Once, we took journeys to work, school, get the shopping or claim benefit. Now a journey can take you to the top of the best-sellers' list, or a recording contract with Simon Cowell. Turn on the telly, and goggle at contestants stuffing chicken legs on Masterchef or gormless "street" dancers on X Factor, and notice they're all telling us about their "journey". No one just gets on with life – it's all part of a Grand Tour, a rollercoaster of emotional upsets.
You're not allowed to grow up, get divorced, become a pensioner – life has become a voyage of discovery. Been made redundant? It's merely another bus stop on your odyssey. I've just taken a journey from south-west France, through the enchanting Basque country, to pretty Saint-Jean-de-Luz and home on the ferry, but you won't be interested, because it didn't involve telling the Queen to loosen up and no close relatives puked in my bed. Plus, I'm not prepared to tell you about my sex life or whether my partner rose to the occasion the night I got a bit depressed.
As for emotional intelligence – that's the passport you need for a rewarding and successful journey, if best-selling Tony Blair is to be believed. Mind you, telling us that Gordon Brown lacked any is a prime case of pot and kettle. After the events of last week, the one quality most politicians and their advisers clearly lack is emotional maturity. In the real world, we confront death, failed relationships, sexual ambiguity and difficult relatives daily. In spite of reality television, and the whipped up hysteria of talent contests, most of us communicate pretty well with each other, taking care not to pry or intrude when it's not appropriate. Reading William Hague's bald statement about his wife's miscarriages emphasised the difference between our sense of values and those of the people running the country. In a week when the United Nations came under attack for failing to prevent 240 villagers (from tiny babies to elderly women) being raped in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, our Foreign Secretary was more concerned with his own career, issuing press statements and denials that seemed far too personal and revelatory. In high office, surely you should just get on with the job?
This lack of dignity is what characterises Mr Blair's revelations – telling us about John Prescott balancing his cup and saucer on his fat belly, that the Queen was "haughty", obsessively detailing the minutiae of his alcohol consumption. He sprinkles in mentions of celebs – from Bob Geldof to David Beckham – to make sure of headlines in the tabloids. The toe-curling descriptions of sex with Cherie, the night John Smith died – claiming he "devoured" her. Yuck! This faux-revelatory style shows Blair is just as emotionally arid as Brown, the man he derides. Blair makes a vulgar display of telling us virtually nothing about what he really feels – it's all for effect, and sales.
As for emotional intelligence in the wider world of politics, consider the pundits who offered their thoughts on Mr Hague's predicament. Alastair Campbell, a former writer on a porn magazine. Ed Balls, a bully boy for Gordon, now a softly spoken Mr Nice Guy. This man, who's changed accents so many times I can't keep up, informs us, "I've never shared a room with an assistant of mine, male or female", and calls Mr Blair's book "a bit sad".
In his bid to obtain maximum press coverage for his hopeless Labour leadership bid, expect Ed Balls to come up with a quote about anything, including the weather. Edwina Currie tells us that one of the hotels where Mr Hague spent the night with his aide is "a great place for a weekend tryst". Marvel at this in-depth analysis from John Major's former lover, now a celebrity contestant on Come Dine With Me.
By the way, do either of the Milibands seem convincing members of the real world? Their language is a Martian blend of double-speak and coded messages. They are not ideal dinner-party guests or the men you'd want to chat with your poorly auntie.
Meanwhile, Mr Brown takes the opportunity to let the press know that he's going to do unpaid charity work for children in Africa. Pity the orphans, the starving and the sick of the developing world, all being used as a handy PR opportunity by retired politicians competing on their meaningful journeys.
New faces: Same old ITV formula – Ugly Bloke in charge
The body language says it all. With a new regime at the top, were you wondering what to expect tomorrow morning when ITV1 launches its revamped breakfast show with BBC defectors Christine Bleakley and Adrian Chiles? Judging by the publicity pictures issued for 'Daybreak', it will be the modern equivalent of 'Mad Men'. Macho man is in the driving seat, and she's busy simpering in a subsidiary role. In the publicity shots, Adrian has his arm firmly around Christine, in a proud, but protective manner. In the full-page colour ads placed in the national press, he's looking quizzically at the camera while she's glamorously Cheryl Cole-thin in a baggy frock, gazing adoringly in his direction. Yes, it's Ugly Bloke in charge – so situation normal at ITV.
Smells like team Sex Pistols
John Lydon surprised a lot of fans by appearing in a butter ad. Even more unlikely, the Sex Pistols have lent their name to a new perfume. The bottle is inspired by their Jamie Reid-designed 1976 artwork for 'God Save the Queen' and shows the Queen, complete with safety pins.
The Sex Pistols gigs that I attended reeked of stale beer and sweat, but this fragrance sounds more alluring, featuring patchouli and lemon. Punk goes from strength to strength – a new exhibition of punk posters from the 1970s opens at the fashionable Haunch of Venison Gallery in London later this month, selling to a new generation of fans.
Any colour as long as it's beige
President Barack Obama has redecorated the Oval Office, and, looking at the results, I'm not sure that when he retires, a career in interior design will be an option. Frankly, the overriding colour scheme is best described as a combination of baby poo and toffee. How many shades of beige can you cram into one space? To make matters worse, he has chosen a carpet woven with "meaningful" quotations such as "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice".
Writing on carpets is something you might expect in the dining rooms of football clubs, not the office of a world leader. The mustard sofas with brown and gold striped scatter cushions look like something from the 1980s. Sadly, I don't think retro-chic was the look they were aiming for.Reuse content