A Song for You

July 22, 2008 -

John Heald

A guest asked me last night how I manage to think of things to write each and every day………and after I analyzed that for a moment I realised it was because of school.

At my school, punishment detention usually involved being asked to write a 1,000-word essay about a tree……..I usually ended up writing 2,000 words much to the annoyance of my teacher…………..I guess therefore writing about the greatest industry in the world with a ship full of 3,000 guests from all over the world as subject matter……it is pretty easy.

It’s hard ………no……..impossible to not to find new and exciting aspects of cruising and life to talk about and if I ever get boring I hope one of you will be brave enough to tell me……………..promise?

There’s a man I meet every week — I shan’t say where in case he’s reading this — and never, not once, in all the years I have worked with him has he been able to make a single story interesting. Even if he’d just been hit over the head with a large turnip by a naked Prince Charles or a spacecraft from the planet Zog had landed in his back garden and that when they disembarked their flying saucer and said “take me to your leader” in a French accent……he’d still fail to bring the tale alive. And pretty soon you’d be wishing you were a horse; so you could fall asleep standing up.

Unfortunately, he never has been attacked by a naked member of the Royal family with a vegetable or met French-speaking aliens. All that happened in his life last week was he had counted how many knives and forks are wrapped each day in the napkins……. And staggeringly, he believed that this was interesting enough to bring up in a meeting. Honestly, after a few minutes I gave serious thought to locking him in the fish pantry. …………..he was so boring…….he was the country of Belgium.

I believe that the greatest gift bestowed on a human being is not beauty, intelligence or wealth. It’s the ability to make a story live. To take a tale and know instinctively what to leave in, what to leave out and when to lie a bit……………oh hold on a minute………..I am not talking about me…………I am talking about real writers……..proper story tellers whose imagination leaps from their mind onto the page ……… Clancy ……. Brown ……. Grisham …….. McNab……Maclean……. their talent is incomparable.

Why am I talking about this………..good question. Well this afternoon Heidi and I held a Bloggers get together which was attended by 50 plus guests. We had placed a code word in the Caper “friends of the thingy” and it was great to give them a glass of champagne and have a chat. One of the questions I was asked was the “How do you find something new to write about each and every day?”………..which I answered as above……….and then I was asked what was and with respect to the person who asked it ………a very strange question……….”Was I bullied at school?”……………………….this took me completely by surprise and I could see from those standing around with me that they were as well…………..I asked why he would say that.

The guest and well-known blogger told me that in his experience as a psychologist most people who were great writers (that made me feel good) were usually so because they were social misfits (didn’t feel so good about that one) or………….had been bullied at school and had used story telling to take their minds away from the troubling real world.

Well, I didn’t know what to say………….I had always thought that answer to everyone’s psychiatric problems was sex……….but apparently not………….mmmmm……..was I bullied…………..let me think.

Well, I teased people…….I considered myself an expert and still do in this noble art. I tease people for being too short. I tease people for cruising on RCI and for being French. And in return people tease me for looking like a letter Q and my bent tooth which looks like I have been given the good news with a crow bar. I’m 43, for heaven’s sake, and I still laugh when a man goes to the toilet for a pee and comes out with the evidence on the front of his pants. So I’ll spend the day ribbing him about it………..where I come from this is called banter and if done properly and without malice……….it can be very, very funny.

Teasing is a good thing. It sharpens the mind and punctures the ego. Teasing, at its best, is faster than Chinese ping-pong and funnier than those awful first rounders in American Idol. Teasing is what separates us from the beasts. You never, for instance, see a gazelle laughing out loud when one of their number falls in the river or gets eaten by a lion.

That’s teasing………….bullying…………well that was left to Terry Green, Shane Ibrahim and David Pattern………..just writing those names makes me feel sick.

Well, I was bullied at school, mercilessly and endlessly for nearly two years. I forgot what it was like to wake up normally rather than in a panic about them hitting me or letting off a fire extinguisher in my face. .

Eventually the bullying became so awful that tried my hardest to make everyone laugh. It’s not easy when you’ve got a mouth full of dog poo because Shane had put some in your sandwiches, but eventually I succeeded and the bullying stopped. Of course, I was not the only one and these three lads made life a living hell for other 14-year-olds. They punched kicked, flicked wet towels and if you had glasses, were overweight or did not conform to their way of thinking……..you were subject to public humiliation and pain. I hope they are sorry for their actions, I hope they realise that they made young people’s lives miserable and I hope somewhere, somehow each and everyone of them has had the crap kicked out of them and that they have permanent hemorrhoids.

However, I also want to thank them …………….I really, genuinely believe that were it not for the bullies I would now be a humorless bore who never would have found the love he has for making me laugh……………… Bullying, in other words, saved my life.

Did you know that www.eurodamnews.com is still going strong and continues to be a hugely popular blog. For some reason the link thingy has disappeared so I wanted to make sure that this and the AIDA blog was still advertised here. I am proud to ask you to visit their sites when you can………..soon…………..maybe we will all be together …………….. there’s something for you to think about……hint hint.

It’s been a very busy day. It started with the debarkation talk which I coupled with the Amsterdam tour talk. One tour immediately sold out………..that was the Anne Frank House excursion….and it’s no surprise as to why. Having seen the end of her journey with a visit to Shacsenhausen the beginning of her journey is made even harder to endure without your eyes filling with sadness.
Unfortunately the pre-booked tickets we have are limited and you can easily go on your own by taking a public bus or taxi from the pier but be prepared to line up for at least an hour in season….they only allow 35 people in at a time.

Here are the rest of the tours we offer in Holland which are massively popular. Like all our tours around the world not only do you have the comfort and knowledge of the best guides and the best facilities but also the massive addition of knowing that should anything should go awry you have the full support of the world’s largest cruise company behind you.

(click to enlarge)

Lots to choose from and outside of Amsterdam I highly recommend Volendam & Marken as well as the Windmills and Edam tour. Let me know if you have any questions by marking your comment URGENT PLEASE REPLY.

Some of you may be asking why I am holding the debarkation talk on the first of our two sea days before Amsterdam. Well, firstly we need a clear 48 hours to book everyone’s shuttle and transportation needs for Dover and London as well as booking all the tours for Amsterdam. Then, I want to give the last sea day up to a total relaxing day …………no meetings, lectures or announcements……………just the choice of lots of fun and activities or lots of nothing but peace and quiet……..especially after three long days of excitement in St. Petersburg and Tallinn. St. Petrsburg has been everyone’s favorite port by far so far and the comments are nothing but positive.

Yes………there were lines through Immigration but as I said yesterday…………the reward is the gorgeous city that awaits your exploration.

So, one last thing. I did my Amsterdam talk today and I was asked of course at the Q&A…………….about the Red Light district with one man being brave enough to ask in front of other guests…………..if there were lap-dancing clubs he and his friends could visit. You know, I have never actually been to the Red Light District except on the FAM trip but my mate Alan……….well……….never mind. Anyway, I was a little taken back when he asked……….as if I would know…………do I look like someone who frequents these places?

I admit though………….I went once…………many years ago with Alan…………..and we both hated it……………..I know…………you all think I am just saying that and Heidi is reading over my shoulder…………..but honestly…………….I didn’t enjoy it. Yes, we offer a tour there but it’s a walk through tour………….with absolutely no walking in!

I don’t like them much. I don’t like the music or the volume it’s played at. I don’t like the businessmen who go there and I don’t like sitting on velour and it was……well just boring.

There were a handful of girls – all called Porsche and all with a tattoo of a butterfly on their shoulders and lumps of metal in their noses – sitting around wearing bits of chiffon and $1.99 J.C. Penney underwear that was billed in the catalogue as “erotic” but is actually as erotic as me in a nurse’s uniform holding a rectal thermometer.

After a little while, a Porsche will come over and offer to dance for you for $300 and its it’s not a dance that you or anyone else would recognize. In fact, you don’t dance at all. You just sit there, with your hands over your ears to drown out the music, while the girl takes off $1.99 bra and puts two tons of silicone near your face.

This is like waving a steak in front of a hungry man. But you can’t get excited because you know that if you even look as though you’re going to touch them, a man called Igor who is the size of a Range Rover will arrive on the scene and break your legs with a baseball bat………….what’s the point………..it’s like being given an Aston Martin and not having the keys.

Now, yesterday I posted some photos from Mr and Mrs. Bentley’s excursion around Norway and I see they were very popular. Here then are some more including a beautiful shot of the Grand Princess…………………Mrs. Bentley is a great photographer and I thank her for these stunning portraits. I also want to say hello to Princess R their daughter who has been left all on her own to run the potato farm.

 

 

 

Now for today’s bio and an interview with my friend and 1st Officer the very handsome (lucky git) Stephano………….he is too good looking for me and if I had my way he would get a smack in the face with a large soup ladle.

NAME
STEFANO BONICA

DEPARTMENT AND POSITION
DECK – 1ST NAVIGATING OFFICER

HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED FOR CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES
8 YEARS

WHAT DOES YOUR JOB INVOLVE
•Stand on watch at sea & in port as instructed by the Master
•Cooperate in ensuring all the aspects of shipboard Safety relating to Guests and Crew
•Ensures that the Company’s Safety & Environmental policies and procedures are duly applied
•In charge of the daily Ship’s Stability Calculation including fresh water & ballast management control plan
•Responsible for the Deck Officers training about the use of the stability calculation computer program.
•Support the Staff Captain in conducting inspection to supervise the Maintenance and Cleaning program of Double Bottoms, Void Spaces, Fresh and Technical water tanks
Tanks structural and coating evaluation
•Periodical gas detector calibration.
•Cooperate with the Safety Officer in applying instruction and training programs to Crewmembers, including but not limited to all Safety Drills
•In conjunction with the Safety Officer will organize, prepare and conduct the Survival Craftsmen Classes
•Support the Safety Officer on inspections of all Lifesaving Equipment, to ensure they are in good working condition, always ready for instant use and in accordance of SOLAS requirements
•Prepare the Deck Monthly Report (Mooring Lines Status; Pilot Ladders; Shell Doors, Pool Nets, etc.)
•Updates mooring layout.
•Fuel consumption form/program (i.e. napa power,etc.)

WHERE ARE YOU FROM
ITALY

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB

Since I was a kid my dream was to explore the world and I believe that’s why I’m enjoy the most.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAMILY BACK HOME
My Dad is a retired fisherman, and when I’m home we spend time together fishing, my Mom is a retired post office employee and she now takes care of the house and her cooking is absolutely fantastic, my sister is a lawyer and we have a wonderful relationship.

WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT BEING IN YOUR HOME COUNTRY APART FROM FAMILY
I just finished to build my house and I didn’t even had the chance to sleep in once … and my friends of course.

FAVORITE THINGS
Electronics… and games..

MOVIE
The Good ones

MUSIC
All kind, beside heavy metal and classic

FOOD

See food

IF YOU COULD MEET ANY FAMOUS PERSON IN THE WORLD WHO WOULD IT BE
Might sound trite but … maybe Shakira

IF YOU HAD TO DO ANOTHER JOB ON THE SHIP WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO AND WHY
I would like to be a navigating officer …. Because, there is nothing else that I could do.

This morning I also hosted The Morning Show, followed and in the afternoon I also hosted the Marriage Show and both were a lot of fun. However last night I hosted the Talent Show and Bedtime Story. Here are two videos from the Talent Show.

Video number one is a scene shot by Heidi from backstage of me having some fun with the kids……………..here it is.

Now for video number two. This is from today’s gathering off bloggers. I had placed the words “friends of John’s thingy” to meet. More than 50 people turned up and we had some champagne and drinks and I held a Q&A session for an hour as well. It was a wonderful welcome that they gave me when I walked in but not as loud as the one Heidi got………….apparently they all feel sorry for her……………..I wonder why.

It was also mentioned by the bloggers that when I think I have written something particularly funny or a little ummmm……rude…….that I should put the words “raise spew shields” beforehand to stop people spewing various liquids over computers, paperwork, family members and in one case the poor dog. Anyway, here is a short video of our time together ………………it was a true honor to have them all aboard and the next time we host one of these I hope you are there with me.

Finally…………meet Claude…………….I heard him sing at talent show rehearsal and when I did I knew I had to record him for you all to see. Claude has been a friend of mine for some time. He is a blog reader and the choir master of a church in New Orleans. This song is dedicated to all of you and especially those who may be going through the trials and tribulations that life brings. I am not an overly religious man and I certainly don’t want to shove any religious statement down people’s throat………….in fact, it wasn’t just the words………..but there was something………….something inspirational that made me want to share this with all of you……something that made me want this song to lift the spirits of those who have lost loved ones and who may be sad.

Here then…………..is Claude and the song How Great Though Art……………dedicated to our family of bloggers………………..this is a song ………………..for you.

I hope you enjoyed that wonderful performance. Many ships no longer have talent shows……..yes you get a few people who have as much talent as a dead hamster but more often you get to hear people like Claude and we all get to share in their talents. As long as I am CD there will always be a Talent Show and I hope some of you get to hear Claude sing in person one day……….hey………..Bloggers Cruise 2009…………what do you think.

Goodnight
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.