Daily Archives: March 26, 2009

Gideon Rachman

Like many people in Britain, I much enjoyed the BBC’s recent adaptation of Dickens’s “Little Dorrit” – particularly since a lot of the action takes place in FT-land. There is a scene shot under Southwark Bridge and key locations like the Marshalsea and Bleeding Heart Yard still exist – and are just a few minutes walk from our offices.

But the best bits took place in the Circumlocution Office – a government department invented by Dickens that has raised baffling bureaucracy and pointless form-filling into an art form. I had assumed that, with our endlessly modernised, bench-marked and streamlined UK government, this kind of thing was safely consigned to Victorian England.

However, I have now discovered a genuine government department with a title straight out of Dickens – it is the Department of Sensitive Words. This excellent institution has been brought to my attention by a man who is trying to establish a think-tank and to use the word “Institute” in its title. Since my friend is still involved in sensitive negotiations with the Department of Sensitive Words, I have promised not to reveal his identity.