1998 and all that

Yes, yes, yes, it's your global almanac. Simon Calder gazes into his crystal compass and reveals what the new year holds in store for travellers.

January

At the time when people are traditionally booking their holiday for the coming summer, Airtours issues its brochure for winter 2004/5, which features holidays flying on yet-to-be- invented planes to yet-to-be-built hotels in countries that don't yet exist.

From a similar realm of fantasy, National Rail Inquiries blames its failure to answer even the simplest inquiry on "the wrong kind of snow" - not intended as a reference to poor-quality cocaine inhaled by telephone staff.

February

P&O European Ferries and Stena Line complete their merger on the Channel crossing from Dover to Calais. To compete more effectively against Le Shuttle through the Chunnel, the minimum check-in is reduced to the time it takes to say the name of the new company, which incorporates all the proud pedigrees of the two lines: Peninsular and Oriental Townsend Thoresen European Stena Sealink Viking Longboat Ferries.

Eurostar insists its four-year-old promise to start services from UK provincial cities to Paris will finally be kept in 1998.

March

BA's new no-frills airline, EasyPeasy, starts flying from Stansted to "Paris South" - a disused military airfield outside Marseille. Its only competitor is EasyMoney, Harry Enfield's new venture into the low-fare airline market. A dozen stewardesses are disciplined for wearing lacy underwear. A spokesman explained: "When we said no frills ..."

April

After intensive market research, EasyPeasy changes its name to QuestionAire. Apparently the focus groups thought this was one of the suggested alternatives, rather than the title at the top of the list of questions. A suggestion that the two names be combined as QuEasy was turned down on the grounds of taste. All BA tailplanes are repainted with a question-mark replacing the other questionable designs.

May

The first anniversary of Labour's victory, during which London has acquired the most expensive public transport of any city in the world: some Tube journeys now cost pounds 8.25 per mile.

To celebrate the triumph, the Deputy Prime Minister promises all adult voters a Triumph - from a stock of old Toledo models lying idle at a former British Leyland plant in the West Midlands.

"No one seriously believed all that nonsense about sustainable transport, did they?" purred a departing John Prescott as his ministerial Stag scattered a constituency of cyclists.

When the summer railway timetable comes into effect, National Rail Inquiries continues to use the winter one, blaming the wrong kind of glue in the summer version. "Pages fall out of the new one," says a spokeswoman, "spreading leaves on the lines" (not a reference to a habit involving a mirror, a quantity of cocaine, and inhalation).

June

"Our best summer yet," is the verdict of a leading package holiday operator. "Providing we all hold our nerve and aren't tempted to increase capacity, there will be no last-minute bargains." Six other package holiday operators double capacity, and a week in the Med falls to pounds 99.

Eurostar says trains from Edinburgh and Manchester to the French capital will be starting just as soon as a British player wins Wimbledon and England win the World Cup.

July

After the astonishing victories of an out-of-form Greg Rusedski and an out-of-retirement Sue Barker at the All-England Club - topped by the amazing mixed doubles triumph of Virginia Wade and Sir Cliff Richard - Eurostar says it has started running trains from the provinces to Paris, where Glenn Hoddle's boys have just beaten Germany 4-2 after extra time (and yes, that third goal did cross the line). But since these are supposed to be publicised by National Rail Inquiries, they have yet to attract any passengers.

August

The increasing strength of sterling means that a cup of tea on the seafront at Margate costs more than a week in the George V Hotel in Paris. No one is in Margate anyway, due to the summer-long storms attributed to El Nino. Airtours takes advantage of the dismal weather at home to launch its 2025 brochure, headlined "Forget Margate - try Mars".

September

Dreadful smog across South-East Asia reduces the 26th Commonwealth Games in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, to a single event: blind man's buff.

Meanwhile in Britain, crisis looms: how to stem the disastrous slump in domestic tourism?

Under pressure, the Chancellor increases Air Passenger Duty 100-fold to pounds 2,000 for travellers outside Europe.

This triggers reprisals from Turkey and the Dominican Republic, which impose the same charge on departing British holidaymakers. Thousands are destitute, and forced to rely on diminishing quantities of deteriorating buffet food at all-inclusive resorts.

October

Richard Branson, who has been remarkably quiet so far this year, launches EasyBritFlit - a no-frills, no-markings airline that specialises in moonlit landings in foreign airports to retrieve destitute Brit holidaymakers.

November

Chaos at Heathrow when a flood in the salad bar of Burger King closes down Terminal One; if it had only happened a year earlier, it could have put out the fire. Heathrow blames climatic changes brought about by the wrong kind of El Nino.

National Rail Inquiries denies that any trains whatsoever operate in the UK.

December

National Rail Inquiries refutes its own existence and disappears up its own phone holding system.

Suggested Topics
Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Life and Style
fashion
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Network Manager - Oldham area - Up to £30,000

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

Teacher of special needs required for Burton on Trent

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Exciting Opportunity, Rand...

Behaviour Support Assistant

£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Behaviour Support Worker Th...

Youth Worker / Teaching Assistant - Nottingham

£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are looki...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment