Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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October 3, 1997

Picture: Boo! Who? Moo-Shoo!It was a dark and stormy night.

As we sat in the near darkness, our hands clasped around the table, the windowpanes rattled in the high October winds. A chill had descended upon the library--a chill that no fire in the grate could warm. The scent of incense filled the room, warring for predominance with the distant leftover odour of Blueberry and Calves Heart marmalade that the Lady Felicia had been preparing that very afternoon for the upcoming annual Memoirs of the Raj Chutney Parade. The marmalade was winning. And at the head of the table sat the medium, his head bobbing and swaying.

"I sense a doubting presence in the room. An ignorant scoffer," intones the Swami Ralph, the personal psychic to one's sister-in-law, Melody Windover-Midden. "The spirits are troubled by his presence."

Five pairs of eyes swivel instantly towards oneself. Obviously one is being looked to for a quick decision. "Well, throw the fellow out, then!" one says decisively, "And let's get on with this bloody buggery crayons." Five pairs of eyes roll heavenwards.

"Seance," whispers young Penelope Windsor-Smythe, who is eighty-fourth in line for the throne, and has excellent diction, even at low volumes. She presses the hand of young Sir Colin Bates, her affianced.

But the Swami Ralph is already speaking again. "Spirit guide, come to me. Spirit guide, come to me. But I see a light before me . . . is that you, Moo-Shoo?"

An eerie voice, uncannily like the Swami Ralph speaking in falsetto, answers. "This is Moo-Shoo."

The Swami Ralph lurches in his seat erratically. Not for the first time, one wonders if the man is less under the influence of spiritual inspiration than alcoholic distillation. "Moo-Shoo, my friend. We seek the spirits of the cats, Singboy and Ladypaws, affectionately known to their female friend as Sing-Sing and Paw-Paw. Can they speak with us?" Many sobs from the direction of their stricken owner, Melody Windover-Midden.

The blasted felines, it appears, had disappeared earlier that afternoon after it was discovered that they had shredded a smoking room leather divan that had been in the Grandiose family for nigh upon four generations. One truly loved that divan. Not an evening passes without one settling upon it to reflect upon one's contentment with one's privileged lot.

Their mistress, however, rather than taking the opportunity of cleaning the cat hair from her clothes and starting over with a less demanding pet more suited to her temperament--say, a stuffed Hello Kitty doll--went into histrionics and summoned the Swami Ralph to communicate with the lost spirits of Dim-Dim and Dum-Dum. Thus, the woeful performance to which the family Grandiose was treated.

The grating voice of Moo-Shoo speaks. "The cats are not lost," it says. "Investigate the bedchamber of Sir Charles Grandiose."

One startles, but five figures are already vanished from the table to ransack one's bedroom, despite one's protests against the invasion of privacy. The cats are discovered in one's locked wardrobe, with a container of untouched poisoned potted meat. How they got there, of course, is an absolute, total, utter, unsolvable mystery. After all, the only key to that wardrobe is on one's personal key ring, which one keeps with oneself at all times. And besides, one thought that 'cats' were fond of potted meat.

"Oh! Oh!" cried Melody, upon reuniting with her darlings. "I thought I should never see the two of you again! You are horrid, Sir Chuck! Why, if I were my sister, Mr and Mrs Spank should make a short sharp visit to Botty Land!" And at that point, Dim-Dim punctuated the sentiment with a particularly unlovely hairball upon one's shoe.

Oh, for the days when one could send the unmarried women of the family to a nunnery. Preferably one where they do not allow pets or salamis. Er, swamis.

Mourning one's divan, one remains for yet another week,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Nathan writes:

Picture: A Good Old English Tart Good Day Uncle Charles,

I was recently going through some old Christmas cards the other day, and your warm greeting of "Nathan, your place in this family is akin to those areas on ancient maps that sailors felt marked the domains of dragons" moved me to writing. I hope all is well. Do let Chauncey know that sending Mother an empty cremation urn as a "going away present" during her last bout with illness was in poor taste, regardless of our standing.

But, my dear uncle, (or whatever relation I am supposed to have with you, I'm still quite unclear on the matter), I did not write to bring up the petty squabbles of the past. I am actually seeking your advice on a matter of educating youth, in this particular case, my young Bridgette.

Now in her fifteenth year, she seems to have developed an affection for boys. Very natural, until one notes the, shall we say, breadth of interest. I've had enough of being the laughing stock of Sussex for my wife's behavior (who, incidentally, can stay in Australia for all that I may care). I don't need my reputation any further sullied. Thankfully, the worst of her rumored activity seems to be stolen kisses in the garden, though the help has told me on occasion that they suspect incidents of tickling and foot rubs, activities that stray far too close to groping for my taste.

Charles, the only tarts I appreciate in my house are of the baked variety. Whatever shall I do?

Sincerely yours,
Nathan Grandiose

Sir Charles replies:

Young nephew (who is actually a very distant relation, several times removed, though one suffers him to call one 'uncle'),

A well-bred child is a joy eternal. Regard Penelope Windsor-Smythe. (Has one mentioned she is eighty-fourth in line for the throne?) Observe her rosy cheeks, brought about by no artifice, no rouge-pot, but by simple exercise, and an innocent romp in the haylofts with the stablehands. Observe her smile, her enjoyment of simple pastimes, as she returns from paddling in the concealed duck pond with her childhood chums the Brewster triplets. (My, how big they have grown!) Hear her joyful shouts of laughter and the exuberant squeaking of her bedsprings, past midnight, from her chambers. The innocent lass. We never could break her of bouncing upon any mattress that took her fancy.

You see, nephew, a child must be brought up right if she is to remain on the Path of Innocence. Should she stray from it into the Fields of Flirtation, she may become lost. Seeing as Bridgette has already strayed onto the Foothills of Foot Rubs, however, one suspects you might as well call in the St. Bernards and let her climb the Mountains of Misalliance. Preferably in Australia with that strumpet, your ex-wife.

With best regards to your mother (is she not dead yet?), one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Wendy writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

I need help and I need it badly! I've been speaking with this guy on IRC for around two months now and I think I'm falling in love with him. He is the nicest person I have ever known and even though I don't know what he looks like and have never spoken to him I've never felt this way before.

All my friends tell me that I am mad for falling for someone on the Internet and that he could turn out to be a psycho or something but I know that deep down inside he is a really kind man. Ordinarily I would just follow my heart and not listen to them but the fact that he has just come out of jail three months ago for burglary kinda worries me, not much because I believe him when he says he has turned over a new leaf but it does worry me. He lives in the same state as me and I do want to meet him but don't know if I should.

What should I do?
Desperately Lost

Sir Charles replies:

Dear Lost,

One knows precisely what the correspondent wishes this man of wisdom, experience, and sublime intelligence to say. And as one is certainly a 'crowd-pleaser', one will go ahead and say it.

Please, do ignore the well-intentioned advice of your friends who worry that meeting this recidivist convict whom you have never seen and to whom you have never spoken might jeopardize your safety and well-being. They are just worry-warts. Besides, they're all probably 'kinda' jealous.

After all, everyone on the so-called 'Internet' tells the truth about themselves. And why would they not? Frankly, one thinks you should meet him alone, in a place of privacy. Why not his hotel room? And my girl, don't tell anyone where you're going, that evening. They don't need to know. After all, they'll just warn you off the man, like all those other nay-sayers and scoffers.

After all, whither prudence and good sense, when you have bubbling hormones to guide you?

Beaming at the thought of one more idiot out of the gene pool, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Baking writes:

Picture: A Fine Set of BunsDear Sir Charles,

I have been reading with great interest your advice to young marrieds. However, my Heathcliffe and myself have been married for nigh over two decades, and I can't get him to keep his hands off my buns.

I didn't mind it so much in the early years, even when we had company, but it's got to be a problem now. You see, when we were first married, Heathcliffe was a somewhat dinky lad, and I felt it my wifely duty to plump him up a bit whenever I could. Having learned the art of baking from my mum when I was but a small lass, I naturally made Heathcliffe plenty of fatty baked goods. He was especially fond of my hot cross buns. Through the years, he got plumper and plumper, and now he doesn't need my help to stay plump.

The doc says he's got to lay off the buns because of the cholesterol and all. Of course, by now I've got myself a little home baking business so I'll have a few quid for myself without having to ask Heathcliffe for money, and I'm pumping out my buns on a daily basis for paying customers.

Well, wouldn't you know, when my back is turned, Heathcliffe will pinch one of my buns for his own enjoyment. I keep telling him my buns are my own business, but he seems to think he can help himself whenever he pleases. I told him I was going to write to you for advice, but he says a rich bloke like you probably never pinched a bun in your life, so what would you know about his needs of the common man.

Tell me, Sir Charles, what's a poor woman to do to save her buns?

Baking in Basingstoke

Sir Charles replies:


Though it is true that one is a 'rich bloke,' one must confess that one has pinched many buns in one's life. One cannot help oneself. One is an inveterate bun-pincher.

One's nanny, in one's youth, had the plumpest, juiciest buns one knew. They were so firm, so round, so golden-tan, that one could scarcely resist reaching out and grabbing them. And oh, how she squealed, every time. "Hands off me buns now, Cholly, you're too young to go pinching them like that" she would say, with a secret wink.

Even this week, when one was visiting the lower depths of the house, the pretty kitchenmaid squealed as one walked behind her, crying, "'ands off me buns!" (Which was curious, as the baking had been put away for the day.) Then, in the Latin Vulgate that young Penelope Windsor-Smythe taught the staff (if one has not mentioned it, young Penelope is eighty-fourth in line for the throne of our great Empire), she added, "Oddingsae ervertpae!" Young Penelope later translated the phrase for one (as eighty-fourth in line for the throne, her mastery of tongues is exquisite) as "Too crusty for me!"

Thus, madam, one must conclude it is in the nature of the male to grab a handful of buns whenever it strikes his fancy. He hungers for it, madam, and relies upon the woman he married to give it to him. Not once a week, not twice a week, but whenever he fancies, even if it is three or four times a day. 'Tis the duty of a good wife, to surrender her buns thusly.

Anticipating the barrage of mail from the staff of 'Ms.' magazine, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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