Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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1 September, 1995

Ah, the late summer days. The fields of rye and grain, waving in the sweet country breezes. One's labouring tenants, tugging their forelocks in respect as one passes by in the Rolls. The cows, lowing in the pastures. The sweet late evening cries of the crickets as they saw away at their plaintive song. The vulgarly printed anonymous threats slipped through the servant's letter slot onto the coconut matting during the dark of night.

Yes, one's readers (the madding crowd they are) did make out that last sentence correctly. Some nameless personage, a dismal wag or a malign evil-doer, has been entrusting to one's family folded missives of an odious nature that would quite sicken one, were one the sort who indulged in strong emotions. Fashioned of letters snipped from the pages of the illustrated papers, these malevolent memorandae of malice spout all manner of calumny in their attempt to besmirch the ancient name of Grandiose. Against the advice of one's solicitors, one reprints one of the vile missives below:

yOU ThINk you'RE toO gOOD For thE reSt OF uS don'T yOu 'laDY' fELiCiA weLl YouR SUPeRciliOUs WaYS wilL bRIng yOU dOWn & I'Ll bE theRE & WoN't I hALF laRF!!!!!!

One immediately sacked one's entire fleet of servants, of course, for letting such filth even enter the polished brass letter slot, and to prevent it from happening again. One hired them back, however, upon realizing that it is doubtful they could even pronounce the word 'supercilious', much less spell it correctly. The matter leaves one wondering, however. Could the Lady Felicia, or oneself, have made an enemy? The idea seems preposterous, as one's readers (the cheering legions of them) must agree.

One was heartened, however, by the response of those near and dear. One's ward, young Penelope Windsor-Smythe, loyal and stalwart as only someone in the fourth quartile of those in line for the British throne could be, delicately offered to spend her nights sleepless in the gazebo on watch for the wrong-doer, with none but the company of two strapping and muscular youths for protection ('Chaz' and 'Jake', the sons of a tenant. One believes they 'work out' with the dumb-bells after their sweaty, shirtless labours in the fields, and thus young Penelope Windsor-Smythe reasoned these burly yet common lads would be fit to fend off any impending dangers). One was nearly touched by the lass's offer, but one would have been distressed to see an heir to the throne (eighty-fifth) with bags beneath her doe-like eyes.

As for the Lady Felicia herself, she is made of sterner stuff. She is a Windover, after all, from the Windovers of Swillingsford-On-Bog. After receiving several of the d-mnable messages, the gleam in one's lady's eyes was something indeed to behold. Perhaps her feminine intuition might already be at work in unraveling this most mysterious turn of events. One does hope she does not over-exert, however. One will tend to her oneself, and ensure that she does not neglect her toilette,, nor her nightly readings to the servants from the Good Book. (One refers, of course, to Debrett's Peerage.)

Until next week, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: The After Dinner Delight

Tired writes:

Dear Sir Charles:

We have just spent a sum restoring the family seat to its former glory. Truly the deeply polished hardwoods are a joy to behold, as are the finely inlaid parquet walls, and hand-tooled leather accoutrements. It is truly exquisite.

Our dilemma: The relatives continue to act in the place as if it was not restored, leaving litter in the most inopportune locales for the servants to discover (usually only after lasting damage has been done to the exquisite finish of the restored period pieces), and allowing cigar ash to fall (still glowing on occasion!) to the irreplaceably refurbished floors.

We are at our wits end as to how to politely, yet in no uncertain terms, inform them to adjust their behaviour to their circumstances. Whatever shall we do?

Tired of Ash Holes in Tunbridge Wells


Sir Charles replies:


These ash holes do weary one. One encounters them occasionally at Blandsdown. One may pick at them, one may scratch them, but they never seem to vanish.

Fear not, however. Inglorious as they may be, these blots are more common that the correspondent may think. One hears that they appear in all houses, from the lowest hovel to the grandest of palaces. Why, without vigilance, our green and blessed country itself might soon find an ash hole on the throne of England!

Recommending wood putty and stain, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose


Brain Atrophied writes:

Dear Sir Charles:

Perhaps you can sympathize. I attended a good college, and studied hard. I even went on for my graduate studies, and obtained my M.A. But what of it, I ask you?

The Norton Anthologies languish on my shelf, untouched for nearly a decade. The Riverside Shakespeare? I'm using it to hold down my scanner cover when I input pictures of my cats for my web page. Foucault? Who dat?

Sir Charles, am I doomed to a life of low brain activity? Why don't I get the same pleasure from reading Marlowe that I get from reading the latest detective fiction? Why, at the newsstand, do I pass over The New Yorker and buy Movieline? What happened to my youthful intellect?

Brain Atrophied in Boston


Sir Charles replies:


The correspondent would seem to be under the curious delusion that erudition is an ongoing process. Stuff and nonsense, one declares. Why, once one has committed to rote memory a stock number of phrases, facts, and quotations, one is armed for life.

Why, oneself is known far and wide for one's own cultivation and scholarship. Has this come about because of one's education in the finest of England's public schools? Is it because of one's year up at Balliol? (Do not blame one. It was a lark. One learned the lesson that one was not suited for the university life, as one was already more refined than all one's fellow students and a sizeable majority of one's tutors. And one was not, one repeats, was not, in any way, shape, or form one whit responsible for that unfortunate affair with the constable's cap and the bonfire in the buttery on Guy Fawkes Day.)

No, one declares most fervently. Indeed not! One's intellect is admired simply because one can, in the tradition of the truly learned, produce on demand pithy and occasionally appropriate quotations from The Bard (historical plays and tragedies only--the comedies are sheer rubbish), wax eloquently on the drop of a hat about cricket scores, and soliloquize on the subject of exports of the countries of the British Empire for any given year, provided that year is 1937. Why, one should simply shudder if one were to encounter, in that vast, unvarying, and pleasant plain that is the landscape of one's own mind, an original thought.

Such a state of congratulatory homeostasis, of course, leaves one time to attend to one's mission in life: to bemoan the decline of the world and its inhabitants, in comparison to oneself.

Hoping to have shed light upon this subject, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

With tempered admiration, one hands the quill to one's fair wife, the Lady Felicia.

Picture: One Detects Hostility

E.T. (Mrs) writes:

Dear 'Lady' Felicia:

You should really appreciate my problem. I live in a quaint English village--one of the last decent places in the land--but there's a certain 'lady' who insists on swanking herself about the town as if she owns it. Her husband is only a baronet, but you'd think that they were the King and Queen themselves from the hoity-toity airs they give themselves!

Let me give you an example. At one of her dreary functions lately (a fork luncheon--I don't know what it is, but perhaps she eats with her fingers the rest of the time!), she deliberately and through cunning means coerced a local dignitary to miss his golf game and attend. He didn't even enjoy himself in the least!

Worse, he has an eye for every heaving bosom, and she is not what she seems! I know she has a secret or two!

What should I do to knock these inbred a-whiskey-cratic genetic disasters down a few notches and bring them to their knobby little knees? Please advise.

E.T. (Mrs.)


The Lady Felicia replies:

My dear madam,

One feels your pain. To be cast out from civilization, with neither title nor fortune . . . ah, your anguish is veritably palpable! And to be shunned by the gentry. Alas and alack!

But private pain should be kept private. And thinly veiled allegories should be veiled with more than just the words that one can easily see through (like your own threadbare laundry that you hang out to dry in your self-aggrandized weed-strewn yard).

You insinuate that blue-blooded Britons are inbred. Hounds and Newfoundland fisherfolk inbreed. Aristocrats hone bloodlines. A major distinction that appears to have leapt capriciously over your vacuous little head.

But one digresses. If one were less high-bred, one would be tempted to mention that the source of such egregious vitriol in said letter is most likely due to the fact that one's correspondent was 'forced' to marry well below her station, due to a rashly unfortunate incident which could only be called 'divine retribution'. How is your son, Edna? Is he still incarcerated?

Lady Felicia Grandiose

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