Howard Davies: Why pandemic travel is like a bad game from Scouts

NatWest Group's chairman had an eventful time travelling around Europe. Here, he unveils the winners of his "Top et Flop" awards.

by Howard Davies

Travelling in Europe over the summer was a struggle. It reminded me of games we used to play at my Scout troop in Manchester, where the rules would change arbitrarily without notice, to keep you on your toes. So you might be carrying a small boy to the end of the hut and back, only to be told suddenly that you had to change horses, and that he had to carry you back.

I think Grant Shapps must have had a similar experience as a small boy. His Thursday evening surprises, leaving Brits abroad forced to rush back to the airport before Saturday night rule changes, were delivered with the glee I recall from my scoutmaster.

Many were put off travelling at all as a result. But with some family members in Hilary Mantel-style European exile, and a teaching job in Paris that requires my presence from time to time, we had to try to make it work. By and large, we were successful, thanks to some parts of the travel system – but no thanks to others. French newspapers, reporting on sporting and other contests, like to list “Tops et Flops”, a characteristically mangled bit of Frenglish, so here is my 2021 travel version.

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