...is said to be honesty, isn't it. But of course there are occasions when lies are necessary (I don't think there's such a thing as a "white lie". We say we are telling a white lie in order to get ourselves off some moral hook). Thus, it's okay for me to say "I love purple, and a purple hat is just the ticket!" when I hate purple and never wear hats, but someone has gone to the trouble and expense of buying me one.
This week, however, I came across a refreshing piece of honesty, which made me laugh and admire in equal measure.
Picture the scene. Six friends, sitting round chatting. Anna says she has a favour to ask.
"Yes?" We are all willing to do favours, because we are nice people and she is a friend.
She explains that she is a handbell ringer, but one of their number is ill, so they'll be one short for their practice tomorrow. Can anyone fill in? My views on handbell ringing are...well, never mind (but - commercial break - they can be found in Chapter 12 of my novel Dead Ernest). One after the other, we give our excuses/ reasons (I had a hospital appointment) for not going. Until we come to Jenny.
Jenny smiles and says that unfortunately she won't be able to come, because she doesn't want to. It's polite, succinct, not open to any kind of misinterpretation, and no offence is meant or taken.