The year ahead: A better bet for 1998

It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world if William Hill's current list of wacky bets is any indication of the state of the nation. Among the (un)likely events anticipated over the next 12 months: Melinda Messenger becoming a nun (66-1, below) and the Teletubbies recording England's official World Cup song (250-1). So if you have a hunch that Prince William will wed one of the Spice Girls, why not put your money where your mouth is. It's odds-on that the bookies will be only too happy to take your cash

BEST OF THE REST

3/1 Grant or Phil from EastEnders to wear wig/toupee

3/1 William Hague to become a father

3/1 Any Spice Girl to have a baby

4/1 Richard Branson to be knighted

8/1 Any Spice Girl to have a solo number one single

10/1 Spice Girls to have 1998 Christmas number one single

10/1 Oasis to record official FA-endorsed England World Cup song

16/1 Chris Evans to have number one single

20/1 Coronation Street butcher, Fred Elliott to become a vegetarian

25/1 Fergie to remarry

33/1 Coronation Street or EastEnders to become daily soap

33/1 Rovers Return to change its name

50/1 Chris Evans to marry Zoe Ball

50/1 Cannabis to be legalised for recreational use

66/1 Nasa to confirm existence of intelligent extra-terrestrial life

100/1 Vinnie Jones to become MP

100/1 Thames to freeze over between Westminster and Tower bridges

500/1 Loch Ness monster to be proved to exist

500/1 Spiceworld to win Best Film Oscar

500/1 Dick Francis to win Booker Prize

IT COULD BE THEIR YEAR

A punter from Staines, Middlesex has bet pounds 10 at 1000-1 that "God Save the Queen" will cease to be the National Anthem on or before 1 Jan 2000

An Essex man has staked pounds 10 at 5000-1 that a human brain transplant will take place during 1998

Roy Burdett of Leeds will win pounds 10,000 for a pounds 100 bet at odds of 100/1 if President Clinton confirms that no US astronaut has ever set foot on the moon and that all previous landings were hoaxes

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