She’s in the Cellar, I’m Standing in the Bath

Is honesty always the best policy?  Some people say it is, no matter what the circumstances: most people would say yes, in general, but it should be tempered with discretion.  I doubt whether most of us would inform a gang of Nazis looking for Jewish sympathisers, that their sister was hiding in the attic: yet this is exactly what Corrie Ten Boom’s sister did when they came calling at their house in Amsterdam. (  However, the spirit of Irony was out in force that day and the Nazis assumed she was lying.  Was she right to tell the truth?  It turned out well – but she could have been effectively signing her sister’s death warrant.  She believed, though, that it was her duty to tell the truth at all times and that things would turn out for the best if she did.  I can’t help feeling she was right – and yet so, so wrong at the same time.

Most people would think it was reasonable to tell a white lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.  Once I had a phone call from a boy who just wasn’t getting the message: I asked my mother to say I was out.  ‘But you’re not out!’ she said.

‘No, but can’t you just say I am?’ I pleaded.

‘No!  That would be a lie!’ she said, looking shocked.

‘Oh – well…’ I cast desperately around for a way out – ‘can’t you say I’m in the bath then?’  (In those days the phone was irretrievably attached to its socket so if you were in the bath you were incommunicado.)  She thought for a moment.

‘Please!’ I begged.

‘All right,’ she said.  ‘Go and stand in the bath and then I’ll tell him.’

Reader, I went and stood in the bath, since that was the best offer I was likely to get.

But what do you think?  Should I have just told him I didn’t want to see him any more?  Is honesty always best?

Last night I did some poems for International Women’s Day at a cold and damp Duffy’s Bar: it was a fundraiser for Amnesty and fairly well-attended.  There are some photos on Facebook though sadly (or perhaps happily) none of me:

Tale of Three Women

So, on International Women’s Day I shall finish with a tale of three women.  You might call them The Princess, the Storyteller and the Thief.  The first two have become embroiled in a mish-mash which is probably largely media-created; the third is now in prison due to her own desire for revenge on a cheating husband.  Hilary Mantel wrote some disparaging comments about Kate Middleton – or, more accurately, about the way she is packaged and presented – and according to Mantel, she finished up with a plea to the press to treat Kate with dignity and humanity and, above all, not to do to her what they did to Diana.  Asking the press to lay off a royal bride – especially a pregnant royal bride – is a bit like asking a lion not to eat a zebra it has caught: still I guess she thought it was worth a shot.  I don’t know if I would have done since it was bound to provoke a backlash… but what I don’t understand at all  is why there is so much interest in royal women.  I am on the whole a republican – though I have some reservations about how that might pan out – but a republican because I don’t believe any society has the right to demand that these people live so much in the public eye, without them having any choice in the matter.  Film stars, singers and other celebs have at least chosen to be where they are; the royals have no choice.

And as for marital coercion, that was never going to fly.  A divorced woman with her own career?  Nice try Vicky, but no doughnut.  And next time, remember: ‘live well is the best revenge’.

Kirk out


4 thoughts on “She’s in the Cellar, I’m Standing in the Bath

    1. I guess it would have been better to tell him straight – I did find it really hard to break up with people and this guy seemed particularly impervious to hints

  1. Mm, now I sympathise…In general blokes are expected to make the first move, which on the face of it gives them an unfair advantage, the ladies being obliged to hope that the Right One turns up sooner rather than later. Perhaps I’ve got it all wrong though 🙂

    1. No, I think you’re right – it’s probably best to be direct. Not easy though, especially when you’re fifteen…


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