Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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May 4, 1999 Picture: The Lady Felicia, Ever SereneFor a fortnight, one had been expecting a certain letter. A letter from one's friend Gilly Madsen, an old school chum unfortunate enough to have to work for a living as a physician. Daily, one's servants brought in the post upon a silver platter, and one would look through the various missives. A letter from one's Mater, in the asylu . . . er, that is, in her private country cottage. Several crayon-scrawled missives from one's readers in the States. An assurance that I 'may have already won' a prize of two hundred and fifty pounds. Another letter of dubious prurient content from 'Hearthwarmer in Hampshire.'

At last, this week, it came! One opened it with trembling, anxious fingers.

Dear Chas.,

I'm sure you're anxious to hear the results of your blood tests. Don't worry, old bean, I made sure the laboratories got an alias. Wouldn't do to have this kind of thing leak to the tabloids, would it? Many sorries for the delay. You'd understand why if you saw the match between our old school and Eton. Gormsley threw a. . . .

One will spare one's readers from the three-page tedium of the rest of the letter, overinvolved as it was with the minutiae of the latest cricket matches. One was most angered, however, that Gilly did not respect one enough to exclude these digressions from his self-indulgent narrative. After all, one was expecting a simple answer of 'nega. . . .' that is, one wanted an answer, not a cricket saga.

Digressions! How one abhors them. As the author a weekly column seen by--and one should be modest here--mere millions, one has learned that in order to retain an audience and to keep them vitally interested in what one has to say, one must be simple, direct, and avoid any hint of digression! None of this personal chatter about cricket and the old school days at St. Barnaby's School for Willful Yet Privileged Boys. At least, one thinks it was at St. Barnaby's that one met Gilly. It may have been The Wildmoore Retreat for Intellectually Challenged Youth. One finds that with age, the memory begins to fade. And those several dozen schools one attended as a lad were all very much the same, in the end. Porridge for brekkers, polishing the boots of the boys in the upper classes, jolly pranks on the proctors. Then Pater would get a trunk call from the Headmaster and off one would go, one's ear in Pater's firm grasp, to another establishment. What happy, carefree days.

Digressions! Why, they are the very symptom of a mind so diseased, so cluttered, so void of self-discipline that it cannot, will not, and never shall. . . . One hopes that one did not leave one's readers with the impression that one has shut one's mother in an asylum, above. Such would be far from the truth. The dear old lady is allowed to do whatever she wishes, from knitting to indulging in quaint chats with her fellow inmates, to watching the telly, so long as it can be done in the confines of her room and as long as nothing can damage the rubber-coated walls. Why, one received a lovely balaclava of pink worsted from her just last month. It blazed beautifully in the library fire.

Digressions! In the yellow parlour just this morning one was saying to one's lady wife, Felicia, "My dear spouse, do you not think that digressions are the very bane of civilized conversation?" One waited several moments in suspense for a reply, until one noticed that the Lady Felicia was critically gazing at herself sideways in the mirror. "My husband," she said at last, smoothing down the fabric on her abdomen. "Does one look fat to you?" One regarded her thoughtfully. "Not at all, my dear," one said at last. "That stomach pumping after Colonel Jambly's Annual Memoirs of the Raj Chutney Parade did you a world of good." The Lady Felicia bit her lip and ran from the room shortly thereafter, so one never received an answer to one's question.

Digressions! Why, one is reminded of a 'joke' one heard from Lord Frost of Locksley-Charmes this past week. A garlicky Frenchman, a stout drunken Irishman, and a 't-shirt' wearing American were trapped in a rowboat with a bottle of vinegar, a rosary, and a packet of Baywatch playing cards. There was more to it, but one has quite forgotten the . . . ah, it wasn't either St. Barnaby's or Wildmoore that one met old Gilly. It was at the Gloucester Experimental College for Kiddies. The infamous Guy Fawkes 'Bedchamber Bonfire Blast.' One never did understand what all the fuss was about. The sheep was not irreparably damaged, after all.

Digr . . . dash it all. One has just remembered that when one's wife inquires as to the state of her waist, one is obliged instantly to reply, "Wife, your hourglass figure is as shapely as the day you became my blushing bride." Which in the Lady Felicia's case is certainly true. It is just that more than a few of the sands have fallen from the top half of the glass to the bottom, if one's readers understand one's implications. However, one should probably prepare some laudatory statements on her girlish figure and rush to utter them, before she orders the servants to put depilatory in one's hair lotion again. One had a devil of a time with tendrils of hair drifting down one's trouser leg into one's socks, last time.

Always logical, orderly, precise, and to the point, one remains for yet another week,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Sir Chimpley writes:

Picture: A Man With A Big HoseSir Charles,

I am, of course, a gentleman of aplomb pedigree and contribute a surplus of urbanity to my English ancestry. A well-versed penchant of the arts and literature, I have all measures taken to keep my servants in polished order.

Yet I must admit my distress on the blatant slurring of my vocation, as discerned by another 'gentleman' and his lecher of a ward. After lecturing upon the fine works of Machiavelli, I was shocked--simply appalled!--to hear that my omnipotency had been belligerently misconstrued as impotency! Sir Charles, as a fellow who bears the envy of covetous society, how am I to address this preposterous blathering?!

Sir Chimpley of Paragon

Sir Charles replies:

Dear Nibbles,

Terrible thing, gossip. Brings down the reputation, what? Rather like that dull game the aunts would make we kiddies play on dull rainy days, in which one would whisper "John's got his slicker on," and when the whisper went 'round the table, it would have evolved into, 'The don let his knickers down."

Well, one runs across these things from time to time. There was an old woman in Fishampton, for example--one won't say who (Edna Thistle, Mrs.)--who told folk that she couldn't stand to visit Blandsdown, because of the ash holes there. (Pater was a smoker, you'll remember. . . left burn marks everywhere.) One wagers you can but guess what that got slurred into.

Still stimulated by the thought of that particular libel suit, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Danny writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

My problem is I am trying to get this girl to like me what is your best (as always) advice?

Danny in Duluth

Sir Charles replies:


Normally one would suggest those things that a Lady would cherish. A bouquet of posies, plucked at dawn, and proferred with a shy smile and a gentle compliment at the annual Midsummer's Morning Melon Madness Champagne Breakfast. A pressing of the hand, beneath the moon, in the grape arbor. Why, even letting the young lady win at croquet!

However, considering the obvious social class (or lack thereof) of the correspondent, one instead suggests rubbing a meat pie over your body and catching the poor huzzy between meals.

Dismissively, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Lord Fondleroy  writes:

Picture: The Man That Plays Together....Dear Sir Charles,

I am the only child of titled and wealthy parents. There are no other children on the estate for me to play with. The servants are too busy to play with me. (Even though I overheard the butler tell the valet that the upstairs maid is a playful lass, she says she won't play with me until I'm much bigger.)

Mummy once was so tired of my whining that she allowed the chauffeur to go to the village and round up a few playmates for me, but it didn't work out. We played a few games that were quite new to me. Although my rope burns healed in almost no time, the constable still hasn't recovered quite all of Mummy's silver, so she says I'm not to play with such ruffians again. When I asked her what I should do for someone to play with, she told me I'd just have to play with myself.

Tell me, Sir Charles, what should I do? Did you have to play with yourself when you were a lad?

Little Lord Fondleroy

Sir Charles replies:

My dear boy,

When one was a lad, one was one's own best companion. Shunned by other (lesser) children, one was forced to play with oneself constantly. One played with oneself in the nursery. One played with oneself in the garden. One played with oneself in the library, and one even played with oneself in the drawing room until a group of visitors for the Westchester Hunt discovered one. Thereafter, one was forbidden to play with oneself in front of others.

As an adult, of course, you will find other outlets for your energies. You will collect spittoons, perhaps (one has some jolly ones in the shapes of the positions of the Kama Sutra). You will take long walks to visit Mistress Chatsy at Dove Cottage, in the lane. You might even develop quite a collection of saucy French literature. And as you grow, lad, you'll find that where you used to play with yourself constantly, these new hobbies will occupy your time to an extent that you only need to play with yourself once or twice a day.

With a smile at the fond memories of growing up, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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