Okay Gordon. Whenever you want, I'm ready. I've completed the essential preparations for an autumn poll. I got the greenhouse cleaned out a fortnight ago; the geranium cuttings went in last week and I've just done the penstemon cuttings.
An autumn poll has one great inconvenience, there are no local elections. At least in May we can get the last-minute leaflets delivered by council candidates anxious to mobilise their own vote. Without that we are going to be pretty short of leg power on the street. I wasn't exactly lost in the crowd at the last election: I spent most of the time standing by myself outside Morrisons in Ripon or Skipton dishing out uplifting literature and feeling like a double glazing salesman in a heatwave.
The other problem is the Conservatives' oak tree symbol. For the past three elections we have used the same posters in a tasteful combination of puce and electric blue, adorned with the Conservative flaming torch. We are loath to abandon the trusty posters which just need a good hose down and are as good as new, so my agent is trying to get an adhesive band to stick across the bottom replacing the torch with the patriotic quercus robur, the English oak. I rather fancied quercusaliena which Hillier'sGardener'sguidetotreesandshrubsdescribes as "large, coarsely toothed leaves, glossy, green above," but my agent has vetoed such horticultural levity.
The other big decision is whether to fight the election on or off the hooch. About three elections ago I went the whole campaign without touching a drop. Since the Curry family was singularly slow to applaud this heroic abstention or, indeed, to notice the lean and muscular form emerging beneath the canvassing kit, I have not been tempted to repeat the exercise - a stint of unremitting joviality outside Morrisons is enough to put any man in need of a strong drink!
At the time of writing I am not aware of the existence of a Labour candidate in my constituency. Nor, for that matter, has a UK Independent Party (UKIP) candidature manifested itself. I shall be pretty brassed off if none appears failing to make the UKIP hit list would be a devious blow to my self-esteem. There is precious little chance of press attention; about five elections ago journalist Matthew Parris spent a few hours with me and actually witnessed a local farmer admit that I seemed to know what I was talking about. He reeled away in stunned disbelief at such evidence of voter-candidate communion - Yorkshire farmers are not forthcoming with their praise - and no one has reappeared since.
I suspect that this election, whenever it comes, will be pretty subliminal excitement for most people: voter profiling technology and the multiplication of email communication means that a huge part of contact in key marginal seats will be electronic. It will be an election for bloggers, single-issue websites and, no doubt, social networking sites like Facebook. But I will continue my vigil outside Morrisons where I shall at least be seen.
I suppose there will be the usual church-organised joint meetings on development issues - I don't think I have ever been asked a question about defence at such a gathering.
Of course, there may not be an autumn election, for which eventuality I have taken delivery of five loads of lovely well-rotted horse manure that I canÍt wait to get shovelled onto the vegetable garden.
A wheelbarrow full of muck, the sport on the radio and a whiff of bonfire smoke on the crisp sharp autumn air - that beats the supermarket any day!