By David L. Russell
Les Robertson was a science fiction fan. He lived in Moe in the east of Victoria with his parents Charlie (Chas) and Kath Robertson.
Like his father, Les worked at a coal-fired power station. Most of Moe’s men did the same.
He was one of the problem-solving techs that fandom produces in abundance. At one convention the movie Short Circuit 2 was to be shown on a large cinema screen just prior to the finish of the con. But an essential cable was missing, so impatient fans were waiting en masse getting increasingly annoyed at the delay.
Les was asked for help and had the needed cable to link the two recalcitrant bits of technology. Les saves the day!! At the closing ceremony Shane Morrisey gratefully thanked Les.
You see, Les always lugged around a HUGE amount of kipple with him when he attended conventions — far more, frankly, than any other reasonable person would bother bringing. Seeing him with all of his paraphernalia I was always reminded of the over prepared beaver from Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark “The beaver brought paper, portfolio, pens, And ink in unfailing supplies”(1).
As the person who had to, on occasion, help move all of these essentials around later in Les’s life, I often thought when he was repacking at one or two am that life would have been easier for both of us if we’d gone minimalistic rather than the fannish everything-and-the-kitchen-sink and a spare-kitchen-sink-and-essential-repair-materials-if-either-sink-should-spring-a-leak way of doing things.
One time, a ring that he owned went ‘missing’, causing much searching of packed bags and luggage; given the lateness of the hour I was heartily sick of relooking through possible hiding places, using a torch to make sure it hadn’t gotten underneath his hotel room bed and making plans to phone house keeping the next day in case they found it after we’d checked out and caught both our early morning trains home. All of this while wanting only sleep after a three-day convention.
I phoned him after arriving home. His mother Kath answered the phone, “Did the ring turn up?” Yes. It was stuck to some duct tape he’d used to seal up some luggage. Les always had duct tape and a sewing kit and superglue and a leatherman tool and…
We met through both of us belonging to The Melbourne Science Fiction Club back when it was located at Saint David’s Uniting Church Hall in 74 Melville Road, West Brunswick. I’m sure I attended a few meetings without paying much attention to Les. If you chucked a rock back then you’d hit a dozen slightly overweight, bearded, affable enough, male fans at any well-attended meeting.
In talking to James ‘Jocko’ Allen I’d learned that Les would happily get milk or perhaps fish and chips from a nearby shop in Melville Road if someone was too busy to get them for themselves but that getting the change from these purchases out of him was a little difficult.