SARAH VINE: How to end travel hell keeping families apart
One of those ‘memories’ popped up on my iPhone the other day. It was a picture of my mother, dressed head-to-toe in orange, sitting at the cafe in our local square in Turin. The date: October 2019.
Normally those things annoy me – I don’t want my mobile dictating my emotions. But this one stopped me in my tracks because it reminded me that the autumn of 2019 was the last time I saw her.
I’ve been trapped in the UK while she – along with my dad – has been stuck in Italy.
I had hoped to go and see them later this month. In fact, I was in the throes of planning a long-overdue family reunion.
Distant memory: The picture Sarah Vine took of her mother in 2019, when she last saw her
After all, we have a lot to catch up on. My daughter has finished school, my son now towers above me – and there have been one or two changes in my life too. For their part, my father hasn’t been all that well and both have lost several very dear friends to Covid. But now, with all the endless uncertainty over the dreaded traffic-light system, I can’t risk it.
The thought of Italy turning red while I’m out there and having to quarantine in some squalid box with the kids at a cost of almost two grand a pop just makes it unfeasible.
Quite apart from anything else, I think that if I found myself being carted off down that dreaded red channel at Heathrow like a criminal, I might become insensible with rage and wake up in a holding cell (although at least then I wouldn’t have to pay for the privilege of being banged up).
Because, quite honestly, the way the Government has handled foreign travel over the past few weeks is enough to make even the most mild-mannered, most law-abiding citizen lose their composure.
Thing is, I don’t mind sticking to the rules if I know what they are. But this constant chopping and changing, this endless back-pedalling every time Chris Whitty so much as sneezes is maddening.
Instead of doing everything possible to make travel viable, not just for people’s wellbeing but for the wellbeing of the travel industry and business in general, the Government seems determined to make it as difficult as possible.
It is not a crime to want to leave the country, either for work or pleasure – and yet that is how we are being made to feel.
Clarity is what’s needed. Clarity and consistency.
Instead of doing everything possible to make travel viable, not just for people’s wellbeing but for the wellbeing of the travel industry and business in general, the Government seems determined to make it as difficult as possible, writes Sarah Vine (file photo)
Really, how hard can it be? If I had my way (which I rarely do), I would make it very simple: whatever rules you leave under are the same ones you come back with – provided you return within a limited time period, say 21 days.
In other words, if I go to Italy when it’s on the amber list, as long as I return within three weeks I can come back on that basis, even if it turns red in the meantime.
That way I can plan ahead and enjoy my trip instead of spending the whole time in a state of near panic. It would also stop the inevitable stampede for tickets when guidance changes. So many of these cut-off points are arbitrary anyway.
For example, why 4am on a Saturday instead of 2.30pm on a Thursday? It’s not as though the virus can tell the difference. And provided you had a clear limit on a person’s window of travel, would it really make that much difference to infection rates?
The thought of Italy turning red while I’m out there and having to quarantine in some squalid box with the kids at a cost of almost two grand a pop just makes it unfeasible, writes Sarah Vine (pictured above)
I doubt it. Especially since so many of us have been vaccinated.
In any case, the bottom line is this: we have to live with this disease, and that means opening up travel alongside everything else.
What we have currently is a messy, frustrating shambles that is driving everyone up the wall. My solution may not be perfect; but then nothing ever is.
George Clooney has been helping locals near his home in Italy after Lake Como was hit by heavy flooding. I guess every cloud…
Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock was snapped looking appropriately grim-faced as he removed the last of his possessions from the family home.
But the creature I really felt for was the family dachshund who gazed at him forlornly as he loaded his chattels into his car. Let’s hope his new squeeze Gina Coladangelo is a dog lover.
Matt Hancock pictured with the family dachshund, who gazed at him forlornly as he loaded his chattels into his car
Knives and forks are racist, according to some Canadian food writer no one’s ever heard of, as they are ‘an echo of European colonial powers looking to tame the wildness out of the people they controlled’.
On that basis, then, so it sanitation, running water and modern medicine. People talk such rot these days, don’t they?
What I love about the Olympics is that you get a wholly different calibre of athlete from the overpaid egos who normally dominate sport.
People like Bethany Shriever (gold in the BMX racing), who began on a £150 second-hand bike and crowdfunded her Olympic bid while working part-time as a teaching assistant; Lauren Williams (silver in taekwondo), who aged 13 lived in a caravan outside Manchester to be closer to her training ground; Tom Hughes (two swimming golds), whose mother Jacquie used to take him to training every morning at 5am before work.
Just ordinary people with a passion for their sport and no airs and graces.
Women’s Individual gold medallist Bethany Shriever of Britain celebrates alongside Men’s Individual silver medallist Kye Whyte of Britain
The writer of HBO’s new cartoon series about the Royal Family, starring Prince George as a petty, insecure tyrant obsessed with his weight, has defended his creation, saying: ‘It’s never meant to be anything that’s mean.’
Sorry? Shredding the character of an eight-year-old child for the sake of a few cheap laughs is not only the definition of mean, it’s also the actions of a bully.
I understand that – in large part thanks to Prince Harry’s constant attacks on his family – it’s open season on the Royals in America, but this crosses a line.
Grime superstar Stormzy has announced funding for 30 more scholarships at Cambridge, open to UK students of black or mixed-race parentage.
I find his philanthropy laudable, but imagine the outraged reaction if someone set up a similar scheme for poor students from white working-class backgrounds (the social group with the worst outcomes in Britain today).
Why does it have to be about skin colour? Why can’t it just be about opportunities for all young people from deprived backgrounds, regardless of what they look like?
The Education Secretary’s new wheeze is that he wants children in state schools to learn Latin so the subject is not ‘reserved for the privileged few’.
Given the level of general illiteracy among children these days, I think he should start by nailing basic English.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson speaking to MPs in the House of Commons on July 6
‘Staycation’ and ‘social distance’ were recently added to the OED. I’d also like to propose a new word: wokecreep.
This describes the use of woke terminology in a way that implies the concept it expresses is accepted fact and not a totally batty notion to which only a tiny minority subscribe.
For example, last week the London Evening Standard, once a sensible newspaper, referred to ‘hospitalised pregnant people’ in an article about pregnancy and Covid. ‘Pregnant people’ are, of course, better known as ‘women’, and have been for ever.
What fresh idiocy is this: two academics have accused Geoffrey Chaucer of being a rapist, based on a 14th Century legal document that exonerates him from some sort of assault against a woman called Cecily Chaumpaigne.
I’m all in favour of justice for victims of sexual harassment – but surely even the most avid #MeToo evangelist would admit this is taking things a bit far?
Winner of the cats and dogs fight
The price of new puppies has fallen as people turn to cats instead, prompting that age-old question of cat vs dog (file photo)
Having soared during lockdown, the price of new puppies has fallen as people turn to cats instead, prompting that age-old question of cat vs dog and which is the superior companion.
Cats don’t chase squirrels, pee on your curtains or eat their own vomit; then again, dogs don’t leave dead mice in your shoes or, as I discovered my cat doing the other day, climb up on the piano and deliberately push all the picture frames over (I thought we had a ghost).
Personally, I would say it’s an impossible choice, a bit like comparing steak with strawberries, which is why I have both. Sometimes, when I watch TV with my daughter in the evenings and all the animals come to sit with us, we talk about which ones we would save if the house was on fire.
To which the answer is, easy: the dogs. The cat would already be long gone – very possibly having torched the house in the first place.
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