Losing track of time in the Lockdown Bureau

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

Greetings from The Moodie Davitt Report Interim (though it feels like eternal) Lockdown Bureau.

There’s a marvellous scene in a 1983 film called Local Hero, directed by Scot Bill Forsyth, and set in a tiny Scottish seaside village, when a high-octane, workaholic Houston oil representative (Peter Riegert as Mac MacIntyre), increasingly enchanted by the beauty of his new surroundings, drops his watch into a rockpool and doesn’t even notice. Time and business have begun to matter less for him and instead he is discovering nature, the stars, simplicity, kindness, and love.

Being in lockdown reminds me of that scene. Like MacIntyre my life has always been run according to time. A self-admitted workaholic, always mindful of (and working best to) the constant guillotine-like pressure of deadlines. I could not have imagined life without constant reference to my watch (I have two favourites, a Blancpain and a Hermès).

And then a strange thing happened. A few weeks ago the Hermès I was wearing stopped. Casually I took it off, reminding myself to wind it later and put it back on. But I never did. Nor my Blancpain which by now had stopped too. I haven’t worn either since.

Time starts to stand still. One day morphs into another. Like MacIntyre you start to notice other things that maybe matter more. I discovered that the birds outside my back door start their morning song at 4.07 or thereabouts, while it is pitch black, well before daybreak. I like to have my first morning coffee to their accompaniment.

Their early morning concerto is a joy to hear. And then as light comes so do they, ready to partake from the feeders. Robin Redbreasts, lovely little coloured Finches, Sparrows, (messy-feeding) Starlings, even some giant green Parrots and two very large pigeons who sit on the ground and wait for the scraps.

Up with the birds in The Moodie Davitt Report Interim Lockdown Bureau

Life has changed so much since the lockdown began on 23 March. Many people have caught COVID-19 in the UK, especially in London; far too many have died. I, like many, chose to ignore the folly of the government’s initial advice (not championing social distance but actually discouraging it) and (along with my wife) have lived pretty much within the confines of my house ever since.

My work companions begin to gather for their mid-morning feed, one of many during the day

On 23 March there were 5,745 COVID-19 cases in the UK and 281 deaths. By this morning, just over six weeks later, there were 202,359 and 30,150 (the world’s second-highest toll after the US). And we knew, from China, from South Korea and (closer to home) from Italy, that it was coming. Shameful. And this government constantly urges us to clap for our carers while it carries direct responsibility for killing so many of them.

Today, 7 May, as the government prepares to ease the lockdown, I received a text from the NHS Coronavirus Service, the first I have been sent.

It said: “NHS Coronavirus Service: You have been identified as someone who may be at high risk of severe illness if you catch Coronavirus. You should get a letter from the NHS to confirm this. The government are advising you shield at home until 30 June unless told otherwise by a healthcare professional.”

How good of the government to finally give me some sound advice. As someone with no spleen (removed a decade ago), I am indeed high risk. Lucky then that I did not accept the same government’s earlier guidance.

I shall indeed ‘shield’, i.e. sit it out, for many more weeks to come. I look forward to escaping to my apartment in Hong Kong sometime this summer, to be close to where an exciting travel retail recovery is starting to take shape and to be away from the stupidity of this crass government. I won’t be counting those weeks down though. For time has lost its meaning.

On an evening call yesterday with 1,200 US executives, managers and staff as part of a two-person panel alongside ACI World Director General Angela Gittens during the latest ‘COVID-19: Survival and Revival’ forum for the airport concessions industry in North America. The weekly forum is organised by the Airport Restaurant & Retail Association and Airport Minority Advisory Council.

The garden begins to bloom down by the original Moodie Report Worldwide Headquarters

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  • There’s a lovely exchange in Local Hero when Mac walks into the pub and says “Have you got any of that 42 year old malt I had last night?” The bartender replies “No”, so Mac says “In that case, give me three 10 year olds and a 12 year old”.

    I may not have got the words exactly right, but the sentiment is there!