A Journey from Memoir to Wet Wipes

Jenny Diski · What to do with Blair's memoirs

I've always had trouble with cataloguing books. In Ireland I came across a bookshop that had a wall of fiction divided into two. They were labelled: Novels by Men and Novels by Women. I left weeping. I'm in two minds about Daunt Books' method of geographic cataloguing. Graham Greene and Joseph Conrad all over the shop, though Dostoevsky safely under Russia.

I have no ambivalence at all about a new movement to re-categorise one particular book, on a national, and ideally international scale. Act now and sign up for the Facebook Group not-so-snappily entitled Subversively Move Tony Blair's memoirs to the crime section in book shops. There are coming up for 10,000 members so far. For this alone the internet and Facebook must be considered a good thing. There are other creative options. Fiction, obviously, Fantasy and Fairy Tales. But you are not just confined to book sections. Someone moved A Journey in Tesco to the Wet Wipes section. In Asda it's to be found among the Cat Litter. And there's a suggestion that perhaps the meat counter is the most appropriate place. Go to it.


  • 7 September 2010 at 1:54pm
    Phil Edwards says:
    Act now and sign up for the Facebook Group not-so-snappily entitled Subversively Move Tony Blair’s memoirs to the crime section in book shops

    How would signing up to a Facebook group enhance the act of actually moving Blair's memoirs, etc, or for that matter the failure to do so?

    (I'm not on Facebook, so bear with me.)

    • 7 September 2010 at 3:03pm
      Geoff Roberts says: @ Phil Edwards
      Because presumably you actually go out and do just that. A better place might be the litter basket.

  • 7 September 2010 at 3:03pm
    Geoff Roberts says:
    Don't worry too much about the ones you miss, though. My guess is that very few will actually read the book.

    • 7 September 2010 at 8:37pm
      Joe Morison says: @ Geoff Roberts
      I hate to say it, Geoff, and I hope i'm wrong: but I think it will sell well and be read.

  • 7 September 2010 at 8:43pm
    Joe Morison says:
    I can't quite explain it, but some sort of sick humour in me would like to see it in Self Help. Given the title, Travel is also a possibility.

  • 8 September 2010 at 6:49am
    A.J.P. Crown says:
    What's wrong with reading Blair's memoirs? It doesn't mean you supported his actions. There's nothing wrong with reading.

    • 8 September 2010 at 7:26am
      Joe Morison says: @ A.J.P. Crown
      It's not the reading, it's the buying. Imagine how he'd have felt if it had hardly sold. I might feel sorry for him but until he faces and owns up to his crimes, anything that helps reinforce his self-delusion (and i think lots of people reading his book will do that) is a bad thing.

    • 8 September 2010 at 8:00am
      Geoff Roberts says: @ A.J.P. Crown
      It's buying and then deciding to plough through the 500 pages, making notes and marginal comments and getting annoyed and generally becoming in a partial way, an accessory after the fact - that is why I wouldn't even consider buying the book. There is nothing wrong with reading as such - you are right on that A.J., but surely the bigger issue is, what do I read and why.
      There is a very German debate going on at the moment in Germany about a book written by an SPD member and Bundesbank director, his name is Thilo Sarrazin. There is a huge debate going on, in which many people who have not read his book are bashing his views in the relationship between religion and intelligence (whatever that is). I wouldn't read the book if you gave me one as a present - his views are all over the newspapers and TV channels. He'll make a lot of money which he doesn't need. The issue for me is, do you becaome a passive participant in the overhyped world of fast commnunication? Franzen's new one has been translated into German in a matter of weeks, ready for the big Frankfurt Book Fair. I would like to think that buying and reading a book is a slow organic process - not a blast of hot pr air.

    • 8 September 2010 at 10:00am
      A.J.P. Crown says: @ Geoff Roberts
      You don't become partial if you don't want to be. I disapprove of Blair and all he stands for. What he's got to say is important because of the Iraq war & Afghanistan and to find out what lessons can be learned about that time in British politics. If I want to know what that is, I'd rather read his memoir than get it second-hand from the internet. Newspaper reports are, most of the time, just unbelievably distorted; so when there's a chance to hear it from the horse's mouth, why not? I like this moving-his-book-around action, it's just my cup of tea, and the cancellation of his London appearances shows he got the message about his lack of popularity. If nobody were to buy his book, it would send the message that nobody's interested in the issues -- that's the wrong message.

    • 8 September 2010 at 10:25am
      Joe Morison says: @ A.J.P. Crown
      The trouble that is he sees the protests as the work of a small number of die hard ultras. Look at his response to what happened in Ireland: 'there were many more people queuing to have the book signed than there were protesting' (sadly true). If no-one bought the book it would show him not that no-one was interested in the issues, but that no-one was interested in his pathetic self-justifications; that would be a good message.

    • 8 September 2010 at 10:36am
      A.J.P. Crown says: @ Joe Morison
      Get it from the library if you don't want to hand over money.

      I'd rather learn what it says by reading it.

    • 8 September 2010 at 11:14am
      I could never recommend Abbie Hoffman's solution.

    • 8 September 2010 at 12:47pm
      Martin says: @ A.J.P. Crown
      There's a delicious irony in that book being on the virtual shelves of

    • 8 September 2010 at 1:35pm
      That's an excellent suggestion. I'd rather read David Runciman on Blair than Blair on Blair.

    • 8 September 2010 at 1:41pm
      Geoff Roberts says: @ A.J.P. Crown
      I think the message that gets out if people were not to buy the book is that they are not interested in his version of events. Which would you rather read, Mein Kampf, or Ian Kershaw? (Not that I believe that Blair has produced propaganda.) What we need to get a view on what Blair has done is to read some objective appraisals. David Runciman in LRB, perhaps?

    • 8 September 2010 at 1:58pm
      A.J.P. Crown says: @ Geoff Roberts
      This isn't Mein Kampf or Ian Kershaw, it's The Hitler Diaries.

    • 8 September 2010 at 2:09pm
      Martin says: @ Geoff Roberts
      So David Runciman is allowed to read the book then? Is that because he got a free copy from the publishers?

    • 8 September 2010 at 4:56pm
      Geoff Roberts says: @ A.J.P. Crown
      Have you read it then? I spotted that the 'Dairy' was a fake just by looking at the cover.

    • 8 September 2010 at 7:20pm
      A.J.P. Crown says: @ Geoff Roberts
      No, I haven't, I'll start with Runciman & take it from there. (I just meant this is Blair's memoirs, not his plan of action, and they too may turn out to be a bit dodgy.)

      I just read Adam Sisman's biography of Trevor-Roper and I can't see why he was conned; but despite "The Last Days" T-R's field was really seventeenth-century England, the Sunday Times got the wrong man's opinion.

    • 9 September 2010 at 7:33am
      Geoff Roberts says: @ A.J.P. Crown
      The word is hubris, he was asked to give an expert opinion and he felt flattered, so he did what they wanted hom to - he gave them a positive opinion. Probably it was the old boy network that did him. On the cover of the 'dairy' in Stern Magazine were two letters from the Sutterlin alphabet. Nobody asked why they used 'JH' instead of 'AH' at first anyway.
      I'll read Runciman and then we'll see.

  • 11 September 2010 at 3:35am
    outofdate says:
    The Kinokuniya Bookstore chain round Asia has one wall for non-genre novels called Literature and another called General Fiction, and it's anyone's guess what's what. Rupert Thomson is General Fiction, but Danielle Steele is Literature, as are the Apocalypse Tuesday novels or whatever they're called by Jenkins and LaHaye. Instructions seem to come from Tokyo headquarters, so there's method in the madness. Having long been in the habit of punishing books I find wanting by putting them on my thriller shelf, I do get the occasional rich satisfaction from a placement in General Fiction, but sadly the rate's about 5:1 the other way, so there's no point even trying to make a difference.

  • 13 September 2010 at 10:04pm
    Greenarkle says:
    In Tesco, I put it in with the nuts. Oh, and I bought some pistachios too.

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