A snapshot of life in May 2000

Pool’s future under review

Officers at Watford Council have denied rumours that swimming and leisure complex Watford Springs faces imminent closure. The denial follows inquiries by the Watford Observer after a series of calls from people claiming to be employed at the leisure complex and customers of it. They said a decision had been taken to close the pool and that staff employed there and at other leisure centres had been notified. A council spokesman said the Springs, which had been open for almost a decade, did not face immediate closure, but could not guarantee its long term survival.

[May 5, 2000]

Peacock angers sleepers

Sleepless nights could soon be over for residents in South Oxhey plagued by a noisy peacock strutting its stuff on the estate. The stray bird has been living rough in Birkdale Gardens for the past year. No one knows how it got there but it has made its presence felt by screeching loudly during the night. Following complaints to Three Rivers District Council, a volunteer from Rickmansworth has agreed to take the bird away and look after it – once it is captured. The peacock appeared on the road last May, and is believed to have made the area its home after being fed by an elderly resident, who has since died. Residents have asked the council’s criminal warden and an RSPCA inspector to remove the bird but it has evaded capture. Occupants of eight properties in the road, who regularly find the bird on their properties, renewed calls for its removal this week after the noise became unbearable.

[May 12, 2000]

World exam trials

High-flyers from Watford will be among the first students to take part in pilots of a world-class academic qualification. World Class Tests, also known as Advanced Extension Awards, are being introduced by the Government as part of its new A-level curriculum being launched in September. Watford Grammar School for Boys in Rickmansworth Road and Watford Grammar School for Girls in Lady’s Close are the only schools in Hertfordshire to be taking part in the trials. They are two of around 95 around the world, including schools in Australia and Hong Kong, to be setting the trial papers in English, chemistry, maths, geography and French. The tests, which will be taken by students in Year 12, are intended to be international qualifications that will be recognised around the globe.

[May 19, 2000]

Veterans take to the skies

More than 90 Second World War veterans took to the skies at Elstree Aerodrome at the weekend as part of a day trip to commemorate their courage. It was the second consecutive year that Project Propeller has been run. The RAF veterans were flown from the aerodrome in Hog Lane, Elstree, on Saturday, to Duxford, where they were treated to lectures and flights in original Dakotas. Mr Victor Brettle, 78, of Wembley, said: “Saturday was one of the best days of my life.”

[May 19, 2000]

Geri’s mum’s special day

Watford’s former Spice Girl, Geri Halliwell, watched her mum get married at the weekend. Geri, accompanied by close friend, singer George Michael, saw her mother, Anna, marry long-term partner Steve Parkinson at Durrants Club in Croxley Green on Sunday. The wedding was held in front of 100 friends and family. Anna, 52, was determined not to be outshone by her famous daughter, and wore a silver satin dress and matching lace jacket for her big day. Anna and Steve, an electrician, have been partners for six years and live in north Watford.

[May 26, 2000]

Parents fear phone mast

Parents of pupils at a primary school in Watford called on the head teacher this week to remove the telecommunications mast casting a shadow across the children’s playground. The mast, owned by mobile phone company Orange, was placed within the grounds of Orchard Primary School in Gammons Lane, Watford, four years ago. However, as stories in the press continue to draw attention to the possible health hazards caused by exposure to radio waves from these masts, fears have been raised among parents. In light of these concerns, a group of parents with pupils at the school have launched a petition calling for the mast to be removed. So far, more than 100 residents have signed the petition, in addition to parents of children at the school.

[May 26, 2000]

What was happening in the world in May 2000?

• President of the Philippines Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declares “a state of rebellion” after thousands of supporters of her arrested predecessor storm towards the presidential palace (May 1)

• Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix, premieres in LA (May 1)

• After originating in the Philippines, the ILOVEYOU computer virus – also known as Love Bug or Love Letter – spreads quickly through the world (May 4)

• Ken Livingstone becomes the first Mayor of London (May 4)

• India’s population officially reaches one billion (May 11)

• The Tate Modern opens in London (May 12)

• Eminem releases his third album, The Marshall Mathers LP, which becomes the fastest ever selling studio album (May 23)

• Reginald Chua hijacks Philippine Airlines Flight 812. He demands the passengers place their valuables in a bag, and attempts to jump from the plane using a homemade parachute, but panics and clings to the door. A flight attendant then pushes him from the door. His body is found three days later (May 25)

• The comic strip Bringing Up Father ends its 87-year run in newspapers (May 28)