Fountains of Space

May 21, 2008 -

John Heald

Carnival Corporation finally has some competition to be concerned about……………’s a new cruise line………………..they will only have one ship………………..but that ship will take you to outer space. Yep, today, Richard Branson the multi zillionaire owner of Virgins and other things confirmed that his spacecraft plane thingy will take ordinary people like me and you for a cruise around the Milky Way and back……………………….how fantastic. The company will be called Virgin Galactic and passengers like George Hamilton and Madonna will pay just $200,000 for a three-hour trip ……………… space ………….the final frontier.

Thirty-one years ago, the Voyager spacecraft were launched. Their mission was to head straight out from Earth into deep space, where they would broadcast songs by whales, messages from Jimmy Carter and copies of The Tonight Show, in the hope than an alien would drop by for a Big Mac and a Budweiser
Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are still out there somewhere and surely it is just a matter of time before something from an alien world that looks like a cross between Mr. Spock and Dennis Rodman land there ship in the middle of Central Park………………….it’s all very exciting.

However, I foresee a problem. By the time these tiny craft meet up with the inhabitants of the planet Zog things will have changed slightly back on good old planet Earth.

Jimmy Carter will be dead and will have been replaced by President Leonardo De Crapio, Whales will be extinct and anyone found eating a Big Mac or any red meat or drinking alcohol will be sent to the world’s largest prison…………Arkansas.

Therefore any self respecting green-blooded three-headed Zogridian who has traveled billions of miles to converse with the great mind of President Carter while enjoying a Big Mac and a Bud and then sharing a song with Willy the Whale will be very upset they have all buggered off………………and being upset the Zogridian will probably destroy Earth with a plasma death ray gun thingy.

There are talks about sending Men to Mars and beyond but what’s the point. If there is life out there it’s probably a few miles south of Mars.

Think about it. If we’d put a 20-year-old man on Voyager, he’d now be 60 and he’d still be in our own solar thingy. By the time he reached the Planet Zog located in the next solar thingy he (or she) would be 20,000 years old or to put it another way…………..stone dead.

But, we must not give up.

Should explain at this point that I’m a space nut? When I see photographs of other planets the hairs on my back and my bottom stand on end. It’s William Shatner’s fault you know. Ever since I was a wee lad I would watch Jim Kirk and wonder if anyone could possibly overact more than he and if his acting style was a result of permanent constipation ……….. and I watched Star Trek…………….and I believed………….I truly felt that we were not alone……………..except on Saturday nights when I really was alone because I was an alien life form to every girl in Essex.

I hope someone, somewhere is working on putting the excitement back into space exploration and we all will wake up at 3 am so not to miss the launch of a space craft rather than as we do now ignore this completely and instead of watching the Shuttle blast into space we watch Simon Cowell telling the world they are crap and he isn’t on American Idol.

We’ve explored our own world. We’ve climbed the highest mountains, explored the harshest deserts and plumbed the deepest oceans. And now it’s time to quench our thirst for knowledge by reaching for the stars……………………if I had $200,000 I would be on that Virgin Galactic flight sitting next to George Hamilton.

OK, I mentioned the other day that my sister Sue Drip broke her ankle and here then is her account of how the dozy cow managed to end up in plaster.

Howdy partners …
I sit here typing with one leg up on the desk and I’m not even going to comment on my crutch.  Yes I have a broken ankle.  I am a series of unfortunate accidents at the moment and this freak occurrence you couldn’t make up … I am my brother’s sister that’s for sure.
I have to set the scene of how I look right now … I am at work … Florescent green cast propped up on the desk next to the Financial Times and my posh Mont Blanc pen my brother bought me. I am  trying to look in some way professional as I kick off a flip flop and look at my pink toe nails … shocking ! My eyes have bigger bags under them than Victoria Beckham on a shopping trip to Gucci  as I cannot get comfy at night and wake myself up every 20 mins. My crutches are up against the wall behind me like Tiny Tim from ‘A Christmas Carol’ and my Jimmy Choo handbag is now a handy rucksack the size of a Himalayan Sherpa’s – yet is  surprisingly versatile girls, with pockets for everything !!!!

I now have anything I need  within arms reach, water, food, Hello Magazine and only have to get out of my seat  to visit the ladies room, a marathon event, which takes 40 mins at a time as I negotiate marble floors, heavy doors and playing with my hair in the mirror propped up against the sink for 38 mins !

Now I have broken an ankle before about 8 years ago when I was still working in London and had already forgotten what a nightmare it is  getting around or doing anything  when you are in plaster. That last time I was visiting the ER, I had been paintballing. I am not sure what it’s called in the US but it’s basically when everyone dresses up in army fatigues and plays war games in the woods shooting pellets of paint at each other. Most of the boys enjoyed shooting each other in the butt at close range for the first 30 mins of the day in hysterical laughter until they realised these things really do hurt and decided then to play nice and take it a lot more seriously.  My morning came to a close when my foot got caught in a rabbit hole and I carried on running. So I hobbled back to camp where my husband informed me not to be such a girl and “run it off”. So I spent the next 4 hours sitting in a trench shooting anything that moved and feeling abit nauseous. It wasn’t until I woke up the next morning that I thought this could be quite serious. My ankle was the size of an Indian elephants and I screamed like vampire victim in a bad Vincent Price movie if air even circulated around it too fast. My husband waved me good-bye as he sped off to Sunday morning soccer and my daddy saved the day and whisked me to the hospital.

This time it was even sillier … No I wasn’t drunk … No I have not be under performing at work ….and yes it was my bosses Range Rover Sport that ran over my foot, snapped my shoes and sent me for my first trip to a Hong Kong hospital.  

Now in the UK in an emergency you use the NHS (National Health Service) which is free – here like the US,  we pay for health care. Being a new patient I had a whole list of forms to fill in and in the throws of agony I was writing out my name, age, blood group, religion and what level of schooling I had reached !!! What the heck was that all about  ?? How many exams I had got 20 years ago when I was at school ??? How on earth is that going to diagnose my injury … ?? Perhaps if I had a masters degree in medicine they then would  realise they couldn’t sting me for extra costs of a sedan chair and two strapping men to carry me or if I was very very stupid they could just show me how to get out of a car and not get run over by it….. Hmmmmm.

So anyway, I left the hospital in a wheelchair armed to the back teeth with enough drugs to keep Aerosmith happy for a year. A quick tip here from the patient – when the doctor tells you to take pain-killers with food,  there is a very good reason why …. I wondered around my apartment looking like Ozzy Osboune for 2 days talking to imaginary friends and drifting in an out of sanity … And then was very very sick,  so much so my stomach lining made a guest appearance ! So heed my warning – these doctor folk seem to know what they’re talking about . Too much information …. ?? Sorry.

So now I am this liability that hops around Hong Kong.  People stare and turn their backs in case, god forbid,  I need help .  I get put in the freight elevator with the rubbish, and I was asked at the theatre to wait until everyone had left before I decided to make my disabled exit .   Anywhere I visit the security guards usher me past bewildered people and make crowds part as if I am the size of a blue whale so I can get through ‘unharmed’ or without harming anyone else. When it was raining today one guard had a look of panic as I stood at the top of  the escalators …. I contemplated coming down on my butt but as I still had a shred of dignity left I opted once again for the service elevator along with 150 empty water containers ! 

So that’s me for the next 6 weeks … and I know you were all worried but  it’s fine the Range Rover escaped unscathed !  
Until next time

I would not be surprised if she gets fired for being clumsy and in her current state I have suggested she moves to America and gets a job at…………….I HOP.

I would like to share with you the thoughts of Linda. She is a regular commentator on this blog thingy and I wanted to share her thoughts of her recent cruise with you all.

Dear John:
Just a note to let you know some of the wonderful things that happened on our Legend cruise that I don’t talk about in public.
In 2003, when Funship Freddie was introduced, we thought we would have to stop cruising.  DJ’s autism causes him to have severe panic attacks around Mascots.  Since Freddie is only out in public about 30 minutes a day,  Vicki Freed came up with the idea of having the CD of each ship send us Freddie’s schedule just before we cruise with them.  That way, DJ simply avoids where Freddie is going to be.  This system has worked very well for the past 5 years.  Of course, we understand that there can be some unscheduled appearances…but for the most part…we have avoided Freddie. 
And since DJ loves to go to the Past Cruiser’s Parties to clap for the ships he has been on, in the past, CDs have just kept Freddie to one side of the theater or just not had Freddie show up at that party.    Over the years, DJ has learned to compensate (just like he will have to in life).  While he still has panic attacks, he has learned to safely remove himself from the situation. 
When we sailed on the Victory in September, Freddie got called home and since the Victory was headed to dry dock the next week, Malcolm elected not to replace him.  So that cruise was Freddie Free. 
We have never asked for that and certainly would never expect that.  However, on this Legend cruise, apparently they were inbetween “Freddies”….so Jen elected not to replace him until after we had sailed.
We certainly appreciate Jen thinking of DJ.  Just like on the Victory, if someone had asked to see Freddie…they were set up to have a private meeting at Camp Carnival where DJ never goes.
Of course, we never discuss this with other cruisers, when there hasn’t been a Freddie on board.
The second thing that made this cruise fabulous was that I got to be CHER in the Legend Show.
Rozwin (karaoke host) and I spent every evening have a blast in karaoke.  He is yet another one of my “cruise sons” now.   I wasn’t going to be in the Legends Show this time, because I have already done it 4 times and wanted others to have the opportunity.  And sure enough, we had all first time cruisers doing the women parts.  One lady said it was a dream come true!!!
Half way through the cruise, Brad (ACD who usually does Cher) injured his knee.  He asked me if I would be Cher, since I had done the show many times and knew the routine.  Roz and I kept it a secret.  David did not even know until  I appeared on stage.  Only my son Josh knew, because he was Ricky Martin and heard us singing through the song after rehearsal.    I learned all the moves.  I spun him around, pulled off his wig, drug him across the stage etc.  We had a BLAST!!!
But the hit of the cruise was Mr. Harris. I sang God Bless the USA in karaoke on night…and about 2 minutes later, this older gentleman came down and hugged me to hard I could not breathe. And with tears in his eyes, he told me how much I had touched him with my song. Come to find out, he was one of 10 EX POWs sailing together on this cruise from various wars. He was from WWII. But they were from Korea, WWII and Vietnam. Mr. Harris and his wife invited our family to attend their meeting the next day and we got the opportunity to visit with them for an hour and get pictures. It was so touching!!!
Wait staff was PERFECT.  Cabin Steward was PERFECT.   Maitre D’ had  a quiet table by the door for DJ.  (With his autism, he is uncomfortable eating with strangers that are at his table and being by the door in that Private Club was PERFECT.)
The staff and crew were some of the most upbeat and fun group we have sailed with.  Everyone was so relaxed and friendly.   It was a great overall mood on the ship!!!
Clifton (solo in the Atlantic Lounge) and Michael in the Casino were both excellent. 
Jen, Bonnie, Brad and Kevin all gelled so well. 
David got to see some new shows that he had never seen.  Josh won 3 Ships on a Stick.
He won the Who Wants to be a Millionaire, one trivia game and Jen’s TV Triva Show.
DJ had a blast with Jessen in Club O2.  With his autism, Club O2 really gives DJ a chance to be just a normal teenager for a whole week.  Since we cruise when school is in session, there are very few kids and they are usually homeschooled just like DJ.  And the kids have always been very kind to DJ. 
The downside to not cruising in the summer is that we have to wait until Sept 1st for our next cruise out of Galveston on the Ecstasy. 
Like I said on the blog…this is why it was a WOW cruise!!!
Linda (Mom of DJ)

Thank you Linda for that heartfelt letter. I know how much you love Carnival and how much you love DJ and having met you I know you to be a wonderful and caring person. Thank you for allowing us to read your beautiful words and congratulations to all the Carnival staff you mentioned.

One thing is for certain. Having seen these and all the comments that you write that this blog thingy is a great media concept…………..not because I am writing it but because someone from the company you all care about and spend your valuable vacation money on is at the other end listening to you………………….the more I continue with this blog the more I would encourage all the Carnival Corporation Presidents to look at this media concept and find a way to bring back the personal touch.

Well, Heidi is back tomorrow and then we are off on Friday to visit the Port of Dover. The final journey we have is to Manchester where we will join two friends for dinner. These friends are nice people but as cheap as chips and therefore I already know that when the bill comes for dinner my friend will do his YMCA impression as he looks for his wallet.

Now, the last time I went for dinner in Manchester it was dreadful. We went to one of this very gauche new hip restaurants a few years ago. I will not mention the famous person whose restaurant it was and I am certainly not a food critic but it was dreadful.

It was the place to be “seen” and it was full of women in tight dripping in diamonds and botox and loud men with watches the size of Big Ben on their wrists…………….and it was so loud……….I could hardly hear myself fart.

I knew this was not the place for me when the man on the next table decided that what he’d really like for a appetizer was his girlfriend and set about eating her face

The real puzzler was the way the main courses and the desserts seemed to have been mixed together. So the roast lamb came with hazelnuts and chocolate soufflé, the pork came with peaches, and the prime rib with beetroot flavored cheesecake. . The deserts were the same and I ignored the salmon-flavored ice cream.

Anyway, it will be nice and I am sure we will have fun……………no more big meals for me though……………June 1 is just around the corner.

Well, following on from my rant about Steve the Thug winning the lottery last week I bought a ticket for this week’s prize of £7 million ($14 million)……………… chances of winning are though obviously as small as a supermodels bottom. In the UK the money spent on purchasing lottery tickets usually goes to worthy causes however I am told that much of the coming years lottery funds will go toward supporting the 2012 Olympics that will be held in London…………….”Ahhhh, good,” I said to myself………….that’s nice ………. money to improve athletes training facilities to insure that the UK wins at least one bronze medal…………….

However my joy at having personally contributed to making sure the next 100 meter Olympic champion was a Brit…………was short lived…………..the lottery money is going to the Olympic Committee to build a giant fountain in front of the Stadium………….I am paying for a fountain………..ahhh…………some of you may say…………that’s good because fountains are beautiful………me……..well I just don’t understand the fountain thing at all.

Think of Vienna where Evian water gushes from every hole in every paving stone, or Paris where giant cannons fire trillions of gallons into a frenzy of rainbows under the Eiffel Tower……………of course they can do that in Paris as there will never be a water shortage as no bugger takes a bath on days that end in a Y.

I spoke to a friend of mine recently who just stayed in Dubai at the seven-star Burj Al Arab. It’s the best hotel in the world, is made from solid gold and platinum and has rooms the size of Iowa. One of the restaurants is underwater and can only be reached by the hotels submarine and the views are so spectacular from the top floor restaurant you can see the QE2…………..and she’s still in Southampton.
However, my boxing hard man of a mate Danny Salmon who has spared with Mike Tyson and eaten lesser men for breakfast………..well………….all he could talk about following his stay in the world’s most unique hotel………………….was the bloody fountain in the lobby.

So, the £3 I spent on lottery tickets will help build a big girly fountain that will obviously be once all the running and jumping is over…………all the people will remember about the 2012 London Olympics is my fountain.

Finally…………..a sad note to finish with. I have decided that after a few weeks of trying ………I hate gardening. Flowers are complete bastards. They do nothing for 50 weeks a year and if you are lucky and you haven’t planted them upside down they flower for two weeks and die………………just like my tulips…………….they are dead……………I did everything they asked of me. I watered them, I moved dirt from one place to another and showed them nothing but love and affection……………but they couldn’t have cared less and buggered off to the great tulip field in the sky.

So, I have decided to get rid of all the flowers in our garden and just erect a bloody big fountain. Not one of those ones with a young boy peeing gently into the pool but a huge Niagara or Viagra fountain gushing gallons of water out of the mouth of  big breasted Sumo Wrestler ………………maybe I can get the lottery to pay for it.
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.