Travel: What's the rush to bin the second millennium?

It won't be long now. Brochures for the winter season 1999/2000 will certainly be on travel agents' shelves before the end of the coming year. But what small beer ordinary package holidays will look compared to the real 2000 stuff.

I refer to those seriously expensive millennium holidays which have already been blowing their trumpets for years in advance of the event. Certain people already know exactly what they are going to be doing at the end of 1999 - usually things like cruising to Tonga with friends or cavorting in expensive yachts off Fiji, in the hope of seeing in the new millennium before anyone else.

But as reported on page 5 of this section, it is not just tour operators but entire countries which have been engaged in the race to claim the honour of being the first to reach midnight on 31 December 1999.

Scams involved include the sudden introduction of daylight saving (ie putting the clocks forward to reach midnight quicker than anyone else) not to mention unilaterally bending the international date line.

As far as I can see, places like Tonga and Kiribati, having arrived in the new millennium before the rest of us, might just as well invent entirely new systems of measuring time whenever they get bored with conventional calendars. That way they could arrange a new millennium every time the tourist figures looked bad.

Funny that, because personally I would prefer to be at the back end of the old millennium rather than at the cutting edge of the new one. I do not want to be stranded alone on a rock off the coast of New Zealand in the third millennium while the rest of the world is still sleeping in the second.

What's the rush to bin the second millennium? We've grown up in it. We happen to belong to its most sophisticated century, and yet we are still rubbing shoulders with the thuggish protagonists of the Battle of Hastings. What a privileged situation to be in.

So avoid New Zealand on 31/12/99. I would rather be in Honolulu, whose citizens will still be hanging on to the millennium of the Renaissance and the industrial revolution for nearly a day after the wretched Tongans have kissed it all goodbye forever.

How ironic that America, and especially the American west - supposedly in the vanguard of civilisation - should be the latest, slowest place to depart from the old millennium.

Late on Friday 31 December 1999, I am convinced that the USA will suddenly be gripped by panicky nostalgia as thousands of people jump into their cars and flee west to evade the advancing day. Eventually a few million will end up crammed onto the islands of Hawaii squashed against the international date-line before they are finally smothered by the inevitable tide of the new year.

It's bad enough in a normal year waking up on 1 January and realising that the party is over. Not only are there no more holidays to look forward to, but the head is throbbing and the kitchen looks like a rat's toilet. And then there is that vast expanse of white emptiness - the whole year to be precise - stretching ahead of you.

But what about waking up on 1 January 2000 with the emptiness of an entire millennium to face down? After the biggest party in a thousand years, the biggest hangover is indeed inevitable.

It will be like going back to zero points again at the beginning of the football season. Or landing on a very, very long snake. We will effectively revert to the status of 11th century thugs in chain mail suits, waiting to be despised by future generations. All the efforts of the previous thousand years will suddenly be rendered null and void, and the history of a whole new millennium will have to be constructed from scratch. And none of us will live to see a fraction of the task completed.

Maybe I'm beginning to understand after all why people are planning to start off their millennium with a gigantic booze-up.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Sport
News
people
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial