NEWS

December 2017

Ho Hon Ho

Well it’s that time of the year again where we all run around like idiots, buying too much food, spending money we don’t have and expending so much energy that we’re exhausted by the time the Big day comes. We slave away in the kitchen for hours on end and entertain relatives we only see once a year, mainly because we don’t like them that much in the first place. Stuffing ourselves to the gills everyone clambers round the television set to hear the Queen’s speech but fall asleep before the Lady begins and where are you – in the kitchen clearing up.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with Xmasexit, after all the weeks leading up to Christmas, all the wrapping, menu planning, cooking and bedroom shuffling that happens in every household the big day comes and is gone in a blink of an eye and I sit there kind of shell-shocked. We’re eating leftovers for the next week, planning our New Year resolutions and working out how we are going to pay January’s credit card bills.

Today we are all in such a hurry, speeding at 70 miles an hour with lists of the umpteen things we have to do in a day, we have to remember appointments for our MOT, dentist, flu shot, opticians and that is in between grocery shopping, doing laundry, washing up, vacuuming, cooking, ironing, getting the dog to the vets, putting the dustbins out, changing light bulbs, changing the sheets, making beds, cleaning toilets, feeding pets, mopping floors, watering plants, mowing the lawn, weeding the garden, washing the car, bathing pets, dealing with the mail, cleaning up spills, dirt and other messes, wash windows and those are just the regular things in a week, it doesn’t take into account the spring cleaning,  deep cleaning the fridge, cleaning the oven, salting the dishwasher, washing mattress covers, comforters and duvets, shampooing the carpet, polishing the wood furniture, changing filters and spring cleaning your closets, vacuuming curtains, cleaning the garage or pruning trees and shrubs.…, phew

Time is the most precious and valuable thing we have in life so we have to use it wisely, live it happily, make the right choices and have no regrets as once its gone you will never get it back.

Let’s take a step back from the chaos.... close your eyes.... and go back... before the Internet... before bombings, aids, herpes before semiautomatics and crack... before Xbox or PlayStation or mobile phones ... way back!  I'm talking about sitting on the curb, sitting on the stoop...about hide-and-go-seek; Simon Says and red-light-green-light. Lunch boxes with a thermos ... chocolate milk, going home for lunch, penny candy from the store, hopscotch, butterscotch, skates with keys, jacks and Cracker Jacks, hula hoops and sunflower seeds, wax lips and mustaches and Coke bottles with the names of cities on the bottom. Remember

  • When it took five minutes for the TV to warm up.
  • When our mum was at home when we got in from school.
  • When a shilling was a decent allowance.
  • Running through the sprinkler, bobby pins, the Mickey Mouse Club, The Woodentops, Sooty & Sweep, Pinky & Perky, Andy Pandy, Lassie…..all in black and white.
  • Remember when we got free milk at school and played 45 RPM records and when telephone numbers had a word prefix.
  • Climbing trees, making forts, backyard shows, lemonade stands, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, staring at clouds, jumping on the bed, pillow fights, angel hair on the Christmas tree, bunking in to the cinema, running till you were out of breath, laughing so hard that your stomach hurt...remember that? Every kid who played Cowboys and Indians used shot caps and I used to love the smell the burn cap left after shooting the toy gun.
  • Remember not stepping on a crack or you'd break your mother's back ... paper-chains at Christmas and ‘Eat Me’ Dates
  • What about the girls who dotted their i's with hearts? (that was before smiley faces) or spinning around, getting dizzy and falling down, just for the fun of it.
  • Outside toilets, daisy chains and the BBC Test Card.
  • Remember when the only time you wore sneakers was at school for gym.
  • When you got your windshield cleaned, oil checked and petrol pumped, without asking -- all for free -- every time! And, you didn't pay for air either, and you got trading stamps to boot!
  • When laundry detergent had free glasses or towels hidden inside the box.
  • When the worst thing you could do at school was flunk a test or chew gum.
  • When they threatened to keep kids back a grade if they failed -- and did!
  • When being sent to the principal's office was nothing compared to the fate that awaited us at home.
  • When people went steady and you could join the Tufty Club. Tufty the Squirrel’s job was to encourage British kids to be safer. He taught us to cross the road safely – “Look right, look left, look right again and if its all clear march straight across”.
  • When no one ever asked where the car keys were because they were always in the ignition, and car and house doors were never locked!
  • Remember when stuff from the store came without safety caps and hermetic seals, because no one had yet tried to poison a perfect stranger.
  • Remember the Rag and Bone Man, the French onion and garlic seller who came round on his bicycle and when you could collect labels from Robinson Jam and get a Golliwog Badge.
  • Remember when before the days of the lottery, the Pool’s collector would come round to the house and collect your money and the coupon.
  • Galaxy Counters by Mars featuring Percy the Pelican, Dib Dabs, Camp coffee and Bird’s Dream Topping and Crisp packets with little blue bundles of salt inside.
  • Remember Conker fights, marbles and the Playschool Window when we used to guess which one it used to be.
  • What about Little Black Sambo, Phone boxes and the ten bob notes.

 

And, with all our progress, don't you just wish, that just once, you could slip back in time and savour the slower pace...and share it with the children of today?  So send this on to someone who can still remember Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, Flipper, Laurel and Hardy, The Peanut Gallery, The Lone Ranger and Tonto, Daktari ... as well as the sound of a real mower on Saturday morning, and summers filled with bike rides, rounders games, bowling, visits to the pool ... and eating Kool-Aid powder with sugar from the palm of your hand. There, didn't that feel good? Just to lean back and say: "Yeah...I remember......."

There’s something to be said for long-term memory, short term is another matter, nowadays it’s a miracle if I remember yesterday but I’ll try and recapture the year as best I can.

2016 saw me have a wonderful Christmas with my family and the last one with Max as a single man! 10th August was the big day and Max and Justine were very excited and justifiably impatient as it was also their 10th year anniversary.

We celebrate Christmas Day the day before as Max and Justine leave on the 25th at 11.00am so that they can get to London and spend time with her parents and it can leave me feeling flat. Mind you there wasn’t much time to sit feeling sorry for myself as the sea was calling.

On Thursday 5th January I locked up Monro Towers and headed for Tilbury complete with 8 cases and numerous amounts of hand luggage. The rule of any ship is that as long as the stuff fits in your cabin you can bring the kitchen sink…. no I didn’t although I do admit to a small portable fridge making its way into one of my holdalls. Well it would have been rude not to. The Magellan is an old ship and doesn’t have a lot of the amenities that other newer ships have and anyone that knows me knows that I cannot drink a warm Coca Cola. Last time I was on Magellan was for the Amazon last January and the reception was happy to keep my medications in the fridge for me but it is no fun waking up in the wee small hours and having to go up several floors to ask for your ‘fix’. Then there’s the fact that I don’t drink water and there is no bar open at that time to buy a soda so the easiest solution was to bring my own.

Unfortunately it doesn’t solve the heating issue… the issue being that there was none in the cabin. This ship was originally built for Caribbean cruising so there was no need to have heating fitted but it certainly was necessary for British winter sailings.

At 8.00pm we set sail out of Tilbury and with the winter weather already firmly entrenched we were all looking forward to some sunshine. Being that this was a world maiden voyage one expected a small fanfare as we set sail but I can only describe our departure as ‘limping’ out of port. If you blinked you would have missed the event. What a let down. When I left on Arcadia in 2012 we had streamers, a glass of champagne, a dockside orchestra playing ‘Sailing’ as we slipped our berth and as we inched down the English Channel we were treated to a wonderful display of fireworks. Bad show Cruise & Maritime.

Gallery Fact: The Executive Chef heads a team comprising 2 Sous Chefs, I Tournament, 1 Savaier, 1 Gardemonger, 9 first cooks, 18 second cooks, 15 third cooks, 1 ice carver, 1 Pastry Chef and his 4vassistants, 1 Coffee man and a partridge in a pear tree!

I don’t know what they were all doing but I can assure you it wasn’t producing anything exotic or in some cases edible.

On the 121-night cruise, 65 days were spent at sea, usually my favourite time, but the days were long and boring with very little entertainment to amuse us. We had a speaker called Param Sandhu, who was also on the Amazon cruise last year, whose specialty is talking about tigers. Well there are only so many times you can hear talks about the same animal especially when the places they habitat were not even on our cruise schedule. He struggled with 24 sea days up to Acapulco when he went home. He repeated pictures and commentary and on one of the days he sat in the audience and showed 100 pictures without commentary, which took up 30 minutes. He showed a colour slide and then the same picture in black/white. When that was done with he started showing pictures of birds but didn’t know their names and it was the audience who was helping him out with the information. It was a bloody disgrace and as good as his photographs were those last talks were an insult to my intelligence.  Would you believe he wanted to stay on until Sydney, which required another 31 talks…. I don’t think so.

Unfortunately Cruise & Maritime had no money in the pot to fly people out to join the ship and I found out from my friend, who is also a speaker, she had to pay her own airfare! It’s no wonder there weren’t many takers. On one stretch of 9 sea days we only had one speaker and no guest acts. We were so fortunate with the weather and had tropical heat nearly all the way round but poolside buffets were seriously lacking. Without entertainment the ship basically becomes a ferry.

I’ve never heard of any cruise company not providing a specialized speaker for the transit of the Panama Canal and no one even got the obligatory certificate for Crossing the Equator or transiting he Panama or Suez Canal and for that you’re only talking about a mail shot. It was very lame.

Then we come to the exotic ports of call advertised in their brochure and website. In so many instances we were berthed in container ports, well that’s bad enough but the company didn’t lay on any free transport. We were basically stranded in places like Chan Mai and Phu My. Our disappointment reached fever pitch when we found that we weren’t going to dock at Sydney’s Circular Quay but at White Bay, some nine miles away where the nearest bus stop was a two-mile walk. I did a lot of research prior to going and luckily I had booked a lot of private tours so the guides came and picked me up otherwise I’m not sure what I would have done.

Meanwhile back in England, the show I wrote, “One Voice’ The Matt Monro Story’ opened on 4th February at Richmond Theatre and this time round we’d updated the songs and script to include even more.  Matt Jnr covered more than sixty dates and his new album came out to coincide with the tour. “A Father’s Legacy’ is my brother’s first album since “If He Could See Me Now” which was in 2007 and “Dancing With His Father’ in 2010. He’s done the album in the style of dad in terms of arrangements and the track listing includes.

Fourth Blue Monday, Didn’t We, For Once in My Life, Georgia on My Mind, Let Me Sing, One Morning in May, Gonna Build a Mountain, One Voice, You’ve Got Possibilities, So Little Time, This is the Life, Wonderful World, On Days Like These, You Made Me So Very Happy, Yesterday When I Was Young

What a journey the world cruise had been, medical evacuations, sea rescues, a death, a mutiny, press stories and nutty passengers. The ship wasn’t in the best shape and we had floods and leaks on numerous decks, the Show Lounge, Captain’s Club as well as cabins and corridors. Some people moved cabin five times because of flooding in the bathrooms.

We had an English speaker Jeff Chandler, who dared to speak of the war and while that might not normally be a problem, it was when you had 144 Germans onboard the ship. They immediately started a petition to stop the speaker doing any more talks and in the blink of an eye head office took him off. He wouldn’t let it go and canvassed British passengers to sign a petition to reinstate him and after much deliberation CMV put him back on. His conduct afterwards was, let’s say unbecoming of a speaker representing the company and once again head office took him off. The next thing I knew it was on page 33 of The Sun Newspaper with the headline “Don’t mention the war ship” Reception pulled all the printed newspapers off sale but it was too late, the news went around the ship like a bad rash. Head office was apoplectic and when rung by the papers gave the standard reply “no comment”. The following day the story was picked up by The Star, The Express and the Daily Mail and rumors circulated that Good Morning Britain wanted the speaker on the show.

Then we come to Stephen, an alcoholic that used his M.S as an excuse for his behaviour. He was constantly demanding attention from the crew and screaming obscene abuse at reception. He wielded his stick like a weapon hitting the head steward at a lunch because he couldn’t get his own way. He really was a vile individual. He kept every tour waiting, on one occasion by 25 minutes, he constantly excreted in his trousers and wouldn’t change and during a lunch service on deck he stood up and pissed where he was standing.

His account was suspended for lack of funds and that gave the ship the power to ensure he wasn’t served any more alcohol and that stopped a lot of the aggression but he was constantly trying to sneak bottles on the ship each time we were in port. Any other cruise line would have disembarked him after the first infractions but this company didn’t have the balls to do the right thing. Instead passengers by the hundreds made complaint after complaint. I felt especially sorry for the people in the next cabins to him as he banged his stick on the walls as he makes his way down the corridor and when he had fallen down drunk he screamed for help. He insisted his passport has been stolen on two occasions only for it to be found in his cabin. But there is a conspiracy you know. He told everyone that the GSM went into his cabin and stole it and then threw it overboard. Each time it was found he took no responsibility for hiding it nor did he apologise for the chaos he caused.

In Israel he managed to get alcohol on the ship and gloated about it. I’m usually the last one on deck at night and lo and behold he got pissed, couldn’t walk without lurching all over the place and then fell in the lift cutting his eye. Security came to help and to get him to medical but it was just a flesh wound and he swore blind he hadn’t been drinking. When I told security I’d seen him he admitted he’d had two double scotches and five glasses of wine!! It’s a shame he didn’t fall overboard. To be honest I could fill reams of paper on stories about him but let’s just say he was the passenger from hell and everyone’s worst nightmare.

The night before Ashdod we had a helicopter medical emergency and Deck 11 had to be evacuated. The Israeli Navy dispatched what I thought to be three helicopters but it turned out one was a drone sent ahead to film the decks and check things out. The second craft was keeping the air space clear and the third actually came in for the rescue. I hate to think what that exercise cost but the irony was while we were in Israel the next day the passenger in question rejoined the ship!

This cruise tried everyone’s patience so much so that one passenger held a meeting, which was attended by over 200 people. They talked about a class action suit and I would say that CMV haven’t a leg to stand on, there had been diesel fumes filtering in through the ventilation system, then the air conditioning broke, then my bathroom flooded out twice and I even had an ant invasion on my bedding. The crew started fixing the windows on Deck 10, which is the main pool deck and over the course of 10 hours they were banging away. The smell of chemical fumes was rife. Once the glass came out you could see just how corroded the metal was underneath. On one of the nights it rained it literally flooded Deck 10 as the overflow gutters didn’t work. We’re talking about 8 inches of water running back and forward across the decks in motion to the movement of the ship.

The whole trip was a disgrace. When you envision a world cruise you dream about the ports of call but the reality meant that because of where we were berthed, it cost us two hours in travel time before getting to the main city areas. Several of the overnight stops we had were wasted because in Ho Chi Ming (Saigon), you couldn’t spend the evening there or have dinner because the port gates were a quarter of a mile away in 90 degrees of heat, the taxis were unreliable and if you did take the tour transfer the latest return time to the ship was 6.30pm. In Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore etc if we wanted to spend the evening it meant expensive cab fares to get back to the port.

Then we had the Indian visa debacle which CMV insisted were obligatory and without it we would be denied boarding in Tilbury. Because of my cruise schedule I had to use a visa company to apply on my behalf so that ended up costing £300.00 and of course it evolved when the Indian officials came on the ship prior to our arrival in Chennai that we didn’t need one if we didn’t want to get off the ship. Oops.

People went berserk and demanded money back from the company but as with the dozens of people that wrote, they were ignored. I wrote three letters to head office and again no reply. I’m afraid I don’t understand a company who refuses to face the fact they screwed up and the awful thing is a lot of the issues on Magellan will be repeated on the Columbus world cruise in 2018.

The staff and passengers were demoralized and the Cruise Director and his team gave up. They got to the point where they couldn’t care a less. They’d been flooded with complaints since we left Tilbury and they just wanted it to be over. Several crew I knew personally handed in their notice and couldn’t wait to get off the rust bucket.

With only a few days to go we arrived in Valetta to witness a German thrown off ship for spitting in a woman’s face. Stephen had too many drinks, too many falls and broke his hip the night before so he was also taken off. When they went into his cabin to pack up it looked like the devil possessed lived there. There were hundreds of scraps of paper with mad tirades scribbled everywhere. I blame the ship; they should have taken him off months before, as he was a danger to himself and others. I had told the GSM that he had sneaked alcohol onboard and if they had dealt with him sooner then he wouldn’t have broken his hip on the ship.

I’ve never been so pleased to get home. I was so lucky my friend and fellow speaker Rose Cook was with me. Her husband Andy picked us up in a people mover and most of it was needed for my luggage, which had crept up to 18 pieces!!! In fairness I had bought all my Christmas presents, my son’s birthday gifts for November and a couple of wedding gifts for the big day in August, so I had a guilt free conscience. In fact the only things I bought myself was a new camera as a birthday gift to myself because it was a lot cheaper in Hong Kong and Uggs from Australia.

Although I was thrilled to be home I was dismayed by the amount of mail sitting on my desk and the 1262 emails I still had to answer. That is the trouble at sea, the Internet is very expensive but more than that most of the time you can’t get a decent signal. Of course you can always log on instantly because from that point they are charging you but it can take ten minutes to read and reply to one email so I’ve made it a point only to answer anything important and reply to the rest once home.

This was the first time ever that Max wasn’t waiting for me at the house but his University exams had started that same day but he did pop in the following day but then it was a long two weeks before I got to spend time with him again. After all that time away it was very frustrating that he was so near and yet so far. The exams went on for three weeks and once he finished on 26th May he was exhausted but once they were behind him he could concentrate on his wedding. His results came through and I’m thrilled he achieved a first for his second year. He spent the Bank Holiday weekend with me and then went off to London for the rest of the week so Justine could have her first dress fitting and finalise the decorations at the venue.

Matt’s new tour ‘One Voice’ was a resounding success once again. In fact the promoter is keen to follow it up next year with different venues.

I was only home for a few weeks and boy was it tight trying to get all the mail, washing, cleaning and updates done in time before I left again. It didn’t help that I’d made a formal complaint to ABTA about CMV, the paperwork was all very laborious but I have now filed court papers. As far as I’m concerned the ship was not fit for purpose and even after all the cruising I’ve done over the last 30 years, I was shocked at how dismal a display it was, especially being a Maiden World Cruise.

About a week before joining Celebrity my brother suddenly announced he was getting married in December in the Dominican Republic. Don’t get me wrong a 9 day beach holiday is something not to turn your nose up at but I had to dash out, buy an outfit, organize most of the legalities for him, cancel my annual Christmas party and try and prepare for the festive season in advance as we don’t get back until the 22nd December. It will actually be lovely spending time with the family. We haven’t been on holiday together since we were kids so we’ll probably come back not talking to each other, lol

On Sunday 18th June I drove to Southampton and boarded my favourite ship, the Celebrity Eclipse and I am absolutely delighted that my gorgeous friend and cruise director Sue Denning was onboard again. This was my third year as ‘resident’ speaker’ and one that I wanted to make memorable as sadly next year the Eclipse will no longer be based in England for the summer.

I signed my contracts for 2017 with Celebrity 18 months ago and they have been amazing because Max only told me about his wedding this year so I had to speak to the office about the situation. I did offer to fly home at my cost for three days but it meant flying back from St Petersburg and it is difficult to get a visa and is more trouble than it’s worth. The company generously told me to take the two weeks off and re-board back in Southampton and I was able to keep my room and leave all my luggage onboard. I was grateful as I love my time on the ship and I could have lost the whole booking.

The first three legs covered the Baltic. What was lovely was we had an overnight in Copenhagen and it gave me a chance to visit Tivoli Gardens at night. Tivoli Concert Hall is where dad performed in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1964 coming a respectable second in the contest with ‘I Love the Little Things’. The song he really loved was the Austrian entry written and performed by Udo Jergens called Warum nur, Warum? Dad loved it so much that he asked the composer if he could take the song back to England and have it translated. The rest is history.

As with the 1956 contest, no video recording of the actual contest is known to survive (although one does of the shorter winning reprise); however like the 1956 contest an audio recording does exist. Reports say that this is because there was a fire at the studios of DR, the Danish broadcaster, in the 1970s. No other broadcaster recorded the entire show (although segments of the contest do exist in the archives of NDR Germany) other than for the Winners' reprise. It has been speculated that the BBC once held a copy of the show, as an empty tape canister marked "Eurovision 1964" was found during a storage cleanup, but the tape was missing, presumably wiped. The audio of the entire show however is still intact, and an unofficial release of the show has been uploaded to YouTube with press-photos and some intact video parts to supplement the audio. If anyone out there has either footage or photographs of dad from the event then please get in touch.

It is always worth persevering with these things as while working on the ship I met up with three extraordinary people, one older gentleman who played drums for dad several times who chatted me for some time about his memories of the good old days.

After my first show I was given a message to ring a passenger, Andrew Cohen, the nephew of Hal Shaper who wrote the English lyrics for "Softly, as I Leave You”.

The third incident was no less exciting. Nik Butcher came up and introduced himself. He played flute/Saxophone with the Royal Marines Commandos Lympstone, Devon and was booked to play in Douglas, Isle of Man for the Queen Mother’s Royal Command in 1984. Dad was on the bill and Nik has a video recording of the event. Can you believe that? He is going to dig the footage out along with any photographs he might have and let me have them. Can’t wait.

The 30 July saw me driving to Telford.  Max had rung me a few weeks ago to check on the date I was coming home and then explained that the wedding top table BBQ was happening on the 31st………….. at my place!!! I was about to go into a complete meltdown until he assured me he would shop and cook for the event. That calmed me somewhat. I got home at 2.00pm and spent several hours doing three loads of washing so it would be out of the way before everyone descended the next day. By the time I got done with all the things that needed attending to it was after midnight. There is nothing nicer than your own bed.

I got up bright and early to clean the house and make it somewhat presentable. I hadn’t realsied Max was still in London as he’d felt rather fragile after his Stag Weekend so when he messaged me that he was on the way I assumed he’d be there within the hour. In fact he was two hours later than he’d originally planned on, pulling up at Monro Towers just before 2.00pm. Our guests were arriving at 3.00pm!!!

I’ll give Max his due, he dashed down to Asda and bought all the provisions and once he’d lit the BBQ he started preparing kebabs and marinating chicken. I was very impressed. It turned out to be a great day save the weather, which tried very hard to put out the BBQ, but Max set up the sun umbrella and leant it against the house so he cooked outside while us mere mortals stayed inside. There were only Justine’s parents, Diona and Greg and Matt and his fiancé Chandrika. We very rarely get together as a family because of our work schedules so it was lovely just chilling back and talking about the impending nuptials.

I had to pack a bag for the days in between me leaving Telford and me getting back on the ship on 13 August. I dropped DJ off at my fabulous neighbours because this was the first time all the family on my side and Justine’s were all going to be unavailable. It wasn’t just the wedding but the honeymoon period so Pat and Brian kindly saved the day by stepping into the breach. I laughed myself silly when I saw DJ’s baggage as he was only going to the bungalow opposite.

I set off for Hunton Park on the 9th August arriving at around 4.00pm. Although I’d seen photos of the venue I hadn’t seen it in the flesh and boy was that first image impressive. Set in its own grounds the main house is where all the functions were held but I headed off to the left to find the entrance to the hotel.  Whereas the Manor House was very old and traditional, the hotel was modern and recently refurbished. The staff were very welcoming and on first appearances the bedroom looked great. The problem was the room was cold and the heating system was controlled centrally and because of the time of year it was switched off. Even the heated rail in the bathroom didn’t work and I was freezing so the staff brought an extra duvet for me.

I didn’t stop to explore as I was meeting Max in Harrow so we could go out to dinner and spend a few hours together. I’d only seen him briefly after getting home as the couple had spent the majority of their time in London at Justine’s family. I wasn’t jealous….not much.

When we lived in Harrow we had a favourite Chinese restaurant called Taste of China but since moving I haven’t been back there so it seemed like a great choice. It wasn’t raining, it was a torrent of water and it just kept coming and coming. It was so bad that several football matches were cancelled because the ground was waterlogged. I was so upset as the couple were due to have their reception and photographs in Hunton Park’s Rose Gardens. I wasn’t sure what the alternative was and I didn’t like to bring it up.

We had a fabulous meal and it was so nice spending those few hours with my son while he was still a single man. Max wasn’t staying at the hotel that night, choosing to stay at his Best Man Darren’s home as it is said to be unlucky to see the Bride before the ceremony. I drove back to Diona and Greg’s so Max could pick his car up. We couldn’t have timed it any better as Justine was loading the car when we pulled up. Greg was waiting to drive his daughter and wife to the hotel as Diona was staying with Justine on her last night as a single woman. Poor Greg, they’d arranged to leave at 5.30pm, then it was moved up two hours and it was now nearly 9.00pm. Like me he doesn’t like driving in the dark and on top of that it was still hammering down. The way Max and Justine clung to each other while saying goodbye you’d think they were going to be separated for several months rather than a few hours but then again they have waited 10 years for this moment.

They met at football camp when they were 14 and purported to be friends. I didn’t pay too much attention, as I didn’t think it would last. Let’s be honest at that age you usually go out with your mates and play the field. Well I did. But from the moment they met they were inseparable. They’d mapped out their lives together that first year, went to the same University together, moved in together five years ago and now in their 10th year they are taking that big step. They were both so excited, they just wanted to be married to each other and the day was nearly upon us.

I said my goodbyes to my baby and after hugging him umpteen times I finally let go and made the 40-minute drive to the hotel. It was still raining and the small country lanes were filled with deep puddles and the lack of lighting didn’t help. I was relieved when I pulled into the hotel’s drive. I’m glad I had already made the journey in the daylight as the hotel is recessed back from the road and there was no lighting advertising Hunton Park’s entrance. As I hobbled across to the doors, Greg was just leaving and I wondered how he was feeling leaving his family there and going back to an empty house.

I bumped into Justine and Diona on my way to my room and wished them everything good for the next day and went in to lay out my outfit and get organized. I was grateful that the wedding wasn’t until 2.30pm (well that was the time on the invitations but Max told me earlier that the ceremony was actually at 3.00pm but he knew there were several people who had a habit of arriving for things late). It meant I didn’t have to rush around in the morning. Just before midnight I went outside to have a cigarette before bed and it was still raining. The forecast predicted a dry day but I wasn’t optimistic. It had been pouring for the best part of a week, the sky was grey and the air was cold and damp. We needed a miracle.

We got it. At 7.43am the next morning I went back outside for my morning nicotine hit and not only was the sun out but it was already warm. I couldn’t believe it. What a difference a day makes. Back in my room I started the ritual for my morning medication and stopped in my tracks, one set of pills was missing. Because I take 31 pills a day I don’t carry the boxes but just the blisters because of space and I’d inadvertently picked up a foil that was nearly identical to the one I needed. If I’d left any of the others behind I could have got through it but not with these ones. I had visions of getting my neighbour to go to my home and bike the pills down to London. Then I rang my best friends, Carla and Julie to see if they were friendly with their pharmacists, no such luck and my brain was going into overdrive conjuring up complicated scenarios. The solution was much simpler. The hotel rang the local chemist in the village and he agreed to let me have enough until I reached the ship on Sunday. The residents of small hamlets always make me laugh. Their directions are always “it’s just down the hill, or just over the rise where in fact it was a 15 minute drive. I was there as the doors opened for business and ten minutes later I had the lifesavers in my very sweaty hands. Panic over. In that last hour I’d got so worked up, it took me an hour sitting outside in the hotel’s grounds before my breathing went back to normal. Silly me.

I took the opportunity to seek out the function rooms and grounds and took pictures of the pre-wedding scene. The ceremony room looked stunning and even at that time of the morning the staff were a hive of activity preparing the permanent marquee structure. The setting was absolutely stunning. In the thirty years I lived in Harrow and the eight I worked in hotels arranging special events I had no idea this beauty was on my doorstep. I didn’t think to ask how long it had been there but it looks to be old and the amount of grounds that are attached to the property are immense. It’s the perfect wedding venue.

My girlfriends Julie and Carla arrived early as they had both booked rooms and were changing at the venue. We took the opportunity of sitting outside and plying catch up. I don’t think I’d seen either of them in the best part of a year so there was a lot of nattering. My brother and Chandrika arrived but Matt had to go straight through to meet the DJ and do a sound check as he was singing the song for the married couple’s first dance. Chandrika joined us girls and talk turned to their wedding in December.

At midday I went to wait outside the door to the great house to await my son’s arrival. Within minutes his red car turned into the drive and I walked over to where he parked the car. Out stepped Max and his two best men Darren and German. They looked so smart in their matching blue suits and I snapped away capturing the moment for all time on my camera. My son had driven down in his trainers so while he was changing into his new shoes I pointed out that the other two still had the price under their footwear. There the three of them stood, all hopping on my foot trying to get the sticker off the sole. It did look funny.

As Max led the boys towards the manor I nearly broke into tears then and there. He looked so much an adult, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him happier and I thanked everyone possible for the wonderful weather that would help make this day so special. Max had a list of things he wanted to do that included putting special signs along the long driveway in from the road so while they were busy I went back to my room to change.

I hadn’t taken my dress out of its packaging since picking it up and I nearly had another panic attack when I found there was a security tag on the inside of the garment. I calmed down when I saw it could be taken off. It was there to remind customers that once removed the garment couldn’t be returned. I’ve never seen that on a garment before, maybe it’s only something House of Fraser do. I didn’t care; I was just relieved that I could carry on dressing.

I took one final look in the mirror before deciding that Polyfiller might have been better but it was too late for messing about. I had to be content on the final look and went out into the garden to sit and chill out for a while. I’m not one for dresses and I haven’t worn a pair of heels in seven years. The trouble was that the blue Max chose for his suit was unusual and it was pure fluke that my dress incorporated the same colour. The problem was it was impossible to find shoes to match. I’d looked for weeks not just in England but in the Baltic as well. In fact it was only resolved a few days prior on a last-ditch shopping attempt to my local town centre. Debenhams was the last stop out of every shoe outlet there, and waiting on a top shelf was the style and colour I wanted, the only problem, the heels were two inches higher than I wanted but beggars can’t be choosers. Now I was hobbling around doing my best to look elegant. I decided to stay seated as much as possible and stay out of Max’s way. Bless him, he wanted so much for everything to be perfect and it was.

The guests arrived thick and fast and a few must have wondered what was happening as the clock inched past 2.30pm, I know Matt did. I’d forgotten to tell him but Max was right, the extra time meant everyone was where they were supposed to be at the right time. The guests were asked to go into the ceremony room and a few minutes later I was called through. I nearly burst into tears seeing my son waiting anxiously at the wedding table. I joined him and people took the opportunity of taking some photos. Max and Justine had requested that no one took photographs during the ceremony as they were worried that in their official shots you’d see raised mobile phones in the background. The registrar mentioned same to the guests and it was met with several boos but everyone played ball and switched off their devices.

The strains of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ filled the room and after the Maid of Honour had walked down the red carpet, Greg and Justine followed. I have to say I have never seen Justine in makeup before and she looked stunning as did her hair and dress. My son’s eyes filled with tears but they were both beaming. As soon as the bride to be reached her mark and Greg took his seat, the couple held each other’s hands holding on for dear life. The registrar asked if there was anyone there that knew why the couple couldn’t be married, and my brother held onto me tight and we laughed when the moment passed. There were a couple of readings, mine included and then it was time for the couple’s vows. Justine started and I was in tears and as I held Matt’s hand I noted he was crying too. I so wish mum could have been there to witness the day but I know she was looking down. Max went next and he found it difficult to get his words out. He was so chocked up with emotion it set me off again. Then that final moment when they were pronounced man and wife, I very nearly bawled out loud. It was all so beautiful and the couple was so intensely in love it showed in every fibre of their bodies. As they took their first kiss as man and wife the room erupted into applause, cheers and whooping

While people switched their phones and cameras eagerly on the witnesses signed the wedding certificate. When the registrar asked me up I was taken aback as I had no idea I had that task, Max hadn’t told me. With the formalities over the couple took a seat behind the wedding table and posed for the first of thousands of pictures throughout the day. Once everyone was satisfied they’d captured every second of ‘the moment’ the happy couple turned and danced up the aisle coming back a second time to even more rapturous applause.

Matt, myself and Justine’s mum and dad followed the couple out to where champagne was waiting, followed by the rest of their guests and then we were led out into the grounds. The sun was still beating down and while the couple were led for their formal shots I took the time to take a few breaths. People were coming up to me by the dozen congratulating me and I just smiled slightly dazed at the reality of the situation.

It wasn’t long before the photographer beckoned me down and when I say down, I mean down, about forty steps to the Rose Garden and there followed a variety of different poses with different people. I’d been given heel guards (I must be getting old as I’d never heard of them), which meant that your heels don’t sink into the grass but because the sun had been beaming all day the ground was perfectly dry anyway.

Then it was time for the group shot and a rendition of us all singing “I’m a Believer”. Max and Justine had arranged a marryoke video (also something I’d never heard of) and guests had been captured in their two and threes during the day. I did mine with Matt and I took the opportunity of whacking him over the head with the inflatable saxophone prop that I’d been given. Very satisfying!

The confetti came next and the guests formed a line either side of the couple and while they danced down the grassy aisle we took the opportunity of bombarding them with coloured paper. Max and Justine were then led away down to an even lower part of the gardens for some formal shots, which gave everyone the chance to take their own pictures of family and friends.

I had to have a lot of help getting back up the stairs, oxygen would have been good, but I finally made it and the family were asked to form a greeting line into the marquee so that we could thank everyone for coming and wish them a wonderful evening. The theme on the couple’s ‘save the day’ magnets, invitations and table shots included a red heart made up of their thumb prints overlapping each other and every table had a 10x8 of the couple from a particular year of their lives from babyhood through to present day. They’d thought of everything including bound booklets on the tables, each one with a different header for the guests to sign.

The tables were beautifully decorated with red rose petals and flower arrangements held aloft by what looked like long stemmed flutes. The family were led in to the Top Table, Greg on one end, followed by Diona, Justine, Matt, Me, Matt and Chandrika. Greg’s mum, who’d flown in especially from Jamaica stood and said ‘Grace’, something she’d penned herself, which was very personal and pertinent to the day. The wine was poured and the first course served. I couldn’t remember what I’d ordered as it was months ago but my place card had my menu choice written on it. I was so over excited and full of emotion that I found it hard to eat anyway.

Greg started the round of speeches, followed by the two Best Men and lastly the wedded couple. Justine went first and after special thanks to her family and me she presented Max with his own personal Arsenal shirt, with a matching one for herself and one for their first born.  Max rolled his eyes at me because unbeknown to everyone else I knew he’d bought her the same present but it just proved how in tune they were with each other. He thanked me for everything, mentioned mum and Mitchell and got emotional once again. He presented me with a beautiful picture frame that had the words, The Husband, the Man but Always your Baby’. I’m glad I didn’t open it until I got back to my room later that night as I promptly burst into tears again.

The couple stood to cut their cake, a three-tier creation with a football sticking out of the back. They’d sent photos of themselves in their wedding outfits to a website they’d found and unbelievably the figures on top of the cake were of themselves. It was quite incredible. Loads more photos and then Matt took to the stage to sing the couple’s first dance. Everything was so perfect. I couldn’t have planned it any better myself and that’s saying something. I was stunned when my son came and asked me to take the second dance. I don’t think we’ve ever danced together before. Once again the tears fell.

The dance floor was full and I thought it the perfect time to take my leave and sit outside with the other lepers of society. I was bowled over that three of Max’s teachers had come especially after they all admitted that they’d never attended another student’s wedding before. What an amazing accolade, mind you Miss Quinn has always openly admitted that Max had been her favourite student.

I wasn’t aware that the evening was finishing at midnight but I thought it quite prudent, as it had been a long day for everyone. The couple had been at it non-stop for the last week and once the room was cleared of guests I hugged my boy arranging to meet everyone down for breakfast at 9.30am the next morning. The hotel had set aside a private room, which I thought was a lovely thing to do. I went outside once everyone was gone and reflected on the day. I think mum and Mitchell would have been as proud as were Matt and I. Here’s to the future.

Everyone met for breakfast and talked about the wonderful day we’d all had and over the course of the next hour Max packed up the car, as did Greg and myself. We were all laden down but we managed to get everything in and off we went towards Harrow. I spent the day at Diona and Greg’s house meeting up with new family and swapping stories of the wedding. The kids opened all their cards and passed them round the room for everyone to read. There were loads of us there and the day was full of fun, laughter and relived memories.

At last I took my leave as it was nearing 9.00pm and the kids had to be up at some unearthly hour to catch their fight to Cancun the next morning. The Crown Plaza was spitting distance from where I used to live and apart from being very handy the heating was on and could be controlled in your room. I was so tired from the lack of sleep over the last two nights in Hunton Park Hotel that I set an early morning call for 11.00am so I could catch up on my sleep. It took me an age to pack up everything I was finished with and put it in a separate case so I could leave it in my car once I got to Southampton.

The hotel rang with my wake up call and I jumped in the shower and got dressed. Opening the curtains I was stunned because I knew instantly it wasn’t anywhere near 11.00am. It was in fact 6.10am!!! I was so not a happy woman and went storming to reception to elicit an explanation. There wasn’t one, the girl had simply rung the wrong room and was full of apologies. It was too late to go back to bed so I went and sat outside while I took my medication. The receptionist followed me out offering me a free continental breakfast in the private member’s lounge with I accepted, not because I particularly wanted to eat, but being school holidays there were kids running around everywhere and the Executive Lounge was quiet. It was just as well that I was up early as Max rang from the airport to say goodbye and I would have hated to miss his call. He had cheekily asked check in for an upgrade and not only was that not on the cards but once on the plane he found they weren’t even sitting anywhere near each other!! Luckily a very nice gentleman offered to move otherwise it wouldn’t have been the best way to start your honeymoon.

I’d arranged to spend the night at Southampton so I could split the driving up and arrive at the ship somewhat rested. I do get very tired with this illness and need to pace myself when I can so I checked out at midday to make the 90-minute journey. Did I know Southampton was playing Swansea??? No I didn’t and four hours later I pulled up outside the Ibis Hotel. There were three hotels within the small retail park, a Novotel, an Ibis and a Ibis Budget. I hadn’t stayed at any of them before but had based my choice on the fact it was across the road from the port gate and within walking distance of the town centre.

OMG the hotel was pants; there wasn’t even a proper check in counter and the girl attended to me by putting all the details into her mobile phone. I couldn’t open the room door and had to make the journey down to the foyer in the rickety old lift three times before the bloody thing would open. The room was basic and soul-less, I couldn’t imagine what the Ibis Budget was like, maybe you had to bring your own linen?

I spent what was left of the day at the shopping centre having a lovely lunch at one of the new eateries that have opened recently. At least I could now relax knowing that all the travelling and stress was over and taking a seat at one of the pub-like picnic benches outside the hotel I sat and did my crossword puzzle. There was an Indian wedding at the hotel opposite and the music was booming out into the car park as were a lot of the drunken guests. At 11.45pm I decided to call it a night but then found I’d been locked out!!! I buzzed the tannoy through the glass wall and an officious black security guard answered with the words ‘we’re full’ and hung up on me. I held my room key up and banged with my stick until he begrudgingly came over and unlocked the door. I went nuts. I couldn’t wait to escape that fleapit of an excuse for a hotel. Here’s the irony, the 4* Crown Plaza cost £10.00 less and was pure luxury!!

Trying to check out in the morning I had to wait while the girl poured two pints of beer before she could come over and check me out. The only advantage to staying there was that eight minutes later I had pulled up outside the luggage drop off area opposite Celebrity Eclipse. Because I already had my cabin key and was ‘in transit’ I was allowed straight on. So that was it, the end of a whirlwind trip and several days of memories to remember forever.

Max and Justine had a fabulous time at Secrets Cancun. I’d bought them a surprise dinner for two on the beach, which they said was fantastic. They sent me a couple of pictures from that special night before Max’s phone packed up once and for all. He’d been having problems with it for a couple of months prior to the wedding but wanted to wit until after the honeymoon to replace it but sadly it had other ideas. It was a great shame as Justine’s mobile phone memory was full so they were only able to take a couple of snaps of their trip to Mexico. Everything from the setting to the rooms, food, amenities and entertainment was fantastic and the exciting thing is that we’ve found out that Matt’s wedding at Dreams, Dominican Republic is owned by the same company as Secrets so it looks like they chose the right brand.

I’d been back on the ship for a week or so when we suddenly got word that the storms coming towards Florida were the worst on record. I was genuinely frightened for all my friends who live out there. Even Celebrity closed their offices. I received an automatic email saying they were closed until further notice in preparation for Hurricane Irma. The first news to filter in was that Cuba had been hit badly but then came the news that Barbuda had been flattened. How awful for all those people who had lost their homes, livelihood and possessions. One is always confident when they go to bed each night that their day tomorrow will hold no great surprises. How wrong can you be? It’s not just devastating for those people on the island but imagine the pure fear from their loved ones who lived elsewhere. Getting in contact couldn’t have been easy. It’s not as if they could grab a flight and get over there to help, they had no idea where their family members were or even if they were alive. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

I then heard about St Martin and Dominica but no one was sure how badly they had been hit. All these islands rely on tourism as their main financial source so however little damage or disruption it will take years to get back to where they were. The other thing I heard is that two ships were diverted away from docking in the Dominican Republic but it didn’t say why. One passenger said the north of the island had been hit but I didn’t know where the hotel was in relation to the damage. That is one of the biggest frustrations in working at sea. The Wi-Fi signal is weak and expensive and I get very irritated trying to look things up on my phone. I was going to message Matt but I didn’t want to alarm him for nothing especially as he’d just left on a golfing trip with his buddies. That’s my brother’s idea of a Stag Weekend!

When the kids returned from their honeymoon they found their wedding pictures waiting for them. They were so excited about seeing them and although Max sent me a link I wasn’t able to see all of them because I needed an Internet connection to view them and being such large files they took an age to load one at a time. I decided to avoid the frustration and wait until I got home. On the other hand a few days later Justine sent me a link to their marryoke video. Done to the strains of I’m a Believer it was brilliant fun and I just kept watching it over and over again.  The videographer captured the sense of fun and even Matt and I sang our hearts out. I was given a blow up microphone and Matt a saxophone and we spent most of our spot thumping each other over the head. Great fun.

Justine also sent me a snippet of the wedding video, which was beautiful. I just started crying as I lived the moments over and over again. I couldn’t wait to get home and see the whole 90 minutes. What was so special for me is that we hadn’t had a family shot of just Max, Matt and I in years so I shall definitely take the opportunity of having something special done at Matt’s wedding. In fact I had a great idea in that I would have one of the kid’s wedding pictures made into a jigsaw puzzle as a Christmas present but when I spoke to Max he’d beaten me to the punch and had one made for Justine’s birthday.

My work on Celebrity Eclipse was marvelous, great audiences and great responses. It is humbling to know that you have made someone’s whole cruise, which is what I’ve been told a couple of times. I love the fact that it gives me the chance to promote the musical legacy dad has left behind. What better job could you have and I’m incredibly lucky to have been offered five months on Silhouette next year. Unfortunately Birmingham University couldn’t tell me the date of Max’s graduation except to say it is usually sometime at the end of August. I didn’t want to accept the contract and then have to go back to the office next year and ask for time off, especially as we’ll be in the Baltic again so I’ll have the same problem with flying back from Russia. Instead I’ve accepted three months and I’m holding back the tears at missing all the sunshine in the Mediterranean in September and October.

What was terribly sad was the news that Bruce Forsyth had passed away. He was always such a vibrant part of the business, the consummate professional who never stopped working. For me it was like losing a family member. He and dad cemented their friendship while doing summer seasons together at the start of their careers and that staunch friendship spanned dad’s whole life. Even after dad passed, Bruce was among a handful of real friends that were there for mum and I. He dearly wanted to attend my book launch but each year he and Wilnelia went to their second home in Puerto Rico for the winter but he rang during the party at EMI and insisted I put him on speaker-phone so he could address the crowd signing off at the end, Much love Brucie baby. He will be greatly missed by everyone whose life he touched. He was and always will be a legend and a star amongst the stars. That is the biggest negative at being at sea, you feel so useless when it comes to something like this but Richard saved the day by sending a card on behalf of the family.

On a happier note I was excited about coming home on 28 October but more so because Matt and I are going to be working together for the first time ever. My friend and ‘mucker’ Rose Cook organized a booking at Dudley Town Hall on the 16 November. After writing the book it seemed the natural progression to adapt it for stage and theatre and Matt Jnr has been touring it successfully around the United Kingdom for the last few years. It was originally my hope to tour with him but my health wasn’t up to doing the strenuous travelling that the tour involved. The gig in Dudley was a one off and I really looked forward to it.

Even though I had written the script I was nervous about actually performing it but I needn’t have worried, the evening was magical. The Mayor of Dudley was sitting in the front row with several of his guests and the audience was littered with long-time fans and friends. One couple, who I’d met on the ship five weeks prior, had come all the way from Lincoln and that involved an eight hour round trip. It really couldn’t have gone any better and it made me wish I’d been able to do the whole tour with Matt especially as he is retiring from the business at the end of next year

I’ve been working on a new project for the last 25 months and all being equal the book will be ready to go to print next year. Basically it’s a Port Guide for people who want to do the stops by themselves. The working title is ‘Travel Yourself’ and includes a ‘Mobility Challenged’ section which is something sadly missing from other guides. I had hoped to have it ready this year but things have been manic, aside from the fact that they keep adding new ports to the itinerary. A few months ago Fredericia replaced Bruges on the schedule. This is the oldest port in Denmark and although they only have about seven visiting ships a year, I felt it had to be added. Any factual book that comes out on the market will always date but I am trying my best to make it as current as possible. All the notes are done; it’s now about having the time to type everything up. Unfortunately I find it impossible to work on the laptop at sea. The screen and buttons are far too small but in retrospect if I’d typed the notes up as I’d gone along it would have been ready months ago. The first book out will be the Baltic and Norway followed by the Mediterranean, which will include the Canary Islands.

I’m relying on all of you to let me have any recommendations of shops, eateries, tours and places that have impressed you. If you have a valuable tip I want to hear it or you might know the best places for duty free. If anyone has issues with their mobility please share your stories with me. It could be that you need to tell me a place to avoid and that is equally important. This project is important so if you have any suggestions of things to include please email me at michele@mattmonro.com. Maybe you have a better title for the book. If so then please don’t be shy, everything is valuable and you’ll be helping future travelers.

Cruise Dates 2018

5 January – 18 February – P&O Oriana
7 May – 19 May – Celebrity Silhouette
19 May-26 May – Celebrity Silhouette
26 May 9 June – Celebrity Silhouette
9 June 23 June – Celebrity Silhouette
23 June 7 July – Celebrity Silhouette
7 July – 21 July – Celebrity Silhouette
21 July – 4 August – Celebrity Silhouette
4 August – 18 August – Celebrity Silhouette

While away this year I wrote a travel blog like I did in 2012 and every time I had an Internet connection in port I uploaded pictures onto my Facebook page. Feel free to take a peek https://www.facebook.com/michelemonro

 

So now onto 12th December when we are all flying out to the Dominican Republic for my brother’s wedding. There are just eight of us in total and I was thrilled to be able to arrange the day for the happy couple. It will be very simple with the ceremony on the beach. A small reception will follow with a Caribbean Trio and then we have one table set up by the water’s edge for the ‘Wedding Breakfast”. I’m old fashioned and used this phrase in my correspondence to the hotel. I was shocked to hear they have never heard of the expression. I explained it was called so because it is the first meal the couple takes as man and wife. I’m obviously getting old but I’d prefer to feel and look young again and ladies, a good trick is that going braless pulls all the wrinkles out of your face.  It’s a shame that going barefoot doesn’t do the same for my arse!

Getting old is one of life’s bugbears but you know you’ve reached it when …………..

  • You and your teeth don’t sleep together.
  • Your back goes out more than you do.
  • Your joints are more accurate than the Weather Forecast.
  • Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.
  • The twinkle in your eye is only the reflection of the sun on your bifocals.
  • You feel like the morning after when you haven't been anywhere the night before.
  • You finally got your head together, now your body is falling apart.
  • Your supply of brain cells is finally down to a manageable size.
  • You don't care where your partner goes, just as long as you don't have to go along too.
  • It takes twice as long to look half as good.
  • People call at 9.00pm and ask, "Did I wake you?"
  • You can live without sex but not without glasses.
  • You look forward to a dull evening.
  • Your mind makes contracts your body can't keep.
  • The pharmacist has become your new best friend.
  • There's nothing left to learn the hard way.
  • You come to the conclusion that your worst enemy is gravity.
  • You quit trying to hold your stomach in, no matter who walks into the room.
  • Your idea of a night out is sitting on the patio.
  • You can’t find your reading glasses because they're sitting on your head.
  • You wake up, looking like your driver's license picture.
  • You begin every other sentence with, "When I was your age..."
  • You constantly talk about the price of petrol.
  • You don't remember when your wild oats turned to shredded wheat.
  • You wonder how you could be over the hill when you don't even remember being on top of it.
  • Getting lucky means you find your car in the parking lot.
  • Your idea of weight lifting is standing up.
  • Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.
  • Your ears are hairier than your head.
  • You have a party and the neighbors don't even realize it.
  • It takes longer to rest than it did to get tired.
  • You talk about "good grass" and you're referring to someone's lawn.
  • You give up all your bad habits and you still don't feel good.
  • You can't remember the last time you laid on the floor to watch television.
  • You confuse having a clear conscience with having a bad memory.
  • You frequently find yourself telling people what a loaf of bread USED to cost.
  • Your new easy chair has more options than your car.
  • Everything hurts and what doesn't hurt, doesn't work.
  • "Getting a little action,” means you don't need to take a laxative.
  • The car that you bought brand new becomes an antique.
  • You are cautioned to slow down by the doctor instead of by the police.
  • You realize that caution is the only thing you care to exercise.
  • You don't remember being absentminded.
  • You have more patience; but actually, it's just that you don't care any more.
  • Your memory is shorter and your complaining is longer.
  • Younger people start opening doors for you.
  • You are no longer 'promising'.
  • You work on your short game.
  • Youthful injuries return with a vengeance.
  • You try to straighten out the wrinkles in your socks and discover you’re not wearing any.
  • At the breakfast table you hear snap, crackle, pop and you're not eating cereal.
  • It takes two tries to get up from the couch.
  • When happy hour is a nap.
  • When all you want for your birthday is to not be reminded of your age.
  • Your address book has mostly names that start with Dr.
  • You sit in a rocking chair and can't get it going.
  • The iron in your blood turns to lead in your pants.
  • You get two invitations to go out on the same night and you pick the one that gets you home the earliest.
  • You sink your teeth into a steak - and they stay there.
  • You get to the checkout line, see how long it is, and decide what you have in your buggy isn't worth the wait.
  • An all-nighter means not getting up to pee.
  • You can cough, fart, sneeze and pee all at the same time.
  • The candles cost more than the cake.
  • When the only thing that gets hard is your arteries.
  • When its not men touching your boobs but the carpet.
  • Your knees buckle and your belt won’t.

 

Here are some suggested games for over Christmas

1. Sag, You're it.
2. Pin the Toupee on the bald guy.
3. 20 questions shouted into your good ear.
4. Kick the bucket.
5. Red Rover, Red Rover, the nurse says Bend Over.
6. Doc Goose.
7. Simon says something incoherent.
8. Hide and go pee.
9. Spin the Pepto-Bismol Bottle
10. Musical Recliners

Or alternatively you could have a look at our Christmas Quiz page

Don’t forget to check out our Spotlight feature this month, I know so many of you enjoy them. This month we look in on the ever-popular Sarah Vaughan

Check out the ‘Rough Guide to mattmonro.com’, which is available towards the bottom of the Homepage. If you don’t know how to access certain areas of the site or in fact are unaware of new areas, this guide will explain how easy this website is to get around, once you know how.

There is also another information box “How to Use the Forum’. I know a lot of people have been tempted to join in on some of our conversations but are slightly nervous of doing so. For that reason I have printed step-by-step instructions of how to access it. It really does only take a few minutes.

Well that’s it, I’m off on 5 January to warmer weather and hope you have an equally great start to your New Year but in the meantime here’s wishing you and yours a fabulous Christmas, may you be with the ones you love and I’ll catch up with you in February.

Much love
Michele

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