Worried that you haven't planned for the millennium yet? You know your problem...

Share
Related Topics
Last week I received a letter from a reader which raised a subject so important that I feel I ought to print it in full, and then deal with it.

Here is how it went.

Dear Mr Kington,

Recently the fete committee of the village in which I live sent a circular round to say they wanted to promote discussion of ideas for the celebration of the millennium. Somewhat at a loss, I said that they ought to look back to what happened 1,000 years ago and see how the village celebrated it then. The committee said they had looked into this and found that it had been a period of intense civil disturbance, so presumably the celebrations had never got underway. I feel I should have some more original ideas, Mr Kington, but am worried that I cannot think of any. Do you have any ideas?

Yours etc

Well, sir, I am not surprised that you are getting feelings of worry and tension at the thought of the oncoming millennium. You are suffering from something which is going to become more and more common: PMT or Pre- Millennium Tension.

The fact is that as an important date gets nearer and nearer, we all get worried about it, but we all react in different ways. There is nothing new about this. We all get worried at the onset of an examination or a fiftieth birthday, but in that case it is fairly private. It is your birthday, not anyone else's. You may be sharing your exam day with fellow pupils, but not with the rest of your family. In the case of the millennium, however, EVERYONE in the world is sharing your anxiety.

Dear Mr Kington,

You sound as if you know something about this. Tell me more.

Yours etc

Of course I sound as if I know something. I have recently set up in my spare time as a PMT counsellor. The one thing you must have as a counsellor is, not knowledge, but the appearance of knowledge, which makes it easier for your clients to become over-dependent.

Please tell me more. I feel an enormous sense of trust in what you say.

Of course you do. So just relax and breathe evenly and have your cheque book ready. Now, PMT or Pre-Millennium Tension goes through several stages. The first one is a fit of anxiety about when the millennium actually begins and ends. We feel emotionally that 2000 should be the first year of the next millennium, and we know logically that it must be 2001. There is conflict here between sense and feeling.

And which wins?

Neither. Money wins, as usual. All those who are going to make money out of the millennium want to make it sooner rather than later, so they have opted for the earlier date. That is why all the hotels this side of the International Date Line want it to come earlier. They are already fully booked for New Year 2000, and if they can rebook for 2001, well, all the better!

That's another thing. I am a bit worried that I myself haven't yet booked anything for celebrating the millennium.

Ah, that's the next stage of PMT! Once you have given up worrying about the actual date (though subconsciously we never quite give up worrying about that, do we?) you start worrying about whether or not you should book something now. You read about other people who have booked hotels on the western tip of New Zealand and who are going to be the first to greet the new century, and you think to yourself, "These people are a jump ahead of me!" Then you read that the Albert Hall has been prebooked for millennium night for over 10 years, and you feel even guiltier. You feel you are letting people down, don't you?

You're so right! I do! Please help me!

Good. You're getting nice and worried. That is what a counsellor does first. Worry people. Then we comfort them. Then they come to depend on us. Still, don't you worry your little head about that bit of it. Where were we?

My guilt about not booking the Albert Hall.

Ah, yes. Well, let us analyse this guilt. Would you really want to be stuck in a New Zealand hotel on the big night? Or the Albert Hall? I think not.

No, you're right. I can't think of anything worse. But we've got to be somewhere. I ought to get something fixed up. The later I leave it the worse it will be.

And this is precisely what they were saying in AD 97! Why do you think that your village was in turmoil 1,000 years ago? What was this civil unrest? It wasn't the Vikings marauding. It wasn't the prospect of the Normans introducing a single currency. It was PMT! Yes, they suffered from it then and we can learn from them now!

Tell me more!

Certainly. A small cheque first, please.

More words of counselling and comfort on Pre-Millennium Tension tomorrow.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Hydrographic Survey Manager

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Structural Engineer

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Structural Engineer Job...

Generalist HR Administrator, Tunbridge Wells, Kent - £28,000.

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Administrator - Tunbri...

Head of IT (Not-for-Profit sector) - East Sussex

£45000 - £50000 per annum + 5 weeks holiday & benefits: Ashdown Group: Head of...

Day In a Page

Read Next
James Foley was captured in November 2012 by Isis militants  

Voices in Danger: Syria is the most dangerous country in the world for journalists

Anne Mortensen
Texas Gov. Rick Perry might try to run for president again in 2016  

Rick Perry could end up in jail for the rest of his life — so why does he look so smug?

David Usborne
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape