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Bite Size: When the truth comes out the Iowa mayor really is honest.

# I have been inundated with a letter following last week's assertion that I saw a councillor take out his false teeth and wipe them clean with his serviette.

Mr Dick Slatts has written, ``How dare you allow your fevered imagination to run away with you to the detriment of this individual - someone who was prepared to stand before his electorate with nothing more in mind than serving his community.

``This hardworking individual deserves more from the popular prints. The truth is all we ask.''

Mr Slatts is right, of course. I did let my fevered imagination run riot. I made up the bit about the serviette.

He actually used a fork to clean his false teeth. At least it was his own fork.

(For new readers I should explain that this all happened many years ago at a luncheon to mark the opening of a new factory. It couldn't happen

o w. ) But Mr Slatts has other points to make.

``The truth will out,'' he says, warming to his subject. ``The truth MUST out. I refer you to the recent reports from America and specifically those from Mount Sterling, Iowa.

``The Mayor, Jo Hamlett, wants to stop people lying, so he's suggesting a law that will lead to fines for anyone caught bending the facts.''

Mr Slatts goes on, ``These are sound policies for a better way of life. Let's take Mayor Hamlett at his word and make it law for everyone to tell the truth.

``What do you think, Mr Groves? You lickspittle. You overgrown schoolboy. You tub of rancid lard.''

OK, Mr Slatts, we get the picture.

But ``rancid'' is going a little far, don't you think?

Over in Mount Sterling, Iowa, Mayor Hamlett seems quite serious about all this.

He lives in an area where hunting and shooting are the main pastimes and he feels that stories are sometimes ... well, embellished.

Like the man who claimed he'd killed a dozen deer with a bow and arrow. And the boy who said that after a bullet whizzed past his head in a field he traced its path through the fog back to the gun of the man who shot at him.

Mayor Hamlett, who gets pounds 3 a month as mayor of a town of 53 souls, deserves credit for bringing this out into the open, even though he has no police backup to enforce such an ordinance.

That shouldn't stop us, however. A candidate calling for a new law insisting we always tell the truth would have my backing.

But as with any policy proposal I trust an elected representative with such a manifesto would have considered the implications fully. It would mean, for example, that he or she would have to tell the truth at all times, too.

And who would judge the truth? Can we ever really know the truth?

And how much money would the lawyers make? Can they lend me 30 bob 'til Friday?

Hang on. I've just seen the small print.

Mayor Hamlett, who really does exist and really did propose the lying legislation, admits, ``I brought this up tongue in cheek. It's been a long winter and I was getting bored.''

Well, thanks for being honest, Mr Mayor.

And thanks for the letter, Mr Slatts. Or can I call you Dick?
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 5, 2003
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