Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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November 15, 1996

For a fortnight, one had been expecting a certain letter. A letter from one's friend Gilly Madsen, an old school chum unfortunate enough to have to work for a living as a physician. Daily, one's servants brought in the post upon a silver platter, and one would look through the various missives. A letter from one's Mater, in the asylu . . . er, that is, in her private country cottage. Several crayon-scrawled missives from one's readers in the States. An assurance that I 'may have already won' a prize of two hundred and fifty pounds. Another letter of dubious prurient content from 'Hearthwarmer in Hampshire.'

At last, this week, it came! One opened it with trembling, anxious fingers.

Dear Chas.,

I'm sure you're anxious to hear the results of your blood tests. Don't worry, old bean, I made sure the laboratories got an alias. Wouldn't do to have this kind of thing leak to the tabloids, would it? Many sorries for the delay. You'd understand why if you saw the match between our old school and Eton. Gormsley threw a. . . .

One will spare one's readers from the three-page tedium of the rest of the letter, overinvolved as it was with the minutiae of the latest cricket matches. One was most angered, however, that Gilly did not respect one enough to exclude these digressions from his self-indulgent narrative. After all, one was expecting a simple answer of 'nega. . . .' that is, one wanted an answer, not a cricket saga.

Digressions! How one abhors them. As the author a weekly column seen by--and one should be modest here--mere millions, one has learned that in order to retain an audience and to keep them vitally interested in what one has to say, one must be simple, direct, and avoid any hint of digression! None of this personal chatter about cricket and the old school days at St. Barnaby's School for Willful Yet Privileged Boys. At least, one thinks it was at St. Barnaby's that one met Gilly. It may have been The Wildmoore Retreat for Intellectually Challenged Youth. One finds that with age, the memory begins to fade. And those several dozen schools one attended as a lad were all very much the same, in the end. Porridge for brekkers, polishing the boots of the boys in the upper classes, jolly pranks on the proctors. Then Pater would get a trunk call from the Headmaster and off one would go, one's ear in Pater's firm grasp, to another establishment. What happy, carefree days.

Digressions! Why, they are the very symptom of a mind so diseased, so cluttered, so void of self-discipline that it cannot, will not, and never shall. . . . One hopes that one did not leave one's readers with the impression that one has shut one's mother in an asylum, above. Such would be far from the truth. The dear old lady is allowed to do whatever she wishes, from knitting to indulging in quaint chats with her fellow inmates, to watching the telly, so long as it can be done in the confines of her room and as long as nothing can damage the rubber-coated walls. Why, one received a lovely balaclava of pink worsted from her just last month. It blazed beautifully in the library fire.

Picture: A Lass And Her Manly DefenderDigressions! In the yellow parlour just this morning one was saying to one's lady wife, Felicia, "My dear spouse, do you not think that digressions are the very bane of civilized conversation?" One waited several moments in suspense for a reply, until one noticed that the Lady Felicia was critically gazing at herself sideways in the mirror. "My husband," she said at last, smoothing down the fabric on her abdomen. "Does one look fat to you?" One regarded her thoughtfully. "Not at all, my dear," one said at last. "That stomach pumping after Colonel Jambly's Annual Memoirs of the Raj Chutney Parade did you a world of good." The Lady Felicia bit her lip and ran from the room shortly thereafter, so one never received an answer to one's question.

Digressions! Why, one is reminded of a 'joke' one heard from Lord Frost of Locksley-Charmes this past week. A garlicky Frenchman, a stout drunken Irishman, and a 't-shirt' wearing American were trapped in a rowboat with a bottle of vinegar, a rosary, and a packet of Baywatch playing cards. There was more to it, but one has quite forgotten the . . . ah, it wasn't either St. Barnaby's or Wildmoore that one met old Gilly. It was at the Gloucester Experimental College for Kiddies. The infamous Guy Fawkes 'Bedchamber Bonfire Blast.' One never did understand what all the fuss was about. The sheep was not irreparably damaged, after all.

Digr . . . dash it all. One has just remembered that when one's wife inquires as to the state of her waist, one is obliged instantly to reply, "Wife, your hourglass figure is as shapely as the day you became my blushing bride." Which in the Lady Felicia's case is certainly true. It is just that more than a few of the sands have fallen from the top half of the glass to the bottom, if one's readers understand one's implications. However, one should probably prepare some laudatory statements on her girlish figure and rush to utter them, before she orders the servants to put depilatory in one's hair lotion again. One had a devil of a time with tendrils of hair drifting down one's trouser leg into one's socks, last time.

Always logical, orderly, precise, and to the point, one remains for yet another week,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: Everyone Knows They Bowl

Whymsical writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

It was a lovely late summer evening. The sun was setting in the sky, and the fairies were busy with their paintboxes, daubing the skies with bright reds and oranges. I was with my beloved, St. John St. Clair, and I was so sure he was going to 'pop the question', as it were. We'd been seeing each other for months, and I just knew that there could be no more romantic setting than we encountered that night.

"Oh St. John," I murmured. "Is not this field of violets the loveliest you have seen? I truly believe that violets are the snips that fluttered down from the sky when the angels cut peepholes in the heavens for the dear little stars. And is not the perfume of the wildflowers beautiful? I fancy that when Mother Nature wakes in the mornings, she sprinkles herself with the dew from the flowers so she can smell fresh and green all day. Do you not think, St. John, that the morning fog is Mother Nature's skirt, and every bright droplet of dew is a seed pearl upon it? Oh, St. John, it grows dark. Do you not think that at night an angel walks across the land, singing all children, kittens, and puppies to sleep as they lie snug in their beds? Oh look, St. John. Summer lightning, in the western sky. Do you not think, St. John, that lightning is the laughter of Fairy Queen Mab, when she . . . St. John? St. John?"

Oh, Sir Charles! St. John was nowhere to be seen! And I have not seen him for nigh upon three months! Whatever shall I do?

With tears,
Whymsical in Waughframpton

Sir Charles replies:

Femynyne Torturer:

One suspects poor St. John St. Clair of changing his name and absconding to Bali. One would, oneself, were one within inches of pledging one's troth to a woman such as the correspondent. In fact, all that rot about fairies and puppies and angels and violets has nearly prompted one to issue a puddle of sick upon the parquet floor of one's smoking room.

One must applaud the chap for his initiative, and quick feet.

Still nauseous, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Art Connoisseur writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

Thought I saw you at Sotheby's for the Mitten-Stedman estate liquidation. Eyeing the Michaelangelo prints, weren't you?

As one with an eye for the Old Masters to another, I have a question for you. D'ye think that given the delicacy of egg tempura, investments in the Mannerists are called for, these days? I was thinking of exploring the Dutch school, particularly the lesser known Breugels, for the Hempel gallery has a showing of them planned for '97 and they're sure to become scarce after. Or should I branch out and consider the Pre-Raphaelites? They can be had for a song, you know.

Art Connoisseur

Sir Charles replies:

Ah, art! One is, of course, a connoisseur of les beaux artes oneself. In fact, one has an expansive collection of engravings, and one is constantly inviting appreciative young fillies to view them . . . strangely enough, none accept.

One will disclose a simple secret to you, sir, that should provide you with guidance for future ventures into the world of the Fine Arts. Many self-styled 'experts' will tell you to look for certain names, in establishing your collection. Many will tell you to look for the technique of brushstrokes, or the provenance of the piece. But I, sir, will disclose the secret that has separated the connoisseur from the common dross: The subject's eyes, in a true masterwork, will follow you about the room!

Employing this principle, one has obtained many valuable canvases from a local supplier by the artist Fakeoretto. His paintings--upon velvet, no less!--of sad clowns are simply haunting. Unnerving, even. One intends to invest heavily in the chap, and would be giving less than one's best counsel if one did not advise the correspondent to do the same.

Gazing upon the artists' masterpiece, entitled 'Elvis Forever', one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: A Lass And Her Manly Defender

Denise writes:

Dear Lady Felicia,

I wrote in to your husband a letter last week about my problems deciding between two guys A and B and how they were seeing this girl and how A treat me like his sister (not real) and we in this real live triangle if not rectangle and your husband told me something I did not want to hear namely I should cook for them all. Do you have an answer for me?


The Lady Felicia replies:

Dear Confused Girl,

One is reminded of a dilemma facing every fourth form student at Lady Beatrice's Finishing College for the Frightfully Highborn. Allow one to expound:

Train A leaves Station B at noon, heading N towards Station C. Train D leaves Station C at one o'clock, heading E towards Station F. If Train A is never tardy, and Train D stops three times to pick up first class passengers at Station G, should one send the Rolls to Station H or encourage one's guests, if they are indeed on Trains A and D, to hail a cab assuming that a cab can ferry the guests to the estate before high tea?

A sticky wicket, if ever there was one, and a sure fire way to ensure that no Lady of Quality ever got the notion in her head that she was a mathematician!

Serenely, one remains,
Lady Felicia Grandiose

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