William George "George" Rebbeck 1901 - 1994
Eldest son of Sydney Francis Rebbeck and Emily Coombes Rebbeck
Recollections of Bygone Days part 2
We were away from Kelling throughout the last war and when we came back things seemed very different. I met Gommy one day soon after our return from Wiltshire in his little Austin. He told me that he'd been given only a few months to live- cancer of the throat. When he died Mrs G. clearly missed him. She used to go abroad with her unmarried sister but she was getting old. When we were at Kelling church attending the nuptials of a Rebbeck and a Hancock on a lovely October day, we saw Mrs G. in the church. She had cycled down to the church so Lena's sister, Pat, went and invited her to the reception after, which pleased her. When I think that we had 28 people and a piano in that room! One thing Gommy used to do when we lived in the old shack and went down to Portsmouth five times a year. During the colder periods he would put hot water bottles in our bed on our return days.
One interesting story that he told us. When he had a week off he used to pack a horse and ride off into the outback. He would shoot something for the pot and put a record on his portable gramophone. When he put Mme. Melba on, the monkeys all around drowned her voice with their screeching, but they sat enraptured when he replaced her by Caruso. How's that for sexual discrimination.
Next day there was a bit of a discussion going on after
breakfast "You ask her" "No, you want it, you ask her."
"All right. Harold is very fond of parsnips and he's got one out in the car that he found on the roadside. He wonders, if you're cooking, if you'd cook it for him?"
I told him to go and get it, which he did. It did look like a parsnip, straw coloured, about three inches in diameter tapering over about nine inches to almost a point. Lena looked at it and then looked at me and smiled. We recognised it; we often had to dodge odd ones that had dropped off sugar beet lorries when motor cycling. Yes sugar beet. Poor Harold, but it added to the sum total of his knowledge - I don't think he'd ever heard of sugar beet let alone seen one.
To this little story there is an interesting sequel. Sugar
beet vary greatly in shape as do parsnips, some like a carrot and some
more round with a root. I think Harold's must been like the second. Anyhow
the long slim root was cut or broken off and the round part finished up
in the vegetable box. Lena made a stew one chilly winters day and seeing
what she thought was a turnip, added a little to add flavour. It did but
it wasn't. It did add flavour but it wasn't turnip and it wasn't parsnip
and the flavour was 'very sweetness'. We couldn't eat the stew - when
you are expecting saltiness and you get sweetness. I believe we tried
some bits of the meat but it wasn't very successful. There is a lot of
difference between sweetmeats and sweet meat.
I was going to Reepham along the Norwich road and suddenly rounding a gentle curve found a flock of sheep occupying the full width of the road. I pulled up with the leading sheep sniffing at the tyre of my front wheels but we did pull up, the front brake worked. Don't tell me animals act from instinct, they don't - they think. Our next-door neighbour kept a goat, as did several friends in the locality when we first came to Norfolk. He had recently bought a new nanny and she was a trifle fractious. When he came out to milk her she would not tamely submit but persisted in ambling off out of reach and he had to chivvy her along the path until she finally gave in. So one morning he cut a thin switch from a birch tree (the origin of the word Birch as a punishment?) and when she started her "soft shoe shuffle" he gave her a few whacks. It worked or so he thought as he finished milking her and bent down to pick up his stool and milk can. It had been raining during the night and when he found himself sprawling on the path he thought he had just slipped on the muddy surface but then he realised what actually had happened. The goat had waited until he had bent to gather the can and stool and then gave him a gentle nudge. She hadn't butted him - he said he hadn't felt more than a toppling push but with mud on his clothes and the milk all over the path he was furious. He grabbed the switch and advanced on the poor nanny who was quietly cropping grass. He looked at her little beady eyes as they looked up at him. There was a certain look in them and he paused in his anger and said "all right you old B.... fifty-fifty quits" and he had no more trouble from then on. I wonder where the phrase "acting the goat" came from?
"Tooley, come here, boy, what position are you playing in?."
"Outside left, sir"
"And where is that?"
"Down there, sir" says Tooley, indicating the left side of the field.
"Then what were you doing in there?"
In view of the fact that the boy had done the right thing, one of the staff who was a Norfolk county player felt that he must stick up for him. He said that the lad had done the right thing - when a player is not supported by a team mate he goes for goal, the object of the game is to score goals.
"Rubbish," said Frankie "If that were the case they'd have made the field octagonal"
I once heard a real Norfolk man say of another "He know as much about football as a cow know about Christmas." He could have been talking about Frankie.
Page last amended January 2004