Peter Rhodes on pollen in Llangollen, an insect-splat app and why Friends could last for hundreds of years

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Friends – the Shakespeare of its age
Friends – the Shakespeare of its age

I suggested that a reader's memory of a small shop in Llangollen was lyrical enough to drive one to poetry. But I warned that “there is not a word in the English language that rhymes with Llangollen.” My thanks to all of you who had a stab. With cheerful disregard of Welsh pronunciation, one reader offers this: “There is a little shop in Llangollen / Selling masks to avoid May's pollen / I bought one for a wheeze / But still I did sneeze / All over the bara brith / (Or perhaps it was stollen).”

A new app is being used to track an alarming decline in the number of insects. First, you clean your car's number plate then, using the app after a drive, you record how many bugs are splatted. It's all very clever but no-one of a certain age needs telling that bug numbers are falling. Not so long ago, any evening drive in the countryside would produce a thick slick of bug-smear on the windscreen. Not so now.

But at least one flying creature is doing well. In and around Henley-on-Thames, red kites are so plentiful and so bold that they've started snatching sausage rolls, egg custards and other snacks out of the hands of humans. Once almost extinct in Britain, a reintroduction programme has been so successful that nobody knows how many kites there are, although estimates range to 10,000 or more. They are big, beautiful and bold. Some are clearly reverting to their ancient role as urban thieves, grabbing any snack within reach. Watch out, there's a kite about.

As a rule, I am immune to telly-hype about this or that “iconic” programme. But I make an exception for Friends. Over 10 years in 236 episodes, there was not a single human-relationship issue not touched by the writers and actors. Friends, sometimes so-so but usually brilliant, was the Shakespeare of its age. The scene in The One with the Morning After, when Ross and Rachel's heartbreak is overheard by the other four Friends in hiding, could have come from Twelfth Night.

Still screened daily in dozens of countries, there is no reason why Friends, newly resurrected in a Reunion special and immortalised digitally , should not be seen and enjoyed hundreds of years from now, for as long as people enjoy laughing at other people. As Chandler might ask, could it be any more durable?

I wrote recently about the undying appeal of The Goon Show. Taking up the theme in the Daily Telegraph, Tristram Fame Saunders, a writer with a name that could have come straight out of Neddie Seagoon's address book, reminds us that episodes of the 1950s show are available on BBC Sounds. He discovered that the anarchy of the Goons extended to the sound effects in their scripts. One called for the sound of “two lions walking away, bumping against each other. If you can't get two lions, two hippos will do.” Perfect.

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