A Hancock for the ages

Could our former health secretary actually be a time-travelling hero?


Westminster has been a-quiver this week with the publication of the diaries of Jungle hunk and sometime Department of Health Shagmaster General, Matt Hancock. To those of us who thought that recent years had shown Hancock to be an average bureaucrat swept along by events, the book has been a revelation. Again and again the diaries reveal Hancock was blessed even in the earliest days of the pandemic with an insight into events that would only be available to everyone else long afterwards. It is our nation’s tragedy that only now is his wisdom obvious to all, and that Hancock’s natural diffidence meant he never shared his private concerns about virus policy with the public or the rest of the Cabinet.

But what was Hancock’s secret? The Critic can reveal that boffins working at the magazine’s quantum physics laboratory, the Critic Highly Experimental Enhanced Reactor Site, have discovered fragments of other diaries that suggest the former Health Secretary is a sort of time-travelling mystic, moving through the ages to rescue humanity at moments of crisis. We’re proud to publish those diary extracts here today for the first time, and to let our lawyers worry about the details.

Matityahu, April 12, 967 BC

Very uneasy about all this rain. Privately agree with Noah [son of Lamech, blameless among the people of his time] that the solution is a huge boat made of gopher wood, the length of it 300 cubits and the breadth of it 50 cubits. But Boris [son of Stanley] says we all have to call Noah an idiot, so I have issued a proclamation to that effect. Apparently it got me some credit in Babel, though I can’t say I felt good about it.

Matthew of Suffolk, October 14, 1066

Have private doubts about the wisdom of marching south so quickly to meet William of Normandy in battle. Harold [Godwinson, king] says the Norman archers couldn’t hit the side of a barn at this range. I think this may be a terrible mistake, but he is a very domineering person, so will say nothing. Do hope Harold remembers to hold his shield up.

Sir Matthew Hancocke, August 15, 1666

I hast been bethinking again about the wondrouf matt’r on fire safety in our fair city of London.  T’is cleare to me yond th’re is a moft grievouf dang’r from all these wooden buildingf so clofe togeth’r.  Howev’r, his moft gracious majefty [Charles II, longe may he reign] hath asked me to keep silent on the matt’r, so I shall hold mine own tongue, and inftead give mine attention to thefe plans fto reduceth the burdenfome health and safety regulation on the baking induftry.

Lt Matthew Hancock, 2nd Officer, RMS Titanic, April 15, 1912

“You saved a lot of lives today, lieutenant. And if you don’t mind me saying so, you’re a handsome fellow with fantastic hair.” It’s great to hear this kind of thing from the first class passengers as I steer our lifeboat to safety. It means they’re seeing the real human behind the uniform.

I feel like everyone else has been shouting much more unpleasant stuff all evening: “Why don’t we have a lookout?” “Why are we going so fast?” “Watch out for that iceberg!” And then there were the third class passengers! Talk about nag, nag, nag! All “I’m drowning” this, and “Please save my baby” that! I cannot for the life of me understand why they haven’t simply got into lifeboats. I made it extremely clear right from the moment the ship began to sink that I had a target for everyone to be in a lifeboat within two hours, but instead they all ended up crowded on the deck listening to the band, and yelling some things that I don’t mind admitting I found a little hurtful.

Lt-Gen Matt “Handy” Hancock, 1st Airborne, September 16, 1944

Somewhat concerned about the Arnhem element of our plan, which involves dropping paratroopers armed only with rifles on top of a Panzer division. I hope it filters through to our chaps that they aren’t to believe any of that stuff we keep telling them about the only defenders being old men and boys. I rather feel we’re going one bridge too far, but there simply isn’t any point in upsetting Monty by saying so.

Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP June 16, 2019

Tricky deciding who to throw my weight behind in this leadership contest. Obviously I’ve spent the last few weeks saying that Boris Johnson is utterly unfit to lead the country, and that a No Deal Brexit would be a disaster. But the more I think about it, the more I think that Boris is going to win and has promised to let me keep my job. He’s also assured me that he’s become a completely different person in the last month, and definitely won’t lead a government that will veer from side to side in a crisis, denying problems exist and then blaming everyone else for them. Yes, it’s Boris for me. What’s the worst that could happen?

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