I Swear…..But Not In Dallas or Philly

October 17, 2008 -

John Heald

I don’t know where she got the idea, but last week Heidi, suddenly produced a fully decorated swear box and announced that there were new rules for us all to follow. It was going to be $1 or £1 per swear word, and at the end of the year the money would go to the children’s hospital, Great Orman Street. It was all very entrepreneurial and there was no way I could refuse without setting a pretty bad example.

I decided to lay down some rules of my own: I would accept her terms, but I also said she would have to put in £1 or $1 every time she said, “I’m bored, whatever.” Ground rules agreed, we were off.
The first morning, which was the usual nightmare of trying to get ready for the Morning Show, finding the dedication letters and my shoes and…………..of course, I woke Heidi up as I was getting ready.

So, I woke Heidi up with my morning noise and Heidi snapped: “Sh%£, could you make anymore noise. John, are you eight years old, you lazy bastard.” I pounced and charged her £1.50. I was particularly vigilant and marched her off to the box to check she put the money in.

Since then, it’s got worse and we’re down about $75. Admittedly, it has made me think about my language, and I’ve started saying “flip” and “oh, gosh” like someone out of a Victorian play.

We’ve had a real dispute over a couple of rulings. I’ve been charged $2 for “bugger.” Personally, I don’t think this counts as a swear word, but Heidi insist it does. I went to my friend, Mrs. Bentley, for a ruling and, predictably, she sided with Heidi. It took me back to when I was a lad in school and my best friend was a boy called Carl, the son of the local Catholic priest. We were playing quite normally in our garden. I can’t have been more than six and we were probably building trenches from which to fight the aliens from the planet Zog who were about to invade.

So Carl and I were playing and, for some reason (maybe Carl had stuck the shovel in my foot), I said, “Damn.” Carl looked totally shocked: “I’m going to go and tell your father that you said damn.” I was appalled at this treachery, but pretty sure my father would hate him more for sneaking. I was wrong my father gave me the good news with his slipper. Carl and I did not stay friends after that….the last I heard he was a lawyer ….. what a shocker.

Our biggest area of contention is blasphemy. Heidi follows me round the house waiting for me to say “Oh, Jesus” or “For God’s sake,” two of my favorite expressions. I tried to get a ruling excluding these from punishment, on the grounds that they are words from the Bible and don’t consider them to be swear words. Heidi looked totally shocked. “But John, you’re taking the Lord’s name in vain.” It’s difficult to argue with them on this point, even if you are a sinner. I suppose I won’t want my Thingy saying “Jesus” all the time, in whatever context.

I’m actually quite pleased with the swear box – it has made us think a bit more about how often we swear and cuss without thinking about it. I was going out on deck 5 forward when feeling frustrated and unleash a volley of swear words into the Mediterranean night – it didn’t endear me to the passengers or the officers on the bridge….but it’s a lot cheaper.

However, last night I had to contribute another £20 which is equal to $31. Let me explain why.

Yesterday, I experienced one of the loneliest feelings in the entire world…………….second only to working as a Climbing Wall attendant on the “For God’s sake, will someone climb this wall of the seas?”
The lonely feeling I am talking about is the one where the conveyor belt stops and apart from the one bag that keeps going round and round that some stupid bugger has forgot to collect………….you are there standing…………..alone…………..realizing that your suitcase is probably in Bombay…………………………yep, British Airways lost my suitcase………….not Heidi’s………….they both made it, of course…………but mine…………had not.

As I minced over to the oxymoron that is the “Passenger Service Desk,” I felt for sure that Richard Simmons the flight attendant had read yesterday’s blog and may have seen that I had suggested that the airline he worked for was crap and they may have been even crappier ……..if that is a word. So, there I stood talking to Trina, the British Airways service person. I had to fill in a form and describe my suitcase and then I asked the most stupid question the world has heard since Guy Ritchie said to Madonna “You know that song you sing…..well………are you a virgin?”……………
I said, “Do you know where my bag is?”………………….I might as well have asked her to describe the chemical breakdown of yak poo because apparently…………it wasn’t her job…………her job was to ask me for details……….input them into the computer ……….and then someone would be contacting me………………..fly the friendly skies my arse.

And so, I spent the next two hours during the journey home swearing and cursing forgetting about the swear box only to be told by Heidi that the sick children were another £20 better off……………..bugger.

This morning after nearly half an hour on hold and being told that “This call is important to us,” I was told that my suitcase had been found and would be delivered to me as “soon as possible.” I told the lady on the other end of the phone in India that I needed it today because I was flying to the States on Monday and right now I was wearing my wife’s underwear as all of mine is apparently exploring the Tuscan countryside.

Well, so far it’s not arrived and I will be surprised if it does come today. I understand how our guests feel when they arrive with no bags but I also know that they even though they are not responsible, our brilliant pursers are far more helpful than the BA staff.

OK, let’s say hello to Jaime who has sent in her first Dear John letter from the Carnival Splendor and some photos of our last night. Here it is.

Dear John,
Contrary to what I had originally expected, the ship did not spontaneously combust once you and Heidi stepped off! Many crewmembers asked me when you would be returning and they were all pleasantly surprised when I informed them you would return for a short time when the ship gets to Ft. Lauderdale =). We miss you already! Earlier today I walked to into the cruise director cabin and Jen was hard at work, editing the Capers for next cruise. The walls were bare, and dresses were scattered around the bedroom, but that is really no different from when it was your room!

As for the daily summary:
On board today was pretty quiet, only 600 guests on the ship. The vast majority of them went off sightseeing in Rome and will return tonight to say goodbye to their dining room staff, cabin stewards and their home for the past 12 days. With such a small number of guests on board, it means all of the host’s activities were not very busy. After my morning three-mile run and intensive weight session with the help of our fabulous fitness instructor Dan, I got ready for my general knowledge trivia session which ended up having a captivating audience of about 10 people. Most of which were Aussies – and they always have a good laugh, so it was great fun. After trivia we went straight into Win, Lose or Draw and a game of TV theme trivia. A British couple won, even though they originally wanted to leave because they thought there would be all American questions. The entire host team has been working hard since start up to internationalize all of our trivia games, and so they were pleasantly surprised when they finally won a 24 karat gold plastic ship on a stick.

On the Carnival Splendor, as you would find on most ships, the entertainment staff always find a reason for celebration and an excuse to throw a party. Last night, we were able to celebrate one of the dancers (Ellie’s) 30th birthday and we had to bid John and Heidi farewell. This cruise is filled with goodbyes; the original inaugural team is finally being broken up as staff members begin to move on to their vacations, future endeavors and their next ships. Tonight we say good-bye to Fiona, one of our fabulously talented Carnival Splendor dancers. I have especially loved having Fiona on board because she is tall and has dark hair just as I do. Guests have a tendency to think we are the same person ALL THE TIME. This is great for me because that means they tell me how great I was in the production show on a daily basis! Our cause for celebration tonight is to wish Fiona a great vacation. Many of the crewmembers were on the Carnival Freedom last year, so they know a great restaurant in Civitavecchia that we will be heading to shortly.

This month, the entertainment and shore excursion department is in charge of the extracurricular activities for the crew. So when we return from dinner tonight, our production singer, Lawrence will put his DJ hat on, and we will move our crew lounge outside to deck four forward so that all of the crew can have a fun get together under the stars in the fresh Italian air.

I am off to get ready for dinner! We will begin tomorrow with the Splendor’s first John and Heidi-less cruise.

John/Heidi and Jim the Music Director at the Farewell Party

Jaime and Fiona on her last night on the Splendor

The Hosts saying Goodbye to Heidi

Have a good night =)
Entertainment Staff
Carnival Splendor

Great start Jaime and I think we can already see that your sparkling personality is shining through in your writing style. It sounds like the ship is doing well and I know we are so grateful to you for taking the time from your work schedule and flirting-with-the-men schedule to keep us all informed as to what is happening.

Tune into tomorrow for another Jaime story.

It was hard to say goodbye to the Carnival Splendor and it was probably very difficult for the city that never sleeps to say goodbye to a loyal…………..and royal friend.

Let’s hand over to the president of Cunard……………Miss Carol Marlow

QE2’s final call to New York yesterday was her last ever visit to North America. It was a historic day. She arrived early accompanied by our flagship Queen Mary 2 and the media was out in force. The sun shone on QE2 as we boarded a host of Cunard friends for a celebratory lunch, including the British Ambassador to the US, Her Majesty’s Consul General to New York, our valued travel agents, maritime historians, past Cunard staff, media and dignitaries from the Port of New York and the Coast Guard. Speeches brought a tear to the eye, as Captain McNaught Commodore Warner and I told of QE2’s life with us and the baton passing on to Queen Mary 2… Our British Ambassador also paid tribute to QE2, the most famous ship in the world. Later in the afternoon crowds gathered in Battery Park to bid the ships farewell. At 5pm Queen Mary 2 left her berth at Brooklyn and made her way across the harbour, turned on a sixpence and waited for the star of the show to arrive. QE2 made her entrance at 6 pm led by a spraying New York fireboat. The two Queens sounded their whistles to each other and to the substantial crowds, and as a Pipers band played Auld Lang Syne QE2 passed her young sister, and then led her out of the harbour, each Queen saluting Lady Liberty as they sailed by. The crowds watched as they glided off into the distance under the Verrazano Bridge.

Thanks, Carol………..and thanks to our good friend Peter Shanks for sending us the magnificent photos. As I mentioned a few days ago, there is nothing like sailing into New York and doing so on a Cunard liner would be the icing on the cake. I am sure all of you have copied the photos and made them part of your collection…………they are very, very special. Thanks again Peter and I guess when you think about the song really says it all……she is leaving today and she is going to make a brand new start of it………..in Dubai. But a new Queen Elizabeth will soon be there…………so start spreading the news.

So, I am now able to tell you what it is I am doing as part of my month in the States.

Here’s Stephanie to tell you more………………Stephanie.

Hi Everyone,
As readers of John’s thingy we would like to let you in on a little secret – we’re planning to set a Guinness World Record! Well, two, actually. On October 26th we’re going to inflate the World’s Largest Beach Ball in Dallas, and if that isnt’ enough, we’re going to unveil the World’s Largest Piñata in Philadelphia on November 2nd. Best of all, you can watch because John will be there blogging from both events. Just keep an eye on the blog for more details next week. And, if you’ll be in those cities while we’re there let us know!


Thanks, Steph. I am so very proud and very honored to have been asked to do whatever it is I am going to be doing. I am also thrilled that you will be with me every step of the way both in the written word on the blog and through video and photos. Watch this space for more details.

I had a big surprise today………..I went to see my parents this morning for breakfast and when I walked in who was sitting in the living room………….my sister Suzanne…….who had flown all the way from Hong Kong to see me……………OK, that’s a lie……she flew all the way to London for some emergency bankers thingy meeting but she took the time to drive down to see me………..she only had an hour and then she had to go straight back.

As you can imagine I was thrilled to see her because she owes me money……………so after she paid me I said hello and we took this photo of me, Suedrip, Heidi and the Thingy on a beautiful English summer day…………well……………it would have been more beautiful if I hadn’t had been wearing the same pair of underwear for two days.

Anyway………….here we are.

Thanks, Suzanne, and we will see you at Christmas………………I know many of you enjoyed her comments a few months ago so, hopefully, when things calm down in the banking world and she gets fired, she will have time to write again.

And so, it’s time to say goodnight. Heidi is already in bed and I will be soon as well. Still no word from British Airways and hopefully tomorrow my suitcase will arrive. I am a little tired as I had an early start thanks to Peter the bloody pigeon who obviously realizing I was home decided to sit outside my window at 6 am and coo at me. I just asked Heidi if she wants to read through my blog. She said “No, she was too tired and to keep the noise down as she was going to bed.”………forgetting about the swear box I said “God, I was just asking, no need to get pissy.”……….and that was another £2 in the box.

Still…………….as she isn’t going to read the blog and it’s too cold to go out into the garden and swear………………..if you will excuse me……………………” DAMN, DAMN, DAMN, DAMN, DAMN, DAMN AND SH*%

Your friends
John, Heidi and The Thingy

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.