Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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30 December, 1995: Special Year-End Edition

As one is still recovering from the feasts of the week, and the shocking expense of Boxing Day (a shilling apiece for one's servants, or whatever the so-called 'decimated' equivalent is!), one has instructed one's secretary to select the finest and most instructive morsels of one's wisdom from the past year and collect them into a special column.

One senses one's readers (the vast celebrating lot of them) say, "But Sir Charles! A single volume--nay, a vast library!--cannot contain all your wisdom." True, true. However, one trusts that the examples below will satisfy even the dimmest of one's admirers.

One wishes a happy new year to all.

For yet another week one remains,
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: 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

Picture: Toad in the What?

Grossed Out writes:

Dear Sir Charles:

My mom tells me you English people eat different stuff from us. Like blood pudding. That's crazy, dude! And that stuff made of mooshed-up cow guts in oatmeal and onions. And toads! Hand me the Pepto Bismol man! No wonder we kicked your asses in that Evolutionary War thing. Spirit of 1766, man!!

Grossed Out in Grosse Pointe, MI!

Sir Charles replies:

Brain-spavined boy:

There are so many points to address. Where does one begin?

1. Haggis, the 'mooshed up cow guts in oatmeal and onions,' has always been a traditional specialty of Scotland. England has had nothing to do with the concoction. Its origin, however, does not excuse the dish. Nor does it excuse bagpipes, for that matter.

2. The correspondent was close to the target with the phrase 'Evolutionary War'. The overmatched royal armies did not have their 'arses' kicked during this kafuffle; we merely ceded the victory upon realizing that the colonists were better out of the British gene pool.

3. Unless the chip shops have changed practices since one was a lad, there is no actual toad, nor toad byproducts, in the dish toad in the hole.

4. And finally, for those smug in their superior national standards of eating, four words: Processed American Cheese Food.

Certain that one has said enough, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Mulling writes:

Hey, Chuck,

I have this problem, actually we have this problem. Me and my roommate are moving in August and we don't know which one should get what room. One room is a little bigger than the other one I think and it has some windows but the other one doesn't have windows, but it has a sink in it. The big room with windows has a porch or something on it too. So we want to know how we should split up the rooms.

Mulling in Milwaukee

Sir Charles replies:


Do not tease one--a whole sink in the room? With running water? My, the conveniences of the colonies! One almost craves to leave Blandsdown to live in a hovel such as yours, for one only has a porcelain washbasin set in a polished rosewood stand, to which one's servants carry fresh spring water, culled from an artesian well, heated over the kitchen fireplace to the precise temperature of one hundred and fifteen degrees Fahrenheit, and conveyed in a polished silver bowl each morning at the designated time, accompanied by heated towels and a digestive biscuit. Yet how one would leap at the chance to forsake these inconsequentialities for the rugged adventure of a sink brimming with rust-colored cold water, however. Nor can one either forget the mysterious promise of the room with the 'something on it'. Oh no.

One believes that the traditional method of solving problems of this sort is to have both parties jump from a nearby third-story window. The contestant who is able to hobble to the shanty first may claim his choice of room.

Tallyho and view halloo,
Sir Charles Grandiose

And to end the year on a high note, a gentle word from a Gentlewoman.

Picture: Adventures on the East End

Languishing writes:

Dear Lady Felicia,

My dear lady, how does one living in a rather large and squalid city, to attend university, of course, go about meeting a gentleman worthy of my impeccable manners and lineage? I have begun to despair of doing so until I return to the continent.

I anxiously await the gracious favor of your reply.

Languishing in L.A.

The Lady Felicia replies:

My dear Gentle Lady,

Ah, Los Angeles. City of Angels once, but now fallen from grace. (Or so one has been told, having never deigned to visit the dregs left by the gold-hungry outlaws that populate the Americas.)

One has heard that, as in most civilised cities, culture can always be found in the east end. One suggests hiring a hansom cab and asking for conveyance to the very heart of East Los Angeles. Once there, the centers of culture should be readily apparent. One should look only in those art and culture establishments which convey to one instant signs of solidity and refinement.

But one must be persistent. If you must walk up and down the streets, do so! Do not look into the first establishment, but hold out for a gentleman proper. If you find yourself walking about at night, so be it. As darkness descends, a true gentlemen will be sure to offer you assistance.

Lady Felicia Grandiose

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