| In Memory Of ... |
Hubert Victor Stallabrass
Grandpa was as large in personality as he was in stature, with a voice
to match. Pity his neighbours, as the walls shook with his gargantuan
sneezes and renditions of his favourite songs ["Sailing" being
his all-time number one.] He always made his presence known, and there
are few who came into contact with him that do not have a lasting memory
of his unique personality. |
Grandpa was full of catch phrases and little snippets that fascinated us: "All of a sudden", "Black cat - missed it"; "I'm speaking on behalf of the British Bible Society!". Strangely inappropriate quotes were recited with mock solemnity - "On such a night as this did gentle Jessica mount the Trojan wall"; we never knew where he learnt them, but they now remain as ingrained in our memory as they were in his.
Grandpa had a total disregard for authority and rules if they stood in the way of what he was trying to achieve. If going up a one way street the wrong way was the quickest way to get somewhere, then so be it - and blow anyone who tried to tell him otherwise. One of my most vivid memories is being hustled by Grandpa to the front of the check-in desk at Heathrow - other passengers stood to one side to let me through as Grandpa muttered into an imaginary walkie-talkie, no doubt assuming I was minor royalty with my bodyguard. He could blag his way in to the Rugby Final or the doctor's dining room at Middlesex hospital without turning a hair, while those accompanying him quaked with the fear of being discovered.
Food was one of his great pleasures - not that he was a gourmet by any means, for he eschewed "foreign" food and anything containing garlic all his life. But he was never happier than when faced with a steaming bowl of rhubarb crumble and custard. Even now the rank, acrid smell of freshly grown tomatoes brings back memories of his allotment at the Rugby Ground. There was always a bar of Cadbury's fruit and nut in his fridge, and a packet of Extra Strong Mints in his car.
Grandpa made everything an adventure and could always push the barriers to make an event memorable or exciting. Whether "wombling" on Wimbledon Common, going up to the swinging tree, or blackberrying, you always got the feeling that anything could happen.