Time on my hands

June 4, 2008 -

John Heald

There are times to be grumpy and today, time is the reason I am grumpy. First of all if someone offers you a free vacation staying at the Star Presidente Hotel in Genoa, Italy or a weeks camping on the Kashmir boarder……………….take the camping trip. Now, there may be a chance that while you are pitching your tent that the Indian and Pakistan armies who spend each and every day taking pot shots at each other with tanks may drop the odd shell on you………………….but at least you have a chance of getting something to eat and drink.

Honestly, its incredible…………this hotel has a huge sign hanging outside with four huge gold stars on it……………one for every person who works here.

Heidi and I went for breakfast this morning and I dared to order an espresso. The waiter looked at me as though I had just ordered baboon on toast and even made a clucking noise with his lips. Well of he went…………….to Colombia to get the sodding coffee as it took 15 minutes before he arrived back to the table with my tiny drop of coffee. The thing is there is hardly anyone staying here and at breakfast we were the only ones there — apart from one very timid-looking Japanese couple who had probably asked the waiter for something and had been there waiting for it since 2005.

I would have looked at my watch to see exactly how long I had been waiting but had to resort to the clock on my raspberry……………and that made me very sad.

After many years of faithful loving service, my watch has gone wrong. It just chooses random moments of the day to work and that just won’t do. Now, Heidi will tell you that there is no point in me having a watch as time keeping is not one of my strongest attributes. However, I love this watch. I saved up hard earned money to buy my Audermars Piget master time piece that now despite the loving care and attention I have given it has decided to just stop working……………….this is annoying especially as I shall now have to go to a shop and buy a replacement.

Yes, I know I could send it to the menders but as I cant even get an Italian waiter to get me a bloody coffee how the heck am I going to get someone here to understand me that I want him to repair my watch?

However, I need a watch, how the heck am I going to tell time?……..Use the moon? For me, going around without a watch is worse than going around with my trouser zip open.

It also brings me on to the biggest problem I’ve found in my quest to find a new timepiece. There’s a world of choice out there but everything is unbelievably expensive and fitted with a whole host of features that no one could possibly ever need.

I have flown many times across the Atlantic but at no point in the 9-hour flight did I think: “Damn. I wish my watch had an altimeter because then I could see how far from the ground I am.”…………….That’s the pilot’s job………….Let me sit here and enjoy my Diet Coke and breathe in other peoples farts.

You might think, then, that my demands are simple. I don’t want my new watch to open bottles. I don’t want it to double up as a device to remove nose hair

I just want something that tells the time, not in Hong Kong or St. Tropez, but here, now, clearly and with no fuss.

However, in recent months someone has decided that the watch says something about the man. And that having the right timepiece is just as important as having an Italian designer suit, your hair designed by someone called Sergio and a watch that is advertised by a supermodel, a tennis player, a racecar driver or David bloody Beckham.

Then we have my mate Danny, who has a collection of watches. Yes, a collection. But despite this he has just spent thousands of pounds on a watch made by Frank Muller. And I can’t see why.

Except of course, I can. Seiko can sell you a reliable watch that has a backlight for the hard of seeing, a compass, a stopwatch and a built in AK 47 all for $49.99. And that’s because the badge says Seiko. Which is another way of saying that you have no style, no sense of cool and that you cruise on RCI.

To justify the enormous prices charged these days, watchmakers all have idiotic names, like Bleijenborgen and Ross or IWC which also makes root beer.

Then there are the watch companies who claim to make timepieces for fighter pilots and cruise ship captains. Then there is a watch company who claim to make watches for Special Forces soldiers, who need a good watch to see what time they shot Osama Bin Timex.

What’s more, all of the watch companies say they have been making watches, in shacks in the remote Swiss village of Toblerone, for the last one thousand years.

How many craftsmen are there in the mountains I wonder? Millions, by the sound of it. You see them on the watch adverts in the glossy magazines all wearing brown coats and holding a pair of tweezers used to make a watch heavier than a Cadillac for Pee Diddly to wear on his wrist.

For now though, I will have to use the raspberry to tell time and buy a watch from the gift shops onboard until I get mine repaired ….bugger.

Yesterday we all read the wonderful piece by my friend Peter Shanks describing the visit of Queen Elizabeth 2nd to see the Queen Elizabeth 2nd. I apologize but I forgot to send in the following photos showing this unique event……………so…………..better late than never…….here they are.

Not one to usually show her emotions, Queen Elizabeth is seen here smiling, content in the knowledge that her legacy and the legacy of the Windsors will sail into history thanks to the liners of Cunard. I am sure everyone at Cunard, Carnival Corporation and the Arison family must be so proud to see her Majesty smile.

These photos will be preserved and become part of royal history and of course compliment Cunard’s vast collection of their historic and proud past which now also has an exciting present and an even more exciting future. I wonder if one day Cunard will name a ship King William?

It’s another day of sitting in the hotel lobby or as Heidi and I have started calling it the Gobi Desert preparing Carnival Capers etc. Tomorrow I have a meeting at the shipyard so I will pop back onboard and snap some more photos for you all. More staff arrived today and all are excited to be part of this special event. Three more containers arrived today with the remaining scenery and costumes in them and slowly, very slowly things are starting to fall into place.

OK, its time to go. Heidi is sitting here waiting to use the lap top dancer thingy to continue making her new Carnival Capers. This works by her designing them and occasionally she will ask my opinion on scheduling and what show we should present, meal times etc etc. I am not allowed to talk to her during this process as it breaks her concentration. I know how she feels; I can’t stand it when she shouts at me through the toilet door when I am doing my number twos.

During that toilet time and now when I am waiting for her to ask me a question I read. I love reading; it stimulates me and takes my mind away from all the concerns of a new ship start up. Normally, I read the British and English language newspapers which in Naples and other European cities I have been to, are easy to find……….they may be a day old but that’s OK. Here in Genoa however it seems that nobody has heard of the English language in either spoken or written form……………..therefore I have no newspapers and have had to resort to reading Heidi’s magazines.

I like magazines. I like ones about cars and things I will never be able to afford. I like Cigar Aficionado but hate the fact that cigars are now featured in just two pages and the rest is about the world’s most pointless game…..golf.

What I don’t like are Heidi’s gossip magazines about why Jennifer Aniston is crying and that Gwyneth Paltrow has named her new baby Diet Coke. I like looking at the pictures in National Geographic magazine of people who’ve been eaten by sharks and who were lost in the jungle and had to eat their own arm.

For me, a trip to the dentist is a hideous brush with the concept of torture, pain and despair. However, what I do is get there two hours early so I can spend some time lost in a world of Vogue and Clothing for Dogs magazine. I even like to bury my nose in the spine of a magazine and take in some of the glue used to stick the free samples of crap they stick between the pages.

I love that smell, and it certainly helps at the dentist’s because by the time I actually get to the chair I’m so high there’s no need for those savage Novocain injections. He could actually cut my whole head off with a carving knife and I wouldn’t feel a thing.

However, it was while I was reading a 400-page magazine with 399 pages of advertising in it that I came across an article about the availability of Botox. Apparently it used to be available only to the rich and tanned and from private hospitals in Costa Rica ………. now……….according to the magazine it is affordable and in years to come will be sold in pots and found next to jars of mayonnaise in Publix.

Until then you can actually get a Botox thingy on cruise ships. One line (I will not mention which one) has this procedure available at their Spa. Again, I can’t say what cruise line is doing this but allegedly therapists wander the huge lines of people who are getting old and wrinkly waiting as they have been for years to get a table at one of the freestyle dining rooms……………you may have to wait forever but at least you will have lips the size of saucers by the time you get a table.

Time to go……………I think……………..as I don’t have a watch………………I am still wearing it as you will see from these photos…………..why…………well it tells the right time……..twice a day.

Here are photos of the lobby and bar………….it’s 12:35pm.

Bugger all service

John blogging

Bugger all service

A Ghost Town

Just John


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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.