362 days to go, and I'm already sick of it

HERE WE go again. Another new year, and isn't it amazing how they just keep coming along, one after another? I live in hope. Each year as the clock strikes midnight and the wan pawky shade of Andy Stewart mums and gurns in the spinning airwaves like something nasty out of A Christmas Carol, I think, This year we'll be all right; this year there'll just be a soft click on the last stroke of 12 and everything will be suspended forever, or at least as long as it takes to get things sorted out, and there'll just be a gentle dove-grey silence, like cigarette-smoke or ambergris or the lost resonance of bells.

There's not, of course. There's tumult and injury, imbecile pronouncements from Sergeant Buzzfuzz and the fountains boarded up in Trafalgar Square; a conga-line of malfeasants, blotto; sick on the pavements, skirts up, knickers down and a minatory headache hatching in 20 million dazed and rattling skulls. Happy New Year, you fools! Here we go again!

But next time, it will be different. It will, it will. This is the last year and then the Millennium. These are the End Days. Only 362 to go and then all the computers will go down and Jesus will come again to judge both the quick and the dead, a task I can't envy him, what with the computers all going down and everything, but "Play it as it lays" has always been my motto and I expect it's His too, although it must be said that He doesn't have to put up with the sort of shit I do.

Three hundred and sixty two days, and so much to do. We'll all be sick of it by the time it arrives. Some of us are sick of it already; some of us are so sick of it already that we had forgotten or repressed just how sick we were, but thanks to the Millennium Dome advertising campaign we can start being sick of it all over again. The main thing, though, is not to get so sick of it as to forget to take elementary precautions against everything, so I offer you this handy Timetable of Millennium Dome, Bug & Second Coming Preparations for you to tear out, drill a hole through the top left-hand corner, and hang in the khazi because I'll tell you what, if you think Andrex is going to keep churning the stuff out roll-by-roll despite computer failure and the End of Time, you are in serious ontological trouble. So light a fougere-scented candle, take a handful of delicious Nurofen Plus, and settle down to see what's what.

JANUARY This is a time for mulching and consolidation. "What is mulching?" you may ask. I say, if you don't know, why should I tell you? But seeing as we're all going to die, I will make an exception. Mulching is a technical term for nastiness in the garden, and everyone is agreed it's essential. So get on with it.

FEBRUARY Make a list of things you will need to stockpile throughout the coming months. There won't be any in the shops because everyone else will be after the same things. You don't believe me? Think of an odd number between one and 10. Think of a vegetable. See? You thought "seven" and you thought "carrot". Just like everyone else. We are in the same boat and we are headed for the bottom.

MARCH You will need to build a dugout, get a shotgun, brush up on your survival skills. (a) To build a dugout, dig. Move the earth from the entrance. Go in. Hide. (b) To get a shotgun, hang around dodgy pubs until you meet someone who talks very quietly out of the corner of his mouth. Go up to him, saying "Hello, I believe you may be a criminal, I wish to buy a shotgun, here is some money or I shall go to the police." (c) Survival skills. The most valuable survival skill is: not dying. Practice it. The pub is a good place to start.

APRIL Consider your religious beliefs. Scientific surveys show that it takes at least nine months of diligent belief to be able to establish a robust and vigorous faith with the first green shoots of bigotry, intolerance etc. If you do not believe in Jesus, now would be a good time to start. You might also wish to begin backing up your computerised "data". Alternatively you could just not bother, since it's all bollocks anyway. I mean, how many personal finance programs do you have? And how many are up-to-date? Exactly.

MAY Spring is here, the sap is rising and now is the time to do all those things you always meant to do, eg that Mrs Plovdiv next door. And don't worry about Mr Plovdiv. He is away earning a fortune advising companies on what to do when the Millennium Bug strikes.

JUNE If you are wise, you will form a religious cult around yourself when everyone gets back from holiday and starts worrying about the imminent End of the World as we Know It. Now, therefore, would be a good time to work on your charisma. (Hint: to improve your charisma, just watch Mr Mandelson closely and do the opposite.)

JULY Begin withdrawing all your money from the bank over the coming months. Come January it'll all go up in smoke anyway. Do not keep it in the form of cash, which will be useless. Buy things of inherent value, eg Viagra, penicillin, absolute of jasmine, lap-dancers.

AUGUST Now is the time to hang around airports, preaching. Buttonhole strangers and tell them that Jesus is behind the Millennium Bug, also the Devil is behind the Millennium Dome. Ask them which side they want to be on. Then sign them up.

SEPTEMBER You left it too late, didn't you? Well you'll just have to put up with Bronco and that's that. (It'll give you something to think about in the long dark eternity to come, ie, who the hell had the idea of inventing shiny lavatory paper?)

OCTOBER Gather your disciples in your dugout. Keep shtum.

NOVEMBER Memorise John Donne's "Nocturnall Upon St Lucies Day". You will need it. Get Mrs Plovdiv in tip-top shape.

DECEMBER Blast your computer equipment to smithereens with your shotgun. Buy the tin-opener you forgot. (Price: 2,000 Viagra 100mg and Mrs Plovdiv.) Hunker down. Suppress schismatic disciples. Wait.

JANUARY 2000 Nothing happens. Feel stupid. Emerge blinking into sunlight. Try to re-build life.

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