As it was an emergency, and as I am sometimes a good doctor, I dropped everything (leaving behind the queue of sick certs and passport applications, with a heavy heart, of course) and dashed to the house immediately, stopping only to pick up a straw boater, a striped blazer, a picnic of smoked salmon and brown bread, and a bottle of Pimm's, and to hire a couple of toadies.
I don't like the rich, mainly because I'm not one of them, but 20 years in general practice has taught me the importance of always having the right equipment.
The scene was idyllic; the gentle chatter of effete society, In a Monastery Garden playing in the background on an old gramophone, the far-away drone of a small airplane, the tinkle of champagne flutes, the murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves. A good war to thin out the working class and everything would have been almost perfect, marred only by the bloody mess that used to be Sebastian.
Due to a fatal combination of high spirits and low IQ, he had impaled himself on a croquet mallet, apparently an occupational hazard among public schoolboys. I yanked and yanked, but the mallet wouldn't come out.
Despite the repulsive spectacle Sebastian had become, the croquet game was continuing with a defiant serenity: 'I say, old boy', said a splendid old gentleman with a moustache which had a curious (though no doubt accidental) similarity to a diagram of the uterus and fallopian tubes: 'Would you mind shifting that blood clot? It's interfering with my backswing.' That's the spirit that made the empire great, I thought.
A fragrant young lady fainted, but carefully, so as not to get her dress dirty.
'Oh, my darling Priscilla', said the dowager. 'Quick, doctor, do something, and someone get me another gin, and this time leave the bottle.'
After 20 years in general practice I've learnt to handle even the most unusual clinical situations.
'Gosh, Priscilla', I said, 'you've fainted on a slug.'
The cure was instantaneous.