Back where it all began and a Flying Kiwi again

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.
Martin Moodie

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The Heathrow Airport immigration officer, like so many of his ilk around the world, had not exactly earned a post-graduate degree at charm school. But his surliness didn’t worry me. What did irk, however, as he asked for my passport and that of my wife was that he wasn’t wearing a mask. Unlike every single passenger in the immigration zone (it is mandatory), that is. His colleague at the adjacent counter was wearing a mask. Around his chin.

Welcome to Britain. It beggars belief that in the midst of a global pandemic and with the new D (for Delta) variant raging throughout the country, that two government officials would consider it ok to make contact with thousands of passengers a day, handle their passports and neither protect themselves nor the travelling public. The contempt they show for public safety is especially galling given how rigorously Heathrow Airport management has worked to ensure the health and safety of its workforce and traveller clientele.

Moan over. I am delighted to be back in Britain, to see my family and, hopefully, some of my colleagues (now scattered far and wide over the UK and Ireland since we closed the London office last year). After the long flight from Hong Kong, the Test-on-Arrival at the Collinson centre at Heathrow Terminal 5 was a breeze thanks to the efficiency of Sebastien on the front desk and the appropriately named and quite wonderful Grace who performed the Nasopharyngeal Swab.

The next evening I was emailed my result – negative I am pleased to say – so can now look forward to my optional Test-to-Release on Day 5, Friday (my only fear is that all these Nasopharyngeal Swabs will play havoc with my wine nosing ability) before a final Day 8 Test-on-Arrival.

As a ‘travel trail’ service, the Collinson offer, efficiency and attention to detail is extraordinarily good and makes what could otherwise be a highly stressful process little more difficult than any other aspect of arranging international travel. That’s not a statement I thought I would ever make when I first contemplated making a visit home a few months back.

How good it was to be back on an aircraft, a Flying Kiwi again. Never did a glass of chilled Champers taste better, while the rediscovery and joy of the seatback flight map was better than any Netflix series you care to name. I almost wanted to parachute into Novosibirsk so happy was I to fly over it again. Heck, I was so glad to be in the sky that I nearly bought the Tangle Teezer Compact Styler Detangling Hairbrush (well it does say ‘Suitable for any hair type’) from duty free. I said nearly.

And how good it was to be back at Heathrow Airport, a magnificent facility where I know so many people have worked so tirelessly under the most difficult circumstances imaginable through this wretched crisis.

It’s been far too long between flights and I am not going to let that happen again, quarantine or no quarantine.

Speaking of which, home quarantine is certainly not a hardship. In fact it’s good to be back where The Moodie Report (as it then was) story began way back in 2002. The original worldwide headquarters (the garden shed) is still standing (in fact it’s weathered a whole lot better than its long-time occupant), my cellar remains sufficiently well-stocked even to withstand a month of my company, and the weather is a delightful 26 degrees, about ten degrees lower than the recent furnace-like blast of Hong Kong.

Still standing after all these years: The original headquarters of The Moodie Report
And still crazy after all these years: 19 years ago The Moodie Report was a one-man band run from the foot of the garden

I suspect, if the Heathrow immigration experience is anything to go by, I am going to discover a much more casual attitude here towards the pandemic and associated disciplines such as mask wearing. I won’t be joining those ranks. Hong Kong has proved (and taught me) the value of societal and individual discipline and I just hope that Britain doesn’t blow the very encouraging gains of recent months by easing its curbs too quickly and widely.

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