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Is it a case of Chinese Whispers?

As a child I used to love ‘Chinese Whispers.’ We quite often played it at Brownies or at parties, sitting in a circle, heads together, whispering the sacred words passed on from the person before you, then rolling about laughing when it got to the end. How ‘Mrs Brown always bought fish for tea on friday’ ended up as ‘Farmer Brown kept sweets for me in his hideaway’ is any one’s guess! You were never allowed to repeat it and I’m convinced my friends deliberately said it either too fast or too close to my ear so that it just sounded like hissing and shhhshsing. Never for a moment did I think that somebody would deliberately change what they had heard for their own motivations. You may wonder where all this is leading? I read an article yesterday about a young man from Pakistan, Ahmer Rana, who had been at the centre of a media campaign to keep him in Britain, he claimed his family were all dead and that he was only 18 years old, therefore a minor, and was fostered, none of which was true. After reading the article I did feel quite sorry for him, he has apologised for his lies and deceit both to his friends, supporters and foster parents. He commented 

“I started with a little lie and then built it up and made a big lie to cover my other lies but I’m really sorry about it.”

My point is how many times have we all told little white lies to get what we wanted, to influence others, to make people feel sorry for us? Or even maybe exaggerated/embellished the story a bit? Most of the time we get away with it because it doesn’t really matter and it just adds a bit of flavour and excitement to our story. Through my work I have heard so many stories, stories from children of the Partition, stories from refugees fleeing from Afghanistan, yet I believe them all to be totally true, because they are such awful stories. Who would make that up? We tend to embellish stories that are not very exciting because we all enjoy the open mouthed reaction, the wide eyed wonder that tragic heart rending stories invoke, true or not.


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