I have a friend who enjoys a ‘tall tale’. The deceit has at times become cumbersome, as despite being fully aware as to the extent of complete fabrication of their fantastical claims, they are a nice person so we daren't burst the bubble of fantasy. The lies, although outrageous, are harmless and do little but add chutzpah to their being. No one else gets hurt and they do not cause a catastrophic chain reaction, so we live and let lie…literally.

Most people, if not liars, are embellishers. As much as we see honesty as a virtue that many of us hold dear with the mindset that if you tell the truth you get no nasty surprises and are therefore trusted in equal measure, I guess we are all guilty of some form of porky penchant. When talking about a two-yard mountain bike jump I performed in the back sticks of Wales, I may have, on occasion, added a zero to the figure. Many do similar with injuries as if there is a rabid outbreak of Munchausen’s. I know of those who get a sniffle and claim the doctor has told them its borderline fatal until, once the initial glow of attention has worn off, they suddenly end the story a while later with a wall of silence or, if asked, claim it was a ‘false alarm'. Until the next time that is. Some are hardwired to lie and embellish, as their fathers and forefathers before them, and, taking an active interest in the subject area, I took the liberty of purchasing Ian Leslie’s book Born Liars for only £9.99 (it was £8.99 actually, but hey ho.

His studies show that, on average (unless they are lying) respondents tell mistruths 1.5 times a day. When meeting someone new however, especially those we are trying to impress, we generally lie three times in the first 10 minutes.

We all do it, even on a basic level. I genuinely believed I had a lie-free week come the weekend as I relayed the previous five days. On Monday, I had a meeting with my boss who asked me ‘how you doing?’ To be honest, I had had a dreadful weekend. The weather was miserable, we were in lockdown, I hadn’t seen another human face or set foot outside the summerhouse for days on end and I was perpetually cold. My response was ‘Not bad at all thanks…and you?’, which at the time did not seem like a lie but I guess when you ask that question we all demand a response that does not require too much input for the neediness of others.

For a lie, we can include being disingenuous. Facebook feeds are full of happy families, posing as they grin demonically for the camera before being cast onto the interweb as they proclaim with glee 'Look how well we are doing! We can handle this lockdown! All is rosy in the garden!' But then you bump into the poster at the local Co-op and soon the truth shield comes down as they admit little Archie swore at his dad, Annabel won't get off her screen and they all have scurvy symptoms as they’ve only been out once in the past fortnight.

Leslie classifies us all within one of the following lying stables: psychopath, sociopath or little white liar as, with each, the exponent of the lie wrestles with their own psyche. I have a family member who cheats horrendously at any game put before them. It is at the stage where I care not to engage as it irritates me. Leslie argues that this person convinces themselves that there is no other option and that their opponents are 'not worthy of fair play’. They justify their lies by finding anything on which to base their reasoning to give themselves a free pass to victory, as they see defeat as dishonourable, no matter how they arrive at victory.

Far from all being negative however, these self-serving fictions can, in the most extreme of circumstance, actually prove to be life-savers. In 1988, psychologist Sheeley Taylor studied cancer patients who were deemed ‘likely’ to die of the disease. Those who stated they would beat the scourge, and honestly believed this lie was the truth, outlived those with a negative mindset who were resigned to their fate, no matter how insurmountable the odds.

So, I guess there is something to be said for fabrication. It can be a life saver and deceitfulness, especially for politicians, is part of being human. It's true that if we tell ourselves something often enough it becomes our truth and a fervent belief, so therefore is longer a lie. As for me: I aim to remain Hertfordshire’s most hankered-after baldie before I ride my bike faster than Chris Hoy to Epping and back, prior to bench pressing the equivalent weight of an adult Friesian cow.

Brett Ellis is a teacher