Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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February 22, 1999 Picture: Censerious BehaviourWhen one was a lad (and despite the allegations of a certain Sir Charles Hater In South Carolina, the period in question did not occur during the Jurassic age), religion was a bit of a dull thing. Every Sunday morning one would rise and be scrubbed and dressed by the servants, trundled into the motor, and transported to church in Fishampton. There one did the usual round of kneeling and praying, snoozing through the weekly message, and taking a goodly chug of the communion wine during the Eucharist. Then home again to sit in the parlour all afternoon while one's Pater read the newspapers and one's Mater worked upon her embroidery. What a dull set of events that was.

Luckily, these days our neighbors on the other side of the Atlantic have the evangelistic sorts to liven things up. And liven things up they have, readers!

Where the clerics of the Church of England are stolid creatures, circumstancing and pomping about in their robes, in the United States of America, the ministers are fellows of fire and brimstone. Where our attenuated religious figures dither on about Heavenly Love and Good Deeds, the Yanks are calling down heavenly retribution upon the vile sinners, just as in the good old days of the Spanish Inquisition. What a glorious day for an auto-da-fe, eh?

For example. Last year a certain Mr Robertson in the colony of Virginia called God's wrath upon the entire state of Florida, which in comparison apparently makes a week spent in Sodom and Gomorrah during the height of the mid-summer orgies seem like a rather uneventful visit to dear Aunt Tilly in Dullshampton-by-Sea. One was glad of the new information, as one had naively thought of Florida as a haven for retirees and dear old crinklies who craved a bit of warmth and citrus. But no, readers. Mr Robertson says it is a cesspool of sin and sexual degradation, and when he called down a hurricane to blast the peninsular state to smithereens, one fully believed they deserved it.

Of course, the first hurricane of the season made headway straight to Mr Robertson's own state of Virginia, damaging the coastal regions there. But these things happen.

More recently, we have a Reverend Falwell to thank for his penetrating observations into the dangers of children's television. According to his sources--the Good Lord himself, no doubt--the children's programme Teletubbies has a character who is . . . well, one will simply have to say it with no beating around the bush. Ladies, avert your eyes. Hide your young. Yes, the character of Tinky-Winky is, according to this man of God, a poof.

Yes, Tinky-Winky is a fancy-pants. A bit light in the loafers. Never mind that the Teletubbies themselves are enormous infantile creatures with televisions in their bellies. And never mind that some aver that what disgusting, depraved acts a pair of Teletubbies perform with their cathode tubes in the privacies of their own room is their own business and no one else's. Never mind even that the minister has never watched the programme in question. There is a danger here, and we have Mr Falwell to thank for pointing it out.

One finds it a good thing, on the whole, that the American religious right has turned its attention away from trivialities such as poverty and hunger towards things that really matter, like hurricanes and Teletubbies and impeachments. One is also oh-so-grateful for their concerns over something called the 'Year 2000 Bug.' After all, if evangelistic chaps such as Mr Falwell and Mr Robertson weren't such experts in computer system maintenance, one wouldn't have known the necessity of purchasing a four-year supply of freeze-dried turkey tetrazzini and a stockade of ammunition for one's forty new Uzis.

Oh, you lucky Americans. If only one's own countrymen would stop exalting the divine in each of us, and would spend a bit more time searching for the devil in everyone else!

Sanctimoniously, one remains for yet another week,
Sir Charles Grandiose

William writes:

Picture: The American AristocracySir Charles:

While I respect the fact that you are a baronet of the British peerage, I must protest at your repeated insistence that your small and privileged portion of the British population is the only true elite.

I come from quite a distinguished American family; my ancestors came over on the Mayflower, and have included some truly notable figures. My bloodlines can be traced back for centuries. My father and mother were both in Who's Who, as were their parents before them.

In fact, Sir Charles, I am a perfect representation of what is called 'American Aristocracy,' a truly elite sect that, if I might venture to say so, is even more distinguished in lineage than even the British peerage. I wish that you would remember that your own aristocracy is not the only true one.

William Paternoster III

Sir Charles replies:

Dear 'Billy',

'American Aristocracy,' eh? My boy, you can scoop up a dog dropping while it is still steaming fresh, bronze it, wrap it in a piece of silk, take it to the local church, pound it on the organ with it and pretend it's the Archbishop of Canterbury performing a Bach Toccata, but when you unwrap it, it's still a stinking turd playing the 'Beer Barrel Polka.'

On that high note, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Melanie writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

I'm 15 and have a son named Randy he is almost 17 months old. Well see he likes to make himself throw up. You see it is not because he doesn't get his own way. He just stands there and for no rason starts gagging himself. I don't know what to do I even asked his doctor about it and he aid " it is lack of disipline". Please help i don't know where else to turn. should i read some books and try to play doctor myself?

Melanie Jacoby
From Kunkletown PA

Sir Charles replies:

My dear Miss Jacoby,

As one began gagging six words into your letter, one is in thorough sympathy with your infant son.

In regard to playing 'doctor' yourself: Isn't that how you got into this predicament to begin with?

Shaking his head, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Chesterfield writes:

Picture: Ah, Sweet Mystery of LoveDear Sir Charles

One finds oneself in a dilemma of the heart and of the blood. 

As one is sure you know (one inserts this information merely for the benefit of your unwashed readers, who are, it is rumoured, so numerous that were each a McDonald's "Happy Meal" the world's famines would be ended) one's family is, like your own, of impeccable lineage and breeding.  Indeed, one can even trace it as far back as Engelbert the Lecherous (in fact, one believes that he is a common, albeit rather uncommon, ancestor).

One has, however, got oneself into a bit of a pickle by dashedly stupidly falling madly in love with a woman.  That is not where the problem lies, for she is beautiful, charming, intelligent, with deep brown eyes that seem to speak of languid days of love . . . ahem.  The problem is that she is, how shall one put it,  of Semitic extraction.

One deems this irrelevant to the path of true love, but Mater objects most vociferously.  She won't even let one use the J-word in the house, and threatens to disown one entirely and pass on the title to one's dimwitted inbred younger brother, Montmorency (who bears more than a passing similarity to your idiot secretary in his actions). 

Sir Charles, as a fellow nobleman and fellow man, one begs you to tell one, what is one to do!?

Yours sincerely,
The Honourable Chesterford Hurkley-Hurkley Parrington Windley-Smythe.

Sir Charles replies:

Chesterfield, old boy,

Discriminating against a prospective spouse on the basis of her religion is, I fear, terribly passe. It's simply Not Done in polite circles.

These days, the truly discerning set aside a few hours in order to interview the prospective bride or groom in order to ascertain their finer qualities. Specifically, one hires a specialist and subjects them to both the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and a test of the Intelligence Quotient.

You see, old chum, what's a bit of religion to stand in the way of True Love? On the other hand, if the girl's a bit low of wattage in the old lightbulb, would you want her to pass that on to your sons and daughters? Of course not. What good is a wife who knows her Bible if she opines that the greatest days of the British Empire were those in which 'Wham!' had hits in Top of the Pops.

Of course, none of the above applies if the prospective bride is French. A bit of eclair can make a man's mouth water, but it doesn't mean you should bring it home to Mother.

Noting that there are limits to tolerance, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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