COMMENT: THE FRIARY NEWSLETTER - The worst case we've seen of pants on fire syndrome

This week, Ivan `Porky Pie' Montague (not his real name), head of the Friary's Truth Department, writes...
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Hi there! I would have written for this newsletter before, but, as luck would have it, I've been away for six months breaking mustangs on a Texas dude ranch and riding the herd down to Montana. No, all right then, I haven't really. Actually, I was laid up with a nasty, disabling 'flu that makes the skin on your back come up in great mulberry lumps, and that's before your leg drops off just when you're struggling downstairs to the loo.

You don't believe me do you? You think I'm making all this up, that I'm a malingerer and liar. Go on, say it. Because you'd be right. I am a liar. There, I've admitted it. That's what I'm doing here. "He's always lying through my teeth," my family said, and sent me to the doctor. "You've got Compulsive Mendacity Disorder," my GP diagnosed and referred me to St Thomas's. "It's one of the worst cases of Pants On Fire Syndrome I've ever seen," said the neurologist and sent me to the Liary. I'm glad to be here at last, in this hospital that is also a haven. And I'm on the mend, or my name's not Count Isidore von Peltnikoff.

Am I a patient or am I on the staff, I hear you asking. (It's those voices in my head again). Hard to tell, actually. As you walk the serpentine corridors of the Truth Department, the people you meet could be those who suffer from the chronic lying condition; but they could be their polar opposites, sufferers of Terribly Gullible Innocent Twit Syndrome. I always told the Liary top brass it was folly putting the two groups in the same ward. It's bad enough when the liars get together and sit there yarning away, saying, "Did I ever tell you about the time I took Proust to lunch at La Coupole and Hemingway was there drinking margueritas with, er, Pope Pius XI, and in came De Gaulle carrying the biggest blancmange you have ever..." But sometimes the liars and the ones who'll believe any old bollocks get together and it's just painful. The gullibles listen to nonsense about alien beings in the airing cupboard beside the sluice room, and stand there going, "Really?" The liars have a ball, but the gullibles will never get better if they're given more and more silly things to believe.

Anyway, we're glad to welcome Patient 9612, Archer, J, who is fleeing from the world this week, and spending a few days getting to grips with his Inner Truth. Everybody has an Inner Truth. It's like an Inner Child, only it doesn't encourage you to pee in your underwear. Your Inner Truth is the fundamental core of what you are, the basic neutron of your character. There is nothing fake about it. Nobody can gainsay or rubbish this hard gem-like essence of You. It is incapable of deceit or duplicity, the central building-block of decency and rightness. Once you've found it, you can build a new life as a former liar turned truth-seeker. The only problem is finding it. Jeffrey has been coming here looking for it for some time now. Since 1968, I think it is.

Anyway he'll be fine in the scenic and roomy Pinocchio Ward, as he does his daily exercises in Sincerity (Question 1. What are your true feelings about the Blair pregnancy?) and Truth Recognition (Question 1. What is the difference between a degree from Oxford University and one from Oxfordshire Correctional Facility Remedial School?).

The only problem on the horizon concerns the refectory and the lunch rota. Things are going to be thrown out of whack if Patient 9612 keeps insisting he has had lunch with Patient X from B Ward if in fact he was eating with Patient Y from the Hysterical Fainting Fits Ward. I don't care what his motivation is. I just can't have Patient X going without his Gressingham Duck with savoy cabbage drizzled with balsamic vinegar, just because Jeffrey thinks he's covering his tracks. Please please remember, you are here to get better, not to curry favour with the once future mayor of London. Nothing is to be gained by agreeing to "cover" for him or pretending to be somebody you're not. Truth is beauty, let us always remember that. Truth is beauty, or my name's not Rumpelstiltskin McThyroid.

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