The Thingy……..Live on TV

December 18, 2008 -

John Heald

It’s been a strange a wonderful day. First of all………….let’s talk about the strange ………… this may be slightly
controversial…………and I truly don’t mean to upset anyone but, as always, have to speak my mind.

This morning we were in the hospital. There sitting in the waiting room were an openly gay couple (they spent the entire time kissing each other and nibbling ears and things) which was fine. I have many, many great and wonderful gay friends and although I joke with them as I do everyone and everything, it is done with care and respect.

What annoyed me this morning though was that the two young gay chaps had a one-year-old baby with them which they told us they had just adopted………..and I have to admit …… made my blood boil because Heidi and I had been refused as I was overweight and smoked a cigar now and then and worked abroad.

A lot of people are asking whether Christians and Muslims can co-exist in our shrinking world. But I’m more worried about the cocktail of young and old. Of course, it’s bad enough for me at 43 but what must it be like for my Mum and Dad…….. There can’t be a single thing in their lives that makes any sense at all. I guess the world is a new and different place and while I wish Harry and Henry and their newly adopted child nothing but happiness……I am still totally bewildered that they could adopt and we couldn’t.

The world is getting stranger. You think its bad now but imagine what will happen when our kids are in charge. Internet reality TV from your next-door neighbors, public inquiries every time anyone dies, satellite speed traps, thinking computers, cloned dogs. vacations on Mars. The world is their oyster. But for the rest of us it’ll be a huge incomprehensible pile of poo.

As I sat there and watched Harry and Henry play tonsil hockey with each other, I noticed that the walls of the hospital waiting room were covered with posters advising parents to teach their children ……..about sex.

I realized…….after thinking for a while……… I couldn’t remember ever having had any sex education. I could dimly remember being led into a classroom for an end-of-term lecture on sex, but the teacher was as embarrassed as the rest of the class was and preferred to talk about sex in terms of lupines. There happened to be a vase of lupines in the room and he explained in some detail how lupines got fertilised, and then added hastily that it was much the same with human beings.

This served me moderately well in the years to come as far as gardening was concerned, but as it was the last bit of direct sex education I ever got, it didn’t bode well for my future as a parent. There was a book that circulated unofficially at my next school, when we were all in our mid-teens, called Lady Chatterley’s Lover which was the most borrowed book from the library and was, therefore, how the majority of the boys at my school learned where babies came from.

And that was that. The only sex education I received before the age of 20 was from a lecture on lupines and a book about Victorian rumpy pumpy. Oh, and from dirty stories. For a while, in my teens, I played trombone in a brass band and I had never heard anything like the dirty stories which the guys told in the band room. I memorized them all, confident in the knowledge that one day I would understand them, and now I do, and so I suppose that was also part of my education.

And so the mysteries of this pregnancy thing continue to astound me. I have had to get used to Heidi wearing grandmother knickers. All women have these and are hidden away until the ink on the marriage certificate is dry. Heidi has started to wear these maternity ones that I am sure in case of an emergency could be used as a parachute. These huge pairs of underwear must have been hidden away in cupboards…..women love to do this ……..have things hidden away. Not so with men. I want all my CD’s and DVD’s on display like trophies of war. I want other men who visit my house to see that I own copies of Godfather 1 and 2 but not 3 and every season of Sopranos, West Wing and that I don’t own any Desperate Housewives or Sex and the City.

Anyway, I am rambling. So, let me remind you that on Christmas Day, the new Carnival commercials will being airing. I will let you know when exactly. I can tell you that I have been added to the cutting room floor which is of no surprise, however, I hear that it’s a brilliant new concept of selling the incomparable style of Carnival fun……I can’t wait to see it.

Remember tomorrow is the Carnival Dream blog featuring about a dozen short videos as well as my take on why this ship will be one you will not want to miss out on. So join me tomorrow for a Dream come true.

Congratulations yet again to Carnival Cruise Lines for winning yet another award. Here are the details.


Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines was named “Best Domestic Cruise Line” at Travel Weekly’s annual Readers Choice awards, receiving more votes than any other cruise line in this category.

Carnival was recognized for its wide-ranging cruise offerings aboard its 22-vessel fleet which operates three- to eight-day voyages to the Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, and New England from 18 North American departure points. That number will expand to 19 when line launches Baltimore’s first year-round cruise program aboard the Carnival Pride in April 2009.

The line’s newest and largest ship, the 130,000-ton Carnival Dream, launches year-round service from Port Canaveral, Fla., in December 2009 following a series of 12-day European voyages.

CAPTION: Carnival’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Guest Services Lynn Torrent is pictured here with the line’s “Best Domestic Cruise Line” award at Travel Weekly’s annual Readers Choice Awards.


Brilliant…………and once again we say well done to the entire Carnival team.

Heidi and the Thingy have become public property. Nine months ago I could not imagine that a stranger would smile at her, then reach out to tenderly pat her on her tummy. But now strangers do, with no obvious sense of reticence or embarrassment – instead they just ask whether we know if it is a boy or a girl and is she resting enough? …..I am used to guests doing this on the ship……to me…….thinking they are the first ever guests to ask me when it’s due.

Anyway, I have come to realize that this typifies the experience that noticeably pregnant women can expect from people they know – and people they don’t. I can’t imagine asking a stranger much less intimate questions, such as what their mortgage repayments are, or what they earn or do they know who the father is. Even the question of whether or not you had “planned” the conception seems to be socially acceptable……yep, while we were waiting for the scan this morning another couple asked if the Thingy was planned. ……as we were already in the hospital I saw no reason not to hit him over the head with a chair………but instead I just smiled and said “yes.”

This is just another aspect of Heidi being pregnant that I have had to learn to live with these past few weeks I have been home. I might be tempted to write this off as just another irritating side-effect of pregnancy. But the ease with which individuals and institutions give out advice – and cause Heidi alarm about our Thingy – doesn’t stop with patting her tummy and asking how many times a week you had rumpy pumpy before it worked. I have watched my wife react to scare stories in the press over the past month about the “risks” of pregnancy that it is difficult to imagine how women ever managed to give birth before we had all this “advice.”

Take sunshine. In one of the pregnancy magazines my wife insists on reading designed to advise pregnant women that they should not sunbathe lest they overheat the fetus. I read this and have no doubt that it is important – to women who are living in a Jacuzzi. But seriously, do pregnant women really need to be told this in an $8 magazine? Do the majority of those who are pregnant really want to melt on the Caribbean beach in a G-string …….Are people really that nuts that they need to be told not to do that?

The problem is the sheer amount of bad information about risk that pregnant women are meant to absorb happily (along with their folic acid and recommended pre-pregnancy exercise classes). Pregnancy is presented as a major feat to get “right.” Let me list some of the advice in Heidi’s magazine.

Don’t drink, don’t eat liver (who eats liver?) I would rather eat my own hair); don’t drink too much coffee/tea (caffeine), or eat too much chocolate (more caffeine); don’t eat unpasteurized cheese; don’t eat pâté; don’t change your cat-litter tray; don’t eat raw meats or sushi; don’t gain too much weight; don’t put on too little. In case that lot is not enough to worry about, you also shouldn’t get stressed, it lowers the baby’s IQ, apparently and too much stress may result in the Thingy being born with three heads or a brain that will later in life make stupid choices like getting a tattoo or cruising on RCI.

I am sure much of the above is true but from what I know the danger of most of the above is pretty small. Whereas the risk of Heidi becoming a nervous wreck at the thought of all the rules is, for me, quite large. I want to give you the perfect example about this.

Yesterday, Heidi and I went to a little cafe we both love. While I ordered my usual cheese and onion omelette and fries Heidi studied the menu. She then decided on a baked potato with a coleslaw dressing. Now the waitress, who was my Mum’s age, looked at her as though she had just ordered Peacock penis on toast……she eyed her rather suspiciously and then said “You’re pregnant aren’t you?“………..”Yes,” said Heidi…………….”Well, you shouldn’t eat coleslaw then,” and off she went to tell us all about the risk of something called listeria infection. This bacteria can cause miscarriage and premature labor. “Make that two omelettes,” said Heidi………”and neither of us will ever eat coleslaw ever again.”

But, all this is unimportant because today I got to see the Thingy live and in person. I cannot express in words how I felt…….all I know is that I am one lucky sod. It’s extraordinary to think that in a few months I will be a Dad. We sat there as the doctor showed us the Thingy’s head, spine, heart and limbs and I resisted the temptation to ask the Doc if it was normal that our Thingy looked like something Sigourney Weaver used to do battle with in the Alien movies.

After much discussion we have decided not to find out the sex of our baby. Sex has not played an important part in my life so far so why change now! ……..Seriously, we have both decided to wait………..although for some strange reason………Heidi thinks it’s a girl and I think it’s a boy. We will know in May ……………………..and so will you.

So, it has been a rewarding and for some reason an exhausting day. I am ready for the challenge ahead and I will do everything I can to make sure I am the best Dad in the world. The only thing that worries me though is that the Thingy will grow up deprived of having the experience of driving with his Dad in an Aston Martin DBS……..the poor little thing will never know what it will feels like to sit with his Father and accelerate from 0 – 60 in 4.2 seconds…………..what am I going to do?

Sorry that the blog is a bit shorter today ……….and thanks for all your kind words, see you with a Carnival Dream blog tomorrow.

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.