IT was when I woke up on a grubby sofa in a freezing Brixton flat that I realised reunions sound more fun than they actually are.

It was the morning after a get-together with some people I was at journalism college with. A few of us had crashed at someone’s flat and, waking with a brutal hangover, I had two thoughts. One was: ‘I’m getting too old to sleep on random sofas’ and the other was: ‘Reunions are overrated’. We’d had fun at college but we weren’t students anymore, we’d lost common ground.

Maybe, I thought, it was best to remember people as they were, rather than trying to reunite a spark that has long since expired. While reunions can sound exciting, in reality they can feel contrived. Pop bands only reunite because, even if they can't stand the sight of each other, it's lucrative.

I once went to a school reunion and, while I enjoyed the nostalgia of wandering into familiar classrooms and seeing old faces, it was an unsettling reminder of time passing. One of my favourite teachers, quite a dude in the Eighties, looked old and grey, and struggled to remember our names. He’d taught over 20 years worth of kids since we left school, yet for us he remained forever in 1986.

Television reunions can be disappointing too. This week one of the creators of Friends put to bed any notion that the much-loved US sitcom could return. “You don’t want a bunch of people in their 50s in the coffee house!” said David Crane, co-creator of the show that ran from 1994 to 2004.

Since Friends ended, there has been constant speculation that it may one day return. But, as Crane points out, it was about “a finite period of time in life in your 20s” and should be preserved as such. He added: “The irony is, people think that’s what they want and you just know... it’s like going to your high school reunion, it’s such a disappointment. You’re like, ‘Oh my God, what happened to her?’”

I loved Friends (who didn’t?) and whenever I catch an episode on the channel that has them on a permanent loop it still makes me smile. Chandler and the gang are immortalised chewing the fat in Central Perk. Do we really want to see them in the throes of mid-life crises?

Another Nineties TV hit was This Life, a compelling BBC drama about a group of young lawyers. A decade after it ended there was a one-off reunion show, which was dull and stilted. It just didn’t work.

I guess the recent Will and Grace comeback is an exception, since the writing and acting is still razor sharp - but, funny as they are, none of the characters have really moved on since we last saw them, which feels like a cop-out.

One reunion I do remember fondly was with the five reporters I worked with at the start of my career. We met up in a curry restaurant 25 years later, joined by the photographer from our old paper. His name was John Chambers.

Back in the early 1990s I arrived in Cleckheaton, a place I’d never heard of, to begin my job on a weekly newspaper. I had no idea what I was doing. So thank goodness for kindly John, who showed me the ropes. In those early days, out and about on our ‘patch’, he gently guided me around the great, the good and the news worthy, helping me develop reporting skills. I still remember heading out in the newspaper van with him at the wheel, chatting away and whistling to the radio. A few days ago I heard the sad news that John has passed away. A well respected press photographer, he will be fondly remembered by generations of cub reporters he took under his wing - including this one.

* ONE of my first assignments on the T&A was to interview a local boy who was in Coronation Street.

I went to Stage 84 in Idle to meet Jack P Shepherd, who was a drama student there. He'd just turned 13 and was full of beans, chatting away as his proud mum looked on. Over the years I've watched Jack's Corrie character, David Platt, develop from cheeky lad to troubled teen to widow and father. Now Jack is at the centre of a harrowing rape storyline, and his performance is compelling. I hope this year's Best Actor soap award has his name on it.

* ONE of the joys of childhood is exploring a toy shop, so how sad that so many of them are disappearing.

Toys R Us, one of the nation's biggest toy retailers, is to shut all its UK stores, after administrators failed to find a buyer for the collapsed retailer. It's a dire time for high street retailers, with big name chains hit hard by falling consumer spending, soaring inflation and competition from online rivals.

I used to enjoy taking my nephews to Toys R Us; wandering among the endless toy-lined shelves was an exciting adventure for them. As a child I loved going to Galt Toys in Bradford, a fabulous shop that felt like a magical world. I can still picture it. Online shopping may be convenient, but it doesn't create the memories we cherish.