Enchanting Migs, can make one’s heart twist in French knots with his turn of phrase. Often have I swooned at his commas and stops. So you can imagine what it means when he says, nonchalantly, ‘H darling, you are it’. You don’t get arsey about it even if tagging in your worldview is akin to flatulence in public spaces. Instead, you’re honoured and even grateful for the tag, never mind that you’ve done the same one earlier.
So here goes, for the second time, the 123 tag.
I must grab the book nearest to me, turn to page 123, and quote three sentences, starting the fifth.
Equal Rites by... Terry Pratchett! Lalalalala.
“Young men who showed faint signs of having such a talent were encouraged, on special ceremonial occasions, to bend the truth ever further on a competitive basis.
The first recorded Zoon proto-lie was ‘actually, my grandfather is quite tall’, but eventually they got the hang of it and the Office of Tribal Liars was instituted.
It must be understood that while the majority of Zoon cannot lie, they have great respect for any Zoon who can say that the world is other than it is. “
And now, a bit more, to do justice to the title of this post: Inspired by Pratchett’s clan of Zoon – their custom of electing Liars; and my rabidly nervous disposition. Yes, yes I know what you’re thinking... get over Pratchett already, move on, read something else, don’t bore us.
Between Pratchett and the pool I’ve a little industry going, haven’t I? Ha. ‘Tisn’t my place to say it, but I will anyway, ‘cause I’m generous like that... [You really don’t have to stay if you don’t like reading what I write]. There. I’m done whispering in brackets.
The truth is if I were elected a Zoon Liar, I’d suck at it. Very seriously.
I’d probably sooner evince a penchant for and even excel at being a cutting edge Zoon water-changer for cattle. Or a Zoon sinker-of-feed for algae. My mum has in fact always harboured a fond suspicion that I might have a talent for stamping floral shapes on bus tickets. But what’s undisputed is that I haven’t the slightest, most bashful, trembling hint of aptitude for being a Liar. ‘Tis a terribly clever job, the demands of which I am utterly ill-equipped to meet: this much is clear to me now.
But once upon a Zoon time, it wasn’t. I was young, and possibilities abounded in nature – even the number of times I could poo in my little chuddies was wonder-striking and full of potential. So you can imagine the shock I received the day I tried my head at Lying. I was four, the sibling was six and as is ordained by Things Greater Than Us, while we were playing in that dangerous frenzy in which one sibling must either fall and get hurt very badly, or the playing must take a combatant turn, the playing took a combatant turn. The innocuous pencil in my grubby paws lodged itself with certain force and vengeance in the back of my smug, taunt-mouthed sibling, who was smug no more and rather red faced and in that frozen moment which precedes a particularly violent bout of bawling when one’s mouth is dangerously silent and wide open, eyes are screwed shut, breath is stuck and one’s face goes from red to redder.
There are two things that strike the mind of a four old watching her elder sibling poised on the wrong side of balance at this fearsome precipice from which things can only go downhill for all parties involved. One is a primal instinct arising from a residual collective memory, also sometimes called mob-mentality, which demands that you drop all things at hand and instantly join in the bawling, contributing greater decibels if possible to the general ambience of panic. The other, if you are a bastardly child called H, is a highly underrated, but promising instinct of self-preservation which demands that you move into elaborate modes of damage-control immediately.
And so, being H, in glorious disregard of the wily incisiveness of the Adult Mind mostly arising from prodigious volumes of ignorance, I arranged my four year old face in a singular look of bewilderment [which comes naturally when you’re four and everything of interest lies at least five inches out of reach] and immediately sought my parents.
I found them one doorway away, in their room, reposed in a memorable picture of bliss. Pa was lying back reading, beautiful mum was bent gracefully over a piece of mending. I shuffled up urgently, reluctant though I was to break the spell, and trilled in endearing baby tones “I don’t know why di’s crying. I just tapped her lightly with a pencil!” To demonstrate, I took my pudgy index finger and with the sort of delicacy that could embarrass a gay butterfly, tapped my father ever so lightly on his arm. I had time enough only to barely catch the look of utter love that my parents exchanged...
Just then the sibling’s voice came unstuck and a piercing, sickening, shrill wail arose, destroying the gentle afternoon air.
Without getting into the gruesome details of what followed, briefly touching upon the discovery of a half-centimetre long black lead nib embedded in a six year old back, a certain sore bottom and the admonishment of a lifetime, I can safely say that this defining incident broke my confidence and spelt the end of my Lying career.
Some [not least my mum] say it is a good thing.
Mine darling fairyblogmatha, THE Nanster, has also tagged me. Her tag’s cute, simple and very precise. It says post the title of your autobiography as the title of this post. I just did, Nan.