Harry Turner's Episodes of Personal History
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A Sceptical Pedant

Surprise, surprise, the Garudian third leader today manages to draw attention to the fact that the timing of all these millennium celebrations is a trifle in advance... "if the world had been even a little more numerate than it is, we would not be celebrating the new millennium this year at all but at the start of 2001. However, that only proves that maths counts, even if most of us cannot."

Even publish a reader's letter whose wife wants to know "if she can start to claim her pension at the beginning of her 60th year - that is from the date of her 59th birthday?"

And on the TV local news magazine progs there are idiots talking about this being their "last appearance this century", though they obviously expect to be back again in the New Year... aarrrrgh!

How come everyone's so confused?

It may be coincidence, but I see that the Guardian's daily Corrections & Clarifications column is temporarily suspended for the next few weeks...

Meanwhile, by the time we have established that today is Friday and December 31 and, indeed, New Year's eve, I have lost count of the number of twerps on the TV who are convinced that this is the last day of the century... though I was cheered by sight of a lone reporter who had visited the Greenwich Meridian Line to try and get over the right perspective on matters of timing, but no one in the immediate vicinity seemed to be listening to him.

Too busy planning parties, obviously. (Since we didn't have a Xmas do at Romiley, we've decided to have a family party tomorrow, just to keep up with all the celebrating that's apparently going on worldwide).

Well, here it is, New Year's Day, at long last. I guess that Romiley & district enjoyed a distinctly classier firework display than we saw last bonfire Night. Almost as spectacular as the displays on the telly, and a damn sight noisier. Expected the garden to be buried under the remains of all the rockets that were unleashed, but there's surprisingly little debris from the celebrations in evidence this morning.

The mists are heavy this morning- it was left looking really smoky when the fireworks were bursting overhead - though at 10 am the sun is making a vain effort to assert itself, but only making things more obscure.

Just been checking the dating on computers and while the Pentium is correct, the 386 has decided that today is in 1980. After some persuasion from the Guru it now insists on showing the year in full as "2000" rather than a mere "00", but at least it's cooperating.

See that today's Garudian labels those who insist that the celebrations are a year too early, as "pedants", and those that say today's date is only a number, as "sceptics". As a sceptical pedant, I fail to see what all the fuss is about. Suspect it's all been engineered by the fireworks industry to boost flagging bonfire night sales...

Our neighbour, Geoff, tells me a sad tale about taking the family, plus fireworks, up on top of Werneth Low to welcome the New Year. He expected to have a good bird's-eye view of the celebrations all around but, alas, they found themselves surrounded by dense obscuring hilltop mists, and eventually had to beat a retreat to catch up with the festivities. ■

Letter to Brian Varley, December 1999/January 2000

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