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The dark secrets of Aunt Sadie's jacks

Aunt Sadie has fully recovered from her stroke and has moved back home on her own, eschewing all suggestions that she might like to stay with one of her relations.

"I can't stand other people," she said to me. "Fair enough, but if you need anything give me a call," I said to her. The call came the next day.

"The jacks is blocked," she said. "You need to have a look at it and bring a plunger." I was eating a chicken korma at the time and suddenly lost my appetite.



Armed with the plunger and Patsy in tow, we arrived at Aunt Sadie's the next afternoon. She was watching horse racing on Channel Four and making copious notes in a notebook. I suspected Paddy Power was involved somewhere.

"I thought you'd never turn up," she said before turning to Patsy and saying, "Are you any good at cleaning windows?"

Patsy nodded no and then stood behind me where she thought she couldn't be seen.

"I thought not," muttered Aunt Sadie.

She said to me, "That brown bread your mother brought over was like a brick. I could have used it to prop up the bed."

I was about to say that I hoped that the brick wasn't stuck down the toilet, but the race had started so we had to keep quiet. I couldn't tell by Aunt Sadie whether she had money on a horse or not until the last one crossed the line and she muttered "For f**k sake," under her breath.

Then it was time to have a go at the loo. First I gave it a flush to see what would happen. The water quickly drained away but then, just as quickly arrived back, circling like a whirlpool.



It hovered around the rim of the toilet bowl for a while, before slowly starting to recede until it stayed about half way. "Ugh," said Patsy, looking over my shoulder. I shouldn't have brought her.

She was next to useless. I grabbed the plunger and started plunging. After a few minutes, the toilet water started to go down. Then suddenly, like that scene from Jaws where a half-eaten face comes from nowhere and scares the bejaysus out of Richard Dreyfuss, a brown mass appeared in the toilet bowl. "Holy Moly!" roared Patsy, nearly creasing herself as she tried to get out the bathroom door.

I put her in the recovery position on the landing and timidly ventured back. As I poked the mass with the plunger I realised it was a brown hair net with five plastic rollers inside it.

"So that's where it went," said Aunt Sadie, peering into the toilet.

I need a new phone number.