Tag Archives: Oy Rodney

A Knight Visitor (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCLXVIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney–with Constable Chumley’s rescue expedition still wandering around somewhere under the vicar’s backyard wading pool–Violet Crepuscular brings a new character into the picture.

Sir Henry Smedley-Foover, the adult pull-toy magnate, has been knighted by the Queen in recognition of the fantastic amount of money he’s made, devising and selling pull-toys for adults. His motto is, “Why should kids have all the fun?” It is rumored that the Queen herself is now the proud owner of a Foover Megalosaurus pull-toy, illustrated below. This is the only illustration in the book so far, so we must make the most of it.

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As you can see, it doesn’t have its wheels yet, to say nothing of the stout marine cable by which it must be pulled. It takes at least 20 strong, healthy men to pull this rather large toy over level ground. There are smaller models, of course, but the full-size dinosaur pull-toys are the Foover Company’s trademark.

Sir Henry is intrigued by the current crisis which preoccupies all Scurveyshire. “If only I had arrived here sooner!” he laments to Lord Jeremy Coldsore, whose bride, Lady Margo Cargo, is the person in need of rescue. In reality–if we may use that word in this context–Lady Margo is not and never has been under the wading pool. Having escaped from the Plaguesby Jail, she is currently trying to make her way through the miry Fens of Scurveyshire, hopping on one foot all the way because she has lost her upholstered wooden leg. But no one in Scurveyshire Village knows that.

“What would you have done, Sir Henry, had you been here?” Lord Jeremy asks. He doesn’t like adult pull-toys.

“I could have offered one of my pull-toys as a sacrifice to whatever evil entity lurks under the wading pool, my lord. Even evil entities like pull-toys! May I recommend my life-size Iguanodon pull-toy? You could offer it in exchange for your bride. I’ll let you pay for it in installments!”

Meanwhile, what of Constable Chumley and his bearers and askaris?

“They are facing unimaginable perils which I’m having difficulty imagining,” she confides in her readers, “but I am sure one of my subsequent chapters will prove to be worth waiting for.”

She pleads with us to continue reading.


Lady Margo’s Great Escape (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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“I have had a difficult time writing this chapter,” Violet Crepuscular admits, introducing Chapter CCLXVII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, “because my neighbor, Mr. Pitfall, was released from the hospital this week and is a bit put out with me for poisoning him, and I’ve had to lie low for several days. I must send him a Lobster-Gram to make it up to him. I do hope he remembers to cook the lobster before he eats it.”

Back to the story! Lady Margo Cargo, languishing in the Plaguesby jail, does not wish to marry Tom Squim, the Great Conquering Khan of Plaguesby; nor does she wish to experience any of the various “ways” they have in Plaguesby for forcing people to marry against their will. All she really wants to do is get back home to Scurveyshire Village and marry Lord Jeremy Coldsore and his boon companion, the American adventurer Willis Twombley. She still thinks the two of them are the same person.

And so the plucky dowager, the richest widow in all of Scurveyshire, manages to squirrel away a spoon and uses it to tunnel her way out of the jail. Ordinarily this would take several years. But because of the incredibly shoddy construction of the jail, she is able to tunnel through its easily crumbled wall in a single night. Before the next sunrise she is on her way back to her beloved–hopping on one leg because she has lost her upholstered wooden leg. She has resolved to ask Lord Jeremy to please do something about Tom Squim and his mad dream of conquering all England.

Everyone else, meanwhile, is waiting for the expedition under the vicar’s backyard wading pool to return, hopefully having rescued Lady Margo (who isn’t there), or else to perish valiantly in the attempt.

“I promise, in the next chapter, to tell of the adventures of this expedition, so bravely led by Constable Chumley,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in the reader. “But for the time being, I have just seen Mr. Pitfall emerge from his house with a shotgun, so it behooves me to resort to my hiding place behind the sofa.” I have always wanted to use that word, “behooves,” but Violet has beaten me to it.


The Expedition Under the Wading Pool (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CCLXVI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes–

Whoa! Hold it! What happened to Chapters CCLII through CCLXV? That’s fourteen chapters missing!

Ms. Crepuscular explains, “A few readers may be confused by the absence of the intervening fourteen chapters. Well, I removed them from the story because nothing happened in them. Really, we are all better off going directly to Chapter CCLXVI.”

Somewhere in the missing chapters, Lord Jeremy has organized an expedition to go under the vicar’s backyard wading pool and rescue Lady Margo Cargo so that he and she can have their wedding. In fact, Lady Margo is languishing in the Plaguesby jail; but no one in Scurveyshire Town knows that.

Pressed into service for the expedition, whether they wish to go or not, are fifty bearers to carry supplies and equipment, a dozen armed askaris for defense–

Where in Scurveyshire did they find askaris?

“In all those famous expeditions to find the source of the Nile,” Lord Jeremy explains, “bearers and askaris are a must. For our purposes, a dozen Scurveyshire lads with slingshots and rakes will have to serve. We don’t have time to order a dozen genuine, authentic askaris from Zanzibar, where they are always looking for work.”

Handicapped by having two left feet, Lord Jeremy cannot lead the expedition in person. This job he has given to Constable Chumley, admonishing the bearers and askaris to obey the constable’s every command as if their lives depended on it. “And probably they do!” he adds.

The constable’s first command is, “Arree, sumble yer batpins and grith bair lunnies!” Everyone just stands around staring at each other. A few shots from Willis Twombley’s Colt revolver, fired judiciously around their feet, get them moving. One by one, following Constable Chumley, sixty-two men march under the wading pool and disappear from sight. A dreadful calm descends on Scurveyshire.

Meanwhile, back in Plaguesby, Lady Margo does some more languishing in jail before that hamlet’s chief magistrate, Tom Squim, the Great Conquering Khan of Plaguesby, offers to let her out if she will marry him and help him to found a dynasty rivaling, he says, the Plantagenets. She scornfully rejects him. “The Plantagenets are highly overrated,” she sniffs.

“We have ways of making people get married, here in Plaguesby,” he sneers. He does not reveal what those ways are.


The Scourge of the Swamp (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Mr. Pitfall having been sedated with a certain powder surreptitiously added to his Strawberry Quik, Violet Crespuscular has moved on to Chapter CCLI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. “I had to do it,” she confides to her readers. “He was getting altogether too impatient with that length of rubber hose, and I found it distracting.”

Hopping along on one foot and often falling face-first into the soupy mud, Lady Margo Cargo has finally made her way out of the terrible Scurveyshire Fens, emerging near the village of Plaguesby covered with mud from head to toe. As she approaches a band of jolly milkmaids, the girls flee, screaming: “Swamp fiend! Monster of the Fens!” In no time at all, Constable Chumley’s counterpart in Plaguesby, Constable Flumley, arrests her and locks her in a holding cell. He has one eye much larger than the other, and the way he leers at her is most unsettling. “Y’iv sharred a mickle millen!” he growls, in his quaint rural dialect.

Technically under Lord Jeremy Coldsore’s jurisdiction as Scurveyshire’s justice of the peace, Plaguesby has a unique form of government that would not be allowed if anyone were noticing. A rat-catcher named Tom Squim rules the village as its Great Conquering Khan, assisted by a Council of Nimrods who have no power and are expected to refrain from speaking. In return, they get free melons when those become available.

Lady Margo is disquieted when her eyes adjust to the dark and she finds a mouldering skeleton chained to the wall of her cell. Is this to be her fate?

The next two pages of the book are blank. It seems to be an error on the part of the publisher. Ms. Crepuscular opens Chapter CCLII by blaming the publisher for the oversight. “I will provide the missing material in another chapter later on,” she writes, “after the ambulance comes for Mr. Pitfall. I fear I may have overdosed him.”

 


More Unimaginable Peril (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CCXLIX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “I have been reduced to the expedient, as I write this, of having my neighbor, Mr. Pitfall, stand over me with a length of rubber hose to make sure I finish the chapter. He is actually a very nice man, but for his ungovernably violent temper and his penchant for unpredictably flying into rages.”

It seems Lady Margo Cargo has not been sucked under the vicar’s backyard wading pool, after all, but instead suffered a bout of extreme absent-mindedness during which she lost her upholstered wooden leg and, hopping along on one foot, wandered into the dreaded Scurveyshire Fens. She does not know where she is. All she knows is that she is probably going to be late for her wedding. The only silver lining to this cloud is that she forgot to wear her wedding dress. The sticky black mud of the Fens would have spoiled it.

Sardanapalus Tingleworth (or whatever his name is), the man with only one buttock, has volunteered to go under the pool to try to rescue Lady Margo. Seizing an opportunity when no one was looking, he has fled Scurveyshire. He will eventually wind up joining a traveling “curiosity show” in Alsace-Lorraine and make a decent living exhibiting his unusual anatomy.

But what of Lady Margo’s crusty butler, Crusty, who was pulled under the pool by a gigantic tentacle? “Mr. Pitfall has encouraged me to tell you that after some fifteen minutes which seemed more like fifteen hours, Crusty was thrown out from under the pool.” He makes his way back to the now disorganized wedding party, where everyone is very surprised to see him.

“It didn’t want me!” he reports. “It thought I was disgusting! So it threw me back.”

“But did you see any sign of my bride?” cries Lord Jeremy. “What did you see, down there under the pool? Speak, man!”

“Mostly I saw a lot of flattened grass that’s turning yellow, and some large earthworms,” says honest Crusty. “Not a sign of my poor mistress! She should’ve married me instead of you–then this wouldn’t have happened!” He leaps for Lord Jeremy’s throat, but Constable Chumley collars him before he can do any damage.

“There, yair,” the constable consoles him, “‘twon’t do nae brecken to flur thy wakes.”

Ms. Crepuscular has Mr. Pitfall’s permission to conclude the chapter there.


Unimaginable Peril (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCXLVII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular confesses that she has been having difficulty imagining an unimaginable peril of any kind.

“Last night,” she confides in her readers, “I had a most unsettling dream in which I was walking, with a man who worked for the gas company, over an endless field of light bulbs which burst under our feet. I woke in a cold sweat; and that very morning, the light bulb in my writing lamp expired with a loud pop! It took me half the day to put in a new one. This is why I have had so much trouble describing the unimaginable peril under the vicar’s backyard wading pool.”

Moving on to Chapter CCXLVIII, Ms. Crepuscular dodges the issue by writing a flashback of Lady Margo’s fifth birthday party. It is hoped that she remembers that she has stranded Lady Margo somewhere in another dimension–or wherever it is you go to, under the pool.

“It’s such a lovely birthday cake, Mummy!” squeals the delighted little girl.

“Don’t call me ‘Mummy,’ Margo. A mummy is a dried-up Egyptian cadaver. You must learn to speak as befits our class. ‘Mater’ is the preferred form of address.”

Margo’s father, Lord Fopwell, an amateur entomologist of some standing, gives his daughter an unexpected birthday present: a jar full of newly-hatched mantises, tiny little things prowling around in search of prey. As soon as she unwraps her present, little Margo screams and drops the jar. Tiny mantises are all over the floor. Mater screams and runs outside.

Here we are interrupted by an angry reader who demands, “What the devil is this? Where is the unimaginable peril?”

I try to soothe him. “I’m sure Ms. Crepuscular will get to it in the next chapter. Look, she even says so, right here in this footnote: ‘I promise to take up the matter of the unimaginable peril in my next chapter, once I am over my disquieting experience with the light bulbs.'” The reader’s wrath subsides.


The Search Party (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCXLIV of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Lady Margo Cargo mysteriously disappears on her way to her wedding to Lord Jeremy Coldsore. In Chapter CCXLV, Ms. Crepuscular devotes 40 pages to the replacement of the light bulb that burned out while she was writing. This is high literary art, if you like that sort of thing.

In Chapter CCXLVI, the American adventurer Willis Twombley suggests forming a search party. “It ought to be pretty easy to track down an old lady with a wooden leg,” he says. Lord Jeremy does not like to hear his bride described as an old lady with a wooden leg, but he lets it slide. And Sardanapalus Tingleworth, the man with one buttock who has been blamed for all this, volunteers to lead the party. This persuades Lord Jeremy not to have him executed on the spot. Scurveyshire’s local hangman, Will Slopp, is disappointed.

Lady Margo’s trail leads from her lavish country house to the vicar’s back yard and peters out a few yards from the vicar’s wading pool. This is where Crusty the Butler found Lady Margo’s upholstered wooden leg. It is evident to all that Lady Margo has been sucked under the wading pool.

Twombley checks his revolver to make sure it’s loaded. “We gotta follow her under the pool if we want to get her back,” he says.

One by one, the members of the search party suddenly remember important errands that they have to do, make excuses, and leave. Soon it’s only Lord Jeremy, Twombley, Crusty, and Mr. Tingleworth standing in front of the pool.

“I don’t like that name, ‘Sardanapalus,'” says Twombley. “It sounds like an Assyrian name. Maybe I better just shoot this varmint.”

“Please, sir! It’s not an Assyrian name at all!” cries Tingleworth. “Besides, I volunteer to search for Lady Margo under the pool.”

No sooner does he say this than a huge, slimy, black-and-blue tentacle shoots out, lashes itself around Crusty’s legs, and whisks him under the pool.

“I am running out of patience with the vicar’s hemming and hawing about getting rid of this blasted pool!” declares Lord Jeremy. In his heart of hearts, he is reluctant to follow Lady Margo and her butler into unimaginable peril.

“And here I must end the chapter,” writes Violet Crepuscular, “or I won’t have anything to write about in Chapter CCXLVII.” We suspect she has not yet decided how to imagine an unimaginable peril.


The Man with One Buttock (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCXLIV, or somewhere, of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Lady Margo Cargo finds herself sitting in the midst of a dense stand of bulrushes. Her upholstered wooden leg is missing. She does not know how she got there. All she can remember is taking a shortcut through the vicar’s back yard on the way to her wedding, suddenly feeling dizzy–and now she’s here, wherever here is. And somewhere in the distance, an unpleasant nasal voice is singing “It Isn’t Monday Anymore,” the same line repeated over and over again.

“I shall be late for my wedding!” she exclaims.

Meanwhile the disappointed groom, Lord Jeremy Coldsore, orders the arrest of the man with only one buttock, whose appearance at the wedding, contrary to the warning by the Wise Woman of the Woods, has brought a curse upon what should have been a festive occasion. The man with one buttock, who hadn’t meant any harm and only stopped by to see what was happening, tries to escape; but with only one buttock it is difficult to get up any speed. Constable Chumley collars him and drags him back to the scene of the unintended crime.

“Yare’s a fritten poor zeedem,” explains the constable.

Taxed beyond his powers of emotional endurance, Lord Jeremy, in his capacity as Scurveyshire’s justice of the peace, is in no mood to be merciful.

“What’s your name, villain?” he growls.

“An’ it please your honor, sir, I’m Sardanapalus Tingleworth, sir–and I didn’t mean no harm!”

“Sophistry won’t save you, rogue! I sentence you to death! Sentence to be carried out immediately!”

“Oh, I say!” interjects the vicar. “That’s a bit harsh, what?”

But here the chapter breaks off. Ms. Crepuscular’s one light bulb, she informs her readers, has unexpectedly given up the ghost. She is already having second thoughts about naming one of her characters Sardanapalus. It is bound to offend the American best man, Willis Twombley, who already has an itchy trigger finger.


Memory Lane: Droodles

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“Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch”

Remember “Droodles”? Probably not, unless you’re older than me. Humorist Roger Price–remember him?–launched this fad in 1953, which culminated in a “Droodles” game show on TV for a few months in 1954.

I have received a review copy of The Ultimate Droodles Compendium (the absurdly complete collection of all the classic zany creations of Roger Price), copyright 2019/2020 by Tallfellow Press, Los Angeles. So it’s not yet for sale, but it will be soon.

Hey, this stuff is really funny! I got some nice LOLs out of it. “Droodles” are simple little drawings that don’t make sense until you read the caption. For a little while in 1953-54, Droodles were hot. Then it faded.

As a humorist, Roger Price excelled in pure nonsense and unexpected turns of phrase. He certainly had an unusual mind. I mean, really–“Ship arriving too late to save a drowning witch”? How did he ever think of that?

Anyhow, the “Compendium” is a nice, thick book with glossy pages and quite a few laughs along the way. I recommend it. If you can tolerate Oy, Rodney, you can probably put up with Droodles.


Where Is Lady Margo? (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Chapters CCXLI and CCXLII are taken up with author Violet Crepuscular’s current personal problems, which she insists on sharing with her readers. We gather she has heard from an old high school boy friend, whom she hadn’t heard from at all in over 40 years. He phoned her from a state prison somewhere in Utah and invited her to come and see him. “He wants me to sell my house and donate the money to his legal defense fund,” writes Ms. Crepuscular. “I don’t know where he got the idea that I own a house.”

As if that weren’t distressing enough, she laments the disaster of the “tricky tray” she organized for her chapter of the Daughters of Wombat–does anybody out there know what a “tricky tray” is?–and apologizes for all the injuries incurred. It takes her halfway into Chapter CCXLIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, to pick up the thread of the narrative.

At last we have the wedding! Lord Jeremy Coldsore is to be wed to Lady Margo Cargo, the richest widow in all of Scurveyshire, in an outdoor ceremony at Gibbering Jessie Park (where they hold the annual crab races), the vicar officiating–he is temporarily free of conniptions–and the American adventurer, Willis Twombley, serving as best man and a kind of co-groom: Lady Margo believes he and Lord Jeremy are the same person.

Everything is ready! All that is lacking is the presence of the bride. She is already three and a half hours late, and the vicar’s cheek has begun to twitch.

Suddenly Lady Margo’s crusty old butler, Crusty, comes running up to the wedding party, gasping frantically and brandishing Lady Margo’s newly-upholstered wooden leg.

“She’s gone! She’s gone!” he cries. “I’ve looked everywhere, I’ve turned the whole house inside-out for her, and I can’t find her! Lady Margo is gone!”

Lord Jeremy is exasperated: he needs this marriage to keep creditors from seizing Coldsore Hall. “Oh, bother!” he hisses under his breath. “Only place in the whole dashed world where a man can’t have a bally wedding!”

The vicar topples over, and begins to make noises reminiscent of a steam locomotive about to give birth to several little locomotives.

“Where could she go, and leave her leg behind?” Twombley wonders.

At that moment one of the small crowd assembled, but not invited, for the wedding, is exposed as a man with only one buttock.

“The curse!” cries Jeremy. “The curse has struck! We couldn’t avoid it, after all!” He then faints, falling down beside the vicar.

“Gettin’ kinda crowded down there,” Twombley muses.


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