"I thought it seemed an appropriate welcome for the NASUWT leadership," Nigel confides to us on a crackling line from Thailand.
But just as the old stager got up from his economy-class seat to straighten his hair for the impending ceremonies, someone pointed out a rather jaunty-looking poodle skipping out of first class and onto the red carpet ahead of him. The saluting was frenetic.
The awful reality began to dawn: perhaps the welcome wasn't for Nigel after all!
"This dog was followed by a couple, who were laden with Harrods bags, who I was later told were the Crown Prince of Thailand and his consort.
"It was all a bit disappointing," Nigel says.