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Noble wishes, ignoble desires

IF YOU'RE reading this, then the millennium bug stuff hasn't happened. We still have power, polis, a telecommunications system and assistant principal teachers.

Whether the last-mentioned will still exist this time next year is debatable. Frankly, I'm not convinced that all this Y2K stuff wasn't a ruse by elements within the computing community to further decimate the English language.

As it is, I'm writing this on my PC in 1999, a year I will be glad to see the back of. It started with two well-loved in-laws undergoing emergency surgery due to curiously named "benign" tumours. There was a medical theme to the latter part of the year too, when my wife had her hip replaced.

On the day she was under the surgeon's Black and Decker, our staff were called together. We were to be HMI'd in a month's time. Only certain departments would be chosen, though. Like a cartoon character transfixed by a falling anvil I could tell what was about to happen but was powerless to avoid it. Physics was picked. The story of the inspection can wait.

Somewhere between all this, I decorated a bathroom. The wallpapering was scheduled for the day the Scottish Parliament opened. As ever, I had my faithful, paint-spattered radio on hand, tuned this time to Radio Scotland's commentary. This began rather jcularly with flippant comments about the Queen's hat. The flippancy came to a dead stop with Donald Dewar's speech and like the pundits, I too was moved. Hushed among the paste, I felt that this was something that might work. I had voted for the extra layer of government because I felt it would be a bulwark against the imposition of an English style agenda on Scottish education.

More fool me? Time will tell. My level of political awareness starts and stops with calling people Mickey the Ferret. All I know is that it hurt to be described as inflexible and unwilling to modernise when my kids spent the Sundays that my wife was in hospital at their grandparents' house so that I could keep on top of my job.

For 2000, my wish is that people start listening to Judith Gillespie. Her TES Scotland article on the Millennium Review dispute contained so much distilled common sense that I nearly framed a few of her sentences. "Compulsion is the death of goodwill," was one.

Actually, that's just one wish. As well as all the serious, noble ones for good health, world peace and so forth, there's the desire for a convertible and the hope that I don't have to start a "Save the APT" campaign in June.

Happy new century.

Gregor Steele had a popcorn explosion during his inspection.

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