Medical excuses work well because most people won't dare doubt that your pain is real. They can rely on sympathy, humour, fear or bewilderment, but if that doesn't work, confuse them with technical and obscure terminology. Try...

"I need to check on something that's bleeding."

"I might have brucellosis. The tests will be back next week."

"Chemical imbalance."

"I've got a touch of diarr--oh, call you back."

Or you can always blame a nonsensical syndrome. The best thing about the excuses below is that they've all been identified by a reputable medical journal as a real illness.

"Beer Drinker's Finger: Swelling, bluish discoloration and wasting of finger caused by placing beer-can rings on finger." (JAMA, 1968)

"Christmas depression: Psychological stress during the holidays, related to the use of alcohol and to social pressures." (JAMA, 1982)

"Flip-flop Dermatitis: Skin disease of the feet from wearing rubber flip-flops." (British Medical Cooperative Journal, 1965)

"Motorway Blues: The sort of headaches noted by drivers on congested motorways (British Medical Cooperative Journal, 1963)

"Television legs: Loss of normal flexibility of the legs from being slumped in front of the box for too long." (JAMA, 1958)

Some people long for a cloudy, rainy or snowy day because of the opportunities to excuse yourself it will give you.

"The freezing rain glued my car to the road."

"With all this humidity, the door has swollen shut."

"I'm afraid to leave the house when it's foggy."

"The TV weatherman advised me to stay indoors."

Whatever happens at work you can always find someone or something to blame it on. When you're late try…

"This constipation has made me a walking timebomb."

"My doctor insisted I slow down"

"I wanted to avoid looking eager."

"My PDA went AWOL."

And if you make a mistake, try these get out of jail free gems...

"The low morale got to me."

"Didn't you get the memo…?"

"Just making sure you're paying attention."

"I was role-playing an idiotic-failure."

You can also avoid a detention at school or college by thinking fast and making an excuse for not doing your homework. Baffle your tutors by saying...

"Homework, what homework?"

"I'm allergic to pencil lead."

"My waterbed made me sick."

"The finance firm was coming to repossess my parents' telly and I needed to get in one last night of watching TV."

"I have a solar-powered calculator and it was cloudy."

Do you care whether friends, family and colleagues see you as lucid and responsible? If not, you can avoid certain obligations and situations by using one of the following...

"The man on telly told me to stay tuned."

"I'm building a pig from a kit."

"I'm planning to go into town to try on gloves."

"My patent is pending."

"I'm going to the Missing Persons Bureau to see if anyone is looking for me."