The Necessary Lie

‘Look’, I said, ‘I’m a happy person, you’re a happy person, we’re both having a good time so we should be able to get on. We should be able to sort this out perfectly amicably.’ But it wasn’t true – I’m not a happy person. Not by any stretch of the imagination am I what you would call ‘a happy person’. Sometimes it is beholden upon us to tell what I like to call ‘the necessary lie’. You can’t underestimate the importance of the necessary lie, I always tell people. It is absolutely crucial that we should at – all times – respect the importance of the necessary lie.


The seconds turn into minutes and the minutes turn into hours and the hours turn into hideous nodding gargoyle-heads nodding away solemnly nodding, nodding, nodding, nodding. Nodding to show that they know something but that they’re not going to tell you what it is. No way are they ever going to tell you what it is. All that solemn nodding can drive you mad, you know. It can really get to you in a big way. What are they nodding about, you want to know. What’s the story with all the nodding? You’re walking down a long, long avenue and on each side of you there is a long row of nodding gargoyle-heads. Stretching ahead of you to infinity.


I can promise you with my hand on my heart that I’m not a happy person. How could I be happy with all of this going on in my head? I might look cheery enough but that’s only a façade. That’s just what I like to call ‘the necessary lie’. What’s the necessary lie?’ you might ask, feigning obtuseness, ‘just what are you going on about here, buddy boy?’ Needless to say, your dull-witted response irritates me beyond measure. I am neither a happy nor a patient man – I suppose the one implies the other.


‘Do I have to spell it out for you?’ I roar, tortured beyond endurance, eaten alive by pure raw frustration. Something inside me won’t stop screaming, and I’m trying to bite down on it. The necessary lie is everything you see, everything you hear. It’s what your headmaster told you when you were at school. It’s what your teachers taught you every day. They drummed it into you. They drilled it into your head. Do you remember what your teachers taught you? They taught you the lie – they taught you the lie you live every day. They taught you the necessary lie and you – the diligent and obedient student – learnt it well. Boy did you ever learn it well!


Wherever I go I can hear the ticking of that terrible clock – like a metronome it measures out my life. I stumble along from day to day, not knowing where I am going, or why I need to go there. Every morning is the same morning; every day is the same day. Every day I watch myself going through the motions, like a clockwork toy, in numb disbelief at my own colossal immutable stupidity. To say that I have long since given up on myself is an understatement! Every morning is the same morning. Every day is the same day. Every day I get up and do the very same things. I neither know where I’m going nor why I want to go there. That I do know these things is the necessary lie.






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