An Olympic Sized Handbag

June 27, 2008 -

John Heald

The Olympics is only a few weeks away and I just can’t get excited.

I should explain at the outset that I don’t much like athletics. Running is fine when you are late for a train, or when you are seven, but the concept of running in a circle for nothing but glory seems a bit ancient to me.

Speaking of which — the javelin. In the olden days when men ate anything with four legs and Mr Smith had not yet met Mr Wesson, I should imagine that a chap with an ability to chuck a spear over a great distance would end up with many wives. But now, watching a gigantic Russian lobbing a stick is really boring……….if only they would release a herd of wild boar into the stadium and the person who speared the most wins the gold medal……………and dinner.

It’s the same with the hammer. When some enormous Neanderthal hurls it into row F of the stadium’s upper circle, do we think he is the best hammer thrower in the world? Or the best hammer thrower among those who’ve dedicated the past four years of their lives to throwing hammers? With the best will in the world, that’s not a terribly big accolade.

No matter. The Olympic Games are like Regis and Kelly. Whether you like them or not, they exist and they are popular.

Anyway, the reason I mentioning this is there is a chance that a Carnival Cruise Lines employee may in fact win a medal in the weightlifting….possibly gold….for the U.K.

Mark Felix used to be a bartender for many years with us. He is originally from the island of spice, Grenada, and now lives with his wife and ex-Youth Director Denny and two young children. Mark is, like me, all muscle and has appeared in The World’s Strongest Man contest which you may have seen on ESPN 9 at 3 am just before live women’s hockey from Belgium. I spoke to Mark yesterday and I promised to publicly wish him all the best………..he spent 11 years with Carnival and probably served you a drink and a smile…………..and if he wins………..remember I taught him everything he knows.

Well, the mood around here is one of excitement and expectation. Today, Gerry Cahill our esteemed President and really cool surfing dude will come and inspect the vessel ahead of tomorrow’s handover ceremony. I will try and ask him to say a few words if I can.

I want to thank you for all the great comments on the Carnival Dream which I have read this morning along with your oh-so-kind comments about my brief appearance on the USA network program.

I have taken the time to forward each and every comment to the offices of the senior Carnival management so they can see how excited you all are about our new vessel.

Some of the hardest working people on the ship are the cast of dancers and technicians who have been working flat out for 1 month 15 hours a day everyday to rehearse our new shows. Here are a few photos of them in a showroom that’s so beautiful they named it twice…………the Spectacular Spectacular.

Now, you are going to have to forgive me. During the next few days my blogs may take on a strange look. I may have time to write my usual drawn out long and boring rubbish or as the delivery arrives I may have to shorten what I write……..hooray I hear you cry.

However, I solemnly promise that I will write every day even if it is just a few words and I also promise some video blogs starting tomorrow as well. Before you know it I will be blogging about the guests onboard and what they are up to……… will be like old times.

As it is I am writing this blog at 6:24am as I am pretty certain that later today time will not allow me to.

I am very proud of each and every crewmember onboard the ship…………this has been a hard delivery in the sense that there is no respite between preparing the ship and welcoming guests. Today, I will thank them all over the PA system and I will also find time to walk the ship to speak to as many as I can.

The crew is the ship…..and this ship has the best ……..I am proud to work alongside them. In the next few days I will be highlighting some of them with in-depth interviews.

Well, I am tired………….I keep thinking that Monsieur Bell is going to come back. I have no symptoms but it’s always on the back of my mind. But, I am happy and content that we are ready and if we have forgotten something ……well……….we will make it up as we go along,………………’s only good news from hear on in.

Even the news on the state of the planet is cheery this week. It seems the magnetic north pole is moving away from Canada so fast it could be off the coast of Russia within 50 years. So within our lifetime the people of northern England will get regular views of the aurora borealis. Unless of course they’ve all been killed by bird flu in the meantime, which, to be honest, seems unlikely.

There’s more good news from the top of the world, too. Scientists have found that killer whales in the Arctic Ocean have overtaken polar bears to become the most contaminated creatures on earth. Analysis of their blubber has shown an extraordinarily high concentration of man-made chemicals including pesticides, PCBs and flame-retardants. This means they’ll never get a headache, never have weeds growing out of their ears and they’ll never catch fire………..there……….a happy animal story………just for Mrs. S.

It’s nearly as cheery, in fact, as the news from the medical world. Face transplants are now possible and have in fact already been carried out as I am sure you have heard………although…….it gets even better……Apparently it will soon be possible to transplant a whole head, which means I could have mine sewn on to Jessica Simpson’s body, and how much fun would that be.

However, it’s not all good news.

Every week a new survey of some kind tells us how much time we waste reading pointless e-mails or watching television or listening to automated answering machines with menus that last for days before you actually get to speak to someone………and when you do they are in India.

Recently I was told that over a lifetime the average man wastes 394 days sitting on the lavatory. That’s 56 weeks, wailed the report despairingly, though I can’t imagine why. They’re the happiest and most peaceful 56 weeks of a chap’s life. I love being on the lavatory more than I love being on holiday, and I certainly don’t consider it time wasted.

And anyway, 56 weeks is nothing compared with the amount of time I really do waste, standing outside the front door in the freezing cold waiting for Heidi to find the keys in her handbag.

That’s nothing though compared to Heidi and her mobile phone. Normally it rings for 48 hours before she finds it nestling at the bottom of her bag, underneath a receipt for something she bought in 1998.

These days, if I suspect her phone might be in her bag I write a letter instead. It’s quicker.

The American army thinks they have a tough time trying to find Osama Bin Laden, who is holed out in a cave somewhere in the mountains of Afghanistan. But really they should thank their lucky stars he didn’t choose to hide out in my wife’s handbag.

God, I’ve just thought of something. Maybe he did. Maybe he’s in there now, with his AK-47 and his video recorder. Maybe he’s using the mobile she lost two years ago to supply Al-Jazeera with news.

I read last week that women in the USA spend $350 million a year on handbags and that there’s one particular brand that has a yearlong waiting list even though it costs $7,000… Lets analyze that shall we………$7,000 ……..that’s the same price as a Ducati Motorcycle………a 7-day cruise staying in a suite….or a new nose.

What’s more, it’s said that on average women have up to 40 handbags each. To find out why, I spoke to Heidi, who reckons she has about 25. Apparently it has something to do with the seasons. She claims she couldn’t use her favourite bag in the summer because it’s made out of some cow and “would look all wrong.”

So what then? Should a summer bag be made out of Hippopotamus? Parrot? Richard Simmons? The idea that a handbag has something to do with style was backed up by a spokesman for a shoe and handbag designer company called Jimmy Moo, who said that if you have good shoes and a good bag you will look right.

Rubbish. If you are ugly and you have only one tooth there’s no handbag in the world that will mask the problem, unless you wear it over your head. And I don’t recommend that because if you put your head in a handbag it would take two years to find it again.

So what does she have in there then? Well, there’s an Eye Pod and the aforementioned phone that even though the ring tone is the entire London Symphony Orchestra playing the 1812 Overture complete with Cannons she never bloody hears… Then there is make up ……..enough to supply every extra from Braveheart with lipstick and zit cream. She also has chewing gum, mints, two pairs of sunglasses and mysteriously some tape and scissors. I asked her why she had these and she said “you never know when I might need them”……so does that mean she has other things in there she might need but never uses….a tin of tuna, an electric drill………incontinence pants?

I genuinely don’t understand this need to carry everything you’ve ever owned around with you at all times…

When I go out I take keys for the house, keys for the car, a telephone, a couple of credit cards, some money, a cigar, a lighter and a packet of mints. And even when I’m sweat pants and a T-shirt, which is always, I cope just fine.

Then there’s my wallet. I never leave this at home, principally because it contains the single most important thing a man can have about his person: endless pages torn from newspapers and magazines. Something to read, in other words, when I’m supposedly “wasting time” on the lavatory. ……….which is where I am heading to right now.


Four-Week July Promotion Features Deals on a Wide Variety of Three- to 12-Day ‘Fun Ship’ Cruises to the Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexico and Europe

MIAMI (June 26, 2008  ) – Carnival Cruise Lines will launch a new sales promotion – “Endless Summer Celebration” – offering different weekly specials on “Fun Ship” cruises booked during the month of July.

The new “Endless Summer Celebration” offers sales promotions on a wide range of three- to 12-day “Fun Ship” cruises to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico and Europe in 2008-09, with a different promotion featured each week.

Upcoming offers for the “Endless Summer Celebration” sales event include shipboard credits; stateroom upgrades; special rates for third and fourth guests in a stateroom; holiday offers and regional savings; and discounts on a variety of fall, winter and spring departures.

“Summer is the perfect time to start planning that special family get-together for the holidays, an unforgettable weekend getaway in the fall or that much-needed break from midwinter doldrums,” said Lynn C. Torrent, Carnival’s senior vice president of sales and guest services. “Carnival’s ‘Endless Summer Celebration’ is a unique way to extend the summer while providing an excellent incentive for consumers to book their fall and winter getaways now, with attractive discounts and special offers available on a wide range of ‘Fun Ship’ departures,” she added.

The promotion is capacity controlled and not combinable with any other discount offer. Applies to new individual bookings only. Certain other restrictions apply.

A special Web site,, has been created where travel agents can request a collateral kit, download ad slicks, e-flyers and more.

For additional information and reservations on the “Fun Ship” vacation experience, call   1-800-327-9501   (individual) or   1-800-327-5782   (groups) or visit the line’s travel agent Internet portal,

As You can see from the insert above……………..Carnival is having a Summer Sale. Now, you know me……….I don’t like to use this blog thingy as a sales tool ………..but………as I sit here on this brand new ship………….looking out of my window I see another new ship the Costa Pacifica looking magnifico in the rising sun…..I realize how utterly brilliant these ships are and that anyone who thinks about taking a vacation anywhere else except on the sea……………… absolutely nuts.

Good Morning
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.