Liam Farrell: The locum who rode into town with new ideas

A new locum rode into town yesterday, as the sun was going down. He was tall, slim and laconic, a man of few words, with a whiff of sulphur about him, 'something of the night'. He was the 'Doc With No Name', which ironically enough, became his name.

The Doc with No Name had a background shrouded in mystery; he'd been involved in shady dealings, like line-dancing, then shot a man in Rio (just to watch him die, apparently), joined the Foreign Legion (just because the uniforms looked cool, he said), left the Legion because there wasn't enough 'killin' for his taste'.

He took up orthopaedic surgery, then became involved in a three-cornered gangland war between the Sicilian mafia, the Chinese triads and the Camberwick Green knitting circle, which only ended when Don Pellegrino was found one morning naked (except for a woolly jumper with sleeves that were much too long) in the steam-bath with a crotchet needle sticking out of his eyeball, and the words 'Who's been a naughty boy then?' scrawled in blood on the wall.

Apart from that he told us nothing.

To our surprise and gratification, our prescription costs started to plummet. Requests for antibiotics, sleeping tablets, anxiolytics, sick certificates and passport forms were being met with a cold-eyed glance, the sound of a six-gun being cocked and the whispered words: 'Do you feel lucky, punk?'

This, of course, was absolutely nuts to us and we basked in the astonished and approving smile of the pharmaceutical adviser. When she asked about how we had achieved this miraculous transformation, we were appropriately discreet, muttering vaguely about stricter protocols and cost-benefit analysis and spending trajectories and practice formularies; we felt our locum's unorthodox methods might be neither politically correct nor reproduceable in a wider arena.

And then, one morning, without a word, he was gone, and we heard, with a certain inevitability, that the local bank had been robbed, the bank being right beside the health centre. Sure enough, we found he'd dug a secret tunnel and left behind not only a few spent shotgun cartridges but also a large number of illegitimate children.

Good girls, bad boys, you know the story.

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