January 19, 2009 -

John Heald

At the moment I am supposed to be halfway across the Atlantic Ocean, sipping a Diet Coke and having my every whim catered too by a gorgeous 20-something American Airlines flight attendant…….but I am not. I am sitting here in my office at home ……… pissed off……..dreadfully pissed off.

I live about two hours from Heathrow Airport and had decided to leave in plenty of time for my 9:55 am flight to Miami. And so it was that this morning at 4:30 am I drove my Hertz hired car away from home and headed to the world’s busiest international airport.

I won’t say I was enjoying the drive because I had just left Heidi……more of that in a moment …….and the weather was horrendous. There are of course many serious automobile accidents in the UK every year which are usually due to incompetence, bad weather……….or the French. For the last few weeks lovely Lisa the SKY weather lady and her BBC counterpoint, the lovely Fred, have issued a severe weather warning.

Two weeks ago they said the whole east coast was to be engulfed by a flood so massive and so destructive that billions would die in screaming agony. Last week they were banging on about fog so dense and impenetrable that we’d all be eaten by werewolves we never saw coming. ……..of course, we all ignored them. That’s because weather people are upset because they are not news readers and don’t have interesting stuff like murder and war to talk about and all they’ve got to talk about is drizzle and clouds in the west by mid-morning. So they try to spice things up a bit, to make their job look a bit more interesting.

Last night they issued one that said the east coast would be subject to high winds and driving freezing rain ……….and they were right. Conditions were amazingly bad and would have been OK if I had been driving my Polar Bear killing machine that is the Range Rover.

Unfortunately I was in a Hertz rent-a-car…….a Korean thing that was about as comfortable in the rain as I am doing my debarkation talk naked.

Anyway, to get to Heathrow from my house I needed to drive on the freeway that we call the Motorway 25 …..the M25 as it is known. I sped along, the Korean engine sounded like Judge Judy being dipped in an acid bath and the windshield wipers were on full speed but having bugger all effect. Then, as the road ahead came into view, I spotted with dread – the forming jam.

This, then, is what I wrote while stuck in traffic on my raspberry………I have left it the way it is so I apologize for any spelling or grammar mistakes.

You know the feeling: the optimist is saying that it is only a slight delay and you’ll be through it and out the other side in no time, the pessimist – noting the flashing hazard lights on vehicles in front indicating that traffic has come to a dead stop – realises that this one is bad and you will be sitting motionless for some time. On my left is a pretty woman driving a Lexus LS 460. She ignores me and edges off as I remain stationary. Damn, wrong lane. Shall I risk wrath and edge into the middle lane? Or chance my theory – based neither on science nor the most rudimentary understanding of traffic flow – that all lanes progress equally in traffic jams………….. A stupad point since I can’t move at all: Lexus woman is followed by a big truck with German tags . And he is letting no one in. …………maybe he learnt to drive in Miami.

I am blocked in. It’s like being in a sensory deprivation tank smelling of diesel and cheap Korean made cloth interior. I haven’t moved for 1 hour and ten minutes. I am due in Heathrow no later than 8:45pm. I do what Americans call “the math”: to reach the airport in time, I have to travel at exactly 143mph…………..the Korean’s top speed is 90pm………….down hill with a hurricane blowing behind you and definatley not acheivable with a big fat sod like me behind the wheel.

Meanwhile, across the barriers, vehicles travelling anticlockwise move freely between lanes, speeding towards their destination. It feels like they are laughing at us.

Then, suddenly, I start to move. First gear, second gear, third gear and then we stop again…………….and the pretty lady in the Lexus has been replaced by a man in a Ford who is currently picking his nose ……bugger.

OK, I am back……eventually I put down the Raspberry because even though the car was not moving it is still illegal to use a communication device of any kind in a car ……yet the man with his entire hand up his nose is free to mine for boogers and eat them…….on toast.

The radio soon told me what had happened. A chemical tanker had skidded on the wet road and had done something they call “jack-knifed” and tipped over………..and that was that ………I was buggered.

I obviously sparred a thought for the truck driver and the other drivers that had been involved in the incident……eventually, another one hour and 40 minutes later when I did eventually crawl past the accident site, it certainly looked nasty……..my thoughts are with those involved.

However, my thoughts were also with me and my flight. I eventually reached Heathrow and, after dumping the car back at Hertz ready for some other unfortunate sod to drive, I put my suitcases on a trolley, one of which weighs more than an elephant’s scrotum …….. and ran (OK, walked fast) to the American Airlines desk. It was now 9:20 am ……..I had been up since 3:30 am and I was very, very tired. I realized that there was no way they would let me get on this flight as everyone was onboard but I had a cunning plan. I asked the lady behind the ticket desk if I could fly via Boston as there was a flight taking off later ………yes she said………..but that will be $3,000. You see, Carnival has special arrangements with the airlines for fares for guests and crew and you need a special secret code. I didn’t know the code or the secret handshake that goes with it…..and thinking that Carnival probably would not be too happy if I spent $3,000 I gave up……went for a poo…..went to Starbucks……then back to Hertz……hoping I wouldn’t get my Korean friend back I trudged over to my car……….it wasn’t a Korean thing………it was a Peugeot …………..which is French………………and that summed up my morning.

And so, I drove back home, mad, angry, tired and with my wallet £79 lighter for having to pay for another car and knowing that I will have to do this all over again tomorrow.

Let’s take a quick break.

Over on www.bestblogsatsea.com you will see that James and the Arcadia have just been to Egypt.

Please have a read of his blog and you will also see some marvellous photos of the Pyramids. James also has a blog about P&O’s fantastic CARE program ……. great job James.

Now, if you want to experience not one but TWO world cruises without leaving your computer then you absolutely must read Alistair’s blog from the Cunard liner Queen Victoria. Nobody does a ’round the world voyage like Cunard and over the next few months Alistair will share the Cunard experience with you from onboard the incomparable Queen Victoria.

On January 19, 2008, many of you joined me for the first-ever Bloggers Cruise on the Carnival Freedom. That was one year ago today and it’s funny that today was so disheartening while this time last year we were hugging and laughing with each other……as we will be again soon. It was such a fun cruise and, of course, it gave birth to this years THREE bloggers voyages. I was of course supposed to be attending a big meeting with everyone tomorrow to finalize everything.

This has now been changed to Wednesday………my apologies to all concerned.

Now, I was thinking. Many of you have been reminiscing about the old days and therefore I have decided to bring back……..for just one cruise only…..the one and only and much missed…….Male Nightgown Bloggers Contest. I will go into details later this week but for now…..men………bring your nightgowns and lingerie…….and your cameras as we relive the old days and create the best blackmail photos ever. We will have special judges for this event and special prizes as well. It’s a throwback to the old days and will never……….ever …………be repeated. The rules will follow…..not that there are any.

I see I have lots of questions to answer which I will do on Wednesday I promise.

Now, I see I got a major bollocking because I didn’t film Heidi the other day on that long video thingy. Well, it was a last minute thing and …………I forgot. I therefore promise that Heidi will make a short video blog on Wednesday and we will let you all see the Thingy which is now……very visible.

Talking of Heidi:

Crying is a taboo for us men. I never cry and I think the last time I actually shed real tears was during Leo’s funeral in The West Wing and during an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition when Ty and his mates built a special house for a soldier who had lost both his legs while serving in Iraq………the flood gates opened on that one.

As they did this morning when I said goodbye to my wife. She understands I have job to do and that I will see her in April……..but as I headed to Heathrow Airport I cried ……….like a big soppy girl………because I will miss her so very much………..and now tomorrow…………I have to do it all over again.

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.