Well, merry Christmas to you. I hope you are making the best of it, under the circumstances. I am back safe and sound in Tenerife, but what I journey!
Even though most of my shows in London were cancelled I feel lucky to have done a few and to have had the time to catch up with friends. I was doing just that last Sunday when Philip called and said I should listen to the news. One by one, European countries were banned visitors from the UK and there was a risk I might get caught up in the latest drama.
Originally my return flight was booked for 1st January. Claridges asked me to sing on 2nd and 3rd (in more optimistic times) so I rebooked for the 5th. Then we moved into tier 3 and everything except my gig on Christmas Day was cancelled so I rebooked again for 26th. I then realised I needed a Covid test before flying and wouldn’t get it back in time, so rebooked for the 30th. I also hired a car and booked a hotel so I could see my parents for the first time in over a year.
Then tier 4 and with that went my last gig and any chance of seeing my parents. I cancelled the car and hotel and, thinking I ought to leave ASAP, rebooked my flight for 28th.
Then, news came in of the new strain and bans for UK travellers. Would Spain be next? I knew that I could fly Portugal without a Covid test and have it done on arrival. So I cancelled my flight to Tenerife, gave up on the other test I’d booked and paid for, and booked a new flight to Madeira. From there I’d eventually be able to get home. Just before going to bed that same day, a friend in Portugal told me that the U.K. has just added to the naughty list and I wouldn’t be able to enter the country. It felt like the fall of Saigon. I had visions of myself standing in my roof screaming at a helicopter, “Take my baby!”
The following morning at 7.30am, Heathrow confirmed I couldn’t board my flight to Portugal. They also said that Spain was making an announcement at 10am, and possibly close its borders. I quickly booked the 9am flight direct to Tenerife and amazingly got an appointment for a Covid test in the airport at 7.35am. A very kind stranger let me jump the (very long) queue, the test was negative, I rushed to the gate and I have just boarded my flight. Talk about a new strain of the virus! Too much strain for me.
Top be extra careful I had a PCR test the next day, it came back negative, so I was all clear to spend Christmas with the family at home. I released a new song this year called “I’m Coming Home for Christmas”, I’m glad it came true, I just had no idea how hard it would be!