” Tell Me A Blatant Lie! “

” You want a Blatant Lie? You can’t handle a Blatant Lie ! ”

I may have nodded off there during the Tom Cruise movie but you get the main idea. Truth-telling is rife in the courts and something needs to be done about it. Magistrates need to be given the power to have people who tell the truth locked up until they can come up with a better one.

I, myself, find it is wise to be economical with the truth. By all means have a store of it to hand but deal it out in very small quantities and be careful to whom it is told. It can have a very long half-life and be dangerous for decades.

At the same time do not be cynical when others tell you their truths, or half truths, or fibs, or lies, or campaign promises. You can laugh sardonically at protestations of love – as long as they do not require blood tests you are safe. But treat everything else with gentle amusement and a kindly smile. And make sure that you take the time to write down the pertinent details for later checking. You never can tell when someone will let a really valuable piece of information out inadvertently and you’ll kick yourself if you can’t cash in on it in a few years time. A cross-indexed file is the most valuable part of the furniture in your lair.

Some truths are self-evident – these are mostly the ones that concern gravity and red-hot objects. These bits of information are hard to deny or ignore, forcing themselves upon you as suddenly as they do.

Oddly enough, some lies are equally clear. Catching your significant other in flagrante delicto  with someone who isn’t you means you won’t have to pretend to believe the story – not while the flurry of shrieking and zipping is taking place in any case. No need to suspend judgement.

The funny little ones in the middle that might be true or might not are the awkward part of the business. If you can suspect someone, do so – most times you’ll be right. If they are proved innocent it will be a lovely surprise and you can all sit round the rack laughing at your suspicions. Otherwise you’re in a convenient position to give the wheel another turn.

Re Tales – Part Six – ” My Brother-In-Law “

If you have ever wondered where in the land the power of final arbitration resides – Supreme Court – High Court – Sanhedrin – Wherever – we can now enlighten you. It has nothing to do with legal bodies, scientific organisations, or social groups. The person upon whose left hand God sits is The Brother-In-Law.

Retailers have known this for years – as their customers attempt to justify anything they do by reference to The Brother-In-Law. ( Note: some fundamental religions prohibit the mention of the name. In deference to them we will use the code word TBIL. )

Whenever an item is to be demanded or a price to be gouged, TBIL is mentioned. He has done it all, seen it all, or possessed it all before…and done so at a far better price than the shop is asking. He was in last week, next week, and may be lurking behind the loo door now – the final authority upon any commercial transaction.

You don’t have what the customer wants? Why, TBIL got it just last week. It costs $ 10.00? Why TBIL got it for $ 5.00 and a free coffee. And so on.

If the customer is single or has no living family ( they all committed seppuku to avoid being invited to a family party ) there is still hope. TBIL’s International are prepared to lease a BIL for commercial purposes at a nominal fee. Or a TBIL can be accessed on-line and the resultant haggling tirade passed to the retail employee on a mobile phone.

The retailer need not feel distressed about this – after all many of them have TBIL’s of their own that can be deployed to neutralise the effect of the attack. It’s not nice to watch but you have to fight fire with fire.

Re Tales – Part Four – ” You Had It Last Week “

We did? Let’s look up the computer record. Yes, we did have it. It had been in our shop for three years and someone bought it just at the end of the week.

” Well I want it. I looked at for years and I want it now. ”

Ah. That may be a problem. The maker of that product discontinued it two years ago. The one you saw on our shelves was the last anyone could get – and it remained unsold for three years as they had introduced the next model.

We do have the next model here on the shelf now. Would you like to inspect it?

” No. I saw the old one last week. I want the old one. ”

But if you saw it last week, my dear fellow, why didn’t you buy it then? It was the last one that anyone could get of that model…

” I didn’t want it last week. I want it now. When are you going to get another? I need it for tomorrow. ”

But they do not make that model any more. They make this one. It is here, now. We cannot get any more of the old one.

” I want to speak to the Manager. I want to speak to the Owner. I want to speak to the God Of Retailing.  This is illegal…I’ve got my rights!…Magna Carta… ”

My Dear Fellow, I am the manager…and the owner…I make no other claims…What more can I – we – possibly do if the old one doesn’t exist any more?

” Sell me the new one at the old price. And I get a discount, too. Because I’m a valuable customer. And now I know the owner…”


Re Tales – Part Three – ” I Saw It On A Website. “

In the good old days ( Elvis, dinosaurs) the potential customer would have come in and said ” I saw it in the newspaper. ” or ” I saw it in a magazine. “. Occasionally the special ones fronted the counter and said ” I saw it written in letters of fire in the sky. “. It paid to not doubt them.

Now it is  ” I saw it on the internet. ” What they saw may have been an announcement of a new product or the discontinuation of an old one. Or a recall of exploding bed socks. Whatever, they’ve come into the shop with knowledge of something. The knowledge is valuable to them and it might be so for the shop assistant as well.

If the thing they saw was on the website of the shop where they are, the shop assistant can pray silently that the website had the correct price, image, and stock level for the goods. And that the thing that was shown is still somewhere on the premises.  Even if it is holding the loo door open, at least it exists. Unfortunately there is a gap between what the best IT department can show and what can be plonked on the counter.

If the thing they saw was on another shop’s site all hell could break loose – particularly if the ” shop ” is some vague web address in Kowloon. The customer has taken the internet information as the word of God and any attempt on the part of the shop assistant to explain that it is unrealistic here in Australia will fall on deaf ears.

Unfortunately deaf ears are sometimes attached to loud mouths and angry tempers. These are fine, as long as they can be confined within the head of the customer. Like road rage, let someone else experience it.

No shop assistant is required by any law – of God, the land, economics, or thermodynamics – to match any price that is waved at them from a mobile phone screen. That may or may not be a real offer from a real seller, but it is not a seller who is paying rent on the premises, wages to the staff, or buying paper for the shop loo. The shop price should be fair and calculated to give adequate return to the proprietor for the effort of business – it is most often just that, and any attempt to oyster-knife discounts based on a badly-spelled website can best be referred back to Kowloon.

Or Wuhan.

Re Tales – Part Two – ” I’ve Changed my Mind “

” And now I’m going to change yours…”

The bane of retail trade is the changer. Whether it is a mind-changer, a shape-changer, or a money-changer, they are trouble as soon as they come over the door sill.

a. Customer buys goods. They are good goods and will do him good. The price he has paid will do the shop good. The money enters the till or bank account by whatever means and starts to make a numerical mark in the accountancy system. All is well, and no further operations need be contemplated.

Until customer comes back next day and tells the shop assistant that they have changed their mind and want to return the goods. From here the trails wind deeper into the bushes:

  • Have the goods been removed from the packaging? Some packages are a one-way affair and will never reassemble.
  • Have the goods been marked? Some changers will insist that they were marked when they got them. Custom factory scratches, missing parts, and loose screws are a special order and you have to indent for them for just months. Most retailers just stock the plain old undamaged goods…Funny how Mr. Changer got the special edition.
  • Can the goods be resold as new? Well, no. They have been in Changer’s hands while he did several things – maul them and then search on the internet for somewhere in China that will sell them cheaper. As much as you might value his money, he could have done that before he walked in the first time…
  • He? Did I write he? Please forgive me. Changing is a gender-neutral game. She will be as keen to screw over the retailer as he will and probably more indignant and entitled as she tries it. They don’t call ’em Karens for nothing…
  • Can the financial trail that the original sale opened be accessed again to clear it? Some accountancy systems require vast amounts of data entry to reverse anything – it can be uneconomic to even try. Which leads us to say to the changer…

No. No, you can’t change the goods for other goods. You can’t get your money back. Not if the goods were in good shape when they left the shop, are working correctly,  and are suitable for the purpose for which they were purchased. Those are the only grounds upon which a legal entitlement to repair, change, or refund exist.

They do exist under a state law, as well as a warranty for a certain period of time. But do not try to quote Magna Carta or lines from The Godfather to try to stretch the law to suit yourself.

You bought something in good faith with the ideas that were riding inside your head yesterday, now go use that mind today to make use of what you bought.

As far as threatening to never shop here again…considering your performance regarding returns…make our day…

Re Tales – Part One – Subiaco Man

Before I start and before the Subiaco City Council organises a lynching party, let me say that he may have been City Beach Man or Peppermint Grove Man. I am not sure of the exact markings that differentiate the species – I just know they can look and behave alike.

The occasion I saw him was at a product launch in the shop where I was once employed. I was there gathering information for the shop’s daily column. The product was a very nice camera from a major maker – and in these Covid days new products to be launched are rare.

The shop did a good show – with professional photographers to give their analyses of the camera after testing and a rare example of it to pass around. The shop put on wine, beer, cider, and plates of hors d’oeuvres to cheer the visitors – and got a capacity crowd. All good.

But Subiaco Man had to have more. He baled up a junior staff member and loudly demanded to know why the price advertised by the shop was higher than a price he had seen on-line. And then over-spoke the sales assistant every time an answer was offered. He sat in the front row and interrupted the professional photographers with fatuous and finicky questions – for much the same purpose.

He probably had a good evening while he was there. Everyone else had a good one after he left. It was a prime example of using a domineering attitude to self-aggrandize at the expense of those who are prohibited by their employment from fighting back.

I do hope he comes to the next product launch and tries again. I’m not employed, as such, and my time and my voice are my own. I fancy a good evening too…

The Audience

Everyone who presents something to an audience hopes for a good one – but the nature of what they are doing sometimes needs markedly different receptors. Here is a guide to what to aim for.

a. If you are putting out a political message, try to get your supporters in the audience and gee them up to squeal and hoot whenever the television cameras are turned on. It is a technique that is as old as history, and just as vile.

If you can locate anti-aircraft searchlights, line them up on the stage either side of you. Arrange the audience in a large rectangle in front of you. Leave adequate aisles that will allow marching groups to move forward at suitable intervals with banners held high.

Get a good cinematographer to film it for you. It’ll be a triumph…It will…

b. If you are putting forward an altogether more spiritual message, try to have suitable acolytes arranged in pods in front of you, waving like sea grass in a warm current. If they refuse to wave, club them until they do.

Incense, sitar music, and free drugs are also a good ploy. Be mysterious and Eastern. If you are brown, you’re down…

c. If you need laughs – like a drug addict needs a hit – aim for Catskill stand-up in front of an audience that knows the jokes already. Give them a buffet with shrimp and you have them in the palm of your hand. Remember that schmaltz will make everything move slicker.

d. If you can arrange for an audience that is comprised of equal portions of offendable millennials, semi-Red academics, and lapsed Methodists, you can gain notoriety and publicity by reading a phone book. Or a tram ticket. Anything you say will be wrong, and as you are starting from such a reliable base, you can actually say anything you like.

This is the dream audience – you can cast the truth upon them and watch them writhe. You can lie shamelessly to them and get the same reaction. You can stand there silent and whip them with their own tortured guilt.

Knock yourself out.

I Plan To Be A Wunderkind

But I’ll need to wait until I’m older.

I’ll also have to find a reliable source of wunder. My wunder tub has run empty in the last few years and I’ve had to resort to dogged persistence. The dog is getting sick of me…

I do remember thinking that I would be a big deal when I was a callow youth. I’d won a gold medal for being the best pupil of 1964 in a little Canadian high school and gotten a job with the local weekly newspaper as a result. Had my family stayed there in that little town, who knows to what heights I could have risen. As I still had a year of high school to go, I might have been brought down smartly with a bump the next year.

As it was, it took several years of dental school here in Western Australia to do that. I discovered that the academic prowess I was supposed to have was really like the prow of a barge – it pushed through the sea of learning very slowly. Fortunately the dental racket is 75% hand/eye ability and only 20% academic. The other 5% is business acumen and I never had that at all – which meant I sold my practice when I was 60 and took up trade. And never looked back.

Do I still have time to be a wunderkind? Well, at 72, I’d need to be looking forward to living past 100 to qualify for unexpected youthful success. I think I had better settle for a different thing: wunderalter. If I aim to be a surprisingly bright and successful codger, I may make my mark on society yet. If I cannot manage bright and cheerful I can at least be diabolical and dangerous.

I’ll get into a different section of the history book, but get in just the same.

A Stick With A Nail In It

How many times in your life have you realised that you are in dire need of a stick with a nail in it? Here are a noumber of instances:

a. You need to pick up rubbish from the front lawn but you have a bad back. Any bending sends flashes of pain up your spine.

Get a three foot stick with a nail in the end and go around poking at the trash. Most papers, tins, and rags will come up readily on the nail and can be bagged. Dried dog poo can be chipped into the neighbour’s swimming pool with the stick – of you don’t have a golf club handy – and if you encounter someone walking their dog and laying fresh mines on the lawn you can use the stick to discuss the situation.

b. You are in Officeworks or Bunnings or the bottle shop and some yahoo bogan insists on breaching social distancing rules and crowding your spot on the floor.



I need say no more.

c. Your brother in law brings the grandchildren with him on a visit and carefully supervises them by sitting drinking beer. You’ll need something to get them off the roof and/or out of the shed. Don’t buy an expensive child taser – just use the nail on the stick. You’ll appreciate it when it’s time to get the BIL to go home.

d. It is illegal to go closer than a metre from a cyclist in our state. This is a very sensible road rule that contributes to safety and courtesy on the roads.

Also note that as a driver you are required to keep both hands on the wheel. You’re not allowed to lean out of the window with the nail on a stick.

Be sure that you obey the law. The cyclist has a stick with a nail on it.

e. Burglars like to jump fences into your yard – particularly if your home adjoins a common sidewalk or open space. If you have a nail on a stick they will enjoy jumping back over the fence as well.



Special BGA Spring Sale! Don’t Miss Out!

The Guild is feeling like Spring! And we’re feeling like it early!

Okay, we normally spring on the unwary, but this is different. The Backstabbers Guild of Australia has been doing some Spring Cleaning ( even though it is winter in Australia) and we realised that we have an excess – a surplus, if you will – actually gobs of, heaps of, information about people. We propose to make this available to anyone who wants to target a group of suckers.

The information has come to us through our affiliation with Facebook. We have been sending out a series of physhing posts disguised as quizzes and harmless games and the response has been gratifying. People will tell you the most intimate details of their lives as long as they think you will reward them with praise. Or even interest.

We’ve got three divisions of goods for sale; political biases, sexual proclivities, and financial gullibility. You can purchase profiles of Australian citizens who would normally shrink with shame or at least bristle up defensively. And you can be sure that the sensitive data is 101% authentic – the poor boobs have advertised it themselves. No more paying for market surveys or private snoopers. These marks have marked themselves.

And they’ve done so under the sternest warnings from the police, the federal government, and the Guild itself. They just cannot help themselves – like bogans when a doughnut shop opens. Or lemmings when a cliff looms. Over they go.

The price for information on the public can be very economical. A few cents apiece if you buy in bulk. You may not be able to get into their bank accounts with the results of a ” Which flower are you? ” meme but you’ll know that they are susceptible to fatuous enquiry and with a little careful stalking you’ll eventually be able to ask ” Which account has the most money in it? ” and it won’t seem intrusive.

Trust us with this…