Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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September 20, 1996

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.

When one placed the above advertisement in the Times this past week, one had little idea of the outpouring and clamour it would arouse in the breasts of one's readers (who, one has it upon the greatest of authorities, are so many in number that were they all to take a single fallen autumn's leaf and toss it upon the Labour Party headquarters, it would be totally buried and not quite the vicious blot upon the cityscape it is currently). In short, although one intends to keep the advertisement current for a few more weeks, so that more prospective minions might apply, should they wish, one expects one's cadre of highly qualified minions to be filled quite soon.

Of course, not everyone seems to understand the concept of minionhood. Let us examine this missive from a typical (need one say American?) reader:

Dear Sir Charles,

I know you Limeys have funny spellings and words. Like, you're always sticking U in everything. Flavour. Colour. Succour. You know. Seems pretty pretentious to me, but hey, what do I know?

Anyway, I'm hoping that 'minion' is one of those weird spellings, because I've got a Dodge Caravan I'm trying to get rid of. It's a pretty cool minivan and it's only got about 80,000 miles on it. I don't know what that is in kilometers or whatever the hell you toffee-nosed stuck up Masterpiece Theater types call them nowadays, but I'm telling you, it's a steal at fourteen thou. Good old American dollars from the U.S. of A, that is. (Cash only.)

Keep cool,
Brian Hedgeforth, San Clemente, CA

Well, Brian, let us just take a moment to note that one is making the wild supposition that you, sir, seem to have been educated among the wolves, and therefore your idea of high culture is most likely an evening of scratching your belly with your hind legs, rolling in dust, and licking at your Netherlands. It would seem rather vile to oneself, but hey, what does one know?

And now let us turn our attention to a more promising candidate.

Picture: A Minion in the MakingDear Sir Charles:

Being one of your regular readers (so vast in number that should we all consecutively call Camilla, each call lasting five seconds, poor Prince Charles would not be able to telephone her for a millennium), I became aware you are in the market for several minions.

Please be advised I have been a secretary for many years and am accustomed to being a companion, if you will, for one executive; in my capacity, I have done everything from word processing his correspondence to picking out his wife's birthday card (the date of which usually escaped his attention).

Albeit living in the United States, I would love to settle into Blandsdown. I have come to know Blandsdown through your column as well as your lovely family.

Please consider me for a position as one of your minions.

Hoping to hear from you directly, I remain,
Miss L. Kinney

Ah! What could be more well-written? What could better combine the minion-like qualities of abject flattery with absolute servility? Miss Kinney, one has appointed you 'Chief Minion' and reserved for you a bedsitting room in the attic of the servants' wing. A stiff draught keeps that particular floor of the house bracing and invigorating, particularly during the chill winter months (for naturally, one requires one's minions to be at full attention at all times, night and day).

And finally, let us examine a kind offer from an agency specializing in such things:

Dear C.G. of Blandsdown--

Couldn't help but notice your ad in the papers--perhaps my organization can help. We offer a wide variety of minion-like personnel for everyone, from the ascending urbanite to the quaint rural landholder. MFS associates are drawn from the throngs of overqualified, overeducated, underappreciated college graduates from liberal arts institutions on both sides of the Atlantic. All associates go through our two-week intensive study program emphasizing such skills as servility, grovelling, and bootlicking.

Looking at my records, I'm afraid to report that we don't have any minions available at the moment, per se. But I encourage you to peruse the enclosed brochure. We have a wide variety of henchmen, peons, and lackeys that may suit your fancy.

Sidney Biggleston,
Modern Follower Services, Inc.

Mr. Biggleston, one is most stunned by your kind offer. But tempted as one is by the bootlicking, one fears one cannot settle for peons or lackeys. And one already has a henchman or two (seven, to be precise). No, one must hold out for minions. When one expects a Yorkshire pudding, does one accept bubble and squeak? No. When one expects the rich harmonies of Purcell, does one settle for some Frenchie like Mozart? Indeed not. Minions one requested, and minions one shall have!

Grateful for the offer, however, one remains for yet another week,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: Muling, But Happily Not Puking

Lord Musgrave Beckham writes:

Dear Sir Charles:

My wife is--how shall delicately put this?--with child, and we disagree on certain issues once our issue issues forth, as it were.

My wife, the Lady Heather Ashley Nicole, is originally from the colonies and has had, I regret to admit, a rather liberal up-bringing in which certain radical behavior was not only permitted, but encouraged. Consequently, she believes that once the soon-to-be born infant is in our midst, it will be kept in the same room with us, will be allowed both at the dining table and in the drawing room where it will be forced upon our guests for their admiration, and will be attired in what she calls "cute little outfits" rather than proper and traditional swaddling clothes. I find the presence of a puking, muling--and need I say leaking?--infant in our midst rather revolting.

It is my opinion that, immediately following the birth, the child shall be given over to the care of a competent nanny and ensconced in a fourth floor nursery where its demands will have little interruption upon the running of a household until such time as it is old enough to be packed off to boarding school. After it has distinguished itself at a respectable university, it will be welcomed into the family fold to take its rightful place.

I have been willing to compromise with Lady Heather Ashley Nicole and purchase her a spaniel if she feels the need to sloppily lavish attention on a small self-centered creature, but not only does she persist in her unreasonable beliefs, she has the audacity to dismiss generations of child-rearing tradition as "poppycock." Tell me, Sir Charles, am I being unreasonable? And what does she mean when she tells me to "get with it"?

Lord Musgrave Beckham

Sir Charles replies:

Dear 'Boogs,'

Old bean, you have not plumbed the worst of it yet. Although everything you have said is the truth, one fears you have not even taken into consideration that most vile of substances born with every newborn infant. . . . The perfidious, insidious artificial life form with a mind of its own and the soulless hunger of a raptor. Yes, one refers to nothing other than (and one shudders to utter the word) velcro.

One noticed, but was too much the gentleman to comment, that the cherub who was brought for a visit by the somewhat scatterbrained Lady Weeble-Able-Smythe was shod in 'sneakies' with velcro 'ties'. What, one asks, could possibly be wrong with Doctor Podagra's Orthopedic Slippers? Were they not good enough for legions of well-bred infants in the Grandiose clan? Did not their sensible soles and stiff, pearly white leather uppers hint at the privileges to come?

And, one supposes, this vile 'innovation' will encourage children to fasten their own footwear. What will become of Nanny, Nurse, and the Infant Valet? Next, one wonders, will 'innovators' be introducing knot-less cravats? It will be a sad, sad day indeed, the day a Peer of the Realm no longer needs to know the proper way to fasten a Four-In-Hand, or a Double Windsor. Mark one's words!

One sighs. 'Tis a far cry from our days at Exeter, is it not, old 'Boogs'?

Innovation-free, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Danny writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

My problem is I am trying to get this girl to like me what is your best (as always) advice?

Danny in Duluth

Sir Charles replies:


Normally one would suggest those things that a Lady would cherish. A bouquet of posies, plucked at dawn, and proferred with a shy smile and a gentle compliment at the annual Midsummer's Morning Melon Madness Champagne Breakfast. A pressing of the hand, beneath the moon, in the grape arbor. Why, even letting the young lady win at croquet!

However, considering the obvious social class (or lack thereof) of the correspondent, one instead suggests rubbing a meat pie over your body and catching the poor huzzy between meals.

Dismissively, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Aloycius writes:

Picture: Tyger Tyger, Burning Bright, Your Skin Fits this Parlour Oh So RightDear Sir Charles,

Like you, I was once a shallow and needy man, letting my lusts and desires and my silly need for fame and recognition rule my life. I had amassed Mammon beyond the wildest dreams of most, had an enviable staff of servants, and my name appeared in the society columns no less than three times a month.

Yet one day in late summer, I walked out of my office and looked up at the sky, which was a brilliant blue for the ugly urban interior, and saw the branches of the city trees waving in the bright sunshine, and my heart leapt up. Like to the poet Wordsworth, the sweet wind breathed inspiration into my heart. My soul gladdened, and I woke, like a babe, for the first time, to greet the afternoon.

I have shed my heavy caterpillar's dross, to alight like the butterfly. Gone is the mansion. Gone is the Bentley. Gone is the bank account, distributed to needy charities throughout Britain. And now I live alone, in touch with the wild wolf within, at one with my iron man, in a small hut in Yorkshire, where I eat by the labour of my own hands, warm myself by a fire I have chopped with my raw animal strength, and wear the clothing of my friends, the animals.

Consider, Sir Charles. Title, fortune, and fame . . . or happiness, living off the land.

Only trying to help,
Thumping Beaver (formerly Aloycius St. Belvedere)

Sir Charles replies:

O Thumping One,

Like you, one was once an idiot with an empty space my skull so hollow and resounding that when whispered into, the echo lasted a full forty minutes. No, upon second thought, one never was.

Like you, sir, one was once, as those who employ the tongue known as the vernacular would state, 'full of it.' No, that was not one either.

To put it simply, then, one is totally unlike the correspondent in every way, and furthermore, if the good Lord had intended one to live in a hut covered in squirrel skins eating raw onions and using dried leaves for handkerchiefs (or worse) while using a tortoise shell to bathe in, once a month, he would not have given one exquisite breeding and an one hundred and thirty-two place setting of the finest silver, would he have?

Feeling the need for a disinfectant, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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