'I am Gandalf,' he announced.
'And?' I asked.
'Surely you've read the book?' he said sharply, 'Or seen the movie?'
'Yeah,' I grudgingly agreed.
'I have a mighty task for you,' he said. 'The Dark Tower is rebuilt, orcs are multiplying like rabbits (they have no concept of responsible birth control), hobbits are being forced to get proper jobs instead of lying around drunk all the time, and flocks of disorientated Nazgul are terrorising Narnia and strafing it with foul-smelling guano. The Dark Lord has awakened, he is seeking the Ring.'
'What ring?' I asked.
'This one,' he replied, palming it from behind my ear, 'it corrupts the owner, they become hard and cynical and develop halitosis and crumbly fingernails.'
He took out a pipe and blew a magical smoke ring in the shape of a jewelled speculum.
I absent-mindedly tapped a computer key for 'smoker', told him he should give up and tapped in 'smoking cessation advice'.
'The elves have a saying,' he continued, 'when in doubt call the GP, and since ye are hard and cynical anyway the Ring can't make you any worse. It must be destroyed and you must take it to the fires of Mount Doom, which, inconveniently, is right beside the Dark Tower. You may take a loyal assistant of your choice.'
'What about Lassie?'
'No problem,' he said, taking out a little book rather discouragingly titled Easy Spells for SHOs. There was a puff of smoke and Lassie burst joyfully into the room, snuggled into my lap and licked my hand, then tried to bite the ring and turned into a small, bewildered, drug rep who burst into tears, glad-handed us some promotional pens and fled.
'Couldn't you hop on one of those big eagles?' I asked, 'Fly down, chuck it in, you'd be back before you could say Galadriel is a cheap slut.'
'Alas,' Gandalf explained vaguely, deftly pocketing the pens, 'Alack.'
'Alright, alright,' I said, 'I'll get rid of it.'
'The Seven Fairies shall sing your praises,' he said, getting up hastily to leave.
'By the way can I have an antibiotic? I've an awful cough,' he added.
I closed the door firmly, accidentally crushing a dwarf and eyed the Ring speculatively.
'From where I'm sending you, buddy, you ain't never coming back,' I said, popping the Ring in an envelope, addressing it to the local neurology outpatients and marked it 'non-urgent'.
- Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Email him at GPcolumnists@haymarket.com