Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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8 March, 1996

One's readers (who would appear to multiply weekly with the rapidity of hares, though quite without any associated unseemly animal couplings) have written by the score upon hearing news of the Great British Fish Scare that would appear to be decimating the ranks of the Royal Family. Tragic, is it not? However, one's readers should be relieved to know that young Penelope Windsor-Smythe has been spared from the gastric turmoil that leads to a certain demise, through a natural disinclination for fruits de mer. (One has made certain, however, that the Lady Felicia's mother, old 'Gusty', has had turbot on her dinner trays every evening for the past week.)

One feels, however, that one must backtrack. Poor young Penelope Windsor-Smythe, who last week at this time was seventy-ninth in line for the throne of the British Empire after the untimely deaths of several distant relatives after they ingested several 'fish 'n' chip' dinners that proved to be slightly off, again this week found herself addressing no less than nine black-edged cards of sympathy. One imparted to her the news of the latest rash of deaths very gently. Both the Lady Felicia and oneself were there to comfort the distraught lass, then, when she burst into tears (she is a sensitive soul!) and threw herself against the Lady Felicia's bosom (noble bosom!) with the anguished cry of "But I just ordered two thousand calling cards saying '79th in succession' printed on a lovely cream vellum that the engravers have run out of and now they'll just go to waste!" Oh, the horror! The horror! One tries to protect youth from such things (especially when the youth in question is now seventieth in line for the throne of the British Empire), but sooner or later, one maintains, they must face facts, and learn to settle for a linen parchment (which hold the ink better).

So concerned was one over last week's hub-bub surrounding the Great British Fish Scare that this week, during one's visit to Bolgy's Fish 'N' Chip Shop, one made an inquiry into the freshness of the fish accompanying the ''n' chips.' One was assured that for a customer paying as much as one paid, the fish was of the finest and freshest stock. Pleased with this assertion, one left one's weekly sum for one's genealogical researcher, The Blade, and proceeded to play the guessing game by which last week one won free fish dinners. One's readers no doubt are wondering if one was as 'lucky' as last week. One was! One named nine numbers between twenty and seventy-eight and won no less than three fish dinners! One immediately took one's spoils and relayed them to the dressing room of that exquisite chanteuse, Miss Anita Manceau-Baddeley (who, curiously, though she has the graces and figure of a slender woman, possesses the appetites of several hungry men).

So pleased are we that young Penelope Windsor-Smythe has risen in rank to seventieth in succession--even before 'The Blade' has presented to us the results of his investigations into the spurious bloodlines of her relatives!--that we have planned a ball in her honour to be held upon. . . .

Ah, one was interrupted. The Lady Felicia informs one that several burly officers of Scotland Yard have requested one's presence in the library. Neither of us can quite think why. One has instructed one's butler to inform them that one will be down presently, as soon as one has dispensed with one's literary duties. One expects they are requesting one's expert assistance in solving some crime or another. These low constable types are so dependent upon their betters.

Pleased with oneself, as ever, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: Voted Labour--Note the Hang-Dog Expression

Bamboozled writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

While deep in contemplation of the latest blooms of orchids, planted (by the apprentice household engineers, of course) in the sun room of the East Wing, Hudson, one's manservant, disturbed me with news that extremely rude visitors were at the door.

Not expecting anyone for tea I could not fathom who or what these might be. I had Hudson show them into the hunt room while I donned the proper attire to convey my disapproval for their failure to make an appointment in advance. When I came down to meet them I was surprised to find three gentlemen who were not suitably in awe of the generations of trophies and mounted heads from generations of the family's sport. In fact, these three seemed unaccountably aggressive in their manner.

The sternest of the three, identifying himself as "Officer Harcourt" placed certain papers in my hands (not realizing that Hudson accepts all deliveries and correspondence) and then directed poor Hudson to open the doors to the garage. The other two louts then seized keys from the chauffeur's office and drove away with the newest Bentley and the Mercedes received as a gift from the representative of a German armaments firm. I had never seen such blatant skullduggery, yet these ruffians seem to have some form of law behind them.

Knowing of your vast experience in dealing with and correcting the uncouth manners of the masses I thought you might be able to explain the meaning of the term "unpaid back taxes". If I could come to grips (figuratively speaking, of course) with this perhaps I can recover the Mercedes before Baron Gunther arrives for cocktails on Tuesday next.

Bamboozled in Banff

Sir Charles replies:

My good sir,

One is always distressed when a member of the gentry meets with such harsh treatment at the grubby, toffee-sticky hands of those who most likely vote Labour. Why, one's butler has just interrupted one's reading to inform one that the officers downstairs--how startlingly similar are our situations, in that respect!--have become quite impatient and have begun to question the servants about one's whereabouts during the past fortnight. Perhaps they are not officers, but 'reporters' from RoyaltyWatch! magazine in disguise.

One has often found, in a sticky situation, that a word whispered in the ear of the wise (if the correspondent knows what one means) eases the gears turning the wheels of justice much more efficiently that a pot of the finest goat grease. Why, if the correspondent's solicitor were to drop the spare key to the Bentley upon the desk of but one of the justiciars upon the list one has enclosed under separate cover ('twouldn't do to have them get out to the rabble, old bean, would it now?), one would certainly predict a speedy return of the Bentley and a handsome note of apology within the week.

And to think some cowering individuals avoid the Inland Revenue officers by spending most of the year abroad.

Happy to remain in this green and pleasant land, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Chatsy writes:

My Lord,

I wanted to thank you again for sending me to Ms. Mabel for 'polishing'. She has taught me many things: diction, fashion, and most importantly, the true usage of those darling bonbons you send so regularly! (My Lord, you should never have been so shy . . . it saddens me to know that you would not share so delicate a desire even with me!--I am not your priggish Lady, My Lord and would have enjoyed such tantalizing tastes!)

I have only one complaint my Lord. . . I hesitate to question your unquestionably good taste and judgement (I being still only a commoner with no noble heritage and relying completely on your compassion and generousity!), but I am considerably distressed by the infrequency of your visits! I had thought the tasteful decor of my small cottage (not far from the walk near your carriage house) would lure you here more often . . . I have even managed to acquire those wonderful spittoons your vengeful wife removed from your possession.

As well you know, it is my greatest desire in life to please you in all ways . . . My heart races beneath my heaving busom in abject misery to think I may have earned your displeasure in some manner. Please return my correspondence, that I may once again know that your noble affections remain mine.

Adoringly yours,
Chatsy LaFleur

Sir Charles replies:

Vile, vainglorious vixen!

'Tis fortunate that one is so securely settled in the environs surrounding Fishampton that nary a breath of scandal could stir the grasses of the Blandsdown estate. For when the correspondent moved from her hovel in Beecher Mews into Dove Cottage, claiming a freehold on the property, one knew--yes, knew with a certainty!--that this sort of letter was shortly to follow.

One must insist upon knowing who thought to set you up in such a manner, for certainly the correspondent could not have afforded even train fare from Paddington Station to Fishampton, much less the whole of Dove Cottage. Was it Sir Frost of Locksley-Charmes? Was it another who envied one's wealth, rank, and station (for there are many, one is certain!)? Whoever the villain, one will not fall for this obvious plot for entrapment!

With rancour, one remains
Sir Charles Grandiose

Postscript: All of the spittoons, did the correspondent say? Even the twenty-third?

Picture: Hair Cut Physiologically

Thinning writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

From one who is no longer a spring chicken to another, what is the best cure for slight thinning of the covering on one's top?


Sir Charles replies:


One gathers that the correspondent refers not to the wear placed on his felt cap, but to the problem of thinning locks. One is not so vain and self-concerned that one has worried with the issue before. Oh no. One is not thinning. One merely has baby-fine hair.

One did, however, have a 'friend' once, a baronet of irreproachable wealth and station--ah, let us call him 'Sir Chumley'--who one day, upon returning from a stroll in Beecher Mews, examined his undisputably handsome though aging reflection in a brass spittoon and discovered, to his abject horror, a slight (yet distinguished) gleaming to his cranium that even a hasty combing of his tresses across the offending areas could not conceal.

Images of horror floated through one's--that is, Sir Chumley's imagination. Would his wife of some decades, the Lady Phyllis, leave him for the leering yet undeniably magnetic Lord Frosh of Lucky-Chimps? Would his young ward, a lovely innocent young creature not at all in succession for the throne of the British empire, tease her 'Papa' about his gleaming pate? Sir Chumley immediately set about seeking a solution to the problem, from the patent medicine of Schnipp's Artistic Tonsorial Saloon's Guaranteed Mustard Plasters (with Follicle Stimulating Royal Herbs), to the soothing fingers of Miss Eugenie (a certified Massage Therapist), to the psychic powers of Mme. Freesia (ectoplasm, when applied liberally to the scalp, is supposed to produce vigorous tufts of growth). All to no avail.

And what did Sir Chumley do, when thwarted by even the most ambitious and promising of therapies? Why, he did nothing. He might have lost some of his baby-fine hair, but he still had his title. And a title always ensures that others bow and scrape to him--exposing their own heads in an undignified manner--and not the reverse. If the correspondent has not even a knighthood to use to this advantage, one recommends a sturdy bowler. The spray-on canisters of hair tend to make one resemble a coconut.

Somewhat loathe to compare oneself to fowl of any sort, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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