NEWS

November 2015

 

As most of you know I have spent the best part of October on Celebrity Eclipse and now after the last back to backs I am finished for the year in terms of cruises. I have to say I feel very lucky to have spent so much time on the Eclipse because the ship is beautiful but the people are fabulous. There seems to be a different mindset on Celebrity whereas passengers have come on to have a good time and are not looking for the negative. On so many other cruise lines you hear holidaymakers comparing the food or the entertainment to another brand but being that Celebrity is five star status everything on offer is better than they have had before. I’ve not heard one person say that a previous cruise with Fred Olsen or P&O was better. Don’t get me wrong there might have been those people; it is just that I didn’t hear those sorts of comments.

I’m always asked which cruise line or ship is my favourite and it is difficult to answer as each ship has its positives and each has things that irk and it is human nature to compare if you have had it better previously elsewhere. A few years ago Matt and I went on the Oceana Regent a subsidiary of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.


The combination further consolidates the cruise industry, which is dominated by two big companies. Industry giant Carnival controls nearly half the world's ocean cruise business with 10 brands, including Carnival, Princess, Holland America, Cunard and Costa. Rival Royal Caribbean Cruises is the second-biggest player with six brands, including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara. The two companies operate 100 and 42 ships, respectively.

Even after the acquisition, Norwegian will remain a distant third in size among cruise companies with 21 ships. But the 47-year-old firm is expanding rapidly. Norwegian has four ships on order for delivery between 2015 and 2019, which will come on the heels of two new vessels unveiled in the past 16 months. One of the targets of the acquisition, Regent, also has a ship on order for delivery in 2016.

Anyway I digress, the ship only had 400 passengers all on an all-inclusive basis, and that included all alcohol, tours and tips. Each of the suites had a Butler and the rooms were so large they had their own walk-in wardrobe. A recipe for success one might think but I hated it. The people were really self-important who felt it was their right to treat the staff like their own personal servants. I’ve never met so many pretentious people in such a small space before and I felt suffocated. The cruise director was arrogant and downright nasty. I hate back-stabbers but some are worse than others and this guy fell into the top bracket.

The trouble with offering a lifestyle like that in a license for the passengers to expect more and more so your best is never good enough. They never stopped complaining about the tours but there were some who did everyone going, got over-tired and then bad-tempered. Interestingly if they had to pay for the tours they would only have picked the ones they really wanted to do but because they are included they feel they have a right to do them all. Even though the ship and its sisters have been rebranded I fear the experience is not for me. I like to meet down-to-earth holidaymakers who are there to have a good time and appreciate the good food and service they are given. They treat the staff with respect and I have to say throughout the industry they do an amazing but mostly thankless job. To my mind it is the crew that make the cruise and most are a credit to the company they work for. It works both ways, one cannot do without the other, and there is something infectious about happy smiling people. In fact thinking about it every time I go to Disney I leave adulthood at the gate and revert to a child. All around you are cast members smiling and waving who exude the feel-good factor

Holidays should make you feel good, most people save long and hard for a year so they can have their well-earned break and these last two cruises were exactly what you hope for. Both cruises had the same itinerary and it is wise because the Canary Islands are where you expect some sunshine at this time of year. The schedule has changed slightly from earlier itineraries in that Lanzarote (nicknamed Lanzagrote) and Fuerteventura have been replaced with Vigo and La Coruna. Those two islands might be excellent for a two-week beach holiday but there is not enough there for a passing cruise passenger and there were several disgruntled passengers on last month’s cruise who did not like the ports.

Southampton, Vigo, Lisbon, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Madeira, La Coruna, Southampton.

It was perfect for me as I was able to get some Christmas shopping done and get bits that I would not have found at home. Sadly England has lost so many of its individual boutiques and I find that every shopping area looks identical to any other town. There are no surprises around a corner, the big names like Next, Marks & Spencer, Primark et al are in every high street and I have come to find shopping boring now. It’s a telling point that I got off at Lisbon so I could go to the haberdashery shops. They have seven shops in one street dedicated to materials, ribbon, wool, buttons and every craft you can think of, the only negative is that all the knitting patterns are in Portuguese. That doesn’t mark the end of the unique. There is a shop there that just sells scissors and knives and another that just sells gloves. Several linen shops grace the area offering up hand made tablecloths and Portuguese lace. It is a shopper’s paradise and I’m sure it still survives, as there is no sign of a shopping mall anywhere in the local area.

I wanted to get some festive presents out of the way as it is possible that I will go straight from Southampton to Weymouth to join ‘The Matt Monro Story” which opened on Thursday 1 October at the Pomegranate Theatre in Chesterfield. The show has been very well received but there are a few venues where ticket sales could be better but then again it might pick up nearer the time

Being the 30th anniversary year I would have loved to do the tour with my brother, something we’ve never done before, but I didn’t think my health was up to that sort of gruelling schedule. Joining the show in Weymouth only means nine shows, which I feel I could do but at the time of writing this update nothing has been confirmed. If any of you are still hoping to come this month here is the latest schedule.

 

November 2015

Date    Venue  Box Office       Address           Website

06-Nov WEYMOUTH PAVILION           01305 783225
The Esplanade, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8ED
www.weymouthpavilion.com

07-Nov KINGS THEATRE, SOUTHSEA   023 9282 8282           
Albert Road, Southsea, Portsmouth PO5 2QJ
www.kings-southsea.com

08-Nov SHANKLIN THEATRE, ISLE OF WIGHT 01983 868000
Prospect Road, Shanklin, PO37 6AJ   
www.shanklintheatre.com

09-Nov THE COURTYARD, HEREFORD            01432 340555
Edgar Street, Hereford HR4 9JR        
www.courtyard.org.uk

11-Nov WHITEHALL THEATRE, DUNDEE         01382 434940
Bellfield Street, Dundee DD1 5JA      
www.cairdhall.co.uk

12-Nov MUSIC HALL, ABERDEEN        01224 641122
Union Street, Aberdeen, Aberdeen City AB10 1QS
www.aberdeenperformingarts.com

13-Nov ROTHES HALL, GLENROTHES  01592 611101
Kingdom Shopping Centre, Glenrothes, KY7 5NX      
www.onfife.com

14-Nov FALKIRK TOWN HALL  01324 506850
Suite 1A, The Falkirk Stadium, 4 Stadium Way, Falkirk, FK2 9EE
www.falkirkcommunitytrust.org

15-Nov ROYAL CONCERT HALL, GLASGOW    0141 353 8000           
2 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3NY          
www.glasgowconcerthalls.com

19-Nov TAMWORTH ASSEMBLY ROOMS       01827 709 618           
Corporation Street, Tamworth, Staffordshire B79 7DN
www.tamworthassemblyrooms.co.uk

 

"Tribute to the Singer’s Singer" by Tim Mottershead for remotegoat on 03/10/15

Having only given a cursory glance to the pre-event publicity, I had given myself the impression that ‘The Matt Monro Story’ would be a tribute show, albeit one of superior quality, and with the added gravitas and legitimacy of being performed by a family member. Consequently, in the days leading up to the performance, my thoughts had turned to the extensive back catalogue of the artist, wondering which of the many songs associated with him would be included in the concert. Thus the evening opened as expected: the quality backing trio of keyboards, bass, and drums began with a short medley of Monro numbers, before being joined by Matt Monro junior to sing ‘On A Wonderful Day like Today’ and ‘If I Never Sing Another Song’. Thereafter, the evening developed into something rather different, and far more informative. For what happened next, after a few introductory remarks, was that Matt Monro junior left the audience in the capable hands of narrator Elizabeth Conway to tell us ‘The Matt Monro Story’ (the clue is in the title!). We learned that Matt Monro was born in 1930 in Shoreditch, London, and (following an ‘apprenticeship’ as a singer on the London pub circuit), cut his teeth with a residency on Hong Kong Radio whilst on National Service. As the narration unfolded, we witnessed a backdrop of still and moving images on the big screen at the rear of the stage, supplemented by snippets from archive interviews, rare home movie footage of tours and holiday seasons (featuring a very young looking Morecambe and Wise), complemented by extracts from songs. Monro’s unlikely first recording (under his birth name Terry Parsons) was the aria ‘On with the Motley’ (from the opera ‘Pagliacci’ by Leoncavallo). Another early song we heard was the delightful ‘Polka Dots and Moonbeams’ recorded after demob whilst Monro was pursuing a number of day jobs, including that of a London bus driver. On the down side, on much of the photo montage, Monro was rarely seen without a cigarette, something which undoubtedly contributed to his demise from liver cancer in 1985 at the age of 54.

During a show of over two and a half hours, we got to hear many of the hits in one form or another. Songs performed live, in far more than creditable versions by Matt Monro junior and his trio included: ‘Portrait of My Love’, ‘Born Free’, ‘Walk Away’ (originally the winning Austrian entry in the 1964 Eurovision Song Contest), ‘Around The World’, ‘Yesterday’ (for which Monro was the original recording artist), ‘My Kind Of Girl’, and ‘Gonna Build A Mountain’ (perhaps his finest performance of the evening). Many of the others, such as ‘From Russia with Love’ or ‘Softly as I Leave You’ were heard in lengthy extracts of on screen footage of Matt Monro himself in concert or in the studio. Perhaps one of the highlights of the evening was (due to the advances of modern technology) Matt Monro junior, & his band, dueting live with his late father in ‘We're Gonna Change the World’ in a genuinely moving performance.

Over the course of the evening we discovered that Monro’s journey from hard-working but obscure singer to international star was a long process covering a decade or more, that could be attributed to two main factors: i. a refusal to give up ii. the unstinting support of his wife Mickie, who was convinced the success would emerge sooner or later. Talent, hard work, and luck, all played their part, as did a willingness to undertake seemingly unrewarding offers of work: such as voicing Camay soap commercials (fortunately on a royalty), or singing songs originally intended as ‘spoofs’ (under the name Fred Flange) for Peter Sellers. There were also genuine innovations such as Monro’s re-recording of his hits in Spanish (which he learned phonetically) to tap into vast markets on Spain and South America (decades before Tony Bennett’s ‘Viva Duets’ project), via tours in which audience enthusiasm rivalled Beatlemania. The change to his stage name took place over this period, though often the surname would be misspelt. Matt’s response was as smooth as his voice: “It’s very simple: it’s an anagram of moron!”

Via The Official Matt Monro Facebook page Richard  received the following message from Dave Robinson

I just got home from a superb evening at 'The Matt Monro Story' I took my dad who is 81, and it was very nostalgic for him and he really enjoyed the show... but for me on the other hand who is a lifelong Monro fan, it was utterly fantastic! Matt Jr was quite charismatic and funny, and the narration and accompanying film on the big screen was so well done. I didn't realise that it was you who had put the film together until Matt Jr thanked you on stage at the end. The film is so well edited and timed to perfection, and although I have seen a lot of it before on DVD, there was tons of new stuff in there as well which I was made up with. I particularly liked the way you dubbed the original recording of 'Softly As I Leave You' over a live performance at the end. A very nice touch I thought. I got to meet the narrator (Liz) afterwards and she was lovely, and I also got a photo taken with me and my dad with Matt senior's gigging stool, which totally blew my mind to be perfectly honest, but then I also got to meet Matt Jr in person! He is a really nice, relaxed, down to earth and very accommodating guy who gave me a personal autograph and a photo with me and my dad.

If you’ve been to the show and enjoyed it too, do let us know!

Richard and I have now taken over dad’s Facebook page so I’m sure you will start seeing averts for the show soon as the full impact of the PR campaign takes hold. https://www.facebook.com/mattmonro

Shiver (the factual arm of ITV Studios) has been commissioned to make a documentary special celebrating the most popular songs from one of the longest-running and most iconic franchises in movie history. Transmitting over 90 minutes at peak time on ITV later this year, The Nation’s Favourite Bond Song will pay tribute to the greatest tracks that have featured in the hugely successful 007 film series.

Using extensive archive and interviews with the key players, the show will tell the fascinating stories behind twenty 007 classics, which have been chosen in close collaboration with Bond producers Eon and our programme consultant, Bond composer David Arnold. It will also feature the results of our exclusive ITV poll, revealing which Bond song the British public consider their favourite of all time.

The Nation’s Favourite Bond Song follows on from the success of previous award-winning Nation’s Favourites, applauding the work of musical greats such as Queen, the Motown label and Elvis Presley (the latter of which was seen by over 7 million viewers).

I’m thrilled to report that From Russia with Love is one of the songs that the documentary will be featuring, and they asked if I would give a short interview on camera and share my memories of dad and his much-loved Bond song. On Monday 5th October I made the very long journey to Birmingham to do my little bit. It should have been a 43-minute car ride but despite leaving “Monro Towers” at 1.00pm I pulled up at the Hyatt with only three minutes to spare before my 2.30pm slot.

Thankfully the crew were on their lunch break having filmed Mary Wilson during the morning for their forthcoming programme “The Nation’s Favourite Beatles Number 1”.  The suite, room 2203, was on the 22nd floor and boy was it a long way up but it did afford wonderful views of the city. Caroline Foote who had originally liaised with me acted as question master although she won’t be in shot on the programme while Tim Green looked after the audio and Mark Tredinnick worked the camera.

It was a nice relaxed atmosphere and when everything was set up I took my seat on the ‘set’. I had to take one of the settee cushions and put it on the floor so my feet had something to rest on and once settled I waited to begin. Caroline was busy taking shots on her mobile of the camera screen so she could send them to the producer. He decided he wanted a looser shot, which I was pleased about as no one needs to see up my nose and I did tell Mark to use as much soft focus as possible but I’m not sure whether he did or not.

There are only so many questions you can ask about one song and over the course of ninety minutes I think we covered everything you could conveyable think of. I’ve been told the show will go out prime time in December but at the moment that is all I’ve been told. ITV like to hold things close to their chest.

In the twelve days I was home my feet didn’t hit the floor, I had to do the Bond filming, have an MRI, see the specialist, have a Doppler scan, see the specialist, travel to Birmingham three times, have a flu shot, unpack, launder and repack, revise the scripts for the Matt Monro Story and update a couple of shows for the ship.
 
Max’s car gave up the ghost while I was away and I wasn’t willing to invest any more money on it. I bought it for £1800 four years ago and over that time it has cost me a further £5,000. The car was never right and everything that has broken has been major. In December I had the service and MOT which cost nearly a grand and Max pointed out it must be almost like a new car, then the clutch went 9 weeks ago and 3 weeks after that the gear box went and that is an expensive job to get fixed. It had to be towed to Max’s flat as it didn’t work so what is the point. This time I’ve bought from a reputable garage and paid £250 for a year’s guarantee and a Gold Star insurance. That is because every time the Vauxhall broke down it cost me far more than £250.00!!! This time I’ve bought a Hyundai i10 and although it is a 2009 model it has only done 32,500 miles and is only £30.00 tax a year. No service for another nine thousand miles so I’m hoping for a reprieve against garages for a while. I don’t want Max without a car because apart from anything else I’d never see him so there is method in my madness.

My new dates for 2016 have bee submitted so I’m just waiting for confirmation so all being equal the new schedule will go up next month.

Cruise Calendar 2015/2016

21 October – 1 November – Celebrity Eclipse
5 January – 16 February – Cruise & Maritime Magellan

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 Nana Mouskouri

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

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Amazon
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