Foul things follow from doctors fair words

The chains of our ancient office lie heavy upon us, but in return for bearing this heavy and eternal burden we receive the respect and esteem of society, and this esteem can be harnessed in many different ways.

Gaelic football is our passion, and last week I attended a match against a neighbouring parish. A few minutes into the match, one of the opposing players collapsed. I was pointed out to the opposing mentors and they called me over.

He was having trouble catching his breath. I toyed with idea of shouting 'Omigod, he's swallowed his tongue,' and then pretending to extricate it, but I do have some pride. I had a medical kit with me, for our own team, so after a few theatrical interventions with an inhaler I brought him back to life, announced a cure and returned him to the bosom of his team. The referee thanked me, their coach was grateful and their chairman came over to shake my hand, tell me how wonderful I was and would I sleep with his daughter?

'Let's have a look at her first,' I said, half-joking, but my reward was to come in another way, less fleshy, perhaps, but equally sweet.

In the dying minutes of what was a very close match, an opposition shot whizzed just past the post. There being no goal-net in this beautiful game, an uproar ensued.

'Goal,' screamed the opposition.

'Wide,' howled the home supporters.

The referee was some distance up the field and it was an impossible call for him. He needed an objective opinion from someone who could be trusted, someone would be unbiased, a pillar of the community who wouldn't tell a lie. And in an incredibly lucky break for him, who should standing right beside the goal-post but the Doctor, whose integrity was beyond dispute and whose bona fides had already been established.

'Wide,' I signalled, 'It was a mile wide.'

The opposition went berserk, the ref disallowed the goal, then blew the final whistle; our supporters burst onto the pitch and carried me shoulder-high on a lap of honour as we drank the blood of our enemies and rejoiced in the lamentations of their women-folk.

And, as usual, I recalled the words of Shakespeare, 'Win us with honest trifles, to betray's. In deepest consequence.'

Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Email him at GPcolumnists@haymarket.com

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