What has disappeared this decade

From faxes to francs, let us look back at what we’ve lost this decade.

1. Western black rhinoceros: Excessive hunting in Cameroon saw numbers drop to just 10 in 2000. By 2006, it was officially declared extinct, with not even a single specimen in captivity. Still, a few rich people thought their sexual performance was enhanced by its horn, so no harm done.

2. The 120 % mortgage: Remember when you could borrow 120 per cent of the value of your property on a self-certified income? If so, you’re probably sitting on thousands of pounds of negative equity.

3. George W Bush: Once the most powerful man in the whole universe to whom even Tony Blair bowed down, Dubya is now holed up in Texas, the forgotten man of Republican politics. Which would be good news, if Sarah Palin weren’t the coming woman.

4. Woolworths: Once a stalwart of every high street, it was another victim of the recession. The last store closed in January this year and though it has retained an online presence, sadly the pick ‘n’ mix has gone for ever.

5. Lehman Brothers: The U.S. investment bank that went belly up in 2008 through overexposure to the sub-prime mortgage and above-average levels of greed. Not the only bank to go bankrupt, but the most high profile and the least mourned.

6. Printed maps: No more family rows over the page you want having been torn to shreds by the kids. Instead, you just turn on the satnav and hope a fox hasn’t eaten the aerial. If it has, you will be directed across Tooting Common.

7. The French franc, the German mark, the Spanish peseta, etc: To the disappointment of many in Britain, the introduction of the euro in 2002 passed off with few alarms and the currency is now used by 16 countries. The only good news for Brits is that the euro has made it slightly easier for us to work out just how little the pound is worth when we go abroad.

8. Supersonic passenger air travel: The crash that killed all 109 on Air France flight 4590 in July 2000 was the beginning of the end for Concorde. Although later given a clean bill of health, the public’s appetite for cheap flights and lower carbon emissions saw it taken out of service in 2003.

9. Everyone I Have Ever Slept with (1963-1995): Tracey Emin’s tent was just one of many works of Modern Britart that were destroyed in a fire at a Leyton warehouse in 2004. People are still debating just how much of a loss this really was.

10. Paid-for porn: These days you need a strong firewall to fight off the porn stars trying to download themselves on to your desktop for free.

11. Personal cheques: Once the only method of transaction for high-value goods, anyone who tries to pay by cheque now is seen as a massive credit risk. Without plastic, you’re no one.

12. The polar ice cap: Last seen heading towards Copenhagen in a tidal wave to drown the climate change sceptics.

13. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia: The new state formed in 1992 by the republics of Serbia and Montenegro after the break-up of the old Yugoslavia only lasted 11 years. Its successor, renamed Serbia and Montenegro, only made it to 2006 and the country has now been split into the separate states of Serbia and Montenegro.

14. Smoking in pubs: Every citizen’s right to kill everyone else by sparking up indoors was thankfully curtailed in 2007. Now if you want to get lung cancer you have to hang outdoors in the rain and get pneumonia too.

15. The cassette: Don’t you miss putting on your favourite piece of music in the car and watching the machine chew it up and spit it out? Probably not.

16. Top of the Pops: Despite a radical overhaul in 2003 that introduced marginally hipper artists and the odd interview, it was finally consigned to the knacker’s yard in 2006.

17. The floppy disk: USB flash drives and DVDs have superseded a disk that could only hold a miserable 200 MB of data. There again, you could only lose a miserable 200 MB of data at one time.

18. Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction: The extensive hoard of chemical and nuclear weapons that were lying around every car park in Iraq in the first two years of the decade suddenly went missing on March 20, 2003, never to be seen again.

19. The Labour party: On death’s door in the 80s, revitalised in the 90s and now heading towards self-immolation again. Only the Tories continued incompetence can guarantee its survival.

20. Fat TVs: The demise of the cathode ray tube means you can now have a TV any size and stick it on the wall. The downside is seeing Simon Cowell in HD.

21. Hope: No money, no jobs, no action on climate change, no end to unwinnable wars. 2009: the year all hope died.

22. The fax machine: The essential hi-tech piece found in every office in the 90s. Now extinct, apart from one in the Tottenham Hotspur ticket office to which season ticket holders have to send their renewal forms.

23. Jawoyn: The language of the Jawoyn people of Australia’s Northern Territory, which disappeared for good this year with the death of the last known speaker.

Roughly 20 languages die each year a total of 200 for the noughties. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2009

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Printable version | Sep 30, 2020 10:34:26 PM |

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