Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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11 August, 1995

'Tis true, one celebrated the anniversary of one's natal day this past week. As one received many ill-chosen, yet well-meant cards from one's weekly followers (which are legion), one cannot let the opportunity pass to respond to some of individuals who expressed their birthday wishes.

To Big Fan In Buffalo: One suspects that the inane phrase 'You're not a year older, you're a year better' followed by several exclamation points (one lets pass, without comment, the 'smiley faces' within the dots) is in reality the sort of bland platitude that commoners exchange like catarrh. One congratulates you, however, in addressing it to the one person for whom it is fully apt.

To Congrats in CA: Your choice of stationery is abominable. Pray explain the significance of 'Care Bears'. . . . No, upon reflection, one begs you to refrain.

To Di-Watcher in Detroit: No, one will not reveal one's age. And although one supposes the correspondent meant as flattery the written suspicion that one is really the Prince of Wales hiding behind a pseudonym, one assures the correspondent that one's ears in no way resemble tea saucers.

To Hearthwarmer in Hampshire: One more card like that and one will summon the appropriate authorities.

And finally, to Well-Wisher in Walla-Walla: Indeed, one does not blow out candles on a cake. One allows one's butler to extinguish them, after the ingestion of a peppermint pastille.

Once again, one thanks one's followers (which are legion) for the cheery good wishes. Next year, however, one would prefer that those who sent gifts of cheese to refrain, unless they really know what they are about. After all, one's tenants will slop their hogs with only so much Brie.

Until next week, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: A Cowardly Custard

Perplexed writes:

Upon being rudely surprised by the erstwhile chaperon of a certain lady acquaintance, at a moment when I and the lady thought we had accidentally become separated from him, I was offered my choice of one of the following:

a) A flogging;

b) A thrashing;

c) A pistol-whipping;

d) A lashing;

e) An "Irishman's Kiss" (this one fills me with dread); and

f) A belaboring about the head with a truncheon.

What would etiquette and good sense dictate I choose? I am under considerable pressure to make my choice post-haste.

I await your advice.

Perplexed in Pickering

Sir Charles replies:


One is disheartened once again to tread these familiar waters. How many times, one asks, has one presented the Hierarchy Of The Thorough Trouncing? In one's day, lads learned these fine laws of fisticuffs in the public schools as early as the lower third form. Yet one suspects with dismay, from the number of inquiries one receives, that this fine lore is as little remembered as the formula for converting guineas to shillings, or the reigns of the Kings and Queens of England (though one admits that, considering their inferior bloodlines, there are indeed several monarchs we would rather forget).

With much reluctance, therefore, one will classify the correspondent's options.

a) The 'Irishman's Kiss' is indeed, as the correspondent suspected, the worst of the lot--hence the vague, yet sinister reference to the Emerald Isle.

b) The correspondent would do well to avoid a pistol-whipping. Indeed, one has only ordered one's servants to employ this severe chastisement upon but one occasion! Yet one will save that amusing anecdote for another time.

c) The belabouring about the head with a truncheon is a more appealing alternative to the first two options, as the truncheon is usually of a less adamantine construction than the typical firearm.

d) A lashing, while a favorite form of punishment of those who have spent some time abroad, one finds too Frenchified for the proper meting out of punishment.

e) Flogging, on the contrary, has a rich British history. Many of the finest British blood have endured a good flogging. Indeed, one could do far worse than a flogging.

In terms of severity, however, one must advise that one's correspondent incline towards the thrashing. This last option is generally performed without benefit of impedimenta, and if one is clever and does one's homework beforehand, one knows that one may invoke the 'ten minute rule' of 1638 that clearly delineates a thrashing from a flogging. (N.B.: One's assailant may not know of this distinction. One suggests arriving with documentation.)

Cheerful to have once more provided this valuable service, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Sir Frederick writes:

Picture: A Firm FoundationDear Sir Charles,

the girl I love is always rude to me. What should I do?

Sir Frederick Gastron

Sir Charles replies:


One can scarcely suppress the temptation to behave rudely to you oneself. One therefore concludes that you are, as they say in the common parlance, 'asking for it.'

Admirably refraining from mentioning the correspondent's arcanely juvenile handwriting, insensibility to the laws of capitalization, and amusing delusions of nobility, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Hoping to Impress writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

I am preparing a romantic dinner for myself and my young lady friend, hoping to give her the best possible impression of me. . . . Yet I have run up against an almost insoluble conundrum of propriety:

What wine ought to be served with melted Velveeta fondue?

(Miss Manners was no help at all.)

Hoping to Impress in Hartford

Sir Charles replies:


One is most gratified to note that one is not the only reader who has noticed that, of late, 'Miss Manners' has gone quite batty. 'Miss Manners,' indeed! (One is tempted to refer to this impudent Lady Writer as 'Miss Born In A Barn', yet one will refrain, when one considers how litigious the Americans tend to be.) Why, in a recent penning, this self-styled arbiter of probity declared that the American amusement of 'bowling' (entirely different in form and practice from the noble British sport of bowls) was not inherently rude!

One cannot summon a sufficient number of exclamation points to express the magnitude of shock and utter disbelief such a statement elicited from one. Nor was one alone in one's reactions. After one read aloud this ridiculous fatuity at the breakfast table, both the Lady Felicia and young Penelope Windsor-Smythe (who, as eighty-sixth in line for the throne, is of an especially delicate sensibility) promptly had a fit of the vapors, and would not revive until the offending tabloid was removed from the room and burned. Upon the dung-pile, sirrah! Upon the dung-pile!

Having forgotten the point of the correspondent's missive, and caring remarkably little, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Christopher III writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

I find myself in a simply dreadful situation. Under most circumstances, myself and my companion (Ronald the Second) have been able to keep our friends alive in spite of their haphazard lifestyles and overblown revolutionary zealotries.

Now I fear that Ronald and I are parted (he running off with some young wizard), and I am left in the company of a base ruffian, his furry pet, and (thankfully) a princess. Rather than turn themselves in to the authorities, these folk feel inexplicably honor-bound to flee. Our vessel even now approaches an area so full of rocky treachery that there is clearly no possibility of survival. It shall fall to me before long to convince this rabble to surrender. It would seem appropriate at this juncture to offer the authorities some wine when they board our ship. The question is, what kind? Red, white, or pale green?

Having a Bad Feeling About This,
Christopher III of Catford

Sir Charles replies:


One thanks the correspondent for the breathlessly elaborate (if slightly tedious) exposition of the problem, for one never can have enough paper to toss to the spaniels, who so enjoy shredding it to bits.

One will merely confine one's comments to the fallacy that coastguardsmen enjoy wine. Sadly, it is wasted upon them. One suggests that the correspondent therefore satisfy the thirsts of these minions with that particular variety of gin known as mother's ruin, which one is assured may be purchased at volume discounts from the taprooms that the correspondent seems to have been visiting perhaps too frequently.

One thus remains for another week,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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