David Worboys – Dun a runner

Telling lies can harm a person's reputation, cause financial ruin or result in the death of an innocent person

At one of our favourite restaurants, a party of six tourists recently racked up a bill for just under €350 which would normally mean a tip for the waiter of about €20. Not this time. Somehow, the entire party managed to slip out without paying the bill. They dun a runner.

We felt for the owner, especially as we always get excellent service from his charming and friendly staff and quality dishes at good value. But it reminded me of a more bizarre case I heard of some years ago. A colleague told me that in France a friend, Nathalie, faced with a bill for coffee and croissant amounting to €8 had given a €100 note, needing some change. She then saw the young waiter leave the restaurant swiftly with her money and he was not seen again. This time it was the waiter wot dun a runner. The Manager explained it was the waiter’s first (and last!) day – and refunded her just €50, as she had no proof of how much she had handed over. A fair compromise!

It seems that she was telling the truth; but how many people would have taken advantage of the situation by claiming to have given €100, when in fact they had given €50?

The most commonly broken of the later Commandments is probably “bearing false witness against our neighbour” – or telling porkies. In an ideal world there would be no murder, no adultery, no theft, no envy – and no lies. However, porkies can be “white lies”, told to avoid hurting somebody’s feelings or for an escape from trivial embarrassment. Maybe these are justified. We also lie to avoid being ridiculed (“I don’t remember saying that”) and to avoid punishment for a transgression (“I wasn’t there at the time”).

At the other extreme lies can result in catastrophic injustice or harm suffered by an innocent person, such as wrongful conviction or ruined reputation. Lying can enhance the ego through fabricated points-scoring and name-dropping. It can lead to ill-gotten gain, conning the vulnerable out of their savings. Cheating in sports, at school or in matrimony all involve economy with the truth. There are many motives for lying.

Lying is defined as a statement made with the intention to deceive. It need not necessarily be verbal. We lie to ourselves in thoughts about ourselves and others. We may see ourselves as more generous or, conversely, less gifted than we really are. We may see others as undeserving of their fortune. Others simply live in a Walter Mitty world, imagining experiences and achievements that never existed.

There are various types of compulsive liars. Politicians lie in order to maintain their power or to keep their parliamentary jobs. People believe them because they want to believe in a successful economy (Sunak) or the threat posed by democracy (Trump). The same applies to the implausible denial of murder (Putin) and co-operation in humanitarian aid (Netanyahu).

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Written by

David Worboys

Offering a unique insight into everything from politics to food to sport, David is one of the Euro Weekly News´ most popular columnists.