|May 14, 2001||
Mad Cow Disease. Hoof in Mouth Syndrome. What is this green and pleasant land coming to?
One's readers (and one has it upon a sterling authority that this particular assembly of discerning individuals is so many in number that were each a grain of sand, the resulting hourglass would, were it over turned at the commencement of the most interminable performance of Cats, have barely begun to empty after the last curtain call. And would that it were the last) well know that just last autumn one took a walking-tour of many of the farms affected by these dire agricultural ailments. One petted many of the animals and let them snuffle at one's shoes. Then one moved on to the next farm on one's jolly little walk, amused at how the sheep and cattle would seem to notice the scent of the previous farm's animals upon one. And now every one of those farms has been afflicted with a mysteriously contagious disease. Strange coincidence! And how close to home it has hit.
One's readers have be solicitous in their attentions of late. "Sir Charles," they cry. "Wise, witty, wonderful Sir Charles. Your country has been maligned throughout the free world. It is a mockery! Surely it is the very last blow dealt to a once-glorious empire whose inestimable grasp of world affairs has been reduced to a mere clammy handshake? What of Britain? Will it be a mere redundancy in the new millennium?"
No, by gum. Dash it all, no!
There are still many things that only we Britons can do, things that are done better than any country on this tiny planet we call home. For them the world must turn to us, and supplicate us for our aid. And through them, we will once again triumph! One here makes a short list.
1: Toffee. To whom else can the world turn when it needs a truly good toffee? To Chzechoslovinkia? Hardly. To Canada, or one of the other third world nations? Not bloody likely. A good British toffee is something one can really sink one's teeth into.
2: Blonde actresses. Naturally there are blonde actresses from other lands, thanks to a healthy larding of Miss Clairol. But the best blonde actresses are those born and bred with the wild roses of the English countryside in their cheeks. Miss Renee Zellweger, for example, reportedly so charming in Bridget Jones' Dairy. And of course, that nonpareil of English breeding, Miss Gwenyth Paltrow, so charming and unaffected in Sliding Doors and Emma and Shakespeare in Love. Both of these young women are truly a credit to their country.Which leads to. . . .
3: Filmed adaptations of novels written by American expatriates who moved to England. Look at Frances Hodgson Burnett, for example. Could The Secret Garden or A Little Princess have been filmed in Fresno, California? And Henry James. Thank heavens for Merchant-Ivory. Would anyone else want to film his novels at all, much less read them?
4: The Regency Period. If only our government would copyright the early nineteenth century. Our nation would be the richest in the world from the royalties of the romance novels alone. And finally,
5: The accent. When an advertiser for Tender Entrails Cat Food wishes to imply class and distinction, does it hire an actor steeped in the dulcet tones of Teaneck, New Jersey, or does he hire someone who speaks properly, as a British gentleman ought? Highly scientific surveys show that everyone prefers the English accent. Except the French. They prefer garlic.
So fear not, readers. There'll always be an England while there's a country lane, and wherever there's a cottage small beside a field of grain. And that sort of rot.
Poetically, one remains for yet another week,
Dear Sir Charles,
Do you do your own laundry? Or does your wife do it for you?
Sir Charles replies:
Laundry? Laundry? Is that even a word?
One has just returned from a visit to the dictionary. One now sees. An altered form of lavendry, which provides the same root for the word laundress.
Laundry. Laundress. You see, young Zack, one's wife and oneself have very little acquaintance with the former, but a great deal of the latter. Think upon the distinction with that little walnut rattling about that empty shell of your head.
Vaguely insulted, one remains,
You, in your infinite wisdom, must aid me in this quandary, for all of your readers that I have spoken to (whose number, I am assured, were they electronic bugs, exceeds even the number of CIA sponsored listening devices in the Russian Embassy) have assured me you and only you alone can.
I am a gentleman about town, but I am perpetually worried by the prospect of, at any time, falling prey to the insidious fingers of the Orbital Mind Control lasers.
Normally, in order to protect oneself from such potentially embarrassing eventualities, one wears a tinfoil hat thus reflecting the pernicious rays onto passersby, cats, dogs and shop assistants; however, this does somewhat tip off The Enemy as to your immunity to their primary weapon.
What I seek, Sir Charles, is a gentleman's outfitters prepared to adapt a bowler lining to carry tinfoil. And in such delicate matters of style and grace one always, of course, comes to your good self.
Can you proffer the assistance for which you are so rightly famed?
Sir Charles replies:
Ah, flattering Wilbur,
Did one fail the Duchess of Kent when she inquired of one the best way to remove blood stains from a treasured family samovar after it accidentally ran into her husband fifteen times? No, one did not. Did one fail Prince Andrew when one offered to fix him up with a lovely young girl named Koo? No, one did not. Did one fail the Prince of Wales when one suggested a bit of 'superglue' behind each ear? No, one did not. Although it would have helped had he actually minded one's advice.
And shall one fail you, Worried Wilbur of Winstanley? Well . . . yes, one is afraid to say. One fears one really only knows the finest hat-makers, none of whom deal in aluminum foil. You might, however, try the haute coteur haunts of Paris. They'll wear anything over there, the garlicky Frenchies.
With a mental note to present a bonus to the lads of the Orbital Mind Control Lasers project of Grandiose Industries, one remains,
I'm a petanque player (it's like the Italian game of bocce!), and I'm constantly plagued by the other players. They're always telling my boules aren't big enough, and that I should have a bigger boule sack. I wish I could stand up to them, but I can't. Any suggestions?
Sir Charles replies:
One is afraid one must side with your compatriots. A boule sack should always be large enough to grab with a hand and fling over your shoulder after you've done playing with your boules. A small boule sack just hangs there, but a large pendulous boule sack makes a real impression.
If you're fashion conscious, you may wish to investigate the new line of fur boule sacks available from the finer establishments. Nothing is more impressive than a large, hairy boule sack.
Ever the sportsman, one remains,