Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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23 June, 1995

One wishes to thanks the private correspondents who, in response to the description of last week's adventure, expressed concern that the Lady Felicia, she who remains a paragon of dignity in all situations, might have overexerted herself in vanquishing the gentleman from America during a champagne brunch. The Lady Felicia is well, and, with the attentions of her servants and our ward, young Penelope Windsor-Smythe, who, though eighty-fourth in line for the throne (formerly eighty-eighth, but an older and obscure branch of the Windsor family was pruned this week, let us say, through a calamity in the shape of a tin of sardines, fatally off), is not above pressing lavender sachets against Lady Felicia's brow, from time to time. Young Penelope Windsor-Smythe is a youth who recognizes the spiritual advantages of hard labor, eighty-fourth in line to the throne though she may be.

The Lady Felicia appreciates the gifts of flowers as well, but one advises Fan in 'Frisco not to send more chrysanthemum arrangements in the shape of . . . well, one knows not how to describe it, but it was dreadfully vulgar.

One remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Young in Yorkshire writes:

Dear Sir Charles

Mama says that if I sneer my face will stay that way, but Papa's face isn't stuck that way, and he's always sneering at either Nanny or cook. Mama says that if I'm not good my face will be stuck in an ugly priggish moue, like yours. What's a moue?

Young and Wondering in Yorkshire Wells

Sir Charles replies:

Dear Young Twit:

Your mother is mistaken. One's visage is not stuck in a priggish moue. It maintains an attitude of aloof superiority. There is a distinct difference which your mother is obviously too common to recognize.

Sir Charles

Postscript: By the by, one hears from a reliable source that you are adopted. And worse, your mother wears polyester foundation garments. One trusts you will pass this information on to her.

Sir S--- of Shropshire writes:

Sir C!

Your letter of Sunday last was very illuminating and I can assure you that Lady D--- and I will frequent that establishment no more! In truth, my suspicions were raised when our 'good' host was stymied for the name of his college at Oxford (a truer test has yet to be forged!).

The intelligence of the week, old sport? Well you can jolly well imagine my surprise, when I discovered that the governess was plotting to write a book about yours truly! It seems to be one of those tedious exposes about how a countrymaid is ruined by morals or some such nonsense. What's the use of noblesse oblige in this day and age, I ask you, if there is so much complaining and writing going on in the background? Any suggestions to amend the situation would be appreciated, my dear fellow.


Sir S---, of Shropshire

P.S. Lady D--- sends her warmest regards to Lady F.

P.P.S. About the Burlington incident, my little 'reconaissance-man' made it known to me that it wasn't those slovenly peasants we had suspected, but rather, those two frisky yearlings that ruined the Duchess of M---'s lawn. At any rate, old Cheese, I won't tell if you won't tell. It is as obvious as the ruddy proletarian noses on their faces that those chaps would have done so if they had found the opportunity.

Sir Charles replies:

Dear Old Bean:

It is a truth unerasable that governesses are, the lot of them, inherently untrustworthy. One blames this sad state of affairs entirely on that rubbishy J--- E---, a governess, you will recall, who married above her station after the target of her ruthless social climbing, Mr. R--------, hired her to care for his ward. The employment situation has been intolerable ever since. After Miss E--- 'made good', as I believe the vulgar term runs, the market for governesses was overrun with hedge-drabs and adventuresses whose only aim was to separate the master of the house from his devoted wife (locked into an attic for her own safety though she may be).

In your case, old chum, should the manuscript ever make it to print (a state of affairs one doubts will come to pass, as one knows that you rarely hire your female servants for their grammatical capabilities), one advises you to shrug off the publicity. These days, one could sow enough seeds to enflower every cottage garden between Blandsdown and the Isle of Wight, and one would still come off relatively well, compared to the Royals.

What ho!
Sir Charles.

Wanna-Be writes:

Oh wise one,

Please tell me why a successful (just graduated cum laude), young (I'm twenty two), and (from what others tell me) nice looking female like myself feels the need to be with . . . dare I say, a man? Why can't I be happy without dating, or in the pursuit of, a male?

This causes a great deal of stress for me because I want to be independent and happy. I have a large group of friends, I do lots of activities, but still, I wait for the phone to ring by a particular male who I adore. What can I do, what herbal remedies may I consume, to stop this madness? I fear I am wasting valuable brain energy upon a frivilous pursuit.

A Contestant Wanna-Be for "The Dating Game"

Sir Charles replies:

O Delicate Female:

Ah, youth! Such optimism! Such grand schemes! Such ambition! All utter rubbish, certainly, but without youth, what would we well-settled and self-contented older folk have to laugh at, one asks?

Although one applauds the correspondent's recognition that it is the duty of the gentleman to call upon her, one is alarmed by the heat in her missive--the wild desire, and the overuse of parenthetical remarks, all of which indicate a highly nervous and over-excited sensibility that, if not soon checked, would transform the correspondent from an intelligent and capable young woman into someone who sprays herself with 'Charlie', and watches the chat shows on the telly in the hopes of espying male 'strippers' (a profession, one warns one's readers, has nothing to do with the antique refinishing business. Lady Felicia found this fact out the hard way).

One thus advises one's correspondent that a holiday--perhaps a month or two--isolated from society, with the sterling essays of Miss Hannah More, might improve the correspondent's state of mind. If this remedy does not work, and the correspondent still finds heself thinking of romantic nonsense, one hears that work among the lepers is most improving, and should take one's mind off things.

Wishing one's correspondent luck, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Far from Heart's Rest writes:

Dear Sir Charles:

I find myself in an unusual situation. Not "lovelorn," but frequently love-deprived, seeing as the young lady who holds my heartstrings holds them stretched all the way to Iowa, where she lives, and the bosom wherein the heart whose strings they are resides in North Carolina. (To emphasize my point: the distance is greater than the distance that metaphor ended up stretched.) It is a long-distance relationship, as they say.

I've heard that in days gone by, such were not that uncommon, and pen and paper and letters linked many a lover in the same way that email and bulletin boards do now. As you seem to be an authority on things venerable and proper and too quickly and rashly forgotten, have you any advice on the lost art of romance-via-letters to bequeath? Both on the topic of keeping one's own heart true and kindling longing in one's beloved?

Awaiting your bequeathal,
Far From Heart's Rest in Raleigh

Sir Charles replies:


As it is obvious that your letter-writing skills veer dangerously close to the p-rn-gr-ph-c and the obscene, especially to one who is indeed an authority on simply everything, one must lay down some strict guidelines:

  • There will be no talk of 'bosoms', bestringed or otherwise, in your letters to your beloved. One was shocked at how freely the correspondent bandied about the word.
  • A proper correspondence with one's intended refers not to passion, nor to love, nor to longing.
  • It will not do to make future assignations in one's note.
  • Do not refer to topics indelicate to ladies, such as politics, religion, current events, schoolwork, philosophy, the arts, etc.
  • Most importantly, do not conclude the letter with affectionate references to one's relationship, such as 'XOXOXO', 'Love,' 'Yours,' or 'See ya, 'hot buns''.

As one knows that one example speaks a thousand words, one will reprint a letter from onesself to the Lady Felicia, during one's own days of courtship. One hopes that the correspondent will note that it is a tempered letter, a letter bespeaking commitment, strength, and British virility, but does not venture into the sordid realms of the sensualist:

Hallo, Felicia,

What ho!

Sir Charles

Hoping one's correspondent profits by this example, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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