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The editor’s new clothes

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Adel Heine’s weekly column

Adel HeineThe past week has been an object lesson in denial, fully confirming the old pun about Egypt’s famous river. When confronted with irrefutable evidence proving controversial events, the powers that be did not take responsibility or offer apologies. In a surreal twist of rationality they happily stated the exact opposite had taken place. What videos? Photoshop! Excessive violence? It was a rescue effort!

At first the rejection of logic baffled me but then I realised the vast advantage this affords; you literally get to do whatever you want without ever being held responsible. As long as you are ready to kindly, patiently, or, if need be, vehemently repeat over and over again that black is white, up is down, and right is left you will never have to deal with the consequences of your actions.

Needless to say I was inspired, so I gave myself a week to see how this approach to veracity would work for me. I am happy to say that, after a week of this new approach of spouting licentious lies whenever I want to get out of something, I am completely converted to taking the immoral low ground.

The night before I decided to start my experiment I reread Andersen’s timeless fairytale The Emperor’s New Clothes, because I thought the doctrine of denial displayed by the wily weavers would serve as an inspiration. They manage to convince the vainest head of state the world had ever seen, and his complete court, that he is parading down the street in the most wonderful clothes by simply saying they exist, while in actual fact he is in his undies. In the story a small child does not fall for the deceit and points out reality but that would never be a problem here; kids vanish without a trace inside state institutions all the time.

On my way to work I tried out my new attitude by telling the driver my destination and then pretending I had actually said something else when he took me there. This first step on the road of ridiculousness did not work out very well; Cairo cabbies do not stand for nonsense and this one threw me out of his car, yelling I was crazy as he drove off. Since I did arrive at the office and I was absolutely fed up with traffic I let it be and decided to no longer include my commute in the test.

Over the next few days at the office I drove the reporters to despair by denying any assignment I had given them the day before. My earnest assurances they must have misunderstood me eventually convinced them to delete their written articles and start anew. It seemed I was finally getting the hang of it, but I did not solidify any friendships.

Lunchtimes were great fun until one delivery man nearly punched me in the face after I sent him back yet again to change the order for the fifth time to what he had brought originally. It seemed this new approach to life is not hazard-free.

The highlight of my days of denial happened one afternoon when the art and culture reporter reminded me that it was his last day in the office. Now, I really like my reporter and his imminent departure had been making me sad, but instead of showing him a wobbly lip I handed over the work schedule for the next week. As he looked at me with incredulous concern he reminded me of previous conversations and asked if I was OK, or if early onset Alzheimer’s had set in. He has a good sense of humour. Actually, I added the early onset part, but poetic license is just a fancy way of telling lies so it ties right in with my general disposition.

I blithely ignored him and for the rest of the day I continued to behave as if we would see each other again on Saturday and even set up an appointment for him to conduct an interview over the weekend. I did feel a pang of guilt as he left at the end of the day with a small, sad wave but in the land of self-deception these pangs do not last long.

Overall it was a good week. I have done no work whatsoever yet sent a convincing timesheet to my boss, filled with supposed interviews I had done outside the office from which I returned with freshly painted nails, a new hair colour, (what do you mean I am a blonde?), and no finished articles.

Since I am now a reporter down and most of my colleagues have stopped talking to me, and are bringing food to work since the office is blacklisted on all delivery websites, there is little chance I will be filling my page next week.

Most people will not notice the empty spaces in the paper though; I will simply write little intros to the nonexistent articles and leave it at that. If I have learned anything from our leaders it is that the general public are the easiest to deceive.

About the author

Adel Heine

Adel Heine

DNE Art & Culture, and Lifestyle Editor


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