We all come up with excuses for our failures, omissions, bad behaviour, stupidity, delayed action, clumsiness, laziness or sin.
But why admit to anything if we can blame someone or something else, put it down to forces beyond our control or rationalise our way out of it being in any way our fault? It wasn't me it was the the weather / chemical imbalance / market forces / somebody - anybody - else. Early Apple Mac's used to come out with a whiny American voice when certain Bad Things happened saying: 'It's not my fault.' Seriously.
With imagination there are plenty of original excuses you can come up with, and the more far-fetched and unlikely-sounding the more believable - with-in reason. 'I couldn't come to your soiree because my grandmother was abducted by aliens' or 'my homework ate the dog' might be pushing it a bit.
There are some whacky excuses for missing work here including; 'I've been taking ex-Lax and Prozac. I can't get off the john but i feel good about it' and 'The dog ate my car keys. We're going to hitchhike to the vet.'
But for your basic error there are two excellent catch-all excuses:
1. Persian carpet-makers always leave one mistake in their patterns to acknowledge that only Allah may achieve perfection.
2. 'The Cartographer's Folly' I am indebted, as ever, to the Inkyfool blog for alerting me to an equally catch-all but more prosaic general excuse for error. Map-makers, he tells us, have often put a deliberate error in their work so they can prove whether someone has plagiarised their work.
"It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one." George Washington
For other occasions where you may be looking for an excuse, I have provided a Top 40 Excuses in the form of a poem below, but what's the best (or maddest) excuse you've ever come across?
The dog ate my homework.
All my friends do it.
I left it on the bus.
I have a headache.
It's in the post.
I didn't get your message.
I thought it was tomorrow.
It was an administrative error.
This has never happened before.
The voices in my head said to.
It just came off in my hand.
I only took my eyes off him for a second.
She had it coming to her.
It is destiny.
It was inevitable.
It just… happened.
It was the beat of a butterfly's wings
It goes against my principles.
I was under pressure.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
If we don't do it somebody else will.
I only had a pint.
I was only doing 30.
He just came from nowhere.
There was nothing I could do.
All my friends were doing it.
We knew no better.
I wasn't thinking.
I was only obeying orders.
(c) Clare Kirwan