School Daze and Jamie Part 2

October 18, 2008 -

John Heald

It’s Saturday and I am enjoying a real weekend for the first time in 6 months. Heidi is pottering about and I am sitting here in the kitchen having just welcomed home my underwear which returned from a vacation in Rome………….and they didn’t even get me a gift.

The British Airways courier arrived with my suitcase about an hour ago and after signing a form I was reunited with my friends. Apart from that I have done very little today. I have watched Heidi continue to eat the strangest of combinations over the last few days but none stranger than her breakfast of thick porridge with strawberries.

So, what to talk about………………………well………………………I can tell you that as I sit here watching my pregnant wife organizing the dishwasher I have realized that yep………..I am about to become a Dad.

On the journey through life we pass through various experiences that shape our lives. I was a boy……..I became a man……………..I got married ……………..and soon I will become a Dad. But I don’t feel any different………….I still laugh when people fall over and a few minutes ago I farted and the smell was reminiscent of Paul Newman’s bottom during the filming of Cool Hand Luke………….I found it funny but my wife…………..well, she didn’t and reminded me that “you can’t do that when the Thingy is born.”

And that’s when the thought of yep………..I am going to be a Dad hit me………..I am going to be a parent.

Whether it’s telling you “if you fall out of a tree and break your leg don’t come running to me” to what my Dad always said when he was mad at me ” I will not repeat myself, I will not repeat myself” it’s parents that decide if we become doctors, cruise directors or serial killers………’s all their fault.

Actually, it’s the Dad who sets the tone of what a man becomes and that’s why I am nervous. My Dad was very strict, very loving and installed in me that I could do anything in life if you work hard enough. My Dad is though an eccentric Englishmen and to some may appear to be totally bonkers.

Let me explain by telling you about the death of my sister’s cat. I think I mentioned this devil incarnate before. A lot of thought had gone into naming it and eventually my 6 year old sister came up with the name …………………Biscuit.

And so, Biscuit lived amongst us, purring and cuddly and allowing everyone to stroke, tickle and play with her……………..except me. I look back now and wondered if Biscuit had been grooming me for my teenage years where like the damn cat no girl would allow me to stroke, tickle or play with them.

The cat hated me and any chance it got she would attack. One day I got so pissed off I bought a dozen packets of something called Moon Rocks which was exploding candy and sprinkled all 12 bags in Biscuit’s litter tray. ………………..she wasn’t a happy moggie when she had a pee only to find her litter tray exploding under her bottom.

Anyway, I digress. Well, a few years later Biscuit passed away in her sleep and while I ran around the room singing the theme from “Happy Days” my sister was distraught.

So, Dad assured her that Biscuit was on their way to Cat Heaven. Now, I don’t want you to judge my dad on this incident, but the next day Suzanne came running into the house screaming and crying saying she had just seen Biscuit in the garbage bin. My Dad who spent 33 years as a High School Principal calmed her down and told her that she must have been mistaken…………..while my Mum dried my sister’s tears my dad looked at me and said “We need to move the body.”……………………sorry………………the body? I was only 14 but I will never forget those words. You see my Dad didn’t know what else to do with Biscuit so he had put her in the garbage bin and hadn’t even attempted to wrap it anything. Now, he was getting me involved and I absolutely loved it.

So, we took the rather stiff Biscuit out of the garbage bin and placed her in the trunk of the car. My sister was then invited to the garbage bin where we told her that she had been seeing things.

That was the first time I really bonded with Dad and as we sneaked out in the car and buried Biscuit in a field I had learned a valuable lesson…………men lie to stop girls from crying.

Then there was the time I heard my Dad swear for the first time. As I mentioned yesterday I was not brought up in a household of profanity. However as a young lad I remember the time a cat………….yes……………it’s another cat story. My dad was and still is a very keen gardener and like his furniture making he is absolutely dedicated to perfection.

He had spent days digging out a vast section of our back garden to make a patio. He had just finished poring the concrete and had spent hours smoothing it out ………….he stood back to admire his work and went into the kitchen for a celebratory cup of tea. A few minutes later I wandered into the garden just in time to hear my Dad shout “you little bastard” as a cat ran across his newly laid concrete leaving little cat prints all the way across. Once again………….I bonded with my Dad.

I learned another lesson…………… are funny and Dad’s really do set the tone…………….oh and yes…………I learned another lesson………….don’t bury your cat in the garbage bin…………actually don’t get a cat at all…………unless you live in North Korea and are tired of eating Spaniel.

I hope you all enjoyed Jaime’s first report of the continuing saga of the Carnival Splendor. Well, here is her second “Dear John” letter.

October 17, 2008

Dear John,

Today was quite the adventure! I am sure you are familiar with the common phrase “Rome was not built in a day.” Well, we all know this is well and good… but the common Carnival Splendor crewmember only has but a few short hours to see all the brilliance that is ancient Rome.

In order to see as much of the city as we could, Lawrence and I awoke up at 6 am and headed off to the train station. We were pleasantly greeted into the city of Rome with some sort of boisterous rally! I was not quite sure what the rally was for – since all of the protesting was in Italian — but whatever it was, there was clapping, t-shirts and balloon animals involved!

After asking a few questions I found out that the thousands of people crowding the streets had something to do with a train strike that was occurring. As a result of these people in the street, the bus ride that usually takes about 10 minutes to downtown, took approximately 45. There we were, on our open top city tour bus, eagerly longing to see the great forum, Coliseum and the Vatican.

I was taking pictures of the rally, trying to make the best of everything and then, all of a sudden we feel the first of many drops of rain. After purchasing the crummiest umbrella known to man for a mere 10 euros, Lawrence and I tried to look on the bright side: even though we were partially soaked in water, at least our pictures looked great because they were not crowded with people covering the historic buildings.

After walking around the forum, we finally realized that the forum tour which, last year was complimentary now has a nine Euro charge for admission! We decided to skip the walk through the muddy forum streets, and hop back on the bus to head toward the Vatican.

We made our way to the bus stop, and after three buses zoomed by us because they were full, we managed to beg our way onto the fourth tour bus – they allowed us on under the condition that we agreed to sit on the top, open section, of the bus. This was probably our worst idea of the day, our butts got soaked, the run off from the lady’s umbrella in front of us drenched our legs, and our feet were sopping from the three-inch river that coated the floor of the bus. Eventually, we reached the Vatican; we took our pictures and decided to head to a nice warm lunch in the train station before heading back to the ship.

Once we arrived back on board, we had a full staff meeting to get to know Jen our new cruise director and meet Goose – who will be taking over for the crossing. I already know and love Jen from spending time with her last cruise, and I am confident Goose will be a fantastic leader for our entertainment team in the months to come. After the meeting, we headed strait to boat drill, it was surprising to hear Jen’s voice over the PA system since it has been only John as the voice of the ship for the past several months.

At this time it is early evening, I am heading to sports trivia with the guests and go have a walk around to see what characters will be sailing with us for the next 12 days. We begin tours tomorrow morning at 6:30 am. We will be in Naples tomorrow, with a full crew boat drill to look forward to.
Have a good night =)

The Rally in the Streets


The Roman Forum

The Coliseum

The Vatican

Entertainment Staff
Carnival Splendor

Thanks Jaime. I know that we all thank her for another great report. It seems as though everything is going well and my best wishes to Jenny the Cruise Director. I know she is doing a brilliant job. I was remembering how nervous I was when I gave my first-ever travel talk and performed my first-ever welcome aboard show. That was on the Carnivale and my talk was about Nassau, Bahamas and the show was performed in front of 500 people. Her first talk is about Pompeii, Sorrento, Naples and Capri and her first show will have 1500 people watching………………she will be fine and her energy is exactly what the ship needs.

I see from the comments that a lot of you who live in the Dallas and Philadelphia area are wanting to come and watch the big events and are asking how you do this. Well, it will be brilliant to see you there and as soon as we have the information Stephanie will let you know what to do. I truly hope some of you can come down; it will be terrific to see some friendly faces amongst the audience………………….bring food please.

By the way, can someone from Dallas and Philadelphia tell me what the weather will be like so I know what to wear?………….thanks.

As we are talking about the comments let me tell you that I will start replying to comments on Tuesday. Although I am blogging everyday I am going to take two days off from replying just to have a wee rest……………..I promise that I will return to replying to those marked PLEASE REPLY on Tuesday but I also urge you to keep the comments coming……………they are so important to me. Remember, if there is anything else you need from me let me know…………..I am here to serve.

Now, we have the technology to add something new to the blog thingy……………..Polls…………….yep, we can now take polls. I have no idea how they work or what happens but a man with a beard has designed a program to allow us to take blog thingy polls. Later, we can get serious and ask some really in-depth questions but as the weekend is a little quiet I thought we we would start with something light.

Stephanie will tell you how to vote and on Monday she will post the results on a percentage basis.

OK then, here is today’s poll question.

OK, we will release the answers on Monday and I hope as many of you as possible take the time to vote because it will show us how this works ready for when we ask the serious questions which will…………….help shape the future of what we at Carnival will do. Let me explain.

I have been asked to sit on a committee……….well…………….I will be sitting on a chair much to the relief of the poor people in the committee……….but we will be talking about the future…………your future……………as everyone of the 3,100,000 people who have read this thingy all love Carnival so who better to ask what we should do. I hope, therefore, I can rely on you to help me. Have fun with the first poll and we hold the first serious one next week.

You can imagine how many pieces of mail arrive at our house during 6 months away. My Dad sought them out and disposes of the offers of loans and a chance to marry someone called Anna from Latvia and leaves the rest for me to read when I am home. Among the pile I came across something that made me feel quite ill………………an invitation to a High School Reunion.

When I think of school I have flashbacks of itchy school uniform made of something called “surge,“ which is only one step away from sandpaper. In the early days your Mum dresses you but then something called puberty happens……………… don’t want the big Windsor knot in your tie and then you start looking at girls and at bras trying to work out why Big Brenda was wearing one and Pancake Pam wasn’t.

But it was the sheer hell of Physical Education or PE as we call it in the UK that makes me want to vomit. This was because it was during these lessons that I discovered something that thanks to my mate Alan would follow me through my teens…………….rejection. At school, you want to be part of the gang and not be part of the group that spent the lunch hour on their own in a far corner of the playground …………..more than anything I wanted to be part of the football (soccer) team.

This was a problem because I had the soccer skills of a drunk penguin and therefore at pick up games I was never chosen and would be relegated to the sidelines with Fat Tony who had bigger breasts than Big Brenda……………a young boy called Stinky Pete who smelled of pee ………….and a poor asthmatic kid who had a puffer the size of Coke bottle. I will never forget the pain. I also remember a kid who after seeing him as a naked 14 year old boy in the changing rooms we called him…………….Foot Long Freddie……………lucky sod.

But, it’s because of Shane Ibrahim, David Pattern and Terry “The Butcher” Green that I have my worst memories of my time in uniform.

Mostly, people are bullied for a reason. In interviews, Gwyneth Paltrow has admitted she was bullied because she was tall, Mel Gibson because he had an American accent at an Australian school, Michelle Pfeiffer because of her big lips and me ………..well …………..probably it was because I was boring.

I was bullied at school by the three I have just named and shamed and it’s really not hard to work out why. They were bullies and I was the nearest living being when they felt like a workout.
As I understand it, the latest state initiative from our crazy government here in the UK will force school bullies to wear blue plastic wristbands so the weak and helpless can see them coming and have time to take evasive action.

Already I can see some problems with this. For instance, what happens if the cunning and wily school bully decides to get round the problem by simply leaving his wristband at home? Then you wouldn’t know he was a bully until you found a large piece of dog poo in your school bag and an unusual yellow stain in your English exercise book.

Of course, there is a big difference between teasing and bullying. I tease people for a living ………. for being too short………for being too tall………for having a funny name.. And in return people tease me for looking like I have a beach ball up my shirt and for having bent teeth and a funny accent.
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 a really good skiing crash. Teasing is what separates us from the beasts. You never, for instance, see wildebeest laughing their heads off when one of their numbers falls in the river or gets eaten by a lion.

But bullying………….well that’s another story. So, having thought about it I may go to my high school reunion next month for two reasons. I want to see if Sally Poole is as gorgeous as she was when we were in math class together………….she melted my heart. And, I want to see David, Terry and Shane and tell them that they made my school days a living hell and then beat the crap out of them……………however, as they were all the size of Hummers at the age of 14 and because they have probably progressed from shoving heads down toilets and flicking your genitals with a wet towel to using axes to remove fingers ………….I shall probably stay at home…………………..and anyway……………knowing my luck one of them probably married Sally Poole……………bugger.

Your friend
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.