This is not easy to get across if you haven’t experienced something similar, but the other day I stumbled across Andrew Marr interviewing a politician on TV. I think it was one of the Eds or possibly George, Nick or even Dave.
Well here’s the difficult descriptive bit. For a brief moment it felt really weird to see a professional liar being interviewed on TV.
Weird? Yes I know - how could it possibly feel weird?
Yet it did – momentarily. For about a second or two – no more. One of those things you have to catch and store away because the clamour of daily life soon dilutes them to nothing.
So the weirdness was a brief strangeness - like seeing a peacock majestically strutting down the middle of the road. We once saw exactly that outside our house and for a second or two we had to make that basic adjustment we all make to the unexpected - is that thing really a peacock? It was.
The Andrew Marr thing was much like our double-take on first seeing that peacock. An appropriate image too - peacock strutting.
A startling flicker of evil on the very edge of perception. An insight yet not an insight, because we know these evils but don’t really feel them as evil. Too familiar. Perception has its wicked way with us, drops the veil too soon. Moulds reality, kneads it back into shape, back into what we expect.
We adapt so well and with such phenomenal speed don’t we? No surprises. So we even tolerate professional liars – see them as part of the furniture. Unremarkable. Normal. Not evil - not at all.
Nothing to see here – move along now.
But usually we don’t even get that far – we don’t so much tolerate professional liars as accept them into the backdrop of our lives. Folk still watch TV in their millions, so they must listen to what is said, to the lies, without feeling the weirdness. Without switching off in disgust.
We are too good at this, adjusting to what ought not to be. Missing what could be. Instead we grind out the social and political analysis, treat professional lies as some kind of argument requiring rebuttal. Even though we know what the liars are, what their lies are, why they lie.
It’s weird. But only rarely.