You really can get used to anything.
On the day of that political game-show called the Budget (#Budget2017) I tried to remember the last time I had seen or read a political interview where a good question was asked, and a true (even true-ish?) answer received. Tricky.
And when did such an exchange last take place at work?
It happens so easily, this gradual accustomisation to not expecting the truth. (Already #altfacts is casually part of everyday conversation). So huge respect to those who find imaginative ways to refresh the art of asking questions, to help us get at least a little closer to the truth.
Matthew Whittet’s play ‘17’ (first performed Sydney 2015) is to have its UK premiere at The Lyric Hammersmith. A group of 17 year olds are just at that turning point, that cusp of adulthood, between school and grown up life. The creative twist is that the actors are veterans. Septuagenarians.
Suddenly, the questions the playwrite asks and imagines about being 17 (What matters to you right now? What does love mean to you? What message would you send out to the rest of the world?) demand a real and truthful answer. The cast of 70 year olds has had to really excavate, be super-truthful, to fulfil their roles.
The different lens of their age and life experience refreshes the questions, and the truthfulness of the answers.
And then there are…. better questions.
Theodore Zeldin published ‘Conversation: How Talk Can Change Our Lives’ in 1998. His ‘Conversation menus’ have since been explored and used around the world and across cultures. Some of the questions are hugely serious, some lighter, but all provocative. The most productive over the years seems to be this question:
“Which of your fears have changed, and which fear do you notice most in others?”
Perhaps the fear of a good question, and of answering truthfully?