Richard Herring: It’s my 100th Metro column – why haven’t I been sacked?

Friday 31 Jan 2014 
This is my 100th Metro column. Do I get a telegram from the Queen? I know she personally picks up her copy of this paper from St James’s Park Tube station. Good morning, Ma’am.
I’ve been doing this for two years! I don’t think I’ve ever held down a job for so long. I usually say the wrong thing and get sacked. But however hard I try to be inappropriate, no one seems to care.The editor of the Metro smells of poo! Nothing works.
A round number like a hundred feels significant but is it really? When I was a kid and the mileometer on my dad’s car was approaching 100,000 miles, the whole family was gripped. The suspense built as the numbers ticked upwards, there was a low hum of excitement and then, when all those nines turned into zeros, we let out a spontaneous cheer. Apart from my mum, who told my dad to keep his eyes on the road. So if round numbers aren’t significant, why did we all cheer? Why was it so exciting?
The whole world went nuts for the year 2000 because exactly 2000 years had passed since the birth of Christ and it was the start of a new millennium. But the whole world are idiots because, of course, there was no ‘year zero’ (our dating system goes from 1BC to 1AD) and thus, officially, the new millennium didn’t begin for another year. We’d only done 1,999 years and who thinks that that’s worth celebrating? Apart from Prince.
In any case, historians agree that Jesus was probably born in about 6BC (surely being born six years before himself was one of his greatest miracles), so the year 2000 wasn’t even a nice round number of a birthday for the Lamb of God. He was 2006 by then. Or was he 2005? It’s so confusing.
Whose stupid idea was it not to have a year zero? And why didn’t Jesus just get born then to keep things simple?
Numbers can provide odd reassurance, especially when dealing with the brutal passage of time. My friend Simon recently celebrated his 45th birthday and had a party where he invited his friends to bring along our favourite 45s. And I realised that we’re practically the last generation that can do that or even understand what that means.
How can I explain to younger readers that music once came on fragile discs that you had to play by spinning them round really fast and putting a needle on them? Or that most of them only had two songs on them and, even then, you had to flip them over yourself.
Would they understand why we bothered with these dust magnets, these easily scratchable, easily meltable artefacts, especially given that they produced a static-filled, tinny sound?
I am glad things have changed. Having my entire music collection available on my phone in digital form is as superior as it is miraculous. I’m delighted that I don’t have to lug a jukebox behind me when I go for a run (though it might improve my fitness).
Simon probably wished he’d had this party when he was 33, so he could have played entire albums. With 45s, we had to literally change the record every couple of minutes. The next record-based birthday will be 78 but there are few of those around now as it is and they hold the music of a generation older than the people who are currently 78.
Soon 33, 45, 78 will be a meaningless list of numbers. The world keeps turning, even when the turntables don’t.
Richard Herring’s show, We’re All Going To Die!, is touring nationally until May 2014. For tickets and details, visit