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
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

DT Teacher, Full time supply role, Maidstone school

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We urgently require an experienc...

Primary supply teachers required in Stowmarket

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam