It must be spring because Michael Fabricant is blocking the walkways of Westminster with his bike again.
The Tory deputy chairman best known for his outrageous blond mop widely believed to be a wig, it’s claimed he has summer and winter versions of different thicknesses rides a sort of elongated chopper to work at the Commons.
Unfortunately the bike racks are only made for normal-sized cycles, leading to many a bashed shin for folk travelling between the Commons chamber and the MPs’ office block in Portcullis House.
The tandem became a talking point last summer before vanishing for the winter. Now it’s back, in the way, and appears to have been abandoned for the Easter recess to cause maximum inconvenience.
Fabricant once stood as a Conservative candidate in South Shields. He was beaten, of course it’s a constituency with a special record of never having returned a Tory since the Great Reform Act of 1832.
That won’t change the next time it elects an MP, likely to be this May, after David Miliband stepped down last week.
So safe is the seat that one think tank suggested it’s not worth having a by-election at all. That may go against all democratic instincts, but they have a point. The decision on who will be the next MP for South Shields will not be made by the electorate who would, as the old saying goes, elect a donkey with a red rosette but with the Labour party bosses currently deciding who their candidate should be.
There wasn’t a Labour party in 1832 so the seat has changed hands from Liberal to Labour in 1935 and never gone back.
There are seats that are even safer Environment Secretary Owen Paterson’s North Shropshire constituency has been a Tory stronghold since 1835.
Miliband’s departure was a surprise but perhaps not a shock. He recognised that as long as he was on the backbenches every utterance and intervention would be viewed as a plea for promotion or a criticism of his brother’s leadership of the Labour party. If he did join the Shadow Cabinet, commentators would focus on the dynamic between him and Ed to the exclusion of any policy considerations.
You have to go back a long way in any party’s history to find a defeated leadership contender eventually taking the top job. David Miliband has had to accept that British politics doesn’t tolerate losers.
Things could have been different. He had numerous chances to wield the knife and put Gordon Brown’s limp premiership out of its misery, but bottled every opportunity.
Instead he will be forever associated with an unfortunate picture of him looking gormless while wielding a banana.
David’s departure means Ed is less one potential threat. On the other side of the House the PM felt a similar sensation as Boris Johnson, a man whose hair is as ridiculous as Michael Fabricant’s though real saw his leadership ambitions stall.
First came an interview with the BBC’s excellent Eddie Mair who made Boris’s litany of minor misdemeanours sound like a serious dossier of dodgy deeds.
That was followed by a documentary which made the Johnson clan look so posh they may as well be a different species. They were an entertaining bunch, but undeniably odd. Quite the opposite of David Cameron’s electoral appeal which is staked on the basis he appears to be fairly normal.
But then Boris’s abnormality is what sets him apart from his contemporaries. Another politician may have spent the week trying to repair the damage to his reputation. The London mayor went busking with a former X Factor contestant called Misha B.
He turned in an acceptable performance of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. The song’s refrain? “Don’t worry, about a thing . . . ”