Craic & Codology


Doctor Varadkar

It’s a big day at the Eoin O’Duffy Memorial Infirmary, aka Blueshirt General, as after months of preparation by a multi-disciplinary team of surgeons led by Dr Varadkar, the operation to remove Bunreacht na hÉireann’s 8th Amendment is finally under way.

Varadkar: How’s the patient doing, Nurse Zappone?

Zappone (reading her smartphone): 44% yes, 32% no, according to the final poll. That still leaves an extraordinary 24% undecided.

Varadkar: Well, it’s a painful issue.

Bunreacht na hÉireann: Aaargh!

Varadkar: Speaking of which, looks like you better top up that anaesthetic.

Meehawl Martin (feeling his lower spine area and wincing): Can I have some too? My backbenchers are giving me grief again.

Mattie McGrath: You needn’t be looking for a spine, Meehole – you don’t have one.

Varadkar: Who let him in here? He’s not even sterilised.

Mary Lou McDonald (waving surgical tweezers): I’ll sterilise him with these.

Varadkar: Now now, Mary Lou. We’ll have no punishment attacks in here. Orderlies! Get this man out.

(The orderlies bundle McGrath out the door; another familiar face peers in)

Rónán Mullen: Hello all – just doing my pastoral rounds. Would now be a good time to speak to the patient?

Varadkar: No it wouldn’t, Father Mullen. He’s busy.

Mullen: I’ll come back after mass, shall I?

Varadkar: Yes do. Make it a Tridentine mass – we’ll be finished then. How’s the anaesthetic doing, nurse?

Zappone: He’s well under.

Varadkar: All right, folks. I’m going in.

John Concannon: Wait. You’re forgetting the most important thing.

Varadkar: Oh yes, of course – the operation-day photograph of me about to cast my scalpel. (He smiles for the cameras, plunges knife into patient).

Bunreacht na hÉireann: Aaargh!

The same operating theatre, later.

Varadkar (stretching): Gosh, this is tiring work. Could you take over for a while, Dr Harris?

Simon Harris: Of course. How’s Mr Bunreacht looking now, matron?

Ailbhe Smyth: Not bad, considering he used to be such a male chauvinist pig.

Harris: I mean, how’s he doing for pain relief?

Smyth: We’ve already given him more than he deserves.

Harris: Well, he’s from an older generation, remember. They weren’t as enlightened as us.

Smyth: True. By the way, doctor, can I just say how wonderful you were on television the other night, debating with those religious loonies who oppose the operation?

Harris: Thanks, matron. But I was just doing my job.

Smyth: Well you did it brilliantly. You’re a hero to women now.

Harris: Gosh. I don’t know what to say.

Kate O’Connell: She’s right, Simon. You were wonderful on TV. We loved your sarcastic eye-roll – it went viral, you know. Do it for us again.

Harris: Oh now, Nurse O’Connell!

O’Connell: Oh go on! Please.

Harris: Well, OK. (He pauses the scalpel and performs eye-roll. Several nurses faint).

Varadkar (angrily): That’s quite enough of that, Simon. Give me back that scalpel.

Harris: But I’m nearly finished.

Varadkar: This is my operation – I’ll finish it.

Harris: As you wish, doctor.

Varadkar (Still in huff): When I asked you to take over, I didn’t mean my job.

A hospital corridor, next day. Doctors Varadkar and Harris walk and talk.

Varadkar: Sorry for snapping yesterday.

Harris: Don’t worry. We’ve all been under a lot of pressure lately.

Varadkar: Yes. There was so much riding on this. It could have destroyed the hospital if we’d got it wrong.

Harris: You’ve heard about Ganley threatening to withdraw sponsorship?

Varadkar: Yes – he says he’s a conscientious objector. But I think we can work something out. Maybe if we name a suitable ward of the hospital after him, he could channel his funds into that.

Harris: Good idea. The Ulster ward, for example. That’s mostly psychiatric patients now – he’d have no conscience issues there.

Varadkar: Speak of the devil – here’s Matron Foster. Good morning Matron.

Foster (passing with barely a glance): Ulster still says no!

Harris: That was a bit frosty. Anyway, here’s my ward.

Varadkar: Ah yes. Where I cut my own teeth as a doctor. It used to be called “Angola”, you know. Because of all the hidden mines, waiting to explode.

Harris: It’s still considered the death knell of a doctor’s career.

Varadkar: Whereas your career seems to be thriving, Simon. If anything, you’re almost too successful.

Harris: I hope you’re not thinking of another reshuffle?

Varadkar: Maybe I am. How would you like to go to actual Angola, Simon? I hear the Red Cross are looking for someone.

Harris: But Charlie Flanagan is there already, as you know.

Varadkar: I could bring him back. He has valuable experience I could use here. Also, crucially, he doesn’t have as much hair as you do, or look as good on television.

Harris: If I promise to keep a low profile for a while, can I stay?

Varadkar: That might help, alright. Now get back to work.

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