Sorry seems to be the hardest word to say

For the past two months it seems all I’ve been watching listening and hearing about is people apologising.

And it seems that some people are better at it than others.

It was refreshing to hear Olympic athletes who achieved a magnificent silver medal, apologising to their teams or coaches for not ‘making the grade’.

They were the very epitome of sportsmanship following a very British tradition.

Up to last week it seemed that if anyone in public life wanted to raise their profile and come across as a thoroughly decent statesmanlike type, the thing to do was make a fulsome and profuse apology about something or other.

Politicians never seemed to apologise in the old days. Now it is in vogue - but it seems there are rules to follow.

I’m no fan of the man, but the current master of the art is David Cameron, who issued a well-received apology to the families of the Hillsbrough disaster, and previously the families of the Bloody Sunday victims.

Consummately delivered with an eye for detail and no shilly shallying or mincing of words.

Cameron observed the first rule: makes sure your apologies are delivered on behalf of other folks.

He personally never had much directly to do with the events surrounding either of those tragedies.

Some years ago Tony Blair apologised for the Irish Potato Famine and latterly Britain’s role in the slave trade, events from which he was even further removed.

This is even better - a collective apology for a general injustice which happened years ago.

Everybody wins in this situation - the apologiser for what people did in the distant past gets to wear a comfy hair shirt.

The apologee feels justified that a collective wrong has been recognised and atoned for.

But as we have seen in the past few days, not all apologies work in the manner they were intended.

Nick Clegg apologised for something he was very much directly involved with.

For making ‘a promise “we were not absolutely sure we could deliver” when he pledged to oppose any increase in tuition fees at the last election.

Nick Clegg’s photo-opportunities holding large signed pledges to vote against tuition fee rises, are still freshly etched in the memory of the people who voted for him.

The cynics among us might say he made those pledges believing he would never be on the problematic side of power.

As well as not breaking the golden rules, the trick is to not make it appear like a calculated political gesture.

Mr Clegg has also failed in this regard.

And that is why he has made an impromptu appearance in the music charts.