Harry Turner's Footnotes to Fandom
John Roles Remembered    | FOOTNOTES Page | Obituary Page |

Remembering John Roles

Quote from recent letter from A Vin¢ Clarke, Archivist of the Welling Fan Archive: "I wish I could rernerrber more about Stu Mackenzie—would make an interesting article for MIMOSA, the US fan-historical zine. I suppose Ted Tubb was fairly close, but I've been putting off contacting him". So there you are, there's a gap n the market you could well fill. Though I seem to recall that Stu could be a bit touchy about things that were said about him, and even threatened litigation at some stage or other...

Back on the TFWOP28 front, I now have it clear in my mind that while I used the Word, Walt Willis put it on page 28 (of HYPHEN 11), and it was Daphne Buckmaster who actually put the Fanphrase into print, by using it in her loc to HYPHEN 12. I now also know what Mike Wallace said to upset my equilibrium Wow, we ran that one into the ground.

The RAF Strike programme also prompted Vin¢ to dig out a few instalments of John Roles reminiscences of his SouthEast Asia days, from OMPA mailings. It was Ethel who first mentioned "Roles's Rollings: Adventures of a Lotus Eater" to me in a 1992 letter, but then never returned to the subject. I was busy enlarging my own Indian story at the time, and decided to leave investigating John's account of his experiences until I had gone some way with my own.

Did you ever know John ? He always seemed to be hovering in the background at any meetings of the Manchester-Liverpool crowd I attended, the foreground being occupied by the Shorrockses and Eric the Bent. At that tine in the fifties, I rarely Bent. At that time in the fifties, I rarely mentioned my RAF days... "When I was in Poonah in '45" didn't sound a particularly fannish conversation opener, I guess, and I always thought of John as one of the younger generation who'd missed overseas service. So I lost a chance there!

John appears to have arrived in India early in 1945, trained as a teleprinter operator in Army Signals, and finished up in Rangoon by October. Thereafter moved around Singapore - Kuala Lumpur - Penang and back to Singapore HQ in August 1946. He mentions in passing that he spent a further two and a half years in Malaya. . . say to autumn 1948.

He was dumped on various RAF units during the January strike period, but seems to have been so preoccupied with his efforts to "go native" at this period, that any references to the strike must have completely passed him by. I'd like to get in touch with him, but don't think he's still actively engaged with fandom. Don't recall seeing his name in any recent fanzines that have come my way.

Apparently Ron Bennett (now retired from his comicbook-stall) sent in for copies of the Roles' Indian saga, which is when Vin¢ remembered to do a set for me. Wonder what Ron's interest is? ■

Letter to Fran & Brian Varley, Summer 1996

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