10th June – You wonder why he stands so high, It’s just the space between him and the sky.

Matthew Hancock was not a celebrity with a book to promote when he was first invited to be a guest on Glasnost, but he was a public figure with a reputation to repair. Thinking about it now, the original inspiration behind having him on the show must have come from Cummings himself, way back when. Obviously in the light of recent events, he was not keen to be interviewed by Cummings, and especially not an ersatz version apparently. Néanmoins, we persisted, eventually conceding to his representatives not just that he wouldn’t have to face any form of Cum-Bot, but also that we would indulge him with a Euro 2020 special, so that he could advance his case as a man of the people, just like his boss.

One stipulation only from us, that given his position of responsibility, we would ask him some questions about VAR, and whether the consistency of refereeing decisions flowing from it’s application was likely to spoil the spectacle in any way. I think we can agree that despite coming late to the game, he’s a man who’s passionate about his football.

Exactly what I mean by independent leg action.

We see too many players punished for innocuous challenges. What’s your view?
I don’t know. I often watch replays of so-called fouls, and to me it’s almost as if one leg behaves badly independently of the brain, while the other leg just stands there looking on unable to assist, similarly, the ref himself, when his arm goes up in the air, and suddenly he sees a red card at the end of it. He didn’t know how it ended up there; it just got carried away with the excitement, like me too when I’m doing parkour, or that time Raab threw a vase at the tele.

Obviously, I stayed up all night reading the manual.

So, is there a solution?
This is just me thinking out loud – I’m new to the game, but as we discovered during the herd immunity program last year, sometimes a fresh perspective, from someone who has no idea what he’s talking about, gives us the chance to come up with the sort of idea that nobody else dare contemplate. How about this: maybe it’s not a yellow, but not a red either. What about an orange? And just to one leg. No, hear me out here. The leg is punished, not the whole body. The player would be required to leave the pitch during which time he has to eat an orange on the side for ten minutes – maybe holding the offending leg in the air to teach it a lesson. Then when he comes back, if the ‘naughty leg’ as it were, commits another foul, he then gets a red, even if the player’s brain, or leg didn’t mean it; it’s obviously swinging round recklessly on it’s own, and needs to be off the pitch just for everyone else’s protection.

Then, should the other leg do a foul, there’s no need to give a red to the whole body, because it had nothing to do with first offence. In this case the actions of the leg might only warrant a yellow, so the player would still be sent to the side but this time to eat a lemon, which is worse in many ways, but which is correct because it acknowledges the accumulation of offences. Should he commit a very bad foul with the other leg, again we’ve got to ask if the signal for that action came from the brain, or whether the leg was acting of it’s own volition, just as his colleague did a minute ago. If it did, give the player another orange against that leg. The whole body is now on red alert. One more misdemeanour from either leg, whether acting under direct instruction from the brain, or not, must be a red; a handball however, wouldn’t, because under my scheme three oranges don’t necessarily make a red; nor need four, providing they are spread evenly around the limbs and we can satisfy ourselves that they weren’t instructed by the brain in their actions. But don’t tell me that I am going soft on the regulations, very much the opposite in fact, because in the example where each leg, independently of the brain has committed an orange offence, under the totting-up procedures the player will now be required to eat two oranges. If you want to think outside the box on this, maybe you could make him drink a pint of orange, not squash obviously, which is kind to athletes – I drink gallons during a typical parkour, but Fanta perhaps to make it a more effective sentence. All this gives the offended against team an advantage, yet, importantly, it doesn’t punish wickedness which isn’t there, when, as we say, the player perhaps isn’t in charge of his own limbs.

Being new to the game, I’m not always the first to spot the banana shot.

Can you see that actually working Matt?
Right. Firstly, no player wants to spend the large part of the match eating citrus fruits on the sidelines. I’m just throwing these ideas out there, but who knows, for oranges that are almost reds, you could perhaps make him eat a packet Opal Fruits instead, then watch him spend the whole match undoing the wrappers! The technology is there to do these things. The point is, I’m a great believer in imposing the sort of punishment which will make people want to improve for themselves. And these ideas just might serve to increase overall bodily discipline, you know, like in parkour where you really have to trust your feet to do their own thing. One thing’s for certain: with new rules like these, we will see power being sent out to the regions of the body so that, for example, each buttock takes better charge of the leg it controls. Look, it’s a bit like going to your aunty’s house for tea. Face it, we’re all terrified of making mistakes when we do that, but we have to maintain personal discipline and not go to the toilet all the time – even though she gives you orange squash and Digestives (LOL).

Matt’s Football Top Five

I’ve made me own rules up for parkour too.
  • Everybody loves Messi & Ronaldo, but there’s more to them than just football. Say Messi has a new haircut, next thing you know, Ronaldo’s gone out and got his restyled too. Often even nicer than Lionel’s. Those two kept me going during the dark days of 2020.
  • I adore women’s football, and every time I’m out doing parkour, I see Sue Perkins in between the jumpers. You know why that is don’t you? It’s three-and-in, and Sue’s always first to bag a hattrick.
  • I hate to talk politics, but I invented the Scottish and North Sea Islands EU Trophy, which will see the Home Nations take on Zealand, Gotland and the Faroe Islands, in February next year. Not only does this keep us close to our European cousins, it means, with prizes down to sixth, that one of us will bring some silverware home sometime soon. You’re welcome.
  • Bavaria may boast the best team that has ever played, but news reached my ears early on this year that there was a shortage of Brasso, Silvo and Mr Sheen in Germany to shine up their very many trophies. It just so happened that a friend of mine bought up the world’s supply last summer, and I am going to need it all the keep my hospitals clean!
  • Like the rest of the country, I love me football me, almost as much as I love me Strictly. I don’t think my colleagues will mind me announcing a little ahead of time, that I have ORDERED, football’s VAR system, to be delivered to the Strictly Studios so that, for example, Craig can’t just make it all up afterwards to suit himself (like someone else I know). Who says politics can’t be a force for good?