Ode to the Millennium

A Happy New Year, says I to him,
A Happy New Year to you -
I s'pose, says he, you're going to wish me
a Happy Millennium too.

I will if you want, says I to he,
A happy whatever-you-do.
It's not, you know, says he to I,
Whatever they say it's not true.

Whatever they say? Now what d'you mean?
says I with my eyebrows on high.
It's not till next year, says he with a grin
and a devious look in his eye.

I'd heard it before, but just for the record
I asked him to tell me again.
So he heaved his big sigh, took his weight off his feet
and slowly began to explain.

Now if I was to owe you a thousand pound notes,
says he with his pedagogue's whine,
You'd be happy, I s'pose, if I stopped counting out
after nine hundred ninety and nine?

I was tempted to say that I'd take it in fivers
and save him the problem, but then
he'd only have found some excuse to sound off
on the value of money again.

I know what you mean, I began to reply,
But he cut me off quick with a leer,
I've gotcha there, ain't I, says he in delight
with a voice that was tinged with a sneer.

But time isn't money, I started to say,
thinking this a self-evident truth,
It was in my day, he snapped back with a glare
that said, so much for decadent youth!

I mean, time is abstract, it's not there to count,
you can't say when it starts or it ends.
It starts when you're born and it ends when you're dead,
and you're one problem less to your friends.

You have friends? I was tempted to ask the old git,
but decided I'd best leave it there,
and instead put the point that I'd wanted to make
if he hadn't hi-jacked the affair.

If you take some ice and you heat it to boil,
it's a hundred degrees you'll have done -
but I think you'll still find that it boils at a hundred
and not at a hundred and one.

But you don't count years from zero, you know,
you can't argue it that way, says he.
And how do you know? says I with a grin,
were you there when BC 'came AD?

I've heard that they stuck in a year that was nought,
just to fill in the gap, so it's said,
while they learned to stop counting downwards
and remembered to count up instead.

He didn't know if I was joking,
and he looked at me sideways, all ruffled,
then says to me, Well then, a Happy New Year,
and begins to walk off, sort of muffled.

It's not, you know, says I after he,
whatever they say it's not true,
He turns and he stares, Now what d'you mean?
Well, just what I'm saying to you -

Who says December's the end of the year?
The tax man will differ in view,
and so will the Jews and the Arabs
and the Chinese to name just a few -

In fact I'd go further and say to you now
if I counted them all on and on,
we'd find ourselves in a minority,
so you see - but 'twas too late, he'd gone!

So I'll propose a toast to you -
the New Millennium - simply due ter
how some stupid programmer
has rigged the bits in my computer!


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