At the last meeting of the Hills Friendship Club for 2023, long-time member, ninety-year-old, Lester Morris launched his book “If People Had Tails”, the latest in a long list of published works. This latest book is one of his children’s books, well written and beautifully illustrated by Josie Granger.
Lester, a resident of Winston Hills, has had a varied and interesting life, starting work in the mid-1940s as a messenger boy delivering telegrams at Kings Cross and selling newspapers. He saved the money earnt to purchase his first motor bike, a 1929 Norton, in 1947 as a 14-year-old schoolboy and from that developed his love of motorcycles.
Motorbikes had a grip on him and never let him go. He went on to study motorcycles and became somewhat an expert on their design and suspension which led to his employment in the trade working for up to six motorcycle companies and becoming a columnist for the Motor Cycle Magazine in 1967 for whom he wrote for 20 odd years. Lester Morris is Australia’s longest-serving, and probably most published, specialist motorcycle writer, with most of his peers considering him to be ‘iconic’, or even ‘legendary’.
His first articles, on simple maintenance and safety, were published in REVS Motorcycle News in 1968. His Two Wheels work encompassed four decades and included road tests of contemporary and classic bikes and sparkling autobiographical accounts of long rides as a young man in the 1950s with his mates, including the equally legendary, and pretty scary, Fred, on his Vincent.
From 1948 Lester spent over 20 years in the trade, including working at Sydney’s famed Omodeis store. His first book, Motorcycling in Australia, was published by McMillan in 1976.
Lester is also a noted race commentator, often featuring as an expert motorcycle compere on Torque, a 1970s motoring programme on ABC television. His race commentary from Mount Panorama at Bathurst was often broadcast on Sydney radio station 2GB.
One of his books on his past experiences, “Vintage Morris: Tall Tales but True from a Lifetime in Motorcycling” is just that, a memoir of his many-and-various (and often hilarious) experiences in the motorcycle industry.
Motor cycling is not his only interest. Lester also has worked on stage and television having appeared in many Australian TV shows such as “Home and Away” and “Sons and Daughters”. He appeared in a commercial for Energy Australia which proved so popular that the company followed it up with Lester appearing in eight different commercials playing the same character. Lester’s screen credits also include appearances in Mission: Impossible II, Danny Deckchair and Police Rescue.
As a member of Actors’ Equity since 1968, he appeared initially in TV drama, then on-tour with J.C. Williamson’s with the musical ‘Mame’, “Two Gentlemen of Verona” and later as Mr. Buckle in “The Shoemaker and the Elves” for the Alexander Theatre Company in 1974, before founding, directing and appearing in Music Hall in 1975, which returned to Sydney in 1977.
He has also Played the King in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Live! On Stage!” from 1985 and directed a production of ‘Snow White’ which played Sydney and toured
Australia and New Zealand several times since 1999.
A trained opera singer, actor and stage director, he also formed the ‘Piccadilly Music Hall’ which toured the Eastern Seaboard of Australia for more than 30 years, playing three Theatre Restaurant venues, and countless Clubs, Town Halls and Theatres, including a sell-out in Sydney Town Hall, then playing, five months later, to audience of four (4) in Outback Queensland. “No publicity, that’s why!” according to Lester.
He later directed several plays for the Gaels Company and the Operas ‘Iolanthe’, ‘Love by Lanternlight’, ‘Gianni Schicchi’ for Rockdale and Sydney Independent Opera companies, among others.
Lester was honoured at the Hills Friendship Club meeting at Castle Hill in December with a presentation to him and his wife, Lyn, of a certificate celebrating their 10-year membership of the Friendship Club.