2000 AD – Why There Is One Subject All Pub Pedants Are Wrong About, No Matter Which Way You Slice The Cake
One of my favourite activities is baiting pub pedants. No one likes a smart arse, but unfortunately the only way to shut a smart arse up is by being an even bigger smart arse. It’s either that or smack them in the face. Such is life. (See previous post Wanker’s Latin for further details http://tinyurl.com/ot77j74 )
I don’t get to bait pedants very much anymore. Partly because Britain’s pubs are shutting down at an alarming rate due to the smoking ban. But mainly because pubs are no longer the sort of environment where people sit down and have a conversation. So I have to rely on the fallback position that any man can enjoy in the privacy of his own home. Namely, shouting at the telly.
I got the opportunity indulge in this behaviour the other night. I was watching Dave Gorman’s “Modern Life Is Goodish”. It’s witty and thoughtful, I’d highly recommend it. The subject of the first part of the program was Lord Alan Sugar. Specifically, it was about Amstrad’s “Sinclair C5” moment : the launch of the Amstrad E-mailer. Here’s a picture of the Amstrad E-mailer.
Oh, actually that’s the wrong photo. This is the Amstrad E-mailer.
You can probably see why I got the two photos confused. Not a massive leap in technology considering the two devices are separated by twenty years of scientific progress.
This is the point that Dave Gorman was making. That badly thought through monstrosity in the second photo was not, as its appearance would suggest, an invention from the Eighties. It was not even an invention of the Nineties. It was launched in 2000. And in making this point, Mr Gorman said “It is a 21st Century invention.”
At this point my inner pedant came rushing to the surface. “I think you’ll find, Mr Gorman” I heard myself saying, “I think you’ll find that the 21st Century didn’t start until 2001. There was no Year Zero.” Then I did a little double-take and slapped myself across the chops for being a twat.
Now, I didn’t think I was being a twat for correcting Dave Gorman. He was only presenting a TV programme, so he couldn’t hear me. I don’t know the man, but he is a man so I’m sure he spends a good deal of time shouting at his television, same as the rest of us. No, I was disappointed with myself because I think the correction may have been, in itself, incorrect.
Received nerd wisdom states that, as there was no Year Zero, the Christian Calendar starts at the Year One and therefore the subsequent centuries turn when the date ends with a 1 and not a 0. I remember there being a few debates in the newspapers about the subject in 1999. In fact, some of the newspaper articles showed photographs of articles on the same subject from the newspapers of 1899. It’s a debate that has been raging for quite some time.
The problem is that I’ve never quite understood this argument. The year 2000 is, as any comic book fan will tell you, actually 2000AD. The AD stands for Anno Domini, “The Year of Our Lord.” Jesus is supposedly, as Christians are fond of telling us, still alive due to having ascended bodily into heaven. He was a human being, albeit an exceptional one, and like all human beings he did have a year zero. We don’t actually call it by that name, but that’s effectively what it is.
A human being is alive for a whole year before celebrating their First Birthday. They are then one year old, and remain one year old for an entire year until they turn two years old and so on and so forth. During a baby’s “Year Zero”, we don’t say that baby is zero years old. We say it is three months old or nine months old or however many months it has been since it popped out of its mother. But this does not alter the fact that babies do not come into this world already one year old. Jesus was a baby, ergo the Millennium turned when 1999AD became 2000AD. QED. Point proven.
If the subject of “When did the third Millennium start” ever crops up in your pub, please feel free to use this argument. It’s probably nonsense to be fair, but you might get another quarter of an hour of enjoyable and lively debate out of it. Unless someone butts in and points out that, what with the calendar having been messed around with so much over the years, Jesus was probably born somewhere between 6 and 4 BC anyway. So any argument over the start of the millennium is completely futile.
Well, somebody has to be the biggest smart arse.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2015