An early lesson of enlightenment during my fledgling years was exposure to the adage ‘Honesty is the best policy’. Well-meaning moral guidance from a mentor whom I’m currently unable to recall. It was, though, likely to have been brought to my attention either by my parents, Mrs Edwards (my first teacher at Oakfield Infant School), or a character on children’s TV.
If it turns out to be the latter, the source of this behavioural counselling may’ve been someone like Keith Harris and Orville, or indeed Basil Brush. Although, with the delivery of the advice being bereft of the suffix “Boom, boom!!….. Hahahahaha!”, the puppet fox was most likely not that well-meaning messenger.
I’ve raised the subject of this adage following a notion earlier this morning which blindsided me. This thought taking refuge in my mercurial mind while mustering up courage to vacate a warm bed for the unappealing Sunday morning West Yorkshire chill of chez Strachan.
This epiphany being that honesty isn’t the best policy; concluding that surely this accolade must sit with home insurance or car insurance policies. After all, a contract giving peace of mind if your Faberge egg, Lamborghini or Picasso original is pilfered surely usurps the importance for unconditional orations of truth…… Doesn’t it?!
Of course, honesty is an important behavioural trait. For example, with insurance companies allegedly prone to seek loop holes in customer contracts to avoid paying claims, speaking the whole truth while embarking an insurance arrangement is imperative. That being said, though, I’d still argue honesty’s not unconditionally the best policy.
Perhaps the adage should be revamped to advocate “Honesty is sometimes the best policy. In particular when negotiating an insurance contract, or if you accidentally spill bleach in your partner’s cup of tea!…. And, to be honest, even if you deliberately spill bleach in your partner’s cup of tea!”
Akin to every single person apart from Trappist Monks and other sects who’ve taken a vow of silence, on occasion I tell untruths. We all do!!….. If someone told me they’ve never lied, they’d be lying; in the process immediately devaluing the integrity of that misleading self-righteous boast.
I’d like to think the majority of my ‘porkies’ are done so from a position of mischief. For example, advising my mum the acronym HMV (the now closed music/video emporium) stood for Harry’ Meat Van. Or the occasion I told her the bikini line was a route on the London Underground.
Admittedly, those were ludicrous notions from yours truly, but in my defence I’d argue they were harmless enough fibs….. Well, apart from the occasion my mum asked a HMV customer service rep for two pork chops and a pound of Cumberland sausage!
With lots of my prose being fiction based on fact, you could rightly argue that I’m always chuffing lying. As I’ve just proved with my unashamed inanity in the previous two paragraphs. Hopefully, though, fictional literary locutions are given a pass. After all, a fictional author would be completely hamstrung if the subscribed their art be dictated by edicts such as honesty is the best policy.
By the way, watch out there’s a six foot spider hanging above your head….. See what I mean?….. I’m an incorrigible liar!!