Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On the Eve of the New Millennium

There was a lot of debate as to when the new millennium would actually begin. Some people said, rather pedantically, that it should start with the year 2001, since they didn't sit around a couple of thousand years ago saying "We'll call this the year 0".

But the whole thing was a bit messy anyway, and relied upon the Romans being willing to count backwards for some time before it ("Hey, Claudius, it's 55BC, nearly time for us to invade Britain").

And it just seemed so much more - - well, right - - to have the next millennium starting at the year 2000, so that was what we all decided to do.

There was a lot of discussion in the newpapers about the Millennium Bug, which was going to be caused by the fact that some computers hadn't been programmed to know about any date that didn't begin with 19. Once the time clocks on computers had got to the end of the last date that started with 19, they would all simultaneously go "Hey! No information! I'm sorry, Dave. Goodbye." Planes would crash out of the sky and microwave ovens would stop before the potatoes were baked. It was a worrying time.

For some reason, we chose that near-Millennium moment to put our house on the market. The plan was that we should buy the family house where I grew up, and the Communist and my mother would have a house built in its grounds, which happened to be big enough because the Communist and my mother happened to have bought the bottom half of next door's garden in 1965, just because the old ladies next door offered it to them. At the time, there were no thoughts of building - my mother especially loves gardening and just liked the idea of an even bigger garden.

But finally a Plan was formed to build a house in the grounds, and so in late November we put our house up for sale, thinking it probably wouldn't sell till the Spring.

And then, about two days later, the second people who saw it offered us the asking price - which was actually somewhat higher than any estate agent had said we'd get, so we were keen to accept their offer.

But it was a conditional offer: they, and their cockatoo called Cassie, had to move in before Christmas.

So it was all an incredible rush. The removal firm - an old and well-respected one - was staffed entirely by men who just wanted to finish the job and then finish their Christmas shopping. So in spite of my careful labelling of what should go in which room, everything appeared to have been dumped in entirely random order in my parents' house - - which was, of course, already full of my parents' furniture.

It was a bit of a nightmare. It was very stressful, and took a lot of sorting out, and the cold I'd got seemed to be getting worse, until suddenly, on New Year's Eve, it turned into a spectacular chest infection. The doctor came (now THAT wouldn't happen these days, would it?) and listened to my rather overly-dramatic coughing, which sounded like the soundtrack to a film about Poverty in the Victorian Era. She prescribed massive doses of antibiotics.

I felt so ill that I could barely move. I was aware that there were fireworks outside, but I couldn't turn my head to look at them. I languished on the sofa, appreciating the full meaning of the word "languish". I could see fireworks on the television in front of me, and they made my head hurt. Everything made everything hurt. I was a bit doubtful if the new Millennium had any plans to include me.

But finally, it turned into January 1st, 2000 and I finally raised the energy to crawl off to bed. Probably in order to avoid that bloody awful Jools Holland on telly playing "Tuneless Tunes to Make You Wish It Was Still Last Year".

It doesn't seem very long ago - - until I think that Olli was only ten then, and is now twenty. That's one thing that really shows the passage of time to me: children growing up.

And tomorrow it will be ten years later: ten whole years since that day when I lay on the sofa and coughed like a dying Bronte. A lot's happened since then, hasn't it?


Blogger Ailbhe said...

Rob and I were in IT, so we were both working... there were very good reasons the millennium bug didn't happen.

Very impressed you got the doctor out. That's very hard to do nowadays.

6:03 pm  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

I was working in IT as well. In our company -- one of the major telecommunication companies of the world -- some programmers converted to a 4-digit year straight off (yyyy-mm-dd) and others simply put a little bit of extra code that said if the existing 2-digit year (yy) is 50 or higher, make it 19yy and if it is 49 or lower, make it 20yy. This should cause no end of consternation a few years hence, especially since some programmers chose 40 and some programmers chose 60 and others chose something else altother, but -- what the hey -- they'll all be dead by then and it will be someone else's problem to have to solve.

The scenario described in the preceding paragraph had a great deal to do with my deciding to retire three months after the Great Y2K Debacle came to a close.

I enjoyed strolling down memory lane again, thanks to your excellent post.

10:09 pm  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

altoher = altogether

10:09 pm  
Blogger Jennyta said...

Well I had the huge responsibility of being 'Millenium Bug Co-ordinator' at my school and ...
nothing happened. ;)

10:18 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Special award for you over at mine.

11:54 pm  

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