NEWS

May 2014

 

Having disembarked Oceana on 24 March it was fabulous spending some time at home for a change and as nice as it is to travel, there is always something special about coming home. It would have been nice to put my feet up but alas there was so much to do – mind you that seems to be the case every month

Spending Mother’s Day at home was a real treat and Max made a big fuss of me. He took me for lunch and we spent the afternoon at Westfield’s, a massive shopping mall that put quite a strain on the pocket book.

I spent my birthday at Miller & Carter and if any of you have a branch near you I highly recommend it. It is a very upmarket steak house but having reasonable prices you can eat well without breaking the bank. It is very rare that Matt, Max and I were all in the same place at the same time and it made the evening even more special. I have to thank you all for all the wonderful messages, emails and electronic cards that you sent. It is always lovely knowing someone is thinking of you and this year I was truly blessed.

I had hoped to exchange on the bungalow the first week back but it wasn’t to be. More than 120 sheets of legal paperwork greeted me on my return and that only grew as the days turned into weeks. They say that moving is one of the three most stressful things in life and I can attest to that. Losing the buyer on Monro Towers last year was an awful period as that meant I had to pull out of the sale of the bungalow and then it got another offer, which was accepted. The thing is the prospective buyers fell out because of cold feet and I can understand why. Telford is an area known for its mining and a lot of properties are built over old mine shafts. Having said that once I obtained the mining report I was fairly appeased by the fact that the Coal Mining Authority confirmed the plot was not at risk from subsidence, heave or landslip but there were so many questions raised once the searches came back that it took more than a month of going back and forth from one solicitor to the next to try and gather answers. If I hadn’t fallen in love with the property I would have walked away from the purchase but I persevered.

Instead of exchanging once I got home I was presented with 25 outstanding issues, everything from missing Radon reports to an enforcement notice on the property that dated back to the time of the build. The wayleave agreement was missing and Severn Trent Water conveyed to me that there was no foul water drainage on the site even though I confirmed there wasn’t a septic tank. Both my future neighbours confirmed the water drained to mains sewer in the road but as far as the water board was concerned it didn’t.

The other major issue was that there was a restrictive covenant in place that prevents anyone building over the electricity cables that pass under the land but guess what? You got it, there was no drawing confirming where the cables were. Because I want to build an extension onto the side of the property, you can understand that the plans were vital. Three weeks after getting home we were no nearer exchange than before as the other side quite simply didn’t answer any of the outstanding issues. That meant I had a choice, either walk away or get on the case myself.

I was absolutely gobsmacked to find that most of the issues took me very little time to get to the bottom of. The electricity cables map took five working days but everything was doable. That made me mad because I realised the other side just didn’t bother to try and bring the matter to a conclusion. One never knows whether to blame the sellers or the solicitor in this situation but in this case I think both were to blame. I have to say thank goodness for great friends.

I met Kath and Barrie on a cruise two years back and unbeknown to me when I put the offer in on the bungalow last year, they only lived 7 minutes away. I’ve lived in London for 54 years so the thought of moving several hundred miles away was incredibly scary, that and the fact it was a long drive to view potential properties. I probably looked at near on 2000 on line but I kept going back to the bungalow and had it in my ‘save’ file. It was actually Kath and Barrie who went to see it first to save me the drive as did my friend Lucia who was visiting her brother in Birmingham. All of them thought it worth my while to come to Telford and look at it myself.

My son drove me up to the area and we arrived by midday at which point Barrie took over as chauffeur and drove us around Shropshire so I could view the 8 properties I’d selected. I saw no point in only going to view the bungalow because if I’d hated it the whole trip would have been a wash-out. By 7.30pm we were all exhausted and we picked a local restaurant to have dinner in but it was hard to keep my eyes open. My body was screaming with pain and I was already dreading the other four properties we had appointments for the next morning. It was worth it because by the end of the exercise I was 100% sure the bungalow was the one for me.

I put the offer in immediately and that was it until disaster struck and my buyer pulled out. I can completely empathize with anyone that has been in that situation before. I felt devastated and betrayed because I’d believed all the buyer’s bull and when it came down to the wire they pulled out without even telling me. I didn’t have time to dwell on my misery because I had to go back to work but I left strict instructions with the estate agents to sell my house as quickly as possible so I could grab the bungalow back. For some reason the weeks between August and December produced no serious offers and on 20th December the Estate Agent in Telford rang to say the bungalow had received another offer and the owners had accepted. There are no words to describe the loss I felt.

Unbelievably four days later I myself received an offer that I accepted and got onto to the other agent straight away to ask them to put a higher offer into the bungalow for me. It was turned down so I upped my offer again but it proved fruitless because the owner had found a property they wanted to move to and wanted to exchange at the end of January which I couldn’t do because I was away at sea until the end of March.

I’m a great believer in fate. Because of the events on Marco Polo and because I missed my connection to Madeira I was back at Monro Towers between 17-21 February. Thirty minutes after I exchanged on my house I received an email from the Estate Agent in Telford saying the prospective buyers had pulled out and was I still interested. It was 5.45pm on Friday afternoon and I was flying to Barbados at 6.00am the next morning. I’m not sure how I managed it but by the end of business hours I had my new offer on the bungalow accepted and left instructions with my solicitor to instigate the searches and get a structural survey done. I’d worked out that when I returned to England on 24 March we’d be ready to exchange.

The bungalow is in a gated community of three but that didn’t stop Kath and Barrie driving round and getting hold of one of my prospective neighbours. They gave them their phone umber so that I could ring and talk to them. The call lasted an hour but in that time they were able to answer at least 10 on the outstanding issues. I have to be honest I have never understood why buying a house is such a long drawn out process but I’m more convinced them ever that it is just a way for solicitors to make more money and justify their large fees. When mum and I bought Monro Towers 29 years ago we finalized everything in just 10 days! Having said that I have to say my solicitor, Malcolm Dear, has been fabulous. I’ve had him all the way through the process and not once have I been fobbed off onto a junior. He answers phone calls and works on Saturdays when necessary. He was also happy to email the other side to hurry up the process so it proves there are some good ones about.

Two weeks ago my architect came round with the plans and with everything signed off they were submitted to Telford & Wrekin Council the following Monday morning so all being equal I am hoping for an answer prior to moving in. I had already got pre-application approval so that should hurry the process up. I have builders in place, moving vans and storage. I’ve started emptying the house and garage of rubbish and bought storage boxes by the dozen so I can pack certain items up myself. I’ve bought clothes rails because there are no wardrobes and picked up the mail forwarding forms – all well and good but at that point I didn’t actually have anywhere to move to from a legal point of view.

Floor plan

Because the floors slope on the bungalow, the area has to be leveled before the under floor heating is laid, that means I cannot move any furniture other than my bed and a kitchen table because it would all have to be moved again which is an unnecessary expense. That means 95% of my stuff has to go into storage for about three months so that is proving to be a nightmare. The majority of stuff will go in a massive moving truck and the stuff coming to the property will come in a van but trying to work out what I need isn’t that easy, but then what is.

Having grasped the reality of what I’d taken on I decided to cancel the Princess cruise as the timing was just too tight. It’s a massive shame, as it would have given me the chance to see my girlfriend Lucia pus I was desperate to see Venice again but one can’t have it all. So that’s it – come hell or high water I have to be out of here by midday on the 30th June and the clock is ticking.

….. on the 17 April, the day of exchange, the client pulled out in that she is not willing to complete until she has found a property herself! Absolutely devastated is a word that best describes how I felt. Because the owners are now divorced it is a mess but I am now waiting for the husband’s solicitor to take it back to court and get an order for her to be removed from the property by 30th June. Time will tell but I had to leave England with everything up in the air and if this can’t be resolved I will effectively be homeless when I leave Monro Towers.

I’ve got a lunch date with Graham Pass, who put together the BBC Radio 2 special, East End Lads on 27 May. Because of the show’s success I am hoping to convince him to do something for dad’s 30th anniversary next year. Odeon and myself are working on releasing a brand new DVD to the market for the occasion. The set will include never-before seen material of television shows that dad did for the various stations around the world including Australia and the States. Final negotiations are happening as I write and at the end of the day it will all come down to price. It amazes me how stupid some stations are. For instance dad did three Ed Sullivan shows in the very early 60s. They have sat in a vault for the last fifty odd years and the chances that anyone else will want to release it are pretty slim so you’d think the station would be realistic about their pricing. Sadly not, SOFA Entertainment want $3000 a minute for the use of the footage. This is also the case with other American channels, which is ridiculous. One wouldn’t be able to break even on the project let alone make any money so no doubt the footage will sit there another fifty years. Having said that Alan Byron, Richard Moore and myself have unearthed some wonderful hidden gems…. Watch this space.

 

With regards to the upcoming release, ‘The Definitive Matt Monro’ is still delayed. It was due out for Mather’ Day but it seems that Warners had a spate of new albums coming out over that period so they felt it best to give the new album a different release date. Still waiting…… although we now know all the tracks have been cleared and the artwork has been approved.

If you’d like to do me a tremendous favour then a review of either my book or dad’s new albums 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’m looking forward to the rest of the 2014 cruising season. As of today, the dates that are in are:

2014
20 April – 4 May – P&O Oriana  (Strictly Come Dancing Cruise)
5 – 21 May – P&O – Adonia
2 -8 June – Cruise & Maritime - Marco Polo
29 July – 6 August – Cruise & Maritime - Marco Polo
21 August – 2 September – Cruise & Maritime Marco Polo
21 September – 3 October – Cruise & Maritime – Marco Polo
5 – 16 October – Fred Olsen - Braemar
21 October – 7 November – Cruise & Maritime – Discovery
18-29 November – P&O – Aurora
30 November – 12 December – Cunard – QM2

2015
8 January – 8 April – P&O Adonia (five back to back cruises)

Of course while I am away it will be business as usual. The wonderful thing about email, Skype and mobile phones is that you are never really out of touch. If any of you need anything in my absence I am still available on email but you can also contact Richard on richard@mint-audio-restoration.co.uk. 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.
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 on Rolf Harris.

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.

Warmest to you and yours.

Michele

Past News - April 2014

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Past News - December 2012

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Past News - December 2011

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Past News - August 2011

Past News - July 2011

 

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