NEWS

April

By the time you read this I will be in sunnier climates, well I certainly hope so. It was nice to be back home for a few weeks albeit I was still battling bronchial pneumonia. I cannot believe that I have been sick since Boxing Day and can’t seem to shake it off completely although thankfully I feel better that I did last month. Mind you I can’t claim the entire spotlight because from what I hear so many people have gone down with some sort of chest infection. I’m hoping the heat will do me good and although it didn’t help when I was in the Caribbean that was humid whereas Dubai is desert dry heat.

Balmoral

This time I’m booked on Fred Olsen and joining the last leg of their world cruise. I’ve been on Balmoral before and she is a wonderful ship with a great complement of crew. To be honest I’m not due to join the ship until the 4th April but didn’t fancy spending the majority of my birthday in the air so my birthday present to myself was a few days in the Emirates before joining the ship. Dubai has become symbolic for its skyscrapers and high-rise buildings, such as the world's tallest Burj Khalifa, in addition to ambitious development projects including man-made islands, hotels, and some of the largest shopping malls in the world.  Dubbed the shopping capitol of the Middle East, Dubai alone has more than 70 shopping malls and while boutiques, electronic shops, department stores and supermarkets operate on a fixed-price basis, most other outlets (yes there are more) consider friendly negotiation a way of life

The city is also known for its souk districts located on either side of the creek. Traditionally, dhows from East Asia, China, Sri Lanka, and India would discharge their cargo and the goods would be bargained over in the souks adjacent to the docks. Dubai is also known as "the City of Gold" and the Gold Souk in Deira houses nearly 250 gold retail shops. Seems to me it is worthy of a few leisure days although I was rather shocked to read that Dubai is the 22nd most expensive city in the world, surpassing London (25th) and it is certainly the most expensive city in the Middle East surpassing Tel Aviv.

Dubai also has a rich collection of buildings and structures of various architectural styles. Many modern interpretations of Islamic architecture can be found here, due to a boom in construction and architectural innovation in the Arab World. As a result of this boom, modern Islamic – and world – architecture has literally been taken to new levels in skyscraper building design and technology. Dubai now boasts more completed or topped-out skyscrapers higher than 2/3 km, 1/3 km, or 1/4 km than any other city. A culmination point was reached in 2010 with the completion of the Burj Khalifa (Khalifa Tower), now by far the world's tallest building at 829.8 m (2,722 ft). The Burj Khalifa's design is derived from the patterning systems embodied in Islamic architecture, with the triple-lobed footprint of the building based on an abstracted version of the desert flower hymenocallis, which is native to the Dubai region.

Burj Al Arab

The city also plays host to the Burj Al Arab, labelled the only 7 star luxury hotel in the world. The hotel was built to resemble the sail of a Dhow, a type of Arabian vessel. Its design features a steel exoskeleton wrapped around a reinforced concrete tower. Two wings spread in a V to form a vast mast, while the space between them is enclosed in a massive atrium by a Teflon-coated fiberglass sail. During the day, the white fabric allows a soft, milky light inside the hotel, whereas a clear, glass front would produce blinding amounts of glare and a constantly increasing temperature. At night, both inside and outside, the fabric is lit by colour changing lights. Near the top of the building is a suspended helipad supported by a cantilever, which has featured some of the hotel's notable publicity events.

Kunan Chew designed the hotel’s interior. It features the tallest atrium lobby in the world at 180 meters. It is formed by the building's V-shaped span, dominates the interior of the hotel, and takes up over 1/3 of the interior space. Despite its size, the Burj Al Arab holds only 28 double-story floors, which accommodate 202 bedroom suites. It is one of the most expensive hotels in the world with a starting price of  $1,000 per night. The Royal Suite is the most expensive, at $28,000 per night.

Dubai is currently the home of the famous former Cunard ocean liner, Queen Elizabeth 2. Developers Istithmar World bought the ship in 2007 for US$100m at Port Rashid. QE2's distinctive profile is a regular sight for travellers arriving into Dubai International Airport as the flight path takes planes over the port. Earlier this year the QE2's owners announced that the ship will be upgraded into a luxury-floating hotel with 500 rooms and will be moored in an Asian harbor. It will probably cost far more than one of its previous cruises!

Once on board Balmoral, she will make her way across to Southampton and although there aren’t numerous ports of call, those on offer will be interesting. We are going to Muscat and Salalah in Oman, Aqaba in Jordan, Safaga, Sham-el-Sheikh and Alexandria in Egypt and Gibraltar before arriving in Southampton on 27 April. Gibraltar is always a good place to stop for me as I can grab emergency stocks of medication there without the need for prescriptions.

As some of you will know I launched my photography in January, the first project of which featured lights of the Caribbean, so I’m hoping this trip will give me a starting point for a worthy sequel – Lights of the Middle East. If I can garner any free time I would love to have an exhibition next year. I was hoping to try for 2013 but it would seem my time is too tight.

I would love to hear your feedback on my shots even if you hate them.. As a special launch price all members of the forum will be entitled to a 25% discount on any standard unsigned order and 15% for a collector’s limited edition. All enquiries should be sent to richard@mint-audio-restoration.co.uk

I have finally placed my house on the market but as you will see from my itinerary below there are only certain points when I am in England. To make it easy on myself I have opted to sell it even if I haven’t found a property myself. The worst scenario is that I go into rented accommodation temporarily. I’ve been in Harrow for near on 28 years and although it will be a huge wrench, it would seem a fitting time to make the move. I really need to opt for one-floor living and have been looking for either a minimum 4 bedroom bungalow or a barn conversion. I don’t even mind a house as long as the master bedroom is downstairs. You will appreciate there isn’t a lot of these sorts of properties in the London area because of the footprint it takes up so I have been actively looking in and around the Telford area. I have been putting by some prime properties that I would like to see but the trouble now is that I am only home for a week between now and June. Mind you a lot of the bungalows I like seem to have been on the market for some time so I might be lucky in that they are still on the market when I get back. If I haven’t found a buyer on my house by the time I get back on 27the April, then I’ll wait until I get back from my second cruise on Fred Olsen on 10 June, at least I have two weeks available then. I do have to be careful that the year doesn’t run away from me like it has for the past two or I’ll still be here in 2015. I have however marked most of the summer off so we’ll see how it goes. It is all dependent on how quickly this sells. Some properties are slow to sell and if the house sits on the market for a year I don’t see the point of wearing myself out by driving up and down the motorway to see properties that I can’t buy.

I would have liked to stay slightly closer to London but there isn’t that much choice. I want a semi-rural property or at least one that doesn’t have six pairs of eyes staring over various parts of my fence but I want to be less than a mile from a corner shop. I need to be near a motorway for links to London and Southampton and have a doctor and hospital up the road. I want a large shopping mall within 10 miles and want the equivalent of a mansion for the princely sum of a tenner. You see my problem. In one way it doesn’t matter where I go as I won’t know anyone anyway and will have to rely on my friends to visit me. Apart from cruising I am a recluse and very rarely venture out of my house and even then it is only to the bottom of the road.

The point to this narrative is that if you can recommend an area please let me know and tell me what makes it that special. It is very hard to pick a place using just a map as a guideline.

I did start the mammoth task of boxing things up because literally every bit of floor space is in use with books, boxes and files plus the huge MM collection I bought off the Jack Jackson Estate is still sitting in my lounge untouched. When I say it’s sitting in the lounge I mean the 26 boxes have taken over the area so I wanted to literally packing most of the house up before letting any potential buyers in.  It didn’t work out quite to plan. While I am boxing up as we speak I have already shown the house to three sets of potential buyers. Once the Estate Agent knew I was putting it up for sale he was gung ho on getting the ball moving. The result is that I now have about 40 boxes in the lounge and not much more room for any more. The trouble with this time of year is that it is too cold to put certain things in the garage. C’est la vie!


What else is new?  Well we’re are still waiting to hear official news on EMI UK but Richard and I have decided to forge ahead regardless. The new project which is scheduled a September release is ‘The Alternate Monro’. That is all I am saying at the moment but watch this space.

As you might expect I am constantly glued to Ebay and my diligence has paid off once again. I am now the proud owner of a wonderful picture of Bruce Forsyth and dad at the London Palladium and another of dad with Harry Leader. I had scoured every picture library when writing the book for an early picture with the Harry Leader Orchestra but to no avail. All I could find was a very distant shot of the band and it was in a very poor condition. Even Harry’s widow didn’t have anything so this is a great find.

Matt and HarryMatt & Brucie

Not only this but I have also just managed to win another ebay auction for four very rare 78 rpm records from the Philippines. I have had a small number of these for just over a years and as luck would have it, none of the discs duplicted what i already had. This brings the total number of these thati have and know about to eight, although more may have been issued. These discs are incredibly rare. They were pressed in very small numbers and being shellac are also quite fragile and susceptible to heat, so to have survived at all is amazing. The discs were made because parts of the Philippines did not have electricity and wind up gramophones were still used.

Philippines 78's

I am still holding out hope that someone somewhere has a taped show of dad on video. I say it every month but don’t forget that if any of you have an attic full of old tapes that you want rescued or reel-to-reels that you want transferred then Richard would be happy to oblige. It’s amazing what we stuff into our attics and I am still hoping that some of you have a Matt Monro television show or radio that you taped years ago that you have forgotten about. You never know you might just be harboring one of dad’s jingles without knowing it.

There are a few new additions to my cruise calendar for this year but a couple are still a pencil. Whatever the coming year holds, suffice to say that I shall be plugging Matt Monro’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 go home a fan, then it is worth all the blood, sweat and tears, not to mention the Bay of Biscay!!!! As of today, the dates that are in are:

4 April – 27 April – Fred Olsen Balmoral
5 May – 17 May – Cruise & Maritime Marco Polo

18 May – 25 May – P&O Ventura
27 May – 10 June – Fred Olsen Balmoral
22 June – 12 July – Sea Princess
27 July – 10 August – Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas

6 October – 20 October – Cruise & Maritime Marco Polo
15 November – 25 November – P&O Arcadia

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. Siren have actually asked me to pre-record shows for the dates I am not here this year although I shall be around to do plenty of live shows so that should be fun.

Don’t forget to check out our Spotlight feature this month, I know so many of you enjoy them. This time round we look in at Acker Bilk.

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.

Don’t forget to recommend the website to all your friends. If any of you have Facebook pages it would be great if you could put the website link on there. If you’d like to do me a tremendous favour then a review of either my book or dad’s new album on www.amazon.co.uk or www.amazon.com would be fabulous. You don’t even have to have bought the item there and your words could very well influence someone else investing their hard-earned money so it really could make a big difference.

I’ll see you next month and in the meantime a very happy Easter to everyone. Here’s hoping that your lives are always filled with music.

Warmest to you and yours

Michele

Past News - March 2013

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Past News - December 2012

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Past News - April 2012

Past News - March 2012

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Past News - December 2011

Past News - November 2011

Past News - October 2011

Past News - September 2011

Past News - August 2011

Past News - July 2011

 

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