Author Neil Gaiman defends New Zealand to Skye trip: 'You are allowed to go home'

The fantasy writer has denied flying across the world to his second home broke lockdown rules.
Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer last May. Picture: Jeff Spicer.Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer last May. Picture: Jeff Spicer.
Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer last May. Picture: Jeff Spicer.

Neil Gaiman has hit back after being criticised for travelling from New Zealand to Scotland two weeks ago after he and his wife Amanda Palmer “found ourselves in a rough place” emotionally.

Palmer, a US-born singer, announced online on 4 May that his departure had left her “heartbroken”.

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Gaiman, 59, wrote on his online blog that he had flown from Auckland via Los Angeles to London, then driven to the island alone in a car borrowed from a friend.

The couple’s son, Ash, four, remains with Palmer, 44, in New Zealand.

The revelation follows a tenth resident of the Home Farm care home at Portree in Skye dying with Covid-19.

It also comes days after The Scotsman reported Caledonian Sleeper operator Serco chief executive Rupert Soames had travelled to his holiday home near Mallaig while on a visit from England to meet staff from the train firm.

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Tenth resident dies at Skye care home with coronavirus
Neil Gaiman was awarded an honorary by St Andrews University in 2016. Picture: Peter Adamson.Neil Gaiman was awarded an honorary by St Andrews University in 2016. Picture: Peter Adamson.
Neil Gaiman was awarded an honorary by St Andrews University in 2016. Picture: Peter Adamson.

Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford tweeted today: “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.”

Author Sister Outrider challenged Gaiman on Twitter: “Nobody should be an exception to the rules of lockdown, considering its purpose is to save lives and minimise the spread of infection.”

But the writer, who has 2.8 million Twitter followers, responded: “You are allowed to go home. I did, and then isolated for two weeks. That's not breaking the rules of lockdown.

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“I'm currently a UK tax payer, and on the Scottish voting rolls. I went home.”

Gaiman, who was born in Hampshire, bought a house in Skye, where his wife’s family are from, after working on a National Theatre of Scotland adaptation of his children’s book The Wolves in the Walls in 2006.

He told The Scotsman in 2013: “Even though there are some years where I’ll only get a very small amount of time in Scotland, it has become my place in the UK.

“Edinburgh is sort of home, and Skye is definitely home.”

In his blog, posted on Thursday, he wrote: “Hullo from Scotland, where I am in rural lockdown on my own.”

Gaiman said he was missing his wife and their son “a lot” and called them twice a day.

‘Flights were surreal’

He wrote: “I flew, masked and gloved, from empty Auckland airport to LAX [Los Angeles], 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.

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“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 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).

‘Sad sort of drive’

“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.

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“Once the world opens up and travel gets easier, Amanda and Ash and I are looking forward to being together again in Woodstock.

“Amanda and I are still very much together, even with half a world between us.

“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.”

The couple have also published a joint letter saying they are not getting divorced, after being married for nine years.

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