Finally, we caught up with ‘Friends: The Reunion’, which we’d recorded. It was entertaining enough, without being brilliant. I’d have some issues with the format, but as a sentimental journey for all involved in the show – and for millions of fans worldwide – it was a TV success, an emotional experience even.
Although its ten-year run ended in 2004, the show is enduringly popular, and now has millions of devoted fans who weren’t even born when Friends was first aired. Today, re-runs are incredibly popular. Our daughters all love it. I’ve watched the odd episode in recent years and I must say it has aged really well.
Back to the reunion, and a format which I felt was unsatisfactory. The reunion was based outdoors, beside the fountain which features in the iconic opening scenes. There was a socially distanced audience. All six stars were present. Show host James Corden was fawning during the mostly embarrassing exchanges. For their reported 5m dollars (each) appearance money, the cast members chatted to Corden, re-enacted some classic scenes (the lines at least), reminisced fondly, and spent much of the day visiting the Friends’ set, reconstructed for the occasion.
There has been much comment on how well or otherwise the passage of time has impacted on the stars. I was shocked and saddened by the sight of a clearly out of sorts Matthew Perry (Chandler). The actor, who has had addiction issues, looked lost. It was very sad. The other cast members all looked well, and all six seemed very happy to be meeting up. Matt LeBlanc (who played Joey) stole the (reunion) show, with a few funny quips and an infectiously good-humoured attitude.
Friends was a brilliant show, a big part of the lives of millions of people. There were aspects of this reunion which were sad, most obviously the evidence of Perry’s decline. I suspect that time’s ruthless march was on the minds of cast members and viewers.
Still, it was nice to see that great cast together again. Friends meant a lot to millions of people from 1994 to 2004; its already great legacy is enhanced even further by the fact that it is now being discovered and enjoyed by new generations. Long may our ‘Friends’ be there for us – and here’s wishing Matthew Perry well.
It was just after 3.30 pm as we drove into Carrick-on-Shannon from the Boyle side. All was quiet and serene. Ray D’Arcy was chortling on the radio, people were walking their dogs, the cruisers, moored at the local jetties, were as enticing as ever. If there was a ‘British Bobby’ from the 1960s here, he’d be entitled to say ‘Nothing to see here…move along’.
Then we saw it. An extraordinary sight. Startling evidence of a phenomenon which we had assumed to be almost extinct. It was like going back in time; this was some sort of a twilight zone being revisited. We could hardly believe our eyes.
But it was real. From the minibus, a procession of ladies (or ‘hens’) in full hen party attire. It was Carrick’s past somehow returning. They seemed to be in great spirits, undaunted by the fact that the pubs were still closed. Presumably they were heading for the hotel, where, as residents, they could party the night away. The intriguing merging of the old normal and the so-called new normal continues.
Later on Friday
Naturally, I struggle to watch an entire Republic of Ireland soccer international these days; this is not exactly a golden age. Besides, Andorra v Ireland ain’t box office. There was, however, a fascination in seeing how we’d fare, post the shocking defeat to Luxembourg (Andorra are also minnows). I noted it was 0-0 at half-time this evening. Oops. I went and did something constructive, and when I returned to check the score, I saw that Andorra were leading. Wow! I imagined the explosive fall-out that would follow another humiliating defeat. When I returned ten minutes later, Ireland were 2-1 up. Troy Parrott had scored twice.
After our 4-1 win, I listened to analysis on Off the Ball (Newstalk). Parrott may have tended to our wounds, but the boys on OTB were sick as parrots. I love this show, but I was really taken aback by their negativity. Okay, Ireland may have played poorly for an hour, and embarrassingly gone 1-0 behind, but…here’s the issue: for years we’ve been told that it’s results that count. Ireland were rightly criticised when they recently went several games without a win – or a goal. This evening, they won a match, and scored four goals. If it’s results that count, manager Stephen Kenny was entitled to expect some respite from the critics. Not on Off the Ball.
Imagine if Parrott had hit the crossbar twice (instead of scoring two). Imagine if we’d lost 1-0 and if a supporter of Kenny’s argued that we could have won, that we’d been unlucky to hit the woodwork twice. The pundits wouldn’t have entertained it. “It’s all about results, not what might have been” we’d have been told. Well, tonight Ireland did score four times, and they won the match. I’m not even a fan of Kenny’s, but fair is fair!
Here at the Roscommon People, we’ve been big supporters of Aoife O’Rourke throughout her career. We’ve delighted in her great achievements. While she is a boxer of considerable skill, it is perhaps her single-mindedness that elevates her above others. Her dedication, commitment and passion is catapulting Aoife to the summit of her sport. Today, the young Castlerea boxer realised her greatest dream. Aoife, the European middleweight champion, qualified for the Olympic Games (in Tokyo) with a superb victory in the qualifiers in Paris, defeating Poland’s Eizbieta Wojik. She is now an Olympian, and, assuming the Games go ahead later this year, will represent Ireland in the greatest show on earth. It’s a huge achievement for Aoife, an honour for her family, and a source of great pride for the people of Castlerea, and for Roscommon people everywhere. See our 8-page pull-out inside this issue.
The front page of the Irish edition of The Sunday Times has a photo of Gardai with batons in Dublin city centre, accompanied by the headline: ‘Gardai under fire after baton-charging drinkers’. The front page of the Sunday Independent has a photo of young people enjoying drinks in Dublin city centre, accompanied by the headline: ‘Happy days are here again’. Go figure! (Mind you, as a newspaper editor, I can appreciate how this can happen!).
On this leisurely Bank Holiday morning, and under the guise of tidying, I browse through my stack of newspapers. In a recent Irish Times magazine, there’s an interview with a writer called Keith Ridgeway. The headline is: ‘I never read interviews with writers, ever. They just don’t interest me’.
Naturally, I just skip over those pages and move on…
The Republic of Ireland draw 0-0 away to Hungary in the latter’s last game before Euro 2020, which kicks off on Friday (a year late).
It’s a good result for Stephen Kenny, a challenging one for his critics, and a great one for me, as it means I don’t have to alter or update what I wrote under ‘Friday’.