February 7, 2000
It has come to one's attention that one of the more popular amusements in the newspapers and the tabloids is the daily horoscope. Every morning, countless bleary-eyed folk who could be making better use of their time by memorizing the latest Advice from Sir Charles Grandiose drag themselves to the breakfast table, crease open the newsprint, and peer to see what the day has in store for them.
Yet gentle readers, one must question this dubious forecasting. How is it possible that one-twelfth of the population, who have little in common in background, education, cultural appreciation, or style--one twelfth of the world's population who have nothing in common save for being born during a particular month--should be given the same fortune by the stars? Is it entirely likely that oneself, Sir Charles Grandiose, will find that "a new relationship proves fruitful" on the same day as a skateboard aficionado with scabs upon his knees and his trousers hanging belong the waistband of his unwashed boxer shorts?
One thinks not.
One thinks a 'revamp' of this entire horoloogical system is necessary. It means little. There are other influences far more strong than the pull of stars that are light-years distant from the earth.
Why not, for example, a system of horoscopes based upon economic background? Statistics would, one believes, prove that the predictions made under such classifications would be far more accurate than the vague concoctions that most so-called 'astrologers' make. Ponder the following examples, readers:
Filthus, the Pig (No discernable income): You will spend today sitting on your bum watching the telly, eating crisps, and drinking cider. Money can't buy happiness, but it could purchase a packet of flea repellant. Think about it.
Whiskus, the Stained White Collar (middle class income, barely): You will leave the house feeling sleepy, sit at your interminable job all day, praying for the clock hands to advance closer to quitting time. At home, you will find squalor. Smile at others today! You won't feel any better, but it will mask the despair hiding behind your frightened eyes.
Flatulentes, the Bull Market (upper middle class): Your spouse is cheating on you and drowning his or her sorrows in alcohol. The children are concealing drugs in their rooms. Your ulcer will flare up again. Do not worry about the internet stocks. They will correct themselves in due time. Buy yourself another BMW--it might erase the memory of your father being a janitor in a grammar school.
Baronetius, the Lion (upper, upper, upper crust): A bit of sport is in order for the day. One of the servants may be considering nicking the silver. Money can't buy happiness, but my, it certainly is an anaesthetic against depression. Think about it.
Born under a fortunate star, for another week, one remains
I know you're interested in genetics. But did you know that there are sexual 'positions' you can try to increase your chances of having either a boy or a girl, according to your preference? So it occurred to me, hey, maybe there's a position during the--you know, procreative process!--that determines whether a baby is stupid. Or whether a baby is born ugly! So if you know what the positions are to have a stupid ugly baby, you could avoid them!
So Sir Charles, do you know what the position is to have a stupid and ugly baby?
Sir Charles replies:
My dear boy,
Why not ask your mother? One wagers she learned from experience, if you know what one means.
With highest regards, one remains,
Lady Pamela writes:
Dear Sir Charles,
Come the new year, it becomes increasingly apparent that your advice is so thoughtful and well-dispensed, and your own person held in such high esteem, that were you to trot over to Dublin long enough to lift a finger, all of Ireland would throw itself down on its knees begging to go back to slavery and potato famine. Thus I write to you; for I fear, good Sir Charles, that you have become the victim of a nefarious and ever-widening plot.
Some time ago you published a supposedly heartfelt letter from one Amanda Rice-Davies, begging your advice on her upcoming nuptials to one Lord Oliver Haughton-Mosely. Rest assured that said nuptials have not yet taken place. On the eve of this ill-fated marriage, Lord Oliver, who happens to be my uncle, was abruptly struck by the first case of pleurisy recorded in England since 1916. Of course, Lord Oliver has always had a great respect for reviving old traditions. Miss Rice-Davies (or, as I should call her, Miss Maggots-in-the-Bread) has not stopped calling on Haughton House daily, begging admittance, but she will not cross this threshold if I can help it.
She claims to be five hundred and seventy-eighth in line for the throne; if that's true, I'm five hundred and seventy-eighth in line for tickets to the West End production of Cats. Sir Charles, the young woman in question has, I have it on good authority, played Knock-knock with the doorman, put on a French maid's uniform for the butler, and taught the entire Uxbridge Wells rugby team how to score twice over. In response to your earlier (well-phrased and gracious, of course) response to her (ridiculous, melodramatic, and utterly without class) letter, let me say I doubt she knows which chocolate has made her waist swell so.
As Lord Oliver's devoted niece, I take it upon myself to protect him from such a disreputable connection. My uncle, despite being four hundred and thirtieth in line for the throne, is not always of sound judgment, and that, combined with an English gentleman's stubbornness, leaves him deaf to my pleas. I ask you: How should I convince him to disentangle himself?
Rest assured, Sir Charles, that I only have my uncle's best interests in mind. I have always been his favorite and most beloved niece. If you entertain a moment of (entirely sensible and wise) skepticism, you need only check the last version of his will.
Sir Charles replies:
My dear Lady Pamela,
Indeed, one has been royally rooked. Everyone knows that no one stands in line for tickets to Cats.
It is a wise niece indeed who disinterestedly looks after the interests of her uncle. A fortune that goes to a fortune-hunter of either sex is a most unfortunately misfortune. Er . . . that jolly well sounded better when one said it aloud in a vituperative tone, beating one's hand against the library table. But one supposes the correspondent knows what one means.
It is a curious thing, but young Penelope Windsor-Smythe also volunteered to work with the Uxbridge Wells rugby team in the same sort of sports training capacity. (As eighty-fifth in line for the throne, her daily schedules of eurhythmies and 'jumping jacks' has rendered her most flexible and supple.) One must insist that she resigns from the position so that she might not consort with vile pretenderesses.
As for your question . . . oh, the usual remedies will suffice. Croquet in the garden infested with bear traps. Giving her the 'special Wedgewood cup' with the arsenic glaze. Blackmail. A thoughtful niece will no doubt think of a hundred other methods of exterminating pests.
Wishing Lady Pamela well, one remains,
Mrs. Crandling writes:
Dear Sir Charles,
I am an eighty-two year old great-grandmother of six, and still reasonably spry. Still, I read your column weekly.
Fashion is such a mystery to me these days. I don't understand the things that young people wear these days. They seem salvaged from the dump. When I was a girl, we wore beautiful dresses, beautiful jewelry, and took pride in our appearance. Even women my current age took care with their appearance when I was a girl.
But my grandchildren seem to think otherwise. They prefer to see me dressed up like an old frump, most of the time. For my birthday I dressed up in a beautiful blue gown and wore a beautiful old necklace with a pendant given to me by my mother. I walked downstairs, feeling like a queen, and my granddaughter looked at me and said, "Grandmama, that pendant is drawing attention to your breasts! No one wants to look at those! Why don't you put on that thing I gave you for Christmas!" The thing in question, Sir Charles, is a padded sweatshirt that makes me look like a sumo wrestler.
Am I wrong not to swathe every inch of skin with clothing? If not a pendant, what can I wear between my bosoms?
Awaiting your reply,
Sir Charles replies:
Dear Mrs. Crandling,
What can you wear between your bosoms? One senses that your granddaughter's answer might be, "Your navel."
However, my dear, it might be said that the old fashions never die. Wear what you choose, flaunt your strengths, and never repent of your choices, if justly made. It is a motto held dear by
Your faithful correspondent,