11 NOVEMBER 1995, Page 38

Social porkies

Sir: It took me a while, but I finally per- ceived the leitmotiv in Mary Killen's col- umn. It is that the solution to a difficult social prospect is, almost without exception, a lie. Quite often this requires an elaborate stratagem in the manner of a practical joke (wihout the funny bit) requiring the con- nivance of accomplices. One recalls — at random — a 'butler's bedroom renamed `Earl X's sanctuary;' lying to a well-mean- ing but unwelcome South African researcher about a 'dark page in the history of the family', engaging the services of an actor (for a peppercorn fee) to pose as a mental patient; lying to an (indiscreet) friend about an irresistible attraction to the husband of another dear friend etc., etc.

No doubt civilised society requires one to be at times economical with the truth or dress the naked feelings with a measure of hypocrisy. But I wonder.

Telemaque Maratos

23 Henodou Attikou, Athens 106 74, Greece