Tuesday 13 January 1998
Nigel Plevin hopes 1998 will be the first year not to go down in history. He hopes it will "break the bond of directionalist sentiments" and that "should 1998 prove memorable it will be recorded sideways or even slightly upwards". Maria O Treadwell points out that "nineteen ninety-eight" is an anagram of "Gee - the tiny n-n-nightie" which she suspects reaches down no farther than the n-n-navel.
Neil Hudson suggests "that 1998 be put aside as a spare year, so that if the Millennium Dome isn't finished by the end of 1999, we'll still have 1998 to complete it in". Judith Holmes has a similar idea: "save it up for a rainy year, or postpone it until after the Millennium (to get that nonsense over as soon as possible)". Magy Higgs is open-minded about whether 1998 should be celebrated now or later. She recommends sampling it for six months, then breaking it in half "and the remainder kept for after 2000 in case we don't like the fresh date after all."
RJ Pickles suggests celebrating 1998 by giving a tax rebate to everyone with a birthday this year. This could be paid for by selling portions of the year to tourists on a time-share basis. Mike Gifford advises designating 1998 as the "high water mark in the tide of time", after which numbers would go backwards. This would avoid any problems of a millennium computer breakdown. He fears, however, that 1998 will turn into another annus horribilis for the Queen, "with Charles advocating polygamy to solve unemployment by marrying the Spice Girls".
"When you have an accident," says Luela Palmer, "try dialling 1998. With luck you should get both Police and Ambulance." She (and others), however, warn that 1998 is also three times 666, so "you might get three beasts". Duncan Bull warns that nothing much happened in the year 666 or 1332. "In 1998, the Devil will no doubt be third time lucky."
Bruce Birchall recommends complaining about everything to "make it a vintage year for whines". he also suggests detaching the city of Bristol and its environs from the mainland and floating it out to sea to create an offshore tax Avon. This, he feels, may be necessary if "new Labour squeezes the rich till their Peps squeak". His most plausible prediction for the year is that "pot gets legalised, takes over sponsorship of Formula One, and the rules are altered so that the slowest driver wins, man ..."
Only Paul and Steph, however, noticed the misprint in our request for things to do with 1998. We had, as they realised, left out the word that followed the number. They suggests that if it was "men" we should send them to Sian Cole; if it was "days", then start shopping or Christmas 2003; if it was vindaloo curries, then proceed with caution.
Prizes to Paul and Steph, Luela Palmer and Peter Thomas.
Next week, we shall go overboard on things to do with flotsam and jetsam. Meanwhile, we have been wondering about that company that was recently paid pounds 25,000 to draw a line under the letter M and call it a millennium logo. We should be very interested to see the itemised invoice for this job, or for any similar piece of wholly justified extravagance, real or imagined. Bills, and their justifications, should be sent to: Creativity, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Chambers Dictionary prizes will be awarded to those we like best.
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