A medical school somewhere in England. A panel has assembled to interview prospective candidates. In the centre is Professor Sir Turpentine Stephenson, newly appointed Chair of the GMC. On the left sits Stilton, Chief Executive Pongo for the time being of the GMC; on the right sits His Honour David Fake-Pearl, Chair of the Medical Students Tribunal Service. Fake-Pearl appears to be reading a catalogue of some sort, possibly of spring bulbs. Stilton repeatedly inspects his finger nails. Stephenson gets out a fountain pen labelled ‘MI6 100% nitric acid, emergency use only’ and twirls it in his fingers. Bored observers sit behind the panel.
A bell rings, the panelled door opens to reveal a young lad standing on the threshold. The lad has wing-nut ears.
STEPHENSON (still rolling pen in fingers): Come in, dear boy.
CANDIDATE: Sir! Candidate marches in and salutes awkwardly.
STEPHENSON: Sit down, dear boy.
CANDIDATE: Sir! Candidate sits down, hand folded in lap.
STEPHENSON: Do sit up straight, dear boy. This isn’t one of those namby-pamby medical schools, you know?
CANDIDATE (straightening up): Yes sir! I most certainly know this isn’t one of those namby-pamby medical schools, sir!
STEPHENSON (putting down pen): Very good. Pause as he reviews the papers in front of him. A small cloud of fumes arises the pen; Stilton’s glasses steam up. I see here it says you want to be a doctor. Can you tell us a bit more about why a bright young chap like you wants to be a doctor?
CANDIDATE: Sir! Candidate continues to focus his wing-nut ears on a spot exactly one yard above Stephenson’s head.
STILTON (still examining his fingernails): Perhaps you could expand on that a bit?
CANDIDATE: Sir! I want to help sick people get better, sir! Fake-Pearl looks up with quizzical amusement from his spring bulb catalogue, then looks down again.
STEPHENSON: Oh dear, dear boy, that doesn’t sound too promising. Not quite what we’re looking for these days. What we want these days is toughness, moral fibre. Do you know what we mean by moral fibre, dear boy?
CANDIDATE: Sir! I most certainly know what you mean by moral fibre, sir!
STILTON (one of his fingernails has now split; Stilton pulls relentlessly at it): That’s better. Perhaps you could expand a bit?
CANDIDATE: Sir! Pause as candidate remembers what he was meant to say. I want to strengthen up my moral fibre, sir. I want to come to medical school and get toughness training sir, special emotional resilience toughness training. If you are good enough to accept me, sir, I hope you’ll send me to Helmand Province, Helmand’s where I want to go, sir. I want to have a crack at the Afghan, sir!
STEPHENSON: That’s more like it, dear boy. Pause. You do realise, don’t you, that our Helmand training is no picnic? Live ammunition, friendly fire, that sort of thing. Some of the lads don’t make it.
CANDIDATE: Sir! Pause. That’s why I want to go to Helmand, sir! I want to learn how to survive, sir, not just under enemy fire but friendly fire too, sir! I want to learn to be super-resilient, sir!
STEPHENSON: Excellent, dear boy! Just the ticket. Report to barracks at 0600 hours next Monday. Dismiss!
CANDIDATE: Sir! Candidate stands up, salutes and marches out. Door closes. After a brief moment, a bell rings, the door opens to reveal a young lad standing on the threshold. The lad has a gap tooth.
STEPHENSON: Come in, dear boy…