October 8, 2001
At last, this week, it came! One opened it with trembling, anxious fingers.
One will spare one's readers from the three-page tedium of the rest of the letter, overinvolved as it was with the minutiae of the latest cricket matches. One was most angered, however, that Gilly did not respect one enough to exclude these digressions from his self-indulgent narrative. After all, one was expecting a simple answer of 'nega. . . .' that is, one wanted an answer, not a cricket saga.
Digressions! How one abhors them. As the author a weekly column seen by--and one should be modest here--mere millions, one has learned that in order to retain an audience and to keep them vitally interested in what one has to say, one must be simple, direct, and avoid any hint of digression! None of this personal chatter about cricket and the old school days at St. Barnaby's School for Willful Yet Privileged Boys. At least, one thinks it was at St. Barnaby's that one met Gilly. It may have been The Wildmoore Retreat for Intellectually Challenged Youth. One finds that with age, the memory begins to fade. And those several dozen schools one attended as a lad were all very much the same, in the end. Porridge for brekkers, polishing the boots of the boys in the upper classes, jolly pranks on the proctors. Then Pater would get a trunk call from the Headmaster and off one would go, one's ear in Pater's firm grasp, to another establishment. What happy, carefree days.Digressions! Why, they are the very symptom of a mind so diseased, so cluttered, so void of self-discipline that it cannot, will not, and never shall. . . . One hopes that one did not leave one's readers with the impression that one has shut one's mother in an asylum, above. Such would be far from the truth. The dear old lady is allowed to do whatever she wishes, from knitting to indulging in quaint chats with her fellow inmates, to watching the telly, so long as it can be done in the confines of her room and as long as nothing can damage the rubber-coated walls. Why, one received a lovely balaclava of pink worsted from her just last month. It blazed beautifully in the library fire.
Digressions! In the yellow parlour just this morning one was saying to one's lady wife, Felicia, "My dear spouse, do you not think that digressions are the very bane of civilized conversation?" One waited several moments in suspense for a reply, until one noticed that the Lady Felicia was critically gazing at herself sideways in the mirror. "My husband," she said at last, smoothing down the fabric on her abdomen. "Does one look chubby to you?" One regarded her thoughtfully. "Not at all, my dear," one said at last. "That fat farm did you a world of good." The Lady Felicia bit her lip and ran from the room shortly thereafter, so one never received an answer to one's question.
Digressions! Why, one is reminded of a 'joke' one heard from Lord Frost of Locksley-Charmes this past week. A garlicky Frenchman, a stout drunken Irishman, and a 't-shirt' wearing American were trapped in a rowboat with a bottle of vinegar, a rosary, and a packet of Baywatch trading cards. There was more to it, but one has quite forgotten the . . . ah, it wasn't either St. Barnaby's or Wildmoore that one met old Gilly. It was at the Gloucester Experimental College for Kiddies. The infamous Guy Fawkes 'Bedchamber Bonfire Blast.' One never did understand what all the fuss was about. The sheep was not irreparably damaged, after all.Digr . . . dash it all. One has just remembered that when one's wife inquires as to the state of her waist, one is obliged instantly to reply, "Wife, your hourglass figure is as shapely as the day you became my blushing bride." Which in the Lady Felicia's case is certainly true. She still has a shape. It is merely that more than a few of the sands have fallen from the top half of the glass to the bottom, if one's readers understand one's implications.
However, one should probably prepare some laudatory statements on her girlish figure and rush to utter them, before she orders the servants to put depilatory in one's hair lotion again. One had a devil of a time with tendrils of hair drifting down one's trouser leg into one's socks, last time.Always logical, orderly, precise, and to the point, one remains for yet another fortnight,
Sir Charles Grandiose
Dear Sir Charles,
It was a lovely late summer evening. The sun was setting in the sky, and the fairies were busy with their paintboxes, daubing the skies with bright reds and oranges. I was with my beloved, St. John St. Clair, and I was so sure he was going to 'pop the question', as it were. We'd been seeing each other for months, and I just knew that there could be no more romantic setting than we encountered that night.
"Oh St. John," I murmured. "Is not this field of violets the loveliest you have seen? I truly believe that violets are the snips that fluttered down from the sky when the angels cut peepholes in the heavens for the dear little stars. And is not the perfume of the wildflowers beautiful? I fancy that when Mother Nature wakes in the mornings, she sprinkles herself with the dew from the flowers so she can smell fresh and green all day. Do you not think, St. John, that the morning fog is Mother Nature's skirt, and every bright droplet of dew is a seed pearl upon it? Oh, St. John, it grows dark. Do you not think that at night an angel walks across the land, singing all children, kittens, and puppies to sleep as they lie snug in their beds? Oh look, St. John. Summer lightning, in the western sky. Do you not think, St. John, that lightning is the laughter of Fairy Queen Mab, when she . . . St. John? St. John?"
Oh, Sir Charles! St. John was nowhere to be seen! And I have not seen him for nigh upon three months! Whatever shall I do?
Sir Charles replies:
One suspects poor St. John St. Clair of changing his name and absconding to Bali. One would, oneself, were one within inches of pledging one's troth to a woman such as the correspondent. In fact, all that rot about fairies and puppies and angels and violets has nearly prompted one to issue a puddle of sick upon the parquet floor of one's smoking room.
One must applaud the chap for his initiative, and quick feet.
Still nauseous, one remains,
Working Mother writes:
Dear Sir Charles,
One income only going so far these days, I've taken it upon myself to obtain employment in order to provide our family with the extra little things so necessary to life. Cable TV, a karaoke machine, you know. Unfortunately, even my income can't give my daughter all the things she needs to compete with her wealthier classmates. They've got all the latest clothes, all the gadgets, all the games.
What can I do to keep up with them?
Sir Charles replies:
The best thing a mother of your common class can do for her daughter is to instill a sense of satisfaction and contentment for her lowly state. After all, if the girl is able to keep up with her betters, what is the sense in them being her better in the first place?
I suggest this lovely prayer, to be said each night before retiring. One wrote it oneself.
A Common Girl's Prayer
Dear Lord, on my knees I do pray thee tonight
Not mine, fancy dolls, for Santa to bring
School's for the rich kids, math makes my head flip-flop
I know I'll not marry a man above my station
So bless me, Dear Lord, and I ask you to stay
A lovely composition, if one does say so oneself. How it brings a tear to one's eye.
Sentimentally, one remains,
Rose Petal writes:
Dear Sir Charles,
I'm not what you would call one of those 'fast' women. That is, I've only been engaged three times, unlike my chum Nance down the lane who's been leading the blokes on since she's been fourteen. But then, she lives in a council flat, and that should tell you something. She keeps all the engagement rings, she does. Do you think that's right? I don't. I only kept the one from Mr. Moss with real diamonelle. How it shines in the right light! Almost like the real thing! Mr. Moss drove his own second-hand lorry, too.
Anyway, I've been seeing Mr. Hepplewhite, and his wife hadn't found out yet and everything is going so smooth, but lately our parish has been assigned the dishiest vicar. Oo, I could go on and on about his eyebrows, I could. When he rides by on his bicycle, it makes me want to get down on my knees and go all religious.
Sir Charles, do you think I'd make a good vicar's wife? Did I mention how dishy he was?
Ever so gratefully yours,
Sir Charles replies:
O Would-Be Flower,
Rose Petal might not be your real name, but the sobriquet is surely most appropriate, as one is sure that the correspondent has been thoroughly plucked and discarded many a time. In point of fact, the only more suitable moniker of which one can think for you might be 'Kleenex'.
Frankly put: One suspects that the correspondent would be as good a vicar's wife as she would be a nun.
But before the correspondent interprets such a remark to mean one's approbation, let one remind her that one of the primary duties of a nun is to remain chaste. It's not all fancy headgear and guitars, you know.
Humming 'Dominique' to oneself, one remains,