Donkey Madness……..And the 2008 Awards

December 29, 2008 -

John Heald

Well………it’s all over for another year. I do really enjoy the Christmas holidays; it’s just that the lead-up to the event is so bloody stressful. I realized that as I didn’t write a blog thingy on the 25th and 26th that I had forgotten to tell you about the hell of shopping at Christmas……….not for gifts………but for food. Heidi and I decided on a dawn raid on our local supermarket which is called Waitrose the day before Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, our plans were discovered and the secret was out. We arrived to find that everyone in Essex was trying to do the same – it was a total and utter nightmare…

In one corner families struggled for control of the pancetta……….which seems to be the “in thing “this year. Elsewhere pitched battles were being fought in the goose fat aisle after celebrity chef Jamie Oliver had announced that this was what you should put on your roasted potatoes this year.

Some people had built shopping trolley barricades and had completely sealed off both the Christmas pudding and Brussels sprout areas. Heidi did her best and threw everything we could find into our trolley while I kept an eye out for trolley pinchers – these are the people who spot something in your trolley that they have forgotten and grab it from you.

Lined up down an aisle in a long queue to get to the cash registers, I heard a woman who looked like a horse ahead of me explode with rage as she turned to an ex-military looking type next to her, resplendent in mustard cords and vivid pink shirt: “This is unbearable. It’s complete chaos.” The military man nodded solemnly and then replied: “I know, I know, but it could be worse. We could be in Afghanistan.”

The lady calmed down as did all the rest of us. We might all be very stressed and bankrupt and in a queue with no end but at least we weren’t in Afghanistan, or, God forbid……………. Paris.

So, good morning everyone and in just a few days it will be 2009. This means that around the world in newspapers, Internet sites, on TV and in households everywhere people are looking back at the best and worst of 2008. For example…….Google revealed the most searched-for terms during 2008, I expected a list of whips, chains and the breasts of Britney Spears. Instead the winners were iPhones, Sarah Palin, and subprime. Britney, despite going totally and utterly bonkers this year, did not even feature…… I hoped to see www.johnhealdsblog.com there but I was nowhere to be seen.

One of the obscure sites that beat me were millions of very sad British people who Googled a school……….Oakwood School in south-east London, where 12-year-old students performed a “’new Nativity play” in which Mary muses over the extra benefits she will be able to claim while she is pregnant, the Three Wise Men are criticised for not turning up with Adidas and Burberry and Jesus turns water into Guinness……..what a load of bollocks.

I am back to writing to you on my own laptop……..but only just barely. The Internet provider thingy now works thanks not to the AOL man or should that be IOL (India Online) but to my mate Alan who having had similar problems was able to restore power yesterday. But…….the problems continue with the laptop itself. They say that artificial intelligence has not yet been achieved in the world of computing but my Dell has a brain all right. And it’s a vindictive little sod. It has come up with a new way of turning my nose hair grey. It won’t do the hyphen, which is a nuisance when I have to email this every week to someone@carnival in operations.

Anyway because Alan fixed my internet I promised him that today I would go with him to play the absurd game of golf. Apart from the fact that it’s freezing outside I don’t want to play golf…….I hate golf ……..I would rather shave Judge Judy’s back than play golf.

Golf is not mysterious. I understand absolutely why someone would play it once . . . and then decide to play it again. It’s not because they have a dressing up in Ralph Lauren fixation or because they dislike the company of women or because they secretly want to be a freemason. No. It’s because they think that if they keep playing, they might get a bit better.

Luckily, I was born with a body that renders me quite incapable of doing anything very well. Which means I never suffer from this.

Chess? I’m crap. Tennis? I’m so spectacularly bad, I can only just beat my six-year-old nephew. DIY? For me this is simply impossible. Even if I attempt something simple, such as hanging a picture, I end up in the ER, the painting ends up ruined and the wall ends up in the garden.

So when I played golf for the first time, I knew there would never be a second. There would be no point. Even if I played every day for 1,000 years, the ball would still never travel more than six inches. And in all probability I’d end up with a severed jugular vein.

This is a good thing, of course, because it means my life is varied and interesting. I never do the same thing twice whereas someone who has a hobby does exactly the same thing day after interminable day. My mate Danny, for instance, enjoys taking old car engines to pieces and then putting them back together again, as slowly as possible. Consequently, this is all he does.

My friend Michael, meanwhile, likes to spend all his free time standing up to his testicles in dirty water trying to outwit a fish, a creature with less brain capacity than a washing machine.

Anyway, later today I will be moving bits of frozen grass round the course and swearing in as many languages as I can. As I said I hate golf but as I owe my friend I shall suffer the consequences…….oh by the way………….isn’t the idea of playing golf to get the lowest score possible?…..in that case, I shall stay at home…………score nothing ……… and win.

Thanks so very much to all of you for taking the time to give us your honest opinions on our new commercials. I read with interest each and every one as did all our Carnival executives. I did find it interesting that some of you thought we should have used the towel animals in the commercials. Well, that’s all well and good if you have cruised on a Carnival ship before but if you haven’t then I am sure you would be thinking “what was that?”

However, I can at the same time see where many of you are coming from and it will be brilliant to read your thoughts on the next group of commercials which have all ready been filmed………aboard a Carnival Ship. These will be premiered soon and again I can’t say anything else about them as my friends at the “What’s Carnival Doing of the Seas” may be reading this. What I can say though is thanks again for your wonderful passion and for taking the time to write in. The beach ball commercial will now be shown here tomorrow……I know you will like that one.

I wanted to write more today about just why next year should be THE year to take a Carnival cruise. But I couldn’t. I walked round the house until my shoes were worn out, I have looked at the view, I have drunk gallons of monkey tea and I was unable to form a cohesive opinion.

Here’s the problem. I like to think I am a journalist. I know the world’s proper journalists will say “bugger off, are you a journalist?” at that and explain that two years writing a blog about ship’s and hemmeroids don’t make me a proper reporter, any more than the fact that I have a thingy entitles me to being a porn star.

I really wanted to write something uplifting and sincere and was about to send this blog without when suddenly my cell phone went “da da da weeeee” and there as if sent by God was a text.

I have been friends with Mr. and Mrs. and Gatetholes for a long time having lived near them in our previous house. I persuaded them to try and cruise and so back in 2002 we sailed together on the Carnival Legend….they have been hooked ever since. However, a few days ago they flew from the UK to Nassau to escape the winter cold here in the UK. ….here then is what he said in his text to me today…….if I can figure out to cut and paste from my e-mail.

Hello J
I am at the Atlantis Hotel in Nassau Bahamas. It’s mind boggling how people can afford this place and what they get for their money. The property is beautiful but the service is so-so which you can’t complain about because there isn’t any. A burger is $26, pasta with tomato sauce is $40 yet the place is bloody packed. Why are these people here and not on one of your cruises? In fact, why am I here and not on one of your cruises?
Best to you and Heidi and I promise I won’t forget the £200 I owe you.
Brian

And that was that. I didn’t need to write anything else. I am not knocking Atlantis, I its great and a must visit if you are ashore for the day during your cruise………but come on………..$40 for a bowl of pasta with ketchup?…..Unless it’s served by naked supermodels and comes with a complimentary Rolex Daytona……….that’s just ridiculous.

There are so many people out there who do not know about the wonders of cruising ……. that’s not their fault, it’s ours for not educating them……..but we will…….because onboard our ship’s there is Fun For All ………And All For Fun………..and the pasta is included.

By the way…….having spent so much money in Nassau I know that I will never see the £200 he owes me………bugger.

Well, it’s been a momentous year. The blog thingy reached 3.5 million readers. Carnival Splendor had a brilliant inaugural season as did Eurodam, P&O’s Ventura, Ruby Princess, AIDABella and a Costa ship whose name for now escapes me …….and, of course, after the Carnival Splendor listed one night while I was dreaming of Jessica Simpson …….Heidi was with child.

There have been some low points, as well………. EasyJet incarceration. If the police want to lock you up, they have to arrest you. If EasyJet wants to do it, it just closes the plane doors and keeps you sitting for hours on the tarmac. Then cancels the flight. Idiots.

And so, with that in mind I would like to take this opportunity to launch the first ever www.johnhealdsblog.com awards……that means you can’t, of course, vote for me in any of the categories.

You will see the categories below and I would ask as many of you to answer as possible. Maybe you don’t usually post comments but in this case and if you have the time I would like to ask that you do. We will post all the answers and this will I am sure make for wonderful reading. So……without further ado………..here are the 10 categories for you to post your votes on.

1. YOUR FAVOURITE CARNIVAL SHIP ……………..AND WHY
2. THE OUTSTANDING CARNIVAL CREW MEMBER AWARD
3. THE OUTSTANDING CARNIVAL SHORESIDE EMPLOYEE AWARD
4. THE BEST CARIBBEAN PORT OF CALL
5. THE BEST NON CARIBBEAN PORT OF CALL
6. THE BEST ONBOARD SHOW FEATURING THE DANCERS AND SINGERS
7. THE BEST CARNIVAL SHIPBOARD ENTERTAINER AWARD
8. YOUR FAVORITE ONBOARD DINNER MENU ITEM
9. YOUR FAVORITE ONBOARD DESSERT
10. THE BEST BLOG GUEST INTERVIEW AWARD
– who, out of the year’s captains, corporate executives and special guests I interviewed, did you find to be the most captivating?

Everyone at Carnival looks forward to reading your answers and I hope as many of you as possible will have fun with this.

If I was to hand out a stupidity award it would probably have to go to The European Union………who this week wrote to me stating that I must get passports for my donkey Mrs. S. Nob.

I tried to argue that I have no plans to take her aboard, or even out of the paddock thingy and that I had bought the donkey to stop her being turned into a tube of Super Glue, but it was no good. Council directive 90/426/EEC says that anyone with any horse, mule or donkey must get a passport. ……….at a cost of £20 ($32).

This was going to be a pain in the arse. Mrs S. Nob, our rescued grey donkey, is so stubborn that she won’t even go into her stable, so how in the name of all that’s holy was I supposed to get her into one of those photo booths? …….Small wonder that the Queen’s Daughter Princess Anne called the whole scheme “nonsense.”

So what, you might be wondering, is happening here? Why have those men with beards at the European Union in Brussels decided that all equine or asinine species must have a photo ID?

Well, and I promise you’re not going to believe this; the idea is that each passport will carry details of the animal’s medical history. This way you’ll know at a glance if it has been fed harmful drugs, should you decide to eat it.
Oh spiffing. One day I suddenly come over all peckish and decide that Mrs S. Nob’s hind leg would go well with a white wine sauce, I’ll be able to make sure that his previous owner did not feed him a drug that would make me grow two heads.

I think it’s worth pausing here for a moment. You see, over the years I have eaten a puffin, a snake, a whale (well, a bit of one), a reindeer, a crocodile and an anchovy. But I would sooner eat a Frenchman’s sock than my donkey. And I don’t think I’m alone on this one either.

In Britain, we have a line in the sand when it comes to what we will and what we will not put in our mouths. We will eat rats, so long as it’s called “chicken curries.” But we will not eat donkeys or horses.

Unfortunately, however, the line in the sands of Europe is a little further away. And consequently those buggers will eat anything.

In France you often find horse on the menu and in Germany, as has been recently reported, it’s not against the law to eat your dinner guests. Furthermore, I know they make salami out of the few donkeys in Spain that have not been hurled to their deaths from the nearest tower block. Over there across the water there is perhaps some argument for equine passports.

But do you believe for one minute that the farmers of Andalusia are actually going to act on the EU directive? Or do you think the letter will simply be fed to the mule?

That was my first reaction, I must admit. I thought it was a stupid joke and if I did nothing it would go away. But no. It turns out that in Britain, the only country in Europe where we don’t eat Mr. Ed or Eeyore, local authorities will be employing ass monitors to scour the countryside for unregistered donkeys and horses. And owners will be fined for non-compliance.

And so I have two choices. Pay the £20 and get a passport for Mrs S. Nob or invite you all round to my house for a barbecue……….who wants a leg?

Goodnight
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.