So apparently you all think there is such a thing as a left-handed version of ‘A Suitable Boy’. Eh? Is that what you all think? Really? Because no-one commented on my April Fool the other day. No-one! Not one single person, not even when I dropped a hint yesterday. Could it be that you just don’t read my blog posts carefully enough? Hmm? Well, what have you got to say for yourselves? Eh?
Or could it be that I was just too good at smuggling it in there? Was it just too understated and unobtrusive? There’s the rub; because you don’t want to make it obvious but then again if it’s worked too seamlessly into the text, nobody notices.
Well you can consider yourselves all in detention…
It makes me think of ‘The Unbelievable Truth‘; the radio 4 programme based on unbelievable facts and barely-credible lies where contestants try to smuggle truths into a lecture consisting otherwise of falsehoods. This is harder than it sounds. Not only do you have to make lies sound like truths; you have also to make truths sound like lies. But there’s more to it than that; inexperienced players tend to fall into the ‘rule of three’ trap where they will tell two falsehoods followed by a truth because there’s something in that rhythm that comes naturally. And there’s the rub: in playing the game you have to go against your own nature, because in the end it’s much harder for most of us to tell a lie than it is to tell a truth, and we all tend to signal in some way when we do lie.
The police know this, at least in crime fiction they do and I don’t see why they wouldn’t in real life (though I never cease to be amazed by what professionals in all fields do and don’t know). They know that we signal when we lie; that unless we are practised liars, so practised that lies are woven seamlessly into the fabric of our conversation, we will give out clues. The direction of the eyes, for example, which indicates which part of the brain we are accessing (whether memory or invention) or blinking at just the wrong moment, or fidgeting; or betraying discomfort in a million different ways. It’s very hard to lie in a sustained and convincing way, so while you might get away with a quick ‘It wasn’t me, Miss, it was him!’ you’re unlikely to sustain this under detailed and prolonged questioning. Which brings us back to detention. Now: wait a moment while I shine this uncomfortably bright light in your eyes and tell me: did you really read my blog post properly the other day? Do you really think there’s such a thing as a left-handed copy of a book?
Go on, go home now. And make sure you read properly in future because I’ll be asking questions.