Monday, 11 October 2010

Sunday 10th October 2010: 10 10 10 10 10

When in the future, someone asks me where I was 10 minutes past 10 on the 10th of the 10th of twothousand and 10, I will say behind my desk, looking at the tiny little clock-bit near the bottom of my screen. I had been trying to write something for an hour or so and I was procrastinating, going on the web, pointlessly looking up rubbish. Then I saw the time and thought: Hell, at least give it a look in!

There's always a slight fear going on in the back of my mind as these weird dates and times pass. I do know that the calendar and the clock are man-made phenomena, utterly subjective and meaningless in an endless and expanding universe. Yet I do know exactly where I was at 20:02 on 20-02-2002. I was actually doing my paperround, wondering whether the world would end after this specific moment in time. As much as I try to fight this instinct (and I fight it with zeal and rigour), it still exists within me, anxiously googling the date 2012, obsessed with random facts (i.e. lies), quietly wanting to believe astrology even though every bone in my body says it's rubbish. I blame the Millennium Bug.

As an annoyingly precocious child (and one that loved animals, but not in a weird way (not in a weird way?! I was 7! What are you thinking! What are you thinking? Go away you peculiar porn-obsessed internet-monkey! (sorry about that))) I watched the children's news on Dutch tv (het Jeugdjournaal, for all you Dutchies in tha house! Make some noise! Who-hoo! (which I won't be able to hear because of a sea between us and the inherent lack of immediacy in this text-based medium)) from a very early age. This was in the early to mid-nineties so it was usually about terrible things happening in the former Yugoslavia, Sub-Saharan Africa or the general degeneration of the planet. And, I admit, it sometimes got to me. Even though the presenters tried to dress it up nicely or follow up the horrors of death and destruction with an item about a cat knitting or something, the impact was still considerable on my young mind.

But then, later in the nineties, people started talking about the millennium bug. And eschatological stories started cropping up the nascent information superhighway (what a great word!), like they had done in people's minds on every imaginable occasion (1499-1500 was particularly grim, I read). I, unaware of this, was terrified. The whole world would collapse, savage people would tear up the fabric of civilisation and Jennifer Lopez would not be able to finish singing her shitty song at the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur (5 points for getting the reference. Good. 5 points to you).

The nine year old me was unaware of this (and of Jennifer Lopez, luckily), when he first heard of the millennium bug from the nice bespectacled man on tv in the shiny studio. What would happen? What could I do? I was just a WNF-Ranger! A member of the Dutch Kids' WWF (no, not a wrestler. Look it up!)! I was only armed with a smile, a chequebook and slight environmental misanthropism. And as WNF-Rangers go I was pretty insignificant, too! I couldn't save the world! I didn't know how!

So I thought; if the world goes before I do; better be ready! And, not noticing the central flaw in my argument, I started preparing for the apocalypse. I dressed up my stuffed animals in fighting gear, drew an escape route out to the woods with crayon and started to make a plan for an underground bunker for me and all the animals where no humans would be allowed (again, fatally flawed argument). And, as usual, after an hour I just forgot about it. Yeah. That's how much I cared. I was nine, don't judge me!

But sometimes, when I was on my bike, the thought still hit my young head. What if? As we all know, the millennium bug turned out to be much less serious than it appeared to be. I, like most others, was a bit underwhelmed by the whole thing. But I still wanted to know. I still watched the news to see if New Zealand was still standing, on 01-01-2000; which it was. The reporter looked slightly annoyed with her lack of newsworthy comments, or, more likely, she was still slightly hungover from the massive party the night before.

So, I conclude; the best possible way of curing end-of-the-world scenarios in your own head is alcohol. And logic.


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