Miles Kington: John Humphrys made a meal of a sex change operation

'Our children have been so much in the care of our Polish nanny, Anna, that they can now speak perfect Polish but can barely speak English'
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The Independent Online

The 30 Best Excuses for Not Attending a Dinner Party

I am/we are not able to accept your invitation:

1. Due to fear of flooding

2. Because of a terracotta-soldier-related-injury

3. Due to a difference of opinion with the Northern Rock Mortgage Society

4. After a crucial revelation made by my recently rediscovered birth mother

5. Because of the unfortunate recent outcome of a Nigel Slater-related recipe

6. As our astrologer has advised us not to make any outings after dusk while Saturn is in conjunction with another planet whose name we did not quite catch

7. After having decided to place a great deal of money on a horse tipped to win by the Today programme on Radio 4, unfortunately ignoring the sardonic laughter with which John Humphrys greeted this particular recommendation

8. Due to injuries received during a heated Trivial Pursuits post-mortem

9. Having failed to listen in detail to all the instructions given by the pilot during a recent hot air balloon flight

10. Due to a stomach ailment picked up from licking more than a hundred postage stamps while sending off invitations to next month's local garden fete held in aid of the Scilly Isles Olympic Games team fund-raising drive

11. As we have meanwhile had a better dinner party offer

12. Because we have recently discovered that our two children have been so much in the company of our Polish nanny, Anna, that they can now speak perfect Polish but barely speak English and consequently need emergency remedial action

13. Due to widespread fears of a malaria outbreak in our part of the world following an article in a Sunday paper

14. Because of next week's announcement by Gordon Brown

15. Due to an unexpected legal condition imposed on us as part of a bequest to us in Luciano Pavarotti's will

16. Due to an unfortunate result in one of the recent Rugby World Cup matches

17. Because of stringent dietary requirements following a recent sex change operation which did not go quite according to plan

18. Having not been able fully to understand some ethnic jargon during a recent mugging

19. After getting embroiled in disputes over the publication rights of our forthcoming Christmas round-robin letter

20. Due to a rescheduled divorce

21. Following a desperate phone call for help from Menzies Campbell which we do not think it would be right to ignore

22. Because of the eclipse in Indonesia

23. Because of Act of Richard Dawkins

24. Due to kidney turbigo failure

25. Due to death of family pet

26. Due to misdiagnosis in hospital

27. Due to our post code being broken into by hackers

28. Due to the sudden arrival of those people we met on holiday in the Auvergne

29. Due to emergency road works

30. Deuteronomy