Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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1 December, 1995

One's readers--so numerous that if they were kindling, all the great historic fireplaces of Blandsdown could be kept blazing for years to come (and oh, if but they were, for the cost of wood is ruinous)--know that one is averse to that bane of the wealthy and privileged: publicity. Oh yes! One despises those members of the gentry or aristrocracy who insist, week after week, upon flaunting their names before the common public, hoping to impress them with what they imagine to be a flashy title or an elite education, or to amuse them with their allegedly 'witty' remarks and anecdotes. Faugh! one cries. (One enjoyed it so much the first time that one will cry it again: Faugh!)

One is glad, one declares, to distance oneself from these self-deluded souls, to share with one's readers one's brief encounter this past week with Dame Publicity. No, one does not refer to the paragraph in the Fishampton Sunday Illustrated Gazette about the theft of one's second-best Constable. No, one does not refer to the startling news in the Times that one's own nephew, Chauncey, will permanently be leaving his engagement at Revue des Filles Hot! Hot! Hot! to revitalize that hitherto sadly defunct periodical, Milady's Boudoir. (One wonders where the lad could have come up with the funds necessary to enter the world of publishing? He was flat out of money but three weeks ago.)

One refers instead to the startling offer one received this week to offer one's advice through the medium of the wireless, as well as print. One's secretary (a horrid chap not fit to wipe his boots with the rest of one's servants, if all be told, but he works cheaply and is often able to explain American 'slang,' as he employs too much of it himself) indulged in some correspondence with what is termed, I believe, a dijet this week (one believes it is French for 'radio personality'). It would appear that the dijet, seeking to restore Culture to the throne it has abdicated (with a vengeance) in the colonies, heard of one's improving words in this venue and eagerly sought one out. One cannot blame him, of course.

One's secretary was so ardent to have one make an 'audition tape' that one suspected the lad of arranging some sort of commission for himself. He swore, however, that he would not financially benefit a whit from the arrangement--a good thing, one suspects. He would only spend the extra money on cheap entertainment and sordid pasttimes.

At any rate, upon considering the matter, one decided there was nothing to lose. One made the appointment. At the dijet's behest, a recording engineer from London undertook the journey to Blandsdown to record one's mellifluous voice. Although in the study (renowned for its acoustical properties) one had set up the old Edison phonograph , the engineer appeared baffled at the hand crank and the wax cylinder, and insisted upon using his electrical gimmickry to capture one reading selections from this very forum.

And oh! What honeyed, lyrical tones echoed in that room, that afternoon! Not since one's turn as 'Bottom' in the public schools has one bellowed with such feeling, such intensity! However, as the letters from 'Hopeless' and 'Dismayed' and 'Hearthwarmer in Hampshire' seemed to lack--well, I believe the French call it a Jenny c'est coy (an irony, surely, for one has never known a bashful Frenchwoman). So, unprompted, one inserted a few score stanzas from Spenser's Arcadia into the proceedings, to 'pad it out', so to speak.

Three hours of oratory later, when one observed the awed, hushed expression (something akin to a meditative doze) upon the engineer's face, one happened upon the happy conceit of bringing the recitation to a close with that grandest of British poets, Shakespeare (as written by Sir Frances Bacon). One can recite from rote at length from the Bard of Avalon, of course, as any good Briton ought, so one chose that infamous speech from Hamlet, at the grave of Yorick. One will not repeat it here, as it is readily available elsewhere. One will remind his readers in the colonies, however, that the passage does not contain the words 'I knew him well,' as is popularly thought. Oh no! That classic passage properly begins: "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Philatio . . . !"

The stunned look upon the engineer's face upon hearing that classic phrase informed one that one had made the correct choice. Young Penelope Windsor-Smythe had to fetch the poor young lad a handkerchief and daub at his eyes (she is not averse to these small duties to guests, though she is eighty-fifth in line for the throne), so helpless were his tears after he turned off the 'mike'.

Alas, for all one's work, the project came to naught. One's secretary informed one, after another round of correspondence with the dijet, that American listeners to the wireless would not fully appreciate one's erudition, one's cultured mien, nor one's education. One is slightly disappointed, but one will rally. After all, as one stated, one abhors publicity (though one is willing to sacrifice for an offer from, say, the BBC).

Considering an 'agent', one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: A Well Dressed DishAshamed and in Love writes:

Dear Sir Charles:

Lately, I have become aware of quite an embarassing problem. I seem to have fallen in love with my rabbi. He has been a kind and dear friend of mine for quite some time now and I feel that this silly schoolgirl crush is extremely silly. I can't control how I feel so what should I do?

Cordially signed,
Ashamed and in Love with a Rabbi

Sir Charles replies:


Despite one's initial reaction of utter revulsion to such a confession, one is attempting to exercise understanding. After all, did not young Penelope Windsor-Smythe (who is, if one has not of late reminded one's readers, eighty-fifth in line for the throne) pass through such a phase in her youth? It seemed that for several years horses were all she could think of--the girl wore her jodphurs to the breakfast table, rode all day and afternoon, and talked of nothing but her pony at the dinner table. Although she still rides today, the mania for horses was merely a phase, of course. But madam, a horse is a practical animal. It provides both sport and transport. Can one really say the same for a coney?

Much like the Prince of Wales, the common hare does little but nibble at carrots, wiggle its enormous ears, and breed. Ah, he may have been a true friend, and a loyal pet. But can the correspondent honestly fall in love with a creature of such a short lifespan, which might quite honestly be put to better use in a spring stew, or as a velvety fur muff?

One advises the correspondent to reflect upon these words of wisdom given her by
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: Chatsy. One Does Not Remember Her.Chatsy writes:


Me da sez I 'ad to write ya an' tell ya 'e plans to beat yer puss fer touchin' me an' gettin' me in tha family way. 'e found tha pictures of you an' me an' Mabel too. ('e really liked tha one wi' Mabel an' tha whip!)

'e tole me that 'e better find a package waitin' fer 'im behind the carriage house . . . else yer Lordships arse would be dead an' 'e'd tell yer Misses too.

(yer friend in the alley behind tha big house on Beecher Mews)

P.S. Me da sed to remind ya that 'e don't be wantin' candy! So yer stingy arse better not bring that to 'im like ya did me (it was loverly candy though Guvnor--I still 'ave a bit!)

Sir Charles replies:


One heaved a sigh upon receiving this loathsome missive, and nearly consigned it to the drawing room fire. One refrained, however, when one considered that rash actions in some circles be considered admissions of guilt. So let us have it out, one more time.

One is not acquainted, nor has one ever been acquainted, with a personage known as 'Mabel'.

One is completely, utterly unfamiliar with any but the most genteel and exclusive streets of London, none of which contain alleys of any sort (or if they do, one would never be so vulgar as to venture down one of them in search of pleasures forbidden the light of day).

One has never known anyone with the vulgar appellation of 'Chatsy,' or given her candy (much less a silk-wrapped box of liqueur-filled imported French bon-bons, the expense of which she most obviously did not fully appreciate) or gifts of any kind--especially the gift of a child with the Grandiose blood.

One is not frightened of the father--if indeed he is her father--of said 'Chatsy', beer-swozzled bruiser he is (and here one is, of course, exercising mere conjecture).

One also does not recall that 'Chatsy' would have little to complain about had one not discovered (and indeed, one never did) that she was seeing a brace of young earls 'on the side', so to speak. Begone with ye, scurvey strumpet of the streets, and send your foul attempts at extortion to one of them! One especially recommends Gerald, Earl of Glastonhoughsbury. That snob needs his comeuppance.

Resolutely, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Postscript: The carriage house with the tin horseshoe on the flower boxes? (Not, of course, that one knows the area. One is merely . . . speculating.)

A Student writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

I have recently been contemplating studying abroad next semester, and I was thinking about London. Any suggestions?

A Student

Sir Charles replies:


Indeed, one does have a suggestion. No matter what the temptation, stay away from Catford and its Beecher Mews. They have been the ruin of many an unadvised soul.

Pensively, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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