An atmosphere close to panic prevails today throughout Europe
as the millennial year 1000 approaches, bringing with it the so-called "Y1K
Bug", a menace which, until recently, hardly anyone had ever heard of. Prophets
of doom are warning that the entire fabric of Western Civilization, based as it now
is upon monastic computations, could collapse, and that there is simply not enough
time left to fix the problem.
Just how did this disaster-in-the-making ever arise? Why did no one anticipate
that a change from a three-digit to a four-digit year would throw into total disarray
all liturgical chants and all metrical verse in which any date is mentioned? Every
formulaic hymn, prayer, ceremony and incantation dealing with dated events will have
to be re-written to accommodate three extra syllables. All tabular chronologies with
three-space year columns, maintained for generations by scribes using carefully hand-ruled
lines on vellum sheets, will now have to be converted to four-space columns, at enormous
In the meantime, the validity of every official event, from baptisms to burials,
from confirmations to coronations, may be called into question.
"We should have seen it coming," says Brother Cedric of St. Michael's
Abbey, here in Canterbury. "What worries me most is that 'THOUSAND' contains
the word 'THOU,' which occurs in nearly all our prayers, and of course always refers
to God. Using it now in the name of the year will seem almost blasphemous, and is
bound to cause terrible confusion. Of course, we would always use Latin, but that
might be even worse-the Latin word for 'Thousand' is 'Mille'-which is the same as
the Latin for 'mile'. We won't know whether we're talking about time or distance!"
Stonemasons are already reported threatening to demand a proportional pay increase
for having to carve an extra numeral in all dates on tombstones, cornerstones and
monuments. Together with its inevitable ripple effects, this alone could plunge the
hitherto-stable medieval economy into chaos.
A conference of clerics has been called at Winchester to discuss the entire issue,
but doomsayers are convinced that the matter is now one of personal survival. Many
families, in expectation of the worst, are stocking up on holy water and indulgences.
Sent to us by Alastair McIntosh: firstname.lastname@example.org