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Katherine Shonfield

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I have just been to see a stage production of The Snowman, for my sins.

In case you've been asleep for the past 20 years or so(in which case lucky you), the story is about a little boy who builds a snowman, who comes to life. The pair have a great deal of fun which all comes to an end when he melts (the snowman, that is).

This notoriously tearful moment was obliterated in the production I saw by the simple but effective means of having the cast come back to say 'good bye' after the curtain call - at least 20 separate times.

In a similar vein, the year, the century, and the millennium are being determinedly wished good bye over and over, so that the sad bits don't seep through. Architecture students have evolved their own special version of this.

While in general students' work can be a source of fresh insights and perspectives, over the past three years those same students have, at an accelerating pace, become prone to producing the most horrendous millennial garbage as a prelude to the most simple of tasks.

Written submissions on subjects as diverse as 'where to put your dpm' and 'calculate the U-value for the following external envelopes,' have all been deemed incomplete of late unless they contain a page and a half of declarations about Man's Eternal Struggle and His Search for Meaning and The Dawn of Time.

It comes down to the same thing: extended good byes and portentous balderdash are all a way of covering up the embarrassing emotional silences which remind us that we are living in the here and now and not in the comfortable past of retrospectives or puffed up celebratory futures.

My modest hope for 2000 is that we will wake up with a really nasty realistic hangover sometime in mid-January.

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