Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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July 4, 1997

Picture: An Aristocrat Through and Through Aristocracy. Consider well the word. Aristocracy. Not democracy, in which the nation is ruled by every grubby little commoner whose hands can twitch enough to trigger a switch in a 'voting booth.' Not a theocracy, in which the land is run by priests. Not an autocracy, in which automobiles roam freely, nor an oligarchy, in which the people are tyrannized by . . . by . . . er, oleomargarine.

No, aristocracy. The government of a state by its best citizens. Or failing that, their eldest heirs. Of all nations, Great Britain alone retains its glittering array of aristocrats--its royal family, its dukes and earls, and of course those shiniest of peers, the baronets. Yet was not even this bright gleam diminished, recently, as the greatest Empire the world has e'er seen, lost another jewel?

Such were the thoughts of all of us in attendance at the Memories of Hong Kong Chow Mein Cotillion, an elite gathering held in the Fishampton Hall du Assemblie et Public Gymnasium. At our end of this lovely ballroom, the creme de la creme of the county sipped champagne, discussed world matters, and watched a fascinating magic lantern show narrated by Tiffany, Lady Frost of Locksley-Charms, of her recent visit to Chinatown and Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

But one must pause. One hears the clarion calls of one's readers (who, one has it upon a firm authority, are so numerous that were each a tiny acorn, the forest of great oaks that would grow from their masses would be so sizeable that, when pulped, the Royal Family with its notoriously tricky digestive systems would have enough bathroom tissue for its many privies from now until April fourth of the year two thousand, one hundred, and thirteen). Like a persistent insect, buzzing in the ear, the call is. "Sir Charles!" they say. "What use have you for Hong Kong? Is it not the land that gave us raw fish to eat and called it sushi? Is it not the land of cheap, mass-made clothing? Was not Hong Kong, the Land of the Rising Sun, our enemy during the Great War? Was not Hong Kong overhasty in kidnapping Fay Wray and taking her to the summit of the Empire State Building?"

To these things one must answer yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Yet still, a tear came to our eyes at the assembly over the loss, as we partook of the take-away spring rolls and spicy noodles. One was especially touched. For now where will one obtain one's Genuine Chinese Powdered Rhino Potency Formula For The Discerning Gentleman? (It is, one hastens to add, a digestive formula.)

Sadder still, when the evening was cut short. Apparently the Hall du Assemblie et Public Gymnasium had overbooked for the evening, and our glittering entourage was 'bumped' for something called 'Jazzercise.' Wither flourish the blooms of Britain? Upon the floral spandexed rears of middle-aged, overweight, Jazzercising British matrons, apparently.

With a tear in one's eye, one remains for yet another week,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: A Typical Reader

Shari writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

I would have to say that I agree with what you've written thus far but I would also have to say that if you're going to quote the Bible you should at least get the names right, names like Goliath and such. I do like what you are saying however, so keep it up.


Sir Charles replies:

Gentle Readers,

One is gratified to have the immense pleasure of presenting to you all the very person who put the 'wit' in 'twit'.

But one is reminded of a pithy poem. One knows not the source.

Knock, knock.
Who is there?
Goliath who?
Goliath down, you looketh tired. Obviously the strain of the two solitary atoms rubbing together in your head has been too much for you, pizzle-brain.

Dusting off one's hands, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Gasping writes:

I am in a quandary and hope that you can shed some light on this problem I have encountered.

On discovering your lively, timely, and witty column, I deemed it my duty, as well as my great pleasure, to pass on my momentous find--a veritable gold mine amid so much dross--to friends and colleagues. I thought they would derive, in equal measure, the enjoyment, the enlightenment, the guffaws, that I've enjoyed since happening upon your column.

Alas, such is not the case. They stare, mute and glassy-eyed at the columns I hand to them for their perusal. What is wrong with these people? Do they not see the humor. It is supposed to be funny, is it not? Could it be that since we are an educational institution--I use the term loosely--that they do not wish to lower their facade of righteous self-importance by so much as twitching the corners of their lips to register their mirth? I'm sure it's just an act, at least for one colleague--she knew what a baronet was, and even knew that Great Britain is an island.

What say you on this matter? Am I surrounded by dolts or do I merely see humor where none is intended?

I leave you holding my sides,
Gasping for Breath (Not a pleasant visualization I'm sure, but I was not gently reared.)

Sir Charles replies:

Gentle Reader,

Try this witty little jest upon your friends:

Q: How many maids-of-all-work at Edgcumbe Manor, Nottingham, does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: Oh-ho-ho! What utter rot! Everyone knows that since the ascension of Queen Anne, the staff at Edgcumbe Manor has always consisted of at least seven grooms, three parlourmaids, three chambermaids, four scullerymaids, a kitchen char, a cook, four kitchenmaids, a housekeeper, four footmen, a page, a coachman, a gardener, a gamekeeper, and a butler. But never a maid-of-all-work!

If this sublimely amusing little quip does not have them slapping their knees, obviously you are surrounded by dolts.

Still chortling in an unseemly manner, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Great Books Lover writes:

Picture: I See London, I See France My Dear Sir Charles,

Even the most admired of ladies may find herself with little to do of an evening and be driven to the viewing of television.

On one such evening, what should I find disgracing the airwaves but that upstart imitator of yours, "Miss-Born-in-a-Barn"! The Leaking Channel (one believes that was the name) had hired this would-be purveyor of etiquette to comment on The Oddysey!

My first thought, after having sent missives of complaint to the channel in question, was to hasten to write to you, asking when you will be gracing the airways with your august presence. Surely after your recent literary triumph, you will be much in demand to offer your always knowledgeable commentary on the literary arts.

Waiting with bated breath to see you on telly, one remains
Your Humble Admirer,
Great Books Lover

Sir Charles replies:

Dear Lass,

One finds it quite appropriate, in fact, that the syndicated columnist/sham known far and wide as Miss Mann--ah, but the correspondent nearly tricked one. One must called her by the soubriquet "Miss Born-in-a-Barn" else her pesky lawyers will be on one, again. But one finds it highly appropriate that the 'lady' in question be chosen to comment on, as the correspondent quaintly yet aptly termed it, The Oddysey. After all, she is quite Odd.

But the correspondent is quite right on one's expertise when it comes to Great Books. How one loves fine books! The smell of the leather binding! The gilded edges of the pages! Their appearance of stability and good taste, as they sit row upon row on the shelves!

It is fortunate, however, that one has never been tempted to read the pesky things. It would take entirely too much time one could be spending admiring one's ancient Indian brass spittoons in the shapes of the Kama Sutra.

Literately, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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