The County General Hospital, Chicago. At the start of his visit to North America, Dr Varadkar gets a guided tour of the home of a famous TV medical drama.
Varadkar: So this is where they shot ER?
Guide: Yes, sir. All 331 episodes over 15 seasons. Longest running prime-time medical series in TV history.
Varadkar: But I always thought the hospital was fictional?
Guide: Yes it was, sir.
Varadkar: So how are we walking down this bustling corridor full of busy nurses and doctors, just like in the series?
Guide: I guess anything’s possible in America, sir.
A female tourist approaches, wide-eyed.
Female tourist (to Varadkar): Oh my God! It is you, isn’t it?
Varadkar (puzzled): Er, I think so…
Tourist: George Clooney! Or should I say Doctor Doug Ross?
Varadkar (embarrassed): Well, actually no – although I do get compared with Clooney lot.
The woman faints. He picks her up and carries her to a nearby trolley, where he administers first aid. Just then, a man in a white coat (but with a Blueshirt underneath) rushes in.
Government spin doctor (for it is one): Sorry to interrupt, Leo, but we have an emergency situation developing on social media. We need you now.
Varadkar: What is it?
Spin doctor: Remember that waitress last night who didn’t recognise you and gave you a crap table? Then when she found out who you were she was morto and asked you to pose for a selfie? Well, she’s posted the whole story on Twitter. It’s going viral.
Varadkar: What should we do?
Spin doctor: Everything – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat. We think you’ll get some softball radio interviews out of it too. This could be big. You need to be all over it, like a rash.
Varadkar (to tour guide): Where’s the best Wifi here?
Guide: Funnily enough, it’s in the operating theatre.
The operating theatre, later.
Varadkar (applying the last key-strokes to his smartphone): All done, I think. What’s the prognosis?
Spin doctor (studying monitors): The vital signs are all pretty good. Nice touch spelling “gr8” like that, by the way. You’ve got 500 new Twitter followers in the last 30 seconds, mostly teenagers. And we’ve already had an interview request from Spin 103.8.
Varadkar: My fave! And how’s the patient?
Spin doctor: She’s doing well. Made a complete recovery from her embarrassment about not knowing who you were. Now The Late Late Show have booked her and she’s got job offers from 10 different restaurants in Chicago alone.
Varadkar: It’s the American Dream.
Spin doctor: And all because she mistook you for an average Joe.
Varadkar: But as I told her, it’s nice being treated like an ordinary person sometimes.
Spin doctor: Yes – except when you’re in an Irish hospital!
Varadkar: Ha ha. Totes hilaire, but true.
Spin doctor (checking watch): Anyway, enough of the bants. We need to get to the airport – we have a flight to Montreal to catch.
A day later. Dr Varadkar and a Canadian colleague, the renowned heart-throb specialist Justin Trudeau, march together in the Montreal pride parade. During a quiet moment, they fall to discussing the ethics of abortion referendums.
Varadkar: So that’s why I’d like to get it out of the way early next year, if possible.
Trudeau: While you’re still in your first trimester as hospital director? Yes, that would be best.
Varadkar: But it’s not an easy decision.
Trudeau: Of course not. Still, surely women’s health – mental as well as physical – is the paramount issue?
Varadkar: Well no. In Ireland, we also have to consider the health of others: the unborn baby, the Government and so on. And traditionally, abortion has been very detrimental to those.
Trudeau: But you’re the new guy, right? You’re young, smart, almost as good-looking as me. You can do anything you like, can’t you?
Varadkar: I don’t know, Justin. My board of governors is still very conservative on this issue. And if we do go ahead with the, er, procedure, then whatever the outcome, it’s sure to be divisive. There’ll be a lot of healing needed afterwards.
Trudeau: Well, healing is our business, Leo. We’re not like Donald Trump. Have you invited him to Dublin yet?
Varadkar: No. Not sure I want to, either. It’s such a circus everywhere he goes.
Trudeau: And that’s the answer to your abortion problem; go ahead with the operation next spring or whenever. Then, straight after have Trump visit the hospital. He’s sure to do or say something stupid. Then everyone will be talking about that for a week. They’ll forget the other thing completely.
Varadkar (in deep thought): Hmmm. You know what? That sounds like a plan.