Constable Chumley’s Quest (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Constable Chumley is searching for caecilians–the legless, blind, secretive amphibians of the tropics, expected to descend on Scurveyshire in great ferocious masses in response to thousands of people squeaking squeaky toys.

“So begins Chapter CDXLI of my immortal, epic romance, Oy, Rodney,” author Violet Crepuscular crepusculates upon her readers. On second thought, there seems to be something oddly wrong with that sentence.

Ms. Crepuscular loses no time in getting involved in a controversy with reader Nikita Khrushchev of Bismuth City, Minnesota. The reader has insisted that there were no proper squeaky toys during the Victorian Era.

“This poltroon, this overcooked frankfurter, this podiatrist in sheep’s clothing–this squirming mealworm, this potted plant that affects human speech!–this annoying little nit!” she writes. “Obviously he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

“Has he never heard of poetic license? Sheesh! History records that the first reliable squeaky toy was created by the Swedish tent-maker, Elvira Madigan, in 1372. It was then put on the shelf until the 20th century, when the worldwide demand for squeaky toys manifested itself. Jumpin’ Jiminy,” she expostulates, “all these illiterate boobs out there who think they can be writers!”

But none of this is getting us to Constable Chumley, is it?

The constable is searching high and low for any caecilians that might have infiltrated into Scurveyshire. He is going house to house, explaining to puzzled homeowners, “Ay dankle yon frought yair doddening.” Johnno the Merry Minstrel reminds him not to waste time searching for caecilian footprints. “Och! Be dander!” cries Chumley. He has, alas, been using almost all his time searching for caecilian footprints.

That’s as far as Violet has got this week. Not even a loaf of pound cake with home-made toothpaste filling can lift her spirits.

Jailbreak in Scurveyshire (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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[Editor’s Note: I cannot find the image of a book cover that is usually displayed with an ‘Oy, Rodney’ episode. The closest I could come was this picture of a Tanystropheus–which I admit is not that close, but what can one do?]

Chapter CDXXXII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, finds Lord Jeremy Coldsore and his fiancee, Lady Margo Cargo, both locked up in gaol, Constable Chumley having arrested them for reasons best known to himself. But behind the scenes, Lady Margo’s crusty old butler, Crusty, is plotting to break his mistress out of gaol.

All he needs is an elephant.

“Only an elephant is big and strong enough to break down the wall of the gaol so Lady Margo can get out,” he confides to Constable Chumley (of all people). Chumley happens to know where he can rent an elephant. There’s a man in Plaguesby who keeps a few in his stables.

Having rented the elephant and fortified her with a swallow of grog from The Lying Tart, Crusty and the constable turn her loose on the wall. Neither of them has remembered to forewarn Lady Margo, who is almost killed when the elephant batters down the wall.

“Hurry up, you lazy old bat!” cries Crusty. “Before the police come!” He then remembers that Constable Chumley is already there. They have to help Lady Margo out of the rubble–she will need a new upholstered wooden leg–and Crusty helps her hop back home.

In the adjacent cell, Lord Jeremy is beside himself.

“You just wait until the next time you ask me for a raise!” he bellows at the constable. “You copepod! You wretch!” Only then does it dawn on Chumley that he may have done something not strictly in accord with normal police procedure. He apologizes with genuine exfoliation (her word, not mine!).

“Ayn yerk nee fluzzin’, M’lord!” he groans.

“Oh, forget it!” growls Lord Jeremy.

Will the Queen Elope with Willis Twombley? (‘Oy, Rodney’)

The terrible tale of the Kentucky Fried romance novel | The Delve

[Editor’s Note: Ms. Violet Crepuscular is mad at me for switching over to this book cover to illustrate the latest installment of Oy, Rodney. Well, confound it, I can’t find the regular cover anymore! This one will have to do. It’s very much in the spirit of the thing.]

Introducing Chapter CDXXII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular reminds the reader that Queen Victoria is about to elope to Abilene, Kansas, with Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad. Word of this has reached Lady Margo Cargo and threatened her impeding nuptials with Lord Jeremy Coldsore–she thinks he and Twombley are the same person and resents her fiancee cheating on her with the Queen of England.

In desperation–and you have to be really desperate to do this–Lord Jeremy turns to Constable Chumley. “Please see what you can do to salvage this mess!” vocalizes Lord Jeremy. The constable replies, “Aye, thar forthin yon cusster, M’lord!”

Making an appointment to confer privately with Lady Margo, Chumley explains to her: “Favvin’ yoster me kippens, Lady me Lad, ye netter by swelvin’ a quarn?” She gives her enthusiastic consent to this proposal. With this to sustain him, the constable arrests Twombley and forces him to bathe in the ice-cold duck pond in Scurveyshire Common. Passersby are appalled.

But just as the constable hoped, this does the trick! Twombley is practically killed with cold by the time Chumley allows him to come out of the water. Passersby turn away, unable to bear the sight.

“Well, that’s froze the romance right out of me!” truncates the American. “Now I wonder what I ever saw in that there queen of yours! But you’re lucky I didn’t shoot you, ol’ hoss.”

“Mizzen yair frocken, sir!” says Chumley. Willis sighs deeply. “One cannot but agree!” he concedes.

Constable Chumley Quells a Riot (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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At the close of Chapter CDXIV of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Lady Margo Cargo’s upholstered wooden leg, accidentally thrown onto the roller derby rink, has turned the skating match into pure chaos as the visiting Ulan Bator Lake Smelts, with several of their star players critically injured by the errant wooden leg, and with Lady Margo herself trying to crawl across the rink to retrieve it, storm the rails to take vengeance on all of Scurveyshire.

“And they say I can’t write a coherent sentence!” interjects Ms. Crepuscular.

Powerless to stop the violence, Lord Jeremy Crepuscular pleads with Constable Chumley. “Do something, man! Do something before they destroy the whole town!”

“Frith my linkle vostry, m’lord,” calmly replies the constable. To Lord Jeremy’s appalled amazement, the constable takes a red yo-yo from his pocket and begins to play with it. “Ye gods, the man is mad!” cries Lord Jeremy.

But the results fully justify the constable’s prompt, decisive action.

“At this point in world history”–she’s interjecting again: I don’t know how to stop her–“the yo-yo was unknown in Mongolia. Marco Polo presented one to Kubla Khan, but the khan’s successors lost it in a poker game with a traveling Manchu card sharp, and by now there is no one in Ulan Bator who has ever seen or even imagined one.”

The Lake Smelts instantly lose the impulse to riot, and they gather around Constable Chumley in frozen fascination. The effect is supernumary! Lady Margo is even able to recover her upholstered wooden leg while all the skaters, entranced in pure wonder, watch the yo-yo bob up and down.

“‘Tis all yon frothering with a wee braystick,” he explains. The Lake Smelts tamely follow him to the railway station and embark on the next train, with team Captain Draja Chukutaiev now the proud owner of a bright red yo-yo.

The chapter ends with the entire population of Scurveyshire trying to buy yo-yos.

 

The Crayfish Food Hullabaloo (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCCLXXXII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney (we are not told what happened to Chapter CCCLXXXI–must’ve been a non-starter), Violet Crepuscular reveals that the two rival Scotland Yard detectives have succeeded in framing each other for the theft of the locomotive. Both are carted off to Newgate Prison, and Lord Jeremy finally comes down from the tree where he’s been hiding. All we are told about that is, “He came down like rain.” Only raindrops don’t wind up swathed in bandages from head to toe.

Constable Chumley is interrupted in dictating his memoirs to the Wise Woman of the Gaol by a controversy centered in the Scurveyshire pet shop, where Lady Margo Cargo’s crusty butler, Crusty, has been trying to buy food for his mistress’ pet crayfish, Oswin. Distracted by the rantings and ravings of the prisoner who has been moved from the jail to the pet shop, Crusty has mistakenly bought the wrong kind of food but now can’t get his money back. Unable to break up the argument, Constable Chumley arrests them both and brings them to Lord Jeremy’s bedside. Ms. Crepuscular has had a devilish time trying to type the word “bedside.” It keeps coming out “bedides” or “bdesdie,” etc.

“Ivver yon greeth wi’ hammels, m’lord,” Chumley explains.

Crusty and the shop owner, one Samuel Heathen, yell and scream at each other. As justice of the peace, Lord Jeremy has the power to put both of them to death. He is reluctant to use it, however. Lady Margo would never forgive him for having Crusty thrown to the shire’s ferocious pug dogs, and Mr. Heathen owes him several guineas.

“Can’t we all just get along?” he groans.

“This caitiff asked for King-Size Slo-Gro Depilatory Crayfish Food, and that’s what I sold him!” roars Mr. Heathen.

“I never asked for Slo-Gro! I asked for Go-Gro!” growls Crusty.

With wisdom rivaling Solomon’s, Lord Jeremy faints.

The matter will be taken up again, Mr. Crepuscular assures us, in the next exciting chapter.

Constable Chumley’s Memoirs (‘Oy, Rodney’)

silly romance novels – Lee Duigon

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.

The Bishop of Booh (‘Oy, Rodney’)

silly romance novels | Lee Duigon

“Dear reader, we have come to a stressful time in Scurveyshire…” Thus Violet Crepuscular introduces Chapter CCCLII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. She then devotes several paragraphs to the feasibility of writing “a dental romance,” whatever that may be. A series of anonymous threats drags her back to the story line.

Scurveyshire’s beloved vicar having chained himself to his night-stand and refusing to leave, the Bishop of Booh arrives by oxcart to remove the vicar by force. Because he’s not a real bishop, he has to make do with an ordinary bathrobe and a birthday party hat. He wears a stern expression that would be unbearably daunting, but for the fact that he carries a stuffed monkey doll which he talks to from time to time. Lord Jeremy Coldsore, justice of the peace, Constable Chumley, representing all that is inarticulate and confusing in the law of England, and Willis Twombley, the American adventurer, are on hand to welcome the alleged bishop.

“Now that you’re here,” says Twombley, “you can turn right around and go back to wherever you came from. We like our vicar jist the way he is, conniptions and all, and we aim to keep him.”

“See how the naughty man talks to Booh-Booh!” The bishop is addressing the doll. “But we know what to do with nefandous people, don’t we, Winkie?” He turns to Lord Jeremy. “I am here to repossess the vicar’s backyard wading pool for non-payment and to pack him off to Manchuria. Take me to the vicarage at once!”

Not knowing what else to do, Lord Jeremy conducts the bishop to the vicarage. The vicar seems them coming and starts screaming imprecations that really must not be repeated here. But the bishop has espied the wading pool and decides to inspect it. Constable Chumley tries to dissuade him.

“Noo, noo, yer thwither! Tis a mortal grathwy syne!”

“Out of my way, you pedipalp!” He clouts the constable with the monkey. There must be a brick in it or something: down for the count goes Chumley.

“I say!” cries Lord Jeremy. But the bishop is already on his way to the pool.

“I can barely describe the infernal horror of this scene!” writes Ms. Crepuscular. “I can’t bear it, I tell you!”

Here she interposes a chapter break to heighten the suspense. But we can probably guess what happens next.

 

Constable Chumley’s Pets (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCCXXXVIII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Constable Chumley is seen walking two baboons, on leashes, up and down on Scurveyshire’s High Street.

The baboons’ names are Fritzy and Bitzy and are a gift from the constable’s long-lost millionaire cousin, Sir Henry Blithering. Sir Henry has gotten rid of them because they tend to attack people, dogs, horses, and shade trees. Constable Chumley explains, “Thim’s fair throckin’ ye timbrith.”

In no time at all Lord Jeremy Coldsore, as justice of the peace, is snowed under with frantic demands to get rid of the baboons. He is sympathetic to those demands, having been severely bitten in the leg by Fritzy and pushed into a water-trough by Bitzy.

“Really, old boy, this won’t do!” he exclaims to the now-crestfallen constable. “I don’t often get the opportunity to describe anyone as ‘crestfallen,'” Ms. Crepuscular confides to the reader. “It’s quite exhilarating! And there’s another wonderful word that’s seldom published nowadays.”

Chumley has grown quite fond of the baboons, although they have bitten him innumerable times (“You should see all the bandages!”) and he has to lock them in the pantry overnight, or they will finish him off in his sleep. “Us medderin’ gree frath,” he answers Lord Jeremy. A tear trickles from his eye.

“Can’t you donate them to the circus?” Jeremy pleads. The suggestion reduces the constable to a sobbing fit, during which the baboons tear their leashes out of his hands and race off into the sunset. For the next four years they terrorize anyone foolhardy enough to try to pass through Plaguesby Wood.

“None of this is gettin’ us hitched to Lady Margo, Germy ol’ hoss,” remarks the American adventurer, Willis Twombley. Lady Margo thinks he and Lord Jeremy are the same person.

“I will end the chapter here,” writes Ms. Crepuscular, “to heighten the suspense. But now it’s time for a cherry Coke with Frothee!”

That Business with the Mob of Peasants (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CCXCIV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular confides in her readers, “Let me confide in you, dear readers! I do wish Mr. Duigon had not said I was ‘in jail’! I was merely helping the police with their inquiries. They are trying to discover who, if anyone, poisoned Mr. Pitfall, and they now suspect everyone in the neighborhood–he is that unpopular. I hope they realize now that my toothpaste rolls couldn’t make anybody that sick!” She is a little miffed that none of the police officers was willing to try one himself.

Moving on to the chapter, she describes the grief and horror that overwhelmed all Scurvyshire when Mr. Percy Puce, F.R.S., the shire’s Resident Genius, disappeared below the vicar’s backyard wading pool as the result of a fall from a clandestine sliding board. Don’t ask me if that’s a suitable adjective for a sliding board. I just work here.

Provoked beyond measure, a mob of peasants armed with torches and pitchforks assembles at The Lying Tart. Why they should want torches in broad daylight is mystifying. Maybe it’s just a thing that mobs of peasants do.

“We’ll destroy the vicar’s wading pool if it’s the last thing we do!” vows the mob’s ringleader, button collecter Oswald Backdraft, Official Ringleader of the Peasants Benevolent Association. The mob rushes off to the vicar’s back yard and that’s the last anybody sees of them.

Hours later, word of the incident reaches Lord Jeremy Coldsore at Coldsore Hall, where they have just put the Marquess of Grone to bed.

“We’re going to run out of peasants at this rate!” ejaculates Lord Jeremy. (“It’s a perfectly permissible use of that verb!” insists Ms. Crepuscular. I just work here.) “Constable Chumley, you ought to have prevented this disaster!”

“Huish, M’lord, I deagle fair maundery this fleethin’,” parries the constable. He rushes off to The Lying Tart to see if he can find any clues at the bottom of a tankard of ale.

This still leaves five chapters, I think, to be written before catching up to Chapter CCC, which Ms. Crepuscular has written out of order. “I pledge myself to accomplish this,” she writes in a chapter-ending footnote, “provided I am left in peace!”

Yet More Unimaginable Peril (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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“I write this chapter under some duress,” Violet Crepuscular confides in her readers, introducing Chapter CCLXIX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. “My neighbor Mr. Pitfall has forgiven me for poisoning him, but I fear he has developed some rather strange ideas about our relationship. I have written this chapter to distract him.”

Deeming it a potential public relations bonanza, Sir Henry Smedley-Foover has lent one of his life-size Iguanodon concrete pull-toys to Scurveyshire Village as a sacrifice to whatever entity lurks under the wading pool in the vicar’s back yard. Its enormous weight has required the combined efforts of every able-bodied villager to haul it into position by the wading pool.

“O, evil entity that lurks under this wading pool,” Sir Henry intones, with the whole village looking on and the vicar complaining about the damage to his lawn, “accept this sacrifice of our deluxe Iguanodon pull-toy, retail value 1,458 pounds and 13 shillings, and release your captives!”

“This is stupid,” mutters Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who believes himself to be Sargon of Akkad. Lord Jeremy Coldsore shushes him. “It’s the only way we’ve got to get Lady Margo back!”

For a full six hours, nothing happens. Just as everyone is preparing to go home before being called upon to drag the Iguanodon away, the pool gives a noisy shudder and out from under it struggles Constable Chumley–alone, without his bearers and askaris. He does look considerably the worse for wear.

“Constable!” cries Lord Jeremy. “Where the deuce is everybody else?”

Chumley replies in his quaint rural dialect which no one understands. “They be fair luftin’ all aboot yon cleefer blawn, m’lord!” he gasps. “Us fennies a reet great meshter.”

“I think he’s trying to say that unimaginable perils done ’em in,” says Twombley.

“But where is Lady Margo?” wails Jeremy. “Have you not rescued her?”

“Throck us nigh bittle ‘ee, m’lord!” The constable faints.

Meanwhile Lady Margo has finally emerged from the dreaded Scurveyshire Fens, never having been under the pool in the first place. Hopping all this way on one foot has gravely depleted her strength.

“I’m sure to be late for my own wedding!” she gasps.

At this point Ms. Crepuscular is interrupted by a peremptory pounding on her door, and most retreat to her hiding-place behind the sofa.