PERSONALLY, I would never tell a fib to get out of something I didn't want to go to .........
My friend, let's just call her X, has been invited to a party at a neighbour's house to celebrate their silver wedding. She doesn't want to go because she knows it'll be all polite sherry-drinking, making conversation with polite people, and eating polite little squares of rich fruit cake with icing and silver balls. She doesn't really do polite. She's more of a get-pissed-and-show-'em-your-new-knickers kind of a girl. Despite that, she's also a very sweet person who doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.
So the invitation sits on her mantelpiece in all its silver embossed glory and she says she gets depressed every time she looks at it because she feels she has to accept.
The rest of us more cyncial bunch sitting around my kitchen table chorused: "Then don't accept!"
X says she has to because they're nice people and she has no good reason to refuse.
For goodness sake, what's the matter with the woman? Doesn't she have a list of cast-iron excuses mentally filed away? When I was a reporter, it was easy. I'd look crest-fallen and say sadly, "Oh no, I'm working late that night."
Now I no longer spend my evenings reviewing some God-awful pantomime performed by three old ladies, a luvvie who was once an extra in EastEnders and a tap-dancing child you want to slap, my excuses have become more creative.
I hesitate to reveal any here, just in case I might need one of them tomorrow. I will, however, drop my friends in it and tell you about their excuses.
Friend A said she once told someone she didn't know very well that her cat was pregnant and she didn't want to leave her at home alone in case she went into labour. She was proud of that one, not least because she doesn't have a cat, but she remembered just in time that the woman inviting her was a cat fanatic.
Friend B uses her elderly mother as an excuse. If the invitation is for the day, then she says she has to take her to a hospital appointment, if it's for the evening, then she's ill at home and has to look after her. I hope no one knows that B's dear old 'frail' mum runs a bed and breakfast and recently single-handedly cleared half an acre of brambles and weeds to create a garden.
Friend C says she bites her lip, looks sad and says she has "personal problems" so won't be able to attend. People back away from her as tears fill her eyes.
Perhaps it would be better if we could all be totally honest. X should tell her neighbours, sorry I can't come because I know I'll be bored witless, will drink too much cheap sherry and will disgrace myself with your brother's toupee and a loo brush.
A should have told the woman that she couldn't contemplate spending an evening in a house that smelt of cats' pee and Whiskas that had been left out in the sun too long.
B should tell everyone that she's just a miserable cow and can't be arsed to get out of her jeans and into a party frock for anyone less than George Clooney.
C should come clean and admit that her "personal problem" is that she's addicted to the soaps on TV and has to stay in to watch Elsie Tanner seduce Albert Tatlock with Ken Barlow's hairdryer.
Anyway, it's time I went. Of course, I'd never use any kind of dishonest excuse to anyone who reads this blog but I really must go now, I have to worm the dog.