Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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December 6, 1996

The memory is as crystal: A late November morn. The baying of the hounds. One's breath billowing as fog in the crisp, cold air. The final approach to the fox--the deed is done! The fox's brush is brandished, and one is blooded. One is baptised into the ancient British sport of the fox hunt!

Yes, how one remembers one's hunt. And every autumn since the first, how one's soul has stirred with every blare of the hunting horn, and how one's blood has thrilled when the first "Talleyho and view halloo!" is called as the fox is released from its culvert.

But one is aware that one's readers, though legion, are perhaps not well-bred enough to be familiar with this King of Sports. One suspects that they are more likely to be familiar with the scent of fried Chee-toes in front of the telly while watching the football match, than they would be with the invigorating scent of mulled wine before the host's manor the day of the hunt. But one's mission, in this venue, is not to scorn, but to inform. So one will explain that fox hunting is a sport that requires the utmost of concentration, a toned and muscular form, speed, agility, wits, and intelligence. Let one give an example of a typical hunt.

Picture: Yoicks! And Away!The scene: Hartsford Hall, in the nearby village of Little Bumpford. The Lady Felicia gaily exchanges banter with Lord Frost of Locksley-Charmes (whose lovely wife, the American lass known as Tiffany, Lady Frost, has been forbidden to ride a-horseback ever since the incident involving Eunice, Duchess of Crabbe, the mount known as 'Frisky Bottoms by Way of Tiddly Winks,' and a certain irreplaceable seventeenth century door with the original French glass). Young Penelope Windsor-Smythe frolics with the stable hands in her oh so innocent manner. And oneself? Why, one is indulging in the hot mulled wine served outside on this frigid morning, glad for the warmth. One has seven or eight hearty cups of the stuff, for thorough warming.

The horn sounds! Yoicks! And away! One masterfully leaps astride one's hunting mount. One's riding form is admired by many. Even among the gentry, few have seen such an erection on horseback.

For a few moments, all is confusion. One is amidst a pack of baying, yapping hounds, and before one is swept away in the mad rush, one espies the Lady Felicia at the other end of the field with Lord Frost, and young Penelope Windsor-Smythe riding in the direction of the stables. (Although she is ninetieth in line for the throne, the equine species are remarkably slow in kenning that one of her stature will not tolerate a horse who takes a wrong turn.)

And then, the countryside. One rides, one rides, one jumps over the hedgerows when one cannot avoid it. Ah, but here is that charming little wayside inn where they serve the delicious pork scratchings. One dismounts. One ventures inside.

Several minutes and a few stouts later, one emerges. The hunt! One leaps astride the mount, digs one's heels in its flanks and is once again off! One rides, one rides, one fords through a small stream. Ah, but here is that sweet little country tearoom much admired by the tourists. One dismounts. One ventures inside.

A few hearty jokes and several tumblersful of whiskey later, one emerges. The hunt! One leaps astride the mount, slaps one's riding crop against its rump, and one is once again off! One rides, one rides, one is only slightly dusty when a branch fells one. But hist! One hears the cries of a damsel in distress! One dismounts. One ventures up to the lass.

"Fear not, my wench!" one says as one seizes her around the heaving bosom. "Danger shall not allay."
"What in hell are you doing!" cries she.
"I heard your cries of distress," says one.
"I was singing...."
"And saw you wrestling with an assailant!" one finishes triumphantly.
The wench glares saucily. "I was 'anging me Johnny's long johns on the line."
"Your thanks overwhelm me," one says to the simple child. "Here, one will take a simple kiss as thanks."
"Oy! Your 'orse is chewing me clean knickers!"

One's jaw is not irreparably damaged by the girl's fist. But the hunt! One leaps astride the mount, and rides, and rides . . . but hunting is thirsty work. One takes a short break to sip from one's hip flask.

When one at last stumbles home to Blandsdown, one notes that one's cheeks and nose have a ruddy glow. Who can dispute this proof of the salutatory effects of good sport and pure, clean country air? A most successful hunt indeed! One rode nearly three whole miles, that day! Why, one feels so healthy that one surely need not exercise for several months, after this.

Oh, the fox? One thinks the readers are missing the point. Half the fun of the hunt is making a good mess of the properties of one's neighbours. One is not sure that one would even know what a fox looked like, after all these years.

With a cheerful 'Tallyho!', one remains for yet another week,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: Nah, Nah, Boo, Boo

Lee writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

Forgive me for being frank, sir: You're bonkers!


Sir Charles replies:

Unwashed Heathen:

One is somewhat like an elastic substance (whether man-made or naturally-occuring is of no import) that, when it meets an opposing force, absorbs it and, in some cases, even bounces it away. The correspondent, on the other hand, may be compared to a viscous mucilage of dubious origin. Whatever observations the correspondent might fling towards oneself, in the overrated name of 'frankness,' rebound from oneself and adhere to the correspondent.

Having adequately expressed one's sentiments in the patois of the simple folk, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Nick writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

I have this crush on this girl. she doesn't even knoww i exist. she has a whole bunch of boyfriends. How am i supposed to talk to her without ruining my rep. please help me.


Sir Charles replies:


Ah, the classic tale. Illiterate boy lusts after bovine female, who is obviously in the advanced throes of severe estrus. Illiterate boy puts wax crayon to paper to pen a truly pathetic note of woe to marvelously talented and well respected baronet cum agony columnist, expecting the baronet to say something along the lines of, "Tell her, young man. Tell her of your dreams of an early pregnancy, the birth of several babies who surely are the flotziest of the flotsam adrift on the gene pool, a job bagging groceries in the local supermarket, and perhaps, just perhaps, a tender, drooling decline in your autumn years holding hands in a home for those afflicted with Alzheimer's. Tell her, and she will come to you!" Baronet proceeds to slam correspondent in print.

One believes the poet Milton wrote an epic on such a theme. If not, he should have.

Having rather enjoyed that, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: Not At All Like One's Own Mother, Who Kept One In The Nursery Until One Was Fifteen

Worried Parent writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

Although I can never aspire to the lofty pinnacles upon which you perch, like Patience on a monument, sneering at the nouveaux riches, I, like you, am aspiring for a better level of life than can be found on the television tube and in popular recordings. To put it bluntly, I'm the mother of a young child and would prefer that the scion of my house not be exposed to off-color language.

But it's so hard, my good sir. Just last week, during a short jaunt on the subway, his smallish ears were exposed to the Brown word, the Eff word, a multitude of ethnic slurs, and a rather vivid description of what one gentleman planned to do to a kindly old lady who accidentally stepped upon his toe. I'm not certain his suggestion was anatomically possible, but the image lingered for days.

How can I protect my son from adding these words to his vocabulary? It's not that I object to their use, per se, but I find them unimaginative and lazy. Moving to an isolated country estate is not an option, by the way.

Worried Parent

Sir Charles replies:


One sympathizes, one assures you. Why, just last month the Lady Felicia was forced to endure the presence of a workman who said no less than three times the 'b' word that rhymes with 'hugger'. It took several minutes to revive her.

Apparently, madame, such words are easier to say than a more evocative phrase connotative of one's frustrations. Why, when one bangs one's thumb with a spanner (a highly unlikely scenario, one grants, but let us assume for a moment that one actually knows what a spanner might be), does one yell the first curse word that comes into one's head? No! One cries, "Great sparks from the wheels of Apollo's chariot, but one has given oneself a massive blister that shall smart for some time to come!" When one must scale down the trellis in order to evade Inland Revenue, does one mouth infantile oaths involving Our Lord or Our Mother? Gracious, no. One allows a more fruity phrase to drop from one's foaming mouth--something along the classic lines of "By gum! Would but those devilish pursuers drop down a convenient ha-ha!"

However, madame, given that the vast majority of the world prefers short, not-so-sweet, vile euphemisms with which to pepper their language, one suggests that you invest in a number of thick balaclavas for your child. Pulled firmly over the ears all the year round, they may help to muffle any undesirable speech. Do leave holes for the nose, though. One lost a cousin that way, once.

Sympathetically, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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