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And Another Thing...: Can Porkies Really Save Your Bacon?

Arthur Loosley tells a tale that might be true - but can you really believe anything you hear?

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Some people seem to think that they have mastered to perfection the art of lying - or 'telling porkies' as a Cockney might say - and will never be found out

Brenda was like that but it would be unkind to call her a habitual liar. Her problem was forgetfulness. She lived in a world of her own and could never quite remember what excuse she had given to avoid meeting someone who was not on her current 'favourites' list.

A frequently used excuse was that she was going away for the weekend and couldn't possibly change her plans at such short notice. She was unable to accept any such excuse from other people, however, and had a ready fund of suggestions to help them overturn their prior commitments.

I knew her as a neighbour recovering from a hip replacement operation and unable to walk. She approached me one day to ask if I would kindly take her shopping and as there was no compelling reason to refuse, I agreed. Little did I realize what I was letting myself in for: a regular weekly chore for the next few months, with an offer of lunch that I was not allowed to refuse.

On one occasion I missed a doctor's appointment for myself after she had begged me to take her into town on an urgent errand which, she assured me, would only take a minute or two. Nearly an hour later I found her casually browsing in a book shop. She simply did not believe me when I said that I had a more important appointment to keep.

Tiring eventually of her 'economy with the truth' I decided that as soon as she was on her feet again I would look for a gentle way of letting her know that I could not humour her any longer. I didn't want to upset her because I felt sure she simply did not understand the trouble she was causing, but when an opportunity presented itself I grabbed at the chance.

On one of our lunch dates she asked searching questions about a little seaside town I had mentioned to her previously. She wanted to know everything about the place.

'Why?' I asked her.

'Well,' she confided, 'you know that awful Sally I've mentioned so many times before. She's coming over next weekend and wants to visit me.'

Sally was a fellow ex-pat with whom she had spent half a lifetime in the colonies. She couldn't stand the woman, and had put her off with the excuse that she was going away for the weekend with a gentleman friend. Sally obviously knew her well, and insisted on knowing where she was going, so she said the name of the first place that came into her head. She had never been there and was horrified when Sally said that she knew the town very well and looked forward to a long chat about it later to refresh precious memories.

My instinct was to refuse and perhaps teach her a lesson, but as an act of clemency I gave her a few pointers, although I doubted that she would be able to carry off the deception.

Two weeks later she got her come-uppance when she 'phoned me to say that Sally was 'in the vicinity' and would be round in half an hour for a quick visit before returning to Africa. The awful woman had refused to be put off again, so would I please come to her house immediately and pretend to be the 'gentleman friend' if the conversation became too difficult for her to handle.

By this time I had decided that enough was enough.

'Sorry,' I said, 'I have promised to see someone else in half an hour and you know how difficult it is to change one's plans at such short notice.'

'Seeing someone else?' she repeated, in a tone of utter disbelief.

'Yes,' I replied.

'Who?' she demanded. She was becoming more agitated by the minute and her persistence was irritating.

'A friend,' I told her.

'What is so important that it can't wait?' she snapped.

The conversation was beginning to sound more like a lovers' tiff than a request for neighbourly help, and I suspected that she did not entirely believe me.

Then the expression 'sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander' came to mind, so I added, 'We are going pig-shooting.'

There was no response, so I added for good measure, 'They're flying all over his property.'

She put the phone down and never spoke to me again.

I wonder if it was something I said?

2007 Arthur Loosley


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