I’m sure we’re all aware of some old piece of wisdom that decrees what the title states here? We were all instructed by our parents too, not to tell lies, weren’t we? Not even little white ones.
The fact is that unfortunate though it may be, and much as we abhor it, a little lie here and there makes the world go round. ‘What do I look like in this dress?’ anyone? Unfortunate also is that a small lie tends to grow legs and has to be supported by further lies, harmless though they might be.
I was shopping briefly in a large Boots pharmacy recently and being tired and a little short of patience in the midst of searching for a new washing machine with my partner, wanted to engage in a very simple transaction for some stomach medicine, the type that comes straight off the shelf but that only Boots the Chemist appears to feel the need to put the customer through the rigour of a full third-degree interview in order to buy. I approached the counter…
‘Oh yes, have you taken them before? I was requested by the fresh-faced and enthusiastic young male assistant. (Oh no, here we go, I thought. Can I ‘phone a friend’ perhaps?)
‘They’re not for me, they’re for my partner’ I immediately lied, almost surprising myself at the rapidity and alacrity of my untruthful response. Totally undeterred, he pressed on.
‘Has your partner taken them before?’ he requested.
‘Well actually, they’re for taking on holiday’ I immediately blurted out, hoping this would put an end to my inquisition. Already mentally congratulating myself on this response, I was interrupted.
‘Oh, where are you going!’ he cried out gaily.
‘TUNISIA’ I rang out.
Of all the places in the world I could have mentioned. I could have talked well about some of the many places I’ve been fortunate enough to visit such as, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Greece, Canada many, many times, hell I could have even waxed lyrical about Skegness (no mean feat) but where did I choose – a WAR ZONE! No doubt the fact that it had been in the news recently and that I had semi-registered the fact caused me to draw this dubious choice from my addled brain. The assistant padded off only to return a couple of minutes later to inform me that I would indeed by permitted to purchase the said medication. I began to mull over the notion that it might be easier scoring a consignment of crack cocaine in the Lace Market than procuring a few Immodium capsules from Boots the Chemist. Then he hit me with further questioning.
‘So what will you be doing on your holiday?’ He enquired breezily. I was beginning to consider whether in fact he was laughing up his sleeve at my lame story, I don’t think he’d actually accessed the world-wide media recently though. Perhaps he’d been ensconced in a secret paramilitary Boots training camp at Beeston for dealing with difficult customers for the past few weeks. Beginning to rise to the challenge, I then came up with my masterpiece.
‘I’d like to ride an elephant’ I lied.
Heck, I don’t know if they even have elephants in Tunisia but I thought it sounded like a reasonably interesting thing to do on holiday.
Do I live in Tunisia?
‘Oh, I’d really like to do that!’ my new friend chimed back.
‘Well if I ever get out of this shop I’ll come back and let you know what it’s like’ I sniped.
Time was passing. It felt like I’d missed three mealtimes since I’d entered the hallowed halls of the UK’s number one pharmacy, I had grown a full beard and moustache while at the counter, there had been a General Election and the Queen had abdicated. Shopping for a washing machine began to feel a really attractive option. Our newly founded relationship slightly dashed, the assistant, dare I say slightly sniffily, put the items in a little bag for me after I’d finally made the simple transaction.
The very next time I go to Boots the Chemist I’m going to play the ‘Egypt’ card and see how that goes. I’ll be ready this time though.