To Be Honest

AMANDA PALIN wonders why we feel the need to proclaim our honesty.

The frequency with which I use the phrase ‘to be honest’ has got out of hand. To be honest I just ate dinner, and to be honest I really like pumpkin curry, but to honest with you I didn’t actually want to watch that TV program about the Papua New Guinean jungle because I had a slight headache.

I’m raising this issue precisely because all of the above is true. Now, once upon a time, abusers of our little phrase were the sketchiest of customers. A man in front of me on the train, for example, notched up a massive 23 TBHs in a phone call lasting approximately 6 minutes. The man was wearing pinstripes, and was sweating quite a lot. The episode happened a few weeks before the Credit Crunch went mega.

Proclamations of verity precede lies in the same way that Kanye preceded his VMA moment-snatch with ‘Imma let you finish’. Similarly, my friend Finn often nods his head, clasps his hands together and exclaims ‘How lovely!’ when a situation has all the joy and charm of a Guantánamo Bay interrogation room.

The Very Short Introduction to Freud tells us undergraduates that humans are, unbeknownst to themselves, tricksy little toads. I’d want to suggest that it isn’t all unconscious for Finn and the suitman, but whatever, this doesn’t get away from the fact that I definitely did have curried root vegetables a few hours ago.

In this case I am neither repressed nor full of irony; my desperation to admit to truthfulness must be borne out of something else. It’s not even like I’m on-trend with this, poor English went out ages ago. These days people use a shared hatred of split infinitives to help form important social alliances; Urban Dictionary’s first entry for ‘to be honest’ calls it, “an incredibly over-used refuge for the inarticulate to make a point of statement”. Ouch. I’m beginning to wish I had a voice generator like Stephen Hawking does, partly because then they might ask me to do ads on telly for BBC Radio 4, but mostly because in my head the machine differentiates between upper and lower case letters. I could then project myself onto the world in eternal caps lock, and not have to resort to any of this actually, honestly, in all fairness business.

At the end of the day, the problem is probably related to a deep sense of alienation. I mean, what else comes with global capitalism (besides eating disorders and large fries)? I JUST WANT SOMEONE TO LISTEN. The thing is, I don’t know if I do want to get through to you. It’s like, who are you to care about my pumpkin curry? Who am I to care if Lady Gaga wants to take a ride on your disco stick? Where, indeed, can I buy a disco stick?