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All you need is love

So, what is it that you can supposedly sell, but you just can’t buy?

Why, it’s that certain something that makes the world go round, of course; it’s love! On Valentine’s Day those who have found it will be celebrating with the object of their affection and everyone else will be looking on with anything from happiness to envy.

Spare a thought for those who loved and then lost, for whatever reason – because it hurts. It was Socrates who said ‘The hottest love has the coldest end’ and actress Bette Davis who reputedly said ‘The pleasure of love lasts but a moment; the pain of love lasts a lifetime. It’s the hardest of pains to bear, yet it inspires the most uplifting music and the finest poetry. Some of the most tragic love affairs have given us some of our greatest art. Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre; Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde; Debussy’s more symbolic Pelléas et Mélisande; Puccini’s Madama Butterfly; these and many other great books, plays, operas and shows are based on doomed love. Few of these stories end happily ever after.

As John Lennon once said: ‘All you need is love’ – but how can we find true love? Why should love ever have to end in misery and loneliness? Anyone who had the answers to those questions would surely hold the key to eternal prosperity. What we can say is that a true lover is also a true friend. Passion cannot exist alone; it needs truth, confidence and humour to support it. Like a garden, it needs regular care and attention, if it is to grow into something strong and beautiful.

So, perhaps we should all celebrate Valentine’s Day, whether we’re in love or just waiting for it to arrive. The important thing is that we know we have something remarkable to give when we do find someone to share it with, if we haven’t already. As Mahatma Ghandi once said: ‘Love never claims, it ever gives. Love ever suffers, never resents… never revenges itself.’ If we can follow that simple mantra then we will all live – and love – forever.

Chris Wood is resident composer with Guest House Opera and editor of Epsom, Sutton and Cheam Time & Leisure.