundred years. However, the expectation that the Speaker operated as “the King’s man” was a double-edged sword for the holder of the office, given that he would occasionally be


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obliged to deliver unwelcome news to the monarch. This made the role of Speaker quite perilous; seven Speakers were executed by beheading between 1394 and 1535. Over time, Parliament began to push back against the power of the King and, inevitably, this had an effect on the Speakership. Throwing this incremental change into sharp relief was the famous altercation between King Charles I and the Speaker, William Lenthall. In 1642, Lenthall refused to identify five Members that Charles wanted to arrest for High Treason, telling the King, “May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place, but as this House is pleased to direct me, and whose servant I am.” Following the English Civil War, and certainly since 1660, Speakers often had political associations with, and sometimes held posts in, the government. Speaker Arthur Onslow became the youngest ever

Speaker of the House of Commons in 1728 at the age of 37, and served a record-breaking 33 years in the role. It was Onslow who was responsible for distancing the role of Speaker from government, and established many of the practices associated with the Speaker today. By the mid-nineteenth century, it was the norm that the Speaker should be independent of political party. Today, as set out in the Parliamentary rule book, Erskine May, “Confidence in the impartiality of the Speaker is an indispensable condition of the successful working of procedure, and many conventions exist which have as their object not only to ensure the impartiality of the Speaker but also to ensure that his impartiality is generally recognised.” At a general election the Speaker stands as “the Speaker seeking reelection”, and it is unusual (although by no means unheard of) for the major political parties to stand against him.

How does the Speaker of the House of Commons differ from Speaker of the House of Representatives in the USA? The roles are so vastly different that I would say that their only major resemblance is a shared title. The British Speaker exists to “keep order” in the Chamber; to ensure that the executive is held to account, that Bills are scrutinised by the legislature, and to adjudicate on any arising disputes. As such, and according to the long-established convention, the Speaker has to be, and be seen to be, scrupulously impartial. He or she must not belong to a political party, publicly express political views, or vote (except in the event of a tie). The role of the American Speaker is, by contrast, explicitly political. Indeed, he or she is responsible for ensuring that the House passes the laws supported by the majority party in the House of Representatives. If anything, the British Speaker – or at least a good British Speaker – should consider it his or her job to facilitate the challenging of Government legislation. In many ways, the Speaker of the House of Representatives is more analogous to a leader of a British political party. I mentioned earlier that the Speaker of the UK Parliament votes only in the event of a tie and, even then, there is a strict protocol on which way he or she votes. By contrast, my Congressional counterpart does vote, albeit rarely, on issues relating to major legislation or constitutional amendments. Are you still surprised by things that happen in the House? Always. No two days in the Speaker’s chair are the same, and


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each has its own challenges. Two days stand out in particular, which I will always remember. The first is the debate on mental health, which took place on 14th June 2012. In the words of Gavin Barwell MP, it facilitated an exchange of views that mixed the personal testimonies of Parliamentary colleagues with what we have come to learn about mental health as constituency MPs. The speeches of Kevan Jones and Charles Walker, who both spoke movingly of their own experiences, won widespread acclaim and were rightly heralded as an important moment in challenging the stigma associated with mental health difficulties. The second is the Syria debate of December 2015, in which there were a number of good speeches from both sides, and a few really excellent ones. As a mark of respect to both my parliamentary colleagues and the strong feelings elicited by the subject matter, I undertook to stay in the Chair for the duration of the proceedings – which amounted to over ten hours. What should Americans look out for when we visit the House? The Palace of Westminster is a truly incredible place: a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Grade I listed building and is well worth a visit. It is impossible to convey in only a couple of sentences the most impressive parts of the Palace, not least because it often comes down to personal taste but for my part, I would choose Westminster Hall, the Royal Gallery, and the House of Commons Chamber. Westminster Hall is the oldest part of the Estate, dating back to 1097, and has survived floods, fires, explosions and two World Wars. It has been home to orange sellers and bookstalls, used

as a tennis court for one monarch, and hosted the trial of different one. The Royal Gallery behind the Lords Chamber is simply magnificent, and sharp-eyed American visitors might notice a mural just outside depicting the Pilgrim Fathers departing England on Mayflower. The Commons Chamber is iconic, and the most recognisable part of our Parliament to American visitors, although I am often told that guests are surprised at how small it is once they are in there. Was it always your ambition to become Speaker? Yes and no. I have never had any aspirations to be Prime Minister or even a Cabinet Minister, but I was always interested in the proceedings of the House of Commons and the opportunities available to the Speaker to drive reform, both in terms of holding the government to account and scrutinising legislation, and how the House operates as an institution. Although I was mindful that there might not be a vacancy for Speaker (there are no term limits imposed on the Speakership) and, even if there were, I might not win it, it was a job that, I confess, I thought I would do well at, if and when the opportunity arose. Do you still act as a local MP? Absolutely. The Speaker is still a local representative for his or her area and most weekends you will find me beavering away in my Buckingham constituency holding surgeries, meeting with residents, opening fetes and visiting schools. I act for my constituents in precisely the same was as every other Member of Parliament. I thoroughly enjoy being the MP for Buckingham, and I hope that my constituents feel that I do a good job for them.









HOME OF THE CODEBREAKERS Once Britain’s Best Kept Secret, today Bletchley Park is a heritage site and vibrant tourist attraction. Open daily, visitors can explore the iconic WW2 Codebreaking Huts and Blocks and marvel at the astonishing achievements of the Codebreakers whose work helped shorten the war. For directions and more details visit:

Mr Speaker Bercow overseas a Youth Parliament in the © UK PARLIAMENT/JESSICA TAYLOR Commons Chamber

Do you miss being a “regular” MP, taking part in votes etc.? Occasionally I miss it, but for the most part I enjoy my job chairing the proceedings in the Chamber so much, that it doesn’t bother me. Was it difficult to give up your party political affiliation? It was a bit of a wrench, as I had been a member of the Conservative Party since I was in my teens, and had served as a Conservative MP for twelve years until I became Speaker. However, it is a tradition dating back to the 18th century that the Speaker is independent, so it is not really a choice that I, or any of my predecessors, had. But do I regret it? No. Who’s the most awkward MP in the House to deal with? I wouldn’t like to give your readers the impression that there is a single individual from a particular party who is noticeably and consistently more awkward than their colleagues. However, I would say that each party contains its own “characters” and leave it there. Can you give some examples of funny incidents that have happened in the House when you have presided as Speaker? In 2011, in a speech on whether or not there should be a referendum on the European Union, the Conservative MP for Broxbourne, Charles Walker, stood up and said,


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(right) President Obama raises a laugh, Westminster Hall

“If not now, when?” and sat down again. As speeches go, it was rather on the short side but it had the merit of getting his view across, something that some colleagues struggle to do even with many long minutes at their disposal. What is the strangest tradition in the House? There are so many strange traditions in the House, that it is difficult to pick the all-time oddest. It was the case that, if a Member wanted to make a Point of Order during a division (that is, when the House is voting), they had to put a top hat on. A collapsible version of such a hat was kept in the Chamber specifically for the purpose, and it would routinely be thrown from one side of the House to the other at the request of the MP wanting to speak. The practice has been long since discontinued, maybe because nobody could remember why it existed in the first place. Today, perhaps the strangest tradition is that when a Bill has passed its third reading in the Commons, it is taken to the House of Lords for their consideration. It is not emailed. It is not even sent in the internal post. Instead, the chief clerk writes – in Norman French, no less – the words “Soit baillé aux Seigneurs” (“let it be transferred to the Lords”) at the start of the Bill, and solemnly marches it to the upper House, which we in the Commons refer to as “the other place” in order that they can have a


look at it. Rather a strange way to go about such matters! Are there any rules or customs that you have to uphold that you’d like to see disappear: maybe clapping? The Speaker is the servant of the House and, as its servant, it is my job to uphold its customs and traditions. Should the House wish to change those rules, I would abide by their decision, but it is not, and should not, be up to me to express a view. You decided not to wear court dress – why? Several reasons, really. First, the State Robe is expensive. It’s expensive to buy, and to maintain. If it’s worn every day, it will – naturally – fall victim to the usual wear and tear any work attire is wont to. I’m committed to cutting costs where I can but I also felt that wearing it only on special occasions would add an air of importance and ceremony to proceedings. I wore it when I had the honour of welcoming President Obama to Parliament in 2011, and I wear it when the Queen visits Parliament at the beginning of every session. On a dayto-day basis, I wear a simple collegestyle gown over my suit. “Order, order” is probably the most famous phrase spoken in Parliament: why was it chosen? Has it always been that formula? Have you ever been tempted to say “Shut up” instead?

Not a bad place to work: Visitors enjoy a tour of (left) The Royal Gallery and (right) Westminster Hall © UK PARLIAMENT

When the Speaker says “Order”, he or she is actually calling on the House to behave in an “orderly” fashion. It means that colleagues should stop barracking and shouting, sit down, and behave in the manner which the conventions of the House dictate. It has always been the form of words used in the past couple of hundred years – although, as with so many traditions in Parliament, it is hard to place when it started. I have never been tempted to say “shut up”. A well-timed “Order!” deployed from the Chair during a raucous sitting of the House has precisely the same meaning. You have a residence in the Palace of Westminster. Do you live there? I do. Not in all of it, you understand, as Speaker’s House is rather large. It contains my office as Speaker on the principal floor, my constituency office on the top floor, and a couple of staff rooms on the mezzanine floor. There are also the State Rooms, which are a set of rooms that I loan to charities and organisations in order that they can hold events, and it is in the dining room that I hold my regular Speaker Lecture Series, where my parliamentary colleagues give speeches on topics of interest. I have a flat – and it is a very nice flat – on the very top floor, which I live in with my wife, our three young children, our cat, and my eldest son’s tortoise, Shelly.

Has the role of Speaker changed in the 21st century? The constitutionalist, Walter Bagehot, once wrote that the British constitution was like an old man who wears the clothes fashionable in his youth: what you see of him is the same, what you do not is entirely changed. This is an apt analogy with respect to the role of Speaker, and Parliament in general. As Speaker, I have wanted to open up Parliament to a wider range of people. I am not just the person who tries to facilitate the scrutiny of legislation, and say “order, order” a lot – I try to be an ambassador for Parliament too. When I am not undertaking my duties in the House, or in my Buckingham constituency, I like to be out visiting schools and voluntary organisations making speeches, and taking their questions, and I do so extremely regularly. It requires a lot of travel – standard class, of course – which is often enlivened by the surprising number of people who want to take a “selfie” with the Speaker. I am always happy to oblige, and it’s rather fun. I have also, as chair of the House of Commons Commission which is the senior governing body of the House, battled to improve the Parliament as an institution and employer. After a series of protracted battles, Parliament now has a nursery and a state of the art Education Centre, and we have ensured that nobody

who is employed by the House of Commons is on a zero hours contract unless they want to be. How would you like to see the House of Commons change? Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) is the Parliamentary exchange that, undoubtedly, generates the most interest from the public, not least because passions can run high. To be clear, it has been occasionally said that I am against PMQs, but nothing could be further from the truth. PMQs, which gives backbench MPs an opportunity to raise their concerns directly with the Prime Minister, is the envy of countries that don’t have it. When I travel abroad to visit other parliaments, I am often told by members of those parliaments how jealous they are of the session, and wish that their own system could adopt something similar. However, it is a fact that sometimes “passionate” crosses the line, and the decibel level actively impedes proceedings. I have often said that this behaviour is a spray painting of our shop window. There are many thoughtful, considered and interesting debates that go on in the Commons, but everyone gets so hung up on PMQs and how we behave in it, that it often goes unnoticed. When you leave the role you will be made a Peer – will you go onto the Conservative or Crossbenches? It has been the convention in

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recent times that the Speaker, upon standing down, goes to the House of Lords as a crossbench peer, as Speakers are meant to retain political impartiality for life so do not sit on the government or opposition benches. What’s been your greatest achievement as Speaker so far? I have a modest amount of pride in a number of things that I, along with my colleagues, have achieved. However, I think that the achievement that gives me the most satisfaction is that we finally managed to build an Education Centre in Parliament. For years there had been in the ether plans for the establishment of an Education Centre, but nothing had happened. We worked at it, we developed the plans, we got the permission from the local authority, we established the makeup of the site and the contents that would go into it. I was delighted to attend its opening in July 2015. It is a new state-of-the-art, cutting edge, digital, interactive facility, which will allow more than a doubling of the young people who can come to Parliament and learn about the arduous journey to the rights and representations which we all enjoy today. Finally, what’s the best thing about being John Bercow? The best thing about being John Bercow is having a job that I thoroughly enjoy, and a family that I love very much.

Visiting Parliament

Tours of the Houses of Parliament which include the Commons Chamber are available every Saturday and on most weekdays during parliamentary recesses.


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Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Rd, London SW7 2RL March 19 to July 3


Inquisitive Eyes: Slade Painters in Edwardian Wessex, 1900 - 1914 Royal West of England Academy, Queen’s Road, Bristol BS8 1PX to June 12 (closed Mondays excl. Bank Holidays)

Featuring artists such as Augustus John, William Orpen and John Everett, the importance of the Wessex landscape during a pivotal moment in British art is revealed for the first time. In the early twentieth-century, a group of radical artists who were associated with the Slade and New English Art Club, explored and expanded the boundaries of art while roaming the hills around Purbeck. This rural Dorset retreat played host to an informal artists’ ‘colony’, evidently as significant


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as St. Ives or Newlyn, but hitherto unrecognised. The exhibition also features major works by Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell, whose depictions of the Wessex coastline lend an intriguing comparison with the previously assumed ‘modern’ work of the Slade painters, suggesting that the modernist battle was, in fact, waged upon the beaches of Dorset. Loans include major works from national collections including the NMM, the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, as well as privately owned works by Philip Wilson Steer, Henry Tonks, William Orpen and Vanessa Bell, some unseen for generations. Paul Strand, Wall Street New York, 1915 ©PAUL STRAND ARCHIVE APERTURE FOUNDATION

A major retrospective of work by American photographer and film maker Paul Strand (1890-1976), the first in the UK since his death. One of the greatest and most influential photographers of the C20th, his images have defined the understanding and practice of fine art and documentary photography today. With c. 200 objects spanning Strand’s entire career, including his breakthrough trials in abstraction and candid street portraits, closeups of natural and machine forms, and extended explorations of the American Southwest, Mexico, New England, France, Italy, Scotland, Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, and Romania. This touring exhibition is organised by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in collaboration with Fundación MAPFRE and made possible by the Terra Foundation for American Art. For the UK presentation a significant number of additional vintage prints from the V&A’s own photography collection, one of the largest and most important in the world, are on show.

Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers

Barbican Art Gallery, Barbican Centre, Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS March 16 to June 19

KAWS, Small Lie, 2013



Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, Wakefield WF4 4LG to June 12 The first UK museum exhibition of work by the renowned American artist KAWS, whose wide ranging practice includes painting, sculpture, graphic design, toys and prints. The Longside Gallery features the artist’s large, bright, graphic acrylic canvases alongside towering sculptures in fibreglass and wood. Other imposing monumental sculptures in KAWS’ trademark style, nostalgic characters in the process of growing up, are exhibited in the open air. The Brooklyn-based artist often subverts or reworks cartoon images, familiar to a worldwide audience, traversing cultural and language barriers. Considered one of the most relevant artists of his generation, he has, within the Pop Art tradition, created a prolific body of influential work, which

both engages young people with contemporary art and straddles the worlds of art and design to include street art and graffiti, graphic and product design, murals, paintings and large-scale sculptures. sense of national identity. Brian Donnelly (b.1974) grew up in Jersey City, where he did graffiti, frequently tagging walls and freight trains with the letters K A W S. He graduated in illustration from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan in the early '90s. He conceived his soft skull with crossbones and crossed-out eyes, which became a signature gesture. After college, he briefly worked as a freelancer for Disney, which further catalysed his appropriation of iconic characters from popular culture and comic books.

Curated by the iconic British photographer Martin Parr, this draws together the portrayals of the social, cultural and political identity of the UK by international photographers from the 1930s onwards. From social documentary and portraiture to street and architectural photography, the exhibition celebrates the work of leading photographers, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Rineke Dijkstra, Robert Frank and Garry Winogrand. Bringing together compelling photographs and previously unseen bodies of work, it presents a vibrant portrait of modern Britain. Henri Cartier-Bresson Coronation of King George VI, Trafalgar Square, London, 12 May 1937 © HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON / MAGNUM PHOTOS

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Mona Bismarck Center for Art & Culture, 34 Avenue de New York, 75116 Paris, France and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Pantin 69 Avenue du Général Leclerc, 93500 Pantin , France March 12 to July 11

Eugène Delacroix Self Portrait, c. 1837 Oil on canvas 65 x 54.5 cm © RMN-GRAND PALAIS (MUSÉE DU LOUVRE) / JEAN-GILLES BERIZZI

Delacroix and The Rise of Modern Art Sainsbury Wing, The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN to May 22

Fresh from the Minneapolis Institute of Art, NG’s exhibition partner, and containing a significant number of their works, this landmark exhibition is the first presentation of Delacroix’s art in Britain for more than 50 years. Described as the last painter of the Grand Style and the first of the modern masters, Eugène Delacroix (1798 -1863) was the top French artist of the first half of the C19th. Complex, contradictory, a rebel and an outsider, he was the engine of revolution that helped transform the art of French painting in the C19th. On his death he was the most revered artist in Paris. Baudelaire described him as “a poet in painting” while Cézanne observed, “we all paint in Delacroix’s language”. Arguably he was the most


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influential artist of his era. Credited with liberating color and technique from traditional rules and practices, he paved the way for new styles of painting such as Impressionism. The exhibition explores Delacroix’s influence on his contemporaries, such as Chassériau, Courbet, and Géricault and later artists who found inspiration in his art, including Manet, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Renoir, Matisse and Kandinsky. Displayed thematically, there are over 60 works by Delacroix together with his contemporaries and later admirers, borrowed from 30 major public and private collections around the world, including the Musée du Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, and the Petit Palais, Paris, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

Featuring many of the most exciting contemporary artists based in Los Angeles, including Edgar Arceneaux, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Math Bass, Mark Bradford, Sam Falls, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Jonathan Pylypchuk, Fay Ray, Ry Rocklen, Amanda Ross-Ho, Analia Saban, Shannon Ebner/Erika Vogt, and Brenna Youngblood, this LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division - a non-profit organisation) exhibition draws on TS Eliot’s seminal modernist poem, The Waste Land, as the thematic thread, presenting a reflexive, complex, multi-dimensional conversation with work in many different media and styles. Fay Ray, Image, Idol, Double:01, 2015 Archival inkjet print, archival fiber-based adhesive on aluminum panel 60×96×2 (152.4×243.8×5.1) © FAY RAY, COURTESY OF THE ARTIST PHOTO: JEFF MCLANE

Š Amy Murrell

Tart Tropezienne

6 Hollywood Road, London SW10 9HY Octopus carpaccio with spring onion, chili and lemon dressing

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andol is a small town on the Côte d’Azur. It is also a new restaurant in Chelsea. The first has everything you want for a seaside holiday. The second probably has better food! This is the second venture by dream team Sylvia Kontek and Vittorio Monge, the creators of Margaux in South Kensington. Their combination of French food in an edgy urban setting is a foodie’s delight. Not for me though. Together with Head Chef, Zsolt Ferencz, they have made my job very difficult. There is nothing to criticize! Well, one thing. The tables are too close together. That’s it. Apart from the difficulty of getting in and out from the banquette, I adored everything. Are they trying to put me out of work?! Or was it planned, so the other patrons could enjoy the sight of my derriere, squeezing past their warm prawn salad? The interior is an eclectic mix of brushed metal tables, polished copper, a splash of brick, an exposed steel beam, cosy alcoves and climb-


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Reviewed by Michael M Sandwick

ing vines, all surrounding an ancient olive tree. It takes genius to make all that work together. The menu is anything but eclectic. It is however, inventive, inspired and remarkably reasonable considering its posh location. Two glasses of prosecco and two slices of pissaladière appeared on the table unbidden. Magic. Then they vanished. More magic! Octopus carpaccio with spring onion, chili and lemon dressing (£13.50) was the best octopus I have ever had. Tender, flavorful, complex and balanced. An absolute must. Petite friture de poisson (£11) with prawns, white bait, baby squid and delicate aioli was a good contrast; the batter thin and perfectly crisp. Both were nicely paired with a bottle of Bandol Blanc, 2012, Domaine De Terrebrune (£60). This certified organic blend has a unique taste of citrus and apple, not unlike a light Riesling with a slightly bitter finish. Excellent with all our fish courses. The wine list is well thought out, with a good selection by the glass

and carafe and a nice range of bottles for under £50. There are as many versions of bouillabaisse as there are fish in the sea. I am far from fond of all of them, and generally prefer my own. Sadly, Chef Ferencz has outdone me! We are however, similar in style, using broth instead of “gravy” and flavoring with fennel. Bandol Bouillabaisse is simply gorgeous. At £18, the meal deal of the year! Fillet of Saint-Pierre (aka John Dory) was equally good, but priced at £23. Served with artichokes, capers and drenched in beurre noisette, it was a dish after my own heart. Milk fondant (£8) was a scrumptious sweet and sour mousse with caramelized figs. Tart Tropezienne was the world’s lightest cream puff with a beautiful berry compote. We were enchanted. As we were with the staff. Charm personified! Coupled with competence and knowledge, they couldn’t have been better. All this praise is dull. Next time, I expect something to criticize!

The Adelphi Building 1-11 John Adam Street WC2N 6HT London

Bookings: 020 7321 6007

BBQ Pineapple

Crab fritters

6 Pancras Square, King’s Cross, London N1C 4AG


he redevelopment around King’s Cross just gets better and better. When you exit the station towards Pancras Road, there is a pedestrian walkway up to brand new Pancras Square, complete with gardens, water feature and (surprise!) places to eat and drink!!! This is a London version of a New York restaurant. Huge! Neo warehouse in style, it sprawls over two floors, with an open kitchen, mega-bar and perhaps the most amazing array of chairs and banquettes known to man. Add a year round terrace spanning the length of the square and it is an impressive space. Our waiter won me over right away by announcing that the steak tartare and aubergine lasagne were not available. It is always so irritating to get one’s heart set on something only to be told it is sold out. So I set my heart on short rib and mushroom pot pie only to be told it was sold out! Note to kitchen: when there are only a few


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pies left, give them to one waiter. Alternatively, make more pies! Note to waiter: you were flawless all night! Crab fritters with sweet corn and chili (£6.95) were more fritter than crab. Crunchy and satisfying nonetheless, with an interesting dip (citrus peel glaze?). Seared rare tuna with sesame and ginger (£7.95) was flavorful, balanced and well presented. The best dish of the night. With the starters we had a very large glass of Chablis, Prieuré St Côme, 2014 (£10.50) and a Sancerre, Lucien Crochet, 2013 (£10.95). The Chablis was surprisingly onedimensional for the price. Tart. The Sancerre was much rounder with hints of peach. Great with the tuna. These were from the high end of the wine list which is well balanced both in price and range. Bottles from £16 – 40. Pork belly with peach BBQ (£11.50) was tender and flavorful, the peach a nice addition. Duck

Reviewed by Michael M Sandwick breast with chili glaze (£13.95) was tasty, but promised pink and served medium-well. Buttered spinach (£3.95) and excellent sweet potato fries (£4.50) rounded out the meal. 2 more very large glasses of wine washed it all down. A dark and spicy Malbec, Obra Prima Reserva, Familia Cassone, 2011 (£11.70) and a light and fruity Brouilly “Corentin”, Domaine Laurent Martray, 2013 (£12). Completely different in character, they were both excellent wines, again from the high end. BBQ pineapple with coconut sorbet and passion fruit (£5.95) was a good combination though the unripened pineapple needed more sugar. Salted chocolate caramel tart (£5.95) is a dessert after my own heart. Sweet, salt and chocolate is pure delight. Downstairs has a wonderful lounge feel, with intimate seating and a second bar. There’s private rooms for hire, mixology classes and that terrace. A space to watch!

RESTAURANT LE GABRIEL 42 Avenue Gabriel, 75008 Paris, France


had been told about the boutique hotel, La Reserve, which had opened in the former premises of Pierre Cardin’s mansion and was searching for it when by chance I came across Le Gabriel Restaurant that is separate but part of the hotel. First, however, I decided to take a quick peek at the hotel. On entering, it was as if I had stepped back into the Belle Epoque era of the 19th century. Now, I cannot tell a lie, I love beautiful people as well as beautiful surroundings and it was the Parisian women that I noticed first. There may be far more attractive women in London or New York, but when it comes to quiet, sophisticated styling, the French woman outshines us all. Being a woman on her own

Reviewed by Virginia Schultz

sometimes means second rate service, possibly because we females are not as generous when it comes to tipping. I soon discovered that while it may be true in many Parisian restaurants, it’s certainly not in Le Gabriel. In fact, by the time I was finished with lunch I had made the decision that on my next visit to Paris I would stay at La Reserve and have dinner at Le Gabriel. I started with white truffle with egg, broccoli and watercress. It was fabulous. I debated about ordering the pigeon with roasted vegetable, but as I was going to a friends for dinner that evening decided not to. However, the American woman at the table next to me said it was excellent, and one of the best lunches she and her companion

had in Paris. In fact, they were planning to return for dinner with friends before they returned to the States. Being a chocolate lover, I couldn’t resist the chocolate soufflé with cocoa sorbet for dessert. My glass of Sauvignon blanc was excellent as well. As for service, perfect throughout the lunch. Would I return? Absolutely. Preferably with a friend paying the bill as it is expensive. If not, it will, undoubtedly, break my budget for several months, but it will be worth it. (Tasting menu €115). The hotel as well as the restaurant, I might add, would be the perfect places to celebrate one’s anniversary or that special birthday...

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Lobster BLT

@ The Three Compasses, 99 Dalston Lane, London E8 1NH

@ The Three Compasses Reviewed by Michael M Sandwick


op up restaurants are an offshoot of the street food culture that has turned London into pig heaven. So trendy, they are popping up like popcorn all over. Even in our local pubs! Under-cover street food. YES! Let’s face it, no one has ever written a happy little song about dining in the rain! Too, when you pop out to your neighborhood pop up, you never get same old-same old. Win-win! The Three Compasses is a very cosy pub, just a short walk from Dalston Junction. It’s known for friendly service and indeed, Ryan took very good care of us. It has just the right combination of edge and atmosphere; cool, with period leather banquettes and lighting that even I look good in! All very sedate, till I went to the gents. Here the designer went a bit gaga, painted the walls gold and hung a chandelier! I guess there’s a little


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Louis Quatorze in us all! The kitchen runs by residency only, so there is a new pop-up every few months. Until the end of January, it was CLAW that manned the pots and pans. Founded by Fabian Clark, CLAW is quite simply, a tribute to the Devon crab, street food style. The CLAW menu consists solely of burgers from £8.50 to £12 and three side dishes. The quality is very good. Local, sustainable, responsible, organic and most importantly, tasty! There are fish, octopus, meat and veg options, but we decided to stick with the crab theme. Samphire (£10) consisted of crab, iceberg, samphire, claw sauce and organic brioche. Simple and to the point, this was crab at its best, lifted by hip sea veg and a good, soft bun. The Kimchi, also at £10 was the spicy version, with the addition of hot Korean cabbage and a chili remoulade. A flavor bomb with lots of kick, but if you really want the

taste of crab, go with the Samphire. As there were only three sides, we decided to sample all of them. The Arancini (£4) was by far the best of the bunch. Crab risotto balls, filled with mozzarella, deep fried and served with lemon aioli. Excellent! Lots going on, great crust, piping hot and still the delicate taste of crab. The Slaw at £3 was just a simple red cabbage slaw without the usual gobs of runny mayo. Quite sweet, but enjoyable and filled me with veggie virtue while I was stuffing my gob and swilling East London gin! The Crab & Mac (£5) didn’t work at all. There was simply no taste, crab or cheese. It was a shame. Everything else was on the money. In fact, I would be more than happy if CLAW would pop up in my hood. Check out their website for where you can get your CLAWS on their Devon crab! www.clawfood. com

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Cellar Talk Getting Fresh By Virginia E Schultz

Virginia Schultz finds wines to go with fruit and veg straight out of the garden


otager cooking,’ or ‘cuisine de marche,’ is based on the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients. For as far back as most French cooks can remember, they have had ‘potagers’ or kitchen gardens as well as open markets where they go to buy fresh vegetables and fruits no matter the time of year. Perhaps it’s my Alsace blood, but no matter where I lived, I’ve had a planter box at a window or on my balcony. In these petite spaces, I’ve planted everything from tomatoes, to peas, to various types of herbs as well as mint. To protect them during cold weather, I cover them at night with a plastic covering. Whether this would work in a more northern climate, I don’t know, but in the UK, California and Texas I never had a problem. The problem with salads, it’s difficult to find a wine to serve. Not


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everyone would agree, but I prefer a bottle of German or Austrian Riesling. That slight sweetness in the wine at which many of us turn up our noses is the reason. I should add, sugar is not added, it’s simply the way the wine is made. For lunch today with five friends, I made a simple pasta with fresh peas bought at the farmer’s market and a salad of lettuce and the last of my home grown tomatoes. With it we had a bottle of St. Urbans-Hof Riesling Spatlese Mosel Saarfellser 2014 and a bottle of Schloss Johannisberg Riesling Spatlese Rheingau Grunlack 2013. Both of these German wines have a fruity flavor of peaches, apricot and a note of citrus zest at the end. My guests and myself could not decide which wine we preferred. Both wines were in the thirty dollar range. I might add, my salad dressing was made with

raspberry vinegar. If you can’t find this vinegar in your local supermarket, just add fresh raspberries to a bottle of vinegar and put aside for ten days to two weeks. At the moment I am readying my garden for spring. When you plant perennials, it is best to consult your local garden center for advice. Different times of year mean different fruits and vegetables and I am also limited because of space. But I’ll be planting plenty of salads as there’s nothing better than eating freshly picked leaves and tomatoes. I might add, for dessert I made pears poached in Pacific Rim Riesling Columbia Valley Sweet 2014 ($11). I also served petite glasses of this wine with the dessert. One of my guests brought home made fudge which, to my delight, went well with this dessert wine and was the perfect ending to our lunch.

The American

Charles Randolph-Wright The director, writer and producer, in London for the UK premiere of his hit show, Motown The Musical, chats with The American

“...London completely changed my life” PHOTO: ANDREW ECCLES

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Motown The Musical London launch from left: Lenny Henry (host), Berry Gordy & Charles Randolph-Wright PHOTO: CRAIG SUGDEN


harles, we’re all eagerly awaiting the show coming to London. But could we start by going back to how it all started for you. I was born in a small town in South Carolina, a family of doctors, lawyers and teachers. My mother was an English professor, an amazing woman - I just lost her this year. When I started school she said “You make an A or an F in this family - average is not good enough!” It was the kind of family you don’t see on TV, or if you do they’re shown as unusual. There are so many families all over the country who have those sort of values, not the troubled families that are portrayed. I’m guessing you got As. What would have happened if you’d come home with an F? In a way, getting an F was when I went into show business. I was expected to be a doctor and went to Duke University to do Pre-Med. Years later my mother - who saw every production I ever did - said “You will heal far more people with what you do than you ever would have as a doctor. That was huge, and I never expected it. That gave me permission. I often


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talk about permission and who gives it to you. I was lucky to have a town, a school, a family who support me and what I do. It allowed me to dream. My school didn’t have a theater program. I was in the marching band, that was my way of having ‘art’. That band director was very influential - and teachers are everything. He taught us to respect and appreciate art. A friend asked me to to be in the school play, the first I was in although my family says I was always taking my cousins and making them do a show! - but I was still going into medicine. Then in my sophomore year at college I was in the organic chemistry lab and a friend said he had tickets to see Pippin. The show affected me on so many levels. The leading player was a man of color, and I’d never seen a role like that. I sat on the library steps with my friend and talked all night. I said, “I have to do this. I don’t want to ever regret that I didn’t do it, whether I succeed in it or not.” I carried on with my PreMed courses, but joined the Duke choir and started a theater group. In the late ‘70s I spent my junior

year in London and it completely changed my life. I studied with Stella Chapman, the wife of Denis Quilley and they became my British family. I met Roger Rees, who was like my big brother. We studied with actors from the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. You could just go up to Albert Finney and talk to him! It was beyond a dream come true and it gave me a vision of what I could do. London was where I decided to pursue the madness of show business. I’ve been to London various times over the years but to come back and do a show in the West End is a dream. London is one of my favorite cities, always has been. I remember going up the escalator in Leicester Square tube and seeing all the show posters and thinking, one day I’m going to have a poster here. I forgot about it til I was back in London to audition actors for Motown. The marketing team brought in some posters. All of a sudden that little kid came back - I thought, oh my God, you really did it! Another thing my Mom used to say was that the pursuit of the dream

The launch: ‘The Supremes’ (Tanya Nicole Edwards, Lucy St Louis, Cherelle Williams) PHOTO ©CRAIG SUGDEN

was more important than the dream, and I completely believe that: when it happens, that’s the icing, but having a dream is what propels you. All the Americans reading this - why are they in the UK, what led them there? Your degree was a joint major, Theater and Religion - in your mind, are they linked? Absolutely! In Britain, theater started in the Church - think of the Passion Plays. I saw Everyman at the National recently and it brought back all my religious training. My friends say all my work has some kind of journey and in a way it’s a kind of ministry. I’m very involved in my church in fact I’m producing an online show, Just Faith, by my minister on MSNBC Shift, which looks at religion from a different standpoint. I was on one of the first episodes about faith on Broadway with Kevin McCollum, the producer of Motown. We constantly talk about interfaith, because of the madness happening in the States and everywhere ...the whole idea of politicians blocking people coming into the country because of their faith, what century is this?

One of the things I love about Motown music is that we have far more in common than we are dissimilar. That’s the message I try to bring into the world I’m talking to you I realize that was my upbringing and what I studied. Five years ago you were given Equity’s Paul Robeson Award, for humanitarian as well as artistic achievements. It stunned me. I couldn’t believe I was on the list with Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte and Ruby Dee. It’s not why you do it, but its thrilling when somebody notices the work you do. I always try to find a place for artists of color, or anyone who’s disenfranchised, because they don’t get the opportunities. Bringing Motown to London, it was important to me that the company was from the UK and that we weren’t bringing over all the artists from the States. In fact Motown is still far more alive in the UK than it is in the States. All the artists I listen to are British - Adele, Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sandé. They sing and write real songs that tell a story... that tell the truth. And as Mr

Gordy [founder of Motown Records] said, “The truth is a hit”. Motown brought a country together when we were separated. It still does. And when the musical travels around the country I see it happen again. At the opening in Washington the audience was not exactly subdued but there was a different energy than usual to start with. I realized that everyone had come in with San Bernadino on their minds another mass shooting. The power and magic of theater helped shift the mood of all these people, to find some joy and hope in the midst of this constant darkness. Live music can do that too, and I notice that nearly all your shows include strong musical elements - the reviews of your recent Akeelah and the Bee mentioned the soundtrack, unusual in a live play. I don’t read reviews, so I didn’t know that. Actually, someone told me I would put a dance number in the middle of Long Day’s Journey into Night - I said, yeah, probably! But I thought Akeelah and the Bee should have music behind the story, not be a

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Below: The launch - Charles Randolph-Wright with Aisha Jawando (as Martha Reeves), Berry Gordy and Lucy St Louis (as Diana Ross)

musical. It’s a different energy. You’ve said that it’s important for kids to see people who look like them in the forefront of a story, not as a sidekick. Do you remember the Tom Hanks film, Cast Away? When it came out I said that the character of Wilson [the volleyball] was the quintessential black character: he’s not the star, he has no lines, he’s athletic, he’s the best friend of the main character, and he dies saving him. I was in St Louis with the Motown tour, during the [Michael Brown shooting] trial. I took 200 kids from Ferguson and Normandy to the show. They lived in a community where they felt they didn’t matter, but by the end their teachers were weeping - they said the kids hadn’t smiled for months. When I was growing up we saw the news at 6. Now they’re bombarded with images and messages telling you their neighborhood is bad. As artists we can counteract that, we have the power to heal and help people change. I want to be the person who changes the world. And if I don’t, maybe I’ll be the person who affects the person who changes the world. Berry Gordy said, at the London launch of Motown The Musical, that Motown’s first UK tour in the ‘60s made them realize they were more than a local Detroit phenomenon. It was. There was a young woman who became a producer on the Ready, Steady, Go! TV show called Vicki Wickham. She was working with Dusty Springfield, who had heard this American music. Vicki literally brought Motown over to England. I call Vicki my Mum! I’m trying to get her to tell her story, because what she did changed the world of music. I got them back together for a documen-


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tary about Mr Gordy for the BBC and it was fascinating to see the love they had for each other. Berry Gordy loves England because that’s where the door opened to the world. Motown went global when there was no internet. People shared - Dusty brought back records and gave them to somebody else… Pirate radio was huge and they played Motown records. Mr Gordy talked about the ‘white sheet kids’ who listened to their radios under their bedclothes at night. England is so special to him. It changed Motown forever - The Supremes met the Queen! The Beatles recorded Motown songs. Those worlds collided and created something special. That’s the magic of America and England - those of us who come there, and what we experience, and how it changes us - and I guess that’s what your maga-

zine is all about, too! [laughs] Thank you for the plug! But your cast are mainly British - do they understand how important Motown was, not just musically but socially? I feel that they do. When I was auditioning them everybody said we would need to bring over American actors. But they did their research, they knew everything about the characters and they’ve really nailed the vocal performances and the movements. It’s in their DNA. The DNA of Motown is not just Detroit, it’s not just black, or not just American, it’s spread throughout the world. So the Sound of Young America became the Sound of Joy? That’s right. I’m so looking forward to directing it in London. I’ll be over for two and a half months. What else will you be doing outside of the theater? I love the architecture I’m a cathedral fanatic. When I first came over I would hitchhike to different cities at weekends and go looking for them. The view of Salisbury Cathedral’s spire is one of my favorite images. In London I go walking and I can’t go past a church without going in. Finally, what is the best thing about being Charles RandolphWright? The best thing about being me is that I am living the life my mother told me I could have.

Motown The Musical is at Shaftesbury Theatre, London, booking to Feb. 2017. No booking fees via, over the phone on 020 7379 5399 or in person at the Shaftesbury Theatre Box Office.


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Tracy Chevalier

From a Pearl Earring to the Black Swamp. Tracy Chevalier’s new book, At the Edge of the Orchard, encompasses American myths from Johnny Appleseed to the Gold Rush


racy Chevalier, best known as the author of Girl with a Pearl Earring and a series of crticially and commercially successful historical novels, was born in Washington, DC. The capital is a strange place. Most ‘DC people’ seem to have gone there, not come from there. “I know,” she laughs, “Washington’s a transient town. I am one of the few, it appears! Funnily enough my father wasn’t in politics or government, he was a photographer for the Washington Post – a different take on what goes on in the city. At the time, in the ‘60s and ‘70s, it was very provincial. Much different to now. It had the Smithsonian and touristy things, but very few theaters. It was also very tense racially. On TV it looks like a white, government town, but actually the population is 70 percent black. Actually it’s nothing to do with race – it’s economic and social, there’s a lot of poverty still. And it’s a ‘one company town’, if you’re in the government it’s probably a wonderful place to be, it’s the center of everything. But there’s no industry


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there. I go back to visit, but I couldn’t imagine going back to live thereafter going away to college.” College was Oberlin, Ohio: the first American higher learning institution to regularly admit female and black students as well as white males. Was that liberal heritage a draw? Without hesitation she says, “Yeah! I knew its progressive reputation, and it had an excellent English department. It fitted me perfectly.” While at Oberlin Tracy discovered art, particularly Vermeer “as a novice, but I’d love to go back and study it formally.” After graduating, Tracy ‘headed East, young lady’, to work for book publishers Macmillan and St. James Press. “I always loved books and wanted to write, or to be a librarian – my source of books when I was young was the public library. It was only when I went to college that I discovered there’s a thing called publishing. Most people don’t really think about where books come from. They have a direct communication with the writer, they don’t care about the

industry. In my junior year at Oberlin I did a semester for English majors over here in London and fell in love with the city. Publishing in the States meant moving to New York and for a DC kid New York was terrifying. So when I graduated I got a BUNAC work permit and three of us came over. We had a wonderful time. Then I met a guy… and that made me stay. It wasn’t a grand plan, but thirty years later I’m still here, and very happy.” An MA at University of East Anglia followed, under tutors including novelists Malcolm Bradbury and Rose Tremain, after the desire to write her own words overtook the editing work. It was probably the top creative writing course in the country. Short stories were followed by a first published novel, The Virgin Blue, then came the idea for Girl with a Pearl Earring. Some actors say they don’t like being remembered for one role – is it a burden or a door-opener? “Burden is too strong, but it’s hard to get away from it. I feel lucky – I still love looking at Vermeer paintings, I

The Black Swamp, Ohio, where the characters in At the Edge of the Orchard struggle to survive

have a poster of Girl with a Pearl Earring in my office and I look at it all the time. It’s just as well, because I still have to talk about it all the time. It opened doors, and the success of that book meant that I had an audience. The frustration of so many writers is working and not knowing if their book is ever going to be read.” History and art are Tracy’s major themes, even outside the world of books. She has curated three shows in art galleries and museums. Is it something she’d like to pursue? “I loved it. It’s challenging, such a different skill set from writing. It’s about the physical space, the geography of a room, as well as what people are looking at. I’ve just opened a show at the Brontë Parsonage Museum celebrating Charlotte Brontë’s bicentenary, that’s on all year. Great fun, but boy, it’s a lot of work. And people don’t behave in a gallery or museum the way you predict they will – you can write what you think is a really important introductory panel and people just walk right past it, or they walk counterclockwise – but I’ve learned

not to expect them to. You have set it up so people will get something out of what you’ve done however they approach it. In a way it’s like writing a novel. I have ideas of how people will respond to certain characters or situations, but they don’t always. Getting published is a process of letting go, the reader owns that book now and they can make of it what they want.” Tracy’s website offers some ‘fun facts’ about the way she works and thinks, such as writing her novels longhand using fountain pens, before typing batches of work into a computer. “Screens don’t make me feel creative, they just make me tired and irritated.” She also makes quilts “...slowly. If you’d asked me five years ago if I’d become a quilter, I’d have said, Whaaat?! I researched quilting for The Last Runaway, took a class and found I liked it. I like a challenge – all of my novels have been about different places and time periods. It would have been easy to write another novel about a painting, but that would have been sloppy.” Another sliver of insight is that “my favorite


everyday fruit are apples” which leads, happily, to Tracy’s new novel.

At the Edge of the Orchard March 8th sees the publication of the new book which, it must be said, features some not very likeable characters, particularly the parents of a family which moves to the Black Swamp in Ohio, an area that few – even Americans – have heard of. “It was the last area of Ohio to be settled because to was so awful. Mud and mosquitoes, hardship and not seeing anyone for months. People avoided it. I thought, ooh perfect! There’s very little left of it now, it’s mostly been drained.” Sadie, the mother, is a disappointed cider-drunk, and the father, James, a man obsessed with apple trees and driven to violence. Several children have died in the swamp, the others are stuck there, bar Robert, who escapes by heading west to the gold rush. The book has an interesting blend of styles. Sadie talks in the first person, James’ story is told in the third,

The American


Johnny Appleseed, as generations of American children have grown up with him, in one of Disney’s Little Golden Books. He’s a little bit different in At the Edge of the Orchard.

and the children send letters. “There is something about Sadie that requires the first person,” says Tracy. “She’s such a strong character, and so self-centered. It’s ALL ABOUT HER – according to her! I had the idea for the book after reading Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire in which there’s a section debunking the Johnny Appleseed myth. I didn’t realize that for botanical reasons the trees he sold and distributed would have produced sour apples rather than sweet. We American kids grow up with story books about how Johnny Appleseed promoted a healthy lifestyle. In reality it was the women’s American Temperance Society, several decades after his death, who resurrected him as the poster boy for temperance, when actually he was selling apples primarily for making cider! He was a Swedenborgian and most of his profits he plowed back into this obscure Swedish Christian sect. I had a vision of this couple arguing, one of them wanting sweet apples and the other sour. I thought the assumption would be that the man would be getting drunk, so let’s turn it on its head. The man’s meek and mild and wanting his sweet things. She’s feistier and angry at her lot, she married the wrong man and got dragged to the Black Swamp and


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dumped there. I tried to write her so that despite yourself, you have some sympathy for her. Poor Sadie. On the other hand she is a bit of a monster!” Another theme is the great American myth of moving west to a better life. Half the book is set in the Gold Rush. “That’s the foundation of the American Dream. The idea of going to this virginal territory, uninhabited land for the taking (apart from the Native Americans and Mexicans who were living there), reach into the river and pick out a nugget of gold that would make your fortune. It’s still the same. Where do people go when they want to make it big? California. Hollywood is the modern Gold Rush. Maybe that’s the 20th century version. Now it’s going online – you can be rich and famous by blogging. The reality of the Gold Rush was very few people made a living, apart from the guys doing the supplying. It was a fascinating way of life with very few women and no rules. That’s why I sent Robert there, trying to get away from his traumas. Then he reaches the Pacific and can’t go any further west. What’s he going to do? That’s what the book becomes about.” A recurring theme throughout is the permanence of trees. “I wanted to write about the permanence of trees. It’s very rare they move, individually,

but tree species move a lot. A seed can’t grow right next to the parent, the shade would kill it, so the ones that survive are those that go a little bit away. Or sometimes a long way, in the belly of a bird, or on the wind, or by people. William Lobb, who’s in the book too, collected seeds and sent them back to England so Sequoias grow in British gardens. There’s commerce in trees. All the apples in America were imported. Even the apples in England came west from Kazakhstan, along the Silk Road.”

At the Edge of the Orchard is published on March 8 by The Borough Press (HarperCollins) in the UK and on March 15 by Viking in the USA.


   AL. ATION PH’ ‘SENS S. A TRIUM OU GLORI mes The Ti


The ground-breaking classic musical Show Boat sails into London’s West End for the first time in almost 20 years, direct from a hugely successful and critically acclaimed run at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre. Set against the backdrop of America’s Deep South at the turn of the 20th Century, Show Boat tells a powerful story of freedom, loyalty and above all love. The show’s Broadway premiere in 1927 changed musical theatre forever, and this lavish new production proves that its timeless themes and peerless music remain as vital, passionate and moving as ever. So hop on board the Cotton Blossom show boat, and be swept away by one of the most romantic musicals of all time, directed by Daniel Evans and featuring the timeless songs Ol’ Man River, Make Believe and Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man from Jerome Kern, with lyrics and book by Oscar Hammerstein II.

Show Boat runs at the New London Theatre from April 9, 2016 to January 7, 2017. For information and to book tickets visit or call 0844 412 4654*

   TREAT SICALINNING U M ‘A M BEG FRO TO END’ unday il on S a M e Th






To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets to this classic American musical, simply answer the following question:

Show Boat premiered on Broadway in which year? HOW TO ENTER: Email your answer and contact details to with SHOW BOAT in the subject line; or post to: SHOW BOAT, The American, Old Byre House, Millbrook Lane, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6AW, UK; to arrive by mid-day May 2, 2016. Terms and Conditions: Tickets valid Tues-Thurs performances until July 7, 2016. Subject to availability. Non transferable. No cash alternative Additional expenses are the responsibility of the prize winner. Not for resale. You must be 18 years old or over to enter this competition.

*Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone companies access charge.


Written by, and starring, Matthew Perry Playhouse Theatre, Northumberland Ave, London WC2N 5DE Reviewed by Jarlath O’Connell

The End of Longing I

t is brave for a star of Matthew Perry’s magnitude to stick his head above the parapet like this by both writing and starring in a new play. Perrymania ensues however and we get wolf whistles at his entrance and a round of applause for his big speech, even if the play hasn’t finished yet. With 10 years of Friends episodes out there on a permanent loop on TV screens the world over it’s going to be a long while yet before anyone forgets about Chandler. You’d think Perry would want some clear blue water between them but no. What we get here is Chandler the grouch. It’s LaBute with added gags, as we explore the lives of two fortysomething couples in LA who hook up in a bar and fall in and out of love and try and come to terms with their slide into dreary middle age. Perry’s character Jack is a misanthropic but still functioning alcoholic and comes across like Jack Lemmon in The Prisoner of Second Avenue, all pudgy and dyspeptic. He reeks of grumpy old man nihilism with an added soupçon of misogyny thrown in for good measure. The female characters don’t come off well. There’s Stephanie (Jennifer Mudge) a confident statuesque


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blonde who revels in her work as a $2,500 per hour hooker and her best friend Stevie (Christina Cole), a coiled spring of anger constantly whining at her dull but sensible boyfriend Joe. She’s bright but unlike any real bright people you’ve ever met goes on about it. Too often the writing is burdened by this desire to tell rather than to show, with characters describing how they feel. Joe is meant to be dumb but his articulacy belies this fact. Neither does it help having hunky Lloyd Owen playing the part. Would he really stick around for Stevie’s kvetching? The polarities here - fantasy high class hooker vs. whiney mother-inlaw type - give you some idea of the sexual politics at play and the piece often feels about 40 years old. Perhaps moving from tart with a heart to tart with an Amex Gold is progress to some but for the two actresses here, there’s a mountain to climb. Again unlike any alcoholic you ever knew, Jack proudly proclaims the fact to everyone. Alcoholism is mostly a cheat in plays, a cheap shortcut to the audience’s sympathies and here is no different. What might have compensated for this, such as some fresh insight into the pain and delusion of problem drinking, is brushed

aside in favor of glib, cheap gags. It’s the curse of Neil Simon. Dramatic set-pieces, too, ring hollow. In a hospital waiting room, where Stevie is about to give birth, Joe confronts Jack about his selfishness, after he realises that Jack has slipped out for a quick vodka to steady his shakes. Why would this be a surprise to any friend of an alcoholic? Neither does the bond between the two women convince for a second. Director Lindsay Posner does keep it moving at a steady pace but the rhythm of these staccato scenes screams out Screenplay! Anna Fleischle’s set and Lucy Carter’s lighting are as expert as you’d expect from those two designers at the top of their game. Perry says in a programme note that his aim was to tell the story of four broken people trying to find love and that fact that it is possible for people to change, but as we slouch towards the telegraphed happy ending we’re left with just bumpersticker wisdom. Joe admonishes Jack and Stephanie for their navel gazing and declares “You’re good people, you deserve to be happy”. More of a self-help book than an insight into the human condition.


Adapted by Christopher Hampton Donmar Warehouse, London Reviewed by Jarlath O’Connell


ard sharks sit at separate tables, we can never be normal” , the Marquise de Merteuil reminds the Vicomte de Valmont in Choderlos de Laclos’s 1782 novel, here brilliantly revived in Christopher Hampton’s adaptation at the Donmar Warehouse. The joy in this piece is to witness these supreme schemers, perfectly incarnated here by Janet McTeer (pictured above) and Dominic West, play their chess game using the lesser mortals around them as mere pawns. We delight in their cunning but by the end we are reminded of the hollowness at the core of these two. As the Marquise finally realises, the reality is more virtuously mundane: “Unless there is love, pleasure leads inevitably to disgust” she concludes. At the end both are the losers and the trigger for Merteuil’s fury is that Valmont actually falls in love. Josie Rourke is to be praised for this long overdue revival. Hampton gave his adaptation of this rambling epistolary novel, first seen at the RSC in 1985, a dramatic dynamism which is thrilling. The dialogue sparkles but it isn’t an exercise in style, rather it is infused with a merciless intelligence.


Some who remember the original West End and Broadway hit, which made stars of Lindsay Duncan and Alan Rickman, may carp that this lacks the high style of the RSC production, but instead Rourke gives it a slightly more contemporary reading and she is blessed in having here two stars in their prime. In Tom Scutt’s stunning costumes, seen in all their glory in this intimate space, McTeer and West exude charisma and power and are totally beguiling. Rourke’s direction is gloriously deft too, with beautiful touches, like how McTeer gently caresses West’s ears as she inveigles him into her next scheme or how the passing-on of letters to the dim Cecile is staged. Thirty years on, the sexual politics of the piece strikes one as even more alarming. The text doesn’t hide from the sheer callousness of Valmont. His effective rape of Cecile isn’t shied away from and for Dominic West fans in the audience (of which there were many) it represents an unsettling moment. The piece never judges though, and Rourke never attempts any re-framing of the past to suit our modern sensibilities. The bored duo play their seduc-

Janet McTeer as the Marquise de Merteuil

tion games directly and by proxy: Valmont has to seduce both the virtuous Madame de Tourvel (Elaine Cassidy) as part of a wager with Merteuil, while at the same time acting as her agent in seducing the naïve Cecile de Volanges, who is straight out of a convent. That is so Merteuil can humiliate a rival who, when he returns from his travels, will find that his virginal bride to be is more adept at the erotic arts (as taught by Valmont) than any geisha. Cassidy is truly affecting in capturing her tragic character’s internal struggle between love and virtue and there is excellent support too from Adjoa Andoh as the scheming Madame de Volanges, Una Stubbs as Valmont’s virtuous aunt and Edward Holcroft (late of London Spy) as the gauche and inarticulate Chevalier Danceny – Merteuil’s plaything but in love with Cecile. Scutt’s crumbling chateau is exquisitely lit by Mark Henderson, mostly using large candle lit chandeliers and they go easy on the symbolism of decay. Michael Bruce’s Nyman-esque musical underscoring also perfectly enhances the energy of the piece. This is a jewel of a production.

The American



Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

The National Theatre, London


ords from Arthur Miller’s essay, Tragedy and The Common Man, resounded through my head as I left The National Theatre after the concluding moments of August Wilson’s undeniably powerful exploration of what it is to struggle for freedom as a black musician in the first half of the twentieth century. “Tragedy,” Miller wrote, “is an individual attempting to gain his ‘rightful’ place in society.” As true as it is for Willy Loman and Eddie Carbone it is true for August Wilson’s Blues and Jazz musicians, including the charismatic presence of the eponymous Gertrude Rainey, played with masterful authority by Sharon D Clarke. Like The Amen Corner by James Baldwin, which also played at The National three years ago and also foregrounds the Black American struggle in the early 20th century (and which August Wilson greatly admired) Ma Rainey pits communal values and the ability to conform and act loyally to the community against the freedom of the individual. As in Baldwin’s work, music is the metaphor, jazz standing in for the latter and the blues for


The American

Reviewed by Peter Lawler

the former. In Ma Rainey, virtuoso Levee’s trumpet sings singular notes that strive to rise above the crowd of other rhythms and melodies that ease along in unity in the powerful numbers performed within the play. His struggle is made all the more poignant for this beautiful musical echo of his inner conflict. The character is played with a genuine sensitivity by the talented O-T Fagbenle, who generates an intense sense of pathos and behind whose voice we can sense a whole dark history and a dangerously wounded, flawed soul. Other standouts include Lucian Msamati’s Toledo, the wiser, older pianist of Ma Rainey’s band, who stands for a kind of plaintive intellectualism and a perpetual pondering of his own plight and of life in general. His own humble, sage presence provides a symmetrically compelling counterpoint to Levee’s raw rage directed at the iniquity of history. The staging is cleverly crafted to emphasise the psychological struggle both of the characters and of the race consciousness of

American society, with the major players, the jobbing musical players who form the nucleus of this drama, shoved downstairs and out of the way of the main recording studio to practice. This downstairs area is moved up to the level of the stage when the tense interplay between Levee’s subversive rejection of everything from philosophy to spirituality is presented to us. It is moved back under the stage again when the white record producers desperately attempt to call Ma to order and record what they intend to be money spinners for them, the most symbolically exploitative relationship in the play being that of the white record company and the black artist. In the last year of America’s first black president’s tenure in office, it is both timely and thought-provoking to be challenged by August Wilson’s moving and pathos-soaked story that confronts us with discomforting questions about the ability of any marginalised individual to claim their own “rightful” place in contemporary society.


The Long Road South By Paul Minx King’s Head Theatre, London Reviewed by Jarlath O’Connell


he King’s Head Theatre in Upper St, Islington was established by an American theatrical maverick, the late Dan Crawford, in 1970 in a tiny room at the back of pub. This was a time when Islington was a no-go area, if such a thing could be imagined. 46 years later it remains a key player and current director Adam Spreadbury-Maher continues Crawford’s passion for presenting both critical re-discoveries and new work. These days it is more often a receiving house or co-producer and it remains a pity that its work is not properly appreciated by the Arts Council. Every performance concludes with a whip-round amongst the audience, as it must. (To find out about directly supporting this American-originated arts facility, see!support-us/c1zll) This new play by American Paul Minx had its first outing, deeper in the fringe, at the So and So Arts Club in 2014 and with addition of stars Michael Brandon (an American expat himself) and Imogen Stubbs it now gets a fresh airing. Minx wrote it as a tribute to a man who worked for his family for almost 15 years. Set in Indianapolis in the midst of the civil rights move-

ment in 1965, it follows the story of Grace and Andre, two black domestic workers, intent on heading South to join the voting rights marches. Minx has crossed Tennessee Williams with The Help and sometimes sails dangerously close to parody of the former. On a hot August afternoon Grace (Krissi Bohn) and Andre (Cornelius McCarthy) are on the verge of their departure and trying to get the pay owed to them from their quixotic boss Jake (Michael Brandon). McCarthy is well cast as the devout and modest Andre who naively expects to be treated fairly and Bohn shines as the passionate aspiring writer who has had enough of the daily humiliations and longs to be part of something new in Alabama. She fears Andre will let “smallness settle in his soul” if he stays. The needy, selfish family they serve makes their task all the more troublesome. Despite their protestations of not being racist, they make the servants drink from separate cups and fly into rages on a whim. Mother Carol Ann (Imogen Stubbs) is a lush in the Blanche Dubois mode (“I don’t drink, I imbibe”). She wafts (when she isn’t staggering) around in chiffon, bemoaning her lot. If she doesn’t quit drinking Jake tells her

“pretty soon those big Irish veins in your face will blow up like the Mississippi river”. Minx certainly has an ear for great dialogue. Daughter Ivy is a 15 year old Lolita and Lydea Perkins tackles the role with glee, relishing every barbed comment from this precocious pixie in a bathing costume. Her attempts to seduce Andre, who assists with her bible studies, are rapidly deflected by Grace. Jake himself is battling the unions in his meat processing plant and so is not well disposed to wage demands at home. Brandon perfectly captures his bullying sense of entitlement but reveals too the insecurities which lie beneath. There is more to his story than first appears. The script says ‘full length play’ but it is actually too short. At 90 minutes without an interval too much is packed in and transitions are unduly rushed. One suspects the time limitation is a production one, what I call the Edinburgh Festival 60 minute curse. When something is mediocre one is glad to be released from it after 60 minutes but when there is a good premise, as there is here, more time is called for to add the layers and nuance which a cast this good could draw out.

The American


US ELECTION 2016 This is Democracy?

Sir Robert Worcester looks beyond the bluster at the real state of play – updates at


riting this 12 days before “Super Tuesday”, updating what was written on the first days after the Iowa Caucus and now just before the Nevada caucus and South Carolina primary, I must say what a ‘student-union-politics’ appearing ‘show’ it has been (maybe even ‘shower’ in British English). This American Presidential Election has put on a year-plus-long, three-ring Barnum & Bailey Circus for us. The Candidates, the Media and the Voters have been respectively the Stars of the show, the Media the rest of the cast with speaking parts, and then we, literally, The Audience, get a look in. On the Republican ticket, the moral victory in Iowa and the best speech of the night came from Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who while he ran third, so surprised the pundits who’d written him off that his 23% share of the vote put him in third place (to his astonishment), with Donald Trump (love him or hate him) second and winner Ted Cruz’s 28% which gave him just eight delegates to Trump’s and Rubio’s seven each. Now, writing after the New Hampshire primary and just before Nevada’s caucus and North Carolina’s primary, there is too little support, too little money and no hope for e.g. Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, and others pulling out. The field is narrowing while Trump for the Republicans and Hillary Clinton for the Democrats


The American

The long goodbye © PHOTO: ADAM FAGEN

seem to be in the final two in their parties going into ‘Super Tuesday’, in two weeks’ time. Hillary’s being roughed up by Bernie Sanders nearly everywhere to her surprise, and there are about five contenders still standing on the Democratic Party’s primaries. Not far from a three-horse race following the Iowa caucus, coming second in New Hampshire, a devout Catholic Latino running for President in an overwhelmingly white and Protestant state, certainly put Rubio back in the contest and he so took off with the rest of the hopefuls to fight New Hampshire on the 9th. However, in Chris Christie (a class debater)’s final act, the New Jersey Governor made Marco Rubio look a

proper fool as Rubio repeated, word for word, a line out of his on-the-stump speech that all the journos had heard a dozen or more times, and so questioned his capacity for thinking on his feet and his ability to speak for himself without falling back on clichés written by his wordsmiths. When Nevada and South Carolina are over, on March 1st, the big one, ‘Super Tuesday’ (list of upcoming primaries and caucuses below), it’ll be Clinton and Sanders battling it out to see who’s the Democrat’s front runner on the long stretch between March and the party conferences in the summer. On the Republican side Super Tuesday will sort out the goats from the sheep and is likely to identify the few survivors whose campaigns are still breathing the sweet air of campaign donations of the big bucks it takes to stay the course. Iowa was a spectacular demonstration of the values of ‘middle America’, which is what the State of Iowa represents, even with its 94% white electorate. Thousands of Iowans flocked to play bit parts as we saw on CNN , the ‘extras’ in the play, trooping into town halls, school auditoriums, university band rooms and folks’ living rooms to do their duty in the American way. It is, in America, Democracy. For a political nerd like me, CNN’s coverage (except for the repetitive and congratulatory ‘house ads’) made compulsive viewing until the wee hours of the morning to see the finish of the

incredibly close Democratic contest between the ‘shoo-in’ candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the ‘no-hope’ rival Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. At least that’s what the American pollsters were telling us right up to the Iowa caucus result. Ironically, we didn’t, on the afternoon after the play, know the outcome. One of the scorekeepers lost the scorecards (to slip into sporting jargon, as this play is part of a World Series of elections in democracies around the world). After all, the American media treats elections and their accompanying polls as first and foremost a horse race (mixing, deliberately my metaphors). And what an exciting photo finish to this one on the Democrats’ ticket, and a surprise outcome on the Republican’s. So this is Democracy, American style. In the run up to New Hampshire for the first of the real primary contests, from the off (start), at the sound of the pistol (gun), the horses (candidates) were off (away). Day by day, almost hour by hour, the Gallups, ORCs, YouGovs, Ipsos’s and all the others, seems like hundreds, held their fingers in the air, gazed into their crystal balls and tea cups, and even asked people if they’re going to vote, and if so for whom, and what and when, and sometimes how, as well as the thousands of other ques-

tions that these boffins will come up with to try to assess the public mood and its voting intentions. In this, my series of blogs and articles in The American, (next one immediately after Super Tuesday), I’ll do my best to deliver dispassionate and objective data and interpretation, as I have for the past three American Presidential elections. I welcome comment and query, argument and debate and will do my best to take into account the difference in language between my two countries, that of my birth and education in America’s middle west (born in Kansas City and educated at the University of Kansas - business and political science) and for nearly 50 years now resident and now citizen of Great Britain. And I believe I qualify as bilingual in both American and British English, and can use my understanding of both political systems, Parliamentary and Presidential, their strength and weaknesses, and even the political histories of both countries, to apply to my analysis of the second phase of the election of a President.

Phase 2: Iowa to Super Tuesday The first phase closed on the 1st of February in Iowa after a year and a half of electoral foreplay across the country; the second phase, the Iowa

Caucus to Super Tuesday, 1st March; the third from then to the Conventions; the fourth to Labor [sic] Day at the beginning of September, and finally the nine weeks of the ‘hot’ campaign to election day, Tuesday, 2nd November. Super Tuesday will tell us which candidates are out of the race, for some running out of money, for others, being told, rudely, by the electorate that they are going nowhere, certainly not to the White House. Super Tuesday will be the main thrust of my next piece, but for noticing that my old friends in Democrats Abroad are holding their closed primary, not North America, all over the world to choose some 17 delegates, on March 8.

Latest Data

Back to business, here’s the latest data, courtesy of Julia Clark, formerly of Ipsos MORI, now the Senior Vice President of Ipsos in America.

Political Trends

(carried out February 13-17 by Ipsos (USA) for Reuters) PRESIDENTIAL APPROVAL RATING • Barack Obama’s approval is at 45%

Importance of Issues to Voters

REPUBLICAN PRIMARY In Ipsos’s first full round of polling after Iowa and New Hampshire, • Donald Trump has extended his lead among Republican registered voters nationwide to 40%. • Ted Cruz remains in second with 17% nationally among Republican voters, losing some of the gains he picked up after Iowa. • Ben Carson (10%) and Marco Rubio (11%) are tied in third nationally DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY • Hillary Clinton remains in the lead among Democrats nationwide, with 53% of Dem registered voters. • Bernie Sanders national support remains close to Clinton (at 42%) among Democratic voters. • Including Independent voters, Clinton and Sanders remain statistically tied (45% to 42% respectively) in the national poll. GENERAL ELECTION MATCHUPS (INCLUDING BLOOMBERG) • In hypothetical 2-way general election matchups between Trump or Cruz vs. Sanders or Clinton, the Democrats continue to lead all matchups among registered voters. • Sanders and Clinton continue to perform equally strong in hypothetical matchups against Trump and Cruz. • In a hypothetical 3-way matchup including independent Michael Bloomberg, the Independent pulls support from both major party candidates. • The potential independent draws about 10% of registered voters while the Democrats still hold an advantage over the Republicans. • Donald Trump performs much better than Ted Cruz in these matchups, with only a 4-6 percentage point deficit to the Democrats (compared to Cruz 15-20 point deficit). Further info: Topline data: For full data, visit the new Reuters Polling Explorer


The American

Date Monday 1 February 2016 Tuesday 9 February 2016 Saturday 20 February 2016 Tuesday 23 February 2016 Saturday 27 February 2016

Tuesday 1 March 2016 (Super Tuesday)

Saturday 5 March 2016

Sunday 6 March 2016

Tuesday 8 March 2016

Saturday 12 March 2016

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Saturday 19 March 2016 Tuesday 22 March 2016

Saturday 26 March 2016 Tuesday 5 April 2016 Saturday 9 April 2016 Tuesday 19 April 2016

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Tuesday 3 May 2016 Saturday 7 May 2016 Tuesday 10 May 2016 Tuesday 17 May 2016 Tuesday 24 May 2016 Saturday 4 June 2016 Sunday 5 June 2016

Tuesday 7 June 2016

Tuesday 14 June 2016 Thursday 21 July 2016 Thursday 28 July 2016 Monday 5 September 2016 Tuesday 8 November 2016

State Iowa caucus New Hampshire Nevada caucus (D) South Carolina (R) Nevada caucus (R) South Carolina (D) Alabama Alaska caucus (R) American Samoa caucus (D) Arkansas Colorado caucus Georgia Massachusetts Minnesota caucus North Dakota caucus (R) Oklahoma Tennessee Texas Vermont Virginia Wyoming caucus (R) Kansas caucus Kentucky caucus (R) Louisiana Maine caucus (R) Nebraska caucus (D) Maine caucus (D) Puerto Rico (R) Hawaii caucus (R) Idaho (R) Michigan Mississippi Democrats Abroad Guam (R convention) Northern Marianas caucus (D) District of Columbia caucus (R) Florida Illinois Missouri North Carolina Northern Mariana Islands caucus (R) Ohio Virgin Islands caucus (R) American Samoa (R convention) Arizona Idaho caucus (D) Utah Alaska caucus (D) Hawaii caucus (D) Washington caucus (D) Wisconsin Wyoming caucus (D) New York Connecticut Delaware Maryland Pennsylvania Rhode Island Indiana Guam (D) Nebraska (R) West Virginia Kentucky (D) Oregon Washington (R) Virgin Islands caucus (D) Puerto Rico caucus (D) California Montana New Jersey New Mexico North Dakota caucus (D) South Dakota District of Columbia (D) Republican Party Convention (end) Democratic Party Convention (end) Labor Day Election

Delegates 52 D, 30 R 32 D, 23 R 43 50 30 59 60 D, 50 R 28 10 37 D, 40 R 79 D, 37 R 116 D, 76 R 116 D, 42 R 93 D, 38 R 28 42 D, 43 R 76 D, 58 R 252 D, 155 R 26 D, 16 R 110 D, 49 R 29 37 D, 40 R 45 58 D, 47 R 23 30 30 23 19 32 148 D, 59 R 41 D, 40 R 17 9 11 19 246 D, 99 R 182 D, 69 R 84 D, 52 R 121 D, 72 R 9 159 D, 66 R 9 9 85 D, 58 R 27 37 D, 40 R 20 34 118 96 D, 42 R 18 291 D, 95 R 70 D, 28 R 31 D, 16 R 118 D, 38 R 210 D, 71 R 33 R, 19 R 92 D, 57 R 12 36 34 D, 37 R 61 73 D, 28 R 44 12 67 546 D, 172 R 27 D, 27 R 142 D, 51 R 43 D, 24 R 23 25 D, 29 R 46

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Democrat POTUS Hopefuls talk to American Expats Democrats Abroad recently reached out to the Democratic Presidential candidates on issues important to overseas US citizens. They asked for their positions on these issues. Here are the responses of the front-runners, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. FATCA: Would you support the FATCA “Same Country Safe Harbor” for Americans abroad, the regulatory reform that Democrats Abroad recommends for fixing FATCA’s problems but retaining its strength? Hillary Clinton: I’ve heard loudly and clearly about the burdens that FATCA and other reporting places on Americans living abroad. I understand that this is an extremely important issue – and is creating disruptions in the basic, day-to-day lives of everyday Americans living abroad. I’ve heard that it can be harder to open a bank account, harder to save for retirement, and harder to get a mortgage. I share these concerns – Americans living abroad shouldn’t face excessive burdens in their lives. I know that the vast majority of Americans living abroad are paying their fair share, and we should ease burdens on law abiding Americans living abroad while focusing on the real, true offenders. This is a complex area, and we need to make sure we don’t weaken enforcements against true tax cheats, while making sure we


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don’t create additional unnecessary burdens. I am committed to working with Americans living abroad and members of Congress to find the right solutions. Bernie Sanders: Yes. I support the “Same Country Safe Harbor” proposal and I commend Democrats Abroad for its leadership in working on this important initiative. In my view, banking and other financial services provided to overseas Americans should be treated as a local activity. We need to make it easier for law-abiding Americans living overseas to manage their personal finances and buy a house, while making it harder for tax cheats to hide their money in offshore tax havens to avoid paying their fair share in taxes. I look forward to working with you to turn these goals into action. The same country exception would ease the burden on overseas Americans - teachers, IT workers, researchers, small business owners, academics, aid workers and stay-at-home parents - and permit the US Treasury to focus on curbing tax avoidance by Americans living inside the United States who move

their money to offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes. RBT: Would you support the replacement of the current system of taxing overseas Americans, known as citizenship-based taxation, with a system of residencebased taxation? Hillary Clinton: I know that most Americans living abroad are just trying to make a living and provide for their families. I believe that we need a broad discussion about reforming our tax code to cut taxes for hard-working, middle class American families living both here and abroad, and to ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share. That means, among other things, closing loopholes that allow many hedge fund managers to pay a lower tax rate than nurses or teachers and supporting proposals like the Buffet Rule. But it also means closing loopholes that create incentives for corporations to ship jobs and profits overseas, and making sure that the wealthiest Americans can’t move overseas to avoid paying taxes. Americans, regardless of where they live, often benefit from

American education, infrastructure, legal protections, and trade policies. This is a complicated issue and I will work with Americans living abroad and members of Congress to cut taxes for hardworking, middle class Americans, but also avoid creating any adverse incentives for those looking to avoid contributing their fair share. Bernie Sanders: This is something that deserves serious consideration. Other than Eritrea, the US is the only country that I am aware of that requires the filing of two annual tax returns to reconcile complex tax codes of different countries. In my view, we can provide tax relief to middle-class families living overseas, while prohibiting large corporations and the wealthy from avoiding over $100 billion a year in taxes by stashing their cash in the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens. FBAR: Would you support reforms to FBAR regulations to address these concerns and inequities? Hillary Clinton: As president, I will work with Americans living abroad and members of Congress to examine filing requirements with the aim of avoiding redundancies and minimizing unnecessary paperwork and confusion. Any reforms would also need to be scrutinized to avoid weakening government capacity for monitoring illegal activity or tax


Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, 2016

Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, 2016

avoidance facilitated by holding foreign bank accounts. Bernie Sanders: Yes, I look forward to working with Democrats abroad to address these concerns and make this system more equitable. As you know the FBAR reporting threshold has not been adjusted for inflation since it was first initiated in the early 1970s. We need to look at that. We also need to look at removing the unnecessary duplication in the reporting requirements between FBAR and FATCA. I am also sympathetic to the concerns raised by older Americans living abroad with the mandatory online reporting requirements that are now in place. At a time when this country has an $18.4 trillion national debt and so many unmet needs, I do believe that we need to do everything we can to eliminate tax evasion. I also believe that we should be rewarding, not punishing, middle-class citizens living abroad who are following the rules. In my view, we can and we must accomplish both of those goals. Medicare portability: Would you support an amendment to the Medicare law permitting American citizens to use Medicare benefits to pay for health care in approved medical facilities located outside the USA? Hillary Clinton: I’ve fought to protect and strengthen Medicare

throughout my career and have continued to press the importance of this lifeline in this campaign. I support further examination of how Americans over 65 living abroad and eligible for Medicare could apply their benefits to care at approved medical facilities located outside the US. Bernie Sanders: I support a Medicare-for-all single-payer health care plan to make health care a right, not a privilege, for all Americans, including Americans living and working abroad. Instead of spending federal health care dollars on the multimillion dollar salaries of insurance company CEOs, it is time to use this money to guarantee health care to every American citizen. As you know, retired US military personnel and their dependents living overseas are reimbursed by the US government for most of their medical bills through the TriCare For Life system. In my view, there is no reason why we cannot use the TriCare program as a model for a Medicare delivery program for all Americans living overseas. HR-3078: Would you support the establishment of a Commission on Americans Abroad to study and propose remedies to US policies that harm or unfairly burden Americans living outside the US (as provided for in House bill HR-3078)?

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Hillary Clinton: As president I would support a bipartisan effort to examine how the US government’s laws and executive actions impact US citizens living abroad, like the Commission on Americans Abroad proposed in House bill HR-3078, which is sponsored by Representative Carolyn Maloney, whose endorsement I am honored to have in this campaign. Bernie Sanders: US citizens living abroad deserve to feel that their country and the officials elected to represent them consider their interests just as they consider the interests of Americans living in the United States. I support the establishment of a Commission on Americans Abroad to examine the impact of federal financial reporting requirements, the ability to vote in US elections, and access to federal programs like Social Security and Medicare for Americans living abroad. Windfall Eliminations Provision “WEP”: Would you support the examination of the WEP and its impact on US citizens abroad to establish a remedy that preserves the social security benefits fairly earned by Americans abroad through their US working life? Hillary Clinton: Americans living abroad, like all hardworking Americans, have a right to the Social Security benefits they have earned when they retire, and I am concerned that the WEP as now designed is not fair to many Americans who have paid into Social Security but see their benefits reduced due to the WEP. That’s why I support further examination of how the WEP impacts American citizens abroad to ensure that they are treated fairly in the Social Security system.


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Further, I will fight to expand Social Security for those who need it most and who are treated unfairly today. This includes giving Social Security credit for caregiving and expanding benefits for widows who can now see their benefits fall by as much as 50 percent when a spouse dies. And I will oppose Republican efforts to reduce annual cost-of-living adjustments or raise the retirement age. Finally, to ensure these critical benefits for decades to come, I will ask the highest-income Americans to pay more, including options to tax some of their income above the current Social Security cap, and taxing some of their income not currently taken into account by the Social Security system. Bernie Sanders: Yes. I have been a strong supporter of repealing the WEP to provide fair and equitable treatment to all workers on Social Security, including our teachers, firefighters, police and other public servants who have contributed into Social Security. Further, at a time when senior poverty is going up, our job must be to expand benefits, not cut them. I have introduced a plan to increase Social Security benefits by over $1,300 a year for seniors who have income of less than $16,000 a year. My plan also extends the solvency of Social Security for more than 50 years by lifting the cap on taxable income so that the wealthiest 1.5 percent of Americans pay the same percentage of their income into Social Security as everyone else. FAST Act passport revocation: Would you support, as part of the implementation of the 2015 FAST Act, these requests aimed at preserving the security of Americans abroad and their families?

Hillary Clinton: Every American should pay what they owe under our tax laws. In enforcing those laws, it is also essential to preserve the safety and security of Americans living abroad. Ensuring the security of Americans living abroad was a central part of my job when I served as Secretary of State and, as president, will continue to be of great importance to me. The State Department and any other US government agency must strive to ensure Americans living abroad are provided with timely information and open lines of communication with their government. As public servants, it is our job to look out for the safety of all Americans, including those residing overseas. That is why as president I would make sure that the 2015 FAST Act is implemented fairly and in such a way as to ensure we protect Americans. I will ensure that Americans receive timely and accurate information about their tax responsibilities and are given ample opportunity to remedy or resolve any related issues, within a reasonable timeframe, before a passport is revoked due to a tax delinquency. Bernie Sanders: I support efforts to ensure that Americans living and working abroad have access to information on tax debts and proper notice before the IRS requests that the State Department revoke or deny the renewal of the passports of US citizens. Proper due process provides procedural and legal safeguards that permits an American abroad an opportunity to satisfy tax debts prior to the denial or revocation of a citizen’s passport. I also believe that safeguards should be put in place to protect and preserve the security of Americans living abroad and their families.


London’s Bern-ing By Travis Mooney


ateline February 11, 2016 – London, UK: Approximately 100 supporters of a political candidate gathered to hear his brother speak in London. No, David Milliband wasn’t stumping for his brother’s comeback (or vice-versa). Larry Sanders, the older brother of US Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, was spreading the word to a rapidly growing contingent of supporters right here in the UK. “It’s a little bit like the polls,” said Eric Lee, the organiser of the local supporters’ group London For Bernie. “We started with four or five people – three of them relatives of the candidate. Now we have a group of more than 500 volunteers throughout the UK, and more are joining all the time.” It might seem a bit odd that Americans are campaigning for their Presidential candidates outside the United States, but thanks to Demo-

crats Abroad – an official arm of the Democratic Party – overseas voters are treated as a state, and are given the opportunity to vote in the Global Presidential Primary, which nominates delegates like any other state poll. Voting begins on March 1 at five voting centres, and ballots may also be cast by post, fax, and email. And Global Primary votes are more powerful than those in the US. From the Democrats Abroad Global Primary FAQ: ‘Your vote has greater weight in our Global Presidential Primary than it does in your home state party. Think about it: ten million votes may be cast in the NY or CA state primaries, but maybe five hundred thousand in DA’s Global Primary. Each individual vote is amplified and more powerful in our primary.’ With an estimated 200,000 US citizens resident in the UK, it’s no wonder that American politics are part of the national conversation.

How to cast your vote in the DA GPP:

1. Join Democrats Abroad: 2. Vote either in person: or via the remote ballot: Remember to also register in your home state: tinyurl. com/cs5nfs7 Voting in the GPP by post, including registration, should take no more than 15 minutes.

Larry Sanders, Bernie’s brother, has been here since the 1960s. “I am meeting more and more people who now support Bernard,” said Larry. “There is an overwhelming response to his message that government should work for everyone not just the wealthiest. This message is important in the US and here in the UK too. I hope Americans studying or living here take up the opportunity to vote in the Global Primary.” The Democrats Abroad Global Primary starts 1 March, with voting centres in London, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, and St. Andrews. There are also voting centres in more than 40 other countries. Any member of Democrats Abroad can vote, and non-members can sign up on the day. An Internet registration and postal vote option is also available. For more information on Democrats Abroad and the Global Primary, please see londonforbernie/democrats-abroad-faq/

For more information on the Global Presidential Primary, please see: and asked_questions_about_the_global_presidential_primary

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Architect’s impression of the new LA Rams stadium


fter 21 years away from the NFL spotlight the city of Los Angeles has a franchise back, with the possibility of a second. Three teams vied for the coveted move: Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and St Louis Rams. The Rams got a landslide vote of 30-2 from team owners and the move becomes effective immediately with the Los Angeles Rams playing in the LA Memorial Coliseum next season and thereafter until 2019 when their new purpose built City of Champions Stadium, in the Los Angeles Entertainment Center, is complete. The team was formerly based in the LA region between 1946 and 1994 and before that were Cleveland-based from 1937 to 1945. The Chargers have an option to leave San Diego for LA, but this has to be explored by the end of the owners meetings (March 20-23). A city vote to decide whether it wants to plough $350m into a new facility on the current Qualcomm Stadium site could be a factor on Chargers owner Dean Spanos’ decision, this


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vote does not take place until June. Should they choose not to move, Oakland will have an opportunity to muscle in. So what does this mean for the Rams, their loyal fan base, and indeed the future of the team on the field? Fans’ reactions were not the best. They have been through all this before when the Cardinals (originally from Chicago) left St Louis in 1988 to make a new home in the Arizona desert. The Cardinals hadn’t had much success in St Louis. When the Rams came, ironically from LA, in 1995, it was their chance to rebuild, and after 5 years they were a Super Bowl winning team. After a dominant four years leaner times were to follow. Under fire from the loyal St Louis fans Stan Kroenke, majority owner of the franchise since 2010, reacted that the move was “not something you want to do” but that he and his Rams partners “need to have a first class stadium”. Kroenke instigated the move to Los Angeles amidst controversy when he purchased 60 acres of land in Ingle-

wood, just north of the Hollywood Park Racetrack, without prior notice to the NFL. It was an area that the League had looked into before and Kroenke’s purchase of the land led to many rumours about the future of the Rams in St Louis. This was coupled with the League’s renewed interest in bringing football back into the area. When this was made official the Rams were the first team to submit forms on January 5th. The NFL will be wary that this time around an LA franchise needs to be a success. On the field the team is in a healthy place. It is in a tough division but is built well and faith has been placed in Head Coach Jeff Fisher despite a disappointing second half of the 2015 campaign. The defense is strong and packed with first and second round draft picks, and on offense RB Todd Gurley could be one of the most dominant players over the next decade. The pieces are there and with added LA glamor this could be a team to watch in the very near future.


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Right: Screenshot of Fox Sports’ US Open TV coverage PHOTO COURTESY FOX SPORTS NETWORK

Golf in the Den by Darren Kilfara


s Scottish winters go, the winter of 2015-2016 has been particularly wintry. The sun must be hibernating, and whenever I’ve been even remotely tempted to play golf, frost or flood or gale or deluge has quickly sapped my ardor. Under the circumstances, watching golf on television appeals to me much more than playing golf outside. And a number of recent changes to the American golf announcing landscape should make a hotly anticipated PGA Tour season that much more intriguing to watch. Golf is alone among mainstream sports in that there is no consensus way to televise it. When you watch American football on television, you know you’re getting a play-by-play commentator, an analyst, a sideline reporter and a pretty standard set of camera positions. But with golf, you might have commentators assigned to different holes (CBS), a dominant pairing supported by several fringe voices (NBC), rotating pairs of commentators in a central location (BBC, and Sky at major championships), even a single central pairing backed only by on-course reporters (Sky at most European Tour events, and The Golf Channel). You might or might not also get the Konica Minolta BizHub SwingVision camera thrown in. Each network’s coverage is also tonally different. CBS has been the home of rapier wit and playful feuding: Ben Wright vs. Gary McCord, McCord vs. David Feherty, Nick Faldo

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vs. the awkward teenager always lurking inside of Nick Faldo. NBC has been dominated by Johnny Miller’s unfiltered, pointed honesty. Sky’s Ewan Murray and David Livingstone personify their employer: pompous, often oleaginous, but always solidly professional. And going back a few years, the ABC of Jim McKay and Jack Whitaker and Bob Rosburg made every event they covered feel like the Olympics, full of grandeur and drama and purpose. This diversity works because the commentary teams currently on my television are all actually rather good. (I’m exempting Fox, whose broadcasts I haven’t seen, from this analysis as their only meaningful event – the US Open – is dubbed by Sky’s commentary team here in the UK.) Golf is one of the few sports which never tempts me to hit my mute button: there simply aren’t any bad commentators anymore, especially as the BBC’s marginalization has forced Peter Alliss into virtual retirement. The disappearance of live golf from terrestrial television is an important issue for the future of golf in Britain, but as a Sky Sports subscriber, I can easily ignore Alliss – who I used to love but is well past his use-by date – now that the Masters and the Open Championship have migrated to Sky. Sky’s Open takeover is one of several significant changes we’ll see on UK television in 2016. Another is Feherty’s move from CBS to NBC, a move which could destabilize both

networks’ golf coverage. How will Feherty co-exist with the amiable Roger Maltbie, and will his stark humor clash with Miller in the 18th hole tower? Dottie Pepper, making her CBS debut this year, and Peter Kostis are both excellent on-course reporters but not larger-than-life characters like Feherty; how will they fill Feherty’s shoes, and might McCord become a looser cannon without Feherty to balance his personality? Other changes less directly relevant to UK viewers include the departure of ABC/ESPN from the golf business, NBC now broadcasting the Open Championship in the US, and the excellent Paul Azinger replacing the axed Greg Norman as Fox’s lead analyst. Put all of these pieces together, and American golf broadcasting hasn’t been so unsettled for at least a decade. All of this matters because golf on television exerts a unique pull on people who golf. I love watching many sports on television, but I mostly watch passively; I might play tennis or pickup basketball or in a softball league, but I’m never going to play at Wimbledon, in Madison Square Garden or at Fenway Park. And even if that somehow did happen, I wouldn’t discover what the experience really feels like as a player. I once played in a charity soccer match at Arsenal’s old Highbury stadium, and although it was a magical occasion, the stands were empty, both teams were slow and

ponderous, and the smoothness of the pitch was all that really differentiated our match from a game at Hackney Marshes. Golf is different. I’ve played eight of this season’s PGA Tour courses, and watching professionals hit the same shots – usually much better, but occasionally rather worse – I’ve hit at Pebble Beach or TPC Sawgrass or Royal Troon grants an unmatched immediacy to the viewing experience. Even when watching courses on which I’ve never trod, I know what it’s like to hit a 138-yard shot from a sidehill lie, to pitch from gnarly rough over a deep bunker, even to make a critical 20-foot putt on the 18th green. In golf, everyone starts from a static position, and everyone can use the same clubs and balls as the pros; on every shot we hit, we get exactly the same opportunity to excel as our heroes. And golf on television lets us view our heroes from an omniscient perch: we teleport from hole to hole, shot to shot, leader to chasing pack and watch the drama of sport unfold in a way which nobody at the course but the commentators

themselves can. I was asked at a dinner party last month why I like watching sport on television. My answer was simple: sport is an unscripted celebration of human achievement. The best movies and television shows are limited by the imagination and skill of writer and director. The most gripping reality television usually spotlights the worst in people. But sport lets you watch men and women at their best, going much higher or faster or stronger or better than you ever have and triumphing over their peers on merit – merit sometimes inflected by luck or circumstance, but never by class or race or background. (My answer won over my inquisitor; feel free to adapt it for personal use.) My first close encounter with golf on television this year featured a touch of Scotland in San Diego. Brandt Snedeker’s back-nine 32 in howling wind and rain on Sunday at Torrey Pines was barely believable, but just when it looked like his 6-under-par clubhouse total would prove uncatchable, play halted for the day, giving KJ Choi a fighting

chance the next morning amidst fallen trees uprooted by overnight gales. That’s the sort of script you wouldn’t write, and the sort of spectacle to inspire me to hitch up my own waterproof trousers and try to emulate Snedeker in the February medal at my home club. My wife often complains about how much money I spend on satellite subscriptions; little does she understand how I’m getting a real bargain. US expat Darren Kilfara formerly worked for Golf Digest magazine and is the author of A Golfer’s Education (below), a memoir of his junior year abroad as a student-golfer at the University of St. Andrews. His latest book, a novel called Do You Want Total War?, is also now available online at Amazon and elsewhere.

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Zigged when they should have zagged? NFL hirings go all-offense, but Super Bowl 50 and National Signing Day are defense-dominated. Richard L Gale rounds up the New Year news


or anyone wailing that the NFL is an offense-only league now, the January coaching hires underlined the obsession. All seven came from the offensive side of the ball.

A month later, and Denver’s Super Bowl victory nixed the narrative with a display that perplexed the twitterati and bored the Trump. THAT, folks, was a thing called defense; in the end, the result was less about Peyton Manning – pitching out his career colder than Coldplay – and more about John Elway having assembled a rampaging defensive roster for Wade Phillips to relentlessly unleash upon the Panthers. For Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak and defensive coordinator

Phillips, it was sweet vindication. Both had been sacked from previous head coaching roles. Chalk up another SB victory for retread head coaches: three straight (Peter Carroll, Bill Belichick, Kubiak) and winners of 4 of the last 5 (add Tom Coughlin).

Coaching Carousel

The team that once discarded the winningest of these, the Cleveland Browns, went for another retread this offseason, appointing former London Monarchs assistant, one-and-done Raiders head coach, and more recent Bengals OC, Hue Jackson (8-8 career record). He’ll likely get a longer look this time, just as soon as he can jettison Johnny Football and grab the next quarterback of tomorrow. Of course, these being the Browns, nothing is guaranteed and having a blue chip rookie passer didn’t extend the tenures of Ken Whisenhunt (Tennessee) or Lovie Smith (Tampa Bay) this past year. In both cases, promotion has come from within, the Titans inking Ben McAdoo takes over as Head Coach of the New York Giants © AP PHOTO/EVAN PINKUS COURTESY NFL

interim coach Mike Mularkey, who once walked away from the Buffalo Bills head coaching job. With a 2-7 interim record, and 18-39 overall, he hardly seems an inspirational hire, but as with Dirk Koetter’s promotion from coordinator to head guy at the Buccaneers, this was probably a case of changing gear without disrupting the learning curves of their quarterbacks (Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston respectively). The New York Giants also opted for continuity after Tom Coughlin stepped down, giving the job to offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. He’s overseen great offensive progress for the Giants (6th in the league this past season), and has a great relationship with Eli Manning. The Giants organisation weren’t looking for a different approach so much as different outcomes after losing too many close ones to claim a division crown that was well within their capabilities. He’s probably stepping into the most playoffready opportunity that arose from the annual postseason bloodbath. Coughlin, of interest to the Philadelphia Eagles, reportedly withdrew from consideration for their head coaching job. Instead they hired Doug Pederson, and again it seemed a choice based on steadying things. Philly had already tried ‘radical’ with Chip Kelly; the hiring of Pederson, a former Eagles QB and offensive coordinator under Andy Reid in Kansas City, feels a lot like the Eagles tearily admitting that they’d made a terrible mistake in

National Signing Day

D parting with Reid in the first place. The problem for Pederson is that in three short years, Kelly dismantled Reid’s offensive roster. The Eagles job looks like a do-over for the rookie head coach. Chip Kelly has taken his winning (26-21) record to San Francisco. The media lurched for the image of runhappy QB Colin Kaepernick in the wide-open Kelly offensive system, but with a top ten draft pick in hand, and back on the West Coast, don’t expect Chip to be conservative in ripping everything up if he feels the situation requires it. And right now, the 49ers look ripe for it. The most intriguing hire may be Adam Gase’s arrival in Miami. The ex-Bears coordinator is a former quarterbacks coach from the John Fox Denver coaching tradition. His new OC will be Clyde Christensen, former QB coach of the Colts. Be in no doubt, these hires are aimed squarely at finding Ryan Tannehill’s next level. The Dolphins have invested too much in Tannehill to restart the process and are clearly a team that can take a big step with better leadership.

Escape to L.A.

I have to admit, I’m happy to see a team back in Los Angeles. As well as being an unspoken pre-requisite to a London franchise, I’m not that sympathetic to the city of St Louis crying foul over a team they stole from another city being stolen right back. Just get back to the blue-and yellow and ditch the gold, Rams.

own at the other end of the continuum of football immediacy, February 3 was National Signing Day, when college obsessives, relatives and the incurably nerdish (that’s why I’m here, folks) gather around huge screens to witness all the action and gridiron grandeur of a teenager putting on a hat and faxing a form. The day began with the tantalizing prospect of LSU head coach Les Miles – reportedly half a game away from being sacked last season – winning national football recruiting’s biggest day. In fact, when the ink was dry, Alabama had again walked away with it, with Ohio State and FSU in hot pursuit. Most of the top unsigned players were on the defensive side of the ball, offering a theme, but the real points of interest, as ever, were outlandish declarations and surprising last-minute flips. Under that first catagory, the SEC ruled: DB Deontay Anderson declared for Ole Miss while jumping out of a plane, LB Ben Davis wore a ‘Bear’ Bryant hounds-tooth hat to announce Alabama, and no.1 athlete Mecole Hardman Jr. lined up an array of college-themed cakes before picking none of them and emerging from a banner wearing Georgia garb. Amongst the flips: having lost DT Shavar Manuel to FSU, Florida stole WR Tyrie Cleveland from Houston; USC grabbed S Jamel Cook from FSU, and landed DE Connor Murphy over Michigan (not technically a flip, but it was close). No.1 recruit DL Rashan Gary – considered a can’t-miss of NFL proportions already – didn’t flip from Michigan, but word had circulated that he might jump to Clemson. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was probably

as pleased to land high-profile kicker Quinn Nordin, the recruit he’d assailed with a ‘sleep-over’ visit one minute past the midnight opening to the recruiting period. Nordin had earlier appeared in a video, apparently verbally committed to Big 10 rival Penn State. Harbaugh also climbed a tree to woo athlete David Long during the recruiting process; that tactic also paid dividends on NSD. With the last three national champions riding high, the question became which team could buck that correlation and sign above their win-loss. Charlie Strong shrugged off the pressure in Texas with arguably a top ten class including stealing LB Erick Fowler from under the nose of LSU. Mississippi State were right up there with Alabama and LSU thanks to Anderson, WR AJ Brown, and previous commitments QB Shea Patterson and top OL Greg Little. Tennessee finally landed the best juco signing, DE Jonathan Kongbo, via Arizona Western College, and beat out Ohio State for top dual-threat QB Jarrett Guarantano. Georgia’s new head coach Kirby Smart, despite a foreshortened opportunity to recruit while finishing his DC role at Alabama, ended up with Hardman, QB Jacob ‘son-of-Tony’ Eason, plus on-the-day additions DTs Michail Carter, David Marshall and WR Tyler Simmons. Best mid-major recruiting was by PJ Fleck’s Western Michigan. Despite all the noise across state, the MAC college pooled 26 useable recruits including strength and depth at RB and LB. Another Broncos victory!

Follow Richard on twitter @1STandGEEK

The American



by Sam Beresford

Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton throws during the Super Bowl 50, Feb. 7, 2016


s the sun sets on another incredible NFL season, it was time for the annual awards evening, NFL Honors. Conan O’Brian was the host, and set out with an eleven-minute monologue at many players’ expense. [Check it out here watch?v=u3SuVLiFkos] There were 17 awards to be handed out throughout the night, from Salute to the Service Award to AP Most Valuable Player, but there was no doubt who the star of the show was, with Leah Still, daughter of Houston Texans Defensive Tackle, Devon Still. Leah’s story is well known and her 20-month fight with cancer has been public knowledge, inspiring many. Leah had the opportunity to announce the Comeback Player of the Year, after


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rightly receiving a standing ovation from the star studded crowd. What was to follow was a heartwarming video, describing Chiefs safety Eric Berry’s own remarkable fight with cancer. The video [https://www. bQ] truly put minor struggles in day to day life into perspective, “Just because it’s a cloudy day don’t mean the sun isn’t shining”, was a truly heart-warming quote, from someone who has been through hell since his diagnosis in 2014. Throughout his tear-jerking speech, one thing was definitely apparent, Berry truly is one astonishing human being. Brett Favre and Tony Dungy headlined this year’s Hall of Fame class. However, it was the names who missed out that caught our attention. Terrell Davis, former Broncos Running Back and Kurt Warner, former Cardinals and Rams Quarterback will surely make it to Canton, just not this year. The class of 2016 have had their measurements taken and will be honored, before the annual pre-season game, in Canton. The Walter Payton Man of the Year award is one of the most prestigious prizes of the night. All 32 teams nominate one player who has gone above and beyond to help the community. This year, the three finalists were Benjamin Watson, Anquan Boldin and Eli Manning. All three had a claim to the award, as they as a group have a major impact on different aspects of the community. Anquan Boldin was the eventual winner, greeted by former winners on stage, where he thanked the Payton family for

voting him for such an incredible award. Boldin went on to thank multiple people who, through his foundation, helped him complete these selfless acts. He “now knows his purpose”, more than being an NFL star receiver. Among the most hotly contested awards were the two rookie awards. This year, they were claimed by Rams Running Back Todd Gurley and Marcus Peters, Chiefs Cornerback. Both worthy winners, who have the ability to really implement themselves into the league and become stars of the future. JJ Watt was once again in the headlines, winning AP Defensive player of the year. The three-time winner, if he carries on, can solidify his place among the greatest ever to play the game on the defensive side of the ball. JJ ended to applause and laughter with the words “Screw all you guys who doubted me!” The pinnacle award in the NFL is the Associated Press Most Valuable Player. This year it was Cam Newton’s turn to take the AP NFL MVP crown. Quite rightly, after leading his team to a Super Bowl appearance, with very few viable weapons in the receiving corps. Unfortunately, game prep prevented Cam being there, so it was a video message. Newton reeled off a number of names, who he thanked helping him get to the position he is in. Of course his speech ended with an obligatory Dab and the words “Keep Pounding”. Coach of the Year went to Ron Rivera, after helping, with Newton, get the Panthers to their 15-1 regular season record.


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NYU Alumni Club in London Jodi Ekelchik, President

Princeton Association (UK) Rice Alumni of London Kathy Wang 07912 560 177 a,

Harvard Club of the United Kingdom,

Skidmore College Alumni Club, London w Smith College Club of London Stanford Business School Alumni Assn. UK overview/?group_id=0038990048

Syracuse University Alumni UK Texas Tech Alumni Association - London Chapter Scott Dewar 077754 35877

Texas Exes UK (UKTE) England: Carra Kane 0778 660 7534 Scotland: Corey Cripe

Texas A&M Club London The John Adams Society Tufts - London Tufts Alliance UConn Alumni Association UMass Alumni Club UK President, Renu Singh, University of California 020 7079 0567 University of Chicago Alumni Association, University of Chicago Booth Alumni Association President: University of Colorado Alumni london-forever-buffs-alumni-chapter Facebook: LondonForeverBuffs Email: contact via website University of Georgia Alumni Association Lee Hutchins chapters/london_chapter University of Illinois Alumni Club of the UK Amy Barklam BUS 1994, President, 07796 193 466,,,, University of Michigan Alumni Association 0788-784-0941, University of North Carolina Alumni Club,

University of Rochester/Simon School UK Alumni Association Julie Bonne, 0118-956-5052,,

University of Southern California, USC Alumni Club of London Walter Ladwig, President University of Virginia Alumni Club of London 020 7368 8473 ,

US Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point) Alumni UK Chapter Facebook: Kings Point Alumni - London/United Kingdom USNA Alumni Association, UK Chapter President: Cdr Timothy W. (Tim) Fox ‘97, USNR Vassar Club UK President: Andrew Solum ‘89 Treasurer Tris Barker’64, 020 8467 0890 Warnborough Worldwide Alumni Association 01227 762 107 Washington University UK Alumni Club Steven Leof, Wellesley College Club wellesley_uk_club Wharton Alumni Club of the UK 020-7447-8800 Williams Club of Great Britain Ethan Kline:, alumni., Yale Club of London President, Secretary Zeta Tau Alpha Alumnae Kristin Morgan 07812 580949

CIVIL WAR SOCIETIES American Civil War Round Table (UK) American Civil War historical society Derek Young

Southern Skirmish Association (SoSkan) The oldest American Civil War Re-enacting Society outside the USA.

ARTS American Actors UK 07873 371 891 Savio(u)r Theatre Company Britain’s American theatre company

SPORTS English Lacrosse Wenlock Way, Manchester M12 5DH 0843 658 5006 British Baseball Federation / SoftballUK 5th Floor, Ariel House, 74a Charlotte Street, London W1T 4QJ 020 7453 7055 British Morgan Horse Society 01981 500488 Ice Hockey UK 02920 263 441 Infinity Elite Cheerleading (founded by CAC) 077 9132 0115 Herts Baseball Club Adult & Little League Baseball Lakenheath Barracudas Swim Club Open to all military affiliated families. LondonSports American flag football, baseball, basketball and soccer, boys/girls, 4-15 all nationalities, new or experienced players. London Warriors American Football Club

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The American


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What do the Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears and the Oakland Raiders NFL teams have in common?

What month has the largest number of violent storms in the US? (National Weather Service records)

Charles August Lindbergh, father of Charles Lindbergh, held which political office 1907 –1917? a) US Congressman b) US Senator c) US Vice President

➍  Which US state has the largest number of tornadoes? a) Oklahoma b) Kansas c) Texas


What is “Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of London” more commonly known as?


What did they call Burlington, Vermont, when Bernie Sanders was Mayor? a) The People’s Republic of Burlington b) The USBR c) The Burlington Bernie Brothers Republic

It happened 75 years ago...

March 11, 1941: Roosevelt signs which important agreement that assisted the UK in the early years of the Second World War?

It happened 150 years ago...

➑ April 9, 1866: Despite a veto by President Andrew

Johnson, the Civil Rights Act is passed which protected what right of people of African descent?

It happened 250 years ago...

 arch 4, 1766: Which British Act, a source of much ➒ M anger in the American colonies, was repealed?

Quiz answers and Sudoku solution on page 89


The American


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QUIZ: 1. They are all majority-owned by women: Martha Ford (nee Firestone), 90, inherited the Detroit Lions outright from her deceased husband in 2014 ; Virginia Halas McCaskey, 93, inherited the Chicago Bears in 1983, on her father’s death, and Carol Davis, who, along with her son, Mark Davis, has owned the largest stake in the Oakland Raiders since her husband died in 2011; 2. April; 3. a) US Congressman; 4. c) Texas; 5. The Tower of London; 6. a) The People’s Republic of Burlington; 7. Lend-Lease, formally titled “An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States”; 8. US Citizenship; 9. The Stamp Act 1765. SOLUTION



















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The American Magazine March-April 2016 Issue 750  

The leading cross-media publication for Americans in the UK - and anyone interested in American culture

The American Magazine March-April 2016 Issue 750  

The leading cross-media publication for Americans in the UK - and anyone interested in American culture