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Top five excuses for being late

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Nathan James Page

1. 'Google Maps sent me the wrong way'

All smartphone owners have spent 20 minutes stuck on a street corner, cursing the day they chose the cheapest possible data plan. In these moments, ëI got lostí is a valid excuse for being late. If a smartphone user gets lost at any other time, itís their own fault. In fact,'Google Maps sent me the wrong way' is the new 'Sorry, I didn't get your email': we all know it's a lie, but have to be politely understanding about it.

2. 'I got stuck at work'

No Londoner - except maybe someone in the emergency services - has work so important they can legitimately put a friend through the shame of sitting alone in Nando's. When we say we're 'stuck at work', we usually mean we spent all day flicking between Facebook and YouTube before remembering at 4.30pm that we had a huge report to finish. Or that a colleague is giving us gossip so good it warrants staying in the office a bit later. (Actually, maybe that is a legitimate excuse.)

3. 'Eurgh, my commute was a total nightmare'

The only good thing about commuting in London is that we can use the unpredictability of public transport as a valid excuse for being late. While car drivers in the provinces are expected to set off half an hour early because they know the traffic's always bad, we can stroll into work behind time and blame it on 'the bloody DLR again'. Shout out to the office weasel who always pipes up about the train being 'fine when they got it': you're a dick.

4. 'Bloody tourists!'

How much time does weaving through a party of Italian sixth-formers actually add to a journey? Maybe two minutes? It's not like they all link arms in mile-long chains to blockade pavements, or stand in the middle of the road, Gandalf-style, telling us we shall not pass. Yes, tourists are an annoyance for most Londoners, but they're not waging a covert war against Citymapper - or you. 

5. 'I had to stop to get a coffee'

No one ever 'has' to stop to get a coffee in quite the same way that they 'have' to get medical help if they start projectile vomiting all over Old Street. We could all go about our daily business without a flat white. Equally, we could all set off ten minutes earlier to get a flat white and arrive at our destination on time. We just don't want to. When we use caffeine as an excuse for leaving a mate waiting, we're essentially saying 'I value hot beverages over you.'

By Kate Lloyd, who filed this piece late because Google Maps...

Illustrations: Nathan James Page

Take a look at the top five London neuroses.

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