Because I am very old I suspect that I knew Robin longer than anyone here. We met, I believe, sometime in 1952-3. Sadly, I did not, for various reasons, know him nearly as well as most of you.
Robin and I did our
undergraduate geology degree at the same university in
Robin was one year behind me, but I nevertheless came to know him quite well. One reason for this was that the geology department – in common with many geology departments of that era – was located in an ancient brick building that housed a number of odd university departments like ours. It was a good 15 minutes brisk walk in the rain with our gowns (yes, we had to wear academic gowns to lectures) billowing in the wind behind us from what was affectionately known as the “Old Building” to get to the white Portland stone main buildings of the university where our non-geology lectures and laboratories were held. This ensured that the geologists regarded themselves as an elite – if somewhat down-trodden – group and there was an unusual amount of mingling between the different years.
The major reason I knew Robin so well in those days was, however, due to Robin’s academic ability and his devotion to geology. The great majority of students studying geology were doing it as part of another degree. In my year there were only two determined to become geologists (I was obviously one). In Robin’s year he is the only one that I remember who was also determined to be a geologist.
The head of the department
took special care of such people. As a
consequence of this, Robin was invited to join my third-year excursion to
Before I was accepted into
the Geology course as a potential honours student (and therefore a serious
geologist) the head of department made me swear that I had no expectation of
working in Britain (because there were no jobs) and I must be prepared to work
overseas. I believe Robin was put
through the same test. The head of
department believed that we would join the British Colonial Geological Survey. Both Robin and I knew that this did not offer
a long-term future (the colonies were disappearing at a rapid rate!). So, I took off for
I was told on one of my visits
to the old department in
One day in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s (after I had finished my global wanderings and I was more or less settled down in Australia) I was at some meeting in Sydney – most likely a SMEDG meeting – when I saw a large gentleman advancing towards me across the room. I recognised him as Robin immediately because of his characteristic slow and gentle smile. The last time I saw him a few weeks ago, he greeted me with exactly the same smile.
We will all miss Robin for our own personal reasons.