Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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10 November, 1995

The days grow ever shorter, as autumn hangs on the cusp of winter, and one praises oneself for the foresight in purchasing several baby seal skin-lined robes to wear should a draught ever be brazen enough to whistle through the hallowed halls of Blandsdown. As the labourers finish their charming Arcadian fieldwork, and rush home by lamplight to their thatched cottages (they are a thick-skinned breed, the farmers, and draughts are so much more bearable in a picturesque setting) one hides in the warmth and comfort of one's centrally heated library and listens with apprehension for the approaching footsteps of one's cloven-hooved mother-in-law, Adolpha Windover-Midden.

Truly a more turgid harridan one has ne'er encountered than the Lady Felicia's step-mother. One is most relieved there is no actual blood shared between the two women, for surely, Mrs. Windover-Midden is of the direct line of that famed victim of ill-considered coiffures, Medusa herself. A single displeased gaze, a single prim moue, and she can reduce her victim to a pile of smoking crushed pumice.

Already the old termagant's disapproving eye has so frightened the servants that they stand quivering at table, their soup tureens and steaming dishes clattering from nervous trembling. After the third slap, one has had to supplement with substantial 'combat pay' the weekly wages of the serving-maid assigned to her. The stableboys, normally a cheerful lot, creep quietly into the stalls and hide in the muck, when she takes her daily constitutional on the cinder path. Cook has threatened to quit should the virago send back again the Yorkshire pudding.

Nor has the immediate family fared any better. Young Penelope Windsor-Smythe (as eighty-fifth in line for the throne, she is adept in the art of polite conversation with thick-necked dullards), unfairly chastened as a 'saucy, impudent wench' for inquiring into the status of the Windover-Midden family compost business, has all but retired to her rooms with her Latin tutor. (Young Penelope has such zeal for the cunning linguae that Magister Artium devotes to her his masterful tongue during all the daylight hours.)

The Lady Felicia lives in equal fear of her step-mother. Yet she is made of stern stuff herself, and has rallied to the daunting task of keeping Mrs. Windover-Midden occupied through a series of dinners. To these affairs she invites the local gentry who are grand enough to impress, yet not so grand they would fail to fawn upon the woman and keep her attention occupied for a few blessed hours. Yet one suspects that even this ploy is beginning to fail; the guests are beginning openly to doze during Mrs. Windover-Midden's monologues on past ailments of her deceased poodles, and during a particularly protracted discussion of her first husband's connections to the Dutch royal bloodlines, Dame Augusta Wren, usually the most patient of guests with Old Bores (provided one slips a five pound note into her napkin and offers her cab fare home), toppled with boredom from her chair and nearly came to grievous injury by striking her head upon Mrs. Windover-Midden's spittoon. A most unfortunate incident that cost one an additional guinea!

And what, one asks, could possess Mrs. Windover-Midden to speak in such an archaic manner? 'Tis 'We' this. 'We' that. And by no means is the woman in any sense royalty! "We do not approve of the loose and immoral upbringing of the girl," the harpy will say. "We do not eat chutney. We prefer the marmalade." One declares, one has never heard once in one's life one person wield one's words in such a bombastic, pretentious manner. Good gravy, the airs that some give themselves!

One will persevere, however, and remain,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: I Loathe Little Pussy, Her Tongue Is So WarmFlummoxed writes:

Dear Sir Charles:

Whether one is a "cat person" or not, it seems any reasonable soul would be mortified when the cat washes its butt in front of company, as ours does without fail.

What can be done? The wife's rather attached to it. (The cat, that is.)


Sir Charles replies:


One has experienced the self-same mortification with one's domestic dependents. One thinks of particular of Mimsy, who also had the propensity to walk into the drawing room, sit herself down upon the Persian carpet, and lick her nether regions in the presence of distinguished and often titled guests, hair flying every which way as her tongue created a moist cacophony that inevitably reduced all conversation to stunned silence. Mimsy also had the charming habit--and one is indeed facetious, here--of leaping onto the dining table and growling at guests, refusing to be removed until each had given her a morsel from his plate and a rub behind the ears.

Affairs came to a head during a dinner party several years ago honoring the Founding Day of Fishampton, when Mimsy swaggered into the larger dining hall as if it belonged to her, and proceeded to cough up a kipper head into the Mayor's vichyssoise. It was obvious to all that poor old Mimsy had to go. Yet one knew the affection that the Lady Felicia felt for the creature, and thus one allowed her to make the final decision to send Mimsy away for good. She was, after all, the Lady Felicia's great-aunt, and not one's own.

With sympathy, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: Mabel . . . Ah, She Still Has the Chubby ThighsMabel writes:

Oh, Snuffy,

You've gone and got it all wrong, you have. Your darling Mabel would never, never do anything to hurt her Snuffs or his sweet little Mr. Blinkie.(I went over all in a tingle when I read that name! Haven't thought of him in years!)

I've moved, so I didn't get your letter for ages, which I don't think you wrote, it must have been that nasty old solicitor who put you up to it. Poor Ducks, I don't need a dime. My brother Alf, the one you remember him punching you in the stomach the time he caught us having a snog in the cloakroom? Poor dearie, you were so green and my new pink chiffon wrap was ruined, not even Mum could get it out. Anyway, what I meant to say, Alf went over to Canada and he's done real well in the construction business. He's right good to me and Mum, sending us a cheque each month like clockwork. We've got a lovely cottage over in Bexhill-on-Sea, snug as anything.

All I really wanted was just to say Hello, luv, and ask you since you're in the advice business, so to speak, is this: Me and Mum have put by us a tidy sum, and we were just wondering where to invest it. I'm sure you know some sharp Johnnies in the stock market. Well, cheerio, Snuffy, and always remember

Your loving Mabel

Sir Charles replies:

Madam (a.k.a. Complete and Utter Stranger):

Once again, one denies all knowledge of the correspondent and her despicable dependents (especially that shrill and shrewish battle-axe known as 'Mum' who could not even prepare a decent beaker of chocolate to save her sorry and already too-long life). One has on retainer several very well-paid witnesses who are prepared to attest in the Court of St. James's that one has never been in the presence of said Mabel, and experts who will attest that the Grandiose Garnet that the correspondent may possess, if she has managed to refrain from putting it in 'hock' at the 'pawn shop', is indeed a forgery and that the original still remains in the Blandsdown vaults. Somewhere or another.

That noted, one has only one thing remaining to say: When it comes to investments, one can never go wrong with British Rails.

Coldly, one remains
Sir Charles Grandiose

Anonymus writes:

To Charles:

I need some advice. Say you tell someone off. They get mad at tell your friend to tell you that you will get in trouble for telling them off? I am talking about a student and a teacher. You ask them why they threatened you They lie and say they never said such thing. Two other teachers take their side.

What should the student do?


Sir Charles replies:

O One of Few Wits:

Really, one cannot imagine why the correspondent's teachers would take sides against her. It could scarcely be because the student in question has fewer verbal capabilities than a well-trussed goose with oyster stuffing, could it?

One pities the poor educators. Children are meant to be seen and not to chastise one's elders and betters. That is, until they are of their majority and can force the aforementioned elders and betters into a Home For Those Who Are Past It, of course. (While one is reminded, one wishes one's mother a Happy Birthday.)

Advising the correspondent to swot up on her grammar books, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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