Fire and flood

Paddy Ashdown used to tell the story of how he visited a constituent whose home had been flooded. After having a cup of tea and listening to the long history of their case, Paddy realised he was desperate to go to the loo. Finally he asked if he could use their facilities, yanked the old-fashioned chain with relief – and pulled the cistern off the wall, flooding them again.

I’ve never had an experience quite like that. Or not until today. I was canvassing with one of our councillors, and we called on a lady who wanted to show us a problem in her flat. We duly went into the basement and were checking it out when suddenly the smoke alarm went off. There was a pan simmering on the gas hob, and the roll of kitchen towel nearby had gone up in flames. One damp tea towel and the fire was out; no damage done. In fact our host insisted she was delighted we’d called and we all had a nervous laugh about our memorable visit. She even took a Paddick poster. Well he does have a background in the emergency services….

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