NEWS

August 2012

It’s amazing just how long it takes to get straight after being away for a long period. I have only just caught up with the mail and I experienced all manner of problems even though I thought I’d covered all my bases. Here’s a word of warning to anyone who has travel plans.

I have three different credit cards, all registered with Nat West and before I left England I made sure that all the cards had at least a year to run on them before expiring. I also set up Direct Debits so that each would be paid on time. I have always been worried about using Internet banking but I wouldn’t even consider using it at sea because you are on open lines. I then wrote three separate letters to each credit card explaining that I would be away. To make things easier here is the letter I have written to Nat West since returning home

I have previously rung to confirm the fact that I will be out of the country from 9th January to 22 June 2012 and I know this has been noted on your system. Not only will I be dependent on my credit cards whilst abroad but it will be extremely difficult and hugely expensive to make contact as I am, for the most part on a ship.

So there can be no mistaken identity in terms of who is using my card I have enclosed my full itinerary and would ask that you take note of the fact that I am in different countries on different days.

The itinerary specified I would be away from 9th January until 21 June 2012 and would largely be dependent on my cards whilst abroad. On 30th December I received a reply confirming safe receipt. It went on to explain, “that I am unable to guarantee that a security check would not be encountered during this time”. Sure enough security checks were made, one such in Australia in a chemist for a purchase under thirty dollars. I cannot understand why this would have triggered suspicion whereas if the card had been used to buy expensive camera equipment or a laptop I could have understood. Regardless I had to pay for a long distance call to sort things out.

A few weeks later I was on board the Sea Princess and received a letter in my cabin from reception saying there was a problem with exacting payment and that I needed to sort this out straight away otherwise my signing privileges would be revoked. For the sake of clarification no ship in the world accepts cash. You hand in a credit card prior to embarkation and everything you purchase is signed for.  I was forced to ring your office at a cost of $10.00 a minute from ship to shore to be told it wasn’t a security check, that in fact my card ending 7*** had been stopped. I asked for clarification and was told that as a valued customer my status had been upgraded and my card stopped and a new one issued (with a different number) and sent to my home address in England. I went ballistic. I had previously received a letter at home explaining about the World Points cards and took advantage of the opt out scheme and rang in to say I did not want the card. My main reason was that I had a Platinum MasterCard and wanted to keep it.

I can’t believe you had the audacity to override my wishes.  Your instructions state that all phone calls are recorded and you had no authority to cancel my card. To make matters worse upon my return I have been told I cannot have my Platinum status back as the close off for reinstating a ‘downgrade’ was in May.

While ringing England from the ship, I asked the girl to get the complaints department to ring me urgently. Several days later the same thing happed to my card ending 9***. I was grateful that I had three different cards with me and so was forced to pay with my card ending 7***. The bills totaled a fair amount but I was unduly worried as my credit limit was £7,900.

I arrived in the States on 15 May and because of circumstances had to alter a few of my travel arrangements. I then started having major problems, as the companies would only agree to the refunds on the card the payment was originally made on. They will accept it if the expiry date has been changed because of a renewal issue but effect a refund to a different credit card number.

I got home on the 24th June to find no less than sixteen letters waiting for me, some demanding that I ring the office urgently and for the most part demanding a default sum notice for over limit fees. I couldn’t understand this as I hadn’t spent anywhere near my limit. Guess what - On 20 March 2012 you wrote a letter to my home saying that you’d reviewed my credit facilities on card ending 7483 and lowered my limit to £1600. It went on to say the decision made was based on the operation of the account including missed payments and external data from Credit Reference Agencies. Words cannot describe my fury. How dare you do that to a customer of more than thirty years with an excellent credit rating, without discussion and knowing I was out of the country. I only went over my credit limit because of the changes to the account that you made without my knowledge.

Ever since I held cards with you, you are the ones who periodically send out letters saying my credit limit had been increased. Not once have I asked for it. It has taken more than thirty years to build up that trust and you take it away without discussion.

I have since rang up Chelsea Marsh, a complaint handler to be told that even under the circumstances Nat West are not willing to reinstate my limit because “on looking at the account, I don’t spend that much and as such don’t need it”. I cannot believe this! again how dare you. Before I left this country I ensured that

I had three different credit cards, all with at least a year to run before the expiry date kicked in.

That all my credit limits were suitable for any eventuality.

That I set up a standing order to pay the balance automatically each month.

You literally left me stranded at sea.
You replaced my two main cards without my permission.
I had opted out of the ‘upgrade’
You have lowered my credit limit.
You have affected my credit rating with the Credit Reference Agencies
I have been charged all manner of fees, which were not of my making, not only late payments, over limit fees but interest.
You have left me unable to have refunds applied to my cards,
No one rang me even though I demanded same after the incident on the Sea Princess.

I was forced to ring again from San Francisco because of some problem and I again demanded that someone ring me. I received a letter in England on 21 May (more than a month before I came home) saying that someone had tried to ring on 19th May but unfortunately I was not available. I told the woman on the phone that I wouldn’t be available until I got to Los Angeles on 21st May as I was scattering my mum and dad’s ashes in Las Vegas.  I’d rung on a Friday and the woman told me that no one could ring me until the Monday as the offices were closed so I find it difficult to believe that someone tried to ring me on Saturday anyway.

The whole matter is a fiasco starting off with my complaint to Nat West Bank last year. I went into the bank on 10 November 2011 to make a payment to my card ending 7*** but for some reason it wasn’t received by the credit card company which I didn’t find out about until I got a late payment bill. On the 24th November I spoke to Georgia (Payment Reference 1*********) and was forced to pay by direct debit over the phone. I was promised a refund of £12.00 for late payment and £76.95 interest but was told it could not be applied until my next statement.

I received a letter from the bank on the 8th December noting they were looking into my complaint and they would reply when the matter had been investigated. On my December statement I noted that the £12.00 had been refunded but not the interest that I shouldn’t have been charged for in the first place. On top of that more interest had been applied to my bill for more than £20.00 (£10.63+ £10.11). Interest was again applied to my January statement. On my February statement you deducted a £0.02 fee that had been applied. In May you charged me £5.28 interest. I don’t know why you keep charging me interest when full payment has been made on the account every month?

In January I received a reply letter to my complaint dated 9 January 2012 (which I have enclosed) you will clearly see that they admit liability and supposedly refunded the fees.

In closing I would ask that someone look at my three accounts again and ensure that all late payment fees, over limit fees and interest charges are removed from the account. The payment refund for interest of £76.95 is applied as confirmed by Georgia on 24 November.

My credit rating is put back as was, before this all started in November 2011.

That I receive my Platinum card back on the account that ended 7***(now 5***).

That my credit limit is put back to £7,900 on card ending 7***.

That I receive compensation for all my overseas calls, not just to you but to the companies that tried to apply refunds and for the lost refunds themselves one of which was a cancelled tour with Viator for £92.81. You have caused me untold stress and upset and I have spent hours trying to wade through the mess ever since I came back.  Being disabled and suffering from M.S the one thing I don’t cope with well is stress. Being in foreign countries for months on end, I relied on Nat West to offer up an excellent service and let me enjoy that time without the worry of finance. Had I only taken my main credit card with me (7***) I would have been left with no form of payment, as it was I struggled as each card in turn was cancelled or stopped.

I am horrified that you could put one of your ‘valued’ customers in a position like that. I was beside myself and yet no one bothered to try and ring the landline number I gave. It would also appear that one department doesn’t know what the other is doing. The details about me being away from England should have been available to anyone looking into the account. Had that happened you would have known that the new credit cards and all your letters couldn’t be received because I wasn’t there. Even more reason that someone rang me back. I was at that number for over a month. Quite clearly you are not the ‘listening bank’.

A very disappointed client

 

So I would say to anyone travelling for any length of time to make sure they have several different cards with them. One other point to note is that no one and I mean no one would take my traveler’s cheques in Australia because of money laundering. I was always under the illusion that a traveler’s cheque was the equivalent to cash but with the back up of American Express should something go wrong. If you enter somewhere like Australia for any length of time they insist you show you have enough funds for the duration of your trip. It is not good enough to tell them you have credit cards with you.

All in all, a nightmare – you have been warned.

As reported last month I stayed with Marion Spence for the last four weeks of my trip. It was quite challenging as her husband George is suffering from Alzheimer’s and one had to be alert as he would constantly try and get out of bed even though he didn’t have the strength to stand. I noticed deterioration while I was there and an incident on the 14the June saw George taken into hospital the same day I left for New York. It would be too long to explain but suffice to say that sadly George lost his battle and passed away on 14 July. I am so upset that I wasn’t there to help Marion through the process because although it wasn’t unexpected it is always a shock when reality kicks in.

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the ships and was fortunate enough to give presentations on Arcadia, Sea Princess and Queen Mary 2. They well extremely well received and I must have done enough because P&O have already booked me on Adonia on 17-24 August. I am delighted and hope it is just the start of a wonderful working relationship. I am still waiting to hear from Cunard and Princess but in the meantime I have signed up with the Cruise Lecturer’s Association so we’ll see if anything comes off of that. I have also submitted several dates to Cruise & Maritime for next year and I’m just waiting to hear if any have been accepted. My agent has had a meeting with Saga, who seem interested in having me aboard but they are not booking dates at the moment but once they open their diary for next year I am hoping to secure something there.  All in all a successful trip from the cruise industry point of view and if I’m lucky I’ll spend the majority of next year on the high seas.

I mentioned last month that a couple approached me on Queen Mary 2 and explained that they had a rare promo album from Joan & John Shakespeare, the people dad did jingles for. They kindly sent it to Richard but sadly the acetate didn’t hold anything new.

I managed to do several radio interviews whilst in Australia, two such on Philip Brady’s show. Philip was charming, he of course knew dad very well and had great stories to share. He is a massive fan himself and gave me a lit of all the products he owns asking me to fill in any blanks before he came to London for the Olympics. I’d only been home a week when I got a call from him inviting me for lunch on 25th July. I managed to supply him with several discs he was missing from his collection so that should enable quite a few plugs on Australian radio for the next few months.

I also mentioned that I’d tracked Lionel Yorke down, he has given up the music business and become a marriage celebrant in Brisbane and was hoping to find Michael & Lieta Geole who used to own Romanos, a club that dad worked at on each visit down under. I’m thrilled to report that I have now spoken to the couple and they have promised to send me an array of photographs they took while dad was working in the club.

Talking about never giving up, it was disappointing to find out that we would have to delay the new release until 28 July 2012. ‘Matt Uncovered: The Rarer Monro’ was all ready to go. Richard and I have worked tirelessly on the mastering, track selection and notes since the end of last year. The hold up was of course Universal, who has refused to acknowledge that they own ‘Bound For Texas’. Even though it is technically a public domain track, EMI won’t release it without an official say so and the legal department got cold feet. We waited and waited for Universal to come back with something positive and when I say waited I am talking months. It got to the point that we would have had to put another delay on the release date so sadly the album is coming out without one of its selected tracks. Having decided to leave off the one track so as not to encounter any more delays I have to report that the date of release has been moved up again, this time to 13 August. I’m really upset about this chain of events but it has to do with HMV. Because of the decline in number if high street shops, it has a bearing on the number of units they can order and EMI’s in-house policy dictates that at least 1000 units are pre-ordered before release. Steve is trying to work things out but don’t think you are the only ones frustrated.

 

LA was quite a place and I was fortunate enough to have lunch with Joe Mantegna. He is the lead actor from Criminal Minds and is probably one of the most down-to-earth people I met there. He was a real sweetheart and to boot is a big fan of dads.

Joe Mantegna

I also appeared on a television show on channel 35 called ‘Connie Martinson Talks Books, which aired on Tuesday 26th June. It has now been put on YouTube so here it is for anyone interested.

Connie is probably the most ill prepared person who has ever interviewed me and she certainly hadn’t read much of the book before the taping. She got the song title wrong, my mum’s name wrong and didn’t really ask the right questions – but what do they say – all publicity is good publicity.

Nothing to report on the Goalpost Films front, but as with all these sorts of things, they take months to come to fruition. I did however receive a film concept treatment, which was very interesting. Watch this space.

While I was away the newspapers reported a story about lost Beatle pictures coming to the surface. They were taken by Andy Wright who was still at school when he took the photographs His father was an Honorary Steward at Fairfield Hall in Croydon and as Andy was keen to work as a photographer he asked Col. Tom Pyper, who was General Manager, whether he could go backstage and take some shots. Luckily he said yes.

The pictures have appeared in an exhibition ‘Faces at Fairfield’ , which apparently had quite a few programmes featuring dad

‘Faces at Fairfield’ Exhibition
Re-opens at Croydon Visitor Centre July 2nd 2012

 

An exhibition by prominent photographer Frazer Ashford transfers to The Croydon Visitor Centre (next to East Croydon Station) on July 2nd 2012. This is part of the celebrations that mark the venue’s fiftieth anniversary this year and the exhibition will run for three months. Frazer is now an internationally recognised landscape photographer however it is a recently rediscovered archive of his work at Fairfield Halls in the 70s and 80s that is the subject of ‘Faces at Fairfield’.

In the 1970s Fairfield Halls had a growing problem brought about by its burgeoning music programme which was attracting some of the leading rock stars of the day, including the likes of David Bowie and Elton John. Whilst these acts were pulling in capacity audiences, the events were proving problematic for the original building design of ‘three venues in one’.

The Concert Hall auditorium was the obvious place for these large rock concerts but the trend in the 70s was for the amplification to get progressively louder, almost concert by concert. The problem of sound leakage into Fairfield’s other venues meant that ‘loud’ concerts mostly took place on Sundays, when the other venues were dark.

However this created a problem for the local paper. The Croydon Advertiser wanted to publish concert reviews but it needed pictures to support them. Unfortunately the paper’s photographers would not work on Sundays. Frazer had a chance meeting with one of the rock journalists who subsequently suggested that he step in to fill the void. As a result Frazer struck up a relationship with Fairfield Halls and the Croydon Advertiser that went on for many years with ‘Frazer Ashford Images’ becoming a regular credit line in the paper.

As effectively the ‘house photographer’ Frazer was granted unique access to both front and back stage. This was unusual for any venue to allow such access to one photographer and Frazer’s pictures began to feature in the national press too. As he obviously had talent, Fleet Street contacts and a ‘bedside manner’ with international stars Fairfield Halls also encouraged him to extend his activities into the theatrical side of their business.

However, in the mid 1980s, Frazer abandoned photography and moved into TV production in Hollywood. In 2001 he returned to photography, albeit in the different field of landscape work. A prominent reputation in this genre has prompted interest in Frazer’s early work in showbiz. Consequently the archive has been rescued from the rusting folders and files in his loft and it is currently undergoing a major digitisation project.

There are many negatives that were never printed at the time, but time itself has increased their historic value as many of the performers he photographed went on to bigger and greater things. Consequently a lot of the images have never been seen by the public, nor indeed have they been seen by Frazer himself.

Selections from the many thousands of pictures in the archive are to be featured in two exhibitions at The Fairfield Halls themselves. The first was a rock and pop ‘Faces at Fairfield’ exhibition that opened officially on 29th March 2012 (this is the one that has now transferred to the Croydon Visitor Centre) and the second, later in the year, will concentrate more on the theatrical subjects in Frazer’s archive.

Fairfields Hall

– WITH KIND PERMISSION OF ANDY WRIGHT

One of the main reasons for visiting Las Vegas was to scatter my mum and dad’s ashes. Several months before ‘Fans Reunited’ took place in September of last year I casually mentioned that anyone attending might like to bring a candle. I wasn’t prepared to give a reason; it was more a matter of taking a leap of faith.

Extract from Fans Reunited 2011

IN THE EARLY 1980S WE MOVED TO AMERICA ON A PERMANENT BASIS AND DAD STARTED DOING THE CIRCUIT ON THE VEGAS STRIP AFTER AN ABSENCE OF SOME 14 YEARS. THE SHOWS WERE SO SUCCESSFUL THAT THE POWERS THAT BE RANG SHORTLY AFTER TO OFFER HIM A 6 MONTH RESIDENCY TOPPING THE BILL AT THE SANDS HOTEL THE FOLLOWING YEAR. THIS WAS INDEED THE ICING ON THE CAKE FOR A PERFORMER SUCH AS MY FATHER AND HE WAS ECSTATIC THAT HE HAD MANAGED TO CLAW HIS WAY BACK TO THE TOP OF THE LADDER AND CEMENT A FUTURE THAT LOOKED FABULOUS. UNFORTUNATELY HE PASSED AWAY A FEW MONTHS LATER, IT JUST WASN’T MEANT TO BE.

HIS WILL MADE NOTE THAT HE WAS TO BE CREMATED AND HIS ASHES KEPT AT HOME UNTIL SUCH TIME WHEN MY MOTHER COULD JOIN HIM. LAST MARCH, THEIR ASHES WERE INTERMINGLED AND HAVE SAT AT THE HOUSE IN HARROW SINCE MY MOTHER’S FUNERAL.

YOUR CANDLES ARE COMING WITH ME TO LAS VEGAS AND WILL BE LIT JUST BEFORE THE RELEASE OF THOSE ASHES. I FELT THE CHAPEL A FITTING PLACE TO MAKE THEIR FINAL JOURNEY FROM AS MY PARENTS RENEWED THEIR WEDDING VOWS THERE. YOUR GIFT TODAY GIVES YOU A CHANCE TO BE THERE AS MATT MONRO TAKES HIS FINAL BOW WITH THE PERSON HE LOVED THE MOST AT HIS SIDE, WHERE MY MOTHER STOOD THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE. I AM GLAD YOU ARE ABLE TO SHARE IN THAT MOMENT.
 
I have to say that although in essence it was a good idea I had all manner of problems with the weight of my luggage, that and the amount of bags and boxes

Bgs

Virgin Australia even refused me on their flight, which resulted in me missing the Ghan Train to Ayres Rock but eventually after getting the luggage couriered from Melbourne to Sydney and again across from San Francisco to Vegas I got ready to do the deed. The trouble was that although I knew it wasn’t technically allowed, I didn’t realise it was a prisonable offence. Of course that didn’t stop me but it meant I had to sneak in there at 11.00pm at night. I had just laid out the candles in the gazebo when a car drove in prompting the security lights to come on. I froze but figured that up to that minute I hadn’t actually done anything illegal. Minutes passed and the car just sat there with their lights off. My heart was pounding so much I thought it might burst out through my chest. Suddenly two youths sprinted from across the road and got in the car. It would seem to have been an unmarked taxi collecting a fare but it certainly put the wind up my sails. I decided that it might be prudent not to dally and as with everything in life the quicker you try to be the lower you become. Because of the breeze it was impossible to get all the candles to stay alight at the same time but the important thing is that they were there and after saying a prayer that I thought fitting I scattered the ashes over the rose garden. It was probably not the most dignified ending to their journey but suffice to know it was the right place to leave them.

ChapelChapel

ChapelChapel

 

Welcome to all the new Forum Members we have signed up over the last few months. I hope you are enjoying the site and if you have any queries don’t forget you can email me by using – Michele@mattmonro.com

I am now away from 17-24 August on P&O Adonia  and then from 28 August when I will board Fred Olsen’s Balmoral Flora, Fauna and Fjords (8 nights) for some more talks together with Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas on 22 September through to 6th October 2012 (14 night cruise). I am delighted to note that one of our Forum Member’s Angela Whittaker has booked up to see some of my presentations. I know there was talk of it on the Message Board and I have also noted that Royal Caribbean have very special deals on board at the moment especially for the over 55+ sector. If any of you have thought of doing a cruise before but never taken the bull by the horn then this is the ship to do it on. I have been with RC many times and absolutely love their facilities. The cruise deals make everything more affordable at the moment so if any of you take the plunge, don’t forget to let me know.

LINK TO P&O’s SITE - HERE

LINK TO FRED OLSEN – HERE

LINK TO ROYAL CARIBBEAN - HERE

In an effort to stay abreast with technology last year saw the appearance of my very own Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/michelemonro and now EMI have followed suit with a dedicated Matt Monro Facebook page. It would be wonderful if you could pop in and become a fan, the more the merrier - http://www.facebook.com/mattmonro. It will hopefully mean that we can reach even more people, some who might not know about the website.

I am still making an appearance every Wednesday on Siren 107.8FM’s ‘Midweek Drive’. The weekly slot allows me to select some of the lesser-known tracks of dad and that is wonderful as it gives me a chance to play a broader range.

Don’t forget to check out our Spotlight guest this month, I know so many of you enjoy them.

Most importantly please let me know if you have anything related to dad, whether a story, a photo or an old radio show. Or maybe you have some old VHS formats laying in the attic that might have a television show on it. We can always have it transferred for you at our costs. As Richard and I unearth these rarities we are constantly told “but we thought you must have it”. Please don’t be shy; you might have something we are looking for. I repeat this message every month just in case it jogs someone’s memory.

Check out the ‘Rough Guide to mattmonro.com’, which is available towards the bottom of the Homepage. A few of you have mentioned that 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.

Until September here’s wishing you a wonderful 2012 and may your year be filled with music.

Warmest
Michele Monro

Past News - July 2012

Past News - June 2012

Past News - May 2012

Past News - April 2012

Past News - March 2012

Past News - February 2012

Past News - December 2011

Past News - November 2011

Past News - October 2011

Past News - September 2011

Past News - August 2011

Past News - July 2011

 

Amazon
  - Press this link to see the Amazon Listing for The Singers Singer by Michele Monro

Competition
forum
pipeline
Trailers
track
ring
Photos
scrap
friends
poll
mail

friend
front page
lyric
nscfc fans
Bond
Cliff
man
golden