COLIN NICHOL dryly reminisces about his time with the Herald and clears up some loose ends
THIRTY years for the Herald, fifteen for me.
It’s coming up that long since I wrote my first story for the Herald and began an association that continues.
That item was on the Fremantle Markets, a matter of great contention at the time. With my background in, amongst other things, management and marketing of shopping centres and markets, I felt qualified to give advice as to what they should do about future management. The mayor then travelled to Adelaide Central Market to learn how that was run, while the manager who developed it to that stage, was back within arm’s reach here in Fremantle (ahem…).
My connection with the Herald extends for longer than it has been in print.
The editor at the time didn’t know that when, on the basis of my previous writing over many years, took me on as an occasional contributor. Like an old sock on a windscreen wiper, I was expected to be temporary.
Since then, I’ve probably been flicked more times than I’ve been printed, but the editor knows best, doesn’t he, even if the current one has been involved with the paper quite a number of years less than I have. (Everyone gets a serve in this story).
Some history stories from the paper ended up in the State Library which pleased various editors but didn’t guarantee automatic publication of my constant output, to the point where one roared, “This is the Fremantle Herald, not the Colin Nichol Herald.”
Several items aroused the mayor who, in association with others, wrote in protesting reply but I withheld response at the time. These criticisms were largely incorrect and because I’m the one writing this, I can say he was wrong and I was right.
Of course, there has been the occasional letter to the editor and I welcome that. The worst thing is to be ignored.
I’ve ranted about architecture and design and bemoaned the lack of attention to heritage and arts. There was something of a moment of truth for all involved when the Atwell Arcade building was rebuilt, a tower gained and heritage lost, despite three articles giving the developer and architects the benefit of my gratuitous guidance.
Early designs of buildings for Kings Square offended me and I wrote as such, now wondering if panning them was a good idea in view of their current replacements. I’ve held back over the design for the current civic building, now rising from the square. Until now. To me, it seems empirical and not welcoming and its clever “civic drum” feature not prominent enough.
It’s described as round to reflect the Round House, but that is dodecagonal. And who will suffer the penance of mowing that sloping lawn! Be nice Colin, no doubt it will all look good from the inside.
There it is, a momentarily opened window on my history with the Herald for this anniversary occasion. But who am I? I was first brought into Fremantle just days old, am fourth generation, a double Australian, born and naturalised and a dual/three passport-holder national. (I’ll never get into parliament).
I’ve been investigated by MI5 and by the British Ministry of Defence (cleared, in case you doubted), signed the Official Secrets Act, broadcast news to the world, broken down in the Sahara, threatened by a bomb, and should really not damage this attempt at respectability by mentioning those pirate years.
So that and much more is all useful. As I once told the mayor, everyth
ing I write is researched and checked or from experience. So feel safe; you can, after all, believe everything I tell you.