Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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13 October, 1995

One has ne'er before received such a response to one's preamble as one received from one's readers (impressive lot they are) this past week. "Sir Charles," they write, "was the Chutney Parade as impressive this year as the last? Were the jellies truly savoury? Were the potted meats toothsome?"

'Tis certain, in one's mind at least, that the goods produced at Colonel Jambly's "Memoirs of the Raj Chutney Parade" this year far exceeded one's most meagre expectations. One's ward, young Penelope Windsor-Smythe, not only applied her royal lips to a variety of Quince and Lime Pickles (to think that if some disaster befell the mere eighty-four others before her in succession, those young lips would be gracing the British Throne!), but enthusiastically agreed to judge the gooseberry tarts, the raspberry fools, and the bean sculptures, as well. Additionally, she sacrificed the heady pleasures of the Chutney Parade to supervise what she described to one as the 'annual hay hop', a sport apparently carried out in a remote hayloft among several strapping local youths. One is certain that her sweet disposition and deportment tempered the youths' lusty vigour, for although she returned several hours later with (to her credit) but a few straws of hay her in hair, she noted that the masculine athletes were quite worn out.

Contretemps, however, marred the judging of the Sour Chutney and Prune Preserves. A certain dame of the county, Edna Thistle, (Mrs.), pursuing her own vainglorious ends, submitted twelve of the thirteen entries in this otherwise much-avoided category. The Lady Felicia's exquisite taste buds, perhaps unwittingly sensing this perfidy, thus awarded the coveted Blue Turban to the thirteenth entry (submitted, by chance, by one of the cooks of Blandsdown). The enraged Edna Thistle (Mrs.) indulged in a number of epithets more suited to penny dreadfuls than a social gathering and claimed favouritism. Rubbish! The Lady Felicia is renowned as impartial throughout the isles. Further, the jars had been turned in the mirrored display case so that their labels faced away from one's lady wife the judge. How, one asks, could she have known?

A sad note graced the proceedings, however, as those present mourned the loss of local dignitary Lord Downy, of Charmes (and he seemed so spritely, but last week!). For the benefit of one's readers who have foresworn newspapers, or for the American readers--who only read articles relating to psychopaths and drive-in-shootings--one reproduces in part, a piece appearing in the Sunday Times.

Obituary: Morton, Lord Downy of Charmes. Passed away suddenly in his sleep, Saturday, the seventh of October. Aged 90. Lord Downy is predeceased by his wife, Lady Jane Downy (of cancer, 1949), and by his son, Morton Junior (drowned, 1955). Lord Downy is survived by a grand nephew, Winston, Lord Frost of Locksley. Lord Frost will merge the holdings of the two peerages, becoming Lord Frost of Locksley-Charmes, until his sons come of age to divide the title.

Miss L.N. Dragge, friend of the late Lord Downy, was present during His Lordship's final moments and made this comment, "After taking Lord Charmes into certain confidences, he gasped in shock and doubled over, and no amount of any sort of resuscitation would revive him." Lord Downy's will, read in private sitting with the solicitors, left all tangibles to the estate, which will be taken over by Winston, Lord Frost of Locksley-Charmes. Additionally, a large collection of heeled slippers, found in a vault under the manor, was left to Miss Dragge. She is not commenting at this time.

Colonel Jambly, in memoriam to Lord Downy, cut short his lecture on 'Yellow Fever and the Rictus of Banjoori' by three and a half minutes. He is a sentimentalist.

One knows, from long acquaintance, the new peer. Oh yes! The Lady Felicia knows him as well, and was so shocked to learn of his imminent arrival she was reduced to muttering distractedly about a fortnight of fireworks, or some such hysterical nonsense. Such distress did the news cause her that one will only have this to say--and then no more (at least, in this week's column) of the self-styled Lord Frost of Locksley-Charmes: He is tragically pernicious!

Until next week, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: His Wife Could Eat No Lean

Choked Up writes:

Dear Sir Charles:

I'm in an absolutely dreadful quandary and have never felt in more desperate need of your advice. Recently a family of the highest moral and social quality extended to me an invitation to dine by candlelight. I arrived to discover that I and my hostess were the only females present. Ten men comprised the remaining members of the party. The arrangement was, of course, no cause for dismay on the party of this young, single woman. Each man was distinguished by fine, gentlemanly qualities, a few young enough and propertied enough so that the possibility of a lasting attachment, were a mutual appreciation of charms and assets to develop, existed as a pleasing prospect.

To my complete and utter dismay, however, the servants began the meal by despositing a complete and utterly dismaying artichoke on each piece of bone china. I hadn't the faintest idea what to do with the bloody thing,but consoled myself with the notion that I could attend closely to my hostess and master the mysterious vegetable. Then, quel catastrophe, the phone rang. Rather than allow the staff to take a message, my hostess excused herself with the careless and disastrous comment, "Please don't wait on me. I shan't be long." You now see the dilemma clearly, I am sure.

As I stared dumbly at the silly object, ten ravenous men stared at me. If only their thirst and hunger had been for my luminous countenance, all might have been well. Alas, they were just plain hungry and one young man, a veritable model of politesse until this precise moment, broke. He fell upon the horrid artichoke while my hands remained wringing a damp square of linen. The other men, just as hungry and their violence fed perhaps by the knowledge of how close each had just come to such an egregious violation of social proprieties, fell upon him. In the ensuring brawl, my artichoke thumped to the floor. I was not sorry to see it go.

The crux of my problem is, as I am sure you have divined by now, that I still do not know what to do with the hideous vegetable should I ever be confronted by one again. I await your detailed instructions.

Choked Up

Sir Charles replies:


Oh! How one's heart was set aflutter by the demoiselle's correspondence! It is a certain that often Dame Fortune will set off a chain of events so perplexing and unavoidable that even a sweet blossom of youth, even a fair, lovely maiden (such as the correspondent herself) is caught in its thrall! Oh yes! The correspondent would be fully justified in giving her witless hostess the Cut Direct when next they meet, after the hostess displayed such an ill-bred want of manners.

But such is not the correspondent's question. The artichoke is a curious beast. One fears that one cannot do justice through words to its means of consumption. Were the correspondent present--enthralling vixen she must be--one would attempt to show her the means by which each leaf must be grasped between one's own masculine thumb and forefinger, gently yet firmly, one's fingers enjoying the smooth, silk-like sensation of the fruit's skin.

One would attempt to teach her to enjoy the aching sensation as one sensitively pulls at the leaf, anticipating its coy resistance before it loosens languidly into compliance and detaches itself, baring the heart leaf by inevitable leaf. One would explain to her how the leaf is to be lowered--slowly, oh so slowly--into its porcelain bath of steaming, spiced butter, and raised from its immersion, dripping and slippery, to one's anticipating lips. Oh, how one would demonstrate how the glistening, savoury leaf is to be inserted into the mouth . . . teasingly, at first, then with increasing fervour as one gazes unceasingly into the eyes of one's dinner companion. . . and how the tastebuds should savour the indefinable, exquisite taste . . . how suddenly, surprisingly, the teeth should betray its prey and rake against the leaf harshly, causing it to cry out in vegetable ecstasy . . . as it surrenders its most essential self to the inexorably probing, questing tongue. . . .

One pauses for a moment, to mop the glow from one's brow. One would offer lessons in this sort of thing oneself, but the Lady Felicia is not in the least fond of artichokes, and the young lady is most likely in a remote locale, unlikely to visit Blandsdown (near the village of Fishampton, a mere thirteen kilometres from the county trunk road, and mentioned in the best tourist guides).

Hungrily, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Befuddled writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

My girlfriend says she has feelings for someone else, but still continues to love me. She cheated on me with this other man last Friday. What do I do? Do I break up with her and never talk to her or do I give her time to think about what she wants? What do you suggest?

Befuddled in Boylesville

Sir Charles replies:

Befogged Boy:

It is obvious to one that the correspondent is hoodwinking himself. Love is not gentle. Love is not kind. Love is not tender and bashful. Love does not waffle. Oh no! Love is forthright! Love is decided! Love is remorseless and enveloping! Were the correspondent a bolder and more straightforward chap, he would not allow a member of the tender s-x so to misuse him.

In short, the correspondent is apparently a hopeless case. One advises begging the lady for her undivided attentions, and sending a transcript of the interview to one's attention. One doubts that the lady in question will accede to the request, but it should afford her (and oneself) much amusement.

Shaking one's head, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: A Precipitous Plunge!

Really Upset writes:

Dear Sir Charles:

I have two cats. You know how they are. If they aren't sleeping, or eating, they're chasing each other around the house like bats out of hell. Or cats out of hell. (Little joke.) Anyway, here I was sitting and working on a Precious Moments paint-by-numbers when Shermy and Freida (that's their names) somehow got into my display case and broke all my collector's plates! I got the name of the Franklin Mint out of the TV Guide so I can replace the Littlest Angels collectors plates, but I'm wondering, do you and that wife of yours have any of the royal wedding commemorative plates hanging around that mansion of yours? You wouldn't believe how hard they are to find.

Really Upset in Rhode Island

Sir Charles replies:

Misguided One:

Let us go through the argument, point by point:

1) One hardly found the royal wedding an event to commemorate (why, within but a few years the infant Penelope Windsor's Smythe's chances of ascending to the throne of Britain were reduced by two, as a result of the spawn the couple produced!)

2) One is little inclined to eat from substandard, lead-laden crockery when one could eat from one's own vast pantry of fine china, each piece of which is more delicate than even the correspondent's skull yet sturdier than her wits.

3) Were one to encounter, anywhere in the grand halls of Blandsdown, a plate bearing the likeness of the Prince of Wales--or else an overripe cherub, the 'Tardis', or that 'Star Trick' character 'Dr. Spock'--one would have it burned immediately and the room fumigated.

One will leave the correspondent to draw the necessary conclusions.

Shuddering, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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