NEWS

April 2018

Well its one big card-fest going on, starting with Mother’s Day, then the big birthday followed by Easter.

The modern holiday of Mother's Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew's Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Her campaign to make Mother's Day a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Her mother had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, and created Mother's Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Anna wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started and to set aside a day to honor all mothers because she believed a mother is "the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world".

In 1908, the U.S. Congress rejected a proposal to make Mother's Day an official holiday, joking that they would also have to proclaim a "Mother-in-law's Day". However, owing to the efforts of Anna Jarvis, by 1911 all U.S. states observed the holiday, with some of them officially recognizing Mother's Day as a local holiday. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother's Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.

Although successful in founding Mother's Day, Jarvis became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother's Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother's Day, and that the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother's Day, and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved. She argued that people should appreciate and honor their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude, instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards.

I don’t know what your thoughts are on the subject but my son is also a believer that Mother’s Day is just there to take advantage of people’s bulging purses. My purse is one that also bulges but not with money. I have to delve past old receipts, parking validation tickets, a supermarket trolley coin and my RADAR key, just to see whether there are any coins in there. Whilst I agree that the shops have gone over the top, I’d much rather have a hand-written note echoing the sentiments of how wonderful I am, rather than a generic Hallmark message.

Mind you I won’t hold my breath, my son is just as likely to ignore the day altogether rather than drop me a line. In general I find the younger generation rather reserved and dispassionate about sentiment. I have every letter, postcard, note and greeting card that mum and dad sent me. I have taken hundreds of photographs of my son since the day he was born and often look back on a past event spending hours reminiscing about that time with great fondness but my son thinks I’m mad. He doesn’t see the need for a pictorial imprint telling me it is retained in his memory but I am living proof that the memory can fail. I started a memory chest for him with his first booties, his teddy, his drawings from kindergarten and certificates he earned though pre-school and when I moved here he told me to throw it all away. He might have told me but I ignored the directive. I just don’t get it.

Another thing that came up this week was the fact that I like physical releases, whether a music CD or a film on DVD but my son thinks I am antiquated. I took my Andrea Bocelli disc out to the car this week whereas Max downloads everything. I simply don’t trust the process. When my computer crashed a few years ago I lost a proportion of the music I had downloaded despite the fact that my son says that once bought you own it for ever more but that is simply not true.  If I download a track, I don’t own it, I simply have permission to play it. I can’t sell it on whereas the reverse is true with my CD and DVD collections.

I love going into bookshops, flicking through the pages smelling the paper (yeah I know I’m weird) and deciding on whether to invest my money on some new release. When I’m reading I can flick back to a previous excerpt, dog-ear the page and although you can do some of that on a Kindle, the technology isn’t for me. There is a kind of strobing effect on there that affects my brain, making me feel dizzy, the same is true if I watch a game on the Playstation.

I like my CD and DVD collections, especially the extras that you get on certain discs. In fact I just bought the 40th anniversary edition of The Italian Job because I fond out there are interviews on there that include dad. You can’t get that as a download.

In fact I did an interview for Matthew Field recently. He is writing a 50th anniversary edition on that same film. I’m looking forward to its release as it will have a section on dad and he was the one that told me that on the interview he did with Quincy Jones, he spoke fondly of dad.

The only advantage of modern technology is the Internet. As you know I’ve spent 33 years trawling the web for anything and everything on dad and for the most part I’ve been very lucky. It amazes me that things are still turning up. How’s this for fortuitous timing? A few weeks ago I was watching Comic Relief and a film segment came on about the evacuation of the Jewish children from Germany. I knew my mum and uncle had been on that ship as evidenced from the newspaper clipping I have from the day of their arrival in England. When researching the book I had tried to track down the photo but the newspaper had folded and no one knew where the archives had gone.

A few nights after Comic Relief I decided to search the Internet for footage of the refugees and several threads came up. I clicked on “Journeys to Safety: Memories of the Kindertransport” and as the film started they introduced it by saying it was the second film they had made on the topic. I thought that was so typical that I would get the wrong one up but I left it to play while searching for the first film. 15 minutes into the segment a picture of my mum came on the screen. It was the same one that the newspaper had used so I immediately sent an email to the University and College Union, the makers of the programme to see if they knew where the original was and whether they held any other information. At the end of the snippet the credits also mentioned The Weiner Library so I emailed them as well.

Two days later The Weiner Library for the Study of the Holocaust & Genocide emailed me saying they had the photo but there was no other information attached. Amazingly they had attached the photo of my mum and uncle Ernie
free of charge asking me if I knew the date they had arrived in England. I sent them this extract from my book “The Singer’s Singer: The Life and Music of Matt Monro”

Renate and Ernie were told about their early years later in life but at the time they knew that their father went out every day and every night riding one tram after another to avoid being home when the Nazi’s came. He was a very eminent dental surgeon but the German’s wanted to intern, arrest and dispatch him to a concentration camp. Luckily they didn’t touch Evelyn.

Only Ernie aged two years and six months was unhappy when the Southampton boat train brought forty-one refugee children from Germany to London that day, December 30, 1938.  He was the youngest of the party and the journey from Hamburg on the United States liner Washington had tired him out.

Ernie and Renate were just two of the twenty-seven boys and fourteen girls in the first batch to disembark at Southampton. They had fled from a Germany where they were not wanted.  They had left their home and their parents, perhaps for all time.

Arriving at Waterloo Station, Ernie was crying for his five year old sister Renate.  He started her off and until their aged Jewish grandparents carried them both off to Acton there was pandemonium in the waiting room where the children were assembled. They were about to start a new life with their grandparents, who, old as they were, had found sanctuary in England. The one-penny Star Newspaper and The Daily Herald marked the occasion with photographs for their readers showing the full extent of the horror with bereft and bewildered children left like parcels, with tags round their necks, to be claimed by a distant relative.

Three months later the children’s parents also managed to get out of Germany but not before losing several loved ones in the gas chambers of Hitler’s horror factory.  They were incredibly lucky as they were amongst the last Jews to get out. Evelyn and Dolly stayed temporarily in Acton with Anna and Max before purchasing Madeley Road on a mortgage. It had two small flats upstairs from the main property and they moved their family in and rented the others.

Anna and Max stayed in Acton until Renate’s grandfather died of cancer, a disease unheard of at that time, and Anna then came to live at Madeley Road. Renate remembers her as a lovely soft soul and in the months away from her parents, she offered a lifeline of love and support in very unsettled times. She eventually had to go to a sanatorium, as with everything that had come before, she suffered a nervous breakdown. Renate was devastated, she remembers that several members of the family had been gassed or shot and one of her last images before leaving Germany were of people running for their lives. It was a haunting image for a child. The memory that sticks in her mind most was of Freddie, her father’s brother, taken away from the house and murdered. They never saw a single person from their homeland again.

The endurance of the family was noble against the onslaught of regular horror but when things finally settled Renate’s father was picked up for interrogation in England by Immigration and he was interned to one of the camps on the Isle of Man. He was held until they determined if he was a legitimate refugee or a Nazi coming in disguised as one. Renate never forgot her father being taken away and she cried herself to sleep for nights on end. It would be more than a year before she saw him again.

Dolly had been first been taken to a Race Course which had been converted into a holding camp. The men were crammed into small buildings with just an allocated mattress, which was laid out on the floor. They were packed so closely together that there was barely room to walk though the aisles. A few weeks passed and some of the camp were assembled and taken to Liverpool where they boarded a ferry for the Isle of Man. Dolly was put in a house within Hutchinson Camp with thirty other people and given a bedroom which housed a bed and little else. Although the lodging was sparse and cramped it was a definite improvement from where he had been staying. The windows were blacked out so no light could filter through the panes and alert an air-raid party and barbed wire encircled the camp.  The camp was full of professional entertainers including Ravitz of Ravitz and Landauer, who were a well known double act playing light music on twin pianos. Ravitz had been separated from his partner but that didn’t stop him entertaining the men at night.
It was weeks before they were allowed any letters from home and then they were heavily censored. Evelyn waited constantly and prayed that her husband would stay safe and come home soon. After nine months Dolly was allowed to apply for ‘release’ and finally, a little over a year later, he was allowed to go back to his family.

Renate’s world was due another upheaval when her beloved father suffered a severe heart attack while at work and was rushed to St Mary’s Hospital, in Praed Street, Paddington. The medical team did everything they could but it was too late. There had been no indication that he was unwell and the news hit the family extremely hard. Evelyn had made quite a few friends over the past ten years including Dina and Kurt Nelke, Leon and Polly Kendon and Hilda and Hans Stern and they all rallied round to help ease her loss but nobody could help ease Renate’s grief. January 17, 1949 was etched in her mind for all time. Her devastation was beyond the comfort of her mother; no one could talk to her and she locked herself away in darkened rooms. He was the love of her life. She mourned her loss for a long long time.

Without the Internet I would not have unearthed the original photo. To me it is not just an important part of history but something that I will always treasure. It is in fact the only photo of my mum as a small child that I have dating back 80 years.

I will concede that some technology has been of benefit but it will never replace my need for the physical – I am quite happy for them to work hand in hand.

Talking of physical releases, I am very excited to tell you that Richard and I have been working for the last year on a new CD release. Universal are aiming to put it on the market in June. I can’t tell you too much as it is all under wraps but I can say the first album is all new material packaged together with a bonus second disc. I’m sure that next month I will be able to reveal all.

Thank you to all that sent me birthday messages and cards, it really is nice to be thought of. I told Max that I’m going to start going backwards in terms of age but he says that Facebook will keep me on the straight and narrow. It seems that nothing can be hidden any more. While I am not normally squeamish about birthdays, there is something about leaving my 50’s that is rather daunting. I now have to accept the fact that those Saga leaflets will start dropping through my door!

Did you know that?
A person between 10 and 19 years old is called a denarian.
A person between 20 and 29 is called a vicenarian.
A person between 30 and 39 is called a tricenarian.
A person between 40 and 49 is called a quadragenarian.
A person between 50 and 59 is called a quinquagenarian.
A person between 60 and 69 is called a sexagenarian.
A person between 70 and 79 is called a septuagenarian.
A person between 80 and 89 is called an octogenarian.
A person between 90 and 99 is called a nonagenarian.
A person between 100 and 109 is called a centenarian.
A person 110 years old or older is called a supercentenarian.

So what is good about turning sixty?

You know for sure that high heels are the work of the devil – and you can wear flats without feeling guilty.
It’s okay to stay home on a Saturday night.
I have no more illusions about myself.
The menopause is a distant memory!
Wearing anything I want and not caring what other people think.
You have the gift of hindsight in bucket loads.
I don’t need approval from my family.
Travelling is cheaper.
Prescriptions are free.
Sight tests are free!
Memory is a fickle friend.
I can grow old disgracefully.        
The best thing bout turning 60 is knowing that I’m not 70 yet!

You know you’re getting old when:

You bore total strangers about your medical problems.
You save all your important reading for a bathroom trip.
Life is no longer a pain in the ass, everything else hurts too.
There are so many candles and so little cake.
Your broad mind and narrow waist have traded places.
People call at 9.pm and ask, “Did I wake you”?
There is nothing left to learn the hard way.
The only thing that goes out at night are your teeth.
You can live without sex but not glasses.
The things you buy don’t wear out.
Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can’t remember them either
When “happy hour” is a nap.
You walk past a bathroom and think, “I may as well pee while I’m here.
A “senior moment: means you can get away with anything.
Your train of thought has left the station without you.
Getting lucky mean’s a short wait in a queue.
Your back goes out more than you do.
Your birthday suit requires ironing.

1959 was an amazing year:

Rod Sterling’s The Twilight Zone aired.
1st telecast was transmitted from England to US.
Cliff Richard and the Shadows had their first British No 1 single with “Living Doll”.
Perry Como and Ella Fitzgerald won at the first Grammy Awards.
Morris Mini-Minor was introduced.
Xerox photocopier was launched.
Boeing 707 went into service.
Mattel launched the Barbie doll.
Ben Hur was the top grossing film of the year.
Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty was released.
Berry Gordy founded Motown.
Michele Monro was born.

So there you have it, I’ve decided that I’m not going to let ageing get me down, as it’s too hard to get up again. More importantly, and on a serious note, don’t regret growing older. It’s a privilege denied to many.

I’m taking my family away for a few days as I haven’t seen any of them since Christmas, and it might well be Christmas before I see them again. I’m away on the ships again soon, Max is studying madly for his Masters and my bro has just started a new business so we all cleared a few days using the excuse of my birthday to make it happen. We couldn’t do it on my actual birthday as Justine doesn’t break up from school for Easter until the 5th and Matt and his wife won’t be back from South Africa until the 3rd so this is the soonest we can all get a few days off.

On Friday 5th April I’m heading up to London and staying with my son for the night before catching the Eurostar the following morning. Then it’s two days in Disney acting young again and a day in Paris. I can’t tell you any more about it as I’ve kept it under wraps from everyone. All they know is we are meeting Matt and Chandrika at St Pancreas at 9.am on the 6th April and we’re coming back the night of the 9th.

What am I actually doing on the big day? Several friends are coming by with fish and chips, a smile and plenty of laughs, couldn’t be better. I’ll let you know all about it next month.

In the meantime here’s my schedule for the year.

Cruise/ Work Dates 2019

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

 

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 Supremes

Here’s hoping that your month is an eventful one, for the right reasons, and that the rest of the year brings you joy.

Much love to one and all

Michele xxxx

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