Saturday Nights Alright

April 26, 2008 -

John Heald

I remember Saturday nights from my teenage years being exciting times. I would start getting ready about 7 pm and where as now I can complete the three “S’s” in 30 minutes back in the days when personal grooming was so important it would take considerably longer. I concentrated on what to wear which considering I had three shirts and two pairs of trousers to choose from was not difficult. Then it was the hair…………that had to be just right. Up until 1996 I had beautiful dark hair and then one morning a few months into the Carnival Destiny’s inaugural season I woke up…………..looked in the mirror…………and a pudgy Richard Gere was staring back at me.

Once my hair was right, I made sure I had a £5 in my pocket (usually lent to me by Mum or Dad) and then right at 8:30pm Alan’s shiny blue Ford Capri would pull up outside the house accompanied by The Pet Shop Boys or The Communards blaring from the Eight Track Stereo.

Every Saturday night always started off full of hope that tonight ………………a girl would find me attractive………………tonight we would not be ignored by anything in a skirt …………. tonight …………..the evening would end with a trip down lovers lane and not end with Alan and I sharing a late night Kebab………………….we ate a lot of Kebabs.

I have mentioned some of the Saturday night disasters before and as I sit here on this Saturday night it feels just like yesterday that I would leave from my Mum and Dad’s house looking for love. Each night we would stand at the bar nursing our drinks amazed at all the beautiful women. We both had our goals…………I wanted to meet a blonde with blue eyes while Alan was very much into brunettes with the deep brown eyes…………….that of course was at the beginning of the evening and as closing time approached our standards had slipped a little and both us would have been happy with a girl with no hair, one blue eye and one red eye.

Of course at the end of Saturday nights as we discussed our failure over a Kebab it was never our fault we had left The Cliff alone once again. Whereas at the start of the evening we had marveled at the ladies’ beauty by the end of the night the reason Alan and I were alone again was that every girl in the bar looked like Joan Rivers.

There is no such thing of course as a Saturday night when you work on a cruise ship. Oh, you may be aware that it is Saturday but as far as there being a weekend……..well……….it’s just the same as any other day or even busier if it is debarkation/embarkation day. Today though for the Carnival Freedom it is a special Saturday as the ship begins its trans-Atlantic cruise. I had truly hoped to join in Portugal but with all the extra things going on I decided that I must have three weeks rest before I join the Carnival Splendor. I know many of the bloggers are sailing and I wish them all a wonderful time onboard.

One Saturday night Alan and I had witnessed a miracle, one so astonishing that the bar we were in called The Cliff went silent…………everyone was in disbelief…………..why…………well two girls had walked over to Alan and I………………met us………….and as yet hadn’t left…………………….. Or thrown up.

I still remember their names …………..Paula and Sarah. Now, you have to remember that Alan and I had little practice in the art of “the chat up” and if girls did talk to us they usually dropped dead from boredom after just a few minutes.

I was shy…………….yes……………I know you all went……………… “no way”………….but I was and I choose my words very carefully where as Alan would get very nervous and talk non stop about anything he could think of………………….and I as always had to be on my toes. Usually the girls ……………..I say usually as though this happened every night when in fact it is more common to see a guest under 20 climbing one of those stupid walls then girls talking to us………………….anyway when and if they did the question “what do you do?” was often asked. At the time that this story takes place we were both 18.

I was working in London for Lloyds and Alan was at a local bank ……………….we both had boring jobs. So Alan would always want to spice up our lives and in the past we have been Vets, Trainee Pilots and Submariners………………however when Sarah and Paula asked “what do you do ” Alan decided to tell them that we were both at medical school and were going to be Doctors.

The girls seemed very impressed by this and I clearly remember Sarah asking me all sorts of questions about her aches and pains and one hour later Saturday night had turned out alright (as Elton John once sang) as the girls were still with us and I was living in the hope that Paula may allow me Dr. John to examine her later in the back seat of the Ford Capri.

My hope of Paula having a close encounter with Dr.Kildare was still burning brightly as all four of us walked back to the car………………we had been invited back to the girls flat (apartment) and I was as excited as that Italian actor who won an Oscar a few years ago and leapt around jumping for joy.

However, my friend Murphy who has spent so much time with me the past few months was with me back in the early eighties as well because as we reached the car and the back seat beckoned …………………….. Alan couldn’t find his car key.

At first I thought he was joking but then I saw the serious look on his face that told me we were in the stuff that had previously just hit the fan. He looked everywhere, he even ran back to The Cliff where he looked in every corner and crack to see if he could find it, but it had vanished.

It was during the time that Alan was mincing about at the Cliff trying to find the key that would open the door to heaven that the girls decided that the two junior Doctors were in fact in need of medication themselves and realizing that there was no ride home for them here……………….they buggered off.

Alan returned…………….keyless…………….and asked me where the girls where……………I told them they had left and you won’t believe this………………….he gave me a bollocking…………what was I supposed to do……………tie them to a lamppost?………..sing Wham’s greatest hits?…………….we argued for a few moments blaming each other and then we both realized that we couldn’t get into the car………………………….and that was the end of the evening……………………..Alan called his Dad to come with the spare key and then it was my turn to call Dad who came to pick up his 18 year old son ……………..my Saturday night was ruined ……………….. and I didn’t even get a Kebab.

Ok, Paula may have had legs that could have supported an Oil Rig …………..she may have had more spots than a Cheetah with the measles…………..but she would have been mine …………. and………………….Paula was the prettier of the two…………….Alan had the ugly one.

This, and many other Saturdays like them was one of the reasons I gave up my job in the City of London and joined Carnival Cruise Lines in 1987. By then every girl in my home town had ignored me and Alan and I spent so much time alone………standing at bars some people thought we were…………….well…………..you know. The final straw came when Alan and I went to a big nightclub called TOTS (Talk of the South)……………….it was ladies night………………300 girls would be there…………….many from out of town……………this was good as most of them had never met us.

We arrived and the place was heaving……….surely not even we could fail. Things were going well, girls were dancing…….some even smiling and looking at us……………in fact a group of gorgeous girls were looking at us both and laughing……………wow……………..this could be fantastic……….so I smiled and waved back…………..as did Alan………………it was then that I noticed they were not laughing with us but at us…………….in fact a few were pointing towards us and one was laughing hysterically…………….I couldn’t figure out why………….I looked at Alan to mention what was happening when I saw what had reduced them to hysterics……………….my mate Alan ………………… had removed his Jacket………………to reveal …………………….a T Shirt……………………with ……………The Smurfs on it……………he was 19 years old.

So, tomorrow morning I will drive myself to Heathrow Airport where American Airlines will fly me to Los Angeles, California. This will be my first ever visit to California and unfortunately I will get to see my room at the Long Beach Hyatt Regency and the Carnival Paradise as Monday evening I return.

I am going to meet a lady called Lauren who all her life dreamed of being a Cruise Director.

Well, on Monday her dream will come true as for a few hours she will be the Cruise Director of the beautiful Carnival Paradise. Her dream will be filmed by the USA network and of course I will let you all know when the program goes out plus I will take my trusty raspberry along so I can send one or two mini raspberry blogs plus a full report on Wednesday as I have a feeling on Tuesday I may be rather jet lagged……………….anyway, I will write as often as I can and even though its two long flights in two days……………….if I can help this ladies dream come true then its a small price to pay.

So, it is time to pack. The hardest thing about this trip is of course that Heidi will not be with me and Monday is her birthday. She won’t have her Dad and she won’t have me……….but she will be with her Mum which is important to them both.

As much as Alan and I had many disastrous Saturday nights I wouldn’t have missed them for the world. However it was just after the Smurf T Shirt incident that I applied to Carnival Cruise Lines and flew to Miami…………………it had come down to two choices……………fly to America and meet women………………..or……………..stay in the UK……………..and marry Alan.

Goodnight

Your friends
John and Heidi……………and Alan

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.