Two weeks an MP and I have survived the "maiden speech" ordeal.
MPs are not allowed to take part in debates, ask questions, intervene, raise points of order and probably much else besides until this has been done.
By tradition the maiden speech contains little of relevance to the subject being debated. (Although this could be said of many speeches) Instead praise is heaped on previous MPs, a description of the constituency follows with perhaps a few moderate comments in support/criticism of government policy. In return those sitting on the benches opposite refrain from heckling or intervening.
As one MP said: "Enjoy it because it's the easiest speech you will ever make."
I was fairly relaxed about the whole thing until, with about a minute to go, a whip came up to me. "Brace yourself" he said grabbing my arm excitedly, in the manner of a parachute jump master, "because you are next!" At this point I will confess to a mild bout of nerves.
Fortunately things seemed to go reasonably well.
I celebrated by seeking out the Table Office and exercising my right to table, or register, a question for Gordon Brown. Which, if I am lucky I will get to ask him in the Chamber next week.
There followed a long explanation of the types of questions which may be asked of Ministers, along with a timetable showing the daily deadlines for allowable questions to the specific Ministers, and the day they will be answered. I came out in need of coffee.
Shortly afterwards my phone went: "Whips office. Get into the Chamber immediately. You must be there for the wind up speeches if you have spoken in a debate."
The fact that this was happening an hours earlier than expected was no excuse. It is going to take quite some time to understand Parliament.
I took my place on the backbenches which was just behind Ian Paisley. "I remember my maiden speech." he said cheerfully. "It was a bit controversial. In fact it was so controversial that the Speaker ruled me out of order."
Now that would have been a maiden speech worth seeing.