Cheque out these sorry old excuses
The least believable sentence in the English language is widely acknowledged to be, “Your cheque is in the post”.
It ranks above even the one that was virtually an anthem in our school days: “The dog ate my homework.”
Training the dog to eat the homework you hadn’t done was just as difficult as training your teacher to believe your story.
As you grew older, the excuses became more imaginative, with many bordering on the verge of possibility.
Those who hadn’t done their homework realised that, like lawyers in a murder trial, all they had to do was create some doubt.
In both cases – skipping homework and killing someone – guilt had to be proved beyond all reasonable doubt.
Then you go to university, get a job, sign contracts, write books, and you eventually realise that the “dog eating the homework” routine returns in another avatar with the old, “the cheque is in the post” excuse.
This is known as comeuppance. It is nature’s way of righting the balance, reminding you that what goes around comes around.
For all the times you tried to fool your teachers with an excuse, you are now being fobbed off with one by someone who should have paid you weeks and months ago.
It begins civilly enough. Perhaps it’s an oversight, you suggest to the accounts department in some tax haven far away (the further the accounts department, the longer a bank transfer takes: this is the first rule of delayed payments, although where bank transfers are concerned, information travels at the speed of light).
Step two is a jolly bonhomie: “Hey,” you write, “I’ve got mouths to feed and shoes to buy and anniversaries to celebrate.”
Then you drop the smiles and kisses from your messages and write more
For all the times you tried to fool your teachers, you are now being fobbed off
tersely, with a hint of a deep voice and a tightening of the lips in every word.
Through it all, you get the dreaded message: “The cheque is in the post.”
And its variations: “I gave it to my son/wife/driver/nail polish remover/ newspaper boy to post it, you should be getting it later today.”
Or, “Our director is cutting short his holiday just to sign your cheque, so please appreciate the sacrifice.”
This is why we should train our children to do their homework. Today’s homework-eating dog converts into tomorrow’s cheque-eating mail.
Soon, I am sure, I will get a message from that accountant far, far away: “Dear sir, please note that the dog ate your cheque that was in the post.” It is as credible as that original message, anyway. And more imaginative.