Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sweet little lies

Back when I ran workshops with young people on topics such as sex, drugs, and more-sex-we-didn’t-quite-understand-the-first-time, I sometimes used an ice-breaker called ‘truth and lies.’ The participants had to write three things about themselves: two truths and one lie, which the rest of us had to spot. I was notoriously poor at guessing, would say, ‘you can’t possibly have taken Ecstasy with your social worker… oh you have?’ People rarely guessed mine either, assuming that ‘my uncle runs a dating agency for adulterers’ was surely nonsense.

Lately I’ve been playing this game informally with my friends. None of them know they are playing though. For instance, the other week Grange Girl said, ‘are you coming to my gymnastics display?’ Naturally I laughed and told her that was a good one. Her stony face was reminiscent of the look a fourteen year old once gave me when I chose as her lie, ‘member of the Mile High Club.’

‘Don’t then,’ Grangey said, her frown darkly Nadia Comaneci-ish. ‘But you’ll miss seeing my front salto on the asymmetric bars.’

I hastened to reassure her that of course we would cheer her on. Our reward for attendance was the never-to-be-repeated sight of Grangey flying through the air like a bird. She didn’t quite land like a bird, but who’s to say that she hasn’t invented a whole new form of dramatic dismount? Apart from boring old surgeons anyhow.

Yesterday, I was sitting in a school field watching gentlemen in their prime* play cricket (*my hand has been forced here), when Cycle Girl and Sweary Mary flopped onto the picnic rug, faces smudged with mud. One of my young drug-educating men (I learned a lot from him), claimed during ‘truth and lies’ to have re-enacted the mud wrestling scene from Women in Love. Naturally I called him on it – erroneously, it transpired – as I couldn’t believe he’d seen a DH Lawrence movie. Because I had him in mind, a raised eyebrow played about my forehead when I asked the soil-caked lasses what they’d been up to.

‘Digging on the blimming allotment,’ Sweary Mary said, rubbing her cheek with a dainty hankie.

‘I’m sorry, but that’s a clear fib. You two would never dig.’

‘All right, we paid a bloke to do it.’

‘We did plant a few petunias though,’ said Cycle Girl, ‘and I’m in need of a deep Radox bath.’

I decided it was my turn to play. ‘Do you know, this week I ran for twenty minutes,’ I said.

‘That’s about as flipping likely as that chappie’s bat connecting with the blinking ball.’

Thence came the unexpected thwack of leather on willow, and I basked in the glow of my athleticism. Luckily, they didn’t know the game’s subsidiary rules, otherwise they would have interrogated me about whether the twenty minutes was all in one go, or spread across the week.

Beth Miller, 18th April 2011. Published in VivaLewes.com

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