"Like Pinnochio, before the age of twenty, I could tell a whopper with the best of them and get away with it most of the time. I recall that whenever the young men from the estate went out dancing, we always went with pockets filled with more than coins of the realm; eager to please and have a good night. I would always seek out the best looking dancer on the floor and during the traditional small-talk chat-up phase of the dance they would always ask what job I did. Naturally if the lass was considered posh, highly educated or looked well-to-do, I might conveniently forget to tell her that I was a humble textile operative and instead pretend to be the son of a surgeon or Chief Constable who was just filling in job-wise for pocket money until I went off to university to take my Masters. Well...I mean if one's going to lie about studying for a degree, then much better a Masters than a plain B.A. I say. I have long since learned to be proud of my past and to never complain or lie about what one had or hadn't, did or didn't.
After I returned from a two-year break in Canada during the 1960s, I immediately resumed going out to the Mecca on a Saturday night in Bradford. One night, me and a divorced friend went out to the dance with two main aims; to dance and 'to pull.' We travelled there in our own vehicles so that if either of us managed to get the last dance with some lucky girl we fancied, we would have the comfort and convenience of the car to travel home in.
As luck would have it, we both hit it off with two good-looking women and went our own ways at the end of the night upon leaving the Mecca Ballroom. My date was a very nice girl, who although highly fetching was very talkative. In retrospect, I concluded that as we cuddled and talked in the car, we each had on our mind upon more urgent and pressing matters of a different nature. I continued to get my wicked way with my ride home while she continued to talk about personal matters in her life. Before she went back inside her parents' house we spoke in the car for a good hour, during which a great deal of emotional stuff was obviously going on in her household. We never did meet or see each other again, but that night's overall experience led to me making a big change in my life that I have never since regretted.
When I awoke the following morning and thought about the night before, I felt thoroughly ashamed of myself; not because of something I'd done, but rather something I hadn't! I concluded on close reflection that while I'd had my mind on one predominant thing she'd had her mind on other pressing matters and wanted/needed to talk. All I had to do to make her night was to suppress my immediate need and supply hers by lending a listening ear. I was obliged to conclude that although I had in no way forced my attentions on the young woman, I nevertheless had done her a great wrong through my selfishness and disregard for her overall needs at the time.
That very morning, I vowed never again to tell a deliberate lie to any man, woman or child, whatever the circumstances or the consequences. To the best of my knowledge, I have never since broken that pledge. There have been consequences regarding this behavioural change of mine, but overall they have been good ones and certainly consequences that I can happily live with.
I cannot tell you what a burden is lifted from one's chains of polite discourse once one decides to tell it as it is. To live this life is to find no subject taboo or too embarrassing to discuss; no truth too hard to conceal. It isn't and hasn't always been appreciated by others and it certainly hasn't been easy to remain constant with, but once it becomes a natural part of one's automatic response pattern, it becomes acceptable as 'being part of you.'
Surely this is what Laertes was advised to do by his father Polonius's last piece of advice in the Shakespearian play 'Hamlet' when Polonius counselled:
'This above all: to thine own self be true
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.'" William Forde: July 19th, 2014.