How it began
In January 2000 Jeff McGill, editor of the Penrith City Star introduced a new idea in his paper. He set aside page four to present a lighter side to the district's news.
There were appropriately four segments: the first was a reader profile where ordinary readers were asked questions about themselves; the second was a historical feature by local historian, Lorna Parr; the third was a tourism column; he asked me to do the fourth.
My column was called "Tall Tales" and, as you will see, it was pretty far fetched.
A few months later I was approached by Rachel Derham, editor of the neighbouring St. Marys Star, to do a similar column for her paper. Since there was a slight overlap in the distribution areas of the two papers the columns had to be different. Because I was the breakfast announcer on Nepean community radio station AIR-FM Rachel called the column "Off the Air".
The columns ran for almost two years but, since many of them were related to events that were current in the news at that time, they have no relevance here and have been omitted.
The ADI Site
The ADI Site had been a source of controversy in the Penrith / St. Marys district for at least the previous five years. Owned by the Australian Defence Industries it was the site of a World War II munitions factory.
Measuring 1,535 hectares (that's six square miles if you use imperial measures) there have been many proposals from interested (and warring) groups. Some want to leave it as parkland and some want to develop it as a small suburb. Each of the groups is enthusiastic in asserting their claims, and each believes their solution is the only reasonable one.
Naturally the whole topic was too much to resist, and I wrote several columns about it.
Mamre College & The Nepean Institute
Mamre and Nepean are names that identify St. Marys and Penrith respectively.
Mamre Road bisects St. Marys and so if I needed a fictitious authority I blamed it on Mamre College or Mamre Laboratories. They don't exist and have no parallel in real life.
The Nepean River flows between Penrith and the Blue Mountains so that adding Nepean to anything (as in the Nepean Institute which also has no parallel in the real world) immediately identifies it as belonging to Penrith.
Jeff didn't want me to use names in the column that could be identified with real-world people. There were two reasons—they could cause embarrassment to the person concerned; and they could result in complaints, or even legal difficulties. So the names were fantasies that I tried to fit to the individual stories.
Dr Peter Proboscis never got his nose out of joint. Army spokeswoman, Colonel MacAdamia was a macadamia kernel who wasn't nuts about her situation, and businessman Sebastian Stonesthrow was never very far from the action.
My real estate salesman was Honest Joe Blake (rhyming slang for a snake) while the Japanese victims of his bridge sale were the Ohashi (it translates as "big bridge") Corporation and a guy named Mijikai Itanimai (mijikai ita ni mai is Japanese for "two short planks"). This man was THICK!
Herman Nutznboltz was a German inventor, Jeannie Saypar (je ne sais pas) didn't know anything, and my well-meaning politician was Rose Cullard (for her rose coloured glasses). We also had psychologist Sigmund Flapjack (Freud), environmentalist Kit Astrophy (catastrophe) and businesswoman Di Zaster.
There were lots of others, but armed with the clues above you should be able to work out where the names came from relative to the story.
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