Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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September 13, 1996

One's readers (so vast and numerous a lot that were they all to raid Sarah Ferguson's pantry and carry away an armful each, they would fully deprive the poor girl of her breakfast and luncheon) know that one is a progressive sort of fellow. One is not the sort of baronet to sit about on his haunches, as it were, and let the world pass him by. Although there are many who seem to live in a different era--faugh! A different century altogether! (One will not name names, but rumour has it that Eunice, the Duchess of Crabbe, still wears knickers embroidered with the date 1832, though how that particular rumour even started puzzles one, as the niff about her general vicinity keeps anyone but her male nurse at a safe distance of five feet)--one keeps abreast of modern times.

Why, does not one have one's own forum on the World-Wide Wig? And was one not the first in the neighbourhood, a scant three months ago, to discard one's gramophone in favour of the latest technological craze, the electrically-operated long-playing phonograph record in quadrophonic sound? One rests one's case.

It is with this cobweb-free, bold approach that one has been regarding the personal ads of late. One finds in the 'Personals' column of the Illustrated Times such desperate pleas as, "Will the young hussy who winked at me at the crossroads of Billings and Frosh, Thursday last, send this admirer her address at etc.", or "Wanted: Travelling companion for wealthy gentlelady. Must have vaccinations and be tolerant of dog bites. Pay minimal.", or mysterious correspondences such as, "Camilla: Nix on the phone calls. C."

And thus one has placed the following advertisement, strictly anonymous, in this week's edition, to solve a lack that one has long bemused one:

Picture: WANTED: Impressive baronet with impeccable family connections seeks qualified minions. Must be willing to cringe at the stern quirk of an eyebrow, and truckle obsequiously at the slightest encouragement.  Apply to Sir C.G., Blandsdown, near Fishampton.

Yes, readers, one has long wished for minions. One is not precisely certain what they are, but they certainly sound like an impressive thing for a baronet to have, do they not? Oh, one employs servants, certainly. Acres of them. One has a servant for every function of the household. Upstairs maids, downstairs maids, scullery maids, kitchen maids, chamber maids, serving maids, parlour maids, maids in waiting, maidenform brassie . . . ah, one's mind trailed for a moment. One has footmen, a butler, stablehands, a masseuse, a slack-jawed idiot secretary, and a smart little lad who comes in weekly to buff one's bunions. But one has no minions.

"But Sir Charles," one hears one's readers cry. "What use would you have for minions? Did not your father, rest his soul, get along without minions? Did not your father's father do without minions?" (One is, of course, fictionalizing. What one actually hears is the massive stampede of readers' feet as they run to the Dictionary, and a tell-tale mumbling of "M . . . I . . . N. . . .")

True, one replies. But one really only wants minions for social occasions. One wishes to stride into the room, the Lady Felicia on one's right arm, and young Penelope Windsor-Smythe trailing behind (as ninetieth in line for the throne, young Penelope would normally take precedence, but she is so modest and fond of her guardians that she insists we always lead, even at home. One has more than once overheard her comment that she is 'ever so glad to see our backsides leave a room'), with a veritable squadron of minions bringing up the rear. In one's mind's eye, one can hear the comments. "Look!" the other attendees shall say with a collective gasp. "It is Sir Charles Grandiose, and his minions!"

And of course, one has always wished to bark, at one of the young pups who seem to be attracted to young Penelope Windsor-Smythe in public gatherings (she is, as one may have noted before, ninetieth in line for the throne, and therefore blessed with the Royal Complexion, though thankfully not the Royal Teeth), "Hands off, rapscallion, or my minions shall deal with thee!" Indeed, one has been practising that very line in the looking-glass, mornings. And gotten quite good at delivering it, one might add.

If any of one's readers care to tender applications for the position, one will entertain them. Of course, the applicants must be of lower social station (but not too low). References will be required, with a sample of servile and obsequious, yet genuinely felt, writing. The pay, as befits the employment, is minimal, yet those employed for the job will be allowed to accompany one to all the smart Fishampton gatherings. And Colonel Jambly's Annual Memoirs of the Raj Chutney Parade is just around the proverbial corner. . . . As if one's readers could require further enticement!

Hoping to assemble his squadron of minions soon, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: Here She Goes, There She Goes

Hortensia, Lady Frasier writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

Ordinarily I would never pen a letter to an agony column, but you are a nobleman and understand the problems that only the titled and wealthy have. [Note from Sir Charles: Too true, too true!]

In my autumn years (I hesitate to describe them as 'winter' years, though the thick thatch of white hair upon my head belies any aspirations I have to Youth) I have noticed that I require less sleep. Consequently, I am late to bed and early to rise. Very early to rise, I must confess.

However, I am not and never have been the sort of modern woman who attempts to dress herself and conduct her home life without a trusted entourage of servants. My erstwhile favourite chambermaid, Grosvenor, has been protesting strongly at having to put me to bed at one in the morning and then having to bring my breakfast tray at four, and attend on me the rest of the day. I find this sort of sluggardly behavior intolerable, especially when I give her a full day off once every other month. If she desires to sleep, let her do it then.

Do you have similar problems with your help, Sir Charles?

Hortensia, Lady Frasier

Sir Charles replies:

Lady Frasier,

Ah, the age-old question of The Help. It has been ever present on one's mind since that ugly incident several years ago with 'Amnesty International.' (And for the record, one did not 'imprison' the boot-black in that well. His accidental fall down the abandoned shaft with a few crusts of bread was most likely Divine Retribution for his gouging one's third-best hunting boots.)

With the occasional exception, however, one finds that one's relationship with the servants is remarkably trouble-free. One's estate is, of course, by and large the largest single employer in the vicinity of quaint Fishampton. Should the servants 'act up,' one simply dismisses them. Yet thanks to a quaint Fishampton statute (set in place by one's great, great, great, great-grandfather, Chester Grandiose) that states that any Fishampton inhabitant over the age of 14 who is unemployed for more than 24 hours is termed a 'vagrant' and tossed into the quaint village gaol for a duration of 60 days on quaint iron rations, one happily finds that one's servants are willing to do anything one asks to retain their positions.

So desperate to please are most of one's servants that they usually serve one until death. At which point one has the footmen collect the corpse from the stairwell, or the library, or wherever it has dropped, pry the duster from its cold bony hands, check it down for stolen silver, and ship it off to the glue factory.

Assuring Lady Frasier that he is not 'bragging' about his good luck, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Note to 'Amnesty International': One was only joking about the glue factory. Gracious.

Mr. Jones writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

Being related in some form to the present Lord of Llanover, I thought it best to seek advice from a person in high social circles.

My problem is this; I have the gravest misfortune to live in deepest, dankest Southern Wales.

Due to my higher social station, I thought one could somehow offer advice--if any is possible--in educating these ill-mannered oafs and charlatans. Yet such stay-a-bed sluggards want little of work, especially in the local coal mines (which have been entrusted to me by my good friend, Gideon Soames), and scoff at my attempts to encourage billiard games (as opposed to dreadful 'sports' such as 'Rugby' and 'Football') into their meaningless lives.

Can I in any way overcome such cultural delinquency, or should I leave this god-forsaken land to its peasants? One must remember that my family has lived here for almost two hundred years. . . .

Yours in increasing desperation over talk of "tidy car stereos,"
Neil Anthony-Quest Jones
(too far away from England to contemplate. . . .)

Sir Charles replies:

Picture: Coal--Healthy, Pure, and CleanMy dear Sirrah,

A sad, sad day it is indeed, when today's labourers turn up their grotty little noses at a good honest ten-hour day's work in the coal mines beneath the beautiful lands of Wales. Bad working conditions, they say. Our poor lungs!, they cringe. Well, says one, one had to dictate this very column without refreshment, for one's imported shipment of (very expensive) Dutch Foostbruc cheese was delayed by a Dutch Foostbrucker's strike, but did one whine and complain about the harsh conditions? No! One set to, like a man, made do with a ripe Stilton, and did one's bit!

One suspects that the root of the correspondent's problem lies in the fact that the correspondent mingles with the common sort too much. No, it never does do, to try too hard to educate the common rabble. No matter how often one attempts to elevate their minds with talk of Chaucer and Aristootle and such classic Roman dramas as Platypus Rex, they'll soon be sneaking off to their whist drives and cock fights and long-distance spitting contests.

Best to erect a fence around the old homestead, and invest in some electrified cattle-prods. Word to the wise, eh?

Speaking from experience, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

James Bauer writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

I am having problims with my homewerk nd thaught you could help me Do you unnerstand the bollocky albregaic equations be cause all the x and y is killing me how can u find the anser if you dont know what x and y are And why do I care if the train from leicester is goin forty kph and how soon it gits to the station in londun if londun is 250 k away why not look at the bluddy train skedoole stupid basterds It wuld be faster than all the figgering wuldnt it?

james bauer

Sir Charles replies:


One suspects schooling is totally wasted upon you. The time has arrived, my boy, for you to steal that first pair of Doctor Marten's Fortified and Curiously Ugly Boots from some unsuspecting merchant, shave the head, and take up Hooliganism. Though one is not entirely certain whether there are tutors in the fine art of 'Head Stomping', one suspects, Mr. Bauer, that a bit of self-education in this area will suffice.

Either that, or join a sideshow and be billed as 'The Stupidest Man on Earth'. One leaves the decision completely up to you.

Go, my little one. Go! Spread your wings, and fly from the nest!

Pushing the correspondent firmly out, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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