The goalkeeper's fear of the genetically modified pig

IN THESE last two days of the year I want to take your mind off all the bad news of 1998 by directing it to all the bad news of 1999. Yes, it's Old Miles's Almanack time again, as we gaze gloomily into the crystal ball and see the major events of the coming year...

January

As Project New Labour falters, with the departure of chief architect Peter Mandelson, rumours abound of a new movement within Government ranks called Project Old Labour.

New Year's Honour List announced: people getting knighthoods all say "It's a wonderful surprise and shock honour", even though they've known about it for months. Only real surprise in List? Sir Peter Mandelson.

Scientists grow a human hand on a pig.

As President Bill Clinton commences his impeachment trial, he tries to divert attention by bombing Baghdad again.

Richard Branson announces plans for new attempt to circle world in balloon. He will take off in 1999 and complete the trip in 2000, thus becoming the first person to take two centuries to go round the world.

A new miracle sex aid is launched on the American market, called Niagara. It has the opposite effect to that of Viagra: it removes sexual desire from men and gives them the urge to help with the washing up. Sales are moderate to begin with.

Rain, floods and wind. M4 under water. Global warming blamed.

February

Project Old Labour gains strength. Robin Cook and John Prescott emerge as leaders. Their claim is that New Labour wins elections but Old Labour runs governments.

Second human hand is grown on pig. Scientists say the idea is to train Percy the pig as goalkeeper.

Cornish Tourist Board announces there are now no hotel bedrooms left in Cornwall for solar eclipse in August and pleads with tourists to go elsewhere.

Sales of Niagara, the sexual depressant, start to boom. It turns out that many American women are buying it secretly to put in husbands' food and drink.

Ferocious snow, ice and frost in Britain. East Anglia splits off from Britain and floats away to sea. Global cooling blamed.

March

New best-seller from Bill Bryson: Notes from My Last Book, a collection of pieces which have previously been serialised from previous books.

Percy the Pig turns out in friendly football match between Steve Jones's Geneticists XI and Richard Dawkins's All Star Atheists. He keeps a clean score sheet, despite protests that he now takes the field wielding five hands.

Champagne industry, desperately overstocked, puts out rumour that there may be none left by millennium. Sales perk up.

Frank Sinatra comes back from the dead for surprise concert tour

Warmest March on record. Richard Branson balloon emissions blamed.

April

Rumours circulate that Clinton is having a wild affair with one of the Congresswomen involved in his impeachment trial. Angrily he denies it and drops a few bombs on Libya. Blair declares himself right behind Clinton.

Richard Branson announces that when his balloon goes round the world from century to century, he will be dressed as Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.

New smash hit all-girl group called Hello Girls sweeps to top of charts, meets Prince Charles, squabbles, splits and disbands.

Pregnancy rate in the USA takes a dramatic tumble; success of Niagara is blamed.

Norfolk spotted going through the Bering Strait. Could be the first English county to sail round world. No sign of Suffolk. Fears expressed.

Gales, rain, flooding and inundation. Global wetting is blamed.

May

Gordon Brown makes bid for premiership but fails to reach reserve price.

Alex Ferguson buys Percy the Pig to replace now departed Peter Schmeichel.

Cornish champagne stocks exhausted; dangerously low in Devon.

June

Percy the Pig leaves full-time football and gets his own late-night TV chat show.

First Iraqi bombs start to drop on Washing ton DC.

Norfolk makes landfall off Chile. Many Chileans take day trip to Norfolk from Santiago. Verdict: quite nice but bit boring, really.

Second half of 1999 coming tomorrow!

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