Liar Liar, Pants on Fire

Courtesy of addictionalternatives.com

Courtesy of addictionalternatives.com

Trust and honesty are important elements in society, and especially within our little sub-societies of ‘family’.

Think about it – is there anyone in your life whom you trust implicitly? If so, then hopefully you are lucky as opposed to naïve.

As parents, we lie often to our children, whilst attempting to instill in them the virtue of truth. Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and so on are but are a tiny portion of the little white lies told by parents every day.

Then there are the little white lies you may tell your spouse or friends.

“Ooh no,” you may say, “of course your bottom isn’t the size of a house”, whilst mentally likening it more to the size a detached three-storey with a triple garage out the back.

But perhaps all lies are not equal? There are the lies we tell to save the feelings of others, lies that seem inconsequential, and then there are the lies we tell to protect ourselves.

Alternatively, we may lie by omission, or simply by deceitful behaviour. We all have that one friend whom we assumed was a true one, but who we later discovered had enough faces to rival Mickey Rourke after his sixth facelift. If we are fortunate then we’ve all matured since and that particular frenemy was made in the playground and discarded long ago. You never quite forget that feeling of finding out that one of your ‘friends’ has spoken about you unkindly behind your back, when you’ve been naively supporting them, assuming all was well.

Generally though, we tell lies in order to benefit ourselves. You may lie to garner sympathy, or to make yourself appear ‘better’ than you actually are, or to cover shame. Sometimes we may need to lie to keep ourselves safe, and sometimes we may lie for the safety of those we love. As human beings, self-preservation is forefront in our behaviour.

People lie to avoid trouble (if their behaviour has warranted ensuing trouble), and some people lie because they simply cannot help themselves – and these pathological liars are the most dangerous, because you will find that they can’t remember where the lie ended and the truth began. And, occasionally, the only person who they’re fooling successfully is their very self.

Some people shatter promises they’ve made, whereas others can keep a lifelong secret for you because they simply don’t thrive off of the “Oooh!” factor of telling someone else your private information, and because they respect that privacy.

When we discover lies or deceit it can be hard to learn to trust again, and perhaps it’s never wise to trust someone fully, but it is comforting to know that most of us can, hopefully, trust that our families and friends have our very best interests at heart. As we grow older, we realise it is wiser to discard our frenemies, and also more dignified and kinder to both yourself, and them, to distance the old relationship and not keep up pretence. You can never really trust a friend again if you discover that said trust has been broken, or they’ve been horrid about you, and cutting the ties gently, moving towards firmly, is the more adult thing to do.

If you ask yourself whether there is anyone in your own little sub-community whom you would trust with your very life, to put your needs above their own, then it is usually a family member that will spring to mind. When we have children, the very least that we can do is try to model trustworthy behaviour. We may spin a few yarns about how the stockings were filled on the 25th, but we can also demonstrate being kind, being a good friend, keeping confidences, and sticking to our word and the promises we make. After all, if you can’t trust your parents at least, then what hope is there?

A Study into the Lesser Spotted General Practitioner. (Or, trying to get a dr’s appointment.)

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Last night I watched a programme about benefits cheats. I usually steer away from these because they frequently offer only the stereotype of persons, mostly with a discouraging tooth to tattoo ratio and a plethora of plasma tellys.

However, whilst watching, and listening to exactly how one goes about cheating the system (easy: lie), the part that amazed me the most was that the guy pretending to be disabled said he just ‘pops into the doctors and gets a sick note’.

So here’s my issue: how on earth does he manage to even get an appointment??

Last week I rang my surgery, part of Portsdown Group Practice, and enquired as to whether I could obtain a routine appointment. I am careful to not request an emergency one unless I deem it wholly necessary, and I am always courteous to the receptionists. I even use the walk-in centre if appropriate rather than the GP, because managing to clap eyes on the Lesser Spotted General Practitioner is harder than finding an athlete who hasn’t taken part in doping since 2005.

Upon phoning, I suffered through the usual automated waffle & bad muzak, and waited for a human to answer and converse with me.

When a receptionist did answer, she merely told me that she had no routine appointments and that I would have to ring back on Monday when there would be some. I politely said that I would, and followed orders, calling back after the weekend.

When I rang again, I went through the automated rigmarole, mounting up the phone bill, and was told, to my amazement, that whoever I had spoken to on Friday had it wrong, there would be no routine appointments unleashed on the desperate public until Tuesday at 4pm.

I had begun to think that in order to obtain one I’d need to camp out in the manner of a One Direction fan, perhaps being made to complete a Krypton Factor style of obstacle course once I’d entered the holy sanctum of the surgery, only vaulting pits of understandably stressed, snarling and irate receptionists, instead of vats of mud.

I rang back on Tuesday 11th August and finally received an appointment for, astonishingly, the end of the first week of September! Nearly FOUR WEEKS AWAY.

The most frustrating thing is that my Drs are excellent, and they’ve gone out of their way for me before. It’s just that it’s such an effort, bordering on the ludicrous, to actually see one.

First published in The Portsmouth News, Tuesday 18th August 2015

Childfree Time: Date Night, Babysitting… Yes, please!

Image courtesy of ohmyhandmade.com

Image courtesy of ohmyhandmade.com

My husband and I were shopping yesterday, and a very friendly and enthusiastic young male shop assistant asked us what we’d been up to. We were feeling pretty friendly and enthusiastic ourselves, and I immediately imparted the joyous information that we had spent the day childfree and alone, because our girls are in a playscheme for the week.

The young man in question clearly has very little experience of small children as yet, because whereas I already know that those of you with kids are thinking, “A week, alone, oooh!”, he simply looked puzzled, a touch pitying, and obviously thought that we were just didn’t know how to have a good time. Or, that we are evil parents who go around publicly admitting that we enjoy spending time away from our offspring.

Which, excluding the ‘evil’ part, is absolutely correct – and I refuse to feel ashamed. In fact, I’ll say it again: we enjoy spending time away from our children.

It is not until you have children that you realise exactly how precious time alone with your partner is. This is for the sake of both your sanity and your relationship, because if you do not have the time to function as a couple, then you stand the risk of forgetting that you ever were one, or, heaven forbid, why you were one.

This week, my husband and I are simply meandering. We are wandering at our leisure, and walking the dogs for miles to nowhere in particular. We are having lunches and coffees and reading papers. We are having long and intricate conversations, able to follow our trains of thought, and we are also having companionable silences, appreciating each moment of pure peace.

And we are doing it all without issuing military-style orders at two bickering siblings, whilst being told how bored they are, and listening to every sentence begin with, “(Insert child’s name) just called me a (insert child’s insult)”.

This kind of time together rewinds us back to when we were first together, and allows us an appreciation of the little things; his hand on the small of my back as we cross the road, sitting in the blissful nook of garden at Home Coffee, Southsea, and laughing so hard we can’t even speak.

Childfree time allows us to cosset our own relationship a little, and recharge our parenting batteries. We love our children more than life, but you can never forget that you love each other too.

First published in The Portsmouth News, Tuesday 11th August 2015

Dear 18 year old me… When ‘macs’ were raincoats and sleep wasn’t appreciated.

18 year old self.

2 decades, more frowning, and less perming solution, later

Dear 18 year old Verity,

This letter is being written by your 38 year old self. You’re sat at a Mac (this is not a raincoat), and wrinkling your brow. My first piece of advice therefore is STOP FROWNING. By 38, you have furrows deep enough to plant potatoes in.

My second piece of advice, is to stop worrying. Worrying about things will not prevent them from happening, and most of what you worry about never happens anyway.

By the time that you are 38 you will have two tiny daughters, and subsequently my third piece of advice is to also stop worrying about what your 18 year old stomach looks like. In fact, go to work in a bikini if given the chance, because by the time you’re nearly 40 you won’t even be able to decipher where your belly button begins.

Next, sleep. Sleep as much as you can. From the second that you discover you are pregnant, you will never sleep properly again. Treasure the next decade and indulge in myriad lie-ins.

Also, stop worrying about whether or not your bottom is too big or your boobs are too small. Any boys who have suggested such will be hairless and fat by the time you’re writing this, but you’ll have been a size 10 for years with a push-up bra.

Furthermore, work hard, very hard. Your mother and grandfather have instilled you with a strong work ethic, so follow this. Your career will give you a sense of self-worth that you cannot even imagine at the moment, and you will love what you do.

Keep writing, for one day you will have books with your name on the front covers, and not because you’ve doodled it there. You may even write a column for The News, if you’re lucky.

Treasure your friends. You’ll make new ones but those that you’re closest to now, you will still be close to when you’re nearly 40, and try to steer away from that egotist that you unfathomably find attractive when you’re training to teach.

And then, when you find The One, the Real One, hold on fast, because it will be an amazing ride. He’ll make you excited to wake up in the morning, give you a zest for life that you never knew, and you’ll make a family of your very own together.

Time is a tricky thing. It’s oiled and slippery and slides away when we try to hold it. Cherish it.

Love, Me x

First published in the Portsmouth News, August 2015