As we prepare to practise dating things with a '98 instead of '97, it is a good time to look back on the records of the past year:

Twins: Janet Pasaye of Illinois gave birth to the most widely separated twins; the first appeared on 26 October 1996, the second on 26 January 1997, the 92 days difference being a new world record.

Skates: Dirk Auer, an engineering student from Frankfurt, set a new world speed record of 153mph on inline skates. He reached the record speed while being towed behind a Porsche.

Cigars: A box of 25 Cuban cigars fetched 16,100 Swiss francs at auction in Geneva. The price of 244 francs (about pounds 250) per cigar is a new record.

Mechanical digger: Hugh Edeleanu set a new record time of 22 hours, 10 minutes and 30 seconds for driving a mechanical digger from Land's End to John O'Groats.

Stamps: Dean Gould of Felixstowe set a new record by sticking 209 stamps on envelopes. Mr Gould also holds records for pancake tossing and beermat flicking.

Monopoly: Five Belgians set a new record by playing Monopoly underwater for 30 hours 15 minutes.

Windows: Terry Burrows reclaimed the world window-cleaning record by cleaning three 45-inch-square windows in 18.46 seconds.

Hot-dogs: Hirofumi Nakajima of Kiofu, Japan broke his own world record when he ate 241/2 hot dogs in 12 minutes to retain his world hot-dog eating championship title in New York.

Jokes: Two Estonians failed in their attempt to set a new record by telling jokes for 61 hours non-stop. Their copy of the Guinness Book of Records was an old one and its figure of 60 hours had been increased to 100 hours by a Peruvian in 1990.