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ESL Story: A born fiddler

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A born fiddler

If you want to be rude about a violin, you call it a fiddle. If you want to be rude about a violinist, you call him a fiddler. Of course a fiddler apart from being able to scrape at a violin is also the name we give to someone who wouldn't hesitate to diddle (trick) you out of something. But before you start saying – fiddlesticks or perhaps fiddle-de-dee, which are both polite ways of saying 'nonsense', let me explain exactly what I am on about.

Fiddling or diddling is the art of deception and trickery and an expert in these techniques is called a fiddler. If this art becomes second nature to him, we call him a born fiddler- rather like a relative of mine, who's the sort of black sheep in the family; you know the one we don't often talk about. So for the sake of family honour, let me simply call him Charlie. Now Charlie, I should stress is a very likeable fellow. It's just that he really can't stop himself from pulling a fast one (doing a little bit of deception)... Take the time when he treated everyone to a day out at the circus. There was a party of six going with him and as they approached the entrance, he jokingly offered to tear up the tickets for the doorman and everyone trouped in. In the confusion of all this he ended up only using four tickets. I suppose he gets away with it because of his charm. He could as we say charm the birds off the tree and to extend the metaphor, probably persuade them to give him a song as well. Mind you, he's not really down right dishonest.

He never indulges in shady business, the black market or any type of sharp practice. These are the activities of someone we call a swindler or a confidence trickster who makes a living out of deceiving others with criminal intentions. No, I must say that Charlie is what you'd call naughty rather than wicked and most of his escapades are aimed at amusing rather than hurting. I mean, you had to laugh at the way he treated Gladys. He could really pull the wool over her eyes – she believed every single word he said –how he had this marvellous job in a bank with a wonderful salary. Needless to say he was out of work at the time he was telling her this story but Gladys was particularly fond of Charlie and quite taken in by it all. And Charlie, well the main reason why he was so keen on hoodwinking Gladys – in persuading her into trusting him implicitly – was that she had a car and so whenever they went out together, he didn't have to pay any fares and on the odd occasion she even agreed to pay for the cinema seats or their meal out.

Neighbours in the road where Gladys lived, just couldn't understand why she almost seemed to enjoy being made a fool of or as we say, taken for a ride. Love's a strange thing of course and it quite shook Charlie when he realised that he was in love with her. This all happened some years ago now. They got married and Charlie never has to worry about making up excuses for being home late – Gladys still doesn't query anything. Most husbands would envy the ease with which Charlie is able to lead his wife up the garden path – persuade her to believe everything he tells her. Poor Gladys! Why even their son takes after his father. Now there's a slippery character for you – you'd be lucky if could catch him out. Charlie questioned him the other day as to why he was the only one in his class who'd not had to stay in after school. 'Oh, he said, I'd told the class teacher earlier that morning the name of the horse that was going to win the race at the 2 o'clock meeting and it did.' You see what I mean. And he's only just had his sixth birthday.

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Next:ESL Story: How good is your Polish?

Author: Alan Townend

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