Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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August 10, 1998 Picture: An Old Crumbly Office of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
Clarence House
2 August, 1998

Dear Sir Charles Grandiose,

On behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, I would like to thank you for your upcoming birthday wishes for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother has enjoyed ninety-seven blessed years, and her family hopes that she will enjoy many more.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother is pleased that your ward is eighty-fifth in line for the throne, but regrets that she does not know where she herself stands in line for succession. Were it not for your many birthday wishes, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother would almost suspect you were hoping for her premature demise so that your ward, young Penelope Windsor-Smythe, would inch closer to the throne.

But Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother jests.

On behalf of the aforementioned Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, I am yours truly,
Spencer Quested-Worthington III
Secretary, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

The Edinburgh Bugle, Timpani, & Bagpipes Marching Band
2 August, 1998

Dear Mr Sir Charles Grandiose,

Thank you for your inquiry into hiring the Edinburgh Bugle, Timpani, & Bagpipes Marching Band. We must decline your magnanimous offer, however, to play a surprise rendition of 'Happy Birthday' and 'The Foggy, Foggy Dew' outside the Queen Mother's residence at Clarence House. We feel most of our bagpipers, and certainly our timpanists, are not willing to perform two such very loud pieces at four o'clock in the morning, as you requested. And the Queen Mum is getting up in years, isn't she? Wouldn't the poor old dear have a heart attack? We wouldn't want that, would we?

McCauley McCaffrey, Principal Bugle, Edinburgh Bugle, Timpani, & Bagpipes Marching Band

London Ice Supply, Ltd.
2 August, 1998

Dear Sir Charles Grandiose,

We were quite happy to receive your letter of 1 August, 1998, requesting the installation of a skating rink. We must decline your offer, however, on three grounds:

  1. We do not make installations on private property which does not belong to the person submitting the work order.
  2. The front steps of Clarence House are inadequate for skating, particularly with their steep stairs.
  3. In view of her recent hip surgery, we do not share your view that 'the Queen Mum would like to have a little skate when she steps out to get her Times on her birthday morning.'

Charles Brickley, Proprietor

Michael Eisner
Disney, Inc.
August 3, 1998

Dear Sir Charles Grandiose,

I don't know who told you the Queen Mother was Animatronic. It's not true. And no, I won't help you prove it to the world. Disney Imagineers had nothing to do with her.

And I don't know who this ward of yours is anyway. Why do you keep telling me she might soon be eighty-fourth in line for the throne? That's frankly impossible. We at Disney work hard to ensure that our It's A Small Loo After All Facilities are as enjoyable as the rest of our park, and there is never a wait of more than one or two for each stall.

Michael Eisner

Silent writes:

Picture: A Modest Young WomanDear Sir Charles,

For many moons I have been an avid reader of your column, joining that vast assembly of satisfied ladies and gentlemen who giggle profusely at the antics of a beleaguered society, or click their tongues in displeasure at those horrible displays of penmanship.

Pardon my wordiness. I do have a problem to present to you, good sir, for your perusal and, hopefully, your advice.

Often, in company (polite or otherwise), I find it difficult to extend myself in conversation for, more often than not, the topics on hand range from the merely boring to the absurdly dull and even abysmal. And yet, I feel I have to observe custom and attend these silly social occasions in order to "look around" for a suitable partner for relationships or even (shudder) marriage. Is it absolutely necessary for me to speak at these occasions?  Or need I be present at all?

Ever yours and silent,
Silent Hoof

Sir Charles replies:

My dear girl,

To you one will impart a secret of getting through a dull social event. Though handy for those occasions on which you are reasonably certain you will never see any of your fellow attendees again, the secret can effectively keep your closer associates hopping, if employed discreetly.

In short, why limit your conversations to the boring old truth? You will find people simply flocking to you if you outline your archaeological exploits in the Sub-Saharan desert, or discuss with obvious vexation how you were the infamous 'Squidgy' to whom the Prince of Wales breathed heavily over the phone lines, but due to a Parker-Bowles conspiracy, the press was never allowed to know.

Discuss your fascinating employment as overseas promotional manager to Madonna, or your former husband, Cliff Richard. Mock the folk who bore you. Keep them guessing. Not only will you be amused for months to come, but there is no doubt that you will enliven a gathering at which most of the conversation centers around investment banking, motor troubles, and the wonders of child birth.

Always appreciative of a great whopper of a fib, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Lady Celene writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

You must forgive me for troubling you quite so over what may amount nothing more than a trivial matter in you learned eyes.

Still, pardon a poor lady who is quite frightened out of her wits in this delicate matter, which one is sure that you will threat with the utmost discretion.

One's husband has of late taken to frequenting entertainment establishments late into the night which, according to him, is for the general amusement of his clients in order to promote his business. Having hired an independent observer, much to astonishment I have discovered that he is attending the Revuee Hot Hot Hot so cleverly run by your nephew, Chauncey Grandiose. In particular, one is reliably informed that he has taken up with one Chi Chi Domestica, a lady of negotiable (though not defensively so) virtue.

How would one approach the subject of this habit, with due consideration to the subject's promise early into one's marriage that he would forgo such activities? It is of grave import for I am in frightfully unladylike distemper and quite frankly may soon resort to any means necessary to fill the empty space at my bed and to resume what should be proper relations between a man and his wife.

One waits in eager anticipation for your gracious reply and remains ever
Your humble servant,
Lady Celene Chatterly of Binksley Hall
(Unrelated to the infamous Lady Chatterly of that cad Lawrence's immoral literature)

Sir Charles replies:

Lovely, lonely Lady,

Any means necessary to fill the empty space? Goodness, it is close in here. Is one flushing slightly? It must be the August heat.

One feels it truly necessary, in order to remain the soul of discretion, perhaps to discuss this matter more closely with the correspondent. Face to face, as it were. One is enclosing by return post the Essex Gazetteer. Merely highlight the route, my dear lady, and one's driver will pull the Rolls around to the front door so that one may provide the--and how shall one say it delicately?--personal attention this sort of problem always involves.

If one's wife calls, one requests that your staff answer the telephone as 'The Manchester Men's Spa and Monastery.' Merely a whim, my dear, dear, dear, dear, dear lady.

Fanning oneself, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Confused writes:

Picture: Such A Marriage Was More Common In Victoria's Time, You KnowMy Dear Penelope Windsor-Smythe,

One writes to you on the edge of distress, young lady to young lady.  Of course, not being eighty-fifth in line for the throne, one could never hope to equal your own grace and perfection, but after all, that is why one desperately seeks your advice!

I am in the habit of paying regular visits to a dear old fuss of a retired general who was a close companion of my own dear papa's.  He is a stately gentleman with a tendency towards morbidity, though one has noticed that one's own visits have a tenancy to enliven his enthusiasm.  In fact, the other night, when he was allowing one a rare glimpse of his gun collection, he seemed more than usually enthusiastic as one fondled his dear pistol. 

The trouble is, that my dear gentleman friend is a most delightfully fusty of men.  Nonetheless, while sitting there, happily petting the shaft of his implement, one was struck with a rather intense urge to bestow a kiss upon the bald crown of his head!  One feels almost sure that such a tendering of affection would give him great inner pleasure, but may not be easy to reconcile with his dignity. 

You can imagine one's confusion!  Happily one called to mind your own cozy relationship with Sir Charles, and was inspired to write to learn how YOU, Dear Penelope, control yourself when faced with the urge to show tender affections to your guardian (whose readers are so numerous that, were they petit-fours presented for tea, would be enough to feed all the underprivileged children in the world for years to come).

Confused in Kensington

Young Penelope Windsor-Smythe replies:

My dear friend,

It's very true that older gentlemen, upon the receipt of a sign of affection, often become confused. Why, some of them have even given one hefty cheques on the spot, the poor dears. As if I was their accountant! (In case you wonder, I always deposit them immediately. The gentlemen would be offended if I brought the errors to their attentions.)

That's why I always find it best, unless the older gentleman in question is extraordinarily flush, to limit my appreciations to verbal compliments. A shy observation that the gentleman seems in the prime of his life is always apropos. An exclamation that his pistol is the biggest you've seen would not be remiss. And didn't you say that your dear old friend was a general? Why not remark innocently that you've heard from other sources that his privates always stood stiffly at attention?

It's the little things, my dear friend, that endear us to our elders.

Counting the cheques, one remains,
Penelope Windsor-Smythe

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