Liam Farrell: At last, job opportunities for the living dead

There was a mini-riot in a small Northern Ireland town recently; nothing unusual there, perhaps, but the source of discontent was rather bizarre.

A famous medium had been performing and his performance was apparently less than convincing. The audience was outraged, and I can understand why; if you pay £15 to speak to the dead, I reckon, you should able to speak to the dead. So I wasn't totally surprised when my receptionist phoned.

'The dead have risen,' she said, in that resigned, seen-it-all-before tone beloved of receptionists all across the world.

Alarmed, I got to my feet, as I usually do at the prospect of a zombie apocalypse. I went out for a look around and, sure enough, there they were, shambling around pathetically, bouncing off one another, looking totally bewildered, rather like the Team GB footballers. Fortunately they weren't very aggressive and, contrary to Hollywood lore, seemed to have no desire to eat human flesh; the living dead always get a bum rap from the press.

Admittedly, they were a bit of a nuisance, getting stuck on barbed-wire fences and shedding decayed body parts everywhere, and, in some ways, were even more frustrating to deal with than are the living, which is astonishing when you consider that it's the living who determine the performance markers for the GP contract.

But we had no excuse for feeling superior; the difference between the living and the dead is just a matter of time, and we could see our own future parading in front of us. And when I saw Joe staggering along the road with half his head hanging off, I knew he wasn't going to be whining about his bursitis and pestering me for sleeping tablets. What's more, I knew that he was genuinely ill and wasn't faking it.

Their lack of co-ordination and inability to complete simple manual tasks without falling over made them unsuitable for the usual activities; mowing lawns, cleaning bathrooms and child-minding proved too difficult.

But we found a silver lining; they didn't speak, didn't communicate, didn't care about anyone but themselves and seemed to have no useful function, all of which made them ideally qualified as NHS managers.

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