Liam Farrell: Beware the curse of the Irish mammy

I always expect the worst. In fact, if the worst doesn't happen, I'm a bit disappointed, and even apprehensive; it's not that the worst hasn't happened, just that it hasn't happened yet.

Near the end of the surgery, I was feeling good. It had been a fulfilling day; challenging diagnoses, moral conundrums, the patients and I relating well and working together in a true sense of partnership. I felt good, I had helped some people, brought a little light into the world, done the state some service.

But because I felt good, I felt bad. I knew that it couldn't last, the universe would once again conspire against me.

So it was with a sense of fatal satisfaction that I watched Joe trudge morosely into the room; the balance of the cosmos had returned, all was in equilibrium again.

'Those tablets were no good,' he said.

'As I have told you many times before, Joe,' I said, wearily, 'there is no such thing as a tablet that will make you more attractive to women.'

'They were useless,' said Joe doggedly.

I considered despair, yet rejected it utterly; there's a little Don Quixote in every GP. Together we fight the long defeat, and that our deeds prove to be futile makes them no less valorous.

'Because I care so much,' I said, 'I am going to suggest something revolutionary.'

'What's that?' asked Joe, suspiciously.

'Lifestyle, Joe,' I said. 'You need to change your lifestyle. Start exercising, lose weight, take a night course, get a job.'

To my surprise, Joe seemed to be listening.

'I could do that,' he said. I pinched myself, was I hallucinating? 'Anything else?' he asked.

'Stop smoking, drink in moderation, find a hobby, cultivate a sunny disposition.' 'Yes,' he said enthusiastically, 'it's time for a new me.'

'Just one thing,' I said. 'You'll have to move out of your mammy's house; otherwise you'll always look like a total loser.'

'Could we try another tablet?' he said.

  • Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Follow him on Twitter @drlfarrell.

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