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2 June, 1995

Once again, the Lady Felicia has taken pen to paper to answer a question written especially for her by one of one's faithful readers. I worry that the stress of cogitation will give her feminine sensibilities the Shakes, yet she assures me that she is perfectly capable of the task. One is not surprised, as she manages to maintain a pace that positively astounds me. She rises early in the morning, gives the orders for the day's meals, plays with her lap dogs Pippin and La Fontaine, lunches, embroiders, serves tea, dines, occasionally joins one in an after-dinner hand of whist or dominos, and then instructs the servants to tuck one's ward (the young Penelope Windsor-Smythe, who is eighty-eighth in line for the throne) into bed. One wonders where she finds the energy.

Marvelling, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Quandaried writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

What is the proper response this young lady should give when the younger sibling carries out a rather dastardly (yet remarkably hilarious) prank on one's intended?

One's younger sibling has made no bones about his distaste for one's life-partner selection, and the family finds that on each subsequent visit, the pranks become both more heinous, and more rolicking. To heap coals on one's intended head, he has shown himself to be an abominable sport, yet his station and fortune are without equal.

As I realize I must qualify my question with examples, I have enclosed a chronological litany of the sibling's pranks:

  • A gentle nudge into the Koi pond. Nobody knew that the gentleman couldn't swim.
  • Retiming the automatic sprinklers to soak the gentleman while he was on a solitary walk through the hedge-maze, soaking him thoroughly, and in his best suit, too.
  • Replaced his pipe tobacco with some noxious garden weed that caused the household to get a collective headache when he lit his pipe after dinner, and caused him to bark like a dog while hanging precariously from the tower crenelations.
  • Surreptitiously filled his cuffs with cat-mint, then 'accidentally' released the ocelot from his indoor-outdoor enclosure.

And now most recently:

  • Replaced his hair tonic with a depilatory. The poor chap is already prematurely thinning, and I fear that this last prank, (which may turn out to be quite funny in retrospect) is surely the straw that is about to break my dear camel's back.

Please help.

Quandaried in Queensborough

Sir Charles replies:


Is it possible that one's correspondent has misjudged her sibling's intentions? One remembers clearly the uproar that followed when one mistakenly pierced Millicent Simpley with a stray arrow during lower school archery practice, the day after she called one a 'pasty pasty rich boy.' (One cannot help one's fine complexion.) 'Twas only a glancing blow, a mere flesh wound, but the fuss it caused! The schoolmistress had the audacity to suggest that one had done it deliberately. Mater and Pater removed one from that rubbishy establishment immediately.

Perhaps it is that one's correspondent has not thought through the situation thoroughly. Instead of concentrating one's efforts on the feelings of the suitor (which are neither here nor there, given his proclivities for formal wear instead of tweeds when perambulating through the hedge maze, and his desire to make himself intimate with the gargoyles amongst the crenelations), one advises that you focus upon the remarkably energy and creative zest shown by the young lad of the house. It would seem that his enthusiasm for wicked acts and his unprecedented willingness to make everyone uncomfortable would qualify him as a remarkable, though slightly young, candidate for the county seat in the House of Commons.

Hoping one resides not in your district, one remains
Sir Charles Grandiose

Mortified writes:

While riding on the A-Train the other day, I came upon a situation far too common in the subway system here in the greatest of cities. For indeed, two young men were sitting a seat apart, but had spread their legs so far as to effectively block one from sitting in the vacancy.

Rather than stand for my lengthy journey, I merely perched myself half upon the left knee of one and half on the right knee of the other. This was uncomfortable, but got better as the trip progressed. The young men, however, rather then accepting their fate, grew quite irate and indeed placed their hands on certain unmentionable parts of my body as they forcibly shoved me aloft. My reaction may or may not have been improper--do you think the brolly point in the genital area of each was a correct response to this unfortunate situation?

Mortified in Manhattan

Sir Charles replies:

Foolish one:

Had one's correspondent a proper upbringing, he or she would have known the correct manner of handling the situation and not done things in half-measures. Yet one is here to educate, so one will not censure.

  1. When approaching the gentlemen (one uses the term loosely, as if they were true gentlemen, they would not be exposing the crown jewels so freely to begin with), look firm and determined, if a man or a spinster, or if one is a young lady of beauty, one may look helpless and coquettish.
  2. Take one's seat.
  3. If the gentlemen refuse to move their legs to give one access to the vacancy, grasp the handle of the umbrella firmly, as one would grasp a badminton racquet. Apply the tip not solely to their delicate regions, but to the area of the spleen as well (which, if ruptured, could cause more serious damage). Use pressure if necessary. It may be necessary to jab repeatedly with increasing vigour.
  4. Repeat as necessary.
  5. If all else fails, tug on the emergency brake, pay the twenty-five pound fine to the conductor, and make a scene so that the young men will be shamed into compliance the next time such an incident occurs.
Of course, one deserves what one gets, if one relies upon public modes of transportation such as the 'tube.' One always takes the Rolls, oneself.

Wishing one luck, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Penniless writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

I can't seem to keep money. I have a somewhat good job but money just floats away. Are there any jobs at home that I can make good money. Please help!!

Penniless in Pennsylvania

Sir Charles replies:

Sirrah or Madame:

One would never do anything so vulgar as work. One is titled. One is offended that one's correspondent should even mention the concept of 'work' to a peer. Faugh!

In general, one has noticed that those who deserve to have wealth and luxuries, do. After all, what is the use of a system of privilege if anyone has the same opportunities, one asks one?

Reporting one's correspondent to the authorities, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Gentle Readers:

One once again passes the pen to one's fair spouse, the Lady Felicia.

Distressed writes:

Dear Lady Felicia,

It was with great delight that last week's column was read, for a problem has recently come to light which only your wisdom as a mother can solve. It would appear that our beloved Eugenie has taken up 'a cause'. It has her poor father (and we use the term 'poor' only as a metaphor) taking palpitation fits, as she has decided that class distinctions are oppressive, and has marched to Downing Street to have the peerage officially abolished. She has threatened to take up the Bohemian lifestyle, and we are at our wits end.

Oh, Lady Felicia, please can you help us?

Distressed in Dover

Lady Felicia replies:


Only two scenarios come to light. Firstly, have you considered that your infant may have been switched at birth with some lowly born infant in the hospital?

Secondly, one believes that perhaps the reader should examine her own family's lineage. As the adage goes, blood will tell. Perhaps one had an aunt who agitated for radical causes such as women's suffrage?

As a solution, one could take the child's governess to court, and hope for a 'breach of trust' verdict, though that would just assuage your feelings.

I have often had to be stern with my own daughter, Penelope, eighty-eighth in line for the throne though she is. One's reader might consider expelling the ungrateful Eugenie from her family home, and rest secure in the knowledge that, without unlimited funds to finance her efforts, Eugenie's 'cause' would soon wither and die. Often I find a mere threat will suffice.

Lady Felicia Grandiose

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