BMJ 29 January 2004
“I have a mighty task for you,” said Gandalf. “The Dark Tower is rebuilt; orcs are multiplying like rabbits (they have no concept of responsible birth control), hobbits are being forced to get proper jobs instead of lying around drunk all the time, and flocks of confused and disoriented Nazgul are strafing Narnia with guano. The Dark Lord has awakened; he is seeking… The Ring.”
“What ring?” I said.
“This one,” he said, palming it from behind my ear. “Though quite nice to look at, it corrupts the owner; they become hard and cynical and develop halitosis and crumbly fingernails.”
He took out a pipe and blew a magical smoke ring in the shape of a jewelled speculum. I absent-mindedly tapped a computer key for “Smoker,” told him that he should give up, and tapped another key for “Smoking cessation advice given.”
“The elves have a saying,” he continued. “‘When in doubt, call the GP,’ and since ye are hard and cynical anyway The Ring can’t make you any worse. It must be destroyed, and you must take it to the fires of Mount Doom, which inconveniently is right beside the Dark Tower; you may take any loyal assistant of your choice.”
“Could I have Lassie?” I asked.
“No problem,” he said, taking out a little book rather discouragingly titled Easy Spells for SHOs. There was a puff of smoke, Lassie burst joyfully into the room, snuggled into my lap and licked my hand, then tried to bite the ring and turned into a small, bewildered, drug rep who burst into tears, glad-handed us some promotional pens, and fled.
“Why not just hop on one of those big eagles?’” I suggested. “Fly down, chuck it in, and you’d be back before the Dark Lord could say, ‘Galadriel is a cheap slut’.”
“Alas,” Gandalf explained vaguely, deftly pocketing the pens, “Alack.”
“All right,” I said, “I’ll get rid of it.”
“The Seven Fairies shall sing your praises,” he said, getting up hastily to leave. “By the way, can I have an antibiotic? I’ve an awful cou-…”
I closed the door firmly, accidentally crushing a dwarf, and eyed The Ring speculatively. Thin spidery writing appeared on it, ancient elvish runes, which roughly translated as “Legolas fancies Aragorn.”
“From where I’m sending you, buddy, you ain’t never coming back,” I said, popping The Ring in an envelope and addressing it to the local neurology outpatients.
And marking it “non-urgent.”