When I scribbled for the popular detecting magazine The Searcher, I enjoyed looking back at the editions of twenty years ago. Do you remember 2000, known as the year of the Millennium Bug? We were told that because of the way computers were made to handle data major disasters would follow.
People were panicked by press coverage and media speculation, as well as government reports. Companies and organisations around the world had to check and upgrade their computer systems. Thus, the preparation for the year 2000 had a significant effect on the computer industry.
Huge sums were spent to prepare for the consequences of this bug – or rather feature – in the way some older systems handled dates. But midnight passed on the 1 January and the crisis failed to materialise – planes did not fall from the sky and power stations did not melt down. What an anti-climax that was!
Joke of the Time
Yeltsin goes back to Russia and says there is bad news and terrible news: the bad news is there really is a God, and the terrible news is the world will end next week.
Clinton holds a press conference in Washington and says there is good news and bad news: the good news is that there really is a God, and the bad news is the world will end next week.
Gates returns to Microsoft and holds an employee conference, saying he has good news and great news: the good news is that God knows what a wonderful, important person he is, and the great news is they don’t have to worry about fixing the Millennium Bug.
What did happen was that the wraps were off and the big secret was out. Your favourite magazine had a makeover. “Wow, Blimey, Fantastic, What a difference, Have I got the right magazine”, were just some of the comments when the new look was unveiled. There was one or two who simply said, “I liked the old magazine.”
In the previous year or so, The Searcher had given the reader extra pages (68 to be exact) and more colour. Although the appearance had changed, some things remained unaltered. Articles and comments by regulars like John Fargher, Jim Halliday and Old Yellowbelly were still written in their own inimitable styles (rather than heavily edited and all sounding the same). Yes, the message was that the magazine was in a class of its own and, under the guidance of Harry Bain, remains so today.
The War is Over
Jim Halliday wrote that . . . “we enter this millennium in good heart and without the thoughts that our hobby is about to be made illegal.” He went on to say that we had moved into a period of credibility and with what appeared to be a vast improvement between detector uses and the world of archaeology. For instance, detectorists were taking more artefacts and coins to museums for recording.
Jim said that these finds from the soil were saved from eventual destruction by the plough, chemical fertilisers and pig slurry, but there was still a lot to do. He concluded by saying,“There is one element of caution. Beware of those people – on both sides of the fence – who live in the past. We have moved on, never to return. Metal detecting is no longer a pastime looked upon as a near-criminal activity. We are now a recognised group of people with a lot of credibility.”
Twenty years ago, word-searcher competitions seemed to be very popular. The first prize on this occasion were Thames Cook vouchers to the value of £300. This is a column that looks back in time so, in retrospect, let’s hope that they were cashed in by the winner. Too late now!
For the new millennium the April 2000 Searcher contained some new features. Readers were asked if they had a metal detecting related question that no-one seems able to answer. “Perhaps it’s about detectors, accessories, archaeology or even research. Send in your questions and we will find the answers. Consult the DETEXPERTS.”
A clumsy name but a good feature, especially at a time when the WWW was in its infancy and information was relatively scarce. The first question was from Mr. Clarke of Essex and of interest to all new detectorists.”Can you suggest an easy way to get permission from landowners?”
Essentially, the answer was “Unfortunately not.” (referring to an EASY method). But the DETEXPERTS did mention approaches that could be successful and had worked for them.
Alas the scribes Jim Pattison [Old Yellowbelly], Jim Halliday and John Fargher have moved on to that rally above. Great guys. I still miss them and their word smithery. Never quite succeeded in emulating their style – but they were a great influence on my writing.
Thank you also to Harry Bain and The Searcher magazine for all the help and encouragement with my scribbling down the years