Magic Bells

Tuesday 5th October 2021

Building slowly, slowly to the One Hundred Years of Harry Rollo and Mercury, Mr Kitten and their Wedding which was also a Marriage. The Wedding is just for one day (but some Weddings last for months) but Marriage goes on, often indefinitely.

They say: the bigger the Wedding, the shorter the marriage. Some, especially celebrities, like to get on to the next Wedding as soon as possible, because of the exposure and sponsorship deals available, as well as frock and hair opportunities.

But The Magic Flute, which is an opera. I saw it at the Royal Opera House the week before last. Who’d have thought after all this the great thing would be to get back into the Royal Opera House? Anthony Mottram had a free ticket and I was last min after the Chelsea Flower Show behind a pillar for £73. The pillar amounted to nothing. There was an atmosphere in the House: almost hysteria. You could have lit a match and the audience would have ignited, gloriously.

Brigid Brophy explained the unexplained alteration of the Queen of the Night from good person in Act 1 to bad in Act 11 as Mozart covering-up that the opera is really about the masons who officially don’t exist. So ever since, The Magic Flute has been a simple clash of good and evil, with Sarastro triumphing as some kind of stately embodiment of 18th century enlightenment. AH and I were picking it over in the interval. Really this doesn’t make any sense. The Magic Flute itself and Papageno’s magic bells are supplied by the Queen of the Night’s ladies. Tamino and Pamina don’t really undergo any ‘ordeals’ because they’ve got the Magic Flute to do all the hard work. Then there are those three boys who appear out of the sky to buck up Papageno at a low moment. Who are they? Sarastro’s actually quite a bore, especially when less well sung, and why has he got that nasty person who is always menacing Pamina’s person in his entourage? The real driving force is magic and the utter glory of the opera is Papageno playing his magic bells when at his wits’ end and the mu of child-like simplicity and innocence and the whole thing is quite literally a pantomime and terribly touching all at once. Is this how life is? The Queen has always known it: things get worse, then they get better again. Governments and experts thrash about, insisting that they must ‘do something’ but all the time some other random force is at work to make it all come right of its own accord – for a while at least. Me, Adrian Edge, I’ve always been lucky in finding the right jam-jar top for the jam-jar (I refer to the jam-making process, with which you won’t all be familiar). Less lucky though with flexes which always knot up when I go anywhere near them. On the other hand, the missing sock has always tended to turn up.

So we bash on, longing for a fully-staffed life rolling ever forward unhindered, with car at the door and no flies, no stains and no swelling and bloating but really it’s like weather; sometimes the nerves are bad and it’s doubtful how much more we can bear, then the nerves clear without warning perhaps because the omelette turned out extraordinarily well. As one of the plays says, maybe it’s a Stoppard, ‘Many are happy much of the time.’ Goodness knows why. By rights, misery ought to be much more prevalent, the main thing in fact. But it isn’t. This is magic.


Posted Tuesday, October 5, 2021 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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