Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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8 December, 1995

One asks one's readers (a numerous lot that multiplies exponentially with each passing day) to close their eyes and picture one in a crowded, fetid railway station platform in a foreign clime, one's servants nervously protecting one's steamer trunk from multitudes of seething, chattering pygmies who babble excitedly in a crude and foreign tongue. Mentally inhale, if you will, rancid aromas of unwashed and heathenish natives, all desperate to capture attention and trinkets, all marvelling at the man from a more civilised land. Yes, such is Paddington station in these sad days.

One had traveled down to London at the urgent behest of a lady physician, after receiving the following desperate missive:

Dear Sir Charles,

I have followed your column with interest for several months now. I believe it would be of great benefit to us both were you to consult with me; if I might be frank, your psychoses are so pronounced that I could write several monographs upon them.

Yours, etc., etc., Frances Burnie, Ph.D., M.D.

One was immensely flattered, of course, especially after consulting with one's ward, young Penelope Windsor-Smythe (who after weeks of intense study with her Latin tutor commands the tongue with all the dignity expected of one who is eighty-fifth in line for the throne). She informed one of the ichthyology of the word 'psychosis' and that it most assuredly meant 'sublime philosophy'. As one had--ahem--business in the city already (Personal to Chatsy: One trusts one will not hear from you or your alleged father again), one decided to grace the offices of the lady physician in order that she might fulfill her ardent wish--to commune with one's intellect, and perhaps to learn from it.

One was not, however, fully prepared for what one encountered in Miss Burnie's well-appointed office. The lady physician herself was an efficient looking youth, brisk and professional, yet surprisingly comely in her features for a commoner. Indeed, one wondered if this flowery physic had become unbalanced by prolonged exposure to science and developed a 'fascination' with oneself, for the moment one strode into the chamber, Miss Burnie requested one to recline upon her well-cushioned leather couch. One immediately acquiesed. One hears one's readers cry in chorus, 'What? But Sir Charles! This marigold of medicine might have leapt upon you, lithe and panther-like, insistently begging for a single, smoky kiss from your masculine, aristocratic lips, all while she gazed with limpid pools of azure blue into your own eyes--eyes that have witnessed all manner of human folly--imploring you for sensual favors that only a gentleman of your impressive stature and abilities could bestow!' Yes indeed, one supposes that is true.

Unfortunately, however, we soon settled upon a topic of mere conversation that remains a perennial delight to oneself--that is, one's own life and accomplishments. One was several minutes into a discourse upon one's bloodlines (always of interest to the truly cultured) when this scrumptious surgeon soon interrupted to suggest one discuss one's childhood. Oh, but what a fertile subject! One immediately related several anecdotes regarding one's childhood friend 'Lord Marmaduke' (who happened to be invisible). This young scamp's comic antics, when he was not plotting the overthrow of one's Mater and Pater or torturing the servants (for example, 'twas Lord Marmaduke, and not oneself as is widely alleged, who shot the arrow through school chum Millicent Simpley's shoulder after she called one a 'pasty, pasty, rich boy'), always kept one in laughter as a youth. That is, until one's parents forbade one to mention 'your horrid little invisible friend'--they never would use his proper name--at the tender age of fourteen, and Lord Marmaduke simply disappeared. One was devastated. Miss Burnie paid one a high compliment upon one's story-telling abilities when, while running to the supply closet for a fourth pad of paper, she inquired excitedly, 'Please tell me you're not making this up!'

One had to make the 6:22 back to Fishampton, however, and was reluctantly forced to take one's leave of one's excitable colleague (who at this point was on the phone with her 'publisher' informing him that she had struck the so-called 'mother lode'--one must admit one was mildly flattered). 'About my fee. . . .' she ventured timidly, as one bowed. 'There is no need, Miss Burnie,' one declared. 'One shall not charge you for one's wisdom.'

Poor Miss Burnie insisted it was vital that one visit her offices four times a week, but one suspects that such frequent consultations would only keep alive the flame of her infatuation. 'Tis a heavy burden, really, this uncontrollable talent to kindle admiration, respect, and yes, one must say it plainly--concupiscence--in the heaving bosoms of every passing lady. Yet one will shoulder it, and

One will remain for yet another week,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: A Strapping British ChapM.A. in a Muddle writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

I am in a bit of a pickle. I obtained my current employment, here in England, under the pretense of my having a Master of Arts degree in Latin, which was nearly true. I had completed all but a final thesis (or dissertation, as I believe it's called across the pond). The thesis was in the hands of my advisor, who is highly intelligent, competent, female, and quite a bit more than twice my age. She is also married to an Englishman, even older than herself, though she is American and lives in the States.

This week I received an overseas telegram from my advisor, which disturbed me. It was from my thesis advisor, and suggested, in a roundabout, innuendo-filled kind of way, that she would be happy to approve the final version of the thesis if, and only if, I were to join her for a private conference on its merits and a discussion of its finer points, at her home, when her "less than thrillingly vigorous" English husband was out of town.

Now, I love my job--which is in education, and carries considerable "fringe benefits." But I doubt that I could either procure the necessary week's leave or afford airfare back to the States for the "conference," even if I had steeled my soul for an encounter with the good Doctor herself on "The Priapic Symbolism in Petronius's Satyricon"--which I'm not sure I can.

What to do?

M.A. in a Muddle

Sir Charles replies:


Less than thrillingly vigorous? Less than thrillingly vigorous? It would seem that the correspondent's advisor damns out of hand the every Briton of the masculine s-x! This nymph-m-n--c American (one begs one's pardon . . . perhaps the terms are redundant) is obviously of too base and vulgar a stock to appreciate the refinement and gentility of a true English gentleman. To employ a metaphor: A 'motorbike' throbbing with raw, raucous horsepower and dripping with grease might propel one to the peak of Mount Pleasure quickly enough, but a finely tuned, smoothly purring Rolls Royce will, in the end, transport one to the same peak with more style, elegance, and enjoyment. Not to mention with fewer insects in the teeth.

One does not blame the correspondent for his present predicament. Why, one blames the shabby employer! A good employer always checks an applicant's references. Why, one prides oneself, for example, upon being able to spot any inconsistencies or oddities in the letters of reference for one's prospective servants. Our most recent addition to Blandsdown, Magister Artium (quite coincidentally, a Latin instructor with a degree from a university in the states, much like yourself), came highly recommended from a number of noted personalities, including Mrs. Virginia Hamm of Bridgeport, the Leakeigh-Bladders of Raleigh, and even Prince Albertina Can (late of Sweden, he explains in his letter, but ousted by the Pepsi generation-but one was never able to follow the histories of these odd and archaic foreign dynasties). Why, could anyone have more solid credentials?

Although one abhors deception, so that the correspondent might extricate himself from what is undoubtedly a 'sticky wicket', one suggests he might dissemble slightly and claim a mother upon her deathbed, murmuring a heartfelt wish that her only son attend upon her during her last week on this earth. Only the most heartless and unsentimental of employers would fail to grant a servant this small boon. One would not bank upon receiving airfare, however.

One remains
Sir Charles Grandiose

Perplexed writes:

Dear Sir Charles:

A problem has arisen at the club, and we find we need your insight. Sir B. has just returned from a month of medically prescribed R and R in the colonies, and is, if we may say so, a totally different fellow. He has taken to wearing heavy leather spurred boots (with heels, if you can imagine) and an absolutely monstrous hat that one could house one's best foxhound in if it were upended. He has given up the finely hand-rolled cigars that we all smoked before he left, and insists on smoking "Marlboroughs" which he now imports.

But perhaps the most ghastly turn in his persona has been that he has affected a truly horrific drawl, and insists on ending each of his phrases with the syllable 'hay'. The fellows and I have gone over the club's rulebook with a fine toothed comb, and can find no point of etiquette which he fails to meet. Any advice would be most appreciated.

Perplexed at Prince's

P.S. The chap has an estate close to one's own and is speaking of 'adding dough-gies to the spread.' While one imagines that this comment refers to his estate, the chaps and I can only picture images of him doing something unspeakable to the rather expansive backside of the lady of the manor.

Sir Charles replies:

Good friend,

One sympathizes deeply. Travel can so change a fellow. But oh, what a tragedy it is when a titled gentleman turns his back on his heritage and adopts the vulgar parlance and mannerisms of foreigners, even to the extent of wearing synthetic-fibered garb no doubt purchased in the duty-free shop of a major aeroport hub.

One advises a thorough snubbing. Employ the Cut Direct, if need be. One predicts that a few days' exclusion from the game of breadroll and bottle bowls after the club luncheons will have the chap abandoning his spurred boots and sequined-trimmed 'cowboy shirt' for a well-tailored suit in no time. As a measure of insurance, please instruct the club cloakroom attendants to crush the offending hat beneath a number of the other members' beaver pelt coats.

Cheerio-ing, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: High Priestess of TwaddleSpooked writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

On the subject of love, matrimony and compatibility, one has a query. One has fallen quite deeply in love with a young lady of impeccable breeding, yet during a call to Fiona (My Personal Psychic Friend), I was told cryptically, yet quite emphatically, that our union would never succeed. One is torn. Never before has Fiona been wrong, yet one knows not what one would do if one could not share one's life with this young lady. How would you counsel?

Spooked in Spiversham Green

Sir Charles replies:


Once again, one sees that another easily-led lamb has strayed from the Path of Dignity and Rational Thought onto the Hooey Highway. Why is it, one inquires, that weak souls are panting to believe their 'phone psychics' and 'marriage counselors' and 'financial planners' when study after study has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is as much basis to the 'science' of these charlatans as there is to the practise of divining the future from splayed sheep entrails?

No, one cannot condone these rubbishy pseudo-sciences. One is a logical man. One has a mind that can only tolerate true rational inquiry, such as the science of Phrenology. That prominent phrenologist, Mme. Bonchatte, has personally examined the bumps upon the craniums of the Lady Felicia and oneself, only to declare that the heads of the Grandiose family betrayed, without a doubt, our elegance, eloquence, and good breeding--a conclusion that was startlingly valid!

One recommends the correspondent pay a call to a real professional such as Mme. Bonchatte and have the affianced lady's bumps examined. One attempted oneself to arrange an appointment for the correspondent, yet it is difficult to contact Mme. Bonchatte, as she is prompted to change her name and residences as often as six to eight times a year.

One remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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