It’s another busy morning at the Eoin O’Duffy Memorial Infirmary, aka Blueshirt General. Hospital master Leo Varadkar tours the wards, accompanied by his matron, Frances Fitzgerald.
Varadkar: (stopping by a bed and picking up the chart) Who do we have here?
Fitzgerald: That’s Dáil Éireann.
Varadkar: Funny name – although who am I to talk? Remind me what he’s in for?
Fitzgerald: Severe constipation. Twelve months and counting.
Varadkar: As yes, the “Do-nothing” Dáil – now I remember. Has he passed anything at all recently?
Fitzgerald: A few bits of minor legislation, but it’s always painful. We haven’t seen anything worthwhile for weeks.
Varadkar: Weeks? Ouch. (He winks at patient) That’s a long time to be caught between two stools.
Dáil Éireann: (glumly) Very witty, doctor.
Varadkar: (replacing chart) Right. Whatever the current laxative dose is, matron, double it. We’ll get him moving eventually, somehow.
(He moves on to the next bed where, as well as being heavily bandaged, the patient appears to have a hatchet stuck in his head).
Varadkar: Not you again, Murphy!
Paul Murphy: Yes, it’s me. Another garda hatchet job.
Varadkar: (removing plastic joke-shop hatchet) I’ve told you before: you’re not the victim here. Get out of my hospital. Orderlies!
Murphy: (being manhandled away by men in blue shirts) This is more brutality – we’re living in a police state! (He exits noisily).
Varadkar: (moving on to yet another patient) This one looks familiar. What’s his problem?
Fitzgerald: Complete memory recovery.
Varadkar: You mean “memory loss”?
Fitzgerald: No, I mean recovery. He’s planning to write his memoirs, in two volumes. Volume 1 will only get him to the age of 30.
Varadkar: (to patient) Is this true, Mr Shatter?
Alan Shatter: (busy writing and irritated by the interruption) Yes. What about it?
Fitzgerald: (whispering to Varadkar) We have reason to believe that his recollections could be bad for our health, if you know what I mean. But obviously we’d be more concerned about Volume 2.
Varadkar: Yes, quite. Okay. Well, keep him under observation. If he doesn’t develop amnesia by then naturally, try hitting him on the head with a mallet.
The Master’s Office, later. Dr Varadkar is interviewing candidates for an independent consultancy position.
Varadkar: (reading CV, dubiously) So you’re a doctor now, eh?
Brian Cowen: (for it is he) I am, yeah. As certified by the National University.
Varadkar: And what’s your speciality?
Cowen: Eh, dealing with crashes.
Varadkar: Yes, I see you had a very senior role at St Bertie’s at the time of that national emergency in 2008. How well do you think you coped back then?
(Cowen mumbles something incoherent)
Varadkar: I didn’t quite catch that?
Cowen: Sorry, it’s the nasal congestion again. I was saying that I did my best in difficult circumstances.
Varadkar: So what makes you think you’d like to work here, now?
Cowen: Well, I saw your launch of that “Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery” drug strategy there recently, and it inspired me to think I could make a contribution.
Varadkar: (reading) Yes, I see you yourself are recovering from a bit of a “having the craic” habit?
Cowen: (shrugging) We all partied.
Varadkar: (closing file) Well, I’m sure we can find a role for you here somewhere. Leave your contact details on the way out and we’ll be in touch.
A hotel in Wicklow, that night. Dr Varadkar attends the wedding reception of his junior colleague, Simon Harris.
Varadkar: (to Fitzgerald) Fancy meeting you here. Were you at the church service earlier – I couldn’t make it.
Fitzgerald: Of course I was. I’m Simon’s matron of honour, don’t you know. Normally, that’s just for the bride. But as his long-time mentor, I was given a special role.
Varadkar: And his new wife is a cardiac nurse, I hear? She obviously knows the way to a man’s heart.
Fitzgerald: Yes. (Noticing James Reilly passing en route to the bar, she gives him a puck in the midriff) It’s not through the stomach, apparently.
Simon Coveney approaches.
Coveney: Hi Leo. Glad you could make it, eventually. Enjoyed your weekly video message today. You’re getting better at it. It wasn’t nearly as lame as last week’s.
Varadkar: Thanks, I suppose.
Coveney: Mind you, I was reaching for the defibrillator at one point. That bit about all the things the hospital has achieved in the last year. It was one fib after another.
Varadkar: (reading phone text) Well it seems to be working. Have you seen our new approval ratings from Millward Brown?
Fitzgerald: How good?
Varadkar: We’re now the most popular hospital in Ireland. And my personal numbers have shot up to 49%. People love me.
An uneasy silence descends. Simon Coveney sips his drink, then tries to change the subject.
Coveney: Where’s the honeymoon, by the way?
Varadkar: (smugly) I don’t know yet. But I’m definitely having one.