Vote for your favourite war in this last year of the century

Or, for those of you who can add up properly, the last but one year of the century
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The Independent Culture
THE MILLENNIUM Poll Bug is now raging out of control, it seems. This is the bug which infects the media and causes them to organise polls to decide the Sporting Personality of the Last 1,000 Years, the Poem of the Century, the Man of the Millennium and so on. Unless I imagined it, Radio 4 has already decided that William Shakespeare is the man of the millennium, which is not bad for someone who may not even have written his own plays, and Radio 2 is now asking listeners to vote for the Song of the Century, and...

Well, as you can imagine, it doesn't stop there. For those of you who enjoy voting in such things, and don't mind having a huge phone bill, I am bringing you a round-up of some of the various polls being conducted in this last year of the century (or, for those of you who can add up properly, the last but one year of the century.)

War Of The Millennium

The magazine Military Monthly is organising a poll among its readers to decide which is their favourite war of all time. They will vote on the grounds of technical excitement and strategic brilliance, as well as on mere death rates and casualty figures. The shortlist includes the American Civil War, the English Civil War, Napoleon's campaigns, the Hundred Years War and the Schleswig-Holstein War. This last is almost unknown to English readers, but it was thought politic to include a war which the Germans actually won. Amazingly, the Great War is not on the shortlist. Too boring, say the experts.

Dish of the Century

The periodical of the catering industry, Catering Times, has decided to open a poll for the dish which has been most significant for the business in the last 100 years.

"This is nothing to do with cooking," declares the editor. "Cooking and catering are two quite separate activities. What we want to do is nominate the dish which has made mass catering most viable and indeed profitable in this century.

"Some dishes have gone entirely out of fashion and are no longer seen, such as Rum Baba, but that doesn't disqualify them in the long run."

The short list is as follows:

Prawn Cocktail, Chicken Kiev, Black Forest Gateau, Individual Steak and Kidney Pudding, Rump Steak, Minestrone Soup, Tiramisu, Rum Baba, Coq au vin, Coloured sorbets

Secondhand Book of the Century

A campaign mounted by Rare Books Monthly to find the most popular secondhand book of all time. "Or do we mean the most unpopular?" says editor Paul Chievely. "After all, books commonly found in secondhand bookshops might be the ones that people most want, or they might be the ones that people never want to buy and only want to sell." Among the front runners are Why the Second World War will not Happen (1939, Daily Express Publications), Julian Lloyd Webber's travels with his cello, The Billericay Nobody Knows, The Good Food Guide of 1959 and anything by Sir Walter Scott.

Accessory of the Century

Cosmetic Quarterly has been polling its readers for a year now on what they think is the foremost fashion accessory of the last 100 years, and informed sources say that lipstick and eyeliner are way out ahead so far, but that there is still time for compact and powder puff to make a comeback.

Disease of the Millennium

The Lancet, the BMJ and several other medical mags are combining to vote for the disease which, in the opinion of doctors, has most successfully resisted efforts to cure it. One might think that Aids would be the front runner, but by medical standards this is apparently still a pretty untried ailment. "If we find a cure in the next few years, Aids will be seen not to have the staying power of something like TB, or malaria," says one of the organisers. "Don't forget the common cold, or syphilis, or even pneumonia. I think you'll find they'll pick up votes quicker than Aids will."

Cliche of the Century

The Oxford University Press have quietly been canvassing experts for what they consider to be the most over-used expressions in English in the last 100 years. "We would like to have made it Cliche of the Millennium," says a spokesman, "but we can only measure these things since records began. `Since records began' is one of our favourite cliches, incidentally..."

Other cliches jostling for the top spot are "best thing since sliced bread," "the new rock'n'roll" and "Don't mind if I do".

More Polls of the Millennium coming soon!

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