The president of the free world, or Mr PFW as he now prefers to be called, stares idly through the window of his penthouse apartment. The city’s skyscrapers stand menacingly silhouetted against a cruel winter sky. He lowers his gaze to the streets below where the occupants of the rapidly-growing shanty town are starting their evening ablutions at the standpipes.
Mr PFW turns and waddles back to his desk, where he lowers his not inconsiderable bulk into a diamond-encrusted armchair. His peace is shattered by the buzzing of one of the telephones on his desk. He pushes the speaker button and growls with irritation:
‘Mr PFW sir, I have the British Prime Minister on the phone wanting to speak to you urgently.’
‘Put ’em through,’ Mr PFW replies angrily, muttering ‘Goddam Limey’ under his breath.
‘Good evening Mr PFW sir, I need to ask you an urgent favour sir, it’s the NHS,’ a nervous voice with rounded vowels announces.
‘What now for God’s sake? Don’t your nurses like their new uniforms?’
‘Erm, no, the Mickey mouse uniforms are certainly a hit on the children’s wards, maybe requiring the staff in osteoporosis clinics to wear Quasimodo outfits and the nurses in ITU to don Sleeping Beauty costumes could be seen by some to be just a tad insensitive though.’
‘Goddamn you Brits are tight asses, where’s your sense of humour?’
‘It was not actually nurses’ uniforms I wanted to talk to you about sir.’
‘Let me guess, it’s the credit card readers in the ambulances only taking Amex isn’t it? Well look here, I already got your email about that and I’m onto it. We’ll change ‘em to take visa also.’
‘That’s very generous of you, but it’s not that either. I’m afraid we’re having a bit of a problem staffing our hospitals after receiving your recent instructions.’
‘Well you specified in your last email we must ban Muslims, people who have ever been friends with a Muslim, people who live within 2,000 miles of a Muslim country and anyone with a beard from working in the NHS.’
‘Yeah and what?’
‘Well Mr PFW sir, that leaves us with precisely two doctors in the Outer Hebrides to staff the entire NHS. To be fair there is a third doctor in their practice who’d be prepared to shave his beard off if we’re really pushed and before you ask yes he is Scottish, but I still really don’t think we can cope.’
‘Ahead of you again. I got a fleet of ships full of folk on their way to you now to run your NHS. They’re hard workers and not too fussy what they get paid. Just one question though, do your NHS canteens serve tacos?’
Dr David Turner is a GP in west London