July 17, 2019

Horse 2571 - I Am Sorry, Banana

It isn't very often when I compose one of these things that the thing that I have to trawl through for references in my own work. In this case though not is the thing my own work but I'm having to do a word count through more than 2.5 million words. The word that I am looking for is "Banana"; which on the face of it sounds like a daft task but the reasons will become apparent fairly quickly.

Almost certainly because I have spent so much time around the law, I have inadvertently picked up some of the quirks of the legal profession; one of those quirks is the use of the placeholder in my pieces. Placeholders are useful because they allow you to speak about a theoretical subject without actually offending anyone. You can absolutely rip into the placeholder if you like, with disdain for things like defamation and contempt, because there isn't actually a party at the other end who might come back to give you grief.
To that end I have used the name "Banana" some 47 times over these past 22 years as the placeholder for a town name, area, or electorate, as it sounds like a sufficiently silly name that no place would honestly be called Banana.

Imagine then my abject horror when I heard about this on the 8 o'clock news on ABC Radio.

Four children who allegedly drove a four-wheel-drive from central Queensland to NSW have been found safe in Grafton.
Police said a 14-year-old boy, two 13-year-old boys and a 10-year-old girl took a family member's car from Gracemere near Rockhampton on Saturday night, along with fishing rods and cash.
- ABC News, 15th Jul 2019

Okay, so the actual act of some kids going joyriding is nothing particularly remarkable other than it is really stupid, but the thing that really made me take notice was this line:
"The children allegedly were involved in a fuel-stealing incident at a service station in Banana early Sunday morning."

Wait, what? How can this possibly be? Who in their right mind would honestly call their town Banana?

My initial reaction to this was that there must have been a hideous mistake and that the copy writers for the article had (just like me) been using the word Banana as a placeholder and that somehow it had escaped into the final copy by accident.
After some brief checking, some ratting around on Google maps, and a search through the local council's website, I have had to come to the conclusion that not only is Banana a real place but it is also sufficiently small enough that I might actually be insulting people on an almost personal basis.
My other initial conclusion is that reality itself is broken because the name Banana as a town name is really daft. It is a real thing, but daft:


Welcome to the Banana Hotel Motel

Legal professionals and accounting professionals love placeholder names where the subjects are A, B, and C. To that end, Alice, Bob, and Charlie, are used as placeholder names for individuals on a more than sensible basis, and Apple, Banana, and Cherry, are used for the placeholder names for corporate types. I am particularly fond of the name Banana High School in place of some government run high school and St Hubris for the private school. However, now that I know that Banana is a town in Queensland, I will be loathe to use that name in future. lest the people of the real world town of Banana come after me with pitchforks in some kind of mob justice vigilante scenario.

After some further ratting around on Google maps, I have come to the conclusion that Banana is so small that it doesn't even have half of the things that I might use as an example. I can find no evidence of a football ground, a local high school or primary school, nor a post office, nor a police station. There was a racecourse listed to the north of the town but I can not find much evidence that it is the site of many horse races.

I had hoped to find a local footy team called the Banana Bananas which were playing in an all yellow kit but that sadly does not exist. It would have been in that grand tradition of silly names for teams like the Macon Bacon, Montgomery Biscuits and the Savannah Bananas which are all genuine minor league baseball teams in America. I don't know why we haven't embraced the craziness in Australia, as I can see a team called the Bin Chickens being a thing.

To the people of Banana, Queensland: I am sorry. You will no longer be the subject of my taunts any more, even though with a name like Banana, you probably should have expected it. I shall have to find a new set of triple placeholders for names of the form ABC; to that end I will probably pick Bacon.

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