‘Non c'è maggior dolore che ricordarsi del tempo felice ne la miseria,’ he said.
‘My Italian is imperfect,’ I said.
‘There is no greater sorrow than to be mindful of the happy time in misery,’ he translated. ‘But what goes around, comes around, and the good times are a-coming again.’
He laughed at my mystification.
‘The border,’ he said. ‘It’s coming back! It’ll be just like when I was a lad. Cigarettes, diesel, videos, butter, any price differential meant a bonanza for criminals, excuse me, free-market entrepreneurs like me. Those were the days, my friend. Tensions, conflicts and irresolvable dilemmas may be bad news for everyone else, but chaos is a ladder.
‘And there’ll be a new market,’ he said, suddenly a bit shifty.
I was back on solid ground; a shifty Joe is a given, like, the sky being blue and Donald Trump being an illiterate, uninformed con-artist with an insatiable need for validation.
‘Something small,’ he said. ‘Easily transportable, and in ever-increasing demand.’
‘Guinea-pigs?’ I ventured.
‘Something that might be of interest to you,’ he hinted.
‘Whatever salacious rumours you may have heard, I have no interest in pornography,’ I insisted loftily. ‘And anyway, I’m a doctor and all, a kind of asexual mutant.’
‘No doc; coming to a theatre near you,’ he said, ‘antibiotics!!!’
‘I have noticed, over the years, your reluctance to prescribe antibiotics, even when I was nearly dying with an awful sore throat; I understand this, it wasn’t that you wanted to deny me much needed medical treatment while I was walking through the Valley of Shadow of Death, it’s that they’re expensive, a drain on resources which could be better spent elsewhere. But now I can get them for you on the cheap, you can fire them out like Smarties.
‘Wait and see, once Brexit comes through, the country will be awash with antibiotics; what are the bacteria gonna do then, eh? Look on my antibiotics, ye mighty E. coli, and despair.’
‘I’m presuming you are a firm supporter of Brexit,’ I said.
‘You can’t have enough borders,’ he said.
- Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Follow him on Twitter @drlfarrell