The Threepenny Opera

Probably a lot of people already heard some day the song of Mackie Messer, which is part of the Threepenny Opera by Bert Brecht and tells us about the infamous actions of villain Macheath. Less known will be probably that the Threepenny Opera was inspired by the Beggars Opera by Englishmen Gray and Pepusch from 1728. And still less will be known that the villain rally had existed. His real name had been Jonathan Wild and he was one of the most famous - well in this case most infamous citizen of Wolverhampton.

Wild was borne in Wolverhampton in 1683 and worked as a servant till he was dismissed as he had committed several thefts. He moved to London in 1704. A few years later he was back in debtor's prison in Wolverhampton as he was not able to pay his debts. Due to good conduct he had permission to go out during the night to help the police to seize thieves. In prison he met his later partner Mary Milliner - a prostitute and confidence trickster. He learned all her tricks and used them to get the money he needed to pay his depts.

After he was dismissed from prison he returned together with his partner to London and soon was one of the richest and most respected citizen till in 1725 he was busted and hanged as villain.

It turned out that his image in public - as respectable citizen who helped to get back stolen goods and convict the thieves - all was trickery. Most of the time his own gang had committed the atrocities and Wild's interest had bin to collect the reward money and at the same time to get rid of opponents or rebellious gang members. At this time London was a very in secure town, and due to the poverty there were a lot of thefts and raids, no real police existed and the population had looked at Wild as some kind of white knight, while he had deceived them and even blackmailed some.
His hanging was a social event, even tickets were sold and Wild's skeleton can still be seen in the Royal College of Surgeons of England. This infamous villain was already three years after his death the hero in the Beggars Opera but also the hero in novels and biographies till into the 20. Century.

Today there's nothing left in Wolverhampton to recall Jonathan Wild and the townscape is totally different. Only St Peter's Church still looks down on the town and its citizens and on the Civic Hall to which I returned on the evening of a great autumn day to watch the last Group matches of Groups A-D.

The venue was fuller then it had been on Sunday and Monday but might be that was because Taylor and van Gerwen played that day. Astonishing was the Taylor whitewash of Kevin Painter. So Paul Nicholson had quite a good chance against Stuart Kellet and after a 5:2 win it was clear he and Taylor would progress to second round from Group a. In Group B nothing changed and Wade and Anderson were through. Peter Wright who delighted in pink that evening had a really frustrating tournament and was out. In Group C Adrian Lewis defeated a fighting Christian Kist and progressed together with Ronny Huybrechts who celebrated his third victory. Before the match Lewis had tried to console a devastated Stuart Kellett.In Group D it was frantic. Vincent van der Voort won against and at the cost of Dean Winstanley and both were eliminated.

The match of the evening to be sure was the clash between Michael van Gerwen and Kim Huybrechts, which van Gerwen just won but Kim Huybrechts nevertheless progressed together with the Dutchman into the next round - only to have to play against his brother next. The brothers were not really looking forward to this, but felt a little bit consoled that one of them would reach the quarter finals.

And yes, to all who already waited for it - there again was a BDO player in the VIP part of the venue - this time it was Robbie Green.

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