Mickey Lister was an old friend of Jack Duckworth's. Dressed in smart suits, he put on the front of a successful businessman but in reality he was involved in shady dealings, often with stolen goods. In September 1987, he made one of his infrequent visits to the Rovers where Jack, working there as a potman, bemoaned the fact to Mickey that Vera wanted their back room in 9 Coronation Street decorated expensively. Having a "living flame" gas fire purloined from an exporter to get rid of, Mickey persuaded Jack that what Vera - as a representative of the fairer sex - really wanted with the winter nights drawing in was such an appliance to make the "love nest" cosy, warm, inviting and provide the room with a focal point. His interest piqued by the thought that the £100 at mate's rates for the fire was far cheaper than decorating, Jack tried to persuade Vera to agree to the proposition. She happily did so, taking Jack aback by saying that such a fire would need new wallpaper surrounding it and that, in turn, would need a new carpet to boot.
Jack worked on Vera to change her mind, which she did, and settled for just the fire. Mickey called for the cash and suggested that Jack save more money by fitting the appliance himself, pointing out that it would be a simple thing to connect the exposed gas pipe with some copper tubing.
Even though it was highly illegal, Jack did so, with disastrous results, first causing a soot fall down his own chimney, and then a gas leak which had to be reported by the neighbours.