Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Burning Lies

Once a situation happens and lies begin to be told, it is surprising how easy it is to adapt and to slip into that web of lies as it grows and grows.

Last night, talking to some friends about the Madeleine McCann case we ended up on one of those offshoot conversations and I recalled a snippet from my life. But as the images recalled were so vivid they have been churning over in my head since and then I got to thinking about the circumstances.

It was about twenty years ago as a single woman. I walked into a local cafe wearing my biker leathers. I had a poor self image so on reflection I probably looked quite hot in my slimline top to toe black leathers. Buying my tea and two rounds of toast I went to share a table with a young chap also with some biker gear. We got to chatting, as you do, and begin a brief and torrid relationship. I do have to thank him for one particular memory of something very hot and erotic but that is quite another matter!

At that time I rode a very sturdy and rectangular old motorbike whilst he had a superbike of the day. I discovered I neither liked superbikes nor being a passenger. Being driven at 90mph on tight bends with your knees almost skimming the road is not my idea of fun. However, he had his other compensations. In those times, my life was shared between my hard-earned degree course as a mature student and a part time job for a very respectable organisation.

Unbeknown to me, early one evening, this new found boyfriend of mine decided he needed to find a way to get out of the payments on his very expensive bike and thought to write it off and make an insurance claim. So he experimented with some explosive materials, bizarrely, inside a disused building. Somehow it went wrong and he managed to blow something up, but not his bike, and set himself alight. Incredibly, he managed to douse the flames on himself, pick himself up, put on his helmet and gloves and ride over to my place in a house which I shared with a less than clean landlord. Who I am grateful to for being quite so understanding and helpful on this occasion.

Stood at the door my then boyfriend was not coherent and something was obviously wrong but I couldn't see in the dusk. There was a curious smell about him. He insisted he needed my help but that he could not, under any circumstances, go to the hospital and that I had to help. First I was to take off his helmet. Taking off one's own helmet is hard enough but to take off someone else's is a struggle. Especially when layers of their face come off with it and parts of their nose are apparently missing.

If I didn't faint then, then I could have when he insisted we removed his gloves. I don't know what was worse: seeing the backs of his hand peel off in the gloves or knowing that the less than clean sink of cold water was not the hygienic ideal environment for serious burns. By now, the guy was going into shock but was so paralytic with fear about outside medical treatment and any potential police involvement that I promised I would stay with him. And so began the lies.

In order to stay with him I'd have to be his next of kin. His wife. And we had to have a cover story for the "accident". Having agreed to all this, my flatmate and I somehow managed to walk this guy to the hospital. Now, I can't believe all this carry on and that this guy had the wherewithal to hobble to hospital in that state. But he did just that.

At the hospital I was having to answer medical and family history questions for my "husband" who I had only known weeks and barely knew his date of birth. How little I knew. I was interrogated by hospital staff as to the "accident" and managed to keep the cover going. Not surprisingly the guy was transferred to a specialist burns unit. There again I was interrogated, this time I was entirely on my own, and felt that my story was going to crack to only then get the metaphorical hand on the knee and perhaps the sorry news that my "husband" had maybe tried to commit suicide. I then have to react as the distraught, disbelieving "wife".

It sounds incredibly selfish but the moment that guy landed at my door and dumped on me like that our relationship had ended for me. I carried out the lies in order to get him through the psychological fear of getting the medical help he desperately needed for his injuries, but he soon got the fastest "divorce" in history once he had gotten over the worst of his injuries in the burns unit. Which incidentally was a three hour return train journey daily for me, slotted into studies and work. He didn't damage his bike so didn't need to put in an insurance claim and the police were never involved. I think the creditors got his bike and he went home to live with mummy.

If I saw the guy now I would happily punch him in the face and knee him in the nuts for what he put me through. The telling lies was not easy, especially when one has to start making up "facts" but it is a slippery road which is difficult to get off once started even when you are "protecting" someone else. It is surprising but some lies get easier the more often they are told that in the end I had to question myself what was reality.


Josephine said...

This is quite a story Doris. I wonder how you got there from the McCann's story? (Actually I can guess...though you know, really, I don't think they did it, despite the conspiracy theories that are abounding...)

I do understand the lying to protect others dilemma, and where it can lead to. He asked too much of you...you can see that now, but in our younger days we find it hard to see where our personal responsbilities lie. And it is easy to forget our duty to ourselves.

The thought of you in leathers tho ;-)

Doris said...

As regards the McCanns I don't feel they "did it" and reserve judgement for the passage of time and trust in the processes of justice. However, at this stage I find it a bizarre carry on that parents who have the bare-faced cheek to admit to leaving their kids on their own still try to protest they are good parents. And that numbers of celebrities and the Press seem to endorse their behaviour.

And a blind eye is being turned regarding a fund with more than a million pounds and still raising more. Where they have every right to use that fund as they wish with no comeback to the general public who gave it in good faith.

My thoughts about the lying is that I am sure there has been a lot of lying going on, one way or another. Whether it is not being entirely truthful about when children were checked through to actually covering up for someone who has actually done something. It does not justify it but I think many of us are capable of quite elaborate lies... to a point. For me, I had to walk entirely away from the situation and was able to do so. The Madeleine McCann situation is completely different .... and in this case lying from those close to the heart of it all may well have hampered the whole search, perhaps even with devastating consequences.

However, I still believe in innocent until proved guilty. I think it is clear the McCanns (and the rest in the Tapas party) are guilty of leaving their children unsupervised on their own. And all professionals too! As for Madeleine's fate, and who is responsible, we have to hope that there is some resolution and that the child has not suffered too much. Poor child.

[Yeah, me in leathers .... I do have a few photos. But the most telling thing was a few months ago when I finally got rid of them. I gave them to someone who was slim but they were just a tad too small for them too ;-) ]

Josephine said...

Yes...fair point...I really haven't gone through all that in my mind...what's happening to the money that's being donated, all that etc. And the way the media has manipulated and inflated it all, turned it into a soap opera is pretty nauseating, I guess. How many other little children have gone missing around the world since May? How interested is the press in them? But, ah yes, they might not be so (a) Middle Class (b) White (c) Cute etc.

Which isn't to say that my heart doesn't break for the McCanns. I think I instinctively forgive them all the cheesy tv appearances etc, all that, because their daughter is gone. Whatever they do, however they do it, they have suffered something that I can only imagine in my very worst nightmares.

I even find myself forcing myself not to judge the decisions they took that night about leaving Madelaine alone...because of the terrible price they paid for it. And I have read others saying that on this particular resort people were always leaving their kids like that, that the whole place was really small, etc etc.

I wouldn't have done it - left my children unsupervised there - not with children that young. Not a chance. But you know, I guess I must have done a few ill advised things over the years with respect to my children, all parents make their own judgements about what is safe or not safe. They made the wrong one, and they paid a terrible terrible price :-(

Doris said...

I think that the problem I have is that IF they had acknowledged that leaving young children unattended on holiday was wrong and that they made a mistake then they would have had my full sympathy. However, if we listen carefully, we hear people who are careful about what they say and do not admit guilt (for their part) in any way in case they impeach themselves. That smacks more of looking after themselves than being concerned about what has actually befallen their child.

I agree we have all made mistakes one way or another and normally I wouldn't be so hard but it is their response and attitude to it all that makes the difference. I agree that I too forgive the cheesy tv appearances etc and the occasional unfortunate choice of words but to have often misspelt his child's name; or to go on in his blog about his jogging or how uncomfortable the heat is or isn't is beyond the pale and inconsequential when his daughter is enduring whatever.

And yes, a cute child does tug at the heart strings more!

Thanks for your view on this Jo.

jane said...

Interesting discussion here in the comments. I had no idea the father is blogging about everyday stuff. Pretty weird.

I totally agree about lies, once you start, they compound. someone I know lies about something just so they don't have to deal with it & then easily dismisses their behavior, that's a huge red flag for me.

Josephine said...

Yes I didn't know about that either Jane. It does seem weird if he's doing that on his blog...therapy for him though, you might say? Trying to act 'normal', who knows...

Chandira said...

I haven't been following this whole Madeliene thing. I think for those reasons. It seems like a circus, and we had a similar thing happen here with a college girl go missing in the Bahamas, so I think I got a bit sick of the media hype, when so many others go missing every day that aren't middle class white people, or college girls. Forgive my cynicism..

As for the lying, I grew up with a girl that was a compulsive liar, and she had invented a whole other life than the one she had. I sometimes wondered if she really started believing her own stories. I think she did.
I've never told any lies myself though. I wouldn't know.. ;-)

I am a terrible liar, my face always gives it all away. I can't do it.

rashbre said...

A very thought provoking post. Getting caught in the spiral of a lie. "what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive etc."

I'm surprised in the McCann situation that there seem to be evolving disclosures, such as the petty robberies allegedly from some of the apartments.

There are a couple of other ways that dots could be joined, but some just don't bear thinking about.

Ally said...

I once got sucked in to a similar 'tissue of lies' situation and bitterly regretted it - I was persuaded in to it against my better judgement and it just got more and more complicated and painful. These days I am pathologically truthful and if I suspect someone is lying, even by omission, then I (over)react really strongly.

Interesting discussion re the McCann situation ...

Minerva said...

So true - one lie does so often lead to another..
Shows huge chutzpah on your part though, keeping with the story when he was so ill, I mean I am sure I would have cracked...

As for finishing it as soon as he came to the door, absolutely... I understand that completely. Someone who loved/respected you wouldn't have put you in that position.. point final as the French say...

Lovely to read your blog again,


Anji said...

He sounds a real rat. You have to be super intelligent to get away with lying. i wonder if the hospital sussed out what was going on?

Since your post on the McCanns I've been checking out their site (note to turn off speakers first to avoid cheesy background music, Something is not right.

Josephine said...

You OK hon...gone very quiet?


Chandira said...

Yeah, Doris, where are you? Thinking of you! xx

Britmum said...

Just checking in to say hi.


Anji said...

I miss you too, hope everything is okay.

Doris said...

You kind people!


I'm here, about to write a post.