RICHARD ORD: The (free) pen is mightier than the Ord

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Honesty is the best policy ... unless you’re in the market for cheap writing utensils.

Not the catchiest of maxims by which to live your life but it’s the best I could come up with this week.

I decided recently to try to listen to my children more to find out if their words could offer some life lessons for an ageing misery guts like myself.

My favourite expression of all time is, after all, inspired by children.

It goes: “A child’s face can say it all. Particularly the mouth part of the face.”

Not a particularly illuminating truism, but it can when proffered in business meetings buy you some valuable time as you try to locate the exit door.

‘Honesty’ came up in conversation following a national newspaper story about a woman who thought she may have won the £33million Lotto jackpot, but her winning ticket had been damaged in the wash.

The winning numbers were clear as day on the ticket, but the important date and barcode details had been obliterated by the spin cycle.

When details of the claimant’s less-than-spotless past and topless selfies began to emerge, so the doubts about the veracity of the claim deepened. They reached their deepest point when the real winning tickets was presented to Camelot.

Had the woman been lying? My wife suspected she was being economical with the truth. My wife told our children that it was similar to a story she had heard.

She said a woman had found a diamond engagement ring in the street and posted a photograph of it on Facebook asking if anyone had lost the expensive-looking piece of jewellery. Ninety people claimed it was their ring!

The woman, apparently, pulled the post describing the dishonesty of people as disgusting.

Our youngest, Isaac, aged 11, wasn’t so disgusted.

“It’s a bit like when a teacher in lessons asks: ‘has anyone lost a pen?’” he said.

“Even if I haven’t lost a pen, I always put my hand up.”

“Why” my wife asked, “would you put your hand up when you haven’t lost a pen?”

His response was beautiful. He said: “Well, you know … free pen.”

Well, it made me smile. Which is a bonus given this week it was revealed that those aged between 45 and 59 have the lowest levels of life satisfaction. Kick a man while his down why don’t ya?

The survey of 300,000 adults was carried out by the Office of National Statistics, and revealed that in this particular age group it was men who were, on average, less satisfied than women. (Surely a world first). The researchers suggested the reason for the low score may well be due to the double problem of caring for children and elderly parents at the same time.

An odd conclusion, I thought, because bringing up children can be so rewarding, what with the occasional smile, grudging respect and, erm, you know ... free pen.