This week in the UK has seen the publication of Julie Myerson's "The Lost Child - a True Story." It tells her version of the family break-up when she threw out her skunk-taking . (Iteenage son. The book has caused something of a furore with the son giving his version to the Daily Mail and with Julie appearing on TV and saying that she felt she had told the story as she saw it and that she was not sorry she had done it. As Kate Muir puts it in Saturday's Times, never let the truth get in the way of a good story!
James Frey also came under fire for "A Million Little Pieces" - his drugs memoir which was criticised for having too little truth in it.
This leads to the question, how important is truth in blogland? Some of the blogs which I have most enjoyed writing have been those concerning my daily walks through our lovely countryside with my Border Terrier, Tess. Do I see the walks through rose-tinted spectacles when I tell it to you? Is what I tell you a true version? Does it matter whether it is or not?
Some years ago some friends lent us a jig-saw they had been given as a present (if you are reading this, Maggie, we loved doing it). It was a jig-saw of their house and front garden. They are good and keen gardeners and their garden is always a picture. In the puzzle it was super-immaculate, not a weed, not a daisy on the lawn. (If I photograph a bit of my garden and put it on my blog, I don't show you the grotty corner where I cannot get rid of the courch-grass). But the really interesting thing about this puzzle was that the negative had been printed the wrong way round so that the whole thing was back to front, so to speak. So I suppose that strictly speaking it was not a true picture of their garden. Or was it?
Truth is an elusive thing. I walk down the lane with Tess, see the yellow hammer, the fieldfare, the little owl, the first celandine and I tell you about them. And if yesterday on my walk I saw two of my favourite Brown Hares boxing in the field, I might put that in too, although it happened on a different day. I want to tell you all the wonderful things I see on my walks. But I don't tell you about the three plastic bottles thrown from a passing car, bottles I have to pick up and bring home to put in the bin. And I don't tell you about the cowsh...... that litters the lane either side of our neighbour's farm, because they are in a hurry to spread their effluent while the weather is dry. And the stagnant pond in the corner of forty acre, where the drain is obviously blocked and the water smells awful - I leave that out as well. Should I, in the interests of "truth" tell you all this or should I not so much embroider the story as leave out the ugly bits?
This week with my 25 books I have travelled through places with Theroux, Young and Thesiger, albeit vicariously. Theroux certainly writes what he sees - the filth on the trains, the limbless beggars in India, the awful lavatories - and it is easy enough to read from the comfort of one's fireside chair. But it won't be the whole truth, will it? No, because truth, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder.
Thinking about it, I could in fact have invented my self on my blog - for all my readers know I could be a thirty five year old male, I could steal my (admittedly not very good.) poetry from someone else and pass it off as my own. I could have invented my whole persona (alright I admit it, the photograph on my profile is ten years old - and that is because the recent one I would like to put on I can't find (honest)). And where would truth be then? In the interests of a "good story" I suggest it would be up the creek without a paddle. Would I ever be "found out" and would it matter?
A Scientist on Radio 4 the other week suggested that the whole of life could be a hologram! Now that really freaks me out, so I shall not say anymore, except just to say that my blog is my version of my life as I see it. If you would rather have a "warts and all" version I shall have to try harder to search out the grot. So I leave you with a question - what exactly constitutes truth on a blog - and does it really matter all that much? Spend a while thinking about it!