Return to the Bleeding Heart

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

Please excuse the recent lack of Blog entries; it’s been a testing few weeks. These are what they call in rugby the ‘hard yards’.

Adapting to life without a stomach means having to learn to eat all over again, like a child. Except this time I am in my mid-50s, not my infancy. I had gotten mighty attached to that particular organ over the past half century and the mental scars from losing it are proving as marked as the physical ones.

Yet lose it I have and now it’s a matter of getting on with life. Whereas my daily routine, like most people, was segmented around three meals a day, now it is a matter of taking less food, more frequently – up to six times a day.

That’s more complex than it sounds – one underrates just how integral meals are not only to one’s diet but one’s social, working and lifestyle pattern, and to one’s happiness. In the difficult early weeks after my operation (a gastrectomy), eating too much, too fast or the wrong food can spell instant misery. I’m learning fast but this is one educational course that is going to take a great deal of mastering.

But there are plenty of bright spots – and, never forget, plenty of people worse off than me. The good news is that imbibing a drop or two of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and other selected tipples is proving less of a challenge than expected. Grapes and water are both on my recommended diet list. I just happen to combine them. Wine is one of the great civilising pleasures in life and I have as little intention of giving it up as I have of kowtowing to this damn disease.

shantaramAnother immense, and rediscovered, pleasure is reading. I practically have a whole new library thanks to the generosity of many industry friends. Currently I am reading, courtesy of DFS’s Andrew Ford, the marvellous Shantaram by Australian convict-turned-philosopher and novelist Gregory David Roberts. A sprawling, compelling page-turner set in Mumbai, it also offers an insight into the human condition on many levels. Highly recommended. Accompanied by a good glass of Cognac of an evening, it’s the perfect distraction from one’s own worries.

I close this belated Blog entry with a reference to a heart-warming letter I received upon my recent return to my office from John Sankey (below), one of our industry’s most respected and loved figures.

John Sankey 3_Small

John is the Chairman of UK company Cecil Macdonald & Co, one of travel retail’s best and most successful distribution and agency businesses. He has spent over 50 years in the duty free sector, earning a reputation as one of the true gentlemen of our channel. I have huge respect for him and in 2006 conducted a ‘Lunch with…’ interview with John that remains one of my favourites and which was punctuated by (just about) as many compelling anecdotes as it was by glasses of red wine and Hine Cognac.

We were both in roaring form that day. Little did we know that four years on we would both be locked in combat with the same foe – John, unbeknown to me before his letter arrived, has been battling bladder, kidney and bowel cancer for some time. His candid description of his treatment made me feel like I had been suffering from little more than a common cold, and yet he was more concerned about my health. He simply refuses to let his condition (currently improving) get him down. “You can’t, can you?” he told me down the telephone line. I nodded silently, vowing to remember his words whenever I feel my resilience weaken.

“I can assure you there is light at the other end of the tunnel if you have faith in your intrinsic mental and physical strength to overcome the current problems,” he noted in his letter to me. That letter now resides in my briefcase, close to me at all times.

We have agreed to meet up again soon at the Bleeding Heart restaurant in London where we talked so agreeably just four years ago. For both of us, so much has changed. Yet when we hear the cork being pulled from the first bottle of red at our follow-up lunch, and we begin to talk about the joys of life, so much will remain the same.

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