Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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19 April, 1996

One's readers (so loyal and mighty in force that were they all to sneeze at once, the zephyr resulting would topple most of the buildings that comprise the New York City skyline . . . not a bad thing, one believes) will recall that one's neighbour, Eunice, Duchess of Crabbe, last week declared that one's family would not be presiding at the opening ceremonies of the Fishampton Eel and Strawberry Fete, as the Grandiose Family have done since those dark days of ancient Britain when the locals painted themselves blue and worshipped clods of dirt. (Given the general cleanliness of some of the common folk in Fishampton, one would be tempted to jest here, and remark that those days are not far past, if at all. But this is a serious business.)

Naturally, after that startling announcement, one rallied and instantly sent a note of congratulation to one's replacement, Lord Frost of Locksley-Charmes, inviting him and his fair (though somewhat mentally deprived) bride, the Lady Tiffany, to tea with oneself and one's ward, young Penelope Windsor-Smythe. And oh, with what elegance and breeding did young Penelope pour the blessed mixture that afternoon--but she is, after all, seventieth in line for the throne, and thus accustomed to be graceful. After several sips, the young ladies began a discussion of their own--agricultural in nature, one gathered, for it centered around the apparatus known as the 'halter top'--and Lord Frost cleared his throat with the words, "You know, old chap, I didn't think you'd be thrilled with all this . . . business about the fete, what? My first year in residence and whatnot."

Ah, the opening for which one looked. "Ah, but Lord Frost, what a relief," one declared, "not to have to perform the opening rites. For one finds the Duchess to be most displeased at the slightest error." The peer's eyes had opened wide at the words 'opening rites,' so one pressed on. "Did she not tell you?" The peer shook his head, and one smiled confidentially. "Well. She wouldn't, would she? One supposes she thought you knew." One's willing accomplice, young Penelope, flounced to her feet (they are dainty feet, as befits one who is seventieth in line for succession). "Oh Papa!" she cried. "How dreadful were he to arrive at the fete and not perform the blessing!" One nodded gravely. "Indeed, child. Fetch your pet eels."

One then proceeded to explain, while young Penelope brought in the tank of marsh eels, how the host of the fete was obliged, immediately following his opening speech, to grasp a live eel from the tank, hold it up above his head, fling it over each shoulder, and then present it to the Duchess herself. Lord Frost looked dubious at the prospect, as one expected, but upon cue, Young Penelope burst into tears. "I should so hate to see the Fishampton Eel and Strawberry Fete ruined!" she wept.

Under the inspiration . . . or perhaps extreme pressure . . . of a young royal's tears, Lord Frost tentatively reached into the tank. "Not like that," said Young Penelope, while the Lady Tiffany squealed. "Why, one must get one's fingers around it and squeeze! I love a large eel in my hands," she added confidentially, as she reached into the tank and showed our guest the proper manner of handling these slippery denizens of the marshes. It was not until four hours later that he had thoroughly mastered the routine.

Of course one had concocted the entire scheme of thin air. And, as Lord Frost was to discover, that sunny afternoon at the fete, the handling of a sedated domestic eel and his larger, unusually squiggly electrical cousin are two entirely different matters. To summarize neatly, then: Lord Frost's burns were treated and the swelling is expected to ease within the fortnight. The Mayor of Fishampton was only stunned--not killed outright, as was feared--when accidentally beaten about the head by the hapless eel (which survived the curious incident and was released into the wilds). Eunice, Duchess of Crabbe, did not take kindly to having a four-foot eel thrust into her lap. Its currents quite shorted out her respirator, and her hair would seem to be in an untamable 'permanent wave.'

In short, one thoroughly enjoyed oneself.

For another week, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: Blood: The Bearer of Life and Death!

Tentative writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

Is cupping a safe practice?

Tentative in Tiddleshire

Sir Charles replies:


Fear not. Cupping is, as the vulgar say, safe as houses.

Why, what could be more invigorating to a poor invalid than having a vein sliced open and his blood drained into a bowl? It awakens the senses; it rouses the soul! Even the tinkling of one's life fluids into Emperor Marmaduke china is sweet music to the ears. (others of lesser breeding may find that the ordinary Royal Doulton will suffice.)

Oh, others may attempt to assure the correspondent that the so-called 'modern' techniques will do her the better. Faugh! one decries. Away with the 'SCAT' scans! Fie upon the 'electrocootyagrams.' A pox upon the 'anaesthetics'! Give one a cupping and a bullet to bite, any day.

Stalwartly, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: Randy Royals on the Rise!

Flummoxed writes:

Dear Sir Charles:

Several months back, one hosted one's much lauded and talked-about Secret Seafood Supper with Seven Snappy Salads. This, to christen one's recent purchase of and installation in the Whitbey-Grimes Hundred Room Manor in Fewes. One invited ten married couples of the royal set. Young, vibrant, and brilliant conversationalists, all.

Just before the sixth course, a mighty windstorm arose, which promptly felled a tree across the local power lines to the manor, causing a complete blackout. Desperate for diversion, one suggested to one's guests that they pair up, take candlelabras, and go exploring for one hour, returning to the dining hall each with some amusing artifact discovered upon their explorations.

The hour went by slowly for oneself, but the ten couples all returned after the hour, flushed, disheveled, and laughing, obviously thrilled with what they'd found in their explorations. When the power was restored, one proceeded with the dinner, and the entertainment, which all ten couples seemed to take in remarkably good humour.

To one's shock and horror, one finds that all ten couples are now expecting children next week, and may indeed count the days to the offsprings' arrivals from the day of the ill-fated dinner. The dilemma is this: How can one best ask one's erstwhile dinner guests which rooms one needs send one's cleaning staff into?

Flummoxed in Fewes

Sir Charles replies:


It has been--what is the human gestational period? Thirteen months? Fifteen? One has no interest in the base carnality involved in such a thing--at any rate, if it has been so long a period, and the correspondent's servants have not yet cleaned the various nooks and crannies (so to speak), in which the young royals disported . . . . Well. One need say no more. The correspondent might as well burn the estate, at this point. If the Prince of Wales was involved in this fracas, the use of holy water might be required, afterwards.

Appalled at such wanton housekeeping, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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