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Sandman, Good Omens and Neverwhere author Neil Gaiman criticised by Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford after travelling from New Zealand to Skye during the Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown; Mr Gaiman, who has also written episodes of Doctor Who, flew from New Zealand to Los Angeles and on to London before driving to Scotland

By Ali Morrison

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Neil Gaiman during a past visit to the Ironworks in Inverness.
Neil Gaiman during a past visit to the Ironworks in Inverness.

CELEBRATED author Neil Gaiman has been criticised by a Ross MP after flying half-way round the world to self-isolate on Skye.

Mr Gaiman, who is famed for his work on the likes of Neverwhere, Sandman, Good Omens and Doctor Who, confirmed in his blog that he had flown from New Zealand through LA and onto London, before driving all the way to Skye to self-isolate at a second home he has owned for 10 years.

The decision to flout official guidelines not to travel for anything other than essential reasons has drawn criticism from Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford.

The MP, who himself lives on Skye, branded Mr Gaiman's actions as "gobsmacking" – coming as they do after a devastating, but unconnected, outbreak of Covid-19 at a Skye care home.

Ten residents have died since the coronavirus hotspot hit Home Farm Care Home in Portree late last month. Some 30 residents and 29 staff were infected.

Reacting to Mr Gaiman's post, which was made on Thursday evening, Mr Blackford said: "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."

Describing his journey to Skye, Mr Gaiman, said the reason for his move to Scotland was because he and his wife Amanda "found ourselves in a rough place" immediately before he left and that they "agreed that we needed to give each other some space, which had been in very short supply in lockdown in New Zealand".

The author, who normally lives in Woodstock, USA, said he had been in New Zealand with his family until around the start of May.

His blog post read: "I was in New Zealand with [my wife and son] until two weeks ago, when New Zealand went from the Level 4 lockdown it had been on for the previous five weeks down to Level 3. 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 ten 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.

"The journey was, as I said, surreal. It was also emotionally hard. Amanda and I had found ourselves in a rough place immediately before I left (my fault, I'm afraid, I'd hurt her feelings very badly, and... actually beyond that it's none of anyone else's business). We agreed that we needed to give each other some space, which had been in very short supply in lockdown in New Zealand. So it was a sad sort of flight, even without the world in lockdown, and a sad sort of drive.

"I needed to be somewhere I could talk to people in the UK while they and I were awake, not just before breakfast and after dinner. And I needed to be somewhere I could continue to isolate easily, which definitely isn't our house in Woodstock, currently at capacity with five families who have fled Manhattan and Brooklyn and Boston."

He added: "Thank you to everyone who's been kind and nice and helpful, while Amanda and my problems got rather more public than either of us is comfortable with. We love each other, and we love Ash, and we will sort ourselves out, in private, which is much the best place for things like this.

"It's rough for almost everyone right now – some people are crammed together and wish they weren't, some are alone and crave companionship, pretty much all of us are hurting in one way or another. So be kind. Be kind to each other, be kind to Amanda... be kind to Ash."

Click here to read his full blog post.

Criticism of Mr Gaiman's journey comes just days after the boss of the Caledonian Sleeper, Serco chief executive Rupert Soames, drew condemnation for travelling from London to Inverness and then on to a west coast property.

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