Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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September 13, 1999

Picture: A Slouch On The CouchIt is a sad fact that one's social duties as baronet occasionally force one to that loathsome sink of depravity and sin known as London, where one has been the past fortnight. For those readers (and one has it upon an unshakable authority that the teeming throngs of this elite group is so many in number that were they all to stand on the San Andreas fault and, upon the count of three, jump into the air and land on their feet, they might rid the world of California for good) who still think of London as a picturesque city of old-world treasures, Bobbies, and quaint photographic opportunities, one hastens to inform them that they are wrong. When one returns from that dank and dismal city, one returns not with happy memories and a Brownie full of snapshots, but a inch-thick layer of grime and grease that takes repeated scrubbings with carbolic soap to remove.

It is also a sad fact that when in London, one is expected by one's companionship-starved wife to attend several so-called 'smart parties.' One's readers may have been to similar affairs. Waiters with canapes and cocktails. A hostess gaily pairing off guests for 'interesting chat.' An hour of two of strained conversation with perfect strangers. The discreet look at the pocket watch. The signal to the wife. The fumbling for coats, and the polite excuse, until finally one is on the streets again, wondering why one ever left one's home.

It was at one of these parties, hosted by Griselda Hampton-Phudle, that one was subjected to the so-called 'dream analysis.' One was trying to ingest the fifth in a series of quick whiskey and sodas when one's hostess cornered one. By her side was a woman in a smart business suit and spectacles who was regarding one with frank interest. (Well, one is rather fit for one's age.) "This is the one we've all told you about," murmured one's hostess to her companion meaningfully, before turning to oneself and saying, "Sir Charles! This is Dr Jean Fitzsimmons. She's a Freudian and is very interested in talking to you! I hope she can do a spot of good for you." Ever thoughtful, Griselda Hampton-Phudle.

Dr Fitzsimmons instantly inquired into the nature of one's dreams. Well, one's readers know one's opinion that what one dreams when the draperies are drawn around one's four-poster are better left undiscussed, but one found that Jean's gentle way of making one comfortable on the leather couch in the Hampton-Phudle smoking room soon elicited one's confidences.

So one told her about the recurring dream in which one is on the Orient Express and one is the only passenger, attended to by a strike series of French maids in uniform, as the train plunges in and out of tunnels while "The Theme to Shaft" plays gently in the background. At the end of the dream one emerges onto a long avenue, at the end of which are the Tivoli fountains, while long rows of women knees on the ground and uncork bottles of bubbling, overflowing, foamy champagne. At that point Dr Fitzsimmons dropped her notebook and had to pick it and her jaw from the floor, but she quickly told one to continue.

One next told her about the dream in which one's ward, young Penelope Windsor-Smythe (with whom Dr Fitzsimmons was wholly unacquainted, despite her preeminent status as she who is eighty-fifth in line for the throne) stands half naked upon a haystack, a giant anaconda twining around her body, while dozens of stripped farmhands toss thorny roses at her from below.

"Oh my g-d!" exclaimed the psychoanalyst. "Do you ever dream of your wife?"

"Why of course," one replied, and proceeded to tell her of the recurring dream in which the Lady Felicia floats on a doughnut shaped glacier down the canals of Venice, swathed in furs, refusing to meet one's glance as one runs along the sidewalks calling her name and waving a large sausage. After a very, very long silence, the good doctor finally asked, "Sir Charles, I really must ask . . . how do you interpret this dream? For the significance seems crystal clear to me."

"It's clear to oneself as well," one said imperiously, for no mere Fraudian gets the goat of Sir Charles Grandiose. "Everyone knows that the Lady Felicia is fond of Italian ices."

It was at that point that Dr Fitzsimmons volunteered to visit one at Blandsdown for an indefinite series of similar conversations. One always knew that one was a fascinating conversationalist!

Looking forward to more revelations, one remains for yet another week,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: A Gentleman's GentlemanMr. Vortigern writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

Despite many loyal years as the Gentleman's Gentleman to a noted member of the aristocracy, I find myself lacking the experience required to properly execute my duties at this time.  I write in the hope that your noted advice will be of assistance in resolving a sudden and inconvenient crisis.

His Lordship is a distinguished man of science, and is ever keen to push back the boundaries of human knowledge.  Alas, despite his many accomplishments, it now appears that certain of the lower castes resident in the nearby town have misunderstood his philanthropic outlook.

I am uncertain of the protocols appropriate for receiving an angry mob.  Should I serve a light sherry to demonstrate the social superiority of my employer, or dispense small beer to display sympathy with their lowly station?  Is a lighted torch to be taken from a visitor before or after his pitchfork?

Finally, given the urgency of the situation, do you feel it permissible to pass news to the Baron in a voice loud enough to be heard over the noise of the electrical apparatus, or should I wait for the thunderstorm to pass?

In the hope of a hasty response, as the Castle door grows increasingly weaker,
Mr. Vortigern
Butler to the Baron

Sir Charles replies:

Mr Vortigern,

One is always happy to help those who seek to preserve the niceties in any situation. Your employer is truly fortunate to have you in his service.

But one must ask, how did this angry mob ask for admittance to the baronial castle? Did they present their calling cards, or did they merely charge up the rocky cliffs in the midst of the thunder and rain and haul out the old battering ram? If the latter, I should think you and your staff might take pity on the poor cold souls and administer a hot cocktail of boiling lead from the crenellations. With the best cauldron, of course.

At any rate, should the Baron and his creation meet with an unfortunate fate at the hands of the angry villagers, you might remember that you may always find a place on the staff of

Your correspondent,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Betty writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

Did you ever go through a whole day of celebrity speeches, and then all the general schmoozing with important people after that, only to find, when you got home, that you had this huge booger, and no one had told you about it the entire livelong day?

And what on earth did you do then?

Avidly wishing to know,
Miss Betty Eveready,
formerly of Pasadena.

Sir Charles replies:

Miss Eveready,


And who told you about one's wedding day, anyway? One thought one paid off all the attendees.

Resentfully, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: Aw, Nuts!Sister Marion-Bert  writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

I am a nun in a most embarrassing situation. My name is Sister Marion-Bert Aretha Yolanda, of the Blessed Sisters of Hot-Cross-Bunthorne Abbey, and I would like to take this opportunity to apologize deeply and profoundly in writing for any correspondence you may have received from Sister Mary-Fred Mermanethel. The plain and simple fact of the matter is that she seems to be going quite out of her mind. As she reports various hallucinations and mental delusions, the other Blessed Sisters and I have been at our wits' end lately trying to monitor her deviant behaviours. Things are becoming a frightful mess here.

Sister Mary-Fred is quite a friend of our postman; with his help, she has ordered off sixteen times in the last three weeks for such things as "Precious Moments figurines" and "black-velvet paintings of Elvis," after which she revealed to us that she was "inspired to do so by Sir Charles and the Holy Ghost, and some doves which flew up." Charged the ordered items to our ancillary fund, which is only used to mitigate the suffering of the poor and neglected! Also, she keeps reporting to us that she has been seeing visions of such things as "seven-headed beasts, with women of Babylon dressed in red riding astride them," and "great wheels 'way up in the middle of the air!" She has also recently reported talking to God in Cyber-Space, and that He said to her, "Bill Gates is not the Anti-Christ, no matter how many little flaming computer games he has secretly woven into his programs." And as is that weren't enough, she has even been skipping out on us at vespers, only to be observed by the janitors, wandering the hallways and bellowing loudly, "Oh, I never stop at the wrong street door, when I go out at night! My number's twenty-three . . . it doesn't bother me . . . I always know my house aright!"

We other Blessed Sisters are at a loss. But the main reason I must contact you at this time is that Sister Mary-Fred wanted to enlist our help in a "Worldwide Campaign for Sainthood," which is something she started last month on a whim; we found your name on one of her mailing lists, which I fear she will continue to mail off to the Pope in Rome, if we cannot convince the postman to intercede on our behalf. Needless to say, we now have to write to countless innocent people who have possibly been taken in by this ruse, in order to apologize to them for her little flight of fancy; including the Spice Girls, Donatella Versace, President Clinton and his wife Hilary, Martha Stewart, and the Artist Formerly Known as Prince, among others too numerous to mention here. How she got their addresses I shall never know for sure. This Abbey is very large, old and drafty, with many secret passageways and corridors; and I was not aware until yesterday that Sister Mary-Fred has got a computer set up in a secret annex next to her room, and has become very proficient at "surfing the Net."

Sister Mary-Fred is barely forty-four-and-a-half, and we fear this is rather young for her to be losing her mind. However, we wanted you to know the real truth of the situation, and to apologize, profoundly and deeply, for any inconvenience this upsetting situation may have caused you.

Yours in the Light of Hope,

Sister Marion-Bert Aretha Yolanda,
Hot-Cross-Bunthorne Abbey,
South Westchestershropshireford.

P.S. Anything Sister M.F. might have mentioned to you about a daily diary I am keeping is utter nonsense, and merely another instance in a long list of her delusional ravings.

Sir Charles replies:

Holy Sister,

Bang goes the notion of 'Saint Charles Grandiose.' One supposes that one should notify the staff to stop saving one's snipped toenails and nose hair clippings to sell later as holy relics.

And it was a pity. One had ordered one's holy robes from Harrod's, too.

Disappointedly, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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