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During the last few months of professional practice, the office in which this column was immured introduced hydraulic drawing boards.

You used a pedal to pump the board up and down to the appropriate level. OK, maybe it was pneumatic. Coupled with this bit of very high drafting technology was a spring-loaded, swivelling, board-angle control regulated by a lever under the board.

Happily this was not well thought out. We discovered that you could pull the board hard in your direction, lock it fi rmly, put a matchbox on the back edge and aim. Keeping your head well clear you flicked the locking lever.

With an enormous whump, the board sprang over to its opposite stop and the matchbox sailed down the office. Pointed drafting instruments were deemed too dangerous to fire.

I was reminded of this by an advertisement for a panning, tilting and firing 'USB Missile Launcher - Controlled from your PC to fi re foam darts at your chosen office target!' At a bit less than ú30 including postage this looks like the summer's best offer from my regular kit supplier, Aria, at http: // tinyurl. com/l8gsg.

A very great pity the missiles are only made from foam.

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