Sometimes, it's just a cigar

This is our truth, tell us yours

Fact and fiction

One of the most misused quotes of the twentieth century is Bevan’s ‘This is my truth, tell me yours.’

It implies a post modern approach to reality, that we are in a time of uncertainty and change where even the scientific method is routinely challenged by those who would have us believe in something less replicable or certain.

Truth and fact are not syonyms. If I hold certain unalienable truths as cornerstones of my world view they are responses to the facts I see around me, but they are products of those facts and my experience of them.

The point of this is to help explain my own view of myself as an unreliable narrator, and the way I understand historic sex abuse cases. Max Clifford’s lawyer, in his defence, mounted a powerful assault on the facts presented by some of the prosecution witnesses. The jury, in turn, appears to have decided that even if some of the facts were wrong, the truth was being told by the witnesses, and Clifford was convicted. In the process, the jury displayed a mature understanding of the difference between facts and truths, and trusted the narratives presented by Clifford’s victims.

I sometimes write about childhood abuse from the first person perspective. I am conscious that I am an unreliable narrator; how many of you can remember which day you started school, as opposed to how school felt at the age of five? I don’t know what day or date it was, but the first time I used the Victorian outside toilets with their urinal open to the air and two water closets behind shed doors with damp bubbling the thick emulsion paint on the walls I felt a sense of horror and a longing for my home and its warmth and security.

I know I am an unreliable narrator, but I only know that about me. I choose not to dwell on detail, on  a quest for facts, because the truths and the narrative I have of my childhood is sufficient to help me live my life now. Understanding the difference between truth and facts, and ignoring the artificial distinction between fact and fiction (because fiction is full of facts) is an essential part of believing victims and enabling them to possess their own truths.



3 comments on “Fact and fiction

  1. jemima2013
    May 8, 2014

    i am not sure what i can say about this wonderful post except thank you for writing it.


  2. 2020
    May 8, 2014

    God this is so true Cater it seems as though today our public discourse is dominated by those that want to use cold logical fact as a way of shutting out peoples right to express themselves a media owned by TERFS, SWERFS, rape apologists, racism deniers (or out and out racists) people who say “If you just look at this thing I don’t think is that big of a deal using “objective fact” you will see that I am completely right and you and your petty emotions as irrational, stupid and wrong”

    It makes me sick that peoples pain is shut down and ignored in in such a cruel way thank you for once again for championing humanity.


  3. hate the details, too…prefer the vast richness of the storytelling, the poignant view of the unasked, the sentimental feel of goodness…and this is also why I cook, but do.not.bake. xo


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This entry was posted on May 8, 2014 by in Uncategorized.

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