LONDON: If you were running a G7 country where drivers were queueing for petrol while businesses were struggling with soaring gas prices and COVID-19 victims’ families were demanding a response to a damning report on your handling of the pandemic, would you go on holiday?

More to the point, would you head to a luxurious Spanish villa and allow yourself to be photographed, repeatedly, painting outdoors like your political hero, Winston Churchill, another enthusiastic amateur artist?

When Boris Johnson did all this last week, it provoked cries that a “weasel with his easel” was “fiddling while home burns” and giving crisis-ridden voters the brush-off.

Yet it also raises a question that ordinary, nonprime ministerial workers face all too often: Is it sensible to be on vacation when all hell is breaking loose in the office? Or even when things are not entirely hellish, but so frantic that you will be missed?

For most of my deadline-driven working life, I have operated as if the answer is very obviously “no”.

As an aviation correspondent, I lost count of the weekend breaks and vacations interrupted by cabin crew strikes, airport snow chaos and in one case, an Icelandic volcano eruption.

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