29 Oct 2015

Chilcot Inquiry: a very British farce

The Chilcot report appears bent now upon entering the theatre of the absurd. Not content with spending six years investigating the misjudgements, intelligence failures, political decisions, US/ UK relationship, and more, in a war that displaced 4 million people and killed many more than 100,000, Sir John Chilcot now says it will take yet another eight months to produce his report. He tells us it promises to be some two million words long.

Has the inquiry team decided that redemption lies in producing the longest ever work in the English Language? And they are going to pull it off. The only challenger that I could find is Artamene ou le Grand Cyrus, a meandering romantic novel, translated from French. But Madeleine de Scuvery not only failed to make the 2 million mark (1,954,300), but in 1649, despite having no laptop, did take two years less than Chilcot to deliver it.

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And if Chilcot had hoped that the Holy Bible (807,361 words) might have overhauled him, he is sadly mistaken. So what of the Great Bard? No luck there either for Chilcot. He only managed a mere 884,000 words in all his works put together. But hang on a minute didn’t the wonderful Vikram Seth get somewhere near 2,000,000 words with his everlasting Suitable Boy? Not a chance, a measly 593,074 words is all he could manage.

Who amongst us will ever read all two million words of Chilcot’s collected prose? And even if we do, will guilt, innocence, madness, patriotism, or anything else be clear enough for anyone to discern.

No, this is in the great tradition of the British system. Take a long time, produce an even longer report, so long after many of the events described are long gone, and many of the individuals have been replaced or have even died, and Bob’s your Perfect Uncle: Everyone’s in the clear!

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