Liar, Liar, your pants are on fire.
‘You’re a bigger liar than Tom Pepper,’ he used to say. At the time it never occurred to me to ask who Tom Pepper was; small children simply assume that adults know what they are talking about and I just thought that Tom Pepper was someone he knew. As it turned out he wasn’t, he didn’t and it eventually transpired that he was a bigger liar than Tom Pepper could ever have been.
But who was this Tom Pepper of his well-known, oft repeated, always accusing, bellowed saying fame? He said that there was a Tom Pepper Championship that awarded a medal with the words ‘You Liar’ engraved upon it for being the world's best verbal deceiver. Of course this might have been another lie that told to me as a child, he always was able to lie through his fraudulent teeth. He used to scare me by telling me that if I was awarded the medal I’d hang.
Some say that Tom Pepper was hanged for his lies and if you go across the border into
he changes his name to Tam. Aliases and deceits, false names and falsehoods, it
seems that Mr T. Pepper is not to be trusted at all. So just who was Tom
Pepper? Brian Clough seemed to know: I once heard him use the phrase in a TV
Others say that Tom is a character in a Mark Twain tale? “...the renowned Tom Pepper, who was such a preposterous liar that he couldn't get to heaven and they wouldn't have him in hell.” Maybe he’s the same Tom Pepper that’s mentioned in a Napoleonic naval expression; the Tom Pepper who, according to nautical tradition, was kicked out of hell for being a bigger liar than His Satanic Majesty himself. He could of course be Thomas Culpepper, executed under Henry VIII for allegedly being the lover of Catherine Howard. Thomas protested his innocence to the end, but he wasn't believed, hence he was a ‘liar’. Funny (not ha-ha) but (like him) I know how it feels to tell the truth only to have people turn your truths to lies,
Perhaps he’s the - not very good - racing tipster for The Sun who borrows his name from another tipster in the Daily Herald in the fifties, or the confidence trickster from the Border regions who had a period film made about him many years ago, or Harry Featherbe, alias Tom Pepper, who drowned bringing one of his DJs to shore from the almost farcical Pop Radio station Invictor, or a computer programmer from Des Moines, Iowa, best known for his collaboration with Justin Frankel on the invention of the Gnutella peer-to-peer system, SHOUTcast and Ninjam – whatever they are.
Tom Pepper was a liar; he had been all his life. When he uttered his first cry, he lied to the midwife. Maybe he roams the wide world round, searching for release and until he learns to tell the truth, he's forced to range the seas.