I’ve said before whoever smugly proclaimed that “”Honesty is the best policy” had clearly never tried it. However I am now forced to grudgingly acknowledge that the righteous tidy-mind may not be entirely wrong. Let me qualify that, he (and it wil be a he, with clipped hair, nails and accent, polished shoes, knitted jumper, humour bypass – you know the type) is wrong most of the time, because telling fibs greases those difficult parts when the truth will trigger a set of emotional explosions and a hard stare.
Sure you may have to fabricate exactly which band you were in at Live Aid, and play up a little your part in designing the Space Shuttle, but this is merely lexical liquid smoothing otherwise bumpy conversations. But occasionally telling the truth can save you from the kind of embarrassment that leaves you pleading for the world to catch fire, or some other significant event to stop everyone pointing and laughing.*
I nearly managed to lie my way out of an unfolding grubby spectacle when a large, earnest lady dressed in a sack, and carrying a microphone politely enquired if “these” were my children. Since “These” were essentially de-constructing some very expensive looking exhibits at the time during our visit to Techniquest, my first instinct was to go with the big whopper.
True to form, the kids dobbed me in it. Random declared she was indeed a much loved offspring, while verbal insisted it was her sister that had done it** before legging it. Sack-Woman was in fact reporter from Radio Wales on a mission to understand the difference between my generation (i.e. old and hard bitten) and our kids (i.e. young and pampered) when it came to entertainment.
Centre of attention? People clinging onto my every word? Chance to be on the radio? Would I do an interview? What d’you think? Anyway hardly was the question out, before I was describing – with great arcs of hand motion which must really work for radio – how my childhood was essentially hardship, graft and the odd lighter moment when we got to set fire to the Conservative Candidate for Sheffield South.
She gamely tried to get another question in, but I was not to be deterred “Played outside all the time in street, essentially feral coming in only for meals and birthdays. Our kids? Just the same, moved to the countryside, lots to do, riding bikes, long dog walks, playing in the tree house. Computers? No, hardly go near them, strictly rationed like the TV and the Internet”
She looked impressed at my vision of model parenting. But as I was readying myself for a Churchillian finale, she switched Leigh’s and bent to talk to little Random “So, what’s your favourite toy then?” Bit of a pause into which I inserted a desperate burst of telepathic suggestion offering generic outdoor activities and, specifically, not dropping your dad in the poo.
Larger Pause. I’m bricking it now because Random doesn’t really answer questions. She merely mainlines whatever oblique stream of consciousness is currently zapping across her wired-up-wrong brain. Don’t forget this is the child who wants to be a big house we can all live in when she grows up. Experience has taught me her interactions with strangers leaves them – at best – bewildered or just mentally unbalanced.
Sack Person leans forward and asks again “so what’s your favourite toy then?” Random leans my way and gives me THAT look. The one that I’ve come to dread because what follows is going to be no better than “A dead giraffe”, “the road” or “my alien friends“.
She finally proudly pipes up into the Microphone “My DS Lite”. I then receive what I can only describe as “an old fashioned look” from purple portly person, but I’m not really interested as I try to shunt Random into a mental siding labelled “mostly human”, but she’s off explaining – with great enthusiasm – all the different games she has been bought. By those parents that proudly dismiss the need for electronic stimuli to entertain their children.
I’m telling you this now, because the broadcast has already gone out, and – with it being Radio Wales – only 11 people will have been listening, four of which think it’s just another voice in their head. I dunno – maybe she’s getting her own back for the Sports Day thing.
Better go practice my dance moves then.
* Although having ridden with some quite “honest” people during my cycling career, I’ve become accustomed to such verbal cruelty.
** Doesn’t matter what. Toy left out. Sister. Dog abandoned somewhere. Sister. Suspicious crumbs in bottom of cake tin previously the site of large cake. Sister. Word Financial Crisis. Sister, with help from dog.