17 Sep

It has taken me forty-six years of being on this spinning rock to finally accept that honesty is not always the best policy.

To most that would be an extremely obvious statement of fact, but it is a ‘truism’ I have always railed against, and I still do even though I know a good liar is often more popular than an ‘honest Joe’!

I seem to have been born with the compulsion to always tell the truth.  Please don’t misunderstand me, I have never been deliberately rude, insulting or hurtful to anybody, I loathe people that make entirely unsolicited comments on other people’s appearance; weight, height, clothing, hair, etcetera, that is just the peak of ill breeding and bad manners.   No the problem for me is when anybody actively seeks my honest opinion, then unfortunately I always seem to end up in big trouble.

I remember as a child of six, my father had spent the entire Saturday afternoon at a neighbour’s house, having a drinking competition with his friend who just happened to be a retired naval officer and who could quite possibly have drank Dylan Thomas under the table, it didn’t end at all well for dad!

My father returned home absolutely, totally, unreservedly, pissed!  He then, to the horror of my mother, lay down on the living room floor, beneath the coffee table with the dodgy leg and within seconds was in a comatose state.  My mother was absolutely horrified, and left him to sleep on the living room floor for the rest of the evening, not even putting a vestige of soft furnishings beneath his head.

A few minutes after I had realised, that dad wasn’t waking up and that mum was not coming down the stairs again either,  the doorbell rang, at the door was the elderly lady who lived a few doors down the street she also happened to be a member of the church we attended every Sunday.  “Is your dad in dear”?  She enquired sweetly.  So, without hesitation I gave her the truth. “He is lying on the floor in the lounge because he is drunk and mum can’t come to the door because she is really angry with him she has gone upstairs and I think she is crying too”!

I didn’t really think anything more about our caller until the next day with an apologetic father and a now forgiving mother, seated in the kitchen, I told them that ‘Mrs Jenkins had called and that it was okay because I had told her why you neither of you could come to the door’!  I just remember the look of abject horror on both their faces, then my normally placid mother erupting into what I can only describe as ‘a shrieked telling off’.

Well, you would think the ‘Mrs Jenkins’ incident would have given me pause for thought but, it really didn’t.  I continued with the unwavering belief that when consulted for an honest answer, I should always deliver it.

I am not really sure why I suffer from ‘honestitis’ but I do have my theories.    Most children go through a phase of telling whopping lies it is a common part of growing up.  But if you want me to be honest, and I know you do, I think the roots of my affliction may lie in my sexuality.

I knew from the first time I picked up a Ladybird book, I was a little bit different, and by the age of five I had absolutely no doubts.  When I grew up, I was going to be just like George in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, and when I got bored of solving mysteries, I would find a nice woman, settle down and get marry the nice woman!  There was never any doubt in my mind about all of this, and I certainly didn’t know that nice ladies didn’t marry other nice ladies in drab, dull seventies Britain.

I learnt to read at the age of three, books were always my best friend, one day, I was sneaking a read of mum’s Woman’s Realm magazine.  I had read it the month before, a woman had left work with a splitting headache and died the next day of a brain haemorrhage I had spent the ensuing weeks totally traumatised, and the merest twinge lead me to believe I was about to expire.  But I was drawn back to the magazine with ghoulish fascination.  Little did I know that what I was about to read would profoundly change my outlook on life.

I found the problem page, and started perusing, there it was in black and white, a married woman had fallen in love with her best friend and wanted to leave her husband and live with her friend, was there any way she could divorce the husband  and legally marry this woman?   Now I just remember the tone of horror in the magazine’s reply.  It was curt and disapproving, the woman was told this was probably just a ‘silly phase’ and that she should make more time for her husband, things would soon sort themselves out between them  and  she must stop seeing  the friend and that “THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO WAY TWO WOMAN COULD EVER BE LEGALLY MARRIED”.  It was made plain the poor woman should categorically get the silly idea that two woman could ever be in any legal relationship out of her head!

The words kept shouting out from the page at me, I was dumbstruck, why was it so wrong?  Would the people at Woman’s Realm be equally appalled at me?   I liked this edition of the magazine even less than the ”brain haemorrhage week’.

It was there and then that I realised that my future plans were pretty damn impossible and seemingly something to be deeply ashamed of.   I didn’t feel any shame, I knew the person who had composed the reply in the magazine was wrong and obviously a fool who had never read the Famous Five.  But I also, at that young age knew that my future plans for marital bliss, were not something I could ever verbalise to my parents or anybody else, until I was at an age where I couldn’t be chastised or even worse persuaded otherwise.

So at the age of five I promised myself I would never be in the situation the poor lady who wrote into Woman’s Realm for their guidance had found herself in.  I would never marry a man then regret it, that was dishonest and making a complicated situation even more complicated.  No, I would still marry a woman, I couldn’t be the only woman in the world who had same feelings as me, could I? Maybe it was only boring stuffy old England that had this stupid law, I bet women could marry other women in America, if I had to, I would move to America, well away from the Woman’s Realm

I always hated keeping my sexuality a secret until the age of twenty-three, but my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was just twelve years old and again, I knew this was not a truth that she would want to hear.  The way I dealt with the deceit was by viewing it as delayed honesty.

So have I always over-compensated because it took me until the age of twenty-three to be honest about my sexuality, quite possibly!   I take great delight in correcting people if they call my partner “your friend”, or “your sister” “ OH YOU MEAN MY WIFE” I boom out across the counter!  People usually look mortified and apologise, being honest about your sexuality in the Britain of 2012 often puts people on the back foot, they are actually worried about causing any offence, which is actually rather sweet.

My real problems with honesty have never really been about sexuality, that was just the catalyst that has brought me to where I find myself today, imprisoned by the truth!

A friend, who was looking for a new partner once asked me, no pleaded with me how I thought she could improve her looks.  She seemed desperate, so wanting to help, I told her she should dye her hair, get a more modern hairstyle, wear branded jeans not the Walmart variety and try, if she could to give up smoking.  We are not friends anymore!  I would never have volunteered that advice, if she hadn’t asked and I was only trying to help.

Having secured a good deal from a gentlemen to buy his record collection, the ‘said gentleman’,  (who had no idea I owned a music store) made the joking aside “ I bet you will now sell those records you have just bought from me for a huge profit”.  “Yes I will, I replied, as soon as I can”!   He wasn’t remotely amused, but I was only telling the truth!

The world caught up with me, I was true to my word and I did marry a lovely lady who my father adored and nobody was remotely mortified.  I would like to bet even the person who replied to that long forgotten problem in the Woman’s Realm wouldn’t even bat an eyelid.

My wife blames my honesty on being the product of northern parents and being a total freak!  But she knows only too well if she asks me how her bum looks in her new jeans, I will tell her………….well she asked, did she want me to lie?


  1. Annie Beckett September 17, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    I love this ange. I love your honesty. I love you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    • angelacollings September 17, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

      Thank-you so much Annie, it means the world, love you too xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  2. Geoff September 17, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

    Another well worded blog Ange , I really enjoy reading them xx

    • Cathy Bergeron September 17, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

      Loved the read xx

    • angelacollings September 17, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

      Thanks so much Geoff, for you to say you enjoy reading them is the height of praise xxx

  3. Mark September 17, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    superb. eloquent honest and above all FUNNY as per xxx

  4. Sue Webster September 17, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    Fantastic Ange you wouldn’t be ‘you’ any other way!!!! xxxxxxxxx

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