the end of the world starts here ... but are we worried?

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

Men with sandwich boards proclaiming the End is Nigh No worries, they've been doing it for years and we're all still here.

Exuding statues of all kinds

Wipe up spills with a damp cloth.

Strange sightings

UFOs, Virgin Marys, aliens should be popping up all over (Mary is currently manifesting on the wall of a bank in Clearwater, Florida). Just ignore them.

Meteorites, comets, etc

Not much evasive action to be taken here, in the event of a direct hit. But they've been whizzing about since the dawn of time, so unlikely to be specifically dangerous in the year 2000.

Emergence of the Great Beast from the sea, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Antichrist

Could be very nasty, as this lot together signal the Tribulation - hail, fire, blood, death, war, destruction. However, New Zealand prophet Michael K Callagher suggests that Al Gore is the Antichrist and his computer is the Great Beast; considerably less scary than the original snarly dragon- type-creature. British evangelist David Hathaway, however, is staking his claim to Vladimir Zhirinovsky as the Antichrist (it's all in Ezekiel 38 and 39, apparently).

Sudden tilting of the planet

Putting Australia where Antarctica is now, this one is the vision of Australian visionary Stan Deyo. Very bad news for beach barbecues. California and England will both be engulfed as the oceans swash wildly about. Gordon- Michael Scallion, however, who calls himself a "futurist", says that California will fracture away from the States and become the islands of California, along with various other unsettling shake-ups detailed in his four-colour 'Future Map of the United States, 1998-2001'. Excellent excuse not to mow the lawn - the garden might disappear tomorrow.

War between Japan and the US

To be won by the Japanese, thus making them the most powerful people on the globe. According to, erm, the crazed Japanese Aum Supreme cult.

Global cannibalism

Revelation passed on by a 'Being of Light' to American predictor Dannion Brinkley, who also says computer chips will be forcibly inserted under the skin of everyone in the world, and America will be bankrupt by the year 2000. Dear, dear.

Second coming of the Messiah

A definite Sign - if he's genuine.

Spontaneous disappearance of the righteous up to Heaven

aka the Rapture. Possibly the most worrying of all, if you're left behind, as it means the Tribulation is kicking off (see above).

BUT ARE WE PANICKING? NOT YET, ANYWAY ...

James Robins, computer operator: I'm most worried about avoiding all the holes in the ground caused by people digging up the time capsules which they buried 25 years ago.

Chrissie Bradbury, housing officer: No. I've got far more important things to worry about like bad management in my office.

Nicholas Robinson, gardener: I think it's an extremely profound thing. Datewise we are moving from number ones to number twos - a big progression.

Clare Burton, lawyer: Its bad enough not being asked out on New Year's Eve 1996. But the thought of not being asked out on New Year's Eve 1999 doesn't bear thinking about.

Bridget Stronach, personnel officer: There's no such thing.as pre-millennium tension. The approaching new century is a time of hope and opportunity.

Charles, Crystal Ball delivery man: I'm not all that bothered to be honest. I'm far too old and long in the tooth to worry about it.

Tim Potts, pub landlord: My greatest worry is not having bought shares in any champagne companies because sales are tipped to go through the roof.

Deborah Chrymes, graphologist: I think anything connected to the millennium is just a marketing exercise. I'm deeply suspicious of the whole thing.

Gale Ford, managing director: I'm American and I can't work out what all the fuss is about.

Diana Gower, journalist: My only worry is that I will be 30. Yikes.

Interviews by Virginia Robins

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