An American naïf, needing to rustle up a preemptive volley to put the hearer on the defensive, resorts in the first instance to a dead grandmother. The circumstances of the death can be adjusted for the occasion. If a large dose of empathy is needed, the grandmother’s death is sudden, agonizing, perhaps vivified by a fictional sprawl on the bathroom floor during which she could not reach the phone. However, Brits, being far more subtle, apparently save the dead relative ploy for Step 5, and shift the emotional impact by pointing to a deceased uncle, keeping grandma’s corpse in reserve (Step 9?). Such are the advantages of an Oxbridge education.