50 shades of sorry

Sorry is one of the most subjective words in the English language because it can be infected with so many nuances. Far from expressing genuine contrition, governments, businesses, public figures and (sorry about this) you and me use apologies to divert attention, manage expectations, resuscitate reputations, and even implicate the victim.

2013 has already seen a glut of high-profile apologies from cheating sports stars, banks fiddling interest rates, and institutions complicit in child abuse. But media confessions rarely ring true because they are ghosted by teams of lawyers. Repeated transgressions (often over decades) are attributed to ‘uncharacteristic hiccups’, or ‘rogue employees’, or even blame ‘the regulations’, for which the public (sorry that’s you and me again) are ultimately responsible.

Such is the allure of fame and fortune, big brands and celebrities develop psychopathic defence systems that obscure the consequences of their actions. No matter how bad the headlines get, the one thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about. Atonement is simply a springboard for shameless self-promotion. Reputations used to be earned, but if you are rich and powerful enough, you can fix anything. State sponsored criminality, corruption, and human rights abuses are now so entrenched in so many countries the official apology has become obselete.

So if your New Year’s resolution is to have a more transparent relationship with life, but you let slip one of the phrases below don’t feel guilty. Just delight in the English language, which is so fantastically elastic it can transform the humble apology into escapology.

1)    Sorry but I didn’t think anyone would find out.

2)    Sorry I betrayed the trust you placed in me.

3)    Sorry but not sorry enough apparently…

4)    Sorry but everyone else was at it as well.

5)    Sorry I betrayed you – yet again.

6)    Sorry I keep on saying sorry.

7)    Sorry but in my situation you would have done the same.

8)    Sorry we were caught red handed.

9)    Sorry but it was a cry for help.

10) Sorry but I can’t be held responsible for my actions.

11) Sorry I didn’t get away with it

12) Sorry we did not apologise soon enough.

13) Sorry but I don’t consider it to be illegal.

14) Sorry that my previous apology was not sincere.

15) Sorry but I didn’t think you would mind.

16) Sorry but this is your problem.

17) Sorry but I don’t give a fuck.

18) Sorry if you think I’m patronising you.

19) Sorry but you were asking for it.

20) Sorry you feel that way.

21) Sorry…until the next time.

22) Sorry but you have to get real about honesty.

23) Sorry you failed to read my mind.

24) Sorry but it’s all your fault.

25) Sorry that you feel you need an apology.

26) Sorry – and this time I really mean it.

27) Sorry if I offended your holier-than-thou moral superiority.

28) Sorry…if that makes you happy.

29) Sorry if it keeps the peace

30) Sorry to say you bought this on yourself.

31) Sorry but I’m only human.

32) Sorry but you drove me to it.

33) Sorry but you should have stopped me before I did it.

34) Sorry but you just don’t get it do you?

35) Sorry I called you a shit-cunt-prick-wanker.

36) Sorry but you owe me the apology.

37) Sorry you think I behaved badly.

38) Sorry but you had it coming to you.

39) Sorry but you know what I’m like.

40) Sorry but it’s me – not you.

41) Sorry but I refuse to feel guilty about it.

42) Sorry you believed all the lies I told.

43) Sorry but it was the voices in my head.

44) Sorry but how many more times do I have to apologise?

45) Sorry that you are so gullible.

46) Sorry but what did you expect?

47) Sorry but you are such a victim I couldn’t help myself.

48) Sorry but it’s nothing personal.

49) Sorry but this will hurt you more than me.

50) Sorry and I hope you choke on it.

Tom

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