Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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15 December, 1995

'Twas with a tear in one's eye that one sent one's ward, young Penelope Windsor-Smythe, upon her journey to Bath this week. The lass had a notion to spend the holiday season with her cousin, Lady Weeble-Able-Smythe, and one is indulgent of the girl's youth and station (for young Penelope is, if one has not reminded one's readers of late, eighty-fifth in line for the throne). How sad were we all, as the Rolls turned that last corner around the bend, to capture a glimpse of her hand waving its final farewell, her index and middle fingers raised in a gesture no doubt intended to inspire us to Vigilance and Virtuous behavior! And then hearing, from afar, her distant languishing wail as the separation hit home to her tender heart . . . well, it was a most vigorous cry, at any rate. One would almost have described it a triumphant whoop, if one was not convinced a cultured near-royal throat was constitutionally unable to produce such a noise.

Many were there to share our loss, aside from the immediate family. Openly weeping to one side of the drive were: twelve strapping stablehands, eight hearty tenants' sons, young Gordy of Fishampton's 'Egg and Dragon', the wine steward, a half dozen footmen, and four merchant marines. (Young Penelope always did have a fondness for brine.) Curiously, however, none of the chambermaids or scullery girls attended the farewell. Or indeed, any of the softer sex whatsoever.

One believes that most mournful of all, however, was Magister Artium, young Penelope's Latin Tutor. Earlier in the week one had witnessed a touching scene between the two. After an unusually quiet lesson, the pair burst from parlour wherein they had been studying, both bearing grim countenances. One was about to approach and intervene in what appeared to be an argument, when the tutor spoke. "Me ineptum. Interdum modo elabitur," quoth he (meaning, as he blushingly told me later, "My young pupil, your mastery of the demotic tense is beyond compare").* Young Penelope stamped the floor prettily and shook her head. She is a modest young filly, unused to flattery. "Estne confectum?" whispered the tutor (one's readers, who are not as skilled in the lingua franca as oneself, will be gratified to learn that these words translate to "Shall we repair to the parlour once more for more work upon the genitive case?")

Mutely, young Penelope turned on her tiny heel and took her leave of him. "I igitur, scortum, et ad tuum fabrum et in malam crucem!" cried the tutor, afterwards muttering "Nullae satisfactionis potiri non possum" to himself (meaning, respectively, "Go in peace young untouchable one, and I ever remain inspired by your prodigious intellect," and "I surely wish I was as well-connected as she").

The loss of a pupil as blue-blooded as one's ward must be grievous for the lad--doubly so, as he had earlier in the week received news of his mother's imminent demise (one was moved, of course, but one would not allow him the time off he requested, as he is already granted one free weekend every half-year). Still, one is glad that even in this trying time, he keeps his spirits up with Good Works. Why, one received this missive this very afternoon:

'Allo Guv,

I just wanted to thank ye fer yer biznes again like and especially the payment in advance. Ye'll find yer stables nice an' clean, an' I wouldn't be goin' too close to that smithy in Bath without a clothespin over me nose, if ye know what I mean.

I know that yer employee, Mr. Arty-um, who called in the order for you, said you wanted me t' do the job quoietly an' drop him a note when the dirtee deed wuz done and all, but when I got back he looked all flustered an' worried and like, so I thot it'd be best to write you yerself just to make sure all was well. Oh, and tell him the delivery was made just as Miz W.S. was about to make her visit to Bath, just like he said.

Chumley, yer friend at
Dung-B-Gon Ltd.

Magister Artium: A man who thinks only of others. Such a fellow may expect permanent employ from one,

Who will remain for yet another week,
Sir Charles Grandiose

*[N.B. from the Humble Secretary to Sir Charles: Those who do not speak the language are urged to consult these translations of the Latin.]

Picture: The Female LabourerNumb writes:

Dear Sir Chuck:

What a revoltin' development. I'm being laid off. No more job. Finito. However am I to make a living and pay my bills? What's a woman to do?

Numb in New Jersey

Sir Charles replies:


If the correspondent has written to one in the hopes of gainful employment, one is afraid she will be sorely disappointed. In addition to the fleet of servants one employs to attend to one's immediate needs here in one's luxurious estate, one already pays a stipend to one's dim-witted secretary--and if he is typical of the American 'educational' system, one has no intention of hiring another of his countrymen. To her credit, the correspondent would appear to possess slightly more advanced verbal skills than does the current secretary. But only barely.

If, on the other hand, the correspondent has been inspired by such experts in extortion as 'Chatsy' and 'Mabel'--neither of whom have been successful in their vile, grasping, avaricious ploys of the flesh--one must remind the correspondent that one is a loyal, steadfast married man, and in any event unlikely to visit such a sink of sin as 'New Jersey' in the near future.

One the third hand, if the correspondent is merely looking for sympathy, one is feeling generous enough this afternoon to administer it: Boo-hoo. Now, off with you.

One remains
Sir 'Chuck' Grandiose

One relinquishes the quill to one's wife, the Lady Felicia.

Annoyed writes:

Dear Lady Felicia,

My husband, Bubba, never does anything around the house. All he does is sit around, drinking beer, eating pork rinds and watching professional wrestling. How can I get him to get off his duff and get him to fix the toaster and the 1/2 dozen other projects that need doing around here?


The Lady Felicia replies:


One must admit to some puzzlement upon first reading your missive. Surely, one thought, it is one's fleet of serving staff who should tend to the tasks around the abode. That is what one doles out stipends for, after all. Then one realized that this letter is from what is charmingly referred to as 'the other side of the tracks', and that this is how the 'other half' (more aptly called the 'other 99%') lives. How quaint!

Every successful pairing is a blending of give and take. Think of the things you give to your mate. When you find that said mate is becoming unmanageable, why, it is your privilege as a Woman (one hesitates to say 'Lady') simply to withhold those favors as bait.

An example: During the chill of winter, there is naught that Sir Charles enjoys more than an afternoon with his cigar. How he enjoys fondling and admiring his precious stub (for it is of an amusingly small size)! And after a predictably unvarying brief period, when his ash is about to fall, he turns in desperation to his loving wife--oneself--the keeper of the crystal ash tray. How frantically he begs for one to uncover the precious, coveted receptacle before the ash falls to the carpet. Yet will I? The answer, of course, depends upon his past behaviour.

One draws a lace curtain over this tender domestic scene to return to the correspondent's question. One suggests to you that you withhold your ash tray in your own home. You will find that your errant spouse will treats you with much more respect once he finds that he has no place to put his cigar.

One knows one has been of help.

Lady Felicia

Picture: The Tinninnabulation of the Bells!Daphne Dalrymple writes:

Dear Lady Felicia,

I am writing to you rather than to Sir Charles, as my problem is of a feminine nature which Sir Charles is unlikely to understand. I must at once admit that I have already sought advice from the Americans, Ann Landers and Abigail Thing, but alas with no results.

My problem is this Lady Felicia: several months ago (in August, to be precise) while my fiancee Rodney's mother was away at the spa, Rodney and I, while dusting knick-knacks at her flat in Eaton Square, became . . . ahhh . . . intimate. At the very instant Rodney began plumbing my probity, I suddenly became aware of a loud buzzing sound, not unlike that made by several bluebottle flies imprisoned in a pickling jar.

Again, the following afternoon, as Rodney began dredging my desirability, I heard the curious noise again, but louder this time. In short, Lady Felicia, on each succeeding occasion, as soon as Rodney has begun his "Daily Doubles" as he jokingly calls it, my ears are filled with the angry buzz of bluebottles. Until today, I had thought that it was just some quirk of my anatomy, but this afternoon, after Rodney had stepped out for a tin of Pall Mall cigarettes, his mother's maid Fanny said to me, "Miss Daphne, did you 'ear a loud buzzin' whilst you was in 'ere alone with Master Rodney?"

Dear, dear Lady Felicia, please help me! Am I the only person in the world to be so afflicted, or is this just another of those common complaints about which its sufferers fear to speak? One begs to remain,

Yours very humbly,
Daphne Dalrymple

The Lady Felicia replies:

Madam (one would use the salutation 'Miss', to correspond with your affianced status, were it not for your blatant allusion to your womanhood):

Cultured ladies know better than to refer vulgarly to that highest form of intercourse which exists between like-minded spouses . . . One refers, of course, to the thrilling subject of philosophy. Never has one's blood surged through one's ears so, as when Sir Charles has discussed with me at length upon the topic of class and the rights of the privileged! Rather, almost never. One does recall a fortnight in one's past when the mere mention of sausages and dripping honey by moonlight would cause a buzzing like trapped, frantic hornets, of such an intensity that not even the most titilating talk of title or wealth can approach. But talk of food in one's youth is rather anomalous.

One believes one can speak for all of womanhood when one states that such buzzing in one's ears should be contained to the privacy of a Lady's own boudoir. While alone, think of literary criticism, of vegetable gardening . . . or of an evening of sausages and honey, shared with a tall, dark, mustachio'ed gentleman by candlelight in an abandoned wine cellar, while one's father and one's pasty pasty intended partook of brandy and hand-rolled cigars on an upper floor, completely unaware of the passion roiling beneath their very feet. But one digresses yet again.

A kindly word of warning: Any unseemly symptoms that may accompany the buzzing should not be displayed before one's spouse, no matter how open minded he may be. The moaning, the perspiring, the bone-jarring shivering--these are all symptoms that may prompt even the most benevolent of spouses to seriously consider hospitalization of a wife who is only behaving as women have from time immemorial.

Now please desist from speaking of such 'conditions'.

Lady Felicia Grandiose

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