There’s no polite way to ask this but have you ever had an episode of faecal incontinence in adult life? Think carefully, I’ll be judging you on the answer. I believe that this is the acid test. Forget your fancy lie detectors. Everyone has shat themselves at least once. If you answer “No” then you’re a liar, simple as that.
I really don’t like liars. It’s something I’m terrible at doing and something I can’t tolerate in others. It drives me absolutely insane. The thing with liars is that their lies are often so facile and blatantly untrue that they may as well poke you in the chest and say “Ah ha! I think you’re really stupid and gullible.”
The first liar I knew well was a boy called Philip at primary school. Philip told lies continually. His dad was Tom Baker and his mum was a practising witch. He had had sex by age 10. His dog died so he took a week off school. When I saw his dog a week later on the park he revealed the shocking truth: he’d bought it back to life using lightening a la Doctor Frankenstein. Funnily enough, I bumped into Philip many years later and he was doing very well in his career as an eminent Egyptologist and was a millionaire.
On entering secondary school I came across a girl called Emma (not her real name). Poor Emma was lumpy and a bit gauche but goodness she had an interesting life and would regale us with tales of her amazing adventures. We all felt very sorry for her when her mum died of cancer and bought her little presents. We didn’t get the gifts back when her mum picked her up from school a few days later. She looked surprisingly perky for a dead woman.
As a student nurse I had to work two months of night shifts and was placed on an acute medical ward. Unfortunately, I worked alongside an auxiliary nurse who was a compulsive liar. Maria had degrees in pharmacology, maths and biology (yet was working as a poorly paid care assistant), owned a house with a swimming pool and private cinema and had a very unwell dad who had primary bone cancer and multiple sclerosis who she cared for. Mostly she didn’t sleep in the day like the rest of us. She’d work all night then spend her days travelling the country or popping over to Europe and looked surprisingly fresh on zero sleep followed by an eleven hour night shift. She had multiple severe medical conditions and bore these with stoicism.
At the time (the early nineties) staffing levels in hospitals were sometimes exceedingly poor and there was just me, Maria and a Staff Nurse on duty on some shifts. I dreaded this. At some point during the night the Staff Nurse would pop off for a break with her friend from another ward leaving me alone with Billy Liar. This was bad on two counts: a) scary responsibility, although the next ward was in shouting distance and they were keeping an eye out b) I had to talk to her.
I’d try and find little jobs to do, patrolling the sleeping patients, cleaning things which didn’t need cleaning or writing reports: anything to avoid listening to her lies. I struggle with fibbers at the best of times but 4am is not a good time for me. I lasted two weeks before I blew. I’d run out of made up jobs to do, the patients were all clean and dry and sleeping comfortably and I had to sit with her at the desk. She was wittering on, spouting her inane tales of made up crap and I was starting to get madder and madder, wondering to myself just how stupid she thought I was. The lies poured out and I lasted well until she turned to me and said:
“Of course you do know I’m half Apache Indian?”
She was blonde haired and blue eyed. “So why’s your name Maria and not Poca-fucking-Hontas?” was my knee jerk reply. We never spoke again, oddly.
I dated a Police Inspector who was a total liar for four months. Blindly, I accepted his mad lies but they got madder (and so did I) and eventually when I realised that his lies also involved him lying to a lot of other men, it all ended. Stupidly, I pined for him for a while and felt very hurt. As much as I hate liars, a good one can be seductive, if they tell you what you want to hear.
I’ve met a few liars in my time: twisted individuals pretending to have terminal cancer, a woman who covered her own inability to do her job with increasingly absurd bare faced lies, a man who pretended to have committed a murder and a boy who pretended to be a Russian with limited English. I know they’re clearly not well and have some defect but to be honest I really can’t be bothered with them. They irk me.
Right, enough typing: my private jet is waiting and I’ve a date with Prince Harry. Toodle pip.