Gallic Smug

I'm not doing it, you can't make me. I'm not writing about what we're going to call this decade (noughties, zeros, naughties, twenty-hundreds whoa! whoa! there, I've done it). I'm not going to write about the strange absence of Millennium bugs and what a bunch of charlatan scaremongers. And I'm not going to future gaze and I'm not going to say anything like "as we go into the next millennium".
    No. I suppose it looks likes money for the oldest rope when this is the way you pay for your hi-fi, your Playstation, your Orkney Smoked Intermediate Salmon, your cool-filtered Czech Pils and it's five-thirty on Christmas eve and all you have to do is trot this out and then you can get down the boozer. "Could you just give me 500/1000/2500 words on what we can look forward to in the next millennium love - you know the sort of thing - blah blah advances in science, blah blah world trade global village, blah media literate generation, population explosion ethical question of gene superbugs designer babies organ hypermarkets." And lo and behold they have - everywhere, see! There it is, right next to the review of the last hundred years letting you know that "Without doubt, The Spice Girls were the girl band of the century" - very informative that, were all these retrospectives written by amnesiac fourteen year olds?
    I decided a long time ago that I wanted to be in Greece for the arrival of year zero. A low-tech country (at least it was when I first went about six years ago) where if the electric goes off you're not likely to freeze to death, there's always plenty of home-made wine and baclava and always plenty of female members of the Gnome's extended family, skilled in the near-eastern martial (marital? no, give over) art of aggressive hospitality to defend you against any doomsday-eve looters. Still I was curious to know how things had gone back home. The weird thing is, you can't find out from buying the English papers. Almost nothing can be gleaned from the slivers of "news grouting" in between the mood pieces, thought pieces, style pieces and front page photo features ("Liz Hurley went shopping this morning amid rumours that she'd run out of milk and bog roll") they all sort of expect you to have watched the telly. The gist I did get was that Dome celebrations had been a bit of a let down. I always had a problem with the symbolism of the British millennium festivities. I couldn't even make up a story (and that's saying something ) as to what the hasty but ferociously expensive construction of the worlds largest Dutch cap has to do with anything. Curiously though, the "body zone" - the eighty-foot high, fibre-glass Man With No Knob - was very popular.
    Paris stole the show with the elegant trick of putting fireworks all over the Eiffel tower. See? Simple, yet effective. No reason to set fire to the Quartier Latin to show their jubilation. Bloody French eh? Just 'cos they've got more style, more culture, incalculably sexier women, edible food and fast trains they think they're better than us.