I passed my driving test at the first attempt when I was 17.  This may sound boastful but the truth is that driving tests were much easier all that time ago (60 years!) and I took my test in the Isle of Man where, at the time, there were no traffic lights and no roundabouts; just lots of halt signs.  No duel carriageways or motorways either.


When you brought a car registered in the Island over to the mainland a GBM plate had to be displayed.  The first time I drove my car on the mainland, a police car waved me down and I sat there wondering what I had done wrong.  The policeman took ages wandering round the car looking at the tax disc and at and all the tyres.  Eventually he sidled up to the driver’s window and spoke to me for the first time. ‘GBM, isn’t that the Isle of Man?’.  Nervously, I admitted that it was.  Then he said, ‘I had my honeymoon in the Isle of Man’.  He then proceeded to tell me the hotel in Douglas where he and his new bride had consummated their marriage and the places they had visited.  He had only stopped me for a chat!

Before I was married I lived for a short while in Croydon.  My future wife was a nurse at St Thomas’ Hospital. And, on this particular night, was due to come off-duty at 21.30.  I had agreed to meet her outside the hospital but set off a bit later than I should.  Soon I was pulled over by a police car, blue lights flashing, for exceeding the speed limit along Streatham High Street.

Instead of sitting in the car submissively, I leapt out and ran towards the policeman with a genuine sense of urgency. ‘Please don’t stop me now’, I said, ‘I have to get to St Thomas’ Hospital’.  After a brief hesitation, the policeman gave me a warning and waved me on.  I went on my way feeling, I must admit, rather smug about what I assume qualifies as a white lie.  But then I noticed the police car was following me.  At first I convinced myself that this was coincidental; it just happened to be travelling in the same direction.  As we got closer to the hospital, I became convinced they were tracking me in order to verify my story.  I decided that, if they followed me all the way to the hospital, I’d have to keep up the pretence of urgency. I decided that I’d have to dash straight past my unsuspecting beloved, run into the first ward I could find and visit the first patient I could spot who looked as if they were at death’s door!

To my relief, the police car peeled off at the roundabout outside the hospital.  I had got away with it – and I didn’t tell a real lie either!

Is this what it means to be economical with the truth?


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