Treasuring but moving on from the past

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

“What is an automatic garage door?”

“It is a garage door that opens and closes itself on your behalf. What do you think of that?”

“I think if I were a garage door, I should rather miss the old days.” – From A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles

Indeed here in London it feels just like the old days. It’s three days before the British summer starts and the rain is bucketing down outside. So much for cricket’s World Championship Final between India and New Zealand down in Southampton due to start today. They’ll need to be playing in wellingtons (or perhaps even in Wellington, where despite almost being winter down in Kiwi land, it’s probably warmer and drier).

I’m here at what now passes as my Interim London Bureau, gazing down over a very soggy garden towards my original Worldwide Headquarters. The Moodie Report (Est. 2002) sign has weathered rather better than its owner. Unfortunately I was established in 1956 and the combination of the interim years and the particular pressures of the most recent one is starting to make me pine for the old days.

While clearing out the Worldwide HQ – and reminiscing about all the long days and even longer nights spent down there in my Publisher’s Cave with Dylan, Prine, Springsteen and Cohen to keep me company as well as my resident goldfish (I dubbed them my Finnish staff members), I chanced upon the programme from the first Trinity Forum way back in 2003 and a few accompanying photos. Spot anyone you know?

A lot of water has flowed under a lot of bridges since. A lot of words have poured from this and multiple other keyboards – my Worldwide HQ looks like the laptop equivalent of a car scrapyard. During the clearing out I also discovered some of my wine and film review columns from my early days as a writer in New Zealand, all punched out on an old Olivetti long since replaced by the writer’s equivalent of an automatic garage door.

Reverting to type: My old Olivetti looked something like this one (though less dusty) that I discovered on (and just might buy from) Amazon

Those were the days when you concocted and curated your articles and used Tipp-Ex – yes, Tipp-ex – if god forbid you made a mistake. You had to be good and tight in your writing before you sent it off to some unforgiving editor. Is contemporary writing with all its benefits of spell and grammar check and the ability to delete and move words around at will that much better? I’m not so sure. I learnt much about the value and economy of words on that lovely Olivetti.

As I mentioned in a recent Blog (Travel retail B.C. and P.C.), there are plenty of people in our industry hankering for what are already shaping up as the good old days of 2019. Travel retail before COVID (B.C.). Ah, nostalgia is a seductive but sometimes dangerous emotion. We can bask in it but we must also move on from it. If we don’t… well, we will continue to do the things in the old ways that worked once but have since been undermined by circumstance, crisis and the relentless march of time and progress.

Monitoring the travel retail industry every day as I do and have done for the past 34 years, I can see those who pine for the past and those who have already moved into a new and very different future.

For me there is no choice between the two. I will treasure my memories of that Olivetti and of the Worldwide HQ. But I will also accept, indeed embrace, the fact that we live in different times, ones that, alas, demand the need for an automatic garage door.

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