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25/06/2015 08:21 BST | Updated 25/06/2016 06:59 BST

Following Farage: How I Learnt to Stop Worrying and Enjoy Reporting on Ukip

Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

It is my girlfriend I feel most sorry for. Hearing about Nigel Farage and Ukip pretty much everyday for months, nay years, couldn't have been much fun.

Not a day went by during the writing of my first book, Following Farage: On The Trail of the People's Army (out today), when I wasn't pondering what the party and its leader was up to.

Every time Farage or Ukip was mentioned on the TV, radio, in a paper, on a website, or on social media, I would have to investigate what was going on.

And today the fruits of my labour, and cause of my girlfriend's suffering, hits the shops.

The book covers two years of reporting on Farage and the People's Army. Starting with my first meeting with the Ukip leader in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire when I was a local reporter in April 2013, it goes up to the General Election and captures the madness of the aftermath - unresignation and all.

Why write a book about Farage, I hear you cry.

Because he's the most interesting politician we have at the moment, that's why.

Do you love him? Do you hate him? Either way, you've got an opinion on him.

Shortly after my first meeting with Farage I joined the Daily Express, which meant reporting on Ukip. A lot. Every day.

And when I told people I worked for the Express as a political reporter, I was always asked about Farage. What's he like? Does he really drink that much? Is he racist? Is he funny? Is he a bore?

People - on both sides of the love/hate Farage spectrum - wanted to know about him.

Hence my book.

By-elections, party conferences, and the 2015 General Election campaign form the spine of it, but there are also interviews with some of the more colourful characters involved in the party.

A hunt with Godfrey Bloom, a Christmas dinner with Winston McKenzie, a private members club meal with party founder Dr Alan Sked, several pints with Raheem Kassam - all these events make up chapters.

The one thing my fellow journalists kept saying to me was "you must capture the madness!" I tried my best, and the book is written in a first-person, Gonzo-journalist style.

Doncaster, Hartlepool, Margate, Ramsgate, Westminster, Selby, Bristol, Croydon, Clacton, Rochester, Thurrock, all provide backdrops for various points of my own personal Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.

In place of analysis, there are anecdotes. In place of facts, there are foul-ups.

Many of my more anti-Ukip friends hoped the book would be a character assassination of Farage, exposing him as a right-wing racist or fascist. He isn't.

Some more Ukip-sympathetic people have asked me if the book reveals the truth about the party, and shows it to unfairly criticised by the media and nowhere near as nasty or gaffe-prone as it appears. It doesn't.

The book is an honest account of my experiences. The first few times I met Nigel Farage, I liked him. He was, and in the main still is, approachable, polite, and generous with his time. He is interested in people and remembers you.

Even when I left the Daily Express to join the Daily Mirror - probably the most anti-Ukip paper on the market - he was perfectly warm and friendly to me.

He doesn't hold grudges against journalists, and if a negative story appears in our newspaper or on our website, he understands we are just doing our jobs and doesn't take it personally.

But as the General Election campaign started, there was a change.

The cheerful, understanding advisors he had around him in 2013 and 2014 had been replaced by more aggressive types.

Certain journalists were excluded from events - including me.

I'm certain many of these decisions were taken without Farage's knowledge, but it reflected badly on him.

As for the People's Army itself, many in Ukip are pleasant, decent people, who genuinely lament the loss of sovereignty to the European Union and are uncomfortable with the face of modern Britain. This does not make them bad people.

But some are racist, some are xenophobic, and some are nasty. Ukip will say such people are present in all parties, but I have always seen more at People's Army events than other political conferences.

There is not a media-led witch-hunt against Ukip. Racist tweets, dodgy expenses claims and homophobic weather reports come from Ukip members and are not made up by the press.

The book is not just about Farage and Ukip, but also about a journalist in a world he had always wanted be in, but not sure what to do once he got there.

I hope pro and anti-Ukippers read the book. I think both groups will have their views challenged in some chapters and affirmed in others.

I am well aware that Following Farage is unlikely to be this year's Fifty Shades of Grey. Of course, it would be amazing if it sold a decent number of copies so I could finally pay off my university debts, but I didn't write it to make money.

I wrote it because what I was seeing was unique, bizarre, remarkable, crazy, impressive, inspiring, destructive and funny.

That is how I think of my time covering Nigel Farage and Ukip. Hopefully I captured that in the book.

Hopefully you will buy it so I can afford the therapy sessions my girlfriend now needs after hearing about Farage non-stop for two years.

Following Farage: On the Trail of the People's Army is out now and can be purchased from Biteback