Waiting for the First Sign

April 16, 2009 -

John Heald

This is the headline I woke up to this morning

Government to offer £5,000 to boost green cars

UK motorists are to be offered subsidies of up to £5,000 to purchase hybrid and electric cars under government plans to be unveiled today, as new figures suggest that scrappage incentive schemes are reversing the slump in car sales across Europe.

As an Aston Martin-loving human, this was news that sent me straight to the bathroom. Now I know that one day the oil will run out or that Mohammed El Shite will tell us we can’t have any more and to bugger off and yes……….even I know that we must look at sensible ways to find alternative fuels. I also know that we are living in an increasingly technological world. The demand for phones that are computers, cruise ship engines that run on cow poo and Playstaionxboxes that can kill zombies. So maybe it’s unfair to compare electric cars with anything that has an internal combustion engine. Perhaps it would be fairer to put these vehicles up against my toaster or cappuccino machine.

There is a sequence in the John Travolta film Be Cool where he turns up at a club in an electric car. Travolta parks it next to Danny DeVito, who is in a Ferrari. An incredulous DeVito asks Travolta: “Is speed not important to you?” Travolta replies: “If you’re important, people will wait for you.” That sounds cool, but sadly the reality is not. People won’t wait for you if you drive an electric car……..or if they do, they’ll be waiting a bloody long time.

The thing about electric cars is they’re made for people who don’t like cars in the first place. The reason electric cars don’t sell is because the sort of person that might buy one is sitting on a bus or riding a bike — cars just aren’t their thing.

Let me start by saying I’m not averse to the charms of electric vehicles. I remember the fun Heidi and I had in one at the local golf club a few years ago. Now I don’t play golf and neither does she, but we hired a couple of golf carts and tore round the scenery, generally getting in the way and trying to jump things. I would thoroughly recommend the activity to anyone because the thing about golf carts is they’re fun, nippy little things. The problem is, London isn’t a golf course.

The electric car is a two-door two-seater, although there is a bench in the back that you could fit two small children on, if you didn’t like them. The overall look of the car is not dissimilar to a Smart car which, from what I understand, is now available in the USA and driven by people on Miami’s I-95 who have a death wish.

What you’d want from an electric car would be the excitement of something like the land speeder in Star Wars. Sadly the reality of driving these is closer to getting a piggy back on top of R2D2.

Both cars run off the mains. You plug them in (using all manner of extension leads hanging out the kitchen window) and they magically recharge. Both claim to have a range of 40 to 50 miles, which sounds fine until you find that figure only holds true if you drive it at the pace of a dead rabbit.

Electricity is tricky to come by on the open road. I imagined the scenario where I would have to knock at someone’s front door, plug in hand, and ask to borrow a cup of electricity. I did come up with an idea while driving the G-Wiz on how to power it if it ran out of juice — kick out the floor panel (and with this type of build quality that shouldn’t pose a problem) and, Fred Flintstone style, run home, yabba dabba do.

I haven’t driven one and I may be talking out of my bottom as usual but I do know there is another problem with the government’s idea. People of my Mum and Dad’s generation won’t even consider buying one………because they won’t leave anything plugged in overnight.

Let’s do some questions

Irene Garner Asked:

Dear John….Please reply
Just got back from our weekend cruise to Mexico, on the Carnival Paradise. We had another great cruise thanks to Carnival, and their wonderful staff. I want to thank the O2 director, Jeanette on the Carnival Destiny who passed along my grandson’s name to the Club O2 director, Sean on Carnival Paradise, so that when my grandson arrived at the Club O2 club he was expected, and was warmly welcomed. He was allowed to join in all the Club O2 activities for the whole weekend even though he turned 18 on the 2nd day. He made lots of new friends.
I am still catching up on the blogs I missed over the weekend but I have noticed that you were kind enough to acknowledge my request for something special for my grandson on his birthday. Unfortunately the message didn’t get through to the staff on the Carnival Paradise as there was nothing there for him. We didn’t get to meet our room steward, so I had no chance to ask him or her if there was a gift from you…but I do appreciate the fact that you did try.
Anyway, back to work today so I can earn some money for my next cruise.
Thanks again….Irene Garner
(Hooked on Cruising)

John Says:

Hello Irene
I received an e-mail of apology from the cruise director of the Carnival Paradise last night. He had the photo and gift thinking it was for this cruise ………..I am so sorry. Can you please send me your mailing address and I will make sure he gets it immediately and again sorry about letting you down. It sounds like he had a wonderful time and please write soon
My best to you both

Elizabeth Gwin Asked:

I had a question for you that I sent in on 4/6 I marked to please reply but also not to post, do you still get it and can you reply directly to my email. — copied from Frazer, 4/14—
I sent in a comment/question a few weeks ago… Didn’t ask for a response, now I wish I had.
We are going on the Ecstasy May 16 to celebrate my b’day. I am getting nervous about it. We were on the Ecstasy in Dec. 2007 and it wasn’t wonderful but after reading the blog I wanted to try again. Could you please “pat me on the head” and tell me it will be fine?

John Says:

Hello Elizabeth
I am glad you resent your comment in marked for a reply. Stephanie only sends me the comments that are marked with these words as ones to reply to and even though I truly do read each and every comment I will only respond to the ones where I am asked to do so. Anyway, I am not sure what happened during your 2007 Carnival Ecstasy cruise that has made you nervous but let me say this. I know that the staff and crew will be ready to make sure this is the best vacation and the most fun vacation you have ever had. Why not drop me a line later and tell me what concerns you have so we can discuss further?
You will have a brilliant time……….I promise
Hope to hear from you soon
Best Regards

catrin Asked:

Hey John… (Please reply)
Checking in from the Carnival Pride… those pictures do not do her justice!
Just a couple of comments…
One… we are still paying for access to your blog… it would be a wonderful thing if I could actually read the entire post, but admit I am skimming through it due to the internet charges….
Two…they are not offering “24 Kt Gold Plastic Ship on a Stick” for Trivia Prizes this cruise! I have won two trivia games so far … (whoo hoo!).. And although the medals are cool… there is something elusive and very special about that silly golden trophy!
I am glad that Steve received one for being on stage with Mark opening night… for I have traded my two medals for his trophy!
Things are great… great cruise, terrific crew…. great time!

John Says:

Hello Catrin
Hello to you on the Carnival Pride and thanks for writing in. I am so bloody mad about this blog thing. I do not know why you have to pay for it as it is part of carnival.com. I will not give up the fight and I will one win it. For now, please accept my apologies. I need your cabin number please and lets get you that trophy. I will also copy the ship and make sure they take care of you. Have a brilliant time and please send my best to everyone there

Jeanette Asked:

John, very diplomatic response to the Oasis comment. Personally, I think the Dream will be a far superior ship as she will be A) a Carnival ship, and B) won’t have a climbing wall, FlowRider, skating ring, and all the crap that RCI is putting on that ship.
I have a question about the Dream. I want a balcony cabin that overlooks the water, and not the promenade, but I do NOT want a Cove balcony, I’d rather book a spa category cabin. The deck plans are not clear, but it looks like they all overlook the outdoor promenade.
Yet another question–my edocs for Splendor spa suite say nothing about VIP and VIP boarding. Do I need to get to my TA and get them to get Carnival to correct that. I paid enough, I want to see the VIP on the edocs!!!!
Kids movies–anything but DISNEY!! No Disney, evil Disney!!!! I hate Disney……
Cheers to you, Heidi, and thingee or thingette.

John Says:

Hello Jeanette
Thank you for the kind words…..love the Thingette thing. OK, let’s start with your Carnival Splendor e-docs that do not state that you are entitled to early embarkation. Please yes…..contact your TA and make sure they know but regardless when you arrive at the terminal you go to the VIP Check In desk. Then, when you disembark you will be given zone tag number one which allows you to disembark at your leisure or first if you wish.
The Carnival Dream balconies are all amazing including the cove balconies. I suggest you book one on deck 7, 8 or 9 or preferably 10………….here is the deck plan for deck 10 which will I think fit your parameters perfectly.

Now obviously the Spa Suites are incredible and the access and amenities of our Cloud 9 Spa are simply stunning. Anyway….have a look at the deck plan and if you have any further questions please let me know. I will be onboard in June so look out for more photos and video then.
Best wishes to you and the family

Carol Schoenberger Asked:

Good morning John & Heidi,
It’s a rainy Wednesday morning in NY, but I’m reading your blog thingy – so all is well.
Definitely, all the Disney “Classics” are worth watching as a family, along with some of the newer ones – “The Lion King” and “Lady and the Tramp” are my favorites, but my nephew’s 3-yr. old son loves “Cars”. I saw the original “Love Bug” the other day on TV. Some of the old ones really are the best.
OK, JOHN, PLEASE REPLY: Do you know or can you find out if all the ships’ photo centers develop film from those throwaway cameras? I want to take another camera with me besides my digital when I’m on the Dream. The last time on the Miracle I had brought my other camera, which is a model that uses APS film – that’s the one that allows different size photos. But I was told it couldn’t be developed on the ship. So before I bring along the throw-aways, I’d like to know if they can be developed. Thanks,
Catch ya’later,

John Says:

Hello Carol
How’s your back? We have been thinking about you.
Yes, we still develop regular film including the photos taken from disposable cameras. However, with the digital age we live in I am not sure if we intend to continue to do this. So, please allow me to check today and I will give you the correct information tomorrow Carol.
My favorite Disney Movies were Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Escape to Witch Mountain.
I will write soon.

Patricia Asked:

Hello John et al., I have been away from the page for months, having had a lot of “Stuff” going on, like a 96-year-old mother-in-law who fell, broke her hip, and then had a stroke. She’s stable now so I’m returning to the pleasures of cyberspace and needlework. Larry and I are hopeful we can travel again soon and are looking into cruising Alaska before it melts. Hopefully, pirates have not yet made it their next target. So, catch me up. When is Thingy due, is it a boy or a girl, and does Heidi still want a cross-stitched hooded towel or is she absolutely drowning in gifts? Is there a nursery theme or name I can add to the towel? Please reply ASAP! Patricia

John Says:

Hello Patricia
I was saddened to read your news and I cannot imagine the heartache you have been going through these past months. However through a daughter-in-law’s love it seems Mum is doing better now and I hope that this continues for a long time to come. Heidi is due on May 10 and we do not know if it’s a boy thingy or a girly thingy…….it will be a surprise for sure. So many of the bloggers have sent gifts and their kindness, like yours, is overwhelming. I am sure you have enough to worry about with Mum to look after and just knowing that you are thinking of us is enough. Maybe when Mum gets better you can crotchet something for the Thingy.
No Pirates in Alaska……….too cold.
We will continue to think about you and welcome back to the blog thingy
Nest wishes to all the family

That’s all for now…………wow…………that was an easy group of questions…………there will be more tomorrow and please let me know what I can do for you and remember please mark your questions for my reply if you wish me to respond.

Yesterday I asked for your comments on whether you would like to cruise to Cuba. Please if you have time post your thoughts on this. I read quite a few so far most of which were positive. Yet, there were one or two who said understandably that because of what has happened there and that they would never want to go…………..what do you think?

Smoking, as we know, continues to be a huge topic and many of you replied to yesterday’s question on smoking on the balconies. It made for very interesting reading and what made it so was that there were again comments from people who would wish that we stop allowing smoking on the balconies to those who politely said that they should be allowed to do so. One lady (Maribeth) wrote a very nice posting explaining how she is a “considerate” smoker.

Please again, I urge you to drop me a comment if you indeed have an opinion on this subject, remembering that far more important people than me are reading the blog as well and it’s these people, through your opinions who shape the policies of this great company………….so please, send me your thoughts.

Yesterday we also spoke about dress code in the Lido deck restaurants. It was suggested that men are eating with no shirt on and many are walking without shows. Let’s discuss this a bit further but first……..I thought I would share the dress code policies with you again. Here they are:

Casual attire is the order of the day. We suggest shorts, sundresses, tank tops, etc. for the ladies, and for men; shorts, polo shirts, T-shirts, etc. will do. However, for dining you may want to dress up a bit and/or bring along a light sports jacket or cardigan.

Most evenings we have a Cruise Casual dress code, but there are those Cruise Elegant evenings one or two nights throughout your “Fun Ship” voyage, where you will have the Opportunity to showcase your more elegant attire. For those who want casual attire for dinner time, the Seaview Bistro on the Lido Deck is open nightly, and has a more relaxed theme. Both dress codes for the dining rooms are described below.

Now, as you will see we don’t actually have anything listed here for the Lido Deck during the day. Do you think we should? I read the comments posted so far and I agree with people like Big Ed who said that it is a casual place to eat and indeed we cannot ask people to go back to put something on…………consider the Destiny/Conquest/Splendor class that has eight different entrances to the Lido restaurants. However………Since many important people at carnival read the blog thingy a decision has been made already to add the following to the dress code flyers, pre cruise information and capers.

“Shirts and shoes/footwear (flip-flops) must be worn at all times inside the Lido Restaurant.”

Lido Deck Restaurant Daytime Attire – Inside Areas

We kindly remind all our guests to please make sure that they are wearing a shirt or T-shirt before entering the lido restaurant. Also, as condensation and accidental spillages may cause the floor to become slippery, please make sure that footwear is worn at all times

This shows that your thoughts and suggestions are so important on and are often acted upon. Therefore I urge you to keep sending in your comments……………they continue to be so important.

I knew Heidi was nesting when she told me the kitchen floor needed cleaning again. We had cleaned the floor just five days ago. (Actually, I am using the royal “we” here. I have never cleaned anything.)

It appears that she has suddenly became anxious that everything should be “ready” for the Thingy. Yesterday, I caught her carefully lowering her swollen belly to carpet level, so as to dust the feet of the dining chairs.

“Are you going into labor?” I asked her this morning.

Why? “She asked…………..”Well, I said you have just polished the front door handle.”

I told her that I paid a hugely exorbitant amount fee for a cleaner to come twice a week to do this and that obsessive cleaning was the “first sign of nesting………Heidi replied “but it’s also a sign of having a lazy husband who never gets up off his arse to do anything.” …….telling your husband that he is a bastard is apparently the second sign of nesting.

This morning when I asked how she was, she replied: “Well, my hips have gone, my back’s gone and my knees have gone.” She also had carpal tunnel syndrome, which meant she dropped stuff everywhere and couldn’t pick it up. The floors were strewn with strange objects left in surprising places — hair bands under the sink, a fork in the living room yet surprisingly the pain in her wrist didn’t stop her managing to pick up the pair of underwear that I had left on the bathroom floor and the first sign of nesting returned as yet again I was reminded of what bastard I am.

Today, the nesting has continued. Heidi tidied up a corner of our bedroom to clear a space for the baby’s Moses Basket Cot Bed Thingy, clothes, diapers and toys. Meanwhile, I tidied up my CD collection, disposing of my Black Sabbath and Deep Purple albums to clear a space for the Thingies’ Lullabies CD collection.

Sadly, I am informed, children do not appreciate the sacrifices their parents make for them, which begin long before they are even born.

As the Thingy’s possessions gradually edged our own into the periphery of our lives, our house has become full of squishy objects, some of which I could not immediately identify — such as the “head snuggler”……. which is used to stop the baby’s head from falling off.

This morning Heidi pressed a laundered and fabric-softened baby blanket to her face and inhaled. ……….”Ahhhh,” she said……..smells like a baby”………”Oh,” I replied….”Smells of poo and piss, does it?”……….yep…………….I’m once, twice, three times a bastard
So…….everything is ready for May 10 (or earlier). We have the route to the hospital memorized, the chair feet dusted, the Thingies clothes softened, the CDs culled and the bastard identified……….we are all ready………….we are just waiting for the first sign.

Never judge a book by its cover……..well, that is a wise statement indeed and here if you haven’t seen it is something that sums this up more than anything I have seen in a long time. Now as you may know, I am not a huge fan of Simon Bowell’s shows where people sing for his supper and he tells them to bugger off. However, last week during the British version of America’s Got Talent which is brilliantly named …… ummmmm ……. Britain’s Got Talent…..we met Susan Boyle……..a book that was judged immediately by her cover

Audience members laughed at the frizzy-haired, church-going Catholic who lives alone with her cat, when she said she wanted to follow in the footsteps of the West End star Elaine Paige. Nevertheless, she said, she was determined to show them she has what it takes. I have just watched this amazing video three times and am moved as much each time. The impact of Susan Boyle, her voice, spirit, and soul, is a testament to dreams, to heart, to believing. I invite you all to watch as she sings I Dreamed a Dream from Les Misérables and listen to a voice of breathtaking tunefulness and confidence.

So, click on this meet Susan Boyle…….an ordinary person with an extraordinary voice.


It’s just brilliant and I think we should have her sing at the naming ceremony of the Carnival Dream.

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.