Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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September 14, 1998 Picture: The Advantages Of Knowing The Right SetFrom the unplumbed depths of murky waters, it lies submerged, beckoning with its countless treasures. Long has it lain unexplored, waiting for someone to hear its siren call, to be lured by its ancient mystery. No, Readers. One does not speak of the 'Titanic.' One refers to one's own memory of one's own school days.

For this is the time of year, is it not, when we send the little kiddies back to their studies? And of course, as difficult as it is for one's readers to envision it (and one has it upon the firmest of authorities that one's readers are so many in number that were each to print a copy of the so-called 'Starr Report,' the world's timber supply would be depleted in a matter of moments), one was a kiddie once.

Not only that, but it was not so long ago that one was sending little Penelope Windsor-Smythe off to Miss Hennisham's Day School for Lower Upper Uppers. How every parent must cherish similar memories to one's own, of one's little girl (by adoption, of course) waving to oneself as she was off to her first day of school, from the back of the Rolls, snug in her little baby sealskin coat, taking only the recommended two servants for her personal needs. Miss Hennisham's does not pamper its clientele.

It is all very well, of course, to send one's offspring to classes with the usual pencil box, mucilage, crayons, and rule for maths class. A child can subsist quite well with the basics. But readers of this particular exercise in decorum and good taste are hardly interested in the mere basics, are they? Thus one makes a few recommendations for the really essential supplies for the child who will not merely attend school, but excel at it.

Parents, don't let your children attend school for even one day without a thoroughly detailed pedigree. Yes, even for those families that may have only tenuous connections to knights or Honourables, a quick comparison on the school grounds between laminated family histories will let your child quickly discern with whom they might become fast friends, and the lesser beasts they might bully for answers to the vocabulary lessons.

There has been much said on the subject of projectile weapons in the schools of our American cousins, and one finds the idea of children carrying such weapons most repellant. However, there are occasions in which the delicate flowers of nobility will be subjected to taunts and cries of 'Pasty pasty rich boy!' from which it takes years of positive thinking to recover. What parent wants their finely bred child to be the object of unwelcome attentions from a mere scruff? It is upon these occasions that a handy Junior Sized Sabre might be handy. Not only are they quite intimidating, but they do prove useful for cracking walnuts on the schoolroom desks during boring maths classes.

And finally, let us remember the poor underpaid educators who labour all day with our children. Don't they deserve a special treat? Parents, one suggests that your child carry a special 50 pound note with them at all times. Then, in a moment of privacy, they might slip it to their poor tutor when they've not done quite as well on a geometry exam as they think they ought. There are very few teachers out there, parents, who don't recognize the error of their ways when a child gives them a pretty little giftie. In this day and age, an apple just won't do.

Remember, parents. Your child is not going to school for an education. He or she is attending so that he might learn the ways of the world. What better way to prepare them than the suggestions submitted by

Your titled correspondent,
Sir Charles Grandiose?

Rodney Henne-Pecke writes:

Picture: Our Mr Henne-PeckeDear Sir Charles Grandiose, Bart.

How pleasant it is to return to England, land of our fathers, this sceptred isle.... But I am ahead of myself.

This July just past, dear Twila (wife of 31 years) was invited to serve as docent to a group of pilgrims to the church at Stavanger, Norway, founded by Swithun shortly before he was elevated to the Episcopacy at Winchester. I must say that Twila was never in better form. The high point of the tour was certainly her declamation, from the pulpit of that historic edifice, of Swithun's Admonition to Harald Hairypalms. For a moment, one could see that old Viking slumped in his pew, withered by the blast of Swithun's rebukes.

But I digress.

Much of the pleasure of the tour was overshadowed by an untoward event as we (dear Twila and I) were leaving to church to return to our hotel. We were accosted by four ruffians (Swedes, we determined later) who were under the impression that we were acquainted with some English persons with whom they wished to communicate.

These persons, laboring under the barbarous names of Agnetha, Bjorn, Bjenny, and Anna-Fred (or some such), insisted that we (dear Twila and I) had been introduced to a Vince Brightline, an employee of one Karl Granders in some place named Fiskheim. I assured them as best I could (for they spoke no English), that such was not the case. As the saying goes, they would not take "No" for an answer and the services of the Stavanger Constabulary were required to quell the disturbance they created.

I believe I conducted myself with the aplomb one would expect from an English gentleman, but dear Twila was so distraught that she found it necessary to recline in a darkened room for the remainder of the day. This forced her to miss the scheduled tour of the local lutefiske factory.

Now I ask you, Sir Charles, as one man of the world to another, how ought one comport oneself in such a situation?  I must say that a lifetime spent in jolly Weston-super-Mare has ill-prepared me for the vagaries of foreign travel.

Hoping that we may yet meet this Autumn at Colonel Jambly's Memoirs of the Raj Marmalade and Chutney Parade, I am

Rodney Henne-Pecke
The Hennery

Sir Charles replies:

My dear Mr Henne-Pecke,

Though you have travelled little past the borders of jolly Weston-Super-Mare, let a man who is more experienced of the world tell you of its dangers.

Sweden is a dangerous land. It is a land of savage barbarians who wear horned hats and sail in outlandish ships in which they seek to conquer new lands with their soft core pornography and their streamlined modern furniture. Visitors to their country are in constant danger of being attacked by sleek dinnerware and thrown into the fjords. Frankly, Mr Henne-Pecke, one is shocked that you even considered escorting your wife to such a place.

Thanks be to Saint Swithun himself that you both escaped unharmed from these savage blond warriors. In the future, sir, limit your sight-seeing to a safe country. Lebanon, perhaps.

Looking forward to that day in October when we shall meet at the Annual Memoirs of the Raj Chutney Parade,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Wondering writes:

Dear Sir Charles:

While visiting the Colonies, I stayed with a friend whose parents were hippies in the 60's. Under the bed in my room, I found some pot. Is this customary?

Wondering in Worchester

Sir Charles replies:

It is the hallmark of all good and properly furnished bed chambers that they contain a chamber pot, and the proper and convenient place for said chamber pot is under the bed.

How thoughtful of your hosts to see that one was supplied for you, so you did not have to suffer the indignity of having to summon a servant to provide one at the last minute (and one will not begin to speculate upon the consequences should the servant be somewhat slow in responding).

It does, however, bespeak ill manners on your part that you refer to the breadth and the age of your hosts; that they are overweight and advanced in years is neither here nor there.

Disavowing an interest in Colonial matters of any sort, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Madeline writes:

Picture: A View Of Mr BricelandDear Sir Charles,

I am in the most difficult situation, and hope that you may be able to assist me at this most uncomfortable time.

It has transpired that as a lady of respectable breeding, good fortune, and excellent appearance, it has come time to find a suitable mate and settle down into blissful matrimony. Unfortunately, I reside now in the Colonies, due to bad planning on my parent's part, and I have no access to the assemblies and parties of England, in which eligible gentlemen of my rank are met. Knowing that you and your esteemed wife, Lady Felicia, live in the happiest of matrimonial bliss, I wondered if you could guide me in my attempts to reach the same state.

If you know any gentlemen in search of a domestic partner, I would be very thankful if you would forward an introduction for me. Is your secretary Mr Briceland still unattached?

Very hopefully and respectfully,
Miss Madeline Clarewood

Sir Charles replies:

Miss Madeline:

One has been called many things, in one's life. One has been called honourable. One has been called upstanding. One has been called a man of virtue, a fine son, an adequate student. One has been called an exceptional husband and a dutiful warden. But never in one's career has one been called a procurer.

However. As desperately as one would wish to rid oneself of the vacant, slack-jawed drooling form that is one's secretary, one is frightfully afraid that he already is attached. Specifically, quite a number of fleas, tics, lice, and other parasite of the animal kingdom have attached themselves to his skin, and there would seem to be a hand attached to a bottle that is permanently attached to his weak-jawed mouth. (Of course, the bottle is filled with Marmite. The boy doesn't have the stomach for anything stronger. But what does one expect of an American?)

Not a very good match, one fears. Only think of the children, my dear. Think of the children.

Still shuddering, one remains
Sir Charles Grandiose

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