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Hot buttered bliss

For whatever reason, I never really got into Friends. It was the sort of thing you’d watch with the young ones, to keep up with new stuff, so that the old parent-kid relationship wasn’t so gappy. (Of course there are those who disagree and say that Hughes never saw a piece of rubbish she didn’t like, citing Carry On movies and Inspector Rex but they forget that I remember their little foibles too. What about that sister with the furtive addiction to Neighbours, hmm? Being in recovery is OK for her but some of us have long memories and a position to defend when necessary.)

However, I watched Friends recently and laughed, like really laughed: the AHAHA-snort-please-stop-cos-my-ribs-are-aching-type of laughter, which is rare and precious, even when you have a family who point out that no-one has seen your ribs for a long time and that they have become sceptical as to said ribs’ existence. It is easy to become deflected at this point, sneering at his beer while he sneers at your *butties. Without beer and butties, what would our civilisation be, after all? (Thinner, at any rate.)

But I have segued (I prefer ‘segued’ to ‘strayed’—so much more intentional-sounding) from the TV topic at hand. Friends made me guffaw because it indulged in some good old slapstick when eternal prat Ross decided to get a fake tan and had some exquisitely timed mishaps. It was rare, good and cautionary fun. When you get your fake tan, be very careful to ask the operator which way you should face, otherwise you will end up looking as if you have fallen in some taupe/orange ink that resembles no skin tone of the human species.

But some people seem to like the look of this, if last weekend’s wedding was anything to go by. (Singing at such festivities enables the Hughes household to keep up the supply of beer and butties that keep one’s ribs from showing too much.) The terracotta tans on the bridesmaids went strangely well with their dresses, which were roughly the colour of a Christmas beetle. In shantung, I think. All subtly different in style, although subtle is not really the word for anything to do with that wedding. You get the idea: one with a peplum, one with a bustier and the other one with a sort of tunic effect a la Dinnigan. They had obviously been reading European Vogue a bit before taking their ideas to the local bridery. Someone had looked at a few Issy Miyakes and a Gaultier or two and said, ‘I get it: it’s all about uneven hemlines!’ So the bride’s extravagant sweetheart neckline jutted over a skirt for which the word frou-frou was an understatement. She rather looked as though she’d tripped over as the dressmaker was cutting the hemline, and had therefore made up for it by froofling up the skirt with some tulle here and frothling it out with a lettuce frill there and then sparfling the rest up, down, over and out till it looked like Ally McBeal’s hair in the final series, the one where she looked as though her hairdresser had cut it with a Splayd. But I loved the boys: groom and groomsmen, all wearing their hired tuxes with great big pink Himalayan lilies in the buttonhole, like some weird fertility symbol. If I sound bitchy, it’s because I’ve had to sing ‘The Power of Love’ again, when I swore I wouldn’t, but they offered me money, dammit and there’s the beer and butty factor to consider.

French and Saunders did ‘the wedding preparation sketch’ brilliantly in the ‘90s and nothing has changed. The series, I forget which one it was, that had this wonderful sketch, is of course one that they never repeat. There have been F&S repeats, sparse but welcome, over the years, but never that one, the one where they read those awful wedding poems to each other, the ones that I routinely have to avert my eyes from on Wedding Saturdays. Their aim was true, because the stuff they were getting us to laugh at is never the full truth. All straight from the pens of greeting card hacks trying to coin new proverbs with all the skill and none of the sincerity of old Will McGonagall of blessed memory. You know the ones I mean: bombshells such as ‘Today I marry my friend, the one I laugh with, cry with, yada yada yada’. Taste forbids my going further. And the bleeding Prophet with his ‘sit on the same park bench but sip not from my Foster’s or the sad cypress of life is not going to get laid’ type of stuff.

Come back, Dawn & Jennifer (and Kath & Kim for that matter): life’s not getting any funnier without you.

*butty: a species of  sandwich, but of nobler proportions, requiring thick white bread, lots of butter, and either good jam or really hot chips with salt and malt vinegar. (Northern English, working class, get over it.)    

Juliette Hughes is a freelance writer.



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