Neil Gaiman: Author criticised for 'gobsmacking' 11,000-mile trip from New Zealand to Isle of Skye

18 May 2020, 08:34

Neil Gaiman has defended his decision to fly back "home" to the Isle of Skye
Neil Gaiman has defended his decision to fly back "home" to the Isle of Skye. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Good Omens author Neil Gaiman has been criticised for a "gobsmacking" 11,000-mile trip from New Zealand to Scotland's Isle of Skye despite lockdown restrictions.

The 59-year-old comic book and novel writer defended his journey to his house on the Scottish island so he could "isolate easily" after he and his wife, the musician Amanda Palmer, agreed they "needed to give each other some space."

In a post on his blog, the American Gods author described how he flew "masked and gloved" from Auckland Airport to Los Angeles (LAX) before flying on to London, after which he borrowed a friend's car and drove north to Skye.

In Scotland, only essential journeys are permitted under Scotland's coronavirus lockdown rules. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously stressed the nation's advice is to "stay at home."

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, who is also the MP for Skye, tweeted: "Can I just remind anyone else thinking of coming to the Highlands this is against the regulations.

"To come from the other end of the planet is gobsmacking. We will welcome all to the Highlands when it is safe to do so.

"For now, stay away."

Writing in his blog on Thursday, the novelist said: "Hullo from Scotland, where I am in rural lockdown on my own."

Gaiman explained how he was in New Zealand with his wife and son Ash until two weeks ago when the country relaxed from a level four lockdown - which it had been in for five weeks - to a level three.

Neil Gaiman with his wife, the musician Amanda Palmer
Neil Gaiman with his wife, the musician Amanda Palmer. Picture: PA

He wrote: "I flew, masked and gloved, from empty Auckland Airport to LAX, an empty international terminal with only one check-in counter open - the one for the BA flight from LAX to London.

"Both flights were surreal, especially the flight to London. Empty airports, mostly empty planes. It reminded me of flying a week after 9/11: everything's changed.

"I landed in London about 10 in the morning, got a masked car service to a friend's house. He had a spare car (bought many years ago as a birthday present for his daughter, but she had never learned to drive), with some groceries for me in a box in the back, waiting in the drive, with the key in the lock.

"I drove north, on empty motorways and then on empty roads, and got in about midnight, and I've been here ever since."

Gaiman said his family are looking forward to reuniting once global restrictions are further lifted and that he and Amanda "are still very much together, even with half a world between" them.

But the writer has been condemned on social media for making the journey.

One person wrote: "It is still lockdown here in Scotland... would love to be able to visit my family and friends... but can't and won't. Sorry but this is not on."

Another person wrote: "Whilst I appreciate you're going through relationships drama, I would have hoped that your common sense wouldn't have eluded you. Scotland is in lockdown, no unnecessary travel."

Gaiman responded: "I'm currently a UK taxpayer and on the Scottish voting rolls. I went home."

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