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The Bulletin at 60: Happy birthday, dear Bulletin, says Backchat columnist Geoff Meade
The Bulletin, I first met you and read you when you were in your late teens, little knowing that I would soon be part of the scribbling family. You really haven’t changed much since those days, apart, of course, from the fact that you’re online, which wasn’t even a word when we first got together.
The biggest communication revolution back in our day was the arrival of the fax machine – or was it a Fax machine?
This new-fangled technology provided me with column material about, well, new-fangled technology, and also about excited Meadelets sitting spellbound next to the fax, waiting for it to spew out another piece of paper like magic.
It also ended my days of having to drive into Brussels by car from Overijse to drop my frantically penned weekly contribution into the Bulletin letterbox, first at the Avenue Louise office and later at the replacement Bulletin HQ on a corner of Avenue Moliere.
I still had to frantically type the piece of course, but I didn’t need to take it anywhere: the fax was obviously the future for all time!
With impeccable logic, editor Aislinn Dulanty named my column Backchat, because it contained chat and was usually found at the back of the magazine. I of course wrote one piece about being tucked away next to the small ads where no one could find me unless they were looking for a second-hand car or a child-minder.
But Aislinn failed in her efforts to persuade me to have my photo atop the work: photos were suitable for the more serious Bulletin scribes, I said, but a bit grand for my brand of frivolity.
So she found a picture in the Bulletin library of a rather dashing and still to this day renowned British actor and plonked it over my column, on the grounds that we looked a bit similar. I was flattered, but I was worried that I might be flattened if the actor (Nigel Havers) somehow stumbled across my words and decided I was taking his name in vain.
Within a few weeks, a splendid and wholly appropriate cartoon of a harassed-looking hack had replaced Nigel, drawn by Aislinn herself.
That cartoon went on to adorn a booklet of my collected works (how posh is that?) and is staring down at me now from a bookshelf as I type this.
Thank you, dear Bulletin, for such an enduring legacy, and well done Sarah Crew, who is keeping the Bulletin spirit very much alive: as the Beatles didn’t say: “Will you still need me, will you still read me, when I’m 64”?
Course we will, and for far longer than that.
In The Bulletin's 45th anniversary edition in 2007, Geoff Meade recounts how his Backchat column first started.
From the archive: Geoff Meade's Backchat column Meadelets Ahoy (March 1991).