When one thinks of heavy metal music, one doesn’t normally think of high school principals. But Topics is all about smashing stereotypes and bringing down barriers.
This is why we’re pleased to bring you the story of Kotara High School principal Mark Snedden, who is a massive Iron Maiden fan.
Mark took a fortnight off to follow the band on tour this month, attending gigs in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
His long-term involvement with the band’s fan club means he gets VIP treatment. That means backstage passes, people.
Mark, a history teacher, said Iron Maiden was “a thinking person’s band”.
“They’re storytellers – a lot of their songs revolve around literature and history,” he said.
“That’s what caught me when I was young – their music wasn’t on a simple, one-dimensional level.”
He said the latest album – The Book of Souls – was about empires, including the fall of the Mayan civilisation.
His love of music allowed him to build a rapport with students.
“With the way I look, kids ask me what music I’m into,” he said.
“I talk about the heavier side of music – a lot of people disregard it without really listening to the complexities of what it has to offer.
“With a band like Iron Maiden, the lyrics provoke thought based on historical fact.”
He said music was about relaxation and escapism, but “there’s also lessons to be learnt, particularly from bands like Iron Maiden”.
He had used Iron Maiden in history and English lessons. Gosh, we wish Mark had been our teacher.
Our segment on funny and strange place names has evolved. Reader Eric Roach, of Croudace Bay, offered us a funny street name. A hamlet near Iluka and Yamba on the north coast had a street named “Wild Goose Chase”, Eric said.
Reader Tony Morrison said the highlight of the town of Wombat, near Cootamundra, was the “Wombat Heights Orchard and The Grog Shed”.
He said the locality of “Seldom Seen” could be found on the Barry Way at the Snowy Mountains.
“I always feel strange there, like something out of The Cars That Ate Paris or Wolf Creek,” he said, explaining that the tiny town provoked the feeling “that we need to move through quickly or we'll never emerge”.
Topics reported on Tuesday about Tony Robinson’s Time Walks on the ABC, which featured Newcastle.
In the show, Sir Tony said ballast from the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 was used to create part of the Stockton shore.
New Lambton’s Ross Greig recalled that the suburb Carrington was also created with ballast from ships.
Newcastle City Council records show this to be the case.
“Originally, the island was underwater at high tide and was slowly built up by ships dumping ballast (along with other reclamation work), which eventually saw the island grow out of the mud,” a council document said.
“Carrington emerged as a residential suburb in the 1860s when many people moved to the island to escape the dirt and noise of the city.”
Early access to the island was by rowboat or punt across Throsby Creek or on a two-horse coach.
“There was also a footbridge from Honeysuckle at one point.”
Topics would love to hear nostalgic stories from readers that fit the theme of “them were the days” – firstname.lastname@example.org