May 15, 2000
These halcyon days of spring, how they lift the spirits. Who among us, whether born in city or in country, fails to feel his heart gladden as leaves bud and fan along the length of tree branches, providing shade for the ever-warming sun? Who cannot resist picking a wildflower, fresh-blossomed in the field? Our ears perk at the familiar sounds of the season--the babbling brook, the chirp of the birds, the gladsome bark of the dog as he chases through the fields after a coney. One must not neglect the smells of spring, either. How the nose tingles at the smell of cut grass, or at the fragrant attar of hyacinth, daisy, and rose. A veritable feast for the senses, is spring.
One's favourite pastime, this time of year, is the timeless sport of angling. There is nothing finer than a day spent on the river, the sun glinting in kaleidoscopic patterns onto the sheltering trees. There is no better sound than the gentle lap of water against one's boat, or finer smell than the damp mould of the river's bed.
One rises, in the morning at an early hour, before dawn. Indeed, before the rest of the household. One's man attires one in one's traditional fishing accoutrements--the boots, the trousers, the tweeds. There is no need to wake anyone else. Except, of course, one's barber, for any last minute-trimming of the nostril and ear hair. And one's Swedish facial massage therapist, of course, and his three assistants.
Then one tiptoes downstairs, careful not to wake the rest of the household. Let them rest. Fishing is a solitary pastime, one for the reflective man who can fend for himself. One even dispenses with a breakfast in the dining-room. Why wake so many servants? A formal breakfast is a fuss and one is not a fussy man, when one is going fishing. A quick nibble in the kitchen prepared by a skeleton crew of a dozen or so kitchen staff is sufficient, followed by a quick look-to from one's manicurist, while one's secretary reads one the papers over the clatter of the dishes being washed by the two and twenty pretty scullery maids. A quick wipe of the footwear by the boot-black, and one is done with breakfast.
Oh, it is good to be alone, before dawn, knowing that one will enjoy a day's sport on the river. One strides past the two score footmen assembled and waiting outside the kitchen door, reminding one's tiny entourage (the footmen, carrying the parts for one's riverside tent, the three professional chefs that will prepare one's riparian luncheon, the score of kitchen staff that will assist the chefs, the map specialist, one's secretary, and of course, one's personal meteorologist and fashion consultant) to keep their voices down so that the household might not be awakened. On these solitary fishing mornings, one is always careful to cause the least trouble to the household. One is just that sort of chap.
Onward we go, to the stables, where one wakens only one stable boy in order to mount one's prize horse, Mr. Ed. No need to rouse more of the stablehands. One has hired four lorries to transport the other servants, the portable tent, the electrical generators, the string quartet, and the humidor. Thoughtful that way, one is.
And then at last, the river. A quick morning snack in one's air-conditioned tent, accompanied by the strains of Mozart. A good Cuban cigar. Then one strides forth from this oasis of comfort to the river's edge. A servant baits one's hook. Another casts the line. Again. And again. At last, a bite! Another servant takes the pole and struggles manfully against his piscine opponent. He reels it it. At the last moment, he hands it to one, and one lifts it from the water, still flopping about.
One has made the first catch of the day! Fatigued, one retires to one's tent for snuff, luncheon, and a well-needed foot massage, accompanied by a facial mud wrap and aromatherapy.
This is why one enjoys fishing, readers. It is a primal sport: Man against prey. No fuss, no complexities. One is, after all, little else but a simple man who takes simple pleasure in such simplicity.
Simply himself for yet another week, one remains,
dear Sir Charles,
Sir Charles replies:
Ah, Miss Salington-Percy,
Yes, yes indeed, the Lady Felicia's chutney is quite incomparable. Though if you were to try to compare it to something, one might start with the effects of mustard gas upon the troops when they fought in the Great War, eh?
But to your question. It is certainly true that there are portions of a gentleman's body that, if they are not regularly exercised, suffer deleterious effects. Indeed, they are inclined to attain a shade of indigo that is quite painful to behold. However, you might take the approach that the Lady Felicia used upon one's own wedding night, in which she graphically described her willingness permanently to remove said muscles permanently.
One has never felt the need for exercise again.
With regards, one remains,
Miss Thang writes:
Dear Sir Charles,
Sir Charles replies:
My dear Miss Thang (what a charming name . . . is it Oriental?),
Close the wing flaps, and you'll find your drag much decreased upon take-off. And despite your apparent desire to become an aviatrix, you might next time reconsider the choice of a relative as your flying instructor.
Always glad to help a young lady in distress, one remains,
Soon-To-Be Shameless writes:
Okay, so I'm an exchange student in Paris, and it's just fabulous. Everything is so beautiful, and I love the French language. But I'm not really all that experienced in, you know, that stuff. L'amour. I've only gotten to first base!
But Paris is just awakening feelings in me! I want to experience everything. But I want my first experience to be, you know, incredible. And memorable. Really memorable.
So can you help? How can you tell when a Frenchman is well hung?
Soon-to-be Shameless Hussy
Sir Charles replies:
You can always tell a Frenchie is well-hung when only the very tip of your index finger can slip between his neck and the noose.
Always the definitive authority, one remains,