Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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August 29, 1997

As one is vacationing this week in one's cottage in Wales with the Lady Felicia and young Penelope Windsor-Smythe, as well as her suitor, young Sir Colin Bates, and one's staff of twenty-six, not excluding one's festering wart of a secretary, who has been relegated to what used quaintly to be called the 'leper's hut,' one will present in the stead of one's usual pithy observations insights from the past, which still have relevance and that very special quality known popularly as 'verve.'

Picture: Hello Operator, Get One Number Nine

Telephoned Out writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

What is your opinion of the telephone answering machine? Several people I know have accused me of using it to screen my calls. I must admit they're right. But it's my home, by gum, and if I don't want to answer the phone, I shouldn't have to. Right?

Telephoned Out

Sir Charles replies:

My poor fellow,

In a past age polite members of society paid their calls during prescribed hours in the morning and afternoon. And when one says 'paid their calls', one means that they dressed in their finest, directed their carriages to the residence of their friend, pulled the bell, gave the servant a card, and waited to see if their friend wished their company.

What a civilised system! For if one did not care to see the impudent visitor, one would order the servant, 'Tell Mr. Grubworthy that one is not At Home.' Then one could sit at the window with one's morning tea and biscuit, peek out from behind the lace curtains, and watch Mr. Grubworthy shake his head at the house before he drove away. Mr. Grubworthy, of course, knew that one was at home. But that does not mean that one was obliged to entertain the middle-class git.

But oh, Mr. Alexander Graham Bell had to stick his nose in where it wasn't wanted, didn't he? And now our households, accustomed to the invasive shrilling of his telephone, are all the poorer for it. For now anyone, anywhere can demand our attentions. Worse, they expect us to jump and run to answer their call! Inevitably, of course, we detach the receiver and find ourselves talking to the modern descendant of Mr. Grubworthy, the telephone solicitor. And for all we know, he might be wearing nothing but his knickers, scratching himself, and eating pork rinds, on the other end!

Stuff and nonsense, I say. The telephone is meant to be used as a tool. It is not your lord and master. Answer it if you wish. But if you choose to spend your leisure time at home in uninterrupted peace, by all means, turn down the bell and turn on the answering machine. Of course, one prefers one's own servants to screen calls for one in lieu of modern technology. After all, they are paid to jump and run.

In the utmost sympathy, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Worried Mother writes:

Dear Lady Felicia,

As one mother to another, I am desperately hoping that you can assist me out of a terrible bind that I find myself in with my only daughter.

It has always been my desire to watch her finish politely, at the best schools, and then become an accomplished hostess at the estate of her equally accomplished husband. I never thought she would openly defy me, but she has gone and gotten herself a full and complete academic scholarship to Oxford where she will be studying a subject of dubious lady-likeness.

I do so worry about her future, and the decreased potential of a lettered woman to make a suitable match.

If only you could advise me.

Worried Mother in Wyrms

The Lady Felicia replies:

My dear woman,

It would appear that the Ladies' College that you sent your daughter to, (with the best intentions, no doubt), was remiss in educating its students in the Laws of the Iceberg.

Picture: A Frigate, About To RamIt was the mandate of one's own alma mater, Lady Beatrice's Finishing School for the Frightfully Highborn, to instruct all students in the intricacies of these laws during the first week of each session, regardless of how often an individual student may have been exposed to them. One will recite the Laws (from memory) for the benefit of one's vast readership.

1. Like the Iceberg, a True Lady is looked upon with awe and majesty, yet is admired only from afar.

2. Like the Iceberg, a True Lady always exudes an aura of chill calm.

3. Like the Iceberg, a True Lady's heart never melts.

4. Like the Iceberg, a True Lady will sink any frigate that dares to ram against her frigid submerged mysteries.

5. Like the Iceberg, a True Lady's brain is only ever one-fifth exposed.

Lady Beatrice was renowned for graduating only the most icy of Icebergs. And how proud we were to be known as her chilliest glaciers! While it is perhaps too late for your daughter to become an iceberg (the scholarship would disqualify her in any event), it may not be too late for other mothers to instill these values in their malleable adolescent daughters. One hopes for the best.

Serenely, one remains,
Lady Felicia Grandiose

Picture: I See London, I See France

Bubba and Flo Boudrier write:

Dear Sir Charles,

We have been admirers of your column for some time now, and feel that you, and you alone have the good taste and wisdom to decide an issue that has nearly torn apart our marriage.

My lovely wife and I have nearly come to blows over the issue of home decorating. While neither of us comes from ancient, titled stock such as your own, and while our humble abode is but a mere shadow of the splendor of Blandsdown, Dame Etiquette and the proverbial Goddess of Good Taste reign supreme in our lives. Unfortunately, due to our humble backgrounds, we must both (and I realize this may cause you to shudder) work for a living.

I am employed as the Assistant Manager of the local Bowling Center (Please! It is much more than a "Bowling Alley", as some would call it), and my wife is a customer service representative at "Crazy Eddie's Drive-Through Liquor Mart," a purveyor of fine distilled spirits, brewed beverages and wines. As such, we are unfortunately rather limited in our income.

Allow me to be succinct and get to the point, as I know how you abhor diversions. We are in the process of decorating the parlor in our trailer home. We have enough money for only one set of paintings. I am adamant that we obtain the prints entitled "Dogs Playing Poker" (you may have seen this collection advertised in the finer magazines). My wife insists on a collection of black velvet portraits of a weeping Elvis Presley (in the more mature, "Vegas" stage of his career). We have agreed to abide by your advice, whichever of the two choices you recommend. Eagerly awaiting your sage advice, we remain,

Bubba and Flo Boudrier, Opelousas, Louisiana

Sir Charles replies:

My dear friend 'Bubba.' And my dear friend 'Flo':

This is your lucky day. Indeed! One is in such a generous mood . . . has one mentioned that this is one's one hundredth column, today? . . . and one is sending via third-class mail a cheque for ten pounds! Why, one's accountant informs one that, once cashed, this cheque will supply you sixteen whole American dollars! Only think of the possibilities!

Naturally, one expects you both to run right out to that local Wal-Nutt (as one thinks the franchise is called) and buy both the prints of those lovable canines engaging in everyone's favourite game of chance and wits, and the framed portraits of 'The King'! (One suspects he will always be your teddybear, won't he, Mrs. B?)

But why stop there? Spend away! You have sixteen American dollars for your spree! Of course, when one receives such a windfall, it is customary to purchase a small bauble to place on the mantel to remind the happy family of the generous benefactor's kindness. What will it be, 'Flo' and 'Bubba'? The commemorative 'Friends' plate of a limited edition of seven thousand? A 'lava lamp'? A Magic 8-Ball? A Precious Moments figurine?

And please, if there is any change left over, walk down to that corner Eleven-Seven and treat yourselves! Share some beef jerky and a packet of Hostess Snoballs as you warm yourself before that blazing fire of burning tires at the landfill site. Why, you deserve it!

Definitely feeling the love tonight, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: Hair Cut Physiologically

Thinning writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

From one who is no longer a spring chicken to another, what is the best cure for slight thinning of the covering on one's top?


Sir Charles replies:


One gathers that the correspondent refers not to the wear placed on his felt cap, but to the problem of thinning locks. One is not so vain and self-concerned that one has worried with the issue before. Oh no. One is not thinning. One merely has baby-fine hair.

One did, however, have a 'friend' once, a baronet of irreproachable wealth and station--ah, let us call him 'Sir Chumley'--who one day, upon returning from a stroll in Beecher Mews, examined his undisputably handsome though aging reflection in a brass spittoon and discovered, to his abject horror, a slight (yet distinguished) gleaming to his cranium that even a hasty combing of his tresses across the offending areas could not conceal.

Images of horror floated through one's--that is, Sir Chumley's imagination. Would his wife of some decades, the Lady Phyllis, leave him for the leering yet undeniably magnetic Lord Frosh of Lucky-Chimps? Would his young ward, a lovely innocent young creature not at all in succession for the throne of the British empire, tease her 'Papa' about his gleaming pate? Sir Chumley immediately set about seeking a solution to the problem, from the patent medicine of Schnipp's Artistic Tonsorial Saloon's Guaranteed Mustard Plasters (with Follicle Stimulating Royal Herbs), to the soothing fingers of Miss Eugenie (a certified Massage Therapist), to the psychic powers of Mme. Freesia (ectoplasm, when applied liberally to the scalp, is supposed to produce vigorous tufts of growth). All to no avail.

And what did Sir Chumley do, when thwarted by even the most ambitious and promising of therapies? Why, he did nothing. He might have lost some of his baby-fine hair, but he still had his title. And a title always ensures that others bow and scrape to him--exposing their own heads in an undignified manner--and not the reverse. If the correspondent has not even a knighthood to use to this advantage, one recommends a sturdy bowler. The spray-on canisters of hair tend to make one resemble a coconut.

Somewhat loathe to compare oneself to fowl of any sort, 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

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