News

November 2018

Autumn was always a magical time for me as a child, especially Halloween. I used to look forward to the 1st of October, as it meant the start of conker season, the countdown to Halloween and then the ultimate reward Christmas.

Dad always made it a point to keep the family together for the holidays. He would travel for near on nine months of every year but Christmas was that special time where we came together as a family. Sometimes that meant being at home, other times dad would work but we would travel with him. Christmas in Jakarta was amazing.

Since dad died, Christmas has never been the same, he used to love this time of year, he’d dress up, hide treats, watch seasonal movies with us, impersonate Gordon Ramsey in the kitchen and be a regular dad.

For several years mum and I hated it but come the 1st December we would always decorate the tree and house in celebration of dad’s birthday and once Max was born we once again threw ourselves into the holiday spirit. There was something magical about a child’s innocence, waiting for Santa to come down the chimney, making decorations at nursery that he’d come home with, proudly displaying his home made cracker.  We would watch every festive cartoon, decorate the tree together, make gingerbread cookies, go caroling, and then I would have the thrill of watching him in the school nativity. Where has all that gone?

Every year we’d go to the local mall and I’d get in line at Father’s Christmas’ Grotto, pay the £5.00 entry fee and Max would go and sit on Santa’s lap, gushing out the list of what he wanted, have the obligatory photo and then come out clutching a treasured gift. It was called freedom of choice!

The spirit of the season was about holiday parties at the office, finding a parking space at the mall, hustling and bustling to get the best deals, exchanging gifts with friends and loved ones, and best of all: the look of delight on your loved one's faces as they opened the gift that's exactly what they wanted—even though they never said a word about it!

Every Christmas Eve we would read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” once he was in bed and he would finally succumb to sleep, wrapped in that magical world of childhood. Once ‘the’ day dawned it was manic overload, with excitement in everyone’s eyes as mum and I would sit in the lounge with steaming hot sausage rolls, a glass of bubbly and watch Max open his presents.

Like his dad, my brother Mitchell would always fly back to England on Christmas Eve and drive across to Harrow to spend his few days off with us, his family. He was a private pilot for Nelson Piquet, a Brazilian formula one racing car driver and he would spend his year travelling the world but wherever he was, as soon as Nelson said to the crew, okay guys I don’t need you for a few days, he’d hop on a plane and get back home. He adored Max and would always come laden and would thoroughly spoil us all. They were special times and then Mitch passed away and Christmas changed once again.

Every year the school class would get allocate the various roles in the nativity and once you hit sixth form those children got the lead parts and Max was so excited. I’ll never forget that year, him coming home telling me there was no more nativity plays and now it was going to be a story about 3 African women crossing a river. He begged me not to make him take part and he didn’t nor did several others. Where did it all go wrong?

It's the season of candy canes, eggnog, pumpkin pies, mulled drinks, and roasted foods. Whether you did it yourself, or picked up some yummies at the grocery store, the aromas from the kitchen combined with the aromas of the evergreens that can transport you back in time to that best Christmas ever!

Every year mum and I made a pact that we wouldn’t buy anything for each other but come the 25 December, we’d both pull out most of the shop’s contents laughing at our subterfuge. There were so many times we duplicated each other’s buys but what the hell. The very first Christmas after Max was born (9 November) we booked to have lunch at a local restaurant. It was horrendous, people crammed into a space not meant for that many, luke-warm festive fare and screaming babies everywhere. We couldn’t wait to get home and we swore we wouldn’t do it again.

One year we booked a Christmas cruise on P&O and it was fun, especially for the children. Max went to the children’s club every day, with a schedule filled to capacity that he’d never want to come back to the cabin. We watched all the kid’s club line the central staircase singing carols they had learnt in the lead up and the icing on the cake was going out on deck on Christmas Eve and seeing Father Christmas climb out of the funnel.

It was an amazing cruise but one we never repeated as there is something so special about being at home, with friends and family that we never felt the need to repeat the exercise.

Once mum died, it has never been the same for me. Of course I always went the extra mile for Max, as I wanted to make sure it would always remain a special time for him once he had his own family and I don’t think I let the team down.

At this time of year, it gets cold and dark quickly. The festive lights, roasted chestnuts and Dutch pancakes at Christmas markets, all made me look forward to winter. But most of all, I looked forward to all the products being released in time for the holiday season and tens of brochures brought home to scour through so I could pick out that perfect gift for each of my friends. I can’t help but get super excited about the amount of seasonal products released at this time of year as being a confirmed shopaholic it gives me the perfect excuse to spend. The winter season is the perfect time to shop and retailers know it as it always makes me feel better, a moment of euphoria, a feel good factor that I can’t get any other way.

I think everyone gets a lot closer at Christmas, in terms of families and couples and friends. I still put the Christmas decorations up on 1st December and decked the house out in festive spirit.  I love to spoil everyone at Christmas and every year I filled stockings for Max, Justine, Matt and Chandrika. I liked that we all play board games together with the Christmas music channel on in the background, and we’d all happily wear the too-big paper crowns that come from the crackers and tell the cheesy jokes that fell out once cracked.

But then Max moved out and got married. The house is deadly quiet, there are no kids running in and out, no pizza deliveries for the hoards, no infernal noise from the Playstation, no awful un-lyrical music blaring out of the radio, no clothes to pick up off the floor or emergency laundry to do because Max had forgotten he needed it for that night. The phone doesn’t ring as much, there are no costumes to make for Halloween or a Christmas party, no cakes to make for the school festive fete, no school uniforms to buy ready for next term, no cards to make for the teachers, no lifts needed or reverse charge calls, no late night cuddles or the feeling you are the most important person in their world.

Now I hate this time of year and can't wait until spring. I hate the smell of dead leaves, although I'll admit the colours are pretty. I hate walking through piles of leaves hiding dog poo you’ve just stepped in. I hate the mud that ends up being walked through the house and the muddy footprints of DJ that I am forever cleaning from the kitchen floor. I hate the fact that every evening there are fireworks going off from the middle of October.

I used to love the Autumn, crunchy leaves, toffee apples, conkers, baked potatoes, bonfires, fireworks, pumpkins, cosy evenings dark evenings and Christmas round the corner. Now I’ve come to loathe it as it represents shorter days, and an increase in gas and electric bills!

Last night was the first night where I felt cold in bed, despite having pajamas, bed socks, a woolly cardigan and a winter duvet that I was hiding under. Winter is coming to the northern hemisphere, bringing with it a complex depressive illness that affects my mood, sleep and appetite

This weekend (28 October) marked the point across Europe when autumn becomes early winter and everything suddenly seems darker. For most of us, it’s a negligible transition: an extra hour in bed, then lowering skies, a winter hiatus before the year starts again.

But for a small minority, winter exacts a heavy toll. In the UK, about 3% of the population are estimated to suffer from seasonal affective disorder, a debilitating illness which prevents those affected from functioning normally without appropriate treatment. About 20% of people in the UK experience mildly debilitating symptoms of Sad, called “subsyndromal Sad” or “winter blues”.

Sad is a complex depressive illness. It is most likely triggered by the lack of sunlight in winter, which affects levels of hormones (melatonin and serotonin) in the part of the brain controlling mood, sleep and appetite – our circadian rhythms.

Symptoms of Sad are wide-ranging and can include depression, lack of energy, concentration problems, anxiety, overeating, loss of libido, social and relationship problems and sudden mood changes or periods of hypomania (over-activity) in spring.

As such, it is best to think of Sad as a spectrum. On one end of the scale, some people are not at all affected by seasonal changes. Further along, those experiencing “winter blues” might find themselves feeling tired, grumpy and a bit down.

While “traditional” depression usually comes with sleeping problems and reduced appetite, Sad is associated with a yearning to “hibernate”. People affected have a strongly increased desire to sleep and eat, with a craving for carbohydrates, comfort food and sweet treats.

The other main indicator that Sad is at work is the timing of these feelings: when does the depression set in and fade away? Most commonly, Sad is a winter-related malady that recurs each year. In the northern hemisphere it usually starts between September and November and lasts until March or April.

Unfortunately, simply moving closer to the equator or spending the entire winter in sunnier places is not really an option for most of those affected although I have always tried to get out of England in January and February so I miss the worst of the British weather.

Do you really want to deck the halls with boughs of holly? Are you left cold by the commercialism, and yearn for a simpler time when the season felt special, imbued with a spirit that wasn't poured into the eggnog?

I have become the stereotypical Jewish mother missing her brood. Living alone has its moments. It is nice to be selfish, eat when you want, watch TV in bed, not have to pick up after others or cook when you don’t feel like it. But then again……

I have a massive Christmas party every year for all the people and friends I don’t usually get to see as I’m away at sea and I do look forward to it but it is only one day in a month of 31 and Max and Justine will arrive on 22nd to join in the party spirit, stay for a couple of days and leave on Christmas morning so they can get back to London to send the rest of the time with her parents and come midday on Christmas Day the house is empty. It wouldn’t matter if it was full of other people, it would still be empty. I’m lucky to have great friends and I always have invites to spend Christmas Day with them but I’d rather wallow in memories of the past when life was so good.

Maybe, like me, you've lost the spirit of Christmas, many others have, too. The over-commercialization of the holiday has sapped the pleasure from what should be a joyous time. It doesn't have to be that way. Avoid the crazy crowds. Whatever your reason for the season, nothing can kill the holiday spirit quicker than being crushed against the front of a store by gun-wielding mobs of bargain-crazed shoppers

So my festive message has to be to make the most of every moment you have with you families, even if they annoy the hell out of you. Try and be patient when your mother comes into the kitchen because she prefers her own stuffing or wants to watch the soaps, which you can’t abide. Take a breath and look around and take stock of how rich your life is.

Enjoy Christmas television. "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings!" Whether your tastes run towards the traditional Miracle on 34th Street, the classics like A Christmas Carol by Dickens (or it's modern comedic take with Scrooged), stop-action animations like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Nightmare Before Christmas, or cult classics like A Christmas Story, holiday television is filled with nostalgia, humor, morality plays, and lots of simple, fun entertainment.

This time next month I will still put the tree up for dad, topping it with a shining star as traditional as it is symbolic.  I will take extra cars this year that the tree is everything I remember about the Christmases that used to inspire me. I will scroll through pages and pages of gifts on the Internet that I can have delivered and avoid the debacle of the shops.

I am absolutely in love with the idea of beauty calendars. For the past few years there’s been a LOT of choice in beauty advent calendars. They range from £10-£300. Everyone from Selfridges to Amazon to Marks and Spencer has produced a beauty calendar. What makes these so exciting is that you get to open a new door (or box) every day and add that product to your beauty/makeup collection. My girlfriend Judith introduced me to this wonderful gift by sending it to me last year and it was so much fun. Every day I would pick a special time in which to open my surprise, it’s amazing at how much it lifted my spirit. This new bundle of festive fun had passed me by. I suppose it’s from sending so many days at sea I was unaware of this new phenomenon now I am scouring the sites looking for more of the same. I might even treat myself!!! Now there is more choice and the calendars have broader choices, from men’s aftershaves to toolkits, to Lego sets, yes it is really a mater of spoilt for choice and you get to open it from 1st December. Can’t think of anything better.

I have already reserved my Ocado delivery spot that will deliver my festive fayre. I will put a massive grin on my face and show willing when the carol singers come round to milk me of my money or sweet treats. I will get in the kitchen and make everyone’s favourites even though I’d rather order a takeaway. I will sit and write a hundred odd cards and send them to people I haven’t heard from all year. I will write the obligatory Christmas letter so far-placed family can read about my annual antics and best of all I will be packing for my January Caribbean cruise.

Talking about cruising, I’ve now had and accepted all my dates for 2019/20 and have listed them at the end of this epistle. I hope to see some of my past cruisers again. It is always so nice bumping into a guest that has spent time with me on a previous cruise. I had another wonderful year sailing with Celebrity and I’m delighted that the majority of next year will be more of the same.

Talking about cruising I didn’t go on the Fred Olsen mystery cruise. It is the first voyage I have pulled out of in 10 years but my health hasn’t been a 100%. Over a two days period I sat at the computer for too long and ended up falling asleep slumped over my desk. I woke up at 3.30am and walked to my bedroom and found that my legs felt weird. On closer examination I found them to be rock hard and ankles swollen out of recognition. It took the best part of a week to get them back to normal (if there is such a thing in my life) but all is fine now and I thank you all for your wonderful messages of kindness.

I have had massive of emails from Tourist Boards, foreign shops and restaurants praising me for my new book idea but to be honest I am totally fed up with the project. Don’t get me wrong, I will still persevere but that is all I seem to have been doing, writing 16/18 hours a day (I kid you not) and now nearing the end I need to find a graphic designer, an indexer and a proof reader and these are all things I know nothing about.

 

 

Tuesday 25 September saw Matt Jnr open the first night of his last ever tour at the Pavilion Theatre in Bournemouth. When he was only 13 years old he was invited by dad to join him on stage and perform a duet with him. From that moment on he knew that he wanted to be a singer and to repeat that unforgettable night in 1977. Unfortunately the two Monro’s never got a chance to repeat the performance but my brother took up the mantle of bringing dad’s music to a new generation.

So now after thirty years in the business, the dates in September, October, and November will see him hang up his show business hat. Having just got married to a wonderful lady he doesn't want to spend months on the road anymore, he figures it's time to try something new…. but he hasn’t made his mind up yet on what that will be.

For me another chapter has nearly come to a close but he has done his father proud and I feel blessed that we got a chance to spend a night together on stage last year. Originally I wrote the show for the both of us not realizing that my health would prevent such a thing so that night in Dudley was very special to me. Matt has just passed the half way mark of his tour so if anyone is thinking about going, do it now, as I am proud to say a lot of the shows have been sold out.

Matt’s last album, which came out last year to coincide with the tour will also be available. “A Father’s Legacy’ was the first album since his 2007 “If He Could See Me Now” and his 2010 “Dancing With His Father’.

Cruise/ Work Dates 2019

3 January – 27 February – P&O
13 March – Café Uno, Alicante Spain, with Big FM Radio,
14 March - Sports Complex – Alicante, Spain with Big FM Radio
15 March – The Club Quesada, Alicante, Spain with Big FM Radio
7 May – 19 May – Celebrity Silhouette
19 May – 2 June - Celebrity Silhouette
2 June – 16 June - Celebrity Silhouette
16 June – 30 June - Celebrity Silhouette
11 August – 25 August - Celebrity Silhouette
25 August – 1 September - Celebrity Silhouette
1 September – 8 September - Celebrity Silhouette
8 September – 22 September - Celebrity Silhouette
22 September – 3 October - Celebrity Silhouette
3 October – 13 October - Celebrity Silhouette
13 October – 24 October - Celebrity Silhouette

Cruise/ Work Dates 2020

6 January – 24 March – Cruise & Maritime

BIG FM Radio... Cafe Uno 13th March - La Marina Sports Complex 14th March - The Club, Quesada15th March.
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 The Kinks

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 about doing so. For that reason, I have printed step-by-step instructions on how to access it. It really does only take a few minutes.

Whatever the coming year holds, suffice to say that I shall be plugging dad’s music at every opportunity.  That is the wonderful thing about working the ships, it gives me a brand new audience each time and if then, a small percentage goes home a fan, then it is worth all the blood, sweat and tears, not to mention the Bay of Biscay!!!!

Until next month take care of yourselves and I’ll see you all again in December with more tales from Monro Towers.

Warmest to you and yours

Michele

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