Introducing Chapter CCCLXXX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular candidly confides in her readers, “Dear Reader, I would not wish you to form the impression that life in Scurveyshire is one of unremitting stress. Normal things happen, too.” She has apparently forgotten the two Scotland Yard detectives who are trying to frame each other for the theft of a locomotive.
One of these soothingly normal things that are happening is, as the chapter’s title might suggest (although you can never be entirely sure about what Ms. Crepuscular’s titles really indicate)–ta-dah! Constable Chumley is writing his memoirs.
Having forgotten how to read and write, he is actually dictating them to the Wise Woman of the Woods, who is now the Wise Woman of Scurveyshire Gaol: she likes it there and refuses to return to the forest.
“Willaday yaither mon greezen hoy, dray boddy, ma’ doon,” he begins. After an hour of listening to this–the Wise Woman peppers the constable with questions about spelling and grammar, which he is not equipped to answer–the prisoner in the adjacent cell goes totally mad and has to be moved to the pet shop. There he encounters Lady Margo Cargo’s crusty old butler, Crusty, who has been sent to buy crayfish food for his mistress’ pet crayfish, Oswin.
“Can’t anyone stop that man from raving?” he inquires testily: for the prisoner is still quite beside himself. The shop owner only shrugs. “It seems Constable Chumley’s discourse is too much for this poor chap,” he says. “Do you want regular Crayfish Chow, or menthol?”
“Menthol,” grumbles Crusty.
“King-size or Economy-size?” This goes on for longer than the chapter lasts.