I found this Russian version of ‘There are no excuses’ (‘Expressions forbidden in this unit’) while looking for something else. If you put ‘that piece of advice’ for ‘order’ in No.8 the list would make a reasonable draft of an operating manual for the modern Civil Service, but you really need entries about computers and Special Advisers to make it fully comprehensive.
1. That’s the first I’ve heard of it.
2. I rang but couldn’t get through.
3. I dropped in, but you weren’t there.
4. I looked, but I couldn’t find it.
5. But I thought…
6. That was before my time.
7. But I made a report…
8. Most likely the order never reached me.
9. But why me?
10. But nobody told me.
11. I never heard about it.
12. I don’t know.
13. They didn’t pass that on.
14. I meant well…
15. I tried but it didn’t work.
16. I wanted to report it, but you weren’t there.
17. I told him but he didn’t do it.
18. I wasn’t there at that time. I must have been ill (on leave)