The UN announced today that the year of 2012 is to be postponed.
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, spoke of the unanimous UN vote. 'The outlook for the global economy is extremely uncertain,' he explained. 'There is political instability in many places that is likely to lead to escalating conflicts, and geological and meteorological data indicate the potential for an increasing number of natural disasters. We believe it would be irresponsible to simply continue forward into 2012 until we have had time to plan for the unprecedented challenges that 2012 seems likely to present.'
It is believed that this is the first time a year has been postponed or cancelled. 'The next sequential numerical year is usually agreed as a formality on New Year's Eve,' confirmed Professeur de l'Horloge of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Paris, the organisation in charge of Time.
Professeur de l'Horloge warned that to put nothing in the gap left by the removal of 2012 would create a dangerous void in the Gregorian calendar. 'Simply suspending Time would have disastrous consequences for the space-time continuum,' he explained, 'and could possibly lead to the end the Universe. It will certainly be necessary to replace 2012 with an alternative year.'
In anticipation of the UN decision, the international community have been engaged in contingency planning. The favoured year to replace 2012 has already been selected as 1969. 'It would clearly be madness to proceed directly to 2013,' said David Cameron in a broadcast to the British people. 'Without the experience of 2012, 2013 would be entirely unpredictable and hence even more dangerous than 2012. 1969 is a year that has been tried and tested.'
Reaction to the decision has been, for the most part, positive. 'Any year would be better than 2012,' said a relieved Boris Johnson, Mayor of London. 'God knows how we would have got the Olympics sorted. Even if they stick 2012 in after 2050 it won't be delayed far enough for me and Seb.'
The music industry have reacted quickly by making plans for the re-release of the first album by Led Zepplin, the Beatles' Abbey Road, and My Way by Frank Sinatra. Also there is much excitement about the prospect of Woodstock and a come-back tour by Elvis Presley.
Technophobes have also shown enthusiasm. 'The maiden flight of the Boeing 747 will attract a lot of interest,' said a spokesperson from New Scientist magazine, 'and it will be great to watch the moon landing of Apollo 11.'
The plan has not, however, led to universal pleasure. The Vietnamese Government, for example, has expressed concern about the proposed carpet bombing and napalm attacks on their country by the Americans. Whilst agreed as regrettable, it has been pointed-out that no year can be found in which the US was not undertaking military action in one or other foreign country. 'It's also unfortunate,' conceded Barack Obama to CNN, 'that Muammar al-Gaddafi will come to power in September 1969, negating the considerable efforts made in 2011 to oust him.'
Fashion may be a further contentious issue. 'It is believed that emergency legislation may be needed,' said the British Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, 'to compel modern, fashion-conscious young people to wear afro hairstyles; coloured, fluorescent, paisley shirts; wide polka dot ties; bell-bottomed, velvet trousers and platform shoes.'
Elements of 2012 will be piloted in various countries during 1969. 'We will only assemble and launch 2012 when we are sure it is safe,' confirmed Ban Ki-moon. 'If the work takes longer than twelve months,' he added, 'we will continue into the 1970s. However, we expect to be able to begin 2012 no later than 1973.'