Oh, the joy of it. Peter Mandelson on the radio, Martha Kearney in a "lunch club" with some rather boring guests, Gordon Brown on the telly. And Sarah Brown on Twitter, saying completely inconsequential things such as, "in the West Midlands today – hard hat factory visit in Rugby and launch event in new B'ham hospital building so far". I've watched the little cartoon films accompanying the launch of the Labour website, Alastair Campbell vlogging on the leaders' debates, I've checked out where David Cameron is – buying cups of tea for workers in Reading for some reason. And that was in 10 minutes over lunch. I love elections. I love the massive, mad, manic effort of it all for just a few short weeks. I love seeing politicians go "talking to ordinary people", pursued only by five television cameras and 35 reporters.
When else would we bother to report that Mr Cameron talked to workers at Jewsons and bought them tea "from a burger van"? I love hearing po-faced pundits pontificate, broadcasters bullshitting from Bognor. I love the polls and the policies, the spin and the soundbite, the footfall of politician on street, the whole happy merry-go-round of British political life.
And this time we have blogs, we have Twitter, we have newspapers all online. This is the political sofa nerd's election. For many years, I covered elections as a journalist and here's the big secret – when you're covering it, you never know what's going on. John Prescott smacks someone in the face: you hear about it on the late-night news because you have been canvassing with the Liberal Democrat candidate in Watford. Poll shows surprise Labour lead? You are in a field somewhere, interviewing a farmer. Ah, happy days... but not exactly up-to-the-minute days. To really be there, you have to stay at home. And that is what I have been planning for months – sofa in place, television tuned, radio on the windowsill. A small table to one side to place the laptop and the remote controls, perhaps a pad of paper and a pen? Bliss.
If anybody asked me to sign up for anything in April, I have said, "I can't". I can't have builders then, I can't hand in essays, I can't go on holiday, I can't come and give a presentation. Because it's the election. When the dentist's receptionist in mid-March proposed 7 May for a dental appointment for my daughter I looked at her and said, "May 7th? But that's the day after the election".
She looked at me as if I was slightly demented. But in my mind I was watching (and I will be watching) the comings and goings in Downing Street – Mr Cameron on his way to the Palace, perhaps, or Nick Clegg cabaling with Mr Brown.
I see that three times as many people are searching for Gordon Brown on Google today as for David Cameron, and three times as many for Cameron as for Clegg. I see that Clegg just forgot to kiss a baby in Northampton and its granny protested. I see that it's sunny in Birmingham.
There may never be a better time to be a political sofa nerd. Never again will we have as many outlets to obsess over, or as many internet paths to stalk. In every general election that follows this one, for a start, the newspapers are likely to have faded away behind paywalls – no more comparing the thoughts of Simon Heffer and Simon Carr, or checking the Telegraph's opinion on the effect of SamCam. But then, who needs them? Now we have Philip Cowley's expert blog from Nottingham University, we have UKpollingreport, we have Conservative Home.
So switch off the phone and turn on the telly, and bring on the debates. Bring on the manifestos. Bring on the press conferences. Bring on the analysis, in all its multi-faceted, multimedia, slightly insane, obsessive glory. Bring on John Prescott's fist. If not his fist, I'll settle for his tweets. This time, ah, this time, I shall be there to see it all.Reuse content