The story of Aladdin is a classic – one of those inspiring tales that revolves around its leading character. I refer, of course, to the Genie of the Lamp. An invincible demigod with the booming voice of Brian Blessed, the Genie is built like a gorilla and capable of almost any feat. Yet he is devoted – utterly devoted – to the service of whichever buck-toothed yokel happens to polish his door knocker while he’s taking a nap. I suspect he was the role model for that stick-in-the-arse butler played by Tony Hopkins in Remains of the Day.
As for Aladdin, he has all the makings of a shrewd little tyke until he sees the Princess Badroulbadour and falls for her like a skittle in a bowling alley. These pubescent princesses are always irresistible to the fairytale hero, but any man of the world knows that getting hitched to a teenage girl is a dicey business. Hopefully, in the fullness of time, she will ripen into a lissom yet curvaceous beauty. But what if she eats like a hog and swells into something resembling a sumo wrestler? Frankly, the whole thing is a game of Russian roulette.
The evolution of her personality bears thinking about as well. A man may find the sweet giggly maiden who won his heart mutate into a frightful old battleaxe who throws saucepans at his head. According to Dr Whipsnade, you should never consider proposing to a woman until she’s at least 23, so you have an idea of how things are developing. The querulous tone of her voice, the pudginess of her face and neck, the rate at which her bottom is expanding – these are the metrics that must be closely monitored.
Aladdin marries the princess, nevertheless, wowing her dad with basins of jewels, and the newlyweds move into a stupendous Genie-built palace. The golden boy is promoted to commander of the king’s armies, while his wife stays at home and bakes cookies. The princess maintains her figure and everything seems to be going well. Then along comes the tricky old wizard, offering new lamps for old, and mayhem ensues with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. When people blame the princess for this debacle, I always thump my chest in annoyance. One thing I can’t abide is unfair criticism of the housewife. How was she to know that the lamp was a weapon of mass destruction in the wrong hands? More to the point, why did that bonehead Aladdin leave it lying around the palace instead of locking it up in his safe?
In Aladdin’s position, I would have simply forbidden the Genie from ever returning to his brass bolthole. “Genie,” I would have said, “it’s time you moved out of the studio apartment and into family accommodation. You’ve been a bachelor for too many centuries. Give Barbara Eden a call, take her to the pictures and pop the question. Build yourself a little cottage in the palace grounds and settle down to raise a brood of little genies. Patrol the estate and keep the gophers in their holes. And if you happen to see a tricky old wizard lurking about suspiciously, kick him in the nuts and send him on his way.”
Although the Genie changes his loyalties far too easily, he does teach us that there’s no shame in being a domestic. Gorilla Bananas is not too proud to serve drinks in the bar of the safari camp. I don’t need the money, but I do it anyway for the dignity of honest toil. All that matters is that you work for people of good character who won’t involve you in immoral or unnatural acts. Don’t whore yourself to any seedy old reprobate just because he rubs your lamp.