Science fiction and fantasy author Neil Gaiman has been criticised for travelling 11,000 miles from New Zealand to his holiday home on Skye during the coronavirus pandemic.
The American Gods and Good Omens writer left his wife and son in Auckland so he could “isolate” at his island retreat, writing on his online blog: “Hullo from Scotland, where I am in rural lockdown on my own.”
Since criticised for “endangering local people,” the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford, who is the MP for the island, said Gaiman’s journey was unacceptable.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, Blackford said: “What is it about people, when they know we are in the middle of lockdown that they think they can come here from the other side of the planet, in turn endangering local people from exposure to this infection that they could have picked up at any step of the way?”
Gaiman, who has owned the house on Skye for more than 10 years, wrote on his blog that until two weeks ago he had been living in New Zealand with his wife, singer Amanda Palmer, and their four-year-old son. He said the couple “needed to give each other some space.”
Going on to detail his journey from New Zealand to the Scottish isle, the author said he flew “masked and gloved, from empty Auckland airport” to Los Angeles where he caught a British Airways flight to London before borrowing a friend’s car and heading for Skye.
“I drove north, on empty motorways and then on empty roads, and got in about midnight, and I’ve been here ever since,” he said. “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.”
He added: “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.”
Receiving criticism online, one person tweeted: “Whilst I appreciate your going through through relationships drama I would have hoped that your common sense wouldn’t have eluded you. Scotland is in lockdown, no unnecessary travel. Your selfishness is staggering.”
Gaiman replied by pointing out that he is currently a UK taxpayer and “on the Scottish voting rolls,” so he “went home.”
I'm currently a UK tax payer, and on the Scottish voting rolls. I went home.
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) May 15, 2020
Another person tweeted: “Nobody should be an exception to the rules of lockdown, considering its purpose is to save lives and minimise the spread of infection.”
Gaiman replied: “You are allowed to go home. I did, and then isolated for two weeks. That’s not breaking the rules of lockdown.”
You are allowed to go home. I did, and then isolated for two weeks. That's not breaking the rules of lockdown.
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) May 16, 2020
The author’s arrival on Skye came as the community learned of a major outbreak of the coronavirus at a care home at Portree. Ten elderly people at Home Farm care home have died, and almost all of the 34 residents have tested positive for the virus along with 29 staff.
Blackford commented: “To descend on this island at this time, when we have a serious outbreak which has resulted in such tragic circumstances – it pays scant respect to the families of the bereaved and the people who live here.”
Last year it was reported that Gaiman’s The Sandman comic book series could be getting the silver screen treatment from Netflix.
The graphic novels, which were published by DC Comics between 1989 and 1996, are reportedly set to be made into a TV series by Netflix in a deal with Warner. Bros Television.