You heard me. This is neither joke nor jape, neither jest nor jibe. This is real, dammit, as real as the fingers on my hands, as real as the piece of corn wedged between two of my back teeth since teatime. I'm running for President of Twitter harder than you've ever seen anyone run for anything in your entire life. Nothing I've ever done has felt so right. Except playing a Cm13 chord on a Casio VL-Tone in the middle of a hailstorm.
Took a break from that paragraph to swish some grapefruit juice around in my mouth. The corn is still there, but we'll soldier on. Now to the business at hand. President. It's a big word. One of the biggest. It demands a capital P - it's in the rules. And running for President is not something you undertake lightly. It took no small amount of pacing and walks and contemplation to arrive at this decision. There was an entire day when I leaned against a rainy window at least - and I counted this - thirty times. And on each occasion, I reversed my previous decision. I went to bed that night having given up on my dream of Twitter presidency. At about 2 a.m., I coughed myself awake, only to realise I'd made a terrible mistake. I staggered downstairs again, tore open the curtains and leaned once again on that rain-piddled window, thinking, Yes, yes! It has to be! You can't stop now! Do it! Come on! Keep going!
The lady next door hammered furiously on the wall, and rightly so. I had actually been shouting all of those things, not thinking them, and at an entirely unacceptable volume. I knocked on her door in the morning to apologize and explain, but she was out, as is so often the case. No matter. I had matters to attend to. For I was now A Candidate.
Public life is a funny thing. I mean, you're either a people person or you're not. Me? Not sure. Engaging with strangers is certainly an experience. They come in all shapes, sizes, voices, clothes, hair, money, food, handshakes, hats, babies, questions, newspapers, shouting, pets, umbrellas, cigarettes, running, curtains, knocking, blankets, earphones, darkness, headaches, breathing, whiskey. Terribly sorry - I wandered off-message there. Anyway: campaigning. It's a rollercoaster! And to what end? you might wonder. Disorientation? Vomit? Nausea? Well, yes. And I wouldn't change it for the world. There's no better way to prepare yourself for the rigours of office than simply going out and meeting a never-ending succession of random strangers, listening to their things that they want to say, being there for them and between them and near them and right beside them where they breathe.
I resolved to effect immediate changes in my life. Seismic, shocking, sensational changes. The beards would have to stay, of course, and the piercings - this much was obvious. No, I was thinking more along the lines of Poise, Stance, Grace, Statesmanship, Grandeur, Knowledgeliness, that sort of thing. I would confer a Presidential quality on myself. Nothing wrong with that. The building blocks were already there - the talent, the passion, the common touch, the vast web of connections. It was, and is, a process of Becoming. So what have I done to get to where I am now?
Firstly: Healthy eating. You know as well as any of them that this is an important one. No voter wants to see their ballot paper pinned to a sloppy horse. A rotten analogy, but you see where I was going with it, so let it go. I originally declared that I would commit to a meat-rich diet, but this idea was poorly-received by an electorate to which I humbly defer, so an about-face was called for: it was vegetables all the way. Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables. It's not easy, let me tell you, nor is it enjoyable or in any way nice, but it showed I'm willing to listen and to make sacrifices. (I hope people remember this above all else, and not what happened at the weekend - which I'll address later.) Anyway, vegetables were not a good fit for me, as it turned out. I'm back on the old no-veg diet. But I'm a man of my word, and I'm committed to getting in shape, as soon as the orange colour (carrot overdose) fades from my skin.
Secondly: Getting to know the voters. I began by putting myself out there, letting the world know I was on the scene with my sleeves rolled up, completely pumped, finger on the pulse, looking to connect, ready to go and full of spunk. And juice. The campaign hashtag - #SodForPrez - brought the people closer and kept everyone in the loop. I began reaching out to undecided voters, seeking answers, working towards solutions that would bring them back from the brink of political apathy and engage them fully in the democratic process, with a view to restoring their faith in politics and getting me the job of President of Twitter. As election day draws nearer, I continue this work, trying not to lose sight of the fundamentals of politics and Presidentiality: Eye Contact, Name Remembering, Firm Beliefs, Vision, Commonality, Grip, Speech, Justice, Truth, such figures.
Thirdly: Developing the Brand. Not to be cynical, but this is the next century, alright? And a candidate is, or at least has, or represents, a Brand. Now this Brand can be a force for good in the world, or not. Yes! Finally got that piece of corn out. Tongue's been digging around there for ages. Never tastes as good the second time. Where was I? Yes, the Brand. Well, it's vital that voters aren't put off by the Brand, unless you want them to stay at home. Now, in the case of a Presidential candidate, it's better if some voters don't stay at home, especially if they're the ones who've promised you a vote. Those are the folks you want to turn up, otherwise the whole enterprise rather falls on its face. Without proper handling, the Brand can turn people away in their droves, determined never to leave the house again. And what then? Personal hygiene is usually the first casualty, and timekeeping soon follows. No, not on my watch. My Brand is a force for good.
It's clear that I've made changes. It's plain to see that I'm ready for action. But it's also true that I'm human, in the most maddening, relatable, forgivable sense. There's no point in skirting around the issue. On Sunday night, I had a not inconsiderable blip. The campaign hiccupped. Now, I'm not going to point the finger of blame at This person or That commission. I'll just say this: The stress of the campaign, a lack of sleep and my extreme vegetable-only diet (created without medical consultation) conspired to render me temporarily flustered, to the point that I went on a very minor, very brief, very regrettable rampage. It was the second most embarrassing thing that's happened to me in recent memory. Suffice it to say that I have made amends (of the monetary and promissory kinds) with the neighbour in question and the damage inflicted has been repaired in full. Please understand: I do not hate cars, per se. Nor do I exactly like punching. To the passers-by who saw me sleeping in the hedge: Sorry. To the owner of the cat: I hope it returns. To the people at No. 1 whose sign I have: you'll get it back this evening (but I lost the screws).
As with everything that's happened on this journey, I see the events of Sunday night as an opportunity for growth and learning. And forgiveness. Ambition and humility can coexist, and I am their vessel. For each mistake I've made since the campaign began, I intend to get two things right. Seems fair, yes? I think so. And it's not like I don't already give much of my time to Twitter...
The plan continues apace. My manifesto is available on my website and on Twitter at #SodForPrez, alongside my regular updates. Details of the Election are provided by the Twitter Electoral Commission [ @TwElectComm ] - be sure to have a quick read before Election Day!
Thank you for reading. I trust I can rely on your vote.
To follow - and indeed help with - Astonishing Sod's campaign, you can check his website and follow the hashtag #SodForPrez on Twitter.
@TwElectComm is where you'll find all the necessary information as Election Day approaches.
Follow James Thomas on Twitter: www.twitter.com/astonishingsod