In My Father’s Words
03/07/1938 – 18/10/2018
Lies and Lying
“Does my bum look big in this?”
This question is normally posed by a woman to a man, and demands an answer. This is what is known as a ‘no win’ situation, and was invented by Eve when she made up The Rules. Refusing to reply is a policy which may lead to withdrawal of co-operation in the kitchen or the bedroom. So what is the answer? One of the following may apply.
“Of course it bloody well does, you stupid bitch.”
“Of course not, darling.”
“Well, I think it is probably a bit loose on you, sweetheart.”
So, what are the elements in this little folk story?
OK, so the third answer is so obviously crawling that it will be seen through immediately by any half intelligent woman. Leaving aside the proposition that any half intelligent woman would not have posed the question in the first place, unless she was looking for you to lie, what are you left with? I would suggest that the male reply is ”Of course not, darling,” and a quick retreat to the Daily Telegraph.
We are left with the almost certain knowledge that the woman whose bum did not look big in something or other would have known this for a certainty, and would not have wasted her time asking.
Firstly, you will, if you are a quarter intelligent man, tell a lie ninety nine times in a hundred. You know, a lie, a porkie, a whopper. Or as our old friend the Compact Oxford Dictionary would have it, ‘an intentionally false statement’. And it is sort of covered in the Ten Commandments in the Bible. You remember the bit about bearing false witness. Yes, I do know that it is lower down the scale than adultery, even though the two are often related. This is what is known as a ‘lying relationship.’ Get it? Well, never mind, Jane will explain later, with diagrams. Yes, I did say diagrams. I will spell that if you are uncertain.
So, we need someone to tell the lie, and someone to tell the lie to, or as Sir Winston would have preferred it, someone to whom the lie can be told. But it isn’t quite as simple as that, things rarely are. As we have seen from she with the big bum, a lie may be what is expected, and is therefore a Good Thing, whereas, the affirmative reply, although true, would earn you a smart clip around the ear, and is, therefore, and by definition, a resoundingly Bad Thing.
So we have established that there are good, or white, lies, and bad lies, which are also called bad lies. We could get into lying where the liar believes what he is saying, but we do not time to discuss the Prime Minister here.
Anything else on lying? Well yes, the position of the liar matters a bit. If Joe Smith states in the Fox and Ferret, “I did not have my leg over with Stella, the barmaid in the King’s Head,” it possibly doesn’t matter a scrap, except perhaps to Joe, Stella, and maybe their nearest and dearest, including Stella’s Dad, if she is pregnant. These are known as Consequences, to which we will allude later.
If the President of the United States, and leader of the free world, states, on oath, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” it matters a little more. He was, of course, referring to Monica, but could just as easily have meant Hillary, probably with more truth.
The Consequences are different.
Let’s examine another liar, the great Napoleon. In his day, Boney had been Pele, George Best and Sir David Beckham all rolled into one. On the 18th June 1815, his best days were behind him, and he should have been on the bench and not leading the line. He kicked off at 11.30 and some two hours later the scores were level. Wellington was playing a blinder in his sweeper role.
Napoleon then saw some troops about five or six miles away on his right wing. He recognised them as Prussians, the first wisps of Blucher’s terrible kinder, intent on a bloody revenge on the French for years of national humiliation. Napoleon lied. Telling his staff that the distant figures were the outriders of Marshal de Grouchy’s 30, 000 Frenchmen, he sent his brave men under the Bravest of the Brave, Michel Ney against the unwavering Anglo Dutch lines, where Wellington knew about bravery himself. The line held, the British were still fighting when the Prussians arrived and swept Napoleon and the French Empire into the dustbin of history.
If the Iron Duke had given way, the battle would have been over before the terrible kinder had arrived, and we would all be speaking French today. That was the consequence of Napoleon’s lie, but it could have been different.
So, lying is like alcohol. Too much is bad for you, none makes you miserable, but a little at the right time makes you happy.
I never lie myself, of course.
Written by BM