No, it's not me taking a trip - not yet, anyway. A Journey is the soon-to-be-published memoir of Tony Blair. Now normally this wouldn't cause me to make any comment at all. I'm not a political person and, quite frankly, I have never managed to stir up any interest in reading the memoirs of politicians. Never having even opened the cover of such a book to flick through the contents, I am really in no position to comment, but I have always assumed these tomes to be nothing more than a means of self-aggrandisement and, so the authors hope, a way to make yet more money. The only reason I am making any comment on this occasion is because the past Prime Minister has announced that all the money he receives from the sale of his book will be donated to the Royal British Legion to help fund a new rehabilitation centre for injured troops.
The newspapers have calculated that this is likely to add up to quite a tidy sum - in the region of £4.6 million, no less. If TB uses the Gift Aid scheme, the Government will refund Income Tax at the standard rate, thereby making the donation to the British Legion up to a cool £5.75 million.
Not surprisingly, reaction from the men on the Clapham omnibus has been varied. On the one hand, people have said what a magnificently generous action this is. But others point out that Mr B is, by the standards of most people, a very wealthy man (he charges upwards of £100,000 for an after-dinner speech and is fully booked for several years!) so this gesture is not really as generous as it might at first appear. There are those who consider Mr B led this country into an illegal war in Iraq on the false premise of weapons of mass destruction that could be unleashed in just 45 minutes and they are saying that this is blood money that should be refused by the Legion.
A view has been expressed that this announcement is a brilliant PR stunt, but some think that he should have made the donation without publicity or that by announcing it so publicly he is trying to improve the way people think of him.
Of course, if everybody refused to buy the book but simply donated the cost of it to the British legion, as has been suggested, the sum raised would probably be greater than £5.75 million. Anyone who really wants to read the book can wait until it is remaindered and buy it for 50p or a £1 in one of the bookshops specialising in remainders.
The most commonly expressed views seem to be cynical and I am inclined to think that this has rather rebounded on Mr Blair. But then, that often seems to happen to him.