The illustrious medical consultant Mr. Dominick McWilliams rushes into the ward; hands flying in all directions as if he was conducting the universe. I was sneaking a look at Johnny McGrath’s medical chart at the time. You see I’m a curious little bastard. My mother tells the neighbours in the flats that I’m the nosiest eighteen year old on the face of the earth. I tell my mother the reason I’m nosy is because I’m an intelligent little fucker. McWilliams beckons me over to the bed where he is about to examine a patient. I sense trouble ahead. To put you further into the picture I’m in my final quarter of a community employment programme and rejoicing in the title as assistant to the ward orderly. But the ward orderly is absent on a two year pissup which means I do all the work. To be honest I’m the dogsbody of the outfit; I hate to be seen with that fucking brush in my hands. I can read faces.
But sometimes my mates down at the boozer cheer me up when they remark that I have the striking appearance of an army officer. Sometimes like in the army I’m called upon to perform special duties - like when Mickie Murphy pisses on the floor prior to a consultant’s visit or when some poor bastard has had enough of this place and decides to pop off to more salubrious surroundings in the sky. But to get back to McWilliams who by now is moving at turbo speed; his staccato hands raising the blood pressure levels of everyone within eye distance. I drop Johnny’s medical chart on his bed; I feel sure old eagle-eye has spotted me breaking the golden rule. Jesus I could kick myself for being caught by that old geezer; I make it my business to be well out of sight when these old consultant farts are doing their rounds. For one flashing moment I see myself being arse-kicked out the front door of the hospital and left without a penny in my pocket. But the electric eel is full of surprises. He beckons me into his aura. I change my demeanor and throw a smile at him as if I have just recognised that he is the single most important person on the planet. He ushers me in front of him without uttering a single word. In no time he has me feeling Slasher Reilly’s big toe.
“What is it ……… What is it”
I hesitate to tell him it’s a toe for fear he would explode.
“Come on young man....look at the symptoms.”
McWilliams rabbits on.
“The symptoms are classical” his tanned face now contorting; his patience about to snap.
The bell rings...... the penny drops! The old geezer thinks I’m one of those medical students that infest this place.
“Classical gout” I spout out much to the doctor’s relief. “Splendid” says he, and we hastily leave Slasher’s bed and proceed to our next patient. I sneak a look over my right shoulder at Slasher who just lies there like a beached whale, pondering the farcical scenario that has just been acted out before his very eyes.
Once started I decide to take McWilliams on a right old ride now. The world and his mother knows Slasher’s complaint, for he spends most of the day ranting and raving about how painful his bloody gout is; especially when the nurses forget to give him his medication. And so it went on, from one startled patient to the next, McWilliams and me completing our morning visitations. It was a piece of piss for me, after-all I was more than familiar with each patient’s ailment; having listened to each and every one of them giving me intimate details as I went about my work in the ward over the past few months. I was more than ready to rattle off each of my diagnosis with the assured confidence as if I had come straight from Harley Street. McWilliams was suitably impressed by the brilliance of his young prodigy. Fully confident about my medical competency, the Old Boy dismisses me and decides to take his genius to another ward, but not before he gave me a rewarding pat on the head as if I were a giant Labrador. Because I was now centre stage I delivered the final punch line to the audience knowing full well that McWilliams was well and truly out of earshot. I called after him that I’d be willing to give him a dig out if ever he had trouble getting his sailing ships into glass bottles. That did it. The audience erupted. The patients could not contain themselves any longer. Their hilarity sped like a miniature Mexican Wave; this lark with McWilliams was more therapeutic than a surprise visit from Sharon Stone. Fellows who hadn’t smiled since Ray Houghton put the ball in the Italian net in Giants Stadium were hysterical and calling for yours truly to come forward to acknowledge the acclaim. The nurses welcomed the morning distraction and joined the fun. This was not the time for taking blood pressures.
My sheer neck and audacity in making such a prick of McWilliams in front of a packed audience won me new respect in the ward; and for those few precious moments I basked in my new found status. With my adrenalin pumping at fever pitch tempo I took the bull by the horns. I put my two hands round Nurse Maddox’s waist feeling her huge tits as I did so. ‘Mortal Sin’ herself did not object....I was away for slates.
It was well after lunch before the ward got back to something resembling normality. As the visitors began to arrive they each in turn were given the complete load-down on the happenings of the morning. Over the next couple of days the story found it’s way to ‘The Flats’ and from there to my local boozer. In no time my mates were referring to me as ‘The Mop Doc.’ Anto said I must have balls of steel for making the consultant geezer look like a total gobshite. My head was swelling by the day. My standing in the ward and amongst my mates was at an all time high. There was a new bounce in my step: I felt I could take on the world for the first time in my life and I worshipped the admiration that was coming my way. No longer just the bloke from the Flats; I was the clown who played rings round the medics. The mother took a dim view of the whole affair and said it would end up in disaster if authorities got wind of my antics.
For the first time in my life I enjoyed going to work. The patients had got a taste of fun and were not about to let it go, in fact they demanded more and more crazy antics from me. They too began to call me ‘Doc’ and jokingly would ask me to examine them while I was fiddling round the ward with my brush. Often when the coast was clear I would grab a white coat and stethoscope from the press and proceed on mock visitations. The patients looked forward to these little diversions, for many it was the highlight of the day.
It was Tuesday morning - my day off - when the big fat brown envelops was pushed through the letterbox. Shock...horror a mole had been to work. The hospital authorities had taken a dim view of my behaviour and said I had shown shocking lack of respect for Mr McWilliams who had given such sterling service to St.Lukes for over thirty years. The letter went on to say how my behaviour with the patients could be potentially damaging to them. A full medical investigation was in progress at present and depending on the outcome the hospital authorities may refer the whole situation to the Gardai.
Included with the letter was my finishing cheque and my marching orders in the form of a P45. My medical career was over as quickly as it began. It began to rain as I stood in the dole queue on Friday morning waiting for the labour to open.
But things could be bleaker..... ‘Mortal Sin’ is picking me up in her car at eight tonight.