November 20, 2000
Although one personally finds it unseemly to contemplate with the holiday over a month away, one is aware that many of one's readers have already commenced their plans for Christmas shopping. Humming to themselves as they hop into their funny little chauffeur-less motors, they drive down to the "shopping centres" and arrive back home laden with packages and good will for the season. (And one has it upon a sterling authority that one's readers are so many in number that were each a sparrow, the city of San Juan Capistrano would be entirely covered with a white, gooey mess every March.)
And yet, while these readers focus on friends and family and frivolity, the world moves apace. One's readers know that one is an expert on the topic of global warming. One watched with particular worry last week as scientists from across the world convened to discuss global emissions reduction. The very rivers from which we drink, and the very air we breathe, are slowly being poisoned as factories emit clouds of noxious vapours. Within decades we will be trapped in a greenhouse. Speaking as one who years ago was one trapped in a greenhouse with quite a dull member of the grounds staff and still has post-traumatic flashbacks to the incident, one can assure you it is not a pleasant thing.
Yet while one was contemplating this dire news, one had a thought. Why not enlist one's readers into a movement so vast and sweeping that it not only changes the culture of the holiday season, but save the environment as well? Yes, one refers to:
Are you considering the purchase of something that can only be described as CRAP (Commodities that are Really Awfully Pathetic)? Consider the folly, reader.
Does your brother in law really need that Billy the Big Mouth Bass that swivels on its display to warble tunes of a fishy nature? Does he need the genuine plastic travel backgammon set? No. They're utter CRAP.
Your daughter might claim to want that New Jersey Barbie Nouveaux Riches Dream House, but where will it be come next November? Forgotten in the back of her closet, that's where. And your son's plastic dinosaurs? Thousands of years from now they too shall be perfectly preserved in the remains of a landfill, sole testament to the lost race that was humanity.
Do you and your family truly need to exchange presents this Christmas that consist of plastic, battery-operated objects? Do you truly need to encourage factories to produce them? If we were, as a society, to reject this sort of CRAP, would not the manufacturers cease to exist, or cease producing it?
If we were to reject, en masse, the CRAP foisted upon us every year at this season, would not global emissions be reduced worldwide? Would not our landfills be less imposed upon? It may take only a moment or two to purchase, readers, but a piece of CRAP will take a million years to decompose.
Just think upon one's movement, before selecting that Tickle-Me Bilbo from the shelf.
Noting that Grandiose Enterprises, Ltd., makes a lovely biodegradable
oxygen-replenishing product perfect for gift-giving known as
the Chia Baronet, one remains,
Lady Sarah writes:
dear Sir Charles,
There's one book I wished to ask you about, however.
It's about a young and handsome baronet who is oh so dashing.
And the book was written by a Baroness. Perhaps you know
of it. It's called The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Now, why a baronet would choose to be identified with so plain
a species of flora is beyond me, but do you think this too is
only a piece of garbage, cleverly disguised and masquerading
as a classic piece of literature?
Sir Charles replies:
My dear Lady Sarah,
Naturally anything produced by nobles or the peerage is nicer than the dreck produced by commoners. Unless the authoress is French, one has no qualms about recommending your Scarlet Pimp to those of discerning, educated tastes.
After all, think of all the exquisite creations our titled predecessors have created. The glorious musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber. The famed perfumes of Prince Matchiabelli. And who could forget Lady Baltimore Cake?
With one's compliments, one remains,
Lady Alena writes:
I have a delicate problem only a gentleman like yourself could have the grace to answer.
I am affianced to a wonderful young man, hale and hearty and altogether a fine specimen of manhood. My mother, as the wedding day grows closer, has given me a strange piece of advice for my wedding night. Whenever the plans for the honeymoon are talked about (we're hiring a lovely flat in South Cheesewaith-on-the-Sea), she pulls me aside and murmurs, "Just close your eyes, dear, and think of England." She then blushes and runs out of the room quickly before I can get more particulars.
I know that you are of a scholarly bent, and I'm wondering if perhaps this has to do with something in out illustrious nation's history. Shall I think of the Romans' battering rams invading the south of our fair land, or perhaps Robin Hood unleashing a slew of arrows, each quivering in the bullseye of the target? Or perhaps she meant I should imagine King Arthur drawing his sword ever so slow, muscles staining, from the rock that holds it fast?
The only help I have gotten so far is from my old nurse, who, when I presented these historical musings, wheezed in laughter and said, "Just don't think of Queen Elizabeth the First, dear." I don't understand--I'm not even red-haired!
Please, help me to understand my dear mother's advice, or I fear I will be of no help on my wedding night, as I lack the proper historical perspective.
Sir Charles replies:
My dear Lady Alena,
One fears you have gotten hold of quite the wrong end of the stick.
Glorious as our history might be, there's quite a lot a young lady should not ponder while suffering the embraces of her new husband. It would be unwise, for example, inadvertently to mumble something about Admiral Nelson's sawed-off arm.You might alter the mood during a rumination on Good King Hal by accidentally muttering, "Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived," just as your husband bestows upon you a gentle endearment. The Lady Felicia did that to one once. It was over the breakfast table. There was a certain gleam in her eye when she said it that one did not quite like.
No, Lady Alena, think of the lush valleys and high peaks of the Cotswolds. Think of the stirring military marches of our great land that stir the blood and the spirits. Think of a young tar next to a cannon, ready to do his best for the country. Think of the sturdy masts of our naval fleet. Try not to picture them going down, all hands on deck. Try not to imagine a flag, listless without a stiff wind. Don't envision a limp pound note, prematurely spent. . . .
Oh, blast. It's just like one's own wedding night.
Resignedly, one remains,
Dear Sir Charles,
Are you always in a good mood when you get up? Or do you wake
up grumpy sometimes too?
Sir Charles replies:
One does indeed sometimes wake up Grumpy.
But most mornings, one lets the Lady Felicia just sleep.
With a word to the wise, one remains,