Leading article: Status symbol

Noel Coward trod this path. Lionised in youth, he was derided in middle age only to be totally rehabilitated and placed on a pedestal towards the end.

Step forward for the same treatment, then, those veterans of the pop scene Status Quo. Their formula, like Coward's, is the simple one of remaining in position. By staying on stage for more than 40 years, well after most rival rockers, or their critics, retired or died, they have trounced all of them.

According to the Guinness World Records, they have sold more than 100 million records and have scored more hits than any other British group in chart history, 62 to be exact, well above their nearest rivals Queen, on 52.

For a group that has come in for a severe mauling in recent years, even to the length - they say - of being shut out of Radio 1's groovy airwaves on account of being old hat, and of being barred from playing at Live8, the Guinness award is a validation. Indeed, they have accompanied it with a threat to "keep rockin' all over the world for many years to come".

So the trajectory always goes in Britain, in music, as in the world of politics or even art. Yesterday's youthful rebels morph immutably into today's national treasures. They thereby become part of the Establishment they once despised, part of the status quo.