A birthday party in Hammersmith played host to political bunfight when a cabinet minister, two Hammersmith and Fulham councillors and a spin doctor descended to claim centre stage amongst the sausage rolls.
Pensioners cosily ensconced in armchairs for a party, together with a finger buffet, set the scene for a bitter cross-party spat on Wednesday at Wentworth House in Bayonne Estate.
When minister of state at the department of communities and local government John Healey MP (pictured with Michael Templar) announced he was visiting the party, politicians and civil servants rushed to the communal lounge to join in.
The controversy began when the leader of the Hammersmith and Fulham Labour group Cllr Stephen Cowan, who had been invited by host Michael Templar, 64, asked an impromptu guest - the Tory council's press officer - to leave.
"It was the most bizarre birthday party I've ever been invited to. The council insisted on sending an officer who took notes on what everyone said. It was like something out of the television show 'Allo 'Allo," said Cllr Cowan.
Despite the request, the spin doctor remained seated at the back of the room after telling the irate councillor he was 'just doing his job'.
The next row came about when Mr Templar, who was later praised for the quality of the sandwiches he had made, asked Tory cabinet member for residents' services Cllr Paul Bristow - another impromptu guest - to go.
"He hadn't been invited anyway. It's my birthday and I politely asked him to leave. Although I did say he was welcome to a cup of tea and a sandwich," he said.
In a Benny Hill-style scene, Cllr Bristow left rapidly, followed by our reporter, who in turn was pursued by the council PR man. Cllr Bristow later claimed he didn't know it was a birthday party.
But the political lilt continued, as the minister made a speech about why H&F sheltered housing warden services should remain residential. This was followed by a speech from Cllr Cowan, after which the pensioners could settle down to a slice of birthday cake in peace.