When I was a young buck Sam Malone (the barman from Cheers) was an inspiring example; handsome, charming and droll, with that hint of vulnerability that women find irresistible.
Sam was also a Nietzchean Ubermensch; he took no responsibility for his actions. If he felt like hitting on his girlfriend's auntie, so what? The inevitably disastrous consequences were not relevant to his immediate actions.
But as I grew older, more mature and responsible, it became time to put aside childish things. Fortunately there was a wide selection available: John Hulme, Nelson Mandela, Richard Dawkins, Eric Cartman, Homer Simpson, Peter Mandelson (only joking). But in the end, there could only be one choice for a GP.
Jack Bauer is a one-man angst-ridden army. He is destined never to achieve contentment. Just as he sweeps the pretty girl into his arms, you know that he is gonna get nuked and his partner will be disintegrated into atoms.
On the other hand, when Jack is in deep trouble, he's much more comfortable. Heart-freezing peril is his preferred milieu.
Suspend him upside down in a cage with a rabid hyena and he will find a way out, untieing himself with his tongue and suffocating the hyena by stuffing his fingers up its nostrils.
Desperate times, desperate measures.
Yesterday the Magees arrived en famille, la tout ensemble, like the Barbarians at the Gates of Rome. Their demands were insatiable. Mrs Magee wanted sleeping tablets, Mr Magee yet another X-ray (for his collection) and a sick cert, and the kids had apparently been at death's door and required antibiotics, though their animal ferocity cast some doubt on the veracity of this story.
I was in a corner, overwhelmed and out-numbered. I wondered what Jack Bauer would do in this situation, bloodshed not being a realistic option (not yet anyway).
Faking a cardiac arrest may seem a bit extreme, but when I opened my eyes in coronary care the Magees were gone, the defibrillator burns were tolerable.
Desperate times, desperate measures. Jack would have understood.
- Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Email him at GPcolumnists@haymarket.com