Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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February 7, 1997

One does not often find oneself in the novel position of begging one's readers to excuse one. Indeed, one finds oneself uncomfortable at the very thought. And one fancies that one's readers (who, Dame Rumour has it, are so many in number that were each a single berry, fresh and dewy on the springtime vines, Sarah Ferguson would have enough jam for life . . . and she spreads her toast rather thickly, one is given to understand) are uncomfortable at the notion, as well. After all, they look to one for consolation, for spiritual nourishment. To them, one is a rock. Firm, hard, and staunch.

Picture: Unscented, DefinitelyBut one must indeed beg one's readers to excuse oneself this week if one does not, in this usual spot, offer the usual pithy, usable, practical advice one normally here dispenses--you know the sort of thing. The proper decoration of the tea table when the Archbishop visits. The origin and lore of the fish slice. And who can forget one's marvellous essay, 'Moustache Wax: Scented or Unscented?' In short, those articles with an immediate impact upon and application for the everyday lives of every single one of one's readers.

No, today one must instead turn to a topic more theoretical. Yes, today one tackles the question of predestination. Now, one is fully aware the word has five parts. We educated persons call them syllabubs. For the benefit of the slower among us, that would mean little chunks. There. That wasn't so hard, for a start, was it?

One started thinking about this concept of predestination when this week a reader, one 'Aquarius in Amsterdam,' thoughtfully sent in one's 'star chart'. One had thought for a moment it was an article from one of those fictional National Geographic magazines from the States (as if people could really live that way, in huts, without three square meals a day and tea!), but young Penelope Windsor-Smythe (and has one mentioned lately that she is ninetieth in line for the throne? It is not a fact one generally bandies about, you know) pointed out, "It is an astroloogical chart, Papa. You're a Leo. See here? It says your head is in Uranus."

Well, one could not discern that fact immediately, nor could one understand all this nonsense about Mars being in quincunx with my moon, or Saturn being in sextile with my Mercury (the very idea!). But Penelope explained it all very simply for one.

Apparently, Virgo is a very very bad planet for one. Virgo, says the chart, makes one foolish and prone to distraction. Obviously, however, the idea is ridiculous. Why, one attended over three dozen of the finest, most exclusive, and most expensive of schools in one's youth. Often for as long as three months at a time! Why, one can still converse extensively on the major British exports for any given year, provided that year is 1938! And as for distraction, why, no man remains more undistractable than oneself! One is reminded of a story from one's youth. One was at school . . . one believes it was The Hartsford Academy for the Academically Challenged . . . no, wait. One never made it past one's first night there, after one accidentally set off squibs in the chemistry lab storage closet. And a good thing it was that their fire insurance premiums was paid in full. No, perhaps it was The Botsford Boarding School for Baronets-to-Be. Yes, one thinks that was the locale of one's entertaining anecdote. What a fine place that was! A pity about the incident with the musket, but. . . . Now, what was one's story? One has quite forgotten. But it is of no import, really. One merely wished to illustrate how undistractable one has been, even as a youth.

And as a 'Leo' (such a vulgar name. One wonders how they named the constellations. Could they not find a cluster of stars that resembled a man of taste and good fortune, and name it, oh, say, 'Charles'?) one is allegedly headstrong, quick to judge, and unswervable when it comes to changing one's mind. To this one can only reply: What rot! One's readers know that one is never judgemental with one's weekly correspondents, unless they happen to be the sort of person who truly deserves to be derided in a public print forum. And it is one's unshakable opinion that there are plenty of those sorts of folk.

No, Miss Aquarius in Amsterdam, one cannot believe in this astroloogical nonsense. The very notion, that one's life is determined by the accidental conjunction of the planets to the stars! Good gracious, no. If one's life and personality is predestined, Miss Aquarius, it is by a higher power. Yes, one unabashedly here speaks of one's faith in this higher power, this guiding force behind the life of every man and woman. It shapes us and molds us unto its own image. It is a source of consolation in a time of sorrow. It is our shepherd, and with it we shall not want. It is our rock in times of strife.

Yes, one speaks of one's breeding. Some of us have it, and some of us, by luck of the genetic draw, do not. As one's insipid secretary is wont to say, Too Bad, So Sad.

Of course, one was left wondering, afterwards, where young Penelope Windsor-Smythe had learned all about heavenly bodies. One supposes they teach it in the schools these days. A strong mind in a feminine body, that is our Penelope. She may be eightieth in line for the throne, but she's certainly no Virgo.

Reveling in that glowing, saintly feeling, one remains for yet another week,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: I See London, I See France

Miss M-----s writes:

Dearest Chuck,

For months now, I have swallowed my pride and taken your constant slander and mockery of both myself and my work. I can stand it no longer, however, and have chosen this time to fire off a return salvo to the very heart of your self-importance . . . your own column.

Claiming yourself to be the self-proclaimed protectorate of manners . . . the very patriot of right behavior! Well, I come to you with a query of my own. It is a question I have asked of you in the past, but let us see if you will choose to answer me differently in front of your readers . . . one must put on a good face for the public, mustn't one?

My situation is as follows. As a youth, I did spend a summer abroad with the thought to further polish the manners I had already displayed at a young age. My patron was 'Sir C------'; so I shall call him for our purposes, for indeed show himself to be nothing less than a gentleman throughout the early summer months. It seems, however, that when summer began to fade to fall, this gentleman's--and I use the term loosely--this gentleman's tawdry affections turned from cricket and lawn bowling to American younglings in the mini-skirts.

Ah yes, some have called that year the 'summer of love,' but it seems that my dear Sir C------ missed the boat on the summer, and tried to sow his oats in the fall, before his twig drooped and the color was gone from his bush. Being the upright young woman I was (and mini-skirts were the fashion, that summer. I've never worn them since!) , I left with only a hastily scribbled note, a picture of my dear purebred bulldog puppy, Lady Bolivar's Rushing Taupe Mists Over The Embankments Chaser of Vixens Through the Hedgerows Champion VII (the cad took sweet 'Bolly' with him, even though I had paid for her and still to this day have her papers pressed between my mattresses), and a scarce sum of a few bills . . . barely enough to get me back to my home.

What would you do in said situation Sir Charles? Do you condemn this man's actions? I am quite curious to see what you have to say, old, old, 'friend'.

Mannerly yours, Miss M-----s

Sir Charles replies:

My dear Miss M-----s,

One would attempt to write a response to this little roman a clef in the guise of a letter, but you see, one keeps falling deeply asleep over the complimentary copy of your latest book that you sent me. Let's see, what was it called? Miss M-----s Saves the Universe, or some such twaddle? Gracious, one can remember the day when she couldn't even save her vir--er, her Virgo, in quincunx with Pisces.

A gentle reminder, Miss Born In A Barn: One never so much as shook one's acorns in your direction, much less one's twig. And furthermore, one did not take Bolly. She displayed the good sense to run away from you. As should the rest of us.

Washing one's hands of responsibility for that yapping bitch (Bolly, that is), one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Disgruntled writes:

Dear Sir Charles.

I just can't believe that you peers get so many privileges, and the rest of us hard working chaps have to slog it out for a pittance.


Sir Charles replies:

Oh lowly one,

It does seem a bit hard to believe, doesn't it? But do try.

Merrily, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: More Hot Pies!

Hopelessly Lost writes:

Good Sir Charles:

I hope you may be able to give some fatherly advice to one who is fatherless.

Should one marry for love or money, and should one continue one's education? Can one have happiness with both a career and a marriage. Or should one give up one for the other.

One feels that one is at one's wits end. Mother says I should marry for money.

Hopelessly lost without a father

Sir Charles replies:

My dear girl,

A well-made match is a consolation forever. Love. What is love? Bah! Love is but a quickening of the heartbeat, a dilation of the eyes. Love is but a prickling at the base of the spine when the beloved comes near, a tingling at the back of the neck. Love is but a red-hot flush that begins at the top of the head, then seethes down one relentlessly, tormentingly, stimulating every inch of the flesh and causing a pulsing, pulsing, pulsing that cannot be denied . . . ! And who, one asks, wants that?

A hefty bank account, however, can ensure you a good table setting and invitations to all the best parties.

Knowing one's correspondent will make the right choice, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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