The Millennium ExperienceChronicle of the Future

World wakes up to the biggest hangover in history

01.01.00: BUSINESS PAID the highest price for the biggest party the world has seen: some economists estimated the cost at $1 trillion, as public services, retailing, industry and the financial sector all suffered heavy down-turns and lost man hours. The debugging bill for the dreaded Y2K computer bug is about $600billion.

Most predicted worst-case computer scenarios, from crashing cardiac ventilators to plummeting planes, just didn't happen. But the unexpected was bound to. Just hours before the Millennium Dome minister, Lord Falconer, welcomed the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to the opening, five electrical engineers were freed from the Mind Zone. Security computers had inadvertently locked them in.

Despite the headaches, the festivities seemed worth it. As the millennium dawned most of the world put aside its troubles and partied.

But unprecedented levels of traffic pile-ups caused tempers to flare in London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester. In Bristol, Edinburgh and Dundee all vehicles were banned from city centres.

London's celebrations were boosted by some of the world's brightest millennium attractions, including London's Dome, Millennium Bridge, Wheel and Village. Greenwich's festivities attracted almost 1billion TV viewers. Pubs enjoyed 24-hour custom and charged extortionately for the privilege as the capital's streets became a raucous playground.

From the Eiffel Tower to Times Square, the world's landmarks were focal points for carousing. In the Californian desert, 2.5m revellers raved all night. In the Pacific, thousands of people flew from Tonga to Samoa crossing time zones to celebrate the millennium twice.

The media noted two dozen armed conflicts raging around the world as the new year flicked up the zeroes. They reported the birth of 380,000 babies (with a life e