Bill Brookes head and shouldersIT was definitely there when Andrew called on the Thursday. A black rubber ring, hooked over the tap of the wash basin for safe keeping. It had been far too big for the pop-up plug and as a result the water leaked rapidly out of the basin each time you tried to fill it. We (Ian and I – yes, he was a witness) demonstrated the problem to Andrew. It was a small snag, but an important one when you’ve got paying guests. Don’t worry, he assured us, he’d tell Bill Brookes of Clachers in Darlington who had organised the plumbing for the project, and he would sort it. By chance we had to call Bill out the next day because a radiator wasn’t working. I mentioned the plug. “Oh yes. Andrew told me. I’ve ordered some spare rings. Let’s see what the problem is exactly.”

“It’s here,” I said, as we went into the blue shower room. “Look. You can see, it just doesn’t fit.” Except it did. The ring was in place, around the plug. I ran the water into the basin. No leak. Not even a drip. Except me. He gave me that little knowing smile that men reserve for dim housewives. “Maybe your husband fixed it when you weren’t looking?” he suggested kindly.

“Did you mend that plug?” I asked Ian when he came home from – guess what? – a model railway exhibition. “No. Never touched it,” he assured me. It’s as big a mystery as those winning lottery numbers.


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