Countdown To Christmas – Episode 18

DOLORES will be throwing a fit by now!” Sally panted as they raced along to the hall. “You know how she’s always going on about ‘dancers’ discipline’. You’d think we were the chorus line from the London Palladium, the way she talks!”“Maybe she’ll throw us out,” Kate said, only half joking and with a faint note of hope in her voice. “Even the kids remembered the routine better than I do!”They reached the hall and tugged open the door . . . and stepped into a tide of water that sloshed over the tops of their trainers.“What on earth?”Kate looked blankly at her feet and the wash of water pooling around them.It was like a slow-motion film scene the way their eyes moved from the puddle along the hall to where the steady flow was ebbing out of a cupboard to the right.They looked at each other and in the same moment realised the truth.“Burst pipe!” they said together.“We’d better find Ted!” Sally sprinted along the hall, Kate at her heels.“I don’t believe this. After all those power cuts, what else can go wrong?”They skidded to a halt in the doorway of the kitchen, and in spite of the emergency hesitated to intrude on what was a distinctly cosy scene: Evelyn and Ted sitting opposite each other over a relatively intimate supper for two.Sally had always had very expressive eyebrows, relaying silent messages which Kate had grown adept at reading, and now they were working overtime. They were raised, waggling, quirking and saying more than any words could have.“Oh, ho, will you look at this!” Kate read, and with one crook of her own answered, “Indeed!”“Er, sorry to interrupt,” Kate ventured, hating to see the look of disappointment on Evelyn’s face, “but there’s a bit of a situation. Ted, do you happen to know where the stopcock for the water is?”Ted looked blank.“The stopcock? Well, yes, but . . .” But a trickle of water glistening its way down the hall behind them told him all he needed to know.“What’s that water? Have we sprung a leak? Where?”He leaped up, still very agile for his years, and the four of them followed the flood to the utility room.In the utility room there was an automatic washing machine used by the various groups for washing tablecloths and tea towels, football kit and furnishings. And right now there was water pouring out from behind it.“Evelyn, help me move it out . . .” he said, bracing himself and grasping two corners. Evelyn mirrored his movement and together they tugged it away from the wall, revealing the cold water supply pipe with water gushing out of it.“Can you turn it off there?” Kate shouted above the noise of the rushing water.Ted shook his head.“I’ll need to do it at the master tap outside. Evelyn, can you grab a torch from the kitchen while I find the water key? I think it’s in the cupboard there.”“Is there anything we can do?” Kate asked.“You can start grabbing every mop and cloth in the place to clean up once we get the water stopped,” Ted advised, grasping the tall iron key that would turn the stopcock outside and racing out to where Evelyn was waiting with the beam from a big torch picking out its metal cover.Kate and Sally waited by the machine for a moment, and were relieved to see the water gradually slow and then stop. That was that at least. Now to assess the damage.


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