A snapshot of life in January 1998

Arise Sir Elton

Elton John has been awarded a knighthood in the New Year Honours List for services to charity and the music industry. The Watford Football Club chairman – real name Reginald Dwight – won the accolade after capturing the mood of the nation with his moving tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, during her funeral at Westminster Abbey. His heartfelt reworking of Candle in the Wind became the bestselling single of all time and raised £20million for Princess Diana Memorial Fund. The day after singing at the funeral he was given a standing ovation by Watford and Wycombe Wanderers fans alike as he took his seat at Vicarage Road.

[January 2, 1998]

A Geri merry Christmas

Watford’s very own Spice Girl Geri Halliwell brought smiles to young faces at the children’s ward at Watford General Hospital on Christmas Day. The flame-haired beauty spiced up the lives of the youngsters at the Hornets Ward. The Watford girl, who has won global adulation with the Spice Girls, talked about the need to get back to her roots at Christmas.

[January 2, 1998]

Need to preserve building’s beauty

A plan to transform one of the most elegant buildings in Bushey into a housing development has come up against a wall of defiance. The imposing sight of the former International University is one of the village’s important landmarks, and it can be viewed in all its glory from Aldenham Road and The Avenue. This week Comer Homes Developers lodged a planning application to convert the buildings into 314 residential units. The developer has given assurance all the listed buildings will be retained and any new development on the site will be built in character with the original buildings. Hopefully we can believe its promises, but we still may be subjected to the sight of net curtains and washing hanging out of windows, detracting from the building’s beauty.

[January 9, 1998]

Residents to vote on new landmark

A public vote is to decide the design of a sculpture which will become an important landmark in Bushey. Artists have been invited to submit ideas for a sculpture which will become a focal point for the entrance to Bushey’s King George Recreation Ground. This initiative is part of the council’s three year programme of improvements for the parks and open spaces of Hertsmere.

[January 9, 1998]

Plans for ‘unique’ music centre

Millennium plans for a multi-purpose music centre were unveiled at Watford Grammar School for Boys last week. Headteacher Mr John Holman envisages a centre including a concert hall, recording studios, teaching and practice rooms at the Rickmansworth Road site as a tribute marking the Millennium. The state-of-the-art facilities would also be available to the wider community and music industry professionals in a special three-way partnership.

[January 16, 1998]

Café basks in TV glory

A Watford café took centre stage on Wednesday when it was turned into a film set to shoot scenes for a new series of The Broker’s Man. The scene includes star of the show Kevin Whately having a meal out at The Blue Lagoon Café in Queen’s Road.

[January 30, 1998]

Shoppers camp outside store to get bargains

A Watford couple were so determined to get the bed of their dreams at the Clement’s Blue Cross Sale on Saturday, they camped outside the shop all night. Mr Tony Grillo and his wife Nadia, of Watford, arrived at Clements at 8pm on Friday, complete with sleeping bags and supplies, to make sure they would be the first through the doors at 8.30am. Their goal was to buy a bed that had been reduced from £1,989 to £679.

[January 30, 1998]

What was happening in the world in January 1998?

• Smoking is banned in all bars and restaurants in California (January 1)

• The Ice Storm of 1998 strikes Ontario and Quebec, Canada, resulting in widespread power failures, severe damage to forests and a number of deaths (January 5)

• The Lunar Prospector spacecraft is launched into orbit around the Moon, and later finds evidence for frozen water (January 6)

• Over 100 people are killed in the Sidi-Hamed massacre in Algeria (January 11)

• Nineteen European nations agree to forbid human cloning (January 12)

• The Drudge Report breaks the story about US President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky (January 17)

• Suspected Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski pleads guilty and accepts a sentence of life without the possibility of parole (January 22)

• Gunmen hold at least 400 children and teachers hostage for several hours at an elementary school in Manila, Philippines (January 28)