'For the last time, sod off and get out of my face,' I said. 'You’re not getting any more sleeping tablets or sick certs and I’m not signing any more of your jury duty exemptions.'
The carol singers halted their rather cheesy version of Have a Cheeky Christmas (it had none of the the grandeur of the original), looking rather disappointed.
'You’re very cranky tonight, doc,' said one.
Yes,' I said. 'If only I had a reason.'
Unusually for carol singers, there seemed to be a lot of torches and nooses and pitchforks and fairy lights in a tasteful swastika design, even a few shotguns, thought admittedly these were gaily festooned with tinsel; wherever two or three are gathered together in My Name, some poor bugger is going to get a right good kicking.
But nobody had tried to stab me, which is always nice, what we call a result in the rich tapestry of general practice.
'Another great Christmas tradition gone,' they grumbled to each other. 'God be with the old days.'
'What’ll be next?' said one. 'No more nativity plays?'
'Or Christmas Trees.'
'Or buying lots of shit that people don’t want or need.'
Things got worse; of course they did.
'Or dousing an effigy of your GP with petrol and setting it on fire, and sitting round the blaze telling stories and roasting chestnuts.'
'Or discriminating against homosexuals on religious grounds.'
'Or Christmas just-in-case antibiotics?'
There was particular support for this complaint.
'Yeah,' said another. 'You need the Christmas antibiotic, because the surgery will be closed for, like, two whole days; anything could happen.'
'It’s the immigrants,' someone said. 'They’re taking all the antibiotics.'
Someone passed around a plate of mince-pies and sausage rolls; it takes more than an invasion of Polish mechanics and Syrian refugees to put carol singers off their food.
'I blame the EU,' said another. 'When Brexit finally happens, only people that deserve them will get antibiotics.'
There was brief silence, unless you counted the occasional pungent belch (a curiously seasonal aroma), as the crowd considered this, mentally dividing the universe into the deserving and the undeserving, and placing themselves on the appropriate side.
'After Brexit, Christmas will be great again,' someone said.
'Bigly great,' they all agreed.
- Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Follow him on Twitter @drlfarrell