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The End of the World was nigh

EUROPE, ASIA and much of America are already in the clear. But, as you read this over breakfast, people are still crossing their fingers in Alaska, Hawaii and Tahiti. In that part of the globe, the world has not yet not ended.

Not until noon GMT - when Monday, all being well, dawns on the International Date Line - will the world be able to breathe a collective sigh of relief. Yesterday will have passed, without a hint of Armageddon.

On 4 July, 1999, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were supposed to saddle up, according to one interpretation of a four-line verse written in 1555 by Michel de Nostredame, the French astrologer better known as Nostradamus.

Nostradamus, credited by his followers with prophesying the French Revolution and the Great Fire of London, predicted that a "great King of Terror" would descend from the skies in the seventh month of 1999. His vision struck a chord with doom-mongers around the world, especially in America and Japan, where people filled their freezers, battened down the hatches and, in some cases, took to the hills.

But to the disappointment of pre-millennial pessimists, Sunday came and went without disaster, in this country at least.

As Monday dawns defiantly across the globe, it appears that the world has been given a last-minute reprieve. But don't make any big plans for lunch; the day of reckoning is not quite over yet.