Tap anywhere to start


Laura Craik on whether she’ll ever get on — or off — the plane, end of term tribulations and the continuing shadow of slavery

After four failed attempts, I’m finally going abroad. Or am I? I don’t really know. The flights have been rebooked, the accommodation is in place, I’m (so far) Covid-free and despite visiting more bars and restaurants than a Kardashian with a new product to flog, my phone still hasn’t pinged, though that might have something to do with the way I switch off my camera before scanning the QR code.

Soon, I’ll be able to join everyone else in posting envy-inducing photos on the ’gram, accompanied by breathless clichés like ‘can’t believe I’m actually here’. I really won’t believe I’m actually there until the plane touches down on the runway. And even then, I wouldn’t be surprised if a big red arrow flashed above my seat, accompanied by a tannoy announcing ‘DO NOT LET THE PERSON IN SEAT 24A DISEMBARK’ in urgent tones.

That’s if I ever get to board the plane in the first place. Alas, I’m one of the estimated five million Brits vaccinated with Covishield, a version of the AstraZeneca vaccine that was produced by the Serum Institute of India that has yet to receive approval by EU regulators. The dose is identifiable by its batch number, and there’s opacity over whether the vaccine passports of those affected will be deemed valid.

While some European countries have said they’ll overrule the EU and allow entry to travellers vaccinated with Covishield, the recent case of two Brits who were banned from boarding their flight to Malta has done nothing to allay fears.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the tannoy announces ‘do not let the person in seat 24a disembark’ in urgent tones”

That I don’t know with certainty whether I’ll be allowed to board the plane with my family feels like a worry too far after 17 months of being beset by them. While there are screeds of detailed travel advice pertaining to the Covid testing we all need to do, incredibly there is zero advice or information on the gov.uk website about Covishield: a search generates two irrelevant results.

Recognise them or don’t recognise them, but tell us which it is before we travel. I’ll see you on the beach. Maybe. Or maybe not. What a year.

Beastly times: will you have your day in the sun?

The state schools are in

London’s private schools broke up a while ago, but its state schools are just limping over the finish line, wondering whether they’ll get to celebrate the end of the academic year in the usual happy ways.

Will there be barbecues, leavers’ parties, or will there be barely enough kids left to form a rounders team? Official figures suggest 11.2 per cent of pupils are currently isolating: anecdotal evidence suggests the number is much higher, with more children testing positive for Covid than at any time in the pandemic’s miserable history. Nobody knows what next week will bring, much less September, but here’s hoping all teaching and support staff enjoy a well-earned break.

Slaves to history

The Museum of the Home (formerly the Geffrye) celebrated its relaunch with a dinner in the herb garden. Under director Sonia Solicari, it hopes to explore issues such as gender stereotyping within the home.

‘Why am I doing all the unpaid emotional labour?’ one guest lamented, whacking a spoon violently against a saucepan. If you’re looking to educate your kids over the holidays, check it out — perhaps starting with a lesson on Robert Geffrye, whose statue inexplicably survived the refurb at the culture secretary’s insistence, despite Geffrye’s links to slavery.

Phoebe Philo

Back in fashion, with a new LVMH-backed label launching January 2022.


Not back in fashion: Valentino has just joined Burberry, Gucci, Chloé and others in banning it.