It’s St Patrick’s Week in the Eoin O’Duffy Memorial Infirmary, aka Blueshirt General. As a skeleton staff keeps things running at home, hospital master Leo Varadkar visits the US on a promotional tour. First stop is a press conference in Washington with a celebrity former patient.
Varadkar (to media): I hope President Trump won’t mind me telling this, but it’s a funny story so here goes.
Trump: Is it about the time I was in Ireland and had the, uh, wind problem?
Varadkar: That’s the one. (To media) So Mr Trump had this wind problem – or to use the medical term, flatulence. (Nervous laughter from US reporters)
Trump (making funny face and pretending to wave away smell): So embarrassing!
Varadkar: And I happened to be staying at the same hotel. (To Trump) Doonbeg golf resort, wasn’t it?
Trump: The one I own, yes. That was the other thing about my wind problem – holding it in was putting me off my game.
Varadkar: So I was asked if I could do something. And at first I thought it was a piss-take. (More nervous laughter from US media, causing the hospital’s communications director to intervene).
John Concannon: I should explain that Dr Varadkar is referring to a procedure that’s quite common in Irish medical practice, but outside his area of expertise. If a “piss-take” had been required, Mr Trump would have needed a urologist.
Varadkar: Eh, yes – that’s what I meant. Whereas wind is a specialty of mine. So I rang up Fáilte Ireland, who I should explain for Americans is our tourism board….
Trump: Right. They’ve got 100,000 Fáilte’s in Ireland, but if you’re a resort owner who wants something done, the other 99,999 are useless.
Varadkar: Fáilte Ireland were managing Mr Trump’s trip. So I asked what they were feeding him. And suffice to say, there was too much of one Irish specialty – cabbage – in the diet. So they had a word somewhere and, basically, we made Mr Trump’s wind problem go away. Of course, the downside was that he had constipation after that…
Melania Trump (under her breath): And he’s been full of shit ever since.
The back of a chauffeur-driven limousine, later
Varadkar (to Concannon): That went well, I thought.
Concannon (studying phone): Eh, no. It didn’t. The use of the term piss-take has gone down very badly here. And you’re in trouble over the Fáilte Ireland thing too. Apparently the chef was let go soon afterwards – now he’s blaming you. And the cabbage growers association is up in arms. So are the vegetarian lobby.
Varadkar (while tweeting something): Jesus. Who would have thought a little flatulence joke could backfire? Excuse the pun.
Concannon (checking Twitter feed): It’s getting worse. Now you’re being accused of unpatriotic activity. The cabbage is a symbol of Ireland, apparently – some people want you tried for treason.
Varadkar (hitting “tweet” button): So what do we do now?
Varadkar: Good idea – I’ll tell the bastards nothing.
Concannon: What? No, I mean the Stonewall Inn – the famous gay bar in New York. It’s next on our itinerary. Although now you mention it, keeping your mouth shut from here on except when reading scripts might be wise. (He frowns at phone). On which subject, did you just tweet about St Patrick’s Day?
Varadkar: Yes – why?
Concannon: With an emoji of the Ivory Coast flag? The one that goes orange-white-green?
Varadkar: Oops, yes. Not my day, is it?
Concannon (sighing): You should try being your communications adviser.
Meanwhile, back at the short-staffed Blueshirt General, Dr Shane Ross helps out with emergency surgery.
Ross (to nurse): Scalpel, please. (To assistant surgeon). So, did you watch the rugby at the weekend?
Assistant: Of course.
Ross: Tremendous achievement by the guys. Did I tell you I got a picture with two of them? Hold this nurse. (He hands the scalpel back while getting his phone). Look. That’s me with Johnny Sexton and Dave Kearney.
Assistant: Er, that’s Rob Kearney. Dave’s his brother. He wasn’t playing.
Ross (puts phone away, retakes scalpel): Really? So that explains why all those people on social media were laughing at me. (He resumes cutting). Oh well, sport’s not really my thing anyway. Nor is this for that matter.
Assistant: You’re not a surgeon?
Ross: Not exactly, no. But I’ve always found that self-confidence is the key to any profession. I have lots of that. (He removes an excised organ from the patient and places it in a tray held by the nurse). Right – that’s the kidney out.
Nurse (in horror): Kidney? It was supposed to be his appendix.
Ross (momentarily embarrassed): Damn – I always get those two mixed up as well. We better put that back in so. (To the assistant). Let’s hope the scamps on social media don’t hear of this one, eh?
Nurse (suspiciously): May I ask you a question, Dr Ross? Could you pinpoint the location of your lateral epicondyle for me?
Ross: Of course. (Slaps his buttock). It’s here, next to my funny bone.
Nurse: Just as I feared, Dr Ross. You literally don’t know your arse from your elbow.