The Three Phases of Lying

I am a liar. Always have been. There was a time when I was quite adept at conjuring up a whopper, but over the years I’ve learned to channel my lies into more productive outlets.

(image Creative Commons, Tim and Selena Middleton)

But let’s face it we’ve all gone through the Three Phases of Lying.

Phase One – childhood. We fib. Our formative years are a maze of fibs and fibbing and I was the arch fibber. In my time, up to the age of about eleven, I had broken every bone in my body. And my friends believed me. They were amazed I hadn’t become some kind of human jelly with so many fractures.

When I wasn’t in plaster I was having my cartilages removed. A friend’s mother asked why I didn’t have any scars on my kneecaps and I concocted some hogwash about the surgeon using a new technique involving glue.

I was also the proud owner of a Zaire football kit complete with plastic shorts. (We didn’t understand modern materials and thought those shiny shorts from the 1974 World Cup finals were actually made out of plastic.)

Whoppers. Tall tales. I got away with it for years – unlike David Anders who got into trouble at school for writing an essay about going to America in his dad’s car. Some people just didn’t understand there were limits to how far you could go before the fib became preposterous rubbish.

Phase Two – youth. In youth, with hormones on the rampage and the need to impress the opposite sex you weren’t a liar, you were a bullshitter. It took me a while to build up momentum during this phase, but when I did, I reached terminal velocity. I became a student!

An undergraduate course in landscape architecture and the discovery of Deconstruction conspired to turn me into a monster. The more incomprehensible gobbledegook I came out with, the more intellectually impressive I sounded. I was in a sealed environment, we were all at it. At every project presentation we’d stand up and bullshit for England, tutors nodding sagely as we thundered on about intercontextual dialogue and spatial programming.

The Imperial War Museum North. Daniel Libeskind’s exposition of experiential displacement and empathetic translocation. See, I haven’t lost it, have I? (Photo Creative Commons, Andrew Dunn.)

I reached my brilliant peak at 2 a.m. in a packed basement hotel bedroom in Barcelona. A fellow student asked me what Deconstruction was all about. I said I’d tell him in the morning, so he wandered off to another room and allegedly gave someone a blowjob in front of a large crowd of astonished ghouls. I didn’t see it myself, but I can only assume the promise of enlightenment had filled him with a new self confidence.

Phase Three – adulthood. Finally we enter a world of pain where the fibbers and bullshitters have grown up and consolidated a life of deceit into one of three disciplines: politics (the art of managing lies); business (the commercialisation of lies); and religion (the deification of lies).

We hear it every day. We’re all in this together. Sign the contract, there are no hidden fees. We abide by all applicable tax laws. It was only the once; she means nothing to me.

But amongst the filth and the filthy there is one group of adults who must lie and lie convincingly.


My childhood and youth has been a most excellent apprenticeship and when people ask me if Toten Herzen are a real rock band I can look them in the eye and say yes, they’re on the internet so they must be real. My latest writing project is based on actual events: what those ‘actual events’ are is up to you to decide when you eventually read it, but believe me . . . I’m not lying. We live in a funny old world.

Photographs don’t lie. Toten Herzen’s Susan Bekker is a real person. Trust me.

Come to think of it, there are in fact, four phases to lying, but once you reach a certain age you can lie to your heart’s content because everyone just assumes you’ve gone bonkers. I’m not there yet, but I’m not far off. I’m quite looking forward to it.

By the way, did I ever tell you about the time I fought one of the lions at Chester Zoo. . . ?

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