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Era of the paperless office? You must be joking

PUBLISHED: 11:58 28 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:21 07 September 2010

A speaker at a 1980s conference I attended confidently predicted that electronic forms of communication would turn newspaper offices into paperless zones within 20 years. The fool! So mountainous are today s piles of newsprint, glossy mags, press releases

A speaker at a 1980s conference I attended confidently predicted that electronic forms of communication would turn newspaper offices into paperless zones within 20 years. The fool! So mountainous are today's piles of newsprint, glossy mags, press releases, novels and reference books at the Ham&High that any member of staff of less than average height is in danger of being reported to the authorities as a missing person.

Granted, most of the material sent to us by post is instantly disposable. But one publication I never throw away is a very luscious colour monthly, seldom less than 200 pages in girth, which goes by the wonderfully concise title, x-trax.

You won't find x-trax in the shops because it is published entirely for the edification of fact-hungry journalists to help create the illusion that we are well-informed.

On my recent birthday, for instance, x-trax was able to tell me that I shared my birth date with actor Steve Martin (no relation, though I have a brother of that name), romantic novelist Danielle Steele, Far Side cartoon creator Gary Larson and soprano Sarah Brightman.

News events which took place on the same day in history included the first international beauty contest (1908) the last execution at the Tower of London (1941) the Soviet Union's announcement that it had tested a hydrogen bomb (on my exact birthday, in 1953) and the capture of Carlos the Jackal in 1994.

In 1948 Donald Bradman played his last innings (out for a duck, second ball) and Kenny Dalglish played his final game for Liverpool (1990). Chart toppers included John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John's You're The One That I Want, five years on from Gary Glitter's Leader Of The Gang.

So on the off-chance that you share my passion for trivial coincidences and it's your birthday today, I'm pleased to tell you, thanks to x-trax, that your August 28 birthday is shared by Sir John Betjeman, Windsor Davies, Emlyn Hughes and Shania Twain.

The Beach Boys, Donny Osmond, The Commodores and UB40 all had number one hits and it was on this day in 1963 that Martin Luther King delivered his famous 'I have a dream' speech. If you were in North Wales eight years ago you'll surely remember that it was hit by a tornado and if you are Prince Charles you'll undoubtedly recall that on this day in 1996, you divorced your one-time princess, Diana.

Time flies, doesn't it?

It was great to see Maida Vale's brilliant Bradley Wiggins on the podium at the Olympic hand-over party in London on Sunday, alongside triple-jumper Phillips Idowu. Just one thing, Bradley. You won gold, he won silver, but white men can never, ever look as cool on stage as black men. So don't even try...

Geoff Martin


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