Half time goes by
Suddenly you’re wise
Another blink of an eye
Sixty-four is gone
The sun is getting high
We’re moving on – 100 Years by Five for Fighting (with a little artistic licence)
After a grey and by recent standards cold weekend, it has dawned warmer and brighter in Discovery Bay. I know that because I was up with the dawn. When you dub your media with an anthropomorphism such as ‘the website that never sleeps’ you have a responsibility to keep it company, I suppose.
Even on your birthday. For today, March 1, sees me trip lightly beyond the confines of 64 and into the second half of my seventh decade on this planet. Which is a long-winded way (sorry, the first coffee is still waking up that website I referred to as well as its creator) of saying that I have reached 65.
It’s a decentish landmark, I suppose, and one I would have gladly accepted a decade ago. For ten years ago to this day, I spent what should have been a celebratory occasion in a hospital room at the Royal Marsden, recovering from a nasty post-cancer complications procedure a few days earlier.
So much happens in a decade. In those intervening years my daughter Sinead (pictured above) has married and brought a beautiful child named Carys (right), now almost 8 months old, into the world. My younger kids have grown up and gone to university, my older ones moved into their thirties and working with me. I have sold and bought back my company, then traded it through good times and more recently through – and hopefully far beyond – the biggest crisis in travel retail history; and moved some 6,000 miles across the planet from London to Hong Kong.
Along the way, I have lost many good companions from the industry that has given me a living – some to the horrid bully of a disease that had me for a while in its grip but from which I was able to prise myself free, some to other causes.
Because today is also Saint David’s Day, the Feast of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, I think in particular of a man who was not just an ‘industry friend’ but a close personal one – Welshman Alan Edwards, who passed suddenly in September 2012 while working as a consultant in Doha for Aer Rianta International at Qatar Duty Free.
Alan’s eyes would twinkle and dance like a great Welsh flyhalf stepping past hapless leaden-footed defenders and I can hear his chuckle and familiar greeting of ‘Moodie-san’ to this very day. To think that less than 20 years ago I was playing rugby with him in Cannes for the marvellously misnamed ‘Sexy Saxons’ against the ‘Latin Lovers’.
I only wish Alan could have been with me at the weekend as I celebrated my imminent aging with a group of friends at the Moodie Davitt Asia HQ. Courtesy of my wife Yulim and King Power Group HK boss Antares Cheng’s daughter Karli – and her firm Arte by Padaria – I received the kind of birthday cake that would have had Alan torn between devouring or snapping it up and diving in for a try under imaginary goalposts in my dining room.
That oval-shaped cake was of course, also a reminder of my roots back in New Zealand, a place I find myself geographically a lot nearer to at 65 than 55 and spiritually perhaps closer to than ever. Alas, I won’t be getting back there anytime soon due to the pandemic – the country’s biggest city, Auckland, is currently in level 3 lockdown due to a handful of cases; the rest of the country at level 2 – but it’s high on an almost overflowing bucket list headed by England and Wales and the chance to see my bairns and grandbairn again.
St David has now brought a weak but welcome sunshine to Discovery Bay so I’ll close this Blog and make sure that the website that never sleeps didn’t dose off while I was writing this. It’s only 18 years old to my 65, but even though my own half-time has long gone, the young whippersnapper is still having to go at a fair old pace just to keep up with me.