January 2020: I scan the New Year’s Day edition of the Times. On page 37 there is a news in brief about a virus in China. I sense this is going to become a global pandemic with the loss of millions of lives. Try to impress on PM there is not a moment to waste but he is more interested in having a lie-in. Decide that I will begin writing a diary in 2022 so that I can keep some kind of contemporaneous notes.
Disappointed to find a lack of adjectives in the diary that’s not being written. Leave a stern note to that effect in the department. I expect my instructions to be acted on immediately. The pale, wintry sun crept through the window. Have no idea if sun was pale and wintry but that’s better. Always wanted my diary to feel as if it was written by a teenager.
I take the first Covid Cobra meeting as Boris still doesn’t appreciate the seriousness of the situation. I tell Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance that we could be in for a two-year crisis. They look shocked. It’s hard being right all the time. Return to the cabinet to warn ministers that Russia will invade Ukraine in early 2022. No one believes me.
We are now in lockdown. There is no one about on the street except me. Not that I want any recognition. I just want an opportunity to serve the country I love so much. Both me and Boris have the virus, though the boss is a great deal iller than me. I suspect that obesity may be a factor here. I choose not to mention this to Boris as not everyone is blessed with such a toned physique as me. Look in the mirror and think I might one day take part in Celebrity SAS.
Put on my lucky pink tie to take the daily Downing Street press conference. The news is bleak, but it is my duty to level with the country. Michael Gove and Dominic Raab later text me to say how brilliantly I have been doing. Shame the same can’t be said about them. A person’s true character only surfaces in a crisis. There are reports that I authorised elderly patients to be discharged to care homes. That is categorically untrue, even though it’s true. I blame Dom Cummings, whom I didn’t know had spent part of lockdown in Durham.
The Queen has given a superb televised message. I text her to say that, like me, she embodies the spirit of the nation, and it is such a shame she is going to die in September 2022. Casually mention that I went to a meeting with Gina. Have no idea who Gina is until someone reminds me we were at university together. Gina is helping me to make myself more emotionally available to people. I think it’s working, as Boris texts to say how he could not manage without my support.
Dido and Kate have been put in charge of Test and Trace and the vaccination programme respectively. I shall do my best to make them look capable. It’s what I went into government for. Boris continues to act unpredictably. Left to his own devices, the death toll would be far worse. I refrain from telling him how lucky he is to have me. If he is not careful he will be removed as prime minister in the summer of 2022.
The first lockdown is over and I can get my haircut. The hairdresser remarks on how luxuriant my thatch has become. Go to a meeting with Gina. The first person has been vaccinated and I burst into tears. Gina wipes my eyes.
On the plus side, Cummings is out of government. On the downside we are back in lockdown with the Delta variant. Jonathan Van-Tam invites me to visit a hospital. Says it will improve morale in the NHS. On the nightshift I manage to save the lives of three patients. It is a very humbling moment for the doctors. On the way out, I open a new bus shelter. That is one of the 40 new hospitals built.
Prince Philip has died. A moment of great solemnity. Thank God I knew nothing of the Downing Street party to celebrate his departure. I call Winston Churchill to let him know I think Dunkirk will be fine. No reply. But I don’t do this for the thanks. Nadine Dorries texts to say she feels she is being marginalised. There is no easy way of letting her know that is because she isn’t very able. But somehow I find a way. We are a team. Though every team needs a leader.
Always problems. But I don’t complain. This is a national emergency and I am happy to do my duty. Rishi Sunak texts to say I am marvellous. I think he will be prime minister in under two years’ time if Liz Truss tries to rush things. Michelle Mone emails to complain she can’t get all the PPE contracts she wants under the VIP lane. I tell her that if she can guarantee to supply goods that are unusable, then the job is hers.
Everyone calls to say how marvellous I am. I reply that I know. At some point it appears that I have been breaking lockdown guidelines by snogging Gina. I’ve fallen in love. Deeply. “You complete me,” I tell her. “You’re my rock, big boy,” she says. My heart skips. I would eat a camel’s penis for her. Dash home to tell the kids. Then go to see Boris. He can’t believe I’m stupid enough to have been caught. He’s hardly one to speak. We agree I must resign. But I go with my head held high. Having made the right call at every moment. If I have a weakness, it’s my modesty.
Digested read, digested: The Secret Diary of Door Matt Hancock, Aged 42¾