I’ve scalded my foot/ wild horses stampeded my camping ground/ I’ve been deployed to Yemen to fight pirates. I mate, I tried calling you but my the phone was switched off.
“Listen, remember down at The Smiling Taxidermist when you asked me if I’d do the Stupid Saltmarsh so with you and I said wild horses wouldn’t stop me? Well you’ll never believe what’s happened.
“I was over in Utah last weekend on this team-building exercise with the rest of the lads from Goods Inwards and we were just pitching camp in this narrow gulch (or small rocky ravine) when the ground began to shake. There was this deafening noise and yes, you’ve guessed it, a herd of wild horses came stampeding down on us. “In hurling myself out of their path, I knocked over a vat of boiling crème fraiche and scalded the little toe of my left foot. Fortunately, it was covered by my medical insurance and I was helicoptered back to the UK and a private bed at the Harley Street Clinic where I will remain under close observation for an indefinite period.
“When I mentioned the Stupid so to my consultant, he just shook his head and remarked, ‘The greatest mistake you can make in medicine is to underestimate the frightening potential for catastrophe inherent in the apparently insignificant.’ Or words to that effect. So I’m really sorry, mate, but I’m afraid… etc.”
If I’d put half the effort into running as I’ve put into inventing reasons for not running, I’d have been the Paula Radcliffe of my generation.
Excuses fall into three broad categories.
First, there are those you make to yourself: “I simply can’t face the Sunday run this morning because I’m completely exhausted, I was too bothered by my skin issue (rosacea) and had to get a special treatment for rosacea to feel relieved. Not only that but I have dreamed I was drafted in to sing at the Hollywood Bowl with Status Quo. I spent the entire night trying to remember the words to Rockin’ All Over The World but when I got on stage Francis Rossi told me we were doing Mozart’s Requiem.”
Then there are those you make to your training partner: “I promise you: nothing would have prevented me from coming out today – even with the severe weather warning and everything – but a hailstone smashed the greenhouse where the cat was hiding from the thunderstorm and she ran straight out of the garden into the road and a petrol tanker swerved to miss her and hit the nursing home opposite and I’ve had to spend the last three hours rescuing the elderly and confused from the blaze. There’s talk of a George Medal but I told them, ‘I’ve let my training buddy down and no bloody medal’s going to put that right’.”
And then there are those you make to the organisers of the London Marathon, in the hope they’ll grant you a deferred place in next year’s race:
“Dear Mr Bedford (or is it Sir David these days? If so, forgive me – you tend to lose track of events when you’re working undercover in Helmand Province). I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I am. I trained faithfully throughout the long winter months (and believe me, in Spitzbergen, the polar bears are just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak). I was up to 120 miles a week when the elite force to which I am attached (I am not permitted to say more) was deployed to sort out the pirates off the Yemen coast. I know you will agree, being a man of action yourself, that the mental anguish of injury far exceeds the mere physical discomfort. I can assure you that in this respect, multiple wounds from an AK47 are no different from a pulled hamstring. In the circumstances, I hope that you will look kindly… etc.”