In which I use my powers for good

Hurrah for Claudia Winkleman! The magnificently befringed presenter has been given Bruce Forsyth’s Strictly Come Dancing presenting slot, marking an encouraging waltz forward for the BBC’s hiring policy – two women presenting a prime-time show without anyone feeling the need to bring a bloke in.

It also marks an exciting personal milestone, the first time I’ve ever made a wish in this column that has later been granted. At least I think it is, but there are 11 years’ worth of archives to check and I don’t have the energy. Let’s assume it is. Hurrah! 

Assuming this signals a newly-developed superpower and not just a predictable coincidence (I’m sure it does), I now feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders. What should I wish for next? How can I use this power for good? After at least eight minutes of very serious consideration, I’ve drawn up the following list.

I would like ASOS to bring back their sleeve-length filter for dresses please. Back in the glory days, ASOS.com was on our side in the battle against fabric-stingy designers. Their unique sleeve filter allowed us to eliminate all sleeveless dresses in one swift click, leaving us only with the long-sleeved, the medium-sleeved and the skimpy-but-still-not-requiring-complex-bra-‘solutions’. Of course in practice this eliminated about 80 per cent of all dresses, but it sure made shopping quicker. Until they took the filter away. Bring it back, guys! It was totally ’armless.

I would like Conchita’s Eurovision win to herald a new age of transgender acceptance please. And also the decline of fascist attitudes to facial and body hair. My lustrous blonde moustache has been hidden from the world for too long, and it’s time to stop caring what anyone else thinks.

I would like the Olympics to come back to London please. The Evening Standard reported this week that Rio’s preparations to host the Games in 2016 are so far behind schedule that the International Olympic Committee is considering moving proceedings to London as a plan B. It should be noted that they also called the chance of it actually going ahead “infinitesimally small” - but then I had an infinitesimally small chance of enjoying judo the last time round, and that happened.

I would like Friends to be shown on Freeview again please. Yes, at the point where E4 relinquished the rights to Comedy Central I had seen every episode so many times I’d begun to think Gunther was a man I actually knew. But that was two and half years ago. Two and a half years of trying to kid myself I actually enjoy The Big Bang Theory. And now it’s been 10 years since the show’s finale, Chandler et al are everywhere again, and all I want to do is spend a month under a duvet re-living everything Rachel’s hair ever did. We were on a break, but I’d like it to end now. Please.

Bet you feel old now?

There’s a trend on the internet at the moment (I know you love it when I start columns with the words, ‘there’s a trend on the internet at the moment’) that involves flagging up the amount of time that has passed since stuff happened. It’s done not as helpful practice for pub quizgoers, but with the aim of making us all feel old. 

Friends is 20 this year! It’s been a decade since Bennifer split up! The kids from The Cosby Show are all octogenarians now! DON’T YOU FEEL DECREPIT? And then we take a misty-eyed moment to reminisce about what we were doing or wearing or eating at the time the particular stuff happened, and reflect on the way time has been relentlessly marching onward again - as time, the crafty beggar, is wont to do. 

Much as everyone loves a dose of “weren’t the 90s HILAIRIOUS?” with our morning cornflakes (or Lucky Charms if you’re really invested), the “bet you feel old” trend is a smug one because it’s aimed at people who have no pretty much no right feeling old at all. In fact, the less time you’ve been on the planet, the more likely you are to see the 12 years that have passed since Girls Aloud won Popstars: the Rivals as a significant chunk of time worth gawping over. 

Today’s choice piece of the nostalgia pie was: Buffy the Vampire Slayer started 17 years ago! I’ll admit this one took me back slightly - not at how old I am (I’m well aware of this, I recently bought a posture cushion to help with lower back pain), but at how old I was when I first watched it. 

Nine. I was nine. The same year I did my tea-stained topic book on The Romans, I was also watching Sarah Michelle Gellar drive a stake through a vampire’s heart without ruffling her pre-millennial up-do. Probably with one finger on the remote and an eye on the door at all times, of course. 

I’m not even sure I’d persuaded my parents to let me watch Friends by that point – brimming over as it was with the corrupting influences of caffeine, ugly naked people and improper grammar. I don’t feel old, more impressed at how much popular culture I had managed to consume before I was out of frilly ankle socks.

It seems to me there are two ways to counteract the trope. One is to focus instead on how surprisingly young people and things are. DID YOU KNOW Richard Wilson was only actually 54 when One Foot in the Grave started? CAN YOU BELIEVE it’s been a mere year and seven months since the London 2012 Olympics? It feels like CENTURIES AGO! Doesn’t time trundle by at leisure?

And the other is to simply claim not to remember things at all. “Buffy… was she the cartoon rabbit?” I will say, clutching my lower back for effect. Then the internet will leave me alone.