16/09/2021

Millennium Message

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I still had a residual interest in the Millennium, because we had worked up a whole raft of notions that we would run alongside our MM! – one that I pursued despite not getting the short listing was the Millennium Message.

This was a CD-ROM that posed over a thousand questions about yourself, things that do define you, but have usually never before been recorded anywhere. The notion was that you recorded these and then we printed it out as a keepsake book.

The background idea was that we cannot know what our antecedents did in the year 1000, but using the CD-ROM we could ensure our descendants in the year 3000 would now be able to know something of us.

Cover artwork of the Millennium Message CD-ROM
– and the CD-ROM

I see I must have been worrying about IPO rights as that front cover montage features our wedding photo, Dan as a toddler and Sarah with baby Chloe.

The CD-ROM set all those pressing questions that you will never have recorded – do you wear jockeys or Y-fronts; do you sleep in PJs, a T-shirt or in the nude; do you prefer tomato or brown sauce, white or brown bread, white or red wine; plus all the physiological, political, social, religious, cultural and economic data you cared to record.

We sold hundreds of these in the run up to the big night, and by happenstance selling one took on a religious significance for me. It was quite tough back then to acquire the right to take credit card details via the website and automated software was still in its infancy. So, I printed out orders from the site and, because I had installed the credit card machine in the dining room fireplace, I had to kneel down to enter the credit card details I had printed from our website. Credit card machines back then would pause like a quiz-show host, I remained on my knees until the chunter told me we had successfully sold another CD-ROM.

But the Millennium became as interesting as yesterday’s chip papers (when they were old newspapers!) and faded from the perception within weeks. All those software guys who had consultancies to avoid the Millennium Bug did a wonderful job, or it was never an issue.

ASIDE: My next-door neighbour in Redland was a teacher at Fairfield School (today a High School). Its catchment area was the locality of my childhood – Horfield, Lockleaze and Eastville. She asked if I would do a Millennium presentation to her students and I agreed. I arrived at the school and was queued with the pupils outside in the corridor while they prepped the lecture-theatre style room for my session. They were naturally rowdy, and one teacher laid into them verbally. When we filed in he introduced me by saying that I had given up a busy day to come and present to them. Talk about setting me up to fail! As it was there was an artful-dodger type in the front row who was quick to heckle me, and I could trigger my put-downs and responses on him. I enjoyed the interactions but made a mental note that teaching was not a career path for me.

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