Metro column 13

Richard Herring: Politicians' excuses? I was more believable when I was six
Richard Herring: Dogs can be useful accomplices in covering up ill-judged decisions. Just don’t be surprised if someone smells a rat…

I have been enjoying the shockingly poor excuses given by politicians at inquiries. Isn’t it amazing how many high-powered people have such terrible memories? I hope they have their names sewn into their underpants or they might wake up not knowing who they are.

They are all making it clear that none of this is their fault, blaming underlings or predecessors or bigger boys, who ran away. How stupid do they think we are? I was capable of more believable fabrications when I was six.

One day, at primary school, I needed to go to the toilet for what I will politely refer to as a number two.

When I was at school, if you were discovered using the toilet cubicle for such purpose you would be mocked and ostracised. I didn’t want to lose the respect of my classmates so I came up with a clever alternate and less humiliating plan. I decided to go in my pants.

As plans go, it might not be watertight, but I was confident I could keep the embarrassment hidden in my underwear: a potentially hubristic decision as we were doing creative play that afternoon and I was wearing very tiny shorts. But there was only an hour until home time. There might be some waddling, but I could do this.

Alas, I hadn’t accounted for one thing. My classmates all had a sense of smell. They began to ask questions about an unpleasant odour. I had to think fast. I spotted that the window to the classroom was open and, with a stroke of genius, said: ‘Oh dear, a naughty dog outside must have done a poo. Naughty dog!’

It was an audacious lie. What kind of dog was capable of producing a pavement biscuit so fetid and powerful that the stench was strong enough to travel up from street level, through a window and still be this pungent? But my feckless six-year-old classmates were fooled.

‘What a naughty dog!’ they exclaimed, shaking their heads not at my lie but at the mischievous canine’s anal antics.

I had gotten away with it, like no Scooby Doo villain had ever managed to do. But then I saw some pesky kids standing in a circle, pointing at something on the floor. Like so many before and after, I had been undone by a surreptitious leak – s*** gets out.

‘Who did this?’ asked the teacher.

Had I been at the Leveson Inquiry I would have refused to bend and kept up with the naughty dog line but I wasn’t that foolhardy.

It would have had to have been a spectacularly naughty and crafty dog that got into the school, opened the classroom door and then emptied his colon unnoticed by anyone, before escaping, sniggering, like a scatological Muttley. I gave it up, ran out of the classroom and hid in the toilet until my mum came to pick me up – something I’d genuinely like to see more politicians doing.

Do use the naughty dog line next time you’re in trouble, though – it’ll get you out of anything. You’ve let off in the lift? Blame a naughty dog. You’ve crashed the Titanic into an iceberg? A naughty dog took the helm when your back was turned.

There’s an email that seems to show collusion between the Department of Culture and News International – a naughty dog hopped on to your desk and composed and sent the missive without your knowledge.

Though to be believable, you might have to blame two naughty dogs. And a wicked cat. And a morally ambiguous tortoise.

Richard Herring is currently touring Britain with his show, What Is Love, Anyway?

Follow Richard Herring on Twitter @Herring1967

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