Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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April 18, 1997

Picture: Memento Mori It is usual for one, this time of year, to engage the services of one's family physician. But one can picture the alarm upon the faces of one's readers at such a statement (and if one has not mentioned it before, one has it upon a substantial authority that one's readers are so numerous that were they all quite thoroughly alarmed, the resulting din might be enough to wake Prince Philip from his permanent state of seeming comatoseness). One must hasten to assure them that nothing, indeed is wrong with oneself. One's org-ns are working correctly. (There was one org-n in particular one was worried about, admittedly. It just seemed to lie there, soft and flaccid and distended, not even responding when one poked it vigorously, or manipulated it with one's fingers. But the physician said that such was normal behavior, for a spleen.)

However, the physician, upon completing his examination, quite disturbed one. "You seem in fine health," said the fellow. "But you're getting on in years like the rest of us. I expect you've made your will, of course?"

"Will?" one inquired, icily. "Whatever for?"

"Why, to provide for your family after your death," said the physician, having the effrontery to look surprised.

"Death? Oneself?"

The physician cocked his head at one, much like those jaunty little sparrows one sees in spring--the sort one orders the gardeners to rid of with poisoned seed. "You are aware that people die, aren't you?"

"Certainly," one said. "What do you think one is, an idiot?"

"Well, you didn't seem to know how children were conceived, when we talked last y--"

"Of course people die," one sniffed, summoning the servants to escort this impudent, cheeky creature from the premises. "But one is not people, is one?"

It is true, readers, that people die. Why, after one's little talk with the physician (and it is regrettable that someone . . . the constables have not yet found out who . . . shied bricks at him from the upper reaches of Blandsdown as he departed, that day), one did a bit of research and found out that indeed, many if not most of the people born of our father Adam and our Mother Eve have died, over the years. Kings and queens die. Commoners die. Authors die. Even one's father was weak enough to succumb to the nasty habit. And a good thing, too, else one would not have inherited the title.

But one has a certain conviction, readers, that death is something like the television. It might eventually be enjoyed by most, but certainly not by Sir Charles Grandiose!

However, as one was slightly unsettled, that afternoon, one sought the opinions of one's nearest and dearest. First, one approached young Penelope Windsor-Smythe, who was busy giving her lustrous hair (a trait of the Royal Family, of course, and she is eighty-fourth in precedence amongst them) the requisite two thousand daily brushes. "Child," one said. "Do you think that one will die?"

"Oh no, Papa!" she cried. "I would never be so lucky!"

Satisfied with this answer, one the Lady Felicia, and asked the same question. She smiled enigmatically, thought for a while, and finally replied, "Husband, what is already not only moribund, but thoroughly mummified, can never die."

So there we have it. It may be a pity that one's readers have to pass, one by one, into the great unknown, but at least as they lie upon their deathbeds, they may rest in peace, knowing that at least one verity is eternal, that of the eternal wisdom of

Their favourite baronet,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: Toss A Penny In For Luck

Musical Lover writes:

Sir Charles!

You might not remember me. I'm Clive, a friend of your nephew, Chauncey's. We met at a simply fabulous soiree a year ago when your 'wife' was out of town. I remember looking across the room at you, where you were mooning at Anita Manceau-Baddeley, and thinking how fabulous it was that you were one of us, even though I couldn't understand a word you said when you talked! Veddy veddy posh, you know.

At any rate, you're probably thinking, "Clive! Hel-lo! Get down to business!" And so I shall! I was just thrilled to learn last week that you are an aficionado of the stage musical. I am too! Isn't that a coinkeedink? In fact, I have just finished a musical of literally divine proportions. You see, our little theatrical troupe was planning out its new season and the board wanted to put on Jesus Christ Superstar. And I said, "Hel-lo. Anyone home? Not that old chestnut!"

Then it occurred to me. "Clive!" I said to myself. You see, I often talk to myself like that. I'll say, "Clive!" And then I'll answer, "Yes?", and so on, and so on. So I said, "Clive!" and then I answered, "Yes?" and then I said "I have a brill idea. How about updating those old gospel stories and making them really speak to modern audiences!" And then I answered, "Clive, you know, sometimes you really amaze me." Because I really do, sometimes!

But you're probably saying, "Hel-LO! Clive! Earth to Planet Clive!" My point is, I've written a musical called The Gospel According to Clive, and trust me, it is the stuff! Why, it speaks to youth! You see, I feel that the Bible is just full of ugliness. Ugly ugly ugly. So instead of Lazarus being covered with sores, you see--that just turns off the kids--I've given him something they can identify with: A zit! Oh, and he needs a manicure badly, too. And the miracle of the loaves and fishes? Well, who wants to eat a crusty old bun with some dry old fish? Not Clive D'Arcy! (And not you, either, you sly old dog!) Anyway, I've changed it to the Miracle Of The Salmon Pate And This Simply Divine Brioche From A Little Bakery Down The Street. The actors really get into it!

Of course we're considering your 'friend', Anita Manceau-Baddeley, for the part of Mary Magdalene. Between you and me, she has the subtext down pat. We're still looking for a Jesus who can handle my rap version of the Sermon on the Mount, though.

Sir Charles, I think we just just squeak by on a budget of three million pounds. I can do the costumes myself for a song. Since I know you are a Supporter of the Arts, will you be sending the money via cheque or in pound notes?

Musical Lover in Manchester

Sir Charles replies:

Misguided lad,

Had it not been for the bolt of lightning that destroyed one's pen and chequebook as one was about to sign, the money would have arrived via cheque. A very curious phenomenon, lightning in one's smoking room.

One regrets one cannot prolong this correspondence, however. The butler informs one that there is a burning bush in one's dining room, uttering foul imprecations. One really must excuse oneself to have a word with the gardeners.

Wishing the correspondent well, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Peggy writes:

Dear Sir Charles:

I have a very busy job, and I often send my assistant to get my lunch for me when she gets hers. I usually have soup. My problem is that she often lollygags and dawdles, and thus when I get the soup, it's cold.

What should I do?


Sir Charles replies:

My dear lady,

Other--and need I really say, lesser?--columnists would here insert a variety of 'practical' tips for your dilemma. "Use the microwave oven," they'll tell you, "and heat your soup to the perfect temperature!" Or perhaps they'll say, "Why not give the assistant a thermally-insulated conveyance for your soup, so that it arrives at your desk piping hot?" Or heaven forbid, they might even advise that you obtain your own soup.


Is not your assistant employed to serve you? Is that not the means by which she earns her daily bread? Well, then! Make her earn it, by gum! Tolerate not the lollygagging and dawdling!

My suggestion is the number three tanned leather horsewhip, shown on page forty-six of the current edition of Brinsley's Catalogue of Household Discipline Instruments. Why, it even comes in a lovely burgundy colour for the ladies.

With a cry of 'Happy Whipping!', one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Mr. Mansell writes:

Picture: All The Better To Knit You With, My DearDear Sir Charles,

Firstly, I would like to thank you for a most elucidating and indeed, entertaining column. Writing of your calibre is sorely needed here in the ex-colonies (and don't we all regret the fact that South Africa, from whence I hail, is not still part of the Empire?). I write in response to the question posed in the column of 7 March of this year, when, much to my surprise, and no doubt, to your surprise too, there was a question to which you did not know the answer, namely, who are "they"?

It is a saying in my family (which, although I am ashamed to say is not a noble one, has a long history), that "they" are Granny's friends. One has no doubt that you will be glad to know that Granny was a woman of the highest taste and culture, and her reputation for manners and etiquette were renowned in the upper circles of society. I therefore have little doubt that her friends must also have been people of whom you would have approved, for she would not have associated with anyone to whom the merest hint of disreputableness or "rabbleness", if I may coin a phrase, would have attached.

Yours sincerely
Richard Mansell

Sir Charles replies:


While one hesitates to cast aspersions upon the acquaintances of your Grandmamma, one feels one must say that she certain possessed a loquacious gaggle of friends. For not only have they said that hems will be shorter this year, but in years previous they have said that hems will be long, or midlength. They have said that the weather will be nice today, and that red skies in morning are sailor's warning. They were the ones who said that one would receive a puppy on one's twelfth birthday. And they quite frankly, were wrong. One received a pair of worsted mittens. And trust one, a pair of worsted mittens is a poor subsitute for a puppy.

In short, they seem to have a decided opinion about everything. Many people would find this trait quite noxious. However, as it reminds one of oneself, it certainly recommends them to

This particular baronet,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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