'I usually go to the vit'nary,' said the lemming with a pronounced Yorkshire accent (will the ghost of James Herriot ever fade, I wondered), 'but I was listening to Radio 5 Live and someone was talking about how their dog had a rash and they brought it to the vit'nary and he gave it a homeopathic treatment and it got better.'
'Quite compelling evidence,'
'Yeah, right,' the lemming snorted. 'So I thought to myself, I may be only a rodent with a brain the size of a walnut, but even I know the flaws in anecdotal-based evidence. So no more vit'narys for me, I thought, and here I am.'
I was having difficulty relating to him so I tried thinking of him as a Disney character. In Disneyworld the big names, like Mickey and Minnie, only appear on special occasions, but Chip and Dale are everywhere, the Disney version of cheap sluts.
'What can I do for you, Chip?' I asked, receiving a long, hard stare in response.
'That's the problem, Doc,' said the lemming. 'I don't know. I feel OK, plenty of energy, good attitude, eating well, plenty of willing females, but every so often I get this strange compulsion ...
if I see a big cliff, I want to jump off it, if I see a raging torrent, I want to jump into it; then I was surfing the net and I read about these mass suicides lemmings are prone to. What do you think?'
'Relax, little buddy,' I said, tossing him an acorn. 'The myth of mass suicide was largely founded on a film made more than 40 years ago, which since has been discredited. You guys were set up; the film-makers just chucked a load of you off a cliff into the sea.'
'Chucked us off a cliff?' he said, horrified.
'Yes,' I confirmed. 'And since then the story has entered human folklore and now pervaded the race consciousness of your own species; subconsciously, perhaps, you feel the need to validate the story.'
'So all this stuff about mass suicide is just a modern myth,' he said.
'Yep,' I said.
'Like the NHS being safe in Labour's hands,' he said.
'Yep,' I said.
- Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh.