Spectator Sport

November 27, 2008 -

John Heald

Every part of my body is cold. My arms, my feet, my eyes, my hair and my hemorrhoids ………….global warming my arse.

I just returned from standing next to Alan for two hours watching his son play rugby for his school. “Would you like to come along?” asked my mate and like an idiot I said “yes.” I dressed in a pair of jeans and T-shirt over which I wore my favorite leather jacket. I have had this jacket for many years and I love it. The leather still creaks like the decks of the Carnivale used to in bad weather and, along with a pair of underpants I have had for ten years, this jacket is my favorite piece of clothing. However, as much as it may be comfortable, standing on the sidelines today I realized that it wasn’t going to keep out the cold.

My nose is running like a fireman’s hose, my head is full of what feels like molten lava, I have a temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit and I know that if the Guinness Book of World Records were to come round, he’d verify that no human being has ever been this sick and survived.

“I have Ebola,” I said to my Heidi. “No. You have a cold,” she replied in the icy way women have when they don’t realise just how ill a man is………..and it’s all from watching rugby.

Anyway, let me explain the rules of rugby. It’s the same as American football except they don’t wear big girly pads. There is no quarterback and the players don’t date sexy women like Jessica Simpson who is apparently having rumpy pumpy with that restaurant chain owner Tony Roma’s.

The current world champion (rugby is played all over the world) is Australia. Australians go to work in shorts and that’s a good enough reason to hate them. Also, they have cookers in their kitchens but choose to cook their shrimps in the garden. And the only invention to have come out of Australia, ever, is the rotary washing line and Russell Crowe

The rugby referee, instead of sending people off the pitch as in soccer or off the court in basketball, don’t bother with flagrant fouls, etc. They just stop the game while the more badly injured have their noses and ears sewn back on. Flick someone’s ear lobe in a game of basketball and some jumped-up little dwarf will mince over and order you off the court.

I like rugby very much. You have to love the collisions, the moments when someone with thighs made from oak and a chest the size of a John Deere tractor smashes into a player with such ferocity that you wonder how his skeleton hasn’t disintegrated into a million pieces. That and the fights, those cherished moments when a man mountain smashes his fist, which is the size of a Christmas ham, into someone else’s face and all hell breaks loose. Brilliant

I like American football, as well, and today’s Thanksgiving Day game is being shown here and I will watch it for sure. I just don’t understand it all. It makes no sense when 240 tons of All-American beef all lands in a big muddy lump on top of the ball and you have no idea what on earth is going on in there. Not until the referee blows his whistle, does some signing for the deaf and decides that someone at the bottom of the pile has let go too soon, or not at all, or was down before contact or if he really is bad apparently the player will be sacked and have to look for work elsewhere. And just when I start to understand the game they take a break and we go to commercials for Budweiser and Preparation H.

Anyway, I digress. So there I was today watching a 12-year-old boys play rugby. Now, I don’t know if this will translate to parents watching their kids play sports in North America ……..but bloody hell …….Mum and Dad really take this seriously. I do not know what it is that causes normal, nice, cuddly and reasonably intelligent people to lose their grip on reality as soon as they find themselves standing alongside a school sports pitch.

But having watched everyone behave like a pack of hyenas squabbling over the carcass of a dead zebra, I have decided to think ahead to when my thingy plays sports and share with you my thoughts.

Firstly, Mum’s and Dad’s must remember that they are an embarrassment to their children. Mick Jagger is an embarrassment to his kids as is Madonna to hers. I will be an embarrassment to my Thingy and you are or have been one to your kids, as well. Everything you do. Everything you say. Everything you wear. It’s all completely wrong. So here’s a tip when on the touchline or courtside or by the side of the pool… Be normal.

If your child’s team scores a goal, a touchdown or a three-point basket with only one second to go, you may applaud but do not – and this is something I witnessed just two hours ago – run onto the pitch, bellowing like someone has just shoved a cactus up your bottom, with a red face, a jugular vein standing six inches out of your neck like a Klingon and your arms held aloft like you just found out Donald Trump has left you all his money and all his Just For Men hair dye.

Because after you have reached the middle of the pitch and sunk to your knees in a puddle of gratitude and happiness, you will realize you are the managing director of a major cruise line or a Baptist minister……and you have just made yourself look like a total and utter doughnut.

Massive demonstrations of pride are acceptable if you are a Miami Heat supporter and Dwyane Wade has just scored 40 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals all in the first quarter. But when you are watching a bunch of muddy 12-year-olds running about like puppy dogs, they are not.

Also, no matter how knowledgeable you might be about the sport you’re watching, do not feel free at any point to offer loud and hectoring advice. This will make everyone on the team want to kick you in the scrotum and, since it’s against school rules to attack visiting fathers, they will simply wait until they are in the showers after the game and kick your child instead.

Furthermore, offering helpful hints at the top of your voice will irritate the officials, who may at some point come over and ask you to be quiet. This – and I’ve seen it happen twice – can end in a fight. And no one wants to see Doctor Bernstein rolling around in the mud trying to punch his son’s math teacher in the face.

Also, school sports are great places to start an affair. I know this because today there were many “Mums” watching the game without their husbands who were probably at work. The women were all dressed up as though they were going dancing – not to watch rugby. It was hard to concentrate on the game not just because of the cold but the woman next to me was the spitting image of a young Meg Ryan.

I, therefore, took it upon myself to talk to her and turned on the cruise director button.
However, and this is critical, when you have become engaged in small talk with a pretty mother and you are arranging to meet for tea afterwards, do not get so distracted that you miss your child scoring a goal, touchdown or a basket. It was therefore while I was talking to Meg Ryan, Alan’s son scored a try which is the same as a touchdown.

Now, had this been my son I would have fainted hoping that Meg Ryan would have given me the kiss of life. Of course, this might irritate your boy if he were to turn around and find his dad being French-kissed by his best friend’s mum. But since just standing there will annoy him anyway, I suggest you give it a go……….I know I will.

It’s just one of the joy’s I have to look forward to when the Thingy pop’s out in May.
I want to show you these two photos which were sent to me by ex-Carnival cruise director Bob Hamill. You see Bob in the photo (the one with the moustache) along with his lovely wife Marty. She started off as a ship’s nurse and fell in love with Bob. She then became part of his hilarious ventriloquist act. Bob’s catch phrase was “Hi gang” and you would hear passengers and crew say it to him wherever he walked around the ship.

In the first photo is Captain Sbisa who embodied whatever a captain should be. A brilliant sailor and a true gentleman. He has retired and is living in Italy. Ask any Carnival employee who remembers him and they will tell you he was……simply the best.

Also pictured is Rand Woodbury who still works for Carnival thrilling guests with his huge illusion show. I would have been an assistant bar manager when both these photos were taken and aged about 24…and yes……I was supermodel skinny. Have a look at these then and thanks to Bob for sending me these via my Facebookspacetube thingy page.



Yesterday’s news started with a story about two birds in Washington. A lame duck yesterday pardoned a turkey at the White House. As the U.S. and the world grappled with the biggest economic crisis since my ex-girlfriend spent all my savings on a new BMW, President George Bush had only one public engagement: offering a full and unconditional reprieve to Pumpkin.

“Welcome to the Rose Garden for the pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey,” he told about 200 White House staff, schoolchildren and journalists. He made a three-minute speech, had his picture taken with Pumpkin and flew to the presidential retreat, Camp David, for today’s Thanksgiving holiday.

Heidi and I were having a giggle about this when the news turned much more serious and the terrible atrocities in India came to light. The cruise industry has many crew members from Mumbai (formerly Bombay) working on-board and I am sure some may have families and friends who have been affected…….we think of them and all involved tonight.

In a few minutes I will head to the kitchen and help Heidi cook a non-pardoned Turkey. We have decided to have a Thanksgiving dinner and Heidi is preparing turkey, roast potatoes, parsnips and sweet potatoes. I will assist by being told to bugger off and not get in the way. This will give me time to reflect how thankful I am. I have Heidi, a wife who loves me and who will do everything for me …….except apply my hemorrhoid cream which she makes me do myself.

I love her very much and, of course, we have been blessed with the miracle that is growing inside her tummy. We never thought we would be so lucky. I am thankful that I have a wonderful family. The best Mum and Dad in the world, a wonderful mother in law and a sister who, despite being a little smelly at times, has brought two wonderful kids and a good friend in her husband Paul into our lives.

I have many super friends both at sea and ashore and of course……..I have you …….my extended family of bloggers. ………..the thousands of people who daily read my stupid musings about cruising and life in general……….I am eternally grateful that you are all part of my life.

And so, Heidi and I wish you and your families a brilliant Thanksgiving Day and I hope you will join me here on the blog thingy tomorrow.

Right, time to head to the kitchen where Heidi has spent the day feeling sorry for the dead bird currently turning a golden brown in our oven. “It’s a turkey,” I keep telling her, which I added are basically vegetables. We’re talking here about a bird which is so daft that it can operate normally with no head.

I honestly don’t understand this. Out there in the real world away from the 21st-century supermarket/freezer/microwave chain of catering, there are insects which eat their partners after rumpy pumpy, there are snakes that will vomit on you when threatened, there are spiders that crawl out of the toilet and bite you on the bottom while you are reading Carnival Currents and doing your number two’s. And there are leopard seals that play aquatic tennis, using penguins as the ball.

So in the big scheme of things, having your head cut off quickly and without pain so you can nestle on my plate surrounded by roasted potatoes is a good way for the turkey to spend his or her last days.

Happy Thanksgiving
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.