Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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30 June, 1995

One wishes to thank one's readers (and they are legion) for the most kind invitations one has received since the commencement of this exercise of good taste and well-bred civility. One would personally like to address some of the readers' assurances in particular:

To Civil in Savannah: One is not quite certain that one would enjoy a hock, whatever that might be, but one thanks you.

To Big Table in Boston: Yes, one has hounds. They do not, however, sit under the table for meals. As for breeding, it is simply out of the question.

To Hearthwarmer in Hampshire: One does not understand. Why should one bring one's nightshirt and cap? And why should I not inform the Lady Felicia?

One remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Urgent writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

This is REALLY urgent.

My friend (a girl) is going on a date with a boy to prom. However, they are going as friends, not lovers. Should my friend (the girl) still purchase a corsage for her date?

Urgent in Urbana

Sir Charles replies:

Dear 'Urgent':

Ah, the 'prom'. Such a quaint American tradition. One believes it begins with a ride in a rented conveyance, in which feckless youths imbibe 'hooch' and vomit upon each other's shoes. Later, after an enchanting evening of young women and men fumbling drunkenly at each other while lewd 'swing' and 'hep' music plays, the youths return to their conveyance for further emetic amusements. My, how one certainly admires the customs of the colonies.

One would certainly hope that, at such a tender age, the pair are not 'lovers.' While it is true that there are many who point out that Romeo and Juliet were of a tenderest age when they burned brightly with love, one will point out that both these impetuous youths came to quite a bad end. And rightly so.

In answer to one's correspondent's question, then, one will note that if the young woman's date has truly bamboozled her into believing it is her responsibility to buy a corsage, then she deserves the dismal fate of early motherhood and a life of the 'soaps' and 'America's Funniest Home Videos' that will surely befall her.

Though shuddering, one remains
Sir Charles

Quite Anonymous writes:

Sir: One blushes to speak of such things, but, trusting to your discretion and worldly wisdom (as well as being at one's wit's end), your humble correspondent begs to lay before you a problem of somewhat delicate nature.

There is a gorgeous young woman who has quite stolen my heart's affection. Ah, the beauty and finesse of this magnificent creature, the sweetness of her smile, the warmth (I speak metaphorically of course, having no more certain knowledge of the literal) of her heart! Were it not for my deep respect for the Great Bard, whenever I think of his classic sonnet, "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun," I would say, "Twaddle. Your beloved, perhaps; mine could never be 'belied by false compare,' provided it were sufficiently glorious."

I ask you to bear with me, for I cringe at revealing the true nature of the problem. She is--one must say it--she is the cook at a dear friend's house.

Naturally, I have revealed none of this sordid business to anyone, including the object of my affections; I have only been my usually charming self. But my passion grows daily, so that were I of a baser sort, I would be contemplating activities which need not be mentioned here. Also, her fresh-baked crumpets are divine. What can be done?

One remains,
Quite Anonymous in Westchester

Sir Charles replies:


One has seen this sort of behaviour before. A young gentleman of sense, his very wits overcome by one bite of (admittedly delicious) pastry. 'Tis not a pretty sight.

Allow one present these scenarios to you, sir. Let us suppose you begin wooing this domestic. How will you feel, years from now, when you reflect back upon this period of your fleeting youth and recall having to visit your kitchen drudge by entering through the servant's entrance? How will you choke down the shame when you recall the endearments you lavished upon her--soubriquets such as 'my wild, pagan, fairy princess of the pastries!' or 'my sensuous scullery scamp!'? How will you be able to face the world when you recall your marriage-gift to her . . . a sterling silver whisk and matching rolling pin?

One thinks that this stern advice should sober one's correspondents to the realities involved in such a misalliance. The servants are not to be regarded as love-interests. They exist so that they might provide the luxuries to which one is accustomed, daily, week after week, year after year, until, as a final tribute of loyalty, they finally die in a pensioner's hostel conveniently out of one's way.

Sternly, one remains
Sir Charles

Sir Euclid writes:

Sir Charles,

I find myself in a troubling situation and can only turn to your wisdom for the balm. You see, yesterday here in Cannes I placed a not inconsiderable wager on the Hare in the annual race between the Hare and the Tortoise. I stood to gain a good deal of money, as well, since the Tortoise had been given a considerable head start. I had reliable information from the Hare's trainer, however, that the noble animal would be able to FULLY HALVE the distance between itself and its opponent for EACH STEP the Tortoise took. Thusly confident, I place my wager.

You can imagine my joy as the race began, seeing the distance between the Hare and the Tortoise close from one hundred metres to only 50 metres just as the Tortoise was getting going. With only 200 metres left in the race, I thought that my wager was to be safe and profitable. With the next step of the Tortoise, the Hare closed in a little more than 25 metres--exactly half the distance between itself and where the Tortoise now stood, as it happened. The Hare continued to gain on the Tortoise, but at the same time seemed to slow. Before I knew it the distance between them was negligible, and yet the Hare did not pass Tortoise! Rather, it continued to close the distance between them by half with each step. I realized with horror that at this rate the Tortoise would, in fact, win. Fortunately, the slowness of the Tortoise allows me several days before it will actually cross the finish line. And so I am taking this time to write you and asking urgently: What I can do to insure the safety of my funds?

With great hope, Sir Euclid.

Sir Charles replies:


The only thing that has distinguished common dice-slingers from the gentry from time immemorial is not that we gamble, but what we gamble upon. When in ancient times the Picts were huddled around the fire tossing boiled knuckles for scraps of fat, one's own most noble forebearers were busily gambling away the heathens in the benighted lands to which they were spreading the light of civilization.

Commoners bet on coin tosses. The gentry wagers on which butler can iron a newspaper the fastest. Commoners bet on cock-fights and animal races. The gentry has Ascot. Commoners bet on the daily numbers. The gentry wagers on whether the vicar will manage the turn at the bottom of Applegate Hill with the brakes on his old bicycle fiddled.

Discretion, sir. Discretion in your future wagers.

Discreetly, one remains,
Sir Charles

Postscript: The local club is accepting wagers of 1000 guineas or more on the last wager cited above. One believes that he will indeed manage the turn, but that he will run down Miss Charity Thornbut's prize roses.

Once again, one relinquishes the pen to she who is all things fair, the Lady Felicia.

Bewildered Beauty writes:

Dear Lady Felicia,

What do you think of these new alpha hydroxide creams? I am toying with the idea of buying a jar or two (one for day and one for nighttime), but there are so many different types out there! For example, there are chemical creams and natural creams which are made out of the same acids as those found in fruit and milk. What do you think? Are there any you endorse? And what about those eye gels with lipsomes in them? Do you think I could use those on my lips like that beauty article suggested or should I just use them on my eyes?

Bewildered Beauty

Lady Felicia replies:

Gentle Reader,

While this author finds no need for chemical enhancements to her own beauty regimen, she recognizes that not all people were born with the gentried skin. To that end she would suggest the following: If one must augment one's visage, one should do so only at the hands of the most highly skilled facial experts, who are to be found at Spa La Visage in the Alps (this author knows for a fact that certain members of the upper crust, namely Princess S--- and Ladies A---, R---, and P---, swear by this treatment). Under no circumstances should one try either self-application, OR any product or service rendered in the colonies, as one knows that Americans are single-minded when it comes to the possibility of making a profit at the expense of good taste.

This author highly recommends that one think first of attempting to remedy any of the tiniest signs of the approach of Dame Age by her tried and true method: rinsing with Evian water, and applying either moss green shadow (for every day), or peacock blue shadow (for evening).

Also remember that the eyes of others will be drawn away from any tiny lines by a multi-stranded pearl choker with 3 carat sapphire drops, OR by any tiara of more than 10 carats.

Serenely yours,
Lady Felicia Grandiose

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