Sunday, 5 June 2011

The Lies that Bind...

Ok, I gotta stay upbeat - got to keep on going lest I slump into being a misery guts - and to that end I was thinking over some old events earlier. Thinking of the times when I got it right - and inevitably, the times when I got it wrong. Lies came to mind. You know when you tell an out and out 'whopper' and boy (or girl) it comes back to haunt you ten-fold? Apart from 'No Mum - I swear it was the dog took the biscuits out of the cupboard and ate them' I think the first ever lie which really dropped me in it was the following;

I was only 18 and I'd just joined the Police Force in Glasgow. Every morning we'd be put on parade, inspected, and woe betide anyone who didn't appear absolutely pristine. One of the odd rules back then was that you could only have a 'full set' where facial hair was concerned (A full set being beard and moustache - not one or the other), and even then they had to be grown during leave as 'stubble' wasn't permitted.

I'd overslept and running my hand across my chin decided 'Yeah that'll pass' - Fail.

The Chief Inspector walked along the ranks peering closely at every uniform, every pair of shoes, every face - he came to me and stopped in his tracks. He nodded at the wee Sergeant who always scurried along behind him. I watched as the Sergeant scribbled in his notebook in big letters PC Rory Grant. "My office after Parade!" The Chief Inspector roared.

I hadn't quite mastered the art of appearing in a senior officer's office. There's a way it has to be done, a way you salute, remove your cap, step forward and jump up and down with your legs and feet crashing back down in some kind of unison. I did it as though I owned four legs, six arms and had just been electrocuted.
He shook his head and said with a disapproving scowl 'Your facial hair! It lowers the standards of this great force!'
I imagined masked robbers passing the word to one another 'Grant's got facial hair. Police force in disarray, we do the job today'.
I stood there silent.
'Well?' He bellowed.
'If it's possible to have an excuse for such a disgraceful exhibition then I want to hear it and I want to hear it now - Why haven't you shaved?!'

At this point I should have said 'Slept in Sir. Won't happen again', taken whatever punishment was coming and forgotten about it, but no, I was stupid, I lied.
'I don't know how to sir!'
This clearly hit him from left field. He sat bolt upright in his chair and stared at me. Stunned he slowly repeated 'Don' to?'
'Yes Sir'
'Hasn't your father ever shown you?'
'Sir, no sir'
He gave a pained expression before standing up. Stepping out from behind his desk he stood at my side and patted my shoulder. 'You poor boy. You poor, poor boy. If this force does nothing else it will make a man of you.'

Rather worryingly, making a 'man of me' involved meeting him half an hour early in the gents bathroom every morning for the next week. There I was shown how to 'sweep upwards' and 'glide down' my chin with the razor. I was taught how to remove nasal hair with tweezers, I was shown how to stem blood loss with toilet paper when I inevitably cut myself. I was shown how to extract hairs from the tricky corners of one's mouth by angling the razor at 45 degrees - 'no more, no less!'

It was mind numbingly dull and got me out of bed a whole hour earlier than I should have had to. I learned a valuable lesson that week and it had nothing to do with shaving.



  1. I think the most dangerous thing about lies is trying to remember what you told who. Your experience probably taught you a very valuable life lesson.

  2. Hey, free grooming lessons! :D

    (Yeah, I know I'm kinda reaching here, too...)

  3. I nominated you for a blog award if you feel up to it come see at my blog

  4. kindness comes from the strangest of places eh?
    nicely written and quite moving

  5. I hope you are doing ok....I've been thinking about you.

  6. Thank you to everyone! I'm back to normal and looking forward to writing and reading more very, very soon!