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Chatting away with a glass of champagne in his hand, a leading underpinning contractor chose to share this gem with NCE. It relates to a small scale underpinning project to stabilise a house built on a hillside.

Because of the hill the home's kitchen and living areas were on the upper story and the owners went downstairs to bedroom and bathroom.

'The job was going well, ' reports our specialist 'although the guys said one pile was taking a lot of concrete so they thought they'd found the void that was causing all the problems.

'I was just about to go home when I was collared by the lady of the house who had just been downstairs to use the bathroom.

When she had opened the door she'd been confronted by wall of concrete.

'One of the raking piles had gone straight through the wall of the house.

'Even worse it had also gone into the back of her wardrobe.'

Never fear. All was cleared up quickly, with the help of the woman's solicitor husband! He even came to help with the cleaning up process and formed a close bond with the underpinners. Not least when his wife found him and his new friends wiping their hands on the remnants of her wedding dress.

lTwo impossibly upper crust elderly gents overheard chatting on the London to Lewes train Monday night: One in his late 70s, the other in his late 80s, discussing, among other things, Glyndebourne, Lord somebody or other and how, when one of them became an MP for the first time, Tony Blair wasn't even born.

Who? None other than the expansive-eyebrowed Labour heavyweight, elder statesman and PM critic Lord Healey, who then proceeded to pull a funny face for a nearby child and declared himself 'a silly billy'.

Our reporter wonders if he called our dear leader that when he recently spoke to him at Chequers.

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