Being a local councillor can be a tiresome business, but it's not all late-night meetings for elected representatives.
A trawl through Birmingham City Council's register of gifts and hospitality shows that politicians would be well advised to cultivate a strong stomach, in more ways than one.
The register has been a statutory requirement for local authorities since the "sleaze" allegations that crippled John Major's Government in the mid-1990s led to the Nolan Report into standards in public life.
Councillors must enter every gift or item of hospitality worth more than £25 that they have been offered during the course of a year - whether or not they accept.
The relatively small monetary limit means in practice that almost any invitation must be declared.
Drinks and canapes at the local flower show probably wouldn't amount to more than £25, but most councillors are either unwilling to take the risk of failing to declare or simply cannot be bothered to work out the cost. So they enter every invitation they receive. MPs also have to compile a register of gifts and hospitality - but the starting point for declarations is £500.
So, an MP could eat and drink his way through £499 worth of hospitality from a private company and would be under no obligation to own up.
A councillor, on the other hand, drops in at a cocktail party where he consumes a plateful of vol-au-vents and a few glasses of the house white and the whole of Birmingham knows about it.
The three political groups on Birmingham City Council want the £25 limit increased to at least £100.
The council's own standards committee, however, is taking a more cautious view and believes the £25 figure should remain in force.
John Hemming, former Liberal Democrat leader of the council and now MP for Yardley, believes there are "substantial problems" with the Code of Conduct as it applies to councillors.
"It is anti-democratic and draconian in many respects," he added.
Coun Hemming (Lib Dem South Yardley) said he found it too much trouble to work out whether hospitality was worth more or less than £25. It was easier to declare everything.
However, Coun Hemming explained that he rarely accepted invitations to functions.
Sir Albert Bore, Labour group leader, was the leader of Birmingham City Council until the end of June 2004. When he was heading the council he regularly received scores of invitations to receptions, dinners and other functions.
In one week in June last year, Sir Albert (Ladywood) declined invitations to a champagne reception at the Hilton Metropole, a screening of a Euro 2004 game at the Hotel Du Vin, an investment property dinner at Grosvenor House in London, lunch at the Botanical Gardens and a oneday international cricket match at Edgbaston.
Sir Albert said: "The £25 limit is ludicrously low and it should be raised.
"It takes so much time to sort out what is more than £25 that I just put down everything." When he became council leader on June 29 2004, Mike Whitby was unprepared for the mass of invitations to functions that would come his way. He rejects three out of every four because he simply does not have the time to attend.
During December, Coun Whitby (Con Harborne) was invited to 81 functions. He attended 16. Among the invitations turned down by the council leader were tickets for the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Gymnastics World Cup Final.