Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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April 4, 1997

From the correspondence of Hermione, Duchess of Eggers.

To: Lady Phillis Chistake
Bredington House

Dear Philly,

Picture: The Soaking Cheeke CureI am so glad you recommended that I come to this quaint town of Cheeke for the Cure. There honestly is nothing like it to revive one's flagging spirits. And my dear, I don't mind admitting that the male nurses are so strapping and handsome that I hardly notice the colonics!

Unfortunately, I seem to have come at a bad time of year. The natives of quaint Cheeke celebrated some sort of local feast, this past Tuesday. The entire town was simply packed with tourists and old students from the local school of Cosmetology and Penmanship, all come to see the highlight of the celebration, a re-enactment of the ride of Lady Godiva. I arrived on the eve of the event, and found that I could not, as I had assumed, lodge in the town's premier establishment. In fact, my dear, the only rooms left were at something called the Lolling Tung Moto-Hotel. The proprietor, however, seemed eager to please someone of my undeniable stature, though he was a trifle distracted. The man keeps wandering about, mumbling, "The minion with the bunion gets the grunion with the onion. . . ." I fear the man is slightly touched. After the third time, while I was checking in, the man's wife snapped, "And the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true." Do you suppose it is a new sort of parlour game?

When I was walking down to the Spredd Cheeke Center for High Colonics and Mineral Waters (Mr and Mrs Spredd send their compliments, Philly, and encourage us both to remind others of their slogan: "It All Comes Out In The End"), I ran into Lady Rebecca Martingale-Bridoon of Tung-in-Cheeke--you remember, the one with that most remarkable dog that could intimidate a chambermaid to make a bed in twenty-seven seconds flat--and while we exchanged pleasantries, I got the 'whole scoop,' as it were, on the day's events. Apparently, desperate for someone to judge the contest, they engaged quite a minor peer (a baronet, or something . . . can you imagine?). I cannot remember his name. Sir Charles Grumpious, or something along those lines.

She pointed him out to me; my dear, if Mr. Webster were to ask me to provide a line-illustration of the word 'lecherous' for his dictionary, I would immediately sketch this Grumpious fellow. There was no mistaking the look in his eye as he mingled with the historically-garbed Cheekey revellers and goosegirls and minstrels and choristers. In fact, if you get my implication, Philly, he brought an entirely new meaning to the word 'goosegirl,' even as I watched!

Lady Rebecca begged me to stay and watch the festivities, as she promised that there was a surprise entrant in the Lady Godiva Re-enactment--a former graduate of the School of Cosmetology and Penmanship. Well, I could hardly say no to the woman. She talks too much.

The procession was lovely. I admit, Philly, that I even got into the spirit of it all, yelling "Turn! Turn! The other Cheeke!" with the townsfolk in the way their ancestors did, to inform Lady Godiva that she had come to the wrong town. The contestants, uniformly shapely and beautiful, sat astride their white horses (or, in one instance, a saggy old ass) and ambled by, eyes serenely on the distance while that grotty old Sir Charles Grumpious ogled them. A keen judge, my asphodel! The letch needed a drool bucket strapped to his ears. Thank goodness the young ladies were too busy looking serene to notice him.

Then Lady Rebecca tugged the sleeve of my tweeds. "Our surprise entrant," she said. "She just happened to be in Bath last night. Felicia Windover, one of our best ex-pupils!" Simultaneously, this Grumpious fellow shouted out, "By G-d! Lady Felicia?" and the woman of middle age with a firm seat on her mount lost her composure completely, saw who was doing the judging, and cried, "Husband!"

Such a scandal, Philly! But we hardly had time to notice, as Sir Charles Grumpious' desperation to cover his wife's nakedness forced him to grab an extensive piece of canvas from a nearby cart. Unfortunately, it was from a Hot Tung Roll vendor, and the burning lard caused the cart to ignite, which then spread to a house, and then to a stable, and I am afraid to report that the Cheeke of Tan Chinese Restaurant which you so highly recommended I visit is now permanently out of commission.

Oh, but Bjorn is here, informing me that my sulphur colonic is warm and ready to go. You remember Bjorn. Yes, the one with the tattoo. No further news, save that no one has seen either this dubious baronet or his wife since. Why, he even abandoned his minions, leaving them at the Lolling Tung Moto-Hotel. They seem to be having a nice vacation though, as is your dutiful correspondent,

Hermione, Duchess of Eggers

Ewan McEwan writes:

Picture: A Fine ConveyanceSir Charles,

I am Ewan McEwan, Chief of Clan McEwan. Having introduced myself let me swiftly move to counter those rumours the vile Rodrick Ralph Cameron is spreading about my good self. Despite what you may have heard concerning the 'incident' at Edinburgh Castle's Restaurant, I can assure you I was merely instructing Miss Carmichael, our delightful waitress for the night, on the correct way to pour from a magnum. We had moved into the storeroom because Miss Carmichael had not wanted the charming owners of the restaurant to see that there was in fact bronze in the silver service. For some reason it was rather warm in the storeroom that night, so we had both loosened a few clothes--but nothing improper, as I am sure you understand.

To return to the main thrust of this letter I must inform you that my little forty-up and forty-down appears to be home to a car driving ghostie. My car is indeed a fine car; it has a red leather interior. Only top of the range models are blessed with red leather, or so I'm told. In fact, in the battlefield of cars, mine is the Battle of Britain. (Although, the only time all four wheels leave the ground is when Bleys "Blind" Bullock, my driver, is at the wheel.)

Each Friday night, for the last four Fridays a phantom has taken the car from the driveway. On Saturday morning I have the staff check the car, and each time they tell me that it has been driven one hundred miles. The only clue we have is a trouser belt and one odd sock which Bleys found in the back seat.

Still, one good thing to come from this drama is that Emma, my dear baby sister, has abandoned her quest to own a car for herself. I could, of course, buy her a car--but Emma would only use it to visit Gordon Cameron (Son of the despicable Rodrick Ralph Cameron) who lives some fifty miles from McEwan Manor.

Sir Charles can you, do you think, turn your highly trained English mind to finding a way to solve this uncanny curse ?

Yours. E McEwan,

Sir Charles replies:

Mr. McEwan,

What a puzzler, indeed. Exactly one hundred miles, every Friday night. One has applied one's superior intelligence to this case, but can only come up with one solution.

In order to eliminate the servants as suspects in this mysterious phenomenon, make certain that keys to both the garage and the car itself are given only to immediate members of your family. That is, your sister and yourself. If the motor continues to be driven, in the dark of night, you must only draw the conclusion that your car is, indeed, haunted.

In this case, you should hire one of those chaps who rids houses of demons and such . . . ah yes, an exercyclist. He will come to exercycle your estate of your 'ghostie' and, I imagine, any ectoplasmic trouser belts still lingering about.

With a hearty "Boo!", one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Lost writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

We have a fine cat named Shunuk. She spends a considerable amount of time observing our neighbor's beagle named Bijoux from the top of our fence. She does this because Bijoux clearly needs all the attention she can get.

Bijoux leaves her yard periodically without notice and comes to visit. We have claw marks where the cat has climbed to our shoulders and my husband has renamed the dog Peejoux. Do you think counselling would help them get in touch with their inner respective kitten and puppy?

Lost in St. Lambert

Sir Charles replies:

Ever so Lost,

Oh dear. Another letter from 'California.' Hasn't that earthquake struck yet, and if not, whom do I need to bribe to see that it happens?

Sighing, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Rodney writes:

Picture: Can One Hope It Is The Amanita?Dear Sir Charles,

Just last week as we (my dear Twila, wife of 30 years) and I were talking about an itinerary for our summer holiday, Twila spoke right up and said, "You know, Rodney dear, I wonder if we could arrange to be in Fishampton for Colonel Jambly's Memoirs of the Raj Chutney Parade? I've so wanted to chat with the lovely Lady Felicia Grandiose, and perhaps exchange recipes." (My dear Twila makes a lovely watercress and celery marmalade.)

Imagine my surprise when I enquired of my usual travel agent, Ralph, of Ralph's Used Motor Cars Storm Doors and Day Trips, to be told by his assistant Bruce that not only did they not have any package tours to the Chutney Parade, but that he doubted very bl--dy much that there was any such bl--dy parade, nor any bl--dy place called bl--ding bl--dy Fishampton. You may be sure that I shall take my future holiday travel custom elsewhere.

But I am left on a sticky wicket. Dear Twila is expecting a holiday in Fishampton and a lovely chat with Lady Felicia, and I have no idea how to provide such a holiday. Could you please advise by return post of the date of this year's Memoirs of the Raj Chutney Parade and recommend suitable but inexpensive lodging for a middle-aged couple of modest means? Also, we would need to know the schedule of the rail or bus service between Weston-super-Mare and Fishampton, as the Rover is currently hors de combat with a run-out big end.

Trusting in your well-known generosity, I am
Rodney Henne-Peck
The Hennery

Sir Charles replies:

Goodness, goodness, gracious.

One makes one little comment about Weston-super-Mare being not quite the holiday spot one expected (and believe one, when one referred to it as 'the salty armpit of England,' one was merely joking. And one really cannot see how that subsequent remark about how one would rather have one's infected toenails yanked out one by one with a pair of iodine-soaked bamboo skewers while listening to a troupe of bagpipe players constantly repeating their rendition of 'How Are Things In Gloccamorra?', rather than step foot in that benighted city could be taken seriously) and all the holiday agents in jolly Weston-super-Mare strike Fishampton from their lists!

Gracious. Some people cannot take a little jest.

Colonel Jambly's Annual Memoirs of the Ray Chutney Parade takes place the first week in October, yearly. Oh dear, that's only six months. Oh dear, oh dear. And one fears the Lady Felicia is already collecting recipes for it. She was mumbling something about a Marshmallow Mushroom Gooseberry Onion spoon fruit, just yesterday.

Indigestively, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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