Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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15 September, 1995

These late days of summer are especially enchanting at one's estate, Blandsdown. The fan shaped leaves of the linden trees are tinged with gold, the sweet grasses blow green in the warm breezes, and the sunsets drift, like watercolors, to the horizon. 'Twas to this luminous tableau that one welcomed one's nephew (and heir) on a visit to Blandsdown.

One's readers (numerous and enthusiastic as they are) should remember that young Chauncey Grandiose, the only son of one's brother Nevil (poor Nevil! One lost him too young!), has been larking about in London in one of the pantomimes--as the French say, qui joue un role travesti. His engagement as 'Nancy Buoy' in the long-running show Revue des Filles have, one hears, been most lifelike. (American readers need not sneer at the lad's profession. The art of Female Impersonation is respected and honored on the British stage--which should be example enough for the rest of the world.)

One was most heartened to see signs during the visit, however, that the lad may be thinking of settling down and raising his own family. Not only did young Chauncey bring home one young lady to meet his family, he brought three, enchantresses all. Never before has one been surrounded by such an abundance of exquisite feminine beauty. Never before has one been tantalized by such variety of playful conversation. Never before has one been so dazzled by so many bright evening dresses! (One's chambermaids are still removing sequins from the parquet.)

Miss LaTina N. Dragge, for example--an exotic name for this exotic southern hothouse flower--proved equally capable with the castanets as with the pianoforte. Her large, strong hands could reach across they keys a full minor tenth. One also believes this energetic young woman taught the servants the 'limbo', which one's nephew assures one is a decorative form of napkin folding.

Ah, what can one say of Miss Shirley Fonda Boyce? What grace. What elegance. One was naturally quite shocked when the lass hopped astride one's best hunter (the Lady Felicia nearly insisted the girl ride side-saddle, as any decent woman ought, but one persuaded her to let youth have its sway), but this minor breach of propriety was more than appeased by the young lady's amusing impersonations of such cinema artists as 'June Crawford', 'Hay Leigh Mills', and 'Eva Gaboring' (one had never heard of these actresses before, as they are, after all, popular).

One was most enchanted, however, by the sophisticated and elegant Miss Anita Manceau-Baddeley--of the Isle de Feu Manceau-Baddeleys, as she informed me. While it is true that all three of the woman possessed cultivated contralto voices, bold arching eyebrows, and broad, athletic frames, 'twas sweet Anita who most resembled the fabled 'Gibson Girl'. Even now one can recall her sweet, low voice and throbbing Adam's apple, as she read Somerset Maughm aloud, in the sitting room after dinner. . . .

The Lady Felicia, of course, continues to hope that young Chauncey will one day cast his eye upon one's lovely ward, young Penelope Windsor-Smythe (who, if one's readers happen not to remember, is eighty-fifth in line for the throne). Perhaps sensing the fate amoureuse of the two, the three young visitors spent much time fraternizing with the lass--dressing her tresses, accessorizing her wardrobe, and giving her 'beauty tips'. Young Penelope quite rallied under this flurry of attention; one suspects that one day, the young miss will be quite as feminine as Chauncey's admirers!

Until next week, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: Ars longa, vita brevis

Suffering writes:

My Dear Sir Charles

A delicate situation. Your input greatly appreciated.

Discrete inquiries have revealed that a prized Renoir in our study is a cunning forgery. Please advise on acceptable courses of action. Shall we remove it? Think of the uproar! Shall we 'send it out for cleaning' never to recover it? Shall we drape it with a black cloth? We are in a quandary.

Suffering with a Forgery in Fotheringham

Sir Charles replies:

O Worried One:

Such connivances, while popular in the past, are likely in these modern times to be met with rollings of the eyes and knowing smirks. Even the servants would not be hoodwinked with such shop-worn excuses. Why, within three hours of the 'disappearance' of the artwork, word would be around the village that you were on the brink of disaster. Think, sirrah, of the whispers! Think sirrah, of the shame!

One gives this bold advice: Take the Renoir (a dissipated chap, one hears) from its current place on the wall and hang it proudly in a spot of prominence. Invite one's loosest-tongued friends to dinner. Take each aside singly and murmur into their ears the secret, not-to-be-divulged, absolute confidence that thanks to a clever switch by the correspondent's Papa during the War, the actual forgery now hangs in the Louvre. Be certain to drop mentions of vulgar, envious museum 'experts' who are no better than they ought. By the morrow, the correspondent will be a popular local hero.

The success of this plan, of course, depends largely upon the port served to the guests. That is, it should have a higher-than-average alcohol content. Send bottles home with the guests if necessary.

Sir Charles Grandiose

Hounded writes:

Old Chap,

There's been a nasty bit of brouhaha happening at the old homestead, and I thought your wit and insight may help to shed some light on an appropriate course of action.

It would appear that the environmental panty-waists have gotten wind of our upcoming 'Hounds of the Harvest' foxhunt, and there has been no end of harassment. Any suggestions?

Hounded in Harringsforth

P.S. The bear traps haven't been of any use. They seem to have a sixth sense for avoiding them.

Sir Charles replies:

Old Bean,

Cast the mind back, old chum, to when Lady Felicia was herself hounded by those Greensleeves folk after the Sunday Tatler printed a full-colour photographic plate of her Royal Wedding ensemble. As if anyone of taste could object to a stunning ivory necklace when worn with a tigerskin-lined alligator handbag and white baby seal full-length coat with matching gloves! Remember what one did then? That surely showed those sandal-wearing, dungaree-clad whale aficionados what for, did it not?

One tip: The pits are more effective at a depth of twelve meters or more. One begs you not skimp on the tar, as it provides a firm-sticking base for the baby bald eaglet feathers.

Word to the wise, eh?
Sir Charles Grandiose

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

Picture: Adventures on the East End

Languishing writes:

Dear Lady Felicia,

My dear lady, how does one living in a rather large and squalid city, to attend university, of course, go about meeting a gentleman worthy of my impeccable manners and lineage? I have begun to despair of doing so until I return to the continent.

I anxiously await the gracious favor of your reply.

Languishing in L.A.

The Lady Felicia replies:

My dear Gentle Lady,

Ah, Los Angeles. City of Angels once, but now fallen from grace. (Or so one has been told, having never deigned to visit the dregs left by the gold-hungry outlaws that populate the Americas.)

One has heard that, as in most civilised cities, culture can always be found in the east end. One suggests hiring a hansom cab and asking for conveyance to the very heart of East Los Angeles. Once there, the centers of culture should be readily apparent. One should look only in those art and culture establishments which convey to one instant signs of solidity and refinement.

But one must be persistent. If you must walk up and down the streets, do so! Do not look into the first establishment, but hold out for a gentleman proper. If you find yourself walking about at night, so be it. As darkness descends, a true gentlemen will be sure to offer you assistance.

Lady Felicia Grandiose

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