Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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November 8, 1996

During these fading days of autumn, when the linden groves of Blandsdown turn golden and drop their fan-like leaves, and when a crisp, melancholy chill bites through the smoky air, one likes to sit in one's library and contemplate one's nature. And, as usual, one has come to the conclusion that one is a demned fine figure of a fellow.

Picture: Is The Lad Merely Thick, Or Is There A Bean In His Ear?For example, one is remarkably patient and kind with one's secretary. One's readers (and, if one has not mentioned it before, one has heard from a most authoritative authority that one's readers are so numerous that if they were each a tiny Pebble of Good Intention, the road to Hell would be twice as broad as it is long) well know the troubles one has had with the lad. Oh yes. The falsification of his credentials (as if there could be a College of William and Myra, and as if they would allow such a dull-witted clod to matriculate!), the many small deceits, the constant schemes to ingratiate himself with the wanton, leather-clad, brazen huzzies of that heavy metal rock 'n' roll (and one's readers know the effort of condescension it takes to discuss anything 'n' anything else) gypsy troupe known as ABBA. And oh! The vapid absence of anything remotely passing for intelligence in his glazed, hangdog expression! Why, a newt has more poise.

And yet one allows him to remain in one's employ. Why? Because one is a kind man, a patient soul, a good Christian. And because the lad works well enough when under constant, armed supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap.

This very week, for example, one was furiously working on a revision of one's masterwork, the epic poem known simply as Baronet!, from which one quoted last week. Like the true artist, one is never satisfied with one's creation until it has arrived at a state of true perfection. Every nuance, every metaphor, every rhyme, every scansion--all must be just right. But it occurred to one that perhaps the 12-line excerpt one had prepared for the competition sponsored by the Absolutely Fabulous Index of Poetry had one fatal flaw . . . and one is anxious to be recognized far and wide as the Poet Of Our Time that one certainly is. And to win the prize of one thousand pounds, of course, if not one of the lesser prizes of two shillings, sixpence.

So one said to one's secretary, in a kindly, instructive tone, "You! Black-hearted villain! Fetch the post from the tray before it is taken and bring me my entry to the Absolutely Fabulous Index of Poetry! And hurry, you pizzle-brained chimpanzee!" The lad came back some minutes later with a puzzled expression on his face. (One can hear a clamour of readers as they ask, 'But Sir Charles! However can you distinguish it from his usual look of intransigent idiocy?' One replies: It was the confused, hound-like whimpering.) In his hands he bore three identical envelopes, each addressed to the illustrious and exclusive Index.

"What!" one scowled, albeit in a kindly, paternal manner. "What scurvy work have you done, vile demon-spawn!" One instantly snatched the envelopes and tore them open. One, of course, was one's own. But in the second, one found the following, written in a mature, cultured hand:

Dear Absolutely Fabulous Index of Poetry,

One has no idea how your staff discovered my secret love of writing poetry. One is thrilled, thrilled to the very core, however, at last to have one's name (or at least initials, for one shuns publicity) attached to a poem of one's own. For your consideration, I submit the following.

F.G. (
nee W.-M.)

That's my last Baronet, there on the wall
Looking as if he were alive. I call
That work a wonder now, Anita's hands
Worked mightily a day, and there he stands.
See how his face, flushed and florid in oil
Vividly reminds one of his plot, so easily foiled
How he leered down the blouse of Anita, so undefiled
As she sought to capture that lurid lech'rous smile
'Twas a pity that before the canvas even dried
His frantic scrambling in the ha-ha led to feeble cries
Who could have known the bears were out, not hibernating late in spring
And would be quite so peckish, blue-blood flesh eating.
What sadness sometimes fills my heart, when of our early days
One's thoughts turn, then one merely comes, to on this canvas gaze.

Scowling, one turned to the last envelope, which contained a similar penning in a flowing, youthful script. Upon the back was an attempt at a poem, much scratched out, but decipherable as:

Colin, Colin, Burning bright
In the forests of my night
What immortal hand or eye
Could grasp thy masculinity?

Apparently, however, the author thought the better of it (and rightly so!), and penned, on the other side, the following:

I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as . . . me!
My hair, so soft, so very fluffy
My sun-kissed skin is as e'er shall be.
What use are words, I ask surely,
When one is the very essence of beauty?
Every rock, and every tree
Cries out, at the very sight of me
'Stay with us, P-n-l-pe!'
Alas, they can't afford the fee.
Though but ninetieth in line I be,
It's certainly better than ninety-three.

Naturally, one was puzzled. One instantly eliminated the remote possibility that more than one person in this household received the letter of solicitation from the Absolutely Fabulous Index of Poetry. That would be nonsense, for the Index had sought long and hard for one of such unique talents as oneself. Naturally, the only conclusion left was that one's secretary had thought to imitate his better (that is, oneself) and attempt to ride one's exquisitely tailored coattails into poetic posterity with these pathetic attempts at doggerel.

Flattered, one was. Who could not be, by such blatant hero worship? But one had his horsewhipped anyway. Oh, fear not, tender ladies. Commoners do not feel the pain in the same way as do we. 'Tis good for them, really. But then, one is the sort of man, caring, giving man who is always keeping a steady eye upon his staff. And upon his silver.

Feeling somewhat self-congratulatory, one remains for yet another week,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: You Made Such A Pretty Mess On My Dress

Stained write:

Dear Sir Charles,

I'm having a delicate problem with my intended. During our love-making, he's a bit . . . precipitate, if you know what I mean. And he usually precipitates all over my skirt. The stains are costing me a fortune, and it's not really the sort of thing you can take to have Martinized without a lot of embarrassing questions. Do you know of a way I can keep him from getting over-excited too quickly?

Stained in Southampton

Sir Charles replies:

Poor girl,

Many, many men suffer from the very same problem, one assures you. Why, one is not too proud to mention that in one's youth, one also endured the self-same malady. Oh yes! One would be with a young lady, trembling in her accepting, trusting presence. Then with a loud gasp, one would lose control, and the anticipating Lady would be covered with the stuff from head to foot.

One is afraid it was quite embarrassing. And oh, how many potential courtships did it bring to a premature end? But my dear girl, the condition is entirely treatable.

Why, a few solitary sessions with a good book, alone, will produce the desired results. Placed firmly atop the head, your beau can walk about the room with it, practicing his balance. Such was the method one learned at Mme. Blavant's School of Remedial Charm and Poise. And in no time at all, he too be able to navigate a room, teacup in hand, without spilling a single drop upon you! Fear not, the lad will soon be adept in social intercourse.

Always happy to share the happy fruits of the Tree of Experience, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Denise writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

This is my first time writing in to you. I just dunno what else to do. I need advice. You see, there is this guy, A, who says that he likes me for two years and now then he start to get in contact with me. I can live with that. And now, there is this friend of his, B, who also says that he likes me. I can live with that. I have to admit that I am used to have guys say that they like me and they wants me. Yuck!

Anyway, A go to know this one girl (I do know her). A likes her too. But he also like me (that is what he tells me). Then B ask A one day, who he choose, me or that girl. A tells me that because of friends, he gotta say he choose the girl. Meaning he let me go. But when i ask him, "Does that mean you let me go?" He answered me back, "My mouth says that but my heart doesn't want to."

So i think this is not a triangle but a rectangle. A like me and the girl, B like me, to everyone I am A's sister (not real).

I hope you do understand what I am saying here. Because I always knew my letter writing is not that good.


Sir Charles replies:

Dear Denise,

To know oneself, as they say, is divine.

Thank goodness one has an elegant solution to the problem at hand. A solution for the rest of us, that is. One suggests, dear Denise, my fine incestuous minx, that you gather Mr. A. and Mr. B . . . and in the spirit of Christian charity, why not 'the girl' as well? . . . for a little party in the kitchen of your cold water third story walk-up flat. At this time of year, Denise, the weather will no doubt be a bit chilly out. So be sure to stuff any draughty cracks with some rags, my dear. Then once you are all assembled, open the door to your cooker, snuff out the pilot light, and turn on the gas. And leave it on. There's a good girl.

With a hearty 'Yuck!' of one's own, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: Three, Three, Three Tenors In One

Josh writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

You seem the only person I can turn to in a time of grievous need. You are, after all, a baronet, and understand the Finer Things.

At the opera, this past week, I was enraptured by the vocal gyrations of the leading mezzo when my neighbour joggled my arm and my opera glasses flew upwards. Naturally, I was set to issue a stern reprimand when I noticed that across the top of the proscenium, the management had installed an electronic gizmo. It was displaying the libretto, in translation!

Sir Charles, you and I both know that Opera isn't supposed to be easy. What, I ask, is the point if some average Joe from the streets can walk in and understand what's going on?

I beg you to write to the owners of this establishment and give them what-for.

Tutti fan

Sir Charles replies:

Dear Tutti Frutti, or whatever you're calling yourself,

Goodness gracious, what is the opera coming to? When one was a lad, one went to the Palais du Opera in order to observe who was in the other reserved boxes, and with whom, and to pass the time amiably chatting while eating bonbons. All while some tiresome stage-greased spear carriers caterwauled in the background. Don't tell one they're actually requiring people to pay attention, these days.

To paraphrase a popular American phrase: Ingest a small lozenge of unspecified medicinal purposes.

Con brio, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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