October 2, 2000
Autumn approaches. A time of sweet-smelling leaves, drifting aground. A season of plenty, as the fields spill forth their crops, and the trees are heavy with their burden of fruit. A period of warm days, cool nights, and the e'er-approaching spectre of Winter. A melancholy three months, as the decay of nature progresses inexorably, leaving behind only traces of that sweet happiness that was summer.
And also the time for Colonel Jambly's Annual Memoirs of the Raj Chutney Parade, the festival that has put Fishampton squarely on the map. (That is, the "Map of the Unusual, Freakish, and Strange, Including Crop Circles You Will Go Ga-Ga Over, U.K.1992." We've not yet made Baedecker's.)
One's readers (and one has it upon an unshakable authority that this privileged group is so many in number that were each a small female corgi, there would be more bitches than even at the annual Weston-Super-Mare National Female Impersonator Slap-Off, hosted last year by the elegant Anita Manceau-Baddeley, the feminine and petite fiancÈe of one's nephew) must picture, in their minds' eyes, the elegance. The bright silks and saris of the women. The crisp military uniforms of the men. The Fishampton Womens' League Sitars and Stripes Forever Marching Band.
And at the center of the Village Green, assisted by one's servants, one yearly sets to and achieves a magnificent erection. An erection not to be rivaled for miles around, at which the folk of ------shire travel for miles to admire. Oh yes, it might take all morning to achieve, and quite a bit of sweat and hard manual labour. But it is worth it, just to see the slack-jawed expression on the faces of those who have never seen anything quite like it. One is not ashamed to admit that the massive Tent of Edible Delights is among the tallest and most spacious in the region.
For it is in this massive erection of tentpoles and canvas that the grandest of rivalries occurs every year: the judging of the chutneys. During the months of August and September the ladies of Fishampton all labour in their kitchens to produce the most tempting, the tastiest, and the freshest chutneys for the judges to sample. And what greater rivals could there be than the Lady Felicia and her arch-enemy, Edna Thistle, Mrs.?
For years the Lady Felicia has reigned triumphant in this Paradise Lost-like struggle between Good and Evil. And the Lady Felicia has always won. Well, save for the year we were all sent to the hospital for botulism. This year's impartial judges (carefully selected from a handful of one's own employees who are this year up for promotion or a rise in their wage packet) agree most fervently: This will again be Lady Felicia's year to triumph.
And what chutneys has the Lady Felicia produced for this competition? What tastebud-tantalizing array of gustatory delights has she instructed the servants to prepare with her own dainty, porcelain hands? One advises one's readers not to read the list before a meal, for it will induce instantaneous hunger. There is her specialty, Lamb's Tongue and Mango Chutney. There is her infamous Savoury Prune, Mutton, and Cod's Liver Oil Butter. There is the Strawberry, Aniseed, and Duck's Foot Mince.
Who among us could resist the tangy richness of her Chocolate Pig's Brain Marmalade, or the Gooseberry and Pickled Catfish Jam? Even one's own bought and paid for judges admit that their impartiality is swayed by her Layered Spiced Kidneys a la Grape Bubble Yum. And at the indescribable smell of her Curried Steak Tartare in a Mint Limburger Aspic, pregnant women have been known to faint.
Ah, the delights that lie ahead. One declares one will gain several pounds, by the end of it. A good thing Lady Felicia recently purchased foir oneself an exercise gadget of some sort. One believes it is called a Thy Master. Entirely appropriate for a baronet such as oneself, don't one readers think?
For yet another week, one remains,
Dear Sir Charles,
I'm having a disagreement with my parents in the area of my college education. You see, I'm in my second year and have to choose a major. I am set upon Polish Studies. I'm quite fluent in Polish and feel that there's a lot I could do in Polish Studies. I'm very earnest about it.
My parents, though, want me to take up something practical, like Business. I couldn't stand the thought of it. What should I do?
Marla, a young student
Sir Charles replies:
My dear young lady,
What could be more practical than Polish Studies? Gracious, one was not even aware that they taught such things in the schools, these days. One's grandparents would be proud. If you are fluent in Polish, and know the ins and outs of it, employers world-wide would welcome you with open arms.
For you see, Marla, there's more to Polish Studies than just knives and forks. The education of one's own servants seems to have stopped there. But there are handmirrors that need Polishing, and spittoons, and serving trays, and silver picture frames, and any number of objects fashioned from semi-precious metals that require a bit of Polish and some dedicated arm work.
If you truly apply yourself to your Polish Studies and feel the master of Polishing the Lady Felicia's famed thirty-two armed Victorian epergne, one will be glad to consider your application for employment, oneself.
How's that for an attractive compliment to share with mum and dad?
Encouraging the correspondent to swot up, one remains,
I recently acquired a handsome new Perkins Assembly which is in wonderful condition, but for one flaw.
To be brief, the unit is missing the Schwitters bolt securing the intake flange to the primary ventilation housing. I had considered milling down a rotisserie skewer and using that, but it's a '57 Perkins "Dyna-Lunge" which, as I'm sure you know, can be as temperamental as it is efficient. More so, sometimes.
In any case, I wasn't certain that my lathe (a sturdy Craftsman!) could mill the skewer down to spec without compromising tensile strength. I've had enough experience with these assemblies to know that anything but smooth operation of all three ventilation flanges can lead to costly repairs. And if a flange gives out during a secondary batch cycle, the operator could very well loose an eye. Scwhitters bolts are no longer manufactured. What should I do?
Sir Charles replies:
One suggests the correspondent might consider the entire implementation strategy for implementing your primary and secondary batch cycle methodology. After all, many off-the-shelf tools and strategies exist for retrofitting the "Dyna-Lunge" in such a way to produce results that not only increase its overall torque, but increase its overall output-to-energy-intake ratio. And yet, as you have so richly pointed out, ventilation is key.
Has the correspondent perhaps considered retooling the Assembly with a venting and locking collar? Many are available either spooled or flanged and ready for installation. Don't overlook venting collars for polytetrafluoroethylene or perfluoroalkoxy lined pipe if flanged pipe ends are already fabricated onsite.
Has the correspondent considered these things? One thought not.
Finally, you might reconsider your entire approach for cooling and removing the flare die. The fact you scarcely mention it is cause for concern. Oh, the horror. The horror.
Always glad to assist, one remains,
So like, I was walking past her the other day and she's like at her locker with this guy, Rory, and she gives me this look like he's all that, and I'm like, whatever! And she's like, you know, and I said, whatEVER, Blaize, and she was like, going totally Springer and if I hadn't been like, whatever!, they would have had to hold me back because she had it like, totally coming.
The Lady Felicia replies:
My dear Candi,
One applauds your sense of decorum and dignity. You demonstrate a forbearance that is truly beyond your years. Ladies should always strive to maintain a cool aloofness when they find themselves in situations like the one you describe so eloquently, but it is not easy.
As a matter of fact, nine girls out of ten would have grabbed Blaize by her sparkly In Sync necklace and whapped her head from side to side until that last pea came flying out and hit Rory in the eye.
You, however, are that special tenth girl. You will go far.
Serenely, one remains,