Craic & Codology

Doctor in the House

Doctor Varadkar

As the Beast from the East descends, the Eoin O’Duffy Memorial Infirmary, aka Blueshirt General, is on emergency footing. Meanwhile, hospital master Leo Varadkar learns of a more worrying development from his Strategic Communications Unit.

Varadkar (answering phone): Yes John. What ingenious wheeze for publicising our heroic work have you thought of now?

John Concannon: I’m afraid it’s bad news this time, Leo. There’s a storm coming.

Varadkar: Yes, I saw the forecast.

Concannon: Not that kind of storm – a shitstorm. Remember our big PR operation on Project Infirmary 2040?

Varadkar (lowering voice): The one where we injected large amounts of funds into ailing newspapers, keeping them on life support in return for puff pieces disguised as journalism?

Concannon: Yes. Well, the puff pieces have blown up in our face.

Varadkar: Why?

Concannon: Some people think it was unethical. A blurring of the lines between medicine and journalism. There’s talk of the Hypocritic Oath.

Varadkar: Oh dear. Could I be (gulp) – struck off?

Concannon: God no – it’s not like anybody died. But there’ll be a lot of crap coming your way shortly.

Varadkar: How bad?

Concannon: Pretty bad. We’re forecasting Storm Marylou will be gusting to Force 10 by Wednesday, and that simultaneously there could be a major dumping on us by the media who weren’t paid off. If so, we’ll be dealing with major accumulations by the weekend.

Varadkar: What should I do?

Concannon: As head of your communications unit, I’d advise you to launch a review into the workings of the communications unit. That’ll buy time. The other thing that’ll help is the bad weather – always good for hospitals.

Varadkar: Bring it on.

The A&E unit, later in the week. Amid chaos, Dr Varadkar calmly tends to the many arrivals, watched by an admiring group of invited journalists and press photographers.

Varadkar (studying the X-Rays of a patient bandaged head to foot): You’ve been in the wars. How did that happen?

Patient: Me satellite dish went on the blink in the snow. It was just before the Arsenal game and I’m a big Gunners fan. So you know yourself – I went up on the roof… How bad does it look, doc?

Varadkar: For Arsenal? Pretty dire. But you’re not in good shape either. We can save you, but it’ll cost an arm and a leg.

Patient: You mean money?

Varadkar: No, the actual limbs. But don’t worry – you’re in good hands.

Patient: Jayzus. Can I have a second opinion?

Varadkar: Of course. Ask one of these journalists.

Journalist: The doctor’s right – he’s doing a great job.

Concannon (stepping out from behind Varadkar) : Although we should point out – that message may have been paid for.

Varadkar: It sounded pretty sincere to me. (To patient) What about a selfie for Twitter? (He leans in) Big smile! Great.

Concannon (drawing Varadkar’s attention to another trolley): We have a celebrity over here, Leo.

Varadkar (surveying an elderly patient, also bandaged): Can’t say I recognise him, John.

Concannon (to patient): Do the voice.

Patient (weakly): Today’s bread today.

Varadkar: Old Mr Brennan! What happened him?

Concannon: Stampede at the bakery, apparently. People are starting to panic about food shortages.

Varadkar: Jesus! That’s how revolutions start. (To Mr Brennan) OK, we’re not gong to keep you here long. Just a quick selfie. (He leans in and smiles. Then, to nurses) Whatever it takes, get this man fixed up and back to work within an hour.

Nurses wheel Mr Brennan into ICU while paramedics rush another trolley past.

Varadkar: Was that Noel Rock.

Concannon: Yes. I hear he was having a go at some looters in Tallaght, and shot himself in the foot.

Varadkar: Phew. It’s mad in here. How’s the other storm going, by the way?

Concannon: Still pretty windy out there with serious precipitation – your approval rating’s down three points since Monday. But the worst is over. (Checks phone) And I predict you’re about to make a complete recovery.

Varadkar: What is it?

Concannon: We need to get you to the maternity wing – now. An emergency of the happy kind.

Holles Street, minutes later. Varadkar holds a new-born baby while taking selfies.

Varadkar: Genius, John. It’s the mother of all photo ops.

Concannon: Thanks. But, er, speaking of mothers, maybe you should have the baby in the picture too.

Varadkar: Of course. (He hold his phone out a little further). There you go. Smile!

Mother: Can I have him back now?

Varadkar (handing her the baby). Ha, ha. Spoken like a true Irish mammy. So, wow. Is this really is a great-grandson of Garret FitzGerald?

Mother: Yes. We’re calling him Max.

Varadkar: I love it! Very 2018. Well he’s a beautiful, bouncing baby – isn’t he, John?

Concannon: He certainly is. (Lowering voice and leaning in) And speaking of bounces, you’re back up to record popularity levels. Operation Snow Job seems to have worked.

Varadkar: Hurray! (To baby). From one Max to another – gimme five! (He attempts to high-five the baby, but in the absence of a response, turns it to a wave, looking slightly embarrassed).