Extract from the Covid Diary of Nigel Harpenden-Chorley, Special Adviser at the Department of Policy Engagement (DoPE).

February 7, 2021: Following the news that another 10,000 people died of Covid-19 last week, Boris is unexpectedly upbeat and jocund. This is just as well. The mood in the department is sombre and several of the new interns are in tears. We’re all still in shock from this morning’s revelation that the champagne we’d been supplied at last night’s festivities in the canteen had actually been Cava.

It turns out that a chap called Jim with a single-barrelled surname had been sent to get the drinks in. He’s new in the department and, being one of Dominic’s intake of gifted-but-stark-raving-bonkers-all-the-same, had attended some lumpen northern polytechnic masquerading as a university … like Durham or some such.

“How could anyone not have noticed,” laments Hephzibah at Sustainable Horticulture. “I’ll probably have to get checked over by my GP to ensure I haven’t caught anything.”

Rupert at Social Affairs is absolutely incandescent. “That’s what happens when you allow state school flotsam to poison the well. This pandemic looks like it’ll be with us for a while, so we need to make sure that only the right sort get sent out for the refreshments.”

And so, after a quick ad hoc meeting of the Lockdown Entertainment Committee, we are resolved that only those with the right pedigree will be sent on the Waitrose run forthwith.

If I’m being honest though, most of us had put so much of the Bob Marley up our noses that we could have been drinking some scrofulous Valpolicella from Lidl and no-one would have given a Friar Tuck, what! We were all absolutely howling with it.

It’s typically generous of the PM to pop in to lift everyone’s spirits. He’s been a rock during these difficult months. He immediately proceeds to climb onto a table and shouts: “Gather round everyone; I’ve come bearing gifts.” He’s wearing a stripy yellow and blue cardigan from Masopust and Nedved’s, the Czech outfitters on Jermyn Street. Carrie had bought it especially for him after his release from hospital.

At this, Rasputin Cummings is suddenly by his side, as though he’d apparated from nowhere. He has a large bag of fireworks which he proceeds to hand out. “I’ve decided that instead of our weekly clap for the NHS this week we’ll let off fireworks instead,” says Boris. “Let’s have a Bang for the NHS. That will be our new slogan.”

Thomas Lenaghan, the saturnine Glaswegian SPAD at Transport, gives a lascivious smirk. “I think Hancock is already banging for the NHS,” he says. I think it’s a brilliant idea, and there’s more. “At my Covid briefing this evening I intend to encourage everyone all over the UK to organise street parties,” says Boris. “We’ll supply all the fireworks and it’ll get everyone out in the fresh air. Our heroic front-line NHS workers will get a tremendous lift seeing the night sky lit up in their honour.”

Read more: 'Disappearing' WhatsApp messages used by Boris advisor

I learn later that one of Dominic Raab’s relatives set up a fireworks company after being introduced to some Beijing businessmen at a party in the Chinese Embassy last year. “Raab’s cousin says he can get boatloads at cost price from the Chinese in exchange for me throwing them a couple of contracts for the HS2 furth of Birmingham,” Boris adds.

“I’ve met the Chinese and they’re a great bunch of lads. They’ve even hinted at us getting a shot of those two pandas once the Jocks hand them back.”

It puts everyone in a good mood for this afternoon’s meeting of the Covid Containment committee, to be chaired by Carrie, the PM’s wife. She wants us all to come in fancy-dress. “There are far too many glum faces in government,” she’d said in her memo. “We need to show Covid that when the chips are down and the lights go out and the balloon goes up that we Brits can laugh in the face of adversity.”

The meeting is held in the PM’s private quarters and Carrie shows off the new gold-encrusted wallpaper she’s bought from Mattheus & Rummenigge’s, the German soft furnishings emporium on Bond Street. “Wait ‘til you see what we’ve got planned for the nursery,” she gasps.

We’ve all been asked to come with some blue-sky thinking as per Rasputin’s instructions. “I want ideas that no-one in their right minds would possibly contemplate,” he had told us. “That’s the only way we’ll beat this pandemic.”

He produces some rather startling numbers that shows how Covid is mainly attacking northern codgerdom living on council estates.

“I say,” says Hephzibah, “perhaps we could organise a sort of vaccine contest in conjunction with the BBC and the National Lottery organisers.

“Instead of just handing out the jabs willy and nilly we could organise a sort of national competition where people from poor places like Edinburgh and Manchester organise teams and compete for vaccines for their communities.”

The PM loves the idea. “I like where you’re going with this, Hepzy my dear. Would it be something like a real-life Hunger Games meets It’s A Knockout?”

Lenaghan turns to me and whispers: “A lot of people will get knocked out.” He’s such a wet blanket.

“That’s exactly what it would be like. I mean many of them are going to die soon anyway, even if Covid doesn’t get them. You can’t keep eating chips and sausages at the rate they do without dying early. This will just make the process a bit more interesting,” says Hephzibah.

Read more: Helen MacNamara: Number 10 Covid culture 'macho and heroic'

“That’s a splendid idea,” says the PM. “Anyone else?” A forest of arms shoots up. "Dopey" Williamson is beside himself with enthusiasm. “Yes Gavin, let’s be having you.” The Education Minister has come fresh from a virtual crèche with a Tory mums-and-toddlers group and is still wearing his purple romper suit. “Prime Minister, we need to be thinking about stimulating the economy again. The northerners are always complaining that we don’t do enough for them. So, maybe we could provide a limited supply of vaccines to local shopkeepers and entrepreneurs which they can give away with their products. “I’ve even got a slogan: ‘Shop Here and Save Your Life’. It could really re-energise the High Street in places like Bolton and Liverpool.”

Just at that moment, Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer begins to sidle out. The poor chap looks pale and drawn. “What-ho, prof,” shouts Boris. “I told you we wouldn’t be taking this lying down.”

“With all due respect, Prime Minister,” he says wearily. “I think by the end of this most of us will be lying down.”

Whatever can he mean?

(As imagined by Kevin McKenna)