A Feeling Old Blog

May 15, 2008 -

John Heald

There are many signs of middle age: large tufts of hair growing out of your ears, a waistband that seems to grow each night regardless if all you have had to eat is a carrot, and an increasing bewilderment to the strange noises that younger people call “music.”
This morning however I realised without doubt that I am really old because I looked out of the window and heard my self say: “Ooh good, it’s raining.” This means you are more interested in your plants looking good than getting a tan and looking like George Hamilton yourself. 

Yes, I have a confession to make…………..I have been helping Heidi in the garden…………..I am ashamed ……………….My name is John and I am a gardener.
For 42 years I have managed to avoid anything green, both in the garden and on my dinner plate,but now for some strange reason I find myself caring if the tulips live or die.
Mainly this is because I’ve never really had a garden in the accepted sense of the word. When I lived at home my Dad who is a brilliant gardener gave us a gorgeous English country garden. However, I could not have cared less……………..and unless Dad began to grow trees from which Twix Bars grew………..I was never going to care.
Now, however, with a veritable forest growing out of my ears, I have become interested in maybe growing orchids and a small decorative hedge in there.

Heidi has always loved flowers and all things living in a garden since she was young. Me on the other hand………well…………..the only things I liked in the garden were things that could be burnt to death using the sun and an old magnifying glass.

A few weeks ago however as she was puttering around in the garden and I was bored…………went out to see her…………..and she asked me to help plant some bulbs…………and suddenly and without warning…………they became my bulbs…………it was my patch of the garden. Each night I would stand watering the things and even woke up one night because I thought I heard a fox in the garden and was ready to attack it with my cricket bat in case it was digging up my beloved tulips and my iris plant.
I have also found myself reading the gardening section of the Sunday newspaper which before my new found interest would only get used if we ran out of toilet paper.
For instance, this last Sunday I read about the olive trees of southern Italy. In the war so many were chopped down for firewood that the government imposed a ban, saying they could not be uprooted without permission from Mussolini.

Apparently though everyone in the UK wants an olive tree, and people here are paying up to £3,500 for a “gnarled designer” tree to enliven their Munich roof terrace. 
What’s the point of paying £3,500 for something that I guarantee will be dead within six months? This is the one thing I’ve learnt during my short spell as a gardener: everything dies. Two weeks ago Heidi spent £100 on a selection of plants to make the barn look “summery.”
Before we went on holiday we gave them a good watering and went on our three day break safe in the knowledge that  they would not go thirsty.

We came home three days later and it looked as if the Royal Air Force had been through the place with some Agent Orange and napalm. “You should have left the windows open,” said Heidi as she mourned the loss of her beloved thingies. So you leave the windows open, which means your plants survive, but, sadly, your DVD player and plasma screen do not. because someone with a hoodie and baggy pants will walk in and help themselves……….the neighbours will not be able to give a description of the bugger that robbed your house except that he was wearing Calvin Klein underwear………………………I hate those baggy pants.
We also bought some plants with red flowers (can’t remember the name) which stood tall and so erect that they seemed to have been fertilised with Viagra. However, after one day in the sunshine they had keeled over and nothing I have tried will make them stand up again. I’ve watered them, not watered them, read them poetry, played them Mariah Carey records and shown them pictures of Uma Thurman naked…………..but nothing happens……………..except I feel sad……………………and because I now like gardening……….I feel old and realise I am just a few years away from watching the Weather Channel all day……………………..that’s MTV for old people.
I am writing this blog thingy today at 11:00am. In an hour or so I will drive Heidi to the airport where she will fly to Holland for a last visit with her Mum before we return to work. She will return on Tuesday.
Today is her Dad’s birthday so she is a little sad as am I. We both miss him very very much. When I first met Heidi’s Dad it was his birthday as well so this day is something I will always remember.

I had been dating Heidi for a month or so and had flown to Holland to meet the parents. This as we all know is a nervous time for everyone and brown pants were the order of the day. However, I had nothing to be nervous about as Joop and I became great friends who shared a love of football, cigars and of course Heidi……………as I said…………..we all miss him very much.
The last few days have been very busy in fact I feel like I have worked harder on vacation that when I am on the ship. Still, I have some great interviews coming your way next week. These include three Captains, a Hotel Director and one of the most famous celebrity chef’s in the world. Towards the end of next week we will also have an exclusive interview with the interior designer of the Carnival Splendor, the incomparable Joe Farcus…………….so please…………..keep reading.
Talking of the Carnival Splendor I am heading to Heathrow airport next week with the agent we will be using for transfers to and from the ship. We will look at how we will meet and greet guests and what will happen with their luggage. We will also be setting this up for Gatwick airport as well. Then it will be off to the port of Dover to get things ready for the arrival of the splendiderous (I know that’s not a real word) Carnival Splendor.
So, I feel old today and hopefully my pending mega diet will breathe new life into me. However there is no escaping getting old. It seems just yesterday that I was enjoying these English early summer days at school. I was sitting in the back of the class ignoring what Mrs. Poole my math teacher was saying and looking forward to my English lesson with Miss Gregson ………….not because I liked English but because she looked like Bo Derek.

I remember spending those long, warm evenings listening to those long, warm songs on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album.

One of the tracks seemed to suggest that time passed quickly and that unless I got out of my chair, took off my Akai headphones and did something with my life, 10 years would flash past and I’d still be “kicking around on a piece of ground in my home town, waiting for someone or something to show me the way-e-yay.”

No it wouldn’t…………….I would be young forever.

However, when you get to 40, everything changes. Time straps a F16 jet engine onto its back, lights the afterburners and sets off at mach 3.

This was hammered home last night when Heidi insisted that I had been working all day and she hadn’t seen me and that we were going to get in the car and drive over to have a drink with Alan and his wife Alison at a nearby country pub.
Alan and I used to go there a lot, in the late ‘80s, which, we both agreed, seemed like only yesterday. That’s strange, isn’t it? No one ever says when they’re 18: “It only seems like yesterday that I was 8.”

When I was 20, Alan, Paul, Timmy and Carl and I went to this pub every Friday night and every Sunday lunchtime. Nothing ever happened. Nothing ever changed. But then, all hell broke loose. One of us moved to Australia, I went to live on a ship, one had major surgery,  and one got divorced and now lives with his “partner” Greg in California.
A few years ago we all had a reunion there. When we were young we left because we had run out of money or when we had exhausted the possibility of meeting any women………..Paul never tried as hard as the rest of us and considering he now lives with a man called Greg I understand why. We would all leave drunk and happy and if we were in bed at 3:00am it would be considered an early night.

Well, we organized a reunion in 2003 and we all met at our favorite pub…………….except we all left at 11:00pm because………………we were all tired………………..how sad is that.
In the olden days you got married in your teens, had children in your twenties, made a few dollars in your thirties, enjoyed it in your forties and fifties and then retired in your sixties.

Now, you do nothing in your teens, nothing in your twenties and by the time you’re 40 you’re on the employment scrapheap, an overweight gardening expert with three chins and man-breasts.
Your old mate John and the ever green 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.