Compliments and lies are all easy for a fella like me. I sweat bullshit for God’s sake. In fairness I’m an honest man who wouldn’t hurt a soul but there is a filthy lying tramp just beneath the surface. Fortunately I’m a bit like Superman. I have all this power but I use it only for good… and sometimes just for the craic.
Craic is a very Irish thing. We love to have the craic. If you have a night out or a weekend away, it’s vital that you have the craic. “Ah the craic was great.” Sure why wouldn’t it be. There is no point in living life if you don’t have fun. Sometimes having the craic depends on a bit of looseness with the truth. I for one have been known to tell the odd porky (lie) but only for the craic.
I live in Kildare now, but I grew up in Dublin and Dubs are particularly gifted at extending the boundaries of reality in any conversation. As a rule, Irish people are prone to exaggeration, and will happily develop the most innocuous event into a dramatic story just for the pleasure of it. Dubs for me have particular talent but maybe I’m biased.
Now before you think we are all a bunch of no good liars, let me add a caveat. When I say lie, strictly speaking I am not referring to things like, “No darling I didn’t sleep with your twin sister,” or “the money was only resting in my account.” No I mean a rather extended version of poetic licence. I certainly do it at the drop of a hat. Walking my dogs one day a fellow dog walker admired my little mongrel Daisy and enquired what breed she was. I told him without skipping a heartbeat that she was a Bengal Tiger hound. With no reason to disbelieve, he expressed his amazement and said he had never heard of the breed… well he was asking for a little embellishment now wasn’t he?
I calmly explained that they were a rare breed, the pups costing anything from €3,000 to €4,000 each depending on the pedigree and colour. “Get away!” he said. I further explained that they were specially bred during the days of empire in India for Tiger hunting. I could see doubt cross his mind as he looked at my tiny fluffy beast, and that just encouraged me more.
What I told him next even I began to believe. The little breed is fearless and extremely intelligent and fast. They would be released when they were sure a tiger was near and the small dog would immediately head directly towards the Tiger in hiding. I watched his mouth open slightly and the tilt of his head as I continued.
The dog’s agility meant he could quite literally run at high speed almost to the nose of the tiger, forcing the tiger to react with a swipe of his paw or a snap towards the little dog. At this point its intelligence and agility kicked in and they would swerve at the last possible moment and then continually harass the poor tiger making it focus on the apparently crazed little creature seemingly bent on taking a bite out of the majestic creature’s flanks. This drew the tiger out of hiding and with its attention diverted made it an easy target for the hunter.
I walked away with a new friend knowing he would go home and try to tell the same story to someone else but without my ability to carry the story. I knew what they’d say to him.
“A Bengal Tiger hound? .. in India… small white fluffy dog… would ya ever kop on!”
All my life I have watched the skill. I know it’s a learned cultural thing and it is never done with malice. There is such pleasure in the knowledge that you can randomly tell someone the most absurd thing and that they will believe you. It is not to make a fool of someone, no, it is to explore and enjoy the language and interaction. Anyone who knows me knows not to believe a story I tell, but I always leave enough credibility and doubt in there for it to be conceivably both fact and fiction. If you dare watch a soap on TV in my presence, I am guaranteed to tell you I have heard that some lesser character is either going to die, become pregnant or marry. Being a soap, the odds of me being correct are high on all three counts, but bizarrely, the odder I make the notion the more likely it is to happen. I have been right more times than I care to remember.
I have been proposed to by a Brazilian lingerie model on top of the Eifel tower (one of my favourite stories) and I turned her down! I once woke up in a tent after a festival I can’t remember, having lost two days, naked between to naked Danish sisters in Australia. I was asked out by Kylie Minogue, – another one I knocked back, and I found a human hand in a biscuit box in the Phoenix Park in Dublin.
Ah dem were de days… I think in reality that is why I write. Telling stories comes with such easy to me that I had to find an outlet. I was lucky I believe,to grow up surrounded by such a rich oral and written tradition and if you’ve ever found yourself alone in a pub in Ireland, you will probably know what I mean. Someone is bound to talk to you for no other reason than to have a chat, whether what you hear is true or pure fantasy is irrelevant. The only thing for sure is that whatever the conversation, it comes from a place of purity, even if it is a bunch of dirty filthy lies… and if the story is a particularly tall one, it’s probably me you’re talking to…May the Lord have mercy on my soul…
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