MSPs on the parliament's education committee were soon about their business after the Christmas recess and in schoolmarm fashion. Mike Russell, SNP business manager, wondered about progress in circulating reports of school visits, whether in fact they had been e-mailed, as agreed.
Mary Mulligan, Labour's convener, replied: "I take it, Mike, that you are the only member who has circulated his report."
Labour's Karen Gillon put a different interpretationon it. "Mike must have had a very sad Christmas." Russell's colleague, Nicola Sturgeon, tried vainly to come to his rescue. "Please, miss, I have been a good boy."
"I suppose there is a first time for everything," Mulligan replied.
Liberal Democrat Ian Jenkins, a former principal teacher of English, tapped his vast experience of great excuses and confessed: "My dog ate my report."
Including the e-mail? He'll have to do better than that.