Every year a new year descends upon us and I like millions of others think events will be better than the last, because they have to but 2023 is not shaping up too well. February is always tough as it is both mum and dad’s anniversary, I lost a friend and work on the cruise ships is not what is was before the pandemic.
My brother and his wife Chandrika haven’t had it easy through the lock downs and not having had a break in almost three years booked a fortnight away to Mauritius for a golfing break. They were due to leave on the 20th so they would spend Matt’s birthday on the island chilling out but it didn’t go to plan. They flew from Scotland to Charles de Gaulle and were then to transfer to Air Mauritius but a cyclone hit the Indian Ocean causing a 12-hour delay in France because with 237 mph winds planes couldn’t attempt a landing. Having missed the first day of their holiday they finally arrived slightly worse for wear, unpacked, ate and fell into bed. The weather had improved and they were out on the golf course when Chandrika’s golf cart hit a raised concrete strip causing the axle to break and she was thrown from the buggy like a rag doll. Her arm landed on a rock causing it to break and her fist hit her eye socket hard enough for the hospital to worry about a bleed to the brain.
Matt had to rush back to the hotel, an hour away from the hospital to collect some clothes and the insurance papers before heading back before his wife’s surgery. At this time all I know is the scans seem to confirm no injury to her brain and her surgery was successful. As there is no internet in that area, I’m waiting for Matt to get back to the hotel and give me an update but God willing everything will be okay.
Money is tight for everyone at the minute but if you are going away do NOT skimp on travel insurance. A friend of mine who is a singer boarded a cruise ship this week without taking out insurance and he has had angina in the last year. It is so stupid especially as a repatriation by helicopter could cost as much as £50,000. One passenger had a heart attack a couple of years ago on Celebrity’s Silhouette and because of insufficient insurance cover the helicopter refused to come out to the ship. We took a 12-hour detour towards Spain and the pilot boat came to meet the ship and take the patient off. Those hours could have cost hm his life. It just isn’t worth the risk.
As painful as the last month was it was lovely to see dad featured on several program. Although it was a repeat ….Sings Bond was as popular as ever when it aired on 18 February on BBC2and dad was featured alongside Shirley Bassey, Adele, A-ha and Sheena Easton. It is always a thrill to know that dad was the very first singer to feature in a Bond theme, a tradition that still continues today.
In August last year I was contacted by Jaynie Miller, the production manager of a Sky/Pot Boiler production called Funny Woman to gain permission to use a poster of dad and a magazine within the first episode as a way to put viewers in that era. Funny Woman is an adaptation of the 2014 Nick Hornby novel of Funny Girl, set in 1960’s London – the story follows their protagonist as she moves to the big city in search of a life in Comedy on the small screen. The first episode sees Barbara Parker, played by Gemma Arterton, enter a beauty contest and named ‘Belle of Blackpool’. Feeling there is more to life than the pageant circuit she moves to London in the hope of becoming a star and starts work in the Lewis Peters department store where she is chatted up by a customer. The date is a night out to London’s Talk of the Town to see Matt Monro. Dad’s hit song ‘Walk Away’ is featured and it was a lovely surprise to see it last month as I had no idea when the series was to be aired.
Lastly on the 18th of last moth BBC4 aired ‘Movie Themes at the BBC’, which featured some of the best BBC moments and archive footage of artists that featured in the pop charts. About 30 minutes in dad sings ‘Born Free’. Lovely
I say lastly because these were all new one-offs but if you haven’t seen dad’s Australian concert yet, it is still featured on Netflix.
A little under 2 years ago Richard approached Cherry Red with the idea for a new project based on tracks that belong to Warner. They loved the idea and set about licensing the material. Despite the fact that Richard and I submitted a list of the tracks we were to use and proof that Warner owned the majority, it has taken more than two years to wade through the legal department’s red tape. We thought we had clearance last year, but then another hurdle was put in place.
At long last, it looks as if we are about to go forward with a 4-CD set called ‘The Complete EMI Recordings 1971-1984’. As usual, Richard has done a stellar job with the remastering and the notes tell the whole story of how these tracks came to fruition. We have just received the finished cover which was designed by John Sellards and are now waiting on an official date of release. Watch this space.
Amazingly it appears that dad’s last album ‘Stranger in Paradise: The Lost New York Sessions’ has slipped through the cracks of several fans who were unaware of its release. The first CD is brand new material recorded with just a five-piece band and the second features dad’s more familiar titles remastered of course by the fabulous Richard Moore.
Nearly two years ago I found out that a few albums available to upload were inferior in quality compared to what is available in sound today so after airing my complaints Universal gave the go-ahead. Richard mastered them within weeks, and now at last someone has finally pushed a button which has made them live. The remastered downloads of 8 of his 9 original Capitol albums now appear on all good download and streaming sites.
Don’t forget to visit dad’s very own YouTube channel – https://www.youtube.com/c/MattMonroOfficial
Every two weeks we feature a rare television performance of dad and the channel still has all the ones you may have missed by not visiting yet. It’s all totally free and if you register, the site will send you a reminder every time something new is added.
If you haven’t had the chance yet do check out ‘The Boy From Shoreditch’ the four-part audio documentary Richard and I made to celebrate dad’s special 90th birthday, then it is a must for any MM fan. The programmes were written and narrated by myself and feature an intimate portrait of the man behind the voice, drawing on previously un-broadcast interviews, extremely rare recordings previously thought lost, interviews with his family and friends and messages from some of his more famous fans.
Having had a wonderful cruising season last year, I am hoping this year will be equally buoyant although I have no dates set as yet. Before Covid, I was booked up to 15 months in advance but since the ships have started running again, everything is last minute.
I can’t believe my book “The Autonomous Cruiser: The Complete Guide to Cruising For and with Disabled Travellers” has been out nearly a year, I’m sure the older you get the quicker time goes.
This is the first book to specifically address the needs of the disabled cruiser and their carers so they can ensure a stress-free holiday. Having spent more than 40 years cruising the world and also working as a specialist speaker on a number of cruise lines including Celebrity, P&O, Fred. Olsen and Royal Caribbean, I was shocked to find there was nothing on the marking to address the needs of a disadvantaged traveller and that made me very cross.
In the 1990s I was diagnosed with MS. It was then I began to fully appreciate the absence of advice and information about cruise travel with a special need. I felt strongly that whilst living with a disability presents a lot of obstacles, a cruise holiday shouldn’t have to be one of them and I began what was to become 3 years of painstaking research covering all the possible details a disabled cruise traveller needs to know. Because of the pandemic, the book was put on hold for a further two years and I then had to update it twice, one for Brexit and again for the effects of Covid on the industry. At one point I nearly pulled it but when the industry started going back to sea I decided to persevere.
The Autonomous Cruiser is the result. The most up to date and comprehensive guide available, advising on the whole process of cruising, including: –
Cruise and port choices, and the accessibility of cruise terminals. A comprehensive section on fly-cruises including airport guides, car park assistance, wheelchair advice, checked luggage, lounges, and delayed and missed departures
Critical pre-planning information including holiday administration, vaccinations, medication, cabin selection, upgrades, pier transfers, luggage services, drinks packages, specialty dining and online check-in
Life on board incorporates embarkation, cruise ship etiquette, dining, entertainment, meetings, bridge visits, swimming pools, spa facilities shopping and duty-free, photo gallery, onboard savings, ship visits, port calls, tendering, safety, technology at sea and the travel scams to watch out for
Caregivers, chaperones and service dogs
A directory outlining the most important disability resources, including accessible shore excursions, dedicated apps, cruise specialists and accessible travel agents
This market first covers the most common areas of special needs – from those travelling with pre-existing conditions, special dietary considerations, prescriptions and medication, epilepsy, diabetes, heart disease, dementia, cognitive, intellectual and developmental disabilities, compromised immune systems, breathing disorders, kidney disease, and visual and hearing impairments to make this the most comprehensive guide to cruising available.
I look forward to catching up with you in March and in the meantime, stay safe and keep spreading the MM legacy.