You may conclude from that title, that I refer to the current pandemic, well, in part I do but there is a wider aspect to this statement – more of a question really.
Do you always tell it how it is? Or, are you one of the people who tries to dress up the truth a little to make someone feel better when needed? Some are good at it, others not so good … but I expect we all, occasionally, do not tell it quite how it is.
It wasn’t the current health crisis that brought this question to mind, although no one can deny that governments rarely tell it exactly how it is. No, it was the chance comment made by the mum of two young children, overheard as we walked through Fowey, the Cornish port at the mouth of the Fowey River.
The town climbs the cliff steeply from the harbour, alternating between narrow steps and steep slopes.
This lady had evidently just come from a boat, moored in the harbour at the very bottom of the cliff.
As she came into view around a corner, we saw that she and the two young children following her, were all wearing life vests and had heavy looking rucksacks on their backs. They were also carrying a variety of parcels it seemed, between them. The younger of the children, a boy of about 4 years, was struggling with his load and his sister stopped to adjust hers.
“Come along,” their mother exhorted them, “We have to get to the car park and it is a VERY long way…”
With suitable groans, they continued their sojourn upwards.
We passed by and had to smile. As far as motivational speeches go, that did not quite make the grade in our opinion (though who are we to judge?)
It made me think of my father, who, keen on driving and ever ready to take us on mystery tour, would begin every adventure with the words,
“It’s only just up the road!”
That was a truth of sorts. We were travelling along a road after all. It didn’t quite match the reality though. Most of these, ‘just up the road’ venues, turned out to entail a journey of well over an hour with one or all of us feeling decidedly sick in the back of the car. Yet, time after time we children believed him.
What would we have thought had he told us, “It’s a very long way,” would we have been so willing to go?
“It may never happen,” is another saying that springs to mind. This is often said by someone who knows full well that it may well happen and it may be even worse than you think but that there is hope even so. It has a purpose to serve, it helps us cope. It also reminds us that there is a degree of chance to this life which is somehow comforting.
So, I think dressing up the truth a little now and then is a good thing and there is nothing wrong with adding a touch of humour too … when we can.
Remembering the things people have said, brings to mind a couple more gems that I have come across over the years and that have stuck in my mind.
There was the middle aged lady, one New Year’s Eve, a few years ago, who was having dinner with her very quiet partner in our local pub. Loud and perhaps a little worse for wear, judging by the number of empty wine bottles on their table, she was holding forth about someone she knew. We had tried to ignore her but it was difficult not to look up when she suddenly exclaimed,
““You never know what the year will bring. I mean, ever since that incident with Olive and the baubles, I really feel I want to move,”
I still wonder what that was all about….
Then there is my eldest sister, who has a special turn of phrase at times – none more in evidence than when discussing my late mother back in the summer of 2018. At this point, my lovely Mum was still with us, though had been complaining to my sister about how dreadfully hot and sticky she was, despite wearing a summer dress (one of those she had made herself over the years).
My sister was quite exasperated with my mother’s apparent inability to agree to wear cool materials in summer and sighed,
“The trouble is, our mother has lived her life in nylon and before that, crimplene,”
I still find that comment noteworthy though, arguably, not entirely accurate.
Well, given that the truth can be harsh, we all need some sugar coating thrown in at times, I will conclude that whether the whole truth or a partial truth, dressed up or dressed down, the things people say will be amusing me for some time to come. I do hope so!