We all tell stories don’t we? History is just a version of events according to ‘some bloke’. Perhaps there would be more female-centred stories in history if women had stopped providing, caring and nurturing, and spent more time telling stories themselves. However, eventually there would have been no-one left to tell the stories to…
I used to tell stories when I was a child. Unkinder souls might call them lies, but I would define a lie as something that either gets you out of trouble, or gets someone else into it, and these were neither. I told stories about people I knew – usually acquaintances rather than close friends – and I injected colour and interest into their somewhat grayscale lives.
Ordinary people with apparently mundane existences went on exciting outings, acquired impressive new skills and were blessed with great fortune. I never visited tragedy on anyone and each individual became a hero in my headspace.
My family were quite used to my fantastic tales, but sometimes even they were sucked into my suspension of disbelief. Imagine my mother’s discomfort during a conversation with a fellow classmate’s parents about a trip to see the ballet in London, as it dawned on her – far too late of course – that they had no idea what she was talking about.
All this taken into consideration, I should be relatively unsurprised that one of my sons has a similarly creative propensity with his daily news. His stories are generally far more ambitious than mine ever were, so the likelihood of my absent-minded belief is minimal. However, the indulgent skepticism with which I view every word issued from my son’s mouth is not universally shared.
Picture the scene. My father and I were waiting in the school foyer to gain entry to some excruciating dramatic production or other, when the headmistress sidled up to us. ‘I hear you’ve had some exciting news’ she said. As my dealings with the school are often of a shamefaced and apologetic nature, my response of ‘Oh no, what now?’ was not entirely unwarranted. ‘Your son has told me that you won the Lottery on Wednesday’ she continued ‘And I was wondering whether you would consider making a contribution to the pool roof.’
I was stunned and there was a very long pause before I said anything. My father was choked with mirth: in part I imagine due to my getting a taste of my own medicine. When I eventually did speak I muttered something unintelligible and slightly hysterical about it not being true and that if I ever were to win the Lottery I would gladly pay to put a roof on the school pool.
I am not entirely sure that she believed I was not a secret Lottery millionaire. Either that or she was acutely (and rightly) embarrassed at both having accepted the word of a mischievous child and having brazenly asked for a share of the fictional winnings. Whatever her reasons she avoided me in the playground and at school functions until her eventual retirement. A shame, as I really quite liked her and felt her indiscretion was more a testament to my son’s storytelling abilities than any idiocy on her part.
I’m not sure there is a moral to this story unless it is that dealing with young children requires a higher level of skepticism than one might imagine.