Sorry, I won’t be there for the Friends reunion

The idea of a ‘Friends’ reunion is a queasy one. As Chandler might say, could I be any less excited?

Alice Jones
Thursday 14 January 2016 19:44
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Having said it would never happen more times than Joey has said ‘how you doin’?’ the cast of Friends is reuniting. It is 11-and-a-half years since the American sitcom ended; since the surprise twins were born and Rachel got off the plane and Chandler made a final quip about where they could all go and get coffee.

Friends started in the year I chose my GCSE options and ended the year after I graduated, which means that I, like many people my age, have watched every episode at least 25 times and own the 30-disc box set. A week rarely passes without my wondering if I’m being a bit Monica about my towels, saying Oh.My.God like Janice, quoting Rachel’s trifle recipe or texting my sister the word “PIVOT!” because I know it will still make her laugh.

Christmas isn’t Christmas now without wondering whether I should put sunglasses on the turkey, the turkey on my head, and shimmy around like Monica. I feel sad for the generation below who have Harry and Hermione, not Ross and Rachel, as the defining duo of their generation. And I feel glad that Friends existed in an age before Twitter snark and opinion pieces about property prices and privilege.

And yet “The One After the 12-Year Break” is a queasy idea. As Chandler might say, could I be any less excited? It’s not a proper reunion – the six Friends will come together as part of a tribute to the veteran television director James Burrows – but it’s still an exhumation. And it will not be as good as the original, because these things never are. TV reunions tend to be badly written affairs, bloated and indulgent, like the execrable This Life + 10 or Sex and the City 2. They’re not like a band who can play the greatest hits and go home. Drama and comedy demand novelty and the old Friends will have to have moved on, though fans would much rather they didn’t.

At the end of the final episode, Monica moved out of the New York apartment to the suburbs. There is curiosity value in seeing how Chandler fares as a father, whether Joey has settled down or if Ross and Rachel are still together. Their hair will be a talking point, as will their weight and clothes, because they always were.

But if they’re not living in each other’s pockets, dating disastrously, sitting around drinking endless coffee and playing foosball any more, it’s not really Friends.

NBC chief Robert Greenblatt said that he hoped to get all six actors in the same room at the same time but added, “I’m not sure we can logistically pull it off.” It sounds a lot like me and my friends trying to organise a meet-up these days. The real reason I don’t want to see Chandler and co all grown up is that it reminds me that I’m supposed to be a grown-up now, too.

Why go public with a Lottery win?

Lottery winners are fascinating. Especially when they’re like David and Carol Martin, who won a record £33m this week. The Martins were tucking into bacon and black pudding rolls when they decided to check their ticket. Upon discovering they had won, they sat looking at each other and drinking tea for a while, before going out to buy a couple of champagne flutes for their photo-call with the press. They now plan to buy a 4x4, a ticket for their daughter to fly back from Australia and to help out those in Hawick who were flooded. Mr Martin also has his eye on a pair of £200 brogues.

I can’t decide if I find this softly-softly approach more interesting than the spend-spend-spend of winners like Mike Carroll who won £9.7m at 19 and was back working as a binman by the time he was 27.

I can’t understand why anyone would go public as a winner. Their suitability and choices are bound to be scrutinised, their postboxes filled with begging letters for years to come. Then again, if you’ve just won £33m, I suppose what strangers think of you doesn’t figure all that highly.

Plastic bag charge has made us thieves

Once a nation of shopkeepers, Britain is a now a nation of shoplifters. Nearly £27m worth of plastic bags is thought to have been stolen in England since the 5p charge was introduced in October last year. That figure is based on a survey in which 51 per cent of people admitted to taking a bag without paying. Not the most scientific study, nor the most surprising statistic. The bigger picture is rosier. In the month after the charge came in, Tesco reported a 78 per cent drop in the number of single-use bags.

People are getting used to carrying an old carrier around in their pocket, though the weird side effect is that they have become a precious commodity. When I asked if anyone had a spare one in the office this week, people pretended not to hear, as if I’d just asked them to help out with my new knife-throwing hobby.

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