Chris Carvell died over the weekend. He was one of the guys who opened the PI Casino, now Atlantis, in 1967, and had an interesting history. In 1975, he was fired on suspicion of something that never was, and got his job back eighteen months later, only to go into surveillance – which must prove that he had been fired by mistake – before he left for good a couple of years later. Many will know him from the ships of RCCL and its component parts where he was casino manager on the Emerald Seas, and later shore manager for all eleven west coast ship casinos. He was the sort of guy who knew many stories, some on this site, and how to tell them. He was also the subject of several stories himself. I hope that he will be remembered fondly, as he was a singular character, as well as mentor to many, all of whom, myself included, will miss him.
I will offer one story he told me that not too many of you will know. As an army brat, he moved around a lot, not coming to the UK until he was a teenager. Once back, he won a scholarship to Westminster school for his final year. I think he told me this one as I was a public schoolboy as well, and could better understand what he said. Many of you will know that Chris loved to play poker, and it should come as no surprise that it was one of the pastimes he followed while at this eminent school.
A year after he left, he came back for Old Boys Day. While wandering around, reacquainting himself with everything, he heard a loud voice from an upstairs window. “Carvell, is that you?” He turned his head to see the teacher who had been his housemaster. The turn of the head told the master that he was indeed the person he suspected he was, and added, “Come up here.” Reaching the master’s study, he was invited to sit, and then asked, “Carvell, did you organize a poker game while you were here?”
Chris, thinking the question innocuous, answered, smiling, “Yes sir, I did.”
The master’s next words were ones he had not expected. “You are expelled from this school. Please don’t come back here again.”
Whatever Chris thought about this sudden and delayed action didn’t affect his outlook on life. Within a year he was running the poker room at the Golden Nugget Casino on Shaftesbury Avenue in Soho. It was his entree into the Casino business.
I suppose you could say that it is often the case that the unexpected things you learn at public schools can have a huge impact on your life.