The Library | Write to Sir Charles | Cast of Characters | Credits | This Week
March 7, 1997
Imitation, they say (and one often wonders whom 'they' might be, for 'they' are often quoted, here and there, and it would make all the difference in the world to one whether 'they' are an elite, discerning group, or the self-same rabble who made pasteurized processed cheese food so ubiquitous), is the most sincere form of flattery. And one is so fond of being flattered.
'hey,' gentle readers. one invites you to give it a try.
yes, in celebration of the one hundredth edition of advice from sir charles grandiose Jubilee (yes, yes, one knows that it was the last edition. But if the Queen can have two birthdays, surely one can enjoy oneself for a week more), one is sponsoring the official
Imitate Sir Charles Grandiose Contest!
A Grand Prize of An All Expenses-Paid Vacation For Two To Jolly Weston Super Mare!*
*Please note: Prize does not include airfare, accommodations, board, gratuities, entertainment, or pocket money for toffee. Prize must be claimed before February 6, 1950. Void in all countries with internet addresses. Sorry, Tennessee.
Naturally, one senses one's readers are simply champing at the bit for a go. But settle down, please. We are not terriers, anxious for one's masters to attach our leash so that we might void upon our favorite (dying) elm.
Our goal, one scarcely feels it necessary to remind one's readers, is here to flatter one by capturing the very essence of one's wit, one's style, one's ineffable perceptiveness, and of course, one's masterful use of language. As one is well aware of the sheer magnitude of the task before one's readers (and one has it upon the greatest of authorities that they are so numerous that were each a drop of rain upon the sands of the desert, the Kalahari would blossom, verdant and sweet-perfumed, in less than a fortnight), one will offer them several chances, with a variety of tasks, in the hopes that one (if not more!) of the challenges will spark their interests.
Dear Sir Charles,
I have had a certain problem that has clouded my career for over four years now. I am an executive with a rather large, well-known organization here in the United States. As you may imagine, my position frequently puts me in the public eye, and the most trivial details of my private life get a good deal of publicity. I have a great many enemies who seek to exploit any embarrassing episodes in my present or previous life. I have hired the best attorneys available, but still some issues continue to haunt me. As a man of means and of sterling reputation, I am sure you know what it is like to have your inferiors wallow in filth, attempting to dredge up unflattering information about yourself, only to seek some sort of personal gain.
My problem involves a certain young lady named "Paula", whom I met for an afternoon some years back, before I attained my present position. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of showing this lady a rather private personal item, and she has since dogged me over this incident, going so far as to hire attorneys and publicists to exploit this faux-pas. Needless to say, this has put undue strain on an already difficult marriage (my wife is a rather headstrong individual). In addition, the tabloids in this country have insisted on reporting every detail of this sordid affair, and my opponents have sought to gain advantage from the scandal, distracting me from the day-to-day activities of running a very large and important concern here in the U.S. Indeed, with all modesty, some of my decisions are of world-wide importance, but this affair is producing such distraction as to affect my duties.
Sir Charles, have you ever encountered this type of situation? If so, I feel your pain. Please advise me what steps you took to deal with it.
"Bill" in Washington, D.C.
Sir Charles replies:
My good "Bill,"
Indeed, in this sort of matter, one is the soul of discretion. You could have chosen no better confidante, for when it comes to delicate matters in which privacy and confidentiality must be observed, one's lips are sealed. (By the way, one was struck, upon examining the lovely stationery upon which you wrote, by an odd coincidence with your return address: One's room number at Eton . . . or was it Harriman's Home for Horrid Boys? . . . was 1600!)
It is indeed dreadful when a man of standing is forced to endure the chill winds, fanned by the tabloids, that blow up one's knickers. (One speaks metaphorically, of course.) Still, as far as misdemeanours go, yours would seem comparatively mild. After all, you just showed the lady a small personal item (a locket? A photo of your dear Mama? One is curious, but one would never be so vulgar as to inquire more directly). It is not as if you had an affair with her. Nor did you indulge in other, more grievous abuses along the lines of estate fraud or misappropriation of public funds!
One believes that in America this sort of thing is solved by giving the girl a 'Talk Show,' isn't it?
Expecting another nasty letter from that creature known as 'Oprah' any moment now, one remains,
Lady Rebecca Martingale-Bridoon writes:
My dear, dear, dear Sir Charles,
The time of the Lady Godiva Reenactment Ride at the annual Tung Frolics during the first week of April here in the picturesque village of Cheeke is fast approaching! We are so looking forward to seeing you, your lovely family (Young Penelope Windsor-Smythe is still 90th in line for the throne is she not? I heard rumors that she'd--pardon the indelicate expression--jumped up as few notches.), and, of course, your minions. I have a request that I do hope you'll honor.
At the last meeting of the Cheeke Chapter of the National Brit Lit and Knit Society* (Our motto, "Read one, purl two"), I took the liberty of reading aloud the poem that you submitted to the International Index of Absolute Fabulous Poetry. So overcome were the members when they heard your poem that several of the ladies dropped more than a few stitches. In fact, they have voted your poem "Purl of the Month." We shall present you with a suitable certificate when you arrive in Cheeke.
That brings me to my next request: Since you are obviously a man of letters (POOP & SOB, among others), would you mind awfully giving an opening speech immediately prior to the race to sort of spur the contestants on, as it were? Among our dozen or so contestants, we have three young ladies that have ridden before without much success and they would benefit from the encouragement of such a distinguished gentleman:
Babbette ("Bouf") Pompadour won the Cheeke College of Cosmetology and Penmanship Most Improved Award for speed hair cutting and styling and calligraphy. Last year, the numerous scissor cuts on her fingers became infected by ink, and this prevented her from holding the reins properly. She has assembled a riding outfit which she says "will make your hair stand on end."
Brianna ("Brie") Cheshireton, a cheese cutter at the local Cheeke Cheddar Company, was disqualified last year when her mount was spooked by a large number of rodents that seemed to be in the vicinity. This year, her riding outfit consists of limburger cheese bits, and we expect her to make a strong showing.
Sarah ("Snippy") Snipperton, a chintz cutter at the Cheeke Chintz Mill, brings an element of environmental concern to the race, for her outfit consists entirely of snippets of left-over chintz recycled from the cutting room floor. Last year, "Snippy" became too unraveled to compete, but this year she says she can "get it together."
Since these three young ladies all have something to do with cutting, might we count on an accomplished verbose vacilitator such as yourself make a few "cutting" remarks to inspire them? Do let us know quickly, as we have a number of programmes to print.
Eagerly anticipating the Tung Frolics, I remain,
*Kindly do not confuse the highbrow Brit Lit and Knit Society with the lowbrow British Knitters, Titters, and Tatters (motto: "Keep 'em in Stitches") whose meetings consist of very unliterary low humor interspersed with occasional rather mundane knitting and tatting.
Sir Charles replies:
My dear, dear, Lady Martingale-Bridoon,
One could never confuse your much esteemed Brit Lit and Knit Society with those vulgar Knitters, Titters, and Tatters. For one thing, one cannot say the name of the latter group without stumbling. Try it for yourself. Knitters, Titters, and Tatters. Knitters, Titters, and Tatters. Knatters, Titters, and Tatters. Knitters, Titties, and Tooties. Knooties, Taters, and Totters. Already one is confused.
One is indeed looking forward to the events of the first week of April. How anxious one is to see these dozen damsels, dressed in replicated outfits of Lady Godiva. One is particularly interested in Miss Cheshireton's ensemble . . . will it be a softish limburger? One would hate for her costume to run, if it is a warm day.
Oh, to be a mouse.
But that is neither here nor there. You will be most gratified to know that in anticipation of judging of the event, one has been practising. Well, in truth, one has not been able to roust up any 'volunteers' to sit still upon a horse while one eyes their every merit and flaw. In fact, some of the Fishampton youths have proved quite rude when approached about it. One would think they would be glad of the extra pocket-money. But no, one is making do with something known as 'Inflata-Annie' (provided by one's friend, Mr. Pierre DePue) and a carpenter's horse. But one believes one will do the Tung Frolics proud, because aside from a few anatomically incorrect details, one believes one is making great advances with the substitutes. (Miss Inflata has stopped boxing one's ears, for one thing.)
Counting the days, one remains,
Dear Lady Felicia,
My family and I are planing a vacation to Disney World. Do you have any information that will help me have a better time.
The Lady Felicia replies:
My dear girl,
What lovely news to hear that Lord Reginald, Earl of Disney-Upon-Keating has renovated that draughty old ruin of his, and is now opening it up for tourist vacations. Why, the last Sir Charles and I had heard of the poor fellow, he had inhaled some of that nasty mildew from the dungeons, and was suffering from a dreadful pneumonia. Well, one cannot deny that it serves him out. Dungeons are so very 1996.
One will admit that the last time one had occasion to pay a social call on Disney-Upon-Keating, one was less than impressed with the facilities, especially the 'porcelain' ones. But certainly, if it is now garnering tourist visits, things must have improved considerably, though one does wonder at Lord Reginald taking the ostentatious route and calling the place Disney World.
One would encourage one's readers to allocate enough time to give the many old collections a thorough examination. The West Library has a stunning collection of essays on the use of Opera Glasses in the 1800's, which should not be missed. And bring stout walking shoes as well. Why, just touring the old dungeons (and don't let the oubliette pass you by--just pull the ring by the fire grating in the Weapons Room if it is not included in the tour) could take the better part of a day. And one hears that the moat contains one of the most complete collections of all the leech specimens of Britain.
One trusts the reader will be thoroughly impressed by what the Peers of the Realm can offer the commoner for his vacation dollar, and as ever, one serenely remains,
The Library | Write to Sir Charles | Cast of Characters | Credits | This Week