In which our hero’s dreams are tormented by the leaders of our health service in tuneful assembly
I had a dream the other night. I was in a recording studio in London in the mid-1980s. All the legends were there: Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Status Quo. Everyone. Even Kajagoogoo. A stocky, red-haired man with a dodgy beard is welcoming everyone. I start to think it might be Harvey Goldsmith, but I hear an Irish accent. Could it possibly be Brendan Grace dressed as Fr Fintan Stack? However, on closer inspection it appears to be James Reilly. He appears to be quite exercised about something. A tall, bookish-looking man enters the room with a funny, mid-Atlantic accent. Is it David Bowie? No, it’s John Crown. He mentions something to the red-haired man about his policies being no more than a Band-Aid and all of a sudden the red-haired man shouts “Yes, that’s what we’ll call it. Band-Aid”. I have a personal scent which is an assault on the olfactory nerve somewhat akin to being shoved face-first into a cat litter tray. I stop staring at Yasmin Le Bon long enough to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I am bleary-eyed and unshaven. I must be post-call. Oh no, I’m actually Bob Geldof.
Two middle-aged men in leather jackets wearing pornographically tight, white T-shirts and jeans step up to a microphone with comically large headphones over their balding pates. By now I have copped on enough to realise that it is not in fact Right Said Fred, but Matt Sadlier and Mick Molloy. They sing.
“ It’s Christmas time.
There’s no need to be afraid.
’Cause this Christmas time
we’re gonna hear about the feckin’ staff grade.”
Cut to Mark Murphy dressed as George Michael
“And there’ll be jobs aplenty,
If you don’t mind being a 65-year-old Reg.
We’ll send our docs around the world
At Christmas time”
A group of angry, wasted-looking men and women enter the room and snarl at everyone they see. For all the world you’d say it is the Sex Pistols and their entourage, but again their accents betray they are an Irish act. When they set up their drum kit I see they are in fact called the HSEx Pistols and they are the works band of the HR division. Their lead singer steps up to the microphone.
“But, say a prayer,
Pray for the managers,
At Christmas time, your on-call
But they’re out having fun,
There’s a world outside the hospital
But why would you want to leave
And ’cause your colleagues left the country
You can work on Christmas Eve,
And we know you’re already on St Stephen’s
But the clinical director says you must”
A northside Dub with naff wraparound shades takes over. His soaring voice lifts us to a higher plane. We used to all like him, but some folk now think he’s gone too far from his roots. Others think his recent work just doesn’t match his swagger. Either way you can’t deny one thing. Mr James Reilly. What. A. Voice.
“Well, tonight thank God it’s you
Instead of us!”
His wraparound shades offer scant protection though when the lead singer of the HSEx Pistols, headbutts him and is back on the mic
“And you won’t be getting annual leave this Christmas time
We don’t understand why you don’t emigrate for a better life (oooh)”
In spite of all his bombast, a group of austere looking thin men in grey suits brush the lead singer of the HSEx Pistols aside easily. There is a distinct Teutonic vibe from them and they have a minimalistic, electronic sound. At first I think it’s Kraftwerk, but it’s actually a combo of civil servants from the Department of Health (DoH), beancounters from the Department of Finance (DoF) and a pair of IMF henchmen called Ralf and Florian.
DoF Tenors “And if you guys we can’t coerce”
DoH Baritones “We’ll replace you with a nurse”
IMF Bass section “And we won’t pay your overtime at all!”
A 4,800 strong choir of NCHDs from all over the world escape from their cupboard and move towards the mic which is promptly switched off. The power of nearly 5,000 voices in unison overcomes this however as they all sing with one clear, united voice (This was the point at which I realised I had to be dreaming).
“Here’s to us, now consultancy is outta reach
Here’s to the cute hoors spending Christmas on Bondi Beach
Sure they don’t work no overtime at all!”
Feed the world (with junior doctors)
Let them know it’s Christmas Time”
And repeat to fade... until the bleep wakes me up. It’s 4am and I need to go to the ward as it has been decided that it would be a good idea to have all insulin in the hospital prescribed by medical registrars only.
Merry Christmas and thanks to my loyal readers; my parents, Misty the Dog, and the other two!