We all tell lies from time to time – black ones, white ones, necessary ones, unnecessary ones, opaque ones, transparent ones.

I once, long ago, told a completely unnecessary lie that I would certainly have forgotten by now except that something happened afterwards that I was convinced was the result of my lie.  I was about ten years old and I returned home from school one day, it was only a short walk, and told my mother that Mr Beck had been in the playground to meet me and had walked home with me.  Mr Beck was a kindly old man who had been our next door neighbour when we lived in a previous house.  There was absolutely no reason why he would meet me as I came out of school; he had never done so before and probably didn’t even know which school I attended.

I remember my mother was slightly puzzled by my story – she wanted to know why he hadn’t come in and said hello.  I think I said that he was in a hurry (that’s the trouble with lies, one just leads to another).  Anyway, a few days later we learned that Mr Beck had died on the very afternoon I had claimed he met me out of school.

Perhaps you can understand why these two events became inextricably connected in the mind of a ten year old?  I was convinced that my lie had actually caused Mr Beck’s sudden death and, whilst I no longer believe there was a link, this is why my pointless lie sticks in my mind to this day.

I have often wondered why I invented this absurd story and found no satisfactory answer – until yesterday when I read about a study, published in the journal Psychological Science,  linking dishonesty and lying to creativity.  At last, I am exonerated!  My absurd lie was merely the ten-year old me developing my creativity.

The expression ‘being creative with the truth’ is usually a polite way to call someone a liar, but now it seems we can safely claim that telling whoppers is being creative.  But does, ‘I was only being creative, milord’ sound like a convincing plea?  I doubt that my mother would have bought it.



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