Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

The Library | Write to Sir Charles | Cast of Characters | Credits | This Week

7 July, 1995

'Tis Summer, when a well-bred family's fancy turns to croquet. Not the tawdry imitation that the low-born attempt, wherein sticks are assembled by Father, whilst his urchins horseplay in the thistles waiting to smack ill-made wooden balls into the petunias. Instead, one indulges in the cultivated original, wherein well dressed gentlemen and ladies stroll after perfectly handmade teak and walnut spheres across manicured lawns under spreading shade trees planted by the valiant Coeur de Lion himself, exchanging sparkling and witty repartee.

'Twas a pity, however, one's young ward Penelope Windsor-Smythe's elderly (fourth) cousin (thrice removed), Dimity Windsor-Ellis, happened upon the vicious nest of wasps invisibly harbored beneath the very branch where she chanced to rest after some particularly clever badinage with the Lady Felicia. Fortunately for Dimity (who is sixty-third in line for the throne) the four hundred and thirteen stings required only a body bandage and a few weeks of intensive care in hospital. It would have been something of a social coup for young Penelope to gain a place in her proximity to inheriting the Crown (for she is, if one has not mentioned it before, eighty-fourth in line), yet one would not wish it at the expense of losing dear Dimity, although she is advanced in years and a vicious shrew.

The Lady Felicia was not in the least harmed. She has never been bitten or stung by an insect; indeed, wasps seem to flee when she is in the vicinity, as do other insects, small animals, and most children.

For yet another week one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Perplexed writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

I am in need of wisdom and insight into the human condition as only you can provide. You, Sir Charles, have demonstrated time after time in your writings that you are a 'man of the World'. I ask you to solve the following riddle for me, for its mystery perplexes me so!

I recently acquired a modest flat in an less than upscale block. I think the construction company pocketed a few farthings by using cheap material, for the walls are a paper thin! I knows know that, Mrs Nesbit's cat of 2C has the shingles (it wakes me up at 2 am) and that Mr Farnsworth of 4B doesn't watch the football match when Mrs Farnsworth is out! But what I don't understand is why the chap in 1D has such a fondness for the Harpsichord.

Now, the harpsichord is an ancient and beloved instrument. However, this chap plays only one harpsichord tune: The Battle Hymn of the Republic! This American ditty is played every night as much as three or four times! One day when I stayed home from work due to a touch of the croup, I heard it in the early morning before he left, and as soon has he returned home for lunch, and then again in the afternoon. This music is strangely accompanied by a squeaking sound, like rusty bedsprings.

Sir Charles,I ask you,what do you make of this?

Perplexed in Pickingsford

Sir Charles replies:

Dear 'Perplexed':

It is obvious to one that your neighbor in 1D manages a coining operation. These scurvy counterfeiters are the only ones who would stoop so low as to desecrate the gentle pluckings of the harpsichord with so insipid a tune. One must insist that one's correspondent notify the authorities, listen outside 1D for the tell-tale squeaking springs (obviously the springs of their printing press!), and burst in upon the villain forthwith. One is certain that the dastard will be most surprised.

Hoping one's correspondent does one's duty, one remains
Sir Charles

Pious writes:

Dear Sir Charles!

Perhaps not a subject to be spoken of in polite societal circles, but this writer just must be heard. The parish at the manor is just this week changing over from the Common Book of Prayer to the New Revised Book of Prayer.

As one may well imagine, the gentry are outraged, and the vicar is refusing to hear our complaints. It is our opinion that if the Common Book of Prayer was good enough for Our Lord (the same one who endowed us with superior bloodlines) it should very well be good enough for us.

Do you have an opinion on this subject?

Piously Pernicious in Paddington Cross

Sir Charles replies:


One most certainly does have an opinion on the subject. One has seen so any number of faddish traditions in religion. Vulgar translations of the Good Book abound, for example, when decent folk know that the King James version is the one that Our Lord Himself prefers (after all, He saw fit to present it to a monarch of Britain). Why, one even attended a service in the City one season, and was subjected to the deafening caterwauls of a so-called 'folk' group. If one wished to associate with 'folk', one would most definitely not attend religious services!

In the case of one's correspondent, one advises refusing to accept the cheapened and diluted version of the Book of Common Prayer. If such a stand requires chanting additional verses or singing traditional hymns in place of the skating-rink ditties chosen by the organist, so be it. One simply knows that Our Lord would prefer us to be martyrs to the cause of the Good and Right, than to capitulate to modern whims and fancies.

Stainlessly, one remains
Sir Charles

Songless writes:

Dear Sir Charles

Please help me with a most delicate trouble. I belong to a most auspicious vocal ensemble, and our performances are met with great critical acclaim. Our problem is the Gentleman Friend of one of the ensemble, who insists on reading the trashiest of literature, snoring, and occasionally making bodily sounds, whilst the concerts are underway! It is most distracting to those of us performing. Why, one of the altos burst out into tears when he began reading Jacqueline Susann during our (if I must say) exquisite performance of the Lachrymosa!

Short of trussing the fellow up in an old corset, (which has been put forward as a solution) what shall we do?

Songless in Southmeadington

Sir Charles replies:

Such vile rudeness is today commonplace in public assemblies. Where in the past one could attend an artistic event certain of three things (a decent box, tolerable entertainment, and a fine cheroot and a glass of port during the intermission), one today must cope with patrons talking during the performance, toe-tapping, and worst of all, the inevitable crinkling of the peppermint wrapper.

In order to return to the glorious days when concerts were attended only by lovers of Art and Culture, and not by odious vulgarians intent upon their own satisfaction at the expense of others, we must make examples of these loathsome creatures. One suggests stopping the performance immediately, marching forward to the chair where the Friend (one refuses to employ the word 'Gentleman' in an instance where that quality is so obviously lacking) sits, and denouncing him on the spot.

As one is aware that few are as technically skilled as oneself in the art of denunciation, one offers several phrases that may be handily committed to memory and employed in the heat of the moment:

  • "Detestable blackguard! Away with you and your senseless idiocies! Away, say I!"
  • "Faugh! Repugnant debaser! He who would befoul and deflower the delicate Muses themselves! Begone!"
  • "Degenerate son of a thousand impure women! One movement, one motion, one more turn of the page, and the shame will be yours, sirrah, the shame will be yours!"
One is certain that one or more of these phrases will convince the miscreant to take his misdeeds elsewhere . . . to the concerts of a rival chorus, perhaps? One can only hope.

Wishing one luck, one remains,
Sir Charles

The Library | Write to Sir Charles | Cast of Characters | Credits | This Week