Dancing and Pumping Gas

October 19, 2008 -

John Heald

It has been well documented in past blogs that I have a hatred of flying, climbing walls, the French and …………….dancing. And is the thought of the later that has finally made me decide not to attend my high school reunion in December………………also the fact that I don’t want to spend the next 20 years in prison for the murder of the David Pattern, Shane Ibrahim and Terry Green the three complete bastards who made my life and those of all my friends school days ones we wish to forget.

I seem to be spending time reminiscing about my life and I hope that’s OK with you until next week when the excitement starts in the States.

Anyway, back to dancing. For me, and many others, the hatred of dance comes directly from the school disco. These days it seems all teenagers want to bump and grind with each other as they dance to soulful ballads by J Z, Beeonsay and Justin Trousersnake. In my day dancing only involved skidding across the dance floor on two knees hoping that when you came to a stop it would be right under Sally Poole’s skirt. That, I didn’t mind but when at the school disco Spandau Ballet’s “True” was played by DJ Donald who was also the art teacher ………..I ran to the buffet to shove another bag of chips down my throat all washed down with the fruit punch which had 3000 tons of sugar in it and is probably the reason I am diabetic today.

Of course, I was into girls by now in a big way. I remember walking home from school one day and finding a Playboy Magazine shoved into a hedge…………….I couldn’t believe my luck. A few days later I found another magazine , this time something called Asian Babes……………I have no idea why these magazines were there…………..maybe it was the publishers who were trying to get us hooked. Anyway, I looked forward to my journey home from school everyday but after the magazine containing Shanghai Sue and her friends the hedge stopped producing……………….these days I guess the internet has replaced the hedge.

So you see, I had discovered girls and even if one had asked me to have a “smoochy” dance to Phyllis Nelson’s Move Closer I would have said no…………….why………..ummmm…………..how do I put this…………well I was 15 and even mentioning the word Daisy Duke got me ……………ummmmmmmmmm………. excited.

After the sporting rejection I described yesterday and the fact that I was too embarrassed to dance, I decided to try and become more popular by auditioning for the school play. There was the promise of lots of rehearsals …….mostly with girls…………..and this was good because it would also keep me away from the fatal attraction I was having with Shangahi Lil……………..which would also have pleased my optician.

The musical the school was producing was “Guys and Dolls.” ……………and I wanted the part of the male leader who was a gangster with great costumes, white tipped shoes and yep…………..a love scene.

The only obstacle in my way was I had to audition by singing a song in front of the Head of Music Mr. Puddick. Now, I was a huge Jethro Tull fan at the time so I decided to sing a song called “Heavy Horses” but Mr. Puddick said it was not appropriate so I ended up having to sing “Summer Holiday” by a famous British singer called Cliff Richard. I thought I did well and when I got asked to “stay behind” after class I was already picturing myself in the Zoot Suit with a girl on each arm………….the envy of every boy in the school.

So, you can imagine my dismay when Mr. Paddock told me that they had given the lead to a lanky streak of piss called Colin Redwood and I……………..was to play the part of a Salvation Army minister. I would not be wearing a zoot suit but instead a red uniform with a funny hat and instead of a girl on each arm………..I had a bible and hymn book.

Still, I though that at least one of the 600 girls at school would see me and hear the three lines I would deliver in the style of Roger Moore………..and at least one of them would want me. That was until Sally Poole and her gang saw me and totally deflated my would be singing career.

Good morning on a beautiful and peaceful Sunday morning with the silence here in the countryside only being disturbed by me shouting at Peter the Pigeon to bugger off this morning………..and that was another £1 in the swear box.

I had breakfast with my best mate Alan today. He looks great and has promised to come on the Bloggers Cruise which is wonderful news of course. As always when I am with Alan I give thanks that he has survived an illness that threatened to take my mate away from me and as always when I am with Alan…………..I paid for breakfast………..he really is one tight sod. Then I went home and Heidi and I have just finished packing my suitcase ready for my trip to Miami and my suitcases trip to who knows where. I will leave tomorrow at 6:00am and drive for two hours to Heathrow. I have rented a car to drive to the airport as I can’t bear to say goodbye to Heidi at the gate. I did it once and it was like a scene from some 1950’s romantic movie as Heidi waved goodbye to her Mr. Darcy.

I am looking forward to what the next month will bring but at the same time I am sad that I will not be there for Heidi’s first scan of the Thingy and I am racked with guilt that I will miss this special time. I am also concerned about next year and what I will be doing and becoming a Dad. However, I need to focus on the job in hand and give my everything to Carnival……………..I am…………..and I will. However, it’s going to be hard to say goodbye tomorrow morning.

OK, lets change the subject and talk about the life of pure unadulterated total luxury………………….I am talking of course about Conde Nast’s Best Small Ship Cruise Line award…………..Seabourn. I stopped by their blog earlier today and discovered some amazing behind the scenes information on the building of the first new ultra luxury ship in six years………..the Seabourn Odyssey. The Grey Poupon people of the world are polishing their Cartier diamonds and ordering their designer suits and dresses ready for the most prestigious event in cruising for a long time. And, I will be there to take you around this incomparable ship……….well………….I haven’t been invited yet but I am polishing my Seiko and am prepared to buy a new suit from Omar the Tentmaker should I be asked to blog from onboard. Meanwhile, here is the link to the blog and I hope you enjoy your trip down Luxury Way.


And here’s Jamie.

October 18, 2008

Dear John,

Now as you know, working as entertainment staff member in Europe, we have the pleasure of awakening before the sun rise almost every morning. This is because our tour distribution process usually begins around 6:30am. These early mornings were somewhat of a challenge during the Baltic season when we had six time changes each cruise to deal with, but now, we are all getting used to it and it isn’t too rough. In fact we even manage to have a bit of fun during tours. Plus, the early mornings are especially worthwhile when we get to go out and see the beautiful architecture and landscapes of these brilliant history filled ports. Since this was our first day of tours for this cruise, AND we have an extremely high international guest count, this morning was somewhat of a challenge. There were more complaints than usual. A gentleman started yelling at the poor bar waiter selling water in the middle of the deck three lobby. He said “how dare you charge $500 for tours and then charge for water on top of that”. The bar waiter looked at him, and apologized and looked to me for support. All I could say was “Sir, if you are looking for your tour meeting place, it is just straight, around that corner and to the right, thanks have a wonderful day!” We got through our first tour morning which I call “training day” where we show the guests exactly where to go and how the tour procedure operates. As the cruise progresses, they will be more familiar with the process.
Once we are finished with tour distribution the entertainment staff members typically has a few options: go out on a tour, stay on board and do activities, or go back to sleep. Once per month, however, as per SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) regulation, we have the ever so acclaimed full crew boat drill! Of course we all understand that this is important for the continuing safety education of our crew, but not many enjoy it. I guess I am sort of different than most crew members though, because today was quite exciting for me. I was fortunate enough to talk to a crew member and hear all about what life was like for him back home, before ships, and I had the opportunity to hear about his family. As an American citizen, this is one of my most treasured parts of my job – learning about the cultures and lifestyles of people from far off countries. This morning I met Enrique from the Philippines, he who has worked for Carnival for six years and now, after years of promotions he is a team headwaiter. Enrique told me about his mother and father who live in Long Beach, California. His dad is a die cast mechanic, and his mother is a caretaker at a local hospital. They work long hours with few vacations. Enrique has three siblings, his two brothers that work for Carnival and a sister lives back home in the Philippines with her family. Enrique has a mechanical engineering degree from back home, and he originally came to the company because his brother told him he could work 6 month contracts, as opposed to the two year contracts he was working in Korea before. He knew the money was good and he would get to go home more often. He has two children one is six years old, and the other is nine months, and he longs to go home and see them during his vacation. Enrique plans to work for Carnival for 4 more years, by then his house will be paid off and he can go back home to spend time with his wife and kids. He dreams of moving with his family to Canada, but it is very expensive and he is years away from this goal. Needless to say, boat drill lasted about one hour today…

After the boat drill my next mission was to find an internet point. To a crew member, locating an inexpensive, fast internet connection is as spectacular as being the second runner up for a Miss. Universe pageant, and having the winner becoming a nun and the first runner up deciding world peace is not really all that great of an idea. As you may know, today we visited Naples. I must express how wonderful it is to see places like Pompeii, Sorrento and Capri; however, the downtown port area of Naples is not quite comparable. Being a young girl in search of an internet connection in this downtown area is not necessarily the smartest of decisions. Many street vendors and fake watch store owners tend to be quite friendly. I quickly completed my search for the internet and headed back to the ship to get ready for the Welcome Aboard Show.

Jen’s first and only Intro Show on the Carnival Splendor went extremely well! I was not surprised that the audience absolutely loved her! She has so much energy and enthusiasm and the whole cruise staff team was cheering her on from back stage. At this time, the guests are exhausted from their long day of touring and I am looking forward to an action packed sea day tomorrow.

Good Night!
=) Jaime
Entertainment Staff
Carnival Splendor

Thanks Jaime and we all look forward now to your musings each and every day. I know things are getting busy so we all appreciate your time. And, congratulations again to Jen and welcome aboard to Goose.

And so my trip down memory lane continues to my first work experience………….every Saturday……………at a Petrol (Gas Station) manning the cash register on the night shift. I was 16.
It was a Gesso (Exxon) station in my home town of Southend and was owned by one of the rudest men I have ever met……….Mr. Harjani. He ran the station with his two sons Ravi and David who were not just born in the shallow end of the gene pool they worn in the shallow end of the gene pool which had recently been urinated in by a Yak.

It was an awful job and obviously a dangerous one as I was told to keep the door locked and only accept payment and return change through the slot in the glass serving window. ………….I couldn’t understand this. I was working in a gas station in Southend not Sowetto and as guns are banned the most dangerous thing that could happen to me was that I would be robbed by a man armed with a pineapple.

It was also during the time when gas station sold………..umm …………gas. Nowadays you can buy petrol, candy, soda, beer, lottery tickets and a Picasso. So, there I was , doing my Saturday night job while all my friends were out on the town………….OK…………that statement is bollocks as all my friends was Alan………..and as I was his only friend and my arse was serving petrol in came as a small piece of comfort to know he wasn’t having a good time either.

However, Friday’s were a different story and at the young age of 16 Alan and I would drink as much cheap extra strong Carlsberg as we could. One night I got really hammered and vomited over my sister’s new boots that happened to be in my way as I made a desperate dash for the bathroom. Well…………needless to say I was unable to go to work and called in sick. The phone was answered by one of the sons who obviously did not believe my story that I had eaten a dodgy Kebab.

Later that evening, I sort of remember hearing the phone ring and my 13 year old sister answer it but thought nothing of it. Anyway, next Saturday came around and I went to work only to be met by another spotty 16 year old sitting at the till being taught what to do. Mr.Harjani told me that he called my house and my sister had told him that I was not at work because of a bad piece of lamb but because I had got roaringly drunk the night before on two cans of lager. I looked at him in horror………and dabbed my eyes in a Tom Hanks style performance telling my boss that my sister had something “wrong with her” and that she was on medication. He looked at me……………with a mixture of disgust and pity and wondered what would become of such a young man who could fabricate such a story without even thinking……………a politician……………a lawyer…………….oh of course…………….thought Mr. Harjani………………….a Cruise Director.

I will write from the plane

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.