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Saturday, 1 January, 2000, 12:23 GMT
The noughties: So where are we now?

2001: A Space Odyssey A time odyssey: What decade is 2001 in?

The past, they say, is another country and it will take more than a passport to re-enter to the 1990s - but where exactly do we reside now?

Debates have raged over domes, bugs and whether 2000 really represents the start of the 21st Century - but no-one seems to have been able to provide an answer to the puzzle of what the next decade will be called.

The Fab Four The Beatles gave the 60s their swing
While decimalisation still has its detractors, even former imperial Britain cannot help packaging time into neat 10-year parcels.

People seem unable to think about developments in music, fashion, and even social mores, without attaching them to the decade when they became most noticeable.

Jazz, gin and the Charleston gave us the "roaring" 20s, while the pill, miniskirt and Beatles helped earn the 60s its "swinging" sobriquet.

More recently, we have had the "caring, sharing" 90s, though arguably this was more wishful thinking than accurate description.

Duck! The zeros are coming
Indeed the phrase was coined so early in the 90s that few of us had had the opportunity to show we had reformed the selfish behaviour which made the 1980s the "me" decade.

With every decade of the fast-changing 20th Century having its own distinct character, the first challenge of the 21st Century must be to come up with a suitable title for its first segment.

The last century opened with the "nineteen-hundreds". Sadly, the "twenty-hundreds" fails to strike the same chord.

Leyton Orient FC: Up the 'O's!
It would be unfortunate to enter a new millennium with a decade which sounds like the confused ramblings of a child asked to guess how countries there are in the world: "Twenty-hundred, Miss?"

The "zeros" is little better. "Here come the zeros," is all too reminiscent of a line from the epic Pearl Harbor film Tora! Tora! Tora!

The "o"s also conjures up rather unfortunate associations. The "O"s is the nickname of the struggling east London soccer club Leyton Orient.

The "nillies" seems to lack the correct ring, while the "double-o"s is bound to be the intellectual property of Ian Fleming's estate.

Reggie Kray Reggie Kray might favour the 'noughties'
The "noughties" could be the one to head the - admittedly sorry - list of contenders.

And yet the "noughties" still sounds like a word East End villains might use to describe imprisonable activities - or even worse a polite, middle-class code for the reproductive organs.

The quest for a suitable name could therefore end up drawing a big, fat zero - let's hope this is not emblematic of the world's fortunes in the next 10 years.

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