NEWS

 

August 2017

Last month I mentioned that on coming home it was the first time ever that Max wasn’t waiting for me at the house because his University exams started on 5th May
This has now happened when I came home today (30 July) as he is on his way back from his Stag Weekend. He has organized a Top Table BBQ for tomorrow and informed me a few weeks ago that it would be at my house because it was bigger.

I cannot believe that the wedding is nearly upon us and I’m sure the day will be an emotional one for all of us. I can’t believe my baby is all grown up. On the 9th August we all drive down to the wedding venue at Hunton Park and stay for two nights. The actual wedding is on the 10th so I’ll check out on the 11th and am staying at a local hotel in Harrow for the night while Max and Justine will stay at her parents in Harrow. Not sure what we are doing that day but when they fly off on their honeymoon on the 12th I will drive to Southampton and stay the night ready to board the ship on 13th. It’s a bit of a nightmare but it just isn’t worth driving six hours to come home for two nights. It just means unlocking the house, turning all the electrics on and then I have food to think of for two days etc etc, No it is much easier for me to stay up in London.

That is not the end of he weddings for the family. No not me (don’t be silly). Matt Jnr is tying the knot on 17 December in the Dominican Republic and not as I first reported in Sri Lanka and he and his lovely lady Chandrika are flying all of us out for his big day. It is years since I’ve stayed at a beach resort and I am really looking forward. I’m sure there will be a picture or two to come following both events. 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

Leafy walk through Copenhagen

As you know I embarked Celebrity Eclipse on 18 June and the first three legs covered the Baltic. What was lovely o the first leg is that 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. Listen to the original song performed by Udo at the Eurovision.

Below are the original lyrics and the English translation.

Warum nur, warum

Warum nur, warum muß alles vergehen?
Oh... warum nur, warum bleibt gar nichts bestehen?
Du gehst von mir, schaust dich nicht um
Gib mir die Antwort - warum nur, warum?

Warum nur, warum blühen Blumen so schön
Oh.... wenn sie schon bald verblühen und vergehen?
Ein Traum entflieht, die Stunden sind um
Bitte, gib mir die Antwort - warum nur, warum?

Oft hör' ich dein Wort: Ewig bin ich dein!
Ich hab' dir geglaubt, doch es war nur Schein

Mmm... warum nur, warum muß alles so sein?
Oh... warum nur, warum bin ich nun so allein?
Bevor du gehst, dreh einmal dich um
Und dann gib mir die Antwort - warum nur, warum?
Warum? Warum?

 

Only why, why

Only why, why everything has to pass by?
Oh... only why, why nothing stays forever?
You leave me, you don't turn your head back
Give me the answer - only why, why?

Only why, why the flowers bloom so beautiful
Oh... when will they fade and die?
A dream escapes, the time is up
Please, give me the answer - only why, why?

Often I hear your words: I will be yours in eternity
I believed you, but it just was a pretence

Mmm... only why, why should everything be like this?
Oh... only why, why am I so alone now?
Before you leave me, turn your head back
And then give me the answer - only why, why?
Why? Why?

As with the 1956 contest, no video recording of the actual contest performance is known to survive (although one does of the shorter winning reprise); however like the 1956 contest an audio recording does exist. (Videos of Cinquetti's Sanremo performance and her Eurovision winning reprise have both appeared on YouTube.) 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."Softly, as I Leave You" is a popular Italian song composed by Giorgio Calabrese and Tony De Vita, translated into English by Hal Shaper.

It was originally an Italian success by Mina, at the Sanremo Music Festival, entitled "Piano" ("Softly"). Mina published a recording of the song first as a single in 1960 and later as well on an EP and on three LPs.

The English songwriter Hal Shaper noticed the song and in November 1961 wrote English lyrics to the melody, calling it "Softly, as I Leave You." The best-known versions are those by dad. His single reached No.10 in the British charts in 1962 while Frank Sinatra’s version only managed No.27 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Sinatra family announced Frank's death on May 14, 1998 by placing an announcement on their website that was accompanied by a recording of the singer's version of the song while I had it playing at dad’s funeral.

When he performed the song live in Las Vegas, Elvis Presley prefaced with a story about the origins of the song. Presley said the song originated when a man was dying and his wife was sitting by his bedside. As she began to doze off, he felt himself beginning to die and he wrote the words to the song on a notepad. However, Elvis insiders claim that his explanation for the song was merely an example of Presley's flair for storytelling, so his explanation is most likely apocryphal. Elvis said he heard the story "from some people in Florida." Elvis doesn't actually sing this song; he speaks the words while his backing tenor Sherrill Nielsen sings it. Elvis's one recorded version of this song was a bootleg made by a fan in Las Vegas in December 1975. RCA was able to release it commercially later and it now appears on the boxed set Walk A Mile In My Shoes: The Essential 70's Masters.

Nik Butcher played with dad at the Queen Mothers Royal Command in 1984

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. Matt Monro 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.

Decorator Sue!

You never know who you’re going to meet on the cruise. I met up with my dear friend Sue Denning, who is Cruise Director for the company, and one of the best even though I might be biased. She never takes a breath, she is quite incredible and I admire her passion so much. She couldn’t take time off in Copenhagen but we always try and grab a coffee in Tallinn. There is a raised wooden deck outside the shop that plays host to a café and we sat in 72 degrees of pure sun and it was gorgeous after the days of cold damp weather. On the second leg our good friend Sam Kane arrived o take up residence on Eclipse for four days. Most of you will recognize this British actor from appearances on Brookside, Coronation Street and Emmerdale. He is also a fabulous singer and if he is appearing near a venue near you take the time to see this versatile entertainer. You won’t be disappointed.

Sue, Sam & Me

I met Sam some years ago and we immediately hit it off with our mutual love of music and dry sense of humour. What I admire so much is that he is a family man who adores his wife and children and wouldn’t even glance at another woman like so many of the acts that grace the ships. He is married to the former glamour model Linda Lusardi and hen we met up I asked him how she was. He replied, “Mich, she gets better looking every day, she’s incredible and I’m blessed”. Enough said. I adore him.

Tallinn Old Hansa

Tallinn is one of the most beautiful places in Estonia. Tallinn's Old Town is one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is like stepping back in time boasting Gothic spires, winding cobblestone streets and captivating architecture. Turn a corner and you come across one of the medieval churches dotted about, grandiose merchant houses and barns that date back to the Middle Ages. Old Town is also the site of many of the city’s important historic attractions and museums including the House of Brotherhood of the Blackheads, St Catherine’s Guild and the 15th century Guildhall that now houses the History Museum.

I wandered into Town Hall Square, which is the central meeting place. It also plays host to a medieval market, which sells everything from bows and arrows, reindeer pelts, authentic forged objects and beautiful embroidered fare. For the total medieval experience you have to visit Olde Hansa, which dates from Tallinn’s time in the Hanseatic League. The olde world menu is printed in every popular language and features boar, bear and elk.

Medieval market Tallinn

Our next port of call was St Petersburg and in the six weeks I was on the Eclipse we spent a total of seven days there. It is the number one draw for the Americans who fly over to catch the ship at Southampton but having done the sights a few years ago I gave it a wide berth. You have to be heavily into museums and palaces to appreciate this former Cold War country and I’m not that enamored. I find the place sterile, soul-less and officious and if you don’t want to take part in the ship’s tours then it will cost 250 Euros for a visa.

Submarine following us into St Petersburg, I kid you not

We only visited Helsinki on the first leg of the Baltic season and you have to have your camera out on the scenic approach through Helsinki’s island archipelago. Most of the sights are around Market Square and from there you can walk to Senate Square, take a ferry to the fortress or wander the shops and numerous restaurants and cafes. Sue and I didn’t get much further than the terminal as it houses a giant structure as big as an aircraft hanger and the shops come to you. Market stalls of every variety are housed inside selling furs, reindeer designed rugs, pottery, and winter wear. While Britain might be averse to the wearing of fur in the Baltic it is a necessary evil with Dark Arctic winters. It is strange not having daylight in the winter but the mother earth compensates by providing 24 hours of daylight in the summer. The Land of the Midnight Sun is one of Finland’s most iconic natural phenomena’s.

Sunset over Stockholm

With nearly 30,000 islands, islets and rocks - from Öregrund in the north to Landsort in the south - each with its own character the sail in to Stockholm is a spectacular ride taking some three hours. Rugged nature blends with wooded islands, rocky cliffs and sandy beaches. Enjoy tranquil coves and explore uninhabited islets as well as islands with new communities and ancient villages, where large houses and small cottages stand side by side.

There are plenty of sights to choose from, whether the Royal Palace, the Opera House or Drottningholm Palace but one of the main draws is The Vasa Museum

The Vasa is the only preserved seventeenth-century ship in the world, and a unique art treasure. More than 95 percent of the ship is original, and it is decorated with hundreds of carved sculptures. The 69 meter-long warship Vasa sank on its maiden voyage in the middle of Stockholm in 1628, and was salvaged 333 years later in 1961. For nearly half a century the ship has been slowly, deliberately and painstakingly restored to a state approaching its original glory. The three masts on the roof outside the specially built museum show the height of the ship's original masts. Today the Vasa Museum is the most visited museum in Scandinavia, with over one million visitors a year.

There are ten different exhibitions around the ship to tell about life on board the ship. The film about the Vasa is shown in 13 different languages and if you get hungry there is a restaurant to starve off the hunger pangs

I headed to Gamla Stan, the Old Town, which is one of the largest and best-preserved medieval city centers in Europe. The narrow winding cobblestone streets, with their buildings in so many different shades of gold, give Gamla Stan its unique character. Even now cellar vaults and frescoes from the Middle Ages can be found behind the visible facades, and on snowy winter days the district feels like something from a storybook.

There are several beautiful churches and museums in Gamla Stan, including Sweden’s national cathedral Stockholm Cathedral and the Nobel Museum. The largest of the attractions in the district is the Royal Palace, one of the largest palaces in the world with over 600 rooms. Don't miss the parade of soldiers and the daily changing of the guard.

I love walking the plethora of cobblestone streets that play host to handicrafts, curios and souvenir shops as well as wonderful cafes, bars and restaurants. It is a good thing we had an overnight there on our second leg as you can really lose track of time in there.

Warnemünde

Our last port of call was Warnemunde in Germany and the gateway for Berlin. The town is a seaside resort with large sandy beaches, the broadest on the German Baltic Sea coast, that extend 1.9 miles long. Located on the Baltic Sea, Warnemunde is one of the world’s busiest cruise ports.

Being a centre of maritime traffic, the district of Warnemünde comprises numerous navigational aids, the oldest being the lighthouse, built in 1897, and still currently in use. In the summer, the tower, approximately 121 ft high, allows visitors to enjoy an impressive view over the Baltic Sea and the northern districts of Rostock. Warnemünde's other famous landmark, the nearby Teepott (Teapot in German) with its Hyparschale-curved roof, is an interesting living example of East German architecture. Built in Bauhausstile and opened for the first time in 1926, it burned down at the end of World War II. Rebuilt in the 1960s with a curved roof and renovated in 2002, it today houses various restaurants.

In the vicinity of the canal called der Alte Strom (Old Channel), with its various restaurants, pubs and traditional fishing boats, regional specialties are offered in a fish market. At Am Strom 53 you will find the Edvard Munch House, where the famous Norwegian painter of ‘The Scream’ lived from 1907 to 1908.

Sue and I always wait for the ship to clear and then make the 10-minute walk into the town’s centre to a gorgeous eatery Casa Mia that serves up a mean Bruschetta. There we take the time to catch up on our emails and talk to loved ones. Our first trip saw us leave the ship o overcast skies and on our way to the supermarket after lunch the heavens opened and it didn’t just rain, it was a torrential downpour. I got so wet that my underwear was sticking to my skin, not so pleasant. Our further two outings to the town saw us blessed with sunshine. It’s a cracking little place and well worth and visiting if you don’t fancy the six-hour round trip to Berlin.

When I go back to the ship on the 13 August I have one more Baltic itinerary before we head to Norway, what a terrible thing!!

Last month I mentioned that Matt and I are doing a show together and I can now confirm that the venue is Dudley Concert Hall and the date in November 16th 2017
I wrote the Matt Monro Story ‘One Voice’ and originally Matt and I were going to tour it together but with my work on the ship it wasn’t possible so I put in a narrator. This will be the first time we have worked together so it will be very memorable.

What is nice to know is that as long as Matt Jnr and I are around we will continue to ensure the legacy dad left behind isn’t forgotten although it gets harder every year as new generations reach maturity and radio stations change their play lists.

My old friend Eric Hall rang me asking if I would come on his Radio Essex radio show on Father’s Day and play a few MM songs but alas I was going to be away so we have arranged something for around dad’s birthday on 1 December.

Late last year Jasmine records issued an erroneously titled "Complete Recordings 1955 - 1962" and now Fly Me to the Moon Records have also put out "Complete 1960 - 62 Recordings" These in all likelihood steal all Richard Moore’s remasters, as this record company doesn’t have the rights to any of the original masters. Certainly they don’t have the masters from Decca, Love is the Same Anywhere or The Complete Singles Collection.

This is either a substandard release or they have taken our masters for their own gain. There is never any finesse or research taken. Thy have listed the Parade of the Pops LP tracks as BBC Transcriptions. Where they pulled that from I don’t know as they are EMI tracks recorded at Abbey Road and have nothing to do with the BBC apart from being the same name as the radio show.

Strange Lady took us years to get hold of and Richard lovingly worked on the disc to give it its best possible treatment. Jasmine can’t have got the masters anywhere else so I urge you not to buy this product. I’m so fed up with these fly-by-night companies coming out of the woodwork to make a buck off other people’s work.

Richard and I have started talking about changing the look of the website but before we invest in the time and money we want to know whether you all still like to visit. I have noticed that the Forum has been very quiet of late. I there something we can do to improve it or have you simply lost interest. It took me quite a few years to fight to get this site out live and I’ve been incredibly proud of what Richard and I have both achieved. It would be immensely sad to say goodbye but we both get the feeling that there is not enough interest anymore. Please let us know your thoughts and from these comments it might help us to go forward in a more positive way.

Cruise Dates 2017
30 July - 13 August - Celebrity Eclipse
13 August - 26 August - Celebrity Eclipse
26 August - 3 September - Celebrity Eclipse
3 September-17 September - Celebrity Eclipse
17 September-21 September - Celebrity Eclipse
28 September -8 October - Celebrity Eclipse
8 October-18 October - Celebrity Eclipse
18 October-28 October - Celebrity Eclipse

Cruise Dates 2018
6 January – 25 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

 

I wrote a travel blog while I was and the world cruise and have added to it since I’ve been back. While on Celebrity I will continue to add to my Facebook page as when I get into port https://www.facebook.com/michelemonro

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 Jackie Wilson

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.

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!!!!

Until next month take care of yourselves and don’t forget to check my travel blog out at Facebook.co.ukm/micheleMonro. See you all again in July.

Warmest to you and yours

Michele   

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