Radio review: The art of making friends

Nuala McCann

The Fiendish World of Friendship Radio 4

Ken and Peter – Staying in Touch Radio 4

Is making friends a skill you're born with or one you develop? How involved should adults be in their children's friendships?

Mariella Frostrup delved into the science of friendship for this final episode in a series about bringing up children.

Frostrup blends intelligence with sincerity – she has a deep, honeyed voice with an edge of sense and authority.

This opened with the voices of primary children who spoke a lot of sense about friendship.

“Let them rule the world, they could offer adults a lesson or two,” said Frostrup.

We heard from a psychotherapist who said friendship was “absolutely vital”.

Anna-May Mangan is a self-confessed pushy mother of four. She had nightmares that her twins would grow up with their own language and go out seeking for another set of identical twins to marry.

So she said she found someone who also had identical twins and arranged to meet her at a corner every so often so they could swap a twin for two hours at a time.

Apparently, it takes 200 hours to make best friends.

A primary school head talked about the problems with “best friend” language and when two friends become so exclusive that it causes problems.

Fights, bullying and rejection – the conversation was painful. The primary head talked about incidents where parents ended up fighting in the playground over their children.

It's September, back to the school gates – this was worth a listen.

From young friends to old ones. Ken and Peter have been friends for 52 years – they're now 70 and joined the Listening Project for a snippet of conversation.

“I feel lucky to have you as my friend, particularly as you're still alive,” said one. You lose a lot of friends in your 50s and 60s, he noted.

The gloves were off as the pair traded insults about paying for pints and insulting texts.

You can really only do that with very, very old friends.

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