Londoner’s Diary: Matt Hancock ‘humbled’ after giving shelter to refugees

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 (PA)
(PA)

Matt Hancock has revealed what it is like to live with refugees from the war in Ukraine. The former health secretary laudably welcomed a family into his constituency home last month.

“It has been wonderful to welcome seven refugees — and their four dogs — to my home in Suffolk,” Hancock writes in The Spectator, in an article titled “It takes courage to be vulnerable”.

“I’ve enjoyed getting to know Ukrainian food and picking up the basics of the language. It’s humbling living with three generations from one family who have escaped war with little more than the clothes on their backs. It brings perspective.” Hancock writes of teenagers video-calling family and “remote learning at their college in Kyiv while the shells fall”. He also praised his “helpful” Suffolk community, where he moved after splitting from his wife last year.

“Within days we had bikes, places at schools and college, and a Volvo from the local car salesroom, while the wonderful team at the Bedford Lodge Hotel have offered not just training but jobs,” he writes.

Just a few days ago, a source close to Hancock said: “Matt has not talked about this because he doesn’t want to be accused of just doing it for publicity.”

Gates gives a tick to Musk’s Twitter

Bill Gates (Jeff J Mitchell/PA) (PA Archive)
Bill Gates (Jeff J Mitchell/PA) (PA Archive)

Earlier this week Bill Gates said fellow billionaire Elon Musk buying Twitter might “make it worse”. However, yesterday the Microsoft man seemed to backtrack. “He might make it better,” Gates said at a Penguin Live and How To Academy event for his new book How to Prevent the Next Pandemic in Piccadilly. “Elon’s a clever guy. I think the boundary between what you should ban and what you shouldn’t ban isn’t as easy as you might think.” Health philanthropist Gates also hit out at online conspiracy theorists who imagine him in a “lair” tracking their movements with the vaccines he helps fund. Could he buy a social media platform next?

Cupboard love for author’s children

 (Dave Benett/Getty Images)
(Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Writer Lea Ypi won the £10,000 RSL Ondaatje Prize for her coming-of-age memoir Free last night, telling us she wrote the tome — about her teenage years in Stalinist Albania — in tough circumstances during the pandemic. “It wasn’t easy because my kids were around,” LSE academic Ypi, right, said. “I wrote most of my book from a cupboard in Berlin, and sometimes I would hear, ‘Mummy!’.” Luckily they will mark the win together. “I think I’ll celebrate with my kids by getting a takeaway,” she said.

Lorraine’s my hero, says Rayner

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner described the article as ‘vile sexism’ (PA) (PA Wire)
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner described the article as ‘vile sexism’ (PA) (PA Wire)

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner has tried to capitalise on Boris Johnson’s apparent lack of knowledge of Lorraine Kelly earlier this week, saying the ITV daytime presenter is a “constant presence in my life”. “It was one of my life-goals to meet Lorraine Kelly in the flesh,” Rayner writes in the New Statesman, calling it “surreal to meet someone I felt I already somehow knew”. Laying the relatability on a bit thick?

Miers on the pleasures of cooking

Wahaca founder Thomasina Miers launched new book ‘Meat Free Mexican’ at her Oxford Circus branch last night, with a Mariachi band playing the classics as well as covers. Miers told us how making food for neighbours got her through the pandemic. “As long as I was making bread in a day and handing it out to a neighbour I felt ok. But if I missed that deadline at the end of the day for not handing a loaf of bread out I started feeling a bit weird and jittery” she said. "I love feeding people and the pleasure of giving food to other people... it is kind of like sex, really good dancing”.

SW1A

The former head of the civil service has hit out at plans to wield the axe on up to 65,000 jobs in Whitehall. Lord Kerslake this week argued that austerity, Brexit and Covid, as well as levelling-up, were “challenges [that] require a civil service that is confident, right-sized and, indeed, invested in”. Are you listening, Jacob Rees-Mogg?

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AT last year’s local elections, Boris and Carrie Johnson were accused of looking awkward while casting their votes during the “wallpapergate” scandal. This morning, Carrie was nowhere to be seen, replaced by the couple’s pooch Dylan as the PM headed to the ballot box. Let’s hope Mrs Johnson votes for him later.

Duchess hails best of British design

Londoner’s Diary 05 05 22

The Duchess of Cambridge cheerfully presented the Queen Elizabeth II award for British design to Saul Nash at the Design Museum last night. Also there was model Munroe Bergdorf. At The Ned, Tina Brown hosted guests Emily Maitlis and financier Bill Browder to the launch of her new royal book. At Langan’s brasserie, Lady Eliza and Lady Amelia Spencer and their half-brother Samuel Aitken were at a Michael Kors X Ellesse party with model Erin O’Connor.

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