NEWS

March

Michele

Welcome back to everyone now that Christmas is firmly behind us and I do hope you’ve all managed to catch up with your bills! Getting off a Caribbean cruise right next to the yuletide season I stupidly succumbed to a chest infection and I have had it ever since. After the first course of antibiotics it seemed to behave it self but eight days into the next trip on 2nd January, which also happened to be to the West Indies, saw the lurgy come back. A second course of pills didn’t budge it and it has got progressively worse ever since. It is hard on the ships to stay 100% healthy especially on a long crossing as all the areas have air conditioning and so bugs are being passed through. I am rather pig-headed and so didn’t go to the doctors once I got home thinking it would eventually go. I have heard so many stories about people and the flu and coughs that have been going on for weeks that I didn’t see the point. But now I have had to admit to myself that I am going downhill rather than the other way round. I am due to leave the country on 31st March so I figure I’ll need time to get back to feeling normal again, please god.

Michele

Apart from my malady, and my broken toe, the cruise was wonderful. I hadn’t been on P&O’s Oceana before, at least I thought so but getting on the ship the day after the New Year I felt a huge sense of déjà-vu. It twigged about an hour later that it was an identical ship to the Sea Princess that I’d been on last June, right down to the tables round the pool and the layout of the decks. I asked a crew member about it and they admitted that P&O had bought the ship off Princess Cruises about ten years ago. The only negative was the cabin space. If you have been lucky enough to travel on a P&O ship then you expect the same throughout the fleet but the Princess cabins are infinitely smaller and the balcony is more like Cell Block H, a cutout hole in the iron framework and barely enough room to put a chair out there.

I love P&O and for all their faults, and every cruise line has several, after travelling on Holland and America, all is forgiven. From the moment you got on you knew you were on a special cruise with wonderful champagne sailaways, to deck parties and BBQs in the balmy tropics. There was always background music, a great atmosphere and a friendly bunch. I have always been lucky in getting off each cruise with a new bunch of friends and this one was no different, in fact we had such a good time that we have all booked an almost identical cruise next February – the magnificent 7 ride again!!

The one thing that made this so special for me was the transit of the Panama Canal. It has been on my bucket list for years and when doing part of the world cruise last year was gutted to find out that it was going through the Suez on my segment and so I missed out. It was awesome, an incredible feat of engineering that left me filled with admiration

Panama Canal

What makes the Panama Canal remarkable is its self-sufficiency. The dam at Gatun, is able to generate the electricity to run all the motors which operate the canal as well as the locomotives in charge of towing the ships through the canal. No force is required to adjust the water level between the locks except gravity. As the lock operates, the water simply flows into the locks from the lakes or flows out to the sea level channels. The canal also relies on the overabundant rainfall of the area to compensate for the loss of the 52 million gallons of fresh water consumed during each crossing.
Despite the limit in ship size, the canal is still one of the most highly travelled waterways in the world, handling over 12,000 ships per year. The 51-mile crossing takes about nine hours to complete, an immense time saving when compared with rounding the tip of South America.


The ships for which the canal was designed are now long gone. Modern shipping has increased the size of the liners and the increase in tonnage has caused problems for the Canal. Though traffic continues to increase many oil supertankers and military battleships and aircraft carriers cannot fit through anymore and the passage is tight to say the least as evidence by the wonderful scrape down the side of the ship. Yes we hit the side in spectacular style.

In September 2007 work began on a $5.2 billion project to expand the Panama Canal. Expected to be complete in 2014, the expansion project will allow ships double the size to pass through relatively unscathed. I saw evidence of the building work and I was completely rooted to my spot throughout the passage clicking away on my camera – I tool nearly 1000 pictures, yes that is three zeros, not two, I just couldn’t help myself.

I was thrilled as getting the chance to do this journey especially as it seems unlikely that P&O among others will traverse through it anymore except on a world cruise. The reason is the cost. I think the Captain said our fare was $350,000 and we only went through Gatun and back out again, plus the fact that we refueled in the lake at an extra fee of $200,000 – makes you think doesn’t it. The same applies to Alaska now, P&O have dropped it from their schedule due to fees. If I heard right they are going to position a ship in Australia and Tenerife and so more fly-cruises will be offered saving on huge fuel costs for long voyages. It is sad really because the point of cruising is that it makes so many different parts of the world accessible and now that very market seems to be shrinking.

I did ten talks throughout the sailing but only on sea days, which enabled me to enjoy all the ports. I love the Caribbean and have been many times before but this trip afforded me the chance to visit a couple of islands that were new to me. One that I loved was Antigua, purported to have more than 365 beaches, one for every day of the year and it is spectacular. Colon in Honduras was an unexpected delight. I don’t know what I expected but it has been purpose built and is quite simply a deserted tropical island with every amenity you could ask for. Sadly it was our only day of ran and boy did it come down. With the option f laying on the beach a washout I opted for zip wiring and it was truly exhilarating. It is so easy because all you have to do is literally hold on as you traverse through the Caribbean treetops – fabulous. One disappointment was out visit to Jamaica. I’ve been a couple of times before but never to Montego Bay, which is a little bit too far out for visiting the main sights. We were only there until early afternoon and so time was tight. In fact we nearly left without three passengers. If it weren’t for the fact that the Captain gave them an extra ten minutes they would have been waving us off rather then being with us. They literally made it within minutes to spare as they’d already pulled up one of the gangplanks. There are always stories to tell on a cruise and sadly we lost one passenger, who died on his catamaran trip in Antigua. In fact the Captain announced it over the tannoy system to explain why we were still sitting in port hours after we should have left.


Michele

This trip gave me the opportunity of testing my new talks and I have to say I was very pleased by the audience reaction. I had good attendances at each one and of course this was the first trip that I took my artwork with me as well. I’m not sure whether any of you have checked out the new area on the site but it will give you an idea of what I have been working on the last year or so. The photographs were all taken in the Caribbean on past trips and this voyage gave me the opportunity of taking another 3000. I haven’t gone through them all yet but they will be heavily whittled down after I have made my final choice. I was hoping to have an exhibition this year but the months are already speeding by at an alarming rate.

Michele

Click above image to go to Michele's Photo page

I would love to hear your feedback on my shots even if you hate them. I had originally set a poll up but as you know we have had problems with the technical area of the website which means we had to change our appearance again but thanks to my left arm Richard, it looks as near to the original as was humanly possible but the poll is working now! 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 spoken to Titan about printing the 100 page book I had made up called ‘Lights of the Caribbean’ but sadly they don’t deal in coffee table books so that is not an option at the moment but I am pursuing the auctioneer companies that look after the ships.

My aim after returning in February was to put the house on the market but before I can actually show it to anyone I have to box all the clutter up. I literally have every bit of floor space in use with books, boxes and files and 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 have to literally pack most of the house up before letting any potential buyers in. Apart from being ill, which has slowed me down enormously I have no idea of where I want to move to, a slight problem because I can see that I will probably end up homeless for a period but as with these sorts of things it is all very stressful especially as it was both mum and dad’s anniversary last month.

What else is new?  Well we’re are still waiting to hear official news on EMI UK or the Parlophone Label Group as it is currently known, so at the moment Richard and I do not have a project planned for the year but that could change. Whatever happens I am not too worried as we have worked flat out over the last six years trying to bring you a rich plethora of projects showing dad at his very best and in my opinion we succeeded in every way. Dad’s anniversary last month means it is 28 years since he left us and I feel we have been extraordinarily lucky to have had free reign on the projects we’ve wanted to do. I don’t think there is any artist in that category that has had the amount of CDs we have released in that time.

My heartfelt thanks to Neil Dalrymple who provided me with copies of the Blackpool Night Out and The Sings Disney Compilation, both of which featured dad. I missed both shows because of being away and was genuinely upset that I had missed them. Another snippet of news is that after a long haul I finally got a copy of the Morecambe & Wise Show, The Lost Tapes. Although dad is on the audio recording it is hard to follow what is going on and of course what was visually funny at the time is lost to the listener. I am still holding out hope that someone somewhere taped the show 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.

As I write this I still don’t have many new additions in my cruise calendar for this year because although I have heard from several companies they all offered dates that overlapped what was already in. I could spit but that’s the way the cookie crumbles

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!!!! This last trip saw me in a Gale Force 10 coming back into Southampton – not exactly smooth sailing.
Please note that the cruise that was in the book for July with Cruise & Maritime has been chanced to a Royal Caribbean cruise instead. As of today, the dates that are in are:

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

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 Dionne Warwick.

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 Happy Mother’s Day to all and a very happy Easter. Here’s hoping that your life is always filled with music.

Warmest to you and yours

Michele

 

Past News - February 2013

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