Heroes at Bob's Blundabus (Venue 212)
Wednesday 10th August, 13.00
When I saw that the Chilcot report woild be read continuously at this year's festival I knew I wanted to be involved. The
cancellation of a show gave me a gap & I duly booked 2 tickets for the 1.00pm slot, though I had yet to persuade anyone to
After thoroughly enjoying "The Country Wife" at the unearthly hour of 9.25am I met Ruth and we duly headed to the Iraq Out
Loud area to find out the practical details. We were then advised to return at 12.50pm for a full briefing. With enough time to
arm Ruth with a Gin & Tonic we returned to meet the 3rd part of our crew and then the penny dropped that we had expected.
Having seen all the colour drain from Ruth's face it was agreed we would split the hour between 2 of us.
So, at 1.00pm my co-reader entered the shed, put his finger on the relevant line of text and started speaking with the previous
speaker until she departed. When the others left we took our places listening intently whilst trying to work out the practicalities
of the transition.
Although this is clearly a serious document I was surprised how funny some of the passages were. Not intentionally humorous but the informality that the major players knew each other eg calling Dr Rice "Condie" or just being very glib about the events unfolding around them (hello Alistair Campbell).
Then the clock showed 1.30pm, I took one large swig of water, donned my reading glasses and I was on. Fortunately, I have done some amateur dramatics recently which helped me deal with the enormity of what I had undertaken. I speak fast when nervous but I felt I owed it to everyone whose lives had been affected by the consequences of these words to deliver them as clearly as I could. I think I started and ended at normal speed but I suspect the middle section may have been a little rushed.
We know this is a huge document and some of my passages were in civil servant speak. Who knew that "Kremlinised" was a real word.
Occasionally, you read a section that took your breath away ( not good when you are reading aloud) eg when you see that Bush was going to war regardless and Blair would do what it took to depose Saddam Hussain. My sympathies went out to Dr Hans Blix who was blamed for having the affrontery not to tell the major players what they wanted to hear. It wasn't all doom and gloom and by inadvertently mis-reading munitions and saying musicians I did, accidentally, lighten the tension of the room. (Similarly, I had to contend with loud piano music outside, I later discovered which had come from a BBC piano playing itself. Strange?!)
Soon however, the door opened, a finger appeared on the relevant page and I was suddenly outside.
My immediate thoughts were about how physically and emotionally drained I was and desperately in need of a drink, both to thirst my quench and to savour some alcohol. I was close to tears and furious that world leaders could be so pig-headed and arrogant as to allow this invasion to occur without getting accurate intelligence regarding what had occurred, was occurring and was likely to occur as a result of their actions.
Two days later I am still furious as I take my anger out on these poor defenceless computer keys.
On a more personal note I am proud of myself for getting involved. It is important for Press coverage that famous people are seen but it is important that EVERYONE has an equal opportunity to literally have their say.
Oddly, later that day I bumped into my co-reader ( who I had never met before) and we had a little catch-up chat. We are now bonded together forever due to this event.
So, my sincere thanks to Bob and everyone who helped to bring this together. You are all doing a great job. Well done.