Backchat was hob-knobbing with insurance establishment in the House of Lords last Wednesday at a reception sponsored by Groupama.

The host, Lord Chalfont, entertained the assembled guests with a guarded attack on the scrapping of hereditary peers and a thinly veiled swipe at the Millennium Wheel, the London Eye, visible from the Lords' terrace. It was clearly more of a London eyesore to him.

Lord Chalfont explained that he had been at a conference discussing the risk of a ballistic missile attack on London and an US speaker mentioned that, having just walked over Westminster Bridge, he had noticed that London had already erected a target.

How we guffawed until we got home and heard that the MI6 Secret Intelligence Service building just down the river in Vauxhall had been hit by a missile. Perhaps Lord Chalfont wasn't joking after all.