LYING is what separates us from the animals – that and horrifying hygiene regimes. Hamsters don’t lie. Dogs don’t fib. Cats… well, let’s gloss over that one.
When was the last time you heard a goldfish tell a porky pie? They don’t, unless they’re fibbing when they say: “I don’t remember.”
And dissembling is not necessarily a bad thing. “No, no, you look lovely in that.” “Mustn’t grumble.” “Fine, thank you. How are you?” They are all lies, told in order to grease the mechanism of human intercourse.
If you do not believe me that lying is not necessarily a bad thing, bear in mind that the biggest indicator that somebody is a Grade A pillock, to be avoided at parties and in pubs, is that he “calls a spade a spade” and “tells it as it is”.
But some lies are awful. And there is one lie that is the worst of all. We are not talking about piffling lies like “Brexit won’t cause any pain at all” or “We’re gonna build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it” or “Really, it’s no trouble at all”.
And the worst thing about this lie is that we all fall for it, every time we hear it. It is a flaw in human nature.
I fell for it twice in five minutes this week.
I came home last Wednesday to find that the light had gone off in my fridge. Further inspection uncovered that a circuit had been tripped. I switched it back on. The light came on in the fridge. It made the usual fridgey humming sound. And everything was still cold.
“Phew!” I thought. “No harm done. It is just one of those inexplicable things and everything is going to be fine.”
Sometimes we lie to ourselves. On Friday morning, it was warmer inside my fridge than outside my fridge, and my freezer could have been used to prove bread dough. My milk was becoming cheese, and my cheese was on its way to becoming blue cheese.
A man told me my fridge-freezer was not working, and that he would replace it the following Monday. I had to throw out the food in my fridge-freezer, and by the time Monday came I was tired of eating food that had come out of tins or had been chosen from a list behind a counter.
I had my new fridge-freezer and decided I was going to buy some food to put in it. That night I would dine like a king, if a king of a small and insignificant nation who travels on buses to keep in contact with his subjects. I would have my favourite pasta dish – a mixture of bacon and cabbage and chilli, with a dusting of Parmesan. I bought the items, stocked up my wonderfully cold fridge, and began to cook my tea.
I took the packet of bacon, and that was when I first fell for the lie. “Easy Open”, it said on the packet, near a tiny unattached corner.
I knew what was supposed to happen. I would pull back the corner, and the top of the packet would cleanly come away, enabling me to access the appropriate amount of bacon. Then I would replace the top of the packet, protecting the rest of the bacon from the elements.
What actually happened is what always happens. I pulled back the corner. It reached the bit of adhesive attaching the top to the packet, decided it was far too forbidding an obstacle, and came off in my hand, because the glue used in this packaging is the strongest adhesive known to humanity, stronger even than the glue used to attach the first sheet of kitchen paper to the roll.
Then I had to stab the packaging with a knife, and tear it back, take out the bacon, then put the plastic wrapping back. Except the wrapping didn’t go back. It just curled up, as it always does.
Five minutes later, I fell for it again. “Easy Open”, it said on the packet of Parmesan. It was not. The packet ripped in two, and it was only my weirdly good reflexes regarding cheese that prevented it from flying into my mop bucket.
The fact is, there is no such thing as an “Easy Open” package. Exert not enough force, and knives are required. Exert too much force, and the package destructs like a Bond villain’s volcano lair.
And that is no lie.