Schools Out

January 29, 2008 -

John Heald

My school days were a mixture of hard work, strict discipline accompanied by a forced sports program and home work each and every night. Our uniform was a bizarre mixture of purple and black with the trousers made from a torturous material called “serge.” This material had you feeling like a thousand tiny insects were running up and down your legs stopping only to tickle you with a feather………..it was hell. Our lessons included the basic Math, English, French and German and, of course, the sciences of Biology and Physics.

Then there were the practical subjects of Woodwork, Metalwork and Technical Drawing.

Now, while I was never the sharpest tool in the shed at English and Math when it came to the practical subjects I was thicker than an armored plated elephant and stood out like a Frenchman in a packed elevator on a hot sunny day………………I stank.

This, of course, was much to the annoyance of my Father who is a brilliant furniture maker and as you have seen from his Carnival shrine/office can turn a piece of wood into anything he sets his mind to…………………my piece of wood just turned into many smaller pieces of wood with nails protruding from them at very weird angles. I remember once we were asked to make a pencil box which I did and in fact I was quite proud of it……………..the only problem was that the pencil would have had to have been less than 6 inches long with a sharp bend in the middle…………I was awful.

Then there was sports…………………now for those who know me you are expecting me to say that I was rubbish at sports………….well, actually……………………..you would be right. I loved playing cricket and football it was the others that I did not understand. We had a very intense summer sports program of athletics were dressed in white shorts and a white T-shirt we ran around a grass track, did the long jump and through a large metal ball called a “shot” as far as we could which in my case was barley enough to avoid crushing my own toes.

After the sports there was the living hell of the changing rooms and that smell of sweat and fear that I will never forget. Even today if I get lost on the ship and accidentally end up in the gym I pass through the dressing rooms and remember the school bullies David Pattern and Shane Ibrahim flicking all us with wet towels and laughing at the size of our…………….ummmmmmmmmm…………….well you know. I am sure that David and Shane are now two up standing pillars of society holding down great jobs as Bank Robbers or Lawyers.

I have often wondered what I would do if I saw them today? They gave me and many others such hellish times but I guess that was 30-something years ago and if I saw them now I would probably shake their hand, wish them well and then kick them both in the Albert Halls.

Why, I here you cry is he rambling on about his school days? …………… ahhhhhhhhh …………….good question and I will answer it in a minute, however, let’s chat about today.

Today, (Tuesday) the Carnival Imagination is sailing through calm blue Caribbean waters heading to Grand Turk. Heidi and I awoke early this morning and after I was scolded for leaving a ring of toothpaste around the sink the night before we headed for breakfast.

Pictures from the Carnival Imagination

For the last week or so and as I have reported I have been eating All Bran for breakfast and also as I may have mentioned and in my continuing quest to tell you everything …………….it has effected me in ways that are not pleasant. All Bran is good for you I am told by the wife and the TV commercial. Now, maybe it is healthier than eating bagels and bacon each morning. This combination however does not result in my bottom feeling its having fun with a piece of bubble gum and the popping noises that follow are a prelude to me depositing something that looks like large snake in the toilet …………………today I found out why.

Have a look at a box of All Bran……………go on…………….just for me………………look at the very small print on the side of the box………..and you will see a warning that tells you that eating All Bran may cause excessive gas and abnormal stool production ……………….. I can eat jelly beans if I want that and they don’t taste like elephant scrotum. All Bran is health food………….well you ask anyone who is standing 20 feet near me after I have eaten a box if they think it’s healthy………………….probably not.

After breakfast we went to one of the most popular areas on the vessel …………………. Carnival WaterWorks. This amazing array of slides and water tunnels is the first thing you notice when you drive over the bridge in the port of Miami…………….it looks amazing and by 10 am this morning it was in full use. Screams of delight can be heard as adults and children alike fly down or through the slides and tubes into the water below. The tube slide seemed to be the most popular while the splash area for the younger kids seemed to produce smiles and giggles on young faces that should adorn the front pages of our brochures…………this was what “Fun Ship” family cruising is all about.

Pictures from the Carnival Imagination

While Heidi took some photos a lady came and stood next to me and without knowing who I was started a conversation with “Isn’t this great?”…………..for a minute I thought she meant the fact that she was standing next to me as my taught muscular frame shimmered in the sun ………..but I soon realized she was talking about WaterWorks. I replied “Yes” and noticed that two young kids aged between 8 and 12 were waving at her as they shot down one of the slides. Asking her if they were hers she told me they were and we chatted for a while.

Now, before I go on I am very conscious that in today’s world before mentioning kids names and posting photos etc we must have permission and the reasons are obvious. Therefore, before I continue I want to thank Mrs.Reeman and her two wonderful children Zack and Ruth.

Pictures from the Carnival Imagination

The Reemans are from New Jersey, she did tell me the town but I didn’t quite get it ………. it sounded like Hulk Hogan but I know although he is a big guy he is not a town ………….. anyway, they are from New Jersey and chose this ship because their travel agent had recommended the ship as the best value for families…………….bravo.

Anyway, they loved the ship and the kids were having the time of their lives especially coming from cold weather while Dad was in the Spa having a massage. I asked Mum if the kids were off school and now it will become clear as to my opening volley about my school days because Zack and Ruth are home schooled. Now, I admitted to my new friend that I had no idea what this meant or entailed and she seemed more than happy to tell me.

Pictures from the Carnival Imagination

Basically, Mrs.Reeman is a schoolteacher and her husband is an Air Traffic Controller at a busy airport somewhere in New York…..I forget which one. Anyway, Mrs. Reeman told me how disillusioned she had become with the school system both as a teacher and as a parent. This, coupled with the fact that her husband was working shift hours and therefore often never saw the kids resulted in her leaving her job, pulling the children out of school and teaching them from home.

This was very interesting to me and I would have loved to have talked to her more about this but, unfortunately, one of her kids demanded her time and she left not before I quickly explained about my blog thingy and asked her kind permission to mention her and her family in it…………….she agreed 100% which was very nice.

Pictures from the Carnival Imagination

So, as I walked to George the Cruise Director’s travel talk I was left to ponder the benefits of home schooling …………….does it work?……………..would I have been a better student if I had been taught at home?………..well, probably not. One thing struck me though and that was the fact that here was a Mum who was providing them with an education and they must have been doing well because as a reward they brought them to this fantastic ship to enjoy our evolutions of fantastic family fun.

Pictures from the Carnival Imagination

One last thing before I go and get ready for formal night………………… WaterWorks was busy all day and full of laughter. Now, I wonder if the same can be said for ……..oh. ………I don’t know………a ummmmmmmm………….climbing wall. Seeing someone using it is rarer than seeing a photo of Britney Spears where she doesn’t looked like she has drunk five vats of Vodka ……….what a choice……….water park fun or climbing a fake wall in 100 degree temperatures …………………………….maybe if they had Iranian Caviar and chilled Vodka waiting for you at the top then………….

Pictures from the Carnival Imagination

More to follow but for now…………..good afternoon

Your friends

John and Heidi

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.