Tee Shirts Trainer Laces And Lazy Little Lies

I’m in a sportswear shop. This is the third one I’ve tried, but somehow they all seem the same. What on earth is that smell? Is it the carpet, the clothing, or the customers? And is this the worst rap track I’ve ever heard? Yes, it is! I want to run away with my hands over my ears.

However, I must persevere. My white trainers are still in good condition, but I need some new laces. I can’t get the original ones to wash white, even after bleaching. No doubt there are some people who would simply bin their shoes and buy a brand new pair - but that’s a mad idea.

At last, the sales assistant acknowledges my existence. “Do you have any white trainer laces?” He points to a rack well away from the display of sports shoes, and resumes his conversation with his female counterpart. There are six pairs of laces: they are all the same length, 100 cm: far too short for Nikes, and anyway, they’re round. 

Out in the fresh air again, and on to my last port of call. It’s a shop that repairs shoes, cuts keys, and sells all sorts of footwear accessories. I enter, and scan the shelves. There are lots of of laces here - but no sign of the ones I want. The man behind the counter has nothing else to do, so he speaks to me. What are you after?” Flat white trainer laces, 124cm.” “They don’t make them in that size.”

He says it with all the authority of an experienced shoe repairer, key cutter and retail salesperson.

But I’ve got some. I’ve measured them. I’ve bought them before. You can buy them online, if you’re willing to pay the postage. I tell him so, and he shrugs and looks away.

Later that week, and I’m in Manchester, in the Arndale. My tee shirts have been washed so often that they’re showing signs of terminal wear and tear. Time to buy some more. I enter a prestigious clothing store. It’s mostly expensive stuff - but their stretch tee shirts fit well, wear well, and are modestly priced. 

The trouble is that there are many neat piles of all sorts of black tee shirts. I don’t want to search through all of them: but the skinny, bearded salesman behind the counter is busy, chatting away to a couple who finished their shopping ten minutes ago, but who don’t seem to mind spending the rest of the afternoon with him. 

Ah! Here is a young lady with a clipboard in hand, checking the stock and tidying the shelves. I accost her. “It’s not really my department, I’m just… helping.” I ask her to help me, telling her the size and style I’m after. She pokes about in a pile of tee shirts for thirty seconds, and offers me a vee neck, non-stretch shirt in the wrong size. I repeat my requirements. “Small? Oh, no - we don’t make them in that size.”

But I’ve already got two of them. I bought them here, in this very store, two weeks ago. I tell her so. I notice that her face is made up to resemble that of a porcelain doll, and that her expression never changes. She tells me to ask at the sales counter, and walks away. 

These are insignificant incidents, in and of themselves: lazy, low-level, unremarkable little lies, not worth worrying about for even a moment - unless you happen to think that they’re symptomatic of our society’s attitude to truth as a whole, from top to bottom. Indeed, why bother about the truth, if it gets in the way of our comfort, our credit, our pleasure or our profit? What was it W. C. Fields said? “A thing worth having is a thing worth cheating for.” Why not lie, if it gets you what you want?

Now let me urge you to turn to the Media section of this site and click on Sermon Audio Archives. From there you can download our Pastor’s sermon from this very morning: “The Apostles’ Creed 11”, 14.4.19. As you listen to it, please pay particular attention at the point where he asks the congregation if they’re tired of being lied to (or words to that effect). If you turn up the volume, you should be able to hear a murmur of assent. 

Listen to the rest of what he has to say concerning the importance of the truth.

Meanwhile, I’m going to ask myself the following questions. When you’ve finished listening to Mr Marsden, you might wish to do the same.

When was the last time I told a lie? 

Why did I do it? 

What am I going to do about it now?

There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

(Proverbs 6.16-19)