I do, on the whole, try to follow my old Granny's advice to speak the truth and shame the Devil. On the whole. By and large. To some extent. But there are times when speaking the truth leads only to discord or, at the very least, disappointment. I suggest that there are very few of us who do not, from time to time, tell little porkies.
I, and probably every married man, have occasionally been less than wholly truthful in conversation with my wife. She has, perhaps, bought a new item of clothing and sought my opinion. Now that's a tricky one. There's absolutely no point in trying to fudge the answer. Telling her something along the lines of, "Yes, dear, it's very nice - but I really prefer you in red" might be seen as an attempt at a diplomatic answer. Wrong. She instinctively knows that what you really mean is, "It's horrible!" No, gentlemen, for the sake of future domestic harmony (and if you want your dinner on a plate rather than over your head) it's time for a little white lie.
And then there's the time your six-year-old granddaughter draws you a picture that she says depicts a princess. Naturally, you exclaim that it is a beautiful picture, implying that if the trustees of the National Gallery were to see it, they would immediately ditch one of their Rembrandts or Gainsboroughs to hang this in its place. Granted, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but are you not, in truth, exaggerating just a little? Is that not bending the truth?
Another time when courtesy dictates that we lie is when we meet a friend or acquaintance and greet them, "Hi! How are you doing?" hoping against hope that they won't tell us in every minute detail just what is wrong with them, their family and the dog. Even greeting them in that way is an untruth. We imply that we are interested when really, we could hardly care less. Of course, it they answer, "Fine" when really they are feeling rotten - perhaps the lumbago is playing up - and their wife/husband is in bed with a cold and the cat was at the vet yesterday with a cut paw, then they are just as guilty of lying as you are. Worse, in fact.
So you see, social intercourse demands that we do not always speak the truth and shame the Devil. Those little white lies are the oil that keeps the wheels of civilisation turning smoothly.
For today's picture, you can blame my good friend Skip - who has probably been struck down by exhaustion working at a food distribution depot in NorCal set up by his and other Lions Clubs to help people made homeless by recent wildfires. Yesterday, after I had written a piece with the title Upon Westminster Bridge which had nothing to do with the bridge, I put up a picture of the Clock Tower in Brighton. Skip commented that I could have found a picture of the bridge. So here it is, complete with the Houses of Parliament clock tower housing Big Ben.